The beginning stages of a career in engineering can be daunting. You’re trying to make the most of the opportunity at your new job and learning as much as you can, and as a result, it can be hard to find time and energy to focus on growth. Here are five practical tips that can help you grow as you navigate your engineering career:
It can be common to be in meetings where teammates are throwing around technical terms, and you don’t understand half of what is said. Rather than nodding your head and looking deeply interested when you’re confused or unsure, start by acknowledging that you don’t know what you don’t know. There's power in having awareness of knowledge gaps. If you catch buzz words that are repeated several times, that might indicate something important to note and look into later. If you’re in a team with diverse skill sets, identify the people who have the skills you’d love to learn and pair with them. Pair programming is a great way to learn how someone else approaches and solves problems and learn handy tools and techniques related to your craft. In engineering, one of the best ways to learn new things is by doing, so try to get involved in parts of a project you’re not familiar with and try to build something. Be a constant learner!
Take ownership of a specific portion of your team’s project and work on any tasks related to that. Taking ownership means seeing to it that the work is done from start to finish, spearheading technical decision-making concerning that area, and communicating with the team about the work that has been done. We often talk about trust batteries here at Shopify, and a sure way to charge your trust battery is by delivering the work you have committed to and communicating with your lead & team. The article Showing Ownership as a Developer from The Rising Dev explains ownership in more detail. A great benefit of taking ownership is that it provides you the opportunity to become a subject-matter expert in that area. Before you know it, people will come asking for your opinion on it.