T: Amazing Husband ST: Three-year-old Wonder Prof. G: Advisor I Prof. C: Advisor II Julie: Stylish Sister Rob: Awesome Brother Belle: Our Cat Bill: Grumbling BIL Rita: Uncomplicated SIL SMU: Smallish Midwestern University Doctoral University: where I got my Ph.D.
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Sunday, September 04, 2005
I returned this afternoon from our National Conference, and with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I had a chance to explore a city I'd never been to before (and indeed a region of the country I'd never seen) and had the opportunity to interview with some great schools. On the other hand, I realized how little much of the work in my discipline means to me, and how one bad interview can make you stew for days and overlook your good experiences.
I only agreed to do three interviews (the fourth school ended up not sending a representative to the conference), and honestly, that was plenty. Here's brief recap:
1.) Small Urban College: I wasn't nervous at all, which surprised me. The interviewer and I had a lot in common, and it was pretty clear from the start that he liked me and liked my work. I think I wasn't nervous chiefly because I KNEW that I could fill the position they posted. I was very confident, spoke well about my research, and genuinely liked chatting with the interviewer. He told me what it was like to live in the Small Urban College Town, what house prices were like (yikes), what the prospects were for employment for my husband, tenure requirements -- all the typical stuff. Conference interviews are usually capped at 30 minutes/candidate, and this one went 40 minutes. I felt good.
2.) Small Dream College: it became clear from the moment the interview began that this school was precisely the kind of place I wanted to end up at, that perfect blend of teaching and research on a beautiful campus with hordes of eager undergrads. The interview was fun and relaxing, and toward the end I felt like the interviewer was "coaching" me on what I should say in my cover letter. "You have some really distinctive ideas here," he told me, "and I'm anxious to share them with my colleagues." That was a good sign. Everything that happened in this interview was good and solid. When I came home, I told T that if Small Dream College made me an offer, I would accept without hesitation. He agreed.
3.) Large Superstar University: this interview followed Small Dream College, so I was coming out of a situation where I felt very comfortable and entered into a situation where I was perhaps the most UNcomfortable I've ever been in my life. Three interviewers, all stern, no small talk, no talk about teaching AT ALL... just one question after another about my variables, my methods, my dissertation progress, etc. It was so sterile. The interviewers wore their poker faces the entire time, and hardly seemed to react to anything I said. I was so incredibly uncomfortable and nervous that I wanted to throw up. I am NOT a formal person by any stretch of the imagination, and so I did not show my best face at this interview. I think I answered their questions all right, but I still felt so insecure and stupid afterwards, thinking of a million BETTER things I could have said. All of my rehearsals of what I would say about my research were forgotten in an instant, replaced by some stammering, hesitant statements I would never put down on paper. Ugh.
I have to remember that these interviews are VERY preliminary. They might not mean anything in the grand scheme of things. I'm glad I did them, and I look forward to sending my applications out in the next few weeks. It's just very strange to finally BE at this point, to finally be able to say that I work on THESE specific issues, to say that I could comfortably teach THESE types of courses. And it's so, so hard not to think about Small Dream College, to surf its website and learn more about the city it's in; it's equally as hard, however, not to think about Large Superstar University, and wonder if I really sounded as blathering to them as I did to myself.