Hey everyone! I know it's been quite a minute since my last blog post , but I will do my best to update and write here accordingly. I have immersed myself into a journey of self-learning, networking and of course, applying to jobs and doing interviews. I decided after being encouraged by a few individuals to write my thoughts in this blog, to shed a light of how I feel and to make it known, hoping it may be the sign or signal for something to change.
So buckle in, grab some tea and biscuits because this is opening myself in a very transparent manner that I am not used to.
In this section, I want to just go over a bit of how some interview processes were like for me. There has been a lot I have done which surprises my own self, and it would take a whole book to list them so I will only highlight a few. After doing virtual career events, networking with career coaches who were kind enough to give me consultation free of charge because of my circumstances and them seeing I am genuine about making friends and not just using people for their knowledge, I cleaned up my resume pretty well, sending pictures upon pictures of updated text and format to a few trusted individuals who have been my soundboards and biggest supporters through this process.
As a result, the notifications of how frequently end up on the searches in LinkedIn or having people message me saying "Hey, I wanted to reach out after hearing you on ...", so on and so forth. It's pretty neat I will admit to get this and I am grateful for this outcome.
Now let's get into parts of interviews. Many I had started with a phone call, doing the intro, the role, and me explaining what I am looking for in the company and in the role. The usual. There have been a few times companies did not want to waste any time and send a work prompt/technical assessment to get the ball rolling which was also neat and even moreso neat that the work I was given, wasn't some Hacker Rank timed assessment, but work reflective of what I would do should I be onboarded. These are the interviews I seek that are more humane for me, more of a less frustrating process to do, in addition to helps me gauge when given a challenge, how far I will go.
At most, the rounds of these interviews were 5 to 6. One place was 10 interview rounds, and no, it was not a FAANG company. The process for most of these interviews were 2-4 weeks.
About 5 companies I did interview with in close timelines- Lasted a month(1), a month and a half(2), two months(3), 3 months(4), and 4 months(5) as I currently write this.
The roles I picked were all ones that were stated explicitly to be early-career friendly, open to recent grads, the usual spiel. Some I took the leap of faith knowing I wasn't qualified and still applied just to see how far I can go. I am proud to say that many of these I knocked off one by one, celebrating my wins with people I message on social media of my progress, feeling good to be given notification of next round.
Never mind the fact some had stalled for a week or two until giving that notification, I knew that as a Black woman in STEM, I can't be picky about the process because I do not have that power nor place to bounce back on. I know that because of how I was born, I do not have much impact in what happens to me and I have to fight for myself. I have to fight to get where I want to be because not many will fight for me if it means risking their own position. I have to stay positive and grateful for every possible opportunity coming into my way, even though each rejection, each delay, each doubt I can read on peoples' face as I express my passion in tech, it kills a part of me inside every time. I know no matter how unfair it is people may say, I cannot change it with the lack of impact and power I have. I cannot change what I am being denied entry to. So I wait. I smile and I wait.
I keep waiting. I patiently waited despite my anxiety gets through the roof. I waited despite I cried myself to sleep at night wondering where did I go wrong in the process and did I say one word wrong, did my clothes look professional enough, did I not smile enough.
At one point, I knew I got a rejection when an email came and I don't see a file attached. Sometimes, just seeing the first few words going "Thank you very much for taking the time to apply to..." is enough for me to not bother reading the rest. Though, curiosity gets the best of me and I still open email just to know the inevitable,
Application pool was really competitive.
You were not selected.
We wish you the best in your endeavors.
Back to square one. Back to the start after well over a two-week process. Back to the self-pep talks, praying, playing motivational music, getting my neurodivergent brain to not go in panic mode day of a meeting and get myself in the zone. Back to it all over again. But it's not enough. It's not enough as I read articles, read Tweets from seasoned tech people on what one should do to get a job. I'm not doing enough staying up, having sleepless nights as I read, meditate, practice, code, curate spaces and talk to people and network and do everything I am told is the best way.
The rejection letters still come. I switch up my approach, switch up my style, get feedback. Rejected.
I do projects, take some freelance and allow myself to get some exposure under my belt even though I am not being paid learning what I am, even as the fridge goes low on food and having to plan how a sandwich or a small meal can be broken into 4 days.
I continue. I fight. I process and I endure as so much in life is happening around me and working to break away and get in an environment that is new. But it's not enough.
It's not professional enough. It's not good enough for entry into tech. It's not being passionate enough. It's not optimistic or a cultural fit enough.
It's as if I am in an infinite for-loop in the tech process that has no breakpoints, no stopping statement to stop the debilitating, soul-crushing feeling,
Of knowing one can't even qualify for the lowest-level position there is to offer because they do not have experience for a position that should be where one starts to build to gain said experience.
What also can be hurtful and this is the human part of me: Is seeing others who got opportunities because of their family or not having to do most of what I have done to get a job, making a change in their life. This is exclusively in regards to people I talked to about what I have been doing to get a job and them being absolutely floored by it because they never even thought of doing what I had to because when they had their own process,
They were believed and given a chance. They didn't even have to wait for two weeks. They were given such a timely-mannered opportunity that allowed them to grow beyond expectations.
All because someone believed in them. They didn't do well in technical interviews, but was given that chance to show up in work and do better. They were given grace.
I choke up inside wondering did I do something wrong to not be deserving of grace too. Did I not be polite enough or professional enough or erase my identity enough to where I am but a blank slate that is easily written, just to be given the grace of opportunity?
I truly wondered this at times and I will always push for positivity because I love positivity.
Though I will admit I cannot deny my feelings and the tears that shed on my face of feeling as though I am not enough despite working to the point of exhaustion because that's the professional ideology of needing to show drive and passion just to be worthy of advancement.
I have been told that all it takes is one yes out of the thousands of no's to get the door.
That one yes comes from a lot of pain, sweat, and tears and breaking one's self down in many ways unimaginable to the human language,
All for an entry-level job.
So I ponder, I sit and wonder when would there be change. When would what is said to be broken by design, would be adamantly challenged and pushed. I wonder who or what would it take to have the push for a system that does right by the people instead of succumbing to the system that continues to dim one's bright soul each time a meeting is set up and posted.
Or is it just balm glossed over wounds for one to have false belief they just have to do what they can and succumb to the monster of the process, thinking by the sweet honey-laced words of others who got in before it got this bad, that it will be taken care of, never to be addressed and soon bloom into a festering boil?
I truly wonder about it all.
I am exhausted, and I am still continuing fighting the good fight to be where I want to be,
In NYC, as a Software Engineer.
Though some days, my light dims in despair.
I am tired.