It’s funny that I have decided to write about this experience now… I have been thinking about that day for over 2 years, so today I am sharing it with you because as much as this experience made me feel insecure, it also allowed me to see that while searching for a job, it is important to look for a company that fits your identity and sense of self. Here we go…
Two years and half years ago, I interviewed for a marketing coordinator positon at Marcus & Millichap, a real estate agency in Downtown Los Angeles. On paper, the job looked like the perfect match, so when I was contacted to set up a meeting, I was overjoyed.
When the day finally came, I wore my black slacks, a blouse, and a light black jacket (even though it was like 90 degrees outside). At the time, I also had blonde extensions… Yep, a professional black girl with blonde hair! It wasn’t anything vulgar or excessif, but well it was blonde… Let’s get back to that in bit.
So anyway when I arrived the receptionist (a black lady) greeted me, and offered that I wait in the lobby. I held on to my portfolio, sat down and nervously waited for my name to be called. A few minutes later, a young woman, the Operations Manager, came to get me and told me that her boss would be joining us shortly.
She took me in this big conference room with glass windows with an amazing view of the city. I didn’t want too spend to much time starting at the view, but it was gorgeous. After a few minutes, her boss joined us and I immediately felt uncomfortable. He gave me a look that literally made me want to dig a hole and bury myself in it, but instead I smiled and introduced myself.
I started to talk about myself, my previous experiences and showed him my portfolio. I quickly realized that this “gentleman” couldn’t care less about what I was saying. I felt that he couldn’t wait for this interview to be over and go handle some more important business.
As I was showing him my portfolio, I could feel the disinterest and the cold stare. I remember telling him about one of my previous experiences and showing him a brochure from my portfolio, he grabbed it, looked at me and said, “Did you do that?”. I looked at him, and at that point, I became insecure about my work… I couldn’t figure out if I should have proudly said, “Yes, I did!” or if I should have been embarrassed that I showed him that piece. After a few more minutes, I realized that this whole meeting was pointless, so I stopped talking and asked him if he wanted me to continue showing him my work or if he had any questions for me. He wasn’t interested so the meeting ended there.
As I walked out of the office, I felt so insecure and I wondered if my blonde hair was the problem or if it was something else. I mean my clothes were appropriate and my portfolio was on point, so what else could it be? Yes, it was a real estate office so maybe untied blonde hair wasn’t the most appropriate choice for the interview. I wondered, couldn’t he had shown me some interests and interview me based on my skills? In addition, I am very flexible, so I wouldn’t have had a problem removing my extensions. I couldn’t really spend too much time thinking about it because I had somewhere else to be.
Skip one hour and a half later, I had a second job interview with an astrology company. When I arrived, I was greeted by a very friendly manager. As I walked to her office, I noticed that one of the employee had purple hair. It instantly made me feel comfortable. The interview went well and I felt much more at ease. The manager even interviewed me bare foot on a sofa! Needless to say that the change of environment and attitude was very welcomed.
I didn’t get either of the jobs (the blonde hair had nothing to do with the second rejection) , but I still think about my real estate interview experience because despite of my self-confidence and my skills, a stranger who didn’t know me was able to destabilize me in a matter of minutes…
That day was important for me because I learned a very important lesson… Choose the company you will work for very carefully. If you are committing to go in 5 days per week, 8 hours a day, let it be a place that you will enjoy, and will put a smile on your face.
As fate would have it, a few months later, I started to work for my current company that has a very inclusive culture and doesn’t mind the blonde hair… and today I am grateful that I didn’t get either of the jobs because these companies were not the right fit for my interests and my career.
Now, I will leave you with the following question, “Is it inappropriate for a professional black woman to wear blonde hair (or any other hair color deemed appropriate on other races) in the workplace?”
On my next post, I will talk about my current company (which I love), and getting my dream job.