Friday, March 23, 2007

Feast or Famine

I finished the second onsite interview of the week yesterday. This follows four telephone interviews in the last two weeks. All of a sudden, I am a hot commodity. I really hope this is the end of the "underemployment" phase of my post-bakery life.

The first onsite interview was at The Citadel, and it lasted about three hours. Of course, I was stuck in traffic so I was a little late to the setup for my presentation. Luckily, I was not late for the actual interview and I think the traffic gave me an adrenaline push to ease my nerves during the interview itself. The presentation went really well -- everyone seemed awake and asked questions and complemented me.

Next came the interview sessions. Two groups of people -- a large management group and then a second smaller group which just had the search committee -- peppered me with questions for 90 minutes. For the most part, they didn't read off of a script and it seemed like a conversation more than an interview. This job seems to be heavily geared to academic work on my end -- research, writing for publications and so on. Very interesting! Also, I would have a rank on campus, so the cadets would have to salute me!

The second interview was an all-day affair at Coker College. I really like the title -- Electronic Resources Librarian because it is more in line with what I see myself doing for the rest of my career. But because it is a small library (and college), I would be multi-tasking and wearing many hats. Never a dull moment, and that is something I really enjoy.

I stayed in a small bed and breakfast across the street from the school. In fact, I could see the library from my window! At least I didn't have to worry about traffic issues. Some of the faculty I spoke to refer to rush hour lasting five minutes at 8 am and 5 PM. Quite contrary to the daily mess we find ourselves in here in Charleston. The B & B was nice, and I had a hearty breakfast to fuel me through the day.

I first met with the director at 8:15 and she outlined the day for me. From there I went to Human Resources, and then the professor who is essentially the Dean of the library. He gave me a tour through the fog-laden campus including a tour of the new library. We didn't go inside the new structure, because it is still under construction. Some other time, when I'm not in my one interview suit. He seemed like a genuine person, good to work for, and someone who really enjoys developing and expanding the library. He asked me a few questions, mostly trying to figure out my future plans. I was informed of the high turnover at the library several times during the day, and during my phone interview.

The high turnover can be attributed to the small, rural nature of the town where Coker is located. Either the librarian had difficulties fitting in the Hartsville community -- I can only imagine how difficult it would be living in a small Southern town being single and in your 20's. The other cause was the spouse had difficulty finding employment in the area. I assured them that my wife was a teacher and would have no problems finding gainful employment. I think one of the reasons I got the onsite interview(other than my stellar resume and application ;) ) is that I mentioned that she had already looked (and found) some jobs in the area.

Next stop was my presentation, which went pretty smoothly. I started to set up in one room, but ended up moving to another room, which showed my versatility. Versatility was the theme of the presentation, since I will wear many hats at Coker. Not as many questions here, but they did like the use of one particular database. That database is available for free to all South Carolinians through DISCUS, and they weren't aware of its availability. I was commended for my presentation...and I think they clapped. At any rate, I was relieved it was over. I was more anxious than nervous.

From the presentation, we launched straight into the interview session with the search committee. I kept the answers short and succinct. We all seemed to feel comfortable with one another, which was a relief. From there we had lunch at the same place I had dinner the night before. I was very careful about what I ordered -- not too messy, or overly seasoned (garlic especially) and well under $10.

We returned to the library where I then left to meet the Vice President and President of the college. These meetings were "short and sweet," but I enjoyed meeting the leaders of the college. It is rare for candidates at this level to meet the two principal figures of an academic institution. I found their discussion to be interesting and informative. Although they have no real "say" in the decision making process, they give their recommendations to the search committee. This committee would never hire a candidate who was not recommended by either the Vice President or President. At 3PM, I headed back to the library for a wrap-up and another tour.

I met with the other member of the search committee, an English professor who was teaching most of the day and couldn't make it over to the interview session. He gave me a more in-depth tour of the campus, including the performing arts center which was quite large given the size of the school. As with the rest of the faculty and staff I had met during this long day, he was very excited about Coker and Hartsville.

I returned to the library to thank everyone and leave one lasting impression. Most of the search committee was on a conference call with an Integrated Library System vendor. By great coincidence, it is the same ILS that the College of Charleston uses. Basically, I am already pre-trained on the system, and I had mentioned some of the features earlier that day when first told about the conference call. Talk about serendipity!

I will find out about both jobs at some point next week. I have a feeling that next week will be a long one -- waiting to see what the future has in store for Owen, Lisa and me.

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