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Q: How’d Your Interview Go? A: Yes.

I’m attempting the somewhat terrifying task of transitioning from Peace Corps life to long-distance job-seeking for a future in New York City. To go back to the beginning of this story of transition, click here. For the second installment of my adventure, click here. The following is a quick update of my progress.

Interview Numéro Trois: My patient and friendly NYC recruiter liked me well enough to refer me up the chain and scheduled a skype interview with the person who would likely make the final decision on who they hire. It was just yesterday and ended somewhat incomplete with the interviewer asking to continue the conversation next week. That said, I haven’t really digested how it went well enough to say what went wrong and what went right. I will say this: nothing about it was as I expected, yet it was a pleasant experience.

I dressed well and found a quiet conference room to set up my computer for the interview. I practice skyped to make MjAxMi1iNzYwODEyYzhmMjNjMWQwsure all was technologically sound and I could talk about myself effectively in spite of the anxiety. I rehearsed answers and double-, tripe-, quadruple checked that I looked well-groomed and professional. Then for whatever reason, my interviewer called me on my cell and it became a phone interview.

But the roles seemed reversed in our “interview”. She opened with asking for what questions I had about the position, and most of the conversation consisted of her talking about the role, the work environment it exists in, and how I would work with her if I were offered the job. Then I got to talk to the woman whose shoes I would fill, who also just wanted to answer my questions. It was a great chat and I learned a lot about what I was applying for—honestly just became more and more convinced that it’s exactly where I would thrive right now—but I don’t know that I sold them on me as a candidate. If anyone reading this has advice or comments about the peculiarity of this interview, I would love to hear it. As it is, I look forward to continuing my discussion with them next week. I’ll keep you posted. For now, I make these simple recommendations for a skype interview:'Oh, drat. My cell phone battery is dead.'

  • Obviously, you do want to dress for the part on a skype interview. They can see you, duh.
  • Make sure ALL of your means of communication are charged and ready—if my phone had been dead or close to it, my whole “skype interview” would have fallen through.

And a couple comments about job searching in general:

  • Prepare, but I guess expect the unexpected! And if you have anxiety, do NOT have caffeine or large amounts of sugar within several hours of any interview.2009-03-13-anxiety-disorder-paranoia-caffeine
  • Yes, these tips take a lot of effort to follow. But if you’re not willing to make that effort, it’s likely due to a lack of enthusiasm about the career path you’re trying to go down. That lack of enthusiasm is almost guaranteed to show in an interview. Also, maybe there is something you could focus on that better lights your fire, thus being a better use of your time—I know we don’t always feel like we’re in a position to be flexible and/or picky. Some of us just need an income. But you can always apply for more than one kind of opportunity—apply for jobs you qualify for and can do that would get you that much-needed paycheck. ALSO apply for jobs that maybe you’re a bit less confident that you qualify for, but that you know you would LOVE doing. In many cases, your passion will more than make up for some lack of qualifying details. The worse they can do is say no. 😉 
  • And ALWAYS keep this in mind:

    ~ Hank Green Don't Forget To Be Awesome. Then don't forget that YOU ARE AWESOME. Then let your awesome shine in an interview! This is the one time you are SUPPOSED to talk specifically about how fantastic you are!
    ~ Hank Green
    Don’t Forget To Be Awesome. Then don’t forget that YOU ARE AWESOME. Then let your awesome shine in an interview! This is the one time you are SUPPOSED to talk specifically about how fantastic you are!

To those who are reading these tips and feel like they’re dying under the weight of hating the job search: I totally get it. I have always felt that way. For years, I was looking for a job that paid the bills and/or might someday give me an idea or direction of what to do with my life. Sometimes (like when you’re trying to pay your way through school), that’s just life. I hated it because I would try to follow tips like those in these blog posts, but I didn’t care about the companies I was applying to work for, making me feel disingenuous. I would dress up and try to brag about myself, but didn’t really have any experience, making me feel pretentious. And I’m a bad liar—people would just see right through it all.

But now I’ve accrued some experience, I have found what lights my fire, and I know what I’m aiming for. It makes for a completely different job-seeking experience. The tips I have been outlining here apply to everyone, but are definitely the easiest to follow for those in my current position, not for those who haven’t quite reached that sense of purpose. But I suggest getting to this point BEING your sense of purpose. Let your search for direction and meaning be the motivating factor that lights up your enthusiasm in your job search. The key is seeing every position you apply for as an opportunity for defining who you are as a professional. Potential employers will see that energy and, possibly, want to give it direction.

All that said though, I am still in the middle of my job search and am open to any tips or comments with regards to the process. Please share your stories, too.

Some things you can’t know unless you’ve been there but oh how far we could go if we started to share…

Leaving Paradise with a Purpose

Being back in the States after two years in paradise–then seeing said paradise shredded by a “monster cyclone” shortly thereafter–hasn’t been easy, to say the least.  But the experience has reinforced my Purpose, enabling me to carry it with me from the South Pacific and the toughest job I’ve ever loved, to my next great endeavor of building my future in New York. My Purpose is to work with and for those whose lives have been shattered so that they can build their lives anew, strengthening the communities they live in (and humanity as a whole) by being living exemplars of strength and resilience.images

Here is the second installment of the search for my next work-medium for fulfilling this Purpose:

Interview Numéro Duex: My wonderful recruiter gave me tips on how the online job posting system works and which kinds of jobs would suite my needs and qualifications. After I applied for probably the perfect job for me right now, she forwarded my application on to the person who is recruiting for that specific position. Before I knew it, I had a “phone screening” scheduled with a senior recruiter in NYC. Though I had just an hour or two to prepare for it, I absolutely dove into prep-mode for this one.

What went wrong:

  • I was only kind of prepared, due to time being so short. It wasn’t the end of the world, but if I could suggest anything, I would say to prepare answers with specific stories from your experience to potential questions before or at the same time you start 9xr5ivooh8mrmc8u_v2_submitting applications. That way you are in a general state of ready on a moment’s notice. Of course this doesn’t mean you won’t have to do more research and prep specific to later interview opportunities, but it gives you a good foundation.
  • I didn’t have any questions to ask her. With such huge volumes of applications to sort through, a recruiter or interviewer has to try to find the people that are truly interested in fulfilling a specific role, not just interested in it because it’s a job opening. Having questions to ask is your opportunity to demonstrate your sincere interest in the position as well as your knowledge about the organization (or desire for that knowledge).
  • I had a lot of awesome humanitarian work to talk about, and I was applying for an administrative position. She ultimately told me “You obviously have a lot of great humanitarian experience, but what qualifies you to work in an office?” Make sure your answers are directly applicable to the job you are applying for. Know the job description inside and out, and develop your answers accordingly.
  • I looked top-notch professional. All the advice I found for phone interviews said to treat it like a face-to-face interview and get cleaned and dressed-up for it. I did this. For the vast majority of people, this is probably good advice because it helps them keep their professional hats on in a potentially casual-feeling context. But when you struggle with anxiety in a need-to-sell-yourself kind of situation, maybe that’s not the best choice. I was nervous and rambly as hell on the phone, feeling unfit for the nicely-pressed outfit I had on. In most cases, I enjoy looking nice and presenting a professional look, but in this specific judge-me circumstance, it didn’t pay off. When the recruiter had to call me back several times that afternoon, after I had gotten back into my normal mode and a pair of jeans, my anxiety quickly vanished and my professional confidence was able to resurface. Maybe that was only partly due to the outfit, but it certainly had an impact.

What went right:

  • Because I only had a small amount of time to prepare, I didn’t have stories from my professional life that demonstrate my awesome rehearsed and ready to perform on queue—but I was able to speak knowledgeably about the organization and the role I was applying for. The internship system can and, in my opinion, is often abused is our here-and-now, but in this case it really paid off. If you can find any way to swing a few months of work with little to no pay, an internship is a great way to get the inside scoop on an organization you’re interested in and learn how to thrive in their culture (and if you’d actually want to try).

Near the end of the day, the person who felt like my newest New York friend called me back and asked, “If you get a skype interview, and if it goes well, would you be willing to fly to New York for an in-person interview?” This was the first time I hesitated to say yes. After all, a quick trip to New York wouldn’t be cheap, and I am not the only one impacted by my financial decisions. My tip here: No one will ask you to do something like that unless it will likely be worth it. If you know it is something you are capable of, then be willing to make the commitment. Otherwise, I say just be honest. Say you would be willing to, but don’t have the financial capacity- Then ask what s/he suggests you do to get around the financial roadblock so that you can be there for the organization. phone_interview

Coming soon: the latest installment of my job-seeking adventure, Interview Numéro Trois.

From Isolation in the Peace Corps to Job-Seeking in New York…Whew.

In response to my last post, I received this comment from a wonderful woman:

I think you could write about getting re-acclimated to the U.S., making decisions about school and career, sharing your insight into the things you are passionate about.

These are the things I would like to write about—but sometimes it’s hard to see the trees for the forest and actually choose something specific. These are large topics. That said, I’m glad to get this tip for what to write about because it has helped me pick out a tree or two in the complicated and diverse forest that is rebuilding a life here in the USA. Specifically: the job search.

Now that we’re 90% sure of where we are moving to, I have taken the plunge and started to apply for jobs. So far, I have applied for 3 positions (all within the organization I am interning for, but at a location on the other side of the country), done a ton of research on job search advice, done 3 interviews, and have another interview scheduled for next week.

With all this experience fresh in mind, I wanted to add to the ocean of tips for job seekers that is out there, because SO much of it has not applied to my experience or been great advice for someone like me: an ambitious and professional introvert with excellent experience and work ethic, but who has a nearly impossible time portraying these qualities in an interview due to serious anxiety in a self-promoting setting. I have not received a job offer yet, so maybe I haven’t proven myself to be someone who can give advice. But I CAN share my experiences, and maybe they’ll be, at best, helpful to someone or, at another kind of best, entertaining to others.

stress_and_anxiety_funny

Please enjoy the first installment of my job-seeking experience. 🙂

Interview Numéro Un: A recruiter within the organization I’m interning for hears about my pending applications and wants to talk to me about moving into a career (out of an internship) with the IRC. She just moved here from the location I want to move to—a huge bonus! She says it will be an “informational interview,” about my ambitions.

What went wrong:

  • I showed up at the appointed time empty-handed, then had to run for my calendar and a pen. ALWAYS have your calendar and something to take notes with at an interview of any kind! Having a copy of your resume, etc., doesn’t hurt either.
  • I didn’t prepare. I guess I didn’t know what to expect in an informational interview with a recruiter, so I didn’t make any preparations. Upon reflection, it seems best to treat any scheduled conversation directly related with your job search as a job interview: Have answers prepared for likely questions, and come with questions of your own.

What went right:

  • Having just come from my office job across town, I looked great and was in business mode. Always look professional and ready to get down to business when the opportunities arise.
  • Though I hadn’t recognized her name (and she didn’t recognize mine, of course) when we arranged for the interview, as soon as we saw each other we both realized we had met before: her first day at IRC SLC we sat next together in the staff meeting and shared some small talk and laughs. Always present your best self and be friendly and professional at work. You never know who you’ll meet!

There is more where this came from, but I’d hate to put it all in one novel-length post. Stay tuned for the next installment of my job-search experience.