Go Beyond: A Story of Failure — then ending up at Apple and Amazon

Today, I want to share my story in hopes that it might inspire others to achieve their dream job at a large tech company. If you’d prefer to skip the details and want the major takeaways, scroll down to the Lessons Learned section of this article.

The Story

For most of my life, I felt like I didn’t have a personality. I was always trying to be like other individuals who I thought possessed strong qualities that would help them succeed in life.

I hoped that this “strategy” would propel me higher towards achieving my dreams, because I felt like I was too absent minded and uninteresting to achieve this by being myself.

It worked until I graduated from high school with a shining academic record and was ready to start at one of the top universities in the US for Computer Science.

I was surrounded by talented individuals who were not only smarter than me, but also had strong interpersonal skills that I lacked. However, I paid no attention to this and eventually graduated from university with a good academic record.

A few months before graduating, I had started to apply for jobs in the tech industry. I applied for over 500 entry level positions across the US in several different companies and landed only 2 phone interviews. In those interviews, I was exposed.

I had achieved nothing. I had no value to provide to any company apart from my strong academic record at a good university, which showed nothing about my ability to work with others or my problem solving skills.

While struggling to find a job, I noticed everyone around me getting multiple offers from tech giants like Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc. I was truly shocked that I wasn’t capable of this despite my academic achievements and was at the brink of depression.

In December 2017, I enrolled for an online course created by Andrei Neagoie called The Complete Web Developer in 2019: Zero to Mastery.

While this course taught me significantly about web development, I learned and honed an even more valuable skill: communication.

I was encouraged to join the growing online community for the course and met many individuals who wanted to achieve the same goals but often without the resources that I already had: relevant college education at a top university.

Never had I seen such dedicated and hard working individuals who started from little to no development experience to achieving their dream job in the tech industry. For the first time in my life, I was inspired to work hard to achieve my goals and help others achieve theirs.

My newly discovered motivation led me to becoming part of the first management team for the course and I had completed projects of my own that I was proud of.

Eventually, the support of my peers and my newfound motivation led me to a job offer from Apple: an accomplishment I didn’t think I could achieve or deserve.

At Apple, I met individuals who were not only talented, but hard working and dedicated to ensure the company’s success. I dove into unknown territories with large learning curves and interacted with many different cross functional teams. I made many mistakes but most importantly I was able to learn and improve my skills significantly.

Unfortunately, my time at Apple lasted only about 9 months as I was on a contract. However, I was able to utilize everything that I had learned from my colleagues at Apple and Zero to Mastery to propel me to my next destination: Amazon!

I was finally able to overcome my fear and be myself instead of emulating others. I’m more confident in my technical and communication skills than I ever was before thanks to the support of my peers.

If you’re reading this, I hope that this story has inspired you and ignited a fire in your heart to take you to the next level. Good luck and thanks for reading!

Lessons Learned

  • Success isn’t the just the achievement of a goal. It’s failing to achieve your goal 10, 100, or even 1000 times before you succeed. Take the opportunities you are given and learn from the failures.
  • You can achieve your goals. Surround yourself with peers that you can learn from and that will support you.
  • If others around you are finding opportunities faster than you are, don’t worry! It’s not a race. Work at your own pace and slowly build your confidence towards achieving your next goal.
  • Your educational background is not nearly as important as your ability to demonstrate your skills. Actions speak louder than words and employers are keen to see that from you.
  • Your technical skills are important but focus on building soft skills. Soft skills such as communication and leadership will truly determine whether you can work with others and unlike your technical skills, your soft skills will assist you at ANY job.
  • Don’t get rusty. It takes hard work to maintain your technical and problem solving skills and there is always more to learn. If you’re preparing for a technical interview, practice by solving one problem every day.
  • Stay open minded. Your solution to a problem isn’t always going to be the best solution or the only solution. Engage the problem and discuss with others to discover new ways of tackling it.

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