Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Employment, Part A. I very much like my job. I really do. But the possibility of getting to build a teaching center at Awesome University was very exciting. Since it fell through, I've been open to other opportunities that would allow me to build a new organization or initiative--you know, an opportunity to be a bit entrepreneurial.

When I saw the Latest Awesome Directorship (LAD) advertised on a museum industry website, I knew I had to apply. In short: LAD will be responsible for establishing professional development opportunities for thousands of staff and volunteers working for 24 cultural institutions (including many museums, one symphony, and a major zoological society). And it's in a city with excellent beaches, and much nearer to my family than I am now--a 2-hour drive instead of a 6- or 7-hour drive.

So I applied. And I had a 1.5-hour phone interview. By the end of the interview, the top-of-her-field consultant (whom I want to be when I grow up, if I can't be Barbara Ganley) hired by the new professional development organization told me she was advancing me to the final slate of 10 candidates for LAD.

The next step was to write three one-page essays. I did. And I made it to the final four (because I can write my way into just about any opportunity). Next month I fly down for a day and a half of interviews of various sorts. I'll also be required to give a 10-minute presentation of the PowerPoint variety. I'm not a fan of slide presentations, so I'm going to have to work extra hard to force my thinking into a linear sequence.

I've heard through the grapevine that they're looking for someone "entrepreneurial." I hope that means in spirit and practice rather than in dress. :)

The LAD salary should be better than my current one (a low bar: I'm an employee of a state on the verge of financial collapse, and we're staring down furloughs), but living down there is considerably more expensive, so in the end our standard of living might be a wash. (Except: Beaches!)

Anyway, I'm very excited about this opportunity.

Employment, Part B. Today I was in a meeting to discuss the section of a report I'm writing for the campus's steering committee on electronic accessibility. (I chair the subcommittee on teaching and learning.) In the middle of the meeting, the two major co-conspirators (one faculty, one staff) told me that during a meeting they had with the vice provost of IT (who is a big champion of e-access), they decided the campus needs someone to shepherd the campus through the transition to electronic accessibility. At this earlier meeting, the three of them strategized about what kind of work this person would do, and then the VP asked if they had anyone in mind. At once they all blurted out my name.

An immediate caveat: the position would be funded at first by "soft money," meaning the position wouldn't at first be classified as a permanent one, but the hope is that the position would become permanent. And the last thing I want to do in a recession is trade in a reasonably secure job I like for an exciting new opportunity that is unstable.

I said I'd need more information about the position, and they pretty much told me I could write the position description myself. Awesome. (I also told them I'd need a door.)

(An aside: This is the first time I've heard a potential employer say to me, "The big challenge is that you're not disabled. We'll have to address that eventually." By which she meant address it politically--not that I need to acquire a disability.)

Because we're in a tight budget year, there's the possibility that the teaching center where I work now would be open to a part-time buyout of my time--especially during the slow summer months--by another department.

But: If I were willing to assume more risk and accept a part- or full-time position instead of a buyout, I might be able to ask for a larger salary (from the new job), even in a recession year.

So there are possibilities, and I feel the longer I'm a staff member at this university, the savvier I'm becoming at conniving thinking through all the permutations.

Employment, Part C. Awesome University will likely reopen their teaching center job next year, albeit as a staff position. I saw the plans for the new building, and it looks like the teaching center director will have a windowed office at the curve of the building on the fourth floor. Beats the heck out of my current basement office or my impending move to the windowless cube farm in a tin shed. But: There's no guarantee I'd once again be a finalist for the job in a new search. And I'm impatient. . .

Your thoughts?

P.S. In my phone interview for LAD, when I was asked what my greatest flaw is, I said I tended to lean too much in the direction of transparency in all things. This blog entry is good evidence of that, n'est-ce pas?


Unknown said...

So many possibilities!! I think you'll know what to do as things start to become more solid. Job A may pan out but the salary will be too low. Etc. Also, interviews are great opportunities for seeing red flags that might make the job in question an unpleasant one. Since all the jobs except one involve moving, it's a safe bet you want to be happy in them for a while.

Good luck with all the decisions!

susan said...

This is so exciting! I think Laura nails it: you'll get more information as you proceed with the interviews for Job A, and conversations about Job B will also give you more info. Just keep doing what you're doing--and I for one enjoy the transparency here. Nice to get to see someone's job search narrated.

Why do you think transparency is a weakness, btw?

Leslie M-B said...


I don't think transparency is a weakness. Indeed, in the Obama era of open government, it's becoming a much-publicized virtue. But organizations might see someone who argues for transparency in all things as a threat. So in saying I erred on the side of transparency, I was hedging my bets--as everyone does with the "flaws" question that comes up in every interview.

Jim said...

You should really be patient and wait for awesome university :)

What Now? said...

These all sound like great possibilities; I'm so glad that things seem to be opening up for you professionally!

ArticulateDad said...

Good luck.

Bardiac said...

I HATE the "flaw" question in interviews. HATE HATE HATE! That said, I think you answered it really well.

Good luck with the interview and all, and making the right decision for you.

Anonymous said...

Your answer to the flaw question is the best one ever and it is quite my flaw too! Too bad I am not going on the market!!