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To give a little context, I'm a french software engineer, and my specialty is mobile dev (Android mainly).

I resigned from my first job because I felt professionally abused, like asked to do 4 times the quantity of work that a single person can do, only because it was a really small company with projects that were too big for them.

Then I went to another company, a little bigger, not Android related, where I didn't have a single bit of stress, basically because the product was internal use only. I resigned from this company too because I was very underpaid, and felt unwanted by the company owners.

So I found another job a month ago. This is a very big company, with a really nice team, and I can finally do Android again. I think that the company works with "normal" methods, but I'm not used to it, due to my "ugly" work methods before. And my last job does not help, because it was kind of easy, like doing a lot of simple tasks all the time.

I replaced someone who left at the start of this month, so he could teach me how things work here, but I feel like I'm missing most of everything.

I can't work alone most of the time, because I can't seem to understand what I'm asked and what I have to do.

My problem is that I'm constantly lost. There's a lot that I don't understand, the app is VERY complex, with some layers in languages I never worked with.

My manager seems to think it will take time for me to deal with everything, and it's okay for him to explain me everything I need, and that I'm not really productive right now. Still, I feel like I'm disturbing him and my coworkers every time I need help, because I need help a lot of times.

So the question is basically : Do I have to persevere, until I get to understand things better, or is it a lost cause ?

EDIT : I'd like to thanks everyone who answered this question, I will persevere even though I'm not really motivated, I find really hard to get at full power into a job you can't really understand. I hope I will get used to it and to be mentally fulfilled and accomplished.

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    Related question: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/125707/… – Robin Bennett Dec 9 '19 at 10:32
  • @scaaahu I didn't say I don't like an easy job, I said exactly "I resigned from this company too because I was very underpaid, and felt unwanted by the company owners." If they paid me more, I definitly would have stayed. At the end of my 2nd fixed-term contract, they didn't want to sign a definitive one and instead they gave me a 3rd one, to see if they can find someone else... – nkayou Dec 9 '19 at 12:33
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My manager seems to think it will take time for me to deal with everything, and it's okay for him to explain me everything I need, and that I'm not really productive right now.

You seem to be in good company and management, most of the folks complains about just the opposite. You manager understands your situation and extending the help they can to bring you up to the speed and make you as effective as possible.

They understand that you're not going to be productive from Day 0 and you need to be given due time to get an understanding of the work and the environment - which will eventually make you more productive in long run. Win-Win for both the parties.

My suggestions:

  • Don't overthink it, give it some time.
  • Follow the directions and work towards meeting the expectations.
  • Ensure you have your work / progress reviewed by your manager (or any other superior) and seek regular feedback. That way, you'll ensure that you're working on right track.

With time, you'll become self-sufficient, without needing to reach out to someone else for help every now and then.

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  • Another problem given by what you said is : I don't think I'm meeting the expectations, I feel like I need to be better than I am now, after 1 month in... – nkayou Dec 9 '19 at 12:35
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    @nkayou Every place is different. I've worked in places where it took over a month just to get proper credentials and access to systems took even longer. Ask your peers how long it took for them to settle in. – Booga Roo Dec 9 '19 at 14:17
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    @nkayou You mentioned the projects are really complex. You might want to discuss simplifying it for yourself with your manager by working on a single one of the projects (an API, front-end, messaging api, something). This would give a chance to get up to speed on tools, business processes, business logic and language (and I don't mean the code, but the business branch language / slang). While working on a single project you'll also get the chance to learn "how to code as they do", which will help understand other projects quicker. - My 2 cents ;) – rkeet Dec 9 '19 at 19:05
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    The advice about asking expected ramp up time is important. As the new hire it makes no sense for you to even know what this time is. Some places take 2 weeks. Some places take multiple months. Every company is different, and the larger the company, the longer the ramp up time. The longest I experienced was 3 months. Took 2 weeks before I could login to my computer, then I went around to different departments doing training for almost a month, then it was another 6 weeks of figuring out how to interact with other departments. – Nelson Dec 11 '19 at 2:43
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    It took me 5 days to figure out the authorization needed to change a plural word to singular on a web page (single letter change)... Company dealt with lots of money and government clients, so huge amount of paper work and longs of signatures from different departments were needed, and since this page went through 6 months of "QA" and the error was not found earlier, even more documentation. – Nelson Dec 11 '19 at 2:44
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Do I have to persevere, until I get to understand things better

Yes.

I have been developing software, as a freelancer for *cough* decades, and there is a point in every project, usually after 3 or 4 weeks, where I feel hopeless & think that I will never learn it. This passes every time, and knowing that helps me prevent depression/hopelessness.

It's normal - as your manager has already indicated to you. Don't panic, and don't be afraid to ask.

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    I guess the alternative is you think you know everything to start with and blame everyone else. Honestly the feeling that "You don't know everything" is perfectly normal. The alternatives are much worse. I tend to stay away from those people. – Nelson Dec 11 '19 at 2:46
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Nobody can say for sure, but this is a feeling that many people have.

One little tip that is important:

If you learn something from person X make sure you remember it or write it down. I have often worked in companies where some employees(including younger me) would use 1 or 2 senior developers as personal Google and ask them things that were explained to them already 2-3 times before in the past 6 months.

This is terrible not just for the seniors that will be distracted and annoyed but also for you because you will never feel competent in your work if you can not do even the simple tasks without help.

How to best do notes is out of scope of this answer but for start you could draw diagrams, use memory palace technique...

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    This is good advice. Whenever I start working on a new-to-me project I create a shared "glossary" file where I write down the meanings of technical terms used on the project, brief summaries of design decisions, that sort of thing, and then share that with the next person to join the team so that they get up to speed faster. – Eric Lippert Dec 9 '19 at 19:15
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Speaking as a manager of software engineers, I have to say that when we hire someone, we aren't hiring them because we expect huge productivity in their first month (or first few months) of employment. We are hiring for the long term. We do eventually expect productivity, but we know we have complex environments with a lot to learn.

We want someone who's going to be comfortable and knowledgeable over time, and contribute more on day 10 than day 1, and more on day 100 than on day 10. That kind of person is going to be productive as a developer, and happy as a person. And personally I like to work with happy and confident people. If a manager puts pressure on an employee from day 1, and expects that developer to bang out big production features in a hurry, that's going to create resentment and insecurity in the developer. Maybe some managers want that, but the good ones don't.

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