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pearls before swine
It's the last midnight
It's the last wish
I'm going to be a grown-up! 
13th-Jun-2011 12:32 am
essence
I HAVE A REAL JOB NOW!

So, I've hated my job at the answering service since about 2 weeks into it. It's only part-time, I work nights, weekends, holidays. I constantly get called in on my day off. I have to work til 10pm Friday and come in at 7am Saturday. I missed soooooo many football and basketball games. I only made $10.50/hour, only got about 25 hours/week. There are no raises and no promotions. No benefits.

I've wanted a "real" job for a long time. But to be honest, I probably only applied to 3 or 4 jobs in all of 2010.

Then at the beginning of this year, I got my W-2 from 2010. $15,000. For an entire year of my life. No. Just no.

So I renewed my search. I had a few leads. I had two phone interviews with Reed-Elsevier for a capacity planning position. Aneesha was trying to get me to apply to her company in Tucson. I almost did, but they removed the listing too quickly. Of course, there was the Epic offer from Wisconsin, which I declined. At the time, I wondered if I was making a huge mistake.

Well, a few months ago, there was an ad in the paper for a 911 dispatcher for City of Middletown. I'm not an idiot. I know that a job like that would be just as crappy as the job I have now - but it would at least pay twice as much. And would come with benefits. So I applied. And I thought: What about other cities nearby?

City of Hamilton - not hiring. Oxford - not hiring. West Chester, Liberty Township, Cincinnati - not hiring. City of Fairfield - BINGO.

They had just put up listings for four jobs: Receptionist, Account Clerk I, Clerk I, Clerk IV. There was just one application for all jobs, and every applicant had to take a civil service exam.

Well, I turned in my application. About a week later, I got a letter with the date of the exam. It was at 9am on a Saturday where I was scheduled 9-5. "Crap," I thought. "This just figures." Luckily, I was able to switch with the person working 3-11 that day. I worked Friday night, got no sleep, woke up and went the exam.

Hundreds of people. Hundreds. I mean, I almost turned around and walked out. Hundreds of people applying for 4 jobs. But I took the exam. I took the typing test. And I played the waiting game.

Meanwhile, I took the 911 dispatcher exam. At the exam (maybe 70 people?), they told us that if we passed, they would schedule each of us for a typing test and send us a letter letting us know of the date/time. I got my letter, which said I passed the exam (98%) and luckily, my typing test was scheduled for 9am on a day I didn't have to work til 4pm. I took the typing test and passed that, but they said it would take 4-6 weeks for anyone to hear back. So I played the waiting game.

On May 16th, I got a call from someone with the City of Fairfield Income Tax Office, wanting to schedule a phone interview for an Account Clerk I position. I was really surprised, because I was completely qualified for all the other openings, but Account Clerk I required 6 months of bookkeeping experience, which I clearly did not have. But I was very excited, and scheduled my phone interview.

Two days later, at 11am, they call, saying it's the phone interview. Which was a huge surprise to me...because I had written down the next day as the date. I was still half asleep (having worked til midnight the night before) that I blurted this out to them. Before I knew what had happened, they had rescheduled me for the next day. And I thought: Well, that's that then. I mess up the day of the phone interview. Kind of calls my "attention to detail" into question.

But I tried to put that aside. They called me for my phone interview the next day (May 19th). The first five minutes... were awful. The first thing they asked was if I had tax experience. I said no. They asked if I had dealings with my local tax office... again, no. They verified that I live in a city and therefore do pay local taxes. And I'm like "Well, I mean, I pay my taxes. But they just come out of my paycheck. I don't ever deal with the office." And they kind of laughed and were like "...ok..." And then they asked me a question about where I see myself in five years and I TOTALLY BLANKED. It's the one interview question everyone asks. And normally, I'm prepared. But I blanked. I cleared my throat and said "excuse me" like 4 times before stuttering out an answer.

But after that, everything went very smoothly. First five minutes aside, I knocked the thing out of the park. At the end of the interview, they said they were talking with 10 people. They would choose 2 or 3 to interview in person. They said they'd call the next week if they were interested in me.

Well, they called 4 hours later. And they specifically said I was the first person they were calling. They scheduled me for June 2nd. (2 weeks! I had to wait 2 weeks!).

So, I got the interview. I started to prepare. I had a shirt I wanted to wear, but I needed gray pants. So I went shopping. I read pages and pages of prospective interview questions and ways to answer. The day before my interview, I went to get my hair cut. Just a few inches. Except the lady went CRAZY and chopped off way too much. Still getting used to that.

The day of my interview, I was super nervous, but very determined. I wanted this more than anything. So I got there, and this is where stars started to align. Because they had a surprise for me: I was interviewing for TWO positions. In the two weeks since my phone interview, an account clerk position had opened up in the utilities office. And instead of the utilities office starting at the beginning of the application process, they were just interviewing the same people that were up for the income tax job, since they were looking for the same things. So I interviewed with both departments (at the same time. 4 people interviewing me at once. It was weird).

I mentioned stars aligning because, well.. I didn't get the tax office job. I got the utilities job. My interview went REALLY well. I got along with everyone, I was conversational and engaging but remained professional. I was able to joke around without seeming immature. And I had exactly the experience they were looking for. The answering service I work for answers after-hours for City of Hamilton utilities, as well as Butler County Water, Boone County Water, Southwest Regional Water District, Cleves Water Works, Glenwood Energy of Oxford, and Lawrenceburg Gas. So I already know how to deal with customers regarding utilities.

I sounded so knowledgeable. I talked about difficult customers, after-hour payments, gas leaks, water main breaks, power outages, gaining rapport with the troubleshooters.

The interview took about an hour. I felt like I killed it. They told me they'd be interviewing that week, then calling early the next week. That was last Thursday. On Friday I sent all my thank-yous.

Monday, I heard nothing. Tuesday, I heard nothing. Wednesday, I got out of the shower and had a missed call and a voicemail. The voicemail was from one of the women I interviewed with (Tina) and just said she wanted to talk to me about the position.

My hands were trembling so badly, I could barely dial the phone. But I did. And I was put through to Tina's extension. And she offered me the job!

Now let me brag about this job: It's a government job, which means job security. It's full time, Monday-Friday 8-5. No overtime. No weekends. No nights. No holidays. In fact, we get 12 paid holidays. 4 personal days and 10 sick days per year. 2 weeks vacation (after the first year). It's a union job, so there are step raises. To start, I'd make $16.54/hour. After 6 months, $17.84. After a year, $18.65. After 2 years, $19.66. What this means: Right out of the gate, I'd be making twice as much annually as I do now. After two years, nearly three times as much. GOOD-BYE, STUDENT LOANS!

So, I start June 27, pending a background check and drug test. Yay!

Regarding my old job: I worked Tuesday, then had 6 days off. So I actually haven't been to work since I got the new job offer, and won't be back til Tuesday. I was going to wait til Tuesday to tell my boss, so I could do it in person. But my last day will be June 25, and technically that would have only been a 12 day notice. So on Friday, I decided to just get it over with and call. And it was really awkward. I tried to focus it on money only. I can't live off $15,000. And I told her that.

The timing actually works well, though. Our schedule goes through July 4th, but I only had 3 shifts after June 27th, so there isn't much to cover. As for the new schedule, one of the new girls (yeah, my hours get cut to 20/week and instead of giving me more, she hired two new people. Another reason I'm glad to leave) is going to be ready to go on her own by then. So I'll only be missed for 3 days, basically.

I went shopping for work clothes on my birthday. Spent about $250, but some things I'm not sure about and might return. But I'm so excited to actually have a real, adult job. I've waited over 2 years for this. And my time at HTAS actually worked in my favor, because that experience is what got me this job.

I just can't believe what had to line up for me to get this. City of Middletown had to be hiring for me to get the idea to look at City of Fairfield. I had to switch shifts at work to be able to take the exam. I had to do well enough on the exam to distinguish my self from hundreds of other people. I had to overcome a disastrous beginning to a phone interview. And someone in the utilities office had to quit right before my interview with the tax office. I feel incredibly lucky and blessed. And I'm actually looking forward to all of it. I just finally stopped being the "new girl" at work. And now I'll be the new girl again. But it's okay. Great, actually. Looking forward to a new chapter in my life!
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