5

Context:

  • I'm younger than all of my colleagues by at least 2 years.
  • I just finished college.
  • I've been in this position for around 3 months, and a bit longer than that in the company itself.
  • I'm surrounded by mid-senior to senior people.
  • I'm the only woman.
  • I haven't received the same training as all my other colleagues. I'm not sure whether this is because (a) they don't have time to teach me, or (b) I've shown that I learnt how to work here (which I think I have, up to a point, but I don't think it's enough to just imitate other people's work).

Problem: Although I try my best to learn quickly and not to annoy people with my dumb questions, I can't avoid making many silly mistakes. I'm proactive whenever I can, but I feel like it's not enough; in this field it's the technical ability that counts.

Question(s):

  • Should I tell my manager that I ought to receive proper training instead of just learning along the way?
  • Should I tell my colleagues to be honest about the feedback they give me? My concern here is that I'm getting light treatment just because I'm a woman.
  • 2
    What makes you think they're annoyed by your questions? Do you expect that in "just a couple months" you'll be able to perform as well as them? – emragins Sep 6 '14 at 21:15
  • 4
    Generally speaking when somebody comes straight out of college I don't expect them to know much at all in terms of "real world" application. But, I do expect them to do a fair amount of additional research on their own to get up to speed. Ie. Don't know what a term means? Look it up. Confused by a tool? Find a couple tutorials. Etc. There is a balance of knowing what to ask google and what to ask the person next to you. – emragins Sep 6 '14 at 22:32
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    Note: No question is stupid if you don't know the answer to it. It will be better for everyone once you know the answer. – Jonast92 Sep 8 '14 at 10:35
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    If you are just out of college and your collegaues are only two years older than you ,then your company has no senior people. You need a minimum of ten years expereince to be even close to senior. – HLGEM Sep 8 '14 at 13:16
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    fresh out of college you're expected to know how to figure things out in regards to the tech and tools. (The things that no matter where you work are the same) What I expect you to need help with is how things are done at the company, what tools do we use, how do we organize our work, how do we structure our projects, what are the nuances of our products, etc. That said, there is a fair chance you are getting the light treatment, not strictly because you're a woman, but you're also a junior, new to the team, etc. You're an unknown to them still, ask them to "tell it like it is" and be patient. – RualStorge Sep 8 '14 at 16:42
5

Although I try my best to learn fast and not to annoy people with my dumb questions, I can't avoid making many silly mistakes.

Should I tell my manager that I ought to receive a proper training instead of just learning along the way?

Should I tell my colleagues to be honest about the feedback they give me? My concern here is that I'm getting light treatment just because I'm a woman.

Hmm. You've only been there 3 months. It's possible that the situation is exactly as you perceive it, but it's also possible that you are reading too much into a short-duration situation. Try not to jump the gun here.

Everyone can avoid making silly mistakes. We just need to be more careful and learn from our past mistakes. And what we perceive as a big deal, might just be normal for someone who has only been there 3 months. A 2-year age difference is nothing in a corporate setting. Don't overreact.

Try to find a mentor. Perhaps one of those folks who are 2 years older than you was right where you are now just a few years back. Find such a person who might be willing to talk with you periodically. Ask for feedback on what you are seeing, feeling, and learning.

Telling your manager that you ought to receive proper training is a bit presumptuous. Such a declaration ("I expect this... and what I've received so far isn't 'proper'...") might not be well received.

Instead, talk with your manager during a one-on-one meeting. Explain how you feel you need more training to be your best. Ask her how best that could be accomplished. Your idea of "proper" and her idea may not be the same. There are many ways of being trained - self-learning, mentoring, inhouse training programs, external training programs, etc.

Are you sure you are getting "light treatment"? How do you know? And are you sure it's "just because [you're] a woman"? How do you know? Try to bounce those thoughts off of your mentor, or someone else you trust who might provide some insight on the situation. You don't want to react to a situation you have misjudged.

Overall, try to be patient. Three months still puts you in the "total newbie" category in many shops. It might not have anything at all to do with your gender or your age - just your newness - and newness wears off over time all by itself.

  • 1
    Well said -- my sentiments exactly. – emragins Sep 7 '14 at 23:54
2

You fear there's a problem, but your description of the situation doesn't give any hint that there actually is one.

It seems to me you're making the same mistake I did not so long ago, and many junior employees made before us : having the feeling that, while you just got out of college, you should in a few months get to the same technical level as your peers that have years of experience.

This is just wrong. Assuming your employer isn't totally delusional, he's perfectly aware he hired a junior employee. And he's perfectly aware that this meens you will need a bit of time to learn things and be as efficient as your experienced coworkers.

You don't seem to have any evidence that anyone was ever annoyed by your questions. So keep asking. Keeping from bothering other people with a question a 30s Google search would answer is fine. Wasting time by staying stuck on a problem your coworkers could easily have helped you solve isn't. Maybe the reason you didn't receive the same training as other people is because your manager expects you and your coworkers to communicate and share knoledge, thus preventing spending additional money in your training for skills that are already present in the team.

About getting a light treatment, I can't answer that part for you. I just would like to point out that if you are actually getting one, this may be because you're the "new guy" and not because you are a woman.

The best way of reassuring yourself and have the opportunity to fix an hypotetic problem is talking to your manager. Something like "OK, I've been here for a few months, and I would like to discuss what you think of my work so far. I have the feeling things are going great. Is there any way you would like me to improve?" is not only perfectly acceptable for your manager, but it will make you look motivated and willing to give your best.

To sum up : don't be too hard on yourself. You're new at your job, and you'll get better at it. Just work hard, show good will, and there's no reason why anything would go wrong.

0

If there is an issue with people asking, the issue has usually more to do with how they ask than what they ask. I am sure that you are considerate, so your asking should not be an issue with most individuals.

Nobody expects you to be an instant expert and I believe that, as responsible professionals, your co-workers should encourage you to ask questions: having to put up with a seemingly stupid question beats to having to clean up a truly stupid outcome any day of the week. As long as you are confident that your questions are relevant and getting the answers will save you from going in circles chasing your own tail, you are entitled to ask the questions.

If it's any consolation to you, if you didn't ask these dumb questions, you'd be making even more silly mistakes than you are making. And you'd be soaking up a bunch of extra time trying to figure out how to make the silly mistakes that you avoided making by asking these dumb questions in the first place. A dumb question is not a dumb question when getting the answer pre-empts a negative outcome.

Be careful about asking your colleagues for "proper training" - you might be in an awkward situation if they have have none available and you don't want to give the less imaginative among them the idea that "proper training" is boot you out the door and back to school. I would say that simply asking questions and getting better at what you are doing, one day at the time, is the way to go.

I usually front load my stay at any company by getting rid of the dumb questions as early and as quickly as possible. While the immediate impact on my image is somewhat negative, it sets a lower bar for initial expectations, which makes it easier and faster for me to exceed them :)

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Just as a partial answer: Every time you run into a situation where you don't know how to proceed directly (which will happen all the time even twenty years from now), and you figure out how to proceed by looking it up, or by asking your colleagues, think if it would be useful to spend some time learning a whole related area more properly. If that is the case, you could ask your manager for permission and spend say half a day or whatever time is needed learning about that area of expertise, not just to solve your immediate problem but to learn further.

0

With your context description and wordings like junior, dumb and silly you paint a picture in your mind where there is a hierarchical difference between you and the others. However, the only difference is expertise in a specific knowledge domain.

Assuming in college you've learned how to learn, the answer is just to apply those lessons in the workplace. And become a better learner by learning. You can apply learning 24/7, inside the office, outside, in the weekend, anytime.

It's been said that the best way of learning is teaching. In a work situation this means: Explain your solutions to problems to your peers, colleagues, clients. That forces you to be prepared and do your homework, and then face the feedback. And do it again, and again, and again.

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