A few weeks ago, I read a tweet that said, “America used to have a show called ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’ now it has ‘The Job.’” Not long after that, as “The Job” hit the airwaves, a very mixed reaction hit social media, a lot of it echoing that first tweet I saw on the project. Now, after only two episodes, the show is gone. I personally did not watch either of the first two episodes; for me it was a difficult reminder of what we would do to reach our dreams, as I was contestant No. 5 on one of the first two pilot episodes shot.
The episode I was taping for happened this time last year. My literal dream gig at the very first agency I ever visited while in college. The agency that made me want to become an advertising creative finally responded to one of my resumes that I periodically sent over 23 years. The only catch? The interview was going to be part of a game show. There was no pressure to be a part of it, but without agreeing to be involved, this opportunity would no longer be available. Being so close to my professional goal, I was willing to take any chance I had to. The agency in question is one where I want to work, so I agreed to the process.
Over the six days that the show was being produced, some of us became closer than others. All of us had a compelling story and a need for the position. We collectively chose to put our lives on hold and risk what we had for a chance at something better, but the fact of the matter is, in the end it was all just a show. It is hard to acknowledge that when you’re just trying to find a way to provide for your family and/or future. What “The Job” did was give us hope before taking it away in the most intruding way possible.
This is not me bashing or degrading the show in any way. I do believe that there was intent to do good and introduce people who would not have gotten an opportunity to meet otherwise. With thousands of resumes hitting top agencies every day, I was no longer buried: I was one of a few, and I liked my chances. However, contrary to what people may think, there is no TV magic, and not everyone can have a happy ending. For me, it was an expensive gamble. After taking the first five-day vacation in nearly 20 years, my previous employer realized they could do my job without me, and I was laid off — and for the first time, I had questioned my chosen profession and my role in it.
Of course, all of us who did not win feel that we should have, which is why we agreed to the process in the first place. Being on TV was not our objective, getting a job was, and maybe it is the desperation we represented that hit viewers too close to home. I personally do not regret taking part in the process for the position I applied for…what I fear is what my profession has become and my future place in it.
~ Original story written for @TalentZoo