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Lessons Learned: The Very, Very Odd Interview

Lessons Learned: The Very, Very Odd Interview

Yesterday, I accepted a job as a third grade teaching assistant at a wonderful San Francisco K-8 school. It feels incredible to have something lined up for next year and to have made my first step forward into a chosen career. However, as described in my last column, I only arrived at it after a long and looping walk, which had infinite little detours along the way.

Each time I applied for a job, I either revised an older cover letter, or wrote a new one from scratch. I did my best to make them as personable and winning as possible. I took about three hours to write three paragraphs, and put a lot of emotional pressure on, convincing myself I am the best possible person to be assistant editor for the catalog at the San Francisco Clock Museum.

After three months and forty applications, I had about three interviews. One was on the phone, which I botched due to my hearing loss and understandable phone anxiety. Another failed because I overdressed in a gorgeous suit at a loosey-goosey ad agency where everyone wore khakis.

One job I actually snagged proved to be the most bizarre detour, and possible journalism gold. It’s quite a long and involved story, as I went all to the depths of the Bay Area peninsula and job-hunting desperation, and back. Please bear with me. There are lessons to be learned.

The interview begins

The job listing was for an “entry-level account executive” at SF Marketing Group. The listing looked much like others for marketing firms, except it insisted no experience was necessary. I heard back from them a mere two days after I applied, which, while thrilling, was unusual. There were a few other strange things: their website was shoddy and vague, they had written “Dear erin” – my name in sloppy lowercase. But, hey, a job is a job!

The first interview took place in a tiny office, of which much of the building was still in construction. It was preceded by quite a bit of paperwork, requiring some vague non-disclosure signatures, and oddly, a commitment to remain for the duration of the second-round interview. The first interview was with the company’s CEO, a tall, stocky man with a heavy accent. It took about ten minutes, and though nervous, I did alright. Many of the questions were about my ability to work with people, whether I was outgoing, competitive. I only stumbled when he asked me the difference between direct and indirect marketing, which I had to admit, I did not know about. However, no matter. I was invited for a second interview! It would be from 11 to 5 pm, and I would be shadowing an account executive on a telecom account. High profile! I felt pretty good.

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