Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Job Interview: Rant and Rave

A very strange thing happened yesterday and I find myself still trying to make sense of it, though maybe I can't.

I thought I had a job interview with the Director of Admissions at Andover College, Wendy Burbank, in their South Portland, Maine location. The posted position was for an Admissions Representative. Andover College provides career-focused associate degree and certification programs, serving primarily an adult population, rather than recent high school graduates. The college is owned by Kaplan Higher Education Corporation, a national purveyor of higher ed.

I saw the listing on Wednesday, researched the college, and that evening faxed a thoughtful cover letter and a customized functional resume. I did not have the option to send the material electronically. On Friday, I received an e-mail response from Wendy, saying:

"Thank you for your interest in the Andover College Admissions Representative Position. I have reviewed your resume and would like to schedule a meeting to discuss your qualifications.

"I am available to meet on Monday, October 26, at 3:00 p.m. Please reply to this e-mail if you are able to make it.

"The Admissions Office is located at the address below, just walk through the front entrance and let the receptionist know you are here to meet with me. I look forward to seeing you Monday!"

I was very excited, and hopeful, I might add. I am looking for a meaningful position with a good company. The fact that Andover offers alternative students practical information for endeavoring career moves and professional development is a very good thing. The fact that they are owned by a for-profit corporation seems like a good thing. The fact that they are fairly small, 1,100 students, likely means close contact with the student body and a tightly-knit professional team. It was appealing to me in my quest for employment which promotes teamwork, healthy communication, opportunities to provide solutions, to be resourceful. And of course, I understand, admissions means marketing and sales to some degree. I get that, and, it's on my resume.

I canceled the dentist appointment I had scheduled for the past six months. I did more research on the college and Kaplan. I was very careful about the outfit and jewelry I selected to wear, about my hair and nails, the purse and folder I carried. I figured this all matters. I believe it demonstrates attention to detail, professionalism, and simply caring enough about the opportunity. I think how one presents oneself also shows respect for the other person and their role.

Sadly, it wasn't mutual.

I arrived just before 3:00 and followed Wendy's e-mail instructions. I was invited to sit in the waiting area with the 20 other individuals that had received Wendy's response to their applications. We were then asked to go to a corner classroom where a Powerpoint presentation was set-up, and five admission representatives seated themselves in the front. We all waited for the director.

When she came in she thanked us for coming, etc., and noted that we might be wondering what the heck was going on (my words.) Naturally, she said, there's been a large response to the position and this format saves everybody time. She said she'd give us an overview of the organization, a bit about the job, and then take a break. If we wanted to leave at that time we were welcomed to. (I was hanging on every word, searching for hope.) She said, let's face it, the job is about sales. You'll be on the phone much of the time. We have weekly and monthly, personal and team goals. And the team works really closely. And if there wasn't going to be a good fit with her team, she wasn't going to hire said person. (Really?)

I left. Why do I want to work for a company that can't communicate honestly and directly up front?

Obviously this blog is a vent, and I'm not exactly sure why I want to do it here. Maybe because I consider this a professional vehicle with a quality voice, and I had such a disturbing professional interaction that I think I can heal it here. The disappointment I felt was visceral and provoked a whole range of negative thoughts and feelings: humiliation, embarrassment, anger, dashed hope, and sadness. The only positive response I could muster was the old saying, "Things work out as they're meant to." And I believe that, I do. It just sounds weak to me right now.

Running teaches one how to deal with failure and disappointment, and to persevere. I'll figure out how to make a good living doing something I thoroughly enjoy. A Running Conversation is alive and well and I am looking for more. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Gifts and Goals

Yesterday I registered for the 2010 Boston Marathon. It was not something I had planned to do when I qualified at the Mount Desert Island (MDI) Marathon in October last year, and I definitely was not going to do it the following April, 2009. But the qualification was good for 2010 as well...

The reason I was not concerned about running in Boston was mainly because I have completed five marathons and understand how critically important it is to have focus and discipline during the four to six months of training leading up to it. It takes up a lot of room in one's life, and it's hard work. In fact, after finishing my second Boston in 1999, I swore them off. "Enough of this," I said. Of course I had to amend this and say, "Well, maybe when I'm fifty."

Nine years later I turned fifty and ran MDI the next day. (I even wore bib number 50. It was very celebratory.) I'd been working with a group training to run the Peak Performance Maine Marathon (PPMM) and covered the requisite training miles with them. I had trained, and I had raced well in other distances that season. So I was ready and my husband was running it as well. (He qualified and ran Boston 2009.)

But still when it was all said and done I thought, "Phew, that's out of my system. No need to do another marathon."

Here's what transpired to prompt yesterday's decision to commit to Boston with a capital "C": Again this year I worked with a group of runners participating in an eighteen-week training program leading up to the PPMM, [and Bay State, NYC, and the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco.] Many were first-timers in both the full and half marathon distances. Many were working to cover the distance, to complete the race, and to ward off demons telling them they couldn't do it. They were not racing to meet a Boston-qualifying standard. That was not the goal for most, and yes, it was the goal for some. There were a few veteran marathoners who hold that goal front and center. In truth, I know most marathoners aspire to qualify for Boston. After all, it is the Grand-daddy of marathons.

I've been inspired by these runners. They possess incredible enthusiasm, commitment, and positvity toward the training process and eventual outcome. They work really hard and keep their dream alive. They have helped me realize that I've been given a gift, a present of sorts. I have a green light to go to Boston and cover 26.2 miles with 25,000 other lucky runners. As the saying goes, don't look a gift horse in the mouth. In other words, don't be ungrateful when you receive a gift.

I am not a gifted runner. Don't get me wrong. I am lucky to be an older woman when it comes to Boston qualifying standards. Women have a full half of an hour on men's standards. That's a lot. And yes, I earn it by training properly. Most importantly though, is I realize that I have been given an opportunity to do something special. It's a gift.

I also have to admit I've been in a bit of a funk and needed a serious goal. I raced the Beach to Beacon 10K in early August and then did not race again until September 26, a solid eight weeks. That is uncharacteristic of me and indicative of burn-out, perhaps. Admittedly I became super busy with preparing for the marathon and all that that entailed. Something had to give. Now I'm ready to buckle down again. I have ample time to get my head wrapped around the effort, to prepare psychologically; and I also have a good reason to run, to physically prepare my body.

I've surprised my husband with my decision, but I feel grounded about it. It makes perfect sense to me - new runners have inspired me and preparing for a marathon legitimizes what I do. It seems very purposeful; and it's a sense of purpose, a goal, which I have needed.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Peak Performance Maine Marathon

The Peak Performance Maine Marathon, Half-Marathon, and Relay went off yesterday under overcast skies and fairly mild temperatures. The weather the night before was rain, thunder, and lightening, and so there was a shared sigh of relief among all participants on Sunday morning.

With the exception of a few upcoming marathons, namely, Bay State, Manchester City, Nike Women's, and New York City, the majority of the Peak Performance training group I've been working with since May 31st, achieved their goal to run either the full or half-marathon in Maine yesterday. Twenty-eight group members ran the half, and fourteen completed the full. Congratulations go out to all.

The group trained together for 18-weeks throughout the summer. Everyone had a schedule to follow, and then weekly, came together as a group in various pre-determined locations for the "long run." We were fortunate to have several Team in Training runners join the group about three weeks into it. Runners were able to recognize other runners at their pace and over the course of the four months experienced a wonderful sense of camaraderie. Most runners know the benefit of running with friends - it makes the time go by; it often challenges one to work harder; and it helps one develop a sense of commitment. I think this group received all that by the end of the program.

Many were racing the distance, whether the half or full, for their very first time. I believe the time results of these efforts are less important than the bravery it required to toe the line and the commitment it took to accomplish it. Lives are changed!

Of course, as it goes with running and anything that stretches one's abilities into unknown territory, there was some attrition in the group during the program. Injuries happened, lives became busy and stressed, plans and priorities simply changed. And that's okay. One of the reasons I value running so much, is it teaches us how to cope with failure and disappointment, and how to be flexible and forgiving of one's limitations. It motivates us to try harder and to not give up; and it provides a vehicle for us to share our trepidations, achievements and improvements.

Here are the results from yesterday's races:

Sarah Blodgett – 3:00
Jessica Brown – 3:00
Debbie Chasse – 2:09
Susannah Clark – 2:06
Karen Gilbert – 2:14
Karla Gilbert – 2:14
Michelle Goldman – 2:05
Chris Gould – 2:02
Nora Gross – 2:13
Robert Jolicoeur – 2:10
Katharine McCarthy – 2:04
Emily Morris – 2:21
Stacy Morris-White – 2:01
Carrie Newton – 2:25
Margaret O’Keefe – 2:08
Deb Patry – 2:26
Curtis Picard – 2:15
Julie Smith – 2:05
Jenn Stockless – 2:37
Ashley Stone – 2:11
Nan Tanner – 2:10
Ellen Theodores – 3:15
Chelsea Thompson – 2:24
Stacey Trembley – 2:57
Kristin Watson – 2:15
Cindy Wegener – 2:10
Laura Welles – 2:00
Louisa Wickard – 1:50

Jennifer Christensen – 5:13
Troy DeRoche – 4:02
Cathryn Douglass – 5:07
Shawn Gilbert – 4:39
Jamie Hiltz – 4:39
A.J. Hungerford – 3:34
Andrea Jordan – 4:53
Shelly Lajoie-Carlson – 5:01
Darrin Lary – 4:02
Robyn Merrill – 3:43
Steve Taylor – 4:19
Chuck Thorp – 3:20
Donna Tucci – 5:23
Linda Whitten – 5:50

Congratulations, again. Now it's time to rest and recover, and set new goals.

Best wishes are in store for the following runners for their upcoming events:

Betty Rines – Bay State Marathon in Lowell, MA on October 18
Chuck Thorp – Manchester City Marathon on November 1
Carrie Newton – New York City Marathon on November 1
A.J. Hungerford - New York City Marathon on November 1
Emilie Manhart – Nike Women’s Marathon in San Fran on October 18
Kristin Quatrano - Nike Women’s Marathon in San Fran on October 18

Good luck!!