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So I started working at a job soon after I finished my college studies. Currently, I am assigned a task to rectify some calculations in some fields of an application, of which I was given bare minimum knowledge about and they (my manager and other subordinate) expect me to know it all and think I should be able to finish the task.

The problem lies as I don't exactly know the hierarchy of the application and can't figure which class refers to what and how the exact functionality takes place. And I won't lie, I feel hesitant/scared to ask help too many times and I guess even my manager thinks I am incompetent now.

Should I just let my manager know the case? Do I keep struggling like this and hope to slowly learn all the things related to my work?

  • I had the same issue you faced when I started work, but I was a bit more willing to ask for help. I now know the system we work with, get most work done at a good pace and feel confident, yet I had no proper qualifications walking in. So hopefully you gain some confidence and realise no one in your position would be doing that well without a ton of experience and maybe worked on a similar system. – DubDub Feb 20 at 9:29
  • This is actually a surprisingly common question on here! – Fattie Feb 20 at 11:55
  • Not an exact duplicate but most of the same answers apply. workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/127110/… – Trevor Feb 20 at 13:39
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You weren't assigned this job because you know these things. You were assigned it so that you can learn them.

You're a graduate. You're not expected to know the ins and outs of this.

You're expected to find out what you need to know. So you have to ask, look things up, do what you need to do on this end. Asking questions won't make you look incompetent. Not asking and then mucking up the tasks will.

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    A good programmer knows what they know, but more importantly, knows what they don't know. When we hire a new graduate (or place someone in an internship) they are not evaluated on what they know. We evaluate them based on how much they learn and how easily we can teach them things. Maybe its different because I work in a mainframe environment, but we never expect anyone to know anything. We expect them to be in charge of their own learning and do whatever is required to learn (including asking other staff). – SaggingRufus Feb 20 at 11:35
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I guess even my manager thinks I am incompetent now

If your manager thinks this, then you should leave. If you think your manager thinks this, you need to get it out of your head. Just leaving college studies and likely having minimal computing/programming knowledge is normal, if your manager or you expect to be able to do all of this without help then you're wrong.

Should I just let my manager know the case?

Yes, tell them that you don't understand how the program works properly and you would like some guidance to help you understand. Likelihood is he'll assign someone else to help you and go through the code with you.

Do I keep struggling like this and hope to slowly learn all things related to my work?

Absolutely no. Do this and you'll fail in your career before it even starts. Take time in learning, take time to look at simple code and understand the logic and how it works. Learn from your peers. When a company hires someone with such little experience they will expect you to struggle and they will have talked about helping you already.

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And I won't lie, I feel hesitant/scared to ask help too many times and I guess even my manager thinks I am incompetent now.

Never be afraid to ask questions, particularly when you are new to a given code base. No one can reasonably expect you to know everything about a code base you have never seen before, particularly if you are fresh out of college. Inexperience is not the same as incompetence, they knew you were wet behind the ears when they hired you and they should expect you to ask more questions than a veteran would.

Do I keep struggling like this and hope to slowly learn all the things related to my work?

Learn what you can about the specific domain you are workin in from your colleagues. If there is something in your technology stack that you are unfamilliar with, seek out courses and articles online. You never stop learning in this field, some of my colleagues have been making software for 20-30 years and they are still spending several weeks every year on training.

If you manager and colleagues react negatively to you asking technical questions, you may need to consider looking for a more graduate friendly place to work. However, bare in mind that it can be easy in your situation to project your own insecurity in your abilities onto your colleagues.

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