There’s a company that I’ve really, really wanted to work at for the past year now, and yesterday they called me and told me that they weren’t going to hire me for the summer. This is after they invited me to come tour their company last spring, which caused me to fall behind significantly in my schoolwork. This is after last year they kept telling me “maybe” they would hire me until it became summer and the interns they did hire had already started. This is after countless friends of computer science events, emails sent back and forth, and hours spent studying data structures. It really, really sucks to have to play these games and lose.
So I showed up to this week’s blog meeting right after I got the call and honestly, I couldn’t come up with an idea to write about. I felt like I didn’t want to be in this major anymore, like I hated everyone who’d been successful in getting an internship, and like I must have had some awful, un-hirable quality that everyone else could see but me. And I know these feelings aren’t right but I doubt that I’m the only one that’s felt them at one point or another.
Unlike my usual posts, I have no solution. It’s going to be hard. I’m going to have to do a lot more sucking up to people who don’t care about me in the slightest. I’m going to get a lot more messages saying “sorry, you didn’t make it,” and my mom probably won’t stop getting phone calls from me on the verge of tears.
But I felt that it was important to talk about this because a lot of us are going through it in one way or another. Computer science will put a lot of pressure on you to be successful immediately, and it’s really hard to see our classmates achieving everything we wish we were and acting like it’s nothing.
But I’ll admit it: This major is really hard, and sometimes I feel like I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. Despite working practically from the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep, I’m about 100 pages behind in reading for one of my classes and I didn’t hear back from a single company that I applied to at the career fair. My side projects pale in comparison to those of a lot of my classmates and up until recently, I’ve only understood about half of the non-snarky posts that are put on the computer science Facebook group.
It’s a lot harder to admit our weaknesses than it is to pray that we’ll be able to forget about them with just one miraculous opportunity. But without disappointment, how will we develop empathy? Without struggling, what is the value of success?
In my opinion, we need to open up. We need to have conversations about not just the good things happening in our lives, but the things that keep us from sleeping as well. Because we’re all struggling, or will be at one point. Regardless of what US News and World Report says about our department’s ranking, or what your relatives say about how much money they think you’ll be making with a CS degree, we’re not immune to feeling inadequate, or getting stuck with grumpy and unreasonable professors or any other ups and downs that exist in a normal human lifetime. When this happens, there’s nothing more important than having others who have been in a similar position that can guide you through it. We need to be a community that’s supportive and lifts people who have fallen back up, not one that ignores the struggles of those around us and thus misses the opportunity to build relationships with real value.