My Experience with Experience

It started last summer, optimistic, wide eyed…completely naive. Freshly created resume, a creepy amount of positive energy, and bottomless optimism, I eagerly scoured job sites and companies for the magic words “careers”, “open positions”, “now hiring”, and “job openings.” I emailed resume and cover letter after resume and cover letter, and giddily awaited the responses and inquiries for interviews.

Well, that didn’t happen until October.

Before October, I received a lot of rejection letters. Or emails. Sometimes I was ignored entirely, like at a high school dance.

Once October hit, I received a phone call asking me to come in and interview for a marketing assistant position with a construction company. I was elated, and couldn’t wait for to wow a potential future employer with my brand new shiny degree, crisply printed resume, and my rather fantastic portfolio that consisted of design work and newspaper articles from college.

The interview ended abruptly after 20 minutes, after the person interviewing me (politely) accused me of being late (even though she later discovered she had written down the wrong time), and stated my resume was easy to understand, and that my portfolio pieces were “cute.”

Thus, we were off to a winning start.

In January of this year, I gained a secondary part time job at the local newspaper. That interview lasted an hour, but the two editors that were talking to me said they wanted me on board within the first ten minutes.  I still continued the job search.

In February, I had a second “big girl job” interview of sorts, this time over the phone for a marketing assistant position with a locally owned jewelry shop.  The next day after the phone interview, I received a short email stating that they “were pursuing other candidates at this time” which, is their polite way of saying (after I further inquired, silly me) “you don’t have what we are looking for.”

In March, I had an interview for an education coordinator position downtown. The lovely blonde interviewing me was impressed that I had experience with InDesign, set shop construction, and kids. She said she would let me know about a second interview in a couple of weeks.

Two weeks later, still nothing. I contacted her, because I noticed the position had resurfaced on a job site. I found out they were actually looking for something with 3D design and laser cutting experience (which was not mentioned at the interview). A few days later, I noticed the position now included those requirements as part of its description.

In May, I had an interview at a museum, looking for someone to further the future of its traveling exhibits program.  This was also the first time I had dropped off my resume in person as well as submitting it online, per the advice of a certain former theatre professor.  I have done this since for every serious pursuit of a position.

My first interview lasted a half an hour with two individuals, one of which seemed to really like me. I was asked  back for a second interview. This was a first. I had always heard a second interview is a really good sign someone is interested in you. The second interview lasted an hour and a half, with five to six individuals, and I thought it went extremely well, aside from the moment one individual stated utter disdain for my current place of part-time employment. The one woman who had sat in on both the first and second interview that really liked me said “You would really be a good fit for this position.”

A couple days later I checked back. The woman who liked me answered the phone, and said they were making their decision tomorrow. 45 minutes later, I received a rather cold and to the point email stating “Your skills didn’t align with what we were looking for.” I think her supervisor’s dislike for a particular bridal shop may have been to blame (at least that’s what I told myself to make myself laugh.)

A few weeks later, I decided to go back a step, and applied for an internship with a local publishing company. Not paid, not for credit, just for that special e-word that was apparently lacking on my person. An interview was requested, and within seven minutes of that interview, the enthusiastic woman offered me the position for the summer.

I had been been out of college officially a year.

I took the summer off from looking at jobs. I worked a music festival as a stage hand, putting in odd hours, the newspaper, my usual part time job at a bridal shop, and part time at my internship. As if I wasn’t busy enough, I tried out for a show and was cast as the lead (who was on stage the whole time).

In August, nearing the end of my internship, I applied for a part-time copy writing and marketing position with another local publishing company. I had connections to the company, and kindly asked for references and recommendations. I was asked to come in person to interview instead of the usual phone interview. Things went rather well. I was emailed a writing challenge. I was asked to come back for a second interview, where I was given another writing challenge.  I boldly asked them what they liked about me as a candidate. They said some nice, complimentary things but also listed their hesitation-my lack of marketing experience.  The second interview didn’t go as well as the first, I admit that whole hardheartedly.  When I shook hands with the man who had been at both interviews, the way he said good bye and shook my hand, I knew I didn’t get the position.

The next day I received an email I was expecting. Politely put, they were pursuing other, more qualified candidates.

Today, I had another interview. I believe it went well. I was told at the end that I was like-able, various individuals that had worked with me prior attested to my work ethic and manner, and my interviewer stated, “I would love to hire you right now.” Alas, I was the first person to be interviewed, and although an entry level position, there are countless others that have applied with years and years of experience in this particular field. Far more years in this field than me, applying to this entry level position because, let’s face it, the job market still “sucks.”


“I really do not think that word means what you think it means.” Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride (book or movie)


noun \ik-ˈspir-ē-ən(t)s\

: the process of doing and seeing things and of having things happen to you

: skill or knowledge that you get by doing something

: the length of time that you have spent doing something (such as a particular job)

(courtesy of Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary)

Before I graduated, I had what I’d call “experience” in a non profit setting and in an environment where I wore many hats. I had experience with tight deadlines, and fast paced environments (two additional phrases I’ve come to also have personal beef with for their overuse but that’s for another blog post another day). I had experience with design programs and journalistic writing, and had earned good grades and made the Dean’s List.

Since then, I’d say my experience (for lack of a better word) has only improved.

I’ve learned that your undergraduate coursework is not as good as you think it is. It will probably be your worst work ever (as it should be, because one hopes to improve with the years to come.)

I’m not as qualified as I imagined I would be after earning a bachelor of arts degree, meaning one truly never stops learning, even when the loan payments eventually (hopefully) end…

Sometimes I am right, and the other person is wrong (though it may cost them their pride-and your potential employment)

Sometimes the person hiring doesn’t even know what they are looking for (or they are just doing the dirty work for their superior, and he or she doesn’t even know what he is looking for)

There’s no good way to say “You didn’t get the job.” Just get used to the rejection.

Get used to the rejection, but don’t let it definite you as a person, or keep you from trying again…and again…and again.

Sometimes things on your current resume can prevent future employment. Always, always, always research companies and businesses before you apply to them.

My rule of thumb is, the shorter the interview, usually the better. If someone can take a chance on me and decides within ten minutes, that person trusts their gut more than anything else. I’ve learned I work best with those individuals.

Some people really do like you and want to hire you, but sometimes they don’t have the final (or only say).

Sometimes people just don’t like you. So appreciate your family and friends that do.

Sometimes you aren’t as good of a fit for the job like you imagined.

Some people don’t know how to do interviews.

Keep in mind that there are individuals with years and years of experience and qualifications listed a mile long going for part time and entry level positions. They can’t find anything either, and they have mortgages, families, and bills. I’ve learned to be grateful for my reasonable loans, my parents’ hospitality,  a part time job, and continual support and encouragement from my friends and family.

I’ve learned to be humble.

I’ve also learned that despite not landing a job yet, I’ve been getting interviews (and second interviews).  Out of hundreds of cover letters and resumes, mine stood out. Out of several candidates, I was selected for a second interview. These are small celebrations indeed.

I’m not as preciously special as I once thought.

But I do have something to offer that not everyone can.

I’ve gained insight, perspective, understanding, time management, humility, confidence, knowledge, wisdom, maturity. I’ve become more resourceful and strong, determined and focused on what I truly want. I’m not as meek as I was at the beginning nor as naive. I’ve discovered new passions, and have come to terms with certain shortcomings. I still dream, but I understand myself better than I did May 19, 2012.

But please, I politely ask of you, do not claim I lack experience.

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