from the desk of... candidate 1

Still Searching

It has been a while since I have last posted. Sadly, I have not been able to keep up with blogging as much as I would like to. And at this point I am moderately disenchanted with the job search process. After on campus interviews and even a few offers, I am still jobless.

It is crazy to think that this process began in February and I am still in it. Many have questioned my decision to turn down three offers in this economy; they boast that I am lucky to get an offer considering the state of things. I disagree. Others have shared with me that it is “my first job” and it won’t be perfect. These folks tend to forget that I had a “first job” experience already, and I am not trying to repeat that again.

Needless to say, I have graduated from my masters program and am officially unemployed. I have decided to stay in my current apartment through June as the rent was cheaper than moving home. And the thought of moving home frightens me a lot. So, now my time is spent submitting applications and doing random phone interviews. Any iron I have in the fire, I am trying hard to keep hot.

The time on my hands kills me a little. I am learning that I am either 0 or 60; there is not much room for me to function at half-speed. With that, my apartment is a mess, I need to grocery shop, and I think I have worn the same jeans a couple days in a row.

I am hopeful that something will develop soon. I really want to move on and feel grounded. Despite the fact, that this is likely the last time in my life (until retirement maybe) when I will have such an abundance of free time. I really should enjoy it, though I am struggling in that department. We’ll see, and until them twiddling my thumbs is my profession.

from the desk of... Candidate 4

Days after my Austin trip with the girlfriend, I was on another trip, albeit one for business rather than pleasure, this time to the Pacific Northwest for a job interview.

It was my first face-to-face interview since the TPE conference two months ago.

True Story:

I remember being disappointed at TPE in March. I wasn’t getting the interviews I wanted. Very few people were talking to me. Interviews were lackluster. I felt I was just another face in the crowd, drowning in the sea of applicants.

As the weekend died down, I had only a few more chances left to talk with schools. I had already talked to or been turned away from the schools I liked.

There was one school in the PNW that I never heard of but asked for an interview regardless, hey, I was feeling desperate.

The school sent a note back to me at the conference saying they were interested in talking to me. I should have jumped at the chance to talk with anyone at the point. But something kept me from replying immediately. Maybe it was interview burnout, or depression, or a strong growing sense of apathy. After so much stress and anxiety over the job hunt, I just didn’t care anymore.

That Sunday morning came around, the last day of the conference, and all the positions were filling up. I still hadn’t replied to this school. But something told me I needed to try, even if the school didn’t necessarily excite me. “It would be good interview practice,” I thought. “What have I got to lose?”

While most professionals were starting to leave the conference, I tried to set up one last interview with the obscure school in the PNW. Luckily, the last slot of the day was available, minutes before I had to jump in a taxi to the airport to catch my flight.

So, I talked with the representatives of the school, in an empty auditorium, while TPE shut down. It was their last interview of the conference, and my last ditch effort.

The talk was pleasant, they sparked my interest in their school’s residence life program and the gorgeous natural soundings of their campus. I think I did an adequate job selling myself and my experience. It was over soon enough, and we left. TPE was over and I had completed 8 interviews.

For the next two months, I heard nothing back from any of the schools.

But then last week, I got the call from the director from my last ditch effort. “Still interested in the job?”

“Absolutely,” I said. What have I got to lose?

I was only hours away from finding out.


from the desk of... candidate 2

A Chorus of Crickets

Cricket, cricket...

Such is the sound coming from my voicemail and email inboxes...

Yesterday morning I heard from my top choice school that they wouldn't be offering me a position, and within an hour had to be upbeat and smiley to defend my graduate work so that I could graduate in two weeks. That was tough. The two aforementioned on-campus interviews I went on did not pan out. So, essentially, I'm back at square one.

I'm not understanding what went wrong. My nature is to blame it on myself and ask the questions like, What could I have done differently? Did I say something wrong?

My graduate advisor knows me very well and encouraged me to press on. "This market is very unpredictable right now," he'd said. "You are going up against people with years of professional experience, and you are just fresh out of grad school. Keep trying. You are meant to be in this field."

Just an hour earlier I'd been researching other options. Teaching English abroad was something I'd always wanted to do, and after two punches to the gut in the form of rejection calls, it started to look promising. I told my advisor his advice came at a good time.

So in the meantime, I'm constantly checking all the right websites for listings, again. Re-doing cover letters and resumes, again.

It's frustrating. But I've got to keep pressing on. In the meantime, I'll just listen to the chorus of crickets from my inboxes...

from the desk of... candidate 4


I’ve been living with the parents ever since being laid off from my job last year.

It hasn’t been nearly as bad living with them as I thought it might be. We don’t get on each others nerves, we have positive interactions, they don’t nag or pester me about my job prospects, for the most part they understand that looking for a job these days is damn difficult.

But I’m sure that after 6 months, they expected to have a job again, living out on my own, rather than still joining them for a nightly ritual of a healthy dinner followed by unhealthy reality TV shows. Maybe they even started to think I’m not trying hard enough in my job pursuits, after all, I haven’t been on an interview in two months.

So they started taking matters into their own hands.

I noticed the bolded number “3” next to my email inbox last Tuesday morning. They signaled the first emails I’ve had in awhile. Maybe they’re from employers responding to my applications, I thought. Maybe someone wants to set up an interview.

But when I clicked on the link I saw that they were from my mom. They were job postings she found for hall directors while looking online. Ah, that’s sweet, I thought, but also kind of annoying. This was my duty, my job, my responsibility. Not theirs. I felt the same way when I came home one day and my guest bedroom where I’m staying was all cleaned up, my laundry was done and folded, and my bed was made up. Ah, that’s sweet. But also kind of annoying. I’m already emasculated enough having to live with my parents and not being able to support myself. For them to continue to pick up my slack and treat me like a slovenly, slothful child is just depressing.

I had already seen the first two job posts my mother sent on other higher education job sites. But the last email was one that was not advertised. It was for a tiny community college in East Texas. The only way my mom had known about it was that my aunt was the Music and Vocal director there. Use your connections, they said.

My first reaction was that I wasn’t really interested in living in East Texas at a small community college that paid very little. But then again, it didn’t look like I had any other options.

“You should give your aunt a call,” my dad told me that evening over our chicken and squash casserole dinner, minutes before “Survivor” started. “She’ll hook you up, she’ll talk to the right people.”

“You know,” my mom started. “I read somewhere that 60 to 70% of all applicants get a job because they know someone who already works there. Connections is the key.”

“I’ll look into it,” I told them, picking at the chicken on my plate with a fork. That was the end of the conversation.

After dinner, I washed my dish and put it into the dishwasher, then I plopped down in the overstuffed recliner in the living room, turned on the TV and waited for “Survivor” to kick on. I don’t even like “Survivor,” which is indication to me that my life is in a rut when I have nothing better to do than watch bad TV about Machiavellian-schemers with toned, tanned, emaciated bodies run around in loin clothes for money.

But I digress.

I was waiting for said show when my dad walked into the room and tossed a phone in my lap.

“It’s your aunt on the phone,” he said. “Tell her that you’re applying for that job at her school.”


He walked away before giving any answer. I put the phone slowly to my ears and said hello meekly.

“Hey there, how are you?” my aunt said. “So, uh, what’s going on? What can I do for you?”

“We were just thinking about you,” I improvised. “I’ve been looking for hall director jobs and noticed an open position at your school…”

We talked about the job, she said she would see what she could do, I sent her my resume, filled out a lengthy application for the job and mailed it to the school’s human resources. Done.

It made me parents happy. My sweet parents. My sweet, annoying, emasculating parents. They want me to get a job. And if I don’t do it quickly, they just might drive me crazy. Hope they don't get too many ideas watching "Survivor." I better start pulling my weight around here or I might get voted off this island I'm living on.