A letter to my old self…
I don't know where to begin writing this letter. This is a letter to my past self, which doesn't change my past, but it works as advice to my future self and any university student out there. This letter is therefore addressed to every nervous university student who is juggling ten million things at once, between trying to get an interview, working on the code exam, and also having to do a mountain of assignments that are coming your way and not to mention that pressure cooker of a final year project which will dictate a significant part of what grade you get and what type of job you end up in.
Here is my first bit of advice to my past self. Don't fake it till you make it. Juggling and trying to be someone else shows who you are not, and the interviewer will see right through you. I completed more than five interviews to get a third-year internship while faking who I was, and it didn't get me anywhere. What got me somewhere is that I got tired of acting, and that version of me, the authentic me, was the best because it landed me a job.
The second piece of advice I'll give to myself is not to fall for all the big names and corporates who promise you a lot of money but, in reality, have little to no culture in their company. If they are rude to you in the interview but offer you an average software developer salary as an intern, run. Don't fall for working there just for the money. If they are rude to you in the interview, you can expect that it will continue if you start working there, full time.
Please don't value money over culture. Maybe you don't want to worry about making friends, and you would like to keep your personal life separate from your work one, but trust me when I say this, you do not want to work in a place where there is no work-life balance.
The third and final advice I can offer myself is that even though you have a career path already thought through (i.e. you know what you want to do in two years, three years etc.), be ready to adapt at any given moment. This March, I thought I would be working as a field consultant in the United States of America. It has been eight months since I began with Guidewire?, and I am still in Ireland. I don't know when or even if I will? Get the opportunity to achieve one of my dreams by working in the US. The disappointment of this not working out yet did leave me feeling stuck about the future and uncertain. It has taken me a while to get used to this.
I know my situation is unique because it's unprecedented, and well, it is the result of the pandemic. Still, technology is so ever-changing that every developer should be ready to adapt. You might find something you are more passionate about, or your experience may become irrelevant because of the technology; always be prepared to pivot and adjust. As Guidewire's motto says – adapt and succeed.
To end this letter, I want to tell myself that I did well. I worked hard and managed to get very close to what I wanted in the past two years. Just keep working hard and learn from your mistakes. Also, do not be too hard on yourself. You are young and at the very start of your career. Remember to enjoy your time off and disconnect from work once you are out of the office.