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Silvia España Gil
Silvia España Gil

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That time I could not finish a tech challenge

Hola Mundo!


Maybe at this moment you already know -or not- that I have a little storytime series called "Jr. Dev: Do not give up" if you haven't read it I encourage you to do so 🧐.

But well, basically the series is me trying to convince you to not give up when you feel like to 💪🏽. Because well...I've felt that and sometimes I still do but is good to have a reminder that we can feel certain way but we can overcome it.

Now...let me tell you about that time I could not finish a tech challenge.

I was fresh out of my bootcamp, applying to anything that I could remotely fit, and let me tell you, playing the interviews game is hard😫, maybe one day I can write about that but I was mentally exhausted, I was already being ghosted 👻 from a couple companies, moving forward in really long processes and getting rejected from some others.

But I received a call from a company I met in a networking activity and was sooooo excited about it. They did me a little phone interview and asked me if I wanted to do the tech challenge I was like YES PLEASE❗.


The challenge 💻

So, it was a React challenge💻, but it was something I have never had done before plus I had to use Typescript which I haven't used before.

I also had to use a database that was in Docker 🐳 and I didn't even knew what tha was, so I spent too much time trying to understand it 🤦🏽‍♀️ when the only thing I needed to do was to type docker compose up.

Thing was that after one week working and doing some of the things they asked for, *I was not able to finish the challenge 💔. *

I did a part, found a good tutorial that explained the other part but honestly, I didn't understand a thing 😫. It was like the tutorial was explained in Klingon and I just didn't get it.

I had two options: not sending the challenge or sending an incomplete challenge 🤔.


The quitting point 😵

For me, this was a hard decision. I felt pretty dumb and such an impostor for not being able to finish it 😢.

The only thing I was sure about was that I *wasn't going to send a code I didn't understand * so doing the tutorial stuff without getting it wasn't part of the plan 🙅🏽‍♀️, because that goes against everything I believe.

At last I remembered something my mentor said to me: "You already have a no. So, there's nothing to lose" and well...that's true✨.

I wrote down an amazing Readme 📑 and added a little extra comment stating that I appreciated the opportunity, that I've learnt a lot and listed my favorite things of the code ✨ plus other things that I was willing to learn as a result of the exercise.

Long story short: I was called for a tech interview. My surprise was that they LOVED my take on the code, I was told they liked how I approached the unknown, how tidy my code was and the way I documented it 😮‍💨😳. They also appreciated my Readme and my honest take to it because showed that overall I was willing to learn.


The outcome 🌈

The moral of the story is that you never know what the other is looking for, so why not trying?. My mentor WAS right, the "no" is already there so we have nothing to lose.

Yoda gif saying "Impossible to see the future is"

Btw, they gave me an offer to join the 📱 mobile team 📱 where I work right now, so after many noes this was my yes: not with the perfect project nor with the perfect code but it was my yes and I almost closed this door to myself!

But even before having the received the offer 💫 I felt that I had won 💫 because I had the interview and actually, learnt a lot in the whole process and I overcome that paralyzing fear of not feeling enough


Have you had any similar experience? Let me know and if you haven't see it, check on my "Jr. Dev: Do not give up" series 💪🏽.

Discussion (10)

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brifiction profile image
Brian Ng • Edited on

Well done! Note that most tech / code challenges are designed to understand your:

  1. Thought process
  2. Analytical thinking
  3. Tackling the problem and arriving at the solution

What they admire, is mostly in your 'Long story short' summary, which made you stand out more than what their team was lacking - taking time for code comments about how your code works, and excellent documentation (this means you care about team collaboration, where others need to familiarise with your work).

Congratulations, and happy coding!

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silviaespanagil profile image
Silvia España Gil Author

Yes, the hard part specially when a junior is to remember that...that we are not expected to be perfect but to try and to have the will to keep learning and growing.

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Brian Ng

100% agreed, that's well said right there - you've accepted the challenge, attempted and learn from it with the outcome. I'm glad authors like yourself are writing articles like these, they provide positive guidance to many :)

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gabrielrowan

This is great - I love that you didn't give up and got the job even though you weren't able to complete the challenge! I'm a a junior dev and also got loads wrong in my tech interview for my current company but they still offered me the job because they were focusing more about how I thought and whether I would fit in with the team :)

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Silvia España Gil Author

Ohhhh I love that. Yes, yes and yes, we can't give up on ourselves never. Congrats to you too

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Mike Talbot

Your link 404's for me sadly.

Great article though and an important lesson. I often face issues or systems that don't make sense on first reading, on second reading, let's face it after beating one's head against it for days - so those skills are for sure serving you well still and will ever do so.

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Silvia España Gil Author

Hi Mike,

Thanks! I just updated it so is now fixed. I definetly think that this is for sure a career path that requires some patience but also understanding that sometimes that head beating can be there...a lot and we have to learn how to manage it, ask for help, try to overcome it etc

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Andrew Baisden

Great article to read.

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silviaespanagil profile image
Silvia España Gil Author

Thank you very much Andrew

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Kevin Peckham

Inspiring. Thanks for sharing!