Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Job Hunt - Mississippi State Interview

Chris flew out on a $1200 flight to Starkville, Mississippi at 6 in the morning on a Sunday.  Three airports, one family reunion and over 12 hours later, he arrives in the little university town.  His first layover was in Minneapolis and while he had waited at the airport in Edmonton he had emailed his cousin, Steve who lives in Minneapolis, to let him know he'd be thinking of him while he was there.  Turns out Steve was willing to drive to the airport (or get driven to the airport because of a bad sprain) to chat with Chris! It was great for them to see each other and catch up for an hour.

Chris was shown first had the meaning of the phrase, "Southern hospitality" for the short 3 days of his visit.  They picked him up from the airport and took him out to breakfast, lunch and dinner all of the days.  The interviews were casual and usually included something else like a meal or a tour of something.  Chris felt like he could be excited and unapologetic about his research since Mississippi State didn't have any issues with Poker/Billiards.

Having never really heard much about Mississippi State before, Chris was impressed with them.  Instead of being a dinky little college in a backwater town in the middle of nowhere (sorry for the horribly uneducated stereotypes) he found them to be a real, large, updated, serious university in a pleasant, small town in the middle of nowhere.  They have a High Performance Computing Center that gets a new supercomputer every 3 years to remain in the top tier of academic computing centers.

Chris gave a job talk and during various hours met with professors, phd students, deans and a local realtor who drove him around the town.  He felt like he had gotten along well with everyone and was able to be himself.  He really liked not being sick.  Chris took the advice of Elder Gavarret and made sure to ask lots of questions himself. Mostly about the department and the area. The only question he had left by the end of his visit was about the LDS community there. The head of the search committee must have been inspired because he told Chris that he thought Chris would like a chance to speak with someone from the Mormon church and changed the schedule last minute to have one of the department's teachers, an LDS woman, take Chris to the airport.  She was kind and friendly and filled Chris in on Starkville's branch.

Super short, he was leaving for the airport less than 48 hours after he arrived.  His general impression was positive like, "We've never wanted or even thought about living here before but hey, we could do it and probably love it."

We knew Mississippi State was wanting to move fast with an offer and not get caught like they did last year without a new hire because of timing issues. But while we waited to hear from them we worried and worried about our future because we had nothing else turning up and we already knew BYU was hiring someone else. The "valuable feedback" we got from BYU didn't come till after the MS State interview and we worried that since we didn't change anything from one interview to the next, and since MS State flew out more candidates we weren't likely to have succeeded there either.

No comments: