Finding a Job Sucks: The Dreary Haven for Children

I wish I knew where to begin with this episode.

This job seemed so promising.

Haven House Services was looking for a marketing/communications/development somebody or other to join their team in downtown Raleigh. 

The pay was only $18/hour part-time. But I was desperate and thought I stood a chance with my background in development and graphic design.

The job seemed like a good fit.

I don’t believe I had a phone interview with them. I think I just submitted my resume and set up an interview with their HR.

What Drew Me to this Job?

I think what drew me the most was the nonprofit, public service component. The mission of the organization resonated with me. Haven House serves troubled youth in the Triangle. Some of the youth are runaways, come from disadvantaged backgrounds, are involved in crime, or all of the above. Haven House provided services to help provide shelter, counseling for families, and alternative activities to divert from criminal activities. 

What I Wore

I looked really good. I skipped the interview wig and gelled my hair back into a bun. I wore my sun yellow dress that I made a few years ago and my white floral open-toe platform sandals. I wore some cute gold heart earrings and my white floral Amy Butler purse that serendipitously matched my shoes. Eye makeup on point.

The First Interview

The facility is located in downtown Raleigh. The building looks like it was built in the ’60s. Old and a bit grubby, surrounded by a wire fence and pavement. I had to buzz to get in the front entrance.

The seating area was dull and depressing, with varying tones of gray, beige, and general dinginess. The place looked like it could use a good scrubbing to remove the layer of dreariness that coated the atmosphere.

I was greeted by Shannon, the communications director. She was about 5’5″, stout, short light brown hair, glasses, and a drab wardrobe that matched the underfunded flare of Haven House.

We sat in an office and were joined by another staff member, a black woman with natural hair and pretty eyes in her early thirties. I believe she was involved with finances. Actually, she was a stand in for the volunteer coordinator who couldn’t make it to my interview.

So, the actual interview went like every other interview. The standard 20 Questions. One thing that stood out was that Shannon didn’t have my resume on hand. Thank goodness I brought an extra nicely printed out cover letter, resume, writing sample, USB with other design/writing examples, in a nice neat folder. I hate it when interviewers are unprepared.

But one thing that helped me feel a little more at ease was the presence of the other black woman. As a black woman, believe me, seeing another black face in stressful situations like an interview can be comforting. Not to the point that I super relaxed and not on my game. But more like a confidence boost. Not that being interviewed by another black woman makes me a shoe-in for a position. But in the back of my mind, I think that this person might possibly have my back. No guarantees though.

Anyway, I felt very confident during the interview because most of the duties involved I felt very confident that I could perform.

Then Shannon gave me a tour of the Haven House facility and I got to meet some of the staff. I wish I had not met anybody though, because to me, that should be reserved for candidates you actually want to extend an offer to.

The building was pretty awful, uninviting, and depressing. But beggars can’t be choosy, and I really needed the income.

The Second Interview and Hoop Jumping

Even though Shannon declared she didn’t believe in making people do work without pay, she did send me home with an assignment. Write a brief article with the information she provided me. 

Great. Another hoop to jump through. So my online portfolio and writing sample wasn’t enough. Sigh.

So I sweated working on this stupid sample that I was supposed to submit before my second interview. If I can find it, I’ll post it.

The second interview took place a little over a week later. 

Again, I met with Shannon, but this time I also met the volunteer coordinator and some other woman on the other side of middle-aged.

To be honest, I was not totally prepared for this interview, but I guess I was expecting the women to be more open and accommodating than they were.

Shannon basically wanted me to repeat everything I said from the last interview. I hate repeating myself. It was another one of those infernal round-robin types of interviews that infuriate me. Shannon sat in front of me and looked taller and fatter than before. The volunteer coordinator on my right almost disappeared into the chair she was sitting in; she was so non-present. The other woman who sat on my left looked dried up and perpetually cross. Who was she again? What happened to the sista from the last interview?

What really got me during the interview was Shannon’s complete change in demeanor from the first interview to the second. Shannon, who practically begged me to join Haven House at our last interview, was markedly cold and stiff in the second.

Not only that, when I did asked her about the potential or growth of the position, she gave me a really oddly passionate tirade about how the person in that position would need to bring something extra to the position and how basically the person would have to prove through their performance whether or not the position transitioned to full-time. There was a strange emphasis on soliciting that wasn’t there before and certainly wasn’t in the job description. In fact, she got so emotionally worked up while on her soapbox, that she squinted her eyes to the point of practically closing them. I remember trying to gaze at her calmly but honestly thinking WTF?

What happened? I guess she found a candidate she liked better and was just looking for reasons to completely eliminate me from the runnings.

I couldn’t out of there fast enough. And Shannon seemed ready to see me go. Bizarre.

My Final Impressions

When I think back on this weird experience, I am grateful I did not get the position. Shannon’s shifting moods and demeanor were enough to give me pause. She even made some off-the-cuff comments about the black coworker (whose name I can’t remember) disliking having an office next to her. 

It’s just as well I didn’t get this job, though there is no question in my mind that I could have done it, just like every other job I applied for.

Wow, just thinking about this again is giving anxiety.

The building itself was drab, dreary, and certainly not much of a haven. Besides, I think I’m over office jobs at this point.

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