Let me tell you about my first job after graduating from college. While I was still in school, I had an excellent part-time job at a bed and breakfast in Harvard Square and when I graduated, I got another part-time job at a nonprofit that did community-based revitalization that was focused on a small business district outside of Boston. I lived in the area and was so excited about this job as a program coordinator (or something like that), because the organization was planning a huge fundraiser for later in the year, and I was really interested in event coordination.
But I didn’t last long at the nonprofit.
First, let me tell you about the interview. While it was only one round and I didn’t have to prepare anything, I did have to give an impromptu pitch to a (fake) potential donor in front of the Executive Director and a board member. Thankfully, I nailed it. But here’s the thing: the interview gave me the impression that I would be doing the sort of thing for my job.
That was not the case. I can’t really remember what I did, but I think it was mostly administrative tasks that barely moved the needle on planning the fundraiser.
So here’s the part where you probably say something about it being my first job and that I have to pay my dues and all that. I get where you’re coming from, and I mostly agree, but it was not my first job; I started working when I was 16 (at my dance studio, another fun work story), and continued working through college. In fact, thanks to Northeastern’s cooperative education program, I spent six months writing copy and managing a store for the e-tailer that would become Wayfair. Plus, I also had the B&B job for a few years, among others.
Anyway, the point is that the interview seemed like it was for a totally different position, and one that I was qualified to do, based on my interview and experience.
The other thing that happened was that I was tasked with emailing a contact about the fundraiser, so I did. Not long after (minutes or hours, maybe), I got a phone call from the board chair YELLING at me for doing so. Apparently, someone else had already emailed the contact, so it made the nonprofit look bad. (Whoever emailed did not include me on the correspondence, so there was no way I would have known.)
After getting yelled at, I talked to the owner of the B&B and she offered me a full-time role. I gave notice at the nonprofit the next day.
During my notice period, the nonprofit Executive Director told me that she’d had an aha moment and asked if I felt the interview misrepresented the job. I don’t think I had even figured that out at the time, but she nailed it. On top of that, I was bored, sick of being called an intern (which happened regularly despite the fact that it was not an internship), and would not tolerate being yelled at by a board member.
I was devastated about leaving a job that would (in theory) get me special events experience only to double-down at the B&B when I wasn’t planning on a career in hospitality; but it was the right thing for me to do. I was appreciated there, and that mattered a whole lot more.
So besides finding an employer who appreciates you (and doesn’t let board members/higher-ups abuse you), another lesson of this post is: if you’re an employer or hiring manager, make sure your interviews match the roles you’re hiring for. In other words, don’t make them pretend they’re pitching a table at your gala to Robert Kraft if their job is going to be data entry.