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Being successful at a big company

Hello! I will be starting a new software engineering position at a very big company. What are some ways that I can be successful in communicating with others on my team and what are some things to avoid doing?

#programming #technology #CS

Thank you comment icon Andrew, Thanks for asking your question on CareerVillage and you've gathered some great advice here. Checking back to say best wishes to you in your new role and I hope you enjoy your new position and company. Happy Holidays to you and keep asking great questions! Melisa Cameron

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Doc’s Answer

Andrew during your early days in your new job, your employer will look for confirmation that you are a good fit for the position and for the organization. After all, the decision to hire a new employee is based on relatively limited information: how you performed in the interview, and, in some cases, what your references said about you. Your employer is going to be watching to ensure that you're fitting in well. Once you start the job, make it a priority to gain the trust of your supervisor and your colleagues, establish positive relationships within your own department and outside of it, and ensure you are in a position to do your best work. This will create a very healthy foundation for your future with the company. It's important to be the new employee who listens carefully, asks questions, and engages with coworkers. Remember, that everyone else has been in your position at one point, and most people are happy to help ensure a smooth transition for the new person on the job.
• Engage strategically in meetings and conversations – It’s understandable that you’ll have a lot to catch up on in a new job and may not have insights and opinions to share right out of the gate. However, sitting silently in meeting after meeting won’t make a great impression, either. Instead, aim to strike a balance between listening carefully (which will be extremely important in getting oriented) and speaking up or asking smart questions.
• Keep your supervisor apprised of the status of your projects, so he or she is aware of the value that you’re adding to your department. Seek input and assistance when you are stumped, but try to avoid coming across as needy by asking numerous questions. Try to solve as many problems as possible on your own or with input from colleagues at your own level. If you do need to ask a question, preface it with the steps you’ve already taken to solve it on your own.
• Establish open communication channels with your supervisor and key team members – Not only will this give you the opportunity to keep your supervisor up-to-date with your accomplishments, but you’ll be able to group questions together so you can ask them all at once rather than sporadically throughout the day or week. Solicit feedback periodically and respond positively to constructive criticism. Make it clear to your supervisor and other staff that you are all about self-improvement.
• Identify potential mentors within your organization and get to know them – Consider senior staff as well as strong performers in positions at your level and/or one level above you. Develop positive working relationships with staff at all levels of the organization, with particular emphasis on the people with whom you’ll be working regularly. Not only will strong relationships enhance your overall work experience, but most organizations perform 360-degree evaluations of staff, so it is important to be on good terms with colleagues who may be evaluating you.
• Associate with positive people – Stay away from complainers and slackers at all costs. Avoid griping to fellow employees since you never know who will quote you or cast you in a negative light. If someone starts complaining or gossiping directly to you, try to stay “neutral” if at all possible. If you can’t deflect or switch topics, then ask constructive questions instead. Identify star performers at your level and analyze what has made them successful in their roles. This can give you an idea of what skills, abilities, or accomplishments are valued at the organization.
• Participate in office activities – Do your best to ingratiate yourself into the organization’s social happenings so you can get to know your colleagues on a personal level. That being said, starting a new job can be exhausting, and if attending numerous group activities simply feels like too much, focus on the most important and/or required events. If you find you connect better in one-on-one situations, ask a colleague to grab coffee or lunch instead.
• Take care of yourself – Starting a new job can be mentally and physically taxing. However, you don’t want to burn yourself out in your early days. Be sure to take care of your health and spend some time doing activities that invigorate you. While you may feel like you have to dedicate every waking hour to this new position, doing so can quickly degrade your health and have a negative impact on your performance. Strive to maintain a healthy work-life balance right out of the gate.

Good Luck Andrew
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Julie’s Answer

Hey Andrew, many congrats! Best of luck with the new role!
For me, the key things I look for when someone starts a new role is that they demonstrate real passion for the job, energy and commitment to get things done, a want to learn (continuous improvement mindset) and that they are a team player. Ask loads of questions (none are stupid, particularly in the first few months as people know that you're new) and it will show you're interested and ensure you understand. If you don't understand why something is done a certain way - question it. People become blind to why they do things a certain way and it's often only when someone new comes in and challenges it that they can step back and think "I don't know why we do it that way - I agree, let's do it differently - that's better".
Don't worry about not understanding the company language - each company has its own 3 letter acronyms and naming conventions - it will take a while before it becomes familiar.
Check in with your supervisor frequently to ask for feedback as to how you're doing. Share your ideas, show what you're working on, how you're doing against your goals (and if they haven't given you any, suggest them).
Enjoy! It's a great learning experience.
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Kiran’s Answer

Andrew T. - Congratulations for your new job! Here are few things for a starter:

1. Be proactive
2. Spend time to learn about the firm, it's offering, core principles & values
3. Meet your time and get to know them - network
4. Understand your role, day to day responsibilities, reporting structure and preferred way of communication with your direct reports
5. Go through any assigned learning paths or mandatory trainings


Good luck!
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Raghunandan’s Answer

Few key things that works well;

a) Always be inquisitive to learn from Day 1; about current product, team members, group you are in and most importantly what is the company's landscape in the overall industry

b) Network with a large number of people

c) Learn elements of communication; what works and what doesn't

d) Do not feel disheartened about failures. They are your true learning opportunities.

e) Be disciplined on a daily basis. Do not feel that you are dragging your feet to work

f) Have fun and figure out ways to motivate yourself. No one can inject motivation levels for you and there wont be any vaccine :)

Best Wishes
Raghunandan
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Gloria’s Answer

Hi Andrew,

Congratulations on your job. It can be exciting and challenging to work at a large company. I certainly know the feeling. I would start with making sure that you know what you want out of your career and your company. Is your goal to stay with this company for a long time? To move up into higher roles? Make more money? Whatever direction you take, you should think about what you want right now. Your desires can and will change over time, so I would say that you start there. Once you have a direction, you should focus on building a network around you that supports that direction. One person in that network should be a mentor. You should find someone who already has what you want to achieve and learn from them how they did it. It may take a few tries to find the right mentor, but make sure that you find one that you can trust to be honest with you. Network with people who are good at what they do and are also moving in the direction that you want. I have always grown stronger in my skills when I am surrounded by talented people who make me want to be better. If you are the best at what you do in a group, move to another group. You learn more from the people who you chase than from those who are behind you.

So what is networking? Meeting and engaging with a variety of people, especially people who do what you do for a living. My company makes it very easy since we have a lot of employee groups. Join groups at your company. Go to events that are in shared spaces and meet people you have never before. Volunteer for charities where you know nothing about them. Volunteer at work to be on cross-functional projects that allow you to learn more about the business. All of these things have one thing in common - connections to people.

Good luck in your new employment. And have fun.

Gloria
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Paul Anthony’s Answer

If you've ever heard the phrase "It's not what you know, it's who you know", it's half right in this situation. You still need to know your stuff, and prove your competence so you have something to build on. After that it's all about building your professional network, especially within your company. At a large company, hardly any project gets completed alone. Make friends (professional and/or social) with people across your enterprise. Eventually that will pay off as you will be able to help them complete their work, and they will be able to help you do the same. Develop key contacts in as many different departments as you can, and try to at least have a rudimentary understanding of what they do. The more you can understand how the business works, how money is made, the more likely you are to be chosen for special projects, because you can bring extra prospective. Those special projects are a springboard for your career, because they help to expand your network, and showcase to your employer that you are capable of bringing more value to your company.
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Blake’s Answer

Hey Andrew,

Whether it's a big or small company I would recommend the same thing. First and foremost, be yourself. If you try and be someone that you're not it will never feel authentic. Second, be open and honest about what you're looking for when communicating and be direct. If you're looking for X and you're asking about Y, it will only lead to further confusion. Finally, do what you say you're going to do. If you tell someone that you will help them at 8:00am, be there to help them at 7:59am (or don't tell them you can help because you won't make it on time). It is very easy to over commit in the work force and as a result you will end up under delivering. Hope this helps!

Thanks,
Blake
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Evan’s Answer

Andrew, this is a great question, and there isn't one answer, however multiple answers. The first thing I would suggest is to build your network. You really need to understand who does what and how your job will impact (good or bad) their job. Second, be intentional about your actions (attitude, decisions) and work (projects, skillsets). Make sure you're talking about, sharing, and keeping the teams you work with updated on your work. In a bigger company, stakeholdering is very important - it ensures alignment and allows people to have input, as you likely won't be the single owner of something. The last piece I'll add, is keep your head up while working hard. You need to advocate for yourself, and bring your network to do the same. I hope this helps - and you'll find your own ways to be successful.
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Swaroop’s Answer

Congratulations on your new role!

In the context of communication, from my personal experience, put yourself in a position where you are interacting with more of your peers on a recurring basis. You can do so by setting up informal 1-1s / coffee chats to get to know them/ learn from them and even form an organic mentoring relationships with them. Things to talk about it in these chats:
1. You can start with questions like this one and ask them how they approached it early in their career.
2. Be vulnerable and share what you are struggling with and ask them how they think about it.
3. If you see someone who is really good in a specific area, generally it's not an accident, they have put in work to get there. So reach out to them, appreciate them for what they are good at and ask them how they got there.
Generally, people are love to talk about themselves and are always happy to help. :)

I truly wish I had done more of this early in my career. Forming and investing in these relationships goes a long way and that is what I have learned to value more as I have progressed in my career.

Swaroop recommends the following next steps:

Setup your first 1-1 with a peer and think about one area you think they are good at and ask them how they got there.
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Kevin’s Answer

Congratulations Andrew,

Show up on time, don't leave early, and show a great interest in what you're working on. Ask questions...I've worked with people that would rather do something wrong rather than ask a question, to which they think they're already expected to know the answer too. Truth is asking questions is invaluable, especially if you ask the right people (another important part of asking questions). They can give you invaluable insight to your co-workers and new company's strategies and values and also provide a great opportunity to be proactive and engaging in conversations or meetings. Asking questions doesn't mean you're ignorant or inferior, it means you are interested in learning about company processes and values.

Be somebody, others want to work with. Be friendly and don't let others' comments influence your opinion about people in the office. Be an active listener by making eye contact in meetings, taking notes, asking questions, etc.. Be genuine, honest, and give constructive feedback. Be confident, but not arrogant. When you see an opportunity where improvement can be made, whether it's with a certain process or product, humbly bring it forth and if they don't like it, don't get discouraged. And don't take constructive criticism to personal. Best of luck in your new job!
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Subathra’s Answer

Hi Andrew,

Here are my tips:

Be proactive.
Have a good rapport with your colleagues especially with your manager/immediate supervisor.
Take responsibility.
Volunteer for tasks.
Excel in your domain.
Last but not the least, integrity is an utmost important characteristic.

Best wishes!


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Hendrik’s Answer

Hi, good attitude to think already about this before starting.
Be open and try reaching out to others quite often and make sure you see always the big picture and not get stuck in silos.

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Judy Lynn’s Answer

Hi Andrew,

Congratulations on getting the role! I'm happy to see that you're in a platform like this to get advice - this is a good sign of humility and motivation to do well. :)

I was just in a Focus Group Discussion (FGD) with principal engineers at my organization this morning and this was one of the things we were talking about. Here are a few gold nuggets I got from them that I would also like to share with you:
1. Be open to learning new things. Often times when we just graduated from school, we continue to have an academic mindset and feel that we need to give the best output the first time to get a high grade. When you start working in the corporate world, you'll realize that trying to get the job perfectly the first time isn't always going to work - and will sometimes even lead to rework because it wasn't what was needed for the project. Make it about learning - ask for feedback from peers and mentors and be willing to modify and adjust your output to fit the needs of the project.
2. Surround yourself with trusted peers and mentors. "If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room." Learn from people who have the wisdom and experience - they will be more than happy to share with you their personal learnings and journey that you can learn from. Receiving feedback and guidance from them will also help you shorten your own learning curve. Be courageous to open up discussions and to ask for help.
3. Be proactive. While others may have the tenure and the experience, it doesn't mean your ideas do not count. Having a fresh set of eyes will always do wonders for a project! Do not be afraid to voice your opinions, to share your ideas, and to brainstorm with colleagues. If your ideas aren't taken on for a project this time, don't take it personally - this is not a reflection of you. But continue to share your ideas and to look for solutions.

I wish you all the best!
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Jai’s Answer

First of all, many congratulations on getting the new job.
Regarding effective communication within the team, I would recommend you first understand what is the existing communication tools or processes are there, and then learn how to efficiently use them. However, the best way could be to find a buddy in the team and take his/her help to learn the tricks that work there, that would be the easiest and faster way to become familiar with the new team.

Things to avoid -
Every company is different and have different culture and people, so there is no absolute way to say what to avoid. However in general you should be careful about saying "yes" to things which you are not comfortable with and be transparent in your actions and communications. Trust me that goes long way and will help you to build good relationships with the team members.

Good luck!
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Krantisinh’s Answer

Hi,

Welcome to the tech world! Since this industry is composed of people who like very high professionalism, communication is a key skill that one should possess in order to succeed. Here are some key things that will help you communicate better -

1) Whether it's verbal communication or written, be prompt in responses. Make the other person feel that he is important and the question he has asked is important for you to answer
2) Keep your answers crisp and to the point
3) Avoid the usage of strong words. Be polite. Many of the battles can be solved quickly if we choose our words wisely.
4) Ask timely questions and clear your doubts
5) Seek feedback about your work from your colleagues and managers regularly. Take the feedback positively and work on things that can be improved
6) Express gratitude for the help that you may have received from someone. Appreciate others for their good work
7) Be proactive and embrace challenging opportunities. That's how you'll grow faster

Wish you all the very best for your career :)

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Apurva’s Answer

Hi!

Lot of good advice on this thread. I would say the following things are generally good ideas:

1. Find out who you will be working with and setup 1-1's with everyone. Get to know your team and establish close friendships/relationships there

2. Understand the reporting structure at a big company is a good idea - to understand how you fit and where you fit in the larger scheme of things

3. Join any social groups that the company provides - most companies do this now - and you will get to meet folks outside of your team with similar interests

4. Be proactive - if there's a leader or someone above you in your org - reach out to them! You'll be surprised.

5. Ask questions! Above all else - be curious and try to learn more about the place you are working at, don't expect people to come to you with all the answers
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