rejection, resilience and donuts

Hello ladies and gents. ♥ Happy hump day. It’s story time.

Four weeks ago I applied for a job, three weeks ago I had a one hour and forty minute outstanding phone interview (yes, 100 minutes), two weeks ago I had an in-person interview and last week I got a rejection email.

Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal. However, I thought this was my magic moment. Sexy architecture firm, marketing job, exposed brick office. It all felt right. All my friends were putting out loads of positive vibes. Not just normal friend support, but literally people kept saying variations on “this is your job” and “this is the one”. It carried different weight than other opportunities I’d had in the past.

Let’s back up. I currently work in a call center in Richmond at a financial start up headquartered out of San Francisco. I will certainly cover this subject in more detail in another post, but all you need to know now is that I wear a headset for about 5-6 of the 8 hours of my work day. I answer basic credit questions regarding knowledge that I take for granted. And, yes, this was supposed to be a temporary job when I started back in August. But here we are. And I’ll also add that I’ve learned a lot – way more than I could ever imagine – and am grateful I’ve gone through this experience.

That being said, it’s time to go. I’ve had nearly 20 years of marketing, advertising and general office and post-college life experience, so yes it’s definitely time for more. Friends and family send me jobs a lot. I appreciate it but often don’t find that I react much to what I get. So when my mom sent me a marketing job at an awesome architecture firm, I was gung-ho. I redesigned my resume, wrote a stellar cover letter and even ripped off the band-aid of obsession and perfectionism that usually paralyzes me for weeks. I sent the application off within a couple days of getting the post and that is a rare timeline for me. I typically analyze jobs in my head for so long that the job post expires.

The following week, I decided it was time to sweeten the pot. I’m used to getting absolutely zero response from any applications I submit, so what could a little bribery hurt? Enter: Sugar Shack Donuts. I dressed in my cutest nautical navy blazer, skinny jeans, and black heels. I enthusiastically zipped over to the original Sugar Shack location on Lombardy Street in Richmond, confident that visiting this exact location would somehow bring extra luck. It was also near the trendy Scott’s Addition neighborhood that my new architecture firm was located in, so win-win.

My genius writer friend Katie even fed me some witty lines to use in handwritten card I prepared. I chose the one starting with “Dollars to Doughnuts …” and wrote a fab note about what a marketing powerhouse I am. I chose Kate Spade stationery and attached the note to the box with stickers representing the Marketing Director’s first and last name. I strutted into Sugar Shack and ordered a dozen of the most popular, happiness inducing donuts on the menu. I got a large coffee and injected it into my veins. I sped down the road, pulled into the parking lot of the firm and gazed at the towering red sign with the backdrop of the bright blue clear morning sky. This is my new office. So chic. I thought.

I glided down the long sidewalk proudly holding that box of donuts and walked by a guy wheeling some boxes with a dolly. I nodded and smiled at him in a hey, colleague kind of way. Admiring the sharp landscaping along the way, I finally reached the front glass doors. They were secured and it took me about 45 seconds to find the buzzer. I realized I was pressing some other round button that existed for no apparent reason. Ok, so I’m not going to make it as a product designer. The front desk rep buzzed me in and I announced myself and that I was dropping these off for the marketing director. The rep called her, but to no avail. I made sure they would reach her and wished the woman a great day.

An hour later, I got an email from said marketing director requesting a phone interview. I was over the moon. Thirty minutes after that, I got a text from my friend Suzanne telling me to check my email and that she knows the marketing director. They are friends and she put in a good word for me. Score!! Between my mom’s connection from working with the firm professionally, Suzanne’s good words and the big pile of sugary donuts, this has to work.

The following week, I spoke with the marketing director and we talked about everything. It was the best phone interview I’ve ever had. Having built-in connections as icebreakers was a huge help. We talked about the firm’s philosophy, how I ended up in Richmond, our personal lives, Bravo! shows, our work styles, and vacations. I thought about how fantastic it would be to work with someone this smart and fun. She asked great questions including how I manage stress (exercise, deflecting my thoughts to other people’s issues to put my own in perspective and wine, all the wine), how I would handle redoing a project from the start when I’ve nearly finished it (no problem at all, I would handle it like a champ, and I did it a million times at my last job in DC) and what super power would I choose (controlling the weather, like Storm in X-Men, obviously).

We set up an in-person interview for the following week. For the interview, I chose a mod and professional dress, I prepared my writing samples, references, and extra copies of resumes.  On interview day, I arrived ten minutes early. The marketing director was much taller than she appeared in photos. She was beautiful and had a stunning smile. She was also intimidating – sweet, nice, but also had full director vibe: leading the conversation and moving things along in an efficient way. I was excited to learn everything from this woman. There were two other associates on the phone who I would have worked with in other offices and there was another associate in the room named Jane who did graphic design and had super cool handwriting.

One of the less formal questions during the interview was “what would I prepare for food if I were entertaining everyone in my home?” with the caveat that Jane is a vegetarian. I chose the Mediterranean route – it’s delicious, one of my favorite cuisines and it’s a crowd pleaser. I also ending up telling the room at the end of the interview that I would do anything for the job, including bringing Jane homemade hummus to the office where she normally works (in North Carolina). The interview was short – about 20 minutes – and I was not as confident with myself as I was after the nearly two hour phone interview. Before I left, I wrote down Jane’s email so I could email her the hummus recipe, thinking that at least my slice of southern hospitality would help compensate for the parts of the job where I was lacking.

On a side note, this post is giving me all sorts of ideas for new posts. I will definitely include the hummus link in the comments section if you want it, but it really deserves its own post. You’ll never eat store-bought again.

During the interview, I did my best to answer the questions and asked many questions myself. However, I did feel a mild disconnect between my work experience and what was required of the position. After the interview, I had an “it is what it is” feeling. It will either fit or it won’t. Despite the director telling me that she felt I would be a good chemistry fit for the team at the end of our phone call, I still ended up lacking the industry experience they were seeking. The email came 4 business days after my interview. Each day that passed, I had a growing feeling that it might not be a fit. In looking back, I realize the firm may not have been a good personality fit for me. The job was mainly structured around writing proposals involving K-12 schools and that really may not have been my cup of tea.

I think I was so fixated on the idea of a glossy architecture firm and how it would complete me if I got this job. In reality, I’m guessing it absolutely wouldn’t complete me at all. If I got the role, I may have realized it’s extremely dry work that doesn’t fulfill me. I will never know really, but I’m a huge believer that things seriously work out – or don’t – for a reason. It sounds cheesy as hell, but it’s true. I wouldn’t be writing this post if the job worked out for me. I wouldn’t have taken a look at myself and realized what I really enjoy. I love writing posts and sharing experiences. That brings me joy. Creating things in the world that don’t exist brings me joy.

I saw this on Instagram the other day and can’t stop thinking about it:

(also, follow BOSSBABE – it is inspiring stuff) 

Sometimes we think we want a huge, majestic thing but maybe we don’t actually want that thing. Maybe these things we imagine seem fantastic, but maybe we hit walls so that we are forced to realize and embrace the simple things we love – the simple things in our lives that we may otherwise not fully acknowledge. Or maybe we hit walls to force us to try harder – to prove you want what you think you want. It depends on who you are and what your goals are. For me, I’m grateful for this rejection. It forced me to stop, take a breath, and realize I love writing and sharing. It’s as simple as that. And I couldn’t be happier in this moment.

Love you guys, have a great day, channing

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