I’ve just started a new Job as a DevOps Eng., and there is hardly any training other than a quick ‘getting started’ guide. Additionally, I have almost no direction — no path of development to be production ready, and I feel kind of silly. I bounce questions off one of my colleagues, however she is only able to help a small amount, as she has work of here own.

We do have a repository of documentation, and I'm doing my best to read and learn the material, however the assistance I need is not there. I've been told by management that they don't expect me to be ready for 6-8 months (currently on week 2), however I have no trainer, mentor, or any real help to properly learn the job. My boss has been gone 3 of my first 6 work days (including today); leaving me with no ability to communicate my concerns. This is my second job out of college; I have roughly 2 years of professional experience. I was excited to take this job, as it's a challenging position with a reputable company, however the learning curve is high and I need to develop. **This was clear during my interview, I was completely honest, and they knew exactly where I was at professionally.

Aside from trying to learn things on my own (serious limitations), is there anything you would recommend that I do? What should I say to my boss? Is this normal with large companies?

  • Whenever I've been away from the office for three out of six working days, I've had so much to do on the other three days that I have put off anything that can possibly be delayed. Carry on reading, make lists of questions, and wait to see what happens next. – Patricia Shanahan Apr 3 '17 at 20:47
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    You are in a very fortunate position. You have a generous amount of time to get up to speed and a lot of flexibility in how you get there. 6 months is a long time. No need to fret too much about some confusion in your first few weeks, let alone first few days. Maybe focus on getting to know everyone? – teego1967 Apr 3 '17 at 23:40
  • Where is your manager? Why haven't you talked to him about this? – Lilienthal Apr 4 '17 at 7:29
  • It has been two weeks. Read learn. Ask around – Ed Heal Apr 4 '17 at 17:09
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    At the risk of sounding snarky, welcome to the world of software. Almost every job I've had has had a serious hurry-up-and-wait period at the beginning. You can't start soon enough for them but once you are there, no one has time to bring you up to speed. Learn, learn and more learn. Read any documents you can find, read the code, draw it out if it helps, get familiar with tools they will want you to use, any time you can get a few minutes to corner someone who has been there awhile, do it and pick their brain. You'll get there. – bluegreen Apr 4 '17 at 19:44

Learn, Learn, Learn. Ask any and everyone detailed questions that will help your knowledge to grow. Learn enough on your own to ask the questions to other people. Vary the people you ask questions to so that you get to know many more people and also get a variety of understanding who answers questions well and who doesn't. Put your college experience of how to learn to work here as you won't often be told you have 6-8 months of getting paid for just learning. Prove you are an exceptional learner in that timeframe without worrying about the producing responsibilities that will continue for the rest of your career. As a developer I would focus on the following areas:

  1. Learning the code repository and being able to read the checked in code and follow the architecture and implementation methods being utilized.
  2. Leaning the third party tools/libraries/etc... that are commonly utilized by the other developers of the company.
  3. Sit with QA and learn the product itself as they are the ones who can help you learn the user perspective as well as some of the glitches or cool features from just a user standpoint.
  4. Then dig into the cool features and look at the code behind what QA showed you and learned to navigate and see how it's put together. If you have code checkins you will know who to ask the specific questions to when you see the developer name and the module in question.

Schedule a weekly one-on-one with your manager.

Each week, show him what you've done, what you've learned. Ask for feedback. Then, show what you plan to do next week. That way he gets a chance to change the course, should he feel the need to.

If you can, come up with a "roadmap" of what big areas you'll be learning when. The shorter by, the more detail: stuff that you plan to do next month can be one line ("databases"), stuff you'll do next week needs to be more detailed. Update the roadmap each week. Send it to your manager the day before your one-on-one, and maybe the day after if he proposed changes.

Ask your manager how you can check if you're doing OK: should you start making small changes, helping your coworker, picking up minor bugs and fix them? Or do they only want you to learn the theory without checking if you're actually getting it right?

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    Exactly. Bonus points if you can do it in a way that shows you tried thinking yourself a bit, did some preparing and are genuinely interested in solving the problem together. – Konerak Apr 5 '17 at 8:53

Lets face it: you are little more than junior devops Engineer (I suspect, you are not giving much bachground, but then due to the nature of your post...)

You need some sort of guidance. Try to find a formal or informal mentor. Once again, given tour questions, I suspect it will be the latter.

Ask for training, for instance Containers conferences from the Linux Foundation. You will need it. Ask for monthly subscripyions to Safari from OReilly and Udemy. They have to have a generous amount of money ser aside for external training if they want to save on not having senior guys giving you a hand.

Youtube is also your friend, loads of conferences there.

Join the certification path and ask for the relevant training.

Udemy has some introductions to the devops theme that will save you lots of time getting your feet wet, however they often end when things starting getting interesting.

Network with similar people in events and over the Internet. They will have overlaping interests and often a lit bit of advice that will offer clues or insights to your particular problems.

Put together a test network; do not test on your production systems. If there are no resources dedicated to that, ask for a paid cloud services account, like AWS or Azure. (I prefer AWS)

I hate to break it to you, but your boss expectations without having a senior type mentoring you are unrealistic. Been there, done that, and reinvented myself a couple of times, for you to both adapt to a new infrastructure, new technologies and being fully productive it takes normally 1 to 1.5 years as a full time job.

Having said that, enjoy also this period as you can, it is a great opportunity to learn and enter a very interesting career path.

Unfortunately, it is expected of you to define your own path; the big picture will come with experience, give it time. If you are fortunate enough, they will get out of way after that happens. Do not expect someone to define it for you, that will be your job. Management is often clueless about this, and if you are lucky, they wont have delusions they have a clue, and will give you space over time to take your own technical decisions.

I was lucky enough in one of the jobs to have the guidance of someone who was experienced in the industry as a CEO and was a stepping stone in my career. He gave precious advice, however he was also savvy enough to stay out of my way of growing. Ditto for colleagues. Do not impose too much on them. With time you will also find out the right balance. I do agree with others that a formal meeting each week is the right idea. Over time, daily formal meetings are unproductive.

Do not get too stressed out, they are paying what they are getting, and they do know that. A devops senior type can command a much higher salary.

  • Will try to edit this later on, in a computer – Rui F Ribeiro Apr 5 '17 at 3:50

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