So it happened. A little over a year ago. I had a couple of on-site interviews for a job at JetBlue. Given my intense love of JetBlue and my well known relationship with the airline as a customer, I decided against sharing it widely at the time, but it was a learning experience and one that I knew I would ultimately want to share. Can you really say you’re surprised? 🙂
JetBlue recently announced a program that will help some of its crew members attain college degrees. The job for which I interviewed was related to an earlier-stage version of this program. A job that could marry my expertise in higher education, with a company I value and believe in. How could I not apply? Ultimately JetBlue decided not to hire for that position at that time, and I moved on with my job search, but it was a wonderful experience all around. I also walked away from the process with a few lifelong learning takeaways…
Search for a company that aligns with your values. JetBlue’s stated corporate values (fun, caring, passion, integrity and safety) and the way they actualize them aligns very well with my own values and personal philosophy. They “get” me. When job searching, values are primary. In some ways, I think the actual position one may be applying for is less important than making sure your overall values and goals are congruent. When I think about my most successful work experiences, they were always at places where I was dedicated and inspired by my team. The institution/company and team mattered more than the position itself. Although a job may seem perfect on paper, if your values aren’t congruent, you won’t be successful or happy no matter what you do.
Sometimes you may not want to know “how the sausage is made.” After reflecting on my experience, I think it was actually quite a good thing that the job didn’t pan out. My experience and delight with JetBlue is as a customer. Although I’m pretty confident I would be very happy working there, our relationship would have necessarily changed. It’s very similar to how I coach higher education professionals against working at their alma maters. If you had an amazing experience as a student at an institution, sometimes its best to preserve those memories of your experience as you left them. Becoming a staff member means you’ll be exposed to the internal politics and machinations to which you were previously ignorant. Why taint your memories? Recognize the experience as an amazing and transformative one while looking for new opportunities elsewhere to achieve the same.
Keep putting yourself out there. When JetBlue made the decision to extend an interview offer to me, although I’m sure that I was evaluated based on my experience, I’m also pretty confident that my previous relationship with the company didn’t hurt. In many ways my JetBlue twitter story is a parable that reminds me that putting yourself out into world, be it digitally or physically, can result in the unexpected and even the magical happening. This is one of the reasons why I believe a positive digital presence is so crucial to emerging adults moving forward. Engaging and connecting with others is important and it is increasingly occurring online. This is also why, when I speak to college students, I frequently lead with the story of my Twitter relationship with the JetBlue social media team. The story always brings laughter, smiles, and delight, but it also has an important message: in addition to being fun, engaging online can be productive and create opportunities. And now that I’ve shared my job interview story, I have a new epilogue to share: it can lead to a potential job!