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SUIT UP! The Job Hunt

I originally wrote this in September and took it down when a friend’s father told me that it might not look good to future employers, especially when my blog was on my resume which was going out at least 30 times a day during my job search. So this is the original post with a few twists and a happier ending. 

People who know me might agree that I am a decently chill person. I tend to not be a stressed person or one that worries about much. But there is one thing that can stress me out instantly. No matter how calm or collected I may be, this one little thing can send me over the edge without even taking a poke. Money. Since before I can remember, money has always been an issue. In my whole family, money problems have swam through our veins like a disease that destroys and deteriorates from within. All throughout college, money nagged at my life. When it came time to take out loans, I begrudgingly signed my name and soul away to different banks so that I could enjoy my college life. Even while at college I worked long hours at a frustrating work-study job so that I could afford going out with friends and enjoying the common pleasantries of life. But no matter how hard I worked, how much money I made or how much I saved, money was always a problem.

Upon graduation, I made the decision to enjoy the summer, working at PCC, training for tough mudder and finally taking a moment to breathe after a long hard year. I believed I deserved it and enjoyed every moment of it. But PCC ended, tough mudder happened and I took many deep breaths. As sweet sweet summer began to come to end, it meant the beginning of real life was approaching quickly.

Similar to being a relaxed individual, I also tend to be a jumper, a go-getter. I don’t shy away from a challenge. I tend to dive in with everything I have, fighting for what I want and typically coming out the other end successful. But those who know that I do this know sometimes I can get in to deep. While I always get myself out,  there is often some struggle. So when it came time to begin the job hunt I was going in head first expecting to come out with what I wanted. Not exactly what happened.

About three weeks ago I received a call from one of the private lenders who granted me a loan. While during the call they asked how I was and congratulated me on my graduation, I could tell they were discretely saying, “WE OWN YOU!” After I hung up the phone, the anxieties started to set in. I very quickly fell victim to the mindset that I needed a career, NOW.

I met my dad at a family function last Saturday and he told me about a job he saw on Monster.com. He urged me to apply and the following morning when I woke up, I created a profile on the job hunt site and began to distinguish myself in the career profile to appear attractive to anyone willing to take a glance. I sent my resume to ten companies on the first day.

Monday 

I woke up this morning with about 5 emails from companies asking to come interview with them. My excitement grew. It had been less than 24 hours since creating a career portfolio and there was already an interest. This morning I went to the doctor for a physical. After the nurse finished taking down information and making small talk she pulled out the blood pressure cuff. She took it and made a weary face. She asked if I was nervous. I said no. She took it again and said it was high. She decided to take it manually and hope the machine was just getting a bad read. Still really high. She left for a moment and brought back another nurse to confirm her finding. Still high. They both looked at me like I was dying. I asked if it was THAT bad, they were the ones making me nervous. They said no but for an active man my age, it should NOT be this high. The original said she’d ask the doctor to check it out.

He came in and did the usual check up and we sat down to talk. I told him about senior year, the summer and my nerves about the future. He pondered and just said, you miss your routine. You miss being stressed with work and in the weeds. After senior year being the most stressful year ever, I couldn’t imagine that I MISSED the stress. He explained that after 16 years in school, your body misses the routine. His prescription, start living your life. It wasn’t a deal of being nostalgic, it just was really THAT time.

By the end of the day, I had 4 interviews lined up for the week. After the conversation with the doc, I knew it was time to start it up.

Tuesday

I’ll be honest, Tuesday wasn’t that eventful. I had a phone interview with a company and they called me back later to invite me to a second interview in their office on Wednesday. That is where the story gets interesting. I will also say now that I am not using names of companies or individuals. That would simply be in poor taste. The things that I am going to share are exact details of what I experienced last week. So while it may sound poor or negative, it is true.

Wednesday

I woke up Wednesday morning prepared for my first interview at the only place I finished the week happy with.

Woke up early.

Went for a run.

Ate breakfast and showered.

SUITED UP!

Prepared my legal folder with a stack of fresh resumes.

Drove to first interview for a graphic design teaching position at an after school program.

I walked up the front desk and asked for the individual. I was directed upstairs to a large closet converted into a double office. I walked in to meet a woman with long dreadlocks, a flowing black dress and sweater and a cup of tea. I shook her hand and she offered me a cup. She then asked the question I had been waiting to hear for years. “What can you do for me?” Four years summed up in a few sentences I explained my experience in art and teaching. She was pleased and offered my the opportunity to design my own graphic arts classroom, equipment and all, and create my own design curriculum to begin teaching in November. We talked a little longer, shook hands and I left. As I walked to my car hiding the satisfied smile, I began feeling good about the week.

Started the car.

Headed home to get some materials for the second interview.

Got a phone call. This call was offering me an interview for a position in a marketing firm to write and pitch campaigns to company clients. The job sounded too good to be true. The time was set for the next day. I hung up gleaming. This week was going so well already. But that would quickly take a turn.

Arrived home.

Ate lunch.

Gathered materials.

Back in the car, GPS estimated commute = 1 hour.

Arrived at industrial park.

Elevator to 4th floor.

Interviewing at my first full-time job ever in my life had me a little anxious, but in a crisp suit with a fresh resume in hand, I was ready.

“Nick?” I turned around and there was a woman who couldn’t have been much older than 30 standing in the doorway. Shaking her hand, she introduced herself and we walked to her office. Sitting down, I was asked for the second time today, “What can you do for us?” Now this job was listed as “(Company Name) Event Coordinator.” The job description talked about coordinating Boston-based events promoting retail. I liked the idea of coordinating events in Boston. I proceeded to talk about my ability to thrive in a social environment and my enjoyment in working with people. After 7 minutes, SEVEN, of talking she asked, “Would you like to go to an event now?” She said that she enjoyed very much hearing what I had to say and wanted to move to the next interview phase. She organized and sifted through some paperwork to pull a sheet. This part of the interview was to see how I did in the atmosphere and judge more so if I would fit. Again, being that it was my first real job interview ever, I agreed without question. She handed me the sheet with the address and contact. She shook my hand and I proceeded back to my car. I hadn’t been there for more than 12 minutes and when I got in my car to GPS the next location, it would all seem so much worse. The next location was an hour away from the company and an hour and a half from my house. But what choice did I have?

Turned the car on.

Estimated commute = 1 hour.

Arrived at… this can’t be right.

Called contact, “am I at the right place?”

“Yes I am at the front door.”

I parked my car and stared. I was in a Sam’s Club parking lot. If you don’t know,  Sam’s Club, Costco, BJs are large department stores that sell big bulk items at cheap prices. Not only was I an hour and a half away from Boston, but I couldn’t fathom what events I would be coordinating at this spot. The man I met at the front door could only really be described as the manager from the movie Waiting, which is a film about a restaurant with a manager who believes himself to run a Fortune 500 company. That was this guy. He asked for my resume and led me over to the Sam’s Club cafe sitting area. We sat down and he started marking up my resume. He then proceeded to read a script sitting behind his legal folder of information that had been reiterated to me twice now by the individuals who had interviewed me at the company’s location. He gave me a lot of attitude and just belittled me throughout the whole interview. He then said, “We are going to go see an event like the ones you’ll be coordinating, I want you to take mental notes of what is going on and when we come back, I’m going to quiz you on what you saw.” With this smug sense about him, he lead me to the back of Sam’s Club to a woman at a booth trying to sell people heating pads. Thank God for my inner sense of professionalism because otherwise my jaw would have dropped. Not only does this company seem to have a VERY LOOSE definition of the word event, I quickly learned that my position wouldn’t even be overseeing people like her, I would be her. I would be a product demonstrator. We stood for about fifteen minutes and the guy walked me back. He then began grilling me with questions about all the skills you need to have for this job. I stayed professional and ended the interview strong.

Got in my car.

Estimated commute home = 1 1/2 hours.

Gas tank is empty.

Got home.

Took off suit.

Laid in bed. What the hell was that? A few hours later I got a phone call from my dad. He asked how the interviews were and admitted not great. As I explained to him the day, he seemed to think I was whining about starting so low and began pushing me to understand that I was going to have to work my way up. I explained that I understood and was willing to do that, but not in this company. He asked for the name and after giving it and holding a few moments of silence, he came back with a different tone. He looked up the company and couldn’t find their website, but was able to find another site called ENTRY LEVEL JOB SCAMS. This company was number one on their list for doing exactly what I had experienced.

A. They advertise a very extravagant job.

B. Make you drive all over without reimbursement.

C. Extravagant job ends up being product demonstration.

So after a long day of driving and disappointments, I headed out for my Wednesday night beer with my close friend. Every hump day we meet at a local restaurant bar for a few beers to catch up. He was already there when I walked in. Being that we’ve become regulars, a nice cold one was waiting for me when I walked in. I told him the story and he couldn’t stop laughing at my misfortune. At the time I was so frustrated, now I’m laughing at the ridiculous situation and thankful for the HUGE lessons that came out of it. I told him I was going to two more interviews on Thursday and had one for Friday so hopefully more would come.

Thursday

Didn’t wake up early.

Ate a quick breakfast.

Showered.

SUITED UP!

Estimated commute = 30 minutes.

Arrive at small office park.

When contacted for this position, I was told that it would be for a copy writing position at an insurance agency. So when I walked in and said I’m here for my interview, I was a bit surprised when they said it wasn’t for a copy writing position, it was for an insurance agent. They had me sign in and wait. A woman came in and asked me to follow her. She handed me a packet and showed me to a conference room with about 10 others. I found myself sitting in on a presentation about what it would be like to be an insurance agent. It didn’t sound half bad. This woman was really enticing when she started saying things like 6-figure income in my first year. By the end we had to fill out a survey to judge if we would be a good fit. Leaving this place would put me in a mindset that I would really regret later on.

Got back in the car.

Loosened the tie.

Estimated commute to next interview = 1 hour 20 minutes.

Actual interview not for 2 1/2 hours but I figured I’d kill time out there.

Finally arrived.

Located the office.

Lunch at Subway.

I found myself sitting in a Starbucks across the street reading about life as an insurance agent. I read the pay structure packet very thoroughly. Like I said, when I dive in, I dive in hard. I learned every way I could possibly make money as an insurance agent and how in 4 years, I could be up to 1/4 million a year. For someone with deep seeded money issues and financial insecurity, this career path really seemed enticing.

(Not in original post: Something I hadn’t mentioned when I originally wrote this post was that I had a phone interview with a different company at 3pm. My interview at this moment was for about 2:15 so I figured I would cut it close.)

Time for the next interview.

Tighten the tie.

I walked in to an office where I felt such a vibrant energy filling the halls. A very sweet girl stood up behind the desk and extended her hand. I shook it and introduced myself. She handed me a survey and showed me where I could sit to fill it out. I sat down in front of a massive big screen TV which was playing The Office, one of my all time favorite TV shows, I could get used to this. After the survey was filled out a younger looking guy walked out and called my name. He led me down the hall to a decent sized office with another massive TV, a PlayStation, a Fantasy Football stats sheet on the wall next to a Hangover poster. This place seemed awesome. We started talking and as I proceeded to go on my interview rant of why they NEED me, he was hooked. He said he was ready to offer my the job, but since I needed to go through the standard route, he offered my a second interview for the following day. Now we were coming to the question I had been waiting for the whole interview. He asked,

“Do you have any questions for me?” After the mess of a day I had before, I wasn’t about to hold back and so I asked,

“What would I do here?” It was like I spoke in Korean because the guy did not expect it and was not ready to answer. RED FLAG. I asked if I were to be hired right now, what would I do. He began to use some pretty fancy and elaborate language to describe a position that I could not understand. So I tried to ask again, what is it I would do here? After about 5 minutes of prying, it came out. This was a position for a door to door salesman for a company that I am not going to name. But immediately my heart sank. This guy proceeded to say that the work environment was the best. Every other Thursday night was tournament night. That night was a big dodge ball tournament. The one before was beruit. He said if there was anything enticing about this job, it was the work environment. I left wondering, “Is it worth it?”

Got in the car.

(Not in original post: I had two missed calls from the other company and a voicemail. It was a woman leaving me a message to call back when I could. I called her back a few times and got nothing. I also left a voicemail saying I was free and apologized for missing the first phone call)

Took off the tie.

Estimated commute home = 1 hour.

Actual commute time home = 2 hours.

This company was on the other side of Boston so I hit every bit of rush hour traffic coming home. I straggled into my house. I suited down and collapsed into my bed. My dad called again and this time when he started pushing on me how I needed to work my way up, I snapped at him. He snapped back and the conversation ended. I sat up in bed to stare at the growing pile of loan documents filling up my desk. I could feel my blood pressure rising as the anxiety built up. This was not going well.

Friday

Woke up literally 15 minutes before I needed to leave.

Half suited up.

Estimated commute = 40 minutes.

Arrived 2 minutes before interview.

I walked into a big office building and found the location of the interview. The funny thing about this one, I had literally no idea what the name of the company was, where I was going or what I was interviewing for. The woman who called me said they found my resume, I sounded good and wanted me to come in. She gave me the company name and address but I was driving so I got the last half and figured I’d wing it. Luckily 6 years of speech and debate have trained me well for improv moments. Now this gentleman who called my name was quite the character. This man had a raspy voice with a hairy eyeball and I felt as though after the interview he was going to sell me something from his inner jacket. I hope that gives you a decent read on his gent. We started talking and despite not knowing anything about what I was there for, I got an offer for the second interview. Basically it was another insurance agency. I walked out after politely bidding farewell.

Tie was off before I got to the car.

Estimated Commute = 40 minutes.

Once I got home I was suited down and back in bed exhausted from three days of disheartening job hunts. I went to the kitchen to get some lunch and when I went to go to my room with a bag of chips (a big bag) and a coke my mother stopped me.  She somewhat sarcastically yelled that she wasn’t going to let me stress eat me weight back up. She let me return to my room with the sandwich and a water. She told me if I wanted to relieve stress to go to the gym.

So I did.

I went and started boxing. While I was there I started thinking, I love this. Why don’t I do this? And I proceeded to think, I love lots of things,

WRITING

ART

Why aren’t I looking at those jobs? Sure I am not going to get my dream job right away, but I am not even looking in those fields! It was then that it hit me that in one week, I had slowly sacrificed what I love for the filthy need to make money. Not one full-time job I looked into had anything to do with what I loved doing in life. Why wasn’t I pursuing any of those?

(Not in original post: After I got home from the gym I received a phone call from the woman at the company I missed the phone interview with the day before. She said she was a bit busy at the moment and wondered if Monday we could have a phone interview.

That night I started my first night working as a Teen Night supervisor at the YMCA in the town next to mine. I felt happy doing work I enjoyed. Despite not making much money, it was work that made me happy. And shouldn’t that be any work that we do? Of course it is going to be hard, if it were easy anyone would do it. But the challenge is what makes us fight harder for what we want and love in this life.

Saturday

By this morning I had received two job offers from companies I interviewed with during the week. I said no thank you to both. While it was flattering to receive the offers. They weren’t jobs I wanted. They weren’t jobs that I should have.

I met with a close friend from college in the afternoon and she asked how the week went and all I could say was, I learned a lot. I didn’t get my dream job or a job at that. But I started a hunt for something that would last for years, possibly decades. But it is something so worth the fight. It is the work that will enable you to live your life however you choose. It is something so worth all your time, energy and love. It better be worth it.

Six Lessons I learned that week

I’ve always done well in interviews, but these are facts that I wish I had reinforced in my head before the week started. If you’ve read this far and you are entering this world, these might help. I’m sure I’ll learn much more.

  1. Have your clothes laid out the night before.
  2. Be as comfortable as you can be for your interview (eat before, go to the bathroom before, etc.).
  3. Bring a pen and multiple copies of your resume.
  4. Figure out at least three words that describe yourself in a professional workplace and be able to elaborate on why.
  5. Know what kind of salary you want and figure out if the job is commission or salary based.
  6. FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU ARE DOING IF HIRED. That should be the absolute first thing you know. Even if it is before the interview and you scrap it all together.

If it isn’t what you want to do, why would you do it at all?

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