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Goodbye Job

Today was my last day at work before I move back to Ohio.

For the past six months I have been working a menial job. Yes, it is with some shame that I  admit I have been working in retail. Yes, it was that bad. I worked in a woman’s clothing store. I had to kiss ass, measure sweaty old ladies for bras, and sell credit cards. Some of the things I have had to do still make me shudder and long for my happy place.

While it’s not been my favorite job there have been some surprisingly redeeming aspects to it. I have learned a lot about myself that I don’t know I would have learned anywhere else. For instance, I am shocked to learn that in spite of it all I am a people person. I actually like people. Who knew? Not I! As a certified introvert being forced to put on a happy face everyday did threaten to send me into a straightjacket on occassion but overall I enjoyed a lot of our customers. We had regulars that I got to know and looked forward to their visits. My favorite was a mexican customer that started bringing me home cooked meals when she learned I grew up in Mexico and missed the food. 

I especially enjoyed helping people and participating in the preparation for special moments of their lives. Some of those moments were fun – going on cruises/vacations, attending a wedding, girls weekend to Vegas, and first dates. I also got to help dress women who were battling illness, suffering a death of a loved one, going to court, overcoming cancer and who’d lost significant amounts of weight.

Amazing how customers would open up over a dress, pretty blouse or while shopping for bras. I became their best friend for a few hours as I trapsed all over the store to find them the perfect outfit or accessory. I heard their stories. Sometimes we cried and I got lots of hugs. I loved it.

It wasn’t always a kum-ba-yah fest. Some people are just asses, feel entitled, treat salespeople like dirt, bring children in that trash the store, steal, demand illegal deals and pee on the floor in the bathroom. Kid you not. It’s not all glamorous and full of warm fuzzies. LOL.

I also enjoyed the people I worked with. We laughed a lot. I’m not gonna lie, sometimes we laughed at people. It happens, can’t help it. Sometimes people forget they are in public and other people can see them. But mainly we laughed to make a tedious job fun. We had to do something, our district manager was breathing down our necks to sell more credit in not so nice terms. If you didn’t make your goal then you were officially labeled  a “bottomfeeder” by the company, seriously. This is how they motivated you, by publishing quarterly rankings with fun titles.

Even as I wax on poetically about the experience I’m not sad that particular chapter of my life is over.  I’m looking forward to what is next but am grateful for the perspective that it provided.

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“Living” in LA

For the next few weeks I will be “living” in Los Angeles. I’m going to be house sitting for friends who are traveling. It will be the first time in five years I’ve lived alone. And the first time in 10 years that I’ve lived in LA.

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Misleading Job Interview

All I want for my 35th birthday is health insurance.

For some Americans that is still the dream. As a diabetic I am the health insurance equivalent of a leper. I couldn’t get insured if I were willing to pay a million dollars a month. I have to be on a group plan, which means no more freelancing or consulting for me. So, I am going to go out and get a regular, 9-5, bi-weekly paying, prescription-card-offering job.

I put all my friends and family on alert, updated my resume, set up job alerts and dusted off my portfolio. I was ready.

For months all I heard were crickets. Yep. Nada. Zero. Zip. I think the job boards are right, it is an invisible job market, you have to know someone to get in. But then twice in one week I get called for interviews. Yea!! That noise you finally heard, were the towns people rejoicing!

The first job, internet marketing manager, was found by my grandfather in the newspaper. How old school. I didn’t even know that he knew what I did for a living but apparently he was listening and taking notes. I was excited. I loved the product, industry and market. This could be great. I could finally have found a job where I could really settle in. Yay!

I had a pre-interview phone screening, which I passed and had the in-person interview last Friday. On the phone I got a brief overview of the job. She said I would be working with the internet/catalog director as the internet marketing manager to help with email campaigns which involved some merchandising. Sounds straight-forward enough. She assured me I’d get more details from the hiring manager.

All week I mentally gathered all of my web experience – web site development, email campaign creation, web metrics,  social media marketing, etc. I could describe my part in all projects. I could wax on poetically about web theory and new softwares for email marketing. I was ready. I didn’t even feel nervous, just ready to dig in. Look at me, all optimistic. It was a real moment. I nearly got verclempt.

On Friday, I re-met with the HR lady who re-qualified me for the job, we went through my experience and she asked me traditional interview questions. What is the best piece of constructive criticism you ever received? What are your references going to say about you? Blah. Blah. Blah. Do they actually really get valid, usable information from those questions? Anyway, she also gave me the same brief overview of the job, you’ll be working on email campaigns. Now in my mind, the internet marketing manager would be responsible for overseeing all aspects of said email campaigns. You would think.

When I met with the hiring manager I was immediately thrown off by the first question. He wanted me to go through my job history and point-by-point show how I was qualified for the position. Job description? Huh. I hadn’t seen one of those. The nice HR lady didn’t give me one. I told him that I never received one. He slides it over to me and at cursory glance I don’t recognize the responsibilities of the internet marketing manager. I was further thrown off track by a series of questions about statistical theory and process. Again huh.

Then I realized, they don’t want an internet marketing manager they want a marketing analyst. Now, for those wondering what the difference is, let me explain. In my opinion, the internet marketing manager would work on formulating a plan to promote the products on the web through an integrated marketing communications plan. Now what they want is equivalent to an accountant. They want a paper-pushing, number crunching, data juggler. A statistician. Someone who sits and interprets spreadsheet data. All day. ALL. DAY.

So zero creativity. Zero actual involvement with the web, other than generating data the web team will use to deploy campaigns. Yea. I was talking with a friend, and former boss, after the interview and she said they might not know what internet marketing is. No idea.

I was disappointed. I got through the rest of the interview, including the person who previously held the job and one of the team members. They made it crystal clear that this was strictly a numbers job. Hours and hours at a desk on tight deadline to generate reports and help clarify data. Yummy. The team member actually said – Me, words. You, numbers. Kid you not.

No thanks. I really want to write an email to the nice HR lady and tell her she has no clue what the department is actually looking for and that I am no longer interested in this position. Can you do that? Is that appropriate?

Big lesson learned, ask for a full job description. You may not be talking apples to apples unless you see it on paper.

I have another interview next Wednesday for a public relations position. I hope they really aren’t looking for a greeter, food server or bill collector. We’ll see.

What I Want to Be When I Grow Up?

I have struggled to find a career I am passionate about since I graduated from college.

I have a B.A. in journalism I knew I wasn’t going to use, in the traditional way. I stumbled into a career in marketing, at which I’m very proficient but don’t really count myself on a definite career track. I also have a master’s degree I don’t presently use. It’s all a hodge-podge, mish-mash of experience, industry and skills. How it all fits together, I have no idea.

I know at work I enjoy a challenge, creativity, time to work alone, and working on something I believe in. I can’t have just a job. I have to feel motivated by the product or cause at hand. Yet, this is all very vague and lacking in a specific direction, vocation or industry.

So what do I want to be when I grow up? I honestly don’t know. I feel like I could do a myriad of things. So what makes a job satisfying, maybe its more than the tasks. I know environment counts for a lot. The people you work with are a huge factor. But in this economy can you afford to be choosy? Or do you have to take what comes your way? I have to believe it does matter that there are still career dreams to be fulfilled.

In this “down” time while I’m helping my dad and watching my nephews I have decided to explore my options, my heart and try to figure out what’s next in my life. What do I want to be? Where do I want to be? Who do I want to be?

All big lofty questions and perhaps a bit rhetorical. But I need to get focused on my life and what I want to be instead of getting lost in other people’s dreams, ambitions and needs. Some of this feels a bit selfish. But I don’t want to wake up in six years, when I’m 40, wondering what the hell I’m doing still babysitting my nephews.

Rather than just fall into something else I want to be a little more deliberate this time. Maybe I know myself a bit better this time around. I hope I’ve learned something about myself in the last 16 years, since I last addressed this topic at 18. So I’m going to explore personality, interests, passions, and long-lost dreams to try and figure it all out.