How to Make Your IT Onboarding Process More Effective and Easier?
Hi all! Since this site is mainly dedicated to sharing experiences from various experts and professionals, I also decided to contribute to this. I recently completed my first-ever onboarding. Before that, I had never worked anywhere in IT, for me, it was my first experience and I want to share this experience. I want to tell newbies like me what to pay attention to when onboarding, what to avoid, and how to make this process painless and simple generally.
Spoiler: I did not manage to achieve this, but I am writing this article as a work on the bugs. In other words, it's a pity that no one told me this before, in this case, my onboarding and IT career in general would have been much better, more productive, and faster. Please remember that I have never experienced onboarding before and don't forget about it when my comments seem inappropriate to you (if they do).
Imposter Syndrome (or "I just got lucky")
On my first day at work, and on my first day of onboarding, respectively, I had only one feeling - I was developing imposter syndrome. For those who don't know, it's the feeling that you're just lucky, and personally, you haven't achieved anything. I'll attach a link if you're interested in reading about it. On the first day, I was poured with so much new information for me, so much stuff that I never knew that I felt pathetic and the belief that I was lucky to go through the selection process and that I turned out to be better than other candidates is just luck.
Impostor Syndrome - Statistics. Recommend to read this article (source)
I won’t tell you how to deal with the imposter syndrome, because I myself don’t know, and I struggle with it myself from time to time, besides, the article is not about that at all. I will only say one thing - if you are where you are now if you have achieved what you have now, it is yours and only yours. Luck comes and goes. You have achieved something thanks to luck, and something in its absence. If you take the arithmetic mean, then you have achieved everything yourself, without luck. Here is the mathematical formula for the imposter syndrome.
So my onboarding started with a shaken self-esteem. Terrible start. To prevent this from happening, I have a unique tip that will help 100 percent, but I will talk about it in the next paragraph. Now I want to dwell on your morale. Agree, if you approach the onboarding process with a feeling of self-pity, depression, and shaken self-esteem, then the training will already go hard and not productive.
Understand a simple thought - everyone in a new place of work to learn something new. It doesn't matter if he/she is an experienced Senior or even a former CTO. Everyone is adapting to the new environment. My father, in his youth, worked as a welder and then came to IT. Imagine what path he went through and what he had to learn during this transition (still learning and still working as a developer). My older sister was a lawyer who knew very little mathematics and, in general, exact sciences were difficult for her. Nevertheless, she was able to go through a huge layer of information, learn everything and become a junior specialist by the age of 25. The path is long and difficult, and who said it would be easy?
Ask Questions and don't Leave Without Answers
After my first onboarding, I had the right onboarding strategy lined up in my head. Since this was not my only onboarding, my conclusions will help me in the future. And the first conclusion is very simple - ask questions and don't go anywhere without answers. The onboarding process is about learning, and every learning creates a huge sea of questions. Save these questions and by the end of the day ask them to your colleagues or onboarding staff (usually, if the company is large, then there are such staff). Do not accumulate questions and do not think out, do not invent answers to these questions yourself. This is a mistake.
The fact is that if you do not get answers to the questions that have accumulated in your head, then you begin to come up with answers to them yourself. You start thinking and inventing a bicycle. This is terribly bad and unproductive. So, you only slow down your learning process, and thus you automatically memorize the wrong theory, get skills that you obviously do wrong, and code or understand the theory. From an IT intern, you turn into a writer who invents his own world and lives in it, and describes it to others. So you only interfere with yourself and others.
Ask questions. Prepare a file with these questions, or keep a list on Notion. Whatever, the main thing is to fix them and not forget. If I could go back in time, I would ask my colleagues the accumulated questions at the end of the working day in order to receive answers from them the next morning and start a new day without a single question and so on until I understand everything about how the company works, what it does and what is my global role here. Too bad you can't turn back time.
Write Down all your Weak Points
By analogy with questions, during the working day fix all your weak points. For example, during my onboarding, I felt that I was very new to computer networks and mathematical statistics (it was very necessary to know it for more productive work). I added to my list, and in the evenings I did the extra jobs - I read literature, did a little coding, and took several courses on Udemy, in a word, I did extra work to keep up with the busy onboarding program.
Me Learning Basic at School With Hope it will be Helpful (source)
Learning is a complex process, so in some companies, onboarding can last more than a month, even though you are not working, but only studying. My onboarding lasted 3 weeks. I believe that this is a normal period for which I learned the information, but I learned it only on the condition that I studied additionally after hours. It was very hard. My working days literally flowed from one to another and each day was just a copy of the previous one, and for the first three weeks, I lived from weekend to weekend.
But then, my diligence was paid off. I quickly joined the team and became an independent worker after a month, which is a good result for a person with no experience in IT. It was then that the imposter syndrome disappeared, and I began to appreciate myself and what I do for myself more. I stopped believing in luck because I saw the fruits of my labor.
Keep Daily Reports
It may seem boring, but that's the kind of person I am. But seriously, I recommend writing down every day what you learned, with whom you talked, and what you learned during the working day, and moreover, send this list to the general chat of the Slack team (or whatever you use). This item is rather directed not for you, but for your colleagues. The fact is that it is also important for them to understand how you learn new material, whether you should give more of this material or, on the contrary, should slow down a little.
My Everyday Onboarding Report Example in Notion
Benefit for both parties. For you, the rate of submission of material that is more favorable for you will be selected, and your colleagues and team members will understand what type of work you can already be given without helping, that is, to give you complete independence, and what type of work requires help. For example, for me, working in Jenkins was an unimaginable complexity, which I calmly wrote about and performed real work tasks only under the supervision of an experienced specialist, but working with databases did not require outside help, which I also wrote about in my daily reports.
Create a Report After your Onboarding
It may seem like a tedious task, but I personally would benefit from producing such a report in due time. Too bad I didn't do it. This report is something like a note to future generations. Make up a small document in free form, where you describe your experience of going through onboarding - its pros, cons, what should be added and what should be removed, and what should be changed or completely removed from the training program. You are doing this not only for future generations and the onboarding team, but also for yourself because this is how you sum up what you have learned, and draw a line under your acquired knowledge and skills.
The report can be compiled in a waveform, as you wish - in the form of a table, in the form of solid text, where you list all the points I have voiced, separated by commas, or even in video format. It depends only on you and on your abilities and oratory skills. Anything. Here you will be limited only by your own imagination.
A separate question is how you tell your manager or Team Lead about it. If the relationship in the team is good, as it was with me, then I don’t see any problems here - the collegium will always receive feedback and generally evaluate themselves from the outside and improve the onboarding process for future interviews. However, if your opinion is not asked ... (I would actually quit right away), then you can submit your report in a soft form and convey the points that you would like to change and supplement, adding the material that you studied on your own for a more comprehensive onboarding.
The onboarding process is mega difficult and stressful. Those who claim the opposite - do not understand anything, or, most likely, they are afraid of kryptonite. Do not repeat my mistakes - feel free to take the initiative, as in the case of the onboarding answer, feel free to ask questions about the learning process, even the most stupid and awkward ones, do not be afraid to communicate with colleagues and team members, ask for advice on additional materials and ask for help. As you can see, a lot is focused on communication with colleagues, so it is very important to build the right communication from the first day of onboarding. Soft skills also play an important role in every onboarding and career in general.