Thursday, August 23, 2012

SIGGRAPH 2012 Job Fair and the Kindness of Strangers

Something very funny happened when I worked the SIGGRAPH 2012 job fair.  I got a job.  No! Just kidding.   Not even close, but something very human and nice happened, so that is what this post is about.

I was sighted working the Siggraph 2012 job fair by a variety of people, apparently. That means that various people who know me saw me there and made comments to friends who made comments to friends who maybe made comments to me.   I hear about this weeks after SIGGRAPH, by the way.  Thats all ok with me.

Its even ok with me that I heard many times "that I must have been humiliated" working the Job Fair. I thought that was an interesting comment, and I heard it several times, from different people, so I suppose I was. Humiliated, that is. I mean if they say so. I didnt think I felt humiliated, I thought I was looking for a job.

The background here is that for health reasons I have decided not to try to do anything entrepreneurial (I may have to back off of that decision) because of the stress that a startup and running a company necessarily causes. So it seemed logical to me that I would look for a job. Lots of people have jobs, lots of people have had jobs in the past, and will have jobs in the future. It seems like a logical thing to do.

And since Siggraph has gone though all the trouble to make a job fair, it seemed logical to me that I would take advantage of it. So I stood in line at various booths and talked to various human resource people. And after doing that a few times, a very amusing thing happened.

A very serious, very presentable young man who I did not know, asked me if he could have a word with me. His name was/is Michael Shaneman (name used with permission), and I am pretty sure that we had never met. Sure, I said. He took me aside and said, something like this. " I hope you dont mind, " he began, "but you are doing this all wrong. You can never be negative in front of a recruiter, " he said. "They are paid to weed out anyone who says anything negative or who is eccentric in any way" (I am doing this from memory). "You have to be positive and you have to lead with your ace. " I could tell that he was totally sincere, totally well meaning, and really wanted to help me.

Isn't that nice ? I mean a total stranger ! And he was/is completely sincere, and I think you will agree with me, completely correct. I probably wasnt even aware I was being negative. I probably thought I was being wry, or sarcastic, or even ironic, or something.

Anyway, the point is, it restores my faith in human nature that a total stranger would try to coach me to have a good attitude, and I think he deserves a pat on the back.

Of course, it would be completely misleading to try to convince an employer that I would not be jaded and cynical, and filled with a certain, hmmm, lack of enthusiasm for what computer animation has become, but its hard not to like someone who would help a stranger like that.

So, Michael Shaneman, wherever you are. Thank you very much ! It was probably the only good thing to come out of the so-called Job Fair, and if so, it was a very good thing indeed.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that it would be 'false advertising' if you pretended to be something you are not... however... a prospective employer expects that you will put your best face and best foot forward while looking for a job, and will expect that you had better know that too. If someone isn't able to control their negative vibes, then they will be a disturbance on the job. Everyone has bad days, and everyone needs to be able to control how they deal with others when having one of those proverbial bad days;)

    This is the same as 'dressing' for an interview. I have heard many people say that they didn't want to put on a suit for their interview because it isn't how they would dress day to day at the job they were applying for. However, it doesn't matter what you would normally wear... it is a matter of whether or not we know how to deal appropriately with a certain situation. It is an interview, and there is an expected level of dress for an interview, and if someone isn't able to understand that then they probably are not capable of doing the demands of a job that requires them to think outside of the box, or to conform to the needs of job (during working hours).

    Under that example, if you were showing too much of your 'non-business' side to recruiters, that would get you weeded out.

    I was just having a conversation with someone who was complaining that they lost a job because the manager felt that 'humor' on the job was not appropriate. What we seem to forget in our days of freedom is that when at work, we are being paid to do the work, and nothing but the work. yes, we have breaks to be ourselves, but when not on a break we need either comply with the wishes and standards of our employer or we will end up needing to look for a new job:/ Some bosses prefer to give their employees freedom, but not all, and it is their choice to do so or not.

    So... what we wear to an interview, and how we talk to recruiters, lets those people know that we understand what to do in those situations. It is not the moment to be exerting ourselves, and showing our individuality. If the prospective employer wants to know our personality, believe me, they will give us the chance to show it:)