Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Interview

Which one? The one I just went on yesterday (Friday 2/13).

The funniest thing about it was the question my sister asked me the day before... "Why did you schedule it on Friday the 13th?" Answer: they scheduled it and invited me to come down at 4 p.m. on Friday. I didn't even think of the date because I was so happy to have the 1st interview of my now almost 3 week job search (since 1/28). Not, "Are you interested in the job being offered?" or "Congratulations and good luck." or "How did you get an interview so fast?". What can I say? My sister and I often don't seem to have sprung from the same gene pool. If she was a stranger, we would never have known each other because we are SO DIFFERENT. Like night and day. Like good kid and bad kid. Like ADD and normal. Like black and tan. Like Miller and Guinness. Like her and me. Yet we did share the same parents. I checked once by asking my mom if I was adopted, after we had gone to see "Annie", the musical live with my sister. She assured me that we were all related and she had given birth to both of us. I always felt like the odd one out at family gatherings and reunions. I was the "smart" one. I was the "book reader" with her head always in a book when not eating or watching TV.

I was the one that finally went to a 4 year university after many generations of my family not ever attending. I am the odd duck in the Zoeller family. But finally the next generation of cousins have all exhibited the intelligence to go to college and graduate and get good jobs mostly. I always send at least $25 for a gift because I really am proud of the kids of my cousins that are getting the bachelors and masters degrees. I have distant cousins that have PhD's in science and one that was an Astronaut for the US and commanded the space shuttle and went to the MIR station (John Blaha). But that was another branch of the Zoeller family... my Dad and his father and back several generations did not go to college because of the cost or the opportunity lost when they were in World War II. My Dad had to drop out of high school after 10th grade to get a job to help his large family of nine kids and parents. He was the 3rd oldest: Harley Francis, Joseph (Joe) Albert, George Albert, Fredrick Louis, Molly Teresa, Edward (Ned), Henry and Alice Mae were all of the children of my father's parents Mary Bauche and Albert Zoeller. The first 6 lived through the great depression. All the men served in World War II except Henry who became a career man in the Coast Guard and Harley who joined the Army before WWII and went to India, but was there during WWII. The rest were Navy men and looked very handsome in the uniforms (from the old photos I inherited from my Dad). I'll write a book someday about the Zoeller family and it's service during WWII as German-American immigrants' descendants.
Any way... enough family history, back to The Interview.

It was my first job interview in TWENTY ONE years. I interviewed for my last job in 12/88 with Thelma Peacock (may she rest in piece). Thelma was pure East Texas twang, tough as nails like Miss Ann, and a died in the wool Longhorn graduate with an accounting degree. I'll write the story of Thelma and me later as it was interesting during my long association with her, but not working with her after the 1st year at the "xyz" corporation ( which shall not be named here). She was tough but fair and hired me in a Chicago minute. About three days after my November interview on the day before Thanksgiving in 1988, the head hunter in Dallas called me in San Antonio where I was living and said, they want you. The salary was comparable to what I made in my prior job for Comp-Data Communications and they were going to pay moving expenses including packing me up to move 300 miles north to Plano TX!!! Two weeks later in December, I started my career at xyz Corp after 8 years in the 80s in a very difficult job market not unlike today but I was twenty years younger and still a lower paid programmer/analyst.

It was a twenty year and two months span of time at my last company. Most of my working life so far. It's difficult to understand the layoff but many many many good people either were laid off or were highly suggested to take early retirement in their early 50s. Some of the people like my friend Sandy were jumping with joy about the offered retirement program as she had been talking about retiring for at least 4 years and planned to leave in 2009 before her daughter graduated from high school in Richardson and goes onto a private university (with an equestrian program). I'll write more about the expectations of the children in Plano and around here of my friends... To put it mildly I would have though their families were rich when I was a kid. I never dreamed of a high school like the quality and diversity of courses available in the locals school district in Plano and other area districts in the northern 'burbs of Dallas.

The INTERVIEW... stop digressing Jodie!!! OK!

It went well. I can't post their name here and never will but a hint is that it involves an area governmental entity job doing similar things that I did in my last job but in a more challenging environment and with more interesting job requirements for what I'll be working on (SAP). Most of the interweb knows nothing about SAP... just pretend it's Microsoft Office that you do know. It's a system that takes care of just about everything a business needs in the way of "enterprise" or company wide systems just like Microsoft Office does for you PC. Sometimes you need Word, sometimes Powerpoint or Excel or Outlook for Email. There are different modules in SAP for accounting, sales, purchasing, etc. Trust me that's the simplest analogy I can make without making Chuck's eyes glaze over with confusion. Because he tells me often that he doesn't have a clue what I do with computers, but just that I'm really good and they like to pay me very well... well not that well, but enough to own a house in Plano and two cars and a cat and maybe a dog when we are employed again. Chuck is a disabled "semi-retired" newspaper writer / editor. He's old school and was poor most of his working life as a journalist working in community news. A story for another day of how we met!

The interview.... my 1st in 21 years. It went very well. It helped that the woman who screened me at the job fair and gave me a 15 minute pre-interview was not an HR recruiter, she is the manager of the department and was in the hour and fifteen minute interview yesterday. E and I had bonded pretty well in 15 minutes. THANK YOU Toastmasters for my improved communications skills. So I was less nervous about talking with her again. The 2nd person interviewing me was new to me, a manager under her named T. Then the hiring manager that I would be reporting to is D. D and I knew each other! He worked as a contractor at the company that I have just left in January. We knew each other semi-OK and he respected my talents and knew that I know my stuff! That just gave me a KNEE in the door that I already had a foot in from the pre-interview. E had said on Tuesday that my resume and what I had told her fit the job they had very well. Like it was almost made for me... well she didn't say that but she was very encouraging on Tuesday. When she finally set the interview for Friday afternoon on Thursday I was so relieved as she had promised to schedule it after the fair on Tuesday and then email and said Wednesday. I was getting nervous.

The questions that they asked me were mostly technical in nature about SAP and what I had previous experience with in my 10 years working with SAP at my last job. I think I answered most of the questions very well because they were smiling and shaking their heads. At the end, I asked if they felt that I was a strong candidate for the position and they ALL DID! Woo Hoo!

No chickens hatching before the eggs though. I've seen the egg but I've got to be patient and wait until they decide next week who they are hiring. I have no idea how many people that they have interviewed for the position. But knowing the hiring manager can not hurt AT ALL. He knows my reputation for good work at xyz corp. and that I was well respected by both the company and his consulting / contracting company that did most of the level 3 technical support work there for SAP. I happen to have worked as a virtual team member with the mostly consulting group and had been on call, done production support, done troubleshooting, configuration, batch job setup, troubleshooting and generally know what I need to know for the release of SAP that we had. They have the newer one, but I've been to a few workshops for the new GL, so it should be OK. Just a small learning curve about the system. A bigger one to find out the business processes at the new place and get acclimated but I've been there and done that several times previously.

So interweb.... start praying, chanting, thinking wonderful thoughts, kneeling, rubbing Buddha's belly, star watching, meditating or whatever you do and do it for me.... Think positive thoughts that Jodie will get a job offer next week and start work in March. That would be the best of all possible worlds. Better than getting my old job back. Way better! Because then we can afford to go on vacation this year. I asked for two weeks off without pay in the summer to take our planned vacation and E said yes at the pre-interview. SO I can get paid my severance for several more months, use the 6K educational benefits, continue to network and help others find a job and take a paid vacation that is paid for by my time bank payout and my severance pay (not all of it!!!). Most of the severance is designated to pay off debts or to go in savings so that we have a nest egg for future unemployment. The career services that we're being provided had a 2 day workshop on job searching. Job changing every 3-4 years is now the norm. Staying somewhere for 20 years is an anomaly. Most people will have 3 careers and 15 jobs in their working life now.

For my next career after I get a good paying job and pay off our debts and then find myself looking for a new job........ I want to be a teacher. In high school, I was the historian of the career club called Future Teachers of America. That was my goal, to teach math and science, until the HS counsellor talked me into looking into Engineering because of my grades and SAT scores in Math & Science. She thought that would be better than teaching. The jobs paid 2 or 3 times as much even starting out in the 80s. So I went to Trinity to major in engineering. I hated my engineering classes and the professors weren't especially supportive of the concept of female engineers. I like my FORTRAN and APL classes for engineering best. I like my Chemistry class the least but I still liked it. Calculus II was not fun and I made a C. Remember I was a straight A student in high school and graduated as 4th in my large class from Edison HS in San Antonio. So not liking a math class? Not, but hating my grade Yes! I made As in the computer classes freshman year. So I went to my counsellor and said I wanted to move into Computer Science. Sophomore year I took the make it or break it class called Assembly Language. I aced it! That sealed the deal and I declared Computing & Information Science as my major during that year and got a better advisor. Dr. Howland was the chairman of the department and several of us had crushes on this man about 20 years old than us. He was our department hottie until Dr. Pitts came along with his body builder body and good looks. Oh well... sorry Dr. H. Most of my old profs have retired now but Dr. H was still there at my 25th college reunion. One of my BFFs Mary Ann and I attended the department reunion. I think we were the oldest graduates at their open house with good appetizers and wine! They are moving up in the world. Now computer science majors can specialize in VR or Gaming or other modern areas of CS. We had a micro computer lab that consisted of one Apple IIe, a Teseract or something like that used Pascal as it's language, a Tectronics green cathode ray tube graphics monitor/computer for advanced graphics work and an other other 6800 based machine. A big PC lab, not! It was before the introduction of the IBM PC in the mid-80s. It was still the computer dark ages compared to now. I started with punching cards for my FORTRAN class. By my sophomore year, they upgraded to a VM mainframe environment with an interactive computer lab setup that we called the "Computer Room". It was filled with students at all hours of the day and night working on homework programming assignments and my friend Marsha smoking her little brown cigarettes that were forbidden in the room. Oh, you radical you!!! She was a little more advanced than me as she was one year older and graduated in 1981. We're still friends.

My boyfriend was one year behind me and was a champion geek winning a video game contest at a local bar when video games came in big standalone type units with color screens that you still see at Dave & Busters. We thought Space Invaders in monochrome on an Apple II was advanced graphics and gaming on a PC back in college. He had a very early serial number Apple II. I'll bet he still has it. He was an Apple groupie before most people had ever hear of Apple. I wish I had bought stock with my meager earnings as a college grad. I would be wealthy and retired by now if I had done that. Oh well! I've always know that they were a cool company... with that rainbow logo apple of the 80's who could doubt it. That was before the rainbow became gay symbol and other groups stopped using a rainbow for a symbol (like my sorority stopped several years back and changed its colors and symbol... that's just WRONG... we picked a rainbow as a symbol of our different backgrounds becoming one in ZX!) Any way, I hung around with a herd of geeks and we liked it that way. I did have groups like Alpha Phi Omega (national co-ed service fraternity) and Zeta Chi (sorority that I helped found) to be near normal people that weren't thinking about computer code 24x7. More about college later... and especially APO and volunteerism.

THIS my longest blog entry EVER. Thanks for reading until the end!!!


One Rose's Opinion said...

It sounds like you have this job nailed down, girl! Congratulations on nailing the interview!


Dar said...

Wow! Good job on the interview. You will be in my thoughts and prayers this week.

BTW, I'm a fan of your hubby's columns in the newspaper.


Babs Schmidt said...

Good Luck! Still keeping my fingers crossed for you!