The American Dream – 20 Seconds of Courage

In case you missed part one of this adventure, you can read about it here.

I was so overcome with excitement over scoring some face time with the CEO that it failed to occur to me that, as it was me requesting his time, it was me who would be in total control of our meeting. This wasn’t a job interview; I wasn’t applying for a job opening where by they would be doing the questioning, the ball was in my court and it was up to me to impress.

My heart skipped a beat. I started to panic. Good God, what do I say? How do I begin? Where do I begin? What happens if I get in there and choke? I’ve wanted this too much to fuck it up now and if I do, I’ll never forgive myself.

POST-MEETING PREPARATION

I spent a few weekends expanding on the initial deck that I emailed in. I obsessed over this for days; should that image go there? Is the colour scheme right? Do I need to expand on this more? Should this section be less text heavy? I tweaked and tweaked until finally, I was 110% happy with it.

Although I’d initially researched the company a few months prior, I spent the evening before my meeting looking through their website, reading their blog and just brushing up on my knowledge of who they are and what they do. I wanted to be prepared in case the most unexpected of questions was thrown at me.

THE APPROACH

The day had come. Nervous did not do what I was feeling justice. Shitting bricks, seemed the more appropriate term.

I don’t do this, ever. Public speaking isn’t my thing, pitching isn’t my thing; and yeah, I’ve got a marketing background, but I’ve never pitched anything to anyone in my life. I mean, pitching a concept to a client is one thing, but pitching myself to a prospective employer who quite possibly thinks I’m a crazy wench woman is out of this world.

Oh, that was my plan, by the way. I was going to go in there, be more confident than I’ve ever been before in my life, throw my deck up onto the big screen and pitch myself away.

I hadn’t rehearsed. I really had no clue what direction I would take this, but I figured that if I wanted this as badly as I thought I did, it would all find a way to work itself out and that my passion and determination would shine through naturally.

THE PITCH

While I’m sitting on the couch in the foyer and quite possibly on the verge of shitting my pants due to pure fear of failure, I am greeted by Bonzo, the CEOs pup. Bonzo jumps up beside me on the couch and does not hesitate in accepting a belly rub from me. She runs off just as it’s my time to shine!

I’m called into the meeting room and introduce myself to Ted, the CEO and Anthony, the Engagement Manager. Ted steps out for a minute and Anthony asks if I’m from around the area. He seems completely surprised to discover I’m from Australia and only in Florida on a six week vacation to spend Christmas and New Year with my friends.

Ted comes back into the office with a hook up for my MacBook to project onto the big screen.

“You are a very hard man to get a hold of” I say to him.

He laughs and tells me my persistence and determination is what impressed him and led to this meeting. Laughing from the very beginning; good sign, right?

We all take a seat at a very large meeting table, I hand them both a copy of my resume and some information about the E-3 visa and I begin by being completely transparent; I love what you guys do, I work in the same industry back home, I want to move here to live and work in Florida but in order to do so, I require a formal job offer and visa sponsorship.

Ted tells me they’ve never employed anyone through visa sponsorship before but this does not mean they would rule it out given the right person came along. Positivity, good; so now I just need to prove to them that I am ‘the right’ person.

I pull my deck up on the big screen and without pausing for a second to think about what I’m going to say, I jump right into it without hesitation. Each slide represents a new reason as to why I’m the perfect fit for the company and how their culture and what they do is already part of my everyday life.

I have a slide that goes through my resume outlining my experience, a page that shows I’m a social media addict, one that outlines all the social aspects of my current role from a Community Manager’s perspective, another that highlights a very successful national blogging conference that I planned and organised last year through my company, there’s one slide dedicated purely to how their working and social culture is already part of my life and another highlighting why I’d have no problem transitioning into life in Orlando, Florida. There are a few more slides in between and last, but not least, I end with a bit of information about how simple the E-3 visa is to obtain once a formal job offer has been put forward and how this form of visa sponsorship costs the employer $0 – a very important selling point of the E-3 visa.

There are pauses along the way for questions and there are laughs had in between; actually, I couldn’t believe how well I was getting along with people I’d just met. I felt completely comfortable just chatting to them like I would, anyone else. Their laid-back nature made me feel at ease and helped me to deliver what I believe to be a very strong pitch.

I couldn’t believe I had just done that. My heart was beating so fast in my chest. I didn’t want to feel over-confident but if you ask me, I thought I’d done a bloody good job. I was so proud of myself for doing what I had just done. The adrenaline kick and natural high you can experience from purely wanting something so badly and for so long is incredible.

Anthony’s eyes wandered as he scanned over the pages of my resume while Ted asked me a couple of questions about the E-3 visa. My leg was trembling under the table. I had to place my hand on it to make it stop.

“You couldn’t have come to us at a better time. Your experience is like a God send and you’re just the kind of person we need here on our team.”

My heart jumped up into my throat. Excuse me?

“We don’t have any positions open right now, but we are looking at hiring within a few months. We’d like to bring you in again before you fly back home to meet Ryan, the Chief Marketing Officer, when he’s in the office. Let’s stay in touch via email and we’ll see what we can do for you!”

OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD!

Stay calm. Stay cool. I really just wanted to jump up on either one of them, or both, and hug them and kiss them. You know, all professional like, but I managed to keep my shit together and offer a hand shake. I knew nothing was guaranteed, but it was something, and after so much nothing, that something was all I needed to hear.

POST-MEETING

That afternoon, I emailed Ted, the CEO, to thank him for his time earlier that day. His response gave me that little bit more hope.

“My pleasure. You did good today.”

I kept in contact with Anthony, the other dude that was present at my meeting, for the next couple of weeks while I was still in Florida on vacation. Unfortunately we could not find a suitable time to meet again while CMO Ryan was in the office so instead, we scheduled a Skype conference call for early January just before I was due to fly back to Australia.

THE SKYPE CONFERENCE CALL

Both Ted and Anthony had since met with Ryan to fill him in about my pitch. Ryan seemed genuinely excited to ‘meet’ and chat with me over a video conference call via Skype. Ryan seemed like a nice guy, laid back and very easy to chat to – even though I was still slightly nervous we managed to share a few laughs which made me feel at ease. Laughter is always the key.

Ryan had already read through my resume and viewed the deck that I presented to Ted and Anthony. He told me that Ted was very impressed with the presentation I gave and that my deck had already circled around the office. He then went on to say that they’d need to get a few things sorted over the next couple of months but, given some time, they’d love to make this work for me. Music to my ears.

Again, after the call was through I emailed Anthony and Ryan to thank them for their time. Anthony’s email back saw the biggest grin quickly spread across my face and stay there for the remainder of the day…

“… I will be looking to get you on a plane to come over here so we can start working together. I look forward to having you on the team this spring/summer.”

OMG; Spring/Summer!!! American season wise, it was already nearing the end of winter, this shit was for real, yo, and just around the corner, too! Could this really be happening to me!?!

THE FORMAL OFFER

I kept in contact with Anthony and Ryan via email over the next couple of months while back home in Australia. I emailed them every four weeks or so just to stay on their radar and for them to keep me in the loop. From here, Ryan scheduled in another Skype session, only this time it proved to be a little trickier with the 16 hour time difference between Orlando and Melbourne. Despite the gap, we penciled in March 6 at 6am, my time; good thing I’m a morning person!

Feeling rather confident, I put together a PDF document indicating what was required on their part in order for me to complete the E-3 visa process. It was a very clear and concise document; there were step-by-step instructions and screen grabs to navigate the entire Labor Condition Application process (more on this in Part III). I wanted to make this whole thing as simple as possible for them – any indication of difficulty and I was worried they wouldn’t want to proceed! I forwarded this to Ryan to have a look over before our Skype date.

I wasn’t at all nervous this time. Ryan and I had a great chat and turns out, we both frequent the same bar when in Orlando – Ale House all the way!!! Given the number of times I actually drink there, I wondered if maybe we’d ever crossed paths or sat across from each other at the high-tops while there one night; it’s quite possible!

Ryan asked me what I was looking for in terms of a position and what I hoped to gain from all of this. I told him I wasn’t looking for an entry-level position as I felt as though I’d exhausted that label a long time ago. I wanted something challenging; something that gave me a higher level of responsibility and allowed me to put my knowledge and experience to good use.

We discussed getting me over there as soon as possible to join the team and Ryan was happy to offer me a formal position which he’d later email through for me to sign and get back to him. This wasn’t just any, old position, though, it was a management position! It was exactly what I needed; something to push my boundaries and stimulate my brain! Was I ready to step up to the challenge? Fuck yeah I was, I was born ready!

A few emails later and on March 14, I received my formal offer letter via email to sign, scan and send back to Ryan. Best birthday present ever!

By rights, I should have been popping a bottle of champers open at this point, but no, this was just the beginning. A formal job offer, yes, but I still had the dreaded visa process to get through; without visa approval from the US Consulate here in Melbourne, the job offer would be meaningless…

.

Continue onto Part III – The E3 Visa Process

.

finding a job in the usa from australia.

?>