Sometimes you're the sorcerer. Other times, you're the apprentice.

I interviewed with Triplebyte recently. And in the interview, I didn't do well. I was both surprised and enlightened by this.

Triplebyte does a live coding interview over two hours, where I was asked to implement a simple program and to debug an existing program.

It's not that I couldn't do these excercises, in fact, I got confirmation that I was actually quite clever in some of my solutions. The problem was that I didn't have enough mastery of the language to do the assigned task in the very short amount of time.

I have said before, in my video, that the difference between a senior engineer and a junior one is whether or not you need more mentoring than you do, or vice versa. But now I'm beginning to see that there's more to it than that.

I was - am - 100% confident I could get all the right answers to the coding problems, given time, but because I had not mastered the material, I was unable to do that assignment in time.

So it poked holes in my preconception of what one needs to be a good engineer - and for that I'm always grateful.

The other part was that there were a lot of questions about algorithmic theory and about low-level languages, such as C. About databases at the low level (rather than just relying on an ORM library or writing raw SQL strings). I still believe in the bootcamp method - it gives you what you need to be useful to employers right off the bat, giving you the ability to learn on the job. But this was a hole in my knowledge that I didn't even see until it was pointed out to me.

It also made me reconsider my move overseas. Sure, I hate Trump, but I don't have any guarantees I'll be less anxious about him overseas. However, I know that I can bring joy to myself by learning to be a better engineer and a better person. (The two are somewhat correlated.) I figure that moving to someplace like San Francisco (or maybe LA) gives me the best of both worlds: A supportive state government and an ability to learn from the best.

I'd like to point out that if you're thinking of applying to Triplebyte: do. Even in rejection they sent me the most useful, most warm rejection letter of my career, which gave great advice on when and where to focus.

In the meantime, I'll continue trying to find that elusive balance between "immediately valuable to the organization" and "able to learn a lot from it."

Brian Boyko

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Austin, Texas
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