The long shot

I owe my friend Moorea dinner.

A few months ago, in the depths of my job-hunting process, Moorea sent me a link to a contract-to-hire copywriting position at a Seattle startup. She’s a recruiter, so she spends all day on LinkedIn, and saw the position posted by one of her recruiter friends. She urged me to apply.

I read the job description, then mulled it over for a few days before emailing her back something like: “Thank you for thinking of me, but I’m not qualified for this job at all. Please let me know if you see anything else you think would be a good fit.”

A few weeks later, Moorea got in touch again about another position, but I wasn’t interested in the company. We made plans to get together for happy hour, and she said once again: “You should really apply for that copywriter job!”

With no copywriting experience, no portfolio, and only a few of the required qualifications outlined in the job description, it was a long shot, but I figured I had nothing to lose. I sent Moorea my resume, and she passed it on to her recruiter friend.

I didn’t expect to hear anything, but the startup recruiter emailed me within a few days to set up a phone interview. That interview lead to another phone interview, and I sat on pins and needles for a few days waiting to hear more.

The email I received next was slightly deflating: I was out of the running for the contract-to-hire job, since I really had no copywriting experience, but they were looking for a paid copywriting intern. Would I be interested in continuing to interview for that position?

I really liked the sound of this company, and still had nothing to lose, so I said yes. A contractor is paid more than an intern, but an intern is paid more than an unemployed job-seeker, y’know.

I interviewed with my potential boss and boss’ boss the Wednesday before I left for Italy. I left the interviews feeling great, but I also knew I would feel really disappointed if I didn’t get the internship. I steeled myself.

On Wednesday afternoon, the recruiter asked me to email her my references.

On Thursday, she offered me the internship.

On Friday, I negotiated the pay from the American Airlines lounge at JFK, then left the country. I filled out all the paperwork via iPad in Italy.

I began the full-time, two-month internship on October 16. I figured I would work until mid-December and then either be bumped up to the contract-to-hire position, or sent packing. I worked hard, tried to do my best with every task that was assigned to me, and hoped it would be enough.

And it was. On Monday, after just over a month with the company, I got a surprise email: I’d been promoted to a permanent, full-time copywriting position. I’m a copywriter for realsies!

The company never filled the contract-to-hire position for some reason, so I guess I became intern-to-hire. Huh.

Anyway, the point of the story is: I’ve been bursting with joy this week.

The second point is: “Required qualifications” are kind of bullshit, and you should not let bullshit get in your way.

The third point is: Sometimes the long shot is the right shot.

It’s hard to believe in yourself when you feel like you’re not good enough, so it helps to have someone around to tell you YOU ARE. Moorea did that for me in this case. I owe her dinner, remember?

So maybe I can do that for you with this story. Whatever it is that you think you are not good enough or strong enough or smart enough for — just fuckin’ do it. Don’t make me tell you twice.

Now I feel a bit of anxiety creeping up on me, as it always does when things seem to be going too well in life. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.

But all I can do in light of tomorrow’s holiday is try to let those anxious feelings go and be thankful for this job, for Aaron, for my family, for my friends and for everyone who has believed in me when I didn’t.

I will be that person for you if you have no one else. Or, let Chris Guillebeau be that person for you. He wrote a great post about qualifications more than a year ago that I still think about:

Forget about what you’re actually qualified to do. It’s irrelevant and no one cares.

Regardless of your actual qualifications, there’s one thing that no one can give you and no one can take away: the will to keep going. For that task, you are supremely qualified.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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