I finally got a job! It took somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 months, 75 applications, 10 phone screenings, 20-something follow up rounds - and then, all in one day, I received three offers. I accepted a position I never even technically applied for at Alegion as a Customer Success Engineer, but more about that later. Switching careers happened very differently than I thought it would. I’m not really sure what I expected, but I certainly didn’t know how to look for a job. In education, I was competitive because of my license, my years of experience at a Title I project based learning school, and my academic background from UTeach. Every job I ever applied for as a teacher, I got. I never had to go through multiple rounds of interviews or experience rejection after investing tens of hours into a company. It sucked, let me tell you.

I also learned that I was terrible at interviewing for these tech jobs. I didn’t know what the interviewers were looking for, and I also didn’t know what I was looking for. Over the course of several months, I got a lot better at interviewing. I understood what it was that the interviewer was expecting to see, not just with the in person interviews, but also the take home data analyst assignments. I got a lot of those and I’m still mad about the ones that don’t give feedback after all that work! I just got shit-loads of practice. I interviewed with one financial tech company for 8 different rounds before eventually being given the rejection. That rejection was rough. I put in so much effort, and I got so far that it was demoralizing to see it break down all at once. Don’t get me wrong, I learned more from the interview process with that company than any other single thing I did during this transition period, but a rejection is a rejection. These rejections did something tricky to my brain state. I had a runway. I had saved enough money that I didn’t need to worry about a thing or change my lifestyle at all until December… That wasn’t how it felt. I started looking at jobs in May of 2021 and by the 50th rejection somewhere in July I started to freak the hell out. What if I was making a mistake? Should I really have left teaching? I am maybe secretly just a failure who has never done anything cool in my life and why would anyone hire me? Of course they are sending another rejection letter, they see you for the fraud you are!

But not everyone rejected me. When I was at my absolute lowest, I had been interviewing for four months and I just wasn’t making progress.then all of a sudden, I got my first offer letter from a green energy company offering me an internship while I finished out the year in my graduate program. A few literal hours later, I got an offer from Alegion, the 2nd company I ever interviewed with, for a role that I never applied for. Within 12 hours of that, I recieved yet another offer for a data analyst position. In the end, I accepted the offer with Alegion and couldn’t be happier.

As of September 22nd, 2021 I am the new Customer Success Engineer, and I’m not sure Alegion is 100% sure what I do yet. So far, I have been building structures. Before I arrived, Alegion didn’t have a standardized workflow for my department. We didn’t use version control, we didn’t document our processes and that made onboarding extremely challenging. I mean, it makes sense. When you are small all this information lies in individuals’ heads, and it’s all changing so fast that it might not be productive to take the time to write it all down. Now Alegion has reached more than 100 employees, and with this growth comes a strong need to document processes and to hold others accountable to those processes. I primarily get to work in python, and I am just loving it. Anytime I want to do something to improve the process, like developing a module that can be imported into each of our scripts, I can just do it. It is such a great place to learn and grow. The company culture of growth reminds me so much of what teaching is supposedly like. When you are student teaching and going through your first round of interviews, every school tells you that they are growth focused. They have such great mentor programs, and they are personally and individually invested in your success. I never found that to be true in education, but it feels true in the startup world, at least at Alegion. Maybe it’s just the new industry glasses, but I can’t imagine going back. I always want to learn like this.

Moving forward, I am going to continue to learn and push myself. My long term goal is still data science, and while it does feel like I am much closer than I was a year ago, there is still so far to go. At work, my new pet project is learning the BI tool Sisense, and in my personal time I am building a machine learning model for housing prices and how their proximity to drinkable water sources affect their price over time. I’m finally taking a course online over Data Structures and Algorithms. There is so much that I wish I learned in my undergraduate program or even my graduate program, and while both of them have taught me a lot, wow it is weird to take online versions of classes that my CS friends take for granted. It is nice that so much stuff exists out there for learning more CS topics, it makes the growth focus real easy in this stage of my knowledge.

Until next time,

Noah Ledbetter, Engineer