Finding a Job Sucks: The Home Improvement Non-profit

old house
Photo by Sinziana Susa on Unsplash

I should have called it a home improvement non-starter.

I found the Development Coordinator job at Rebuilding  Together of the Triangle off of CraigsList.

It seemed legit.

I used the same cover letter for my other development coordinator applications. No sense in reinventing the wheel.

I looked up the website. It’s built on Squarespace. [Insert sad face] What a pity.

For some reason, only the executive director and the board of directors (a slew of them!) are listed under “About Us.”

The job only paid $28K-$34K. Barely a liveable wage, but that’s nonprofits for you.

The organization performs home repairs for low-income homeowners, e.g. the elderly, veterans, and single families. They offer a variety of services, including accessibility, electrical, flooring, gutters, HVAC, plumbing, railings, roofs, structures, and windows.

Sounds like a worthy cause.

What attracted me to this job was the combination of communications/marketing with development/donor relations. And I seem to be fatally attracted to low-paying, nonprofit jobs.

I have over ten years of experience in development/donor relations from Duke University. Which seems to have done me zero good in my job search.

I had a phone interview with the executive director two weeks ago. It was actually a pleasant conversation. I thought it had promise. He asked me a few standard interview questions but mostly deferred to me to ask him questions. It struck me as a bit odd because it started to feel like I was interviewing him. So the dynamic was different than what I had previously experienced.

What struck me about the phone interview was the final question he asked me: What did I like most about working at Duke?

It’s a great question, because it focuses on the positive and helps the interviewee shine and express what she is passionate about.

The phone conversation ended on a good note, and the executive director told me he would be in contact for me to schedule an in-person interview.

Yay!

My in-person interview was Thursday, September 13, at 10AM at the Rebuilding Together office in the next town.  Right ahead of when Hurricane Florence was to make landfall. He told me in an email that they might reschedule the interview if the weather was threatening. I wasn’t too thrilled with driving out there, to be honest. I thought I saw on their website that they had an office in the downtown of my city, but maybe I read that wrong?

What I Wore

I wore the same outfit I wore for my Sanmita interview. Black slacks, orange lace camisole covered by a charcoal, cowl neck, three-quarter sleeve knit top. I wore my floral ballet slippers from Walmart. Unfortunately, I forgot to switch purses, so I did show up with my turquoise purse instead of the black one I use for interviews. I skipped the colored contacts and wore my interview wig, which is still in good condition. Yes, I wore makeup. Neutral lip color.

They Made Me Wait 30 Minutes!

Oh well, the drive to the next city ended up being a straight shot and not as long as I thought, about 20 minutes.

The office was in a depressing little red brick office park. Sigh.

I gathered myself for a minute or two in my car, then got out and walked to the office.

As I approached, I could see through the wide office windows that an interview session was in progress. My interview was supposed to be at 10AM. The executive director let me in and explained that they were conducting an interview (ugh!) and I that I could wait in one of the offices.

Imagine my surprise and dismay at seeing them interview my competition and then asking me to wait my turn.

So I sat in the program coordinator’s office, who happens to not be listed on the company’s website. Black lady, looked to be in her forties. Her office was kind of a mess, or more so pack-ratty. Boxes of instant noodles, salt-laden canned soups sitting atop shelves and a filing cabinet. Papers piled up. Ghastly fluorescent lighting, no window. Family portraits of her, her husband, and son. Looked like a nice lady. The state of her office tells me she’s juggling too many projects and is overworked. Probably underpaid too. But she seemed cheerful enough.

While I’m sitting in her office fuming, they’re chatting it up with my competition, laughing and whatnot.  I wanted to walk out. Maybe I should have. Five minutes, sure. Ten minutes, okay. But thirty f*cking minutes? I got to hear all of my competition’s questions and conversation and I already could tell they liked her a lot. I  suspect she prolonged her interview because she knew I was waiting and she wanted to psyche me out.

Finally, thirty minutes later my turn comes.

“Get in the hot seat,” the construction coordinator/manager/director/whatever says to me jokingly.

By this time I’m thoroughly pissed, and I’m trying to calm myself down.

He offered me a bottle of water.

“That would be lovely,” I accepted.

I chose the seat he was previously sitting in and had to lower it.

I asked him if he was ready for Hurricane Florence. He made some comment about being overly prepared, seemed annoyed. I could tell it would be difficult to make a good impression on him. Jesus!

The program coordinator came back with the executive director who sheepishly apologized for running over time. “I tend to talk too much,” he explained.  No, you’re just a poor planner.

The interview commenced. I gave my 30-second spiel and let them ask me some questions. But they didn’t ask me that many, if any. Again, just like the phone interview, the executive director deferred to me to conduct most of the questioning. The problem with this is that I didn’t really get a chance to show or tell them about why I was a good fit for the job.

History repeated itself, and the next interviewee entered the building during my interview and had to wait until I was done.

This whole overlapping of the interviews really rubbed me the wrong way.  I mean, why didn’t they allot for an adequate amount of time for each candidate? Why create this horribly awkward situation where you can hear your competition in the next room? It just screams unprofessional! And it’s inconsiderate and disrespectful of people’s time.

The executive director said my background in development and social media drew him to my application. But he didn’t really ask me to expound on either.  They all liked the design of my resume. Didn’t help me though.

I ended the interview with the question of one success story that really touched them and why. Thought it was a nice way to end things.

The black woman again apologized for making me wait.

Got a rejection email from the exectutive director yesterday, Sunday.

Fuck you and your $28K/year bullshit job.


The Finding a Job Sucks series chronicles my misadventures through unemployment. I explore my mountains and valleys through the process in detail as a method of catharsis and resentful pettiness.  2018 has been one of the most difficult years of my life. No sense in sugar-coating it.