Yea, so I applied for a job last month with the Federal Transit Administration, which is an agency within the Department of Transportation, as an Events Coordinator. It seems to be basically the job I have now with the responsibilities being flipped so that 60% is events and 40% is crap.
I called a few weeks ago to check the status of my application, and I was told that I had made the cert (governmenteeze for the short list). So, I called today to check to see if anything had progressed. Amazingly, I got a friendly and helpful person in DoT’s HR department. She told me again that I had made the list (which I already knew), but she said that I had scored 90 out of 100, so that was exciting. She also told me that the Selecting Official has until July 10 to conduct interviews and offer a job. I didn’t ask what happens on July 11, but I assume that this specific announcement goes away, and if that office wants to hire again, they’d need to start from the beginning.
The one down side is that the government has weird rules when it comes to hiring. Even though I made the list, if they don’t interview anyone, they can select whoever they wish off the list. So, even though I got that 90 out of 100, if the person they really want for the job even made the cut by 1 point, they can select him or her and I’d be screwed—and we all know that that is the story of my life.
As most of you know, I have an interview tomorrow with a company that I think it would be pretty cool to work for. It’s been a very long process, and I honestly don’t know how it’s going to turn out. Some of the process has been fun, others haven’t been so much.
Last night, I had 1 hour to complete a writing evaluation. I am actually pretty happy with it, so I thought I’d post it for the world to read. What follows is the scenario I chose to write respond to:
Your client is the public affairs office for a government agency that oversees compliance with the nation’s environmental laws and regulations. As part of their regular duties, this office produces an internal employee newsletter, “The Monitor” that is published monthly and is distributed to approximately 10,000 employees at both headquarters level and in the field across all 50 states. The challenge facing public affairs is that the workforce is giving the newsletter the cold shoulder – placing the publication in the shredder more often than actually reading it.
Your client has charged you with heading a team to revamp the newsletter in order to increase readership. Using the facts below, draft a newsletter article explaining the new format and the types of features readers can look forward to as part of the overhaul.
- As head of the newsletter team, you have access to graphic designers, writers, and members of the Web design group.
- The newsletter is produced in hard copy and is also posted to the agency’s Intranet site.
- You have learned through the “grapevine” that the newsletter was viewed as a propaganda tool for management, and didn’t contain any real news that the employees cared about.
- Your client, the director of public affairs is looking for a fresh innovative approach to attract readers—and is also interested in learning why the previous newsletter initiative wasn’t well received by employees.
- You may acknowledge that the old newsletter wasn’t meeting the employee’s needs and are encouraged to explain what measures you took to learn what features in the previous newsletter did and didn’t work.
I decided to approach it like the column most magazines have, where the editor introduces that issue to the reader and explains what the reader will find in that particular issue. Here’s my response:
New Years always bring change and a chance to start fresh. Like many of you, The Monitor has made some New Year’s resolutions. As you will recall, over the months of October and November, we sent to every employee a questionnaire that asked what you would like to see in the new The Monitor, what you felt was and wasn’t working. This newsletter is by and for the employees of our Agency, and we have tried our hardest to update The Monitor and make it relevant to today’s workforce. You spoke to us, and we listened. With this issue, the first of the New Year, you will see some exciting changes based on your recommendations. Please allow us a moment to tell you about some of these new features.
Many of you felt that the newsletter was too difficult to read in the format that we have traditionally used. As you can see, we have taken advantage of our experienced and talented graphics team, and reformatted The Monitor into a real newsletter. It is no longer merely a photocopied multi-page document; rather, it is now a newsletter worthy of the name. Instead of receiving hard copies in your mailboxes, you will begin to receive The Monitor electronically. For ease of use, each email we send you will contain a version of The Monitor that you are used to (a text-only version in the body of the email), an attachment of a PDFed version of the newsletter for printing, and a link to our new, updated website: www.themonitor.elr.gov. Please go to the site to see many new features.
Another new feature in The Monitor is the column, “Clean Dirt.” This column is designed to be a place where you can get your questions answered. Did you hear something at the water cooler? Did you read something in an email? Do you want the facts? Email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will find the answer. We will only publish your name if you say it is OK to do so. Speaking of new columns, beginning with this issue, we have created “Plowing the Surface,” where we will randomly select an employee and present an exposé on him or her (see page 13 to learn all about Suzanne Wagner, who works in Soil Conservation at Headquarters). And, because you asked for it, we have created “Air it Out,” where anyone can submit an article on things they feel are relevant to employees of this great Agency.
Finally, we have created some fun ways for you to get involved. There will be monthly contests sponsored by the Exchange Council, who have agreed to supply some fantastic prizes. Check out the website for details on this month’s contest: we are looking for the best photograph that demonstrates your office’s team spirit. We encourage everyone to get involved.
Again, we would like to welcome you to the new The Monitor—your The Monitor. We encourage you to come have a look, and if you don’t see something, we want to hear from you. This newsletter is for you, and only you can help us make the best employee newsletter in the Government.
Happy New Year to all.
So, I'm trying really hard to write a business plan. Anyone out there have any tips, helpful hints, or maybe even have one they could give me so I don't have to waste my time coming up with one?
This shit's hard. My sister and brother-in-law make it look really easy.
After lots of agonizing, stress, and phone calls to friends and family, I finally made a decision. Before I had a chance to call, the guy from WKU called my old boss from the University of Maryland, hoping that she might talk me into accepting the job. She and I had a long talk, and while she agreed that the salary was insanely low, she still thought that I should take the job. She felt that the experience I would get there would outweigh the salary, and after 2 or 3 years, I could move on to a bigger school and ask for more money.
I did finally call the guy, and with all the strength I could muster, I turned it down. He was much more gracious than I expected he would be. He said that he understood that I needed to look out for me and do whatever I thought was best. He wished me luck and said that he hoped to see me at a conference soon.
While I think I made the right decision financially, I’m not so sure I opted for the right choice…I mean, I’m still at NASA, and that totally sucks.
Oh, well, I can’t look back since I can’t change my decision.
I called the guy back from WKU, and I gave him my counter offer: $50,000. I think I heard his jaw hit the floor…there was complete silence for a moment, and then he finally came back and told me that there was no way he could go that high, and that that was way more than first-year professors make. He did come back this evening and told me that he was authorized to go as high as $37,000. Still, that’s a $17,000 pay cut.
True, the cost of living is a lot cheaper down there, but still, $17,000 is still a lot of money when you figure that I’m still going to have to pay my student loan, I’m going to have a mortgage or rent, I want to buy a car. Seems to me that right there, I’ve spent all my paycheck and then some.
Wow, this is totally one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make.
The guy from Western Kentucky University called me today and offered me the position. I was really excited until he told me the salary…$34,500. I was shocked! He said that he completely understood my surprise, but that that was worth about $65,000 in DC. Still, a $20,000 pay cut is a lot of money. He also said that the school would reimburse me up to $2,000 for relocation expenses, including travel to the area to look for a house. Also, there was the usual medical and retirement packages. He also reminded me about the opportunities to travel pretty regularly with the Honors students.
I am supposed to call him back on Tuesday.
So, I noticed that I have been remiss in keeping this blog up-to-date with some important goings-on in my life.
This past weekend, I was in Bowling Green, Kentucky, for an interview at Western Kentucky University. The job is similar to the one I was doing at the University of Maryland when I was working in the National Scholarships Office. I will be working in the Honors Program with students helping them find, apply for, and win national prestigious scholarships (like the Rhodes, Marshall, and Fulbright).
I flew on Southwest Airlines out of Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (yes, it’s a mouthful, which is why we still just call it BWI). I left around 10 Sunday morning. (That trip actually pushed me over the edge, and I now have a free flight on the aforementioned airline anywhere they fly.) I arrived at Nashville International Airport (which is less of a mouthful, so no one really calls it BNA, but merely Nashville) around 11 am Central time. I then rented a car from Alamo and drove myself an hour north to Bowling Green. The lady at the Alamo counter gave me directions to Bowling Green, but I misread her handwriting and instead of looking for Route 155, I was looking for I-55. Needless to say, I went about 10 minutes out of my way. Fortunately, Jo Cose isn’t afraid to ask for directions, so I stopped and got turned the right way round. About 10 minutes after getting onto I-65 (which drives you right into Bowling Green, I hit mad traffic. It felt like I was still in Washington, DC. Then, after about 25 minutes and 10 miles, the traffic cleared and there was no discernable reason for it. After the little SNAFU with taking a wrong turn and traffic, I made it to the Holiday Inn University Plaza just fine. I checked in, unpacked, discovered that I needed to iron all of my shirts and pants, and finally got back in the car and headed downtown. I walked around Fountain Square Park for a bit and then headed back to the hotel to shower and change for dinner.
If I am selected and if I accept (a common phrase for the whole time I was there), the guy who would be my boss came and picked me up for dinner. He made a point to tell me that since he was the chair of the search committee, he had no vote, so I should relax and enjoy dinner. We went to Montana Grille, and I got some kind of teriyaki chicken thing, and he got ribs and collected the bones for his pugs. We talked shop mostly, and it was great to listen to him. Many of his ideas were the same as mine, and I felt that our views, goals, and agendas for the office totally gibed. That was very nice. I sort of felt that he was filling me in more than interviewing me. We talked for a goodly while, and then were politely interrupted by a young, attractive waitress who asked my potential future boss if he had dogs…she noticed the leftover bones. As we chatted with her for a bit, it turned out that she was originally from Fells Point. My potential boss swore that he didn’t set it up. After we finally finished up, he took me on a quick night time tour of the city and the campus, and then took me back to the hotel, and I went to bed.
I didn’t sleep very well, and I was up several times to go to the bathroom—I had a lot of water at dinner. Around 4:30 in the morning, I got up again to go to the bathroom, and I started to panic: What if I forgot to get a wakeup call and oversleep? What if they forget to give me my wakeup call? So, I didn’t really get back to sleep, and I finally got out of bed and headed for the shower around 5:30. I was showered, shaved, and dressed by 6:30, and I wasn’t getting picked up until 7:45. So, I just sat around, watched CNN, and did a little more research on my laptop.
Finally, it was time to get this thing rolling, and I headed down to the lobby around 7:30. I met the Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, and we went for breakfast at Vincent's Bagels and Bites. We chatted for a while, and as professors came in to get their bagels, he introduced me to several of them. Finally, we got up and headed onto campus.
Next on the agenda was a tour of the campus. I was escorted by a young woman who is a junior and in the Honors program. The tour lasted an hour and included walking up the hill that gives Western Kentucky University’s students the nickname, Hilltoppers. She told me that thanks to the hill, there is no such thing as the Freshman Fifteen at Western Kentucky University. After the tour, she escorted me to the Administration building, where I met with the selection committee.
That was an interesting experience. I was very nervous, and was expecting to sit on the opposite side of the table and be slammed with really hard questions. My potential boss told me to sit in a particular seat, because it was his lucky seat, as that is where he sat when he interviewed a few months ago. I was at the head of the table, and the committee sat on either side. The first to walk in was a professor from the Physics and Astronomy Department. He was wearing jeans and a polo shirt. Next in the door was a freshman in the honors program. Third to come in was the head of the study abroad program. Although there were still two others, my potential boss decided that we should get started. It was more friendly conversation than grilling, so I was thankful for that. The only really hard part was when the conversation turned to studying abroad, and I mentioned that I personally feel that every undergraduate should have to study abroad in order to earn his or her diploma. The study abroad advisor grilled me about how I would pay for such a thing, and I tried to explain that I really didn’t have a plan, it’s just something I feel strongly about. About 2/3 of the way through, another professor walked in and apologized that she was late. About 5 minutes later the Physics and Astronomy professor said he had to leave, and then the study abroad advisor excused herself. The fifth member of the committee never showed up.
After that meeting, I had lunch with the Provost. She did most of the talking, and said that she was instructed to meet with me and be nice to me, and since her schedule was tight, thought that eating lunch in her office was the best timing to meet with me. We had it catered from Mariah’s, and everyone seemed quite impressed and assured me that this was a great restaurant. It wasn’t bad at all!
After lunch, the freshman from the search committee picked me up and took me back to the Honors Program’s office, where I met with him and 4 other students. They asked some really good questions, and I think that I answered them pretty well. One student asked me about something that I didn’t even know was something that would be under my prevue, so I answered truthfully, and told her that I wasn’t really prepared to answer something like that, but if I were to get the job, it is something I’m interested in and would work with my potential boss to figure out how best I could help with said topic.
After the students were done with me, I went and spoke with the chair of the Theatre Department. He was very friendly, and we had a nice conversation about how to teach theatre and the types of classes available. It seems that if I do get offered the position, and if I do accept it, there will definitely be teaching opportunities available. That could be pretty cool.
The Chair walked me back to the Honors Program because it was beautiful out, and he was looking for an excuse to get out of the office. As we left, he showed me one of the theatres (or, perhaps, THE theatre—he didn’t really make that clear). Once back at the Honors Program, I met with the Program’s secretary, and she asked me about my managerial style. I was fading fast…lack of sleep was catching up, so I’m not so sure how I handled myself with her questions. But I think I did OK.
Finally, the day was over, and my potential boss brought me back to the hotel to freshen up before dinner. Around 6:00, the study abroad advisor picked me up and took me to a nice restaurant off the Square. We met another woman, the associate director of the Honors Program, and we had a lovely dinner. The associate director drove me back to the hotel, but not before showing me the old vaudeville playhouse and where the old opera house still stands (although it’s currently a BB&T).
I got to sleep in a little on Tuesday, but was still up early. I met with a realtor from Crye Leike. We spent the better part of the day driving around, and I looked at 2 condos and a 2 houses. The first condo was nice, but it felt very much like an apartment. On the plus side, it was right downtown, and walking distance (albeit a hefty walk) to work. The second condo was more like a townhouse. It, too, was nice (except for the humongous millipede in the upstairs’ bathroom sink), but was about a 10 minutes’ drive from campus. The first house we looked at was a total pit, and even the realtor thought that it would cost more to fix up than I would pay for it. The second house was an old Victorian, and was on the National Register of Historic Places. It was ok, but it was only 1 floor, and the bathroom was down the hall, around the corner, and through the kitchen…no thanks.
Finally, it was all over and I headed back to Nashville International Airport to catch my flight home.
I was told that I would hear something in about 3 weeks, so keep your fingers crossed. I still haven’t made up my mind if I will take the job, but I definitely want them to offer it!
This job it doth persist.
My ship, I have surely missed.
Ennui has brought
a morbid thought;
I think I'll slit my wrist...
Blah-blah blah-blah blah-blah
Blah-blah blah-blah blah-blah
Blah-blah blah-blah blah-blah
Was all that was gained from our meet.
My boss who is not discreet
Did finally admit
Her job, she's quit
And now to the bar we'll retreat
There's a new theory in play
That she has come back to stay
To jockey for power's
the thought of the hour
Why won't she go away