I recently completed my ninety-day survey at Stripe, which was a surprise because wait, I’ve been there for ninety days?
So, here’s the thing. Being new in an organization is a superpower.
You are saddled with such little context and inertia and institutional memory that all mysteries are interesting and all questions are worth asking. The five lines of shell-script incantations look like forbidden magic rather than something rote and muscular; the brilliant data pipeline looks august, looks like a Roman aqueduct, rather than something saddled with years and years of minor tweaks and duct tape and prayers.
But, yes — I’ve been here for ninety days, and I can slowly feel the newness being rubbed off of my skin. The callouses are forming on my keyboard fingers.
This is overall a very good thing; I am of course no more wizened or meritous than I was three months ago, but I know how things are done and am performant in the doing. I know the Slack channels to politely ping when one of our dependencies is acting a little futz-y; I’ve figured out the optimal way to run an integration suite without having to mess with QA. Someone can ask me a question and I don’t need to fumble or stutter (or, when I do, I do a little less of it.)
But I think a child-like sense of wonder is important for any developer (well, any person, but we’re talking about software). Legacy is called legacy because it is not merely old or broken or proven but because it is the accumulation of the past — and that past is important, that past is vital, but it’s good to be able to view the streets of your city as if you’ve never passed that crosswalk before.
If — when — you’re ever on a new team or a new project or a new company or a new whatever, be the person to ask lots of questions! Ask the questions that you think are dumb; ask the questions that you think are orthogonal. Take full advantage of not knowing what others do (or, more accurately, being buoyed with naivete.). Ask the question that makes the person who has been there for years pause and reflect.
Feast on your novelty.
(The obvious coda to this: they are the best first ninety days I’ve had at any company, and probably the best ninety days in general. It is very lucky and rewarding to be at a place that so earnestly rewards curiosity.)
I hope you ask a question and get a surprising answer.