Build Confidence, Aim High, Fall Hard. Repeat.

March 2016 · 11 minute read

What a roller coaster it has been… I have finally found the confidence in my own abilities to just go and put my name out there. Of course, I have had the help of a few good mentors pushing me in the right direction and giving me a little nudge when I really needed it.

Three years ago I didn’t own a computer, I hadn’t heard of Steve Jobs, and I would never have imagined being able to type commands directly into a machine using something called a Bash… But, well here I am. Most I’ve what I’ve really learned and been able to accomplish has been in the last six months since I’ve actually been building and playing with apps in production. Of course, that has generally been for interest’s sake in my free time rather than monetary gain. But it turns out that every little minuscule accomplishment adds to a person’s confidence and eventually, after enough tiny feats a person can, in fact, become confident enough in their own abilities to go out and pitch those abilities to complete strangers who may or not be interested in what those abilities can bring to them or where they can grow to.

I had every intention of quickly getting my name out there this year and making a mad dash for my new career but as the time drew nearer I found myself procrastinating more and more to the point where I almost wasn’t going to go ahead with it. Everything was ready to go, all I had to do was execute the final step. I guess I just didn’t want to deal with not succeeding… I had already not succeeded in the first thing I set out to accomplish this year and dealing with that alone was not easy, to say the least. After a firm push and some words of encouragement, I finally got my A into G and my CV out to 10 companies. I thought, wow, that should bring something back. I’ve put myself out there, I’m good to go. Well, two days later and still no reply… Maybe there are more places who could potentially be what I’m looking for and I just haven’t heard of them. Well, let me tell you in a day of searching I managed to find over 100 places in my immediate city who at least have development teams and they’ve all made it really easy for you to show your interest.

The first few responses were quick “No”s but that was to be expected, at least I didn’t have unrealistic expectations. And to be fair the first few no’s were for reasons like “We don’t have the capacity to take on any extra developers, we just have one developer” and “We are currently at capacity for Juniors but try back in a few months”, so they were quite well justified. Also, one of the early emails I received was from a Man who’s company cannot take on additional devs but who was very helpful in helping me get in touch with people who might have those sort of resources and he even retweeted me in assistance. Such generosity from a man I don’t even know put a smile on my face and gave me confidence that there are people out there willing to help and who may even be prepared to consider taking me on.

By the end of the second week, I was booked in for half a dozen interviews and coffees around the city. And well, if I wasn’t feeling confident before I definitely got a boost from that. Even more so when they all started lining me up for second interviews!

Three weeks in, numerous interviews later and I finally get my first offer! Well, it seems wise to have a little think and consult with mentors before snapping up the first thing that gets thrown my way. Also, I like to think that I can trust my gut instincts and after all the positive feedback I’m feeling quietly confident that at least one more offer should be on the way from a company more suited to my skills and interests… But let’s just wait and see.

It’s so frustrating, the interview process is long and drawn out, I guess no one wants to make hasty decisions and this is the real world now. This is how things actually work. But I just want to know! I wish I could skip ahead a couple of months and see what the outcome is. I’m feeling so impatient and to be honest a little tired from the juggling act of scheduling meetings and attempting to sell myself.

I have decided not to take the first offer. Before going into this, my initial plan was to just take the best offer. Even if there was only one offer and I didn’t particularly like it. At least, that way it would land me my first year of exposure in the industry and some experience is better than none, right? Well, that’s potentially wrong. After a lot of thought and various interviews, I have decided that I would rather not take the first offer, whether it’s the only offer I get or not. I’m not desperately in need of work so much as I am desperately in want of development opportunities and I need to think realistically about what sort of person I am. I know that if I don’t feel excited about something, I won’t put the same effort in as if I was. And since I’m excited about being a developer, I think it is really important that my first role is really exciting for me. I also think there would be significantly more value in finding a slightly larger team to work with.

Finally, after checking my inbox daily I have just received the message I was waiting for. My top pick from all the interviews and potential entry jobs just came back to me! Well, that two seconds of excitement was short lived. Now that I’ve got the email I wanted it’s time to be rational and think carefully about how I respond. The deal isn’t sealed until it’s sealed so, although things are looking positive, I’m not quite home yet. They’ve asked me for some additional information and of course, I want to ensure my response sounds reasonable so after a good bit of thinking, I responded by the end of the same day. Now, to see how reasonable it was…

So how long is it that you are supposed to wait to hear back from a potential employer that has just asked for your salary preference and some references? Well, I don’t know, to be honest. But I would like to hear back sooner rather later, the anticipation is killing me! It’s only been two days since I responded to their message but still, I can’t help but keep checking my inbox. I guess a week to check references would seem like a reasonable amount of time and I’m not exactly in a position to be pushy. I have had positive follow up from other potential employers but those aren’t the one place I’m really excited about hearing from so they don’t put my mind at ease. Although, it is good to know other options are out there if it all turns tits up.

Still no response… And I’m starting to worry. Oh wait, I spoke to my references over the weekend and they hadn’t yet been contacted so I guess there’s still hope. Unless they changed their mind and they’re not even going to bother with reference checks or call me back at all. Ohhh I hope I hear something in the next two days, even if it’s a “no”, I’ve come all this way and I’d rather just know, you know. I guess they’re probably busy… The company seems to have a lot going on in general and well, it’s not like it’s been a whole week yet. Just relax and be patient…

What if things don’t work out how I want? What if the interviews hadn’t gone as well as I’d thought? I might have turned down my only chance. I might not get offered up another opportunity to get some experience, and for what? The hopes of a potential other opportunity that I think is going to work out but actually hasn’t come back to me yet. I’m pretty sure if things don’t work out for me soon I am literally going to die.

I got it! I got a response back from the company I’d ideally like to work for and it’s still sounding positive! It’s not exactly what I was going for but in terms of making progress in the future, but this is definitely the best opportunity to get to where I want to be. Geez, after this much correspondence and time you’d think it’d be a done deal by now. I’m less excited at this point and just real tired, kind of reminds me of the lead up two weeks out from a competition when you’re absolutely knackered but you just have to keep going because crunch time is coming and then on the day all the excitement comes rushing back again! For now, though, at the rate we are going, it’s probably going to be another two or three weeks even before they make a decision on whether they’re even going to make an offer. Ohh, the whole process is so tedious. Uncertainty just frustrates me at the best of times and again I’m left wondering whether I made the right choice in turning down my first offer. A structured lifestyle needs deadlines to work towards otherwise everything seems to drag on and there is never any sense of accomplishment.

As expected, a response has come in from my future workplace of choice. Now for the reference checks! Wow, it has taken 6 weeks to get this far. What a process. But I guess it’s been good that I haven’t had to rush or miss any other opportunities along the way. In fact, I’ve managed to find and snap up some bonus opportunities which in theory will help me progress even faster! Let’s see…

So, my boss gave an over the phone reference and it sounds really positive but now the waiting game continues as I still haven’t heard back again. It some ways it’s good that things aren’t moving too fast and gives me time to make plans and think about things without rushing into anything, but in other ways, I really just want certainty of some specific details. And obviously, if for some reason they’ve changed their minds I would want to know that too so I can continue pursuing other avenues.

They came back to me! They changed their mind! And I’m trying my hardest right now not to cry! Maybe it’s time to give up… This was the best-suited role for me. It meant there was less pressure to be a great engineer straight off the back. It meant I could build up to a development role while utilizing skills I already have and join the dev team later with a better understanding of their customers needs. I’m fucking gutted and I’m fucking dark. This is what I was worried about, and my worries were correct.

I feel kind of trapped and this point, I’m never going to get my break. That’s all I wanted. One opportunity. One chance. And I didn’t even get that. After what feels like a lifetime of back and forth pissing around to get the response of “No, we’re not giving you a chance.” and turning down guaranteed offers I feel like I might as well just pack up my things and give up on trying to live life. There’s clearly nothing for me here. And after that response, I actually feel quite embarrassed. Seems like every time I’m about to succeed I fall flat on my face.

The people around me know how much I wanted this and have been so supportive since I received the bad news. I don’t know what I would do without them and in one afternoon I’ve switched back to logical thinking and I’m brain storming ways to move forward. I’ve been so focussed on finding work and training for my upcoming competition that I’ve just realized I haven’t actually been doing so much in the way of development. I think I need to resend my CV to all the places who had work coming up in 3 months time, 3 months ago but I’d like to have something new on there by now. A point of difference or a new project. I think the open source bugs I’ve started looking at will be a good project to include but I’ve literally only just started. Oh, and oddly yesterday someone contacted me about a potential start-up opportunity which I should really also pursue.

The first thing I’m going to do right now, though, is respond to the company who has just turned me down and try to better understand what their reasoning was. Maybe they thought I hadn’t considered what the job actually involves. It’s not specifically a development role, after all, I’d see it as more of an entry into tech while essentially still doing what I currently do. And the conversations had all been insanely positive. Maybe if I know why they changed their minds, I can persuade them to reconsider. If not then I guess no means, no. Whatever they come back it will be at least another week, so it’s pointless to dwell on the outcome now.