The good, the bad, and the coffee

I’ve been doing a lot of networking coffees/informational interviews with people around the University/across the US. It’s been pretty epic fitting all these events in with actually working in the lab; it means I am running around like a crazy person even more than normal. Plus I start teaching my section of the class I am co-teaching next week (how is it March already?!?!). I might explode!

Anyway, I want to talk about these coffees/interviews because I’ve noticed a striking pattern. I think that within the first minute, I can tell whether a particular interview will be useful. Then I either leave feeling inspired and excited about my potential future and career or I leave feeling miserable and like I totally missed the boat somewhere along the way. I’ve been going over my various interviews recently trying to figure out what’s happening in each scenario so that I can share them with you! Let’s break it down:

Good interviews:

  • make me laugh.
  • make me feel comfortable “in my skin.”
  • involve my coffee-mate listening to me and acknowledging that what I want to do is important.
  • include a list of potential contacts for follow up interviews, potential fellowships to apply for, potential new directions to go in, etc.
  • include a list of ideas for making me more a “competitive” applicant.

Bad interviews:

  • make me feel like I should have already figured out my life.
  • make me feel like I fail at communication and basic human interactions.
  • involve my coffee-mate not really listening to what I am trying to say and pushing their own agenda on me.
  • involve my coffee-mate telling me that everything that I want to do is competitive and assuming that I am not a hard worker and do not have the skills to succeed in the field of interest.
  • include a list of potential contacts for follow up interviews, potential fellowships to apply for, potential new directions to go in.
  • include a list of ideas for making me more a “competitive” applicant.

I think that the bad interviews are bad because I have a different personality from the person I am chatting with, not because I am not interested in learning more about his or her job. I guess I never thought about how completely jarring it would be to try to get career advice from someone who thinks differently than me. I am tempted to chalk them up as good practice but not too important but I feel a bit uneasy completely writing them off. I’m sure there’s good information in there (see the bottom two bullets of both categories) but I leave them feeling so down about myself that it’s hard to find it. Ideas for how to make the most of these situations? Is there a way I can take charge of these situations and refocus them in a way that’s actually useful for me? Should I even try? Anyone want to share their own job-hunting stories?

I’ll leave you with this picture of tasty tacos from last weekend when Cobalt and I went to Torchy’s tacos for the first time with our friends J and K. Delish.

Now I want tacos…. I should start setting up networking taco interviews………

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