The Update Thus Far
Hey everyone! I know it's been quite a minute since my last blog post , but I will do my best to update and write here accordingly. I have immersed myself into a journey of self-learning, networking and of course, applying to jobs and doing interviews. I decided after being encouraged by a few individuals to write my thoughts in this blog, to shed a light of how I feel and to make it known, hoping it may be the sign or signal for something to change.
So buckle in, grab some tea and biscuits because this is opening myself in a very transparent manner that I am not used to.
My (Exhausting) Story
In this section, I want to just go over a bit of how some interview processes were like for me. There has been a lot I have done which surprises my own self, and it would take a whole book to list them so I will only highlight a few. After doing virtual career events, networking with career coaches who were kind enough to give me consultation free of charge because of my circumstances and them seeing I am genuine about making friends and not just using people for their knowledge, I cleaned up my resume pretty well, sending pictures upon pictures of updated text and format to a few trusted individuals who have been my soundboards and biggest supporters through this process.
As a result, the notifications of how frequently end up on the searches in LinkedIn or having people message me saying "Hey, I wanted to reach out after hearing you on ...", so on and so forth. It's pretty neat I will admit to get this and I am grateful for this outcome.
Now let's get into parts of interviews. Many I had started with a phone call, doing the intro, the role, and me explaining what I am looking for in the company and in the role. The usual. There have been a few times companies did not want to waste any time and send a work prompt/technical assessment to get the ball rolling which was also neat and even moreso neat that the work I was given, wasn't some Hacker Rank timed assessment, but work reflective of what I would do should I be onboarded. These are the interviews I seek that are more humane for me, more of a less frustrating process to do, in addition to helps me gauge when given a challenge, how far I will go.
At most, the rounds of these interviews were 5 to 6. One place was 10 interview rounds, and no, it was not a FAANG company. The process for most of these interviews were 2-4 weeks.
About 5 companies I did interview with in close timelines- Lasted a month(1), a month and a half(2), two months(3), 3 months(4), and 4 months(5) as I currently write this.
The roles I picked were all ones that were stated explicitly to be early-career friendly, open to recent grads, the usual spiel. Some I took the leap of faith knowing I wasn't qualified and still applied just to see how far I can go. I am proud to say that many of these I knocked off one by one, celebrating my wins with people I message on social media of my progress, feeling good to be given notification of next round.
Never mind the fact some had stalled for a week or two until giving that notification, I knew that as a Black woman in STEM, I can't be picky about the process because I do not have that power nor place to bounce back on. I know that because of how I was born, I do not have much impact in what happens to me and I have to fight for myself. I have to fight to get where I want to be because not many will fight for me if it means risking their own position. I have to stay positive and grateful for every possible opportunity coming into my way, even though each rejection, each delay, each doubt I can read on peoples' face as I express my passion in tech, it kills a part of me inside every time. I know no matter how unfair it is people may say, I cannot change it with the lack of impact and power I have. I cannot change what I am being denied entry to. So I wait. I smile and I wait.
I keep waiting. I patiently waited despite my anxiety gets through the roof. I waited despite I cried myself to sleep at night wondering where did I go wrong in the process and did I say one word wrong, did my clothes look professional enough, did I not smile enough.
At one point, I knew I got a rejection when an email came and I don't see a file attached. Sometimes, just seeing the first few words going "Thank you very much for taking the time to apply to..." is enough for me to not bother reading the rest. Though, curiosity gets the best of me and I still open email just to know the inevitable,
Application pool was really competitive.
You were not selected.
We wish you the best in your endeavors.
Back to square one. Back to the start after well over a two-week process. Back to the self-pep talks, praying, playing motivational music, getting my neurodivergent brain to not go in panic mode day of a meeting and get myself in the zone. Back to it all over again. But it's not enough. It's not enough as I read articles, read Tweets from seasoned tech people on what one should do to get a job. I'm not doing enough staying up, having sleepless nights as I read, meditate, practice, code, curate spaces and talk to people and network and do everything I am told is the best way.
The rejection letters still come. I switch up my approach, switch up my style, get feedback. Rejected.
I do projects, take some freelance and allow myself to get some exposure under my belt even though I am not being paid learning what I am, even as the fridge goes low on food and having to plan how a sandwich or a small meal can be broken into 4 days.
I continue. I fight. I process and I endure as so much in life is happening around me and working to break away and get in an environment that is new. But it's not enough.
It's not professional enough. It's not good enough for entry into tech. It's not being passionate enough. It's not optimistic or a cultural fit enough.
It's as if I am in an infinite for-loop in the tech process that has no breakpoints, no stopping statement to stop the debilitating, soul-crushing feeling,
Of knowing one can't even qualify for the lowest-level position there is to offer because they do not have experience for a position that should be where one starts to build to gain said experience.
What also can be hurtful and this is the human part of me: Is seeing others who got opportunities because of their family or not having to do most of what I have done to get a job, making a change in their life. This is exclusively in regards to people I talked to about what I have been doing to get a job and them being absolutely floored by it because they never even thought of doing what I had to because when they had their own process,
They were believed and given a chance. They didn't even have to wait for two weeks. They were given such a timely-mannered opportunity that allowed them to grow beyond expectations.
All because someone believed in them. They didn't do well in technical interviews, but was given that chance to show up in work and do better. They were given grace.
I choke up inside wondering did I do something wrong to not be deserving of grace too. Did I not be polite enough or professional enough or erase my identity enough to where I am but a blank slate that is easily written, just to be given the grace of opportunity?
I truly wondered this at times and I will always push for positivity because I love positivity.
Though I will admit I cannot deny my feelings and the tears that shed on my face of feeling as though I am not enough despite working to the point of exhaustion because that's the professional ideology of needing to show drive and passion just to be worthy of advancement.
I have been told that all it takes is one yes out of the thousands of no's to get the door.
That one yes comes from a lot of pain, sweat, and tears and breaking one's self down in many ways unimaginable to the human language,
All for an entry-level job.
So I ponder, I sit and wonder when would there be change. When would what is said to be broken by design, would be adamantly challenged and pushed. I wonder who or what would it take to have the push for a system that does right by the people instead of succumbing to the system that continues to dim one's bright soul each time a meeting is set up and posted.
Or is it just balm glossed over wounds for one to have false belief they just have to do what they can and succumb to the monster of the process, thinking by the sweet honey-laced words of others who got in before it got this bad, that it will be taken care of, never to be addressed and soon bloom into a festering boil?
I truly wonder about it all.
I am exhausted, and I am still continuing fighting the good fight to be where I want to be,
In NYC, as a Software Engineer.
Though some days, my light dims in despair.
I am tired.
Top comments (13)
@aliofonzy43 thank you for sharing your experience. Clearly, any company would be lucky to have a passionate, dedicated, and sensitive person like you on their team. I know the interviewing process is excruciating but it will result in good things for you. In the meantime, all of us at DEV are honored that you felt safe enough to share your thoughts here. We all benefit from this kind of vulnerability. Thank you.
I am in tears reading these responses. This means the world to me to see my story heard and be validated, especially all that I have going on right now. Thank you for giving me the platform to express myself freely and allow it to be known to people.
Thank you <3
That is great to hear Sam
😭😭😭 this is so sad. Please allow me to assure you, that this is not your fault. Our industry has for too long set ridiculously high expectations and used the interview process as a gatekeeping exercise rather than an actual hiring mechanism. It’s starting to change here in the UK now, but we must do better. I’m so sorry.
Wow. You're willingness to be vulnerable is really admirable. Know that you are not alone. I'm very different from you -- a white male with 20 years experience -- and I'm actually struggling currently in my interview process as well. My circumstances are totally different from yours, yet the struggles of going through lengthy processes just to be rejected really do take their toll. I am also tired 😐.
It's so sad to me to hear how you feel your race and gender create roadblocks for you. I'd like to believe that people in tech are more enlightened than that, but I realize being in tech doesn't prevent someone from being racist/sexist. I'm sure many people aren't overtly so, but they probably don't consciously consider their biases.
I truly hope you find an employer who is able to see your passion and desire for the real assets they are. Back when I was on the other side interviewing lots of candidates, I was lucky to interview and work with many young people (my last team included 3 college grads with no prior experience), and I saw first-hand how that passion/desire made them great team members.
Thank you for sharing your experience. Like I said, you're not alone.
I'll write a response to this when I'm setup at my desk again.
I've been lurking here for a bit and not posting, the job hunt was brutal and my life literally fell apart in the span of 5 months. I'm still struggling to keep my head above water but plan to jump back in here. I have so much to say.
@aliofonzy43 I hear your pain and anguish in this process. It pains me to think that this has been your experience.
Thank you for sharing your vulnerable story, I can hardly imagine an interview process with more than 4 rounds, and even that is more than I'm comfortable with. As a hiring manager (with no open positions at the moment) your story helps keep in the foreground the human impact of the hiring process.
Wishing you luck in these weeks ahead (and longer but especially in these coming weeks).
Oh my, it sounds as though you've been doing all of the right things (even going well above and beyond). Getting a foot in the door is difficult early in your career, but it shouldn't be this difficult. I feel as though the tech interview process these days is broken, like really broken. I recently went through a number of interviews where I felt as though I was jumping through flaming hoops, and I've been in this industry for twenty years!?
In the past, I always had a knack for knowing where I stood after an interview, but now I'm not so sure. I would end an interview and feel like "Yeah, I nailed that" and also get untimely rejection emails. I'd ask for feedback, but that never comes, it seems. Keep your head up; your passion and determination will hopefully yield results sooner than later.
This is detailed article about how tough it is to find developer job. I read it & I felt as if you are talking about me . I have moved to a new country and have been unable to find a job there.
Once I read a quote that “ the rejection letter isn’t for you , it is for your application “ and this quote made it easier for me to accept it.
Wish you the best in this journey.
Have you tried this: join a open source community (something that been used by a lot of peoples for examples one of apache's projects), i hope in a few months you could fit in and from there you can apply for a company that is using that project heavily.
P.S: I just know some people that got some sort of reputation that way
One of the things that can be frustrating about interviews is the lack of feedback. Assuming there is no prejudice involved, this is crucial so that you can identify what quality it is that people want (or don't want) to see. Perhaps you'd find Pramp useful (I did), especially as it lets you try both sides of the interview?
Good luck Sam, everybody deserves a chance.
It took me several months to work for food in Russia to get experience and get a competitive developer. I wish strength to anyone who is starting, it's the hardest thing
wow how I deeply relate to this, I feel your pain but you have no choice but to keep going. I wish you good luck and hope you soon find peace and calm