In 2005, I joined a company as a trainee programmer right after finishing my college. I did Mechanical engineering(2001-2005), but during the campus placement I was placed in a software company so I ended up in the IT industry. I had no programming experience when I started my first programming job. I know it sounds weird, but many Indian software programmers start with a limited programming knowledge/experience.
My first year as a programmer was very rough. I spent most of the time looking at other people’s screen(pair programming) and trying to understand how I can fit myself into this world. It was demotivating and most of the time I felt like giving up. Programming is tough and when you don’t know where to start it becomes much more difficult. Before you Google something you need to know what you want to Google.
During my first year appraisal meeting, my manager asked what rating he should give me? Rating was from 1 to 5 where 1 being the highest and 5 being the lowest. He said he can’t give me 5 because I have not done anything wrong in the company. And, he can’t give me 1 or 2 because I have not done anything good in my daily work. So, the only two valid choices were 3 and 4. Then, he asked me why didn’t I perform well? My answer was, “You didn’t give me any opportunity to work.” He responded, “Why didn’t you create one?” I didn’t say anything after that. He said that he will give me 3 rating like he had given to others in my team.
This 5-minute meeting had a profound impact on me. Since my first year, I have applied this many times. And, each time it worked!
Most of the time we don’t succeed because we don’t get out of our comfort zone and ask others for their help or opinion. We stick to our old ways of working and we never try to change our mindset. Steve Jobs once said:
Most people don’t get those experiences because they never ask. I never find anybody that didn’t want to help me if asked them for help.
Around the same time, I also had these discussions with my father. My father has a lot of positive influence on my life. My dad once told me:
You can either succeed by being the best in your field or by becoming a people pleaser.
The problem was I had neither of those qualities. Knowing myself I realized, I can’t be a people pleaser. So, the only way to succeed is to start learning. In last 10 years, I have tried spending couple of hours every day learning and honing my skills.
Currently, I am working on a year long blog series 52-technologies-in-2016 where I learn something new every week and write about it.