Thursday, April 5, 2012

Interview From Hell

When I was a Sophomore in college, way back in the spring of 2009, I had a literature crush on my literature teacher, Mrs. Lassiter. She was the most energetic teacher I'd ever had and I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. She made English fun for me. She engaged the students (the willing ones) in active discussions about our readings and pushed us to dig deeper into the meanings of the stories we read. And I'm a sucker for over-analyzation. (Don't think that's a word, but I don't care) I think my naturally suspicious nature makes me decent at English Literature because I'm always trying to decide what people's ulterior motives are. I don't trust easily, which is why I make such a great girlfriend.

Anyway, despite wanting to be just like Mrs. Lassiter, I couldn't bring myself to get an English degree because I have absolutely no patience for children and I didn't know of any profession I could go into with an English degree that did not involve teaching. So I stuck with Graphic Design.

One day, after class, I was talking to Mrs. Lassiter about something or other and she found out my major was graphic design. Well her husband just so happened to be the Communications manager at Ergon, Inc. in Flowood, MS, and he just so happened to be looking for his next summer intern! She gave me his number and told me she'd put in a good word for me and told me to give him a call in a couple days. Too good to be true.

I called him a couple days before April 1st. I remember this because he wanted to set up an interview on April Fool's Day, I couldn't make it that day, and he made a joke about the joke. Anyway, we set up the interview and I began to go into a panic. I spent the next couple days getting my (what I thought was) awesome work together into a portfolio to show at the interview. Everything was printed on 8.5 x 11 inch paper from the printer we used at school. Oh, but I was so nervous. I really needed an internship before I graduated.

One thing I love about being an artist is that the people hiring me are also artists; therefore they are much more laid back and personable in interviews than, say, an accountant would be. Artist interviews are usually more like chats with strangers than anything else. So my chat with Jim (Mrs. Lassiter's husband) went great! He was super nice and told me I had the job and when I could start and how much it paid and all that good stuff. Then, he said he was going to bring in Shana to 'critique' my work. Oh Lord.

Here's where the interview goes bad. Shana walks into the conference room, sits down, opens my book, and doesn't say a word until she's thoroughly looked at every single page. I'm terrified. My work is terrible. She hates it. I'm going to cry.

Ok, my work was terrible. I had a stock photo as a book cover design that still had the big X and logo in the middle of the picture. I had my name in big bubble letters with pictures placed inside them. I had a page of actual thumbnails of an ad that had not even been finished.

I see that now.

Looking back on that day, and knowing Shana now, I realize how easy she was on me. She very gently picked out the worst things and suggested how I could make them better. If it were me in her place, I would've thrown that book in the trash and lit it on fire.

I thank God I got this internship. I've been here for 3 years and have great work to show for it. But now, it's time to move on, out, and away from Mississippi. I need to spread my wings and see what else the world (or America) has to offer me. It's time for the next chapter that will define the person I am supposed to be.

em.j.

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