Wednesday, August 17, 2011

job job job?

Since I moved to Iowa I've been working at the university library, first in book repair and then in the conservation lab. At first I was really excited about my job: I got to learn how to repair broken books and implement some of my bookbinding knowledge. I also got to pick my own hours! Awesome. But soon I found myself working all my hours at the end of the week, cramming them all in to just 2 or 3 days, watching the clock and counting down until I was finally done. But, there was a light at the end of the tunnel: I was promoted to working in the conservation lab! I was excited to learn new bookbinding and repair techniques, make some contacts in the book world, and expand my skills.

And yet.

Although I've been working since September and received 3 raises, I am still making just short of $8 an hour: I was making more than that working at BYU Vending after one semester. And I find myself doing the same things over and over and over again, far more than when I was in book repair. Sure, now I am an expert in scraping dirt off of pages, flattening water-damaged books, aqueously cleaning very dirty pages, and tipping loose pages back in, but I learned all of those things literally in the first month I moved to conservation. I still haven't learned how to recover a book or how to reinforce the sewing in a book with loose signatures: two things I have specifically asked to learn. I was back to getting through the work day by listening to This American Life podcasts.

It's been rough.

But, thanks to my new supervisor at work, I learned about graduate assistantships that are available to graduate students in different departments: perfect for me since neither of the departments I'm enrolled in offer assistantships of any kind. For those of you who don't know (I didn't know before I got into grad school) being granted an assistantship means that not only do you get paid a salary instead of by the hour, but your tuition is also paid for by the university. Lucky for us Braeden already has an assistantship through his department, without which we would not be able to afford for both of us to go to school. Or keep our house, for that matter.

So I applied for one of the assistantships posted on the GA website. I sent an email with my resume and cover letter and waited. And waited. And waited. I never got a response.

So I sent another email, this time with my school email address, thinking that perhaps my first email went straight to junk mail. Still no response.

Then I printed out my resume and cover letter and went to the department to see if I could drop it off in person. Sadly the supervisor was out of the office, so I left my resume with the secretary and sent another email to make sure she had delivered the application. Still no response.

So today, after work, Braeden and I went over to the department and just walked in. We found the appropriate office and asked if we could talk for a minute. There was already someone in the office, but after she left we were finally face to face. I introduced myself and after some small talk asked, "So, is the position still available?" And the response? "Well, yes and no." Hmmm. After a 45 minute chat I felt both completely confident that I could do the job if I were to get it and simultaneously confused about why it was so hard for me to get any kind of response about my initial application. The board meets on Friday to determine if there will be enough money for the positions advertised, so by then I should know more clearly where I stand on the whole thing.

All I can say is that if I get this job it would literally change my life. And I never thought I would say something that dramatic. Clearly we have been watching too much Master Chef.

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