I don't recall what got me thinking this morning about jobs that I sought for which I was underqualified. Not having a necessary skill or two or sufficient work experience didn't stop me from trying. You never know was my motto back then. Someone may be willing to give me a chance. After all, back then, the first few weeks or months on a job was as a probationary employee.
In the late 1970s, I applied for a secretarial position for which I had the work experience and all the skills but one. Shorthand. I thought I could get by with my ability to take notes quickly, along with having a strong memory. Cocky young me. I had no idea I needed to take a shorthand test. Did I give up and walk away? Of course not. I'd driven all that way to apply for the job. If anything I would experience what a shorthand test entailed, and that's what I got.
About five years later, after having earned a teaching credential in secondary education and a few years working with at-risk youth in a community based agency, I applied for an assistant editor job at a small educational publishing house that specialized in special education materials for teens. I didn't have the public school teaching experience they wanted, nor did I have a lot of publishing experience. The position was my dream job, so I figured I didn't have anything to lose.
The publisher called me for an interview. Hurrah! I'm at least in the door.
The company was about a 45 minute drive to the south and east of San Francisco, where I lived at the time. I talked with the supervising editor, then the managing editor. It's always a good sign when the interviewer wants you to speak to her supervisor.
I went home with a writing test to send back. I had to create a lesson on How to Make Jello, including page layouts. The lesson was aimed at teenagers, but it needed to be written at a third grade readability level. I got my teaching credential with the objective to either go into counseling or curriculum development once I had classroom teaching under my belt. While working on this lesson, I knew that curriculum development and book publishing was what I wanted to do.
I didn't get the job. Disappointed, yes. But I had a strong feeling that I was on my way to something.
About a month later, still jobless, I was lugging my laundry up 3 flights of stairs to my apartment. As I got to my door, I heard the phone ring. Usually I let the answering machine get it but not this time. Out of breath, I answered the phone. It was the supervising editor from the publishing house. Another assistant editor position has opened up, she told me. Would I be interested in the job?
And, so began my career as a writer and editor. Life has been good to me.