Over the past 9 months, I've written extensively about my job search. I've written about my struggles and successes, my preparation for interviews and what I do when interviews don't go well. But this post is about an entirely different part of my job search - the end of it. A few weeks ago I accepted an offer to become a Full Stack Engineer at a healthtech startup, and my first day of work is November 4th.

The Interview Process

This process started back in late August, when I saw the position listed online (I honestly don't remember where I saw it). I did some research on the company and it seemed like it might be a good fit, so I applied. A few days later, a recruiter at the company reached out to me to schedule a phone screen, and we scheduled our conversation for the following week. We had a good conversation about the company, the role, my experience, and my goals for my next company/role. I really enjoyed the conversation, and I was ready for the next step, a technical phone interview with the hiring manager. The recruiter asked about my availability for that interview, so I expected to be contacted within a few days to set up a time to speak with the hiring manager. This was in early September.

After not hearing from the recruiter for a week, I sent an email just to check in and to see if the hiring manager was interested in speaking with me. A few days later the recruiter contacted me and asked me my availability for a phone interview with the hiring manager. I sent over my availability for the following week and half or so, and then ... crickets. The last day that I had given availability for passed, and I still hadn't heard back from the company.

At this point, I wasn't sure how I would react if the recruiter ever did email me back. I felt like the company wasn't respecting me or my time, and I wasn't sure that I wanted to continue in this process. A few days later, I received an email from the recruiter apologizing for the delay and asking me to send over additional availability. I thought about what to do, and decided that I would continue with the process just to see what happened. I sent over my availability and the interview was scheduled for early October, about a month after my initial phone screen.

Once we got past that small hiccup, the rest of the process went well. I had a technical phone screen with two engineering managers (the one who would be the manager for this position did the interviewing, and the other manager was listening in). We talked a bit about my goals, the manager asked some JavaScript and React questions, we did some coding, and then I asked some questions about the role and the team. I enjoyed the conversation and felt that I did well with the coding part of the interview, but was definitely not confident in my answers to the questions.

Shortly after that interview, I was asked my availability for an onsite interview, and we scheduled an onsite for the following week. I had six separate meetings, and spoke with people from various teams, including the recruiter and engineering manager I had spoken with on the phone. The interview was a mixture of technical and non-techinical, and throughout the process I was given the opportunity to ask questions. Everyone I spoke to was fantastic and I definitely felt like I was respected and welcomed. This interview confirmed that I had made the right decision continuing with this process, and I knew that if an offer was extended, I was leaning towards accepting it.

The Offer

My onsite interview was on a Friday. First thing the following Thursday I received an email from the recruiter asking if I had time to speak that morning. I had expected to hear back from the recruiter a little earlier in the week, so I wasn't sure if this was an offer or just over the phone feedback, but I replied to the email with my availability for the morning, and we scheduled a time to speak.

I did not receive a formal offer in that conversation. The recruiter started off by asking about my thoughts on the interview once I had some time to think about it (still positive feedback), and then shared the feedback from the team, which was very positive. I was then told that an offer was being prepared and would be extended later in the day. The recruiter told me what the offer would likely be, asked when I wanted to start (they do a set orientation every other Monday, so I didn't get to pick my exact date, but I was able to choose which orientation day worked best for me), and then told me what the process would be once the offer was extended.

A few minutes after I hung up with the recruiter, he called me back to extend the formal offer. I was being offered the high end of the salary range we had discussed, stock options, and the company's regular set of benefits. I told the recruiter that I would have to think it over and discuss it with my family, but that I would touch base with him once I had made a decision.

Deliberations

I knew that I wanted to make the decision quickly. At this point I wasn't really in the interview process with any other company (I actually received two rejections in the days between my onsite and the offer), so it was just a matter of deciding if this combination of company, position, and offer was appropriate for me.

There are a number of factors that pushed me towards accepting the offer, including:

  • The Mission - I wanted my next company to be one where I am passionate about what the company does and I am invested in the future of the company's work, and this company definitely fits that criterion. I was also excited to see this passion for the mission is something I share with my new coworkers. Throughout the interview process, everyone I spoke to shared their passion for the company's mission as one of the reasons why they work there.
  • The Work - Based on my conversations with the team and the technical challenges I was asked to do, I think I will enjoy the work. I know the team uses React (and tries to adopt new features of React when they can), which is something I was really looking for in my next job. I enjoyed the code that I was asked to write as part of the interview process, and I am excited to be working on features and writing code to create.
  • The Salary/Benefits - This was a big factor (although it wouldn't have been the sole deciding factor) for me. After the struggle of this job search and the issues with my last job, I wasn't sure what salary I should be expecting to get (or asking for). The salary I was offered was exactly what I was looking for, and it validated my thoughts about what my skills and experience should be worth to a company. The company also offers all the benefits I need (insurance, vacation, etc), which I was happy to see.
  • The Location/Office - This was another "big but not deciding" factor. The office is about a 20 minute commute from my apartment. Walkable (/runable) if the weather is nice and I feel like a long walk. There's coffee and water/sparkling water in the kitchen, and there are snacks. The location and office itself are basically perfect for me.

My decision wasn't all sunshine and roses. I was still feeling a little hesitant because of the long break between the first phone screen and the technical interview. For the entire rest of the process, things moved smoothly and I always felt respected, but that break with almost no communication still didn't sit well with me. At the end of the day, I decided that one experience is not necessarily indicative of the process as a whole, and one bad interview scheduling process shouldn't cancel out the positive experience that I had with the rest of the process.

Accepting The Offer

I spoke to some family members, and like me, they thought it was a good opportunity, and they encouraged me to accept the offer.

Once I had decided to accept the offer, I emailed the recruiter and asked if we could find a time to speak that afternoon. We connected on the phone, and I asked a few quick questions. The answers were what I was hoping to hear (not that hearing other answers would have stopped me from accepting the offer, I just may have wanted to take more time to think), and at that point I verbally accepted the offer. I was emailed a written offer to sign later in the day, which I signed and submitted the following afternoon (I wanted to first take some time to have someone else read it through to make sure it sounded normal).

There are two things I did when accepting this offer that I wouldn't consider normal: I accepted the same day I received the offer, and I didn't negotiate.

Accepting the same day may not have been the best idea, and I probably should have slept on it, but ultimately, I just wanted to make the decision. I've known since the interview that being offered the position was a possibility, so I did have some time to consider whether or not I would accept it, so it wasn't like I was making the decision from scratch. I've been job searching for a while, and I know this job checks more of my boxes than many of the jobs out there, so I didn't feel a need to keep searching. And most of all, I had baseball tickets for that night, and I didn't want the decision hanging over me while I was trying to enjoy the game, so once I knew I was going to take the job, I went through the formal process of accepting it right away.

Most people will advise you to negotiate something before accepting a job offer. I'm not someone who is comfortable negotiating for the sake of negotiating, so my general policy is to negotiate only if there's something that really matters to me. In this case, I was being offered all of the things that mattered to me (including the high end of the salary range I requested), so I didn't feel any need to negotiate.

A few days after my paperwork was signed, I received an email with some action items needed from me before I started (including a headshot and bio for the team newsletter, which I hated writing). On the Friday before I started I received some paperwork to print (I don't have a printer, but my parents do and thankfully I knew I would be seeing my father on Sunday) and an email telling me what time to arrive (and that they would be providing meals, but since I most likely can't eat what they provide, I knew I would be bringing my own food).

Looking Forward To The Job

While my last job was with a decently good starter company, it didn't really feel like the beginning of my career journey. I'm excited to finally start that journey and do work that I love. I'm excited to work with a large codebase, write production code, and constantly learn new things about the code I write. I'm also excited to be a part of a team that is passionate about what they do and shares my enthusiasm for making a difference in people's lives.