I’ve spent most of the past two years looking for a job, working as a temp. During the process, and it really was more of an ordeal than a process, I learned a ton and had my typical wacky adventures. I promised myself once I had an honest-to-God offer letter, I’d write about some of the more interesting tales. None, zero, nada, zilch of what I’m writing about happened at the company that now employs me. All of these are my (probably) distorted perceptions of some of the truly insane things that happen when you start to look for a job with a bit of I applied for a position of “event planner” (I loved, loved, loved that aspect of a former job). The company screened through a placement agency (common) and passed me on to the company. I didn’t think that the employment questions from the placement agency matched the job description I had been given but I know enough to know that there are a lot of let’s-see-how-you-can-handle-this type questions. At the time, I was grateful that nobody asked me about flowers because the only thing I know about flowers is that white flowers are culturally inappropriate or appropriate and they all make me sneeze.
I drove over to the corporate headquarters located on a nondescript office campus. Yes, it was lovely like the recruiter told me (note, these are things I don’t care about). Yes, it was right off of a main route (right after a left merge which means it was really off one of the prime Boston bottlenecks!), and yes, they had a cafeteria (see things I don’t care about). Little did I know these observations were the only “normal” experiences of the day.
Do you remember these guys? I interviewed with them.
In what can only be described as one of the most surreal interviews of my life, I was transported to the world of the Spartan cheerleaders. Ok, I am the first to admit, I am not exactly the most overtly bubbly person in the world. I tend to arch an eyebrow and have beyond a sarcastic/sardonic sense of humor that if you don’t get, well, there is a reason I adore the I-95 section from Philly to Maine.
They flapped. They clapped. They showed me a rah-rah video. I’m thinking ok, this is event planning: when are they going to ask me about my budgeting skills, my favorite places in some major convention cities, great ‘escape’ places for reward trips. You know: drilling me on the industry. The Will Ferrell interviewer told me about his team. Apparently, somebody was able to book 4 Broadway tickets and the customer was so grateful, his employee was sent a box of Godiva chocolates! (each word emphasized, each word said with great enthusasim…each word made I’m-really-interested-in-what-you-are-saying-face smile while my brain was churning, um Godiva? Dude. 12 pieces is like $15 bucks. And the chocolate isn’t that great.) The Cheri Oteri interviewer asked me what my favorite travel experience was: I honestly had to pause and think. I said it was either watching the whales dance across the ocean in South Africa or being in Paris (anywhere. It never gets old for me). I get I’ve been all over the world and back again. I’m lucky. The Spartans looked at each other and said, almost in scary unison, you’ve been to Paris with an inflection of “you had dinner with the Dali Lama?” Cheri continued to explain the services offered and about how the customers were the “elite” of American society. I really struggled not to laugh. I suddenly connected the dots: this is the place you call when you want to redeem your credit card rewards points from American Express for something other than movie tickets or Starbucks cards! My first thought?
There were some actual issues with the job itself and the company after I did some research (I never would have interviewed with them had I known who they were at the time). In the middle of the recession they had 20 openings. The reason? After six months, they offer benefits and a set schedule. The average length of employment in this position is just under six months. It’s a burn and churn that is open 6a – midnight with no fixed days off, no set schedule, and no request for time off for the first year. I’ve kept my eye on the company. Every six months, they have about 20 or so openings. They are not growing: they are burning and churning people. It is a port in the storm economy: but having worked retail and in call centers, I know they can make a fixed schedule with a need for variation. There (should) be statistical data that shows call volume, work loads, and other metrics.
After doing a bit of research (and getting a short-term temp job), I withdrew my name from consideration. I knew it wasn’t a good fit: I’m not peppy. I knew I’d run into problems with their lack of a schedule and my inability not to get sick, winter traffic (remember the Winter of 2010?) and a 40 minute commute. It took me 3 attempts to withdraw my name: they kept calling telling me how happy I’d be to work for their organization: how they always had fun.