Saturday, August 28, 2010 Pick ME!Geeka's
latest post about how she ended up a scientist
inspired me to write this one.
It happened totally by accident. I wasn’t even looking for a job. I had just begun graduate school at the University of Florida, and was working on an MS degree in Mechanical Engineering. I was thrilled to have gotten a TAship and free tuition. I loved my advisor, he was my fav professor. And I was lucky enough to be a TA for the lab portion of a controls class he was teaching.
One night while home flipping the remote, I found myself watching the discovery channel. The Black Sky documentary about the Ansari X prize - The race to space - was on. That is totally MY kind of thing!
They showed SpaceShipOne and I got all excited. I told my roomies (jokingly.. kinda) that I’d do anything to work with those guys, never really expecting that to actually happen. I was so excited about the thought of commercial space taking shape that the next day in lab I told everyone about it, and how I was willing to wear a silly uniform too if that’s what it took to be part of something like that. They mocked me of course.
A few days went by and I got a strange email. It was from the HR dept at the company that made the rockets for SpaceShipOne. A guy named Dave said he got my resume and asked if I had any interest in working with them, if so would I be available for phone interview.
Riiiiight. Sure. Nicely executed prank email by my lab mates, I figured. Or was it maybe the roommates. I looked at the email again, looked up the website, the phone numbers. It all seemed to check out. Could this not be a hoax after all..? Could this be… REAL??!!? But how? I quickly called the one guy I knew who had graduated with me and moved to Cali. He was the only person I could possibly think of that would have handed out my resume to anyone there. Voice mail. Of course.
I was getting excited about the email, but didn’t want to get my hopes up. I was failing miserably at trying to not get too excited. Finally he called back and said “Oh yea, I’ve been meaning to tell you, I got this awesome job at this rocket place, and they have a referral deal goin’ on right now where if they hire someone you refer, they give you $1,000, so I gave them your resume.“ Ok 2 things came to mind. 1- YAY! 2- Thanks for the heads up, no really, thank you.
Holy poop nuggets!!! The email WAS real. I couldn’t believe it! My dream job contacted ME. That’s unheard of.
I immediately responded while trying realllllly hard not to sound overly excited. I believe I failed.
I had never had a phone interview before. I was nervous.
RX7. Note the spacious back window area.
You may recall from a previous posts that I had no car
, and my luck being my luck, the day of the interview I was stuck with a late exam and missed the bus. My roommates were both working and I was really cutting it close to not getting home in time. Luckily my roomie with the RX7 managed to leave work early and got me. She already had a passenger and this was the only time I was HAPPY to stuff myself in the back window of her 2 seater.
Phone interviews are hard. Harder than in person ones I think, since you get no feedback. I didn’t know if I was allowed to joke around, or if I was supposed to be all serious. It was on speaker phone on the other end and I didn’t know if my buddy was in the room laughing, if they could even hear me. I forgot to mention a lot of stuff, like being a controls lab TA. I thought it went horribly bad. I was bummed for days. I was sure I blew my only shot of ever working with these people.
A few days later, while I was down in Ft. Lauderdale again, at the court house this time, getting new plates for my new used replacement vehicle (this one was even more ghetto - dropped black 2 door civic, with exhaust and rims with the addition of a po po siren and neon lights on the inside, yup ghetto, fun, fast, and the price was right) – Yes, I have noticed many life altering events seem to happen to me in that geographic location – I got a text from my buddy sayin’ “They loved you! You’ll be getting an email with an invitation for an interview!” Now, I was once again tempted to be happy.. buuut.. it was april 1st, and I just couldn’t be sure.
I was relieved when a couple days later I actually got an email saying I should fly out to meet them. And I was terrified. Never been on an interview before, didn’t own a suit, and really wanted this job.
A couple weeks later they flew me out. I knew they were looking to hire more than one person, but I didn’t know how many. When I got there I was told they had interviewed over 70 people on the phone and narrowed it down to 12. I found it hard to believe that 60 peeps had a worse phone interview than I did, but whatevs yo. They decided to take the 12 and split us into 2 groups interviewing 6 peeps at a time, the first group went 2 weeks before me, so I knew I was already competing with 6 peeps they already met.
Pitcher 'o beer
I got out there the day before the interview which let me have some time to drive around and get a feel for the place. My buddy met me for a burger and pitcher of beer. I of course said “Are you mad??” I was way too nervous to drink anything. He didn’t seem to mind having an entire pitcher to himself. I asked him for tips or any info, but he was really not forthcoming about any of it. So that didn’t help.
I spent that night and the next morning reciting everything about my resume and experience, finding different words to use and most importantly, trying my best to not say ‘Ummm’ and ‘hmmm’ and ‘ohhh’ or mumbling incoherently. At one point I found myself jumping from one bed to the other at my hotel room trying to calm down. It was a lot of fun! But not so sure it had the desired effect.
Deep breath.. Suit up, roll out. It was interview time!
Interested in reading more? Check out part 2