Transitioning into the workforce

22 Apr

I’m surprised to find that I haven’t written in a month! The time has flown by. It’s time for an update!

The news…

As you may or may not have guessed by my absence from the blogosphere, I got a job! A woodworking job nonetheless. It turned out that my jobsearch lasted all of two weeks. I’m one step closer to my woodworking career goals. I’ve been busy the past weeks transitioning from apprentice (student) to professional woodworker (employee-for now).

Back that truck up… here’s a little bit on the job search

I applied online to a few positions, visited a few shops, and applied to a company that my school said might be hiring. I received an email back from said company(let’s call it company A) and they were not hiring. But they would keep me on file. I hadn’t invested much time in company A, I’d just sent a cover letter along with a photo of my final project, and my resume. The head of  company A was quite nice about the rejection so this  softened the blow.

I’d like to take a minute to mention that visiting potential employers in person was the most direct and informative part of my job search. I got to see the shops  and find out what the work environments would be like.

Are all woodworkers so friendly?!

I met one man that was very hospitable, he basically invited me into his shop, gave a tour and spoke with me for half an hour or more. Turns out he had an interesting story. His shop is on a street that is very densely populated and has commercial stores lining it. It’s not zoned for woodworking. The first floor of the building he owns has always served as a woodworking shop and was around before the zoning changed. Since there never was an interruption in the purpose of the shop, he now owns the only woodworking shop that CAN exist on that street, which has an amazing location in a gentrified area of town close to downtown. He lives above the shop in a large apartment, and has a tenant living in the apartment above his. He walks up and down some steps to and from work. All of his clients come in off the street. He showed me the shop, it’s quite nice, and has a separate lacquer spray booth that is up to code. All this to say, he wasn’t hiring, he said to come back in the summer. But I was quite happy with the visit.

The development

Meanwhile, I received yet another email from company A that had said they would keep me on file, asking me for an interview. I wasn’t expecting this so I was VERY pleased. I went in for the interview a couple days later. I fussed over commonly asked interview questions the day leading up to the interview, and googled any and all information on the company and it’s owner. I’ve always heard that’s what one should do in this situation, and I highly recommend it. Interviews are nerve racking, and will be regardless of what you do, but if you prep ahead of time then you have a better chance of sounding like you care about the company.

The interview

I wasn’t really certain what to think about my performance at the interview. It wasn’t a home run nor was it a strike out. The interview didn’t follow the usual script and he only asked one of the questions I’d prepared for. This was the one question I thought I could somehow wing. And I was so caught off guard that  that I didn’t really say what I’d vaguely planned to say. The question was about renumeration. I’ve heard that you should always try to get the interviewer to name a number first, so that you know what to answer. I did somehow manage to get him to name a number first, though my process wasn’t pretty.

About my interviewer,  let’s call him Rick. He knew one of my teachers, and had an employee that was a grad from my school. Rick was a teacher himself for ten years, and his father was also a craftsman. His company creates artistic wood, metal, and paper products that are  corporate gifts.

More about the interview. We talked a little bit about my past as a glassblower, and training as an illustrator, about my final project, and about the company’s products. He gave me a shop tour, and I left shortly afterwards. I was being ushered towards the door and suddenly realised I should find a way to give him my resume etc.. He seemed to realise this at the same moment thankfully and took my “packet”. I’d printed out my resume, a hard copy of the photo I’d emailed him of my hall desk, and I’d asked a teacher to write a letter of recommendation for me, and so I included that as well. Rick said he’d get back to me in a week.


A few days into waiting for the verdict on the job at company A, I’d also heard of another job possibility through Tim, my apprenticeship mentor. I was full of indecision, and unable to give him an answer until I’d received word back from my pending job at company A. I was ever grateful to have Tim as part of my job search network, because even though it was a time full of indecision and angst and upheaval, I was glad to know he was vouching for me.

The verdict

Almost to the hour, I waited a full week, and then I got the phone call. I was a wreck all that day, waiting for my phone to ring. Job searches are so stressful! It was hilarious to me that I was able to sound calm and almost nonchalant on the phone though, because moments before the phone DID ring, I quite randomly hit my head on something. This caused for a welcome distraction  during the few sentences it took to realise I got the job. I would start a few days later.

And there you have it… stay tuned for details about my new job at the studio and other recent woodworking developments. I’m currently entering a contest, and shopping for a table saw.

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