This past week our family – along with my mother-in-law (for babysitting back-up) – took a trip: three and a half hours up the road to Blacksburg, VA. Tim has been offered a position in the Department of Geography (yeah!) at VA Tech, but he hasn’t been able to accept the position – or even really start negotiations – because he’s got me, another academic, in tow.
VA Tech, unlike many other schools, has a very active spousal hire program, which, in theory, should make finding employment for me much easier (since there are systems already in place for hiring). In reality, however, asking for a job (which is essentially what a spousal hire is) is a rather complicated, somewhat awkward, and time consuming process.
The purpose of our trip was two fold; (1) for me to see Blacksburg so I could (hopefully) better imagine myself there, and (2) for me to have a meet and greet with the faculty in the department (the one for which I am the best fit). Before leaving, I felt confident and prepared; I am likeable, my research fits well with the work that is already going on in the department, I am a hard worker, and I am capable of communicating my ideas in a clear and concise manner. That’s how I felt before we left.
Then we got there, and the reality of the situation hit me: Tim has a really wonderful offer, and the only thing holding him back is me. Him taking a job hinges on how I present myself (and on their being funding and on me being a good fit) over the course of just six hours.
Let me tell you, if there’s one way to ensure that your anxiety level goes up a few notches before embarking on an interview schedule like this, bring your husband, toddler, and infant with you, cram into one hotel room, and then have to remain out of your toddler’s line of sight as she tries to fall asleep an hour later than usual in a strange room. In my experience, it means you’ll probably look a little something like this: