The year was 2000, and I needed a summer job.
This was before Monster.com and craigslist; companies posted jobs in the classifieds section of the newspaper back then. I was pursuing a degree in marketing at that point, so I went through the paper and circled all the marketing jobs.
I sent my resume to a company that was looking for a “marketing account executive.” I thought I was aiming a bit high, but it was worth a shot.
During the first “interview,” I found it a little odd that the manager wouldn’t tell me what the job was or what the company did. He kept saying that in less than a year, I could be running an office of my own, just like him. I told him that I was a rising sophomore in college and that I was just looking for a summer job; he winked and said, “We’ll see if you want to go back to school after a summer on the job.” Clearly he thought the company was great , and I didn’t have any other prospects yet, so I agreed to come back at 8:00 am the next day for a follow up interview.
When I showed up that morning, I was assigned to my interviewer, who ushered me to his car with two other men. My interviewer was a young guy, maybe 20 or 21, and the other two men were haggard and older. I asked where we were going, and the young guy said, “This is part of the interview.”
Then we drove off.
The young guy peppered me with questions for a good 10 minutes before I could turn the questions back around to him. I finally got the first clear answer about what they did: They sold coupon packs for Pizza Hut. $20 for a sheet of coupons.
“Oh, okay,” I said. I knew immediately I wasn’t going to take the job. “So, are you going to watch me make a sale and then we’ll go back to the office?”
The young guy shook his head. “We’re making sales all day.”
It hit me. This “marketing interview” was actually me shadowing coupon salesmen for an entire workday. I was about to spend eight hours going door to door in a terrible neighborhood.
I considered trying to get out of it. Calling a cab or my mother. But I told myself to suck it up, deal with it, and try to learn something. You know what I learned?