My Best Advice for New Hires
Learn to walk before you run
I recently hired four new engineers for the API team at GitHub. Starting a new job is never easy, and I feel like it is especially harder when you land at one of your dream jobs.
As part of their interview process and onboarding, I've been thinking a lot about how to help our new teammates be as successful as possible and what advice I can give without overwhelming them with information. It ended up boiling down to this:
Do not rush to show value.
What does that even mean?
I can't speak for everyone, but I and many other new comers had pretty big imposter syndrome when we joined GitHub.
These questions were always top of mind for me: How did I earn this job? Will I live up to expectations? Will they figure out that I'm a fraud? How can I prove myself as fast as possible?
This mentality is more harmful than anything. Rushing to show value is not helpful, and most people tend to do mistakes when they feel rushed.
Furthermore, they do not have to prove themselves. The fact that they successfully went through our interview process and that we extended an offer out to them is proof in and of itself that they deserve it.
In fact, they should trust our decision-making process that led to their hiring, and hopefully remove some pressure off of their shoulders.
Learn to walk before you run
Every step in the onboarding process is important, and the goal is not to skip them in the spirit of moving fast. New hires should focus on learning to walk before they can run. I understand that it is challenging to not be as productive as you know you can be, but the onboarding process is a great opportunity to solidify your foundation and understanding of your new "company's system and architecture.
These steps will serve you well in the future:
- Taking the time to digest all the information you're reading.
- Asking questions.
- Digging deeper into the code to better understand how the system works.
- Thinking about the big picture, and how the different parts of the system interact with each other.
- Bookmarking important links that you'll want to refer back to in the future.
- Pairing with other engineers.
- Listening and participating in meetings.
- Taking notes.
The goal is to set yourself up for future success. If you skip a bunch of important steps, you (and others) will quickly notice the gaps in your understanding.
Imposter syndrome is real, and a big topic on its own, but ultimately it is important to acknowledge that it exists and to also understand that reacting to it by rushing your onboarding is not the key to success.
Instead, take a more steady approach by solidifying your foundation and understanding of your new company, and you will be better set up to show all the value that you can bring to them.
Photo by Bonneval Sebastien on Unsplash
PS: If you enjoyed this article, you may enjoy some of my other articles on designingforscale.com
Code, coffee, and a bunch of kids. Sometimes all at once. Senior Engineering Manager @ GitHub, building public APIs. Husband. Dad to 4 in 4 years.