Recently I had applied for a DevOps position at a startup. I was approached by a company recruiter on LinkedIn to apply for the position. I'm a graduating college senior, and the position expected at least three years in DevOps. I know little about AWS, but I do know a decent amount about Kubernetes. I applied, knowing I would probably not not get the position, but hoping I might.
I was shortly scheduled for a phone screening. Before I even got to the phone screening, I went to a Kubernetes meetup the day before. One of the speakers works at the same company I applied to. He also said he was working with a recruiter to get more DevOps people in the company. Wait a second... I went up to him after his presentation and said I was approached by a recruiter from his company for this position. Turns out, besides being the DevOps lead, he was also the hiring manager for this position! We talked a bit, but he was headed out the door by then and I didn't want to keep him.
The recruiter mentioned this chance encounter during the phone screening the next day, and eventually I had a video interview with the hiring manager I met at the meetup. We talked a bit about my experience, and went over some technical questions.
I was very surprised when a couple days later I was asked to come to the office to talk to some more people. This was a first for me, so I graciously accepted while stressing over what to wear. The onsite came and went. Most of the questions were more about company fit, with a couple tangential conversations on things ranging from the movie Hackers to vinyl records and 70s prog rock. I was very impressed with what the company had to offer, and I hoped they were equally impressed with what I could offer too.
The last person I talked with was the hiring manager. He mentioned that a lot of what I would have to do on the job I would be learning as I went because of my skill level. I said, having been in school for the past few years, that's nothing new. He mentioned a lot of it would have to be learning on my own. I said that a lot of what I knew about Kubernetes and distributed computing was all stuff I had learned on my own, as there aren't any classes for that. We went over the company stack and some issues they had solved recently, he showed me the lab, then showed me the door.
I heard back a couple days later from the hiring manager. He didn't think I would be a good fit for the position because of my experience, and that, if they had an opening for a more junior position that I would be a perfect fit.
Then something unexpected happened. He introduced me to a colleague at another company that is hiring for positions that would more fit my skill level, saying that I had impressed him in my interviews. He also extended a hand of mentorship.
What I'm trying to get at here is, sometimes applying for a job isn't just applying for a job. It's an opportunity to make new connections, even if you don't get the job. And coming from someone still new on the scene, every connection is important.
UPDATE: Just wanted to update this post to say I got the position at the other company!