The Anxious Newcomer

I’m over a month in my new job, experiencing some anxiety in my probationary period, and doing what I believe fulfills their expectations for a senior software engineer. It is normal, but not easy. The hardest part is the cultural transition from the previous job.

I used to work in a small company with minimal management overhead, high delivery pace, small team, more autonomy, and easy to be noticed. Now, I’m just one of two thousands employees in a large company, deep hierarchy, more control, easy delivery rhythm, larger team, less autonomy, more compliance, and more decision cycles.

These work environments have their pros and cons. At this point in my career I’m convinced there is no working place like your own company, under your own rules, but if you don’t have the guts to face the risks of enterpreneurship then it’s better to adapt to someone else’s vision. But there are companies that put themselves in your shoes, doing their best to accommodate your needs while staying accountable to their core beliefs. I’m glad to work in a company like that now.

I’m learning in this new culture that I have to slow the pace and increase the thinking, listen more and speak less, debate less and demonstrate more, be quietly constructive and verbosely funny. Every company has a culture and every culture requires adaptation. In the interview process, when companies say they are checking the cultural fit, I think they actually mean checking the belief system, attitude, and soft skills. I’m so different from my colleagues and they are so different from each other that cultural diversity is the norm. What we have in common is the attitude, the goals, and the motivations.

In my current company, the pressure to learn is as strong as the pressure to deliver. Networking is as important as work-life balance. Playing is as frequent as coding. Time is not measured but commitment is. Trust takes precedence over monitoring. When these things happen, we feel compelled to work without looking at the clock, to share knowledge and experiences with colleagues, to follow the mission and vision fearlessly. It is a joy to work on an algorithm during the weekend and use it during the week, to code-review later in the night and collaborate during the day. I find myself using my free time to work. It happens when we feel as entrepreneurs as the founders of the company but without taking too much risks.