Last week I had my first job interview. Not including the one with the kid who got me into my accounting career. I spent years in college debating, reading and developing a passion for policies related to women and children. I became an accountant. For all the experience I gained as an accountant in a family business office, mastering the job interview was not one.
On Monday morning I woke in a dead panic. Of concern: How was I going to help support my family and put food on the table as a writer? Valid. The submissions I am preparing won’t pay out for months. If chosen. And there’s the marketing, platform building, and writing. The pressure to provide was real in my heart, as I lay wide-eyed listening to the crickets. It was 3:30 a.m., I was considering my options and sweating with fear.
There was not enough coffee in Brazil to fix my morning attitude. Exhausted and worried, I drug my children into school, late. I was exuding scarcity, apologizing for this and that. My lack of self-worth was a bright red badge on my sweater. The sweet lady in the office looked at me with her head to the side, lips pursed. “There is a job opening,” she said, “In the first grade. You might check it out and see if you’re interested.” Glory, hallelujah! My worry began to dissipate like the steam over my morning coffee.
Fast forward, to the interview. Surrounded by educators I respect, I was staring at a list of questions they would ask in turn. I was out of my element. Obviously. Out loud I uttered, “Oh, no.” Yes, I did. Truthfully, if they asked, “How do you make coffee in the morning?” I would have nervously stammered. My mind was blank. Question #73B: How would you defuse a situation or discipline a student? I do that ninety-five times a day with my own kids. The best I could come up with was, “I would make the child take ownership. Redirect. Love and Logic. Keyword. Keyword.” Stumble, stutter, wander around my thoughts. I cried, you guys. My friend said, “Please, no. You didn’t.” I am a 42-year-old career drop out and I am just trying to find myself, here, educators. Please do not ask me if I have any questions.
I did not get the job. I showed up brave to my first interview, though. I did not let fear or perfection or having the right qualifications stop me from trying. I was sick to my stomach, I stumbled, I talked too much. And I learned. I was in that room for 30 minutes with a heart and soul for kids. Surprisingly, they said I interviewed well. I was authentic and truthful. I felt like I belonged at the table. Not in a conference room crunching numbers, but with people who have spent their lives debating, reading and developing a passion for children’s issues. It wasn’t the job I was after, it was the experience. I feel confident that my first job interview was a success.