Well, after a long seven years of rigorous academic trials and tribulations, I have finally graduated with my bachelor’s and master’s degrees and gotten a real job! I feel incredibly lucky and excited to have gotten this job, as it fulfills virtually every hope I had had for it. As my graduation from Carnegie Mellon was rapidly approaching, not only was I working myself ragged with typical end-of-semester projects, presentations and reports, but I was also shooting out numerous job applications to engineering firms all across the country. This, as anyone who has spent time doing it knows, is a very time-consuming and heart-wrenching process because more often than not, you get politely rejected or just flat-out ignored. And so, as graduation continued to approach, and my rejections continued to pour in, I was getting more and more anxious because I wasn’t sure what I was going to do afterward.
But then one day an e-mail came across my computer screen and I immediately got super inspired and excited! Up until this point, I had thought that getting a job at a traditional civil engineering firm is exactly what I was qualified for and wanted to do. However once this e-mail and all it implied had been absorbed by my retinas and digested by my brain, I knew that those jobs to which I had previously applied for represented the antithesis of what my heart had been yearning for.
Here’s a little bit of a background. During those seven years that composed my undergraduate and graduate degrees, I spent 10 months living and studying abroad in Japan. Ever since I returned, I have been wanting so badly to go abroad to travel once again. Getting a job at a traditional engineering firm would have more than likely ended up putting that dream on hold for a couple of years (at least), and at the same time would have started eating into my precious twenties!
That being said, this is what popped up on my screen:
Despite my best efforts to remain calm, I began to get that tingly feeling in my stomach that goes along with the excitement, desire, and that looming fear of it all simply being a pipe dream. I immediately forwarded this e-mail to my parents, to which they responded with a lackluster enthusiasm because let’s face it – at first it was a long shot.
I took the first step and reached out to Valparaiso University (VU), inquiring as to the deadline for applications. The contact, Erik, said “the end of April,” and at that time April had just begun. Given that I was swamped with school work at that time, I decided to put it on hold until some time freed up… A couple of weeks passed and I began to think about it again. Just as soon as that happened, I received a phone call from none other than Erik from VU, who called to inquire if I was still interesting in the Dalian position. Enthusiastically, I responded, “Yes, of course!” So he continued and gave me some more information about the job, and then asked if I could get him my CV by the end of the week.
I excitedly began updating my CV and sent it out. Soon enough, he responded with an offer for a phone interview for later the following week. Then, shortly after the phone interview, I received a request for a Skype interview where I’d give a brief 20-minute lecture on free-body diagrams to him and the dean of engineering at VU on Monday of the following week. Again, I excitedly prepared my lecture and began practicing it.
It was at this point that I was really struggling to maintain my calm and not get too excited at the prospect of moving to China to teach engineering because I knew that if things didn’t go well, I’d miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime and be severely disappointed. Despite these things, I continued the process and eventually the time for the Skype session came. With a fantastic amount of support from the faculty and my fellow students in the Civil & Environmental Engineering (CEE) department at CMU, I was ready. I gave the lecture and fielded some questions from the dean. Altogether, the session lasted just under 30 minutes. I left feeling satisfied. Now the wait for a response…
To my great surprise, that wait didn’t last long! Not more than 15 minutes after my Skype session ended did I receive a phone call from Erik, who then offered me the job!
Now three months and a bunch of paperwork later, I am an official faculty member of Valparaiso University with a flight booked for China on August 19th, and an apartment waiting for me in Dalian, China. All that’s left is the course preparation, Mandarin flashcards, and the wait…
As you may have gleaned from the link above, I blogged about my time in Japan. My motivation to do so was so that my friends, family, fellow students, supportive professors and staff members from both my alma maters could keep up with my adventures. I enjoyed writing it so much, and treasure what’s archived in it so much so that I intend to do it again during my time in China. I hope you all decide to follow me in my adventures as DanInDalian, because there is much more to come!