The Job Search Begins

Filed in PersonalTags: Palliative Polemic

Today was it: the Big Day. For the first time since going on co-op over two years ago, I had an interview. I got up a half-hour earlier than usual, just to ensure that I had plenty of time to get ready. Now, I should tell you: I love to interview. Some people dread interviews, but I don't understand why. I guess I just have a little bit of an advantage in the interview room; I'm generally good at developing a rapport with people I meet...including interviewers, and I also have little problem in public speaking situations. Not that I especially enjoy talking about myself or anything, but the idea that I'm that much closer to landing a job makes the whole process more enjoyable. Especially when I'm interviewing with a company that I would really like to work for, which was the case with today's interview.

I actually had all three classes and my first hour of work study before the interview, which was right in the middle of my last class of the day. I really didn't mind leaving class early, and since it was only Statistics, I'm pretty sure I didn't miss anything too difficult to make up.

The interview itself took only about 20 minutes, but I think it went really well. The interviewer remembered me from the information session the night before, and commented on the insightful questions I had asked. That he remembered me, I took as a good sign; hopefully, he will also be more apt to remember me when the time comes in the next week or so to decide which students will get the plant trip offers. I'll try to explain briefly the process of receiving a job offer for engineering students. Generally, the student will first interview with the prospective company. This step is the one that I have the most trouble getting to, because a lot of companies have GPA restrictions for interview sign-up. (Anyone who knew me in high school may find my difficulty here surprising, but I decided as a freshman that I would have to choose between a stellar GPA and campus involvement and leadership. I chose campus involvement and leadership; the reason why will become apparent shortly.) In the interview, the student will discuss his collegiate experiences: job-related experience, campus involvement, community service, etc., in the attempt to demonstrate his ability to become a valuable employee of the company. This point is the point at which I begin to excel. As I mentioned before, I chose the campus involvement and leadership route, rather than the high GPA route. This choice for me was simple, for while I have more difficulty landing interviews, once in the interview, I am much better off. I have a plethora of experiences to discuss which demonstrate my ability to become a valuable employee; for this purpose, a 4.0 GPA is virtually meaningless (yes, it usually demonstrates dedication and hard work, but in a much more abstract manner, yielding few specific experiences to discuss). After the interview step, the interviewers will discuss the students interviewed, and decide which ones will proceed on to the next step: the plant trip. In this step, the company pays to bring the student in to the company's office to tour the facilities and meet (and possibly interview with) some of the personnel at the facilities. This step provides the student with the opportunity to experience the company first-hand, while providing the company the opportunity to observe how the student fits in with the company and its personnel. Sometimes, an additional interview step, or a second plant trip step, may be included in the process; but generally, the final step comes after the plant trip: the job offer. The company decides who, from among the students attending the plant trip, would best fit the company, and will send a letter to such student(s) containing the job offer, and a reply date. At this point, the process is in the hands of the student; he may choose to accept the offer, decline the offer, or wait to see what offers he will receive. Usually, the offer letter will include salary/compensation, benefits, and the ever-popular signing bonus. At any point in this process, the company may decide that the student is not a good fit for the company, and will send a rejection letter. This letter is known as a "phi letter" because the student will then mark the letter with a large, capital greek-letter phi. (To compare: plant trip offer letters are marked with a drawing of a factory, and job offer letters are marked with dollar signs.) The student will post all letters he receives during the job search process, usually on, or just beside, his door. As a reference, when I was trying to land a co-op, I ended up with about 12 phi letters before getting my one offer letter. Some students will have 40 or 50 phi letters before getting an offer.

So now, I will have to wait one to two weeks before I get either a plant trip offer letter or a phi letter. Some companies, students interview for only becuase they are eligible to interview with the company; thus, they are not overly concerned about getting a phi letter from such a company. But with this company, I would very much like to work for them, so I am definitely hoping for the best.

After the interview and a quick lunch, I headed over to work study. We had nothing to do today, so I played around on the internet looking at various online journal resource sites. At 4:00, I left to go to tennis practice. I drove by the courts, but didn't see anyone there, so I assumed that we weren't practicing, and went home. When I got in, I almost immediately got a message from a friend of mine at ISU, Andrea, who was attending a formal tonight and was spazzing about her dress. She wanted me to go over to ISU to reassure her that she was not over-dressed. Well, I had planned to go into town anyway, to meet the guys at Sonka's Irish Pub to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, so it was no big deal.

Now, I haven't really talked to Andrea for a couple of months, because we are both extremely busy. So, it was nice to get to see her and catch up a little bit. I reassured her that she looked great in her dress, that the evening was going to go smoothly, and insisted that she have a good time. I saw her off, and then headed back over to Sonka's. When I got to Sonka's the place was absolutely packed; unfortunately, none of my brothers were there, so I went home. I found out later that they had left about 15 minutes before I got there, and went to eat at Garfield's.

I ended up going to see The Hurricane at one of the cheap theaters with a group of about 8 people. I thought it was a really good movie, but then, I tend to like movies based on actual occurences. I guess you could say that I'm a bit of a history buff; granted, The Hurricane isn't exactly based on ancient history. Still, I had never heard the story, and found it to be quite interesting.

When we got back home, I decided to give Nicole a call, since her group of friends usually goes out to the Bally on the weekends. The Bally (actually, the Ballyhoo Tavern) is one of the more popular bars among the college students, especially greeks. Inside, it is a sports-bar atmosphere, but outside (a patio, covered and heated this time of year) is one of the best dancing spots in Terre Haute. I spent many a night with Nicole this past summer dancing the night away at the Bally. When I called, I got quite a pleasant surprise: one of Nicole's best friends, Angela, was in town. She is one of Nicole's sorority sisters, and one of her best friends. She and I are also pretty good friends (one of my fraternity brothers and I double-dated with Nicole and Angela at our spring formal last year). She graduated in December, and hasn't been back very often since; needless to say, I was glad to talk to her. We ended up meeting them at the Bally at about midnight. My fraternity brother (the same one from the double-date) and I danced there with Nicole and Angela, and their sorority sisters, and stayed until about 1:30. Interestingly, the CollegeClub people were at the Bally, giving away prizes and having Stupid College Tricks contests. I also ran into a couple girls from Rose, and a guy from my floor freshman year who graduated last year. He and his wife (also from my freshman class) were in town for a fraternity function of some sort, and it's amazing that I ran into them, because by that time, the Bally was really, really packed. Eventually, we decided that the place was just too packed, and that we were getting tired, and decided to go home. Since I have to be up for a tennis meet at 9:00 in the morning, that decision was probably a pretty wise one.

All in all, not a bad way to spend St. Patrick's Day. I was a little disappointed, though. I wore a "Kiss me I'm Irish" button to the Bally. It must have been broken or something because only one girl, Natasha, actually did so. And that was only because she is a good friend of mine anyway. Or maybe, I just used up all of my mojo at the interview, so I was running low at the Bally ๐Ÿ™‚

Oh well.