One of the big parts of college, something that made me proud, was my combined time as a math tutor and a math/computer science teaching assistant. It even sparked the prospect of being a college professor as a dream job. That’s not the path I’m taking right now, but those times still enrich me yet.
Take this week, for example! Busiest fucking work week (that doesn’t involve flying around the country) I’ve had in a while! I’m doing a high volume of pivotal work in two projects that both have shit that’s due to be delivered this week. That alone would already be enough for a single person to bear. Yet that’s not all.
See, I found out last week that one of my teammates is set to join me on one of those aforementioned projects above. Because of this, I was asked to start with teaching them the ropes on everything. And we aren’t talking about for something minor, either; this assignment is pretty goddamn involved, in that way where you couldn’t truly appreciate how many moving parts there are until being put in the position actually explain it all, from scratch, to somebody else.
Considering everything else that’s been on my plate this week, that is a massive ask. So thank God that I have years of experience doing something somewhat similar to draw on.
Yesterday, I gave my teammate the big overview of the processes going into preparing and testing our stuff. Fortunately, with all that math/CompSci tutoring and teaching assistant time, I’ve become quite adept at explaining technical stuff and related gibberish to others, and at being mindful of doing it thoroughly while making sure that the other person is understanding things good enough. It’s also made me mindful and understanding about being asked questions, making sure that I do so satisfactorily and without making the other person feel like they’re burdening me.
Today, I basically went over that whole spiel again with them, but did so while, at their request, putting all of that knowledge into a written guide that will hopefully be of good use when they start practicing the project work themselves. Tutoring is, in a sense, an act of collaboration, as opposed to pure lecturing; that aspect was especially helpful here. I may have been the “expert” making the guide, but their input for clarifying instructions and making sure I was not forgetting important bits of info—and that everything sufficiently made sense—was instrumental in getting it as good as it got.
And I was able to do all of this without having to exclusively dedicate my whole workdays to just this one thing, or feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of onboarding someone else. It’s good having the confidence that I could do this sort of thing, and do it right. Even in the face of other commitments.
Soon, they’re going to practice doing the work themselves. We both fully acknowledged that this is when the true onslaught of questions will begin. Once that happens, I will be ready to help out. And they already know to not be shy about firing away.