job hunting Programming Reflections

Back to Feeling Like an Imposter

Day 236: K'nex
Credit: flickr / -Snugg-

Ages and ages ago, I wrote about not having imposter syndrom anymore. I wrote about how being a programmer was an accident, but a happy one. I give talks (one next week in fact) on how great it is to code.

But this evening, I was trying to prep for this interview I have coming up next month, and I sucked at a question about binary search trees and… I cried.

I totally cried. And, in fact, had a complete meltdown over my poor friend Dig. And contemplated canceling the interview and just not going for it. Because I felt so completely inadequate.

I don’t feel inadequate at grad school. From time to time in Extreme Blue, but mostly not. But this interview is freaking me out. It’s really intimidating me. The company, the fact it’s a 2-hour technical interview that getting through means going back again for an even longer second round.

How could I not freak out?

Tomorrow morning I’m headed to the wilderness. The other day I wrote about needing to leave my comfort zone more – well I’m definitely doing that.

Here’s the thing – I love to code, but mostly so it enables me to create. I understand how to optimize, but don’t do it for the sake of it. I know the different data-structures, but see them as building blocks, not the be-all and end-all. One of my friends found me, mid-meltdown, and said that I might be a better programmer as a result of this attitude.

Sure, maybe, but this interview is geared towards people who like to take things apart. I’m a person who likes to put things together. That’s the kind of person I write for – my blog, and the curricula I create.

I don’t know how to be someone who takes things apart.

2 replies on “Back to Feeling Like an Imposter”

When you get right down to it, these people are looking for someone who can get the job done well.
Knowing how you think and how you don't think is a strength. Show them that what you do complements what they do.

At the very worst, you won't get the job, but you'll still learn what kinds of skills you need to learn and what kinds of topics you don't know about. It's hard to learn when you don't know what you need to learn.

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