Friday, January 9, 2015

How to be a Professional and not a Professional Douchebag

Recently, I was offered a writing gig as a result of a 2,100-word blog post I published that netted hundreds of views during its first day (which, may not sound like a whole lot to you, but as an overwhelmed college student running a blog alone on the side, dedicated to an interest really no one cares about [cars], it is a big deal, thank you very much).
Cool, right?
Yes, that would have been cool. That is, if the car shop that offered me a position to help start their blog acted in a professional manner.
If you ever happen to offer a starving college kid a position, keep these tips in mind:

1. Be concrete.

Upon hearing about the offer, the shop owner was just as clueless as I was -- despite he being the one who contacted me in the first place, notifying me of the position.
It was up to me to guide him as to what would best portray the shop in the best light. I suggested, the shop's site to emulate well-established motorsport blogs or internationally-recognized Lake Zurich motorsport shop, IND's site. He agreed and wanted to make the focus of the site dedicated to the latest car builds the shop puts out.
This didn't fill me with all that much confidence. If the shop owner doesn't have all that much clue as to what he's doing, why do I want to work for him? But, because I obviously have thousands of other job offers in this spectacular economy just clamoring for my services, I saw it through.

2. Be reachable.

For the whole month and three days I was strung along, at no point could I ever 1) get a straight answer as to when I would begin writing or 2) contact the faithful owner over the phone, even though I gave out my phone number (that he promised he would call) and I made several attempts at calling him myself.
"Valued employee" doesn't exactly spring to mind, now does it?
The motorsport shop owner would regularly make excuses as to why he would not answer my phone calls or why he could not call me. A few being, "Sorry it's hectic here since we just got back from SEMA I don't know where my head is," "hey buddy, sorry I missed your call. Hit me up when you get a chance," or "Hey man I'm beyond sorry, I didn't get out of the shop until midnight last night and have been working on my dad's semis all morning with the cold weather the fuel is turning into gel."
That's fine. No one wants diesel fuel jelly. Because that sounds gross. But for three days, it was completely impossible to reach him over the phone.

3. Be real.

If you offer someone a position, be able to back it up. Today. Don't just talk the talk, have a real position, for a real company in mind for a real human being who really wants to work for you. Again, today.
The reason I didn't demand real details on the position any sooner (see: today) was because I couldn't start for a Chicagoland-based shop with me studying in Milwaukee. And that's fine.
But Christmas break was the only time I could dedicate to launching the blog as I am headed back north, come January. But as break approached, I tried to make it abundantly clear that I had little to no time other than during the festive time off.
But it made no difference. I was ever-left in the cold and my important questions, ever-ignored. So I had it. I demanded answers.
I asked straight-up, "Do you want my help or is this just a joke?" To which, his massive ego got offended: "If you think it's a joke that's completely fine I'll look around honestly no big deal."
Again, "valued employee," much? I think not.
I argue writers can be some of the most invaluable people a company has. They are the voice of the company, they interact with customers and have the power to make a turd look like a gem. Which, is exactly what some companies might be producing and it's up to its writers and creative minds to provide the company with that creative edge.
If you don't care for my blatant honesty, unnamed Chicagoland motorsports car shop, then so be it. Have fun settling for a middle-of-the-road, bland, unexciting "writer" without any real-world experience, who probably flunked 7th grade English.
Good writers are hard to come by and without getting ahead of myself by casting myself into this exclusive group, if you recognized my writing and sought to recruit me, then my writing can't be so bad, can it?
Don't jerk college kids around. Because they are some of the most ambitious, most motivated people there are. They are desperate and will work their asses off just to make names for themselves. And in a worst-case-scenario, they might even write a nasty blog post about you!
Give them concrete details, be able to be reached and be a real human being, don't dodge questions, but instead, have a real offer on the table if you come knocking on my door.

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