I had just finished university and was looking for my first job in a print shop. I had a bit of freelance experience under my belt but I was hoping to gain some shop experience. I had an interview at a local chain printing place and university (and life in general) never prepared me for this experience.
It started out well enough. The shop was located in a downtown mall, and was staffed by two people – the owner and a single designer. The shop itself advertises itself as any services needed beyond branding, so original artwork is offered. Which is great for me because most of my freelance is my illustration work.
Client: Our customers come to us because we’re fast, we promise to have proofs available for approval same day, typically within 1hr.
Me: One hour? Even for illustration work?
Me: But… depending on the complexity of the work, that’s not always feasible.
Client: If it takes you longer than an hour, you’re working too slow. We normally never even need the full hour, just take a look at what we’ve been able to accomplish.
He takes out a binder of incredibly basic business cards. They’re not very well designed. They’re all examples of Helvetica or Arial on a flat color, no logos, with the occasional directional gradient and drop shadow. Stuff that would have been torn apart by instructors if it were handed in as student work. I nod and say nothing.
Client: What I need is someone reliable. I need to know you’re not going to call in because you and your boyfriend had a fight and you’re too emotional to work.
Me: I don’t even have a boyfriend? Reliability is not an issue, my references will vouch for that.
Client: Well do you plan on keeping a job? I don’t need you deciding to quit because your friends offered for you to live in their basement rent free.
I was so taken aback, I had no idea what the hell he was talking about. Why was he talking about basements? This really didn’t feel like an appropriate interview question.
Me: No. I’m looking to gain print shop experience. I enjoy working design, I find the work fulfilling, that’s why I chose the industry.
Client: Well let me tell you something – you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Jobs aren’t for fulfilment, they’re for working. That’s not what you come here for, that’s what you spend your free time on. You’re young and you don’t know better, but I know.
He actually sounded angry as he said this. The other staff member was still in the room, pleasant smile on her face, just clicking away carefree at her computer as if the shop owner didn’t just raise his voice at me. I was super uncomfortable at this point and I just wanted to get the hell out of there.
Me: Sorry, I disagree. I really don’t think this will be a good fit.
Client: Me neither.
As of today, that franchise location is no longer in business.