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I recently joined a research organisation where I need to build services for research scientists. I thought I would gain knowledge in data science, but now after joining I see its a long shot since there are already data scientists for that.

I had this intuition that since its a non profitable organisation people would be relaxed but I thought to give it a try. There are three teams and they all have daily stand ups which is a good thing, but half of the time time I don't know what they are talking about, a couple of weeks back I asked my manager to give me some kind of technical introduction to which he agreed to but he failed to come through. I am not inexperienced and I have a fair amount of industry experience. In my previous places we get a buddy who walks you through all the technical and non-technical stuff which is absent here. Last week there was a meeting where we were asked about what we would like to improve and I found a ray of hope, but as of now nothing special happened.

Today no one was bothered to explain me what they are working on and what the terms they discuss in the morning sprint. I am really confused if this is a right place for me or I should move to some proper software company.

My question is what an individual can do if he finds himself in the similar situation? do things like these improve or one becomes part of the system?

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    Is this related to the question you made an hour ago? – DarkCygnus Aug 31 '17 at 21:31
  • @GrayCygnus It looks like two parts of a situation. One is "if I stay, how do I get myself on-track with the team" the second is "if I leave, how do I resign with dignity?" I've made an edit to this question, hopefully it will make the question better. – Frank FYC Aug 31 '17 at 21:35
  • @GrayCygnus I think each question should be seen in isolation, personal comments are big no. – john doe Aug 31 '17 at 21:41
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    You should expect to learn things over time, not have everything explained to you from the start. Unless these things aren't directly relevant to your job, in which case you may need to put in work yourself if you want to learn about them (whether through the company or in your own time). – Dukeling Aug 31 '17 at 21:56
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    Can you do the job at hand? Yes... give it time and you'll learn, No... might be time to move on. Also, not to state the obvious, but ever try asking questions at stand up, if a scrum master challenges you for being off topic just say you're trying to learn or something. Lastly, have you tried making friends? They would probably be more willing to put in the time to teach you. If none of this works for you, might be time to find a culture you fit into better. – RandomUs1r Aug 31 '17 at 22:57
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In any problem space there at least two areas of knowledge - domain knowledge (industry knowledge) and local/project knowledge (company knowledge). Have you done everything you can to understand the domain you are working in? This is your responsibility, unless you had an agreement upfront that the company would send you to some form of training. There are usually extensive resources online about most domains. You should be spending at least two hours a day (of your own time) learning the domain. Do this until you can understand whether what people are saying in the standups is domain level or local level. You can then ask specific questions, "Is X-local related to Y-Domain?" Showing a proactive approach will make people more likely to help.

Seek out a mentor. If you are in these meetings each day, you should be able gage much about the other people. Find an appropriate person and ask them to be your mentor. You can work your way up here. Start with someone more junior. They may have more time, and are more likely to understand where you are struggling. As you gain knowledge you can seek more advanced guidance.

Ask your self if you are taking control and being proactive. The first sentence of each of your first paragraphs could be viewed as seeming to say you are dissatisfied because your assumptions were wrong. You should have known the first one during the interview. Also, you say "no one bothered" when talking about terminology. Did you bother to put together a list of the terms you don't understand and send it to a few people? Create the list, research the terms in the broader industry, and then send a quick email that says, "I'm unclear about the following terms. They seem similar to ... Do you have a few minutes where I can stop by for a quick clarification?"

Leverage the standup. Have a targeted, short question ready each morning. When it is your turn to speak, add the question at the end. - "What does term X mean?" You may get a quick answer or someone may offer to stay a few minutes after the meeting and help you.

  • First, I am concerned about the local knowledge, as I mentioned in my question I asked my manager for the overview of the infrastructure and tools used in organisation he agreed to it and then no show. A junior is working with me but he seems frustrated with the same situation and he is here since 11 months. There is another fresher who joined with me and he raised his voice more than couple of times in standups but the things are laughed off. – john doe Sep 2 '17 at 22:52
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    It sounds like you are saying there are three of you in this situation. If it is the case that three of you are trying to be proactive and this is "laughed-off" publicly by a group, it's time to move on. You could try a group attempt. Plan a meeting with an agenda of areas you need clarified, and the people you to explain things. Identify a place and time when everyone can make it. As a group, the three of you should go face-to-face with your manager and present that to them. Ask them to send the meeting request. If that fails, why stay? – Randy Buchholz Sep 3 '17 at 17:43
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Managers aren't the only people who can give you a technical introduction.

During the stand up meetings, it should be fairly apparent which team members are knowledgeable and approachable, so ask them. If they don't have the time to take you through things, they should be able to point you toward resources that can take you forwards.

Heck, there might even be documentation - you might be lucky.

  • Hell, there should be documentation. Half the delayed/unsatisfactory tickets or projects I have seen have been almost directly due to non-existent or severely incomplete documentation. If the documentation would be even moderately up-to-date, things would be ready in 1/3 of the time in those cases. – Juha Untinen Sep 1 '17 at 7:04
  • Since this is a non-profit organisation, documentation might not be of prime importance. It's entirely possible here that most of the requirements for work might be verbal in nature. – Snow Sep 1 '17 at 7:08
  • @Pete There might be documentation...good one mate! The OP just needs to ask around a bit and be patient. +1 – Mister Positive Sep 1 '17 at 12:17
  • @Pete, not sure why you think non-profits are any different in this area. More telling re no-docs is the term "standup". Sounds like they are doing Scrum, which more often than not misinterprets Agile when it says "over comprehensive documentation" to mean "instead of documentation". – Randy Buchholz Sep 1 '17 at 12:18
  • @RandyBuchholz I'm making the assertion that a non-profit organisation would prioritise results and "actual" work over spending time and resources on documentation. This might not apply to all non-profits, but non-profits are by definition more budget conscious than other organisations might be. Cutting documentation is an easy way of cutting costs. – Snow Sep 1 '17 at 12:28

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