Since July of last year (06) I have been applying to colleges and universities in the Midwest and all along the east coast. I would say about 60 in all. Out of those colleges I received three invitations to visit and four interviews by phone. My first interview was with a junior college in Northeast, FL last December. My presentation went very well, the committee seemed pleased with my answers and the dean seemed like she wanted to hire me on the spot. However, one thing struck me as odd. I was the only male present the entire time. All five committee members were women and so was the dean and everyone was at least 20 years older than me. In my talk with the dean she told me that normally she doesn’t do this but she wanted me to tell all of my references to expect a call so she could quickly recommend a finalist for some final committee. One of my references stated that he never received a call. Later that week she put me out of my misery and said they forwarded someone else for the position. I wasn’t that upset because I chose this college because it was in the same city as many of my family members. The pay was already low for this type of position and since I hadn’t received my Ph.D. at that point it was for about $5000 less.
I didn’t get another response from a college until right after I received my Ph.D. in April. This time it was for a university in Texas. The woman who called me stated that they were very impressed with my credentials and wanted me to participate in a phone interview. The whole objective was to see how I could create a new media lab and program that would help them in their online journalism efforts. I spent the next four days putting together an elaborate and detailed plan. When she called me for the interview, there were about 5 or 6 people present and they grilled me for about 45 minutes. One of them, who was not a permanent faculty member by the way, seemed particularly hostile and kept mentioning my previous graduate school status. I believed I performed well and I was looking forward to the campus invitation, but the search committee chair never called me back. I had to resist the temptation to email or call her back about her lack of taste in not letting me know what their decision was, especially after she said she would call me back in a day or two. At that point after sending so many letters out to so many universities I was beginning to think I might not get a position at all.
Then I received a call from New York. A small college just outside of New York City wanted me to interview for an Assistant Professor of Communication position. This time I was interviewed over the phone by one person. He called me back a day later and asked me if I wanted to come to New York for an on-campus interview. I quickly agreed. However, as fate would have it, our dwindling funds made me cancel the trip. However, my mother-in-law jumped in to the rescue and provided the funds for my wife and I to travel and make the trip. Even though I enjoyed visiting the college and was eventually offered the job the area was too expensive for the salary that they were offering. It was above the national average for my position but the average cost of a home in the area was $600,000. Rent for a 1bd in many of the adjoining cities was about $1000 and up for anything decent and I am not trying to live in a cramped space and pay a lot of money for it. I turned them down.
While I was up in NY I received a call from a small college in Georgia that I will now refer to as (SCG). I spoke to the chairman of the department and he asked if I could come for a campus visit. I immediately agreed. At first, because I knew it would give me extra confidence when I went to give my presentation and meet with the people at the college in NY. I thought that it would provide an air of confidence that belied my sheer desperation in trying to find work.
The next week when I was traveling to the school I was excited at first until we were about 30 miles out. I began to see farm after farm after farm after farm. It was rolling countryside as far as the eye could see and I began to get mad. Luckily as I neared the school, civilization began to pop up again. It was a small town, but anything was better than that countryside. The college, SCG, has plenty of acreage and every single building is built of brick. They looked rather charming and most importantly many of them were brand new or recently built. I was immediately impressed because I expected the college to be rural looking but it could go head to head with many small colleges I have seen in bigger cities. There were new construction projects all over the campus and more importantly people were swarming around.
My stepfather, who drove up there with me, was impressed and immediately fell in love with the place. I still wasn’t sold because of all of that farmland that I saw. When I went in to meet the chairman who called me I first met the program assistant for the department. She was very nice and she tried her hardest to converse with me. I appreciated that. Then I met the chairman of the department. He was laid back but professional at the same time. He kept referring to me as Doctor, which felt good, because I could still count on one hand how many people, other than family members who had called me Doctor.
Everyone he introduced me to had a big smile on their face and seemed happy to be there and I just felt really comfortable. When I went to give my presentation to the committee they were very relaxed and casually joked around. During the discussion they were honest and held nothing back and acted as if they really respected me and didn’t try to catch me in some sort of knowledge trap. I was warming up to them the entire time and I could see myself working there.
When I went to meet the president and V.P. I found out that they both had received their Ph.D. degrees from my university and the V.P. was a good friend of a member of my dissertation committee. You can’t ask for more than that. After that the chairman took me on a car tour of the campus and even gave me a little tour of the town. He even showed me a house that was for rent, that he said he didn’t know about:) After I left the interview, my stepfather and I drove to Macon which is 40 miles away and is a city of about 100,000. I liked the college because it is progressive, seems well funded and is rapidly expanding but I couldn’t see myself living in a town of about 5,000 people or my wife who is from the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area.
I had one more interview with another college that was in the same city as my family but the moment of truth came when the college in NY and the college in GA called me one Friday morning within 30 minutes of each other. When I received the offer from NY I wasn’t excited at all; grateful yes, excited no. When I received the call from GA, I was not only excited but my wife was as well. I accepted and the process began.