Saturday, October 25, 2008

First two weeks

I've been at the Rubicon Project for two weeks now.

Jumping back into the Start Up World is quite a trip. There are the pluses -- excited peers, interesting projects, free food & beer, freedom to improve process. And the minuses -- what process? code that has all been written in a hurry and extended in unexpected ways, and all the other problems that creep in when hurrying becomes rushing.

The first few weeks at a new job are a unique opportunity. As "the new guy" everything is new and strange. We get a lot of leeway to ask questions -- so ask lots of questions! Of course, we need to do some digging beforehand so we can understand the responses. Keep track of which processes or interfaces are confusing. Everyone else is used to them, warts and all, and will need your insight to smooth out the rough edges.

Meet as many people as you can. Ask them what they do and how it interacts with what you'll be doing. You'll be asking these people for favors soon enough! Use this relatively unstructured time to integrate professionally and socially into the new culture. Now is the time to build a solid base -- from here we will expand our area of competency and influence.

"Hi, I'm [your name], I'm new in [your department]" this is where you'd offer to shake hands If they didn't introduce themselves, follow with "What is your name?" If you've been introduced, but can't remember their name, be honest about it and apologize. "I know we've been introduced, but I can't recall your name. I apologize. What is your name?"

Follow with "Nice to meet you [their name]. [their name], What do you do and how does your department interact with mine?"

I'm glad I got the chance to start on a smallish project with a buddy. This gave me one person to pester instead of annoying the whole team. I was able to jump into the code and make my first SVN commit about a week in. The parts that were too large conceptually for me to figure out I was able to push back to my buddy. It's great to have a project that directly affects the product. I've seen plenty of new hires toiling away on an initial project that will be stand-alone -- this doesn't tie them into the main product and they're essentially still just the new guy when they're done.

Hey, don't kill yourself in the first weeks. Realize that you'll need extra down-time for all these new experiences to sink in. Let the new grooves form.

I'm really excited to be back around excited people. I've spent much of today (Saturday) reading through our code base and browsing software books for related patterns.

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