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Getting rejected from Facebook ended up being a blessing in disguise

kennethcassel profile image kennethcassel ・3 min read

In September 2018, I applied for an internship at FB. I got the interview but I bombed it.

It all ended up working out great for me in the end though.
Failing at the interview directly led to me landing my dream job.

(Check the story out in video form below, or keep scrolling for the text version)

September 2018

I'm a few years into studying CS, and I'm actively searching for a good internship or job opportunity. A good friend of mine ends up landing a FB internship interview.

So I ask how he got the interview and he forwards me the recruiter's information.

I sent him this email.

email to FB recruiter

Shortly after that email and some back and forth, I land an internship interview with FB! This could be huge. I'm beyond excited, and I'm a little bit nervous.

I start preparing for the coding interview. I'm practicing leet code, whiteboarding with my friends, and studying up on interview tactics.

Searching for additional interview practice

I noticed that I wasn't nervous when I was whiteboarding with my friends.

How could I recreate the feeling that I'd have during the interview?

Luckily enough, I find a local developer group is hosting mock interviews! So, I sign up and go.

Algorithm questions weren't super popular at the meetup but I still got to practice a few simple ones under pressure.

Towards the end of the mock interview sessions, I end up meeting a guy named David. He's one of the co-owners of a local boutique software firm. We hit it off and he seemed impressed with my performance in the interview.

We decided to stay in touch and exchanged information. I add him on LinkedIn.

The Facebook Interview

The day of the FB internship interview came before I knew it and I still felt a bit underprepared.

I was able to find a solution but it was a O(n^3) (read: a very bad) runtime.

The interviewer seemed a bit distracted during the interview and I got the impression that he wasn't very impressed at all with my performance.

Rejected.

One good thing about the FB process was they got back to me almost immediately. The next day I was informed that I didn't pass the interview. I was a little bummed but not very surprised.

I still had a goal of landing a good internship and quickly got back to trying to improve my chances. One way that I did this was by going to lots of hackathons and documenting my progress on LinkedIn.

Through some luck and hard work, I was able to win 1st place at a hackathon with a team of my good friends.

Serendipity

David, the guy with the boutique consulting firm messaged our team on LinkedIn after our win. He had a project in mind for us. A paid project.

He was interested in hiring our team to build some proof of concepts in partnership with one of his clients.

After some back and forth, he brought 4 of us on as interns.

2 years later, 3 of us still work here full-time!

An overview of the events:

  • Friend gets a FB internship interview
  • I ask for a referral to the recruiter and get the FB interview as well
  • In order to prep for the interview, I go to a local interview prep meetup
  • I meet David at the meetup, who owns a consulting firm
  • I bomb the FB interview
  • I go to hackathons and stay active on LinkedIn
  • David notices my activity and happens to have a project that would be perfect for a hackathon team
  • David hires me, the friend who referred me to the FB interview, and 2 others

Current job and how it fits me better than FB

I've been here for 2 years now and it's been an incredible journey. I'm a full-stack software engineer.

I get to work on a variety of projects and my schedule is incredibly flexible. I mostly work from home, make a great living, and work with some of the smartest and fun people I've met.

There's so much opportunity for growth here and I really like the small company feel. My work directly has an impact on the entire company.

Thanks for reading y'all!

How has failing helped you in your career?

Discussion

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel Fayard πŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¨πŸ‡΄

Your current job seems to be meaningful to you, honestly it's probably better than working at Facebook where the tech is probably cool but it's still fundamentally wasteful IMHO that smart, skilled, hard-working people who could work anywhere spend their time helping the world to waste even more time on the internet so that Facebook can sell more ads.