Starting in a new position is always difficult – even more so as an engineer. Several variables come into play – the stack, team size, methodology, system complexity, and the novelty of the business domain are all factors that can make it take many months (or even years in some cases) for an engineer to get to 100% effectiveness. With such a large investment, including time spent recruiting, a botched or inefficient onboarding can be a very expensive mistake. We want to be open and transparent about what engineers should expect in their first 90 days. “Better onboarding” is a job that is never done, and what we’ve put together is nowhere near perfect, but it is consistent and has been very effective for us. At Torch, we understand the trepidation a new employee feels when approaching day one, and day twenty-one!
Why We Do It
Building better engineering teams means establishing trust, ensuring the members of the team get along and can function at their best and most productive. At Torch this means keeping our code consistent through consistent developer behavior. The way our teams work together, interact, and exchange ideas is built with the idea of consistency throughout the organization.
New employees need to feel comfortable as they come through the door (metaphorically speaking – most of the folks at Torch are remote). Sharing the culture of our teams, Torch at large, and learning and adding to that as new employees join is important to our goal of bringing an employee in and easing those first day jitters in a day of learning and productivity. We make it clear new people belong here because they made it here, and have already been introduced to our history and the nature of our business before jumping into building the solutions to the problems we solve.
What to Expect
What does it mean to have a successful first 90 days? We start out by bringing you into the team.
- New employees pair with a mentor, sometimes called a buddy, who helps guide them through everything from onboarding, to environment setup, to getting started on their first tasks. Buddies meet on a predetermined schedule with frequency backing off over time as comfort builds, and questions recede.
- We use Torch Digital Learning and Mentoring tools not only to onboard, but to learn the Torch platform. Some call this “sipping our own champagne”, but using a platform built for mentoring and learning helps us help new people understand our product.
- You’ll read documentation and find backlog issues labelled “good first issue” so that you can start building your confidence by shipping code early.
- You’ll meet with other Torchies outside the tech department to start building your network, as well as empathy for folks who are in different roles in the organization.
- New employees decide their pace – no one heads out on their own until they feel they are ready. The 90 day plan is just the start – you’ll continue to work on growth with your manager (and coach) right up until your last day at Torch.
What We Expect
Of course this approach isn’t for everyone, which is another reason for setting expectations for what a new Torchie should experience in their first 90 days. We hope to find candidates open minded enough to work within this process and share feedback about the process so that we can make improvements. While Torch makes it as easy as possible, it is still a two way street.
We expect candidates to be as open as possible, communicating their needs when they need more support or when they don’t understand something about the team, their tasks, or the Torch ecosystem in general. Communication is the key to successful onboarding, but it’s a conversation, not a one-way megaphone. Our goal is that, after 90 days, a new employee will be ready to reach out to new, incoming folks, to be a mentor, and to lead where they were led before.
Head over to our engineering careers page to learn more about how to join the team!