Please welcome today’s guest writer, Bridget Pertzsch. Bridget graduated from Calvin University in 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering. She is in the midst of applying for jobs and grad school, and moving to La Crosse, Wisconsin. When not obsessing over her dog, she can be found sewing, baking, and lingering on the phone.
I’ve worked a handful of jobs and have had even more bosses. But there are only two that I distinctly remember meeting for the first time.
A “Now Hiring” sign hung on the door of an ice-cream-and-sandwich shop. As a college student—a demographic typically strapped for cash—and unemployed, I summoned the courage to enter the establishment to ask for an application. A couple hours later I returned, completed dishwasher application in hand. Introducing myself to the owner, I gave her the application. Unfortunately, the position had been filled. She asked if I was at least 18. I was. She interviewed me for a position making sandwiches (there’s an age requirement for operating the slicer), and I started the next day.
The other boss I remember meeting for the first time was my supervisor for an on-campus job at Calvin.
I spent all morning and into the afternoon on the first day of winter break obsessively checking my Calvin email every two minutes, knowing an email should be coming about the position for which I had applied. In need of another distraction, I went on a walk. As I walked, an email came. Finally! I was thrilled to get a job offer—then I realized: the person likely to be my future boss scares me.
Back at Calvin, my future boss and I arranged a time to meet. I waited nervously in the lobby, pretending to be interested in the art on the wall. Before long she appeared, and to my surprise she knew who I was. We headed to the Fish House.
“Order what you’d like.”
“I’ll get mine.”
“Bridget, I have a budget for this kind of stuff.”
“And I have bonus bucks.”
Needless to say, I bought my hot chocolate. Clearly, we were off to a good start. The following forty-five minutes were spent chatting in the mediocre lighting of the Fish House. Some of it was basic get-to-know-each-other chat; we discovered that my sister and her brother attended the same college 600 miles from Grand Rapids, albeit at different times. Other parts of the conversation were…unique.
“What part of this job are you looking forward to?”
“Decorating a hallway.”
I’m not sure what answer she was expecting, but obviously my response was not it. I answered honestly. There were other parts of the job that I had hopes for and had brainstormed about, but just in case I was off my rocker with those ideas, I stuck with the safe one: decorations.
Then came the unexpected question I won’t soon forget.
“Do you have friends?”
Shoot. How do I answer this? We just met. What constitutes a friend? Do acquaintances count? I have a roommate…
“Uh…yeah. One lives in South Dakota, and there’s one person in Timmer that I hang out with occasionally.”
Despite a couple odd moments, I felt okay about our meeting. After further reflection, I realized that it may have gone as well as scuba diving in a kiddie pool full of Jello.
First impressions can be forgettable—or memorable. I am confident that the owner of the ice cream shop remembers very little of my interview based on some conversations since. Conversely, my supervisor at Calvin and I reminisced on our first meeting multiple times throughout our time working together. We left our time at Fish House not knowing what to think of each other. Luckily, I had already signed my contract, so unless she quit, we were going to be stuck with each other.