Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Lucky Boxers

I haven't discussed my job hunting over the last several weeks here at all somewhat intentionally, mainly because it would likely sound repetitive. Bottom line, it's been a lot like this:

"Monday: Ate breakfast. Watched Frasier reruns. Showered. Applied to three jobs. Went food shopping. Watched MLB Network. Read part of The Blind Side."

"Tuesday: Showered. Ate breakfast. Watched Quick Pitch. Applied to two more jobs. Did laundry and dishes. Talked to recruiter from staffing agency for 15 minutes about job hunt. Watched more MLB Network."

"Wednesday: Watched Frasier reruns. Showered. Ate breakfast. Applied to four jobs. Watched Maury. Vacuumed the apartment. Talked to Mom and vented about frustration stemming from job hunting for a bit before lunch."

Lather, rinse, repeat.

In the last two weeks, however, things have changed quite a bit. The week after I was let go from my job, one of my buddies in Baltimore text me about openings in his office at the DHHS. They were adding 10 contract specialists to the team ASAP and wanted people with finance and/or business backgrounds, preferably with master's degrees. That description fit me to a T, so I immediately went to work on revising my resume to suit the position's needs. He forwarded my resume to his boss, who took a look at it and loved it. I then had to get my college transcripts together and send them over which took a little time, but I got them in.

Then the waiting started.

Of course, I kept up with applying for other jobs in the meantime, wondering how long it would take them to call me. About two weeks ago a recruiter from the DHHS office called me about my application and scheduled an interview with me. We set it up for this past Friday, so I decided to get to Baltimore that morning and spend the weekend since Sunday was Mother's Day (you know, so I could be a good son and all).

I went to my interview and met with two managers. We spoke for about an hour about my background and assorted qualifications, and I have to say I left there with a decent vibe about my chances. My buddy happened to text me about my interview shortly after I left and he checked with the managers about their thoughts on me. He said their exact words were I "kicked ass." He also said while he couldn't guarantee anything, he'd be shocked if I didn't get a phone call with an offer within the next week

No wait - it gets better.

One of the other jobs I had applied to prior to my interview at DHHS was for a job in Virginia. I had applied for it on Thursday, and Monday morning their recruiter called me asking to schedule an interview. I couldn't remember any response that moved so quickly after first applying for a position, so we had scheduled it for Tuesday afternoon. I got to the interview and met with the manager for about an hour there as well.

I don't normally like to make quick judgments based off a single interview with a manager, but I gotta say I ACED that interview. It didn't even feel like such a formal setting; it was more of a regular conversation. We spent the first ten minutes or so making regular chit chat about the company and other small talk which really built a good vibe that carried over through the rest of the interview. We wrapped up the interview talking about baseball for a couple minutes as well, so things definitely went extremely well overall. I left there feeling really good about my chances to get a second interview at the very least, if not potentially an offer.

No wait - it gets better.

I got a follow up email from DHHS yesterday asking about one of my references. The manager was contacting my references and wanted to confirm one of the email addresses. I have to believe this is good news and that they're preparing to make an offer later this week after they're talked to all my references.

I have a theory about why both inteviews went so well, and I'm sure it'll sound at least a little crazy: I made sure to wear a pair of lucky boxers to each interview.

I challenge anyone reading this post to dispute having at least one or two sets of lucky underwear. Whenever I'm out and wearing a pair of my favorite boxers, I feel more confident for some reason. I made a point to wear them to each interview, and you can be damn sure if I get a callback for a second interview I will be wearing another pair of lucky boxers to it. Sure, it's superstitious, but if it gets the job done I won't complain at all.

The question now becomes if I'm offered both positions, which one do I take? Granted, it's far too premature to ask such a question, but the pros and cons would definitely need to be weighed. Obviously if I took the job in Virginia, I wouldn't have to move anywhere. It also will pay quite a bit more up front than the DHHS job. However, the DHHS job will probably offer better benefits, more stability long term, and I'd be closer to my friends and family.

This could end up being the kind of problem most people would love to have.

See? I owe it all to my boxers.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Return to Normalcy

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
- Thomas Jefferson

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was on my way to class. I didn't listen to the local radio stations very often, mainly because I didn't like the morning DJs or their taste in music much (I could only take so much of Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Offspring, but that's a post for another time). I got to class like any other morning, and this being early in the fall semester most of the students showed up on time. My professor walked in the classroom a few minutes later and immediately ordered everyone to quiet down, asking anyone for accurate information as to what was happening that morning. I immediately turned to my friend sitting next to me asking what I had missed, and she said she heard something about an airplane crashing into the World Trade Center. My first thought was that it was some kind of bi-plane, anything but a 747 for sure.

Of course, I was completely wrong.

My professor cancelled class on the spot, telling everyone to go home and watch the news. I got back in my car and drove home, making sure to listen to the local radio stations this time. By this point, all local stations had switched over to major network broadcasts, and I heard Peter Jennings reporting everything that was going on. During the trip home, I heard him announce the World Trade Center was collapsing. All I had to go on was his description of the chaos in New York City until I finally got home and turned on the news.

Fast forward to the spring of 2003 when the U.S. invaded Iraq. I was in my final semester of college, and anti-war assemblies were being held all over campus, as well as televised on stations all over the country. MTV had college students call in from across the country talking about what was going on by students demonstrating their oppositions to the invasion efforts. Frankly, I didn't like how MTV in particular only seemed interested in talking to college students who opposed the effort, but by this point the U.S. was fully committed to finding two people: Osama bin Laden, who had taken ownership of the attacks on September 11; and Saddam Hussein, who had ruled Iraq with his iron fist regime for decades.

I found myself somewhat torn in the whole mess. I absolutely believed (and still do believe) that Hussein was a maniac who should have been brought to justice a very long time ago. When he faced punishment for his actions, he got what he had deserved. I certainly didn't like the sound of the reports on CNN that American soldiers were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan on an almost-daily basis, but I truly believed the greater good was being served. I just didn't like the idea of the U.S. going at it alone, more or less.

Finally late last night, I was getting ready for bed when one of my friends IM'd me that Obama was about to announce something BIG. I put on CNN and saw Wolf Blitzer reporting that whatever Obama was going to talk about, it had to deal with national security, but nothing with regards to Libya or anything else that had been in the news recently. When I saw that Osama bin Laden had been tracked down by U.S. intelligence and a SEAL team had killed him on sight, I was utterly speechless. The sight of people gathered outside the White House and in Times Square singing and celebrating was something words could never adequately describe. The other major goal for the U.S. military in the last 10 years was finally brought to an end. A man who had committed atrocities long before 9/11 had met justice.

One of my first thoughts in seeing the details come out was something I heard on a local radio station the day after 9/11. The host said that day we weren't Republicans or Democrats. We were simply all Americans. We were all hurting. We were all angry. We were all sharing in the losses by the families whose loved ones perished in the attacks. I can't pretend to know what it's been like for children who had lost a parent that day, a parent who had lost a child, a husband who had lost his wife, or a wife who had lost her husband. Last night, the lingering hurt and anger could really start to pass. I don't doubt that families will always miss their loved ones from that day, but there has to be some element of peace knowing the man responsible for the attacks has been brought to justice.

Just like that day, today we are not Republicans or Democrats. We are not Christians or Muslims. We are all simply Americans. We can all share in the relief knowing one of the truly evil men in this world will never hurt another soul. We all know this isn't quite the end, but it's surely a big step towards it.

I don't know if anyone serving in the military will ever read this blog, but if that were to ever happen, please know this: your sacrifices over the last ten years will always be remembered. I simply can't thank you enough for everything you've done to protect this country. The freedom all Americans enjoy can easily be taken for granted, and days like today are a reminder of what you do for us every day.

I think it's safe to say that all the members of that unit who had infiltrated bin Laden's mansion and took him out will never have to pay for another drink in their lives.