It’s been a year since I started full-time at my current job. I would be lying if I said that everything was smooth sailing since I first started, but nonetheless, it’s a nice milestone to be celebrating.
If I didn’t mention this before, I am working at a local networking company as a software engineer. This is my first full-time job fresh out of university that I was fortunate to get through my previous co-op experience at this same company. I decided to come back because of both the people and the overall culture I experienced while being an intern.
As a new grad, I joined a company where there were loads of people way more experienced than I was, and that was honestly really scary to me. I was scared to make mistakes, scared to submit code reviews, scared of everything. At the same time, it was also a time to learn, and to learn, you do make mistakes along the way. Forget about the internship I had more than a year ago (when I started), I came back to a fresh start. Of course, I’m expected to remember some of the things I learned when I was interning, but a lot of things were very new to me. When I made mistakes (which I did, probably lots), someone pointed them out to me, and you know, it’s a learning experience, and I noted them down where need be to try and not make the same mistake again.
Another thing I was scared of was asking questions. Thinking back on it now, it’s actually pretty stupid, but I found it hard to judge when it was appropriate to ask questions. On one end, I don’t want to bombard someone with questions right away without trying anything, but at the same time, I don’t want to waste too much time before asking a question that could get me unblocked right away. Striking that balance was especially hard at the beginning because I was still new and I’m expected (or at least I gave myself the expectation) to fight and dig a little bit first before resorting to help. I told my manager this, and we came to a similar conclusion above. Now that I’m a year in, I’m more familiar with the sort of resources I have at my disposal, and I can do my initial dig quicker to determine when I can ask questions.
WFH in the COVID era
Now, this past year wouldn’t be complete without mention the fact that we had to also deal with the global pandemic that is (still) COVID-19. Suddenly, in March, we were all told to work from home, and that was such a huge shift for me. Don’t get me wrong though; I enjoy working from home, but I might have also mentioned this before: it’s a double-edged sword. It was really nice to not have to waste like 1 – 1.5 hours on commuting to work everyday. Definitely saved me some frustration on the road.
On the other hand, striking the balance between work and personal time was (and arguably still is) extremely difficult. There were some days where I would start at 9am and end at like 9pm (with meal breaks and whatnot, of course). There were multiple factors to that. Sometimes, it would be because I was helping debug in a customer escalation, while sometimes it would be because I wanted to wrap something up and not have to deal with it the next day. More often than not, it was because I was frustrated that I wasn’t making enough progress on the project that I was given. This was especially true in the first two months. I had a few mental breakdowns, unsure of what to do or how to approach it. Fortunately, my manager and my family were very supportive. My manager gave his two cents with his experience, noting that projects are new, unchartered territory, which is unlike school, where there’s already some solution out there. My family were there to comfort me and to keep me from making rash, unrational decisions about what I should do with my job.
For now, I’m going to keep at it. There’s a lot that I’ve picked up here at the company that I want to use to contribute to our success. Unless something dramatic happens, I don’t think I’ll be leaving any time soon. I’ll continue to give it my all to meaningfully contribute, and hope that those around me continue to help me succeed while I reciprocate that as well.
Anyways, that’s all I had on this for now. Until next time!