What I Learned From Applying To A Job I Was Underqualified For

I am very fortunate to have a job that I love. I actually look forward to getting up and going to work every day, which is not so true for millions of other Americans. It took several tries and a few different job interviews to finally settle on the best fit for me. I think finding a job is only half the battle, but to me definitely the hardest half.

I recall several years ago one interview in particular. I was applying for a job as a Computer Reference Assistant. Now, I had no business even trying for this. I had no clue what a Computer Reference Assistant even was. I was a stay at home mom for almost 12 years and so out of touch with the newest technology, I hadn’t realized that even the language of the office had changed. Words like keypunch, shorthand, and typewriter were now virtually nonexistent. As I sat anxiously awaiting my turn in the HR ‘hot seat”, there were several other applicants as well, all sitting around in their smart pin-striped suits, poring over their iPhones and pocket organizers. As I thumbed nervously through the Annual Business Report (like I really knew what any of that meant anyway) it hit me like a rock. I began to feel the true terror of making myself out to be the biggest idiot they’d ever seen! I thought about making a beeline for the door, but the tall, ominous paintings of the company’s founders and CEO towered over me like guards.

That’s it! I thought. I couldn’t go through with it. I had no idea what I was doing and I needed to make a run for it. I stood up, ready to leave, when my name was called. I was ushered in by a slender, very professional looking receptionist. She offered me a beverage and I humbly accepted the bottled water to appease the growing lump in my throat.

First I was to take a sampler test to see what knowledge, if any, I had about computer technology. I sat down, wrung my hands and opened the booklet. The question on the first page read “In which port does the mouse go in?” I stared blankly at the page for what seemed like hours. I slowly lifted my pencil and scribbled “Whichever one has the cheese.”

I took my book to the tester and sat down in front of him. He asked me several computer-y type questions: “Do you know what cell merging in a spreadsheet means? Can you create a PowerPoint presentation? Can you write a program?” After shaking my head NO several times, he finally asked, “What is it that you CAN do?” I looked up with some sense of pride and declared “Well-l-l, I can diaper a baby in less than 30 seconds!” My excitement took a nosedive when he asked me to close the door quietly on my way out.

I guess the moral to this story is, be true to yourself. Don’t try to be something you’re not. For instance, don’t apply for the job of a doctor if your only medical experience was playing Operation with your little brother.