Applying for my first ‘big boy’ job

Jeremy, a former Apple Retail worker, had been searching for a job better suited to the life he wanted. After a few weeks of searching, he finally got a call back from a local marketing firm and was invited to meet with the hiring manager. He was excited to think of himself sitting behind a desk working on copywriting and refining campaign language. When he arrived at the address, he found a small office space with an oddly-placed desk that was too big for the room and a musty smell. The hiring manager greeted him with enthusiasm and introduced himself as Andrew.

The user remembered that they had been asked why they wanted to leave Apple and they replied with a few "white lies" about wanting to try out the marketing industry and wanting a new challenge. The interviewer then said that the user would be a great fit and offered to set up a meeting with Chris who was handling demos for a client nearby. The user accepted the offer and was provided with the address. The address was about 10 minutes away, and when the user arrived it was part of a large shopping center. After searching for building number, 12540, the user asked the greeter at Sam's Club and found out that the building was located there.

I called my contact. “Hello?” said the uncertain voice. “Hey Chris, this is Andrew. I believe you’re expecting me, but I think maybe the hiring manager gave me the wrong address. I’m at the Sam’s Club?” After a brief pause, the timid reply, “Oh yeah. I’ll meet you out front in a few minutes. I’m about to take my lunch.”

What a relief. I was meeting up with this guy on his lunch break. We’d chop it up, shake hands, then I’d call the hiring manager back and accept my new position. After 10 minutes alone I started to get a little uneasy. I called and it went to voicemail.

To relieve some of the nervous energy I figured I’d take a lap around the store. I took my time in the electronics section. Browsing TVs and computer monitors. I’d heard Sam’s Club recently bolstered its craft beer offering so I headed to the back corner of the warehouse to take a look.

The messy reality

Up ahead, there was a warehouse-grade traffic jam of shoppers poorly handling carts too large for them. After the knot unraveled, a scene materialized that didn’t initially connect.

A linoleum platform raised 6 inches off the ground. A young man in khakis and a polo. A yellow mop bucket with dirty gray water sloshing over the side onto the linoleum. A lone older lady standing in front of the linoleum platform with a vacant expression. I quickly scanned the gold rectangular name tag pinned to the polo. Chris.

This was it, the product demo the hiring manager mentioned. Chris’ product demo was spilling dirty water onto a staged linoleum floor and then mopping it up hoping to impress little old ladies doing their grocery shopping. “…and you see how much easier it soaks up all the mess.”

The little old lady moved on without a word. Chris’ eyes shifted around and landed on me. Somehow he knew, “Oh, hey. I’ll meet you right up front. Give me a sec.”

I made my way back to the food court. I sat at a small table and waited. Chris walked up rubbing sanitizer on his hands. “Sorry about that,” he said, “I was hoping to be done by the time you got here.” The look on his face proclaimed what he really meant. You weren’t supposed to see that.

I politely asked a few questions about his experience with the company. What did a project look like from start to finish? How long would you expect to work with any given client? What other venues did he work for his current clients? I couldn’t wait to clock in for my next Apple shift.

Where I am now

I had a vision for what my work-life balance should be. I looked for a quick solution and was disappointed with what I found. I knew I wanted a career doing work I enjoyed that also afforded me time to pursue my passions.

A couple years later, I left Apple and began working as an audio technical writer for a local AV hardware manufacturer. From there, the world of remote work revealed itself. I made incremental moves toward a remote role.

7 years and 3 jobs later I’m working for a medical software company helping oncologists leverage our products to treat cancer patients more. I’m fully remote, work with a fantastic team, am proud of the work I do, and am fully able to realize my passions outside of work.

If you know what you want for your life and your work, don’t look for the quick fix. Your life is big and important. Make calculated moves and take your time. After years of consistently making small decisions aimed toward my goal, I find myself living the dream.

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