I enjoy keeping in touch with former students, so was pleased to hear from one a few weeks ago. She’s a recent graduate, was a top student with plenty of internships and experience, and will have no trouble finding a job. But she’s looking for work in a specific town, which narrows her options a bit.
She related the following story to me.
A supposedly national company with offices across the U.S. and overseas was hiring marketers and promised a “fast track” to management. She arrived for an interview at a small office with what appeared to be rented furniture and no technology – the receptionist was working on a cell phone. The person she met with had worked there less than a year and had no personal effects or other things on his desk.
The conversation went well, and she was called back for a second interview the next day. She was told she’d be job shadowing, but it was still unclear what the job actually was.
She arrived the following day, as did several other second-round interviewees. They all piled into a car for an “exploratory trip” about an hour and a half away.
“Yes, Mr. Fiene, I gradated Summa Cum Laude yet got into a car with these strangers…..but I know self defense and keep a knife in my purse,” she joked with me later.
The group arrived at the destination, and were asked to cold call on businesses to sell discounted baseball tickets. Not only was it intrusive, she said, but partially dishonest because she was told to tell prospective customers she represented a professional baseball team – which of course was not the case. She wasn’t really sure who she was representing.
So all day long these captive recruits went door to door trying to sell tickets. In talking with others who were on the goose chase with her, she discovered some had been doing this for weeks, yet still don’t know who they worked for or how they were paid. She asked if the company reimbursed for gas or paid for mileage, and was told “there are other potential benefits that offset the cost of gas.”
Fortunately at the end of the day she made it safely back to where she started. Exhausted and feeling duped, she quickly left and didn’t return again.
Here’s what she said she learned:
First, Instincts are important. “Trust yourself when you search for jobs. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.” Her advice is to check the history of the company, look for reviews, and search glassdoor.com for information on salary, benefits and more.
Second, “Don’t sell yourself short.” Most college graduates receive a wonderful education – make sure you don’t squander it. Apply for jobs where you actually have a chance of using the skills that you learned.
Finally, she says, ask questions. Although she got duped for a day, apparently some of her fellow job shadowees had been beating the streets with those baseball tickets for weeks and still didn’t understand what they were doing, or why.
I’m proud of this young lady. She learned lessons that day that will last a lifetime. I’ve had a few similar experiences while job hunting that I’ll write about next time.
One lesson I’ll add though – don’t give your work away for free even in job interview situations. See my post from July 11, 2011 to read more about that.