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Lisa Maskovich
Lisa Maskovich

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Tech interviews... stepping out into the dark chasm.

I have been feeling like Indiana Jones in the Last Crusade.

For those of you who've not seen the movie, here's a synopsis of the part to which I am referring:

That horrible Donovan guy shoots Indy's dad and he knows that the only way to save him is to get the cup of everlasting life. Indiana first has to make it past those floating cobwebs, (spooky) and then the head slicing saw blades that come out of nowhere. Then he has to take on the most dangerous cross-word puzzle ever, almost dying because he doesn't remember that in the latin alphabet Jehovah begins with an "i".

Then he gets to the place where I feel like I am standing now.

One last obstacle before he can reach the room filled with the cool looking cups. He stands looking over a chasm so deep that the bottom cannot be seen. The entrance to the 'cool cup' room on the other side of that vast, dark void.

Those awesome cups seem so close, but ultimately impossible to obtain.

He has to take a 'leap of faith from the lions head'.

So, that is where I am. Standing with my toes perched slightly over the edge of a deep, dark pit.

Tomorrow is my last day of school and I don't feel ready to take that leap of faith. For me, that dark bottomless pit is the prospect of the terrifyingly inevitable event that will follow when someone deems me a suitable candidate to mentally torture.... Sorry, I meant to say: suitable candidate to interview.

Yes, I am talking about the Software Engineering Technical Interview. Now, I've not experienced a true tech interview, but I have done a few mock interviews and have spent many hours taking on coding challenges. There are so many coding challenges out there to study! Thousands of problems to solve. It seems impossible to ever be, or even feel ready to take that anxiety inducing step. So, I stand here, looking across the wide crevasse at the dimly lit doorway that leads into the room filled with those gaudy goblets.

I am capable of holding a cup, I'm capable of successfully drinking from that cup, I can move that cup, clean that cup, use that cup to help fill other cups, maybe use my cup to help fill a punch bowl that will benefit other cup-holders, maybe I could give a rousing speech with my cup held high giving other cup-holders inspiration to create other cups, bigger cups, BETTER CUPS, STRONGER CUPS!!!

But alas, I stand gazing over the deep gap, cup-less.
(cue the somber music)

For the last 9 months, I have clawed my way through this Lambda school program. It has been the toughest mental challenge of my life. I've worked/studied/practiced, and then I've worked, studied and practiced some more, but I still feel completely lacking in the confidence needed to take on a tech interview.

(Now, back to the movie)
As Indiana takes that leap of faith, stretches his foot out in front of his body and begins to cantilever down towards what seems to be an empty abyss, then his foot lands on solid stone! A bridge which was not visible before becomes perfectly discernible. He is safe, and can easily make his way to the room with the desirable chalices!

I picture myself in his place, raising my foot off the ground, leaning forward and then plummeting... dramatically turning into Gandalf the Grey! Falling while also fighting that flaming demon Balrog. Falling father and father, while punching, pinching, scratching and clawing at the demon technical question.

It is assumed that Gandalf fought Balrog for 10 days, then as stated in the book;

"Then darkness took me, and I strayed out of thought and time, and I wandered far on roads that I will not tell... for a brief time, until my task is done... I lay upon the mountain-top. … There I lay staring upward, while the stars wheeled over, and each day was as long as a life-age of the earth." —The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Book Three, Chapter V: "The White Rider">

Then as Gandalf did, I emerge having successfully defeated that flaming demon (the technical coding question) only to find out that since it took me so long to complete, everyone just assumed I had died and they gave the job to someone else.

I honestly don't think that I will ever feel truly ready to walk into a technical interview, but it is a necessary part of the path I must tread. I will continue to prepare, work and study and with any luck somebody out there will take a chance on me. Someone who sees my little glimmer of potential and offers me a cup.


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