Answering some FAQs!
It has been more than a year or two since my blogs started receiving a decent number of hits and reads. As I keep saying, my blogs so far have been a means of communication with my friends and close circle. Without any kind of promotions, I keep getting around 700 plus hits and close to 500 reads every month and the pattern has been like this for more than a year now. A read ratio of 71% is something I am really happy about.
From the queries and messages which land up in my various inboxes regularly, I am happy to note that I have a wide range of readers. Among my readers, I have friends in non-IT who would like to pick up IT skills, I have women who would like to come back and build a career in IT or non-IT, men who have lost their jobs or had lost jobs in their past, founders of IT and non-IT start ups, directors of SMBs, people who hold high positions in corporates and just dear friends who are both concerned about me and at the same time value my opinions.
My last two posts were probably ramblings, but several people talked to me after that and they wanted to know why I am not landing up in a job. Few of them advised me not to be so detailed in my blogs too because I might get judged.
So, I think I am mastering the art of using click baits. :) Now, that you have started reading, let me be honest, this blog is not about tech. I am making an attempt to answer all the questions which I keep getting about my journey in tech.
The trigger for this post: VM Ware is organizing a program for women who are returning back to work. It is an inclusion program and is called Taara. For those who haven’t heard about this yet, please go to this link and read about it in detail. https://www.vmware.com/taara/ I haven’t registered for this because I already have invested a lot of time on Android (Java and now Kotlin) and also Data Analytics. I have decided not to switch my focus to something else now. If I had heard about it earlier, I would have tried this for sure. It is a pure inclusion drive and the only criterion for entry is that you have to be a woman with more than 6 months of break in your career. An absolutely unbiased inclusion drive, something which is hard to see elsewhere. That way I am, a huge fan of this Taara program. I started getting notifications from them because I have subscribed to “Women Who Code” and these meetups which they announce comes through the handle of Women Who Code.
These days, I do not prefer to attend soft skills training much because most of the time, I feel that soft skills training makes you focus only on superficial stuff. Those who focus mainly on the soft skills finally end up like a sophistically painted house with a poor foundation that can plunge anytime. When I saw something coming through Taara, I somehow decided to attend one. In fact, it was after a very long time that I am attending a session on soft skills. While listening to the first part, I had turned on my laptop and was looking through the codelabs of Kotlin and was only half attentive until the speaker caught my full attention when she first spoke about the unconscious bias that sets in women in inclusion drives themselves while interviewing other women. Padmaja Narsipur, the trainer once again convinced me with her answer when she picked up a random question which was mine. She had talked about smiling generously and I raised a concern to her that these days, I feel old school because I started noticing that people don’t return your smiles. I had got used to this habit of smiling at everyone and instead of smiling, people just stare back when you smile. I shared this experience and was asking her how to deal with this situation. She shared her own experience of going through similar experiences were people have harshly responded to her too. She was very clear and confident and she said when you want to involve with a well behaved and cultured crowd, it is better not to change. I was totally convinced by her answer.
Likewise, in my blogs when I write about what I feel about my career, I have never felt that I am doing something wrong. I feel that human beings with emotions and brains might be able to conceive what I am trying to talk about. It had taken a long time to realize that my failure in my career is not just my failure. It is the system which failed me and writing it, I will continue as part of my feminist activities that I have taken up.
So, coming back to the title of the blog: Answering the most frequent question — Am I not worried about the recruiters who will judge me based on my blogs?
If there is a recruiting system that will judge me based on my blogs, then, that recruiter is definitely not a targetted employer of mine. There is no point in working for an employer who has no idea of my feminist views.
Is the pay, the reason for me not getting a job?
In the last ten years, I have worked for no pay. I have worked for Rs. 8,000 per month, I have worked for Rs. 25,000 per month and I have worked for Rs. 35,000 per month. I have worked or Rs. 12 lakhs plus per annum also.
When we were struggling financially, I have picked up every kind of job. Currently, I am not desperate to find a job & I will be take up something which will match my interests. And, I will only be taking up something which pays me decently. The only exceptions I might give will be for NGOs or charitable trusts.
Why not management jobs? There are a lot of startups out there looking for experienced hands? Why rejecting offers from them?
Most of the offers which I got didn’t match my technical expertise. In those cases when it matched, I didn't see clarity on what is expected out of me. If someone approaches me with a long term plan of what is expected out of me and if I am convinced with the pay and the role, I will definitely accept such a role. The other way round also is true. I do apply for management roles which has a defined job description, though the number of applications that I have made to management roles is very few, less than 5 in fact.
What goes wrong with Tech job interviews? Probably, resume needs to be more impressive?
Hmm.. the most important question. I believe that my resume is ok, at least from an Android perspective. (From a data perspective, yes, it requires a lot of changes) After my first app hit the play store, I started applying for Android jobs and I landed up in 9 interviews. All the interview questions that I attended are listed here. The expectations that some sets on a person like me who has completed her graduation in 2001 are huge. I have to admit that I fail to convince my interviewers that I am good. One reason could be that I am a self-taught developer and even now, I am not good with data structures and design patterns. That might put off any interviewer. More importantly, the very fact that I flunked the Associate Android Developer Certification makes it very clear that there is a long way for me to go. I might have to work harder to improve my tech skills. The conscious and unconscious bias that set in when they see a woman in her late 30s might have affected the results too.
It is not always technical skills alone. Luck matters as well. There were at least 3 interviews that I could not give my best (on the non-technical aspects) because of my bad luck. One at IBM, one at Udacity, and another at Wipro. Long stories! :)
Why not take freelance and independent projects?
I am already doing that. But working from home, negotiations on pricings and follow-ups for payments is not something that I enjoy anymore and hence I am keeping on looking for regular openings.
Why not blogging or content writing jobs since I have blogged a lot?
Writing is something that I have been doing as a pure hobby. Blogs have been a medium of self expression too. It is very close to my heart and I have never thought of making it a career. But if I come across something interesting, I do consider applying. I have done it too. But again, probably just once. I liked that company and hence I applied for a post of technical writer there. Everyone who knows me might probably guess which company that is! It is my dream company. 🥰
So, what next?
Nothing much. I will continue learning tech and continue taking up independent projects from clients who have been fair. After I am done with a few more apps, I might continue posting my resume on job portals. I will also be promoting my apps in parallel and if I get good traction on them, then I might focus on the apps as well. Irrespective of all these, I will continue speaking for women and the discrimination women face at workplaces.
Currently, I am on a mission, #30DaysofKotlin. Let us see how that goes. Today is Day 4. :)
(I continue my journey in tech relentlessly because my mom doesn’t like to see me as a stay at home mom & she has put in all her sincere efforts to help me study and get a job. My mother’s day wishes to her)