Post-by-numbers

1. It’s been a few days since I’ve posted anything, or written, so rather than expecting something brilliant, I’m at least putting my fingers on the keyboard, and offering what I think I’ve seen called a “post by numbers,” but I think I might be making that up.

2. My life is very busy right now, with both kids working on therapy of one sort or another (PT for the infant, speech for her sister) and my own work with my career coach, not to mention two part-time jobs.

3. It’s been a few days since I’ve exercised. Probably since last Thursday. (See #2 about being busy). The rain we’ve been having since Sunday hasn’t really helped with that. In desperation, I took the baby out for a stroller walk when Accuweather said “rain will end in 7 minutes,” and we were lucky for the first 18 minutes, when it started to sprinkle again (despite Accuweather’s claim it would hold off).

4. I submitted something entirely non-academic to be published somewhere both non-academic, and relatively prominent. I haven’t heard back. I’ve never done this before.

5. I had a stomach virus for much of the previous week, or maybe it was just psychosomatic. It made me lie down on the couch for several evenings in a row after the kids were in bed. My husband thought it was psychosomatic. After all, I was bringing up all sorts of childhood hopes and dreams as part of working on a “mission statement” with my coach, and Professor Spouse knows well how my stomach can sometimes act up from emotional activity.  However, this week our baby seems to have a stomach virus as well, so now my guess is that my own ailment was actually an ailment, and not just a creation of my mind. This has me somewhat relieved.

6. I had two phone interviews recently. Neither one sounded very exciting once I was on the phone and talking to some of the people involved in the hiring. For this reason, it has actually been a relief that I didn’t receive a call-back for either one. As we talked, I could feel my excitement draining away, and couldn’t quite keep up the pretense of being more excited. (It didn’t help that the Early Intervention people — 5 of them! — were in my living room, seeing if my baby qualifies for the program due to her prematurity. Professor Spouse was with them, of course, but instead of having a longer time to psych myself up, prep, get ready, etc. for the one phone interview, I dashed upstairs just a few minutes beforehand and really wasn’t as well-focused as I would have been otherwise.) The only reason I might feel a bit sad at these interviews not progressing is that means I’m still working at night. I’d been hoping I might have a different job by the end of the semester, so that I don’t have to do the 2AM finals shifts again, but that’s looking less and less likely.

7. I am giving a workshop in a week and a half about alt-ac job searching to a group of graduate students and recent grads, many of whom were my peers and cohorts at a conference a few years ago, when I was one of the ones further along in my program (and therefore seemed to have my act together). I’m a little nervous about appearing in public as an alt-ac, much less one who offers advice, especially when I’m still searching for the right post-ac “fit.” I know, it’s ok to say I’m still in transition, but it sure would be easier if I could say, “I have this awesome job now, and here’s how you can too!”

8. I’ll end this on a happier note. Fall has finally been in full swing here. The maples are turning. I love maples. I love how light filters through their leaves. Maybe they become more transparent as they change color.  We’re baking pumpkin bread, going apple-picking, and we’ve had a couple of fires in our fireplace (a benefit of an older home). I can wear boots and scarves again, and that is always fun!

9. With luck, I will come up with a more unified post in the near future, but for now, I hope you all are doing well.

Interviews and learning something new

This week has been a case in point for the old phrase, “you learn something new every day.” I did go on the interview — I wasn’t seriously considering not going — and it was indeed a learning experience. I learned that I felt much more confident going into a job interview because of my recent experience talking about what I do, or might want to do, in informational interviews. I learned that a job in production actually means producing thins in quantity … which should have been obvious, but it’s not part of my background. I’ve operated in my head enough that it’s not immediately clear to me that “have you ever had a job in production” is essentially asking me if I’ve ever done relatively boring, repetitive tasks in order to produce a quantity of results.

Because this was essentially what the job I interviewed for was doing. Yes, it’s described as scanning, so I wouldn’t quite be screwing nuts and bolts together or revisiting Rosie the Riveter, but they were honest with me that this was primarily what the job involved.

They were also honestly curious as to why someone with a PhD would apply. They explained that usually students take this job (it’s half-time, which works with a student schedule) and that they leave it as they complete their programs, so why was I interested? I was able to explain my overall support of both their organization’s mission and the product in question – digitized journal articles relevant to scholarship, essentially – and they understood that. I’m not sure either of us was convinced the job was the right fit for me, though.

Another thing I learned on the interview was just how many skills I have gained without realizing it: project management, supervisory experience, leadership skills. None of which, by the way, are quite relevant for the job I interviewed for, so I’m left somewhat confused as I await the result. I answered many of their questions by describing the work I direct my own student assistants to do as part of the digital library site of which I’m the director. I think we both felt the cognitive dissonance of this. While I am genuinely interested in getting more hands-on experience with digitization, it’s an open question (for me, still) how much hands-own experience and know-how one needs in order to successfully manage a project having to do with that same know-how. The answer I’m left sensing is that I need to understand the process, know what goes into it and how to do it, but that I may not need to have a job producing somewhat different kinds of digital materials just to claim that I have hands-on experience. I’d be very curious to know what your thoughts are on this question.

The interviewers were, thankfully, pretty nonplussed about the obvious pregnancy, although during my tour of the office, my potential supervisor kept glancing at my belly. She really tried not to. I could see her trying, valiantly, to maintain eye contact without looking down, but she did look down quite a few times, which was a bit disconcerting. During the interview, they wanted to know (given the repetitive-task nature of the job), how long I could see myself staying in the job, and the pregnancy was a natural answer – that I would work as long as made sense, take a maternity leave, and return to the job after that. Being that it’s half-time, I explained, it would work well for several months after a maternity leave, given the schedule of a mother with a newborn.

They should let me know by the end of the week the answer. I have to say, I’m glad I’m not worrying about the perfect job right now: it was great practice to go out and interview for something like this, without all the emotional baggage that can accompany so many job interviews.  If I get the job — that will be great, and then I will have a decision to make. I certainly will keep you posted, and am thankful, again, for the support.