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How To Gain Momentum After A Failure

1K Blog Marathon: Day 34

“This is not what I’m expecting on a Champion Programmer…”

This one is hard for me.

Have you experienced being on a top of a cliff, where you can see all of the great views from there. Suddenly one wrong step and you’re on a free fall – no parachute nor harness!

I am not a techie guy. In fact Computer Science was not my first, second or third choice! But thinking of studying a 2-year course then finding a job is my mindset back in the days. Well, many people do that in our neighborhood.

But my associate course became a passion – and programming as my major. Then I did the thing that most of our senior students do – to take it on a “Ladderized” course. So from 2 years I now have additional 4 years, which gives me a more grip in the programming realm, immersing me more in technology and holding me for a whole 6 years of my life.

During my college endeavors, I became President of the Computer Department. And although not the smartest, I won a Programming Competition held inside our campus. I’m also seen as a great student, given a Service Award during my graduation (on my first Course) and nominated as a Programmer of the Year for another graduation (on my second Course). An average achiever, good leader and rock star in programming.

From our suburban province, I travel to the capital of our country, where opportunity is overflowing. All right, I’m now equipped with the 6-year education, and ready to conquer the world. But my first job interview as an Associate Software Engineer went from excitement to hopelessness.

I applied at the largest BPO Company in Manila as an Associate Software Engineer, and take the 1 hour online exam in their office. It’s my birthday, and I’m looking forward to a great result. Maybe the universe will give me cosmic intelligence.

I failed.

Then the HR Associate interviewed me. She tells me that I failed the exam for the job position, but my English skills is very good. She then offers me a call center position.

Of course, I declined. I don’t have the job, at least I have my pride. I just went to a near McDo branch – it still is my birthday.

My second job interview as a Java Programmer lead to an embarrassment. Straight face embarrassment of my life.

I get up early, knowing that traffic in Manila will took me 2 hours to get on my interview. I dressed well, and arrived 1 hour early. I rehearsed my scripts while making sure that I will sound normal.

Then the boss came. Yes, it’s the boss and not an HR – I’m already on the final stage.

He’s a good guy, wide eyed but firm. He has a long hair, and beard, clearly stating that he’s a programmer. He then gave me a piece of paper with a simple problem, prompted me to write an algorithm or pseudo code in Java solving that question. After an hour, I passed the paper.

Then comes the 2nd round. He calls me in his desk. His desk is at the center of the office, and I felt that the employees are listening to our interview.

The interview went well! He likes my answers, he even laugh at my improvs. When our talk went to the Programming Competition that I’ve won, he became interested. He throws me questions about the language, the problems, and the pointing system of the game. I can do this!

He then grabs my paper.

It’s cold, but I’m sweating. Maybe because of the suit that I wear. Maybe because my body temperature is always hot. I wish the reason was either of the two, but no.

He looked at my paper, carefully reading every single line of code that I wrote.

“Oh, the system crashes!” he exclaimed, as if he runs it in his mind.

“Oh, it doesn’t end, its infinite!”, again from he.

How in the world this man knows if my code has bug? He’s so great! And I’m dreaded, frozen that time.

“This is not what I’m expecting on a Champion Programmer…”

I’m dead.

He ended the interview with a question: “Do you have any question?”

To be polite, and to show that I’m okay, I asked:

“Sir, can you point some improvements that I can work on?”

“Christian, you’re good. The way you handle yourself during the interview is great. But I need someone that can code.”

I nod, then asks again: “How about any language Sir that I can learn?”

“You know, VB (Visual Basic 6.0) is good, but in the industry it’s not applicable. You should learn your exam, Java. And if you want to have a good chance at a programming job, learn Python.”

I know a little C++ and Java, but not focus on it because I explored more in VB.

I grab his hand and shake it firmly. I forced a smile. I took the elevator, literally going down.

“This is not what I’m expecting on a Champion Programmer…”

It resounded, echoing in my mind.

I can still hear it clearly.

After more than 6 months, I returned to the BPO Company that I applied before. This time, I will nail it. Upon arriving there, I went straight to interview process, no exams. Then the HR prompts me that they will call me for further notice. So I waited.

One of my friend applied there also. And for his first time, he got the job. He’s now an “Associate Software Engineer”.

Am I being played by fate? All this time, I experienced glories. I’m good at programming, in fact I earn for creating school projects of other students. It’s my passion. And don’t forget my championship medal.

I was at my lowest point of my life. I’m at a faraway city, far from home.

Then I came back to my province. I’m an expectant father. I don’t need to curse at the world, I need to find a job.

I made up my mind, I take a leap of faith. I tried applying at a near factory, and got the job as a Production Assistant, swallowing my pride. Yes, it’s not programming, but at least I still use computer. The salary is not competitive as a call center agent, but at least I have a job.

Then my life shifted. My daughter was born. Suddenly, a 360 degree turn around happens in my life. I’m not the old guy that code, I’m a father that “should” program.

Surprisingly, I got another job interview from an SEO company within our province. I applied as a Web Developer. Then I get the job, and shifted to an App Developer!

Fast forward, more than a year after that faithful event, I’m here, blogging about it.

My momentum from being an achiever was suddenly stopped. I needed to catch my breath. Then a shift in my life comes in. Like what they say, when a door closes, the windows will open.

In less than a year, I get an award.

Employee of the Month, July 2019

Then at the end of the year.

Innovation Award, Christmas Party 2019

Being on my lowest time, it’s good that I have something to lean on. My family, my wife, and especially God. I may experience such failures, at least my mind is strong – even if it almost breaks down. Just hold on to your dreams.

I know I still have many things to learn, but I’m on my way. The ember of my dream of being a great programmer is still burning. There may be bugs in my code, at least I’m learning how to debug.

Note: I did not meant to brag about my achievements, I just want to narrate my experiences.

I know it’s a long post, but thank you for reading. Sorry, but I don’t have a potato! ^_^

“And that’s one blog, stay hungry!”

“Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.”

James A. Michener


Published by Christian Foster

Code-blooded, coffee-lover, tall, dark and chubby. I love to draw, has motion-sickness and a sleepy-head. BTW, graduate of BS Computer Science, Associate in Computer Science and certified UiPath RPA Developer. Loyal to my partner and a father of a cute bouncing baby daughter!

4 thoughts on “How To Gain Momentum After A Failure

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