amw (amw) wrote,

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workin hard for the sanity

I just had one of the best interviews of my life. Last week's interview i came out feeling a bit nervous about working there. Although the culture looked good, their technical staff didn't have much experience working anywhere else, and the way they described their processes concerned me. Today i interviewed at a large online retailer and the vibe was completely different. One of the interviewers acknowledged the struggles they'd been having growing so quickly, and seemed eager to discuss ways things might be improved. I felt like they saw a specific spot for me doing a specific task that would have a big impact on team performance and morale (slightly more of a team-lead-y role than i originally applied for). The company is big. Not quite Amazon or eBay big, but definitely up there. We talked back end design and the scaling problems they face (especially coming up to Christmas), we talked management and release strategies. I felt stretched yet confident - a lot more confident than i do when forced to write some algorithmic programming problem that's aimed more at math nerds than software developers. This could really be a place to grow for me, and a place i feel like i could make a difference, even just being one guy in a fucking army of developers. I really hope they make me an offer.

I have a few more startup jobs on the backburner, and i actually got cold-contacted by a fairly high profile open source guy to work at his consulting company too... So despite the days where i'm hiding under the sheets feeling like it's all hopeless i'm actually doing fairly well. I just need to stay confident enough to say no to places that aren't a perfect fit. I spent too long miserable in my last job because i was desperate to find anything and jumped as soon as i found someone - anyone - who wanted me. I know 6 months in i'll hate a good job as much as any other, but to be in a place where there is excitement and positivity and a drive to succeed, that at least won't drive me to a nervous breakdown.

Another thing i'm noticing here is that employers are way more forgiving of resume gaps and freelancing. Not to mention applying as a foreigner who can't speak the language fluently. I really struggled to find work in Canada, but here they seem a lot more open-minded, more used to people coming in from all over the world, people who take random backpacking vacations, whatever. The odd thing is that 50% of Toronto is foreign-born, so of all cities in the world you'd think it wouldn't be a problem there. But maybe this is just another example of Berlin bla bla bla?

The funniest thing about this interview is that one of the last WhatsApp messages i sent a friend before going in was "this is either going to be the most challenging or most embarrassing interview of my life". It was neither. But it could've been. Yesterday i decided to finally buy some "backup" food - since moving here i've been going to the grocery store almost every day for meat and rolls, and i am kinda missing having shit in the cupboard for days i don't feel like shopping. I bought peanut butter and a loaf of bread for the freezer. In a lazy moment instead of dinner i spread myself a thick sandwich, then promptly spent the next 4 hours 2 feet from the toilet, nauseous and explosive. I hoped it'd be gone this morning. It wasn't. In a fit of desperation i scraped out the powder of 2 crushed Immodium that have traveled halfway round the world with me (i thought i'd need them in Mexico) and gulped them down with some water and yogurt. Thank God they were still good. Or at least, good enough to save me from serious embarrassment mid-interview.

Or perhaps it was just feeling good in a work environment again. I've come to the conclusion that as much as i hate being "stuck", if i am forced to be stuck (which financially, i am) i would much rather be stuck and busy doing something i'm good at than scraping from gig to gig just trying to survive. If i'm traveling the movement keeps me sane. If i'm stuck i think it's the work that keeps me sane. I need to feel like i'm doing something significant to pay for my lifestyle, working hard so i can play hard. I know i could probably survive here quite a while freelancing or jumping from startup to startup, buddying up to DJs for guestlist, living in a share house or squat... For lots of people here that's their lives, but it's not for me. If i don't have steady work i feel unanchored. A real job i can compartmentalize, make my 5-day obligation that pays for the weekends, for the vacations. I either need no obligations at all, or a very structured one. I know that probably sounds weird and contradictory but it seems to be my experience.

What bums me out is in all of this free time i haven't been able to bring myself to write music or do something creative. I've spent plenty of time watching TV, so it's not for lack of opportunity. It's certainly not for lack of inspiration - the clubs here are amazing, i've heard more fantastic music in the last 3 weeks than i have in 3 years in Canada. I just... outside of applying for work and going to parties all i want to do is hide and cry because i feel so stuck, so paralyzed. I think work will help that. I hope work will help that.
Tags: career, crazy

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