Lessons Learned: No's & Pivots
While writing the second, "Lessons Learned" blog post which talked about what I learned from past employers, I started to think of the lessons I learned from the jobs I didn't get.
I can't give you a total amount of interviews I've ever done, but I can tell you about the positions I either really wanted or the interviews that made the most impact on my career path. I have taken the time to share these lessons with you, my lovely reader, in hopes that you will be motivated to think of your own lessons learned over the years and hopefully feel called to share your own lessons. Since high school, I knew one thing to be certain and that was that I wanted to inspire others. I wasn't sure how I wanted to leave an impact, but that was always my goal for my life and still is. We all have something special to share with the world because of our individual perspectives and experiences.
One of my favorite interviews I've done to date was for a company called, transFORM, a custom storage company in New Rochelle, NY. It was 2016 and was still working for H&M at the time. I was actively looking for ways I could get my career started since there were no active visual merchandising positions open. I got a call back after applying and made the trip to New York. At the time, my husband and I only had one car and he needed it for work so, I hopped on the train and arrived very early for my interview.
Since I was super early, I decided to just walk around for a little while. I walked pretty much up and down New Rochelle for an hour to kill time. On the way to the interview, there was this delicious smell of freshly baked bread from a bread bakery. I didn't go inside since they probably didn't take cards like another store I tried to buy food from.
The interview pretty much took all day, but I really enjoyed it! It was an interview unlike any I'd had. First, they gave me a tour of the large showroom, showing me where they actually make the custom storage components, the different vignettes, and the computers they used to create the custom storage designs, a lot like AutoCad & Revit. The interview consisted of the typical interview questions, but then they asked me hypothetical questions and asked me to measure the window from top to bottom and sketch it, do the connect-the-dots-without-lifting-your-pencil quiz and asked me to come up with a solution for a closet. It was very hands-on.
They fed me, thankfully because I was starving by the time I did all of this. Plus, I was still breastfeeding and really needed to pump, but I didn't bring my pump because I expected to be home in about two hours and ended up leaving there about four hours later.
I really thought I would have gotten the job because I even interviewed with the owners, Andres and Stuart. They were lovely and the conversation was great. I didn't get the job, obviously, but it was worth trying.
The best way to interview people (in my opinion) is to see how they respond to challenging prompts/instructions. I wasn't able to solve the dot or the closet challenge, but I tried anyway and gayly laughed when my interviewer showed me the answers. It shows good sportsmanship and the willingness to learn. Also, I learned that I refuse to lie during interviews. I told them I took the train when they asked how my drive was. I know I could have said the drive was fine, but when I am on the spot, even in interviews, I will tell the truth, always. I may have missed opportunities this way, but I value honesty.
When I knew I couldn't stay at H&M any longer at the start of 2017, I had applied at my last job and Lillian August and had an interview for them on the same day. Right after my in-person interview at my last job, I drove over to Lillian August about 15-minutes away for my interview there. I didn't have my hearing aids yet at this time so the interview was a little challenging to hear everything with my tinnitus. I did my best and felt good about the overall interview.
I did start getting nervous because I realized they would use the speakers to communicate with employees. With my hearing issue, I'd surely miss something. I was still excited to start the job should I be offered a job. I figured I'd just figure it out as I go. This position was in a design center and would be a great opportunity to work in the interior design industry.
I followed up with a thank you email for good measure and hoped for the best. They responded that I should hear back in the next week. I hadn't heard back in a couple of weeks so I was getting nervous. Then, I heard back from my last job. I was weighing the pros and cons of accepting either job. With my last job, I'd work 9-5 and have the weekends off FINALLY. With Lillian August, I'd have to work varied hours throughout the week with one weekend off a month, but I'd be home by 9PM instead of 11PM at H&M.
Since I hadn't heard from Lillian August, I accepted the job with my last job. I ended up getting a call from Lillian August a few days later...
I didn't want to tell my last job that I was backing out, which I realized was a deep-seated emotion I needed to uncover and come to terms with. So, I turned down Lillian August even though I had wanted to work there so badly and had applied a couple years prior. I beat myself up a bit after not accepting the job. I even contacted them a few months later to see if they had positions available.
They didn't respond.
Though I was upset, I did realize how important it was and necessary it was that I took the position to my last job. I was able to spend more time with my family now that we were all home on the same days and same times. I felt like I was missing out on all the important milestones with my son while I was working in retail. Also, I needed to experience a position that wasn't constant public-facing. I'm an empath, after all. Plus, I wouldn't have had the amount of flexibility I had at my last job at Lillian August that I ended up needing, especially as my son started pre-school.
At the top of this year, I was ready to start job-hunting after leaving Havenly and was hoping to leave my office job as soon as possible. I began looking into other e-design companies and design firms. I knew of designers that worked with Homepolish so I decided to give it a try. Thanks to my design friend letting me know what I'd need to have ready for the possible interview, I spent January gathering my portfolio together and refreshed my resume. Just in time, I received an email from a rep from Homepolish and we set up a time to have the phone interview. I felt the interview went well.
Unfortunately, I didn't receive the position due to lack of experience. I was bummed. I started wondering if I'd be able to leave my office job. I just wanted to successfully start working for myself outside of working for someone else. While working for Homepolish was still working with someone else, I figured it could open up more doors.
In hindsight, it was truly a blessing in disguise that I didn't get this position. Here's an article about the current landscape of the company. Like I said earlier after my experience with transFORM, I value honesty. I value transparency and straight-forwardness which I wouldn't have received at Homepolish and I didn't receive it at my office job either. I do hope all the issues are resolved for those involved in this situation.
The road leading to where I am right now has not been an easy one, but I see how a lot of the no's, whether from me or my potential jobs, were setting me up to be closer to my destined path. It may not be the same for everyone, for sure, but I tend to find myself really having these ah-ha moments after I really wanted something and didn't get it.
The importance of pacifying the need for instant gratification is real.
The power of patience and gratitude is vital.
I'd love to hear any of your no's and pivots you've receive in life, recent or not, that have impacted you and left you with some lessons learned. Tell me about them in the comments below or even hit me up on IG in a DM.
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