Sadly, I haven't been keeping up with blogging like I should. To my surprise it has become less fun for me to do. Instead, both blogging and the job search process has become extremely anxiety producing for me. Schools aren't calling when they say they would, schools are extending offers but not closing their process. Needless to say, it isn't exactly what I expected. And to further it, there seems to be a high level of dissonance between what I cognitively know and how I feel. Moreover, this experience has been one to teach me how to manage my emotions. As I type, I recognize all of these things would be great to blog about. I am just not sure I can. My nervousness and anxiety has pushed me to a place of anger and frustration, and shows a side of me that I don't like.
I apologize. I was extremely excited to blog. It seemed like the perfect way to talk about my experience. And at the beginning it was. However, now I am at a place where my expectations are not being matched by the experience and I am not reacting in a way that makes me proud.
The funny part is that I imagine my outlook to change if I were offered my #1 job today. However, what does that mean about how I responded in the interim. That's the part that scares me. This is not going to be my last job search, nor the last experience that causes me to feel this way. And getting what I want isn't the magic answer. Simply, what do I do with the space in between?
from the desk of...candidate 4
The night was warm and nearly over and I didn’t want to leave her yet. S, my girlfriend, had spent the evening running around with her friend’s four children and was exhausted by all the action, noise, and activity. I came over to spend some time with her, but ended up spending more time watching the kids with her.
“I’m over-stimulated,” she sighed after we left the house.
Her back was throbbing from an inflamed disc. She needed to sleep, but she wanted just a few minutes with me, alone.
We drove to a nearby steakhouse and bar, the only place in town that looked open at 9:45 on a Thursday. But we found out that it too would be closed at the stroke of 10. So we walked around the building and found a small grassy grotto with a fountain in the middle. We found some rocking chairs on the back porch of the restaurant. I gave her the seat with the best back support and dragged another chair over for her to put her feet on. I sat next to her and we looked out at the spouting fountain, listening to the calm gurgling sounds of water.
“I wanted to talk to you a little more about something,” I said.
“You’ve said before that if I were to get a job in another state that you would come with me, right?”
She nodded her head.
“I’ve applied to every school in the area, and I’ve been rejected by almost every single one,” I said. “It seems lately, I’ve only been applying only to places out of state. If I do get a job, chances are I’ll have to move. How do you feel about that?”
She took in those words and thought a moment. She sighed and looked into my eyes.
“I can’t live without you,” she said. “I want to be where you are.”
“And I want to be with you,” I said. “I’m doing this so I can be in a position to support you and we can be together.”
“I know,” she said. “And to be honest, it scares me to think about moving. But I don’t dwell on it much, since nothing is concrete and we don’t know what’s going to happen.”
“Let’s play pretend,” I said. “Let’s say, I get a job at this school I applied to today in Northern California…”
“We would be up in the mountains, and close to the ocean…”
“…and you would be out of your comfort zone because we’d be living around all these liberal hippies! ”
She starts to laugh.
“Or I might get the job in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania, where it’s beautiful and wooded, and we’d be outdoors all the time,” I said.
“That sounds nice too,” she said. “But I would want to get married before I ever moved in with you.”
Admittedly, I’m still a little squeamish at the “m” word. It’s like the feeling some people get by watching a live operation on TV, all the blood and exposed organs is a little overwhelming and I want to put my head down between my knees. But I suck it up. Because deep down, I think I would like the “m” word with her.
“Well, we might be able to arrange something,” I said, smiling. “But don’t call this a proposal!”
She laughs and leans her head back. I squeeze her hand.
“It’s just that if I get a job within the next month, that’s really quick and we wouldn’t really have time to plan anything,” I said.
“What if…what if I got a job in another state and I went out there for a semester, just six months, and got settled in, got on my feet, and I came out to see you once a month, and we talked every day, and if things work out, we plan on getting married at the end of that time, and you come move out to be with me? Although, I know you said you couldn’t do a long distance relationship.”
“No, I couldn’t do a long distance relationship if I didn’t know where it was going,” she said. “But being apart for a few months and knowing that it was going to end with us being married, that’s different. No, I think that would be a good idea. I think I could handle that.”
We continued to watch the fountain shoot water from its spout, and enjoy the peaceful serenity of the moment. It was getting late. She needed to go back to her place. I needed to get back to mine. We would be apart for awhile. But I would be back with her again soon.
So was that a positive or negative email? Is it one of those messages that how you interpret it shows your outlook on life? If you perceive it as a subtle rejection note does that make you a cynical pessimist? Or if you see the note as hopeful, does that make you a delusional optimist?
Either way you look at it, it comes down to two things: a) the University has invited candidates to campus to interview for an interview and b) I'm not one of them.
Anyway, time to stop bitching and get back to applying to every job that comes along - regardless of location, compensation, and what I might think of the school. I've often thought this search is a numbers game. You have to applying to as many places as possible to help my chances. So, forgive me, I must go now and apply to some schools on the other side of the country that 99% of the population has never heard of before.
Post-TPE, the on-campus extravaganzas!
So I only have two on-campus interviews, which is good. Hey, I'm happy to have one! Especially since one of them... is my top choice! I'm so pumped.
But the other... is my back up school. I had not intended to interview on-campus there; as a matter of fact they were the institution that had offered an on-campus before I even left the table from my second interview at TPE. And I know I will make some enemies saying this but to be very honest... I was actually bummed.
Some recent family issues are forcing me to look local for jobs. Okay, not forcing. But, it is heavily heavily heavily weighing on me deciding what to do for next year. School #1 is very local and I would love to work there. School #2? Completely across the country.
My mom has always supported me but when I told her I was applying with them at TPE her reaction was "Wow, sounds like a great campus!"
When I told her I got a second interview, her reaction was, "Wow... sounds like they're really interested."
When I told her I got an on-campus interview, her reaction was, "Wow... do you think you'll go?"
And when I told her of course, I had to go; I had no other official offers at the time and was worried I'd end up with no job come next year, her reaction was, "Are you sure you want to go so far away?"
Don't get me wrong... A part of me actually doesn't want to go so far away. I love where I live and while I would love to stretch my muscles and live in a bunch of different places while I'm young and unattached, I really see myself eventually coming back here to raise a family and settle down.
But how many people get the chance to completely start over in a new place? A new city, a new state, a brand new institution? And get paid to do it? I'd be exposed to an entirely new campus culture, new types of students, new norms and traditions and policies. While yes, it would be a huge challenge, it would be one that once I'd successful hurdled over, I would feel so proud of what I'd accomplished.
But could I leave my family so stranded like that?
My heart feels divided. Half dedicated to wanting to see myself succeed, and half tied to the inevitable future that is taking care of my family that needs me.
Creating the SUPER On-Campus Interview Schedule
So at this point, I have five on-campus interviews lined up. I am really excited about it. Most of them are on the west coast. I live on the east coast, so you can imagine that my challenge is to minimize the amount of cross country traveling that I will have to do. Since receiving my second on-campus interview offer, I have managed to build a schedule around the middle of April that has me traveling one day and interviewing the next. It’s rather intense. However, the great part is that when this tour is over so should the job search. I mean at least I’m hoping.
Somehow I have managed to get almost all institutions who, despite bad economic times, are covering travel experiences. I am so thankful. I think at this point I am out $60 for a one-way flight stringing together two interviews. How cool! I feel pretty lucky!
As I prepare I am both happy and nervous. One institution has asked that I prepare a presentation on any topic. I am almost done compiling the presentation. I think it is good, however, I am nervous that it will be two risky. The presentation deals with identity development and student leadership development.
After already completing one on-campus interview I feel like I know what questions to ask. I have a few that usually get some “ohhs, I didn’t think about that,” in response to what I am asking.
Well I am off, I need to pack. I mean 12 days away requires some intentional packing and a lot of undergarments. I am hopeful to post while I am away. I am sure something funny, peculiar, or great will happen while I travel. Wish me luck readers!
First On-Campus Interview…Expect the Unexpected
Last week I had my first on-campus interview for a Residence Director position. It was mind blowing. I was sent my schedule a few days before and found that there were 4 interview time blocks set aside for different groups to meet with me. My day was jammed pack, each hour chock full of conversation, new names, and tough questions.
My first meeting of the day was with the director of Residence Education. At first, I was nervous I wasn’t sure what to expect. On my schedule it said “meeting” instead of “interview” and it was only slotted for 30 minutes. To myself, I thought: “what could this meeting really be about. Was it code for interview?” Turns out that the meeting was great. The director shared with me the 30,000 foot view of the department and talked about the initiatives and the accomplishments of the department during his leadership.
After meeting with the director, I had an interview with the Assistant Directors of the department. There were five of them. This interview was FUN. They asked great questions and they seemed really engaged. On several occasions they asked questions that were not on their question sheet, but rather questions that were related to the pieces of information I was sharing with them. We even managed to laugh together during our hour.
Next up was one my one-hour interview with some of the current Residence Directors. This interview was AWKWARD. They didn’t seem like they were on the same page, and they didn’t seem like they wanted to be there. The group asked questions in a round robin style, one person to the next. Most questions seemed relevant and I was able to answer them confidently. At the end I was given time to ask questions. One of my first questions was: “What’s the community like among the Residence Directors?” In response, one person smirked, and a second replied with a question, asking me what I meant. For me, this was not a good sign. I really didn’t think the question required much explanation.
My day included two more interviews. One with campus partners and another with current Resident Advisors. Both of which went well. By time the day ended, I was pooped and very ready to return home. Going in, I thought this on-campus interview was going to SUPERCOOL. I anticipated that the school would rise to the top of my choices for a job. Not so much. Being on-campus, meeting with people, and walking around really gave me a different perspective. Needless to say, I now think of the on-campus interview as a fresh start for any institution. I think you should think of it that way too.
So I started seeing this girl.
I wasn’t planning on seeing anyone during this time in my life. I was in “transition” as they call it, waiting for my career to kick start again, waiting to move back out of my parents house, waiting for a steady paycheck, waiting to have independence and a renewed sense of confidence. But let’s face it; I also thought I’d get a job in a few weeks. That was five months ago. There’s still no job lined up or even in sight. The only feedback I’m getting post-Placement Exchange is rejection letters.
And somehow, despite everything, this girl saw something in me that I couldn’t, she believed in me and predicted that I would eventually be successful. She liked the gentle way I treated her, and that I brought her flowers. She even found my neurosis charming.
I thought she looked stunning in the slinky mocha dress I first saw her in at our friend’s wedding. She was sincere and sensitive; two characteristics I longed for in a girlfriend but had somehow always eluded me. She’s a counselor and knows a thing or two about encouraging people to get their acts together. You could say she helped me get mine.
For the last month, I spent time with her and all the hormones and chemicals that newfound love produces in the body started elevating my spirits, my attitude, and my sense of purpose.
I wanted to get a job, but no longer just for me and my sense of self worth. I wanted to get a job so I could be stable for her. Who knows? Maybe there will be a time when I’ll want something more long term with the sincere, sensitive counselor. But if that happens, I would need to be gainfully employed.
So, I started my job search again this week with a renewed sense of purpose and vigor. There’s more at stake now than before.