In my post last week named after Salvador Dali’s surrealistic masterpiece, “PERSISTENCE OF MEMORY,” I ended the story, “I dusted off my resume and …”
… sent it off to the HR departments at all of my favorite potential employers! With, as previously noted, many misgivings. But I had to do it. It was time.
Not long after, some initial feedback trickled back to me and it was a little unsettling.
Turns out that I was no longer what you would consider to be a new graduate. Technically speaking, this meant that I was trying to make a prospective “career change.” In the job market, that’s a no-no and often a no-go. You see, if you’re skilled in one thing, you are automatically presumed to be no good for anything else. The job market is very simple-minded that way.
Look, I don’t write the rules. Just a silly blog. I’m merely reporting here. You decide.
Whereas a newly shingled college graduate is perceived by the job market as a delicate piece of fresh, prized sushi in the Japanese restaurant, I, on the other hand, was suddenly more like one of those looked-over, salted, older pieces of fish, preserved in cloudy plastic bags and stored for months at a time on dimly lit back-shelves on stores off Mott Street. How many of those can I get for you?
That didn’t stop me, however, from lathering myself with wasabi and soy sauce, and handing out chopsticks. Relax, this imaging is intended to be figurative. I was used to trying to move mountains, after all. What’s the hassle, man?
Anyway, what was left of my sanity depended on it! And I was running out of it!
Specifically, I decided that my best option was to follow many of my fellow recent graduates into the training programs at America’s top banking and financial institutions. My friend’s book, Money Jobs, was my new career Bible. Maybe my experience in international business would come in handy. After all, I had studied banking and finance at Columbia School of International Affairs. The business world is a polyglot jungle, right? I was certainly skilled in evading poison darts. Blown by my village chief, no less!
Within the first weeks, I scored a major coup. I got invited into the hallowed halls of Brown Brothers Harriman (“BBH”) to meet with the director of HR hisself. As this was and is the oldest and largest private bank in the US, I was elated. At the time, BBH was located in a prestigious edifice at 59 Wall Street, dripping with old world charm. Maybe this was my chance to ditch the cracked sidewalks of Weehawken and step into some professional management.
Upon arrival, and with much anticipation, I was ushered into the office of the distinguished gentleman.
The interview went well.
“So I see you are in a family business,” he asked.
“That’s right, it’s not really for me.” I responded. Never denigrate your current employer.
“I really love international banking, yadda, yadda, yadda.” I added, waxing poetic about the prospect of helping international businesses arrange financing to go shopping and buy things, like Rockefeller Center for example.
A few moments later, while the gentleman was talking to me, something floated in front of my face. As I adjusted my focal point to 6 inches from my nose, I must have adopted a cross-eyed expression. Whatever it was, it was buzzing and had tiny tiger striped legs. I was being hunted!!! I heard village drums; my jungle instincts surged.
I reached up and easily plucked, to my surprise (as these critters are hard to grab), an Egyptian-speaking mosquito out of the air in front of my nose. International banking is full of unknown hazards. I squished it lightly and examined the carcass in my hand. When hunting mosquitoes, never give up until you have the body; otherwise the little bastard will still hunt your ass forever.
Proudly presenting my trophy to the interviewer, I asked him for the “mosquito bin.”
It was a great moment, like the mythical catch-a-fly with chopsticks.
Now, if you kill a dangerous, lethal animal in a job interview, saving the interviewer’s life, don’t you think you should get a job offer right then and there? Like on the spot? Or if he has to check with his homies, maybe later on that afternoon? How about a call-back with a complimentary coffee and bagel?
Unfortunately, that’s not the way the world works. Ingrates are plentiful. A week or so later I received a gorgeous ding letter from him, impeccably typed on BBH’s crisp stationery. I should have filled all rain gutters with stagnant water within a five block radius of his office. But I’m not that spiteful.
But still dismaying. So I dusted myself off, picked myself up, and continued hunting my own prey, for my own personal fambizexit. I continued my networking like a proverbial fiend at all the financial houses, including Cantor Fitzgerald, then at their old offices on Wall Street. This was before they moved to the north tower of the World Trade Center some ten years later. I guess I am lucky that they didn’t hire me.
So there was a silver lining in some rejections. You could have been reading a different blog right now.