Sorry, the Tech industry is brutal. Here are some tips to keep your cool.

Because let’s face it, being a beginner in this industry can suck at times.

When reading blogs here on Medium I usually see an overwhelming amount of “inspirational” articles with titles like ‘how I became a software engineer within two months’ — okay, a tad dramatic, but you know what I mean. But I never really see blogs about those who invest so much time, energy, frustration and tears and still things don’t end up going how they expect. Don’t tell me those don’t exist, because on Quora, devRant, in the comment section of YouTube and literally a bunch of forums out there, I see people having issues all the time. And I ask myself why they don’t come out and write a blog about it.

Starting out in this industry can be really tough, you’re surrounded by bigger sharks. Being in it for some time now, I have come to understand that despite being a non-traditional field, having friendly, openminded people, there’s still an eat or get eaten type mentality. Which is weird, because the community says otherwise. I had the misconception that things are different and that we are comfortable saying things and not treating them like taboo — despite how uncomfortable of a reality they might be.

Being uncomfortable and having things not go how I wanted, despite the amount of effort invested, has taught me so much, more than I could’ve ever learned in University or anywhere else. It changed my mentality and I now accept the fact that I am really growing up. Yes, grow up; because I had to forget everything I learned in school, relearn how to learn and deal with things on my own. Unlike popular belief, there is no reward, let alone extra reward for those that work extra or harder. It’s all about working more efficiently and saving your energy to invest in other activities. Naturally, as beginners, this concept might be really hard to grasp because you are working hard and learning nonstop and still trying to get a feel for everything. This might lead to difficulties along the way since nowadays we are so obsessed with the idea of “positivity”, “productivity” and “success”.

Nothing wrong with those, but it seems like we are losing touch of reality because the earlier mentioned words are not even defined the same by everyone. It creates and reinforces the mindset that there’s a straight line to achieving things and that if you’re struggling you’re not doing life correctly. It almost seems like the antiquated “school mentality” is pouring itself into our heads and daily lives again.

If there is something I learned that’s important in life — no matter who you are or what you are doing — is the ability to find something you are willing to struggle for, struggle, fail, learn from your mistakes, get up and keep going. Struggling means that you are not in control, it teaches us to be resilient. And resilience should be the most sought-after skill since it is an invaluable skill that only people that are not afraid of walking the less travelled path have.

To me, the humbleness and humility that comes with imperfection are more valuable than those faking perfection. And I’ll leave it at that. Now that you know my opinion on the matter, let’s get to the actual point.
Over the course of last year and the current one, I had a couple of jobs and met lots of people. And based on my experience and those of others, I thought I’d share some tips related to work this time. These are of course, actual lessons I have learned during my journey as a Junior Web Developer, and my mission is to avoid you some headache.

Never let anyone tell you you are unskilled, but do not be too stubborn to improve.

Let’s get this one out of the way; when starting out you might have gotten over the fact that others are better than you, you have come a long way and after seeking deeply, you are finally confident about your skills and what you can do. Then out of nowhere, you get someone telling you you are unskilled or worthless. Assuming that you did nothing wrong, it’s a tough pill to swallow. So what are you going to do?

Throughout my life I had a fair share of people tell me that I lack skills or that I am plain useless and not going to make it. The desire of needing to prove those people wrong, latched itself so hard onto me that I lost track of my purpose and goals. I haven’t managed to completely shake it, but I’ve started asking myself certain questions when I find myself down and thinking about mean things people have said and done to me. And yes, the earlier-mentioned desire drives you, but only for a little bit. Its purpose isn’t really to get you to where you want to be.
So first of all, it’s their opinion and even though this does not justify their behaviour, he or she might’ve been having a hard day.
The act of not taking them too seriously and being compassionate at the same time, not only allows you to change your perspective but also allows you to get over it quicker.
Why do I want you to get over it as quickly as possible? Well, because even though this person meant it or not, they are entitled to having their own opinions and you should respect that. Furthermore, there is no point in investing time and energy trying to convince this person otherwise, because if they told you this, then chances are that they are already certain and have made up their minds about this.

Additionally, you can try modifying what was said to something that sounds more acceptable to you. And this is great because now you can accept the message as proper feedback and improve yourself.

And for those that are not so confident yet; since the beginning of this year, I have been writing an article on imposter syndrome. But I have been procrastinating on it, I hope to have it out soon. For now, my advice to you is the following; just like you have the ability to see others that are ahead of you, you can also notice those that are behind you. 
But I say let go of your fear and start focusing on your current position and where you want to be. Yes, those people ahead have more skill than you do in this particular field, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t help others out. Maybe you have a deeper understanding of things that others struggle to understand. Use your understanding to help others in the community. It’s not a race and there’s a likelihood that you’ll understand things better yourself.

It’s really hard to find a job but apply anyway since you never know what could happen.

This was one of my tips in the article “Tips for the beginning developer from a beginner developer”.

Back then I couldn’t stress it enough; as a beginner, you will never be “ready”, but apply anyway, since employers usually allow room for you to learn. If you end up not getting the job, try learning or focussing on skills that were important to them, so that you can be a better candidate for your next application. Even though most of the time requirements are not to be taken 100% seriously, you should take the required skills and convert them into a list of what you should learn next, depending on the number of times it comes up during your search. This way, you also have a list of what’s hot and what’s not.

Beware of applications that ask you for tips and what you’d fix on their website before even meeting you.

Ever run into these sort of applications? To increase your chance of getting the job, you might feel inclined to give your best advice. Nothing wrong with that right? But truly what it is, is a cheap trap companies seem to be using to get free input. And most of the time you don’t get the job, or the recruiter won’t even take the time to answer you back with some half-baked, generic email. To avoid this, save your best tips for the interview or after you get the job.

I had this experience where I applied for a position at a startup. After a long while they decided to invite me for an interview because they thought that my ideas stood out. And then the day right before my interview they suddenly found the “perfect match”.
There’s nothing wrong with finding “the one”, but rather than assuming that other candidates are not up to par with this one person you are about to hire and entrust with all of these responsibilities, is absurd to me.
So here’s what I was thinking; maybe they have indeed found someone, or the position was fake to begin with. Prior to this experience, I had no idea that that was even a thing. It saddens me that people can be dishonest to this extent and use other people in this way. People can argue whatever they want, but I’d rather have a fair chance at an interview.
NOTE: I later found out that I was actually “overqualified” for the position. More on this in another post.

Talking about recruiters by the way, here’s a thought. A wise guy once told me that his father told him that in every situation he faces, he should try to avoid the middle person as much as possible. So in other words, when applying for a job that you really want, instead of being a regular applicant, and going through the “normal” procedure with recruiters, make sure you search prospective colleagues and network with them via LinkedIn. Ask them about the job, key responsibilities, opportunities and how a normal workday looks like, to determine whether it is something you want. And then when applying, in your cover letter mention that you have connections working there.
Who knows, maybe that person will put in a good word for you.

Once you land that job, be as honest and open with your employers as possible.

Ever heard of the saying “honesty goes a long way”? I know, cliché, right?
Quite some time ago I got into some really big trouble with my mom because of lies. So ever since, I have decided not to lie again — at least not about important things. After that day, everywhere I have been in my life, I have received praise and compliments for my honesty and sincerity. Because lying takes up so much of your energy, it feels liberating to just say the truth sometimes — so why not be honest instead?

Never ever work without a contract.

*Sigh* I don’t even know how to start on this one. As stupid as this sounds, this is something that actually happened to me a few months ago.
Not going into much detail — what ended up happening was that one thing was verbally agreed upon and then something completely different ended up happening. In the end, I was the one feeling like some sort of rebound and to be honest, nobody wants to be used that way.
To avoid people saying things and randomly changing their minds afterwards, insist on a contract (at least handwritten with a signature). If there really is a reason why they cannot give you your contract before or on your first day of work, here’s an idea to keep in mind; “No contract, no code”.
If they do respect you enough to give you a contract, make sure you read it a few times thoroughly and don’t sign if you don’t agree with or don’t understand something. Furthermore, ask questions so that you and your employer are on the same page.

Don’t take things too personal.

If you’ve been paying attention, a lot of what I mention here are examples of unfairness towards you, the employee. At times it might seem like employers seem to forget where they came from or maybe they never really had to struggle hard in life. Maybe they underestimate what you do because of the countless blogs and videos saying how quickly one can become a developer. As a result, they may be requiring illogical things.
It gets frustrating at times, but don’t blame others. It is up to the employers to keep in mind that it does not kill to be generous, do some research and keep the idea that not everyone is in the position to be the best they can be when starting out, due to life circumstances.

But just like you are trying to get on your feet and get your career started, employers are also looking for what is best for their company. And usually, that doesn’t mean that they have to be fair to you.
The harsh truth is that life isn’t fair, but if you find yourself in an undesirable situation, remember to know when to call it quits. If they undervalue you and treat you like shit, get the heck out as fast as you can because nobody deserves that toxicity. Don’t go home and cry, don’t open devRant and complain. You can do something about it, don’t put up with interactions that harm you. Because in the end, nothing justifies shitty, toxic behaviour and taking advantage of people.

So far I have yet to find a workplace where people are just plain respectful and compassionate. Yes, sounds naïve, I know. But just like they are looking for unicorns as employees, we should also be looking for unicorns as employers. Because in all honesty, respect and compassion, in my opinion, are basic qualities that every individual should have, period.

What if stress, illness and life circumstances impede your progress? What do you do then?

After so much struggling and juggling with my health, issues in my personal life, work, tough decisions I had to make, I was forced to realize something brutal. I had to let go because I had lost control over my life. As a control freak, I went haywire. At this point I think you know where I’m headed with this; as a starter, or as a human-being, things are inevitably going to go wrong pretty much everywhere you go. It’s up to you to let go of your urge to control things and understand that setbacks and suffering are imminent and part of the process. Trying to control the situation is not going to fix anything, it’ll only prolong the effect.

Change your mindset;
“Remain calm, be patient and know that these times are not here to stay. Meditate, find balance and focus on yourself.”

Knowing to let go of things you can’t control, now allows you to take a deep breath, relax and be creative with your approach. Whatever you do, ask yourself “what good can come out of this?”. Face your problems head-on and refuse to settle because of things and people impeding your progress.

Be grateful.

When ending your working relationship with a company, make sure that regardless of what happened — whether you were “gaslighted” or not — to thank the employers and employees for their time, and that it was nice working with them. Spreading some love never hurt anyone.

Don’t give up, things might not have worked out this time, but it’s probably for the best. Take your time, allow yourself to feel and process what you are going through. But don’t dwell for too long on it and don’t be ashamed, seek support from those you appreciate or find a mentor and move on as soon as possible. And if you find yourself being uncertain and eventually making a career-switch, reflect and look at the value it has brought to your life rather than regretting and thinking you have wasted your time.

Whatever you’re going through, whatever happens, keep your head up and embrace resilience, because eventually, you will reach your goal. Even though they might seem like obstacles, don’t let other people and things cause you to lose focus on things you want to achieve. Your goals, just like everyone else’s, are important and worth reaching.

Keep learning, keep pushing forward. And remember, it’s not a race, so spread love and help others as much as you can.

Thanks for reading, have a nice day! 🖖