Your Obedient Serpent (athelind) wrote,
Your Obedient Serpent

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Yesterday, after a year or so without even a nibble, I found myself slated for not one, but two interviews. I'd secured both of them through the good graces of friends -- andreal had told me about an entry-level position opening up at the biotech firm where he works, and a friend and classmate of mine from CSUMB had been talking about the disposition of some grant money at the research foundation where he works.

The Biotech interview was at 9, up in San Carlos; the research interview was at 3, in Elkhorn Slough (a name that should be familiar to anyone who's heard me talk about my capstone thesis). That's right -- opposite directions, one 30 miles north of our place, the other 50 miles south. My li'l purple car got a workout.

In which Your Obedient Serpent gets caught in traffic.

On my way up US 101 to the first interview, I was pleased at how smoothly the rush-hour traffic was flowing... right up until a large, blinking, lighted Traffic Conditions billboard informed me that an accident had blocked all the northbound lanes. Moments after that, I hit the traffic jam. Moments after that, the radio finally informed me that a truck had jackknifed and caught fire, and that traffic was backed up all the way to the University Avenue exit. Looking out my window, I saw the sign for... the University Avenue Exit.

Luckily, I had my cell phone. I called andreal, who was stuck in the same jam, and he gave me the number for the front desk at his workplace. I called them to let them know that I'd be late for my 9 am appointment -- and was informed that the person who was supposed to interview me was also stuck in the same traffic jam.

With a few calls to andreal and quelonzia for directions (bless you, Mapquest), I finally got there around 10:30.

In which Your Obedient Serpent gets flummoxed by the most elementary of questions.

The interview went well, I think. There were several people there, asking me questions -- something quelonzia calls a "wolfpack". I think I handled most of the questions farily well, though I found myself stymied by some of the standard Stupid Interview Questions.

  • "What would you say is your biggest fault?"
  • Um, let's think about that. I probably shouldn't say "I tend to scream and throw furniture when I've had too much caffeine."

    They said they'd get in touch with me by the end of the week. Since the actual hire will be through dear, beloved BioSource, Manpower's glassware-and-petri-dish division, they couldn't actually give me a firm figure on my wages. The temp agency will be handling that. IT's only a three-orofour-month contract, but they do a lot of temp-to-hire there, and I'd definitely have opportunities to move up, rather than spending my life cycling asthma inhalers.

    Of course, while I have a Biotech AA, it's really not the field I want to work in.

    With that out of the way, I headed back down 101, stopped in at quelonzia's workplace to have lunch and fuel up the Li'l Purple Car (insert obligatory "have lunch and get gas" joke here), andtook off southward for Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve.

    In which Your Obedient Serpent finds that his reputation precedes him.

    The second interview was... unorthodox. I knew both the Research Director and the Geographic Ecologist from my capstone days, and they had both read my capstone and were eager to have me on board. It wasn't so much a matter of "are you right for this job?" as "this is what we want you to do -- are you interested?"

    Hell yes I am!

    I'll be hammering all the bathymetry and erosion research we've done in Elkhorn Slough into a paper that can be published in a peer-reviewed journal. Despite all the excellent data and high-quality work coming out of CSUMB, ESNERR, and Moss Landing Marine Labs, nothing's actually been published outside of our own little Monterey Bay research enclave.

    I'll also be working with some hyperspectral data on the Slough, drawing on my internship at NASA back in 2002 to help ease the learning curve on the rather specialized software involved.

    Like the Biotech job, it's short-term job -- the grant money is only good until the end of the year. There's not a bunch of grant money, either, so it won't pay as well, and the chances are slim that I'll be able to stay on after the end of this assignment -- however, this is a job in my field, working in my area of interest, doing things that I thoroughly enjoy. It will also give me an opportunity to interact and network with some of the top researchers in the area, which is the magic key to finding a Real Live Job (note that the only two interviews I've gotten in the last year or so have been through personal contacts).

    And besides -- as I was getting introduced around the center after the "interview", everyone's eyes lit up when they heard my name and told me how brilliant my capstone was.

    Now, there's an ego-boo I sorely needed.
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