Friday, July 1, 2011

Going with your gut

Wednesday was my interview with the Chicago firm. It was an interesting interview because I definitely went into it with the mindset that I was already getting the job because of the two people there that I already know. But I think that mindset put me at ease, lessened any anxiety, and ultimately made me more confident, which probably helped make a good impression with the two new people I met. I need to remember this for the Seattle interview.

Oh so funny story about the interview. After interviewing with these two guys, the three of us went out to lunch to continue a more casual conversation and just to get to know each other. We went to this restaurant in downtown Chicago that is a pretty big business lunch place. We walked in and I was surrounded by men in suits.

Now for my lunch I ended up getting this pretty yummy salad. It comes to the table, and I start on my salad. I had had a couple of bites, when I see this little black spot on one corner of the plate. I'm like huh... what is that? I look closer, and I kid you not, it was this tiny tiny bug. I was surprised and kinda grossed out, but I was more freaked out that the two other guys would find out. I could have made a scene and called the waiter over and sent it back, but that would have made these two guys really uncomfortable. There they are trying to take a prospective hire out to lunch, and they find a bug in their food?

So I told myself, nope, I don't need to put them in that situation. No need. They would have been really embarrassed, needlessly, and it would have taken away from the conversation we were already having. So I kinda shoved the little bug down underneath the salad on that corner of the plate and then proceeded to eat about half the salad, on the opposite side of the plate. Maybe I ate another bug or two, but eh, I could always use more protein. :)

Anyways. So yesterday I am out to lunch with a friend who I hadn't seen in a while. And I'm telling her all about the interview and the circumstances with the Chicago firm. And I kid you not, as we're talking about the firm and my relationship with this partner, my phone lights up and this partner's name comes across the screen.

When I saw her name, I was glad but also filled with dread. Because I knew exactly what she was calling for. I knew that she was calling to give me an offer, but that she was not going to allow me to wait a month to interview with Seattle. I know this partner pretty well and know how she handles things. She is a business woman who knows what she wants and is not scared to go after it.

So I listen to the voicemail and she's telling me what I already knew... that she'd love for me to come join them etc etc. Then she says something to the effect of, 'I would like for you to come work with us and I need to know what I need to do to make that happen'. Yeah. Whoa. She doesn't mess around. It did get me thinking about what kinda crazy salary I could demand! :)

When I called her back, she told me pretty much what I already knew. That she can't wait for me to decide if I like the Seattle firm or if the Seattle firm likes me. That she is turning away work now and needs someone now. She said that I should think about where I want to be compensation wise and that she'd give me a week to make a decision. She also said that she can't guarantee that there would still be a need whenever I finish up the process with Seattle. But that if there was, she would still be open to that.

After talking to her, I spoke with two former colleagues, one at the Chicago firm and the other at the Seattle firm. My issue was that my gut was very strongly telling me that I needed to go through the interview process with Seattle. I wanted to make the best decision possible, and not feel like I was pressured to pick one firm. And yes, there is no guarantee that I would even get an offer from Seattle. My greatest fear is that that might happen, and that the Chicago firm would feel pissed or hold a grudge, feeling like I put them at second place, and not want to take me in 6 weeks.

My former coach at the Seattle firm told me that if she does hold a grudge, would I really want to work for someone like that? And that while the Chicago firm has an immediate staffing need right now, this is a big career decision for me. I am looking to be at my next firm for a while, so I have to feel comfortable with making the decision.

I knew what I needed to do, but knowing that I needed to call this partner today filled me with dread. This morning I did what I typically do when I am faced with a tough decision, consulting the I Ching. And as always, it was right, telling me what I already sensed... that everything has its proper time and that this is not the right time right now. That I need to trust that everything is as it should be and that everything is being prepared to achieve what is in my best interests. And that I just need to trust in that and be still and relaxed and confident.

So I called the partner shortly afterwards, explaining to her how I don't take her offer lightly and that I really do respect her. And because I respect her, that I want to be completely honest and tell her where I am. I told her that I want to maintain a good relationship not only with her, but the other person I know at the Chicago firm and the person I know at the Seattle firm.

I explained that its not really the case that I'm preferring Seattle over Chicago... that its two very different firms and opportunities that would put me in two different circumstances, circumstances that would affect my personal life very differently. I said that I do want to finish out the interview process with Seattle.

I finished up by saying that I don't know how things are going to end up, but I would hope that she would still be open to hiring me if she still has the work and the staffing need, not just in 6 weeks but in the future as well since I see myself in consulting for a while.

I think the conversation went as well as it could have, and she said she did appreciate me telling her so they didn't have to go through the work of putting together an offer. I don't know if she really means it when she says she would hire me again if they still had a staffing need, but I can't really worry about that at this point. She did say to keep her updated on how things go and perhaps in 6-8 weeks the Chicago firm may become more attractive to me. I kind of took her saying that to mean that she really does feel that I'm putting her firm as a second choice. Oh well.

I then talked to the other guy I know well at this firm and explained my decision and the conversation I had with the partner. He told me that they had actually had dinner last night and discussed this a bit, and that she knew that I had called him to talk about this yesterday as well. He said that she told him that she hoped that I did not get a bad impression of her from how forward she was with the offer and saying that she can't wait for a month. So that's a good sign, I think.

He told me that he really does anticipate that the work is only going to increase. While they are now going to hire this other guy, their second choice, that he feels that they would definitely still hire me in another 6-8 weeks if I was interested. He told me that I need to do what is right for me, and that he believes in the quality of my work so much that they would rather wait a bit than not have me at all. I have to hope that he would help advocate for me if I needed it.

So all in all, after a drama filled day yesterday, I think things worked out for the best. I still have no clue what will happen with Seattle. I may not like them, or they may not like me. And by then I may end up not being offered a position with the Chicago firm. Isn't there a saying like this? A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush? But anyways, that is the chance that I have decided to take. I can't make a decision because I feel forced into it. If I had accepted the offer, I would have always wondered about Seattle.

And something in my gut is strongly telling me that I need to at least interview with Seattle. So we'll see what happens!

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