We all have companies that we so bad want to work at or even intern at. For me, Google, Microsoft or Facebook was that company. I know what you’re thinking about haha, of course it had to be one of the big tech companies. Well, we are all allowed to dream ain’t we?
My dream to work in one of these companies propelled me to spend my time preparing so hard for their interviews and applications. I diligently took the time to practice the coding challenges and even do mock interviews just to get ready. I actively used networking platforms to reach out to recruiters and other Engineers that worked in these companies just to learn more about them. Looking back, I was so motivated and inspired just by listening to people’s stories and how they had made it to Google or Facebook. More especially, if they were people of color like me.
Fall of Freshman year I began applying for my summer internships and felt quite confident that I would get an offer from one of these companies. I passed the resume screening and got invited for phone interviews which were okay,- because I found myself interacting well with the recruiters. See — the trick about passing phone screens/interviews is ensuring that you sell yourself well enough, show interest in the company and also ask meaningful questions. Well I did that and it worked! I got invited for the next step which was the technical interview! Now the technical interview is where things did not work as I anticipated. I struggled with and failed to get all answers to my coding challenges. Interview after interview, I remember feeling so demotivated. I however held a little bit of hope. “Maybe, they’ll see my potential,” I told myself as I anxiously awaited the results.
I will never forget this experience and how it felt anticipating, hoping and waiting for feedback. The anxiety, the excitement, the worry. When I finally got the results,(and they all came in on the same week!) I must admit I was not so surprised, but there was this feeling of numbness. I did not get an offer. All my dream companies had rejected me. Here I was, feeling like a failure, dejected, unsure of what to do next.Life has its own weird way of happening right?
It took me a while to finally be okay with and accept the outcome of my applications. I remember asking myself if there was something I could have done better — see I had spent a lot of time preparing for this. I even started growing doubts on whether I was smart enough or fit to take a Computer Science career. Well failure, sure has its own way of messing with our brains. I am grateful for wonderful professors, wonderful friends ,family and even strangers who helped me believe in myself and come to accept this.
It takes accepting failure first before learning how to overcome it.
The Come Back
Spring came, and I had decided to get back into applying to other companies that were still accepting applications for the summer. I decided to have a different approach this time, taking this experience as a learning experience and going into my interviews with the goal of learning something new about the process and about myself too. I must admit that during this time I got to learn a lot about other companies, that there were companies out there which were much better than the big four tech companies I had been raving about. I got to learn about different work cultures, different career interests and even discovered my particular interests and what I wanted in an internship or job. Looking back, this was the turning point for me and my career. I became more confident, more learned, and also felt more accomplished.
It Is Okay.
This experience all in all, taught me one very important thing. That it is okay to dream. That it is okay for your plans not to work out. That it is okay not to land that dream internship or job. That it is okay to fail or lose in something. That it is okay to cry, feel dejected or feel lost. That It is okay to be uncertain about what you want, and it is also okay to take your time to figure it out!
The way forward?
Well I ended up not securing an internship for that summer, instead I decided to take my summer to use all that I learnt during my job search in becoming a better Software engineer and I must say that was my most productive summer. Have a look at this article to see how I used my time in the summer to secure an internship(not one but three offers!)the next application season!
Applying for jobs or internships is a very strenuous, time consuming and emotionally draining period of someone’s life. I hope this article serves to show you that it is totally okay to go through this, and be accepting of everything that comes with it. Also, I know we all have that dream job or internship! It’s okay not to get it! It is totally okay to fail, all that matters is how you come back from it!