Wednesday, August 24, 2005

How I got my job

Mr. Geeky and I were talking about this last night while drinking beer on the deck. He said, "Aren't you glad that guy convinced you to apply for this job?"

"Yes," I said and laughed.

Applying for this job was actually quite a feat. I was not in a good way when I was looking for this job. I had been adjuncting for a little over a year and I'd just gotten a scathing review of my dissertation. After a day of crying my eyes out, I decided enough was enough. This path was making me miserable. There was no light at the end of the tunnel--only a crappy 4/4 teaching job with an even crappier salary and an 80 hour work week. No thank you, I said. Mr. Geeky fully supported my dumping this whole becoming a professor idea. He knew the hard road ahead and if there wasn't something good waiting for me at the end, it wasn't worth it. And, he didn't like to see me cry.

I sat down and thought long and hard about the kinds of things I wanted to do. I did like the college environment, but not the pressure of teaching and research. Especially the research. I also loved computers, loved them. I looked back at the kinds of things I volunteered to do in graduate school, at what innovations I incorporated into my classes, where I added my own touch. I taught grad students how to create web pages, how to use the computer classroom effectively. I created my own web pages. I created assignments that made students explore online, evaluate email lists, and build their own web pages. Assignments were all submitted electronically. I often marked them up electronically and sent them back. I was always thinking of new ways to immerse myself and them in this online environment. That led to pursue jobs involving technology, most of which fell under the description educational or instructional technology.

I was at a disadvantage to some extent. There were people with degrees in Instructional Technology. I had missed that boat, first because I was at a place that didn't offer such degrees and second, because I was determined to try to become a professor. So here I was, with lots of practical experience, a master's degree in English, my Ph.D. exams taken and passed, but without the stamp of approval in the form of a degree in the right field. I applied for my first job at a college about 1/2 hour away. It was more a technical job than I wanted and I wasn't quite qualified, but it seemed as good a place to start as any. I also applied for a techie job in the admissions department at a school closer by. I never heard from the first application. I got a phone interview for the second.

In the meantime, I ran into the job ad for my current job. I nearly fell out of my seat. *This* was the job I wanted. But I immediately dismissed it, saying I wasn't qualified. Mr. Geeky immediately started enumerating the ways in which I was qualified. And so I spent days crafting my cover letter and my resume. Mr. Geeky, of course, was my primary editor. I sent them off, thinking that like the first job, I'd never hear from these people again. But I did. I got a phone interview. And then, from the admissions job, I got a face to face interview. I might have options. But I didn't count my chickens before they were hatched. I kept scouring the web for ads.

And then I got the interview for my current job. It was a full day, complete with a presentation. Yikes! A presentation. I'd given many conference papers and taught for years, but a presentation I'd never done before. I chose the topic of Technology and the Liberal Arts, a topic I feel strongly about. But preparing for that was the most nerve wracking experience I've ever been through. Mr. Geeky, again, came to my rescue, and there were many long nights of him listening to my presentation and of him critiquing my presentation and me collapsing into tears, mumbling that I just couldn't do this. At 2 am, nothing seems possible. But I made it. I whipped the presentation into shape. I went to the interview--really interviews--meeting with various groups of people, all of whom threw different kinds of questions at me. I never felt like I was wowing them, but I felt like I was answering their questions effectively.

Aside from my going a little fast, the presentation went smoothly. The question and answer session was the best part, and I even had a couple of people come up to me afterwards and say, "Wow, that thing you mentioned, I'd never thought of that. Great idea." I left the day of interviewing feeling like I'd done my best. Christmas intervened and I hadn't heard from either of my job prospects and I decided that after the New Year, I would apply for a couple of other jobs. Right after Christmas, the admissions department from the other school called and rejected me. I wasn't crushed since I really felt like I didn't fit in there and it wasn't the job I wanted.

While waiting to hear from this job, I began applying for more jobs like it. One thing that came out of the interview was that I realized that I was qualified for these kinds of jobs and I felt confident in applying for them. One thing I found out during the interview was that the search committee had no idea I was married to Mr. Geeky. I had gotten to the face-to-face interview on my own merits. I was quite proud of that. I was on my way out to the mailbox to mail off another application when the phone rang. It was the director of Human Resources calling to offer me the job. I actually said I'd think about it and would call back at the end of the day. I immediately called Mr. Geeky, elated. He already knew. Someone had come to tell him 5 minutes before. I didn't make them wait until the end of the day. And I started a week later.

I love my job. It really is my dream job. I tell myself that on days when I'm feeling down. Doing a search here on "love my job" shows a few other posts about my affection for what I do. Sometimes I need those markers there as reminders, but times like now, I'm riding high.