Tuesday, August 6, 2013
8/6 - I think we have a plan
I'm not sure riding a bicycle is the appropriate image for this quote, but this quote is certainly appropriate for my state of mind today. I have to do the work in order to learn. After meetings yesterday and today, I now have a plan to 1) do actual work in the program I will be supporting, and 2) do actual programming in python, which should fill in the missing gaps in my knowledge.
I didn't realize until today how much being behind on my training has made studying and learning more difficult. Questions and concerns pop into my mind when I'm trying to listen to lectures or focus on what I'm reading. I found myself on that merry-go-round again this morning, in the SaaS class I was scheduled to take. More than once I found my brain drifting off to how I was going to get caught up, to what I still have due, and to where the holes in my knowledge lay. I also found myself worrying about whether my predicament will color how the team and management see my potential. I do not want to get dinged on this come year end review time.
Following up on yesterday's meeting with my manager, I came in this morning and picked up another card from the work in progress board. Sink or swim it is! Turns out it's the same card I'd picked up on the 25th, which I'd had to put on hold. The other new engineer picked it up and submitted his changes, but the QA failed the card because there were at least 19 things missed. Considering how many forms and changes this card covers, that sounds about right. Anyway, I pulled it from the failed column and have marked it as mine. I told my manager I'll be cherry picking from now on, trying to find easier cards until I get more confident in the program. My current goal is to successfully complete at least one card a week.
I had a meeting with my manager and the training coordinator this afternoon, to make sure we are all on the same page regarding what to do about the holes in my training. I wanted to make sure we all have the same expectations regarding what I'm doing and how long it takes me to do it. The biggest outcome of that meeting is I will be taking the MIT Introduction to Computer Science and Programming course, which is offered free online.
This course is 26 lectures, each approximately 45-50 minutes long. There is homework, to be completed in Python, after each lecture. The training coordinator at first thought I could just listen to the lectures all day every day, get through the course in a week, and be where I need to be. I had to explain that was not a good idea, that I would quickly get burnt out, would not retain the information, and would not have time to do the homework on a schedule like that.
The end result is I will watch 1-2 lectures a day, depending on my other classes. Add in working on cards and other team meetings, and I'm thinking this will be a lecture a day. I'm supposed to do the homework, which will be checked by the Sr. Engineers. I'm supposed to take notes and let the training coordinator know if there's anything I could have skipped over, in case they need to send anyone else through this course. I'm also supposed to continue on the current training path, and catch up with the programming homework as I learn enough to do so.
I made sure to reiterate several times in the meeting that I have no problem with learning, that I enjoy learning and do it well. What I had a problem with was trying to teach myself visual basic to do the .NET homework, then trying to teach myself the fundamentals of programming to do the Ruby and Java programming. Spending so much time and energy on teaching myself these fundamentals meant I couldn't focus on other homework, like the SQL Database Programming, which I know how to do.
I'm afraid I might have said too much about lying in bed at night, wondering what I got myself into. I probably should have left that unsaid, but for some reason I'm all about open foot insert mouth lately. I can think of at least 4 things I've said to various people in the last month that I wish I hadn't. I'm not usually so much a stream of consciousness person, but apparently this is who I am right now!
My plan for this week is to finish the one stored procedure I need to hand in the Database Programming homework, write the paper from today's SaaS course, take one of these lectures (plus homework) a day, and spend any time left on the card I picked up. I started coming in about 15 minutes earlier, and will leave a little later in order to get it all done. I really do not like having homework I know how to do hanging out there, so I need to make time to get it handed in. Apparently getting it done in the evenings is not working out for me, because I've brought my computer home several days in a row and barely even logged on. This is actually a good week to focus on catch-up, since I only have one other scheduled class (a 4 hour Plural Site death by PowerPoint I plan to complete on Friday).
I opted not to attend the Tap Out class today, in part because I wanted to finish the first lecture in the MIT course. In part because when I woke up today my whole body was yelling at me to take a rest day. Also, my lower back has been tender and I don't want to push that too hard when I have a race this weekend. I ended up walking 4 miles after dinner, which I think was a perfect alternative. I worked out some stiffness but didn't stress anything already stressed. I'm taking each day as it comes, when it comes to working out this week. I'm not taking the race seriously, but I don't want it to be a slog or the worst long run ever, either.