Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Job Search Saga: Feeling Important in a "Budget Traveler" Hotel

I hadn't expected it, but being invited to an interview provided an amazing boost o my ego. It didn't really hit me until I arrived at my hotel, sleep deprived and jet lagged and frustrated after a long day of travel and an hour-long drive through the dark in an unfamiliar rental car to an unfamiliar town. The realization began when I checked in, and had to do no more than sign a piece of paper, because the College had made the arrangements. It hit full force when I stepped into my hotel room, and stared around like I'd checked into the Ritz. The hotel chain was described as being for "budget travelers", but for a graduate student it was opulent used to living off a small stipend it was downright opulent.

The ego-boosting revelation was simple: They were paying to meet me. They hadn't asked for a preliminary phone interview, they just jumped straight into spending a considerable sum, over half my monthly income, on my plane tickets, rental car, hotel stay, and meals. Based on nothing more than my cover letter, teaching statement, and supporting materials, they thought that I was worth that expense. Given the economic pressures that had resulted in so many colleges canceling their searches, that seems like a big deal.

So I luxuriated in my surroundings, the incredibly comfortable bed and the cable TV and the buffet breakfast that remarkably included hot options, and not just a waffle maker. It was the perfect start to the interview, because it's incredibly easy to project confidence in your ability as a future professor when they have made you so confident already.

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