Montag, 3. September 2012

Hell Valley- a.k.a. Job Hunting

On Friday I received pretty much the best phone call of my young life. The call was from UIL, offering me a full-time, salaried position as the UIL Information Writer. I had interviewed the day before but more on that later. For me, job searching was like a terrible valley. Death Valley is taken, so we will call this one Hell Valley and this was my adventure through it.

Depth: Seemingly endless
Elevation Change: Wild mood swings from 0 to 1,000 about 30 times
Distanced Climbed: 50ish job applications
Time: 105+ days (counting from graduation, but I really started before then)
Date Climbed: May 18, 2012- August 31, 2012
Climbing Partners: Dunte Hector, Tori Hector, anyone brave enough to cross my path

The Story
I started applying for a few jobs here and there before graduation, but things were so busy and crazy I wasn’t focusing a lot of time on it. I stressed about each application I sent off, but once I sent the first big one, things got a little easier. This was the flat land leading up to the Hell Valley. The first big drop came the Thursday before we got married. I had found the website for Rare Magazine in Austin. They had a great position available so I got all of my materials ready, had my dad help with a new and edgy cover letter to match their style, and sent it off before spa day with the girls. I was so hopeful for that position. When we returned from our honeymoon, I decided to do a follow-up call. I called the number on the website, and it wasn’t working. I tried a couple times, and then I was starting to get suspicious. I looked closer at the site and realized it had been two years since any new content had been published on the site. Uh oh. I did more digging and learned that Rare Magazine had declared bankruptcy in 2010, they just never bothered to take the site down. Ouch, that one hurt.

I kept applying, and kept getting rejection emails. When we got to Austin the valley got really steep. I have never written about hiking down an actual mountain/valley, but it is absolutely no fun. Your toes jam into the front of your boots, and it is like doing lunges for several hours. Sometimes the rocks under your feet decide they want to go down too, so rolled ankles and lots of falls are par for the course. Each rejection email, was a skid and slide down on a loose bed of river rocks. Once we got to Austin, the major crazy-person mood swings started.

I would go a couple days feeling really good about my prospects. I would have a few applications in the works, things were looking okay. Then I would swing way down again, and think I was never-ever-ever going to find something. The second week in Austin, during a down swing, I looked into working in retail. Surely there were enough malls around that they were always hiring. Then I remembered that I suck at selling things, and had no prior experience. The week I applied for the UIL job, I also applied at Target.

I generally consider myself a fairly emotionally stable person, so this new moodiness was unwelcome in my home. I was snappy with Dunte and annoyed with Tori, just generally unpleasant to be around during a down swing. This all continued until the day of my UIL interview, the final pitch into the depths of Hell Valley. It wasn’t pretty.

My interview was scheduled for 10 a.m. on Thursday morning. I had printed my writing samples and references the day before. My clothes were ironed and everything was ready. The night before I absolutely could not get to sleep. I was feeling sick that morning, so Dunte let me sleep in while he watched the baby. My brain was going 100 miles per hour and I just couldn’t stop. Around 1 a.m., I took half a dose of Nyquil in an attempt to help my throat and knock me out. Both were accomplished, but I most definitely did not see that 7:30 a.m. alarm with kind eyes. I had planned to wake up early and run before I got ready for my interview. I scratched the run in favor of 45 extra minutes asleep. I wasn’t rushed getting ready, there wasn’t much traffic, so I got there early. The interview went great, I think I answered most of the questions well and was very professional. But since my crazy head had imagined them just absolutely loving me and basically hiring me on the spot, or screaming that I was ridiculous for even applying and having security escort me out, I was a little thrown off. I realize both of those are ridiculous, but that is where your Nyquil brain goes at 1:45 a.m. the night before an interview.
When I came home, I had a glass and a half of wine. At 11 a.m. I’m not proud of it, but a beer after an interview is something my dad and I find crucial to the process. With his (sort of) stamp of approval, I poured away. We didn’t have beer in the house, and I just couldn’t bring myself to drink a beer in public at 11 a.m., so wine it was. Then I dropped off a cliff, deep down into Hell Valley. I was upset and sad and grumpy and a little day drunk. I went out with Dunte and Tori, trying to pull myself out of the valley. When I got home I had an email from one of my references, saying UIL had called and seemed very impressed. I was elated again. I swung back up, yes all in one day and was so excited. I got a text from another reference with a similar positive report. I spent the next few hours thinking of (even more) reasons why this was The. Best. Job. Ever. I managed to get to sleep with the other half of the previous nights Nyquil, and woke up fairly normal.

I was headed out the door to Barton Creek Mall to pick up some hair products for my mom. I got in the Jeep, put it in reverse, then realized I didn’t know where I was going. I pulled out my phone to get directions, and it rang. It was an unknown 512 number, so I quickly answered. It was one of my interviewers from UIL! My heart kinda stopped then picked back up at double speed. She asked if I had any more questions about the position, and if I was interested. “Interested, oh yes very very much.” I tried to put the car in park, but my brain forgot how vehicles work. Then she offered me the job. I think my elegant words of acceptance were, “I would definitely like to take that.” Trying to keep my voice calm, but failing miserably, because I think she was stifling laughter. We talked about more details, then hung up the phone and I went running into the house.

I burst through the door, screaming, I mean literally screaming, “I got the joooobbb!!! I got the joobbb!!!” Dunte had just about put Tori down for a nap and she was terrified.  Dunte said something about me scaring the baby and I said, “I don’t care because I got the jooobbb!!” I hugged him, cried a little, then assured Tori that it was okay and that I wasn’t screaming at her. We high-fived and I started calling people to spread the good news.

And just like that I was out of the valley. I could see the sun again, and I was grinning like crazy. I start next Monday, Sept. 10, and I absolutely couldn’t be more excited. This job combines all the things I loved about all my college experiences. I get to write features and press releases, I get to deal with the media and athletics and academics. I applied for nearly 50 jobs, I stopped counting at some point. But when I randomly signed on to the UT jobs site, and found this job description, I immediately knew I really, really wanted this one. Of all the jobs I applied for, this was the one I was most excited about the possibility of. And I got it. Still not sure it feels totally real.

I want to sincerely thank everyone who I have talked to about my job search over the past few months. Several people have had encouraging and kind words. I know several others who have been praying and thinking about me. Thank you all so much. Thank you also, to my excellent references who helped me seal the deal. I will be sure to keep you all posted of life on the upside of the valley.  

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