So this one is still pretty fresh for me and tough to talk about but here goes..
I am 36, finished a coding bootcamp in December. Landed my first apprenticeship in March.
I really wanted this job and had spent a lot of time prepping for the interview, both soft and technical sides of it.
I was ecstatic when I was given the chance to come in and had high hopes of landing a full time role.
Since I finished by bootcamp, I had plenty of doubt about my abilities, the quality of my education(meaning what did I actually learn, not what was I taught) and could I really transition into a new career at this stage. You see I'd mostly worked sales/technical support roles, but got an itch of the programming bug when I worked on a communications team doing HTML and CSS stuff at a previous job.
Anyways. New apprenticeship. Given documentation and some general guidance but like many software dev jobs I'm guessing it's sink or swim. I am a fairly slow learner. At almost any job I am usually the last one to finish things. Hell I didn't learn how to ride a bike until I was 12 and didn't learn how to drive a car until I was almost 19. I'm usually a few years behind, but once I catch up, it's all good.
My first real one on one came with one of the more experienced team members. I wasn't expecting it to be great, but holy shit, I've never quite felt like such an imposter before. You know what, screw imposter syndrome. I WAS an imposter in that situation.
Apparently the company had a different impression of me from my interview and were expecting me to be at a different level, and I was told they were disappointed in my knowledge, and ability. I was questioned as to how long I had been coding, when I finished my last class, and got the feeling like I was not wanted there and did not belong there. It was pretty much the imposter's nightmare come to life in a real one on one.
This had an impact on my confidence. It was the first real feedback I had been given from an employer and not one bit of it was good. And it wasn't like I got feedback on screwing around or being lazy. I was working 10-20 extra hours at home to try and make up the gap and doing everything I could to catch up to try and make it at this job. This really cut to the core of my competence, my ability, my belief in myself.
I've never felt more exposed, more embarrassed, and more ashamed at a job than I did in that moment.
The rest of the time I was there I desperately wanted to prove my competency, show that I was a capable of writing elegant code, working in an agile environment and communicating about my work with clarity and authority, but I wasn't.
I lasted about 4 more weeks before they let myself and another apprentice go. I am very grateful for the opportunity to learn and see what the real dev world is like, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't sting.
To make things worse, I work as a TA at the place where i graduated from, which is PHYSICALLY ACROSS THE ROOM FROM THE PLACE I WAS LET GO FROM. So I go into class after being let go from another job and have to answer questions about what happened there, and I get to see the place I was let go from every other day sooooooo yeah.
It has not been easy, but I have tried to remain positive and not let this ruin any future prospects I have of getting better and shifting gears in my career. I love programming, developing, creating.. I love computers. Damn I've been programming since my dad bought me a shitty outdated IBM PCjr in 1989 like a zillion years past its prime. I had to learn basic DOS stuff just to play Bubble Bobble on that clunker.
To stay positive I think about the many things I started late in life that I initially struggled with but ultimately became successful in. I entered college not knowing how to read music. I left with the ability and experience of a professional jazz musician.
Being exposed this way was not fun, and even though the emotion of the events sometimes still bothers me, I try not to let it prevent me from seeing the good the happened.
I identified the areas that most held me back during that experience and have tried in earnest to work on my weaknesses to get to the point I want to be at.
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