From Job Hunting Hell to Junior Software Engineer

Maybe tech isn't for me... I thought!

From Job Hunting Hell to Junior Software Engineer

As long as I know how to code, I'll never be out of a job!

Nine months later, I'm still jobless. Who would have thought? Well, I'll admit, I let my expectations in the tech industry get the better of me. It is always said that tech is always hiring, a career in tech is the best decision one can make because coding is the most in demand skill in the world.

A Brief Background

I am Trecia and I am terrible with introductions. Basically, I am a girl who taught herself how to code in 2021, after my cousin so unexpectedly said that she would like for me to design a website for her haircare business. I had no idea how to code back then. I was enrolled in college for a diploma in IT, which I later dropped out to pursue the road of being a self taught developer.

I networked with awesome people, got a taste of remote work in 2021 as a freelance frontend developer, landed my first internship at Strapi as a developer advocate! Being a developer advocate is the best career anyone could ask for, even better when working at the best company with great people and a great product. So what changed?

From DevRel to Software Engineering - Why?

To be a great developer advocate, one must be a developer first! This is a personal opinion of mine. It's like being a salesman for a car, how can I convince you to buy a car, whether it is manual or automatic, if I've never driven it?

I want to work with other developers, be a part of the engineering team, experience daily stand-ups, be the person who builds the product that people will use. Other than that, I really do want to grow my coding skills, my problem solving, to learn from other developers and work with different tools, languages and technologies.

I just want to spend more time getting my hands dirty with code. I welcome the bugs and sleepless nights!

Job Hunting Struggles

I started applying for jobs around late April, well, jobs I believed I'd be a great candidate for. It saddens me that a lot of these jobs that I found were rarely junior roles. Already that had me panicking. I'd search for jobs on Twitter, WeWorkRemotely, Remote and NoDesk.

If there were to be a junior role available, within an hour of it opening, it would be closed! Literally, 500+ applications sent within the first hour! How do I stand out from that? If not that, you find that there are people who have got into tech way later than me and yet managed to land a job before. Here I was questioning myself now, what is wrong with me?

Then there was rejection after rejection. Never in my life have I been rejected like this before ๐Ÿ˜‚. Sometimes, I'd find myself laughing at these rejection emails. It's my coping mechanism. I'd be more surprised at getting my application accepted than for it to be rejected. I never took rejection or any offense personally, until it slowly crept into my being.


With time, I found myself more alone with my thoughts than with things that made me happy. I lost interest in my hobbies - painting, drawing, 3D modelling, reading novels. I lost interest in participating in any tech community, any tech twitter spaces, my social media presence, everything.

There had been times I just wished I deleted everything I have, my Twitter, my blog, my YouTube, everything! Any content that was posted was scheduled. I had lost interest in having these things. I didn't want to code anymore, I didn't see a point to it. Why code if I'll be rejected again? Is it because I have no degree? Maybe that's why other candidates were picked over my application.

There eventually came a time where I thought that I temporarily change careers. Be a developer advocate for a while or be a community manager, possibly, a social media manager. It was one of the things I'd like to have done in my personal time so it wouldn't be hard for me to adjust to this new life.

Working On Myself

I won't lie and say I didn't land any interview. I have. I've had offers that didn't exactly meet my expectations. I got more interviews as a developer advocate than I did a frontend developer. That told me something. That I had to work on my frontend developer profile and fix whatever needs fixed.

That's what I realised amidst my depression. I have dreams that I want to see myself accomplish before 2024 ends. I want to go places, I want to see paintings, I want to meet people around the world that I've had the chance to work with, network with all over the internet. I'm not going to do that if I don't do something about my mental and emotional state.

So, I fixed my resume. Asked ChatGPT to be my reviewer and it gave me great points. I kept my job hunting expectations realistic, admitted to myself that it may take me longer to land my job and that it is okay. In the meantime, I will not sit and do nothing but learn more skills, not only be frontend but be full stack.

I got back into creating a few video's on YouTube while getting back to coding with iCodeThis. I managed to draw somethings to get my mind at ease with the job hunting stress and anxiety I was feeling. I watched movies and TV shows I liked to lift up my mood whilst I'm self-paced and patiently learning new skills. Going back to doing my hobbies brought the light into my darkened mind. My way of dealing with my depression.

The Unexpected Messanger

While doing all these things, with no pressure to myself. I found peace. It was nice for a change not to think about what my future holds. I eventually started my own TikTok account and began creating short videos on the platform. I was proud of how far I've come on a personal level, from being afraid of cameras to being afraid of camera's and being able to record video's and share with the world.

I worked on my GitHub readMe, changed a few things, contributed to my fellow friends open source projects. It felt good. I tried participating in Hacktoberfest, sadly, I failed. Better luck next year. Then worked on my LinkedIn profile, took some LinkedIn skill assessment tests, passed most, failed JavaScript and React, lol.

One morning, strolling through my emails, I see a message: "Senior React Developer position" right on my doorstep. At first, I just think I'm not qualified for this role anyway so I probably won't get it but then again, I must not be too quick to turn it away.

I Landed My Job on LinkedIn

South African company? Never thought that would happen. I'm used to getting these types of messages from anyone not South African. Now, how do I sell myself here. I am a junior but I don't want to explicitly type that, in case that might take this chance away from me. So I reply then in this way:

I wanted the chance to ask if there are or if there would be junior positions available for me to interview for. At this point, I didn't have any expectations, whatever happens happens. Hoorah!! She asked for my resume and my contact information, which I gladly provided. Again, no expectations.

The interview date was set up. It was me against four interviewers, that's South African tech interviews for you. Nonetheless, I was happy to be there. The interview initially went well, then I felt I was butchering it. Why, I didn't know the answer to some questions.

Do you know..., No! Have you... No! It was questions I felt I would have nailed if I had basic computer science knowledge. At this point of the interview, I'm just accepting the fact that I will never see these people again ๐Ÿ˜‚.

The interview ended, was told that I will receive feedback on Friday or Monday. I did the interview on Wednesday. I got positive feedback 3 hours later same day ๐Ÿ‘€.

To You Who are Where I Was

Just like that, I gave my salary expectations on which they've paid more than I asked for ๐Ÿ‘€. With tech companies in South Africa, its typically one or two interview rounds. This company had one, it was a nice change of scenery from 4 to 6 rounds of interviews that I was used to.

I then signed my offer letter! ๐ŸŽŠ

I was happy... until I found an excuse not to be. One of the things I suffer from is self-doubt and anxiety. I felt like this was a test. I didn't feel like I was employed now. I felt like any moment now, they might... they will take back the offer and send me away. Why I felt this way is that South Africa is huge on degrees and qualifications. I don't have that.

If this was a company outside South Africa, I wouldn't stress about it. I know in the interview I explicitly stated that I am self taught... the paranoia in me felt that I maybe said it in my head. Guess what, I had nothing to worry about.

If you are job hunting right now, please be kind to yourself. Be patient, be realistic. Get trusted friends in the field or people you admire to help review your work, your resume and overall profiles. Never be by yourself, network with others, not for your own gain but to help them succeed, to learn from them and to have someone to relate to.

Words of affirmation never encouraged me, as a matter of fact, I dislike them because in that moment when you feel like nothing is working out for you, no words of positivity will ever provide the level comfort or assurance one might need. So, I have to change my way of thinking, so do you. ALL these things I am saying to myself, I say to you.

Find a way to enjoy life even when you don't have a job. We are born to live, not to work.

The Beginning

You have reached the end of the article but the beginning of my journey as a junior software engineer. I am scared, like really freaking out! I am an anxious person, I can't help it. This has been the job I've been looking for for quite sometime and now that I have it, I am scared.

Why? I'm scared of making mistakes but its the mistakes I should not be afraid of making for growth. I'm scared that I won't ever live up to the dream of being a great software engineer, one who can solve any problems without obstacles or what if I am assigned a easy task that I cannot solve?? I know all things take time, I'm just afraid of taking longer than everyone else.

Today is my first day at work, do wish me well โœจ. I will be sharing a lot of my software engineer life on my TikTok and maybe write articles on my learning. I know I should not be afraid, learning takes time.

In the end, fine wine takes time to mature and it's value increases with time. ๐Ÿท