Sarah Katz

NYC-Based Full Stack JS Developer

From the mind of Sarah...

Reflections on The Job Search: Four Months In

June 24, 2019

Four months. That's how long it's been since my job search started. This job search has taken twice as long as my last job search. Four months ... and it feels like so much longer.

I know that part of what's taking so long is that I'm being a little picky. I'm not applying to every job out there or advantage of every networking and connection opportunity. I know that I'm limiting my options by not being willing to travel and by not being willing to work for a consulting firm. I've come to understand that the salary I was making at my last job was on the higher side for that type of position, and asking for a similar or higher salary is probably also limiting my options (although I know there are jobs out there that will pay what I'm asking for or higher). But even knowing that I am looking in a smaller pool, it's a little disheartening to struggle to get interviews when I know others who are deciding between multiple offers or have multiple interviews scheduled every week.

I know every job search is different. And I know the right opportunity for me is out there, and I just need to find it. But it's been four months of searching ... and I'd like to find it sooner rather than later. I want to get back to work.

This probably sounds crazy to some people, but ... I actually miss working. I am definitely still writing code (both for personal projects and some algorithm practice), but it's not the same as working with others on a shared codebase. Even though I'm building something with a personal project, it definitely has a different feel than the code I wrote when I was working. I also miss going into the office and being around other people (which is why I'm not looking for a remote position - I know remote works for some people, but it's just not at all my jam, and I much prefer to be in an office with other people). Even if my only interaction is to say hi to my neighbor, there's still something about being around other people that I miss when I spend most of my day in my apartment learning and job searching.

Then there's just the general feeling of discouragement that I get the longer this job search goes on. Before becoming a developer, I was working part-time as a freelance graphic designer, but looking for a full-time position in either graphic design or office management (which is what I had done before graphic design). I got one offer over the course of 5 years, it was in my first few months of searching, and it was a company I didn't really want to work for that was going to pay me way less than what I thought I was worth, so I declined the offer. It was really disheartening and I lost a lot of confidence in myself, and when I decided to make the switch to software development, I knew I did not want to be in that situation again. It's only been 4 months, but I'm really starting to feel like I might end up in that long-term unemployment/underemployment situation again, and it terrifies me. I can't do that again. I'm already starting to lose my confidence (even though I know this situation is different because I'm in a much more focused job search and I am better qualified for the jobs I'm interested in), and I really need something to snap me out of this ugly cycle.

When I stop to think about it, I know that things will work out. I am getting interviews (although maybe not with the same frequency as some others), and while I haven't been offered my perfect position yet, I have impressed some companies enough to move further along in the process (and I did even get one offer - but it was for a job that wasn't what I really wanted). Things may be moving slower than I wanted them to, but things are happening, and I know I'll find the right match eventually. And until then ... there are things I can do to help me deal with some of the difficulties of not working.

Open Source Contributions. One of the things I miss about having a job is working on a shared codebase. Open source software is definitely a shared codebase, and I think it could give me a similar feeling. I've actually wanted to contribute to open source for a while, but I feel a little intimidated because I don't know where to start, so hopefully I can solve that issue and make some contributions to open source software. (Shameless Plug: If you're an OSS maintainer or frequent contributor who has magically found some spare time and want to help guide a super newbie through her first OSS contribution, please reach out to me!)

Get Out Of The House. My decision to be in my apartment by myself and not surrounded by other people is just that - my decision. If I want to be around other people, I can always go to a nearby coffee shop with wifi or down to the AWS Loft co-working space. It's not the same as being surrounded by my favorite co-workers, there are opportunities for be to be around other people even when I'm not working, and I need to start taking advantage of those opportunities.

Don't Compare Myself to Others ... even Past Sarah. Easier said than done, but very important. Some people (like some of my former coworkers) have relatively short but intense job searches. Others (like Past Sarah) have very long and unsuccessful job searches. Most of us are somewhere in the middle. Just because I haven't had the best luck with my job search yet, doesn't mean it's going to take 5 years and a career change for me to get a job. I need to stop comparing myself to others. Just because someone's circumstances may seem similar to mine, that doesn't mean our journey or ending is the same. I need to focus on my search and not worry about what happened to me in the past or what is happening with my friends.

Job searching is hard. Four months in, I'm feeling a lot worse about the process than I was back in February. But at the end of the day, I know the right job for me is out there. I just need to keep the faith, keep working hard, and keep trying to connect with that job.

It may be taking longer than I wanted it to, but I will find my perfect next job.

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