When there seems to be no end to ramping upFeatured
Hi X, I have a question.I've typed that sentence at least 300 times since I started my full-time job as a software engineer at Microsoft in September 2019. Every day, I have questions about the connections of multiple codebases, the logistics of distributed transactions, how to run tests for different endpoints, and the ways in which our multi-layer architecture communicates. I have questions. Lots of them. "It's not an easy team to be on. We have very hard problems to solve," my manager told me after I asked him about my performance and he assured me I was doing a great job. I did not believe him. Every day, I see my co-workers turning in pull requests at a faster rate, contributing to design conversations with deeper insights, and solving problems with incredible efficiency. There are days when I’m over the moon about working with such talented people, but there are more days when I simply feel that the distance between us is increasing indefinitely as I desperately try to reach for knowledge that only comes with time. "Time," I repeat to myself as I release tears of anxiety for holding myself to impossible standards. It is hard not to hold yourself to high standards when you are a Latina, first-generation American, and a low-income student whose family has nothing but absolute faith in you. My dad didn’t have the chance to finish elementary school, and my mom didn’t get to go to school until her teens. My grandma was constantly discriminated against for being indigenous. Their stories about their youth and even adulthood always leave me bawling because there were so many sacrifices, humiliations, and so much pain. When there has been so much suffering in your family, the only thing that you aim for is to be a light bright enough to dissipate the darkness that your loved ones had to go through to give you a chance at success. And yet, I needed to remain sane for my own well-being. I immersed myself into the past to look for patterns that might help me, and found myself on the same street of self-doubt that I had been stuck on for my first semesters at Yale as an undergraduate. I failed miserably during my first semester, and ended up with a sub- 3.0 GPA. I kept comparing myself to the super students that surrounded me, thinking about the velocity with which they went through problem sets and the insights that they offered in seminars. I remember going home ashamed of myself, crying to my dad as he struggled to understand what happened to his beloved straight-A student. What got me out of that hell? Bingo! Questions. “Am I as well prepared to be in college as my classmates?”Absolutely not. I barely started speaking English three years before entering college, my high school didn’t even offer physics, and I did not have the chance to learn math proofs since middle school. “How can I get help for the problems I have?”Holy moly, I didn’t know office hours in CS would help me understand concepts better!“Can the problems that I have be solved?”Yes, always. When the overwhelming number of things to learn in technology beats you down, when the voice inside your head preaches self-defeat, when tears cloud your eyes and your judgement, ask questions, lots of them. The answers will surprise you:“Have I worked with multiple massive codebases before?”No, I only worked with individual, isolated projects in my past internships, never with something at this scale. “How long have my co-workers been software engineers?”My co-workers have three years of experience at the very least. Heck, my boss has been at Microsoft for 10 years.“How long is the average ramp up?”My ex-boss said three to six months. My coworkers told me ramping up takes a year in our team, at least.Reach for the balm of reality and anoint it in your heart. And as a very honest friend would say, "Chill the fuck out girl, you got this!"