Go with a smile!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Great Job Hunt part 3

There was another job that came up: somebody came across my resume, and emailed me to invite me to apply to that job. I complied. The first hurdle was a 48 hour coding assignment, which I scheduled to do in the week after my finals. Since it was a program that I had always wanted to code, I was glad to do it. Later on, I received a favourable response and was invited to the first phone interview. I remember being rather sluggish in the hours leading up to that. My interviewer was an Indian guy, and he started off by asking me about myself. I was prepared for that this time and I just rattled off the basic stuff. Then he told me that I would be working for a small but very committed team where everybody knew much of the system. It would be a very intense environment, since this was a startup, and even told me that people turned up at 9 and didn’t leave until around 7, and maybe even 9 at night. I wondered if that was what I was going to get at the place where I accepted the offer.

Anyway, there were 3 questions, and I seemed to be able to do them all. Towards the end, the interviewer was pressed for time. People usually say things like “ask me any questions” but when the hour was up, he had to cut me off.

The following day, however, I looked at the question that I wasn’t sure about, and was dismayed to realize that I had made a few significant errors in my coding. I was about to drop the thank you note, and spontaneously I just decided to put in a corrected version of that question – I figured out that it wouldn’t do my chances any harm – either he would ignore it, or it would demonstrate that I would have figured it out if given enough time. Except, to my horror, I realized that the second version still had a big bug in it. Well I’m not hopeful for this, and to say that least, it’s quite disappointing. No, the job interview process ended there and then.

There was another company, a Mexico company, who also contacted me out of the blue after picking up my resume. They were interested in me for a data analyst position. What I found from the website was that they kept the interview cycle very short. Everything would be over within two weeks. The first phone interview was very short. It was just a few very generic questions asked by the reviewer. The second phone interview was half an hour. It was a German sounding guy asking a few math-related questions. I was more or less paying attention in class, I think and in the end I was able to answer most of the stuff. It was a pleasant surprise to have him reveal towards the end that he had spent 1-2 years in Snowy Hill as a postdoc. I seem to have answered his questions accurately enough that I was given a pass to the next stage, where I was invited to the office.

The office was in Mexico. Seems like I have pretty good luck with Mexico offices compared with - say - Silicon Valley. This time, though, the office was not downtown but nearer to the University of Mexico. The first time, I had an interview with four people: a Chinese, then an Indian, then a German, and last of all a Viet. (This is not the beginning of a joke). The first two were middle level positions, and the latter two were the managers. I think I did well enough in that interview to be asked back again. In particular, the German guy was interested in me. Unfortunately, when they asked me around for an interview the second time around, I roughly knew that I was going to be asked on the projects that I had done for a certain computer course. But because I was busy with my homework, I didn't find the time to revise the material from the course. It wasn't surprising that that interview did not go well for me. And anyway the problem is I had already started filing papers with that startup that I had accepted a position for, and after that I just didn't feel like looking for more jobs for two reasons: I couldn't bear to go tell that startup that I had changed my mind - it was not nice. And also because I was less motivated than before to look for a job. And also because it felt like - what was the point anyway?

What was the point anyway? Well it was my first interview where I was considered for a job that I thought I'd really liked. And after that I was expecting to hear back from them that they had rejected me. But when I did hear back from them that they did reject me, I ended up feeling a lot more pissed off than I expected. I suppose this is very much the story of my life, and I've discovered that for many things - second time's the charm. I finished off with classical music only to get involved with pop music. I screwed up all my job interviews during my first year of NS and only succeeded in my second year. I only managed to ask out the second girl I had a crush on. I was a B student in JC all the way until I scored straight As for my "A" levels. I had failed to write a good play for one event and only managed it in the next event. I wandered around aimlessly in my job for around 4 years before making decent progress for the next 4. And it all boils down to: failure begets success for me partially because I'm such a slow learner. But also because it takes the first sting of failure to spur me into action. I would say that I am a person with average to above average drive, definitely not enough to be a champion or a world beater, but just barely enough to be happy with what I want.

That was the end of the job hunt for me anyway. I didn't dare go for any more job interviews. I couldn't go for the job fairs because my future employers were going to be there and I would have to explain what the hell I was doing at a job fair when I had already accepted an offer from them. In any case, I thought my journey was done. Actually it wasn't - the most stressful part of it was about to begin.


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