To FutureLearn and beyond!

I’ve just been hired for my first developer role, and words cannot describe how excited I am right now. I think my response to this news was “I’m the happiest person alive right now”. Way to play it cool. I could have waited for the salary negotiation before letting that cat out the bag.

The five-hour interview on Monday was smooth-sailing, I breezed through it comfortably, completely unfazed and genuinely happy to be there. It comprised of a technical interview with two developers, a code pairing with one more, and a traditional interview with two fabulous product team members. Then began the excruciating inner turmoil of waiting for a decision afterwards.

It was two days. It started slow, and began with “That went well! I’m so excited to hear back” and ended with “Oh god, they just emailed! They want to call me today! Is it to let me down gently? But they did say they’d be calling successful candidates, maybe I did get it? Or maybe they felt sorry for me. Oh no!” followed by “59 minutes until they call. Or they might call late. Or they might forget to call! Oh god. 58 and a half minutes. Is this clock broken??”

How did I become such a mess in just two days? I don’t even know. But the stakes were high. This job is amazing, the team are so positive and relaxed. The company structure is well thought out and encourages autonomy and creativity. They even have Creativity Inc on their company blog, as well as Power of Habit on their bookshelves, it’s too perfect! They have staff lightning talks about anything, work-related or otherwise, that build public speaking skills. They have a ‘Things we love’ section on their blog and all staff are encouraged to contribute posts. It’s like the family I never had! Real family, I love you, just not as much as FutureLearn. I know you understand.

Management signal their ‘intent’ with a roadmap and let the team lead the way, which after 4 years working in education a bit of trust from the powers-that-be is going to be invigorating. And I’m not a person who needs any more vigour, trust me. Look out, world. Most frequently heard words for me are “I’m not sure that’s really achievable’” and “I don’t think that’s been invented yet”, or my least favourite “I would love to hear what Trello is but I’m actually busy that day.”

So back to the inner-turmoil. It started with a negative thought that popped into my head. I saw it. I had it’s number. I knew what it was here to do. But I clung to its every word anyway because it had information. What is it about uncertainty that makes us grab any any piece of information we find? I got desperate. I went from reassured to traumatised in a few simple steps.

  • Step 1. Pay attention to that negative thought that’s just popped up to over-analyse a tiny moment during the interview. Case in point: where I said “Speaking of diversity, I love how many women work here.” Dark and twisty version: “Are you high? Women don’t need feminism mansplained. Also, there aren’t that many women there, so now it seems like you think four is loads, or more than enough. Sexist.” evil glare to self.

  • Step 2. Cling to that thought’s every word, agree with it then let the devastation wash over you.

  • Step 3. Look for more little gems like the above to make sure it wasn’t the only one. Oh no, there are loads.

So by today (Wednesday) I was convinced I had fudged it up and was due a sympathetic phone call to gently explain why it was a noble try but I was not going to be coming back to this fun place again. And yet, 4pm rolled by and I got the call. “I’d like to offer you a position as a front end web developer at Futurelearn.” Not only did I get the job, my interviewers were unanimously ‘bowled over’ by my communication skills, the way I presented myself and they thought my technical skills were strong. They all chose me. None of them thought I’d mansplained feminism, none of them thought my technical explanations were scattered about all over the place like a cat lady’s cats and none of them thought I had some nerve showing up there. Crazy!

So the great news to this story — besides landing a dream job— was that I’ve banked another experience that proves this negative voice is a fool and should never be taken seriously. I don’t mean the negative voice that says, “Proceed carefully through that dark forest alone at night, I don’t want you to get hurt.” That one is helpful. The other one, the whiney, taunting one that slithers in and criticises like a bitter and twisted Slytherin type of person, who regular people give side-eyes to and ignore. It’s been a while since I pulled up a chair by his campfire, but I guess it takes a fall off the wagon to realise how good life is when you stay on it.