How I Learned That Sometimes Not Getting What You Want Can Be A Very Good Thing

December 28, 2012  |  

I really wanted to work for President Obama’s campaign. Like, really, really wanted to. For months, I must have applied to nearly every opening on the website…and received no response.

One day, whilst toiling away at a job I absolutely hated in a field I wasn’t remotely interested in, a friend sent me a message out of the blue: “Digital Organizer opening at Obama for Ohio. You should apply! [link].” This friend had no idea just how many times I’d applied for that opening (and others!) with no response, but I decided to give it another shot.

Working for a political campaign was not my ultimate career dream. No, I wanted a job in television. I’d graduated with high honors with a degree in broadcast journalism and subsequently applied to nearly every market in the country. Not only had I not gotten a single interview, except for a few auto-reply emails, I didn’t even get a response. So, because no one gets paid to job search, I worked other places in the meantime. In the span of about three years, I was a personal banker, a cashier, a personal assistant, and an administrative assistant – and I hated every single one of those jobs. The kind of hate that would have me crying in the car during break — tears, snot and self-loathing. Oddly, almost immediately after I chewed my foot out of one bear trap of a job, I would find myself signing on for another only to be back in the car crying days later.

The only job I hadn’t hated in the past several years was when I worked as a social media manager for the mayor’s re-election campaign. It was the most random job and I got it in the most unconventional way, but it turned out to be the best job I ever had! After that campaign was over, in a moment of sheer insanity, I took another job I knew I’d hate. And I definitely hated it. I wanted to go back to working for political campaigns because I decided that if I couldn’t get a job in TV, then working for political campaigns would be the next best thing.

I remembered that when I was working for the mayor’s campaign, I had met a few people who worked for Obama’s campaign. One of those people was the state director for Obama for Ohio, so I emailed him directly letting him know I was interested in the digital organizer position if he was still looking for someone. He forwarded my info to the Digital Director and she contacted me!

The interview was over the phone and it seemed to go really well. I had the educational background, experience, time, energy and I drive an American-made car. It was perfect! She said they were going to get some more information from me and I would hear back from someone else for a second interview soon.

I never heard back.

Eventually, I received the dreaded “thank you for your interest” generic email and I was devastated. I had been so excited after that phone interview that I told everyone I could think of that I may get the job for Obama’s campaign. So, of course, people were asking me how my second interview went. “It didn’t” was my less than upbeat reply.

At that point, in terms of my career, I felt I was looking up at rock bottom. It seemed that everyone around me was getting great jobs they loved, yet no one would hire me to do work I was interested in. I continued applying for jobs, fellowships and internships but faced disappointment after disappointment. Closed door after closed door. I was frustrated and bitter, but I couldn’t give up.

A couple of months after Obama’s campaign didn’t hire me, I decided to audition for a local television hosting job. It was a shot in the dark, but I thought to myself,  “they have to hire someone so they may as well hire me.” The audition process was a grueling two months and I wanted that job more than I wanted any other job in my entire life. “If I don’t win,” I informed my husband dramatically, “I will be underneath our bed and not coming out for at least a month.”

Ironically, the audition process ended the same day President Obama won re-election. The next week, the network announced that I was chosen as a host. I got my dream job!

For a moment, I considered emailing Ohio’s Digital Director for Obama to thank her for not hiring me. If I had been working for the President’s re-election campaign, I would not have had time to audition for the hosting gig. And I wanted that television job way more than I wanted to work for Obama’s campaign.

Isn’t that funny how life works? You can want something so bad – a job, a particular guy, admission to a certain grad program – and it just doesn’t happen for you. In those hard times, it can be difficult to stay encouraged when you’re getting nothing but discouraging news. Eventually things do turn in your favor though and, when that happens, you know exactly why Dalai Lama once said: “Sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.”

Follow Alissa on Twitter @AlissaInPink or check out her blog This Cannot Be My Life

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