You can’t get experience unless you have experience

The other day, I asked Crew Leader Carl if I could leave at noon. 

He crossed his arms and frowned. “Why? Do you have a job interview, or something?”

“No,” I said. “Just a family thing.”

So I went home and prepared for my interview. I had applied for a copywriter position at a local ad agency, and I was floored when they called me back.

I arrived fifteen minutes early, dressed in a suit that my girlfriend had ironed for me that morning. She’d even put a handwritten note in the front pocket that said “Good luck!” It was signed with one of her distinctive smiley faces. 

After waiting for what seemed like forever, the hiring manager called me into a conference room. He met me in the doorway and pumped my hand. 

“Please, have a seat,” he said. “I was going over your resume, and it says you recently graduated with a Journalism degree?”

“Yes, sir.” My throat felt sandpapery. It always went dry whenever I was nervous. 

He frowned. “Sorry? I didn’t catch that.”

“Yes sir!” I said, raising my voice.

“Ah.” He leaned back, studying my resume — which consisted of a single paragraph. “It says here you’re currently working for Benito’s Landscaping Service?”

“Yes, sir.”

His forehead wrinkled. “Do you create their marketing materials?”

“No. Not exactly.”

“Do you craft content for their company blog?”

“No,” I said, kneading my hands. “I don’t think they even have a blog.”

The man looked at me. “OK. So then what do you do?”

“I mow lawns.”

“Excuse me?”

I raised my voice. “I mow lawns!”

The man scrunched his lips. “You mow lawns?”

“Yes, sir. We have customers, and we mow their lawns. I also prune flowers and trim trees on occasion.” 

“Hmm.” The man scrutinized my resume, as if he were searching for Waldo. “So you have no advertising experience whatsoever?”

“No advertising experience,” I said. “But what’s why I’m here: So I can get the experience.”

“We can’t hire someone who’s inexperienced,” the man said. “We need someone who can dive headfirst into the position.” 

“Well,” I said, licking my dry lips, “I’m dedicated and ambitious and open to learning new things. I’m hoping I can convince you I’m the one for the job.”

The man shook his head. “Right now, I’m not even convinced you could mow my lawn.”

I pointed to the door behind me. “Should I see myself out?”

“Please,” the man said. “And don’t come back until you have experience.”