By Kemba Brown
The alarm goes off. It’s an exciting, yet, nerve-wracking day. The hard work of searching and callbacks and marketing myself has paid off. Today I have a second interview. The journey has not been easy. I am homeless and live in a shelter that houses 130 women. The list of things that cause me anxiety and feeds my desperation could wrap around the moon. I tell myself I must ace this interview even better than I did the first. I will ace it. Employment is one step closer to getting back on my feet and having my own home. When people ask, “How did the interview go?”, I always say, “I think it went well, but the proof is in the job offer.”
The second interview is sort of an encore of the dance between interviewer and interviewee. Today I must move with the ease of a pro. I mentally go over my checklist. Do I have several copies of my resume? Check. Have I checked transit for delays? Check. Have I given myself enough commute time? Check. Have I made sure to have something to eat? Check. I certainly don’t need my stomach contributing its two cents during this crucial time. Have I made a list of questions to ask? Check.
"Employment is one step closer to getting back on my feet and having my own home."
I look myself over in the mirror and breathe a sigh of relief. One piece of this puzzle that I do not have to worry about is my outfit. As a homeless woman with limited possessions, having the right clothing for an interview can be a huge source of worry. I managed to borrow a smart outfit for the first interview, but what about the second one? What do I do now? Panic sets in. Could I possibly borrow that suit again? What if the interviewer remembers what I’m wearing from the first time? What will she think? Could it hurt my chances? No, of course not. Now I’m being irrational.
I try to focus on my resume, my credentials, my experience, but instead my mind circles back to my outfit. My concern was not only having the right look for an interview, but also where could I achieve such a look in my size. You see, I am a plus size woman, and access is limited. Brands don’t consider women like me. Why would they? I discovered Universal Standard through the Coalition for the Homeless. There I was told about their Fit Liberty program , and the donations that come out of it - donations that find homes with women like me. My outfit today is perfect for the occasion, and it is also mine and it feels good to call it mine. The donation is one less thing I must worry about; an important detail I can scratch off my angst-inducing list.
"My outfit today is perfect for the occasion... The donation is one less thing I must worry about; an important detail I can scratch off my angst-inducing list."
I walk in feeling comfortable and confident. I am on top of the world. I know I am the right person for this job, and so will the interviewer. If the tendrils of fear threaten to attack, I simply look at myself and smile.
To some, it’s just clothes. To me, it’s a beautiful gift that means so much and renews me in a profound way.