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I’m a stone’s throw from my degree. This summer has been lame duck week after lame duck week, chasing entry level jobs to start building relevant experience. I’ve done plenty of odd jobs for family and my landlords to make enough money to float my car bills and rent while I turn over a mountain of cover letters. After a month and a half of refreshing Indeed.com, I gave up searching for something in my field. Landing a relevant position is tremendously difficult without that paper, and I couldn’t afford to work unpaid this summer.
I finally put my pride aside and turned to lesser jobs around the township. I was a supervisor at a nearby amusement park for nearly half a decade between high school and the waxing years of my undergraduate career, and decided I would call upon that experience to hopefully land me a manager job. I applied for a gig posted online and immediately received my call back. True to my unfounded, 23-year-old arrogance, I knew the position was mine for the taking.
The first interview went very smoothly. The GM, a girl a few years older than me who also studied business, liked me right away. The majority of the interview didn’t even pertain to the job. She asked me off-topic questions about college sports and my freshman year garage band. She was fairly attractive, and I was dressed to kill. She smiled often, as did I. She wrapped up the interview not terribly long after it began.
A week of odd jobs passed before she finally called me back, contritely, to tell me she couldn’t set up a second interview with the district manager within a reasonable time frame. Therefore, my second interview would take place 40 miles away with the district manager’s heir apparent. The GM scheduled the second round interview for 9:30 a.m. on a weekday, but apparently mixed the time up with the assistant DM. I arrived an hour earlier than he expected. Following the inauspicious start, things got even worse.
I sat down with the guy in a secluded, sunny corner of the building, ready to charm his dick off like I’d done in nearly every other interview to date.
He was a tall, slim man with fierce, cerulean eyes, a prevailing lisp and some decidedly effeminate mannerisms. Most notably, he sat with his legs crossed. Not one leg over the other, like a smug Bill Clinton leaning back in his office chair afterhaving paid for the best escort service of his life. No, criss-cross applesauce, like a hippie teen girl with the contours of an acoustic guitar straddling the top of her topmost thigh.
I slid two copies of my resume across the table with a confident, wry smile. He skimmed the education and work, paying my impressive experiences little mind. Then, he stopped at the bottom where I had my affiliations listed. He skipped over my time as a commuter mentor. He ignored the two honor societies that still send me emails. He was fixed on the segment that said “Member and Former Vice President of New Member Education,” followed by my letters.
It was obvious he didn’t like fraternities. He launched into the typical questions, to which I gave him some pretty reticent answers. First, he asked if I knew the stigma of being Greek. I coyly told him if there was a stigma, I was either blissfully unaware or just didn’t pay it any mind. I paid the same, oft-practiced normal lip service, hearkening back to my pledge semester: “They’re the best guys I’ve ever met” and “they’re not like the guys you see on TV and in movies.” He prodded about our discipline record and how often we partied.
Suddenly, I found myself getting uncomfortable. My unwavering confidence became increasingly timorous. He told me fraternal men drink to excess and “frat people” he worked alongside in the past were irresponsible, often truant and largely disrespectful towards authority. He questioned my commitment to owners and the brand. He was leery of my ability to uphold the business’ friendly image and briskly asked if I had any questions for him.
I asked about the company’s expectations for their managers, trying to direct the interview away from my fraternity. With eyes burning a hole in my face, he told me they care “deeply about mutual respect” and keeping managers from fraternizing with subordinates. They emphasize professionalism. His inflection and stare stressed every facet of his expectations that were inconsistent with his impression of me. A few moments later, the longest and most uncomfortable interview of my life was called.
He stood up, without changing his expression, and extended a hand. “Thank you so much for coming in today. I appreciate it – I really do.” I reciprocated with a strangling handshake and set apace for the nearest door.
For the first time ever, I was regarded with contempt for representing a fraternity. This man genuinely disliked what he believed I stood for. My experiences, my education, my composure, my references… none of it meant shit to this guy. As long I championed the maxims of friendship, morality and literature, I, and men of my ilk, need not apply..
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