Monday, February 19, 2007

Latest job market update

Wow. The job market has gone really well for us. I say "us" because I view my husband's success as my own success. He has four offers, one from a top 5 department, and 3 from well-respected departments in other areas of the universities. We expect another offer from a top 10 department this week.

We will be taking a tour of the top 3 schools and their respective geographic areas, two of which we both are pretty unfamiliar with. There are so many things to think about. Do we go with the swanky, old-money town? Or the ghetto-but-regentrifying town? Or the big city, with tons of people of my ethnicity and career opportunities (both academic and industry) galore? Where can we buy a house? How much house can we afford? What about schools?

In reality, the geographic concerns are relatively unimportant. All of the top 3 are located in places that I think would be acceptable. Now, if we visit a place, and I hate it, that would mean something. But right now, the most important thing is the academic environment that is most conducive to my husband's success. His advisor even took us both out to lunch, ostensibly to "strategize," but in reality, we just ended up talking about my family, his wife and kids, and all his former roommates/grade school friends who are in positions such as Chairman of the Fed, dean of the nation's best law school, top professors in similar fields, etc. He has his own opinion about where my husband would be happiest, and we take this opinion very seriously. I think he and my husband are a lot alike, so his recommendation holds weight with me.

His advisor is now on my good side, after getting off to a rocky start. The first time I met him, he insulted me. It was the summer after our first year, and my husband had rocked his exams. I mean, completely blew everyone away. His exams were at the beginning of the summer, and mine were at the end. He mentioned this to his advisor upon introducing us, and his advisor replied, "Well, there's no way she can do better than you!" He was trying to compliment my husband, but instead, insulted me. He apologized to my husband later that day, but I was the one who was insulted! Wasn't I the one who should have received the apology? Harumph.

He completely redeemed himself this summer, though, after my car broke down 90 miles from home, four days before our anniversary, when driving to my husband's university, where he was (approximately 400 miles away). I couldn't just leave the car (I did rent a car and drive back home), the repair shop had a hard time finding the part (it was a part that was still under warranty and shouldn't have broken). Our second anniversary was just days away, and it wasn't immediately clear that I would be able to make it there. We didn't really have the money for a plane ticket, and we were stressing out that we wouldn't be together on our anniversary. We weren't together on our first anniversary (he had a really important conference, I had my sister's wedding), and we were really angry that we might be apart again!!

My husband happened to have a meeting with his advisor that day, and when his advisor asked "How are you?" my husband launched into the whole story, leaving out the plane ticket money part. His response was, "That is terrible! You definitely need to be together on your anniversary! There is no excuse for that! How much is a plane ticket?" My husband replied $120, and his advisor just pulled out his wallet, and pulled out 6 $20 bills, handed them to my husband, and said, "Happy anniversary!" Since that day, his advisor is now on my good side. He is also really good to my husband, and is a terrific advisor, so that helps him too!

People keep asking me, "Where do YOU want to go?" Truthfully, if I were single, and just looking to move to a new place, I would pick the big city. Obviously. One of the strange things about marriage, though, is that my interests become almost indistinguishable from his interests. Almost. Not entirely, but if he does poorly, I end up suffering as well. We will have to move (rather than deciding to move, and moving to a similar or better university with a pay increase), he will be more unhappy and less pleasant at home, and he will have to work harder to accomplish the same amount. We will ultimately go wherever we think he will be most successful.

In the meantime, we are imagining that things like grocery stores and housing prices matter. Ooh, which place has a Wegman's? Which place has Trader Joe's? What about Whole Foods? Where do we live? How far is the commute? It's fun to pretend that these things will actually impact our decision. In reality, we feel very fortunate that we have any choice at all. It is not the normal outcome.

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