21 May 2011

In which I try to get a new job

So, for those of you who are not perhaps avid followers of the employment travails of a certain BlazeBlog author (me), let me provide you with a quick history lesson.

I've been teaching in public schools for nine years. I had my first job in "The Region" in Indiana. The school was the poorest in the state per capita and more than 80% of students were on free or reduced lunch. My first day on the job, the police recovered a body from our property. In 2005, I left that school (because I was getting married) and moved to Colorado. The principal told me that, "You can stay here and really change the lives of 10 or 15 kids; or you can move somewhere else and have the best stories in the teachers' lounge."

Well, as much as I wanted to stay, my new-wife-to-be was having none of it. She found a job in a school she really liked, and planned to move us to Colorado Springs, post nuptials. These were the heady days of the housing boom, and the Springs was growing. I had two phone interviews, and by the end of May had secured a new teaching gig. Sure, the school had 600 more kids in it than it was designed for, and sure; they were going to run a split schedule to accommodate all of those mouth breathers, but it was a job, and I was happy to have it. 

Fast forward 6 years. My wife leaves teaching to take a full time job at a summer camp she's been either attending or working at for 18 of the last 19 summers (she deigned to take one summer off for our wedding, pretty much the last concession she made in our marriage). To take this job, she moves to the "central valley" of California (which is, of course, a nice way to say "Fresno") Meanwhile, I stayed in the Springs to try and sell our house (all done but the closing) and finish working my last year in a new school, as we processed our first class of graduating seniors (more on that at a later date).

During the year before I came to California, I managed to get a professional teaching credential in California, and an English Learner's Authorization. I re-wrote my resume and even created a webpage to sell myself to schools. I apply to scores. Finally, last week (after 15 months of applications), one called back. That's where we pick this story up.

I flew from Colorado to Fres-yes to interview. The interview was with a panel including other teachers, administrators, parents and students. I felt like I was on fire. I was connecting. I Bob-Feliced people. I knew my material. At one point I answered a question so well that the principal said he would put my answer on the back of their T-shirt. In short, I felt like a rock-star. 

To their credit, they decided quickly. I interviewed on Thursday, and got my "thanks but no thanks" call today (Saturday). 

My wife told me that I shouldn't take it personally. I'm trying not to, but that's a tough task. (for the record, she has never in her life interviewed for a position she did not get). You see, the job interview is one of the most personal experiences in a person's life. When a school gives you an interview (and since they asked me to fly out on short notice, I don't think this was a courtesy interview), it means that they looked over everything you had to offer and thought you were a good match. They want to meet you. They think you might be their guy. 

When they don't offer you the job, it's a personal thing. They looked at you and said, in effect, "not good enough." That hurts. It's especially painful to someone as vain as I am. I think I'm pretty good at teaching. I don't have piles of awards, but I don't need them. I have scores of smart kids who have said "thank you". I'm a department chair. I'm (I think) smart and well-spoken (despite what you've read here). I got a standing ovation at a recent awards night for seniors. Not getting a job I felt well-suited to flies in the face of what I think is true. It makes all of the synapses that control the "paranoia" part of my brain start firing. It makes me wonder if I've built myself up to be something that I'm not. 

It is a very personal thing to be told that you aren't good enough. It cuts deep into the way a person sees themselves. It's something that most of us don't have to deal with all that often. It's mostly a feeling that teenagers have. It isn't a feeling that I've had to deal with very often, at least not in the last 6 years, and simply put,  it isn't any fun at all.

I'll be honest, I haven't worked professionally outside of teaching, so I don't know if this is how it feels in other professions, but I suspect that the feelings are similar. So perhaps in this one case, I can take back one of constant refrains (the one about teaching not being like a business) and admit that sometimes teaching is just like other careers.  

No matter what job you're doing, when you don't get a job you want, it sucks.

1 comment:

  1. It does suck when you don't get the job you want - but remember, there will be a job that wants YOU!!
    In the end it is nice to be wanted.