Friday, February 22, 2013

Job Hunt - BYU Interview

Chris' post-doc position here ends this summer and so we've been on the job hunt.  It actually started back in October.  Chris found a few websites that had academic job listings across the US and Canada.  Also, BYU sent an email out to alumni advertising an open position for the next year and invited people to send them names for candidates   A couple of friends and brothers put forth Chris' name and we had contacted them ourselves saying we would like to apply for the job and attached all of Chris' job search stuff: a CV, letter of intent, research statement, etc... At the end of October, Chris got a random call from a guy at BYU just wanting to chat with Chris for a bit.  Turns out that was sort of a phone interview and in November (actually the day we were in the ER all day with our miscarriage) BYU called to tell Chris that out of the 100+ applications they got, they've picked 4 or 5 candidates to come interview and Chris was one of them!  It was such great news since BYU was pretty much our dream job. It was a nice mix of research and teaching, and a serious but not 60hr week serious institution where Chris could do exciting research and share his testimony of the Gospel, AND we could live near a lot of family.

The date for the interview was set for late January and spanned half of a week. We made a family trip out of it since I can never pass up a chance to see family. It was fast and busy and sorta stressful but I'm so glad we  all went.

The interview started on Wednesday afternoon with an General Authority interview up at the Church Office Building in Salt Lake. Chris' spouse was requested to accompany him if she was in town too, so... I got to go! This was really a highlight for me.  It was an amazing experience to be in the Church Office building, meet Elder Eduardo Gavarret, and see the kind of people that worked there.  My belief that this LDS Church is actually Christ's true restored church was strengthened. That building is a special place, full of good people. We ended up with a flat tire and still needed to be back in Provo for another interview. Some very nice and helpful parking garage cleaners in the underground parking at Temple Square saw our predicament and insisted on changing the tire for us since we were 'in our nice clothes' and they were 'in their work clothes.' They were some of the most respectful, polite, soft spoken, laid back, 'real' people I've ever met.

From Wednesday night thru Friday late afternoon Chris had meetings and interviews and dinners/lunches all the days. He gave a colloquium talk on Thursday and Dixie and James, myself, and Jared, Jordan, Tiff, Todd, Sarah, Bryce, Leland, (and two other HS friends I can't recall their names) and a RM from our Stanford ward all were able to attend his talk. So fun to hear him speak. He did a really good job and got a lot of compliments from BYU professors about his teaching/explaining skills and technically deep subject.  That night I was invited to join Chris and two other professors and their wives for dinner. We went to the Bombay house at our request and had a very nice evening full of laughter, jokes and general getting-to-know-you-ness.  I felt we had made a good impression overall and Chris felt like he was able to really be himself during everything.


Throughout ALLLL of this, starting on Wednesday, Chris was sick. Like fever, chills, constant nose blowing sick. Poor guy. He had to suck it up and wake up early and talk all day at interviews, and then stay up and talk all night to us telling about his interviews. By Friday his voice was shot and we were all exhausted and ready to drive home the next day.

No regrets. We gave it our best shot, felt a lot of positive vibes and yet still couldn't even bring ourselves to look into houses/neighborhoods even once since it was BY NO MEANS a sure thing. One phrase that one of the professors Chris spoke with kept us humble and unsure.  He said that because all the candidates were so good "we could spin a spinner and be happy with the choice."

While we waited to hear back (people said it could be 3 months but the department head said he would try to tell us in 4 weeks) we would CONSTANTLY think about it. We looked up and watched some of the other candidate colloquium talks, Chris checked the website every day just in case it posted something, we'd go over our thoughts and feelings on how it went and decide, again and again, that we just didn't know.

In the meantime we were getting excited for Chris to fly out for his next interview at Mississippi State, but mostly thinking about BYU.

Just over 24 hours before he left for Mississippi he got a call from BYU from the Department Head explaining that while they were very impressed with Chris they decided to go in a different direction. I don't really know how the conversation went (Chris needs to chime in here and frankly everywhere in this post) but I believe Chris was encouraged  to re-apply in the future.

You know the feeling of a slammed door, an inch away from your face? That's what it felt like, for me. We hold no malice towards BYU. Chris, especially  is so forgiving, understanding and non-assuming. He would still love to teach there, still holds it and the CS department and professors in high regard. We both still LOVE BYU. He had a phone conversation with the guy that was his 'host' for the interview a week after we were told "no" and got some valuable feedback. Valuable feedback is kind of hard to hear sometimes but that doesn't make it less meaningful or less appreciated.

It will be interesting to find out who they hired, but we're less concerned about that now that we have a job lined up for the future. Spoiler Alert, yes we did get a job, somewhere. Next up is a detailed report of Chris' interview and experience at Mississippi State.

1 comment:

Katie B. said...

Boo! It would have been so fun to have you here!