The Final Rose

Monday, May 27, 2013

The way I see it, job searching is a whole lot like dating.  It's all wondering what the other person thinks and what they're saying to their friends about you and if they'll call tomorrow.  It's both really exciting and the most stressful experience you could possibly imagine.  Total he said, she said.  As we all know, I'm not so good at dating.  We don't need to get into that whole story.  But, as it turns out, I am pretty darn good at job searching.  That, or my Columbia education is worth every tuition penny paid.  Probably that one.

In the past, I've applied for jobs like it was my hobby...and had zero results.  For every job I've had, I applied for at least fifty more.  I was always trying to get that next job, better experience, bigger city, etc.  The two jobs I've had since grad school were great, but not necessarily what I saw myself doing.  Like most twenty-somethings, I just felt unsettled and the need to do more.  Thus, the endless job searching.  Rejection was the new normal.  I haven't really picked up that particular hobby since moving to New York, but with the end of coursework and desire to move back to the Midwest, it was time.  I completely dreaded the job search process.  In my experience, it just never quite turned out like I thought it might.  Oh hey, we're back to dating.  Crap dang.

So this time was a little different.  In mid-February (with The Chief snowed in for Blizzard 2013), I started the job search.  Higher Ed hiring is notoriously slow.  Throughout February and March, I applied for eight mid-level type jobs in Midwestern universities.  I felt pretty good about all of them, but obviously I had my favorites.  And then one day I got four rejection letters in one day.  Now, if you're counting that is exactly half of the positions I applied for.  So yeah...

Ultimately, I seriously interviewed at two different institutions...my two favorites of the original eight.  One involved an in-person interview at a conference, phone interview, and then on-campus interview.  The other involved a phone interview and on-campus interview.  Phone interviews are horrible.  It's like talking to a potential date on the phone before you meet, but with his entire family on speaker phone.  Who can handle that?  On-campus interviews are like first dates.  They pull out all the stops to convince you that they are the one, all while not-so-secretly trying to figure out if you are the one, which is all they really care about.  In the span of 11 days in early May, I flew from New York to two different institutions.  One ride from the airport with search committee chair, one dinner with colleagues, one full-day interview with tons of different groups and faces, one ride back to the airport.  And repeat.  Somewhere in there, I actually forgot what state I was in at that moment more than one time.  In total, I had about 36 hours in each city.  One of those overnight trips even involved a spectacular afternoon with Baby Sister and Just Matt.  As is true of all good first days, the school paid for everything.  Not that I mind, but it's nice to know that someone wants to treat you nice.  I always offer to pay my part of a first date, but let's be honest...judge the ones that actually let me.  But back to job searching...

In an unexpected turn of events, I was offered the University of Kansas position the day of my other on-campus interview.  I had a week to answer Kansas while the other school made their decision.  I loved the Kansas experience and people, but I just couldn't make an informed decision without knowing about the other opportunity.  So Thursday night before I had to tell Kansas on Friday, I received a second offer from the other school.  And thus began the most stressful twelve hours of my entire life.  Don't get me wrong...amazing problem to have and so blessed to have great opportunities...but really darn stressful.  I freaked out a lot.  Cried.  Prayed.  Talked to my family.  Did that whole process over again.  Slept very little.  But when I woke up, I just knew what I was supposed to do.  I absolutely felt like I was on the final episode of The Bachelorette, when she has to decide between two people to marry.  And even if you know what's right, it's nearly impossible to make that decision.  The other job had a lot going on for it.  A LOT.  Would have been a huge career step for me, but I have the rest of my life for that.  But Kansas had good people, and you can't find that everywhere.

It's taken me all weekend to recover from the stress of the final rose ceremony decision.  Not only did I have to say yes to one, but I had to break up with one I also really loved.  I've only done the breaking up once in my life, and it did not go well.  I'm much more used to being broken up with or not getting the job.  Being the one in control was really stressful.  Oh yeah, and it all happened while moving 600 students out of my residence hall.  So blessed, but still.  I celebrated recovered with a rainy Friday night in Times Square, Annie (staring Glee's Jane Lynch), and Shake Shack...


...cause you can't do that in Kansas.

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