Friday, January 14, 2011

WTF Professor?!?

So tomorrow night is the deadline for one of my grad school applications and one of my recommenders still hasn't submitted my recommendation letter. WTF??? I asked him 2 months ago and he said he'd be happy to do it but it might be a month before he gets to it because of the many that he's already agreed to do. That was fine, I was so grateful that he agreed to do it. It's now 2 months later and he hasn't gotten to it yet. I emailed him just before Christmas because I hadn't heard from him at all and he said he'd get to it after the holiday. Ok, that was all I needed, just to know that he didn't fall off the face of the planet or completely forget about it. Well I emailed him again a week ago because, umm, the deadline was a week away and it still wasn't done. He said it was a good thing I reminded him and that he would get the letters in. Ok, great, that made me feel better until this morning when it still wasn't done. So I emailed him again along with another link to the online form for his convenience, he didn't respond. Well..let's see, it is now 24 hours before the deadline and IT STILL ISN'T IN!! I don't understand this at all. He's not a new professor, he's been at it for a long time, he does these things all of the time, am I the one that he's going to forget about and just not do? I need this guy's letter for all 3 schools. It's a good thing that I reminded him?? Like he literally forgot? See, I figured that the most logical way for a professor to keep track of all the recommendations he/she has to do is to make a list of names, their schools, and deadlines. So that there's none of this forgetting bullshit. Look at the list and see whose deadline is coming up and FREAKING DO THAT LETTER! What the F? When a professor agrees to do a letter it becomes their responsibility to get it done and in by the deadline. I, like most applicants don't want to harass these people, but my future is literally in their hands. I'm going to send as many freaking emails as it takes to get my damn letter in. I worked hard to get the other components of the application done and now 24 hours to go I'm still worrying about it. It's always painful to the bitter end, everything that I do. My only saving grace is that the deadline is on the weekend so I don't think anyone is going to be looking at anything over a holiday weekend and I guess I have a little wiggle room. But for crap's sake show me some respect and get my letter in by the deadline. And I really don't care if it get's done weeks in advance or 20 minutes before, but if it's going to be the very last minute then at the very least he can take 30 seconds to shoot me an email stating that he's working on it and is aware that the deadline is rapidly approaching. That's all it would take for me to be OK with the situation, that's it, but no, that's way too courteous and nobody has an extra 30 seconds to type out a sentence that would put a nervous grad school applicant at ease...I totally get how time consuming a one-sentence email would be. Just way too much to ask. Unbelievable.

So in order to not go through a 3-day weekend that I've been looking forward to all week in a total angry nervous haze I've just resigned myself to the fact that he probably won't get it done over the weekend and I'll have to contact the admissions office and ask what the hell to do. And also send yet another email to the professor. Although I have no idea what to say without coming across the wrong way. I need this guy to do this. I guess I still have a glimmer of hope though, he said he would get the letters in, I don't think that he's anything but decent, or I wouldn't have asked him to do it in the first place, obviously. But this is a little nutty. Who knows, I suppose there's still a chance that I could be pleasantly surprised tomorrow and find that he's submitted the letter for American University. Thank god the other deadlines are later. Sigh. Ok, I've vented, now I'm going to allow myself to get over it because clearly there's nothing I can do about it over a weekend, might as well not stew in a piss poor mood.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Free of the GRE Forever, about which I am not lacrymose

PHEW!!! Holy Mother of Divine God...all I've wanted for the past 5 tortuous weeks has been to free myself of the albatross that is the GRE. The beginning of last week I had finally numbed myself to the waiting, anxiety, and stress by convincing myself that I no longer cared and that I would do no better than the first time. In fact I kept in mind that there was a great possibility that I would do worse. And that the results wouldn't really matter because I certainly have no more time to do it again and even more certainly I will not spend any more money on this ridulosity. This reverse psychology least to a certain degree. I actually slept really well for the first time in about 3 weeks and my stomach wasn't constantly twisted in knots and I was also able to stop myself from fantasizing about all of the possible outcomes of my second attempt at the test. But I guess it was the day before that my psychological defense started to crumble. I hadn't studied much in the 5 weeks since my first attempt, I figured that studying constantly from July to November was quite enough and that the score did not reflect my knowledge or ability in anyway. I was doomed right from the start due to my dreadfully painful overreaction to something stupid which resulted in a complete lack of sleep and a great deal of worry the night before. Oh well, water under the bridge. After about a week and half I was over it and simply wanted to take it again and get it out of my way.

So every so often I pulled out the vocab cards or looked at some math thing, but I didn't put that much effort in until the week before at work I slowly but surely worked my way through the practice test questions and that was it really. Test day came and I was nervous and highly anxious. I kept pounding it into my head, "you're going to get the same score or worse, it doesn't matter, you don't care anymore." But a few hours before my stomach started twisting up and my heart started to race. I finally got to the test center, I was fortunate to be able to take it at the same place so everything about it was familiar and there were no surprises. I walked in like I owned the place. I filled out the paper and all of the background info and finally started the test, the writing section was first. I'm not sure if I did any better on that part, oh well I don't care is all I kept telling myself. As I started the verbal section, which was one of 2 scores that I would get immediately following the test, my heart started race. But I just plowed through it, realizing at the very least that I had more focus and energy to concentrate than the last time. Got done with it and moved on the quantitative section, the second score that I'd receive that day. I started to panic as I realized that problem after problem was uncertain to me. I felt like I was just guessing, I didn't really know how to figure them out. I wholeheartedly believe that the practice test in the study book I used was much easier than the actual test. As hard as I was concentrating every so often the image of another devastatingly crappy score crept into my mind and blood pressure spiked to the point where I pictured my heart bursting. But I kept at it, I finally encountered problems that I was able to actually calculate and figure out, then there were some where I didn't know if my logic was correct or what but I had to just put down an answer and move on in order to have a reasonable amount time for each problem rather than having to do a blind guess on the last 5 or 6 like last time. Well, I finally made it to the end. But after that there was an experimental section for the test makers to see how we do and if they can incorporate those questions into the next year's test...or whatever. It's voluntary, I didn't want to do it but I guess it was just a way to delay the inevitable, it was verbal so I was more open to doing it. The last time it was math, I literally just clicked on answer choices, not even looking at the problems. The section was easy save the reading comprehension questions, those are no joke, and I don't like them and I had nothing left to give to the GRE at that point so I just blew through it and finished up.

The tiny span of time between just after you've completed the test and the moment your scores flash onto the screen is something like I've never experienced before. Really I think it could be used as a form torture or be considered cruel and unusual punishment. It's a torrent of emotions, relief that you've completed the 2 hour mind bender, that's not including the 30 minutes for the experimental section or the 20 minutes or so it takes to do the background stuff in the beginning, and pure anxiety. You have the option of canceling, you'll never know your score and it won't be reported to anyone. The "Report Score" button is right there waiting to be clicked. Once you do that there is a warning that if you click it again, that's it, you're done, scores will be on your test report for 5 years and every school you apply to within 5 years will see every score. Now, that's not such a big deal to me, I'm not that upset about the schools seeing my first crap score, they'll see my second decent one and perhaps think that I'm serious enough to put in the effort to do it again and I've improved greatly. But in my specific case it's not that I didn't study or take it seriously the first time, I was ready until the night before when I worked myself over worrying about whether or not I'd be allowed to take the test at all due to the lack of middle name on my online's all in the earlier GRE post..I can't go into again, it's embarrassing and tedious.

At this point, my heart is about to pop out of chest and looking back on it I'm not sure if my head was swirling with thoughts or devoid of them. Although I do distinctly remember mentally preparing myself for another crap score, I even wrote down some numbers on the scratch paper so I could get used to seeing some absurdly low number in a futile effort to prevent a total meltdown. But I had to click on the "Report Score" button one more time to get there. "You cannot cancel or go back once you click "report score" for the second time." Holy God, I'm scared at this point, scared. I click it and as if not willing to experience the consequences of my actions I look away, not giving into temptation to actually hide my eyes with my hands. A single second passes when the screen flashed the numbers, I knew they were up, all I had to do next to end it all was look up. I remember in that flash that I was resigned, just do it, the numbers will be the same whether you look now or 10 seconds from now. I looked, it took a second for the numbers to register in my head.


That was one of the best moments I had in the past 2 months, probably the best one. It was over, not only was it over, but it was over in a great way. I did it. I got a decent score. By no means fantastic, but good enough to give me the certainty that I will indeed be going to grad school this Fall and for now, that will do just fine. I got home and went straight away for the study books, 4 in all, gathered them and put them out of my sight, it's funny because I know I'll never look at them again but I'm hesitant to just dump them in the trash. They've been a part of my routine for a good 6 months, and not to mention the fact that all together they cost me around $70. I did however not hesitate to toss all of the notes that I took for the quantitative section, I couldn't care less about Pi, area of circles, right triangles, ratio times X equals the volume of a sphere squared minus the square root of negative N...yikes. I couldn't tare those pages out of my notebook fast enough. But far more important and profound is that now I have a sense of peace, I worked myself up into a frenzy over this, as I tend to do in situations that I feel are crucial to my own progress. I felt like the GRE was scary and somewhat beyond my grasp, like I didn't have complete control. My undergrad record is solid, I was a successful Peace Corps volunteer, I secured letters of recommendation, and I can write a purpose statement, but the GRE was uncomfortable, I truly felt it was the one thing that could hold me back. I don't take these sorts of things lightly, grad school means everything to me now, it's my ticket out of Arizona and to the next stage of my life where I want to be doing what I want to be doing...finally. I couldn't handle the idea of some meaningless standardized test holding me back from that. But anyway, I can move on happily and get ready to submit my applications once and for all. Before yesterday I was ramming through the application process but I always had that little voice saying "hey, you still have this giant hurdle that could render all of this effort useless, 'cause if you can't manage to at least get up into the 1000's, what the hell is that going to look like?"

Lesson learned: sometimes taking things a little less seriously can be highly beneficial, especially if you're someone like me who tends to go overboard in placing major significance onto certain events. The first time I was terrified and I sucked big time, the second time I wore flip-flops, I did not check a thousand times if I had my ID, and I gave the computer a big F.U. before I started (in my head that is). Yes, I really did that, and it gave me a second's worth of satisfaction. I didn't afford this one stupid test so much control over me this time and it worked out for the better. It was a lot of mental work to do that, and it took me a long time to finally convince myself to let go a little. Now I'm not going to say that I was able to put things into a broader perspective and become at peace with the fact that the world won't end if I don't do well on the GRE or that I should feel fortunate that I even have the opportunity because so many people are disadvantaged and under privileged...yada yada yada. No, this is major for me and if I F it up I might be trapped a lot longer than I can handle. So it's a balancing act for sure, placing enough significance to motivate you to achieve something that's not within your comfort zone but not so much that you want to launch yourself off a cliff to stop the anxiety and frenzy of worry you've worked up. You know you've gone off the deep end when it keeps you up night after night and it negatively impacts the rest of your day. Something that's always worked for me when it came to somewhat less important or significant events or chores was the idea of giving myself permission to not worry about it until I could actually do something about it, so obviously in most cases letting yourself fret at 3am won't do any good because there's nothing you can do...wait until at least the crack of dawn to start worrying.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Overflowing Toilet, Poopy Butt, Tinsel, Cracker littered floor, and the GRE Blues

If the title of this post conjures up images of a nightmarish scenario it's because it is actually a nightmare, my nightmare that I have lived every day this week. And it's still not over! It's only Thursday, there's still another whole day of this drag of a week left. Yup 2 little maniacs clogged the toiled then flushed causing a tidal wave of water...toilet water into the classroom. Now, I wasn't actually in the room for this seismic event however later on while closing up I lifted the laundry basket full of towels that I pretty much assumed was from the cleanup, figured they were just damp. Umm, yeah, the toilet water that those towels were supposed to soak up actually just pooled up at the bottom of the basket and immediately gushed out all over the floor upon tilting when I picked it up...toilet water. Sigh. This episode in it of itself really isn't such a big deal, if you've worked in a preschool for just a week that is clear to you. But mix it in with the anticipation and angst of Christmas, a classroom full of maniacs on a rainy day, a floor littered with crackers, a smart 3 year old who refuses to poop anywhere other than in his pants, and a teacher that's stressing over the GRE and you've got yourself a nightmare contained neatly within a single classroom. Now, little kids don't understand the concept of time, they have no idea how long an hour is and feel that 5 minutes is painfully long. But what they do know is that Christmas is coming soon, they know that their houses will be littered with presents from a giant guy in a red suit, they know that there are parties, sugary treats, stories, and all kinds of specialness due to this exciting thing that's coming. They just don't know when exactly, the idea of December 25th is lost to them, they're lucky if they can even count to 25 or know that December is a month. All of this excitement and lack of time understanding results in something pretty close to insanity. The kids are extra hyper, they feel an extra sense of entitlement because they're doing all of these special holiday activities that are not built into their normal routines, the sparkly tinsel hanging all over the classroom is just too tempting to resist, and parents are using Santa as a disciplinary measure. "If you're not good Santa won't bring you any presents." The typical highs and lows are are higher and lower during the Christmas season. Plus, not to mention, me. I'm stressed out. Exhausted. I don't have anything left to give these kids, I don't even have any love for the good ones. All I can think about is getting the GRE over once and for all, getting rid of the study books, getting them out of my sight already, and not ever thinking about it ever again. I've been terrified that I won't do any better than last time, or worse! I think about it and experience the nervousness as if I'm actually going through it. The past few days though I've convinced myself that I won't do any better and just expect the worst, it's easier that way. I won't be nearly as crushed as I was the first time when my crap score is revealed to me as if my fate was completely contained in the significance of those 2 numbers. I think it's been working, I'm not nervous, I think I've finally numbed myself to it. All that's left is a preschool teacher devoid of patience and in charge of a group of 3 year-olds so challenging I feel sucked dry by the end of the day. I mean have you ever tried to get 10 preschoolers to stand in a line for more than 5 seconds? I'm not even talking about the straight kind, just anything that bares resemblance to a line. Or have you ever tried to put 12 3 year-olds down for a nap at the same time, 5 of whom require every bit of my focus and attention or they'd be diving off of the ceiling repeatedly? That's my life Monday through Friday. It wasn't always like this, it was great when I first started with about 8 or 9 kids who were far less challenging, as in I didn't get hit, kicked, and scratched or called "fart face" when I sat next to them to pat their back to lull them to sleep. Now, in keeping with the spirit of this blog, I'll bring it back to the fact that this is the joy of employment at a preschool. I'm employed, I hate my life right now, but I am employed. I'll complain all I'd like but I am employed. Management is well-intentioned but out of the loop, which becomes more painfully obvious by the increased frequency with which I hear, "oh you have an issue, well just problem solve your way through it, you're a professional." Well, that took some real expertise there, I can say that, maybe I'll be next line for a management position.

On top of it all we're losing one of our administrators, she's great and we get along swimmingly, but she just can't live on the measly wages they're paying her so she has to move on. Can't say that I blame her, but her last day is rapidly approaching and there hasn't been any interviewing going on for her position. Like what the F? The new teacher that's been hired to replace the one that's leaving has not left a very good impression during her one and only training week. We're all pretty convinced that she'll last maybe a week. And then the insanity continues on with the hiring of some bozo that we have no idea what her actual purpose will be. She was hired a few days before we all started our Secret Santa gift exchange and she asked to participate in it. First off, why would you want to participate in a gift exchange with people who you don't know and don't know you at all? Weird. But the kicker is that we do ours a bit differently, ours goes on for a whole week, everyday is a little tiny gift from some sort of theme. She was only scheduled to work 2 days that week because she's not really needed until after the Christmas break. So logistically it didn't make any sense. She had to make a special trip each day in order to participate in a Secret Santa for token gifts with a $1 budget. I mean seriously? She didn't even show up a few of the days so the person she had was getting ripped off. On one of the 2 days she worked she said to our boss, "Oh I'll be right back I have to run to my car to get the Secret Santa gift, 10 minutes later she didn't come back and was just gone. Again, what the F? A few days later she was helping out because we had a few people out sick and were short handed, so she came in to help me put the kids down for a nap and in order to get 2 of my maniacs to lay down she said, "I can't give you guys suckers if you don't go to sleep." First, I was so flustered by the meltdown that one of my boys was having due to being dropped off really late and not wanting to come to school just to go to sleep that I was like, sure ok whatever works. She sat with the spastic kid and calmed down by telling him the same thing, that in order to get that special treat he had to go to sleep. Then she made a point of telling me that she was going to go and get "suckers" and bring them back for the kids. I was like, "Ok, cool." When everyone was finally sleeping I opened the door to chat with the very administrator that's leaving us. It had been a while since Bozo left and was wondering if she said anything to her about coming back. Her answer was no, but it was said in such a way as to convey a sense of absurdity, like how could I be serious. That's when she told me about the running to the car thing and then disappearing. Our boss was marveling at how she managed to get everyone to sleep so quick and then it became clear how she was doing it. Another teacher said the same "tactic" was used with her kids too. Who the F does that? Ok, maybe lots of parents do, but good preschool teachers don't. We teach respect for the rules and for others by NOT rewarding them for doing things that they just should be doing and have been doing all along. We don't reward kids for going to sleep or laying quietly at rest time. They have to do that. Trust me, teaching that is hard work, but it has to be done and it's worth it. Bozo did not come back with lollipops and I had to explain to the one kid that remembered her promise that I had no idea where she was. I understand when you just say something to a kid to get them to be quiet or do what you want them to do, but she made a point of telling me she would be back with lollipops and then just didn't come back. Who knows what happened, anything is possible I suppose, but the whole thing doesn't add up. The fact that her behavior had been odd and that she has years of experience at another preschool makes her a bozo. She'll be set straight though for sure when we get into the swing of the next semester. There's no way any of us will stand for bribery in our classrooms, not happening. Not that any of us believe she's ill-intentioned but it was just so old-school and outdated, like what modern education professional still uses bribery as a technique? The not-good ones I guess.

This week has been a total drag full of kicking, hitting, scratching, biting, toilet overflowing, pooping in pants, Bozo's shenanigans, uncertainty about the new lead teacher, and of course extreme anxiety about all things grad school. I fantasize about what it'll be like to get an acceptance letter and what it might feel like to get rejected from all 3 schools. I'm tired of waiting for professors to get to my recommendation letters, I'm tired of reading my purpose statement wondering if it's good enough, I'm tired of thinking about the GRE, I'm tired of pondering my academic career and wondering if anybody in my dream school's admissions office could possibly think it's up to par with their standards. I'm so tired. Plus I'm terrified I'm going to get sick, every kid's nose is just running green, and it seems like every 5 seconds someone is coughing in my face. I just got over a stomach virus that caused me to vomit up everything I had eaten for the past week as well as another most unpleasant symptom for about 5 hours during the night and left me with a fever and pains all the next day. Kids are gross, they really are and it takes really special people to love other people's kids through it all. Yup, I'm employed and in 24 hours I'll be on a 2 week vacation...not paid of course.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pick Your Head Off The Floor Come Up Screaming Right After Everything You Ever Might Have Wanted!!

The title of this post, taken from a most glorious song entitled "In a Big Country" by Big Country perfectly illustrates my new attitude and lease on life. It's been months since my last's funny how working actually diminishes the need to gripe on the Internet. I did indeed go and visit University of Arizona back in September, it was the best thing I could have done for myself, but not for the reason you might think. After being quite at peace and content with the idea of sticking around here for grad school I began the typical course of action for all applicants. I dug around the website, figured that even though the school doesn't offer exactly what I wanted I could make it work. "It" being Geography and I would have been able to choose an international scope to go along with it. Plus I was going for a PC fellowship which would have amounted to a full scholarship. So in lieu of any other options I was happy with this and was ready to do what I needed to do. I wasn't considering any other schools, I was highly confident...and nascent to the process. So then comes September 10, visit day. My parents ferried me all the way down to Tucson so I could meet with the Peace Corps Fellowship director, just to chat and get a sense of the place, plus of course to ram it home that I was serious.

So on the way down there, the drive was pleasant enough for most of the way until we hit downtown Tucson where the traffic was just crawling at a snail's pace for miles, which was made completely unbearable by a red traffic light at every single block. Once we waded through that nightmare we approached the campus, a simple gaggle of buildings along city blocks. This being my first hint of academia in almost 3 years I was struck by how comfortable it all was, the sight of a diverse group of students milling around or darting to and fro. I missed it, missed academia. I went straight away to the director's office. There she was, so typical, a graying 50-something in a sun dress and earth toned sandals clacking away on a keyboard in an office overflowing with papers, books, and posters of Latin American locations, no doubt reminiscent of the charming village where she spent her Peace Corps service decades ago. It was an informal chat, just what it should have been. I gathered she got a decent sense of me since she encouraged me to apply. Immediately following the meeting, which lasted I guess 45 minutes, I was quite satisfied and felt uplifted. Like I had made contact with someone on the inside of the graduate school realm, someone who could afford me the next stage in my life.

Now, upon reuniting with my parents I of course began to regurgitate the exchange. What I distinctly remember sharing more clearly than anything else though, was what she said about the idea of only applying to one school. What I didn't realize at the time was how profound that one bit of the exchange really was. As time allowed me to really absorb what she said and how she said it, my confidence in my plan started to crumble. What I had decided right away was that she was right, I should apply to more than one school. So being that there is absolutely nothing else in the state of Arizona I felt I had no choice but to look elsewhere. My logic went something like this...if I have to go out of state and also pay for grad school (because there aren't any other fellowships that would apply to me and my interests) I might as well at least go where I really want to go to do what I really want to do. The "where" being George Washington University and the "what" being International Development. Ah, and upon divulging further the details of the exchange it is clear that my logic is quite sound and cogent. She also said the one thing that could and did chip away at the confidence I had going in, "some Peace Corps volunteers don't even make it into the Geography program." Hmmm, so you're telling me that there's a chance I wouldn't even get accepted into the school? Then we don't have to talk about the fellowship. Wow, where would I be if that happened? That question started to swirl ceaselessly around in my head. U of A happens to have one of the most sought after geography programs in the country and I not having any technical geography experience think I could just waltz right in and also snatch up a full scholarship? What was I thinking? Let's just entertain the idea for a moment that I did get into the geography program, but didn't get the fellowship. That would mean that I'd actually have to pay for a graduate program that I'd have to "make work." What if it's too technical, too math oriented, too much physical environment stuff? That's not what I'm into. I liked the idea of it, a sub section of geography is Human Geography, how the physical environment impacts human activity, which certainly has an international scope to it. But all of those "what-ifs" got me thinking, thinking furiously. Since the meeting I had decided I needed another school, there was no doubt about which one it should be. George Washington University, the International Development program in the heart of the most powerful city in the world. Oh yeah, that's the one. At that time, it was just a sort of "let's see what happens" kind of thing. Because let's face it, the difference in cost of regular tuition and living expenses between the two are tremendous and would have to be taken into account. Inevitably, what happened was that as I had gotten more serious about GW, between combing the website and getting the application requirements squared away, I had fallen completely in love with the idea of going there. I had it in my mind as a far off pipe dream, like I could never do it if I wasn't already out there or it was just too titanic of a move to make. So my focus was still U of A, it still felt on all levels much more attainable. But that focus began to dissipate quickly as the awesomeness of that school, program, and city became all to alluring. One of the suggested details to include in your goal statement for U of A was to be specific about academic and professional goals. I was aware of that since the beginning, that I should be thinking about those things. But really the fact of the matter was that I had no idea what my academic goals for a Master's degree in Geography were, I didn't really know what I wanted to research. I wasn't well enough versed in that subject to say with any definition what path I would have chosen. There were so many concentrations and sub sections listed on the website, many of them were interesting, but I didn't know what I could do with a concentration in "Globalization." My professional goals were the same as they are now, to go into International Development, which I could talk about, but I had nothing to say about Geography itself. I didn't actually want to study water politics or mountain ranges and how climate impacts this or that village. That's not to say that there aren't some really big international happenings associated with straight up geography, it's fascinating and important, really it is. But I don't want another degree where I could go into a broad range of fields, if I'm going to spend 2 years and a crap load of money on a Master's I better know exactly what I can do with it upon completion, it should be focused and specific. But as the days went on since the meeting I had gone to in order to solidify my confidence and choices, the doubt was growing. But here's the thing, it wasn't scary doubt, it was the kind where you start to realize that if you don't go after everything you ever might have wanted then when are you ever going to do it? What's the harm in at least giving it a go? If it all comes crumbling down around you there's always something you can do to make a change. If I stay here in AZ and trudge through something I could potentially dislike then what? I'd just continue to feel trapped and stuck and as usual like I'm not doing what I really should be doing, I can't do that anymore! I can't stay here in AZ, I wasn't that impressed with the campus, Tuscon is congested and too close to Mexico, I don't want to do an internship in some impoverished drug lord infested neighborhood. If and when I do something dangerous like that it'll be something in which I have a vested interest and deem worthy of the risk.

As the idea of an enormously expensive and scary move across country by myself evolved into excitement and absolute certainty, I dove in head first into the dream. There was no murkiness of "what if I don't like it?" or "what if I never make it out to DC and I just end up stuck here?" It was a decision that was clear, lucid, and right. I was applying to and heading for life as a grad student in DC and that was that. I mean I spent 95% of my life in New Jersey, I belong on the East Coast. I've been in AZ a year now and still have absolutely no attachment whatsoever. My parents are here so obviously I'll be back, but only as a visitor. Then I had to tell my parents that I wouldn't even bother with U of A, why should I? Too much effort into that application anyway. It wasn't as bad as I thought, they were just like "alrighty." I think they get it. To this day my mother still injects the occasional "why can't you just stay here and do something else?" question in an annoyingly sincere and ingenuous fashion. "No Mom, I'm out." So long as one of the 3 schools I'm applying to accepts me, I'm out come Summer. GW is the dream, American University would be almost as good, George Mason is the back up. Either one of these schools is my ticket out of here.

I finally took the GRE 2 weeks ago after studying since July. It was a disaster of cataclysmic proportions. I was totally geared up, confident, hopeful, but cautiously optimistic as well. The night before I was browsing again the ETS website, the official site for the GRE and other such tests, making sure that I had everything I needed and had the best sense of what to expect. I registered back in September so one final trek through the website would be helpful..or so I thought. The section about what type of ID was required forcefully explained that the name you used to register online must match exactly the name on your primary form of ID that you present at the test center, without exception, you will NOT be permitted to take the test and forfeit the testing fee (of $160). That's right 160 dollars down the drain. So I checked my license middle name is on my middle name is not on the registration confirmation....OH...MY...GOD. My middle name is on my middle name is not on the registration confirmation....OH...MY...GOD...$160...studied for months...ALL GONE! I kept reading the ID section over and over, there it was..."must match exactly...or else." This absolutely sent me into a tailspin. I was looking forward to the test, ready to get to it, and this hits. HOW COULD I NOT USE MY MIDDLE NAME WHEN REGISTERING??? DIDN'T I CHECK MY LICENSE?? It was a two-fold shocker, again some moronically idiotic mistake that I made months ago is going to cost me big time, and is this really going to happen, am I really going to show up and be sent away? Imagining both of those things killed me. After my heart slowed down to a million beats a minute from a bazillion beats, I confessed to my parents what I had done and now facing. They were like.."what? that's not a big deal, you'll be fine, it's the first and last name that have to be exact." That didn't make me feel better, what did they know? Plus I was worried because my middle name is printed on my license but I didn't sign my middle say that I took this worrying thing way too far, as in off a cliff, would be an understatement. I couldn't find anything other than a check book with only my first and last name, of course that's not an acceptable form of ID. I was in panic mode. We're talking about around 7pm the night before the 8am test. I was Googling all kinds phrases that included "ID name for GRE" and "forgot middle name while registering for GRE" in hopes of coming up with some hits from people who did the same heinously idiotic thing that I had done and survived to post it somewhere, anywhere, on the Internet. I found one on some message board from like 3 years ago, a reply from someone said they did it too and was fine, that only allayed my worry and panic slightly. I don't know why. These things tare me up, I beat myself up into a bloody pulp of worry and fixation. To me, it was as clear as day, the name on my ID did not match EXACTLY the name I registered with, I would be turned away like a stray dog in the rain. Not only was I NOT happily engaging in pre-test rituals, like relaxing the night before and getting lots of sleep, and preparing a fuel filled breakfast, but I was panicking and downtrodden. I couldn't stop turning this around in my head. "Maybe it'll be ok, I should just go to see what happens, I can't believe what a dolt I was, if I had just typed my middle name in to register I wouldn't be in this mess, I can't believe all of this preparing has come to this." Plus I got one of the few Saturday test dates available, otherwise I'd have to take a day off of work, which is something I wanted to avoid. Well, I decided to just go along like it was all OK, I went to bed but didn't fall asleep until about 12am, then woke up at exactly 3:45 and that was it. I couldn't get back to sleep, didn't stop thinking about the absurdity I had done to myself, heart racing, stomach turning...ceaselessly. Got up at 5:30, couldn't really stomach much. Left at 6:45 to get to the test center by 7:30. Running on basically adrenaline I just wandered in, said nothing about it, with bated breadth handed the lady my ID, she matched my name to the name on her list, gave me a paper to sign and told me to lock my stuff in a secure locker. The relief and glee that I felt propped me up long enough to get through the initial paper work and pre-test background information requirements. But by the time I started testing at around 8am, I was already dragging. I got through the writing section just fine, although I didn't yet get my score, but I think I sapped myself dry of focus and brain power before I even got to the verbal section. And since the relief that washed over me upon being admitted no problem had calmed my stomach churning and heart pounding, I realized I was hungry. Great, 2/3 of the test to go and I'm literally running on fumes. By the time I got to the math section, I was done, I had no ability to focus, oh I tried and as hard I attempted to pretend that I had all of this down I knew I was finished. I ran out of time and had to guess on a lot of them...too many. I had nothing left. I couldn't figure any of them out with any certainty, I knew I had studied that stuff and I just couldn't pull it off. When I had finished the test and going through all of the stages to finally get my score, my heart had begun racing again, in just moments I'd see what I had really done. My brain throbbed, clicking and clicking through different questions and "I agree to these terms and conditions" yada yada. "If you click 'yes' you will have no opportunity to cancel your scores, you will view them and they become official." it goes. Click. There it was, the score. An astonishing defeat. I had never expected such a blow. How could that be? At this very moment I'm not even sure I want to type my score into this blog, that's how embarrassing it is...maybe in a few minutes. My heart sunk, "what now?" is all I kept asking I go on and enter the school addresses to have the scores sent as I had planned on all along? The score wasn't just below what I had hoped for, it was below any reasonable minimum score to be taken seriously. I had no grand aspirations, just a decent score is all I wanted. After a few minutes I had started the process of entering the school information, but I came to my senses and asked if I could just stop, the lady said yes, I stopped and left...wiped out.

I got on the cell phone and when my dad answered I said "well, I took the test obviously." He said, "what's the matter?" He knew. I told him how badly I did and how flabbergasted I was about it. I got in the car and strangely enough there was a small hint of relief, like I did it, not well, but I did it. Along the way home of course I was on auto-pilot while driving, which made me run a stop sign...thank god no cops were around and also that I didn't kill anyone. It took me a few minutes to realize that there was really only one thing to do...take it again. Time was on my side, that score (900, there I said it) is not indicative of what I can do and all of that effort I put in to it. Especially with a verbal score of 500, that's absurdly low for me...I don't care so much about the math part, I mean seriously I don't think relearning 4 years worth of high school math is an indicator of success in International Development. So anyway, I got home, less beat up than when I had left the test center and with a sense of slight renewal registered for the test again...and painfully paid another $160. It made me feel better to just kind of put this behind me, realize that it was absurd and that I have another shot at it. Of course I could always do worse, but seriously, is that really going to happen? At least I know I'll be totally fine with the ID thing, I know how to get to the test center, I know what's like and everything else. As long as I get up into the 1000s I'll feel confident that I have a fair shot at GW, even with a 900 I think I'd still get into George Mason, but I'm not ready to give up on GW. My friend's fiance got into GW with a GRE score in the 1000s, about 200 points below their average, we both have Peace Corps in common so I'd have the same shot as he did. Ha, get this, when registering for the test again I entered my middle name, but it wasn't there on the registration confirmation, I probably did enter it all that time ago, just forgot and or didn't pay attention that it was clearly not necessary. Unbelievable. Of course I did a lot of Internet searches for bloggers and posters who have shared the agony of really low GRE scores and their fates. Some said they got in to this school and that school, it's not that big of a deal, yada yada, it depends on what you're applying for and all that. It made me feel a little better. Since then I've been plowing through the application process and rather enjoying it, it's like I'm doing something productive.

The only other glitch I had thus far was securing a 3rd letter of recommendation for the GW application. One professor that I had counted on is now partially retired and limited herself to the number of recs she would do, I got to her too late and she told me she didn't have time. It was like a slap in the face, I took 3 International studies classes with her and she wrote me a letter of recommendation for Peace Corps. I didn't know what to do. I was lucky my other prof with whom I took my senior capstone course said yes, but I didn't know who else to ask. All of my other classes and professors were just OK, plus I didn't like 2 of them. When I thought of one I emailed him, but he never replied. Then I had no choice but to think back to my community college days, we're talking 6 and 7 years ago. So of course this is like eating away at me, I didn't understand, this was supposed to be one of the easy parts. I hate waiting on people to do these major things for me. To not have a required part of the application is a show stopper. I can't deal with that at all. I emailed a CC professor with whom I took 3 classes, got an A in all 3, told him what was up, wondered if he even remembered me, I was quiet in his classes. Two days later he still didn't respond, I know that that's not a lot of time, especially at this time of year, but I can't stand waiting for this kind of thing because it just hangs over me until I get it resolved. So towards the end of the 2nd day I just resent the email. I had a response the next morning. "I'd be happy to do it." PHEW. That's all I needed, that was the Wednesday before the 4-day Thanksgiving weekend. I did not want to simmer without a resolution to this all weekend. Didn't have to, instead I'm basking in the satisfaction that yet another part of this process is underway and getting done. I really just have to get all of the required info to my recommenders and write my Statement of Purpose, which is no small task, but I'm ready to dive into that, and then that's it. Well, in 3 weeks I'll take the GRE...again. So that brings us all up to, see what happens when I don't post for so long. This is so going to be a book one day...god knows I've already written enough to fill one. Aside from the inspiration garnered from Stuart Adamson's demand that I pick my head off the floor come up screaming right after everything I ever might have wanted, I ended up with an oddly fitting fortune from a fortune cookie..."Don't confuse a single defeat with the final defeat." The little slip of paper now hangs on my door next to my check list for the grad school applications.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Oh How the Tables Have Turned

Never for a single day during my job search did I ever suspect that it would even be remotely possible to end up in a position where I would have to TURN DOWN a job because I have more than one offer. Mind boggling it is indeed. Me, hittin' the big time with 2 job offers, who would have thought? I can see my name in lights already....Ok, well it's not really the big time or the brass ring I've been waiting for, but neither job involved me being a cashier at a food store or cleaning out animal cages or typing numbers in a cubicle all day feeling like one of those plastic bird office toys that bobs up and down after being touched until it has no more force left to over come gravity and falls to rest at inertia.

Both employment opportunities hit within an 8 day period. You see that in itself is beguiling because I have been at the job search for over 8 months and it has been over 8 months of NOTHING peppered with disappointment and that's it. So to have a whole bunch of interviews and 2 offers inside of 8 days including the weekend is maddening. They're not my dream jobs or anything, but either would be fine until the next stage of my life. In my last post I casually mentioned the heinous idea that I would soon be desperate enough to end up at Wal-Mart...heinous. It reached it's peak last Sunday with my dad's "you really need to do it" speech. But then was rescued by the agency recruiter and United Blood Services on Tuesday. Now despite getting the interview with UBS on Monday (day 1) through the agency I still went to the child care center to hand in a resume the same day because I saw online they had an opening...must follow every lead. So the director there scheduled a quick phone interview for Tuesday (day 2) which I agreed to and later on that day I went to the blood bank and got that job on the spot. When I walked out of there and told my parents they recoiled in dismay at the fact this would require a half hour commute and due to my own lack of an automobile they'd have to drive me at first until I could get comfortable with the commute. Of course I felt bad, worse even than when I didn't have a job...I mean I thought that those were the words we've all been waiting for "I have a job." The hours were from 4:30-9pm so my mother was more or less terrified for me because I'd have to drive home at night. Just as a side note, I survived by myself in Moscow for a semester during college and then 2 years in Ukraine..also all by myself. My parents were more worried and agitated by the fact that I now have a job than before when I was going on 9 months without what the F? So in response to this and also just my own inability to stop interviewing even with a newly acquired job, I kept up the process with the child care center. We were all in agreement that I would go ahead with the already scheduled formal interview for the next day, Wednesday (day 3) because the blood bank job didn't start until the following Monday. So I went for the interview, it lasted about an hour and a half, I liked the director, very sincere and engaging. She and I scheduled a 3 hour working interview for the next day, Thursday (day 4). So I go into the child care center on Thursday and just jumped right in, learned the kids names real quick, played with them out on the playground, helped the teachers and all that jazz. It was as natural and comfortable as could be, I did that exact thing for 2 years already after all. So after all of that the director wasn't around so I was told by her assistant that she'd get back to me by early next week, which would make things a little hairy being that I'd be at the blood bank. But the devious thing about it was that I knew I'd still be able to interview during the day with the center because my hours were in the evening with the blood bank. So of course my father had hoped I'd know right then and there so that I wouldn't have to go through with the blood bank thing where he'd be inconvenienced by driving me there. Well, I had to go and get a drug test for the blood bank before Friday so he and I went and did that after the working interview. Now, I get home figuring I can just relax the rest of the day, but the executive director of the whole child care center operation (they're a sister team who run 3 locations) calls a few hours later and decides to schedule the 4th and final interview for the next day, Friday (day 5). Ok, I was a little tired of it, but I went for it. Now it's here that I should step out of just listing the logistics of this process and mention that the directors are looking for someone who wants to be a teacher, someone who can commit, who wants to learn the ropes and do professional development stuff in order to move into a full time teaching position at some point. I love kids and I have fun in that type of setting, I loved my job at my old center in NJ, but not enough to make a life out of it, I'm on a different path. Throughout this process I started to feel guilty that I wouldn't be able to commit long term, that I'd be out of there to start grad school next year. I wasn't comfortable allowing them to think that I wanted to become a teacher and would make the most out of the opportunity and investment they'd make in me. Plus I knew there was one more candidate who had made it that far, because I had a job secured I couldn't justify taking that opportunity away from someone who would be far more committed, not that I knew that for sure, but it was probably so. But I still kept at it, had to see how this would play out. I did want the job and I'm fine with professional development, but I just felt off about putting in effort for something that I know I'd be done with in a short time while they thought I was moving forward with it. Didn't feel right at all. But I still couldn't stop myself, I felt fine about the blood bank, was curious to see if I could handle the call center thing and it was easier to digest because it's a great cause and would be nice to put on the resume. But my parents were so distressed over it for some reason, I felt compelled and like I said I did want it.

Friday (day 5) morning, my parents take me to meet the executive director at their 3rd location at 9:30am. They drop me off, I go in and announce my arrival. It's a beautiful center. I was told to have a seat, I finally catch a glimpse of her but of course, like any child care professional she's running around handling 20 things at once. So I have to wait. I almost make it into her office when a parent comes in wanting to take a tour of the place to consider placing her child there. That parent of course takes priority. She tells me I'd have to wait at least another half hour and I could reschedule. I call my parents who jetted off somewhere and my dad said just wait, it's not a big deal. True enough I suppose. So I wait. After the slight umbrage that I felt evaporated I focused on the fact that it is a lovely place and I chatted with the girl who held the position I was going for at the other center. I observed the goings on of the place, babies happily cooing in the play area and then screeching in fury at having to be placed back in their classroom. Pre-school kids carrying out missions dictated by their teachers who could not leave the classroom. One mission of particular importance was for two girls of about 4 to come out to the kitchen area to retrieve 3 plastic forks, 1 knife, and a paper plate. I appreciated the heir of confidence they exuded while on task outside of their classroom in an area usually occupied by adults. Once all of the specified items were collected that confidence however plummeted when scolded by another teacher for breaking a golden rule.."no running in school," and made to return to the kitchen area to use their "walking feet" all the way back to their class, and being further chided as that teacher called to them upon turning a corner, "I can hear your foot steps so don't try running!" Her smile expressed a devotion to and understanding of small children.

The executive director finally wrapped up the tour and I was willing her to get on with it so I can do this already. She told me she thought I'd reschedule...nope. You don't leave once you're there, so close to an interview. We sat down in her office and began. We clicked, simply clicked. She's great, quite a pip actually, a real character. You have to be to run 3 child care centers. It was probably the most fun interview I've ever been on..yes, it was the most fun. But she asked me how long I could see myself with her and that was probably where I fell apart because I couldn't answer that. I said I couldn't give her a number of years or a "forever." I did stress that I wasn't sure and that pursuing a Master's degree is down the road. And the pang of guilt hit because there I was knowing full well that I wasn't going to become a teacher and go to grad school a year from now kind of letting on that I could commit at least for a while and that I'd take full advantage of the resources they'd afford me. But despite that we had fun, I wanted to like hang out with her after that. I figured that since the other candidate had been interviewed already that she'd be able to tell me right then and there. But she didn't. She said that I'd hear maybe later that day or Monday morning, and that if I didn't I can call up to see what's going on. If you're going to offer someone a job you don't tell them to call YOU. So I thought she sensed from me that I couldn't stick around too long. She even said, "you have a degree, you've been around the world, don't you have bigger fish to fry?" I said something like I'm in a place where I need to figure that out...I do have things to figure out, but I did know that won't be a teacher, but I need a job and I would do very well for them while I was there because I do care about education and kids deeply, which she clearly also sensed.

After the interview I really had to consider what would happen if I were offered the job. I said yes to the blood bank job and was set to start the following Monday. So I was conflicted, big time. Plus I couldn't get over the fact that after so long I never thought I'd even have one job let alone two to choose from at the same time. So after the interview my parents and I went out to celebrate "the end of interviewing" which was appreciated considering the somewhat unnerving reaction I got upon actually securing employment at the blood bank. But when we got home early afternoon I was dreading the phone call because I was unsure. I started to really feel that I should turn it down and that it was the correct and honest decision. I felt good about the blood bank and wanted to try it. I just wanted to get to the evening when I knew she wouldn't call either way. Then I could totally relax over the weekend secure in my decision and the thought of going to work on Monday. Well at about 6:30 I finally decided to relax, no call. I figured that I didn't get the job, which would have been fine, that would mean I wouldn't have to say no to anyone and no harm done. Monday (day 7) morning rapidly approached and all I would have to do is get to 3:30pm when I could leave for work and wouldn't have to be around for the phone to ring and by the time I'd get home if there was no message I'd be home free. By 1pm I thought it definite that I didn't get the job and started to relax. But it happened...2 o'clock, the phone rang, my heart skipped several beats and I'm certain that it actually stopped for a few seconds. There it was on the caller ID, the name of the school. For that moment of time in between the realization of the identity of the caller and actually answering I clung to the hope that it could just be a "thanks but no thanks" call. My heart started to beat again only to sink after I heard "I'd like to offer you the position." Well, I'm glad though that I handled it like a mature adult and stayed secure in my decision and expressed all of my reservations. She was really very nice about it and appreciated my honesty. I was glad and relieved. I considered the matter closed, despite feeling bad and a little strange because I never had to do that before. But I began to get ready for my first day of training at the blood bank and was grateful to have something to do...that would result in a paycheck.

It was ok, it was 4 hours of HR gobbledygook, safety policies, dress code, attendance policies..which by the way are more strict for temps. If you're more than 3 minutes late 3 times you're done. So being 4 minutes late 3 times over any period of time would result in me loosing my job. We talked about blood itself, which was mildly interesting, we signed papers and figured out that every call we make and every word we say would be monitored and critiqued..I thought eh, whatever, I'd have to make it work for a while. It seemed a decent enough environment, despite the strict policies, the people were laid back and nice enough. They also cared about what they were doing. So I was getting comfortable with it, even read the "Blood Basics" packet in the red employee folder I was given. My parents were even coming around and realizing that I made the right decision and started to finally just be happy that I'm employed.

Well, all of that changed Tuesday (day 8) morning. The executive director that I met with for the 4th interview called me to express her disappointment. She told me she already spoke to her sister about what happened so she wanted just some more feedback from me. I briefly reiterated what I told her sister the day before. What she said next is what actually changed everything for me. She said, "Well, I'm calling to refuse your declination." I was like..WHAT?!?! She assured me that she had such a good feeling about me and that I could do good things there...that I was right for the job and the center. Wow...the second thing I never imagined was that an employer would "refuse my declination" and put in more effort at getting me to accept the job, figured the other candidate would have gotten it right after I said no. But she said that she wants me, but she does have another candidate calling and calling, plus 9 other resumes to consider. Well, I told her everything all over again, that I just couldn't really give the long term commitment that they're looking on and so forth. In the end, she said if you can commit to the school year than it's still yours if you want it. I gladly accepted. I can give the school year and as long as she knows where I stand personally I don't have to feel guilty or bad about coming and then leaving after a year. I was so happy for obvious reasons, regular hours, more hours so more money, 15 minutes from home, not a temp job, and it's something that I know and am comfortable with, I can get out of bed in the morning and not dread going to work, don't have to worry about phone "goals" aka quotas. Best of all, it doesn't involve me being a cashier at Wal-Mart. Man that's awesome. Needless to say my parents were even happier than I was. Amidst the euphoria I had to call my agency recruiter to tell her I'm quitting. I wasn't that worried about it, this happens to people all of the time. She was like "You have got to be kidding me...Ok, thanks for letting me know, bye." A bit short and rude I thought. She had my resume, she knows what kind of industries I'm into, and the call center isn't one of them. Does she really expect people like us to stick with something that's not ideal just because she would loose out on commission? That would be crazy and no one does that. I took an offer that I couldn't refuse for many reasons. I'd be crazy not to. As my dad says, "no one looks out for you better than YOU." An employment recruiter might sincerely care about getting you a job, but they're not going to jump for joy because you found something better on your own and they'll let you know it, which just shows what you're really dealing with. Oh skin off my nose, I got over it in about 3 seconds because I just got a real job that's secure where I'll be valued and appreciated in a much greater capacity than the other one could have afforded. So went in today to sign all of the paper work and get my welcome binder with my calendars, Spanish and Sign language materials, and all kinds information. The director was happy to see me and reaffirmed that I was the best candidate for the position, so we carried on and I'm ready to start tomorrow.

I'm just amazed at how this whole thing actually played out. The other thing is that I don't have any formal teaching education whatsoever. I have 2 years experience and I was an English teacher for the Peace Corps for another 2 years, but I don't have a degree in education. One of their biggest selling points is that ALL staff members have either a Bachelor's or Master's degree in early childhood education or are in the middle of one. I have nothing of the sort, an International Studies degree doesn't exactly relate, yet they chose me still out of 10 others, some of whom I'm sure have more education and devotion than me. It's very flattering and when an executive director of anything has that good a feeling about you despite not having the basic education part of the requirement, that's just not something you turn down. This isn't some random company that sells crap and doesn't care if I'll be there 10 minutes or 10 years. I made a real connection with the people there and I like and respect them often can anyone these days say that? Probably not too often. No more applications, no more resumes, no more cover letters, no more job search sites, no more agencies, no more wondering what the hell is wrong with me because 7,000 applications in and I still don't have a job. I'm officially set until Grad school. PHEW.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

No longer a job seeker

It's been so very long indeed since the last post. Well, the reason for my absence is that I did not get the study abroad job that I had been dreaming about. After I received an automated reject email I just about lost it. I couldn't get over it, I sat in front of the screen whimpering, "how could this could this be?" The email came in Friday evening and I had to sit with that all weekend. Why didn't I just put it to rest? Well, I felt quite strongly that I deserved an explanation, I interviewed for over 3 hours and THEY recommended me for the position. I perhaps pathetically clung onto the possibility that it was a mistake because there was some sloppiness with the automated system before and that this could just be a big egregious error on their part. But I still had to trudge through the weekend in a most miserable fashion until Monday morning, which I found highly disagreeable. But I finally made the call and basically heard what I figured I would, "we just found a candidate that was this that and the other"...yada yada. I was like ok, thanks for nothing and it's your loss. I didn't actually say that though. For the next few days I didn't have it in me to do much of anything except look into Grad school. I discovered a great program not far from me and I'm going to do it because it's my only ticket out of this mess. Once I had made the decision to go for it I at least felt better that I had something to work for, a reason to get out of bed in the morning. I have to study for the GRE, go visit the school, and get that application done. Plus Academia is my comfort zone and it's just not the same monster as apply for jobs. So I've been stoked about it.

But of course, just studying for the GRE isn't exactly a job so I had to get myself back into the job search routine, ya know, resumes, cover letters, dumb redundant online applications, and then waiting for the phone call or email to come, but the only thing that ever resembles communication is just some automated reject email. So I had expanded my horizons and basically just became less picky and went for anything that didn't involve me being a cashier at a food store, not that I'm knocking that, it's an important job and I give cashiers credit, but quite honestly, that's my personal Hell on earth. So about 2 weeks ago I applied for a data entry position with a life insurance company, the next day I got a rather odd email. The first line of which was "thank you for your interest in" I thought it to be just a regular old reject but kept reading and at the bottom was "you have been scheduled for an interview." I was a little leery of it though because it didn't even have my name in it and you can't be do careful these days. I thought maybe it could be some scam or something. But I think I have the wherewithal to not give my bank account info to some salesman. SO I went and the office was in a professional building of sorts and I had to ring a doorbell to be let into the office. The guy who answers just says have a seat, then he comes back and leads to me to where the other candidates are filling out papers already. He didn't even introduce himself or ask my name. He could have been the receptionist for all I knew. So there were 4 others, we had to fill out a work history form, which was redundant, why did I bother submitting a resume? While we're filling out the paperwork he gives us this impassioned fervid speech about how his company is different because they care about everyone, even their applicants. That they want every applicant to have a fair chance because they're not one of those companies to hire people based only on connections but on merit and skill. So, sure I liked that, and I thought he did a good job. We take a series of "problem solving skills" tests, ya know basic math problems that an 8 year old should be able to do and some English felt like an elementary school entrance exam. But I guess they need some way of setting people apart I mean seriously data-entry isn't rocket science, I did it during college breaks, even then I thought they could just train a chimp to do this. So then we just waited for our one-on-one interview. Instead of letting us go out into the waiting room he made us stay in the uncomfortable little testing room. So I finally get into the guys office and he does a complete 180 and turns into the corporate robot with his few pre-set questions that he asks everyone, nothing about my background whatsoever, not even sure if he glanced at my resume. But before we even got started he said, "I don't know if it was you but someone's parents came up here wanting to sit in the waiting room for the person they dropped off, I had to say no because I'm expecting a crowd and we just don't have the space to allow others to sit there." He knew damn well they were my parents because the only one left to interview was an old guy. So to start the interview I was apologizing for something I didn't do or had any control over. Now, trust me, I know it's not the best thing to bring parents, I had no choice, I don't have a car and can't get one until I get a job, they dropped me off and I thought they'd go somewhere else, but they came up and had to ring the doorbell where this ass told them to go somewhere else because he was expecting a crowd, there wasn't a single soul in that waiting room and I know that doorbell only rung a few times while I was there. Then after he makes me aware of that he just jumps into the first question, barely makes eye contact with me and just starts writing, 15 seconds in he said "I have to stop you right there because you're not answering the question." Wow, he barely knew my name and gives me no chance to answer the question the way I saw fit. Then he so graciously let me continue...good start, real good. I get through the next few and his last one is "if you could do anything in the world, what would it be?" and he emphasized the word anything. Well, I was honest and my answer had nothing to do with data-entry or life insurance and said I'd like to do something on an international level in which I could contribute to some cause or goal that's important to me." I was a Peace Corps volunteer for jeeper's sake, if he had glanced at the first page of my resume he would have seen that. He decided to give me an analogy to be sure he understood, he likened my answer to curing cancer and giving that cure away for free, but then went on and on explaining how it wouldn't actually be free because of all the people and processes that it would take to make that happen. It was basically a condescending diatribe of nonsense denouncing something that I didn't even say, time that he could have used to get to know me a little better. He didn't let me get a word in edge wise yet he cut me off when I tried to answer one of his mindless questions. That's when I knew things were not going to work out. So at the end, he told me it would take 5-7 days to make a decision because it also depended on the test scores. He couldn't wait to get me out of there, he bolted to the door to let me out, gives a weak handshake, doesn't make eye contact, and clearly already made a decision. Well, I barely knew what to make of that, it was bizarre really. When I reunited with my parents I was basically speechless, I needed time to formulate how to describe what just happened. They didn't seem particularly upset about being sent away by that jackass but I was angry about it, basically I just felt disrespected all around. But I was quite confident that I had done very well on those tests so there was still a chance I'd get it and he was a recruiter so I wouldn't have to work with him. Even so though, I would have taken it because I need a paycheck and it was normal business hours and pretty decent pay, plus it's only until grad school. Here's the icing on the cake and the most hilarious bit, I got a reject letter in the mail the next day. A letter, not an email, the next day! That means he immediately after printed a reject letter, and managed to get in the mail in time. I highly doubt that he graded my tests, what a bunch of BS. I wasn't surprised or disappointed.

So after that I seemed to have no other prospects, I was sending out resumes still and even decided to apply to PetSmart as a Pet Care Associate. I do not want to work in retail of any sort so that just goes to show my level of desperation. My mother a few months ago got a job as a cashier at Wal-Mart and my parents had been hinting that I get a job there because my mother was on the inside and she could "get me in." Like I said in the first paragraph, that would be my nightmare come true for a whole host of obvious reasons. But it was this past weekend that my dad started pushing it big time, declaring that I have to at least try and I have to do this and that and it would be for the best, don't loose out on the opportunity...yada yada. With every word that he said pertaining to me working at Wal-Mart my stomach just knotted up even tighter. I can't stand it, I don't want to hear it or talk about it. I know it sounds spoiled and rotten, but that's just the one thing I can't do, I worked in a grocery store years ago, and don't ever want to do it again. I hated every last second of it. After his speech I crashed on my bed and just laid there in agony at the thought of me getting up in the morning and going to Wal-Mart with my mother and a bunch of people she complains about all of the time. Then my dad comes back out from the bedroom and tells me to do the application tonight, imagine that, I'm 27 years old and he's telling where to apply for jobs like he has the final say, I know he was well-intentioned, but yikes, can't deal with it. All I could do was let out a whimper of a "no...I...I'll look into other stores, I can't do that" So I came out of my room and sat and did the PetSmart application so he could see me doing it to placate him for a while. It was like 3,000 survey questions ranging from desired hours to "do you consider yourself a reckless person who mostly does things without thinking?" Of course I answered yes to that... :~P I thought that at least this is a big bright store with cute animals in it. Oh and my mother doesn't work at regular wal-mart, it's just little grungy wal-mart grocery store.

This past Monday, 2 days ago is when it all changed and is the reason for the title of this post. My recruiter from the employment agency sent me a description of a job, United Blood Services is looking for 8 new people to join their call center, to get people in the database to come and donate again, which is a far more nobler mission than selling credit cards or vacuum cleaners. I thought fine, hours aren't too bad, pay is also not too bad. But was dismayed when I saw the "call center/customer experience required" sentence. But I decided to tell the recruiter that I do have relevant and applicable skills, just packaged differently and I'd still like a chance at it. Not even sure why she sent that to me, I don't have anything like that on my resume, but she did anyway. So we talked on the phone about it and said that she'd be happy to set me up with an interview. That personal touch just really helps...imagine if I didn't try, it would have been another lost opportunity. So I go for the interview and it was actually pleasant, mostly because it resulted in a job, but the interviewer and I got along very well, she was so real and down-to-earth, I felt like I was talking to a human being rather than a company robot. After about an hour she said the most shocking thing I've heard in a long time..."I'm going to let the agency know...nah, you know what I'm just giving you the job now, yes!" And she actually wrote the word yes on the paper...I was like "Wow...what?" There are 8 spots, but I know that 10 people interviewed on the day I went alone. In any event, I got one of those spots, and I don't know how often someone from an agency gets an offer on the spot, it was pretty cool to just click with someone and have them see you're a right fit and also just tell it like it is, immediately. It hasn't sunk in yet that I don't have to do any more searching, no more resumes, no more cover letters..not for a long time anyway. Here's the thing though...I'm also still interviewing for a child care center that's much closer to me and more hours, I have to see how it pans out, tomorrow is the final interview, a working interview where I'll be with kids and teachers for 3 hours to see how I do, I have a lot of experience with kids so I know it'll be fine. I don't know if I'll know tomorrow right after where I stand but I can't even fathom having two job offers at basically the same time...after 8 months of none and god only knows how many applications. These are far from my dream job but they don't involve me being a cashier in a grocery store or Wal-Mart.

Monday, July 12, 2010

More of the same

Well still no word, after the high from that great 2nd interview wore off I started to question whether or not I came off as well as I initially thought. I mean there's nothing in particular that I regret or feel negatively about, I guess aside from maybe rambling for a few extra seconds on the "how would you handle this?" questions and the one or two inane ones. But then I started to wonder if "you're most interesting to us and a lot people like you here" are things the manager might say to a lot of people, who knows? What if they weren't as dazzled by me as the first time? What if they choose someone who has more specific experience than I do? What if they don't want to take a chance on me? So today I tried a new tactic, convincing myself that I didn't get the job, that someone else has already been hired and sitting at my...I mean, their desk working hard. Perhaps I'd get a little relief from trying to will the phone to ring or from compulsively checking my email every hour because it sucks. On Friday I asked one of my references if he had been contacted yet and he said no. What are they waiting for? I know, I know that they have other priorities, but I've started to not give a rat's ass about their other priorities, I shouldn't be kept in the dark after a 2nd interview for a position that I was recommended for. The first position that I had initially interviewed for is finally no longer listed on the website, disappeared Friday night sometime. My status is still "not selected" and although I suppose there's a chance that the listing it's self expired and will pop back up any day or they're just scraping it altogether, I can't imagine still having a shot at it, it's just been too long. But that's ok because I'd much prefer the 2nd position. They actually recommended me for this, is there really a chance that I won't get this job? Plus one of them asked me if I have references, why would he ask me that if there was no chance or wasn't really interested? But what makes me nervous is the fact that I inquired a week and a half after the 1st interview about my status and that's when I got that dreaded email "We did fill the position." So it was no longer than a week and a half that someone was chosen for it, but then of course at the 2nd interview I was told that there was still a second position for that same job was still open. This Wednesday will be a week and a half, of course I have no clue as to how much longer the process will go on, I have no clue about any of it obviously or else I wouldn't be ranting and rambling away. I try to stay optimistic and then I catch myself feeling happy when I think about working there, but then I always have bring myself back to reality before I get too far gone.