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Backstory

I'm a green student with no industry experience prior to my job at a software company, in a position intended for a a software engineer or computer science student. I am neither but study a nearby field.

I was hired without a formal technical or non-technical interview, I was baffled by this but they explained they usually hire students after a single phone interview. I shared a long conversation with an employee there in person at a hiring fair, which they considered roughly equivalent to the phone interview they may have done, and gave them my resume and transcript as requested.

I was not told specifically which team and technologies I would work with, but was familiar with 1 they did use at the company.

Originally I was keen entering the job and eager to get up to speed as soon as possible and contribute. My direct manager placed emphasis not to worry. She said not to burn out and that nobody expected anything of me in the first 2 weeks or so. I had not worked with almost all of the technologies used in this (arguably understaffed) team. Initial performance reviews seemed to assume I was disengaged for being isolated, needed more time to settle in, and they encouraged me to ask questions. My eagerness faded quickly.

Later informal performance reviews they looked into my work history and noted my lack of industry experience, different technical foundation and studying of a different program. They assumed and hoped I should get better with time. Finally I was getting the boot.

I was isolated to a project finished serious active development. It sees little work outside of bugs and small updates. It was explained to me from the start that they would hope to keep me there to become the expert for as long as my stay would be.

None of my coworkers have recently touched it (for a year or longer ago and thus remember little). Nor do they wish to touch it again. It seems like a rite of passage new hires go through and they now work on better,more important,more interesting things. Only a few people of a few tiers above me touch this project occasionally inbetween work (and/or built parts of it a long time ago).

Essentially, I can only get help from a few busy people who have (varying amounts of) management responsibilities.

I have performed poorly on the job.

  • Have not accomplished as much as they'd hoped
  • Changes are often requested on my work (eg they want no comments on code, except on new code which they never told me, rewording, don't want me removing unused code, or legitimate mistakes)
  • Have not been as fast as they'd like (as I worked, I spent a lot of time to familiarize myself with the relevant part of the large codebase, very few people have recently worked on this recently and they're all very busy)

They expected the number of questions I ask (looking for insight or help) to go down over time despite moving into more interesting and difficult work. The issue is I am taking up too much time of the higher up employees with my inexperience and lacking technical foundation.

I always try to search for a solution myself before hand but often fail to produce much if it is something very technically unfamiliar to me.

Moving forward leaving this company, I have spoken to those directly in charge of me and if she had to give a reference of me it would be negative.

To my small knowledge the majority of new technical hires have been assigned to other teams in pairs (and thus can easily seek aid in each other) and can more easily seek help from a wider range of people than I can.

Questions

How can I best proceed in looking for work in industry? How may I best present this bad fit/unqualified moving forward (or is there a different/better way to look at this)? What should I have done differently? What else can I do now?

As with my competition, I will look to develop on the side to gain more informal experience.

Thank you for any advice, I may provide additional information where possible, assuming I can edit and comment an anonymous post.

closed as off-topic by gnat, The Wandering Dev Manager, Chris E, Richard U, Rory Alsop Aug 2 '16 at 10:16

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions asking for advice on what to do are not practical answerable questions (e.g. "what job should I take?", or "what skills should I learn?"). Questions should get answers explaining why and how to make a decision, not advice on what to do. For more information, click here." – gnat, The Wandering Dev Manager, Chris E, Richard U, Rory Alsop
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Key thing: don't talk bad about your prior employer. Don't bring up bad things or how it wasn't your fault or how they did you wrong. You will never find a job. – Dan Aug 1 '16 at 15:02
  • Your entire post is about how things were unfair to you and how their expectations were unrealistic. Yet, from your post, others succeeded in the same or similar situation. This position may have not been a good fit for you but speaking of this experience in those terms will surely reflect poorly on you. – ereOn Mar 19 '17 at 21:47
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What I am missing from your side is a little reflection on your role in the game. If I interview (technical interview) somebody with something which has gone wrong, I usually will ask him/her what he/she learned from it. A convincing answer to that is more important than getting everything right. Actually there were applicants who got a very bad final thesis grade, and yet, they explained to me in a calm and reflected way what went wrong - and what they could have done better.