Recently, I have been having a pretty rough time in regards to my mental status during this lovely job search. It’s not that I’m being negative or berating myself. The problem is that searching for a job day-in and day-out since March 27th has been an emotional roller coaster.
While looking for a job, you will come across jobs that you feel like could be your dream job. You will get excited and hopeful, and a majority of the time, you either end up getting a rejection or you just never hear back. If you are lucky enough to score an interview, you prepare a ton for it, which in itself is a stressful process. You then go through the interview process, and you possibly begin feeling even more excited about the prospect of getting this job and working at your dream company. Then, if you aren’t one of the lucky ones, you end up really disappointed that you didn’t land that job.
This has happened to me 2 times during this job search, so far. The one that hurt the most was the one where I made it all the way through the interview process, but was ultimately turned down the position because of their lack of resources/support for a junior dev.
Ever since then, I’ve gotten quite a few interviews, but unfortunately nothing has made it past the first round. At first, it was my nerves during technical screenings/interviews that was hindering my chances. As of recently though, I’ve gained the confidence and enough experience to feel comfortable during those technical interviews.
Just the other week, I had an hour long technical screening that I was super proud of myself for, but ended up getting a rejection shortly after. I was completely flabbergasted, feeling super upset, wondering how I could get any better than I was during that interview. I turned to my parents, my fiancé, and my best friends in tears wondering if I’d ever be enough for a company. This moment was definitely a low point in my job search.
Since then, I’ve had one other interview, which, unfortunately, hasn’t led to another interview, but it did make a light go off for me. This interview was a major turning point and has lit a fire in my belly once again. It was during this interview that I discovered my niche in the tech world.
I interviewed for a software development position within a bioengineering research lab. I originally got the idea to start looking for positions like this after attending a meetup that was in regards to data science and medicine. My previous profession was within the healthcare field and I found the topic really interesting. I didn’t feel like I was in a foreign place, unable to speak the native language. In a sense, it felt like I was finally home.
Getting back to the interview, the person who interviewed me had previously worked as a software developer within a concussion research lab and we went off topic for about 10 minutes discussing all of the new and old tools developed to detect concussions. It was during this 10 minutes, that I became rejuvenated and was all of a sudden super excited about my job search.
See, when I worked as an athletic trainer, and I know this is awful to say but…my favorite thing to treat was concussions. Not every one was the same. It was a challenge to treat them and it sometimes required a bit of creativity to help rehabilitate the athletes. I once thought about going to get my PhD, in hopes to work in a concussion research lab. It never occurred to me until this interview that I could still do this as a software developer.
Now, my search has been geared toward finding positions in research labs. My goal isn’t necessarily to jump straight into a concussion research lab, but to hopefully be in one within the next 5 years. I’ll take any experience in a lab that I can get, so that when I go to apply for this dream job of mine (hopefully in Pittsburgh, PA), I have a higher chance and a more impressive resume to show off.
With all of that said, it’s easy to see how much of an emotional roller coaster the job search really is. It’s filled with moments of excitement and rejuvenation, but is also filled with moments of complete disappointment and sadness. This is all very common, and I hope by sharing my experiences here, that everyone else in my position reading this realizes that they aren’t alone and that this is normal.
If you are currently in the throes of the job search, I’m proud of you. Keep your head up and realize that things will eventually work out. A company will eventually take a chance on you. There is a light at the end of this tunnel, we just all need to have patience with the process and with ourselves.
Good luck hunting!
Note: If anyone ever needs to talk, I'm here to be a listening ear. Feel free to DM me via Twitter.