Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Don't judge a book by its cover

And by "book" I really mean "job."

I started my new job this week. It's the third job I have accepted since college, and also happens to be the third job that I accepted where I went into the interview thinking I didn't want the job. Maybe that's the secret ingredient to the whole interviewing process?

As with any new job, this week has proved to be full of feelings of being overwhelmed and questioning whether or not I can do this, but I am excited. There may be a lot to learn, but it will be a good ride, but I digress. I want to talk about the importance of not closing doors just because you think what's behind it is not for you.

And just so that it's in writing so that there is a chance for my girls to read about it in the future, I will take this opportunity to share 3 quick examples of how it ended up being the books with bad covers that I ended up finding good stories.

STORY #1: My first job

When I was searching for my first job, I attended a career fair at the University of Colorado. At this career fair there was a booth that wasn't attracting much attention and had an empty spot in front of it. I chose to stand in that spot to collect my own thoughts on which companies to approach. While forming my plan of attack, the guy behind the unpopular booth said, "Hey! Hey you! We do more than just Applied Physics!" And that's how I learned about the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. I did what anyone would do and handed the man a resume to get him to leave me alone.

As luck would have it, they called me in for an on-campus interview. I didn't think I was interested because JHU/APL is located in Maryland and I had no desire to live on the East Coast, but any interview experience is good, right? So I accepted just to get the experience. At the end of the interview the representative asked me if I had any questions for him. I asked him "Are you near any Air Force bases?" The answer was no (most of their work was for the Navy) but why was I asking? I told a harmless little lie, "My fiancé is in the Air Force." No, I was not engaged, and the lie was quickly forgotten.

A month or so later JHU/APL called to ask me out for an on-site interview. Again, I said yes because any interviewing experience is good experience, and hey! Free trip to DC! Every person who interviewed me asked me if I knew where my fiancé was to be stationed yet. "My fiancé?" I thought. Oh right! THAT fiancé. I never corrected them and that was that. Lie forgotten a second time.

They ended up making me an offer I couldn't refuse. I started working 6 months later and found myself confused on the first day of work when people were asking me if I thought it would be hard to have apart from my fiancé. What huh? Oh, right. Um, yes. Very difficult but we're working through it. I still didn't correct them. What would be the point? Ha!

A few months later I had an ugly breakup with my boyfriend and boy did the sympathy pour in! After all, now the wedding was off and I had to cancel plans, inform friends and loved ones. After that, once again, the lie was forgotten. Or was it? A couple years later, when Michael proposed to me (a real engagement), I was slightly confused by the strange comments of "I'm sure this one will last."

Ha ha. What's a little white lie if it lasts 4 years?

STORY #2: My second job

Upon moving back to Colorado I had accepted a job with a small medical company in Boulder. I was to start Monday morning. The Thursday before I received a phone call from a man who worked at Covidien. He asked me if I was interested in interviewing, to which I replied "Thanks but no thanks. I have accepted an offer and start this coming Monday." We politely said our goodbyes and hung up the phone. That was the end of that.

Until he called again a couple hours later to apologize. For what? This sweet man felt like he had come across as being too pushy, all the while knowing that I had accepted another position. I agreed to come in for an interview and one was scheduled for the very next day. The interview went well, and I told them that if they were to make me an offer it had to be NOW. I ended up accepting and calling the original company to give them notice Friday afternoon that I would not be "reporting for duty" Monday morning as planned.

STORY #3: My third job

After 5.5 years of service and good reviews, Covidien laid me off instead of giving me the promotion I was expecting. Needless to say I was a bit bitter. Oh I was trying to understand that it was a business decision and not to take it personally but I was still hurt. But what really upset me was that they laid us off, all the while having open job requisitions available for other projects. There didn't seem to be any sense of respect for trying to keep their people. In the end, this significantly affected my desire to apply for any of the job requisitions that Covidien had open, let alone one for someone having experience with wireless technologies since I have none.

Alas, one of the recruiters sent my resume into the hiring manager for the wireless/embedded position, and did so without my knowledge. The hiring manager contacted me and asked if I was even interested in the position. We had an informal interview, during which it was hard for me to not break down with emotions. The layoff was still too fresh. The meeting ended with the hiring manager putting the ball in my court by telling me I should contact him if I decided that I would like to return to work for Covidien.

I never did. I never followed up with him. I wasn't sure I wanted to return, to be honest. And I have no wireless experience so I felt like a match would was far-fetched. Much to my surprise, the recruiter emailed me a couple weeks later with an interview schedule. I did not convey any interest, but for some unknown reason, the recruiter kept pursuing it.

As you might have guessed, the interview went well. They chose me over someone who had the right technical skills. And here I am - in another job I wasn't expecting to want but yet it's one I'm excited about. I think I owe that recruiter lunch. Don't you?

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