Advice for freshers and interns
I have got a lot of (?! who am I kidding, a couple of) freshers ask me for advice when they started their careers. Here’s some(!) of the advice I would have given to 21-year-old me, not you but me. (some of it from my observations, others from my mistakes and regrets):
(This post is incomplete and I will add new sections soon. Even after I have completed the post, I will keep adding things to it. So bookmark this page and keep revisiting it in the future. Let me know if anything is unclear or outrageous.)
Office is different from University
- The line that resonated with me the most is from RDB, “Gate k iss taraf hum life ko nachate hai, aur dooji taraf life hume” Eng translation: On this side of [University] gates, the world dances to our tunes, on the other side, we dance to its tunes.
- In schools, they didn’t teach you to be ready for life.
- A little more discipline than college would help.
- Don’t take things for granted. When in doubt ask.
- You can’t just not go to the office or drop a next day’s leave. Understand what cadence your manager and your company expect from you.
- Keep your meme game strong though.
- Dnt typ lyk dis.
- Don’t practice CAT questions in the office!
- Treat others as you want yourself to be treated.
- Treat women with dignity. Don’t make sexist jokes. Read Dear Ijeawele.
- Manager is your annadata.
- Never miss any 1x1 with your manager.
- Discuss your career trajectory with your manager.
- A good manager will give you regular feedback.
- Do work that makes your manager look good to their manager.
- Keep your manager in the loop for everything non-trivial. You are your manager’s responsibility.
- Reduce your manager’s work
- As long as they can understand things at a high level, your manager need not be technical.
- Do not bootlick your manager. In the long run, it would harm you.
- Don’t start fights with other teams without your manager’s blessings.
- Don’t go to war unprepared.
- Don’t mess with people you report to or they report to.
- Do not embarrass your manager in public. Not all managers take it well.
- Managers love employees who go to them with solutions instead of only problems.
- Always assume you are not on mute and video is on. So be careful of what you talk about casually. Don’t have your Shweta mic band karo moment.
- There is a setting on zoom to mute by default when you enter a meeting. And turn off video by default too.
- Take minutes of the meeting that way you will pay more attention and learn.
- Ask stupid questions in meetings
- Understand the kind of questions that senior engineers ask
- Also read my post on Meeting’s playbook after you read this one.
- Don’t get involved in office politics.
- Be smart to shield yourself from the harmful effects of politics.
- Successful people are good at keeping secrets.
- Don’t act like Narad muni and do idhar ki baatein udhar and udhar ki bateein idhar (gossip).
- Don’t get into fights with colleagues or other teams. Why spend your time, energy, focus, mental bandwidth, and emotions on people you don’t even want to see?
- Never send an email if you are angry. Keep it in drafts and come back the next day. I have never sent any such email. Literally.
- If you see senior execs leaving in quick succession, leave the company.
- Try not to disrespect your colleagues or managers.
- Working in an org that generates revenue for the company can be better than working in a cost centre (which doesn’t generate revenue).
- Try to work on projects that majorly benefit the business. That is where the money is. Will help you get higher salary hikes.
- Understand how the company makes money.
- Forgiveness is better than permission, but only if you are smart.
- Automate the heck out of things. (Note to self, write a short post on it.)
- Your present self should be 100% replaceable but your potential should not be.
- Document your work as much as possible.
- Any promises that are not in email or contract or writing have never been made, even if promised by Dumbledore. Get it in writing.
- If you discuss important stuff with people, send them an email, “as discussed with you, we will be doing xyz…”
- Your deliverables should be impeccable. Deliverables are things that you deliver to customers or stakeholders or managers or other teams and or consumed by them. So reports are deliverables. But code “may” not be, at the same time “functioning code” that meets the requirements would be.
- Have an extra pair of eyes when you run rm -rf. (will write a developers’ advice post as well)
- Never run rm -rf
- Back up your work regularly.
- for Vim, Esc + :q is to quit without saving. Esc + :wq is to save and quit. Esc + :q! is to force save. You are welcome.
- For Nano, Ctrl + X will quit
- Don’t get emotional about your work after you have delivered it. It could be not required the next moment after you deliver it. Just make sure that it doesn’t become a regular thing.
- Trust is important. Be trustworthy and deliver as expected. Don’t let people down.
- At the start of the career, say yes to everything they ask you to do. Except for bringing coffee.
- Your loyalty: with team and manager > with other teams > with your department > with your division > your company
- If the team is not good, try to leave the team.
- If the manager is not good, try to leave the team.
- Don’t play blame games.
- Own your mistakes.
- Trust your team.
P.S. Needless to say, easier said than done.
If you liked this post then please share with your friends! Click here to share on Whatsapp. Please subscribe to my newsletter if you want to get my posts in your inbox.