And So it Begins…(the perils of job hunting post degree in a bad economy)

I was contacted by a company out of Madison, Wisconsin for a possible job opportunity via email after they had seen my resume on a job board.  Before I delved into the email, my first thought was, “Yeah, ok.  This is going to be some sort of sales position.”  I was prepared to respond as I usually do about sales positions where I kindly impart that I wouldn’t be able to give away a free hamburger to someone who is starving.  Well, it wasn’t a sales position so I didn’t have to share that wonderful wisdom about my weaknesses.

Anyway, they were looking for a, “Word Artist.”  Yes, that was the actual name of the position.  As it turns out, it’s just a glorified title for a Technical Writer.  I was interested, because it would give me the opportunity to write, so I clicked on their career link to fill out a profile and officially submit my resume.  Five minutes after submitting my information, I received an email with another link, requesting that I take the Rembrandt Personality Test.  It was just a little test asking how I would feel or how I would react to certain situations.  There were also a few math/logic problems thrown in for good measure, which I thought was odd, especially for a writing position.  Do you remember thinking in High School Algebra class, “I’ll never use this shit again?”  Well, think again.  I had to use that shit! AGAIN!

Apparently I did pretty well, (or ok) because a week later I was asked to submit a writing sample.  It was timed “test” and I had to write 300-600 words in 60 minutes.  This was my question/scenario:

Invent the title to your autobiography and write a book review of this autobiography for the NY Times in 300-600 words.

Initially I had a brain fart and thought to myself, “Oh, shit,” but again, I think I did pretty well.  I would show you my response, but my computer has since crashed and I’ve lost everything — even my recent edits to my book. But, whatever.

Again, apparently I did pretty well, because they wanted to schedule a phone interview the following week.  In the mean time (in fact, since the process started with this company), I had been doing research on them.  I wanted to be prepared before I was perhaps blind-sided by some trick question.  Well, I found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, thanks to Google.  I found various forums concerning this company and was left feeling that I might get sucked into some Stepford Wives Club and held down while they made me drink their special kool-aid.  I still wasn’t deterred.  I soldiered fowarded even after I found out the following:

1.  This company likes to hire “intelligent” people.  In fact, they go so far that they make you take a series of tests BEFORE they offer you to fly up for an interview, and AFTER (if you get that opportunity to go to Madison, WI for a face-to-face).  If you get this privilege, you are there ALL-DAY with even more tests (more math/logic and programming), have to give a 10 minute presentation, and interviews with team leads, HR, etc.  Just reading about the process made me tired.  ALL FOR A WRITING POSITION!!!  The last time I checked, algebra (or programming for that matter) had nothing to do with writing.

2.  They like to hire them young (i.e. average age is between 23 and 26) and “stupid.”

I know that’s confusing:  hire intelligent, yet stupid youngsters.  Well, I mean “stupid” as in wet behind the ears, i.e. naive.  They want someone fresh out of college who has no real job experience.  In other words, they want to baffle you with their corporate wisdom (translated: feed you bullshit while you graciously beg them for more), while they mold you into the person they want you to become despite your agonizing desire to follow your passion.  Essentially, you are held prisoner until your parole hearing comes up for review.

I also read that this company basically discriminates against people based on their age.  Well, I’m 42 so I had that going against me, but by no means am I stupid and all-in-all, I think I’m above average when it comes to writing.  So again, I forged ahead and went into the phone interview with a positive attitude.  I mean, they were willing to take it this far…so should I, right?  It was a 30 minute interview and I felt it went really well.  They did too, because three days later, I was asked to take a proctored exam which would consist of 20 math/logic questions and 20, [insert company name] questions.  I went and took my gullibility with me along for the ride.  Oh yeah, they also made me sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) saying that I couldn’t reveal anything about the tests, etc., thus the reason I have not supplied the name of the company.  Ok, it was Epic Systems.  They develop software for the medical community. So, sue me.  I mean, what could they get out of me that I haven’t already lost?  Nothing, that’s what!

Here is a sample of one of the logic questions and this, by far, was one of the easiest.  Don’t ask me why I remember it, but I do.  I think I remembered it because after I had completed the test, I knew the answer.  Obviously, I had gotten it wrong and couldn’t go back and change my answer.  Anyway, here it is:

You have some tigers.  You have some cages.  If you put one tiger in each cage, your will have one tiger left over.  If you put two tigers in each cage, you will have one cage left over.  How many tigers do you have?  How many cages do you have?

I know the answer NOW, but let’s see who can figure it out.  V, you already know the answer, so no cheating!  😉  By the way, if y’all are thinking it’s 3 tigers and 2 cages, you’d be wrong, like me.  I shouldn’t have answered so quickly, but I did and knew I was wrong as soon as I left the testing center.  Don’t worry though, I kicked myself all the way home.

Anyway, the second part of the test was actually concerned with programming.  Even though I consider myself adept with computers and even though I have some background on JCL, I couldn’t program my way out of a paper sack!  Enough said.

Well, I received an email from them yesterday that said they were moving on with other candidates.  Needless to say, I felt old and stupid, but the moral of the story is: there might come a time when you use algebra again and for the love of God, if you have some tigers, keep them in some of your cages!

Honestly, I have never, ever, ever, been through this kind of process for any company.  It was kind of humiliating, especially with my high GPA, but apparently that doesn’t mean shit.  Neither does having a BA or an MA.  I maintain that those special little diploma’s are just expensive pieces of toilet paper that you frame and hang on your wall….AND spend the rest of your life paying for.  /end of rant

I’m going to go finish my edits of my book!

One thought on “And So it Begins…(the perils of job hunting post degree in a bad economy)

  1. Shimei Yan

    I like your story here. you applied technical writer’s position. that is why they asked you to take technical exam. but they should not use “word artist” for this position. it confuses people.


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