how to become a genius application developer overnight!
January 8, 2008 3:34 PM   Subscribe

Second-Day-on-the-Job Panic: How can I get my mostly-self-taught, LAMP-loving self to be more confident and capable with developing corporate/enterprise applications?

So I have a shiny new job doing--theoretically--the same stuff I've been doing on my own for years. But instead of friendly words like "php" and "mysql", people are throwing around strange, foreign words (WebLogic! SQL Server! IAS! LDAP! Oracle!) and I'm feeling somewhat overwhelmed and lost (and making things seem much harder to myself than I'm sure they actually are!). Any advice/books/websites/anything that will help get me up to speed so I don't feel like the little kid sitting at the grown-ups' table?
posted by logic vs love to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Confidence is an acting job. You gotta act confident BEFORE feeling confident. And you have every right to be confident.

Trust me, as a veteran developer, most of these people sitting around the table will talk and talk, with great buzz words. But in the end, it's still about UI's and databases. That's what computers will always do: move data around.

Good luck!
posted by shshao at 3:48 PM on January 8, 2008

Just take notes on anything you don't understand and go google it after the meeting ... or if you have a laptop right there, google it then and there. Seriously, half of the people are doing it.
posted by SpecialK at 4:08 PM on January 8, 2008

The key here is baby steps! I would start your own list of terms and equate them to what you know. If you hear an unknown word while at work, write it down and Wikipedia or Google it at home. Then add it to your code thesaurus/dictionary.

If you don't know about X, Y, and Z, then make a goal to get an overview of X on Thursday and Friday, Y on Monday and Tuesday, and so on. A couple things that Google says are useful: intro to ldap, oracle intro (books).

Have fun learnin'! :)
posted by fleeba at 4:24 PM on January 8, 2008

I don't know what your work environment is, but I let people know straight up when I'm unfamiliar with something, and my particular line of work has a lot of things I'm unfamiliar with. So far, no one's reacted poorly or insinuated that I "should" know something. I think many people enjoy a chance to show off how nice they are by playing mentor more than they enjoy being the office jerk. And anyway, you're new. No one expects you to know anything about anything.

Besides, keep in mind that your boss/manager is responsible for assigning the right people to the right tasks! So s/he wouldn't assign you unless s/he thought you were capable, and you know, if you aren't, that's more of a judgment error on your boss's part than any commentary on you. Just be willing to listen and learn. :)

You'll do fine.
posted by reebear at 4:53 PM on January 8, 2008

Let your boss know. Unless you fudged your application and/or interview they may already be aware of your inexperience. This does not necessarily make for a bad situation as there may be something else about you that they find more appealing.

If you make them aware of your inexperience it is nothing that a few books, courses, or simply some free time throughout the day couldn't solve. Companies are becoming much more receptive to this stuff since they realize that technology moves fast.
posted by purephase at 5:10 PM on January 8, 2008

Any advice/books/websites/anything that will help get me up to speed so I don't feel like the little kid sitting at the grown-ups' table?


I mean that seriously. You aren't going to find a book that describes the particular environment you're in in detail, but Wikipedia has an entry for just about anything you're likely to encounter.
posted by tkolar at 6:39 PM on January 8, 2008

I've found that alot of my IT skills growth happened in various sandboxes. You'll identify times when it's safe for you to take a risk and learn something new. I've often been able to pad the hours of a routine assignment and accomplish it using methods that were untried (but promising) to me. (ex. I was to update a plain html website, so I converted everything to server-includes and CSS so that it was easier to deal with.) Same task, but huge gains of experience!
posted by cowbellemoo at 8:00 PM on January 8, 2008

Ask for a good systems diagram that shows the full environment. With any luck, you'll get one that has the technologies included on it. If you do get that, then you'll know what jargon to research. Most likely, you won't get a comprehensive diagram, but you'll get something. In meetings if someone tosses out a term you don't know, pull out your diagram and ask how/where it's being used.

Everyone understands that the new guy is trying to get a mental picture of the system. In a few weeks, people will want copies of your system diagram.
posted by 26.2 at 10:57 PM on January 8, 2008

I was in your position a few years ago and my best advice is to google like crazy, ask questions often, and be honest about your skills -- as purephrase mentioned, there's always training courses and a lot of bigger employers have training budgets already. I know the "oh crap" terror you're feeling but it will pass pretty quickly, just hang in there!
posted by ukdanae at 12:43 AM on January 9, 2008

Come on. You went from PHP and MySQL to Weblogic and Oracle? You need to fess up to your boss.
posted by toastchee at 5:29 AM on January 9, 2008

My Quick and Dirty suggestion is to start looking at business computing magazines. Many office environments have them lying around. You don't even have to read them if you don't want (I find them stupendously dull) but you can actually learn quite a lot from seeing what's advertised - especially since things like WebLogic are just brand names. You'll get a bit of breadth of knowledge, nothing deep, but if someone starts talking about a server type you don't actually have on your site you'll be able to follow along.
posted by Sparx at 5:35 AM on January 9, 2008

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