I’ve been mentoring several folks who are attending bootcamps and making career transitions into tech. A lot of times it feels like there is this attitude that once you get into that bootcamp people think you have passed the point of failure; you have passed a bar where a bootcamp promises you that they will teach you everything you need to know to be successful once you start in the industry. That is the point of a bootcamp after all, but I want to be pragmatic and realistic about this decision you’re making. I made the decision when I switched to computer science in college and I made the decision to interview for full stack development jobs and have since braved two job searches. The point of failure you should be considering above all is the pyschology of not getting down on rejections during the job search.
I believe that the single thing that could cause you to fail in your career transition is if you become demoralized in your job search. It is hard to become resilient to rejection. I know. I’ve done two job searches thus far and while I feel slightly less scarred about the process now, I have felt my share of painful, crying for days rejections. It is a very stressful transition to make.
I’ve done a couple things to mitigate this existential risk. The first is to understand that it’s not always about something you did or did not do. As you interview, you will want to analyze your outcomes, but the last thing you want to do is internalize what you have experienced so far.
A big reason why you shouldn’t internalize previous experience is you will probably get rejected from a lot of companies that are generally less appealing than the companies you end up getting offers from. If you get rejected by your “safety” it doesn’t mean you won’t get into Google. It just means that the company was not in a good position to hire you at that particular time.
Another way to approach the job search is to understand that jobs are not static things. I have been in a situation where I only got an offer because of the timing in which I applied; there are other times where if I had applied to that company I know I would not have gotten in. And that’s because a lot of companies will go in cycles in terms of what their needs are and who they’re hiring for. It’s definitely not about you as an engineer or a person.
When you are actively interviewing for several companies, instead of thinking of each one as a target and you have to hit a target on point to get an offer, think of the companies you’re interviewing at as a field of easter eggs; every egg either has an offer or it doesn’t. Your mission is to crack as many easter eggs as you can. This mission relies on resilience and practice and bravery but ultimately the outcome of your current easter egg doesn’t affect the outcome of the next one. The effort and strategy you put into cracking an egg may affect the next one but you cannot compare outcomes.
This can definitely be exhausting– and not everyone has the stamina to interview for months at a time. You will have to get used to being outside of your comfort zone and become comfortable being uncomfortable. You have to get used to being scared and being asked to do a hard thing on a whiteboard in a totally pretend scenario. You have to desensitize yourself to it and do as many as you can tolerate so you can crack as many easter eggs as possible. But also try to remember; it’s not a race. It’s a function of however many easter eggs you’d like to crack. You can be strategic on which ones you choose, but do not lose faith if they aren’t the ones you thought had offers. The job search is about putting your best foot forward and engaging in the process in good faith.