Tuesday, November 14, 2006

How I Got My Current Job, or How I Knew My Life is Divinely Guided

So most of you know that I work at the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. What you probably don't know is how I got the job. To me, it's a very interesting story because by all accounts, I probably shouldn't have passed the interview. In fact, I shouldn't have even applied for the position.

It all began when my friend Brian sent me an e-mail about the job. No -- no, I think I must go back earlier than that . . . It all began when I graduated from college and was looking for a job. I applied to position after position in New York City because that's where I wanted to move. I was going to move in with my sister, and together, we would take NYC by storm. My mom and I took a trip to visit, and the day we were supposed to leave for Georgia, I got a call from Cambridge University Press -- they wanted to interview me the very next day. So I changed my flight plans. The interview went very well. I felt good about the whole thing, and confidence is really not my style. I began to think, "Wow, this is really going to happen. I'm going to move to New York. Do I really want to be here?"

The answer to myself was a most definite no, although I didn't want to admit it at the time. And interestingly, I didn't get the job. I got back home and had some other good leads, but no bites. Nobody in NY wanted me. I thought, "Well, maybe I should move to Salt Lake City." (Because most of you know that that's where many young and single Latter-Day Saints are . . .) So I applied to jobs there. And nothing. By that time, I was getting worried. It had been almost four months since I had graduated from college. What was I going to do? I couldn't live with my parents forever! And I had to start making some dents in my credit cards and student loans.

Out of sheer desperation, I applied to a job at my alma mater, the University of West Georgia. My brother-in-law Clay had found the job posting a few months before and told me to apply. I had decided against it at the time, and anyway, the closing date had already passed. But when no one else wanted me, I checked to see if it had been filled. It hadn't. So I applied. Within a week, I got a call from Steven Broome, the supervisor-to-be for the position. He had once taught Summer, Brooks, and me a photography class, and we got along alright. He scheduled me for an interview the next week. The interview went well, and I got the job. I had applied to about 50 jobs outside of Georgia. I applied to two in Georgia . . .

About the time I started my job at UWG, I decided it was time I became active in my church of young and single Latter-Day Saints in Atlanta. I had been going for almost three years, but only on Sunday. I started to go to every possible social activity. At family home evening, I met Brian, and we became fast friends. Around the end of April, Brian e-mailed me and my friend Yvonne to let us know about a Web development position opening up where he worked: the CDC. They were looking for someone with writing and editing experience, he said. "Hey, that's cool," I thought, "but not for me." I let him know that it didn't really fit what I wanted, but thanks anyway. He kind of kept e-mailing me about it, so I thought, "Fine! At least I can just send in my resume to get him off my back!" Besides, I didn't think I'd have a chance at the job, to be honest.

But after I sent my resume in, I got a call from the recruiter saying they wanted to interview me. Okay, okay. I'll go. But I already have a job, and I don't want a new one, and I probably won't get the job, anyway.

As soon as I stepped into the building, I was a little terrified -- professional office buildings always scare me a bit. The recruiter led me into a big conference room, and there I waited for the three people who were going to interview me. They were all very nice and friendly. My questions were going okay for a while, but again, I knew I didn't really want the job a whole lot. Then came the following question:

"Has there been a time when you just didn't get along with someone, but you handled that in a creative way?"



A repeat of the question.

"Umm . . . well . . ." I can't think of ANYTHING! When has there been a time when I handled a bad relationship creatively? When?!? What qualifies as creative? What kind of stupid question is this, anyway!?!?

"Uh, I can't really think of anything . . . Can I think about that and answer it later?"

So one of the interviewers said that was fine, and we continued with the interview. At the end:

"Do you have any questions? Is there anything else you want to add?"

Yeah, there's something I want to add -- my answer to that question I skipped! Even though I don't want this job, I don't want to look like you interviewed a complete idiot!

But I couldn't think of anything. So I didn't even address the skipped question. LAME!

I walked into the building that day feeling terrified. I walked out feeling stupid and embarrassed. The interview was okay besides that one question, but it wasn't spectacular. "At least I already have a job," I thought.

I felt the exact opposite of the way I had felt in that interview at Cambridge University Press. So I called Lexi and told her about it. I told her I wouldn't get the job. She said I would. I explained the whole interview and told her that no, I wouldn't get it. And that was okay by me. She insisted that I would get the job, though, because I was supposed to be in Atlanta. Yeah, sure -- okay, Lexi. Whatever.

But I think I did know she was right. The next week, I got a call from the recruiter, and she told me they wanted to hire me. This opened up a whole new set of problems I wasn't prepared to deal with (e.g., making the decision to move, telling my current boss I was leaving, etc.). But I dealt with them anyway, and here I am in Atlanta -- working at a job I never thought I wanted or would get.

I'm 850 miles from where I wanted to be when I graduated. And who knows where I'll be a year from now. And who knows how I'll get there. But I know without a doubt that Heavenly Father has guided my life to this point, at this place. My story might not seem so coincidental to you, and maybe I'm making it coincidental where it's really not. But I don't think so. Despite my ramblings and unanswered questions in that interview, my co-worker/supervisor Stacey said she thought I did fine. She said it was apparent from my portfolio that I would be perfect for the job. And they had interviewed four people before me!

When I analyze all of this in my mind, I think about how I didn't really want to move. I was scared and nervous about the whole thing. What if I didn't like the new people I'd be working with? What if I couldn't live on my own? What if I couldn't do this job? Those were all justifiable fears at the time, or so I thought. But now I know I can do this job -- I'm doing it. There are challenging moments, but I just love some of the the people I work with. And Stacey is one of the coolest and smartest people I have ever met!

The thing I think about now, though, is that those fears aren't justifiable, really. Now or then. Now I know that God guided me to where I need to be at this very moment. Now I know that every disappointment and every failed plan has a divine purpose. It's not predestined -- it's guided, and depending on how I change my actions according to those disappointments and veering plans is what agency is all about. And God helps me when I make a mess of things (i.e., that interview). Those are all very good reasons not to fear. And yet I struggle with the feeling of fear everyday. But I'm getting better, especially because of this whole experience. And I guess God knew that would happen. :)

Thing I'm thankful for: quiet morning moments.


Blogger Nicole said...

You know, someone we both know thought he only answered using stupid examples that made him look bad and stuff on his recent interview and they ended up wanting him? I am getting a feeling they're generally looking for people who'll honestly say they don't know the answer when they don't. That'd be a definite boost of my confidence in the business/professional world. Maybe they're starting not to want people who can tell elaborate lies at the press of a button. Wouldn't that be neat?

5:07 PM  
Blogger Lexia said...

No the question was, "when was the last time you helped someone in a creative way?" How do I know? Because right after the interview you told me about the question and I said, "Sara, you helped me this morning with my 'CREATIVE ESSAY' for my thesis! HELLO!?!" You're reply, "Oh, yeah."

I knew you would get that job like I know you know what...


If only I could so easily recognize my own answers...

11:12 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

Well, I knew the question had something to do with creativity, anyway, because I remember not being able to come up with a creative answer . . .

11:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

REmember, I said you would get the job too, because I knew you couldn't keep driving from Carrollton to ATlanta for all the singles things. Ha! Mom

7:27 PM  

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