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Cover image for 444 Days Later, Tori Hit the Jackpot

444 Days Later, Tori Hit the Jackpot

torianne02 profile image Victoria Crawford ・4 min read

If you've been following me for a while, you know that I had been searching for a job for quite some time, 444 days to be exact. Thankfully, I have some fantastic news to share with y'all. I started working for FireHydrant as a software engineer a couple of weeks ago. It has been such a great experience so far and I've grown to accept that the long, crazy roller coaster ride that was my job search has been worth every second of it.

woman yelling jackpot!

Throughout this chaotic job search, I was open and vulnerable with every one of you. Y'all got to experience the many highs and the many lows with me and, because of that, you were some of my biggest supporters. There were many days that the positivity and kind words y'all shared with me are what kept me chugging along and I can't thank you enough for that.

Once again, I find myself here wanting to be open and vulnerable with you. Why? It's because I don't ever want anyone to feel alone. There were many times that I felt alone during my job search, because I rarely, if ever, found anyone who had been searching for their breakout role as long as I had been.

Due to this, I want to keep it real and provide you with the rough numbers of applications submitted, interviews completed, and rejections received during the entirety of my long 444 day job search. Ultimately, I want people, like my past self, to know that all of our careers and lives progress at different speeds and that that is okay.

The Numbers

Applications

Over the 444 days of my job search I submitted roughly 430 applications. Before anyone freaks out over that being an outrageous amount, let me break it down for you. I submitted just under 30 applications a month. My goal every week was to send out between 5 and 7 quality applications, which was totally manageable for me and gave me plenty of time left over to build projects, learn new skills, write blog posts, network, and contribute to open source. Oh, and to interview!

Interviews

Overall

In total, I prepared for and completed roughly 53 interviews.

First Round Interviews

Over the course of my job search, I had around 29 first round interviews.

Technical Interviews

I endured 20 technical interviews.

Quick Note: In this category, I included all code challenges, technical screens, and take-home assignments.

Final Rounds

I had the pleasure of making it to and completing 5 final round interviews.

Rejections

The total number of rejections that I received over the entirety of my job search was 143.

Side Note: Rejection was my least favorite aspect of the job search. It took a long time for me to accept that rejections are not personal and should not be taken to heart. Lots of tears were shed over this that I wish I could have back, but, like I said earlier, it was all worth it in the end.

No Responses

I had roughly 233 applications that went into the abyss to never be heard from again.

GIF of two men jumping into the abyss with parachutes

Offers

Of the 5 final round interviews that I had, I received 3 offers. The first offer was to be a software engineering coach at the bootcamp that I completed. The next one was rescinded due to COVID. The last offer that I received was to work at FireHydrant as a software engineer that I gladly and excitedly accepted on June 11, 2020.

Takeaways

Now that we've made our way through those numbers, I wanted to take a moment to discuss a few of the greatest takeaways from this job searching experience for me.

  1. Do not take rejections too personally. This should help you maintain your morale and mental health.
  2. Network. Network. Network.
  3. Ask people who know you and your work to refer you. This will decrease the number of applications you have go into the abyss, I promise.
  4. Take breaks. Interviewing is exhausting on your mental, physical, and emotional health. Give yourself days off every now and then. Allow yourself to disconnect and recharge.
  5. Don't be afraid to ask for help. There are so many great communities out there in the tech world with engineers that are willing and excited to help. You're in one right now as you read this article (hint: DEV).
  6. Be patient and understanding with yourself.
  7. Continue learning and, if you can, learn in public. Write a blog post, tweet, record a video, live code online, etc..

Hopefully at least one of these takeaways is useful to you! If you are someone who has been searching for your first role for quite some time now, please know that you are not alone and that you will find that role.

Everything that led up to me working at FireHydrant has helped me become who I am today and I am incredibly proud of that person. It is my hope that you'll get to say that one day as well.

GIF that says "I'm proud of you ok? Keep doing what you're doing. It's good."

Note: The cover image for this blog post is brought to you from a hike at Caslte Rock State Park in California that I did this past weekend.

Discussion

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wulymammoth profile image
David

Congrats, Victoria! FireHydrant looks like a really solid place to work! The site is well done and it's technical! I think you landed at a great spot, granted that your team members are nice and helpful! I always think choosing a technical company is a far better choice for learning than a product company :)

I enjoy reading these posts, because I've worked with a decent amount of folks prepare for interviews whether new grad from a CS program, friends from a bootcamp, or even experienced engineer friends from top-10 schools. Everyone is taking it hard right now -- not the best of times to be in a hunt. It is absolutely rewarding once you land your first role and get your bearings.

I've seen people that have sent out over 2000 applications by automation and still don't have a job 1.5 years in - saw a post on LinkedIn. The r/cscareerquestions sub-Reddit also contains a lot of stories, too, but for every success story, there are hundreds (if not thousands) more that aren't successul. I also have relatives that have done the bootcamp thing and gave up, never finding a role and going back to their old gig :(

I, too, have been through such a journey quite a few times and each time is as lonely as the last. But once you have that first role with a year or two under your belt, things change -- people come knocking on your door. It doesn't make it any easier as the process can still be grueling, but less of the tossing applications into the abyss.

Stay curious and stay contributing, but definitely give yourself opportunity to explore things that interest you. Don't let that fire die, even if you're working with a fire hydrant :D

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Victoria Crawford Author

David thank you so much for this well thought out comment. I think this adds so much to the discussion and I am so grateful for it.

I definitely feel as if I landed at an amazing company and I am so excited to see myself and the company grow over time.

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Ben Sinclair

That's really cool.

I remember periods in my life where I spend months (and more) searching and getting rejections or staring into that same void. It can be disheartening to the point where you stop looking or force yourself to make half-hearted efforts from time to time that you know will fail.

Well done for persevering and I hope the new role fits you well :)

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Victoria Crawford Author

I also had moments of feeling like I was forcing myself to continue applying and interviewing even though the attempts were half-hearted. I think after awhile I realized that it was more beneficial for me to take breaks when I felt that way because it helped my morale boost back up. ❤️

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Nick Taylor (he/him)

Congrats again Tori on your new role and thanks for sharing the whole process. 👏🔥

Chow Yun-fat giving a thumbs up

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Victoria Crawford Author

Thanks, Nick! ♥️

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Abby Hanssen

Loved reading this. Thanks for sharing! As I am on the job hunt, it is uplifting to hear someone else's story and know that the feeling of sending my applications into the abyss is more common than I thought.

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torianne02 profile image
Victoria Crawford Author

Yes, that feeling of sending applications into the abyss is definitely a common feeling. Good luck with your search! Here's to hoping you find a role soon! 🤞

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telfer cronos

What a delightful story. You said it still gave you time to "build projects", so I am inspired to work on that. (Because of my age, I won't be sending an application for even one job over the next 444 days. But I would have time to work on a project).
Kind regards,
Richard Mullins

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Juneau Lim

Wow, such great news. That's amazing. I've heard that things are getting even hard due to the situation. You deserve it!
Congrats so much, and good luck with your new journey!
As well, thanks for sharing your stories on the way. Hope all the best.

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Booster

Well done! :)
Do you happen to have any idea about why it took you that long?
Actually I've heard that companies have been hiring Software Enginner a lot these past years (decades?).
I just graduated with a bechelor's degree in Computer Science and I'm looking for a job in Vancouver, BC. So, your story kind of worried me at first haha.

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torianne02 profile image
Victoria Crawford Author

I definitely don’t want this to be discouraging at all. I think the reason I wasn’t getting offers at first was due to a few different factors. I plan on writing a blog post about this but I’ll break it down for you quickly here.

  1. My mental health was not doing well. As much as I didn’t want my depression to bleed through during interviews, it did. I was not beaming confidence and that hurts my chances.
  2. I didn’t know computer science basics (data structures, time and space complexity, etc.) at first. As a computer science grad, you have this leg up on me already as I went the bootcamp route. 😊 I had to learn this all on my own after failing during interviews.
  3. I had no group project or open source experience at first either, which means no practical collaboration skills in tech.
  4. COVID-19

These 4 things I think were huge factors that led to me taking as long as I did to land a job. Over the 444 days, I worked my butt off to improve on these things and continuously improve myself. ❤️

When you get into your job search and start feeling frustrated, start asking yourself what you could be doing better and work on that. Strive to make yourself a better candidate and engineer. It’ll all be worth it no matter how long your job search journey lasts.

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boostereth profile image
Booster

Waw, you've come a long way!
Congratulations for your job offer and for getting over your depression! :)

Thank you for answering my question in such a detailed way, I'll read your blog post when it'll be released. :)

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Annie Liao

Hi Victoria! This is my second time reading your post. The first time was when you published it, I was only ~2 months into my "job search declaration" (yup, fellow Flatiron grad here). At the time I experienced #2~4 you mentioned above.

Now, having had over 25 first-round interviews in the past 5 months (14 second-rounds, 4 third-rounds, and 1 final round), I am adding #1 to my list.

I just wanted to say THANK YOU for sharing your journey. I have also been binge-reading your previous posts, which led to me joining the Hacktoberfest for the first time.

You were right. Each interview made me realize there are things I need to improve on, and even though I am hitting a new low mentally, it is OK if my journey takes longer than expected.

Really appreciate the encouragement and congrats on landing the job! ❤️

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torianne02 profile image
Victoria Crawford Author

Hi Annie! I am so happy that my blog posts have been relatable to you and that they've been able to help. ♥️ It's super exciting that you have jumped into Hacktoberfest for the first time! That is absolutely awesome and it is such a rewarding experience.

If you are ever in need of advice, please don't hesitate to reach out to me on here or over on Twitter. I'm happy to help out in any way I can.

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Aubalaca

I am very happy for you, honestly. I also had such period, let's call it a black line during your life when nothing goes well. I had a period when a had no idea what should i do next, i did not have a stable job, just kind of part time, just for assuring myself with food. That was terrible. Anytime i hear or i read about someone who has overpassed these periods and reached their goals, i feel very very happy for those people, so congratulations, you deserve it!! Durin my difficult period my cousin adviced me to pick 7 betting competition on pick7.bet/ in order to make some money. I was shocked that i actually won something, and it wasn't that hard. The guys are giving you a lot of opportunities to win. The money i won then, actually helped me to gain my motivation back.

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Ileriayo Adebiyi

Congratulations, Victoria!
Break a leg on your new role!

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Dana Ottaviani

Thank you for this post! ❤️

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C. Pure

Thank you for this article and Congratulations on your new job as well!! 🤗✨

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Csokán Pál András

Wonderful. This is really helpful and very brave of you to go through all of it. Congratulations for your success.

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Paul Caoile

Congratulations, Victoria! Great to read this good news as well as this great advice. Hats off to you.

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Rick Davies

Hey! Congrats, you deserve it

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Michael Tharrington (he/him)

Woot! Major congrats. 😀

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Matt Curcio

Hi V,
Good on ya!
"In the short term progress disappoints but in the long run it surprises."
youtube.com/watch?v=hO_YKK_0Qck