Turning a passion into a job

May 10, 2010

I’m about to bag my third job. Not in a row. No, at the same time. Besides running my own little consultancy Scuttlebutt, and doing internet marketing magic, plus research for The Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies, I have a burning passion for fine spirits. Yes; the ones you drink, not the ones you summon. And right now I’m in the process of turning this passion of mine into yet another job, something which is being frowned upon by some in Denmark, where productivity is going down. I don’t really care. Life’s too short not to have fun at work, and I’m hopefuly going to be a “nose” and “taster” of spirits for Pernod-Ricard Denmark. Yeahhh!

The process of entering into this reality TV -like process of bagging this job with Pernod-Ricard started when I got an e-mail from a friend, with the appealing subject-line: “The Job of Your Dreams”. Little had I expected that it would be just that. The e-mail described at gig where I’d get to snif and sip high quality spirit – and I’d even get paid for it! So I didn’t hesitate to write the contact person in the advertisement, and I was invited for an Introductory Information Meeting.

At the meeting there were about 34 people of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds. Everybody got to say a few words about themselves, and very few had gone wrong, was my impression. So I was feared that competition would be fierce. However, they needed 14 people, which comforted me some.

Apart from the few words we got to say about ourselves, we filled out a questionnaire and in about an hour we were out of there. And then the waiting began: “Who’d be invited back for the second round of this reality program?” There were going to be three training rounds. I like how it was called training (really cunning rhetoric), because in effect we were going to go through a series of test of our sense of smell and taste, to find out who’d have what it takes to master the job.

I was invited back. However, when I’d read the invite, I was gutted. The woman responsible with Pernod-Ricard had been very particular about dates, times and that the working hours (2×2 hours per week) had been set in stone, so we just had to accept that. In her e-mail inviting me back it stated that we all had to show up for the first “training session” on the 6th of May. Oh no! I had to do a presentation at “DMD” (Danish Market Analysis Day, Copenhagen) on “Patterning brand conversations in on-line social media”. This presentation was essential to Scuttlebutt, so I HAD TO GO, though I wouldn’t miss out on the opportunity of bagging the nosing/tasting job.

With some persuasive rhetoric in the other direction, I manage to persuade the lady from Pernod-Ricard to let me come alone for the test at another time. So on the 7th of May (- a day “late”) I showed up for the tests.

I won’t go into the minute details of the 2-3 tests I was given, but basically they were designed to find out if I could identify and distinguish sour, sweet, salt and bitter tastes, as well as testing my ability to identify and describes smells. I got through the tasting with no real worries, and was happy to find out that all my answers were correct. The nosing however was more tricky.

Recognising a smell is very easy. You immidiately think: “Ohh! Yes, I know what that is…” and then you pause, because linking the memory of the scent with the right name can be very difficult. The two memories (scent and its name) are located in different parts of the brain, and it takes training to link the two better. I manage well enough though – and I even detected a mix-up in the test: one scent was missing, and another was there twice. I think that scored me some points too

So I’m going back! Tomorrow is round two of the “training” to become a “Smagsdommer” (dk) for Pernod-Ricard, which literally translates into “Judge of Flavour”.

Tomorrow, I’ll update you on how it went, and I’ll elaborate on why some people in Denmark frown at turning your passion into a career. Right now, I’ll make time for a bit of training in snifting and tasting before the tests tomorrow. Happy I have my “Le Nez du Vin” set.

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