A very strange thing happened yesterday and I find myself still trying to make sense of it, though maybe I can't.
I thought I had a job interview with the Director of Admissions at Andover College, Wendy Burbank, in their South Portland, Maine location. The posted position was for an Admissions Representative. Andover College provides career-focused associate degree and certification programs, serving primarily an adult population, rather than recent high school graduates. The college is owned by Kaplan Higher Education Corporation, a national purveyor of higher ed.
I saw the listing on Wednesday, researched the college, and that evening faxed a thoughtful cover letter and a customized functional resume. I did not have the option to send the material electronically. On Friday, I received an e-mail response from Wendy, saying:
"Thank you for your interest in the Andover College Admissions Representative Position. I have reviewed your resume and would like to schedule a meeting to discuss your qualifications.
"I am available to meet on Monday, October 26, at 3:00 p.m. Please reply to this e-mail if you are able to make it.
"The Admissions Office is located at the address below, just walk through the front entrance and let the receptionist know you are here to meet with me. I look forward to seeing you Monday!"
I was very excited, and hopeful, I might add. I am looking for a meaningful position with a good company. The fact that Andover offers alternative students practical information for endeavoring career moves and professional development is a very good thing. The fact that they are owned by a for-profit corporation seems like a good thing. The fact that they are fairly small, 1,100 students, likely means close contact with the student body and a tightly-knit professional team. It was appealing to me in my quest for employment which promotes teamwork, healthy communication, opportunities to provide solutions, to be resourceful. And of course, I understand, admissions means marketing and sales to some degree. I get that, and, it's on my resume.
I canceled the dentist appointment I had scheduled for the past six months. I did more research on the college and Kaplan. I was very careful about the outfit and jewelry I selected to wear, about my hair and nails, the purse and folder I carried. I figured this all matters. I believe it demonstrates attention to detail, professionalism, and simply caring enough about the opportunity. I think how one presents oneself also shows respect for the other person and their role.
Sadly, it wasn't mutual.
I arrived just before 3:00 and followed Wendy's e-mail instructions. I was invited to sit in the waiting area with the 20 other individuals that had received Wendy's response to their applications. We were then asked to go to a corner classroom where a Powerpoint presentation was set-up, and five admission representatives seated themselves in the front. We all waited for the director.
When she came in she thanked us for coming, etc., and noted that we might be wondering what the heck was going on (my words.) Naturally, she said, there's been a large response to the position and this format saves everybody time. She said she'd give us an overview of the organization, a bit about the job, and then take a break. If we wanted to leave at that time we were welcomed to. (I was hanging on every word, searching for hope.) She said, let's face it, the job is about sales. You'll be on the phone much of the time. We have weekly and monthly, personal and team goals. And the team works really closely. And if there wasn't going to be a good fit with her team, she wasn't going to hire said person. (Really?)
I left. Why do I want to work for a company that can't communicate honestly and directly up front?
Obviously this blog is a vent, and I'm not exactly sure why I want to do it here. Maybe because I consider this a professional vehicle with a quality voice, and I had such a disturbing professional interaction that I think I can heal it here. The disappointment I felt was visceral and provoked a whole range of negative thoughts and feelings: humiliation, embarrassment, anger, dashed hope, and sadness. The only positive response I could muster was the old saying, "Things work out as they're meant to." And I believe that, I do. It just sounds weak to me right now.
Running teaches one how to deal with failure and disappointment, and to persevere. I'll figure out how to make a good living doing something I thoroughly enjoy. A Running Conversation is alive and well and I am looking for more. I'll keep you posted.