Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

EcoGeoFemme is hosting the November Scientiae carnival, and asked us to write about the best and worst parts of our lives as scientists.  Generally I love my job and my life, but there are definitely superlative aspects of all of it.

The best thing about my job is that I enjoy what I'm doing, it intellectually stimulates me, and it allows me to live a lifestyle that is (mostly) conducive to my happiness.  The big fat paycheck, flexible schedule, and cushy benefits are the top three benefits that I enjoy outside of the workplace.

The worst thing about my job is that it can take over my life.  You may recall me grousing starting in June and going through September about how much I needed a vacation.  This past summer, I bit off way more than I could chew, and then somehow had to swallow it all down anyway.  I was having trouble keeping it together every day, because of the stress, and because I was unable to get away from it all, even for a day.  Lesson learned.  Don't do that again!

Anyhow, I have taken on a new role at work, as I indicated a few months ago, which is postdoc supervisor.  It is (mostly) a lot of fun, but just for some added hilarity, I will tell you about some of the best and worst moments of that!

We are trying to fill a couple more slots (Anybody wanna be a computational science postdoc?  Lemme know!) and I have been doing some recruiting, interviewing, and hiring, and there have been some... interesting times.  Let me tell you about one of the most special of all snowflakes that we interviewed.

I had the privilege (?) of hosting him, and got him all to myself for an hour first thing in the morning.  We were engaged in some small talk, because we had already run out of technical things to talk about, when he asked me what the weather was like in the winter.  I told him that the winters were mild, and he breathed a sigh of relief, because he'd had to quit his postdoc in a Cold Northern State because he couldn't stand the weather and he hated all the deadlines.

At this point, the interview was already over, because a) he had not put this postdoc on his CV and b) we have lots of deadlines.  Unfortunately it was not yet 10:00 am.  But I am polite, and instead of sending him on his way to the airport, let him complete the day.

He sent me a thank-you email talking about how awesome he was and what a
perfect fit he was for the position (fair enough, everybody does that).  But then he sent me more emails... and more emails... culminating in one that literally asked if he could have the job.

At this point, I sent him a message that anyone with at least one-tenth of a social skill would recognize as being of the "Dear John" variety.  I even wished him well on his career!  Evidently he lacked that fraction of a social skill, because he did not get the message.  Upon advice from other colleagues with more experience in hiring people, I had the recruiter send him a rejection letter.

Then things started getting ugly.  He sent me a personal nastygram, and then another nastygram about the mean hiring manager who had made this decision (which he evidently did not realize was me), but I was expecting this blowback and did not reply.  (I'm not sure in what universe insulting or badmouthing the person you want to give you a job is a good idea.)  I thought all had calmed down until a month later when he sent an email to a colleague of mine in a completely different division who did not know him but who shared the same alma mater, asking him to persuade me to hire him.  My colleague said he could not do that, and told the guy to give up, which I believe he has.

Anyhow, that was an interesting time, and then when we interviewed the next candidate, that person was like a breath of fresh air.  We made him an offer but sadly he turned us down.  Ah well, it's all part of the job!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This post actually makes me feel good about the postdoc positions (not in computational science unfortunately) I am currently applying for. If the competition is that stupid (hope, hope, hope!) I might have a better chance than I thought :-)