One of you sent me this today, which was pretty useful in keeping up moral. Software Engineer Gets Job After 357 Rejections, 6-Month Hunt
At the same time, I have been rejected WAY more than her and I am more qualified. So, I may need to say some things very directly in order to start a conversation with myself about the challenges that may or may not be confronting me. Feedback on my thought process is appreciated, even if its harsh. Being ‘nice’ is not the same as being ‘kind.’ Often its much kinder to just be honest (at the risk of hurting feelings) with people so they can troubleshoot. I learned that through many conversations with people about disability.
After being rejected this many times, I can see patterns.
1.) The first time my interviewer is a non-American born male developer, I get cut. That might be on the first interview, or it might be on the seventh. That’s a big problem because the industry is filled with non-American born males. That’s not to say that American men and women don’t cut me, too. But, they sometimes give me a chance. I drum up a lot of interest from female recruiters (especially ones with medical conditions). I get occasional interest from male and/or foreign-born recruiters. The most exploitative offer (an offer that was less than $3.00 an hour) came from an American dude recruiting on behalf of UHG.
What’s up with this?
1.) Foreign perspectives on illness are VERY different than American ones.
1a.) I had to monetize disability in order to convince anyone to talk to me.
I don’t think that this was unethical and do not believe there is anything false in what I’m selling. Given the option, I would only work with people with disability. I find higher levels of empathy, more tendency to collaborate, less rigidity, more experience with out of the box problem solving, greater ability to put things in perspective, and higher work ethic among people with disability than in the general population. I find people with disability (and those who advocate for them) ‘likeable.’
1b.) I find really difficult perspectives on health and illness among (not ALL, but the vast majority of) foreign born individuals in software. There can be an enormous cultural divide here that just can’t be overcome. It regularly hits me in the face like a brick wall and it is always awful. A brick wall will manifest towards me in a few different ways, in general. 1.) They see no benefit in my experience with healthcare; 2.) They see no benefit in hiring a woman. They don’t want to work with a woman and their behavior is hostile and asinine in ways that I have never experienced outside of a software development context.
1c.) It took me ten years to monetize diabetes. That was never my intention. It just happened because it was such a large part of my life experience and I did so much work surrounding diabetes and work with other people’s chronic illness. I explored it in depth, which led to an interest in discussing illness through art, which led to communicating through writing, and talking to people in healthcare and technology. I recently applied to a State art grant to explore what’s going on with everybody’s relationship to health and illness. It all just merges together somehow over time into one, big overall goal.
I will never be able to monetize epilepsy. I’m super uncomfortable talking about it directly because I feel like its more exploitable than diabetes - especially in a software context. For example, you see attacks like this somewhat regularly. Epilepsy Foundation Says Hackers Posted Seizure-Causing GIFs To Twitter Account | HuffPost Latest News
I can see the moment during a technical interview when an interviewer says to himself, “This person doesn’t think like I do. This person is stupid.” I have no strategy or mechanism for dealing with this inevitable moment. Because there are some broken bits in my brain, I DO think differently than other people. They can sense deficiency related to the fact that I can’t add or subtract in my head and that my memory recall is poor. They don’t know what causes that deficiency, but they see it and they cut me immediately.
In real life, I have lots of strategies to deal with that deficiency and don’t find it to be a problem. I know how to turn that deficiency into a benefit and safeguard against it causing me harm in day to day life. But those tools aren’t applicable and they don’t work in an interview setting. I simply do not think like the others.
I’ve seen classmates with other disabilities than I hit the brick wall, but we were able to work as a team and get them through the door. Once we all kicked down that wall to entry, they did exceptionally well in the job, as I knew they would. People just have to get through the door.
No matter what I do or accomplish, I don’t seem to be able to get through the door. I don’t know how much of this is attributable to disability and how to not internalize it any longer. https://www.linkedin.com/in/mortensenheather/
I will never drive an ambulance with flashing lights. I would never attempt to because of the risks involved. Maybe I didn’t fully see the risks of attempting a career in software. I thought software was ‘safe’ for me to do. Its not as safe as I imagined. I don’t think of myself as very disabled. I think of myself as the opposite of that. But I see the obstacles.