My Moment of Desperation

It’s been no secret that I’ve been struggling trying to find work.  Recently things started getting bad.  Personal issues, health issues, financial issues, pest issues (don’t ask), just issues.  I wasn’t ready to give up, but I was ready to do what I had to and put coding on the side.  I needed benefits, I needed money, I needed to start being able to support my family again.

So I stopped looking at developer jobs and started looking at where I could start working right away and get benefits.  I thought about going back to a collision shop, but that job would require 60 hours a week.  I thought about ways to possibly get back to Detroit, so that I could go work in a factory again, where I could just go in, do my 8 hours and get out.  Dallas is just too white collar and doesn’t even come close with manufacturing, but it does have an Amazon distribution center.  Turns out that Amazon offers benefits on DAY ONE.

I was about to apply to work at Amazon, not as a developer, but a warehouse worker making $12.00 an hour.  I’d at least have somewhat of an in at Amazon to move into development and most importantly, my family would have benefits, because right now, we’re one of the millions of un-insured Americans.

My plan was to just keep coding whenever I had time and continue working on my projects and side jobs.  Figuring that eventually I would flesh out my projects so much that there was no doubt whatsoever about what I could do.

I needed to try at least one last thing before I took that route though.  I’ve been on LinkedIn for some time slowly making connections.  I’ve heard of the power of LinkedIn and figured if there was ever a time to try, this was it.  So I wrote my final plea (see above image).

It wasn’t easy writing that, and I used every last character of the 1300 that LinkedIn allows on its posts.  I debated, hesitated, and almost didn’t hit that “POST” button, but I did.  Even though I figured it would only get a few dozen views at best, I had nothing to lose.  And there it was, out there for the world to see now, and I felt horrible.  I sat back in my chair, and broke down.  I tried to change my stars and fell flat on my face.  I failed myself, my family, and all those who’ve supported me.  Seeing it in print and announcing it to the world made it all real, and final.

But it wasn’t final, and the post got a little bit more than just a few dozen views.  It was gaining traction.  People from all over the country, complete strangers, were coming out to help me.  I tried to keep up and reply to everyone, but the response was overwhelming, and humbling.

People were sharing my post, asking for my resume, sharing my resume, commenting, liking, messaging me, calling me.  People on LinkedIn were calling out the city of Dallas to get me hired!

One person wrote a personal email to me.  A long, well thought out, and extremely helpful email.  An email that probably took at least an hour to write.  Written by someone I’ve never met, someone who’s successful and whose time is more valuable than I could ever dream of making in an hour.

Another person called me and spoke to me for at least a half an hour.  Spoke to me about ways he could help me, things I could do to get ahead.  This wasn’t a recruiter trying to place me, there was absolutely nothing in it for him at all, yet he offered to help me in several ways.  He even followed up with me several times and ended up getting me a couple leads through his connections.

A developer at a company I applied for contacted me, and later that evening spoke with me for almost an hour about different ways I could possibly work my way in to that company.  Again, a complete stranger, not a recruiter, not even a manager, just a developer on a team in a city 300 miles away from me.

I could keep going on and on.  Like one person commented, ‘People are overall pretty “good” and eager to help’.  Not just complete strangers, but strangers who I’m sure have different views, beliefs, etc., but none of that mattered.  I won’t get all political or anything here, but just when you think people no longer care about anyone but themselves, when everyone is so divided, they come out and surprise you.

And so the week went on.  I was getting phone interviews, screenings, taking assessments, coding challenges, meeting people, going to interviews, and was looking to have a very busy week this week.

But there was one person who contacted me and spoke with me on the phone late last week.  A person whose company was looking for developers.  A person who looked beyond degrees, beyond experience, and looked at what type of person someone is and what they’re capable of.

On Sunday, August 27th, I received an official offer from that person.  An offer for a position that just felt like it was meant to be, and on Monday, August 28th, I officially started working.

I’m not sure how he found my post.  I don’t think he was even within my 3rd degree of connections.  Someone shared or liked my post, that someone’s connection saw it, did the same, their connection saw it, maybe commented, another of their connections saw it, possibly shared it, and on and on for who knows how many connections, until it ended up on an electronic screen in front of a man in Florida who just changed my life.

I need to also talk about all the military veterans out there.  For a long time I didn’t consider myself a veteran.  I didn’t retire from the military, I’m not a protected veteran, I didn’t see combat, I didn’t even leave American soil, but I did serve honorably.  That was enough for those I consider the true veterans, as they came out in droves to look out for me.  2 of the stories above were veterans.  And the company I now work for is also a Veteran Owned Business.

So how much traction did that post get?  I took a snapshot of the numbers right after I received my offer.  After 5 days it got 45,660 views (and just passed 60,000 as I write this), which to me is basically viral.  61 people reshared the post.  I went from only 79 views of my LinkedIn profile in the past 90 days to 1,337 with a 9600% increase from the week before.  My connections grew from around 380 to finally surpassing the 500 mark.

To put that in perspective, this blog that you’re reading right now has only been viewed 6,142 times, ever! In just 5 days that one post got 39,518 more views than my entire blog has received since it went live exactly 19 MONTHS ago!

An interesting view into who was looking at my post

Finally I just want to express my deep gratitude to everyone on LinkedIn.  My life just took a drastic turn for the better because of ALL of you.  To everyone that took time out of your day to help me, everyone that set me up with interviews, everyone that looked at my resume, everyone that messaged me, everyone that shared, liked, or commented on my post. THANK YOU!!!!!  I hope to never have to seek help like this again.  And will do whatever I can to repay all the kindness shown to me and hope that maybe I can be the one offering my help to someone next time.

Author: Chris Ulanowicz

Full-stack web developer made in Detroit currently living in the DFW area. Always trying to learn as much as I can about everything I can, especially new technologies and programming languages. When I have time I'm into gaming, comic books, ice hockey, drag racing, and spending time with my family of course.

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