The last time I went through a job transition, I was moving from a role in technical management to being an individual contributor again. This involved picking up a new programming language, a new framework, and a new industry. I knew that I would be starting from scratch in a lot of ways; hoping my experience would carry me through.
This new transition is markedly different. I have left a role as a very senior engineer where I had significantly more professional experience than my coworkers as well as significantly longer tenure at the company than all of my coworkers (by nearly 5 years). I exaggerate but it could be argued that I knew everything about everything of our technical stack and how we had gotten to where we were. My new role is using the same language and the same framework (but in a much more modern way).
Intellectually I knew that this would still be a big change, but I don’t think I appreciated how much of a shock it would be going to basically knowing nothing about anything. This has been the hardest adjustment to make. Coming to every problem with only basic knowledge; like knowing a language but never having spoken to a single person for whom it is their native tongue. My new coworkers have been amazing and are spending lots of time helping but this is a process that can’t be forced.
In my head, I imaging a vast map of all the knowledge I could know that is covered up like the map of an RPG. As I experience and learn, I open up different parts of the map, but they are islands. Over time I will start making the connections between different parts and that is when I truly can bring my experiences to bear and add more value to the team.
It has only been a few weeks, but I feel like some small connections are being made. I can’t wait until I get more. It is an exciting and sometimes exhausting journey.