Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?

About eight years ago I had an interview with a very prestigious company, an interview that I had waited quite a long time for and had prepared hours for. I was a solid 23 year old with a strong resume and good people skills. I thought I had my life figured out at this point, or at least some resemblance of what I wanted it to be like.

After a long waiting period of over a year, I finally get an interview with this company, and it is going well. My resume is solid, I have enough experience, and the credentials to get the job. All of the interviews had gone extremely well.

This interview process was extremely tedious and time consuming. It was extremely thorough to say the least. Well I get to the last person after interviewing with 2-3 people before him, everything is going well, he tells me that I am qualified for the position, etc. Then he asks me the million dollar question. The question that I have never had an answer for and in no way shape or form can answer with any sort of honesty even still to this day when it comes to my career.

Fancy Pants Hiring Manager: "Where do you see yourself in five years Ms. Jennings?"

Me (staring blankly with my jaw dropped): "Uhhhh, do you mean professionally or personally?"

Fancy Pants Hiring Manager: "Professionally, within this company."

Me (feeling of dread in my stomach, breaking out in a sweat, start wringing my fingers under the table):  "I don't know sir. I don't know where I see myself in five years. I am not even sure if I want to work in this career field long term."

Fancy Pants Hiring Manager: "What do you mean, do you not want a job with us?"

Me: "Oh yes, very much. I am just not sure where I want my career to be in five years."

Fancy Pants Hiring Manager: "Well this interview is over, I highly suggest you figure out what direction you want your career to go before interviewing again."

Me: "hmm, ok. Thank you sir."

I left and was highly disappointed by this but had no one to blame except myself. Normal people probably would have lied their ass off and said some bullshit answer of "I expect to be working my way toward middle management with the dream of a corner office and working 90 hours a week, never getting to see my family or friends. The firm for life!" I just couldn't bring myself to lie because that isn't what I want.

I want to live in an RV traveling across North and South America climbing the best classic climbs in the world, mountain biking some serious trails out west, and kayking through white water while living my life... possibly eating pork and beans from a can with endless rice because I can't afford anything else. Unfortunately, life requires money to live so I must continue the rat race for a while.

Thinking back on it now, he must have seen something in me that I didn't realize at the time was there. Some people are cut out for corporate life, some people are great at it and I could be if I agreed with it. I may have looked the part and had the resume to pass for the part, obviously, I had made it past the other hiring managers, but he must have seen something else in me that told him I was not corporate material. He could never have been more right in his entire life.

Eight years later, I can still not answer that question honestly. I can not say where I see myself in five years professionally, hopefully it is living in an RV traveling across the continent, climbing sick climbs, biking crazy shit, and having a blast living the dirtbag lifestyle. It is hard giving up the cash/money/hoes that comes with a good job though.

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