It's 7 months I am working in this company and I never had this kind of problem in my life.

I am a web developer / software developer. Recently I started programming in C and C++ on an embedded machine, which has a lot of libraries and things that I don't know and that I can't understand. Nobody explained me neither something about how this machine works and my C and C++ knowledge is not far from basics while I am asked to do things difficult for even a senior (on my personal judgement).

Then here comes my problems; the people I could ask for help comes with very different positions and set of rules on "how to do it", and doing it all by myself is not simply working either, so right now I am caught between these 3 fires:

- The Boss: He took me (knowing that my skills were fairly basic) to develop these machines. But I worked 6 months on web development. He wanted the "change", maybe because he thinks that the company needs it, and on this purpose he made me work all alone, telling me not to ask much help to senior programmers because he wanted something "different".

- The Senior Programmer: He is in this company from forever and he developed all the programs on the machines here. When I saw his works I understood what's need to be "changed" because not only things are still developed in C (and some stuff in the company still works also with BASIC...) but in general, and especially in graphics, these looked really old compared with what's on the market today. It's not competitive. But he wants to help me telling me to "leave C++ alone" (since the new machine is also programmed in C++) and to follow his instructions while the software architect told me about a lot of interesting functions that I could use to improve the product. But he's the only one I could ask for help.

- The Architect: Finally he's the key figure, but inaccessible. He developed the libraries for the new machine and know how it works, but there is one problem: he is no longer involved in the project and in the company, but in a mean that he didn't really left us alone (he is the boss of an external company) because we still need his help. But this way he's not surely ready to tell me whatever I need to know whenever I need it and anyway he already has a meeting with 4 of us explaining how generally things worked, assuming I knew everything about other stuff (I never did so much abstraction).

So: I don't really know what to do.

I want to use new machine functions but I can't ask the architect (since this will trigger at least a meeting full of explanations which will only delight a small part of the structure...), I can't really ask the Senior because he will tell me to do like he does and my Boss doesn't like it, but he knows nothing about this machine and he is leaving me pretty alone with the stuff I have to do (just asking me to "do this and that" even if "slowly, don't worry; you need to learn...")

So how can I come out from this situation? Should I try getting helped from the senior, or should i tell my boss i am simply not able to do the job? Or should I ask the architect about how things work, hoping for responses? I feel like I am caught in something that I can't really resolve because it doesn't depend by me, and this is getting pretty stressful since I necessarily have to do something about it.

1 Answer 1


Sounds like you are in over your head. I would try and get specific help from the architect in the form of documentation for a start. Failing that I would tell the boss that I need some help and leave it to him to decide how the help will be managed.

  • That's what i did, but the Architect told me to look at the processor documentations (a bunch of pdf file 200 pages each also completely not understandable for my experience and knowledge). I also told my boss that i need help, he is aware, but he can't do more then ask the architect for a meeting, which will be planned sooner or later, i hope. He is also rarely aviable and i don't know if i should ask what's going with all this lack of communication.
    – MarkWuji
    Jan 29, 2016 at 11:16
  • have you read the documents? Or just the first few pages?
    – Kilisi
    Jan 29, 2016 at 20:10
  • That is all very tecnical stuff about how some things of the processor works. And anyway knowing those will not lift me from the stuff i should do; that is too much advanced for my experience and i don't think i really need by now, it's stuff more related to a bigger view while for me is an ok to develop char prints on the screen.
    – MarkWuji
    Jan 29, 2016 at 21:23

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