When on the job hunt, it can feel like we need to eat, sleep, and breathe code. Of course, finding a job is the priority at this time, so it can feel like we need to turn the heat up to 10, while simultaneously putting our relationships, hobbies, and health on the back burner. However, I’m here to tell you why it’s imperative to continue making your hobbies a priority.
Let’s say you have an interview. More than likely, you’re going to exchange some niceties with the interviewer, but what are you going to talk about if all you’ve been doing is studying code and coding related concepts? A lot of the time, your first interview isn’t going to be with someone who is super technical and understands the ins and outs of code. You’ll probably need to talk about other things when engaging in small talk.
So what will you talk about?
Even something as simple as discussing a TV show you've been loving can create a connection with your interviewer. At the very least, it will give insight to your personality and how you might mesh with the team.
This is a question you will most certainly get in an interview. Of course, you have to keep it short and sweet, but you can still weave in the interests that make you you. What led you to software engineering? Why is this a career you want now? For me, I have many previous interests with skills that carry over to coding. It makes sense to me now why I had those interests before, and why I gravitated to this field. I used to rock climb, which involved problem solving. I enjoyed and participated in music, creative writing, and filmmaking, which uses a lot of creativity. I weave these facts in whenever I make my pitch. It paints a fuller picture of who I am and why I want to be a software engineer.
We might think that companies just want to hear how we've spent all our free time learning new technologies and improving our skills, but I don't think this is actually the case. While it's valuable to keep learning about our craft, our other interests help in making us well-rounded creatives and problem solvers, which leads me to my next point.
Divergent thinking, according to Scientific American, is the ability to think of many ideas from a single starting point. According to studies, those who can better utilize divergent thinking come up with more creative and unique ideas. In one experiment, divergent thinking led to more unique ideas for how to use a brick. In another, participants who utilized divergent thinking came up with more creative ideas for an alien animal.
Your hobbies will help you come up with new blog and project ideas. Don’t just create tutorial projects. By maintaining your interests, you can come up with unique solutions to problems others might not have thought of before, and turn that into your next app!
People have lives outside of work. By attending events outside of programming, you open yourself to meeting people you might not have met otherwise. Whether they’re programmers or not, you never know where they work or who they could connect you to. When you’re on the job hunt, you want to tell anyone you’ve even had just a 30 second conversation with that you’re looking. People love to help. Whether or not that leads to a job, you might just make a new friend, which is always nice. :)
While you might be treating job hunting as a full-time job right now, your hobbies are the time to relax and reset for the next full day of work. It's important to turn your work brain off at a set time each day. If you work to the point of burning out, you won't want to code at all, not even for fun, and that definitely won't be helpful in the job search.
Sometimes, we have to make sacrifices in order to do well in certain areas of our lives. Being on the job hunt might feel like we need to hunker down and put everything on the back burner until we find a job, but I hope this article convinced you of the importance of taking care of yourself and how maintaining your hobbies plays into that.
What are some of your non-coding hobbies? :)