On Rejection

On Rejection

4 months ago

I sit here at my computer in my kitchen, wearing PJs and surrounded by Kleenex stained black with mascara. I came home sick from work, so the multitude of Kleenex are saturated with a combination of winter drainage and tears. The snot is from my cold, while the tears are from an extended, ugly crying session I’m wrapping up, after learning that I didn’t get what I thought was my dream job–writing here is my therapy.

Here on this blog, I’ve documented my struggle to find my second job. I’ve loved my first job; I’ve been teaching senior students at a single-gender school in the same city I attended graduate school. I deeply love the teaching and curriculum planning, but I have to do many, many tasks outside the school day. I have to chaperone prom, go on retreats and interview incoming students. All those evenings and weekends in addition to a full time job make me feel like I am missing my children growing up. So, as my own children get older, I’ve begun to look for something more flexible that would allow me to focus on the aspects of my current job that fulfill me.

The job I applied for was also local—it was a lectureship position at a small, private college on the other side of town. The application was extensive, including a teaching philosophy, 3 letters of recommendation and course evaluations. When I hung up after the phone interview, I didn’t think I’d done well but was pleasantly surprised when an invitation to interview on campus arrived just a few hours later. My on campus interview was a full day event, where I met with 10 members of the 20 person department, gave a teaching demonstration and went to dinner with the faculty. I thought it had gone exceptionally well and left feeling two things: 1) I had killed it and 2) I really wanted the job. Here are a few of the appealing things about the position: work from home 1 day per week, options to teach abroad, lighter course load than I have now). The next day, I sent follow up “thank you” emails to all the people I’d met, and several of them replied enthusiastically with surprisingly complimentary statements.

I became anxious when the timeline promised to me came and went without a phone call from the department. Then this morning, I got an email requesting a time to talk about the “status of the search”. I’d been dreading the call all day, and when it came, after some cordial remarks, the department chair let me know that they had offered the job to another candidate and had a verbal commitment from her.

I didn’t cry on the phone, which I’m very proud of. The department chair again talked in depth about how impressed they’d been with me, how she’d wished they’d had 2 positions and how much they enjoyed my visit. According to her, the search committee had concluded that the other candidate had more college-level teaching experience than I do. She suggested I get some experience adjuncting at a local community college before again applying to a 4-year institution.

I can’t help but be frustrated with that critique—I currently teach students that will be students at Yale and Princeton in just a few months. My former students have returned to tell me that the they had covered all of their first year biology material during their senior biology course with me and were “almost bored” in their college courses. Finally, the feedback that I didn’t have enough college teaching experience seems surprising at this state in the interview process as my experience was clearing stated in my CV, which they’d seen during the initial phases of the interview. I’m also extremely hesitant to leave a full time, benefitted position in order to adjunct on the hopes it could lead to something in the future.

So I sit here in my PJs, frustrated. My mom is texting me and encouraging me to quit my job and start a blog that documents the overhaul of my recent (and straight-out-of-1960) home purchase. I’m calculating whether it would be inappropriate to have a glass of wine before daycare pickup.

 

Today:

As I reread the post that I wrote back in February, I feel a combination of emotions. All the feelings I experienced on that day have resurged. Additionally, I feel embarrassed to share my deep disappointment with the internet, but I’m hoping someone else is going through that too and might feel some solidarity with me. Here’s what I’ve been up to since January:

1)      Work: My work life has continued to be overwhelming. I spend multiple weekends each month at school, and I’m coming off the heels of prom and AP testing. We are doing multiple rounds of interviews for a science department hire (I’ll write about that experience in a late post) and I’m chaperoning a student trip to Colorado this weekend. It is all way too much.

2)      At Home: My husband was recently out of town for a whole month, so the kids and I have been eating a lot of mac n cheese. We’re also currently living in the basement of our 1960s fixer while floors and a new kitchen are installed upstairs. We’re diversifying our diet by adding in some Chipotle.

3)      Job Search: I reached out to a group at a university on the other side of the country that is doing curriculum development for high school biology teachers. They’ve agreed to have me edit some neuroscience curriculum this summer on a contract basis. I’m really looking forward to it and hoping that it leads to something more long term. I applied for another job at an elite private school, had an interview and didn’t get the job (it wasn’t a good fit, and I’m not disappointed—but I do wonder if I’m just having bad luck or doing sometime wrong during the interview process).

4)      Discernment: I am meeting with a career counselor that was recommended to me today, and I’m hopeful that she will help me figure out both what exactly I want, and why I’m struggling to land a new job.

I think the truth is probably that I want it both ways: I want to work part time, see my kids amply and have time for my life. I also want a fulfilling career with forward momentum, prestige and an adequate paycheck. So maybe I’m chasing a unicorn? I’ve not yet decided if it’s a worthwhile pursuit.

 

2 responses so far

  • CommiseratingFemSci says:

    Oh wow I so connected with the feelings you had after the rejection. I had the exact same experience with an interview last year. Why is that people feel the need to talk to a not chosen candidate on the phone? Would a well written email be more appropriate (they could include whatever praise they wanted to say on the phone)? Why are they scheduling a time to break someone's dreams while asking that person to be nice to them? IF candidates really want to talk on the phone they could request a follow up call.

  • peirama says:

    I'm so sorry to hear about this experience! That sounds awful. But also you shouldn't take it personally (I can say that because I have some separation!). They thought you were awesome, and the fact that they can say the other candidate has more experience probably helped them break their tie, even though it doesn't actually mean she's better. Keep at it and I know you'll find something great!

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