FYI, there’s a tl;dr at the bottom, but that’s so much less fun than reading the following 2,000 words!
Finally, I can openly talk about this!
After six and a half years at my current job, the time to move on has come. My job has been great in so many ways, but I think we’ve stopped being the right fit for each other. I’ve done some awesome work in my time here and working here has profoundly changed my life in some really amazing ways. For the sake of not blasting out 3,000 words in this post, I’m planning a separate post to reflect on all of that.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned, I think our fit for each other has started to diminish. I haven’t been as happy there recently as I once was. I’m not going to trash the company or anyone here because I don’t think that would be fair, nor do I even feel it would be accurate. I think it’s a great place to work with some really awesome people. What it ended up coming down to was I no longer felt inspired or motivated. I also was struggling to find the new challenges and opportunities to expand my skill set I was looking for at this point in my career. I felt very in my comfort zone. That’s not somewhere I want to be. I don’t think I can do my best work when I’m feeling comfortable and unchallenged. I don’t think it’s fair to myself to stay somewhere that doesn’t push me and inspire my best work and I don’t think it’s fair to my company either.
As soon as I knew it was time to move, I updated my resume and started the search! To be perfectly honest, I had never really hunted for a job before. My current job sort of just happened. Another community member of my old college radio station used to work here and, after using the software I created for the station, pushed me to give him my resume. I had no academic background for software development and my only experience was teaching myself and building the application for the radio station. I also wasn’t actively looking since I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Well, I sort of knew, but I didn’t know how to make it happen. I didn’t expect it to go anywhere and I also hadn’t planned on accepting and offer, but here I am six and a half years later! My job before that, which was my first “real” job out of college, came from simply throwing my resume up on Monster and having a recruiter find me. It was your typical entry-level sales support position that companies just snatch up recent college grads for.
With no real experience in job hunting and little interview experience, I expected things to take a while and go slowly. I also knew that without the academic background and only having professional experience at one company, the technical portions of interviews would be very difficult for me. I never doubted my intelligence or ability to learn new things extremely quickly, but being able to show that to an interviewer when they ask you a bunch of technical questions that you have no idea how to answer can be a little tough.
Plus, being transgender complicates things a bit as well. While New Jersey offers protection against discrimination based on gender identity, most states do not. Even still, it’s easy for someone to come up with any other reason why I’m not a right fit if they don’t want to hire a trans person.
After interviewing with a few companies pretty quickly in my search, I actually gained a bit of confidence. Turned out I picked up quite a lot over the last six and half years. I found I was able to hold my own much better than I expected and, at the very least, not come off as entirely incompetent. Though, there was one exception to this that came from an interview with a rather large company everyone’s heard of that I sort of bombed (I didn’t think that job would be the right fit anyway, so I wasn’t too broken up about it).
Because leaving a job you’ve been at for a long time and could easily feel “safe” at for many more years to come can be a little scary, I wanted to make sure I didn’t just jump at anything. I wanted to find something that was relatively stable that I could stay at for some time. I had no interest in leaving my job for something that would likely lead to me bouncing around for a bit.
After a couple months of searching, I hadn’t quite found that right fit. And then, one night while at a local show in Asbury Park, I met a friend of a friend. She came up to say hi to my friend who politely introduced us. I mostly stood there silently while they talked about her newish job and all the cool stuff about it. Then my friend walked away for a few minutes leaving her and I standing there with the decision of saying “nice to meet you” and walking away or awkwardly continuing to converse as strangers. We chose the latter (which was totally not awkward at all, actually) and the conversation mostly stayed on career/job type stuff. After her asking what I do and me telling her I’m a software engineer, she asked if I was looking for a new job. I, obviously, said I was. She gave me her email address and told me to take a look at the jobs page at her company and send my resume over.
I had a really great call with their HR person who contacted me a few days later and was feeling pretty good about things. I had even already gotten the whole transgender thing out there since I was able to mention it in a way that was relevant to our conversation. She wasn’t fazed at all. She told me there were a number of positions that my experience would be good for and she’d talk to the hiring managers to see who would be interested in me.
I should mention that this is a company you’re aware of. In fact, I’m a user of their product and a number of you likely are as well. It was one of those things that just seemed like “yeah, this is way too cool to actually work out.” I didn’t get my hopes up much. And after I ended up not hearing back from the person I spoke to for a week, I accepted nothing was happening. I was disappointed, but I had expected this.
Six weeks had gone by and I was interviewing at another company that I was feeling very confident about when the HR person sent me an email asking if I was still looking. Within a few days, I had a phone interview with one of their leads. The call was almost entirely technical and I was asked to do a coding exercise while showing my screen. This is rather standard when interviewing for a development position. This is always where I’m most nervous (as I mentioned above), but I was feeling rather confident with how things went. I was able to answer his questions and show a coding solution that worked. I was also able to talk through everything and explain my thinking, which is often the most important part.
Two days later, I received another email saying they wanted to move ahead with an in-person interview. I was pretty excited about this, but even more nervous because this was my first in-person interview since I started looking. All of the other positions I had been interviewing for were on the West Coast, so they were done via video chat. This was the first company I had even really submitted a resume to that was somewhat local.
A few days later, I took the afternoon off work and hopped on a train into NYC for the interview. I got in early to make sure I had plenty of time, just in case the trains were running late or anything, and chilled in a nearby park for a little bit before heading over. I was a little earlier than I planned to be when I finally went up to their office, but they sat me down on a couch and I tried to just relax and take in the vibe of the place. The office looked great and reminded me of a few companies whose offices I’ve been in that made me think “yeah, I’d like to work here!”
Hanging out in the park trying to calm my nerves before my in-person interview.
I knew ahead of time it would be a three hour interview with four different sessions, but I wasn’t sure what exactly expect beyond that. Each session was with two people and three of the four were technical. Surprisingly, the three hours really flew by and I walked out feeling really good. It was one of those things where even if I wasn’t offered the job, I knew it was a solid confidence boost to go through an interview process like that and feel like I did well. I was able to come up with some good solutions and answers to coding exercises and questions and presented myself like an engineer who belonged there. After walking out of there, I really felt great and all the depression I’d been dealing with recently just seemed to disappear.
The next morning, I sent a quick thank you off and heard back quickly that they’d have a decision for me soon. Late the next morning, I received an email asking if I had time for a call to discuss the next steps. I didn’t know what exactly to expect, but I knew it wasn’t going to bad! We scheduled some time that afternoon and I excused myself for a few minutes from my work to go sit outside on our patio at work where I normally take personal calls (weather permitting, of course). I nervously answered her call and immediately felt her excitement on the other end. They made an offer! She went through what the offer was and the benefits and perks they provide while I was thinking “whoa, this is the right one.”
I accepted the offer the next day (this past Friday) and just felt all-around awesome. I’m really excited for this! My wife and I spent pretty much the whole weekend celebrating with dinners and drinks and talking about all the changes to come.
So what company is it?
Yes, starting on the 2nd, I will be working at Tumblr!
Celebrating with some beers and dinner.
Since the office is located in New York City, there’s also a second bit of news here. We’re moving to Jersey City!! The commute from our home in Central Jersey would take me about 80 minutes each way and there’s just no way I’m doing that! Plus, part of what we were looking for was to move out of New Jersey. We wanted to really change our lives and live somewhere different. Tumblr was actually the only company on the East Coast I applied to. All of the others were on the West Coast.
While Jersey City doesn’t exactly check the “leave NJ” box, I think this will work out really well for us. We’ll practically be in NYC, just short PATH train ride away. This will give us a total lifestyle change! Plus, we’ll be able to get most of what we were looking for from leaving without actually having to leave my beloved New Jersey and we’ll still be able to see our friends and family easily.
I’m seriously so excited for this! And also super nervous! Changing jobs always comes with some risk, you never know how it will work out, but I think this is the right decision on a million different levels. This will really be what I need and what I’ve been wanting. I also think both a new job and a new city will complete the “fresh start” thing after transitioning last year.
tl;dr: I accepted an offer at Tumblr in NYC and am moving to Jersey City!