Thursday, November 24, 2011

Bedbug aid

A big exciting thing happened to me yesterday: I received a job offer from the University of Maryland. Ever since my second interview on Monday (read The Unfashionista for a shoe-centric account of the events leading up to it), I've been living in a state of anxiety, waiting to find out if I was the one out of three to make the cut.

Today, the call came in. When I heard the voice of the department head whom I had met at my second interview asking "How are you?", my lungs stopped working. Fortunately, they recovered in time to say I was fine and how was he? Pleasantries thus exchanged, he went on to tell me the committee had selected me for the job, to disclose the exact proposed salary, confirm that my freelance work would not prevent me from performing my duties, and ask me if I accepted.

I don't know if it's appropriate to accept a job offer with the same level of ditziness that Miss America accepts her crown, but I did. Pending the obligatory paperwork, I will start on January 2.

I could tell you the many reasons that I'm delighted to have the opportunity to work for the University of Maryland. I could tell you the equally many reasons that I'm kind of regretful. But I think I will save those topics for later and tell you instead about the road that brought me here.

If you have been reading this blog faithfully, you will know that from August 26 to October 1, I spent most of my time in a flurry of job applications. Following that, I began the battle of a lifetime with what may or may not be bedbugs (I finally scheduled an appointment for December 6 with the bug-sniffing dog, to find out for sure). Midway through that ordeal, I received a call about a job application I had all but forgotten, for Web development and training at UMD.

They wanted me to come in for an interview. I did. On the day of the interview, I arrived 15 minutes early to find the parking garage I'd been instructed to use was fully occupied. I drove around in an increasing rage before finally leaving a nearly tearful voice mail with the contact person to inform him that I was still looking for parking. Following this, I had to keep stopping off at bathrooms because my wardrobe was malfunctioning. Eventually I arrived 20 minutes late. I thought that was a terrible start, but the interviewers seemed to understand, and I think my presentation redeemed me a little.

As part of the job was to involve training others to use the web-based content management system, to assess my training skills, they had asked me to prepare a 5-10 minute presentation on a subject of my choice. The first topic that came to mind? Bedbugs.

I ran with it. In a moment of genius, I invented a catchy acronym—Bedbug AID: Avoid, Identify, Destroy—and made that the theme of my presentation. Of course, in giving the presentation, I forgot most of the points I wanted to bring up and all the clever transitions I had prepared, but I did elicit a number of horrified expressions and like to believe I imparted some valuable knowledge to my interviewers.

Bedbug bookmark, back and front
In my typical compulsively overachieving fashion, I decided before the interview that I needed to give my interviewers something to take home with them. So I made them bookmarks with the Bedbug AID slogan and some helpful pointers. They seemed to be quite impressed. "You designed these? Hmm. We never thought about a design element to this job, but it would be helpful to have someone with some design skills around. Our entire design team was laid off last year." When I heard that, my heart rejoiced a little—with an appropriate degree of reservation. And I was glad I had spent the nearly 3 dollars for a double-sided color print at Fedex Office (It was only 40 cents a side back when I was a design student!).

Following the interview, I had to immediately come back because I could not find one of my gloves. One of the interviewers kept trying to herd me toward the front door, but I wanted to go the other way because that was how I had come and maybe that way I would find my missing glove. In spite of my discombobulation, my late arrival, and my traumatic presentation topic, they still invited me to come back the next week. And that second interview was basically a formality.

I never thought there could be a good side to a bedbug infestation, but, had I not spent the last month researching the creatures fanatically, I don't think I would have gotten the job. As Miss America would put it, "And I'm grateful to...bedbugs...for getting me here. Thanks, bedbugs!"


Julie said...

WOOT! congrats!!! that's awesome Valerie!!! seems weird to say this but Yay for bedbugs!!

Geoff said...

Yayyyy! Congratulations!

Amy Shipley said...

Haha, wow! Congrats, that's great. I hope you love your new job!