The Worst Job Interview…ever

I like to view Fridays as an opportunity to go a bit off topic.

I want to talk about something that everyone need to go through at some point in their life, especially the newly graduated.

The Job Interview. 

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Instead of compiling a list of DOs and DON’Ts, I thought I would sum everything up in a tidy package that I like to call: The Worst Job Interview Ever. 

It was my final year of university and I saw a listing that a national journal with a locally based office was hiring interns. It was environmentally based. I knew nothing about the environment. I shrugged and figured – why not?

Don’t #1 – You should probably have a strong reason for applying for a job. 

I applied and miraculously GOT the interview. I spent a few minutes before the interview on the computers in the student lounge reading about the organization.

Don’t #2 – Always arrive at the job interview well researched. 

I was early (DO) and waited to meet the managers. A lovely man and woman met me and sat me down in the environmental student lounge and informed me I was interviewing for a completely different offshoot of the organization.

The woman began describing the organization, paused, and requested I proceed instead.

I had NOTHING. I knew absolutely nothing about what she was talking about. I had two options:

1. Tell her I didn’t know.
2. Make something up.

Now, a normal, level headed, respectable human being would go with option 1, but I, being a well versed English major (learned in the art of BS), launched into a spiralling manifesto of what I THOUGHT the organization was.

She looked at me.

 

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“That’s not what we are at all.” 

I quickly tried to recover my footing, but the rest of the interview was by and large a disaster.

And it gets worse. 

I got the job. (Which isn’t the bad part).

I didn’t hear about a starting date and didn’t inquire further. One day, I got a politely hostile email asking where in the name of Mary WAS I?

So, not only did I bomb the job interview, but then I got the job and then didn’t check in further for a start date.

 

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And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the foundation of my full-time career.

I have since become friends with the man and woman who interviewed me that day – they are still my bosses, but I can speak up at business meetings and cat sit and go out to eat with them and laugh about that day. Sort of.

This past week, my manager told me that it was the fact that I tried to bore through an impossible situation was the reason I was hired. So the thing that would have gotten me chucked to the very bottom of the consideration pile was the thing that helped me be where I am, which is selling advertising and creating partnerships at a Journal that I love, with people I respect and have a lot of fun with.

 

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May your future job interviews be more polished and professional than mine.

What is your worst job interview moment? 

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100 Miles of Wild Recap

A big thank you to all of you were so patient as I pressed a giant reset button and took a few weeks off of blogging to go on the Trek and get organized when I returned. This past Friday night, I spent that majority of the evening unpacking, organizing and going over the financial details of the trip. Can I just say that driving all the way to North Dakota and back cost me a mere $330 in my Prius? LOVE my car!

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I have gotten a lot of people asking me about my trip. How it came about? How the experience was? How I am feeling? I have a lot of caring people in my life and I figured this is the best way to bring everyone up to speed.

How it came to happen:
A couple Wednesdays ago, I was sitting in my regular spot in Starbucks, sipping a latte and trying to hammer out my column for AJ: The Green Athlete. The latest one can be seen here.

I was short on time and I was scrambling to find an organization that connected athletes and environmentalism. I forget exactly how it happened, but I landed on Adventure Science out of the blue and read their information on 100 Miles of Wild Trek in North Dakota this spring. I began furiously typing up my piece, getting more and more excited about the organization.

I thought it was an American company, but I felt a compulsion to email the founder, Simon Donato, and said I wanted to get involved somehow. I was thinking helping with the website, content, copy or promotion, but within 10 minutes, he had emailed me back and said that one of his athletes was hit by a car and potentially could not participate in the trek and would I be interested?

The days before leaving were a blur of requesting time off from bosses, cancelling appointments and a surgery, borrowing gear from friends, getting travel insurance, buying gear from Adventure Guide and figuring out how to tell my mother who had left the country for a short trip and had no idea that I would up and leave for a 100 mile trek while she was gone. (She has known me for over 23 years, I cannot understand why she would be surprised anymore).

My favourite conversation was with my AJ boss before I left. I called him to ask permission to go:

“So, it is going to the badlands of North Dakota and running 100 miles and it would be my vacation time and I will get everything done that I need to when I get back and (Insert other run-on, desperate pleading sentences here)”

He was silent for a moment. “Jessica. I knew you were an unusual human being when I hired you, but I can never get used to the requests you keep throwing my way. But GO!”

So I went. I had a brief conversation with my father as I headed to the border so he could tell my mom and break it gently. He gleefully crowed “THIS is the reason I held you over the banister by your ankles and swung you around when you were young – so you wouldn’t be afraid of anything!” (Do not jump to thoughts of child abuse. We loved it and always asked for more.)

Anyways. So the drive was a LOT longer than I thought. I taught a spin class before heading out and was on the road by 8 am on the last Friday of April. I had loaded up my iPod with new music and an audioversion of Wild by Cheryl Strayed, but the roads blurred into each other and I was almost hallucinating when I reach Minnesota for the evening to stay with one of the trek leader’s houses.

I saw distances like this on my GPS.

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Drive 760 km, then turn left

Soon, I was in the barren world of cactuses, oil trucks and country music. I heard advertisements for liquor stores that were leveraging cattle branding parties as a reason to come in and buy booze.

I arrived on the Saturday to the tiny town of Grassy Butte where I abandoned my car, picked up my huge back pack and headed to the base camp with the leader of the trek, Richard.

From there, I met the team and was briefed on what we were to expect for the week.

Screen Shot 2013-05-12 at 3.09.13 PMWe were to head out into the badlands and would cover territory that people have never walked on and probably will never walk on again. We were to stop every 2-3 hours for “science” as they called it. We entered an analysis of the surrounding vegetation and wildlife into a book and took film and video footage to back it up.

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Why? Because they are planning on putting in 30 – 50,000 new oil wells in the badlands over the next 5 years. Our team’s goal was to go into the badlands as a completely neutral group of scientists and ultra runners, go to the wildest and most remote bits of the badlands and report back. The research will be taken to the University of North Dakota and the information will be presented to the citizens to help them make informed decisions when it comes down to the decisions surrounding the oil pads. Also, many years ago, it was the Badlands that inspired Theodore Roosevelt to develop the National Parks System and it was our job to see if the Badlands were as life changing now as they were back then.

I can tell you they are. I spent 7 days immersed in them, outside every day. Some days it was so cold that we woke up with frost on our tent and other days I came back with a sunburnt nose. We saw every form of wild life and woke up to sights like this:
Photo cred: Andrew Reinhard

Photo cred: Andrew Reinhard

I had experienced a lot of sad and discouraging things in 2013 – a break up, financial set backs, surgery, fear for Jolene. And even though the Badlands didn’t take any of that away, it was a reset button. I met some of the most incredible people who either love science or ultra running and in many cases both.  I was able to learn so much from the people around me. I learned how to orienteer from a US Army Ranger and discovered native flints in the creek bed with a geologist. The badlands broke me open and then filled me again.

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Getting away from the sappiness, an average day out there would begin with this.

We would put on our running clothes for the day (or in my case, almost every piece of clothing I brought to stay warm) and head to the eating area for Stoked Oats. (Buy them).

By around 7 am, we were ready to hit the Badlands with our maps, detectors and garmins. I was either on team Speed Deer or Mountain Kitty and we covered 20-30 miles with 3000-4500 ft of altitude each day. We would hike, climb and run through rolling buttes, grass lands, cattle feeding pastures and creek beds reporting on the wild life, landscape and oil pads, arriving at the last point at around 5-6:30 pm each night.

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Modelling some petrified wood

Modelling some petrified wood

Taken on the last day. They told us to take fun pictures but after running through miles and miles of cattle grazing, this was as creative as we could get.

Taken on the last day. They told us to take fun pictures but after running through miles and miles of cattle grazing, this was as creative as we could get.

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We were picked up and taken to base camp, which moved about 3 times throughout the course of the Trek. From there, we would “shower” (baby wipes), change into every article of clothing we had and gather around the fire to eat dinner and discuss our day, which was recorded or filmed to provide additional data.

By 10 – 11 pm each night, we would fall exhausted into our tents and the day would start all over again.

Our Team was the following:

Screen Shot 2013-05-12 at 3.29.17 PM[Photos from the 100 Miles of Wild Blog]

Simon Donato: Geologist, Elite Adventure Racer, Founder of Stoked Oats, Host of the tv show Boundless. (Watch the trailer here) Ultrarunner.

Richard Rothus: Archaeologist, Historian, and Owner of Trefoil Cultural and Environmental and was in charge of Basecamp and Logistics.

Andrew Reinhard: Director of Publications for the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA), Archaeologist. He headed up the control group which walked the trails of the Badlands.

Tim Puetz: Biomedical Research, National Institutes of Health, Army Ranger. Ultrarunner.

Keith Szlater: Technical Service and Basecamp and Logistics coordinator.

Tyler Leblanc: Our paramedic and member of the control team.

Jane Davis: Community Health Educator and Ultrarunner.

and, um. Me.

Needless to say, it was a wonderful experience to get to know all of these amazing and accomplished people over the course of a week. Another cool thing about the trek is that we carried the Explorer Club Flag.

untitledThe Explorers Club is an international multidisciplinary professional society dedicated to the advancement of field research, of which Theodore Roosevelt was an honorary member. The flag represents the impressive history of courage and accomplishment, and has been carried by members to the Moon, the depths of the ocean, and around the globe. I am excited to be able to join the club having been on an approved expedition with the flag.

I will be going on more adventures with this team as I am now an ultrarunner for Adventure Science. I was given a huge boost of confidence by some of the ultra runners who told me they didn’t slow down for me. It instilled a desire in me to train harder, race more  frequently and in more international races and the belief that I am good enough to do it.

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It was sad to say goodbye to everyone on the team, but last Saturday, I dropped Jane off at the airport and began the long trek home. I stayed in Chicago for the night, ate deep dish pizza for the first time in my life (overrated) and slept for a solid 12 hours.

I arrived home on Sunday night and hit the ground running Monday morning.

Needless to say, with 48 hours of driving, I had a lot of time to think, some of which relates to the blog. Keep your eyes peeled for some new changes. Laces and Lattes will be around for a long time, but it will continue to change because I keep changing. Thank you all for being along for the run!

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For more reading on the trek, check out:

Adventure Science Facebook Page

Article in the Dickonson Press

Article in the Bismarck Tribune

100 Miles of Wild Press Conference

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The Return of the Coppi

kbell-setIt all started in 2011.

DSCN1109Jesse had come to visit me in England and we wanted to do something epic. So we bought some road bikes for a day and adventures ensured. 

Needless to say, when I returned, I bought a vintage Coppi which is an Italian bike with a European brake system. Love at first sight. I was hooked.

Ready to GO!

And I am still talking about the bike…

This past week, I finally invested in something that will be a game changer for my cycling.

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Cycling shoes and clip on pedals for my bike.

If you follow me on Instagram, you saw I posted this yesterday:

Screen Shot 2013-04-04 at 4.46.57 PMI took my bike to Ziggys in Kitchener and was beyond impressed with the service. I have tried a number of cycling shops in the region and this was by far the best experience I have had.

One of the employees set me up to check the alignment of my pedals and shoes and double checked that I was cycling with proper form and not incorrectly putting pressure on my soft tissue.

I have taken this bike to many places and I know it is a treasure. Most of them cast it aside because it is vintage, but the salesman asked me where I found a Coppi. I told him and he said that if it was the correct size, he would be offering to buy it. This bike is a gem and I am so excited to spend another season bombing around the back country roads in Perth County!

At my office, we are doing challenges for Earth Day and writing a blog post on them for our website. I have chosen the challenge of biking to work from home which is about 40 km one way. I will be sure to let you know how that one goes!

Speaking of which, this is my latest piece on my Green Athlete column for the Journal. Feel free to weigh in!

Have any of you bikers taken your bikes for a tune up now that the weather is (finally) nice?

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Raptors and Christmas!

Last week, Jesse met me at work and we headed in my little blue car for Toronto. We were headed to a Raptors Game sponsored by JustEnergy. I write an Environmental Athletics blog for work and JustEnergy invited me to check out the greening initiatives they have taken with the Air Canada Centre and to take in the game.

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Naturally, I was curious and it was even better as I could take Jesse to experience it with me!

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We met before the game at an alternate gate where the Director of Building Operations took the media group on a tour of the building.

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It was fantastic to see everything they have instigated there, such as a composting system, reusing water and LED lighting.  We even got to see the Raptor’s cheerleaders back stage!

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We were then invited up to the JustEnergy suite to take in the game and enjoy a dinner. It was a fantastic experience and I was able to meet some fascinating people who were able to give me a wealth of new topics and people to explore in sports and the environment industry.

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usI know I don’t talk all that much about work on the blog, but I feel so blessed to absolutely love what I do everyday. Writing and running are two of my greatest passions and it is so exciting to be able to piece them together and get paid for it.

I am so excited to share what the ACC has in store for their future and the wonderful steps they are already taking. I will be sharing all of their work in the next month or so on my blog at work and I will be sure to share the link here as well.

Now that I am on a work tangent, I have a super exciting interview with an incredible athlete that will be released in two parts after the holidays: on Alternatives Journal website and also with Green Living. Worth checking out because there is a giveaway!

Wishing you a very MERRY CHRISTMAS tomorrow with your family and friends. I hope that you take the most of every opportunity and have a relaxing and joyous day. I will be taking the rest of the week off of my regular blogging schedule but will return to regular times in 2013. I have lots of exciting things planned and I cannot wait to share them with you!

I love you all.