It has been pretty busy round here lately. There’s the usual overcrowding problem in the labs as everyone tries to print their dissertations and theses at the same time, lots of last-minute coursework submissions and the beginnings of exam preparation. Then there are the interviews, screening processes and assessment days all curiously scheduled to conflict with the major university deadlines.
I’ve been chasing an opportunity for a year’s sabbatical job as a teaching fellow in Africa for the last few weeks. The screening process has been quite extensive, with many phone calls from around the world and a day-long interview in London last week – on the day before my dissertation deadline.
I had to work tirelessly for a few weeks to make absolutely certain that I had finished my dissertation a few days early in order to attend. The downside of working so close to the deadline is that I noticed several things about my software that I could improve in less than a day, but didn’t have to time to commit to it. I had to settle instead for writing about it in the report and hoping for the best.
The interview day went really well. I was there with about ten other people in the morning and the atmosphere was really relaxed and friendly, and without any obvious overtones of competition. We introduced ourselves, gave a little group presentation and in a surprise bonus round, had to teach a little something in three minutes or less. I decided to think outside the box and teach them one of the most valuable things I know – how to breathe and relax properly.
I was called back in the afternoon for the individual interview, which was like a confrontation between me and the panel. They ripped me to shreds for an hour, seeing how I deal with criticism and difficult situations as well as testing my humility to breaking point. T’was an experience.
Although I didn’t get the job in the end, I was given the opportunity to interview for a more appropriate one in the technical department. Unfortunately, the role I interviewed for wasn’t the best match for my interests so I didn’t get that one either.
The interviews have been a great way for me to introspect and see how I manage stressful situations and criticism. I have gained several valuable insights about myself that have made me a little more self-aware and a little more rounded as a person.
In the meantime, the prospect of having to live at home again is providing a lot of motivation to keep searching for great opportunities where I can flourish. Now that exams are over, I have time to focus on what I need to go to the next step.
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