7 Key Takeaways from My first Developer/ML Role

Updated: Dec 7, 2021


Context:


It is almost a year now since I joined for my first full-time Engineer Role. During my 11 months, I worked with a travel team for eight, self-requested to be benched one month, and worked with the Quality Engineering dept as an ML Engineer for their Test Optimiser Solution in the last two months. In this last role, I was awarded the UST Shining Star award for my performance with the team. It's been one steep learning curve, but here are my major takeaways.





A Job is just like dating. Start to end. Ask the questions you would ask yourself about a relationship, about your job too. So you may find a lot of those references down below.


a. Communication is KEY!


Everything from the job interview to the introduction to feedback to resignation. Clear-cut communication is an urgent skill. Know where you want to go, and communicate that ALWAYS! Keep things transparent.


b. Know thy emails and ccs and bccs.


As much as face-to-face communication is important, document them too. Send a follow-up mail after calls summarising what you just discussed. Update your manager on what you are working on, the progress, the obstacles, etc. This is, so they know what you are up to, the progress and the delays, what to expect from you, and how to help you better, thus helping the product move forward.


This was one of the best things I picked up in my internship with Pramati, which helped me perform well with the QA team.


c. Each dept/person in the team speaks a different language. The earlier you catch on, the better.


Each dept sees the product differently. What they care about differ. So in cross-team communication, listen more than you speak. Genuinely understand the perspective before interjecting with your own. Understand why they prefer things one way, explain why you think otherwise, or what the struggle on your end is. You'll have a way faster way of getting stuff done this way.


Similarly, when you talk/report to your managers too. Ask yourself, what does he/she/they really care about? What is the best way to communicate the same? This is a fantastic place to use those visualization skills. The wonders colors, pie charts, and graphs can do to convey a message!!!


d. Two amazing people isn't always a perfect match.

A fantastic team, and you being good at what you do, has nothing to do with how good a match the both of you are. If your skills do not align with the product/project vision, then someone is hurting in the relationship.


e. Make sure you work with a product that you not only love but has use for you too.


It's one thing to have PRs merged, and another to truly enjoy what you are doing. When you enjoy the work you do, time flies so fast, and you don't even feel bad about a couple of all-nighters; in fact, you are probably the one taking the initiative. Speaking of which,


f. Know the boundaries.


I used to be a huge person, of "If you love your work, you will be doing it always." I know; it's such an ignorant opinion. Thankfully, I have grown. I realized the importance of drawing that boundary if you look at the long-term picture and how much more you enjoy the work when you have a sense of balance. I am still a bit torn on how much your work-life should be separated from your personal life. Guess I will learn it sometime later.


g. Know when to leave.


Like a relationship, know when it is no longer working. It will help both - you and the team. When you do decide to leave, I think you should write down why you are, lest you forget later. But unlike a relationship, Do NOT BURN BRIDGES. No matter in what context you decide to leave. The first time I put in my resignation, it was because the product pipeline didn't align with what I wanted from my career nor what I expected from my role. When this happens talk to your manager. If it still doesn't work; like in dating - switch teams. I did the same and it was awesome!


Find your kursi.




These are all I can think of at the moment. I'll add more on as and when it crosses my mind.




Final Note:


I completed knowledge transfer about a month ago. While I closed the project one last time, my heart was so whole! Warm, gooey, and all things wholesome. A tear escaped my eye. Though this was definitely not what I saw coming for me when I joined for my first full-time job, I was so happy looking back! Look at all that happened, how much I grew in just 11 months, of all the struggles and sweet spots, of how much I changed for the better, and I was so thankful! Thank you, UST, for the opportunity!