My little tech carrier
You might have heard that I got an internship in tech fresh out of generic (as in not vocational or technical-oriented) high school. Perhaps you don’t see it as an achievement because in your culture it’s natural for kids this age to be working, but it was quite the opposite for me.
Most internship or job offers here require you to be either close to finishing your university degree or to have already finished university. Because apparently that shows you have experience or something? I was having a really hard time finding a part-time job in tech in Lublin without higher education.
I can’t be the only person with this issue because later a younger friend asked me how to find a job like this. The advice I gave him, which I consider incomplete and barely tested, was to always keep learning more, be up-to-date with tech, and send your CV even to places that told you they didn’t want you.
I’ll be 19 in a month. 9 years or so ago I started learning Pascal. 6 years ago I started doing gamedev. I had my commercial debut as a gamedev at age of 14, the product sold in like 451 physical copies. I keep making things on low budget. There’s hardly a month without a new repo on my Github account. I don’t stop. I’m always running. (It’s starting to sound like coaching so I’ll stop now.)
That job I got came from an amazing chain of events. Back in 2015 I met a student with a MacBook at a local hackathon, and we talked, friended each other on Facebook or something. Later he got a job with the company A2. When I asked publicly if anyone had tech work for someone like me, he told me the company was to hold a competition with an internship as main prize. And apparently I owned the competition, despite not being formally able to take part.
It was an online quiz with questions about programming. I was about to give up after looking at the rules, because it stated explicitly that only higher education students could take part. But then, the company’s employee on site encouraged me to check out the questions for future reference, and so I did. And it hit me as highly unlikely for a quiz to expect university students to know that the type of
object. So I checked the rules again, and figured out it didn’t say anywhere to not consult any source. It started looking more like a test of how well one can find and utilise information.
I spent the following half an hour with a copy of NodeJS on my phone (Termux is a blessing), as well as documentation of TypeScript and SASS. I ended up submitting my answers. I figured out that it would be better to try and get disqualified than not to try. Later it turned out I exceeded somebody’s expectations quite a bit, they invited me for an interview, gave me a month-long internship outside of competition (they couldn’t cut out the rule afterwards).
This is why I consider unsolicited approach important.
There is, however, a danger coming from the ways I’m usually thinking. Impostor syndrome is pretty easy to get and pretty hard to get rid of.
I don’t see anything I accomplished as serious, because it never feels like I’ve done enough to deserve it. Example: I scored amazingly well on the final high school exams, it got me into the best (or one of the few best ones) CompSci university in the country, everyone’s praising me, but I just call it a chain of events.
At work, I was also praised for good interpersonal skills and very good coding skills, but I had even more reasons to not believe it: What if they gave me easy tasks because of my age? What if I actually caused more harm than benefit in the long run? And the other trainee who was also there at the same time, what if he was given harder tasks but his results were compared to mine? Cause that would be unfair.
I’m coping with it, if you could call it so, by striving for even more. But I’m afraid that one day I’ll run out of things and traits to strive for, while this issue will remain unsolved. Keep that in mind before following in my footsteps.