I've been working as a "Software Engineer" at a large, well-known tech company in the Valley for over a year and a half now. Previous to this, I've worked at another company straight out of college for over two and a half a years, so I have roughly four years of experience in total.
My team is composed of all senior software engineers (each about 9-12+ years experience). A lot of times during meetings (where we go into deep technical discussions about design), I remain very quiet, but I try my best to listen in and understand their thinking when approaching design problems.
The most senior guy on our team (with whom I get along very well with) personally tells me I need to participate more or it won't look good on my behalf. I tell him I understand and it's been a recurring "problem" over the course of several meetings.
My own perceptions are these:
- Often times, when my team gets into technical debates, I feel that they discuss topics that are "advanced" or things that require you to have knowledge of the topic in the first place. I often try to keep up with these discussions by instantaneously researching (via Google) while they debate.
- I get nervous to ask "stupid" questions when they are in heated debates and often feel that my input might not be valid because I'm not at their "level".
- The conversations often move so quickly that I'm doing my best to keep up mentally.
I want to be a strong contributor to the team, but I often feel (perhaps my own negativity/cynicsm/whatever you want to call it) that I'm really considered junior relative to these guys. And I don't want to be in a position where these guys don't take me seriously on technical design decisions. Ultimately, I want to be more assertive, taken more seriously, and want to get to their "level".
What are your suggestions? Thanks.