If you could go back to your first job interview, nay, to the first time you read a job description and thought “Shucks, this job sounds amazing, but how do I even get started to ever being considered?”, what would you tell yourself? What do you wish you knew to have the confidence to get you to that dream job? For me, that experience was three years ago, when I had just finished my first year of Computer Science at the University of Victoria.
Three years into my university career I’d finally started something that I could see myself doing for the rest of my life. Three years in and I was sick of working at supermarkets and coffee shops. I was ready for something applied, something that involved problem solving, and something that was actually challenging. I wanted an internship. With one year of ‘relevant’ experience and some mustered, almost artificial, confidence, I set off applying for all the most exciting technical positions I could find.
Somehow my confidence paid off and I received the phone call for a job offer at an astronomical observatory in Hilo, Hawaii. So, doing what? I had no idea. Regardless, I screamed in the middle of the campus cafeteria when I found out. Kid you not. My initial reaction expressed my emotions fairly obviously, but then the idea of performing in a job position at such an awe-inspiring institution sunk in.
At first I was perplexed: “Why would they choose someone so inexperienced as ME?” then horrified: “What on Earth am I working on for four months and how can I even pretend to be prepared for the first day?” then miserable: “I’m going to f*$% this up so badly.”
Regardless of this panic attack, I didn’t fail. And, after the first four months I was hired on for another internship the following year. So, how did I do it? How did I perform a successful internship without knowing what to expect? And what would I tell myself three years ago? This question is one that my new boss at Bandcamp proposed on my first day. So, in the following posts, I’m going to try to make technical positions feel more accessible to the novice engineer. By documenting my experience, I will hopefully provide some insight into what a beginner can expect, in particular thinking about what would benefit someone like me three years ago.