“Failure to plan is planning to fail”
– Reverend H.K. Williams1
So, it’s been
a year since I’ve graduated and I’m still unemployed. Even with lots of interviews at places like Google and Pivotal, I’m living in shame given how the rest of my graduating class is doing well while I leech off of my compassionate family.
How I Didn’t Get Hired
Not Managing Money Well
Not really tied to a job search but had I been smarter with money, I wouldn’t have been as stressed out. While I had family helping me out, getting to a point at which I wouldn’t be able to service my debt really weighed down on me.
Not Working For My Cousin
I basically got an offer to work for my cousin at his startup. While it practically paid minimum wage, I would at least gain some experience. The thing which stopped me was that I had just gotten an interview which I thought I did well in and I was anticipating their offer. I was also worried that the six months he suggested I work for would stop me from getting any job oppurtunities in that time.
I was way too arrogant to realize just how pivotal this job experience would be and I also underestimated justhow much of a grind the job search is.
Not Jumping on The Leetcode Grind
I underestimated the intensity at which companies are unwilling to talk to you without doing a programming screen first. These were really humiliating since I couldn’t figure them out, at all. I just wished that I actually went through the Cracking The Coding Interview [Affiliate Link] book my friend gave me. Seems like the questions will just get a lot worse.
Limiting my Options to Just The United States
Given that the work permit cost $400, I was deadset on getting a job in the United States. I should have realized that the US isn’t the only country in the world. Sure the salaries are lower but it’s a first job. Then again, it’s not like other countries don’t have their share of eager college graduates looking to break through. Being young is tough.
Not Giving My All In School and The Job Oppurtunities I’ve Had
There were many points at which I could have done a much beter job that I had actually done. For instance, I would have finished the InterLibrary page had I not just lost steam. I also would have done much better in my CS classes giving me a slightly better chance at grad school. I might have also finished my senior project and it might have been used to this date. Ah well.
Lingered on False Hope and Excessive Pride
The main theme you’ll discover throughout this post is that I really underestimated the difficulty and duration of the job seeking process. Interviews I would hope would be in a weeks time would actually happen months later. They seem to operate on a different schedule. Also, after an interview, I would stop applying until for a while until I realized that I’ve been ghosted, wasting valuable time.
At many points I could have just scrapped a US job search and look for other oppurtunities, but my pride wouldn’t let me.
I also started the job search late. I only started applying for jobs towards the end of graduation rather than the start of senior year. I was worried that companies wouldn’t hire someone who could only start months later rather than ASAP.
Not Going Into College With A Solid Plan
I’m realizing now that I should have had a solid plan from the moment I started undergrad. Figuring out how to build a network, how to keep options open and how to get internships and prepare for interviews. Had I been more proactive earlier on, I probably wouldn’t be writing this.
I’ve had to move back home and move in with my mom. While my mum is well off, Zimbabwe is still in a never-ending crisis with cash shortages, chronic unemployment and a dysfunctional government. Given this, it’ll be hard to get a job in such a climate, let alone in software development. My mum has offered to pass my resume around, but there aren’t many takers given the contracting economy.
I really didn’t want to go to grad school, but I don’t have any other viable option. Remote work is pretty much impossible given my level of experience and the only way countries would even think of giving me a visa is without a master’s degree. There are so many things I’m worried about concerning grad school, such as affording it and whether I can actually get in, but its now a more realistic option than it ever was. I’ll go into more detail another time.
From all this I’ve learned
- Start very early
- Be very prepared for all sorts of interviews
- Don’t slack
- Manage money well
- Keep you options open
- Have a plan!
Since I’m not in a rush anymore, I can take some time to truly develop my skills, soft and hard. I’ll go into the skills I want to learn in a future post but here are some things I have in mind:
- Effective communication (writing and presenting well),
- “Getting got at math” whatever this means,
- Developing a hacking spirit,
- Face my fears, that is to say learn the hard stuff (databases, GUI programming, servers),
- how to not be an asshole and,
- a few hobbies that don’t involve computer screens.
While I’ve been stressing how unhireable I am in this post, I think I’ll keep applying. Here’s why:
- I might actually get a job. Sure it’s very hard but it’s not impossible2.
- I’ll get more interview experience, something I wish I had to keep me alert.
Finally, I want to get a life. The plan was to run away to a new city where nobody knows who I am so I could start all over again. While that’s not gonna happen yet, why should I wait until then to start living life? Some ways I’m planning to get a life is by exploring Zimbabwe3 and starting a board game club. It’s time to get proactive and be a self starter for a change.
I drafted this in May of 2019 and reading it 6 months later, there haven’t been any improvements in my personal situation or my country. They’ve actually gotten worse since I’ve lost my passport and they won’t come out until 2021, effectively ruining any chance of leaving this mess, not that anyone would hire me given I’m writing this blog post. Also, I’ve been a homebody since I came back to Zim so forget about trying to get out and explore.
Post-Postscript (November 2020)
There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.
– Vladimir Lenin 4
So 2020 happened.
I haven’t started implemented my suggestions and I’m still unemployed. But like I said, 2020 happened. I do have a passport now if you want to hire me for whatever reason. My email is gandiyafarai at gmail dot com.
This attitude hasn’t gotten me anywhere but it’s all I know. ↩︎
I’m a fan of Tom Scott who travels around the “world” and talks about the weird things he discovers. I say “world” since it seems that he only talks about North America and Europe. ↩︎