Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I'm Soooo Professional: My Volunteer Interview

Yesterday I had an interview at a large not-for-profit organization where my husband works. This organization does wonderful work in the community and I have wanted to volunteer there for years. Finally, I get the ball rolling. There is a Volunteer Application Process that involves a few things; a "test," a written application, a back ground check, an "interview" and tour. Yesterday was my interview.

Okay, it was far from a "job interview" but nonetheless I wanted to make a good impression and appear quasi-professional. I showered (a truly momentous occasion), put on pants that were not jeans and wore shoes that were not sneakers or Uggs. I even had on a clean top and mascara. Only problem, child care fell through very last minute. I was stuck with my 2 youngest girls, ages 3 and 14 months.

I asked my husband what I should do, and he recommended I just call and ask the Volunteer Coordinator who will be interviewing me whether she'd rather me reschedule or if I can bring the kids with me. Okay, I'll fess up now that my husband has some influence at this place, and the kids have been there many times with him. Namely, because he is the Chief Executive Officer. In other words, there is no one higher than him. He's everyone's boss. I am familiar with a lot of people there myself, including the woman who would be interviewing me, so it was not a strange thing to ask her if I could bring my children along. My husband even said he could watch them in his office during our tour.

Now, you might think I should feel relaxed and on easy street with this "interview" given my husband's position. Interestingly, it had quite the opposite effect. I felt like I had to try really hard to ensure that I didn't project any kind of image that I felt superior, or that I had it "in the bag" or that I wasn't taking it all seriously, or that they had to impress me. It was I who wanted to impress them and wanted to approach this situation the same as I would if I wasn't sleeping with the boss.

So, of course the Coordinator who is interviewing me that day is more than gracious about my child care situation, patient, sweet, and totally awesome. As we talked in a semi-formal way, the kids are completely distracting and the baby has a giant meltdown half way through our meeting. I'm literally screaming my idiotic answers to her professional questions over the baby's wails. On top of the immense unprofessionalism that shrouded me as I tried to engage in intelligent conversation with a goopy-faced sick baby on my lap and a gabby 3 year old tearing apart the office, I realized I was crapping up this interview... even without the kid factor in play.

Interview. I used to do this all the time. I used to walk in on my "A-game." I used to have a mental file cabinet of answers to all these rote questions about my weaknesses, my strengths, if I were a tree, what kind of tree would I be, who would I like to meet in heaven, and the like. I've interviewed for graduate schools, a ton of jobs, and a billion pre-doctoral internships during my 5 years of Doctoral studies. I've presented at huge conferences, conducted workshops, taught college students, and conducted interviews for incoming Masters students myself. When did I suddenly get so rusty? Though I've only been a Stay at Home Mom for 3 short years out of my 13 years of motherhood, that is apparently light years when it comes to the erosion of your professional persona.

So, there I was, a woman with a doctorate degree, a woman who worked 14 years in the field of psychology with challenging populations, a woman who used to have a fair amount of ambition, passed her written doctoral comps "with honors," and had a 3.9 GPA. A woman that has recently organized several community philanthropic endeavours and is the current board president of a non-profit organization's local chapter... and I was down playing myself, making self-deprecating comments, taking humility too far, not being able to think of "3 words that describe myself" ( I don't even remember what I said, so I can't even make fun of my own answer!). I was just sitting there like the world's biggest dork, thinking... What the heck happened to me? Oh, wait, I remember. Kids.

I left feeling embarrassed, stupid, and really glad that I am sleeping with the boss.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

How in the world do you have time to volunteer? I must be doing something wrong.

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