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Really? Is that your job title??

Why do I say that?

When it comes to getting jobs, it's not easy for me, I go to the interview, answer all their questions with confidence and ease until the technical questions start. I freeze, panic and more often than not, I don't get the job because I know deep down the technical questions have let me done. 

When at university, as part of my studies I was given the chance to do a year working for a company. I applied to a number of different companies and one of them was Microsoft. Thousands of people applied from all over the UK. The selection process went like this

  1. Written application as to why you should be considered. I made it to the next stage.
  2. Telephone interview. Asking about me as a person, why I enjoyed the course I was on, what projects had I worked on. I made it to the next stage.
  3. Video conference interview. This was for the final 200 candidates they wanted to get down to the final 100. I made it to the next stage.
  4. A full day at Microsoft HQ in Reading. 1:1 personal interview, 1:1 technical interview, group task and general chat with the teams.

Personal interview went fine, group task went well, I was seen as a team player and someone who thought logically about problems. Technical interview, FAIL. 

So why did I fail the technical test? I can remember it as if it was yesterday. "So Owain, the problem we have is we need to mulitply 2 numbers together for X number of times but we don't have access to the multiply operator, how would you solve this problem? Please write your code on the whiteboard behind you".

Sweat runs down my back. My palms get sweaty. How do you multiply without the option of using the multiplication operator?

Panic. In the end I said, I don't know and that was the end of my interview. Boom! Made it to the final 100 and then probably laughed out the building. I got back on the plane to Edinburgh and sat there wondering what had just happened. I knew that I could just use a loop and use the add operator instead. I knew how I would write the code. This was the start of the imposter issues I guess but I've never got over it. 

For my current job I was once again given a pen and paper test. Fix the code in the example, tell us what the code is doing, write a new function to do X,Y or Z and Boom, nothing, panic, sweats. I wasn't offered the job. I did ask them for a copy of the test to take home though.

I took the test home and answered the questions and for the answers I didn't know, I looked up and found the answers. This actually worked in my favour because this small request showed the employer that I was willing to learn, willing to find a solution to the problems and in the end, they offered me a job that had become available! 

I still get the imposter feelings though. I can do the job I am asked to do. I do it well, but that doesn't help when trying to get new jobs. The past month or so I've really struggled with this imposter feeling.

Why?

Well the past year I've done very little coding, I've been project managing, working with external developers, troubleshooting issues but my coding has been limited to good old HTML and CSS. A bit of C# if something has broke on our live site and needs fixed but nothing exactly taxing! 

On the horizon is a big Umbraco project and although I'm really looking forward to it, there is so much to try and learn.

In my previous jobs we've never used GIT or any sort of source control, this is something I want to start doing but need to learn how to do it.

I've never really used JavaScript because in the Public sector it was frowned upon as a 'non-supported' or 'barrier to users' language - I'm now finding I really need to know this stuff so I'm teaching myself JavaScript in my spare time.

Umbraco is a C# .Net system and my C# .Net skills could be a lot better and I mean a lot! 

Umbraco also uses Angular and Razor, I've had very little exposure to this so another thing to learn.

Unit Testing is also important, again not something I've done so something else to add to the list of things to learn. 

Then you have Node.js, Grunt, NPM, SASS and any number of others things I should know how to use! 

I sit here looking at that title again, Senior Web Developer.

A Senior Web Developer who knows very little about how to use GIT, how to write C# or JavaScript properly and only really knows how to code HTML and CSS. I can read code, I get it, I understand it but man, I've a long way to go. 

How to improve?

I've considered applying for Junior Developer roles but I've now got myself into the situation where my salary is above what is offered to a Junior so that isn't an option. Even if I did apply, I would probably be told I've too much experience for a Junior role, if you look at my CV I'd agree!

I guess ideally, I'd have someone in my office who I could learn from and share information with, we could develop together but that unfortunately isn't the reality. I work on my own, no other developers in the office and so I've found the Umbraco Slack Channel really useful. I've not asked any Umbraco questions yet but I read other people's questions and try and understand them. Hopefully some of it will sink into my brain. 

I've also setup an Edinburgh Umbraco Users Group which is held every two months. This is my chance to try and learn from more experienced Umbraco developers. I haven't been able to contribute much yet but I hope one day I will. 

I want to become an Umbraco developer, I want to specialise in Umbraco so here is what I am planning on doing. 

I'm learning Javascript in my spare time. I read Javascript for Cats and I'm now reading Eloquent Javascript. Once I've finished that I will move on to Angular and learn that, at least I think that is the best route.

While I am reading about Javascript, I've also started working my way through a great set of tutorials on youtube from Codeshare.co.uk: How to build a site with Umbraco. It's really good! As part of that process I'm also reading Think like a Git which is giving me the basics on setting up my project and getting it committed. 

It's a start. Once I'm working full time on the big Umbraco project which is coming my way I will hopefully start learning on the job as well. Bonus!

It's not solving my imposter syndrome worries but I hope over time I will become more confident in my coding and I can start to help others. 

I plan on blogging more about Umbraco and my learning journey in the hope that it does help others so if you have any questions or advice for me, maybe a development path to follow? Please leave a comment below. Thanks! 

About the author

Owain

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