I’ve moved around a lot in the past few years. In fact, I’ve packed up my worldly belongings into battered cardboard boxes and relocated my entire life...
Full disclaimer – this post is inspired by Disasters of a Thirty Something, one of my favourite blogs ever. The stories this lady writes make me die and are so relatable for someone as clumsy/commonsense-less/awkward as I am. My favourite of hers is “We’re Not Having Some Kind of AFFAIR” – I’m actually laughing just writing that title, that’s how funny it is. So I thought I would sum up my own ambitious disasters that have come throughout job interviews, internships and real life jobs of a girl just trying to get somewhere.
Because what’s a little ambition without a little disaster along the way?
The Fright of Freight
In one Easter holidays I thought I had better try for a real internship in order to balance out the past four holidays which had been spent working at pizza hut and indulging in one too many meat feasts. I liked books, so naturally my first port of call was publishing.
I saw that Penguin (of publishing house gods) were offering a diversity internship only to those of minorities. Not being in a minority, I took it upon myself to write to the Director of Diversity and tell him how I was being discriminated for being white and female and middle-class. Despite this showing just how white and middle class I was, he actually obliged and offered me a two week internship. On my first week I saw that Penguin had quite a nice cafeteria as well as being two doors down from Topshop and so I was sold. Nearing the end of my internship, when an assistant position came up, I put myself first in line for consideration.
Then came the interview.
Now I should note here that this was my first interview. My first OFFICIAL interview and I didn’t even really prep for it. Anyway, a few questions in, just as I was warming up they said this world. Freight. Now I had heard this word before but at this point I completely lost all comprehension.
Every time they asked me about freight I responded with ‘well with fright’. To which they would say ‘freight’. To which I would say, ‘yes well fright’. This went back and forth for about an hour (or so it felt) until I finally lost all of the plot and started waffling on about the fright of the freight of the fright that had the freight.
They terminated the interview after that question. I didn’t get the job.
After the Penguin fiasco I did actually manage to land myself a paid summer role at Faber & Faber in the accounts and archiving department. On one of my first weeks, I was inputting data and saving it into a 50,000 page document. My only responsibility, my new mentor told me, was to input the data, save it. Scroll to the next page, input the data and save it. Now next to ‘save’ was a little button called ‘print’. Under no circumstances was I to print the document.
What happened next? Five minutes later, I realised the printer was building up quite a lot of paper. I cannot have pressed print I thought. I decided to make a casual walk over the printer and yep, there were all 50,000 pages printing out into a neat stack, until they were CASCADING OVER THE EDGE ignoring all silent cries and frantic pushings of the stop and clear button. Eventually, my mentor realised what was happening but unfortunately she couldn’t stop the stream either. The printer had become intent on printing every single page and even when it ran out of paper it demanded to be refilled until it could complete its mission.
Moral of the day: the printer will never have your back.
The first ‘proper’ job I managed to bag myself was in an events company, helping to market their technology products. I loved it and was given a complete free reign on creative ideas and copy that went into the various print ads they did. Now with my First Class English degree from Portsmouth, you know what my boss was thinking. Now here’s a girl who can spell.
And spell well I did. Until one day, me and my partner in crime, the design guy, created a stellar ad on the new Microsoft Surface. A great little product, that we wrote a great ad about.
The day the magazine arrived I gleefully grabbed it, to show the world my debut centre piece.
On opening it, I realised that the Microsoft Surface had become a Microsoft Service.
Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. The mantra of fired employees and disgraced marketers everywhere rang in me ears. It was indeed a disaster.
But at least no one will see it I thought. After all, print’s dead, who even reads magazines anymore?
To which I got a phonecall from my boss, who had arrived at the biggest exhibition of our industry. In which they were handing out said magazine to everyone who walked through the door.
Reply to all
After resurfacing from my surface disaster, still with job, I was placed firmly on business development. Tasked with sending a personalised email to a list of 10,000 contacts that had been painstakingly pulled together.
Not wanting to be ungrateful, I got stuck into the task with gusto.
By the end of the third or fourth day, when I’d made a measly dent of a couple of hundred, I suddenly had a thought. There must be an easier way.
A quick Google search later and I was teaching myself the merits of a quick mailmerge. Mere minutes later my creative emails were winging their way to thousands of contacts, while I sat smugly back.
As the replies started to flood in, I’ll admit I was more than a little pleased with myself. More so, when the boss emailed the entire sales floor to tell them about the amazing work I was doing.
It was the last email he sent for a week.
On my return into the office the next day I learned that I had blocked our entire email server, which was now viewed as a spam bot for sending so many emails in such as small space of time.
No one could send or receive emails for over a week.
Needless to say, I am an idiot.
It could be Rotterdam (or anywhere)
One of the perks of working in an events company is the travel. Dubai, Nice, Vienna, I was incredibly lucky for the places I got to go and the people I met.
So lucky in fact, that when I was sent to Amsterdam for a week to manage an event I was overjoyed.
On my first morning, after a delicious nights sleep in a cosy apartment I was to meet my client onsite at 7am (nothing in events time).
At 5am I got up, got ready, and worried about incurring my company high cab costs on my first day, tottered off to the metro station across the road.
Unfortunately, Amsterdam, like England, is dark at 5am on a September morning and so not only did I arrive at the train station a little sweaty from my fast-paced fear walk, I also realised there was no one else there.
No ticket masters, no friendly locals. Just me, myself and a ticket machine all in Dutch.
After two or three attempts to teach myself ticket machine Dutch, I remembered that I had heard a colleague mention something about a number four the night before. Bingo, I thought. I’ll take the number four until I see the exhibition hall. It can’t be hard to miss after all.
On I hopped and set off on my way. After around 30 or 40 minutes, I began to think that perhaps I’d missed my stop.
We’d been travelling for much longer than the 10 minutes everyone had mentioned and the outside cityscape had been replaced my fields and hills. I decided at the next stop I would get off and just double check I was on the right path.
Luckily, twenty minutes later a ticket inspector beat me to it.
After inspecting my ticket he explained that not only did I have the wrong ticket, but I was actually now in Rotterdam (a completely different city) and was on the metro when I should have been on the tram. To which I burst into tears and spent the next two hours retracing my steps, before getting a very expensive cab from the hotel where I’d started, to meet my very impatient client almost two hours late.
Bloody number four.
Are you as much of a hot mess as I am? If so please, please share your stories with me and others in the comments below and let’s all be hot messes together!
Beth is a Writer and Digital Marketer who founded The Full Agenda as a place to talk about the things that kept her and her friends up at night. Currently working as a Marketing consultant to various SMEs she is a big fan of the startup market and loves technology, apps and anything social media related. When not obsessively checking Google Analytics, she can be found reading, writing or relaxing with a glass of Prosecco.
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