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I recently started a new job. It's less than 2 months long but there's a chance for extension. I'm really glad I got it because I really needed money and it's in an field I want to get into. I was hired by a contractor who felt he needed assistance and I had met him a couple occasions. He knew I used to work at a company that uses the software we are using in this job. However, he seems to have overestimated my knowledge and experience with it, I don't believe I said anything misleading but he wanted to hear what he wanted.

I really want to do my best but given I am the first person he has trained and the time is so short, I'm looking for suggestions how to make the most out of the situation? Sometimes I find he speaks a lot about theory and at the end I'm not sure what actions I should do. Should I directly tell him that 2 months is not enough to learn complex systems and I should stick to simple tasks? I know all of this is a vague question but how long is a reasonable amount of time before one becomes productive at a new job? I heard it takes 4 months to learn a new job. With the rate things are going I'm expecting I won't even have access to all the accounts before the first week is up.

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Learning the theory is far more valuable to you. If the project is cancelled in two months, you'll have some useful experience to take to the next job search. If it isn't, the company will have invested time and money in your training and will be reluctant to waste it.

However if your boss gives you some boring, low-skill work, you should do it cheerfully because he's paying you for it, and your attitude is important when you want a reference or when they're deciding whether to extend your contract - but don't ask for it!

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To learn the software, it wont take 4 months. Also, most of the time, we need to learn only a subset of the software and not the entire software.

To learn theory, yes it will take time! "Consistency" in your efforts is the key.

However, only knowing the software and not knowing the underlying theory could be very time consuming (if not dangerous) when you are given tasks to solve real world problems.

What I would suggest, based on my experience, give your 100% and be consistent in your efforts to learn the theory. You never know, many a times boss gets impressed with "your efforts" even if the end result is not what he expected.

Good luck :)

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