“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
― Oscar Wilde
I don't write about my work in my blog. Have you noticed? I spew on and on about everything under the sun but I don't refer to my workplace at all. I think it's unprofessional to write (a.k.a. "complain") about your work in a personal blog. I am not going to write about it today (much) other than to say I am starting a NEW job on Monday...a job I am well-suited for and ridiculously excited about.
But I have to tell you the story about how I GOT there.
I had been looking for other work for some time. I had been interviewing here and there and came close to snagging a few positions but never quite got there. It was befuddling to me because I have always been a person who could secure a new job in just a couple of months. The economy has shifted, however, and I am at a different place in my career. Times are hard for a mid-level marketer.
I grew more and more frustrated in my work but just couldn't seem to move anywhere. Finally, one day several weeks ago, I threw up my hands in disgust and said, "OK, God, obviously I am not getting anywhere on my own. Put me where you want me. I am letting this go." The phone rang the next day. (I'm not kidding.)
I began interviewing in earnest. People were e-mailing me for interviews and calling me for interviews. I've not seen anything like it in the two years I've been dabbling with finding a new position. It was like God was saying, "See, kid? All you had to do was ask for help...and trust Me."
One day, I received an e-mail from someone who had an editor job open at a local magazine. WHAT? That was a WRITING JOB! I had sent in my resume on the off-chance that someone might make a mistake and call me because I didn't have ANY experience for the position other than my own desire to write and my years of toiling away in the business world. We set up a phone interview.
The interview was brief and I hung up, discouraged. She reiterated several times that they were looking for a "seasoned editor." Well, obviously I had zero experience so they'd have to look elsewhere for a little salt-and-pepper.
A couple of days later, I received an e-mail inviting me in to interview with the editor-in-chief. WHAT?? That guy is a REAL WRITER. He's a REAL GOOD WRITER. I read everything he'd written in the past...oh...three years and I put on a jacket and I went to talk with him.
He questioned me about my ability to be a journalist. We talked back and forth for a while and I told him earnestly that I could DO IT. I could be a writer. I AM a writer. I have the business card, for goodness sake.
I asked him to give me a chance to show him that I could write. He let me interview him for a "real" story, coaching me a little along the way about what questions to ask. After a bit, he told me that NOW it was time for the REAL interview. He was SUPER NICE. And he was a REAL WRITER. I was in awe, honestly.
I walked into the president's office and took a seat. The conversation as follows is not verbatim, but it's pretty darn close.
President: "I haven't really had a chance to look over your resume, but I'm wondering how on EARTH you got through two levels of interviews to be sitting here. You have NO EXPERIENCE."
Me: "But I DO have experience. I just don't have experience in this PARTICULAR area. I am a non-traditional candidate, see? In my heart, I am a writer."
President: "You seem like a SALESPERSON. Why aren't you in sales? Salespeople make money. Writers don't make money."
Me: "I could be a salesperson. Do you have a job in sales?"
President: "Are you going through some sort of mid-life CRISIS? Why are you sitting here?"
Me: "Because I CAN WRITE. I can do it. I can be a GOOD writer. In my heart, I am a writer."
President: "In your heart...if I told you that I had a job washing cars, would you want to do that, too?"
Me: "No. I don't want to wash cars. But sales I could do. Writing I could REALLY do."
It went back and forth for quite some time. It was the toughest interview I ever sat through. He asked me questions designed to dig out pieces of my character. It was fascinating. And exhilarating. And I loved it. I didn't know what to think about it when it was over but I loved that I was able to have the experience of interviewing for a REAL WRITING JOB.
The next Monday, I received my first job offer from a small company looking for a marketing director.
I emailed the magazine and told them I had an offer. I needed to know if they were at ALL interested in moving me through the next phase before I accepted any other offer.
And I kept interviewing.
I received an email from the magazine. I WAS STILL IN THE RUNNING. I was scheduled for the final leg: a writing test. (Holy crap. Did they KNOW that I had no experience? Yes, they told me that they KNEW I had no experience. Why on earth was I still in the running? I was BEYOND thrilled.)
I kept interviewing.
I went into the writing test, nervous but beyond excited. I sat down and "interviewed" a senior editor playing a role. I then wrote my very first article in my very first newsroom and handed it in. I was thrilled.
I received another job offer...and, much like Godfather lore, it was something I simply couldn't refuse. I will be able to write in my new position...not like the REAL WRITER job, but enough to make me grow. I emailed the folks at the magazine and told them I was taking the other job.
It was a great ride. For just a moment in time, I was there in a newsroom, tapping away on the keys like a Real Writer. I sat there through those interviews believing enough in myself and my abilities to convince other people that MAYBE, just MAYBE, I could do something I had never done before. It was glorious. I will never, ever forget it.
And along the way, I learned a valuable lesson: sometimes it's a good thing to let go of the reins in life. I hope it's a lesson that stays with me.
Time to get ready for my last few days of my old job.
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