Wednesday, March 15, 2006

When I gave my two weeks' notice, my boss said,

"I guess some things are just meant to be."

To be honest, I don't really feel comfortable making a definite decision on the whole existence of fate debacle. Partly because things seem to be going pretty well, and I don't want jinx myself, and partly because I'd like to believe that I myself have had something to do with the things going pretty well. But I won't say that I don't have my doubts. (That goes for regular use of double negatives, too.)

When I finished grad school, I had a plan: I was going to travel around the South Pacific for a couple months and then move back to Chicago and get myself some sort of job related to what I'd studied. I undertook part A of that plan and succeeded with flying colors, but did not anticipate the resulting financial straits that left me stranded at my parents' house in LA. So I delayed part B. I got a temporary job in LA while I looked for a full-time job in Chicago. Then I got a full-time job in LA. I delayed the move to Chicago further, giving myself 2 years at my present job (and my present apartment lease) before moving back. Well, the plan is being revised yet again.

Just over 2 weeks ago, I got an email from a guy I'd known in grad school with a job title in the subject line. I figured it was one of the few queries sent to my grad school listserv, but opened it anyway just to see where my former classmate had ended up. Turned out it was an email asking me personally if I was interested in the position described--he'd found out I was in LA and tracked me down. The job description was working in the search engine marketing department of a shopping comparison website. (FYI, am a huge SEM fan.) It took me all of 2 seconds to figure out that yes, I was interested, so I emailed him back with my answer and a quick update on what I'd been up to for the past two years and went to bed (had gotten up at a quarter to 5 that morning to go the account executive extra mile--marathon, really--for our client). My friend called me maybe an hour later (he kind of woke me up, but I was willing to overlook it) and we talked for half an hour about the job, in such a way that it was really a preliminary interview. (Though in a real interview, I'd never ask about salary, work hours, or "Do I have a shot?"--that last one because I have a number of interviews under my belt to which the answer to that question was a resounding "no" and I didn't want to waste my time.) At the end, he asked me to forward him my resume by Friday and he'd see about setting up an interview.

This happened on a Wednesday. On Thursday night, I revised my resume and forwarded it to him, and on Friday morning, I got a call from HR to schedule an interview--first thing Monday morning. I spent all weekend studying, learning everything I could about AdWords, search industry current events, and reminding myself of some of the concepts I'd learned in grad school. I am not, by the way, someone who naturally gravitates towards studying. I got up at 6 am on Monday to get ready, study some more, ingest a sufficient amount of caffeine and arrive there early. I interviewed with both my friend and another manager at his level, and was so wound up during and after the interview that it took me 3 hours to remember that I was back at work and it would help if my mind was too. Right about when I'd calmed down, I got a call from HR asking to schedule another interview--did I have any availability on Wednesday?

I lied to my boss and went to the interview on Wednesday. (I was fooling no one by saying I had yet another doctor's appointment, but you need plausible deniability on your side in case the job interview doesn't work out.) I arrived a little after 2 and didn't leave until 6, after having interviewed with 6 people, all very smart and very demanding when it came to requiring answers of me. I had barely slept since Saturday due to anxiety, and had consumed nothing that day but coffee and Red Bull--I simply couldn't work up the energy to get anything else down. It's remarkable that I was able to communicate anything coherently at all.

Then I got a call Thursday afternoon: “We’d like to move ahead to the next step of the process with you.” They were calling my references. Oh shit. I had to call my references and remind them of my existence and simultaneously ask them to do me a favor and say nice things about me to a recruiter.

But it must have worked out, because after a very tense Friday, at 6:30, when I was on my way home, steeling myself for a weekend of anxiety, the recruiter called and informed me that I was going to be receiving an offer letter on Monday, pending a couple signatures from the CEO and CFO and other people who are clearly very busy and not likely to suddenly take against hiring me.

The offer came. And I gave my two weeks’ notice on Monday. One week after my first interview, and less than two weeks since the whole thing had started. My first day is Monday, March 27th.

I still can't get over how quickly this happened, and what a huge change it really is. Three weeks ago, I was simply dealing with the constant chaos of work, looking forward to another promotion in a few months and my first profit-sharing check. I was looking forward to summer in the Valley (I love driving home on warm nights), and counting down to my move to Chicago. When I got there I'd probably look into work at an ad agency, as that's what my resume would show me to be best-suited for.

And now... A complete change in my career path, one I'd really wanted but had never hoped for, at least not for a number of years. I've only been at my first job for nine months, and even after several years of agency work, it would still be difficult to segue into search engine marketing. Nothing on my resume really shows me to be well-suited for it. Unless there's someone who can vouch for me, and give me a chance at an interview, as my grad school friend has done.

Now, who can tell where I'll be in five years. But I am so excited to be where I am now.

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