Landing a job in Chicago

Let’s face it, Kansas doesn’t get much respect, unless you’re talking hunting or basketball. The same was true when I was job hunting four years ago, looking to move to either New York or Chicago.

After literally a hundred query letters and phone calls to agencies in NY and Chicago, I finally managed to get a few interviews. I made sure I covered all the big-name agencies in both cities, and I both e-mailed the HR person and submitted my resume online, where I could.

One day I got a pessimistic e-mail back from the recruiter at a big Chicago agency, stating that they only had one job open, and it was for direct marketing on the John Deere account.

You can imagine my excitement. Not only was it an agency I was really interested in…it was a brand I actually knew something about!

So on the Friday afternoon of my interview, I got all gussied up in my black suit, and my friend dropped me off in front of their ominous building (with scary security people in the lobby). I met with the HR person, then an Account Supervisor (who I later learned I would be replacing). Then I met with Ted, who oversaw the whole account.

Ted was a big boisterous dude, who talked more B.S. than anything. And clearly I was scared out of my wits that I was going to screw the whole thing up. So it really threw me for a loop when he asked me what I liked to do. “Read, sew, play piano,” I said. He seemed completely baffled at my seemingly boring life.

After I left the office, I was kicking myself for not showing a lot of personality. (I’m sure it’s difficult for anyone to imagine that I could hide this about myself.)

The next morning I headed for Iowa to my brother’s house, then on to Kansas on Sunday. En route (about 4 p.m.) I decided that by Monday morning at 8:30, I had to prove to Ted that I was funny. I wanted that job.

I hit Kansas City at 5:57 p.m., three minutes before Best Buy was closing, and ran inside to get a digital camera so I could complete my scheme. Fortunately there was another helpful customer in the camera section who told me what to get (it was very good advice, by the way), and I ran to the counter to make my purchase.

Then instead of heading for Wichita (where I lived at the time), I drove to the farm so I could get up at the crack of dawn, take the necessary photos, and pull together a PPT document to e-mail to Ted by 8:30.

Long story short, I had on offer on Tuesday morning.

Here’s what I sent with my thank-you e-mail:

Love for Deere

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3 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Kim said,

    I love this presentation! I went the sympathy route when I interviewed with them, showing up in crutches and telling my sad St. Patty’s Day story spent in the ER.

  2. 2

    […] camera in 2003, for the project I’d cooked up to land my first Chicago advertising job (click here for the story). It was an Olympus D-560 3.2 megapixel point-and-shoot camera that took great photos and was easy […]

  3. 3

    […] digital camera in 2003, for the project I’d cooked up to land my first Chicago advertising job (click here for the story). It was an Olympus D-560 3.2 megapixel point-and-shoot camera that took great photos and was easy […]


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