News & Politics

How I Survived a Nightmare Covid Job Search

"I couldn’t believe that in this conversation all about my intellect, I have to deal with the Fios guy."

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Hundreds of applications, constant ghosting, and one excruciatingly timed visit from the Fios guy later, Mari Tikoyan, 25, of Northern Virginia finally had an offer in hand.

“I finished grad school at Georgetown [health and the public interest] last August, and I had started applying for jobs in May—consulting roles, research-analyst positions. I applied to 250 at least and interviewed at seven companies. In the fall, I’d apply every day from 9 to 5. I became addicted to LinkedIn. It was so discouraging—there was a period of three to four weeks where it was radio silent. I got into kickboxing. And running. And I hate running.

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“At one company, the third round of interviews lasted five hours and I met with 12 people. The first set that day went well. The second set was terrible because the lady running it had a construction worker come to her house in the middle of it and she completely left. The other women started randomly talking about their cats. The third set that day went pretty well. But I ended up getting ghosted. After interviewing for five hours!

“During a final-round interview with another company, I had been having internet issues and I’d scheduled Fios to come that day. They promised me 8 to 9 am. I called them twice to double-check. But they ended up coming at 2:55 pm. My interview was at 3. I had to do the interview on my cell phone, and it was an absolute shitshow. They were drilling me on very intense healthcare and Medicare and Medicaid stuff, and I just couldn’t believe that in this conversation that’s all about my intellect, I have to deal with the Fios guy. He’s calling for me to come help him. And I have to tell the interviewer, ‘Oh, excuse me, I’ll be back in a minute or two.’ I clearly didn’t get that offer.

“The worst day, I was on my fourth round at my dream company; it was a consulting job inside a big healthcare firm. It was a typical case interview. I was asked: If there was a surge of 3 million Covid patients needing hospital care right now, how many beds would hospitals around the country need to serve them? I sat there for 30 minutes and for the life of me could not get it. I was so upset afterward, I curled up in a ball.

“I got really into meditating. And manifesting more positive things in my life. My younger sister is 18 and she sent me this TikTok about ways to manifest, and I felt silly even going on TikTok for tips, but basically I had a journal that I’d write in every day, like, You will get this job, you will nail this interview. Over time, it’s so easy to clutter your mind with negative thoughts. Having those reminders to not degrade your self-worth really helped me.

“Eventually, I did get an offer. And I was going through the background-check process. But remember my dream company? After I thought I’d completely bombed that interview, I told my family that I’d be lucky if they bothered to send me a rejection email. I can’t believe it—I had to wait three weeks—but they called me today and offered me the job.”

This article initially appeared in the February, 2021 issue of Washingtonian.

Kristen Hinman
Articles Editor

Kristen Hinman has been editing Washingtonian’s features since 2014. She joined the magazine after editing politics & policy coverage for Bloomberg Businessweek and working as a staff writer for Voice Media Group/Riverfront Times.