COVID19 has been disruptive to all of our lives. It has forced a lot of people to work from home and/or lose their childcare. Some of us are losing loved ones to this virus. Others are being laid off due to the financial difficulties a lot of companies are experiencing at this time. Some companies have had to put a freeze on hiring and others have had to fold. While these are a few examples of difficulties that people are facing during this pandemic, they don’t even begin to scrape the surface of problems people are experiencing at this time. With this article, I want to discuss the one that has been the most impactful on me personally, interviewing during COVID19.
The impact that COVID19 has had on my job search has been devastating. For some background on me (if you don’t already know), I have been actively interviewing for over a year in search of my first software engineering role. This means I have been on the emotional roller coaster ride of interviewing for a long time now. I have experienced some great highs as well as some pretty low lows.
Let me be honest before COVID19 hit I was already inching towards my breaking point.
Noticing that I was getting close to my breaking point, I set out to improve on what I felt I was weakest at. My goal with doing this was to eliminate the stressors that I had control over in hopes to move further away from that breaking point. Before COVID19 hit, I felt that I was accomplishing this goal and my confidence in my interviewing skills was increasing tremendously.
Eventually, I had the opportunity to work with a startup for a week as a paid trial, an interview of sorts. This was an amazing opportunity for me as I viewed this trial as a win-win situation because it gave me a week of professional experience I didn’t have whether I was extended an offer or not. Luckily enough I was extended my first official software engineering offer after the trial was over. This was the proudest moment of my job search.
Then along came COVID19…
Within a week of COVID19 becoming prevalent and amid contract negotiations, the company reached out to me and let me know they had to put a freeze on hiring. This news came after three hundred and fifty-six days of searching for a job and thirteen days after I received that offer. It was devastating, but I bounced back, as I always do in the face of adversity.
Backing up a tiny bit, before receiving that offer, I had already been interviewing with another company that had the intention of bringing on two new software engineers. When my first offer was rescinded, yes I was devastated (as I just mentioned), but I also felt a sense of relief because this other company felt promising so I shifted my focus to my upcoming technical screen with them.
After completing this amazing technical screen, I felt that I had found the company and the people that would help foster an amazing environment for my professional growth. When I received news that I was among the four final candidates moving on to the final round of interviews, I was ecstatic and also relieved that they weren’t putting a freeze on hiring.
For the final interview, I met with three other employees that I had not previously interviewed with as well as the hiring manager. After meeting and interviewing with each person, I got more and more excited at the prospect of working at this company. By the time I met with the hiring manager I was beaming with excitement, then came the bad news.
She started her portion of the interview by informing me that the company had cut her budget and she could only bring on one engineer. She then told me that two of the other candidates were mid-level engineers, which is always nerve-racking to hear as a junior as I don’t have the same experience they do. While this news sucked, I knew I still stood a pretty good chance considering I was one of four final candidates so I chose to stay positive.
After a few days of doing everything I could to distract myself while waiting to hear back, I got the news that they had chosen to go with a different candidate. With this news, I felt my heart crumble and all hope slide away with it. (To be completely honest here, this is incredibly hard to write about right now, as the feelings are all still very raw.) I had made it one year and eight days into my job search before the thought “I just want to quit” popped into my head. That’s a long time of riding that emotional job search roller coaster before finally feeling the need to get off of it.
To me, the fact that the thought even crossed my mind was more devastating than the rejection itself. I am not one to give up, ever, and I wasn’t going to let myself start now. To keep myself on the ride, I had to take a little bit of time to myself to recharge emotionally, so, after another interview only a few days later, I took two days to myself even though I had the intention of taking the rest of the week.
By the third day, I was completing a code challenge that was extended after the aforementioned interview. By the fourth day, I found myself browsing open positions, which struck a sense of panic in me due to the new influx of people searching for roles as well as the decrease of job openings all due to COVID19 layoffs and hiring freezes.
Part of me is happy that I am bouncing back and ready to ride the roller coaster again, but the other is hesitant knowing that there are most likely a few more heartbreaks in my future, whether they be due to COVID19 hiring freezes or other reasons. Either way, I’m going to rise up and keep moving forward knowing that the right fit for me is out there somewhere and I’ll find it eventually.
To anyone who is in the same boat as me right now, I feel for you. You are not alone. I know your struggles and I am here for you. Please feel free to DM me here or on Twitter if you feel you need to talk to someone.
Note: This post's cover image comes to you from an awesome hike I did in Waipiʻo Valley, Big Island, Hawaii.