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Thursday, July 28, 2005

A week of ups and downs

Wow, what a week!

It kicked off with the shock news that contrary to my belief, my contract at work expired at the beginning of July, rather than the end. Aggghhhhh! Oh my god! No pay cheque at the end of the month! Panic ensued...

It got even worse. I opened my mailbox to find an envelope headed with the logo from the university that I was interviewed at the previous week. It was suspiciously thin.
"We'd like to thank you for attending the interview last week. Unfortunately, we have decided to offer the position to a candidate." Blah, blah, blah, "We wish you all the best for the future. However, we would urge you to contact us for feedback regarding the interview."

I was pretty depressed as you can imagine.

From then on, things started to look up slowly. Firstly, I was able to get both of my credit card late-payment charges waived. A small victory, but grab them while you can I say. The mailbox also contained two cheques for travel expenses that I had been waiting for. Good, I may be needing that cash, now I am unemployed.

Anyways, there was no point moping around at home, when I still had 2 weeks worth of experiments planned. My first instinct had been to raise my middle finger and fuck off, never to be seen again. But commonsense prevailed - these experiments are the bow that tie up my project and are essential for the paper I am writing. Plus, I need the boss to write me favourable references.

So with some trepidation, I phoned my interviewer. What am I doing wrong? I was confident that the interview had gone really well and the thought that there is something fundamentally wrong with my interview technique is pretty daunting.

"I'm glad you called! First of all, I am really sorry that I couldn't give you the job. Truly. You may not want to hear this, but the panel had all but decided to give you the job since you were head and shoulders above the other candidates - but then the final candidate came in, with a whole load of experience in a key technique - and we had to go with them."

Well that was a relief! I asked if there was anything at all that I could do to improve my performance in other interviews and the interviewer was adamant "Do not change a single thing. All of your interviews and your presentation were perfect. The other candidate was simply better qualified."

Well that was a much needed ego boost.

It got better though. Firstly the interviewer asked that I consider them in future when applying for grants, they would be very interested in co-writing one. Not terribly useful in the short term as I need a job, but definitely something to bear in mind in a couple of years. Then they called my attention to another job going at another institute. Somehow this had slipped beneath my radar when I was searching Even better, they know the person offering the job personally and promised to phone them up and sing my praises! That is well beyond the call of duty and I am very touched by their kindness. I've missed the application deadline (by about 2 days), but I applied anyway and I am waiting to hear if I get an interview.

Overall, I am obviously very disapointed that I didn't get the job. However, I am strangely comforted by the fact that the "best man won". And of course that individual is outof the running now... I have heard on the grapevine that the previous job I was interviewed for was already a foregone conclusion. Unfortunately, it is a requirement that publically-funded institutes advertise all of their jobs externally, even if you have already decided to give it to a loyal and highly-qualified PhD student. I see nothing wrong with that sort of "nepotism" - but it is annoying that the hopes are raised of other candidates.

Regarding, my current employment situation. My boss was as surprised as I was that my contract ended, and managed to find me some new funding to see me to the end of the month. I also get redundancy pay, so my rent is paid for.

However, I am unemployed from friday. So today was my last "progress" meeting with SWMNBN. It went surprisingly well. With nothing else to occupy my time over the next few weeks I will be writing papers for free - so SWMNBN was all sweetness and light - well she was hardly going to piss me off was she?

So that's it. My leaving do is Friday, and I have already been told (in the nicest possible way) to "piss off" so I know that my workmates are planning something. I'll blog about it when my hangover is over at the weekend.



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