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I'm a Software Developer. Recently I realized that teaching/mentoring/supporting is much more of a passion for me.

I applied to being a teacher/mentor for software development boot camps (intense 0.5-1 year trainings). (Let's call them company A and B.)

My first such job (at company A) ended on the last day of my 3 month trial period. The reason was a mix of bad feedback from their part and my lack of teaching related skill that I do want to improve.

  • What can I do if I want to pursue this direction?
  • Would this be a red flag for a similar company? (Especially for company B who knows I chose A over them.)
  • If so, how can I convince them that it's not a factor and I'm committed to improve?
  • Especially for company B who knows I chose A over them..how do they know exactly? – Sourav Ghosh Jun 3 at 8:18
  • @SouravGhosh I cancelled a tiral day, because I already accepted the other position. – dragonfi Jun 3 at 9:45
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Consider taking your recent experience as having a potentially very positive impact on your future.

As an employer, and a hiring manager, I like to see candidates who can fail, learn from the failure, and then grow as a result. No matter what your career, or how much change you're actually looking for, none of us are perfect, and none of us are complete experts at anything - we all have room to grow. The problem is, when faced with failure, many people put more effort into hiding or covering up the failure than they do from growing through it.

When I interview, regardless of the position, I always ask,

Tell me about a time you had something fail that you were responsible for, and what you did as a result.

I get three kinds of answers:

  • The total dodge. There are people who legitimately just don't answer the question - probably half of candidates I've interviewed. They either put on a big smile and talk about how they've never failed, or they stare at the ceiling trying hard to come up with something, but can't. These people strike me as highly risky because they're either recklessly over-confident, or they're totally blind to their own performance. Neither is good.
  • The half-honest answer followed by a cover-up: People will describe a legitimate failure, but then immediately try to blame it on another party, or some circumstance out of their control. These people may be able to see problems better than the first group, but their lack of accountability usually indicates a lack of any sense of responsibility or any ability to take constructive criticism and grow from it. This can almost be worse than someone who is totally blind.
  • The actual direct answer Maybe a quarter or less of candidates will give an actual example of a failure that they own up to, and then describe how they've changed as a result. This is the type of candidate I like to hire, because it shows the ability to think and learn.

My point in describing this is, you want to be sure you're in the third group. You're doing the right thing by reflecting on what happened. You've even started itemizing the areas you have for improvement - the next step is to convert that to a plan and act on it instead of trying to come up with a way to hide it in your next interview.

Teaching is a skill set in and of itself, and it's not easy to teach in a highly structured environment (like a coding bootcamp) if you don't have the basic skills. You've identified a weakness in this area, planning and executing on how to fix it will be important: take teaching classes at a community college, follow some educator-focused blogs or podcasts, do what you need to do in order to improve teaching as a skill set versus just being an expert on the subject you're teaching. If you have friends who teach, or you can find a local teacher's community group of some kind, that can be a great way to get exposure to what your gaps are. Regardless of what specific actions you decide to take, an employer interviewing you in the future will likely be pleased to see that you've identified a gap, planned how to fix it, and executed the plan.

  • "do what you need to do in or" -- did the last part of the answer got truncated? – dragonfi Jun 6 at 12:25
  • Apparently yes. I don't really remember what I had intended to write there two days ago so I'll make something up and edit the answer! – dwizum Jun 6 at 12:58
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If you're serious about this new career, then make sure a new experience at Company B (or another company) won't end in the same result.

The reason was a mix of bad feedback from their part ...

Feedback can be really valuable. Spend some time to take it in and see if you can find instances in which your actions (or inaction) caused issues highlighted in that feedback. Can you think of ways in which you would act differently in the future to prevent the same issue from happening again?

The important part is to learn lessons from failed experiences and being able to show that you've learned and what you've learned.

When you interview again with Company B (or another company), be candid about your shortcomings while working at Company A, but at the same time talk about what you've learned and how that experience helped you become a better professional.

... and my lack of teaching related skill that I do want to improve.

That's not a deal breaker in of itself, since companies are often willing to train you and invest in you so you can become the valuable asset that they need.

Just be forthcoming about where you are right now, about what you would need or you think would help you get to the point where you should be and tell the company you're willing to learn from them if they would take you in. Motivation goes a long way, so show how passionate you are about this career.

If you're planning to teach, then perhaps more formal training would be helpful. If you're willing to take more courses (possibly on your own dime and your own time), then consider whether that could bring you better chances.

It's hard to tell whether Company B will take you. If they do, you have one shot with them, so make sure you're prepared. (You can also tell them you're aware this is your one chance.)

Whether at Company B or another company, try to elicit feedback earlier in your trial period, so you can have a better idea of where things are and adjust if necessary.

Good luck!

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What can I do if I want to pursue this direction?

Get up, get going. We all have experienced failures. If you choose to pursue your career in a particular field, you need to have perseverance.

Learn from your mistakes, take the feedback and work on the areas you need to improve and appear for other interviews.

If so, how can I convince them that it's not a factor and I'm committed to improve?

That's what interviews are for. Take example of some negative comments and show them what you did to overcome those.

Would this be a red flag for a similar company? (Especially for company B who knows I chose A over them.)

Well, in general, it should not be (otherwise, finding another job in the same industry would become much more difficult). It only matters whether you are fit for the job and the job is for for you at that point of time or not. Make sure you prove your worth in the interview.

Best of luck.


That said,

Especially for company B who knows I chose A over them.

This is somewhat unexpected - how did company B knew you joined company A? If they have found out themselves - not your concern. However, refrain from revealing the specifics in the plan yourself, just leave it at "another opportunity which is better suited" - no need to mention specifics about the choice.

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