Stuttering through some interviews

Yesterday I talked about how I didn’t know how to find a job. So what did I do?

I did manage to get one call from a company in Connecticut based on an application I submitted online. (By this time I was living at my parent’s house).

So I drove up there and back in the same day. I’m sure I stuttered through a few things, but otherwise just kept my mouth shut. It was a small engineering company that made … something. Can’t remember. Anyway, while I was talking to one of the managers, he was looking at his computer and reading e-mails. Right. Obviously that didn’t turn out well.

I had two more interviews thanks to … my dad. He was a manager of engineering at a pharmaceutical company and knew a bunch of people. One day he came up to me (after seeing that I wasn’t getting anywhere with this) and asked if I needed some help. Sure did! So there you go — family networking.

He helped get me an interview with a consulting company that had an office down in South Carolina. On the morning of Sept 11, I got up, turned on the news, and saw what was happening. I watched it all morning with my mom, and my dad came home early. I was really distraught about all of this — I had even been to the Towers back in March. That afternoon I got a call from the company in South Carolina. They wanted to fly me down for an interview. What was my availability? Um … yay?

Did I learn anything about interviewing in college (from going to career services)? Of course not. Did I practice answering any questions (Where do you see yourself in five years? Um, here?). No again. What about actually looking at my “resume” and being able to talk about it (So, what does all this work at the newspaper have to do with engineering?) Um … right. Again, I think a lot of this had to do with, ‘well, he’s smart, he can figure it out.’

The process ended up taking all day. I spoke with a half dozen engineers and managers. I think all they wanted to see was that I had graduated and could behave myself in an office environment. I told the same stuff to all of them. Years later when I had to interview people myself, I understood their enthusiasm for this type of thing. The best part of course was that I didn’t have to say my name to any of them, and by the end of the day, I had said the same thing so many times I wasn’t stuttering as much.

That evening a few of them took me out for dinner. Obviously I was terrified of this prospect. I’d have to talk and socialize and … who knows. Fortunately the guys who I went out with were all good friends with each other, and one of them was pretty talkative. So I could just sit and make the occasional small remark.

I didn’t end up getting that job (they eventually saw it as some sort of conflict-of-interest thing with my dad) but at least I got some interviewing experience.

The next “interview” that I got was with a smaller consulting company that was doing work in my hometown. One of the guys there used to work with my dad. I can’t recall any of the interview. But I have a feeling it was more of a “make sure he’s not some weirdo” and thus, “how soon can you start?” They were hurting for people, and especially young people to do a bunch of grunt work. So exactly three months after leaving my last final at Pitt, I started my first job.

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