I’ve got a job interview in a few days. It’s my dream job: teaching politics at a university. What I trained for for 7 years in grad school and 2 years of furious applying for jobs and aggressive networking. I don’t know my chances; and my preparations, while nominally complete in terms of documents, still require a lot of reading and review. I guess I’ll be sneaking looks at them at my desk job.
Compounding the usual stress of any job interview is the fact that this is my first academic interview in 18 months, and my first-ever interview for a teaching post. This is what I want and, so far, is my only shot at it. So a lot of preparation has been deep breathing until I feel calm enough to look at the screen. I know I can do this job, not because I’m amazing but because I’ve seen so many other people do it worse. But three years of applying for jobs has sapped my confidence. I can’t remember what it feels like to get up in the morning and go to work thinking, “Yeah, this is stable and where I want to be.” Worse, I’m an ESL worker, not an academic. I’m not surrounded by academic concepts and colleagues and students; I’m not as comfortable in that environment as I once was. I’m hoping my prospective employers cut me some slack for having to work for a living while I find something better.
And if you’re thinking that it’s all about the money, that’s not strictly true. Of course I want more money, but I’d do this job for room and board (I won’t mention that in the interview.) No, this job means so much because it’s not soul-crushingly meaningless and repetitive. It allows creative control and the chance to say a little of what I really think. It’s social. I would get time to read and write about things. It makes the alienation of 95% of jobs – the clerical and service jobs that so-called HR experts never write about because their class position means they’ve never had to stoop that low – recede a little.
I should mention that this position is in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language. I booked 3 days off of work this week, and I’m flying early Wednesday morning for an afternoon presentation. In the interests of feeling like I’ve had a full day, here’s what I’ve prepared this weekend:
– spoken presentation
– revised syllabus for my current teaching course
– written/revised proposed syllabus
– researched faculty members’ interests
– prepared travel documents (plane ticket, researched trains and subway to and from both airports), downloaded subway app
– looked at money requirements
– spoken to a supervisor about interview requirements
– organized said documents into 3 folders – notes, application, for printing – and backed up the most important ones to USB, phone and cloud
Tomorrow and Tuesday I need to practice my presentation, and reread my statements of teaching philosophy and questions for the department so I sound like I’m eager and knowledgable. I am eager: I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t desperately want to escape my humiliating dull job. Knowledgable? I’m hoping adrenaline counts for something. I’m going to be up before 5am, on the train at 6, flying at 8:30 and then, when I arrive, finding out about cash and a travel card and taxis. Then, after my short interview, I have to grin through a group dinner with the other candidates. It’s like Krusty said: “What’s that? Talk to the audience? Oy, this part is always death!” And then, the next morning, I have an interview proper. I hope some academic knowledge seeps through all this.
To everyone fighting individually to sell themselves under better circumstances: keep fighting, and I hope there comes a day when we can do this collectively or, better yet, not have to fight at all.