I've been working with software development for nearly 3 years, but always in small companies with 6 employees at most. In Dec 2018, I started working in a big company, and I'm still feeling completely lost.

When I started, no one told me who my manager was or what project I'll be working on. I started with configuring my computer before asking who my manager was, what I'll do etc.

When my manager finally showed up, he told me that I won't work on external projects for now, but when this happens here, they ask the employees to work on an internal project. I finished all my tasks in about 2 days, which was 1 week ago, and since then I, again, don't have any work to do.

I sent a message to my manager this morning to ask for more work including suggesting new things, but I think he's on vacation.

I don't know whether what I'm doing in the meantime is correct e.g. studying. It's really annoying to me to just sit here and be useless.

What do you all recommend that I do with my time?


I was studying yesterday, and I found something that I would like to implement in this internal project that I was working on before. Thus, I think this could be productive for me today. My plan is, when I finish this, to send an email to my manager's boss, who interviewed me, and ask about what's happening and what the plans for me are.


I sent the email to my manager's boss, and I tried to be diplomatic in saying that I am not trying to go over anyone's head, but my manager is on vacation this week and I don't have anything to do. I think he'll answer tomorrow (I hope) because it's almost 6 PM.


My manager's boss called me today to chat about my email that I sent yesterday. On my email I told about another skills who could be useful for the company, and I could help when I'm without any task and my desire to learn new technologies too. He will give me a MacBook to help in another project with iOS development. I'm an Android developer with some XP in iOS.

He have told me about that internal project, my manager didnt give me permission to see the tasks so he gave me now and I will implement the new features. He was very understanding about my email, and the fact that I'm about to be able to work with another technology too makes me feel happy.


Wow. It's been more than a year since I made this question. Time is going fast. Well, all can I say is I joined in this company at the "wrong" time. A lot of changes were going on that month. Three months later, I was sent to travel to work in a very big project. I did well on it. Now, I am earning 75% more than I was when I started in the company. It's been a pleasure to be here tbh. Time is the answer; I was ready to give up in the first month. Thank you guys.


Man, I'm feeling old right now. It's almost 5 years since I've become an employee here. When I made this post I was afraid about my skills and how I could fit in this company. Now I am one of the main skilled employees here, that's why I am now the Head in my technology.

Wow! So many feelings right now. I remember exactly how I felt about this day when I made this post. I was lost because I didn't know if I was in the right profession because I had no money. Now I'm earning 5 times more than I was, I have a brand new car (really difficult to have here in Brazil), and I can help my family every time they need to. This is insane! Thanks again. I hope to come back here in few years telling you guys how good is my job :) (Oh and I think my English is getting better)

  • 210
    I'm 30 years into it, I'll let you know when that feeling changes. Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 18:04
  • 87
    I answer questions on StackExchange in my free time...
    – jcmack
    Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 19:01
  • 17
    PS your English is better than the vast majority of native English speakers.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 22:28
  • 2
    BTW, your English is fine. :)
    – Barmar
    Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 22:43
  • 13
    With all due respect to English language learners, I don't think it's a good idea to tell OP their English was great when you're looking at the already-edited post. Original text was pretty rough. Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 17:29

8 Answers 8


It's completely normal to feel lost at a new job the first month

It sounds like you're doing the right thing

Waiting, studying in this free time, and looking for be busy

Keep studying. You will get better.

A few things I do when I start a new job/project

  1. Spend personal time reading a book on their technology stack

  2. Volunteer for grunt work that will show me more of the system

  3. Find a mentor on the team I can go to for help

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    What annoying me its no one have spoke with me or something, maybe they were more interesting in their vacation
    – LMaker
    Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 18:33
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    @LMaker To be honest, you might be right about people being more interested in their vacations. Most white-collar businesses get pretty quiet in late December as most employees go on Christmas vacation. Now that the holiday season is over, I predict that you'll find things become a lot more lively - and it will be easier to get the onboarding help you need.
    – Kevin
    Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 23:00
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    Learn as much as you can about the business and the product/s.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 23:26
  • 1
    @Kevin Indeed. I ended up being the only person on my entire floor for a week when I was an intern at an oil & gas company. Taking a solid vacation and completely turning off your phone was a big perk of that particular large corporate lifestyle.
    – mbrig
    Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 23:45
  • +1 for find a mentor. To expand, I would definitely talk with other team members if you don't have tasks from your manager. They may have things you can help with or at least validate what you're doing with the down time
    – aw04
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 1:20

Some level of feeling lost is normal. But most of what you're going trough is probably related to starting right before the company semi-shut down for the holidays. I'd expect a return to something normalish by next week since even people who burned 2 weeks of time off via Christmas and New Years weeks should be back in the office.

That said, it's still not a good situation for them to have put you in. You shouldn't've been given a mid-December start date without someone committing to be at least minimally available at a level to keep you from being totally unproductive. If nothing else, saying something on the line of "if you finish your first batch of project XYZ tasks, the general backlog is here, feel free to skim off anything that looks obviously valid and which would be appears to be straightforward to implement." Generally this means minor cosmetic issues and quality of life improvements that don't require changing back end logic.

What's done is done though. In the meantime, I'd suggest trying to find anyone involved in the project you did a few days work on, and ask if there's anything else you could do to help them out.

Failing that, if you know where the backlog is, you could still look for other simple tasks. Alternately studying/practicing with the tech stack you'll be using so that when your manager is back in the office you'll be better placed for whatever you are assigned.

  • 3
    exacly what I think! Look, I've received R$1700 for have worked for 2/3 days, tbh. Its a Junior Dev wage for a month. "Oh, but you received so much money to be there doing nothing". I dont feel comfortable with that, really.
    – LMaker
    Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 18:47
  • If I read the OP correctly, he's been there for 6 months. If I'm correct, his problem is much deeper than the firm being 'semi-shut' for the holidays. Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 19:01
  • @dan.mwasuser2321368 nah, I'm here for less than 1 month
    – LMaker
    Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 19:02
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    I've worked Software Development at a few big companies, and not one of them has had a "general backlog" pool of work that developers could just dip into on their own initiative. I once got chewed out because a manager (incorrectly) thought I'd picked a new task for myself while he was on vacation without talking to a more senior engineer about it.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 22:53
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    @LMaker you shouldn't feel bad, they screwed up.
    – DonQuiKong
    Commented Jan 4, 2019 at 6:26

Relatively new employees (and I include someone with 3 years experience in this category) often think that their manager(s) have "super powers" - that their managers always know what they are working on, how busy they are, how much work they have left, etc. Anyone who has ever been in the manager's chair, though, knows that this is far from the truth.

New employees also think that they shouldn't bother their manager, or keep him/her informed of their status, where they are having problem, etc. This is also very far from the truth.

The best way to be successful at work is to establish a good, open, dialogue with your manager, so that you know what is expected of you, and so that he/she can learn what you are strong with, where you need support, etc. You cannot be successful without this, and your manager cannot be successful unless you are.

Now that the holidays are over, ask to have a meeting with your manager, and ask to have her fully explain what your responsibilities are, what her priorities are, whom you should be working with, how and from whom you should seek assistance, etc. Most importantly, establish a regular meeting with your manager (I recommend weekly) so that you can keep each other in touch.

  • Thanks for your advice mate, I always try to give feedbacks to my manager. Its like "Who is not seen is not remembered"
    – LMaker
    Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 19:16
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    I think in english is something like "out of sight, out of mind"
    – LMaker
    Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 19:17
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    It's sometimes the case at big companies that when a team is 'in the weeds' that they will be 'given' new team members to help. The problem is that the last thing a team needs when they are behind is to have to bring a new team member up to speed. This is a bad situation for all involved and it might be what you've been dropped into. Ask your manager if there are some low-priority defects or technical debt items that you can address without slowing anyone down significantly. This will keep you busy and help you become a contributor.
    – JimmyJames
    Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 22:33
  • ^ That is known as Brook's Law. Commented Jan 4, 2019 at 15:30
  • Of course it is true that manager don't see all and know all, but new employees coming on-line always call for attention. If LMaker's normal manager was going to be unavailable he should have delegated the problem of getting LMaker up to speed (this would be a good opportunity to give someone else on the team some mentoring/managing experience, too). Commented Jan 4, 2019 at 15:34

It could be the time of the year.

As said by Kevin in comments, Most of the IT companies go quiet during the month of December. This is particularly true if your company is located in America or Europe or Australia.

Don't judge the work load and it's nature from a single month.

I used to work in a project which will have zero tasks when the clients are in vacation and will have peak work load for certain months. The tasks and work load will not be always even. You could ask your co-workers about it.

During such time we will be spending time on internal projects, learning, documenting, experimenting with new technologies, etc...

Since you are a new employee here you could spend your time on learning about the project you will be working on.


One piece of advice that has always stuck with me came from an old director of mine. She was an excellent manager. She said: Work tends to gravitate towards capable people. When I started in a large company I felt the exact same way, I was fortunately paired up with one of these capable people who had more than enough to do and he could hand me work.

I can also echo the statements here to spend the first few weeks learning as much as u can it will likely not be so easy going after you get your assignments =)

Best of luck!


You seem to be employed in an oursourcing company. They do not have own projects which you can checkout and start hacking from day one. First they need to "sell" you to a customer company and establish a contract. Before they do it they don't get money for your work and you don't have access to customer's data so you might be useless whatever you do.

It is not exceptional that you have to wait for a month, especially during holiday peroid.

So you can relax and do whatever is not a total waste of time. In most cases it is some learning. You could start some project but I'm not sure you should commit too hard to it. Probably this situation will not ever happen again in this company, so you won't be able to continue what you started.

  • Yes! At that time, your "market" was a little different. I mean, that was a lot of opportunities, so companies used to bring new people without a customer. Nowadays we need to have a customer before looking for new people, some things that current crises changed
    – LMaker
    Commented Apr 8, 2023 at 9:03

For my second job, I went from a small company to a big company after 4 years. I felt lost for months. I know how to do my job but it felt like pulling teeth to get some direction and tasking. Everyone was too busy and the company itself was so slow to get accounts ready and other administrative things.

When I started my first job at a much smaller company I had a lot more oversight and more direction which helped prevent me from feeling lost. In a big company its much more likely for helping a new person startup to be a low priority, unless they setup a good system. Don't stress about it just keep asking for help when you need it.

  • Exacly! I know they have their own work but I think its important for the company to help new employees AFAP. They paid me a good money to days when I didnt do anything
    – LMaker
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 19:04
  • The problem with a lot of companies is it costs money to setup a good process for onboarding new employees as well as having current employees spending time helping them. This is a cost now with a benefit in the future and that can be hard to get approved.
    – Chris
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 22:20
  • YES! That's the point. I was working for small companies my entire career until that. Inside a small company, when you don't have a thing to do, your job is in danger. That's why I was so worried about hahaha Now I know how things works
    – LMaker
    Commented Apr 8, 2023 at 8:58

I have found though 15 years experience that the workplace is what you make it. The role you are in should allow you freedom to express your self. Take this freedom. You might not get it with a more autocratic manager. Use this freedom to show others how good you are and what you can do. People will respect this.

I had a similar experience with a role. It took me a week just to get a network password and another week to get access to all the systems that I needed. This is normal. At that point I spent the best part of a month studying the code and reading about their technology stack.

During this time I discovered a number of places where solutions where suboptimal and could be improved. I took it upon my self to gather feedback on pain points from stakeholders of the system who where working with it each day. I asked questions like "Why is the system like this?" and "What where the original design considerations?". With that feedback and my newly gathered technical knowledge of the system I was able to make a number of technical improvements. Other members of the department where grateful and that work directly helped operations run more smoothly.

Here is the situation you are most likely facing: No one knows or understands your skills. No one knows that you can offer value. This is common place in big organisations. You need to demonstrate your value though action. The responsibility is on you not your manager. When you do that all the feelings you describe will fade very quickly. Trust me, I have been there.

  • "I took it upon my self to improve them." So long as your initiative is balanced with the principle of Chesterton's Fence. Get the balance wrong, and you'll be seen as meddling in systems you don't understand. Particularly important for junior developers. Commented Jan 5, 2019 at 22:19
  • Good point @MaxBarraclough. However I did not make that part clear in my original answer. I have updated it now.
    – Stewart
    Commented Jan 10, 2019 at 23:47

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