What surprised me about my first day of work was not what it entailed but the “when.”
I had long entertained the desire to work for my alma mater, and by the time my final year of teaching ended this spring, I already had numerous applications in the university’s system, all positions for which I was qualified. One job, in particular, caught my attention because it seemed to require every aspect of my eclectic background — an ability to understand technology and science, an ability to write and edit, and an ability to work with upper level students. I had taught middle and high school students Algebra and English for 15 years, often using technology to do so, but I had come into teaching through my journalism background, and I came into journalism through my passion for science and my desire to communicate environmental issues to the general public.
Within the job description was this detail: “translate highly technical information and scientific jargon into descriptions the general public can understand,” and I felt as if I were reading my own words. A large part of the job included acting as a writing coach to a dozen or so interns, mostly upper level undergraduates or law students. I believed that this position was a fit for me — but I had thought that about numerous job descriptions without much result.
As weeks passed after submitting my application, I wasn’t overly hopeful and was having communications with a couple other businesses that were displaying interest. Those potential employers scheduled a series of phone interviews, and I had just completed one of them when my cell phone rang again. It was the university’s Office of Technology Licensing.
Thirty minutes later, I had a paper filled with scribbled information and a smile on my face. I had been completely honest, completely myself; I had answered questions and then asked my own. I liked the voice on the other end of the phone, and the voice seemed to like me. I hung up with a face-to-face job interview scheduled three days later.
The interview was nothing short of miraculous. As a teacher, I enjoyed the knowledge that I was making a difference in the lives of my students every day, and the thought of doing just “any old job to earn a buck and benefits” didn’t excite me at all. (See “Why I teach…” for more insight.) On top of my own efforts to make a positive impact while teaching, I had worked with my seniors on their Capstone Projects, projects in which they had to change the world in some way. In the interview, I realized that making the world a better place was the vision statement for this office at the university. Changing the world in some way every day would be my job.
So when the director asked me why I wanted the position, I honestly (and, perhaps naively) said,
“This job is like my fairy-tale ending. It is the culmination of everything I have done so far — the science, the journalism, the teaching, and even my desire to change the world. That has been the goal of my seniors’ Capstone Projects, and now it can be my daily goal, too.”
I felt confident and comfortable; the two women who interviewed me laughed with me (at appropriate times) and seemed genuinely interested in me as a candidate. Afterward, though I had some of those second (panicked) thoughts about my responses to questions, I thought if I didn’t get a job offer then I could never trust my senses again.
We had parted with a few, less-than-heartening statements: “We have a few more interviews” and the dreadful “If you don’t hear from us in a week or so, give me a call.”
The next morning, a Friday, at 9:42 a.m., I got the 4 minute and 29 second call, a job offer at the highest number in the advertised salary range.
The person I was replacing already had moved to another state, and I was wanted immediately. Of course, “immediately” translates into something more like “eventually” when a huge organization is involved. Or so I had been told.
Minutes after the phoned offer — even before I accepted the job — Human Resources called to start the background check. By Monday, I had passed. By Tuesday afternoon, all my references had been contacted.
“Could you start this week?” was the next question.
All I needed was to have the university vice president sign the paperwork — and then I could begin. But that was delayed by vacation time or sick time, and I got the word that the earliest I could start would be Wednesday of the next week.
On Tuesday morning of that week, I got word that the earliest start date would be Friday (doubtful) or the following Monday.
But that same afternoon, I got the official offer letter. Tuesday evening, a call from HR to schedule an appointment to sign paperwork the next day.
Wednesday morning, at 8:37, I got word that I could start. Immediately. As in that very day.
“Well, just give me a few minutes to change into something more professional,” I said.
They were more than gracious about the time. We settled on 12:30.
Timing is everything, as they say. God’s timing is an expression of His love — and so perfect. I had no time for nerves and no loss of sleep, anxiously anticipating that first day in the office.
Being surprised by the first day of work is a beautiful thing.
Being surprised by how much I could love a new job is even more beautiful. Each day I work is a reminder of how much God knows and loves me.
And that should be no surprise.