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Two Weeks Into the New Job: What’s Working and What Isn’t?

Not counting my orientation I’ve now completed two weeks of work in the new job as a Quality Engineer at Red Hat. There’s been adjustment and learning and getting to know a new team and HR paperwork and fun and rough edges.

I think its a good time to take a step back and figure out what’s going well and what isn’t and how to turn some of the later into the former.

So, let’s start with the good. What’s been going well at the new job?

  • The product I’m on the QE team for is built using the back-end and front-end web technologies I’ve been using for a decade in some areas (Django) and at least years in others (React). Without even peering inside this has already given em some insight that’s made the transition and some of testing a lot easier. Familiarity is helpful even when I’m not directly building the product, it turns out.
  • At all levels I’m clearly supported in my transition and see the same support going to other recent additions, so I feel pretty comfortable experimenting and exploring where I feel I need.
  • Respect is going both ways. Even as the New Guy I don’t feel like I can’t speak up to argue against a point. The rest of the team is immediately accepting of my input as if we’d been working together for months. I think that goes both ways, because I definitely need to rely on the assumptions of their knowledge and when I reach out I’m confident of getting what I need.

But, a new job is still a new environment, a new workflow with new expectations, and a differnet technology stack and practice. With all the positives and the remarkably smooth transition there’s still bound to be some rough edges.
  • I’m set in my ways after a decade building the same kind of products with largely the same stacks and teams! The move into a team that uses much  of the same technology also means a move to a team that uses that technology differently. That doesn’t mean wrongly, of course, but I am a developer with strong opinions about the ways I do things. I think there’s more room to push for the cases where I’d like to change something for subjective reasons, but so far I’m still finding the accepted edges around which I can make those pushes.
  • Quality Engineering is a top-down view and I have deeply ingrained experience with a bottom-up view of building software. I’m not yet used to focusing on production and production-like environments rather than light developer environments for my day-to-day work. There’s some overhead involved in essentially a QA role that, as a developer in my previous role, I have really strong urges to strip away. Removing those layers would be a detriment to the whole point of the end-to-end tests we need to do, so I have to fight it.
  • The deep knowledge and established practices of Quality Assurance and Engineering is pretty foreign to me as an explicit pursuit. Sure, I’ve tested my software and I’ve worked with QA professionals. What I lack is a lot of the cultural experience that this niche of the software industry has built up, just like the niches I’ve been a part of in the past. That’s something I can learn from a vast selection of material, but a lot of it will take time to absorb through working with more experienced folks and just gaining my own experience slowly.

Of course, I hope that I can continue to have more of the positive experiences than the negatives experiences. So far, that has absolutely been in the case. I’ve already made good contributions to the work and I’m sure I’m in a positive to do some great work. That’s exciting! I’m not under any illusions that I’m walking in like a rock star. I know there’s an enormous amount I have to learn, but I’m likewise realistic in that I understand my own experience is still bringing a lot to the table.

It feels good to be confident. Is also feels good to have so much to learn.

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