USF Interview Jitters

I'm writing this after finishing the 20-minute technical interview for the University of San Francisco's (USF) Master of Science in Data Science (MSDS) program. My hands are shaky. My body overdosed on adrenaline.

I believe it went well. I got linear algebra and statistics down. I was asked about concepts that I was expecting and had answers memorized. I only failed at a very easy Python function that I would easily get if I wasn't 2 a.m. and under immense amount of anxiety and pressure.

To prepare, I put everything aside and committed the past two days studying with ChatGPT, generating questions and answers, understanding the answers, rinse and repeat. To capitalize on my efforts, and to extrinsically motivate myself, I also wrote 3 Medium articles for each topic Linear Algebra, Statistics, and Python.

3blue1brown's Essence of linear algebra helped a lot. And these two articles by BetterExplained: An Intuitive Guide to Linear Algebra, Vector Calculus: Understanding the Dot Product.

I was anxious about this interview, and as 2 a.m. got closer, the anxiety grew stronger. I think it's because there is a lot on the line for this interview. I was terrified that one stupid mistake would obliterate my dream to be in SF.

I was actively working towards ameliorating this emotion. I looked out the window, watched the palm trees sway in the dark, felt the cool wind blowing on my skin, and observed the army camp right outside my window. I started thinking about the lives of other people, how some of them are living their best lives and others their worst, how some people are stuck in lives they don't want to live, but there's nothing they can do about it, yet they accept it.

I thought about how my life still goes on if things go south. And this need for things to go my way all the time is a sign of immaturity. Life will never go the way I plan it, and the sooner I accept this fact, the better. And to live on God's timing, and not my own, is an act of radical acceptance that can offer a deep, sustaining peace.

'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. ' — Jeremiah 29:11

I need to find a way to deal with the anxiety. I thought about how if I had a Google interview, how much more would this anxiety grow? It's destructive and significantly impacts my ability to perform. Taking deep breaths didn't work. Prayer didn't work too. Perhaps it's about confidence, I was feeling immense doubt on my abilities, and I'm not sure why. Staring at the Python function during the interview, I was filled with fear, my speech and thoughts were scattered. Maybe it's the tiredness. Maybe I didn't trust myself enough. Maybe I just haven't had a technical interview in a while, and the past trauma of not performing well under pressure spilled over into this interview. I need more practice. I need to believe in myself more.