out of the bitter barn, playing in the hay.

I've held off with this post. Most of you will already have known what I'm about to say, in general. But, I felt it deserved its moment in the blogosphere. I've actually started writing this several times, and kept erasing it...because I think my attitude kept improving. Kind of growing out of the confused, disgruntled wannabe employee. I've kept our blog public so far, so who's to say who really reads this? I really have no idea. [but, if you'd like to let me know, there's a comments button at the end. hint hint.] I don't know if anyone from work has ever landed on this site, but I figure I'd better type diplomatically. and, that's where I'm at. or, where I've recently arrived...after the month or so of being bounced about.

As you know, I graduated with my master's in May. I expressed interest in continuing on as a genetic counselor with the Children's Hospital, where I trained as a student and completed my clinical rotations. They were hiring another full-time genetic counselor...which was a major answered prayer, because relocation is not exactly an option. Aaron's still in school here for several more years, and they are the only clinic to staff pediatric GC's in Oklahoma [the area I really want to work in]. So, after several encouraging words, winks & smiles, several of the staff & former students strongly suggested that I definitely take a month off before coming back to start my real adult-job. To really enjoy it, relax, and decompress from the 2 crazy years before jumping right in, so I'd be 'fresh' and ready to do a good job. I would have to 'formally' interview, but they let my classmate and I know that there were 'no concerns', and they were no longer advertising the position or interviewing anyone else. Sounds like a great gig, no?

Well, on two occasions in early June we tried to coordinate schedules and get an interview set up. It's a whole day event, coordinating with about 8 other people, so you can understand the difficulty. At least, I assumed, that was our only hurdle. As it turns out, the department was having difficulty finding the funding to pay my salary (!!). This was pretty crushing when we found out. Because of the 'bureaucracy' of a university hospital, HR wouldn't even touch me to set up my application/new hire/interview until the funding had been approved through some crazy hierarchy of people with their picture on the hospital wall. So, we wait. The hardest thing was seeing July 1st come and go, when I had planned on coming back to work. I was so confused... I had enjoyed my allotted time off, but I was ready, and needed, to start. I became strangely exhausted, not an expected description of the unemployed. It was as if well, if i'm not 'contributing', then I have to be doing something. All day, anything. Just wouldn't let myself just sit.

When people describe themselves as 'stressed', I always just had equated that with being busy. I mean, that's what I meant, when I said I was stressed. Now, I had all the time in the world. I'd never experienced this type of stress...that of the unfamiliar, unable to plan, uncertain. Or, at least, If I had... I must have also been pressured with school and just blamed it on the books without a second thought.

So, what could I really do but wait on the funding to be approved? ...for two weeks? until December? until another genetic counselor leaves? Yes, sure, I have my masters. I'm sure it could be leveraged into another position, for decent pay, somewhere else. But, that's not what I busted my butt for the last two years. I wanted to do this. I needed to do this... there's not another position for a GC in the whole state?! board exams are next year, how would I pass without experience ? & how would I ever be hired somewhere else without experience ?

[freak out.]

In between, there were lots of ambiguous back-and-forth calls & e-mails. I had the persistence of a 4 year old - are we there yet?!

I think I was pretty embarrassed too. I had worked so hard, was now a graduate of 'higher education'. and, I didn't have a job? ...what happened to my 'master plan'? Anytime you use the word 'master plan', you should just know that you're in for it. Obviously, God had a lesson to teach me in control. The more people I shared this with....the more I learned about so many others who'd come away from school (undergrad, MS, PhD...) and been in the same boat. No one really talks about the 'space between' and the uncertainty of unemployment. It's a lot less humiliating not too. But, thanks, to those of you for opening up on the truth and hardship that sometimes comes before finding that 'dream job'. It's been a tremendous comfort.

Without being totally helpless, I applied for temp jobs [which I got] and even began looking for other ways to use this expensive education. I looked into private OB/GYN offices, only 2 prenatal clinics in OKC currently have a genetic counselor on staff. While everyone was so polite and encouraging, they just weren't expanding at the time. Darn economy! I submitted resumes at other biotech/pharm companies and universities.

...and when it rains it pours...Just this week, I was contacted about being an adjunct professor of biology at the University of Central Oklahoma. Genzyme [awesome company to work for] called about a position, but the one they wanted to offer me was in Dallas or Florida. [sorry ma'am, my husband's rat pups are here in oklahoma]. I was also contacted about working for Myriad Genetics Laboratories as a women's health account executive. Nifty title, huh? They're looking for someone with a genetic background, but it's not necessarily working with patients. The job is more like marketing/sales of genetic testing to physicians working with those at-risk for hereditary cancers. While all great prospects, I'd still like to do the job I'd set out to do...

So, long story longer, although a month later than anticipated, the funding for my position has now been approved. They're now ready to move forward, & I 'formally' interviewed today. I started at 8, ended at 5, interviewing with 8 different people in Genetics. It went incredibly well. As always, you all assured me that it would. In fact, I spent the whole day before preparing... and I was hardly asked any questions at all. None of that 'why should we hire you'...'weaknesses that are really strengths' trickery.. The focus was other people offering their advice, catching me up on the section, and discussing my position there in the department. Everyone was so complementary of me, too. Instead of having to 'sell myself' with fancy adjectives like most interviews, I had 2 years with these people...and they know who I am and, clearly, were just as excited as I am about me coming onboard in Genetics. My head should have been the size of a watermelon by the time I left. One of the doctors came in to interview me and just laughed and said, "this is so funny, why are we doing this? we all know you're hired."

I look back and think, hmm, I had an extra month. of free time. must've been bloody terrible for you...my, you sure do have a good tan. why was I being so ridiculous? It's definitely easier in hindsight. All I could think about at the time, of course, was how we'd budgeted as far as July and were counting on a salary. That's a big one. But, you know, we're fine. We're not crazy irresponsible. So, getting into a house is put on hold, say, a couple months later than we thought? We're not filing bankruptcy or even defaulting on student loans. Not even close. If anything, I've been amazingly blessed to have spent two weeks with wonderful visitors - Hannah, Jonathan, & Logan. I've been able to spend quality time with friends & family. I've been able to catch up on, well, life. To sit back and try not to get lost in the plans, but just enjoy the everyday. Truly rest. Find new, and rekindle old interests, I'd almost forgotten what to write when something asks you to list 'hobbies'. And best of all, Aaron's happy. When he comes home in the evenings, I'm done. with our errands, grocery shopping, cleaning...and well, sometimes, there's food in the oven. The night is ours, together. No to-do lists. Just playtime. tennis matches. bike rides. wii tournaments. bible study. movies. He said it's been one of his best summers ever...almost like he got to come home to 'summer camp' every night. well, my dear, the silver lining shines.

"I love living. I have problems with my life, but living is the best thing they've come up with so far. " - neil simon


The Lees said...

That is great Jae! We know how it is to wait for a job. It's a good growth time. I am glad that you are getting to do what you want.

Beth said...

Hi there! Just wanted to let you know that I am reading your blogs and I thoroughly enjoy them. When I got on facebook I saw that you had a blog so now I check in regularly. :) So glad that things worked out for you. I remember when I graduated college and was looking for a job...it is a trying experience. It sounds like everything worked out though...YAY! Take care!

Kaitlin said...

This is such a great post. I wish I could have read it while I was on the job search. Congratulations on you job and I know exactly where you are coming from. I was so worried about not finding a job that I almost forgot to enjoy my last month of college. Thank goodness I have parents that snapped me out of it!