A lot of people apply to jobs the traditional way and just get the position they want. They submit their resume to the company portal, get an interview, pass all the interview steps and are given the job. This was not the case with me. When I was a senior in college I continuously applied to new graduate positions but never made it past the interview stages. I had sent in about 200 applications via LinkedIn, about 50 via Indeed and about 50 through the company portals that I was applying to. I would hear back, but usually after the second or third interview stage I would stop hearing back. I was graduating the next summer, and I needed a job.
As an international student, I did not have the luxury to take a year off to ‘discover myself,’ travel the world or just chill. My Visa requirement for being in the United States was based on the criteria that I was always enrolled in school, or working. Luckily, I had the Grace Hopper conference to attend that fall. It was held in Orlando Florida, and was the biggest conference I had attended. At the Grace Hopper Conference (GHC), students are usually interviewed for internships and entry level positions. Before arriving at the conference, they would speak to recruiters and apply for these positions. People preferred being interviewed at Conferences because the interview stages were decreased, the recruiters were more personal and also nicer. I wanted to do the same, but each company I applied to interview at GHC was always fully booked.
I arrived at the GHC on the first day and saw that most students were waiting to sign up for an interview at FAANG. These companies had a lot of people in the line and I was not ready to wait. I had told myself that I was going to leave the conference with a job offer, so help me God. I was a hustler, and while people waited on the line to get signed up at the FAANG companies, I went to smaller companies, asking if they had interview spots at the conference and leaving the minute they said they did not.
I had looked for about 2 hours, walking around the big hall where the career fair was held with almost no luck. Finally, I approached the recruiter at my current company and asked if they had interview spots left for the conference period. I had already lost hope and was pleasantly surprised when she said ‘yes.’ I quickly told her to sign me up for Thursday the next day or Friday the day after. This was on a Wednesday at about 11am and the recruiter told me that they did not have any more spots for Thursday or Friday. The only spots they had left was for Wednesday (the same day). I was not sure what to do because I needed to prepare for the interview and a same day interview would not give me the required time. However, since that was the only spot they had, I decided to take it. This was around 10 or 11 am Wednesday morning and they signed me up for an interview by 2pm. I was not prepared in any way but after signing up I went and started studying as much as I could about the company. I reviewed my data structures and algorithms and I rehearsed as much as I could. I learned about the company, but after studying for about an hour and a half, I got tired. I was trying to memorize as much as I could but it was hard doing so. I decided that if the job was going to be mine then it would be. At about 2pm the same day I went to the interview venue and did my first round of interview. This was the behavioral stage where they asked me what I knew about the company. After that they took me to the next stage where I was interviewed by the technical recruiter. She told me to write a function in whatever language I knew. I wrote a function in python and although I arrived at a solution, I did not use the most optimal algorithm. I was told to wait in the lobby after this and I was terrified because I felt that I had botched my interview. After waiting for about an hour with other people who were interviewed with me, I was told that I got the position. I could not believe it. I shed tears of joy, and the recruiters hugged me. He told me that my reaction was priceless and it was one of the reasons he loved being a recruiter.
The GHC was usually from Tuesday evening to Saturday Morning. Since I was looking for a job, I had arrived at the conference determined to approach as many companies as I could (there is usually about 500 in attendance) till I landed a position. I was going to do this Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, but now did not need to after getting the position at my current company. After I got the position, I went to more companies and I got more interview spots.
This situation amazed me but also taught me a couple of lessons
- You can achieve whatever you set you mind to do. I told myself I was not going to leave the conference without a job offer and I was able to achieve that by God’s grace
- Conferences are truly a hack for getting job offers
- Luck is when opportunity meets hardwork. Since I had been applying to companies and interviewing for sometime, I knew the FAQ interview questions and how to answer them. This helped me in my interview at GHC even though it was a same day interview and I had no time to prepare
- God keeps his word and I have learned over the years that when God tells me something, it always comes to pass.
Are you interested in studying in the United States, or are you an incoming freshman in a US college? Do you love stories on financial growth or fiction? Be sure to check out my Instagram, YouTube and website where I document my experiences.