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Rashmi flexes her muscles
Manohar called me about the investor presentation. I am now so angry at Agni.
Manohar is my new boss. I recently joined CommuteFast. We are working on innovative software for charging electric cars.
The walk to Agni's desk is across a long corridor, one desk at a time. I need details from him for extracting maximum juice from the battery. Without it, I can not work on Heatless Charging that Manohar has asked me to deliver on.
Agni sits on the other end with only Manohar sitting behind him. He has been with CommuteFast for 2 years now and is the resident Guru.
Agni sees me coming and before I can say anything, he says, 'Not just now! Rashmi.' I have to finish this and then go to the Gym.
'This is only the 3rd time, I have come asking. Maybe I should just get into the code and try to understand from there', I fume at him. He says nothing, but I can see from the muscles bulging under his shirt sleeve that between me and the Gym, I don't have a chance.
I am Rashmi and I am a software engineer. I am new here and there is much to learn for me. As a startup, the documentation here is thin.
We are 14 engineers in this scrappy little startup. The office must have been a corridor only, when this building was a factory in its previous incarnation.
I walk back, imaging what the corridor would have looked like in its original glory -- stopping on the way back for another cup of coffee. It is going to be a long evening, as I dig into the code.
My empty desk stares back at me, as I slide back into my chair. Two monitors, a paper cup from the previous coffee (black please!) and nothing else. I am going to need a paper pad. Instead I walk to the printer pull out a few A4 sheets and come settle back in.
'First I need a plan!', I tell myself.
In a way this is right. The code base is large and mostly undocumented. I would not know where to get started. I make an inventory of different modules and my best guess at what each module does. On another sheet I keep writing questions that come to my mind, as I browse through the code.
When I find an answer, even if I am not sure it is the correct one, I scribble it against the question. I have a simple rule. I will keep referring to these 2 pages and keep updating them, every 30 minutes. This way I don't lose track of the big picture and can decide if my approach needs changing. An hour passes by. Yes I did update my plan. Another hour passes by. I am now beginning to see some light.
'Rashmi, Let me Help', Agni says. I was so caught up in the code forest, I am not sure how long he has been standing behind me. He pulls a chair and sits besides me. 'Oh Wow! you have really been giving the code 3rd degree', he says, as he looks at my paper sheets.
'Thanks' I say and we continue to work on the code. With Agni's help, I am done within the hour and that night, as I walk back home, it is with a sense of accomplishment. Along with the code, there now sits a 'Readme.1st' file, created just now by yours truly. By the way, one of the reasons, I had switched to CommuteFast was because my apartment is just across the road.
Over the rest of the week, I am able to work on Heatless Charging and when we present our pitch to the investors, they are very impressed. But that is just the icing on the cake. After the presentation both Agni and Manohar together, caught up with me. Manohar said, 'Rashmi, I love the way you got upto speed on Heatless Charging'. I smiled as I said to both of them, 'Just learning to muscle my way through' :)
There are some things Rashmi did very well as a self directed learner.
One - she asked for help, not once but a few times, because that was the logical first thing to do. Two - when help was not coming, she rolled up her sleeves and got into details herself. It is never as hard as it initially sounds. Three - she drew up a plan, worked to it and kept it updated. Four - when help came and even though she had begun to move forward, she graciously accepted it. There is no point in having a big ego, when you are a learner. Five - she documented what she had struggled to find and left it as a 'readme.1st' for future learners.
Have you been presented with a similar dilemma? What did you do?