I am sitting in a small waiting room, the walls covered in motivational posters featuring airplanes and catchy phrases.
"Reach for the sky!"
"Go BEYOND your expectations!"
"If you can dream it, you can DO it!"
"Never give up."
I am going on hour seven of a very intense group interview.
I am interviewing for my dream job.
I have waited six years, two months and one week and four days for this moment.
I am shaking slightly from lack of food (don't do this to yourself, have a snack for goodness' sake). My face hurts from "radiating positivity" and my back aches from standing strong and tall and confident.
This. Is. Everything.
The door to the small room opens and a recruiter steps into the room. She calls my name and the world stops for a moment as I wonder if I am being handed a job offer or being shown the door.
This isn't my first rodeo.
Six years, two months, one week and four days ago I first began applying for airline jobs. I live in Seattle, and my first thought was, of course: I need to work for Alaska Airlines. They are my hometown airline, supporting every charity and organization from Make-A-Wish Foundation to being the favorite airline of our beloved Seattle Seahawks' quarterback. Everyone flies Alaska; everyone loves Alaska. Alaska is the gateway to the frozen state to the north and the beginning of every happy California vacation and Colorado ski trip. Alaska Airlines lives, breathes and is the Pacific Northwest.
And so I gave it a try. With my tiny resume with a smattering of coffee shops and restaurants and my bright, shiny new university degree, I clicked apply.
Nothing. I was disappointed, but something told me "it's not time."
And so I applied elsewhere. I got my first regional airline interview later that year, catching a flight (paid for by the company!) down to Houston where I navigated the airport in new heels and a fancy new suit. I cried in the airport bathroom as I covered my tattoo and smoothed down my hair and took out all my piercings. Time to be an adult.
I didn't get the job, and I was strangely relieved. I had things to do, places to go and people to meet. I spent the next few years of my life traveling, falling in and out of love, moving to New York City and back again to Seattle.
2012. I was once again working in a restaurant in Seattle and once again looking towards the sky. I began to apply to airlines once again, and to my surprise I was offered an interview with Alaska Airlines. I dug my heels and suit out of the closet and marched on down to the Seattle headquarters.
Fifty applicants sat around smiling and opening doors for each other. It was a great environment, positive and hopeful. I chatted with other Alaska hopefuls and met new friends. Throughout the day the group dwindled down to twelve, then six, then four. I was so close.
I had my H.R. interview near the end of the day and it didn't go as well as I had hoped for. When I was asked about the longevity of my jobs (my average employment time at any particular company was less than a year), I stumbled over my words, saying something about not doing well in any one spot for very long. The recruiter smiled understandingly.
It still wasn't time.
I didn't get the job, but I felt at peace. I began traveling. I went to Japan, to the Dominican Republic, to South Korea and Mexico. I worked a lot; I grew up a little.
In 2014 I came back from months of traveling. I had quit all my jobs and decided that I would once again apply to airline jobs.
I cast a wide net. Any and all airlines were considered, and applying to airlines became almost a part time job. I was offered video interviews with Delta, American and US Airways. I was offered an in-person interview with ExpressJet.
I tried to ignore my disappointment. I went along with the other airlines' application processes. I got a coveted phone interview with Delta. I flew to Denver to interview with ExpressJet and was offered a job.
After getting the job offer from ExpressJet, I had a big decision to make. Training was set to start in a month. My background check cleared and final paperwork was submitted. But something was nagging at my heartstrings. This wasn't right.
February 28, 2014. I received an e-mail from Alaska Airlines inviting me to interview with them on Monday. This was it. It was time. Everything was aligning and I was going to get my dream job. I politely declined the job with ExpressJet and put all my eggs in the Alaska Airlines basket.
I looked around and smiled. I went to take a sip of my tea and everything just sort of went into slow motion. I could see the lid of my tea flying off and the hot liquid splashing my neck and chest. I could see myself jumping and yelping, and all sixty sets of eyes focused on me. I could see my face turning red and my eyes welling up with tears. I heard myself chuckle and say something about being able to make the best of a messy situation. I could see myself thanking the recruiters quietly and sitting down, trying to hide my tears. I could see that this was not my day.
I didn’t make it past the first round of the group interview. I left, my soggy blouse clinging to my skin and the rain merging with my tears. I stood out in the drizzle for a few minutes, allowing myself to truly wallow. I couldn’t reapply for the company for twelve months. I had missed my opportunity. My dream job had slipped away.
When you think you have all your ducks in a row and the universe deals you a blow like this, it seems like life is over. I didn’t have a Plan B. I had already turned down ExpressJet. I had no other interviews lined up and I was basically unemployed.
I sat on the light rail to go home. I looked at my phone and noticed an e-mail alert for another airline I had forgotten about.
SkyWest Airlines. Regional jets. Fifteen bases. Hiring immediately. Open House interview event in Portland.
It was meant to be. It was time for SkyWest. It was the universe taking me on a wonderful detour.
March 18, 2016. Two years in, I decided that it was time. I applied to Alaska Airlines for the fourth time.
The next day I was offered an interview with my dream company.
May 3, 2016. I am sitting in a small, windowless room, the walls covered in motivational posters featuring airplanes and catchy phrases.
I hear my name being called.
I stand up, walk down a hallway behind the recruited and enter a room with a dozen other exhausted looking applicants. We are the only ones left at the end of the day. We are all wondering the same thing.
Will we make it?
The recruiters gather around us with clipboards and serious expressions on their face. We applicants are huddled together, all holding hands and praying to various higher powers.
“Ladies and gentlemen, you have gone through an extraordinary process today. We thank you for your time…
...We are so happy to be able to offer you a job as an Alaska Airlines flight attendant.”
It’s time. It’s finally time for me to be an Alaska Airlines flight attendant.
Six years, two months, one week and four days.
Don’t quit your day dream.