Epic F.A.I.L.!

by Tung Ling Lin, Queens College

Tung Ling and other CUNY Tech Prep students brush up on technical interviewing in advance of upcoming interviews.

Last month, I had the first formal technical interview of my career. I was interviewing at a big company for an associate software engineer position. I revised my resume based on the suggestions that my program manager Jessica gave me, studied topics that my mock-interviewer Benjamin recommended I know by heart, and even researched the company in depth to understand more about its mission and culture. Unfortunately, I did not get the offer, but I’m more than happy to share my experience with those who are interested.

There were two rounds of interviews. The first one was a group orientation, where all candidates were told about the program, which is designed to hire new grads into the company, before splitting into two groups. The first group got interviewed by three different interviewers, 15 minutes each, and the second group got to go on a tour of the tech office. Luckily, I was in the second group, and I got to experience the work environment first-hand. It got me really motivated. There were many perks that await new recruits, such as free drinks/coffee (Starbucks), free yoga/dance classes, a shower room, free movie tickets, and more!

I believe it was my excitement plus practice that got me through the first round of interviews.

The interviewers asked mainly behavioral questions, such as, “Tell me about yourself,” “What first got you interested in tech?” and “What was your most difficult project?”. Then, one interviewer asked a couple of technical questions, such as, “What is the difference between HashMap and HashSet?” and a couple of database design questions that I wasn’t able to answer.

I was emailed and invited back for a second round of interviews three weeks later. During that period, I brushed up even more on data structures and algorithms, used HackerRank to practice solving technical questions, and researched even more about company. My second round of interviews was a one-to-one interview that lasted for one hour, which mainly consisted of technical questions. My best advice is to study the job posting, as they will ask anything on the list, and be ready to answer anything that they can ask based on your resume. If you put a project on your resume, make sure you know the ins and outs of it. My interviewer asked me about a project that I finished half a year ago, and since I barely remembered it, I wasn’t able to answer the questions he gave me based on my project (Java threads). In addition, he also asked me about topics that were out of my league, such as API, front-end terms, and general full stack knowledge, such as what other programming patterns I know besides MVC. Everything else was fair game, but I felt like I could’ve done better.

In conclusion, it was an epic F.A.I.L.

By the way, just so you know:

“– If you fail, never give up because F.A.I.L. means “First Attempt in Learning”

– End is not the end, in fact E.N.D. means “Effort Never Dies”

– If you get No as an answer, remember N.O. means “Next Opportunity”.

So let’s be positive.” –Dr. Abdul Kalam

Did you get it? Epic F.A.I.L. = Epic First Attempt in Learning.

I would be lying if I were to tell you that I didn’t have regrets or feel down from it. It was difficult trying to get away from the idea of “What If” or comparing myself to those who got selected and wondering what I was lacking. But eventually I moved on. There’s no point worrying about stuff like that. All that matters is that I tried my best and gave my all for it. If I didn’t make it, it just means I’m not cut for it, at least not yet. I will use this attempt to strengthen my next one, and then the one after that, until I can finally get to where I want to be.

Speaking of where I want to be… I’ve been giving that deep thought lately. It’s true that as long as I get to work on full stack development I’ll probably be satisfied, but it will only go so far. In order to reach one’s maximum happiness in their career, they must be enjoying what they are doing both in mind and soul. Not for the sake of doing it for money, but doing it to fulfill one’s purpose. That’s what I’ve been looking into lately and I think I’ve found an answer.

I would like to pursue the direction of a non-profit or companies that help communities/individuals achieve their goals. Maybe I’ll start somewhere unrelated, but ultimately I want to end up at some place where my work has a direct impact on people’s lives.

“It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.” –Confucius

I’m slowly but surely moving toward my goal. Some people might take longer than others, but as long as you don’t give up, you will eventually get there. Believe in yourself.

Tung Ling Lin is a graduate of Queens College with a degree in Computer Science. When he’s not interning as a web developer at the Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation, you can likely find him attending tech meetups throughout New York City, learning new programming languages, and thinking about how to use his tech skills to help others.


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