As promised, it’s now 3 days since my deadline was thankfully met…and yes, I’m back to posting and not procrastinating (something that I strangely miss!). I might actually try and post a little more often, solely because I have absolutely nothing else to do. Well, that’s not entirely true. I ought to be looking for a part time job, but being a couch potato is so much more easier and convenient. Anyway, so I did end up getting my word count sufficiently long…in fact I nearly risked going over the maximum 16500 and potentially forfeit 10% of my mark…whatever that’ll be. So, I stand at 16395 words, forming 98 pages complete with a contents page, 10 page reference list and a 10 page appendix. If only I’d been half as ‘formatted’ with my undergrad project. But hey, that paid off very well…I got a first for that one, and here’s hoping for another!
I think it’s about high-time that I finally talk about that all important ‘divine intervention’. So as I’d mentioned (I think), I’ve just been offered a PhD starting this September; and obviously before that could happen, I had an interview (which I definitely know I mentioned). Not only was the thought of being interviewed by two of my lecturers and the associate dean nerve-wrecking enough, but the very fact that I needed to make my allegiance to one project more clearly during that very interview…almost made me weep. What can I say, I liked both. So the day didn’t start off great, I woke up with an itchy rash towards the edge of my mouth; and no I didn’t cover up the red inferno with make-up. I decided that I would take the car, since I had no intention of walking along the streets of the ‘Hood’, overdressed smartly in a blazer…that wasn’t the best of thoughts. I was actually more than 10 minutes early when I’d reached the car park, however…the car park was not so friendly. For some daft reason or the other, it was like the universe was screaming at me…’DON’T DO IT’; but I merrily ignored the universe, whilst panicking that my ID card wouldn’t scan and give me a display ticket. I ended up running from one ticket machine to the other, dodging muddy puddles and trying not to let my hayfever get the better of me. Oh, and of course; I was still recovering from the fever that I’d had. So, even before I managed to exit the car park…sparing only 3 minutes to get myself to the building on an incline and a flight of stairs waiting for me; I was still recovering from a fever, had a rash on my face and my nose was running like a tap…and to top it off my new boots were killing my toes! I then proceeded, very panicked at the prospect of being late; towards the incline, which killed me with the sun blazing down. So add sweating to that list of unfortunates as well. I did however see a certain someone just before I walked into the building, a good omen I’d like to think. Well, S and SM would certainly think so.
My mum’s just trying to distract me, but I’ll press on. I ran upstairs, finding myself out of breath and frantically looking for the interview waiting area. I was 2 minutes late. And as soon as I opened the door and saw C and A seated, the associate dean appeared with another lecturer. They were running late themselves, phew! It was a good thing that I’d not arrived early, otherwise I’d have had to indulge in uncomfortable small talk with C and A…which, even trying to imagine makes me shudder. So the associate dean came and invited me to take a seat, whilst he and my two interviewers left; trying to decide on how to approach this particularly strange interview. I ended up waiting 10 minutes or so, and that gave me time to try and stop sweating and for my nose to stop running. After sitting for 2 minutes, I began to panic…thinking if I strain a little harder, maybe I could hear what they were discussing behind closed doors a couple of feet away. No way, was that going to happen. A few more minutes of waiting, and then I heard the door open and footsteps coming towards me; the associate dean had come out to take me in. Walking behind him suddenly made me feel very clear about which project I wanted more, I hesitated about whether or not I should’ve said something to him; like a secret whisper, letting him know which I was leaning towards. But I stayed quiet. I followed him into the room, a tiny room inhabited by a large round table, taking up all the available room. And there, on that table were my two lecturers…one of whom would be my potential supervisor. My seat was closest to the door, but my back was facing away…which made me uncomfortable. C was sat opposite me, A on my left and the associate dean on my right. They’d had a glass of water poured for me, but I barely even looked at it. The dean started off the interview, a few generic questions and then of course the hardest one…why a PhD and why these projects. That was when all the cringing began, I’m rarely a person who thinks about what she says; which I believe is one of my admirable qualities, though occasionally I do wonder why I open my mouth…this was one of those times. I didn’t think about any of the words that left my mouth, and it was interesting for me to hear myself advocate for one of the projects clearly with a lot of passion; C’s project. As soon as I’d finish my sentence, I’d be thinking; poor A, he’s going to know that I don’t want his project…well, not as much as C’s. When asked about the PhD…I actually responded saying…”I enjoyed my MSc project and I’d like to go further in research…BRING IT ON”. Yes, the latter 3 words, most certainly left my mouth…after which I immediately looked at the map of the world hanging on the wall behind C’s head…and thought to myself…”I cannot believe you just said that! Moron! Wait a second, why does Africa look so small?”
I’d like to say that was the only daft thing I’d said, but when it comes to daft things and myself…we’re generally a two-for-one deal. C asked most of the questions, and I honestly felt like all of my answers for his questions were completely honest and surprisingly intellectual…unlike my response to A’s question asking about how I would fund my personal expenditure without a stipend, to which I replied “I have very generous parents, and I don’t spend a lot”. Though very true, it’s not something you say at an INTERVIEW! I genuinely thought that the interview was awful. Nobody gave anything away and I kept looking at the map and wondering why the continents were so disproportionate. There were several awkward silences, whilst they jotted away my ramblings; there were even times when the associate dean apologised for not being able to keep up with me…where of course I blushed several times, but there are no brakes on my verbal car, sorry! Like I said, the entire thing felt very cringe-worthy and as soon as I finished and left the building, I called my friend to tell her just how bad it was and how obvious I’d made my choice…and how heartbroken A looked when he asked the final few questions. But she assured me that often things feel a lot worse than they actually are and went on to quote her seminar experience.
This all happened on a Friday and come Monday, I was given an offer…for A’s project! Leaving me completely baffled! I’d seriously had a bad interview, I’d not thought about a single thing I’d said and the most fascinating thing for me during the entire event was the map hanging on the wall; but even then I thought that I’d made it quite clear that I’d rather have C’s project. I spent a few days ignoring everyone’s congratulations…since it only continued to freak me out…especially since they were coming from my future supervisory team and I’d not even accepted the offer; my heart was still with C’s project (and it still is a little) and so I couldn’t say anything without knowing about the other project. So after somehow managing to covertly find out that C’s project was no longer being pursued…I reluctantly agreed to meet A. He had sensed my hesitation and reservations and somehow made me feel comfortable in telling him how I’d really felt; but he very cleverly managed to convince me otherwise and I left saying yes. Now, it’s several weeks later…and again doubt is creeping back…I can’t back out now and I’m not sure that I really want to, I just want to know what I’m doing that’s all. It’ll happen, soon, I think.
So the divine intervention part…first of all, I was stopped from having to talk to my interviewers before the interview (because they were also waiting in the waiting area) so all of those delays were a God send really, secondly I spoke from my heart and even though I said things like ‘BRING IT ON’ – fist action included; they loved my enthusiasm, and lastly…even though I didn’t get my number one, I think there might be a reason…(no, I’m not going to share that!)…this way I keep the balance between being scared of your supervisor and respecting him; which is probably better (skewed slightly more towards the…’He scares the hell out of me’) and that’ll hopefully push me to really show my worth. So all in all, if I’d had things my way…I probably would’ve had more awkward moments.
PS. The title is a reference to a topic which has sadly plagued the minds of fellow female peers and myself. And a topic brought up over coffee with SM, two days ago. I think I can put ‘likes to cook, but not if told to’ on mine. What else would go on it? Surely not my ability to use a Confocal microscope??? Oh…and by the way, in case you’ve not noticed…this is a very long post. I guess I’m still recovering from writing 16000+ words. Oh and when I get my dissertation back, I’ll post a picture of it!
EDIT: I forgot to mention that I also happened to throw the phrase “I’m a saddo” about, like a generous heap of sprinkles on a Mr Whippy, during the interview. And they still took me on! Seriously?!