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Lessons From the Apprentice: Casting Call

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Apprentice Casting CallThe Candidates

Stoney, about 300 others


I love the show so I thought, “Hey, why not!”. From the NBC website I downloaded an application for the apprentice. Here are some sample questions and answers:

How would your co-workers describe you?

An ambitious and self-motivated person with an eye for leadership and details. Knows what he wants and constantly seeks the way to get it. Doesn’t just talk, but takes action on ideas and
business strategies, even if somewhat risky.

Tell us something embarrassing about yourself.

I once tried to load an SUV into the back of a U-Haul truck.

Why do you believe you could ultimately be “The Apprentice”?

Becoming the apprentice really boils down to being able to manage a project and lead a team well. These are two things I do extraordinarily well. Big tasks need more than small ideas. I am a person of big ideas, big goals and big dreams. The Apprentice must be able to work with and lead people of all kinds of backgrounds and personalities, and must overlook differences to produce an exceptional result.

The Task:

Be at the casting call in Sacramento, CA on Friday, March 31. Wristbands are passed out at 9:00 AM and interviews start at 10:00 AM.

Team Stoney: I left work early on Thrusday night to make the two hour drive to Sacramento. I first stopped by a friends house for dinner (great food) and to catch up. Once they turned on Survivor I bailed! Headed out and cruised through some old neighborhoods and then found my hotel. I immediatly turned around and made way to the location of the casting call, just to get my bearings on how to get there and where to park. Most of the parking was metered so I had to stop at a gas station for a load of quarters.

The next morning I’m up by 4:20 to get dressed and packed. I’m wearing black slacks, blue shirt and a blue and yellow tie. I choose not to wear my suite coat and opt instead for my nice black leather jacket. This was a tough decision and previously sought advice from others. There was no consensus so I made an executive decision.

I leave the hotel by 4:50. I stop at the gas station for a breakfast burrito and a V8 splash. It was my first V8 splash and I rather enjoyed it. I then headed out to the casting call location. I’m one of the first few there and find a prime parking location. The application said not to arrive before 6:00 AM so I sit in my truck for a bit watching and waiting. There are others doing the same from their vehicle. I begin to see a few head down to start waiting in line, I get my stuff together, pop some coin in the meter and head down.

Knowing that I’ll be standing in line for at least four hours I chose to put on sweat pants and a windbreaker over my clothes. This way I don’t have to worry about sitting down or not. I brought my computer bag (hoping for a wireless internet connection) and made room to roll up my sweats and windbreaker and stuff them in the bag when the time comes.

At 5:30 AM I’m one of the first 20 people in line. Now the long wait begins. First thing I do is fire up the laptop and try to get internet connection. Unfortunately, none can be found. Luckily I brought my iPod, fully charged.

In line I talk to a few people and watch the line get bigger and bigger as the morning rolls on. Many people are dressed in full business attire while many others appear quite casual. As the clock ticks closer to 9:00 AM, many of the casual dressers head in for a bathroom run and return in different clothes, hairstyles and makeup.

As I chitchat with those around me I find out that many others have been to previous casting call sessions. We trade stories and answers on the application as well as other stuff. Camera crews show up to tape morning news segments and radio stations set up their tents to perform interviews with apprentice hopefuls. 9:00 AM rolls around and we all get our wristbands.

10:00 AM comes and we are all eagerly awaiting the next phase. Shortly after 10:00 AM we are ushered inside. The first twelve are taken inside a large room. My wristband tells me I’m number sixteen so we wait outside the door. Not for long, though as we are soon ushered in the room, past a table surrounded by the first group and over to a second table where all from this second group take our seets.

We are first asked to tell everybody our name, age, what we do and what we bring to the table that makes us different from everybody else. We are then told that we’ll be given a topic to discuss. The casting agent says that she will not participate in but will merely watch the discussion unfold. Our topic was separation of church and state in regards to the words “under God” being a part of the pledge of allegiance.

I’ll spare the full discussion because I can hardly remember it myself. One person try to organize and get everybody to make their point one at a time. That didn’t happen as nobody there was going to wait their “turn” to talk. It was a free for all session. I performed as well as I could have hoped. I made some points at different intervals and seemed to capture the attention of the group. About 5 or 10 minutes later, the discussion was over and we were asked to provide a single word that describes us. My word was “determined”.

I left the table happy with my contribution to the discussion, but most importantly I had an absolute blast! On my way out I said goodbye to a few people I had aquainted in line and headed for my truck. I then had to run a few errands, namely picking up food from several restaurants that Sacramento has but Reno does not. Lunch and dinners for the next several days, including over 30 Chipoltle burritos! Lucky for me my wife mapped out my directions form the casting location to each restarant. By noon I was headed back to the freeway and on my way home.

What I Might Have Done Differently:

I can only think of a couple places where I screwed up. When we were asked to tell ourselves and then what we bring to the table that nobody else does, I completely forgot to answer that last question. As they were going around the table giving answers, I had several answers floating around my head but never settled on one. When it was my turn I just completely forgot to answer it.

During the discussion I was focusing on the larger aspect of separation of church and state. While we talked specifically about the pledge of allegiance I ended up drifting over into “In God We Trust” beign printed on our money. I don’t know if someone else brought up the money first or if it was just me combining the two issues together as part of the greater whole.

The result:

We were told that if we would get a call back for further interviews it would happen that day. I phone and email remained silent. It was fun and I would (and might) do it all again!

Lessons Learned:

  • Early is on-time, on-time is late. While getting there early meant waiting several hours until the interview process began, those that came later in the morning had an even longer wait. I’m guessing, by the number of people that arrived and how the interviews worked, that the process went on well into the early afternoon.
  • Don’t forget to answer all the questions. Of all the questions to drop the ball on this was probably the worst. Heck, I could have forgotten to say my name and I would have been better off.
  • Stay on topic. This particular topic is of great interest to me, but in the much largetr sense. I should not have allowed my passion to take me off the narrow parameters that we were supposed to stick to.

What would you have done?

Stoney G deGeyter

Stoney deGeyter is the author of The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!. He is the founder and CEO of Pole Position Marketing, a web presence optimization firm whose pit crew has been velocitizing websites since 1998. In his free time Stoney gets involved in community services and ministries with his “bride enjoy” and his children. Read Stoney’s full bio.

3 Responses to Lessons From the Apprentice: Casting Call

  1. Stoney G deGeyter
    Stoney deGeyter says:

    you can be MY apprentice ANYTIME

    Who’s ever heard of the MASTER working for the SLAVE?


  2. ShInEs says:

    I would have just said, “DONALD TRUMP IS A CHUMP” then stood there and looked at the group.

    Just kidding!!!

    I like your story. I think the lessons you learned were probably very beneficial. There is no doubt in my mind that you probably gave a great performance. You are very bright and, “Determined”. I think you should def try again. GOOD LUCK!!!!

    ….btw, you can be MY apprentice ANYTIME 😛


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