New Job!

January 31, 2015

I always experience an unreasonably high level of vicarious anxiety when I watch movies that involve the main characters in any type of vehicle that’s rapidly accelerating out of control, usually towards a collapsed bridge/tunnel/overpass, even though you KNOW it’s going to be okay and they’re not actually going to kill off Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock’s characters with a full 20 minutes left of the movie, because if Americans wanted our movies to make us feel bad, we would just watch foreign films.

In an imperfect analogy, the last week of my life kind of felt like that. There was no collapsed bridge, but my student visa was rapidly approaching its expiration date, and along with it — my ability to continue to stay in the UK. I’d been in a month-long recruitment process with a company that was sending me a lot of positive feedback, and a few days after my final interview (and four days out from my visa expiration date), they finally decided that they were not going to bring me onto the team after all.

It was obviously not the decision I had hoped for, after weeks of anxiously refreshing my inbox and trying to learn more about the company and their technology stack in preparation for the next round. In total, I went through five interviews that spanned roughly one month. I’ve been through enough job interviews to understand that nothing can be taken for granted until you actually have that contract in hand. However, the detail of the decision that disappointed me the most was that they were unwilling to sponsor a work visa for me. Had that not been an issue, the team lead indicated that there was a high likelihood the outcome would have been different.

I am disappointed because this was one of the first issues that I flagged during the whole process, and repeatedly throughout the month to multiple people in the company that I was emailing or speaking to. I held the company, and particularly the engineering team, in very high regard for the quality of their codebase and because I got the impression that they are a decent group of people. I still do believe in the team — the company, I’m not sure about anymore.

In contrast, I exchanged a few emails with hiring managers at Thoughtworks. The London manager told me that it was unrealistic they would conclude their hiring process before my student visa was up, and a US-based manager was similarly transparent about likely availability for entry-level roles if I were to apply in a few months for a stateside role. Nobody’s time was wasted, and everyone walked away with a clearer picture of what both sides expect.

I’m not angry that they turned me down in the end. Ruben told me that if I go down, I should go down fighting. I’m proud of how I did throughout the interviews, particularly on the technical test, which lasted three hours. I learned a lot about myself and what I want at this stage in my life. And I’m acutely aware that this is far from an isolated incident. This happens ALL the time during the job-hunt. Regina got dragged all the way out to Dublin for an interview last year, for goodness sake! I guess my purpose in writing about this now is that in the event that you’re a hiring manager reading this, or in case I am one day in the position to hire someone, I would implore you, and Future Me, please don’t keep inviting people back for interviews if there is an unchangeable circumstance about their employability — whether it’s a work visa, a degree requirement, a background in computer sciences, experience in a specialized field, whatever. For me, the salt in the wounds is the sizable opportunity cost involved when I invested time in preparing for these interviews, instead of actively researching other companies — all while my deadline loomed closer and closer. It’s hard not to keep wondering, “What if I had talked to X? What if I had pushed harder for Y?”

HOWEVER! Despite the emotional rollercoaster of a week, I did manage to land a job with another company. It’s a much smaller, education startup called Third Space Learning. As soon as my new visa clears, I will be starting as a junior Rails developer on a very lightweight team of five developers. I’m very excited to start my career as a developer, and I feel very optimistic about the members of the Third Space team that I’ve met so far. The team had to perform some bureaucratic acrobatics (how’s that for a tongue twister?!) this week to get all of my sponsorship paperwork cleared in time, and for that, I am so, so grateful.

So I guess that means I’m staying. For at least the next year. It’s nice to have at least a few months planned out now. I like to think that I’m spontaneous and live life on the edge and everything, but I’m really not when it comes to knowing where I’m going to be and for how long. Staying in school is a nice way to buy some predictability.. maybe that’s the reason why pretty much all I’ve done is school up to this point. But, working somewhere that you get to build real projects and contribute value is also pretty neat, I suppose!

Also, I made this yesterday:

Note: I’m not going to disclose the first company’s name because I’ve blogged about Makers Academy in the past and don’t want Google to link my rant back to Makers for future job-seekers.