So, after an excited two weeks applying, I got rejected from the Recurse Center after my initial Skype interview (on stage 2/3). This is a bummer – I had gotten really excited about the idea, and thought it would have been a great fit. Getting rejected sucks, and I’m not going to try and turn this into some sort of a “this is meant to be” or “everything is just great” post – but I do want to reflect on the experience honestly.
One of my big worries is that this would have the perfect time for me to attend Recurse – it would have been a great environment in which to grow as a developer and soak up the skills I want to and need to learn. My path now is harder – I’ll continue learning and building on my own , and if I’m still free in three-four months (and can afford to be free for *another* 3-4 months), I’ll apply again. I’m worried that once I get a job, it’ll be a lot harder to find 3 months to attend.
Anyway, all in all, the application experience was smooth and a few good things that came out of it:
- Having a hard deadline pushed me to finish my personal website (which I had already been working on) and I wrote out a whole new small project for the application.
- I approached all the questions genuinely, and the application gave me a good structure in which to evaluate my programming abilities and my plans. For example, I got to plan out what I’d focus on learning in the next 3 months, and I thought about the kind of engineer I’d want to be in a few years.
- The overall process – the application, the website, the interviewer, the speed with which they responded – was fantastic.
- I made it through the first round, which is the first time someone objective (not a friend or co-worker or mentor) looked at my code, and gave it a pass.
- I think I have an idea why I didn’t pass onto the final round. Of course, RC doesn’t offer feedback, so this is a guess – but I think it came down to my communication ability, particularly around the things I learn (I tried, poorly, to explain the JS event loop). This is frustrating, because I was involved in interviewing lots of people at Codecademy, and watched candidates flounder and ramble, and I knew this was a weakness of mine – and I still fell into the trap of doing it. I also didn’t have the most defined plan for what I wanted to learn, but I’m not sure if this held me back (I was given the advice of not proposing a project that’s too specific). So, while it’s frustrating to think about how I could have done better, at least I have an idea where I underperformed – and can focus on fixing it next time.
- If I do choose to reapply, there are a few people that have gotten in on their second try, and had a great experience.
Finally, and I think most importantly, I loved every hour I coded. While getting rejected stings, I jumped right back into my next project the next day (more on that soon!). If I let this deter me, it was never the right move to begin with. So – onto my next project!