If you’re a developer and you’ve just changed jobs for the first or the second time, you’re probably wondering how to get up to speed in your new company. Roll up your sleeves, because it will be mostly you planning and taking initiative to fully onboard your new workplace.
Most common plans include:
Take an active role in the onboarding process
Many companies will walk you through the onboarding program designed specifically for getting you acquainted with everything and aligned with the standards. The length of it depends on your seniority and agility, but it might take anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months. These programs often include mentorship or shadowing programs, and code reviews, combining training and style and work alignment tasks. If you have some experience with different companies and you’ve been through several onboarding procedures you’ll probably be able to tell how well it will work out for you. The best thing is to suggest adding items, or changing them, to tailor the program to suit you best. Doing this is only fair because you are probably expected to take charge of your own professional development within the company.
Many software developers get lolled by these onboarding programs and expect development paths to be developed for them, and not with them. Oftentimes many find themselves doing the same thing months and years later, thinking they fell through the cracks, while the management thinks they are satisfied with where they are. Adjusting the environment to provide you with the best possible experience to grow is expected. You’ll further develop your skills as fast as you make your plan known and work with your Team Lead on it.
Balance the workload
For many new developers, getting on board a project seems to take the lead while setting time for learning comes as an afterthought. Making time for both is important if you wish to learn but also work on your weaknesses. Moving forward without patching holes won’t do. Being time conscious is extremely important when taking on more work. If you cannot allocate your time proportionally for the workload and learn about your new company chances are you’ll have a bumpy start.
Mentorship and shadowing programs
Even as a junior you do have some coding experience, let alone being a medior or a senior. In any case, you wish to fit in seamlessly so some coding style changes will be necessary. Each company has its own development standards and you need to acquire those asap. The best way to do it for most new colleagues is through a mentorship or shadowing program. The more junior you are the more you’ll benefit from some observation and training before you join in on a project.
Code Reviews to get up to speed
If this hasn’t been described as a part of your onboarding process you can always suggest it. This way you can learn more about the code style the company has, and see the logic behind it. This will, in turn, lead to your code review, to help your team learn more about you and maybe result in some changes which should improve your and your team’s efficiency.
There’s nothing wrong with being cautious and taking time to get yourself properly acquainted with your new workplace. There’s so much to get used to and learn about: the code, the style, the people, the way the projects are led, the communication. A sink-or-swim environment is fun and adrenaline-pumping but exhausting in the long run. It will inevitably lead to a hard landing after the initial month-to-three high. This motivational and learning slump is unavoidable in any new environment so why make it deeper? After all, all you want is to get up to speed with the others in a reasonable time and start pulling your own weight.
If the situation demands you get in an ongoing project from day 1 and have to dive deep, make sure you’re paired with a seasoned developer who is going to make sure you succeed and survive the initiation. Since you’ll be pressed for results, paired programming or pair work in any capacity will get you through and alive. Once you break the surface to take a breath — go back to basics and get through an onboarding procedure to make sure there aren’t any loose ends.
Written by Jelena Umicevic Bogunovic