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I recently started a new position as a software/electrical engineer at a mid-size tech company. I have a dual degree in Computer Engineering/Computer Science (BS CECS), and a Masters in Education (M.Ed). I left the tech field almost 10 years ago to become a middle school math teacher and give back to my community using my tech skills/abilities to make math more fun and engaging for young students. I worked hard to earn my Masters so I could be a more effective teacher, and I had a wonderful time teaching, but education doesn't pay the bills, so I left to rejoin the tech field.

Upon my hiring at the tech company I was thrust into new programming languages, new projects, and other things that are WAY over my head, and I often times feel like I'm drowning. Because of my lack of knowledge on a lot of things I am often looked over and bypassed for my colleagues when others, outside the engineering department, have questions pertaining to things I'm working on. It's a little annoying because the questions they ask are questions I feel I know, and I am a people pleasing personality. So I want to please others and feel included in my new work environment.

My question is - is it wrong to want to be "that guy" that everyone comes to for their solutions? I feel my drive and work ethic is through the roof since my hiring, and I am constantly looking for new ways to improve my coding, installation, maintenance, and all around knowledge of all things in my department. I want people to come to me and ask my my opinion/help/whatever.

Is this a silly reason to want to be better at my job? What are other things I could do to become "that guy?"

closed as primarily opinion-based by gnat, Dukeling, Strader, mxyzplk, Jim G. Nov 17 '18 at 23:12

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Wanting to be better at your job is never silly – DarkCygnus Nov 15 '18 at 20:39
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    Seems sad that education doesn't pay the bills, you seem to be very suited for it – Kilisi Nov 15 '18 at 23:34
  • Added further clarification question about "what" can be done in addition to help become 'that guy.' It's less opinion based, and can be more subjectively answered. – MacItaly Nov 20 '18 at 23:58
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Is it wrong to want to be "that guy" that everyone comes to for their solutions?

There isn't anything inherently wrong with wanting to be the person with all of the answers as long as you realize sometimes you won't have the answers and be willing to learn from someone else. It's important that you do not try to horde all of the knowledge too. The engineers that advance in their careers are the ones willing to learn new things and teach other people those new things.

Because of my lack of knowledge on a lot of things I am often looked over and bypassed for my colleagues when others, outside the engineering department, have questions pertaining to things I'm working on.

You are still new to the company and you haven't developed enough clout yet. This will come with time, but speak up in the meeting or to your manager if you think you can help. Keep in mind you'll start to see people coming to you for answers typically when you have been at the company for 6 months to 1 year.

  • Great answer, it is hard to be "that guy" when you're still learning your way around the company. – abrhm21 Nov 15 '18 at 22:41
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is it wrong to want to be "that guy"

This is something you earn over time. You don't fall into it just because you want to. You get there by earning trust and respect for your knowledge and competence.

Trying to be 'that guy' actually makes you 'that annoying person who is always telling me how to do things properly like I'm an idiot'.

Become the best at something and you become that guy by default. It's not totally about popularity either. You can be that guy for small issues and have a guru who no one likes who is the real 'go to guy'.

  • I am definitely not 'that annoying person who is always telling me how to do things properly like I'm an idiot." I work hard to give everyone a lot of respect and work toward resolutions together. Being a teacher helped me to hone those skills. – MacItaly Nov 16 '18 at 23:46
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    I didn't say you were, I meant that is the perception when you 'try' to be 'that guy' rather than naturally fill the position. – Kilisi Nov 17 '18 at 0:00
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Are you wrong for wanting to be the go-to guy for some aspect of your company's work? Certainly not! That is an excellent aspiration, and you should never give it up. It's the way you make a name for yourself.

It takes a while to get there. You might start by picking some area of of your company's work that's neglected. Then, educate yourself on it. Maybe you can even get the company to spring for a training program or trade-show visit. Ask your supervisor to give you assignments giving you experience in that area.

You also should consider investing in your own training. There are plenty of free online resources, and some modestly priced paid ones. Pluralsight and Safari Books Online are just two (I have no relationship with either outfit other than customer).

Don't sell your teaching experience short. Your decade of experience engaging thirteen-year-olds and explaining stuff to them means you have rare and valuable skills in engineering: the knowledge of what's obvious and what isn't, the chops to make it accessible, and ways of knowing whether your audience "gets it" or not.

Who knows? Maybe you'll be a renowned system architect in ten years, because you're able to explain what needs to get built.

Be patient with yourself: you'll get there.

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