Horea's Blog

As part of being a new hire, I was asked to share what I have learned in my first few months at IBM. I decided it would be a good topic for a blog post, and although it does not entirely fit the Emerging Techonology theme of my blog, I think it will be relevant for others going into this field, or any other professional field in general. The two biggest lessons I want to explore in this post are:

  • Being honest with your own personal skills

  • Finding out the approach which helps you learn best

Being Honest

As I started my new job, I had to establish new relationships with my coworkers and managers. With little contact other than the interview process, I had to get up to speed with the goals of my team, and figure out how I could personally contribute to reaching our goals. One of the hardest things for me was to objectively asses my strengths and weaknesses as they apply to my role on the team. The biggest thing I struggled with was opening up and being able to tell my manager that I have no knowledge about this concept whatsoever. It was frightening because I felt like I should know this topic already, and I felt like people would judge me as inadequate if I told them the truth. Everybody on my team knew how to do this, and I didn’t. It turns out that the biggest progress I made in my first few months was due to the fact that I was able to open up to my manager and tell him that he would have to start from scratch with me. As embarrassing as it was to be open about my weaknesses, it set the stage to be able to fully focus on what I needed to learn. Once we figured out what I needed to work on, each step in the right direction was rewarding, and the progress came fast, because we found the right problem to solve.

How Do You Learn?

Aside from being honest with my manager, the biggest progress I made in my personal growth was being conscious about how I learn best. Small things such as figuring out what type of music helps me be more productive, add up. For example, are you more productive listening to music with lyrics or without? (I’m a no lyrics guy…boring I know!) Also, for the programmers out there, just being conscious about the ratio of youtube videos, to blog posts, to documentation that you read is important. One thing that has helped me with programming is making sure that I spend a bit of time with different resources before diving very deeply into one. I used to watch 9-10 videos on the same subject before checking out blog posts on the subject, but now I found that I do better when I watch a couple videos, then read a couple blogs, and repeat. Now this may not be the best way for you to learn, but it works for me. For those of you that have standing desks: does standing for a bit, then sitting for a bit, and repeating help you focus? For me it definitely does. I think all of these little things add up, and will make a huge difference if you are conscious about them.


Anyways, I know this stuff is a bit dry, so I will leave you with this quote from my favorite tennis player, which I think fits pretty well with my idea of learning. “I have learnt to be even more patient.” - Roger Federer

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