Self-Doubt and My Interview With Shopify

Helen Tran wrote an awe­some arti­cle for fem-designers-in-tech:

Self-doubt is healthy in dos­es but be care­ful what sto­ry you are telling your­self. Self-doubt is a mech­a­nism to help you gauge what’s real not to over-exag­ger­ate anx­i­eties. Self-doubt is, Hmm, I should think about this a lit­tle.” not, I am ter­ri­ble at this.” This is many steps too far in the wrong direction.

Her advice struck a cord with me, so I wrote her an email:

Hey Helen!

Loved this arti­cle! I’m not a female, but I find this arti­cle to be excel­lent advice. I’m a Lati­no, and I start­ed in this indus­try real­ly young. I was 15 when I got my first job. I turn 25 this year. I strug­gle with every point you talk about here.

I hon­est­ly believe this is why I did­n’t get the job at Shopi­fy. I did­n’t sell myself in the inter­views and instead I came off as inex­pe­ri­enced and unsure about learn­ing new things. I con­stant­ly sell myself short. My lack of belief in myself leads to lack of belief from oth­ers. I’m deter­mined to change that this year. I’ve seen peo­ple with much less expe­ri­ence advance way quick­er than I have.

Any­way, all this just to say thank you. This arti­cle may not be writ­ten for me, but it sure does help.


In case you did­n’t know, I inter­viewed with Shopi­fy in Jan­u­ary. They flew Kel­ly and I out to Toron­to for an awe­some 4 days. All my friends said a vari­a­tion of the same thing:

If they’re fly­ing you out, they must real­ly want to hire you!

I doubt­ed. Some­thing told me that I’d screw this up and they would­n’t end up hir­ing me. Still, we had a great trip. Kel­ly and I looked at apart­ments, ate amaz­ing food, and fell in love with the city. We began to imag­ine what our lives would be like in Toron­to, and it was pret­ty exciting.

We flew back to Min­neso­ta, and all my friends and fam­i­ly were eager to know how it had gone. I thought the inter­views had gone pret­ty well and I’d fool­ish­ly got­ten my hopes up. A cou­ple days lat­er, I received the call.

We’re mov­ing for­ward with oth­er candidates.

In film you’ve seen this moment. The char­ac­ter hears the impor­tant line and the rest just becomes muf­fled. That’s kind of how this moment felt. It might just be that I’m a very emo­tion­al per­son, but I don’t remem­ber the rest of the con­ver­sa­tion. I was too busy deal­ing with the increas­ing­ly large knot in my throat. I do remem­ber say­ing thank you, then hang­ing up.

I was dev­as­tat­ed. I cried. I real­ly want­ed the job. I want­ed the change of scenery. Deep down, I want­ed the val­i­da­tion of a com­pa­ny like Shopi­fy being inter­est­ed in me and my skill set. I spent a few weeks mop­ing and being sad.

Once the emo­tion cleared and I could actu­al­ly think about it, I real­ized it was part­ly my fault. I’m sure there were many fac­tors involved but one of the biggest is that I sell my own self short.

If I don’t believe in myself and my skills, how is any­one else sup­posed to? I do this con­stant­ly. I under­sell my exper­tise, and what I can bring to a team.

I often still feel like that fif­teen year-old that’s just get­ting start­ed. So many moments where I feel like a fraud about to be dis­cov­ered. I’ve gone to extreme lengths to pre­vent peo­ple from know­ing how old I am. I always feel them find­ing out will inval­i­date any­thing I’ve said or made. The ageism I’ve expe­ri­enced along my career has only served to rein­force that feeling.

Like I said in my email to Helen, this is the year I decid­ed to change this. I’ll be speak­ing at a local con­fer­ence here in the Twin Cities and have start­ed to send pro­pos­als to many oth­ers around the globe. I’m also writ­ing a lot more about devel­op­ment and design here on this site.

I’m done let­ting these inse­cu­ri­ties win. I’m done try­ing to get val­i­da­tion that I should­n’t need. I’m me and I’m awe­some. If you’ve felt like this, I hope you join me and fol­low Helen’s advice.