Tuesday, August 23, 2016

So Long, Las Vegas (part 3)

Part 3

As I mentioned briefly in part 2, towards the end of our road trip I was invited to interview for a job in Cleveland later in the week. I was thrilled, of course, though it meant that I'd only have one day of down time between the road trip and the trip to Cleveland. But when has a quick turnaround ever stopped me? Sleep is for the weak.

I still feel like it may not be appropriate to publicly reveal the name of company that interviewed me, as the position is by no means guaranteed. However, it's going to be difficult to tell this story without referring to some sort of company, so let's just say I interviewed at a prominent Midwestern...soup company. American Soup.

They flew me out to Cleveland on Thursday afternoon (so fancy), had a driver pick me up at the airport (so fancy), and put me up at a DoubleTree out near Crocker Park, which is where their new headquarters are about to open. The driver was actually one of my favorite parts, and I think it's okay to reveal his name--Danny Conway, owner of Danny Boy's Transportation. Born and raised in Cleveland, Danny exhibited the same sort of good-natured grumpiness that my grandfather used to have, while at the same time displaying a serious commitment to his work. He constantly talked up Cleveland and all its advantages, eager to point out local sights like the Ford plant and the offices of the Plain Dealer. He drove me everywhere during my stay--to and from the hotel, the interview, the airport--and he was always punctual and friendly. If you're ever in Cleveland and you need a ride, be sure to look him up.

Since my interview wasn't until the next morning, I had a night to relax and mentally prepare, for which I was extremely grateful. And Cleveland seemed ready to help me relax--much like in the rest of the Midwest, everyone was kind and gracious. First of all, if you haven't stayed at a DoubleTree, you need to know that they give you warm, fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies upon check-in. I have something of a sweet tooth, so the cookie was appreciated. Because I packed too quickly, I realized that I had cleverly brought neither chapstick nor lipstick, so my chapped mouth and I decided to walk over to Crocker Park, which is one of those bougie outdoor malls, lots of nice shops and dining. If you're in Chicago, think The Streets of Woodfield outside Woodfield Mall. If you're in Vegas, think Town Square. It's also the home of American Soup's new headquarters, which honestly do look beautiful, all sleek and modern. I hear tell there are heated walkways for the winter, and a sculpture garden. I eventually found a Sephora and gave $18 to the makeup gods--far more than I normally would have paid--for some Belgian lipstick with "Amazonian butter," whatever that means.

I hate to admit it, but the lipstick is delightful. So soft.

That night I jumped in the hotel's hot tub, and I watched the Olympics, because international competition is fun. Seriously, now that the Olympics are over, I've lost all desire to watch TV--which is probably a good thing.

I woke up bright and early at 6 a.m. on Friday--no small feat for a night owl like me--and had some breakfast. Spent lots of time in the bathroom preening until I looked so. damn. hirable.

I'd give me a job, wouldn't you?

Then Danny Conway picked me up, and we headed to American Soup's old headquarters, just a few miles away. 

Because they're in the middle of moving to a new building, the old building was in the process of being dismantled; my initial host, the same recruiting manager with whom I'd had the phone interview, kept insisting that the walls were normally better decorated, that the common areas were normally bustling, but the slight chaos didn't bother me at all. It felt like being inside a giant movie studio, where one set was being torn down so that another could go up. The general atmosphere was one of excitement rather than frustration--every employee we came across seemed in good spirits, thrilled about the new location.

The recruiting manager gave me a tour of the whole building. I didn't realize how much soup companies do in-house. For example, when you're in the grocery store and you see a picture on a can's label of a hot bowl of soup, appetizing cubes of potatoes and clusters of beans glistening in a dark, hearty broth, that picture isn't a stock photo--American Soup takes its own pictures in its own photo studio. And when you hear a heartwarming, homey jingle for soup on your TV, American Soup has actually recorded it in its own recording studio.

Other highlights of the tour included two puppies, one of which was an 8-month-old puggle.

After the tour I met with the woman who would be my direct manager, whose elaborate tattoo sleeve rivaled my own. The position for which I'm interviewing is that of an editor, reviewing and reworking the written copy on cans of soup--but not just any cans of soup. American Soup has several different divisions, and the division I'd be working with doesn't handle your typical Chicken Noodles and Minestrones, but rather the soups that are a little out there, creating surprising--even funny--combinations of flavors from around the world. The interview with my prospective manager was somewhat more traditional, but by no means boring--we discussed my relevant experience, the reasons for my interest in the position, and so on. Then I talked for a while with the head of artwork for the same division, as the position would require me to liaise not only with the artists, but also with the more business-minded individuals in the company.

From there I was escorted downstairs to their cafe--now closed thanks to the move--where I had invisible coffee with a group of writers, artists, and new product developers. They seemed like my kind of people, witty and whip-smart (not to toot my own horn). Three of us even had the same haircut. They asked important questions of me, like how I felt about clowns, and I asked important questions of them, like whether they'd follow me on Twitter. But also what they were looking for in an editor if I did take on that role, and other truly-important as opposed to sarcastically-important queries.

Then it was back to the airport, where I ran into a David Bowie poster. I consider this a good omen.

A blessing from my personal god.

Overall, I think the interview went well. Of course, as an anxiety-ridden individual, in retrospect I can think of about 58378935869248593821 things I could have done better--but there's nothing I can do about that now! Yippee! So I will do my very best to focus on the good. I believe I presented myself professionally, and that I advocated for myself as strongly as I could have, especially given the suddenness of the interview, and all the tiring traveling that came before it. 

I really want the job at American Soup. I genuinely liked everyone I met, and they genuinely seemed to enjoy working there. I talked to multiple people who'd been working there for nearly 30 years, simply because there's so much room for career growth within the company. Tired of designing soup cans? You can switch to new soup development. I appreciate that kind of flexibility. I'd love to be a professional editor, and from what I've seen and heard of Cleveland, it sounds awesome. Can't thank American Soup enough for flying me in. 

I like you. Please hire me? 

And that, my friends, ends the two week saga of my departure from Vegas. Now I'm just going to have my own personal writing retreat with my parents' dogs while I wait to hear about the job. Should know by early September. I realize that early September isn't far away, but I imagine I'll be jittery with anticipation until then. 


To read Part 1, click here.
To read Part 2, click here

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