More than a year back, I was finishing up my masters’ with multiple offers in my hand, a result of hard work and perseverance. When I look back at my masters' journey, I see a considerable difference in my personality before I started my internship/job search and after. And the reason was simple! Interviewing with numerous companies!
To aim for a particular company, I had to research about that company, the work that’s been done, the people it looks up to, and the principles it follows! So much to learn from it! The work that’s being done there opened up technical blocks in my head, forcing me to think outside the box. People who the company looks up to, opened an entirely new world to me, there were women who had shattered the glass ceiling, there were people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, the minors who not only overcame the challenges but led by example and inspired me in so many different ways! That still is like a powerhouse to me which I go to when I’m not having a good day. The principles the company follows me taught things without having to go to a business school, things that it had to choose to know, help and understand the customer, and to sustain and beat the competitors.
While applying for different jobs, I had reached out to multiple people, some old lost friends, some strangers for referrals, some people for guidance, and some people for volunteering. While talking to them I learned about my own personality, where I would fit, where I won’t, I learned the power I had in me and the pitfalls I could be in due to it. All of them gave me helpful suggestions which showed both the good and bad sides of each topic when I discussed with them. I was volunteering with one of the non-profits where I would talk to a lead every week. She was returning to work after almost 3 years, would have a toddler in her arms during our every call, and would share how she manages things through her responsibilities at home, I would listen to her while here I was trying to “manage” my studies and interviews. She even paid for my conferences because she wanted me to really attend it and didn’t even ask me to pay her back! SHE WAS MY ROCKSTAR!! That particular experience stuck because when I really looked at my challenges, they were really tiny compared to this, and that compelled me to think, were they really that difficult? If she could do so much with a smile on her face, why not me?
Understanding different companies and their cultures helped me understand myself more, a certain company is fast-paced, do I like that, another one is not fast-paced but is research-focused, do I like to be on the product side, or on the service side, do I like to interact with customers or head down and work, do I have priority for diversity in my team or not. If we really think about this, it shows some traits from our own personality that we don’t really realize. If we do think about these, they can help us land in the best place we can be, where we are not only progressing in careers but are also happy working! Wouldn’t you want to be happy where you spend most time of your day?
I remember watching a video of Jeff Bezos while preparing for Amazon interviews, one of the videos I loved was seeing why Amazon has the principles it does and how Bezos believes in them, I got an insight into what could have fuelled him to lead the company. I have watched documentaries of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, etc. while interviewing for these companies, which offer way more than helping you with “why do you want to work for this company?”, to get a little more philosophical, there are life lessons I’ve taken notes of and would refer to while going through tough times!
I understand the times when I was interviewing with different companies, the preparation, the build-up, the wait for the results, the offer, negotiation… all these were nervous as well as exciting phases, but now when everything has calmed down and I look back, I see a naive version of me, not knowing that on the other side of this phase, having learned more than how to crack the interviews, I’m gonna be more self-aware, more confident and more proud of myself!
Aarti is Software Engineer at Microsoft Azure and has been in the tech industry for over 7 years. She is passionate about Cloud Computing and helping students. She is an advocate of diversity and inclusion at the workplace and enjoys helping and empowering others via several platforms. She is also a volunteer by heart in several organizations like AnitaB.org, Women @ Microsoft, Women Who Code, and Indian Women in Computing.
As her recent efforts for helping students or professionals in job search, she has launched, GRADMASTERS!
Saved those memories, because why not!