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I'm an Electrical Graduate Engineer, and I been working at a large Engineering company for the past 6 months. During this time, I have received no formal training and am constantly tagging on peoples jackets for assistance in roles I have been asked to perform (e.g using Advanced software I have no training in). To their credit, I have been allowed to attend a couple of seminars.

When I joined, I was promised training and career progression and so far have received none. I have asked if there is training available and I have been told several times, 'no'. I also feel asking for help alot can annoy people and lowers my value, so I'm becoming more and more reluctant to do it.

My question is, at this stage in my career, I feel like I should be progressing formally instead of just attempting to self-learn and having to bug people for help. Am I over expecting or does my company have a duty to be training me? Or is this 'self-learning on the job' common in Engineering?

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    You seem to think that training is required for learning and advancement. Do you think that? If so, why? – Jim Clay Nov 20 '18 at 2:37
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    Are they giving you any work to do? If not, ask for some. If so, are they asking about your progress? If not, report it. Do you have regular one on ones with your boss? If so, this seems like a prime topic for discussion. If not, ask him if you can have a chat. In short, if they are not aware that there is a problem, they are unlikely to address it – Mawg says reinstate Monica Nov 20 '18 at 7:51
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Am I over expecting or does my company have a duty to be training me?

You haven't been there a year yet, you are within the normal range to be asking a lot of questions. More surprising if you weren't. Don't worry about your value, you don't have any yet.

Many engineering companies do throw engineers in the deep end and expect them to flounder around for a bit until they find their depth. Unless it's in the contract there is no obligation for them to do otherwise. You're not in class anymore. A lot of your training should have been in how to solve problems, not how to solve a specific problem. You need to utilise these skills until you have earnt more experience.

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There is quite a broad range of how companies train their fresh graduate or junior engineers, and the expectations they have of them - but your situation is quite common (if not the most common). It can be quite daunting for new engineers having come from the relatively structured education to find themselves being almost completely left to their own devices.

Ideally, at a minimum, whenever you are given a new task (at least in your first year), you would sit with an experienced engineer who would run you through the process or software or whatever is needed to fulfil that task. Failing that, you should be given reference material and/or links to documentation. Some places do have a Continuing Professional Development program, but this is far from universal.

Eventually, though, you're going to be expected to do this kind of thing on your own. But that doesn't mean you can't ask for help. I've been an engineer/developer for 18 years, and I still reach out when I need to - especially if I'm venturing out into unfamiliar territory (new language, new framework).

When asking for help, you just need to make sure that you do three things:

  1. Don't keep asking for the same help - if you keep going back with the exact same question, you are going to be perceived negatively.

  2. When given a task that requires knowledge/skills outside of your current set, ask your boss who you could approach for assistance, or where you might be able to find a resource to help with the task.

  3. When asking for help, try and talk through what you've tried already - bonus points if you try to apply something from a previous time you asked for help (as long as it's appropriate) - this shows that you can work independently.

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When I joined, I was promised training and career progression and so far have received none.

The company shouldn't really have been promising you training that appears not to exist. However I think that perhaps your expectations may be a little unrealistic I'm afraid:

My question is, at this stage in my career, I feel like I should be progressing formally instead of just attempting to self-learn and having to bug people for help. Am I over expecting or does my company have a duty to be training me? Or is this 'self-learning on the job' common in Engineering?

Apart from company or regulatory specific things formal training is rare in actual jobs - it's obviously not a universal rule but outside of internship programs most "engineer" type roles (I'm more on the software side myself but the experiences of friends on the electrical side seem similar) but "self-learning on the job" and asking more experienced colleagues for help as needed is far more typical. This isn't an educational environment like college or school - it's a job.

I also feel asking for help alot can annoy people and lowers my value, so I'm becoming more and more reluctant to do it.

You're looking at that wrong - yes there needs to be a level of consideration for the other person's priorities and time when asking for help but people should be expecting a fresh graduate to ask lots and lots of questions. And not asking is actually what is lowering your value - if you don't ask and are unable to find out on your own what to do (or figuring it out yourself takes a disproportionately long time vs asking) then that's just another task/skill you are unable to perform for the company.

Say the company gives a task to reverse the polarity of the widget couplings or something that sounds equally double-dutch to you and you're unwilling to ask for assistance. Then two days later comes to you asking:

Hey sidA30! Have you reversed that polarity yet? We need to ship the widget to the customer and we can't do that until the polarity is right.

you respond with:

No, I don't know how!

I'd be fully expecting them to come back with:

Well why didn't you ask?

Now, see if you can imagine yourself saying "I didn't want to lower my value" as the reason without cringing.

You're clearly a reasonably smart person - they don't give EE degrees just for showing up after all but your employer will have hired you knowing that your knowledge is incomplete and that you'll still be on a steep learning curve. So ask questions, ask for tips on where you can find info yourself and you'll be progressing in no time. But if you want that progression you need to be the driver behind that, a graduate role means the company is there to help you learn not to spoon feed you.

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