In the latter part of 2019, I hit a serious roadblock. The company I was contracting for seemingly ran out of funds and waited until the end of October to tell me that I wouldn't be receiving a paycheck until sometime in early 2020. This came as an extreme shock to me as I'd been working with them since June and everything had seemed fine.
I put out a call on Twitter that I was looking for work, still am at the time of this post, and I got the most amazing feedback. Thousands of developers started to retweet my request and soon I was flooded with well wishes and recommendations on where to apply for work. It was absolutely amazing and overwhelming at the same time.
During all of that, which should be its own post, I applied to 58 different positions and I was rejected 58 times.
I need to point out a few things here since I've had two hiring managers cite this post as the reason why they didn't want to move forward with my application.
All of those applications came from well-meaning people who were trying to help me. They were using their good name to get me directly in front of hiring managers whether or not I met the requirements for the position. As it turned out 54 of those positions were for front-end web development roles which I wasn't qualified for as I hadn't used the technologies they needed and I'm not that great with design.
As for the other four positions I was completely qualified but I made the mistake of scheduling the interviews too close together and ended up having to work on four take-home projects with the same due date. That resulted in me turning in work that was not my best. I was juggling several interviews a day, working on wildly different projects in different tech stacks at the same time, all while trying to save myself from being homeless. I was simply overwhelmed and ended up dropping the ball.
Let me tell you, that many rejections in a row are enough to break almost anyone. I started to doubt my skills and my chosen career path. I'd spent the last 15-years in this profession, it's what I love, it's part of who I am. Did I make a mistake?
My mind was racing with all of the different feedback I was able to get from some of the interviewers.
One thing stood out to me the most; I needed to stop and take a look at the fundamentals.
The feedback that stuck with me the most were the dumb things I did; using a HashSet when I really should have used a Dictionary, not implementing IDisposable on a class that I referenced in two places forgetting that the garbage collector wouldn't dispose of it in memory even when it went out of scope in one usage and many other little things like that.
That's why I've decided to devote the entire year of 2020 to reinforce the fundamentals because as someone once said: “working on the fundamentals isn't a bad thing, people know that - pro athletes spend most of their time drilling fundamentals.” I'll be focusing on only two things throughout the entire year; My health and my working on technical skills.
The first step will be to create simplified roadmaps for each aspect so I can then build upon it throughout the year. I already have these maps sketched out but I'm not ready to share them just yet. The reason for this post is a public declaration to hold myself accountable.
I don't want to daydream through my life, I want to succeed in the things I'm passionate about. The only way I see for me to be able to do that is to get my health and my career in order. As we speak I'm looking at homelessness again for the third month in a row and it's my fault. If I had dedicated more of my free time to be the best I could be I wouldn't be going through this, I hope anyway.
What that means for the blog is that you'll be taking this journey with me. You'll mostly get to hear about the technical aspect of things as I pick which topics to study and report back here. Though during my quarterly reviews I might touch on some of my health goals. If you have any ideas on what you want to read about please feel free to leave a comment below.
Thanks for making it this far, I hope you have a great 2020!