April 07, 2018

The First Interview

Back in August, when I committed to becoming a web developer, I was confident that I would have a job in matter of weeks. And if not weeks, then just a handful of months. Now, in April, I've proven myself incorrect. I underestimated how arduous this process is, and how challenging it is to enter a field with quite literally no relevant experience under your belt. I wonder, had I known how challenging this would be, if I would have even pushed forward through the first couple of weeks...

Two days ago I flew into Boston for my first in person interview.

After a night of poor sleep, a cramped three hour flight, and sitting around a mall for four hours, I walked confidently and tiredly into the office building. Up an elevator and I was greeted by the receptionist, handed an itinerary and told to sit down with the other candidates. I suspected there would be other candidates, but wasn't certain and the realization was nerve wracking.

At some point we were told that only eight candidates would be selected for a role, an apprenticeship with the opportunity for a full-time position. There were nearly twenty of us, and I found out later that there was another group being considered as well. I felt panicked, I'd spent many months honing this new skill, filled out a countless number of job applications, and traveled for twelve hours to be confronted with the nineteen other people gunning for this job.

While it was a group event, we would be interviewing individually, thankfully. We'd have three interviews, each with a different person and each on a different topic. For me, first was data models, second was culture, and third was coding. Again, nerves were rattled. I didn't even know what a data model really was--it was just some idea in my head, but I didn't know if it was right. And coding in front of someone, on a whiteboard would be terrifying.

As it turns out, the culture interview was the most difficult. None of the interviews were particularly challenging, but the culture one felt very hit-or-miss for me. I felt like some of the things I said resonated with the interviewer, and other times they would fall flat and make no impact. My interviewer didn't ask very many questions either, which led to me talking more, and as I talked more I made more mistakes. When the interviewer did ask questions, I was broadsided by something I had no idea how to answer. "What can you tell me about how ES6 class inheritance works?" As it turns out I did know the answer, but it all seemed like jargon buzzwords in my head that I couldn't string together into an answer.

When the night finally ended, I was relieved. I was proud of my performance. Even though I felt the culture interview should have gone better, I was happy that I had made it this far. The entire interview was actually an incredibly positive experience. Moreover, I'm really proud of myself for getting this far. Apparently over 1000 people applied for this role, and only 40 made it this far. Whether or not I get an offer, I'm glad that this was my first experience and I'm glad I never quit on myself earlier in this journey.