On February 3, 2015, I climbed up the Tatham Centre staircase and walked in to my first SWE interview.

Even with the advice and help of several wonderful upper-years, I was quite scared. I also had no idea how to “sell myself”, and still shy away each time I hear that phrase.

Upon entering the room, I said, “Hi, I’m Alice,” and we started coding. Contrary to expectations, it was awesome.

Granted, that was the only entirely technical interview I had, and many have been predominantly behavioural. But after the first interview, I discovered that interviewers are not out to get you, but rather are looking for someone they can work with.

Since then, I have learned so much from each interview and interviewer.

I’ve learned that it’s okay to say “I don’t know.” I’ve learned of the importance of taking advantage of university time to take challenging courses, being self-evaluative yet confident, being accountable in all things, always asking questions and listening, and enjoying university life. On the technical side, I’ve learned about “shift-d” in vim, var_arg in C, storing useful data, removing redundant data, and the “transient” keyword in Java.

To my interviewers, thanks for sharing your thoughts, I have really enjoyed hearing about what you’re working on, and how you got there.

As for that first interview, I somehow passed it, and am looking forward to the second round next week.