Applying for a job and interviewing at SESYNC

(Back in spring 2019)

“Well, it was nice to meet you!”

So said a man as my Skype interview with him and his colleagues was wrapping up. He hadn’t otherwise said much of anything the whole time, he’d just sat there while the lady beside him ran the show.

But at the very end, he told me, “well! It was really nice to meet you.”

You might think that boded well, but it had a certain finality to it. Like he was only telling me that because he didn’t expect to ever see me again. Shortly before those last words, towards the end of the interview, I saw the man and woman exchange a look – I guess I lost the job somewhere around there, though I’m not sure what I said or did. And when the man damned me with his praise at the finish, it pretty much confirmed for me that it was over.

Indeed, I was right. They sent me a cute little email, “We have chosen to move forward with another candidate for this highly competitive position. We wish you the best of luck and hope you will consider applying for positions in the future.”

This job was at a place called SESYNC, which is a fancy research center at the University of Maryland. It was for a science communication position. And I had read the job description very carefully, and I noticed that communication requested was geared towards communication between scientists, or communication with policy-makers. Knowing that, I told myself, okay, don’t mention your great love of communication geared for the public at your interview!

Lo and behold, during the interview, I got caught up in my enthusiasm, forgot myself, and blurted out my clandestine feelings to my interviewers. Maybe that was around when they exchanged glances and my fate was sealed.

Three weeks (yes, just three!) after I was rejected, they advertised for the exact same job. I wondered what happened, and in my shamelessness, I emailed the main woman running the show to ask her if she thought I could reapply. After all, they said, “we hope you will consider applying in the future …” But no, the professor knocked me out cold: “I do not recommend you re-apply to this position.” Then apparently forgot to erase the final sentence of her copied-and-pasted response by finishing off with “Please consider SESYNC in the future for research and career opportunities.”

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