Mary and Leo smiling in a field of purple tulips

Tiptoeing through the tulips

First, a story:

Two years ago I was approached by an external recruiter who had read my blog posts. He asked if I had time to talk about his client, Navigating Cancer. I responded that I was not actively looking for new work, and in fact would be taking maternity leave in three months, but was interested in the opportunity and would be happy to talk given those caveats. We scheduled a phone call for later that week, and then he never called me. Never apologized or explained, UNTIL… exactly three months later, he contacted me again, with no mention of our previous correspondence. “I know you’re super busy at [former place of work],” he wrote, “but can we schedule a time to chat about a company you might be interested in, Navigating Cancer?”

The email arrived while I was in labor, and I can’t remember if I later responded that I was literally having a baby when he wrote oh and by the way, he stood me up last time, or if I only imagined doing so. It was memorable to me because his first email was so personal and diligent — he had tapped into several of my social media profiles, and commented on their content. When I told him about my upcoming maternity leave he even said “3 months! How exciting!” And then somehow he managed to blow all that goodwill by not calling me when he said he would, and contacting me again at the very worst possible time.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago:

When my friend Emily mentioned a referral to a company where her friend worked, Navigating Cancer, I was interested but — given this experience — did not hold my breath.

(Fun fact! I referred Emily to her current job, where she met said friend, who left that job and is now the director of engineering for the company to whom she referred me. So in essence I helped her help me — or something like that?)

I might have held my breath a little, because the first tech phone screen went really well, and they brought me in for an in-person interview shortly after, which also went… really well.

Meanwhile, I am thinking THIS IS ALL PRACTICE — I can’t balance a binary tree on a whiteboard yet I need like five more years of practice before I can even THINK about conducting a serious tech interview.

But here’s the thing: Navigating Cancer gave me a serious tech interview without asking me to code any algorithms on a whiteboard. The interview process was thorough and allowed me to understand the job, meet the team, and show my strengths (without any special preparation, although I did spend a few hours building an API based on a conversation from the phone screen — this was well-received but was not requested). By the end of the day, I felt confident that it would be a good fit if they’d have me.

I had interest/offers from several other companies in the course of this fast-and-furious job search, and I ultimately declined or withdrew from those and accepted the offer from Navigating Cancer as it checked all the boxes (and then some!) for what I’m looking for in my next engineering role:

  • mission-driven work
  • with talented, diverse, and nice co-workers
  • in a compelling tech stack
  • downtown (near a bus route)
  • at a market-rate salary for my experience level
  • with some flexibility re: work schedule and location

I am excited to start next week and very happy that I found the right fit so quickly (and painlessly).

In the meantime… funemployment adventures!