How I landed my first job
The Value of Early Involvement in Tech
This year, I am celebrating 10 years since I got my first job. In these 10 years, I'm happy to say that I was rarely bored at work. I worked with awesome people, built a lot of great memories during and outside work, learned a lot, and also taught some of what I know. I would like to share some of my experiences through a series of blog posts, hoping that others can learn from both my successes and failures.
I'll discuss how I secured my first job, the reasons behind quitting my jobs, the successes I achieved, and the failures I encountered.
Another motivation for doing this is that I enjoy hearing about other people's experiences firsthand. While reading about soft skills theory is informative, I find that I prefer engaging stories, so I'd like to share a few of my own!
Story #1 - How I landed my first job
I think I applied to dozens of interviews in my first 2 years of university, but when I finally got to one of them it seemed like a match made in heaven. The good thing about going to a lot of interviews is that I wasn't that scared of them anymore. After my ~20th interview I had no more sweaty palms, I knew most of the questions and answers to lame questions like "Where do I see myself in 5 years" or "How do I fit an elephant into a fridge", etc. I got through IQ tests, psychological evaluations, HR interviews, quizzes, leet code, team interviews, etc..... but the final interview was the one where I knew I got in before it ended.
In fall of 2012, I joined the Microsoft Student Partner program, which I think has since been renamed to Microsoft Learn Student Ambassadors. Through this program, I could freely access the latest Microsoft technologies and conduct hands-on labs to share my knowledge with peers. A highlight of the program was participating in a Windows 8 hackathon in October 2012. I had dabbled with the Windows 8 SDK a bit before that and even got a simple sound recorder app into the store. The hackathon was a blast — coding late into the night, pizza, drinks, and some solid memories. Even though I didn't snag a cash prize, I made some invaluable connections, particularly with a couple of the jury members. Fast forward a week, and I found myself walking into an interview room at Thinslices for a Windows 8 internship. And guess who I saw? Those same jury members because they were Thinslices employees! We chatted about the hackathon, my app, and I learned I was the only candidate with an app already in the Microsoft Store. About 15 minutes in, I had a hunch I might get the spot. Not long after, they confirmed it — and just like that, my tech journey truly began.
A short version of the events leading up to my first job would look like this:
Failed many interviews
Got involved in the community (Microsoft Student Partners)
Started to learn about Windows 8 and published an app to test my knowledge
Attended a hackathon and made connections
Passed my first interview and got the internship
Get involved in the community and make connections
This isn't the only time I'll say this, as I have numerous stories from my experiences that led me to the same conclusion. However, for now, it's evident why I believe it's crucial to put yourself out there, participate in events, join communities, volunteer, present something, and so on. Some might argue that I was merely fortunate, but I believe that you create your own luck.
If I wasn't a Microsoft Student Partner I couldn't attend that hackathon, and I also wouldn't have known anything about Windows 8, much less develop something for it (let's face it, it wasn't that popular at its release because people still wanted to stay on Windows 7).
Some of you might argue that I could have landed another job simply by attending a different interview. Sure, that might be true, and I can't say whether my career would have been the same or not, but I do know that I genuinely enjoyed my time at Thinslices, and it was the ideal place for my first job. I'll share more about this in the next article!