A Stepping Stone

I really didn’t sleep very well last night. My brain wouldn’t turn off, so I felt like I had some amount of consciousness all night. I think I was really anxious about the possible sudden opportunity for which I was having an interview today.

I first met with my friend. He sat me down and explained his current needs and what he would want me to do, even though it would only be to get me familiarized with the company. I would basically be working directly under him, micromanaging certain accounts for him so that he doesn’t have to worry about the details.

My friend is very professional at work. He’s the only one (besides his boss) who wears a suit (without a tie, i.e. “business casual”). Everyone else wears something that ranges from jeans and a T-shirt to a button down shirt with dark khakis. He also puts his entire being into his work, often staying three or four hours later than everyone else. He works incredibly hard, but he’s also the sales and marketing manager after only working there a few months. I think I can learn a lot from him.

Outside of work, my friend has always been seemingly more confident and comfortable with himself. He’s almost the complete opposite of me. He knows exactly where he wants to go professionally, he has a steady boyfriend, and he’s totally sure of himself. Because he is so different from me, I think I can also learn a lot about myself from reconnecting with him.

On a complete sidenote, my friend unfortunately still remembers a lot of the embarrassing and awkward things I used to do and say when I was a teenager struggling with being gay. He remembers the conversation we had when I said I was “asexual” rather than defining myself as gay or straight. I think I’m less awkward now, but I can still get pretty awkward around gay boys (I’ve mentioned this before). Hopefully my friend can teach me to be less awkward too.

Anyway, after about an hour of talking to my friend, he took me to see his boss. His boss’s office is a huge mess, but his boss is also incredibly wise and smart. His boss has a Ph.D. in physics and asked me a lot of philosophical questions about life and time. If you were wondering, “time is the most important parameter of all,” whether you’re talking about life or physics. His argument for it was very wise (and funny).

The interview with my friend’s boss wasn’t anything like my Target interviews, probably because my friend already wanted to hire me. A lot of the questions were about math and why I liked it. He also asked what I wanted in life ten years from now. My friend’s boss talked about the circle of life, and how his role now was to help smart young people (like me) get started in their careers. I could definitely see that I could learn a lot from him, too.

I basically had a job from the moment I walked into the building. The difficult part is that they don’t even know what job they want to give me (I don’t think there was really a position open), and the reason for that is because I don’t know what I can do or want to do. My friend knows that I’m (vaguely) studying for the actuary exams, so it’s also hard to say how long I would stay with his company.

My friend and his boss are willing to offer me 1.5 times what I make at Target (so still not that much), but it’s because I would be starting as my friend’s assistant until I can figure out what my strengths are and what position within the company I can really excel at. Once I have figured those things out, then we can renegotiate my deal and move to a different position. I haven’t found out about benefits yet, but I assume there will be some.

In the end, the skills and experience I can gain from this computer company would be more useful and applicable to a professional career than the skills I’m gaining at Target. What’s interesting is that my friend and his boss know that this job is just a stepping stone. I can use the skills I gain from their company to get an even better job down the line that is better suited to what I can do and what I want (whatever that is).

I guess this means I’m giving my two weeks notice to Target tomorrow. Because I have some consecutive days off from Target next week, though, I might start working for my new company on Monday.

It’s going to be interesting leaving Target. I still love my job and all the people with whom I work, but there’s no future there. Meanwhile, this new job is being built by constantly thinking about the future. My future. It’s hard not to pass up such an opportunity.

Even still, I’m nervous. Whatever responsibilities they throw at me, they’re going to be challenging. They have high expectations because I’m “smart” (and I really don’t think I am). I feel like I haven’t used my brain (in an intellectual sense) in a very long time, so I hope I can get used to using it again.

Sudden Opportunity

I recently started reconnecting (vaguely) with one of my few gay friends (I’ve mentioned him before). We messaged each other online a little bit over the last week or two. Yesterday, I told him that I was working at Target and he said it was such a waste. He thinks I’m smart or something.

My friend surprisingly called me tonight and asked if I wanted to work for him. He works in the sales and marketing department for a small computer company, and he’s looking for smart people to help boost the company.

Long story short, I have a “casual” interview with him and his boss tomorrow morning. I’m not sure if I’m a right fit for the company yet, but there’s no harm in going to see what my friend does and what I could do for his company. Isn’t it crazy where opportunities come from? I wasn’t expecting to possibly find a job from reconnecting with a friend who I’ve had sporadic (at best) contact with over the last ten years. But let’s see where it takes me!

Here’s an interesting and somewhat related story. I went to Starbucks earlier today to do a little studying, and I noticed that a nearby Starbucks was having a hiring fair for store managers and assistant managers today. I thought to myself that I had missed an opportunity, not knowing I’d get a call from my friend just a few hours later!

Team Leader Assessment

Every so often (I’m not sure how often), Target has a market assessment that lets them know how many internal team members are ready to become team leaders (regular ones, not executive). They schedule a day where a few select team members from each store in a district gather at one Target for this assessment. Each team member is interviewed by three different human resources executives (not from our own store, of course, because of bias). Afterwards, the executives decide who is ready to be a team leader immediately and who still needs more development. That way, when a need for team leaders arises (anywhere in the district), the interviewing process for qualified candidates is already done.

I was told of this assessment a few weeks ago, but I didn’t hear anything about it again until a few days ago. Because I was scheduled to interview for an executive position, I was not originally selected to participate in the assessment. When word spread that I didn’t do so hot on my executive interview, my store team leader and human resources executive team leader decided to squeeze me into the schedule. Even though it was short notice, they gave me the opportunity to practice my interviewing skills and maybe (eventually) become a team leader in the process. There are only supposed to be three candidates per store, but my store ended up with four because of me.

Even though today was originally my day off, I went in to work in the morning (9am, not 6am) for the assessment. I got paid for participating. Before I knew it, I had three interviews, almost back to back. Afterwards, I had to take an hour long, multiple choice assessment test on the computer, much like the “written” part of an exam. The test asked a lot of questions about what makes a good manager and what characteristics described me. I had to answer as honestly as possible, even though I know some of what I answered wasn’t the best “manager” answer. Oh well, hopefully they’ll like me anyway.

Overall, all three of my interviews went a lot more smoothly than my executive interview. I was very excited to talk about Target. I still felt nervous, but not nearly as much as before. At least I felt more like myself in the interviews. I’m supposed to hear back within a week about how I did; either my store team leader or my human resources executive team leader will sit me down and discuss my assessment. Even though my particular store isn’t hiring new team leaders right now, I hope I did well.

After the assessment was over and I clocked out for the day, I walked around Target for a few hours, sort of like I usually do on my days off, except that I was wearing red and khaki. So when I was following around my work crush while he did his work, executives and guests could perceive it as me just slacking off from work. Eventually, one of the executives told me to stop distracting the working team members and just finish my shopping and go home. She said not to take it personally, but I was sad.

No Future

I asked my store team leader about the meeting he had yesterday with my interviewer. He told me that my interviewer thought I came off as very nervous during the interview and suggested that I start as a regular team leader to gain more leadership experience before trying to become an executive team leader.

The team leader position is definitely a step up from my current position, but it’s also a world away from being an executive. Team leaders are paid hourly at about 1.5 times my pay rate (think of cashews instead of peanuts), whereas executive team leaders are paid a (decent) salary.

I’m disappointed in the situation, but mostly I’m frustrated with myself. I really didn’t feel nervous before the interview. I even felt almost confident. But once the interview started, I became a different person. Once I’m in the interview environment, my brain shuts down and my nerves take over. If I consciously know that someone is judging me, my ability to articulate thoughts is thrown out the window.

My fear of failing at interviews causes me to fail at interviews. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’m starting to wonder if my fear of being judged stems from being closeted for so long. I’ve been so afraid that people would find out that I’m gay that I get nervous and defensive when all eyes are on me.

The worst part of this whole situation is that my severe lack of interviewing skills will prevent me from getting any job which requires an interview, which is pretty much any job worth getting. My parents tell me that the only way to become comfortable during interviews is to go to a lot of interviews. But that implies that I will fail at interviews countless times before eventually getting my first job. Considering that I’ve never gotten a call back for an interview from any job to which I’ve applied (except Target, which barely counts because I had connections), just getting the “practice” interviews for me to fail at could take years. I really am unemployable.

My store team leader said that I shouldn’t reapply for the executive team leader position for at least six months (to let my name pass through the system). Given that, I don’t know how much longer I should stay at Target. I basically have no future there. I don’t really want to quit without having another job to fall back on, but I can’t just sit on this job forever.

Since my life has no meaning or direction, needless to say I was pretty down all day. My work crush tried to cheer me up a little bit (in his straight guy, arm’s length distant way), but even interaction with him was little solace.

I Don’t Charge Friends

I don’t want to talk about my interview until I know how I did. I’m not really superstitious, but I don’t want to jinx myself. The store team leader said he would meet with my store team leader and the district team leader tomorrow and let me know “what the next step is” early next week.

Meanwhile, one of my friends at work needs help in math. She’s taking the GED exam next week. I helped her a little bit during her break at work, and we’re meeting tomorrow to have a proper tutoring session. I’m not going to charge her for my services, though. I don’t like to charge friends, and I’m pretty sure she’s not expecting (or able) to pay me.

Tutoring, whether paid or unpaid, is always a good learning experience for me. I like tutoring, and I’m just glad to be able to help.

The Suit, The Hair, And The Donut

I ran some errands today in preparation for my interview tomorrrow. I recently bought a suit so I would have something to wear when interviewing for jobs, but I didn’t get a chance to get the pants hemmed until today (I didn’t think I would be needing the suit so quickly). I got the suit at a considerable discount because I went with a friend who bought four suits during a special sale. Actually, the deal included a dress shirt, tie, belt, and socks! Even at a discount, I hesitated briefly before buying it; after all, an inexpensive suit is still expensive to someone who makes what I make.

Anyway, I dropped off my pants at a nearby dry cleaners. While I waited for my pants to be hemmed, I went to the bank to deposit my paycheck (yay), and then went to Target to see if the executive team leader would said she would help me prepare for my interview was there. She wasn’t. Instead, I ended up spending three hours at Target, mostly chatting with my work crush while he worked. Most days when I visit and he’s working, I follow him around and talk to him. He doesn’t mind; he likes talking about himself (in a cute and totally narcissistic way).

After I picked up my pants from the dry cleaners, I got a (long overdue) haircut at my usual barber shop. Next to the barber shop is a 24 hour donut shop. I can’t even tell you how much I love donuts. In high school, my classmates would call me Donut King because I would bring donuts to class. I would sell enough donuts to break even and then eat the profits. Even one of my team leaders at Target called me Donut King once because I split a bag of Hostess donuts with him (and inhaled 12 of them in ten minutes).

I couldn’t resist buying a donut (chocolate twist, yum) from the donut shop. It reminded me of going to Tim Hortons with my friends in graduate school. Donuts are easily one of my favorite foods. It’s unfortunate that they’re so unhealthy.

Tonight, I finally learned how to tie a tie. I followed the steps from Tie-a-Tie.net to make a half Windsor knot (the full one is too complicated for me), and I tied a near perfect tie after only three tries! I highly recommend the website!

Now that I have the suit, the hair, and the donut, I should be presentable for tomorrow’s interview. Wish me luck!

Behavioral Based Interview

The store team leader finally called me to schedule a screening interview. My interview is in two days. I’m freaking out about it, but not as much as I would have if my interview was two months ago (when it should have been). Because I’m considering other options besides being an executive team leader at Target, I’m not putting all my hopes into this one job. That takes a little bit of stress off the interview, but I still want to do well on it.

I’m not sure how to prepare for the interview. Target uses behavioral based interview questions, but I can’t think of any specific instances from my teaching and teaching assistant jobs when I solved a problem or overcame failiure. I got the job done, my students were happy, and the semester ended. I don’t know what my thought processes were or what specific actions I took to yield a certain outcome. I didn’t think so hard about it.

One thing I definitely have to do before my interview is learn how to tie a tie.