Looking for Work
I’m currently looking for work as a Software Developer.
I’m at the Junior level right now and have I’ve been looking for work since May. It’s been a challenge, as you can imagine. I’m smart and hardworking, but so are a lot of people. Companies have only recently started to rehire as state ordinances allow businesses to open up more so there’s a lot of demand for work and not a lot of supply of work.
I’m firing off applications, resumes and cover letters every other day to recruiters and hiring managers. From what I’ve heard, it’s simply a numbers game. For every job there’s 1 applicant who gets the job and 99 applicants who don’t. Therefore, the average experience is going to be one of rejection. I’m working on building up an emotional shell to help me persevere, but these rejections can still sting.
The sting is especially felt when I get my hopes up and open myself up emotionally to the possibility of working with a certain group of people. A recent experience with a company that I became enamored with especially hurt as I found myself on an emotional rollercoaster.
Cut back to a couple weeks ago when I friend encouraged me to apply to a local literacy focused start-up. I looked into the company and was amazed. They were the real deal. A small team of people who had been working for the past 4 years to build an incredibly useful web service for libraries, parents and schools. I got to it and wrote the best cover letter I could write. They seemed to appreciate holistic approaches to problem solving and systems thinking so I made sure to focus on those interests in the cover letter.
It seemed they liked me and were interested in me as the interview process went fast after I emailed them my application. I talked with the CTO for over and hour and the next day with the CEO. In preparation for these talks I did my homework and researched the company a lot. What I learned was great and I could really imagine working for them. The conversations went really well, compared to previous interviews. There was a real human connection and the discussions ranged across many topics. I loved it. Above all what I loved in talking with the CTO is that they were looking for people looking to grow in a healthy environment. A dream come true in this industry, for me.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get the job.
It’s a bummer, a real bummer but it is what it is. It’s especially difficult in this case because the kind of work that this company does would be such a dream to be involved with. It’s ethically minded, helpful, and using computational power to genuinely streamline existing infrastructures. Unlike so many tech startups that are dedicated to willfully “disrupting”, this organization exists to stabilize and strengthen existing public library and school infrastructures. A vital project for social institutions to exist under capitalism.
They called me back to tell me the news. I was a little thrown off as I’d never gotten a rejection on the phone, rather usually just a cold email. They were very kind and transparent. The purpose of the call was to discuss the process of the recent hires and that unfortunately they had only planned on hiring one Junior level developer this round, who they had already hired.
Given that this seemed unusual way of delivering this news, I took it to mean that there was genuine interest in me. I made sure to express that I would love to join them in the future and that I’d love to know what skills to hone in the interim while I work other jobs. They were helpful and pointed me in the direction of React and Ruby on Rails, their tech stack.
If anything, I wanted them to know my door was open, should future opportunities arise. Though understandably painful, I feel that it went well. I keep a glimmer of hope glowing for working with them in the future. Seeing as how their business has picked up this year in part due to new library and parent demands caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, I have hope that they’ll be growing more and that there may be room for me. But that is just a hope and I can’t get my hopes up too high. I need to find work now.
The lesson here for me is that for my own emotional well-being I need to emotionally compartmentalize a little more in this process. This is difficult given that I like to be genuine with people, but it should help in the long run. I need to be consistently writing solid cover letters, firing off applications and working on honing my programming chops by taking classes and building my own projects. Something will come up. I’m sure of it.
Here’s what I’m working on to make it happen.
I’m currently completing the University of Helsinki’s massive open online course (MOOC) on object-oriented programming in Java. So far so good. Java is very similar to C# so I’m not having many issues there. It’s primarily an issue of getting accustomed to the idiosyncrasies of Java’s verbose-ness. All good. I’m doing this because in the Pittsburgh job market there is a huge, steady demand for folks who work in Java.
Once I complete the University of Helsinki’s course I’m looking to go through The Odin Project’s Ruby on Rails path. I have several projects that I’d like to build using Rails for Comics Workbook. Among those is a peer-to-peer zine selling web application and an archive.org style zine and mini-comic archive that has a lush interface for reading and searching and is open to public submission.
Soon enough, I’d like to work through Al Sweigart’s Automate the Boring Stuff to become fluent in Python in a way that allows me write automation scripts as needed. Down the line I’d like to work on my Statistics/Calculus/Linear Algebra skills to build some machine learning applications. I imagine these will be strange little art projects that relate to comics and visual communication.
🎶 Currently listening to:
Pan-American - The Cloud Room