Turning Stumbling

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Naomi’s Interview: Turning Stumbling Blocks into Stepping Stones

Naomi spent five years working as a guide with a tour company. She was doing extremely well. When the company offered her a promotion with a significant salary increase, she declined. She realized that she was tired of the demanding schedule that consisted of constant travel. Deciding to make a career change, Naomi enrolled in college to pursue a degree in art.

Naomi applied for a job online, using her Web resume, at the corporate office of a greeting card company. She posted selected photos she had taken of many of the international travel destinations she had traveled to. Naomi learned that she loved photography and used her photo collection to create a card collection. At first she presented the cards as gifts to relatives and friends. Eventually her collection was sold at several tourist and airport gift shops. She saw the entry-level job in the art department as an opportunity to further develop an interest, gain some experience in a new field, and earn money to pay for her tuition. She followed up her online application with a telephone call to the company to secure a job interview. Though she did not know the full scope of the company’s plans, goals, financial stability, or customer base, she felt she knew enough from the job posting to go on her interview. When she arrived, she was surprised to see the company had a much more formal environment than she expected. Two other candidates in the reception area were dressed more professionally than Naomi. She assumed that because the position was in the art department, she would be interviewing in a more casual environment.

Her interviewer began by telling Naomi how impressed she was with her photography samples posted on her Web resume. She remarked that they demonstrated her artistic talent and that her card collection revealed her creative side. When she asked Naomi why she was interested in the company, Naomi explained that she was most interested in a job to help pay for her tuition. Naomi explained her previous salary and said she hoped to earn the same in a new job.

Within a week, Naomi was contacted by the company and told she was not being
asked back for a second interview. Naomi was disappointed and surprised. She thought
the interviewer was really impressed with her.

Naomi called the interviewer and asked if she would be willing to provide feedback on her interview. She was told that her salary expectations were too high and that she was probably better suited for a more casual work environment. Members of the art department frequently participated in meetings in-house and off-site, and often interfaced with current and prospective clients running focus groups on proposed art copy and messaging. They needed to know how to dress professionally on these occasions, even though the art department itself was very casual.

The interviewer was impressed with her follow-up and invited her back for a second interview. When they met the second time, Naomi learned that the lower salary was not negotiable. She had to face the fact that she was switching career paths and sometimes that meant having to accept an adjusted salary to gain entry into a new field. She learned that the company had a tuition reimbursement program that could cover much of her tuition expense. Naomi agreed to stay with the company after completing her degree if the company provided educational assistance. Naomi was now on a new career path that she was more passionate about with a plan on how to accomplish her goal.

Discussion Questions
1. How could Naomi have been better prepared for her first interview?
2. Why do you think Naomi was finally offered a second interview?
3. What decisions did Naomi have to make as she changed her career path?