So, this is a continuation of my topics :) This and this.

I need some advice.

I found a scientific group (part of a large scientific institute). The lab staff includes several dozen people, about half permanently live in another city, but periodically they gather in the parent organization.

I sent my resume, they were interested in it, the head of this laboratory contacted me and told me that they could use someone with my experience, what the laboratory does, what I have to do, what software to work with, they sent me by mail some equipment for the software debugging stage. In addition to the manager, I also communicated with a heating engineer, an electronics engineer and a mathematician. In principle, everything is consistent.

The trick is that I have programming experience, but not in their industry. That is, it is understood that I will still gain the necessary competencies on the spot.

Today we again called the head of the laboratory and discussed what to do next. In short, “he started the process, but in organizations like ours, things can slow down due to bureaucracy, but tomorrow they promised to send him a draft agreement” and “in the meantime, I would like to see from you a rough plan with control points with a horizon until about the end of the summer on the topic you will be studying"

Usually, when I used to get a job somewhere, I went through a full interview, passed a medical examination, collected a package of necessary documents, applied for a job and started working.

Here they ask me for some kind of plan (despite the fact that I still don’t really know anything about them, in fact), they don’t conduct a typical interview, etc... In short, a lot of strange things...

The part in which I need help: what points to pay attention to (including in documents) and whether it is necessary to draw up this “plan”. What is it even for? I’m not applying to be a postdoc, just an ordinary engineer.

Can anyone help me with this and share similar experiences, what do you think about it?

  • IMO this is too broad of a question, it invites conversation not answers. Please narrow it down, what part do you actually want help/advice with?
    – InBedded16
    Commented May 14 at 14:17
  • @InBedded16 Narrowed it down as much as I could. Please look at the edit.
    – ayr
    Commented May 14 at 14:24
  • 1
    I am afraid that is a question for whoever asked you to make a plan. We cannot possibly know what they meant or wanted or expect.
    – nvoigt
    Commented May 14 at 14:38
  • @nvoigt Perhaps someone has come across this and had a similar experience? I will be glad to hear such information.
    – ayr
    Commented May 14 at 14:41
  • Who is “we” in this context?
    – Donald
    Commented May 14 at 17:35

1 Answer 1


When you don't know what to do, you should plan an organized path toward correcting that.

Learn about their problem domain and their goals in that space. Learn about what tooling they are using today, what they don't like about it, what they wish they had. Read the bug/wishlist system (Jira, Bugzilla, or equivalent) and start think about which of those are of a good size to start digging into the code and addressing. (May be the low-hanging fruit rather than the highest priority items, but that's ok while you are learning the environment). When you start seeing opportunities for improvement, discuss those with folks to confirm and prioritize the need and add them to the backlog. Iterate until up to speed.

  • I made a plan keeping your recommendation in mind. The plan suited the employer.
    – ayr
    Commented May 20 at 13:26

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