4 Steps to Start An Engineering Job Strong

One thing you may think about when starting a new engineering job is how you are going to integrate yourself and "hit the ground running" so to speak. You want your previous experiences to give you a head start but by the same token you know that there is so much unknown you can't exactly directly apply as if you are just continuing what you were doing before.

So you ask yourself the question "what's the quickest way to learn this new job?"

I broke this down into 4 main steps that will allow you to learn the new job.

1. Listen and Learn

I realize this may seem like an obvious, lame answer, but is true nonetheless. The fastest way to learn anything is to empty your cup. We've said this before but if your cup is full, e.g. you think you already have all the knowledge, when you add water to it it just overflows. It's better to assume you know nothing.

Be a sponge, a fly on the wall and assume you know nothing. You never know when someone may tell you something you never knew or gives you a perspective you haven't thought of before.

On that note if you do prefer to listen - no worries, we've got you covered, tune in to the episode here or by your favorite podcast app.

2. Do Your Research

Google some stuff, everything on the interwebs and download everything you can into your brain. If that includes you finding out that the new job uses certain software or uses a particular architecture, go and use the software. Download the free trial, maybe its a 7 day thing and just get yourself exposed to it. You can quickly pick up jargon and ask better questions then the basics of "what is this thing", "what does that stand for?" and get to the nitty gritty of the learning with better questions.

3. Ask Questions

Now that you've done the public 3rd hand research, make sure you are asking questions of everyone. Employ your Socratic method. Ask, for your own curiosity, why things work a certain way. Even if you may have an alternative, fully explore the idea, take it to a certain point until you have a more detailed question to ask.

Now, I know there are some of you out there that think asking too many questions could make people think you don't know what you are talking about and/or you may feel that you might become annoying. The truth is, an advantage for a company to bring someone in is the fact that they will have a fresh perspective.

They will ask questions that for the longest time the company answers "that's just the way we've always done it" and never really revisited, questioned or came up with better ways to do things.

This divergent thought is exactly where innovations can be born, and if you're in an engineering space, a technology space, I think innovation is quite important.

You are doing a disservice to your new company by NOT asking questions.

Look, if you really are worried about it, I have a guide on how to ask questions without being disrespectful of senior engineers, and it will give you a break down, a few ideas, psychology and philosophy on dealing with it.

4. Make a drawing

A drawing of what you believe the whole scope to be. It's essentially a representation of what you think works, what you think the job is, what you think the role of the company is and then finding where your role fits into this picture.

This will guide you in knowing which gaps to fill in. To see where do you need to ask more questions, or get more training, or have someone walk you through to complete that picture of understanding.

Otherwise you end up just wandering around blindly filling in the gaps over time. I mean, you will eventually cover it all, this is why after a year of working somewhere you really get into the swing of things. But remember, we are trying to start things really strong here.

Treat this as a blueprint of sorts. How can you prove you are on the same page as your company, or team when you don't know what the page is to begin with.

Don't get me wrong, there will be training, inductions, conversations with leaders and all that and these are necessary. This is in addition to those things. Think about the best way to know if you understood what someone is trying to say is to repeat what they said in your own words and see if they agree with your premise. If it is the same they will agree. Or they will add something, take away something, make some kind of distinction so that your image starts to become more clear.

The drawing should either be a short workflow of how things work, how it goes from customer or client to your company, then it gets to your team, then your team does what and then feeds that to who, and then finally customer gets thing.

Somewhere there you fit in and the way this picture looks depends on the company, industry, etc. So I don't have a sample drawing for you, but just reach out maybe I can come up with something to help.