Monday, February 13, 2012

Notes on A Postacademic Weekend

Does this title of this post make it sound like I'm about to tell you about some wild-and-crazy weekend where I traveled widely, ate exotic food, and had a night full of drinks and laughter with a bunch of friends?

Ha ... not so much. :)

On Thursday, I was on day two or three of an impending sinus infection. I was sneezy, sniffly, overtired, and had a sinus headache brewing.

Around 3 pm, I got a call from a human resources person at a company I applied to a few weeks ago (surprisingly enough, from the first resume I sent out. How unlikely is that?). HR person asked me to call them back. I had a meeting all afternoon, so couldn't call hir back until Friday morning.

We played phone tag all day Friday, but never managed to actually get on the phone with each other. When I called HR person back after I left work on Friday and got their voicemail, I sort of started to worry. "What if I blew my chance by not being available this week? They must have other good candidates who already interviewed." Then I started to overthink. "I don't even know what this job will really entail. How do I know whether I want it?"

Can you see how academia has infected my thinking on this? I'm expecting immediate rejection because I was not immediately available for a phone interview (forgetting that people in the real world also work 9-5 jobs where it's difficult to do impromptu phone interviews on a moment's notice). And then I started worrying about whether I'd like the job (forgetting that, unlike in academia, no one would expect me to take a job offer if I didn't want it ... so there is no harm in doing an interview).

Anyway, in my voicemail I suggested a specific time Monday (today) at which time HR person could call and be sure to reach me on my lunch break. By Friday evening, though, I was clearly sick. I was achy, running a fever, and coughing and sneezing like crazy.

Saturday and Sunday were a waste. I laid on my couch in the dark (trying to relieve my headache), napped, and watched TV. I tried to do some research on the company and jot down some questions to ask HR person, but I just couldn't concentrate or think of anything coherent. I felt so bad that I finally just gave up. "Fine. I'm going to blow it for sure on Monday, but oh well."

The fever/headache/sinus pressure finally broke late last night. But I was exhausted. And couldn't imagine working a full day today while breaking midday to interview for a new job.

But guess what? I have a job that offers sick/personal days. And I haven't used any yet this year. And I had been sick. And still wasn't feeling great this morning.

So I called in sick today. And went back to bed and got two more much-needed hours of sleep. And then woke up, took a shower, and spent an hour thinking about questions to ask the HR person, and reviewed their company website and the materials I'd sent in with my application.

The HR person called right on schedule, and was super-nice. Zie was not the least bit concerned that it had taken a few days for us to set something up. Zie explained the job, asked me reasonable questions about myself and my qualifications, and gave me a clear picture of the type of work environment, hours, and salary I could expect. We had a nice chat, and zie told me that they'd pass my info along to the hiring manager to see if they wanted to bring me out for an interview.

Now, who knows if they actually will call. It seemed like it went well, but  ... who really knows. But still. This interview took one hour of prep time and a half hour of phone time, and it was over. And then? Since I was finally feeling better and my partner also had today off? We went and had lunch and ran errands for the rest of the afternoon. Now, I'm relaxing on the couch while he cooks dinner. I've got absolutely nothing else I have to get done today, and everything I had on my agenda Friday afternoon is finished ... even though I lost the whole weekend to illness.

And tomorrow, I'll be back at work. Back to my normal work hours, and my normal un-sick life. And I'll send out some more resumes, and maybe eventually I'll have another normal, friendly, reasonable job interview. And eventually I'll get a new job.

But for now? It's awesome that my life is normal, even though I'm looking for jobs again. This is so different from an academic job search. I had a normal (if boring) weekend. Not a crazed, guilt-ridden, overstressed academic work weekend where I feel like it was a moral failing that I got sick.

And this job search is normal. It's not an academic job search. In other words, I won't be facing a full week of panicked job interview prep*, or hours upon hours of revising teaching statements and research statements and three-page-long cover letters, all for a bunch of jobs I won't get. Nor will my future interviews be 24-48 hour orgies of ass-kissing and being constantly "on" while having endless meetings and multiple meals with socially awkward strangers. Never again.

And once I'm done interviewing or getting a resume sent out or accepting a job offer? I'll go have a meal with a friend, or just relax on my couch. Like a normal nonacademic person, who leaves work at the office and has free time to hang out with their partner or to nurse themselves without guilt if they're not feeling well.

I vastly prefer this real world, where interviews are not expected to absorb your entire life and where people think it's okay that you have an outside life, so that it might take more than 2.5 seconds to set up a phone interview. It is a far, far better fit for me.

* I wrote a few months back about how the prospect of interviewing for academic jobs left me so nervous and panic-stricken that I couldn't think, eat, or even settle down enough to prepare. Today - despite this being my first nonacademic interview and despite the waste of a weekend I just had? I wasn't the slightest bit nervous or panicked when preparing, or even when my phone rang. I'm telling you ... I just wasn't "meant for" the academic world. It didn't "fit me."

1 comment:

  1. Ah! Sounds SOO much better than an aca interview. Fingers crossed for you.