Give Your Dream Another Goddamn Shot
How I got a job at Apple… In the midst of the 2008 financial crisis.
It was September 2008. Lehman Brothers had just gone bust and the global financial system was in free-fall. I was back in London for my final year at uni, after spending most of the year abroad, on a student exchange in the US and a summer break at home in Amsterdam. I had a long to-do list, starting with finding a new place to live and, most importantly, getting a part-time job to pay for it. I was about to learn a lesson in life.
A few months earlier I applied for the only job I wanted — the Specialist role at the flagship Apple Store on Regent Street, W1. Located in the stunning, late 19th-century landmark, fitted with Italian sandstone floors and the signature glass staircase it was one of the most seductive retail destinations in London. Right up there with Selfridges and Harrods. More importantly, it was Apple in its Golden Age, when Steve Jobs was at the height of his powers.
Months went by, though, and I haven’t heard anything back from anyone at Apple. No “yes,” but no “no” either. Just dead silence. I read it the only way a shy, insecure, 22-year old can: I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t have the talent or the experience to be hired. Not by what was quickly becoming the most admired and talked about company on the planet.
So that September, when I arrived in London, I wasn’t holding any hopes. My dream job was only that—a dream. I started looking elsewhere. At first at other retail jobs at other well known companies, names I could put on my resume. But company after company, resume after resume, covering letter after covering letter turned to rejection after rejection. It didn’t take long before I was applying for just about any job I could find.
It wasn’t all bad news. In the meantime I managed to find a room in a nice apartment in Bermondsey, SE16, a neighbourhood in London just a short walk away from the river Thames. I instantly fell in love with this rusty, derelict post-industrial hub in the midst of its own little renaissance. I’d go for a stroll on the embankment often, whenever I needed to clear my mind, the sound of water calming me down.
Late one evening, what became almost a ritual, I dumped the job boards and once again headed out for the river. Walking alongside the south bank towards London Bridge I let my mind wander as well. I imagined what would it be like working for Apple. How awesome it must feel to hang out with everyone there, talking all day about technology. Work not just to pay the rent, but to enjoy what you’re doing.
When I got back home I had only one thing on my mind. I booted up my MacBook and opened Apple’s career site. I started filling up the application form, still unsure why exactly I was doing it. If no other retail chain wanted to hire me, there was no way the most innovative, profitable and arguably the coolest retailer in the world would get back to me. I was certain nothing would come out of it.
You’ve got mail
A week went by without a response. Then, late Tuesday afternoon a red badge popped up on my MacBook’s dock. This was it. An email from from Apple Retail. I took a deep breath, mentally preparing for another rejection. I opened the message, my heart pumping like a race horse. Something was different about this one, though. No, it wasn’t a rejection letter—I just got invited for an interview!
All I can remember is that I prepared, prepared and prepared. And five weeks later, after two rounds of interviews and a week of radio silence I got a phone call. I braced myself for the worse. Praying it wouldn’t be one of the courtesy, thank-you-for-your-time type of conversations I flipped open my Moto RAZR V3i (the iTunes Edition, of course) and answered the call.
It was Gary, one of the Assistant Store Managers at Regent Street. “Hey Piotr, do you have a moment to chat?” he began the conversation. “Yes”, I replied, equally excited and terrified at the same time. “We would love to have you on the team, are you still available?” he continued. I paused for a second, not believing it was true. “Of course!” I finally responded, grinning like a kid in a candy store.
I called my mom, my girlfriend and emailed my dad to tell them I got a job… at Apple! That after weeks and weeks of bad news and dozens of rejection letters I got the job I wanted the most but expected to get the least. To think that none of it would have happened if I gave up on the first try? It felt unreal. I couldn’t believe it. My god, I was so glad I gave it another shot.