How I Almost Lost My Company a Major Client

Mistake #1: Not knowing what I was signing up for

Omar Sharaki

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Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

As an up-and-coming software engineer, it’s natural to be on the lookout for opportunities to prove oneself. We want to stand out and show that we can be relied upon as competent members of the team.

When I was approached by a more senior member in my department, asking if I’d be interested in working on a small one to two-day project, which they thought I’d be perfect for, I was intrigued, but tentative. My mission, if I chose to accept it, would be to record short video tutorials for a hotshot client currently making waves in the aerospace industry, by reading from a pre-written script while performing the actions it dictated on my computer.

At the time, I was still acclimating to my current project as well as the job as a whole, and the last thing I needed was more food on my plate. But “one to two days” did sound manageable, and the task wasn’t exactly rocket science. And so I agreed and a meeting was set up with the client to discuss further details.

Mistake #1: Not Knowing What I Was Signing Up for

It was instantly clear to me that my colleague had little to no idea what the project entailed. The “script” was little more than a sheet of bullet points covering various concepts, along with a smattering of images and screenshots.

The alarms didn’t immediately go off in my head, however. I assume it was because I was caught up in the overall discussion and eager to give off a can-do vibe. Regardless, I left that meeting with a pat on the back, a dumbfoundedness at the liberties people can take with the usage of words (script indeed), and a ton of expectations from a fidgety, impatient client, and my own department.

With my main project running at full speed, and me struggling to keep up as it is, I could rarely dedicate more than a couple of hours a day to the tutorial gig. Even so, it was plenty obvious as soon as I started that transforming half-heartedly written bullet points into words anyone would ever want to listen to is not as simple as it might sound, and any notion of “one to two days” vanished from my mind pretty much on day one.

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Omar Sharaki

Software developer, standup comedian, and guy you wouldn’t mind sitting next to on a plane.