The Perks of Taking a Few Months Off

I wanted to write this to document how I spent my time off from work and what I accomplished, lest I forget!

After working full-time since July 2011 to August 2017, about 6 years and 2 months, I decided to take some time off mainly to refresh myself. I initially wanted to prep for interviews to gain new employment without taking time off, but found it incredibly tough to do so with a full-time job and other activities claiming big chunks of my time. Preparing for a quality senior software engineering position was much tougher and more time consuming than for jobs in other fields, in my opinion, because the sheer amount of material to review in computer science is massive. Coupled with having to practice coding many different types of possible interview questions on the whiteboard, the time needed to devote to preparation was very scarce. This was what led me to voluntarily end my employment. I eventually accepted an offer in the first week of December and started work again two weeks later; this gave me almost 15 weeks off in between.

The Little Things

During my time off, I was able to do a handful of things that I wouldn’t have had time to do otherwise. For starters, I was able to get a full night’s sleep almost every day. While employed, I had an average of about 7.5 hours of sleep on work days, which wasn’t enough for me to feel that my mind and body were fully rested to be productive and efficient. I’m someone who needs 9 hours of sleep to reach that level of productivity. I woke up naturally without setting alarms, and took naps whenever I felt sleepy or tired.

Having the time to write a blog about my trip to Vietnam in May was something I had put off for far too long. The longer I waited, the less I would remember and the lower the quality of the blog. It wasn’t just any blog, it was one that required me to sort through hours of video footage and edit them. Putting this blog together took a span of over 10 days, a number which would have been difficult to attain without having significant down time at my disposal.

The Blue Apron Experience

Cooking was something I’ve always wanted to improve on, but found little time to do. Now was as good an opportunity as any! I could write more about this, but I already did. Head over to my Blue Apron Experience blog for the meaty subject 🙂

Home Improvement

My house also benefited from gaining more of my attention. I kick-started a project to build sprinkler systems for the front and back yards. I had the time to research and test which sprinklers work best with the landscape of my yards. With my dad’s help, we ran poly tubes and hoses around the yards and installed sprinklers and micro sprinklers that covered the entire area. We then used timers to automatically water the yards on certain days, which previously took 6 hours a month to water by hand.

At some point during my break, I found out that the garbage disposal was leaking. I watched a few YouTube videos on how to fix it, and went about fixing it. A few days later, it leaked again, and the motor smoked and died when my brother in law and I were testing it. Once again, thanks to the glorious Internet, I concluded that I had to replace it, so I decided to buy the exact same model from Home Depot to replace it and avoid possible mismatching of pipe and wire connections. The new machine has been working well as of this writing! Without the time to take care of it, I likely would have either absorbed more damage and taken longer to fix it or gotten help from other people or possibly hired a professional.

I also took the time to reorganize my room and totally clean the bathroom, including bringing in a new set of bath rugs and shower curtains. I wanted to reorganize and clean the whole house too, but that was a much bigger project that I will now have to tackle bit by bit.

In Bob Barker’s Voice: “A New Car!”

No, I didn’t get a new car just because I had more time! This was due to my leased car timely expiring at the end of 2017 so I had to take care of the matter — and the expiration actually couldn’t have come at a better time than during my break! I had the luxury of time on my side to look for a good lease right after accepting my new job offer and was able to score a deal on a 2017 Optima Hybrid. The lease actually might not have happened without the job offer though, because who would lease a car to an unemployed person? Which leads to my next topic …

Job Hunting

As I noted above, getting a quality job as a software engineer is not so simple as taking a few days and then hoping to BS some parts during the interview. Specific questions will be asked and you either know it or you don’t. And if you know, deeper questions will be asked, so the only way to prepare is to retreat into a dungeon and not come out for a few weeks.

I took the job search seriously. I dived into the famous book “Cracking the Coding Interview” by Gayle Laakmann, bought a whiteboard, and repeatedly reviewed and practiced. Once I felt more confident that I could handle an interview, I went on Glassdoor and filtered thousands of jobs down to about five companies that I thought would be a good fit. I signed up for a premium LinkedIn account and contacted the recruiters of those companies.

I went through two interviews, totaling about 6 hours, got denied by one, and was made an offer by the second. It worked out perfectly though: I was rejected by the company that I wasn’t going to accept if an offer was made, and received an offer from the company that I really did want to work for. Ironically, I was rejected by the company that had scheduled me for a short 1 hour interview, and offered a job by the company that interviewed me for over 4 hours. I would like to take this chance to give a shout out to my fantastic interviewers!

Love is in the Air

This blog wouldn’t be honest if I excluded another way I spent a considerable amount of time during my break. Not to dive into too much details, but I had the opportunity to build a relationship with someone who has turned out to be a great fit for me! That is all …

Needless to say, all of the above probably wouldn’t have been done (or done very sloppily) had I not decided to take a few months off. I was rested, refreshed, and accomplished. Those were the perks of my time off.