And the other job prospect, the one that sounded like the exact opposite of what I was looking for, that fulfilled none of my requirements except the most important one, namely, being a job, any job at all that would pay me a salary plus benefits; that one? The all-girl private boarding school in the middle of nowhere, VA, that would require me to live in the residence hall? I humored them for a while, submitting to not one but two phone interviews. Then, when my contact said he would like to put me in touch with the headmistress of the school if I was still interested, I said yes, please, and also let her know that I would be in the area the following week, if it would be helpful to meet in person. And then I heard...nothing. Not a thank you for your time, not a we've decided to go with another candidate; nothing. That was over a month ago. I didn't follow up because I wasn't particularly interested in the job anyway, but still, after two phone interviews? Rude.
But, after all this, happily there was another prospect looming on the horizon, and it happened to be in a city where I could actually see myself living. I spent a nervous hour on the phone with HR, sweating bullets and gripping the phone so tightly that afterwards my fingers hurt, as they threw at me one tough question after another. It wasn't as if I was unprepared for these questions; I had spent the last 12 months in a teacher prep program, after all. But the phone interviews I had had before this had all been a bit easier, and more laid back. There were some tough questions, sure, but they were interspersed with fluffier ones, and they sure as hell didn't last for a solid hour. But somehow, miraculously, it appeared that I had passed, and I was invited to the school to do a teaching audition. I planned a lesson based on the objective they had given me, but otherwise I went in completely blind. I knew nothing about the students, or what or how much they knew. Then, after hours of practice and preparation, the day came. Even after the best of intentions and careful allotment of extra travel time, I arrived just on the edge of late--harried, flustered, and breathless. The set-up of the classroom was strange, and I realized that in order to operate my PowerPoint, I would have to be standing at the back of the room, behind my computer, instead of in front of the class. From that perspective, not only would my back be facing the video camera the whole time (oh, yeah, that), but I had trouble seeing the nametags taped to my students' desks. There was a lot of scurrying back and forth as I dealt with the computer in the back, then ran to the front to interact with students and read their nametags in order to call on them (and each time catching a faceful of light from the projector). I had trouble pronouncing one student's name, and each time I attempted it, the rest of the students would titter. Another student had written her name as "Mrs. Pember." After calling her Mrs. Pember for half the class, and feeling slightly ridiculous, I asked her if she might have a first name she would like to share with me. "Yeah, but like, I'm just tryin' to keep things professional," she informed me. Basically, it was not the most spectacular teaching audition in the world, but I rolled with it and I did the best I could. At the end, the students expressed positive feedback, and whether they were just being nice or enjoyed the diversion from the everyday grind, I thought that should count for something. The HR rep who had recorded my performance told me they would give the video to someone who spoke French, and then I would find out in a week or two if I was recommended for hire. In the meantime, she said, I would be able to interview with schools where there were openings. And verily, not a week later, I was asked to do a phone interview with the language department at the very school where I had done my audition. This interview was even more intense than the first, if possible. Again, the tough questions just kept coming. Then they asked me for my top three strengths, and my top three weaknesses. Three! Weaknesses! Anyone who has ever interviewed knows that the weakness one is a trick question, and like anyone who has ever interviewed I had previously thought long and hard in order to come up with the one perfect weakness that I was ready to spout off at any moment. I repeat, the one perfect weakness. And they wanted three? On the spot? Maybe if I had had twenty minutes or so to think it over I could have come up with something halfway decent, but argh. I went over my one prepared weakness in breathtaking detail, hoping that by the end of my spiel they would have forgotten about the other two, but no dice. I mumbled something vague and hopefully not too incriminating for the others and hoped for the best.
Meanwhile, I allowed myself to imagine what would happen if I actually did get a job there. I played the Craigslist where would I live if I lived there? game, and tried not to faint when I saw the going rate for a one bedroom apartment. I imagined meet-ups and book clubs, wine tastings and French conversation groups. Brunch! Walking places! Urban living! Urban dating! And so it was particularly spirit-crushing when I received this e-mail several days later:
"We would like to thank you for taking the time to apply for a position for the 2011-2012 school year. We appreciate the time and effort you have committed to sharing your instructional practices and experiences with us. After careful consideration, we are unable to invite you to the next level of selection."It wasn't until I lost it that I realized how much I had actually wanted it. In an instant, all of my dreams and hopes for the future had been crushed. And what's more, I didn't have anything else on the horizon. I didn't have a backup plan. All in all, I was pretty damn glum.
Which is why I'm sure you can imagine my shock when a week later the principal of the school in question called to offer me the job. Bwah?
"After your phone interview with the language department teachers here, they were very impressed with what you had to say, and we would like to extend an offer to you. You're not showing up in our candidate tracking system here yet, for some reason, but I think I can push you through with your resume that we have here. That is, if you accept?"
I certainly didn't want to tell her that I knew exactly why I wasn't showing up in the tracking system, and instead blurted out a hurried, "Yes! Yes, I accept!" This was followed by a week of awful limbo, an employment purgatory where I didn't know if I actually had a job or not. I was relunctant to tell anyone, lest it turn out that they retracted their offer again, and so instead, I just waited, and worried. But finally, I was contacted by HR with their congratulations and a long laundry list of documents I need to start getting together, and I could breathe again. I have a job. I have a JOB!
And so, without further ado, I would like to introduce you to my new home for the next year or possibly, hopefully more:
Internet, I'm moving to DC!!!!!