1 year Job Hunt Update: QA? A+ cert? LeetCode Explore? A break.

Disclaimer: This post is extremely long. It’s a four month update. Also, I know I’m probably oversharing my life but this is “ColorfulCode’s Journey”. Remember that.

Disclaimer 2: I’m re-reading this post and it comes off a bit dark at times. I’m fine, just burnt out.

*Hey you all, this post is literally almost 2 and a half weeks late. I’m on vacation so this felt like a job. 

So, I’ve been job hunting since the last week of April 2017. Yes. Who would have thought? I never would have thought i’d be one of “those people”. But, this is my reality. It happens to the best of us. I’m not the sad person I was from May- November 2017, I think it’s because i’m just “over it”. I’d like to say that bit without sounding rude. I’m just not as expecting. I do not ever want to return to how I felt last year. It was my first attempt at finding a job in  “the real world” after graduation. It’s been 2 years since I graduated and I don’t have much to show for it though, but I console myself in the thought that I’m still fairly privileged and we all follow our own timelines. It does suck though. I feel bad at times because I’m working hard, but not “Pursuit of Happiness” hard, or, like my parents, “just arrived from Jamaica, gotta hustle for that American Dream” hard. I’m exhausted. 

Honestly, I was very naive. I just thought knowing how to code was enough to land me a job. A job in a field that “desperately needs software engineers”. They really meant “senior engineers”/”geniuses”. I know for a fact that there is a surplus of entry-level candidates. Every tech meetup I’ve gone to in the last 3 years has had juniors desperately looking for a job. So here I am one year since I sent out my job applications for my first tech job. I went from wanting a six figure job in NY to any tech job anywhere in the world for free. I’ve reached the point where I really do not believe I will land a tech job anytime soon. That’s okay. I have a very long book list to go through. Advice, after advice I’ve implemented and still to no avail. I’m positive that I’m the only batchling that is still unemployed a year and a half later from RC. I keep thinking to myself, if I knew then what I know now what would I do? A bootcamp? I have acquaintances struggling to, not only pay off their college debt, but debt from App Academy, debt from loans they took out for another bootcamp, and others who are still very much unemployed in tech. That’s just a risk I’m not gonna take….maybe…. I already have enough student loans.

*This is organized in topics because I’ve been writing random notes for the past few months so I’ve attempted to turn every “thought” into a topic.

Since the last update:

 

Referrals: I’ve gotten about 7. None of them went anywhere.

Taking a break: I’m putting this at the top just so you all know ahead of time. I’m burnt out. I’m tired. This job hunt is exhausting. Honestly, I feel a bit bad stopping, but my quality of studying has plummeted, especially nearing the summer months seeing all these “happy people”. Last summer I barely saw the outdoors and really just wasn’t happy at all. What I really want to do now, is invest in my other hobbies. I’ll be back late summer maybe. No more checking my email every 10 minutes 🙂

Resume: I’ve had 3 amazing women helping me with my resume and referrals. It’s funny because i’ve had my resume reviewed so often last year from tech people and was always told my resume was good. Two months ago a girl in the current RC batch helped me give my resume a complete face lift. She’s amazing. Another girlfriend of mine from a batch last year also gave me tons of feedback. She said I have one of the better entry-level resumes she’s ever seen and she’s very impressed. Clearly, I was hype. A month ago, right when I officially decided I need to take a break from tech, another woman I met up with at a get-together asked for my resume. She’s so amazing. She got back to me the next day with an internship she could refer me to. The internship went nowhere but i’m still thankful.

Long term unemployment is soul crushing: So i’m not unemployed, more like underemployed, as all I do at my current job is answer phone calls. I’m grateful though. It could be worse. A few times I find myself on the unemployment forums on reddit. Seriously, it’s sad, and what’s worse is the way people treat you when they find out you’re either unemployed or work a menial job. Like, I go to a language exchange, and someone asks me what I do. When I was unemployed, i’d tell them (in said language) and everyone at the table gets quiet. Each reaction is different. Some handle it better than others. Then we quickly move on to less weighty topics:) Que le gusta comer?

Dragging my feet: Since March 2018, ever since my Microsoft interview, I really lost my stride. I was really productive until then… and something just hit me. I felt drained. Everyday I kept putting off working on a project. I know i’ll get something within 5-10 years. Ugh.

On being “self-taught”: What does “self-taught” really mean though? At least if you’ve gone to a bootcamp, people know what to expect. But for me, I don’t know when i’m “qualified”. A lot of people don’t like self taught. If you are, you have to be the best they’ve ever seen.

A mentor: I’ve gotten a mentor. She’s really admirable and nice. I got her after I applied through an RC company four months ago. We had one Skype chat where she gave me a lot of advice on being a black woman in tech and her own personal story. She also told me that she and her peers at Full-Stack academy felt everything they took in their bootcamp they could have learned online. I got her as a mentor right when I was improving mentally and planned on giving up after January. Her advice to me was to learn JavaScript and work through CTCI, both of which I was already doing. Still appreciated though. We communicate maybe once ever 2 months.

Bootcamp: I found myself signing up for Hack Reactor two months ago. I’m wondering if I should just let go of my pride and bite the bullet. That I’ve lost, and my best bet is a top-tier bootcamp. They have a 3% acceptance rate though. I have a better shot at Harvard.

Reality: https://www.reddit.com/r/cscareerquestions/comments/8c1vly/this_might_be_encouraging_to_some_spoke_to_hiring/

Giving back 🙂 : I signed up to be a mentor to incarcerated boys in Peru. I had an interview a few days ago so we’ll see where that goes. If I don’t get it, I’m still volunteering with Black Girls Code this summer.

Giving Up: Why? Why am I doing this? What am I doing? Very easy to feel like giving up. I want to give up a lot but I also want to move out….so I need real money.

Shame: I stopped going to meetups and RC for about two months because I got tired of people asking me what I’ve been up to since my 2016 batch. Same answer: job hunting. Trying to fix my face in a way that doesn’t let others pity me. 

Annoyed: Tired of the same advice/commentary and no results for the last 1 1/2 years. Do you have projects? Have you applied here? Have you gone through a bootcamp? Have you heard about Recurse Center? You should study algorithms?  Asked for referrals?  Summer 2017 :Don’t worry, you’ll get a job soon…..”

Image result for 1 year later spongebob

Move to SF: So one night in my alumni checkin’s chat with a few tech buddies, they recommended I move to San Francisco for a month to look for a job on foot. In fact, a week before, someone on Reddit inboxed me and told me that’s what they did. In truth, I really am considering it. In further truth, it seems like a waste of time. I know i’m not an amazing programmer. Why in the world would I even get a shot, when you have the most brilliant minds in the world aiming for the same location. C’mon now. I’ll still consider it. Most likely i’d look for a Recurser to crash on a couch with for a month. My alumni buddies are so awesome that one of them, Stanley, offered me his sky miles to fly there.

Algorithms: I’m still trash at graphs and dynamic programming & recursion. I plan on focusing on only those when I’m rejuvenated. I’ve been creating a list of 10 graph questions, 10 dynamic programming, 10 backtracking and 10 tree questions.

Leetcode Explore: I also plan to work through the Easy and Medium questions curated on LeetCode Explore. I need to be real with myself. I’m not as good as I can be. I’ve solved 150/160/170 (I lost count) algorithms, but most were easy level. If I go hard core in algo again i’ll really consider applying to the Big Four (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft).

Apprenticeships: Like…I really want to write a whole separate blog post on this. I remember when President Trump was on TV last summer talking about how he was going to bring apprenticeships back. Seriously, I was so hype and i’m still waiting. It’s about time now that the government starts investing in Americans who desperately want experience. They say “go to tech”, “we need more people in tech”, but it takes an arm and a leg to get your foot in the door. Is it really that hard to implement? Seriously, I sympathize with everyone in my similar position or worse. Always hearing about the “tech shortage” but wondering why our applications are getting ghosted. There are so many bootcamp grads and self-taught people who will benefit from this on a large scale. This is investing in your country. We can’t rely on big tech companies to do this. I see a plethora of apprenticeships for every trade except tech. C’mon now.

Applications: I’ve sent out over 270-300 + applications all over the states and about 5 abroad. I’ve applied to jobs in the “easy” states as well (Ohio, Kansas, Michigan)

 

Another RC rejection: So to my surprise (or not). I got rejected for the second time (out-rightly) by the Recurse Jobs recruiters. It’s understandable though. They gave me great advice. I was told to start freelancing so that I can gain more experience. I’ve heard this a few times. Mostly for front-end focused devs. They’re right, my projects are only useful to me.  Also, I feel like people don’t believe me when I tell them I’ve tried going through RC recruiters. Keep in mind that RC charges companies a 25% fee of first years salary. I am an inexperienced, mediocre programmer with a liberal arts degree, why in the world would a company want to drop 20-25k on me when i’d already be costing them money to train. Literally, there is already a plethora of junior devs looking to work for free, for experience. It makes complete sense. I’m thankful for all that RC has given me. Please don’t take the few times I’ve complained about the jobs process through them to mean I’m not.

Missed an interview: I missed my first interview ever. It sucked. I felt so embarrassed, but i’ll move on. I’ve learned to never rely on memory when it comes to something as important as an interview.

Too Confident: Shout out to the recruiter (and every other person on r/cscareerquestions) that told me “Oh, you will get a job, you’re a black woman.” Yea, because companies are just handing out jobs to every minority that even conceives of learning to code.  -_- #ifihearthatonemoretime

 

I found this in the comment section of the viral story about transgender teens beating girls in a track race. You see the assumptions. These are literally the comments I see online everywhere. He’s so confident too. Show me the stats of this happening. I’m gonna make a collage out of this stuff. This is what people think when they see my friends and I.

It must be nice to delude oneself. 🤦🏾‍♀️

 

The Cross Roads (back up plans):

Get admin job -> study for A+ cert-> transition to help desk at some hospital –> overtime lead me into the Cyber Security field once I have a few years experience.

Get admin job -> learn more front-end development -> freelance for free -> get tech job

 

Grind algorithms. Build insane projects. Network like cray ->  tech job

 

Get admin job -> study algorithms hard-core-> get interviews with interviewing.io/pramp (blind mock interviews) -> tech job.

If fail: apply to Launchcode(internship) -> If fail: move to Asia and teach English, return 2 years later with a better portfolio and an algorithm yogi.

Get admin job -> forget tech -> become federal translator

These are my most realistic goals as I have no intention of going to get further education and more loans. I really do not know what I want to do with my life besides gain real skills, read books, volunteer and have fun.

What I’ve learned:

Knowing how to code != a job in tech

Blood, sweat, tears, connections == job in tech(89% of the time)

Length of time programming != better skill set

I’m still a mediocre programmer with no tangible skills.

 

I’ll be back mid-July/August, etc. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Random thoughts that didn’t fit a topic:

So sad how dry my inbox is, makes me feel empty and unwanted. Always hitting refresh for the update. People treat unemployment like a sickness. 

Wish I had stronger connects because being a junior is like a sin. Why do I have to freelance? How much more do I have to prove? 99% of what I need to learn to be a software developer is on the job. I feel like every day i’m not working as an engineer i’m losing something. I see people who live in different states do a bootcamp and get a job in a few weeks. If a 2 month internship can give companies enough assurance that a person can be hireable why aren’t more of these around . I can’t compete with 650 people(microsoft leap). I feel like I’m doing everything wrong.

I really wish that I could just ask zulip streams for a job as there is a network of 2k+ individuals in tech that I have access to but that would be competition and RC asks that we do not offer other RC’ers a job.

Regardless, I’m going to have to get some type of full-time job. I make 12 dollars an hour part time now and I have loans I want to pay off before the next recession.

 

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Anthony says:

    Hi, I stumbled upon this blog while Googling if Interview Cake is worth it and saw your review (and subsequently your blog). Just wanted to say best of luck! I realize how stressful interviewing/the job hunt can be And your review was definitely helpful to me 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Colorful says:

      Wow, thanks so much. I am glad to have helped. It’s definitely stressful but it’s a learning experience for me. Thanks for your kind words.

      Like

  2. Probably that redditor says:

    I bet I was that person on reddit who told you this advice on some time in SF. I used to have the same exact experience as you in NYC, same background as you and everything. For the remote jobs you’re applying to, one barrier to entry I’ve noticed is that you’re not local, they don’t respond. If you’re also not local, you can’t go serendipitous find those people for a chat or at a meet up. There’s just less onus on their end. I see the same thing living further from SF (where all the hip younguns are). I heard that if you go to a decent conference and meet folks from those companies, things work out (I haven’t had this happen to me, honestly). Anyway, I do resonate with your post. I think there needs to be more outlets of honesty for people when it comes to the struggles with tech + jobs, whether it’s on the job or trying to navigate finding (another) one.

    Like

    1. Colorful says:

      Thanks for the advice. I should probably go to more conferences. The last one I went to way Pygotham & Afrotectopia and no companies were hiring juniors at all. I’ll only go to a conference that’s free or very cheap. I’ve looked at a few but they’re super expensive. I’ll start attending meetups again as well. Thanks again for your feedback. Best of luck to you.

      Like

  3. Gary says:

    Hi, I think your interviewcake writeup is awesome, but sorry I have to mention the “elephant in the room”. Are you still looking ?

    Like

    1. Colorful says:

      Nope, no problem. I’m doing an internship right now. They never asked me any technical questions. Only questions about my projects. 😊

      Like

      1. Gary says:

        That is great. I love stories like yours in which people just keep trying. I hope your current position would lead to a better opportunities for you down the road. Good Luck

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Colorful says:

        Thank you! I hope so as well.

        Like

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