So there I was sitting at the nail salon trying to ignore my social anxiety and pretending to be enjoying the small talk between the nail technician and myself.
She asked me questions and I’d respond with as little information as I could whilst also trying to share some kind of meaningful quips to make her think I was somewhat invested. Call me crazy but I have this burning desire to be liked by everyone and anyone even if I’d much rather have spent 12 hours watching countless Youtube tutorials on how to give yourself a manicure that would match my ‘business suit’ all for a job interview I was not looking forward to but desperately wanting to impress in.
This is literally the story of my life, putting myself in a very awkward situation in order to do well in something that doesn’t even interest me, mainly because I believe that it will make people like me more.
This interview was for a role I never even considered as a possible career move, and yet I thought, hey why not! I’m not good at a lot of things but if there is one thing I excel at it’s collecting experiences in different jobs, and I’ve had a lot of them.
Scott and I spent a better part of 3 days going into every shop we could think of trying to find good outfits that would make me look business savvy and clever, whilst also maintaining a feminine and pretty air about me.
I had prepared for this interview, my CV was completely gutted, I had been prepped by the agent who had basically told me to forget everything I’d ever learned from previous interviews and focus on ‘why I wanted this job more than anything in this world’ despite that being far from the truth, I wanted them to believe it, I wanted the employers to see my desperation at having a paying job as being eager to begin a career with their company.
So I figured having nice polished nails would give me an edge above the competition. My outfit would say serious but my nails would say classy and fun. I don’t even know if they got that but I can tell you that I experienced my worst interview with that company.
I’ve been rejected from jobs before, even from ones I’ve been desperate for, but the feeling I was left was nothing compared to that day. I smiled my best smile, I made them laugh, I showed them how serious and eager and loyal I was as an employee. I did my research on the company and the bosses and it paid off by the way they looked at me but still it wasn’t enough.
I went in there feeling better than I had in several years but left feeling like everything I had done in my personal and professional life was basically for nothing.
After updating my agent on what had happened, I wished I hadn’t put myself in such a precarious situation. How stupid was I to quit my job with no back up plan?
I guess for some reason I thought looking to my agent for advice and some comfort, I was once again showing my immaturity, because this is adulthood, real life, London. I wasn’t a young girl in a small town in Devon anymore. These people didn’t know me beyond what my CV said and my agent was no friend of mine.
Call it crazy but I didn’t expect my agent to berate me and pick apart my outfit and my choices, and if that is the way the world works then maybe I’m not made to have a fancy chair in a big office surrounded by big wigs.
So I spent the rest of the day wallowing in self-pity and thinking about how I endured 2 hours of awkwardness and false laughs at the nail salon for a pointless exercise and conversation of how because I didn’t have a masters I was clearly not smart enough to hold down a job in their office.
I was meant to hear back the following day about whether I got the job or not, so when I didn’t in fact when 2 days had passed and I had not heard from the employers or the agents, I figured, I hadn’t got the job.
But hey, 3 days later I got the call that they wanted me, they wanted me to start as a temp, for £6k less than what we had discussed, but they wanted me to start immediately.
Talk about the most unromantic job offer but I figured my bills were stacking up and I needed to pay them so despite my reservations about the bully agents and the horrible people I had met at the interview, I figured why not, I’m young, I have time to figure out my next steps but I was going to be in a better position to figure things out if my bills and debts were being paid. I mean that’s what life is about right? Wrong.
My first day in the office I wasn’t introduced to anyone, I wasn’t taken on a tour of the building like I had been treated to in every other job. In fact the first thing I was asked to do was sign a non-disclosure form.
If I wasn’t bound by a piece of paper (that they have probably lost already) you know for sure I would tell you all the crazy things that happened during my time at that office. Because lets face it, no normal office would make you sign a non-disclosure form right?
Despite the crazy bosses, unreasonable requests and lack of camaraderie that I experienced during this time, I made myself get up and go to work everyday with a renewed excitement and passion for my job. I made sure I was at least 30 minutes early everyday, despite the fact that they wouldn’t let me have the door code to the office and that most employees didn’t get into the office until at least about 09:15am, despite starting at 09:00am. Those very rare occasions when someone was already in the office when I got there, I would still have to wait outside, rain or shine until someone else would be arriving at work, as the person would usually ignore my buzzing of the door.
Despite not having a lunch break most of the time and even if I did have one I would be forced to perform some kind of menial task during this sacred hour off, I endured, because I believed it would be an opportunity to show how hard I worked and how determined I was to springboard my career off of this ‘valuable’ experience. I made the best of the situation despite the crap I got from colleagues who saw me as nothing more than ‘a glorified help for them’ and agents who would first of all try to reduce my hourly rate believing I wouldn’t call them out and criticizing how I filled in their out of date way of filing paperwork that was as useless as their way of managing their ‘clients’. All of this added with the fact that my ‘work’ would constantly tell me how great I was at my job whilst behind my back interviewing my replacement pretty much as soon as I had started.
I never considered this a career for life but I thought I’d be there for at least a year, which would give me a chance to pay things off and figure out my next move. I was unhappy at my situation but always grateful for the opportunity to have one less thing to worry about.
Scott and I were getting a routine down, we both worked long hours and wouldn’t get home till late so we would make sure that during the week all we had to do was eat dinner, talk and go to bed. It sounds boring but for us it worked, our jobs exhausted us that sometimes all we needed was a simple night in to recuperate before the craziness started again.
I was optimistic because I felt like I was doing well. I even managed to get a whole 2-minute conversation out of the office grump. He actually asked me about my evening, and despite it being boring, he seemed satisfied that his life wasn’t the only thing that sucked in the office (that’s not any better is it?)
I was doing good work, and actually started to feel secure about my position, I’d managed to get a good rapport going with one of our other offices manager, he’d email me jokes and would often call just to say Hi. I was given a task and noticed that in one long email chain, there were at least 20 different names all for one position…my position. I felt a little sick, what kind of work place has a staff turnover of over 20 in less than a year for one position?
Again I chose to ignore this big red flag. I stopped job-hunting because I was convinced that they liked me enough to keep me.
So when they accepted my holiday request of 5 days off to go back to Devon to be with my family for my sister’s graduation I figured that they wouldn’t have done that if they were planning on getting rid of me. Heck they even hired a temporary replacement to replace me, a temp. A temp had her own temp, I thought it was a good thing.
I let myself have a guilt free time off and didn’t feel the need to worry about not having a job to go back to.
I’m glad I let myself have that moment of peace and happiness.
Because when I returned on Thursday, I was thrust into the deep end, I was busy and it was like I hadn’t been off for a week. I felt optimistic, I thought, Jessica you’re finally having a bit of luck.
I had meetings planned for the week after, I shared jokes with my office colleague, I finally got a smile from my boss. I left the office that evening feeling positive about my future.
Then I got a phone call from my agent, he told me they no longer needed my services and my last day would be the following day. He explained that there was no feedback from the employers, that they liked me and felt I worked hard, but that ultimately they could not see a future with me. Well isn’t that just a shit excuse to say, sorry but not sorry, you’re not cut out for our office. As if by some kind of consolation prize, he said that I had outlasted all the other candidates.
I thought to myself, well yeh, I would have stayed until I probably died in the office because I’m not usually the kind of person who gives up. Fine I gave up my previous job but that was because my hands were tied, I would not have been able to be a good employee anymore if I had stayed, it wasn’t fair on my employers if I stayed and no longer had heart for what we did, despite it being mismanaged I still cared deeply for the growth and ultimate help that they provided to people in need. This job, well it had less of a charitable goal but I still felt loyal to them, and I was repaid by being given 1 days notice.
I took a deep breath and thanked them for ‘all their help and support’ and went home to cry for several hours before realizing it was my saving grace. Because something that could have turned into a soul sucking, meaningless job turned into a very short lived career that’s worth a several blog posts detailing my escapades and life lessons I learned, and lets not forget the best thing about this whole situation is that I got a really nice manicure that lasted way longer than my job, and I do highly recommend the nail salon in Biggin Hill because despite their awkward small talk, they do give you the softest feeling hands whilst making sure your nails look bomb.
Hey, it’s the littlest things in life that can make you happy.
Do something to make your parents proud today, your kids proud someday, and you proud everyday!
Peace and Love,