It has certainly been quite a journey thus far, filled with ups and downs that I never would have foreseen for myself a year ago. While the process of applying for jobs has been reduced to the submission of a lengthy digital form for most places, the interviews themselves have proven to have all been very interesting experiences. Some of these have stood out more than others in terms of the actual process, the expectations of the job, and pure weirdness.
Take a journey with me, bros.
Where It Was: Catholic Elementary School in Southeastern Pennsylvania
Official Title: Elementary Music Teacher (Part-Time)
What It Actually Entailed: To this place’s credit, it was exactly what the job title implies. Sing and dance with the children. Teach some of them to play the trumpet poorly. You know, elementary school music.
Why It Was Weird:
Now this was a job that I had thought was too good to be true. The previous two people who held the position were people I knew from college, and the most recent one had recommended me to the principal, who apparently was very excited to bring me in. He also mentioned that he believed that the position was being changed into a full-time position from a part-time position, which just seemed like perfect timing.
Not only was it still a part-time gig, but the principal spent the entire time lamenting that he couldn’t make it a full-time position, and how he was frustrated that he kept hiring and quickly losing highly-qualified people because they would find a full-time gig somewhere else and would understandably leave. He then asked if I would leave if something better came along (no joke), and then immediately took it back by saying that I didn’t have to answer that for him.
I thought I put up a pretty good interview even after the surprise disappointment that this job wasn’t the final answer I was hoping that it would be. However, I ended up losing the job to a lawyer who wanted to teach music part-time for funsies (which shows you how awesome the market must be for lawyers right now) who was also apparently the only other candidate brought in for an interview. I wasn’t too upset about it, however. I mean…yeah, why wouldn’t I leave if something better came along? It wouldn’t be good counsel to stay where I’m not making enough to earn a living.
Where It Was: Public School District in Southern-North Jersey
Official Title: Middle and High School Band Director
What It Actually Entailed: Teaching the students from pre-K to second grade.
Yes, you read the title and the responsibilities correctly. This job was a tip I had seen posted on the New Jersey Music Educators Association’s Facebook group from the guy who presumably had the job before. I sent out this application within a day or two after quitting my previous job, so it seemed like a godsend to see a job posting for what I wanted to teach for the grade levels I was interested in so immediately after becoming unemployed.
I should have realized something was up when the Applitrack application system didn’t even ask for my resume’.
For those of you who aren’t musically inclined, this is like asking a mechanical engineer to handle your tax forms. Sure, he/she can probably do it, but an actual accountant would be a much better person to ask.
I actually wrote a rejection letter to this school district, which I had to send more than once because the principal’s email inbox was apparently too packed to receive any more messages. I wasn’t even aware that was a thing anymore. However, it felt really good to stand up and say with confidence that the school district wasn’t good enough for me, especially since I could basically wallpaper a house with the number of rejections I have received thus far.
Where It Was: Catholic High School in North Jersey
Official Title: High School Band Director
What It Actually Entailed: Trying to completely rebuild a failed instrumental music program from the ground up. Travel to the three middle schools every afternoon after teaching high school in the morning in an attempt to recruit so that more than ten kids would be in the high school concert band.
Why It Was Weird:
First off, the school had a “president” in addition to an actual principal, and this Commander-in-Chief/head priest was the only person I interviewed with aside from some random guy in one of the back offices who happened to major in music in college but hadn’t done anything musical since. Now, they try to prepare you for some pretty tough interview questions, both in college and on those YouTube videos that promise to help you do things like speak more confidently and find God’s match for you, but this interview topped that.
Question 1: “We have a lot of pretty girls attending our school. Suppose one of them develops a crush on her instrumental music teacher. What would you do?”
Question 2: “Suppose one of your male students comes to you one day and asks to speak to you in private. He then says that he thinks he is having sexual feelings for another male student in the class. What do you tell him to do?”
Second, many of the higher-ups in the Catholic Church have made it clear that they’re not ok with the gay community, some of the more zealous members even go so far as to bluntly state that being gay sends you right to eternal damnation and suffering when you die. You know, God’s infinite love for all people…except if you disagree with the church.
It’s a private school, and they can do what they want in regards to hiring people with consideration of their beliefs. I get it. Unfortunately, the system is infinitely bigger than me, and I can’t do anything by myself to change it. So what did I say when he asked me that question? I remember almost word-for-word what I said:
“Well, Father, first off, that seems like a very heavy question for the music teacher. Second off, I’d tell him to really think about what he’s feeling and to seek help from his family and friends in helping him to figure things out, because hopefully they’re the kind of people who will support him and love him, no matter what. I don’t have a problem with gays, either male or female, because I’ve had many friends who were, and I think that some of them were the best and most admirable people I’ve ever met. I know the Church doesn’t necessarily agree with that.”
I then looked him in the eyes in complete silence in what was probably the most badass moment of my year up to that point until he moved on to the next question. Some people may have lied/stretched the truth when going for a job interview in a religious private school, but I refuse to compromise my core values, or the welfare of a student in that type of situation, because I’m supposed to love or hate someone based on what someone else tells me to do.
Ironically, about a week or so later, the media went crazy over the current Roman Catholic pope, who went on record taking a “live and let live” stance on the question of homosexuality. He had already made some waves among the more conservative members of the religion by washing the feet of women as well as men during one of the traditional rituals of the church, which was certainly “most unorthodox” as can be. That’s the kind of man who should be a religious leader – someone who puts love and equality first.
Penguin Unemployment Line: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-HF5IhE5te_A/TuMCoXwDFVI/AAAAAAAABgA/zDZCgL9BWbY/s640/job-interview-4.jpg
Most Unorthodox: http://i.livescience.com/images/i/000/028/703/i02/throwingpapers.jpg?1341400267
Rejection Letter Wallpaper: http://www.sfgate.com/blogs/images/sfgate/scavenger/2009/05/08/3469774674_f4d9714ac0375x249.jpg
Internet Studying: http://www.soundfeelings.com/images/StudyingComputer.jpg
Minion Say Whaaa?: http://i1.ytimg.com/vi/fTHL0MAWkmY/hqdefault.jpg
Skeptical Dog is Skeptical: http://wakingupnow.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/skeptical-dog.jpg