Wednesday, February 17, 2010

When It Rains, It Pours

cross posted on author's old blog, Close Encounters of the Awkward Kind.

So, there's this thing called the Law of Convergence. It's not a physical law, per se, rather it lies in that realm of those laws of irony that, although their mechanism is unknown, tend to prove themselves true time and time again.

Lately it has gone like this: as short as one month ago, I spent many a tear-filled morning going over all of the resumes, cover letters, and requests for informational interviews that I had sent out in vain, all of the internship applications that were getting no response, etc, and I was quite frightened. What was I going to do with myself? How would I ever find my place? What do I really have to offer, that anyone else might find valuable?

Now things happen all at once. I got my part-time job, and just as soon as I signed the paperwork, I interviewed for and received an internship I had only accidentally applied for while in the process of applying for others I did actually want. I contemplated that one but turned it down: because I wanted to stay here and do that part-time job, because I wanted to do an intensive volunteer mentor program here that can only happen once, because I just wasn't excited about Frostproof, Florida.

No sooner had I turned that down that I received two other requests for interviews, one that I also turned down for similar reasons, another that I'm still working on trying to schedule. And then I interviewed for that volunteer program and got it...and then my Dream Job responded at long last saying they, too, wanted an interview.

Well I just went to the American Physical Society meeting, (which I'll write on at length as soon as I have time to catch my breath with all of this) and found out that this totally awesome science writing internship that, three months ago I had gotten a) amazingly excited about, and b)amazingly frustrated over when they never responded to my application nor my polite and well-spaced phone calls asking for confirmation of my application over the course of the next three months, is still looking for someone, and that the person I needed to talk to was actually at the meeting. While I wanted to confront him about that in a politely frustrated way, I never managed to run into him, and because I'd let that position go and was already contemplating Dream Job Maybe verses Definite and Rewarding Volunteer Opportunity, I couldn't rummage up the ability to care that much.

Oh yeah, and today I have an interview for a very, very back-up ropes course job that I've been trying to schedule, against the onslaught of Badly Timed Snow Storms, for a month. I should call and cancel, perhaps, but Dream Job is still a maybe, and a maybe that hasn't even confirmed my interview date.

So while all this is wonderful, it's also something of a decision-making minefield. Do I turn down something less desirable for the chance of unknown odds that Opportunity Awesome will make itself into a reality? Do I accept, and then burn a bridge by jumping ship? (Too many metaphors in one sentence, I know...) Do I dare to tell Dream Job that I absolutely want this job but I need Monday afternoons off for the next month, or do I instead suddenly leave an adolescent girl without a rock climbing instructor and life mentor, not to mention screw up the grant-funded endeavor of a local non-profit whose mission I strongly believe in?

Well. At the APS meeting, one of the undergraduate programs was a presentation of job opportunities for physicists. The official definition of "physicist" is anyone with a B.S. or higher in physics, so yes, I can truthfully and proudly call myself a physicist. Physicists are employed in all fields, doing all kinds of things, and the unemployment rate, even today, for people with physics degrees is a low 5%.

So it pays off, it really does. You can use your degree to go from contemplating laws of nature, to wrestling with laws of irony like the Law of Convergence.

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