I Am Not My Resume

Between college and high school, I lived a dark, strange year at home, working a variety of serving jobs and moping around our house, a moppet of misery. I had to defer admission to college due to a financial aid keruffle, and I was full of vitriol; I was a miserable 18-year-old convinced that this minor injustice was the worst thing that had ever happened to me. I don’t remember much about that year—maybe, because my memory is notoriously bad, or because I willfully tamped it down into the box of things I’d rather not think about—but at some point my father made me apply to a state school.

On Not Defining Ourselves By What We Are Paid to Do

It’s funny how we self-define, and I suppose some of this has to do with my being 22 and 23. But it is also something cultural, in that we are how we make a living.

Crazy Interviews and What They Cost

One morning I got up early and put on my only suit, which I bought off the rack for $230 from Ann Taylor Loft and which luckily fit well enough that it didn’t have to be tailored. I took the subway to Penn Station ($2 then) and one NJ Transit train to Newark-Broad Street so that I could catch another to some quaint clapboard suburban town, South Orange, I think? (~$6, off-peak). From the station, I walked to an boutique advertising agency that had an opening for a Junior Copywriter. I arrived ten minutes early, proud of myself — until I discovered I was actually 24-hours-and-ten minutes early. “I have you scheduled for tomorrow,” the receptionist said, apology and wonder in her voice. No doubt she was curious whether I would turn up.

Well, I showed her. I went home ($8) and then next day did it all again ($8). The best part is that at the end of the series of interviews, which included a writing test where I had to create a marketing plan for Dove chocolate, my potential boss beamed at me and said, “This is great! Thanks so much for coming out two days in a row. We really like you, and we only have one last question: Why do you want to be in advertising?”

You could have heard the buzzing emptiness in my head from three states away. I looked at him, my potential boss, the man I had spent valuable money and time commuting all the way from Brooklyn to impress twice in two days, and was as articulate as a fluorescent light.

Eventually he put me out of my misery and I went home ($8), crossing “advertising” off my list of potential careers as well as “anything in New Jersey.”

I have other stories too, terrible stories, as well as some great ones. (“Are you lying about any of this?” a potential boss once asked, pointing to my resume, and when I said, “No,” he said, “Great, okay then,” left the room, and I got the job.) Tell me yours! Especially any that necessitated a supreme waste of funds.

From Botanical Gardens Intern to Anthony Bourdain’s Assistant

I quit the PR assistant job after three weeks, and my dad said, “You should probably stop quitting jobs for a while.”