Thoughts And Memories From A Fairytale
Thirty hours to a federal election.
I found out the good way what voting was all about some three weeks ago. I'm a student leader at my residential college at uni (Study Mentor - I encourage people to study and work hard), and throughout late July, every student leader was asked to vote for who they thought was the most outstanding student leader from across the College. I voted for the one person who is on two student leadership teams. He does good work for both teams, and he's not showing any signs of pressure. So for the rest of the week, I was wondering who out of the 37 of us would get the award. There were a few that I'd already written off, including myself. I figured that I didn't have a snowball's chance in Hell, with odds of 1 in 37. Besides, there were at least three other awesome leaders by my count.
Some two weeks ago - August 5, to be precise - I got a phone call from the head of the College: "Would you like to come to a wine tasting evening in ten minutes? We have a few slots open." "Yes, absolutely." "I'll tell you why I chose you when you get here." Yep. I got it. Somehow, that snowball lived in Hell. So I drank enough to get me to my limit, making me a happy, happy man for a few hours.
If you've missed the other half of the backstory (which you likely have, if you don't know me IRL) then you won't know that as a Study Mentor, the team I'm a part of has a leader, or Co-Ordinator as they are called. Since I was given the job of Mentor, I've been gunning for the job of Study Support Co-Ordinator. The girl who has it this year is lovely, and she's done the most fantastic job. We're reasonably close: she lived on my floor last year, and she's been my "boss" (as it were) for this year. I still recall late September when she took me aside and told me; a few minutes after I accepted, I told her "I'm hunting your job now".
A week ago, it was time to apply for that job. Information night told me pretty much nothing except that I didn't need a reference like I did last year, and the closing date for applications. So, come the date (Monday 16) I stumbitted my application. The head of the College said one thing: "Is that what I think it is?"
Competition was always going to be tough. Three people from my team applied for the role, along with two others from a different leadership team (which is quite acceptable). Shortly after, I was sent an email saying "Please come for an interview at 12:30p tomorrow." VERY nice. Let the game begin.
So, a couple of hours after the email, I made a speech for one of my classes. It was nothing particularly special, but I'm pretty sure I was given a high mark for it. Part of it was the fact that I willingly got up and spoke first, upon being volunteered by my tutor (with the reason being "You told me you'd prepared the most" - true, to an extent). I was told afterwards that my stance exuded confidence, I made the most of my slideshow to make a point, and that my voice filled the room. My comment was "Really? Because it felt like the exact opposite!"
The interview the next day was going to be a kicker. I hosted my mentor session, as is usual every second Monday night. The current Co-Ordinator was going around to all the sessions, taking photos. I shadowed her, basically saying "HELP ME!" She related some hints and tips, based on her experience from the previous year. I took one in particular on board: "memorise your application and use some of those answers in your interview". I thanked her, hugged her, and with a swift "I'm never worried about you", she headed off to take more photos.
Tuesday 17. 9:00a. I slept very well, mostly thanks to an 8:00a start on Monday and a bit of physical activity that evening. Woke up at 9:00a, groggy, and forcing myself to get ready for a lecture at 10 and a tutorial at 11. Thankfully, I finished all the work in my tutorial early, and left some 15 minutes before the class ended. 11:45a, and I had 45 minutes before the interview that could potentially end the world. Back in my room, I got some neat casual clothes ready, opened up my application on my computer, and...
put on some music, grabbed my cricket gear, and pretended I was playing a game.
This was a deliberate move. I think it made all the difference. I slightly channelled my thoughts from my speech the day before: what can I do to become more confident? Putting on my music not only relaxed me, but reminded me of my achievements (as I had put on a mix I made some six weeks beforehand). Putting on my cricket gear reminded me of things that I can consistently do well. As you might expect, my confidence redlined.
12:30p. I leaned forward slightly in my chair, to look bigger and more... (imposing isn't the right word here, but hell if I can think of what the word is at this stage). I answered the questions given to me with as much fluency as I could muster, but I probably messed up a question or two along the way, which is partially why I felt slightly less confident after the interview than before it. I met two friends on the way back to the College, both of whom had utmost confidence in me. That helped.
Afterwards, my Co-Ordinator phoned me, asking how I had gone (she was not present at the interview). I relayed her some of my answers. Her response was that she thought that my answers were exactly what they were looking for, and that she thought I had done a good job. My response: "Really? Because it felt like the exact opposite!"
Wednesday at 9:30p I got the call.
Knowing that this was judgement day, I walked quickly - although shaking - up to the meeting room. I was met by a solemn-looking head of College and a sombre-looking Co-Ordinator. "Professional," I thought. But still, there was always that nagging feeling that I had been beaten - the other four had given their all as well, particularly one of my best friends, who was gunning for the role just as much as I was, was showing no signs of giving in, was constantly saying "May the best person win"...
Fake-outs are cruel, but hell if I don't appreciate this one. "One of the hardest parts of the job is informing unsuccessful applicants." Good. He hasn't said anything explicit yet. I stuttered out an "I can imagine", before he continued: "Unfortunately..." Uh-oh, that's not a good word. "...we'd like to offer you the position of Co-Ordinator for 2011."
Yep. I got it.
The rest of that short meeting was a blur. I can remember shaking his hand and saying "Unfortunately, I'd like to accept it"; being told that although I made it, there's still room for improvement, and he'd like to subsidise a few classes for me; hugging my Co-Ordinator at the end; being told to keep it to myself until the announcement was official; thinking "how the hell did those two keep a straight face at the start?". I left, hardly containing my quite obvious euphoria. I saw nobody, I talked to nobody (except my girlfriend, who lives off campus anyway), and sat down and played video games to distract me.
So, how did everyone else react? Within an hour of getting the email, I was flooded with texts, emails, Facebook notifications saying "congratulations". They kept coming until Thursday evening. Within about ten minutes, the friend who had also been going for the role sent me a message saying "I want to give you a great big hug!" At a dinner tonight (which I was already invited to for being a Mentor), I was shaken by the hand, awarded the award that I had won two weeks ago, talked to (jovially) by the 2011 leaders of the two other student leadership teams, the head of College and my Co-Ordinator, I had discussed some of my ideas for next year (yes, I have ideas already), and I had not felt any of the euphoria lift... I didn't sleep well last night, I was so excited...
I haven't told my parents yet. I'm going to spring it on them when I visit tomorrow.
EDIT: August 17, 2011. One year on, and I applied for the same job. One year on, and my head of College did the exact same fake-out trick, and offered it to me for the second year in a row. I was "well-spoken and confident", but one year on, I still said "Really? Because it felt like the exact opposite!" I've obviously left a good impression with my work for the college this year, and I intend to keep it up.