Thursday, August 6, 2009


In my first entry in this blog, I spoke of my intention to write something about my life in here. By and large, I've avoided this subject for reasons that will soon become clear. This story begins over a year ago. It was the beginning of the summer before my senior year at Williams College. I was gearing up for a summer of chemistry research and study in preparation for a senior thesis and applications for PhD programs in chemistry. All in all, a good summer - lots of work done for the thesis, ended what had become a nightmare of a relationship, and after talking with many friends and professors, decided to delay application to graduate school.

So, what to put in its place? Something worthwhile, something that I could commit to for a short term, something engaging. I decided in October to apply to the Teach for America program, which places recent college grads as teachers in failing schools. It seemed to fit my criteria and I was genuinely excited about the possibility of teaching math and science to a group of seriously disadvantaged kids, though I never expected to spend more than the required two years teaching. Apparently, my application was impressive enough that I bypassed the preliminary phone interview and was invited immediately to a final day-long interview session. I headed to Amherst College during final exam week, nearly died on snow-covered Massachusetts Rt. 2 on the drive over and gave it my best shot. Everything seemed to go well, and I anticipated acceptance. In late January, I received the letter of rejection along with, as I later learned, 56,000 of 60,000 other applicants.

I immediately got in touch with a teacher placement service for private schools. Interviewed, had my name sent to private schools in need of a chemistry teacher, waited. Three interviews with boarding schools in various locations, spread throughout the spring. The interviews gave me a maddening spring schedule but no offers. Meanwhile, I considered going to South Korea for a year to teach ESL. I actually received an offer from this agency but learned that I would have two weeks for vacation in the course of the year, meaning that visits to friends in the states and East Asian tourism would be minimal. I declined.

I finished my thesis, graduation came and went, and I headed back to Cincinnati and registered with a local temp agency for lab jobs. A few weeks ago this led to an interview for a quality control position with a cosmetics company. The interview went well and I was told a couple of days later that the outlook for my hiring was "positive". A day or two after that, I learned that the position had been offered to someone else. Two weeks later, another interview, this time with a flavor company. No dice.

It just so happened one night that Yahoo news announced that Nordstrom was opening a new store in Cincinnati and was looking to hire 250 employees. I applied. I interviewed. I got an offer for a position in the coffee bar. I accepted. Throughout the job search process, I was reluctant to post reactions, should a potential employer stumble onto the blog, and even now, I've avoided posting the names of schools and companies. Through the process, I've found that four years college, a 3.8 GPA and an honors diploma qualify me for the same position I had in high school. In all seriousness, I'm looking forward to having a bit of money, working in a nice environment and applying to grad school. Currently considering: Ohio State, U of Illinois, U of Texas, U of Wisconsin, Northwestern, Princeton, Cornell, UPenn, Harvard, Columbia and MIT, but will not apply to all of them. It's not what I expected, but in this economy, it's good enough for now.

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