Job Hunting 101: It’s All or Nothing

Yes, I’ve been MIA for a while.

No, I have not have been on vacation again – although I wish I had been.

Drumroll please…..

I’ve actually been working! Yes, that’s right…working. My unemployment adventure is D-O-N-E. Done. Donezo. Finished. Through. However you want to put it…I have a job again. Is it in the design field? Well, yes and no. One is, one isn’t. The one that is, however, is a whole different story that we’ll get to in a minute. In the meantime though….let’s CELEBRATE!!

So after countless applications (you’d think companies would just standardize everything so you don’t have to fill out the same form for every job application – can someone get on this please and thanks?) for positions I’m both under- and overqualified for in the design industry, email referrals from mutual connections, several interviews, and follow-up emails and thank you cards, I hit the end of week two of my unemployment stint.


Whoever had the brilliant idea to come up with those “Good things come to those who wait” and “Patience is a virtue” things need to be shot. If you know me on a personal level, you’re probably well aware that I’m a very impatient person. Yes, I get it…perhaps good things DO come to those who wait, but if you don’t have a lot of patience…yeah…not fun.

So all of a sudden, offers started to come in. Apparently my mad interviewing skills and connections were starting to pay off.

In a matter of days, I’d been offered positions at two different bars/restaurants in Boystown hosting/bartending/serving and a position bartending in Lincoln Park at a late-night bar.

Okay, so not necessarily what I spent five years and countless thousands of dollars in college for, but hey…it’s something. Since I’ve bartended for years, it’s an awesome thing to be able to fall back on. It’s a fun environment, the money is good, and you’re not dealing with bitchy clients who decide on a Tuesday that they want to move their deadline to Friday instead of two months from then and subsequently expect you to work miracles to make lead times on their installation and deliveries match as well. Let’s just say it’s a lot less stress.

Since the late-night gig would ruin any chances of ever being on a somewhat normal sleep cycle again as well as any opportunity to work a day job (since they close at 4am during the week and 5am on Fridays and Saturdays), and one of the bars had only offered me a position hosting vs hosting/bartending/serving/training to manage, I opted for the third. I’ve officially rounded out my first week and couldn’t be happier there. I’d always imagined that the guys there would be super pretentious and douchey, but they’re an awesome group of guys who make going to work a blast. Plus it’s Boystown. You can dress as fabulously fashionable as you want (aka the gayer the better) and no one bats a false eyelash. It’s amazing.

In case you were wondering, I’ve never worked in a restaurant setting before – only a night club and a martini bar – so it’s a whole new world, but I’m picking everything up quickly. Learning to carry two full martini glasses along with two sidecars in fish bowls though…that takes some work, but I’ll get it. I mean, I already have carrying three dishes of food at a time down pat. I’m a rockstar like that. Duh.

However….since I’m not looking to change the name of this blog to “Confessions of an Often Annoyed Boystown Bartender” or something like that, and since I can’t pay my rent by writing “fun” in the amount section of the check to my landlord, I’ll be working two jobs.

Since I wasn’t (and still really am not) sure if I wanted to stay in the design industry or take a break for a while, I’d been applying to and interviewing for positions managing salons, working as a receptionist or personal assistant, going back to the world of retail/visual merchandising – basically anything that wasn’t a design position. After interviewing at two different salons and never hearing back despite really promising interviews locked down with follow-up emails and thank you cards then never hearing back, I landed an interview with a third salon.

I’d applied at their location on State Street downtown (the not so touristy/lower-end version of Michigan Avenue) for a position as a front desk sales associate. Nothing crazy, but hey, a job is a job. Since it’s unprofessional to show up right on time – or heaven forbid: late – to an interview, I always shoot to arrive 10-15 minutes early. After an hour and 10 minutes of waiting around, I was about to say “fuck it” and leave, but the manager came, asked for me, and took me back to his office.

No, this was not a porno-in-progress if you were wondering. Get your mind out of the gutter.

After meeting with both the salon manager and the district manager, I was offered a position on the spot as a manager-in-training…at their Michigan Avenue salon and asked to start on Friday – two days from then. Not too shabby, right? Perhaps good things were coming in exchange for sitting around for over an hour twiddling my thumbs.

I tentatively accepted it, filled out the new-hire paperwork, and went on my way.

A few hours later, I thought of a few questions I’d forgotten to ask during my interview so I emailed the district manager since I’d be training with her that Friday. In particular: what time was I supposed to come in? You know…important things like that. Assuming I’d hear from her that evening – or even Thursday – to confirm, I went ahead and scheduled an interview with ANOTHER PLACE for early Friday morning. I was sure I’d be able to work around it since it was before the salon would even be open. No big deal.

Well…Friday morning rolled around and I still hadn’t heard from her. Two voicemails, an email, and a message left at both salons: nothing. After checking the Yelp reviews for both salons and seeing a lot of negative reviews and only 3.5 stars overall, I decided to cut my losses and send one last email politely declining the position.

happy-dance-Call me crazy, but Yelp rarely lies.

Besides, I’d walked out of my interview that morning with another offer…….this time in a design role.

Commence the happy dance.

I’d applied for a sales and design internship on a whim at a high-end residential furniture showroom down in Lincoln Park (we’re talking an area where probably 1 in 3 households has a black AmEx and doesn’t flinch when dropping $10-20K furnishing a room), interviewed, and been offered a position as an Interior Designer and Sales Consultant. Forget the internship….bring on the real deal, baby!

I was asked how soon I could come in for a few hours for orientation and training, so back I went the following afternoon (Saturday, in case you’re lost). With plans to start Monday, I’d gone in prepared with a blank check for direct deposit (since actual paychecks are sooooo 1997), my driver’s license, passport, social security card, references…everything I could possibly need.

After almost two hours of orientation and training, I was told I could leave for the afternoon (which was good because I was starving and was booked for an impromptu Pad Thai date with my bestie).

But wait….there was one slight hiccup of a conversation still to be had.

ME: “So did you want me to start Monday then?”

MANAGER: “Well, I need to check your references Monday or Tuesday, so it’ll be sometime after that.”

Umm…is it just me, or is this totally ass-backwards? Don’t you normally check references BEFORE having someone do their orientation? I mean, I know that all of my references check out perfectly fine – otherwise I wouldn’t have used them – but still….strange. Regardless…a job is a job, right?

So here I sit, waiting to hear back from them on what the deal is and when I can start working two jobs again.

In the meantime, however, since I’d been under the impression I’d already landed this position and would be started by now, I’m kicking myself for turning down a couple other interviews – one as a sales rep for carpet fiber (boring), one as a high-end residential designer (gross), one with Michael Kors as a store designer but would require relocating to NYC (no thank you), and one as a manager at Coach (I could use a new bag…preferably with a discount). I’d gone into Coach to look at a new wallet to replace the one I’d lost in Mexico and walked out with an application to fill out after being asked by a sales associate if I’d be interested in interviewing for a management position. Crazy.

While none of these were positions I reeeeally wanted, at least they’d be a shot at having a second source of income….but hey, everything happens for a reason, right? Plus I have ANOTHER interview at another design firm this Friday. Insanity.

Oh…and I applied for a job at the LEGO store here. Let’s just say it’d be real tempting to 86 a real-life job and get paid to just play with LEGOs all day. Repeat after me…..DREAM. JOB. So there’s that too….let the waiting game begin.

So anyways…Reader’s Digest version: I’ve learned job offers either come all at once, or none at all. Deciding which one you want to accept, however, is the hard part. Do you go with the first offer that comes along, take something mediocre to hold you over, or make the best of the hand you’re dealt? Who knows. Not me, obviously.

But whatever…in the meantime (and even after I land a “real job” as many people think you need to have in order to justify having a piece of paper saying you graduated college) I’ll bartend and live the fabulous life of a Boystown gay and enjoy what I do until I figure out what the hell is going on in my life. I figure I’m only going to be young once, and life is too short to waste time doing something you don’t enjoy. Money might be tight, but I’m happy, and money can’t buy happiness…only things that can make you happy – like whiskey. But since I get a shift drink when I work it all equals out in the long run.

2 thoughts on “Job Hunting 101: It’s All or Nothing

  1. pharo001 April 30, 2014 / 7:48 PM

    I definitely can relate to the frustrations of not having a job in your preferred field. Although I totally would have taken the Lego job!


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