Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A productive member of society

I have the exact same cold that I had three weeks ago. Really. The exact same symptoms that morph into the exact same new symptoms along the exact same timeline. The only good news is that although I know that Wednesday and Thursday I will be in excruciating pain and discomfort, by Friday life will return to normal.

Which is good because I start my new job on Monday!

Wha wha wha what?

That's right folks. I am finally going to be able to dig my fingers and toes into a project and grow with it.

And it came about in the best possible way.

Last week, at an event where I was networking fairly hard, I met my future boss. I had actually attended the gala for his organization three years ago and receive his monthly emails so I started the conversation there. We shifted very quickly to what type of work I was looking for because, honestly, my dad had earlier stood up in front of the 110 attendees of the event and begged them to give me a job.

It was pretty funny.

And full of love.

So, my future boss is asking me about my experience and I tell him about my master's degree. He says, "Oh, I started that program but dropped out."

Probably my humor was unwise at this moment but I said, "Was it the math?" in a mock-empathic tone with raised eyebrows and a knowing grin.

"Yeah but I figured that I already had a doctorate so I didn't need to do all that work figuring out something I wouldn't use."

While we were talking, my dad walked up, put his forehead on the guy's shoulder and said, "Please, please, please. Please give my daughter a job." And I was worried about my professionalism.

The future boss and I continued talking after my dad walked away and then he asked for my card. I gave it to him and moved on to talk to someone else.

Well, he followed up with me that night, sent 2 pdfs describing the program he is working with and asked if I could come in later in the week to talk. After we set up the meeting, he forwards me a working document that he just received from a mutual friend who is helping him with the vision for where the program is going.

I feel pretty attended to by the time I get to his office. I read all the stuff, print out some of it so I can reference it during the conversation and put on my suit for the meeting.

He spends, no kidding, an hour and a half alternately courting me and questioning me on my ideal job. He has an understated personality, which is always hard for me to read since it is so foreign to me. It wasn't until later that I realized that when he said, "It's not very often that you get the chance to actually change the world; it's kind of neat," he might have been persuading me and not just describing his own experience. I don't think he set up the phone call from Katie Couric's producer to come right in the middle of our meeting, but I'll admit, it worked.

I love the work he is doing. I love that it is being recognized as actually creating systemic change that measurably benefits under-resourced kids. I love that he has a secondary goal of revitalizing the Church by entangling people's lives with the lives of the poor. As Shane Claiborne says, "The problem is not that wealthy Christians won't help the poor; it's that they don't know the poor." Jesus knew the poor.

I also love that when he finally offered me the job, he said it like this: "When I met you on Tuesday, I thought, this is someone special. Then I got your resume and thought, here is someone with experience thinking about different forms of organizational design, someone who cares about marginalized folks, and someone with a lot of unique experiences. Also, you're really smart."

I have to admit that I misted up when he said. Professional, I know. It's just that I have spent this entire unemployment feeling like I was uniquely unqualified for every single job that was posted. If the job needed a master's degree, it also needed five years of experience in that particular field. Or they wanted an MSW instead of an MPP. Or it needed supervisory experience. Also, almost half of the reason I went to grad school was to prove that I had the chops and that I wasn't just getting jobs because my dad begged his friends on my behalf.

And here is this guy saying, "I wasn't going to hire staff to expand this program into a nationwide network in a decentralized way because I don't know how to do it, so I don't know how to tell someone else to do it. But I think you could run with this." And it's because of me and the work I've done, not because I'm my father's daughter (although in every other scenario, I am proud to wear that title). And he knows how hard I've worked because he took the same classes I did and struggled with them as much as I did.

After I said I'd go home to my husband and talk about it and pray about it, we bantered a little bit now that the climax of the meeting had been survived. He said that he thought my resume was playing with him since I describe myself as a social entrepreneur and he just won a fancy award for being a social entrepreneur even though he had never heard the phrase before he won the award. I said, "What should really freak you out is that when I reached into my purse to write something down, I pulled out from the linty depths the pen I got at your gala three years ago."

I can really make a difference for kids in this job. I believe deeply because it's been proven to me by all sorts of dry and boring research that the answer to society's problem can mostly be solved if we make sure that all kids are nurtured during their first 5 years. During that time, they learn non-cognitive skills that are crucial for learning cognitive skills later. Skills like delaying gratification to achieve a task, a desire to learn, the ability to sit quietly and listen, the rudiments of language acquisition. This job is preventing trauma in the lives of young children on a measurable scale, which allows them the chance to fulfill the potential that God gave them when they were born.

How could I say no?

So, I have been frantically finishing the Christmas presents that I thought I had another two weeks of unemployment to finish and trying to squeeze in some of the volunteer work I have been doing on my church's behalf.

I have been coughing at night, which keeps Jacob and I awake, so tonight I took the medicine my doctor prescribed which was a cough syrup with codeine.

Apparently, codeine keeps me awake so you all are the beneficiaries of the crash I'll feel tomorrow.

I hope things are going as well for you as they are for Jacob and me. Chag Sameach!


Jake and Jess said...

so this is what i'm thinking here - youre' missing a very significant part in this e-mail. who are you working for/with? do tell!

cory said...

I am SO happy for you!!!

i think i'm falling into a similar place to where you were previous to to the contents of this blog post. I had a dream last night about my applications to Ph.D. programs - i just kept repeating to anyone who would listen, "please buy me! i'll be a good student. I'll work really hard. i'll help make things better. please buy me."

i'm assuming/hoping that in my dream "buy" and "accept & fund" mean roughly the same thing.

not sure why i typed all that.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations!!! This job sounds perfect for you. Unemployment so puts one's self-esteem through the meat grinder and it is so powerful to have someone say, "no, no, you really DO have value!" You do! Yay!

Christy said...

OH! This is just great!

ABG said...

HOORAY for REBECCA!!!! Sounds wonderful. I went to the website after your FB post and it looks so AMAZING. To think about having a place for families to turn without fear of "DHS" (who really do turn out to be the "bad guys" a lot of times, even though they don't mean to, I hope)....WOW. Bon voyage in your new work.

Emily DeWan Photography said...

Woohoo! I'm so happy for you! And I hope you are able to finish everything in time now that your schedule has shifted