I don’t think I’ve blogged much about my job search. It is something I have been of two minds about, because on the one hand I think the experience has been interesting, but since I don’t know if I have learned anything from it, I am not sure that it would make for a meaningful post. I don’t want to come off sounding pathetic and unhirable, since this platform is a combination of sharing my technical discoveries and accomplishments and a personal forum/sharing space for distant friends and family.
But this is topical, and maybe it will also transition into other long-overdue stories I will get around to sharing.
In general, I feel like I am caught in a weird place. I have a software degree, but apparently, based on the hundreds of programming jobs I have (to-no-avail) applied for, no one wants to hire me as a programmer. Even though that is something I think I am very good at: I captained a team of freshmen to a fabulous result at the regional ACM programming competition! I thought that was because I was an awesome programmer, but due to some feedback I got on my resume and job search prospects recently*, maybe I should credit it more to me being a great captain? I feel like a jack-of-all-trades, which I thought would make it easier to get a job, but every job seems to be overly specific, like
“3+ years of experience in product management with direct experience in I/O virtualization”
(Is it unfair to call that overly specific? I wouldn’t mind if the requirement were
“3+ years of operations support with direct experience in MES administration”
(It was actually oddly hard to write a requirement there that I don’t think I have seen, which is kind of part two of my frustration: when I do find something that is either vague-enough or coincidentally completely appropriately specific, such as:
Bachelor degree in Business, Engineering or a Supply Chain/Operations discipline.
5+ years of experience in supply chain, logistics or inventory management.
5+ years of experience managing cross-functional projects and programs with tight deadlines.
Advanced degrees in Operations Management, Mathematics/Engineering, or an MBA with a quantitative focus.
Proven ability to influence others, facilitate agreement among stakeholders with different interests.
Excellent written and verbal communication skills, building relationships.
Technical aptitude and familiarity with the design and utilization of complex systems.
Proven track record of complex and creative problem solving and the desire to create and build new processes.
Advanced knowledge of SQL, Excel, and Access is a plus.”
which I totally have, right? But does that company call me or acknowledge my application? No!)
So anyway, lately I have been going through a phase of anything-would-be-better-than-nothing, and I started looking at restaurant/barista/bartending positions. But places either aren’t hiring or also want to call “3 references who have worked with me in the past 5 years”, which is kind of awkward, because a) most people I worked with in the last 3 years don’t speak English and b) do I really want my references to get calls from someone who asks them if they think I would be good at waitressing?
But I digress (as usual). I had been checking out Craigslist for the last couple days, and coinciding with the latest economic figures saying that car sales are up, ads appeared for several car dealers saying that they were hiring sales staff. I had a little internal debate about whether or not this was a good thing and stalled on the actually getting dressed and going out and doing it, started to fill out one on-line application but because it asked for beginning and ending salary for every job ever and 5 non-employer/non-family references (plus SSN and driver’s license number, which I am not about to write into a random webpage), I bailed out, but one of the ads said “Mon and Tues 10 – 4; email to make an appt or walk in.” I emailed and got no answer, but on Tuesday I decided to walk in.
Strangely, the application I was asked to fill out when I got there was the same as the one I had half-completed on-line, although this was a different dealer, and when I went in to see the interviewer, it was the strangest interview I had ever been through – all “word association” and time machines and other oddness. Then he said he needed 2 minutes to think about whether he thought I would work out and during that time I should write a paragraph – not a novel – on why I should get the job. I had one sentence done when he came back (which is probably why it takes me literally hours to write these posts! (Ok, that might be more due to the fact that I get distracted by emails and lunch and loads of laundry)), and he said that in spite of me being “goofy” (is that why I don’t get hired as a programmer? and no engineering firm can bring themselves to name that as the reason?), he thought I could do the job. And that by-the-way, he is actually not associated with the dealer, but a contractor hired to screen and train, and can I commit the next three days from 9:30 to 6, and be open to reinvent myself, and park in a different place tomorrow, and bring 2 pens, a notebook and a packed lunch because we would be too busy to take a break, and (in spite of the ad saying “Paid-while-you-learn training”**) there would be a fully refundable cost for this training, but when I asked him to clarify he said “I’ll go over that tomorrow for everyone all together. Goodbye.”
So, I got in my car. I was excited, but the last-minute rushed comment just wasn’t sitting right. And one of his questions at the interview had been “If you could change one decision you made, what would it be?” and I answered “Nothing; no regrets.” But now, in the peace and quiet of the car, I remembered there were times, when I had been pressured on the spot to agree to something and wasn’t allowed the chance to stop and think it over, and forever afterward was convinced that I had been ripped off (even if it was only for $5). And it really just wasn’t sitting right. So, I came home, thinking about who I knew who would be available and that I could run this by and decided that google was my friend.
Google returned a fair number of opinions: There are some reports from people (with generally atrocious spelling and grammar) thinking they were hoodwinked, some rebuttals from the company insisting it is very fair and valuable, plus some “more neutral” reports of people who actually attended and got the details of the price and refund policies and training content.
For a while I considered going anyway, checking out what they had to say and then making the decision, but I was afraid I would get caught up in the excitement of the hard sell and if I go in knowing I am going to leave halfway through, what is really the point of going anyway? And if I had gone, there wouldn’t have been time to write this post!
*Not from anyone I interviewed with, of course. I am lucky if I can get them to say as much as “I’m sorry; you’re not what we are looking for.” Actual useful feedback is completely missing.
**Not actually the text of the ad I saw, because that one is no longer posted. Because it is over? Maybe, or because after talking to them and hearing their sales talk a person could actually flag it as being incorrect? (And Craigslist does always post a warning about not accepting jobs that require you to pay!)