Friday, September 12, 2003

How NOT to make a good impression

Today was my first interview in four and a half years. I hate interviews, because they bear a remarkable similarity to dating.

This morning I actually got off to a good start. I managed to get up after only one 'snooze' session. I didn't slice up my face until I looked like Freddy shaving. The printer didn't crap out printing out my revised Trial-Level Brief that the US Attorney's office requested. Kinko's didn't have a line, and I was able to make extra resume copies, copies of my transcript and copies of the brief in record time.

The major obstacle would of course be the 35 mile drive from Naperville to Loyola. First there was the East-West Tollway(I-88) to deal with; once that was conquered, I'd have to overcome the Eisenhower Expressway (I-290). That would put me at the south entrance to Wacker Drive, one block south of the Sears Tower. From there, I'd have to negotiate my way around the Loop to the Near North Side and the Water Tower, where Loyola is. The traffic reports were saying it was forty minutes from Wolf Road to Downtown (Wolf Road is where the I-290 extension and I-88 merge to form the official beginning of the Eisenhower; just west of this road is the infamous "Hillside Strangler," so called because at that point, I-88 goes from two lanes to one, just as traffic exiting off of I-294 (the Tri-State Tollway) merges in, and I-290 joins I-88. It's called the Hillside Strangler because a.)it's located in the suburb of Hillside, and b.) this used to be the worst backup in the state; with new construction, the backup has now moved east, to 25th Street. "Downtown" refers to the Old Post Office, which serves as a gateway to Congress Parkway and the entrance to Wacker Drive). On a good day, with no traffic, it takes fifteen minutes to get to Wolf from my apartment. But on a Friday morning, it can be easily double that. So thirty minutes plus forty minutes meant an hour and ten minutes from Kinko's to Downtown; count on another ten minutes from Downtown to school, and then some time to find a parking spot. Since it was 8:20, I was worried about cutting it close to the 9:50 interview time.

I shouldn't have worried. I made it to the entrance to Lower Wacker by 9:10. Lower Wacker was mostly empty, so I quickly circumnavigated the Loop. Amazingly, I immediately found a meter spot just across from school. By 9:20, I was at school, parked and on my way to Seattle's Best for a cup of coffee. Even that went smoothly. I made it up to Career Services by 9:30, twenty minutes early. Since law school interviews are twenty minutes, the person ahead of me should be starting shortly.

But they weren't. They hadn't even checked in yet. I made my way back to the back of Career Services, where Mandy was supposed to show me where Room 7 was. But she wasn't there. I asked the woman who came in if she was Mandy; she said no, but could she help? I asked for Room 7, and she apologized, but she didn't know where it was. Suddenly, a woman came out from one of the rooms, dressed in business attire:

Woman: This is room seven.
Me (smiling): Hi! Thanks, but I'm not the person you're looking for. I'm the person after the person you're looking for.
W (looking at list posted on door): You're Greg
Me: Yep.
W: Hmm.
Lady Behind Desk (to me): You're not the 9:30?
Me: No, I'm 9:50
L: Hmm.

(Lady disappears)

W: Well, I guess I'll wait five more minutes, and if she doesn't show, we'll just get started
Me: Fine by me. I'm flexible. I'll be right over there, reading my paper.
W: Ok

(Lady returns)

L (to W): She hasn't checked in yet
W: Well, I'll wait five more minutes

I retired to a chair, took off the suit jacket (I was hot) and sat down to read my copy of the Financial Times. Five minutes later, and my mysterious classmate had failed to arrive. As a result, I got an extra ten minutes on my interview.

As for the interview, I think it went well. We started off with small talk about how far Naperville was from Chicago, and how bad traffic seemed to be here (she's from Western Michigan). She seemed impressed by the fact that I worked two jobs and went to school, and she was very impressed by the fact that I went to Europe this summer. She asked about the similarities between the Italian and American legal systems, which I was only too happy to answer. In between, she told me about the work I'd be doing, how I'd be involved in criminal work, and how they would not hire me upon graduation, because the US Attorney's office only hired experienced litigators. Oh, and how only two of the four openings were paid positions. She asked me if I was interested in criminal work, and I said yes (it's true). I told her how I was a Discover Channel junkie (she admitted to being one, too), and how my grandfather was an Illinois State Trooper (which he was, prior to WWII).

On the one hand, the work would be absolutely fascinating, and the experience would look awesome on a resume. On the other hand, I'd have to move to Michigan for the summer.

One interview down, one to go. But that's not until October 3rd. As for my no-show classmate, she's screwed. The rules for OCI clearly state that if you cannot make it to an interview, you must call and notify OCI before your scheduled time. If you fail to show without calling, you are banned from any further use of OCI. Any interviews you had scheduled will be cancelled, and the next person on the wait list will move up. Even worse, the ban is permanent. That means not only does she lose out on interviewing for summer associate positions this year, she won't be able to interview for permanent positions next year. So hopefully, she'll get an offer from whatever firm does hire her. My suspicion is that she's like my friend Anita. Last night, Anita told me she'd put in for several interviews, but hadn't heard if she'd gotten any. When I asked if she'd picked up her packet at Career Services, she said no, she didn't know she had to. So she went back upstairs and got it. Maybe Miss No-Show didn't know either. But then, that's why the sent four emails reminding people to pick up their packet, and why they tell you to watch your email and your mailbox. It's too bad she missed the interview, but I don't feel sorry for her. We're all adults, and we have adult responsibilities.

No comments: