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I'm in a graduate rotational program and just joined my last rotation. My first two rotations were in the field of data science and for my last one I picked a team where I can learn and work on data engineering. I just joined the team two weeks back and my manager immediately assigned me to my first project with colleague A who is a business analyst and about 10 years older.

The project with A involves tasks like pulling data from a datalake and getting an excel file for team X. I mentioned to A I haven't worked with datalakes before but it shouldn't be a problem as I have worked with databases and ETLs before and colleague B has offered to point me in the right direction if needed.

In the first meeting of the project,team X members suggested I contact someone to get more background about the problem which I did. A missed one of the meetings due to her holiday. Meanwhile, I took initiative to meet with another team member from X because I had a few more questions about how things worked, put all my findings in a presentation to show the data flow and background and sent it to A as I thought it would be helpful for her as well. I did not go into the exact details of the data model (only asked for what is common between the tables to do the needful) as we had a workshop planned the coming week where they would explain more in detail about which columns they needed etc.

A forwarded it to a colleague from team X (so I assumed all was okay) and after that we had a meeting with a team X member to catch A up before the workshop. Right after the call A called me and said:

  1. I show too much hesitation about the project and I don't seem confident enough to do the job.
  2. I'm not asking enough questions. A feels I'm only listening and not processing.
  3. I should already know what needs to be done and she should not have to ask me for things like a data model.

I tried explaining I might have come across as not confident because while I have done similar tasks before I have not had to build everything myself from scratch before but that I'm up to the task and I will make sure I will check with my manager and colleague B for help if the further tasks mentioned in the workshop go beyond my scope. I also mentioned that I did include a slide with how the tables connect except that I had named it 'Outcome' instead of Data Model. About the listening and processing, I agree as the topic is new and I do not have a lot of background. She said okay and we ended the call. Next thing I know she has already spoken to other colleagues that I am not capable of doing the project - I know this as colleague B reached out to me.

I am worried as my contract will have to be converted after my rotational program and it feels like I have made a bad impression when it's not even been a month. It's also my first time experiencing this, I have got good feedback from my previous teams. I am also baffled with the way she gave me the feedback - there was no offer to help or comments on how to improve. It does not help that I feel if I were in her position, I would be asking a junior employee who just joined if they need help or instead of telling others I am not capable.

My questions:

  1. Should I bring her feedback up with my manager? Or should I not mention anything to him? I was thinking of asking him if he noticed the same points she mentioned and if he had any comments on how to improve the skills she mentioned.

  2. Somehow, I also get the uneasy feeling A does not like me. How can I increase her confidence in me and try to minimize her speaking ill of me?

Additionally: Do you have any tips/resources on how to be more confident at work specially when doing new tasks and learning on the job and how to develop the soft skill of active listening? (I have already identified topics to learn about data engineering to improve my knowledge)

Update: I took some time to think and also spoke to few close friends and a colleague in the same team who told me that A was being ridiculous. I also ended up reading 'Working with Bitches: Identify the Eight Types of Office Mean Girls and Rise Above Workplace Nastiness' and recognised that A was insecure the project wouldn't go well as she did not have the technical expertise to guide me and was scared she will be blamed if the project was not completed as it was a high visibility project. It really beats me why she could not have just asked our other colleagues to guide me/help out if she did not have the expertise instead of taking it out on me and implying that I was incompetent when I had barely joined the team.

Anyway, I decided to ignore everything she said, informed my manager that I am aware I have come across as hesitant but am confident I can get the job done but that I will definitely ask for help if needed as I hadn't done this before. Ihe actual task turned out to be simpler than expected, ended up completing the project days before the actual deadline, my work is now being used by multiple colleagues and I was recognised by my skip level manager for the work done. While I still believe A could have dealt with the situation better, she was gracious enough to give me the credit for the work done so I appreciate her for that.

Thank you for the answer, specially pizoelectric for telling me not to blame myself and all of your comments - it helped me to stop reacting emotionally and think practically.

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    (1) When you need guidance at work -- whether professional or interpersonal -- asking your manager is ALWAYS a good first step. (2) Don't assume she's speaking ill of you, just work to come up to speed. (3) In the first two weeks, almost nobody is up to speed; don't stress about it, just listen carefully and ask thoughtful questions. (There are many essays on "how to ask a good technical question" floating around the Internet; you might want to review them to make sure you're using folks' time efficiently.)
    – keshlam
    Apr 30, 2023 at 16:57
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    Could it be people from team X who gave the negative feedback about you to person A, and person A only told you the feedback that A got from team X ? Check with team X to see if team X thinks that you did a good job or not. Apr 30, 2023 at 22:01
  • @keshlam thank you, I needed to hear this. I will work on getting up to speed and also let my manager know I might need guidance. I will also check how to ask good technical questions.
    – user42
    May 1, 2023 at 7:43
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    @Job_September_2020 you gave me a new perspective, I did not think of that. Thank you.
    – user42
    May 1, 2023 at 7:44
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    This feels like (a) three distinct questions, (b) each of which duplicates past questions to some degree. I'd suggest dividing it, but I suspect it's likely to wind up being closed either way.
    – keshlam
    May 1, 2023 at 19:45

1 Answer 1

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  1. Yes. You should definitely be talking frequently with your direct manager about everything, including your attempts to work with "A".

You are new to the company, new to the role, and maybe even new to career work in general. If your manager is worth anything, they will understand this situation and be proactive in setting reasonable goals for you in your first six months.

Data science and data engineering are hard and even seasoned developers need time to ramp up their understanding of these kinds of complex situations and data models.

  1. If you have a feeling that "A" is giving you a hard time, you're probably right.

Sometimes people are just rude and mean. "A" may have an issue with being asked to work with a more junior employee and is taking it out on you. The fact that "A" was saying ANYTHING negative about you behind your back is a HUGE RED FLAG!!

Be careful with how you deal with "A" from here on out. Ask for specific directions, follow up via email (for a written record), and run everything by your direct supervisor.

Ideally, your supervisor will recognize a personality conflict with "A" and assign you tasks that avoid this toxic person.

Finally, DO NOT BLAME YOURSELF!

It's reasonable to not know what's going on in a new job, or career. It's reasonable that you would personally make an effort to ask questions and take detailed notes.

It's very unreasonable that someone in the company would expect you to know virtually anything within two weeks of starting...

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