By Tori Payne, special to MiLB.com
Throughout this year’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to chronicle their employment-seeking experiences (meet them all HERE.). In this, her fourth and final installment, Tori Payne solidifies friendships, gains confidence and gets an unexpected free lunch.
Wow. I cannot believe that this week has come to an end. My new friend Connor described today as akin to “the last few rounds of the MLB draft, when the choices are slim and viewers lose interest.” I’m not saying that the job seekers remaining (including myself) were any less qualified, but everyone seemed to be tired and losing interest in the process. The interview posting room had been stripped and new jobs were not being posted. It was evident that the Meetings were coming to a close, and the job seekers still on the premises knew that last minute impressions were their only opportunity.
On Wednesday, I came in to the Gaylord Opryland Convention Center stoked for my scheduled interview. I had been looking forward to speaking with this team for the past two days, and my nervous energy was turning into eagerness. I received some last-minute interview tips from my new friend Brooke before she headed out to see her new home in North Carolina (she got a job with the Greensboro Grasshoppers), and then waited for my first and only time in the interview room.
While biding my time, a woman stopped by and asked the waiting interviewees if we were “getting a job today?” I noticed her tag had the name of the team I was about to interview with. Too many times during this process I had been too afraid to speak up to people of interest, so I smiled and said, “Hopefully! I am about to interview with your team, actually.” Her game face came on, and she began questioning me on the spot about my goals and experience. I liked it. I love being challenged, and this impromptu conversation readied me for my interview with her other two employees. It went great. Both men seemed interested in my experience and answered my questions with humor and honesty.
After my interview, the group of people that I have been hanging around with – a group of people that I now call friends – went to one last lunch together. While at a sports bar in the Center, we were watching ESPN and MLB Network detail the Winter Meetings that we were attending. After ordering the food, a man I recognized from the television approached our table. He smiled and said, “You guys don’t eat much but I paid for your food. It is all free! Enjoy!” It was Harold Reynolds. The retired MLB second baseman and current TV analyst had noticed our group of young job seekers and casually decided to make our day by paying for our lunch. That was special.
After lunch, I met up with Ben and the other Job Seeker Journal writers one more time, bringing our excursion to an end. As I was about to do my exit video interview (again, it is probably embarrassing so no judgment), I got a call from the team I interviewed with and they wanted to run some things by me in the interview room. When I went back, they introduced me to another employee and expressed interest in me. While I did not receive the official offer, they did want me to begin thinking about the money and moving situations and if that were something I would consider. They also mentioned a possible stadium visit. I cannot adequately express to you how amazing I felt in that moment.
So much came out of the Winter Meetings that I am incredibly thankful for. Not only did I receive interest from one team, but I was also called later in the day to schedule an interview with another team tomorrow (even though the Winter Meetings have concluded). I had the awesome opportunity to receive guidance from Ben Hill, and got to express myself along with the other Job Seeker Journal writers (all of whom will do great things in baseball, I’m sure of it). I was able to network with old and new connections. And, most importantly, I made some great friends who share my passion for baseball. Thus far, I’ve had the opportunity to work in the music and sports industry. While they are both entertaining, I gravitate to the sports and baseball industry more. This week I realized why: Even though it is competitive, it is not a cutthroat industry. People of success also want you to succeed. Professionals are willing to give you tips and your colleagues are willing to celebrate with you when you triumph. If the 2015 Winter Meetings were in any way a glimpse into the future of baseball, I can tell you personally that the industry is in good hands.
Thanks, Tori, for providing such a heartfelt and observant take on your Winter Meetings experience.