The path to my first ‘real’ job: The good the bad the ugly

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When I graduated from college, I was stoked! Cool new real job here I come! All my hard work was going to pay off finally! My resume was perfected! I had several different people look it over. Once I completed my move to southern MN, it wouldn’t be long, and I would be gainfully employed! ….and cue the crickets…

I unemployed for six months. The job I did get was not one I liked ( I wrote about it here)

However, there is a lot to be learned from that journey of unemployment. It was a humbling experience, though not one I wish to repeat 🙂

24 Interviews

It took 24 interviews before I finally had an offer for my first job. There were some disappointments, don’t get me wrong! But, some of those interviews were duds. There was even one where I told the interviewer I’d call him. I didn’t because I could read between the lines when he said ‘the woman you would be working for is kind of tough but good’, ie. she’s terrible! This position is open because the last person quit, because of her. No thank you!

What I learned

I became a great interviewee simply because I had so much practice! Many of those interviews were second and third interviews. I became more assertive because I had to be! If I wanted this job, I needed to be better than anyone else interviewing.  I honed my skills, and became more comfortable with the process. My nerves began to calm. I knew the right answers, and I was confident.

Many times, it was between me and one other person. A few times that one other person was an internal hire the hiring manager had already picked before the process started. I came in at a disadvantage, but I knew at least it wasn’t me.

Bait and Switch

Oh the bait and switch. I didn’t think that actually still happened until it happened to me. I was naive :)Four months of unemployment in, and it was my first offer…for 30% less than what the advertisement posted. I was kind of flabbergasted. The advertisement (which I had printed out) clearly stated a different amount. What was going on?

The next step

I brought in the advertisement and showed the manager what their advertisement, that their company wrote stated regarding pay. “Oh, well, this number includes the benefits package”. That was not stated on the advertisement, so I wasn’t buying it. Besides, I had never seen anyone legit do that 🙂  After a string of interviews with no offers. I wasn’t sure what to do. But I felt confident that declining the offer was the best long term decision for me.

What I learned

I had to trust my gut with this one. I’m so glad I did too! It was hard because I didn’t know when I would get another offer. But, the fact is, if they are willing to lie about pay before even accepting the job, what will they do when you get the job? It’s not worth it.

***I’m not going to name names or anything, but this particular company recently had a little issue with opening a bunch of accounts in customers names…without telling the customers about it, to boost their sales numbers. It’s a disaster, but I’m not surprised.***

My ‘friends’

I knew where I wanted to be in my career. When I was in college my friends were all career oriented too. It was great because we all had the goal of being successful in our careers! Unfortunately, the culture where I was in MN was very different. Well meaning people who would tell me ‘ why don’t you just go get a job at the grocery store down the road’. ‘Why don’t you just work as a server at the restaurant down the road.’ My answer to both of those where the same.

1. I didn’t want to.

2. Those jobs would not even begin to pay my bills.

3. For cryin’ out loud! I’ve only been here 2 weeks and I still have plenty of savings!

What I learned

Sometimes, you need a job to pay the bills while looking for a better job. That was not the case here. Many of these people have been in the same dead end jobs for years. Some of them dropped out, some of them graduated but realized they didn’t want a job with actual responsibility. Low paying dead end jobs were fine for them. I had to let those ‘friends’ go. They weren’t mean or anything. But, I didn’t want their mentality and lack of support to rub off on me. They had no drive they were just subsisting. That may be fine for them, that may make them happy, but it was not fine for me. I needed to hang out with driven people who were looking to grow too, we could push each other to grow! I knew hanging out with complacent and comfortable people did me no good personally.

Many interviews: one big company

My location in MN was very small. There were a few companies there, but nothing huge (that anyone outside of MN would have heard of 🙂 ) One of those companies made stationary, among other paper related things. I was trying to get in with them because they appeared good from the outside. But as I had multiple interviews with them for various positions, and some things started to pop up.

1. Why is their advertisement different from the job offer? ie. the job is part time, the advertisement is full time.

2. Have a great interview…recruiter won’t return my calls or emails. Later on I learn these positions are going to internal hires. I’m sitting here going ‘what is going one here’. Do these people know what they are doing? But, they have jobs, I needed a job, it was a small town, something to pay the bills until I get a real job, limited options….blah blah blah

What I learned

Everything comes out in the wash. It turns out the former CEO wanted to retire, (who can blame him!) so he put his daughter in charge of the family business. Instead of running the family business she was out golfing…a lot… and coding her outings as business expenses. However, she wasn’t taking clients golfing to try to earn their business, she was taking her friends. One of my co-workers parents worked for that company, she pretty high up. She quit and told the owner she would happily work for him, but doing his daughters accounting was a disaster. Long story short, Dad came back and fixed it before his daughter ran it into the ground. Apparently, they are running better now.


Anytime I had a find a job without a job, at least it wasn’t as bad as my time in MN. I always had something to compare it to. It was never that bad again 🙂 If you’re unemployed, it can feel like you will never be employed again! I understand I’ve been there. But, you will get there, it won’t last forever. Just keep plugging away, if one tactic doesn’t work try another until you find something that does work. You will get there 🙂 You will find that job!





Welcome to My Career Journey! I use my very unique career path to help you grow your business and career!
I’ve lived in seven different states over the past ten years. That’s a lot of jobs! Different industries, and different work cultures! Both good and bad 🙂
Thank you so much for stopping by. I look forward to helping you grow!
career, job, unemployment

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