Posts from the ‘Job hunt’ Category

Some other beginning’s end

After a two-and-a-half hour march across Paris from the Latin Quarter to Pont de Grenelle, just south of the Eiffel Tower, I was absolutely exhausted. It was our last night in Paris, and DH wanted to see the replica of the Statue of Liberty that stands on the tip of a small island in the Seine. But after six days of walking around the City of Lights, my back and feet were relieved to plop down on a rail by the quay as he took some nice dusky pictures of the stature.

I idly pulled my smartphone out of my purse; we weren’t paying for cell or data coverage here, so I was relying on wireless internet during our trip to connect with the world back home. Our apartment rental came with free access to a city-wide wifi network, but it was a long shot that there would be a wifi hotspot here. However, I was in luck. I connected and proceeded to download something like twenty emails, mostly junk mail and advertisements. However, one message caught my eye.

It was an email automatically generated from the same automated online system I had used nearly two months before to apply to one of the jobs for which I had interviewed in August. Evidently it was news of some kind about my application. I opened it and quickly scrolled through; after many uninformative and irrelevant words I saw the ones that mattered: “You were not selected for this position.”

Halfway through our European trip was not the time to fret about life-altering decisions and revelations. After a few minutes of absorbing the news, I stood up, dusted myself off, and walked to the nearest metro stop. I thought about jobs I might apply for when we got home; we pondered the possibility of living on one income for the foreseeable future. We settled the matter in our minds and proceeded to enjoy the second half of our European trip.

One week later, after 11 hours on a trans-Atlantic flight from Rome to Charlotte, NC, I eagerly turned my phone on to access domestic cellular and data for the first time since we left. I knew my parents would want to know we were back in the states, especially since they were picking us up at the airport when we made it back to Denver. However, what download to my phone was not a voice mail from a friend or family member, but one from the very same job that, one week earlier, I was told I did not get.

All I can figure is that there was some strange goof in the automated system. The voice mail, from that very same morning while I was in the air over the Atlantic, was from a real, honest-to-goodness human being offering me the job. So, with American soil under our feet for a mere two minutes, all of our resolutions and Plan B’s were completely erased and all of a sudden I was faced with a monumental life decision.

It was too late to respond that day, which was just fine. I still had customs and immigration, another flight, and the drive home to process what was even going on. When I called back the next morning–exhausted, jet-lagged, fighting a cold–she reiterated what she stated in the voice mail and gave me until the end of the following day to make my decision.

It may seem like a short turn-around, but in reality there wasn’t that much more to think about. All the time I was applying for the job, talking to them over the phone, going there in person to interview, I was formulating the answer to the question “what if.” All the time I was waiting for their decision I was determining what I would say if they offered. I knew what my answer was going to be. I didn’t need the time to decide, only to find the courage to accept the truth of my decision in my heart.

I know it sounds ridiculous that I could know I made the right choice, know that I had peace about the choice, yet still sob into DH’s shoulder for a long time after I returned her call to let her know my decision. I knew it was the right choice, but the repercussions of it were so significant. I knew I was grieving for what I’d be leaving behind; I was terrified for the new that was to come; I was unsure of all we’d now have to do to get there.

But I knew that I was taking the job and that we were moving to Washington, DC.

After the end of the fiber, a journey I started eight years ago was now complete and another beginning.


Closing time…every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.



Yesterday was my last day at work, and thus my entire graduate career has come full circle and ended.

When I drove into work yesterday, I had all sorts of emotions simmering softly inside me. I didn’t quite know what to expect the day to be like, if it would feel monumental every moment, if every thing I did for the last time would seem significant. I suppose that, in the end, I knew everything was the last time, but it wasn’t so overwhelming, sort of like I had already accepted the situation mentally and spiritually and was ready to say goodbye and move on to the next step.

It was a little more difficult to say goodbye to people. Most of the folks I work with were valued colleagues but not super close friends. I’ll miss them, but I’ll likely see some of them again in passing if we stay in the same field. However, since we didn’t “hang out” as friends outside of work, those relationships are a little bit easier to surrender. It’s the people with whom I have become close friends with that are hard to leave behind, especially when I might be moving away and can’t even hang out with them outside of work, either. This isn’t anything new in life, though; these days, our culture almost guarantees that life move us or the other people around. Few people stay in one place with the same people all their lives anymore. I’ve said goodbye to friends in high school, college, and throughout grad school. It’s a fact I have somewhat come to accept now, though it is still hard.

My boss always gives departing members a consolation prize–I mean–a parting gift. This gift is almost always the same, and it comes from the same store–the one under the stairs in the lobby of the building. So at least I was sent off in style with a little science swag. You can’t tell in the picture, but that mug is ridiculously huge, by the way.

Having moved fairly often as a kid (always the same town, just to new houses since my parents were contractors on the side), I’m quite familiar with the feeling of vacating a space. I like to walk around a house or apartment or building that I won’t enter into again to soak it up one last time before I leave. NIST is a big, sprawling building, not including the new building that was just completed a few months ago. I didn’t go everywhere all the time, but after seven years I had tasks that took me to nearly every part of the building at least once. In my rounds to say goodbye to everyone, I traversed these hallways one last time. I also said goodbye to my office–dirty, industrial cinder block walls, windows that don’t close, watermarks down the wall from leaks, scuffed floors, dusty blinds, dangling cables and frayed cords. My officemates will soon be moving to new digs in the new building, too, so I don’t even know who will reside in that old office anymore. Hopefully they won’t have to suffer there too long. 😉

I said my goodbyes, got my affairs in order, and left. That morning I came to work expecting to maybe never come back again. What I was not expecting on my last day was to have an email forwarded to my inbox by my boss–a job announcement for a post doc opening in the very same division doing something very interesting. To not have to move, to continue working at a place I love…that’s quite big. When I came to work yesterday I did not expect to be doing what amounted to be an interview with an acquaintance about a possible job. Obviously, this is still very new, and I also have my current prospects to attend to first, but when I came to work yesterday I entered with a sense of finality and left with somewhat of a quandary. I was prepared to make a clean break, but now I still have a lingering possibility of going back. That makes it a little more complicated emotionally. Like I said, this is all very fresh, and it’s possible it won’t even come to fruition, but now there is some cord still binding me there which doesn’t allow me to sever ties completely yet. But, for all intents and purposes regarding my job, it is finished.

So, NIST, this is goodbye. For now. Farewell, and thanks for seven great years.


One week and an update

One week from today…that’s all I have left at my current job. It’s amazing how fast and yet how slow the last couple of months have gone. I finally have gotten most of my measurements done; I plan on going over my results with my colleagues tomorrow, and I really, really hope they don’t have any other major things I need to measure to wrap things up. Though, even if they do I guess it’s okay since everything is up and running at the moment. I want to be done, but I also want it to be complete before I move on.

I’m still waiting to hear back from the two jobs I’ve been interviewing for, though at this point dragging out the process and delaying actually having to make life-changing decisions is just fine with me! I also just submitted another job application today. The job announcement was forwarded to me as a group email yesterday, and I thought about it overnight. When I came to work today, I found that my boss had independently printed it out and put it on my desk for my consideration. I took that as a sign to just go ahead, so I filled out all that stuff today. We’ll see how that goes, especially as those other two opportunities simmer on the back burner until time to deal with them.

I’ve also been working on the July challenge of trying four new recipes this month to spice up my inspiration in the kitchen. Challenge aside, I’ve been more motivated about cooking in general, which is a relief, though I am still struggling to stay as organized as I used to be. I imagine that once next week rolls around and I’m unemployed, I’ll actually have more time to be creative, too.

The challenge so far has been interesting in that, of the three recipes I have tried so far, all three of them I have approached with a significant amount of skepticism. For all of them, I have experienced the exact same sensation when sitting down to eat it–an odd expression comes over my face as I wonder how on earth this is gong to turn out, and I do not look forward to trying it at all. It’s very strange how I have managed to pick recipes that all elicit this sort of response.

If you recall, I recounted my experience with Recipe #1, chicken tikka masala, in the original post. It was okay at first and I wasn’t really sure how I would rate the dish, but I have to say it was one of those dishes that did improve as leftovers; I guess the spices really had time to mingle and incorporate. So it ultimately turned out to be a success and there was no hesitant facial expression when eating it again!

I also said that I intended to try sweet potato and black bean tacos for Recipe #2. Same facial expression, similar response upon first taste. It’s okay…nothing wrong with it, but I was just inherently skeptical about sweet potato and black beans together inside of a tortilla. DH said it was good, and it certainly was fine, but for leftovers I just ate the potatoes and beans alone instead of done up taco style. I can’t say the combination was one I will repeat in the future.

I decided that for Recipe #3 I would take advantage of the abundance of Swiss chard I have in my garden. I’ve heard so many people say they love sauteed greens, so I thought I should give it a try. Now, despite the irony that I have a green smoothie and a salad for breakfast and lunch every single day, I really don’t like greens that much, especially not on their own. But since sauteed chard comes so highly recommended, I decided I needed to give it a try. Same facial expression when I sat down yesterday, and this time I seriously for real didn’t like it. For one, I had used too much garlic and onion to season it and it was overwhelming to me. Moreover, I just didn’t care for the flavor of the greens (what little I could taste through the seasoning!). DH said it was fine, but in the end I was glad I didn’t make more than two servings of it.

I’ve decided that for my final recipe, I need to try something that I’m actually looking forward to trying. This might require being slightly less healthy than these other three dishes. Maybe more carbs and fat and less veggies? 😉 I did see a risotto recipe a few weeks ago that looked so creamy and delectable…

Rainy days and Mondays

Evidently I’ve had three Mondays in eight days. That’s rough. I had a normal Monday today and a week ago, plus I had a “Monday” the day after Independence Day. Having one day off in the middle of the week was nice, but I had a difficult time getting going again, even with just two days until the weekend. Today has also been particularly tough since DH and I took a fast and furious weekend trip and only got back last night. It was really great, and more details will follow, but it’s been challenging getting back up to speed. Not having the weekend to keep up with routine tasks at home means I’m a little bit behind now. Plus it was rainy this morning with possibly more showers this afternoon. A rainy day and a Monday…bound to get me down I guess.

Since it is indeed Monday, it’s time for another Goal of the Week. I decided that I need to up the running again. I keep letting things get in the way of my normal exercise routine, but I shouldn’t. Given the Monday-ness of today, I know it might be hard to force myself to do it, but I’m going to, or else. I hope. :-/ But getting the blood pumping would probably help improve my Monday (and whole week) outlook. So I will do it or else. I hope.

I currently am courting two different job opportunities. Both have their appealing aspects, and they certainly  have their drawbacks as well. Things will undoubtedly progress as I continue to talk with both parties this week, and it’s quite possible I’ll have some significant decisions to make in the coming weeks. We’ll just have to see how it plays out. All the while I’m still keeping my eyes open for anything else that comes along. Just three weeks left in my current job…trying to stay motivated until the end. It’s hard when my experiment isn’t working as expected, but, after seven years of research, what else would I expect?


Starting to sink in

We are, inexplicably, 2/3 of the way through June now. Yikes. I have something like five weeks left here at my job. While I’ve known when my appointment would be over for a long time now, every day the reality that I won’t be here anymore is starting to sink in.

I’ve been working here for seven years now; in fact, my anniversary was just a couple of weeks ago. I’ve met a lot of people, made friends, gotten very familiar with the building and where everything is and how things work. I’m very comfortable. But it seems like life is very good at disrupting us whenever we do get comfortable with something. That’s just the way things work.

I am just beginning to process how different my life is really going to be now, when I don’t come here every day and go to the same lab and talk to the same people. Wow, change is really tough. We naturally tend to resist it, but I do find that regardless of how uncomfortable it is, I adapt to it pretty well. It’s just a matter of accepting it and rolling with it.

So, in the next five or so weeks I need to get my affairs in order. I’ll probably go through my emails to see if there’s anything I might still need, trash/recycle/shred old papers and keep the ones that are still useful, start bringing some of my reference books home, organize my data files on the computer. I guess I’ll also have to say my goodbyes, too. We’ve had a number of group members leave since I’ve been here, and quite a few recently, so we’ve had good-bye lunches and farewells before. I guess in a few weeks it will be mine.

I still haven’t found my next job yet. I had a sort-of interview last week with a professor for a post doc, but I don’t really expect it to go anywhere. I’m not sure I’d even be happy there, either. I guess one never knows, though. I actually found a handful of jobs yesterday that I might be interested in applying for as well as a couple of possible research groups I might be interested in approaching for a post doc. It’s just that even when I come up with an idea for something to pursue, I usually talk myself out of it for one reason or another–well, maybe I wouldn’t actually like working there. Do I really want to move there? Do I have much of a future doing that? What would people think if I decided to do that?

None of that really matters, though. It’s really just about sowing the seeds and doing due diligence and then just waiting to see what will ultimately bear fruit. While the next step is indeed an important one that will play into what I do for the rest of my career, in reality it’s highly unlikely that it will be my whole career, either. So while that means more change will come, it also means that I shouldn’t feel that I’m being  “sentenced” to life in prison with no chance of parole, either. As I’ve said often to DH, even if what I do next isn’t what I really love, it’s probably just going to be for a year or two, something that will prepare me better for what’s next, and anybody can stick with something for a year or two, right?

At the end of the day, there’s only one thing I am confident about–God has something for me to do, and He will make it happen just as soon as His timing is right (unfortunately for us, His timing is almost always different than ours!). All I have to do is put legs on following through with the official bits, but there’s nothing really that I will do to force it to happen. And it will be the right thing, the job that prepares me for the next step, or maybe it will be the perfect job that I will have forever. And if I have to be unemployed for a while, He’s going to provide for our needs, too, and maybe I can use that time to do something else productive and meaningful that I wouldn’t get to have the chance to do when employed nine to five. Either way, it’s ultimately for my good. Therefore I don’t worry about it (or try not to).


Life feels stale, stagnant, circling, waiting, stalled, suspended. Despite the fact that I’ve defended my thesis, earned my PhD, graduated, and even had other personal accomplishments (like running the 10k) in the past month or so, I feel totally and completely stuck in my life right now. I’m looking for a job, but I haven’t found one. I’m still working at my old job, but I’m rehashing all the old stuff that was the bane of my existence previously. I have some free time again, yet I can’t muster the motivation or energy to do much at home. I’m waiting for something to change each passing day, but so far what I’m waiting for hasn’t come.

I don’t even think it’s just about waiting for a job opportunity, either. I think I’m just mentally and emotionally stuck, just exhausted in spirit. I desperately need a vacation, or at least I think I do, but I feel like I’m stuck waiting on I-dunno-what before I can even think about making some sort of real plan. It feels like everyone around me is taking time off and going fun places, both local and exotic, while I, despite working hard for two semesters to get done and feeling like I’ve earned some sort of special trip to celebrate my success, am still sitting on my couch petting the dog day after day. All the while, it at least seems like getting away would energize me and strengthen me as I am waiting for whatever-it-is. It’s a catch-22, evidently.

Some days I feel more optimistic than others, and even on those days I just feel generally dull. Some days are not so good, but if I feel down I try to just let it out and then move on with a slightly improved disposition. I guess I’m feeling a little more down today, just trying to trudge along, keep taking steps forward, hoping for a better day tomorrow despite feeling trapped. I wish I could find some way to reboot myself so I can finally restart afresh with a little more of the joy I expected to have after being done.

It’s really dumb to feel sorry for myself, since there’s not really anything wrong and I’ve had so much blessing recently. It shames me to confess that I find myself wallowing a bit from time to time. I really, honestly believe that God has something worked out for me, something that’s good for me, something fun and enjoyable, something to be passionate about. I just wish I felt more energized about the future and didn’t struggle with doubt sometimes.

Mark 9:24: “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!”

Another eventful week

It’s Monday again, and thus starts another eventful week. My parents will come into town on Wednesday, and we will have a couple of graduation festivities to attend. Thursday afternoon is the Physics Department graduation ceremony, and Friday morning is the university-wide commencement. The physics department affair will  be smaller and probably a bit more meaningful than the huge ceremony. However, I guess since I worked so hard and was here so long I couldn’t really just skip the other one. However, I am not looking forward to it–it’s ridiculously early Friday morning, and traffic is always a nightmare just getting to town that day, and I can only imagine what it’s like actually having to maneuver through it and find a parking space. Well, it’ll work out somehow, and at least it’ll all be over by noon.

I was surprised to learn that I will receive my actual, honest-to-goodness diploma after the ceremony on Friday. I thought I’d have to wait for it, but I guess they thought that all the advanced degrees waited long enough to get theirs, so the Graduate School will have them available for pickup afterwards. Now I have to figure out a cool way to display my expensive piece of paper.

All the while these things are going on, I have one more thing to think about…I actually got a job offer this morning. There is so much to consider about this job…most importantly, the whole having to sell our house and move there thing. I have not yet made a decision, but I will have until next Monday to decide.

I seriously did not anticipate how hard it would be to decide what I want to do when I grow up. Whatever I choose to do now will not likely be permanent; the typical path for a physics grad is a post doc, which lasts 1-3 years, but even taking a teaching or industry job would most likely only be a step toward something else in the future. But it’s a little unsettling to slog through eight years of graduate studies only to realize that I will probably be less stable now for a few years than I was all through grad school. Academia is comforting; you know the end is coming, but you know it’ll be a few years before it happens. Newton was definitely onto something with the whole body-at-rest thing.

Is this why some people never leave college and get five advanced degrees? I’m beginning to understand.