Thursday, March 29, 2012

Small Town, Big (City) Dreams #14

The Convention Experience

As I sit in the C3 waiting area, I am looking around me, taking in the sites and sounds of the other interview participants, the different variations of Starbucks coffee, and sound of rustling resume paper. A few women around me roll their eyes at a woman who is having a loud conversation on her phone. Another man furiously constructs a “thank-you” note.  A few individuals talk quietly about their most recent interview and the famed question: “How would you define social justice?”

All of this banter reminds me of how important it is to maintain your professional identity outside of the interview setting.  Just from observing a few interactions, I can gain a sense of some individuals’ commitment to the anticipated position, what they think about the interviewer, and also, more importantly how they refer to their current institution (even negative impressions can be framed in a positive, professional light).

I can’t say that I am completely innocent of not maintaining a consistent professional demeanor. I found myself, during the few interviews I had during C3, changing “my story”. Did I want to work at a small, private institution? Or one of the largest university systems in the country? Was supervision of student staff my favorite aspect of the job? Then why did I apply to a few that didn’t have a supervision component? All of these questions seemed relevant as I was being asked by the interviewer why I applied to a particular job at a particular school. I didn’t feel as though I was inauthentic, but only that I had yet to really grapple with some of these issues of my job search.

In all, I concluded that I am attracted to institution with a  “strong identity”, one whose mission transcends all offices, programs, and interaction with students. Those were the institutions I applied to and the jobs that most accurately lived out those values. I was happy with this realization, because I was then able to articulate that better during my second round interviews, which I believe made a huge impact on the way that the employer viewed me.  

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