Monday, December 22, 2014

Let's Catch Up Part II: New Job!

After Labor Day, I started sort of blindly applying to any job for which I was qualified in the LA/Orange County area. I’m not sure, but I’d guess I applied to between 10 and 20 jobs.

Just re-entering the world of Monster and Career Builder opened up my resume to tons of recruiters. Unfortunately, even though I had listed my California address, all the recruiters that called me were from around DC. On the drive out to California, I received at least once daily calls with recruiters that had jobs for me around DC. It was a bit disheartening, since I already wasn’t keen on the idea of returning to California. It was frustrating to be driving into the unknown in California when it seemed I had tons of jobs opportunities just waiting for me back home :-/

While I was in Chicago, I got an email from one of the jobs to which I applied. I couldn’t even remember which job it was…but when I looked back, it seemed to be the first place where I had sent an application. The job was for a research lab currently located in La Jolla, CA (about 2 hours south of LA). The lab is moving to USC sometime in December and they wanted me to come in for an interview. When I had was just for a job at USC in downtown LA, so I didn't know about this moving bit until I got the email asking for an interview. 

I debated not even interviewing, since the whole La Jolla-LA thing sounded a bit complicated, but I figured it was good for practice anyway.

So, 1.5 days after arriving in LA…I drug my feet down to USC for this interview. Honestly, I didn’t really want the job. I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of having to work in La Jolla till December and I was knee deep in unpacking. I was having a hard time getting in the interview mindset. I considered canceling, but decided against it.

It was an insanely hot, record breaking temp day. I put on my wool gabardine suit pants and a tank top. Sweating to death, I pulled my hair in a messy bun and dabbed on some minimal make up. I had a very ‘devil may care’ attitude going into this interview.

Since it was so hot, I brought my mom along to sit in the lobby while I interviewed. I figured she’d be happier somewhere with AC.

Anyway, I arrived at the interview and it was a tad awkward, because 4 different people were interviewing at once. There was no lobby, because the lab is temporarily in trailers, so my mom just sort of sat amongst everyone else. Haha!! I was one of the first ones taken back with one of the PhDs of the lab.

The interview was incredibly casual and I really liked the PhD. We were having such a great time talking that the secretary had to come interrupt him and tell him that he still had others to see!! Haha.

I interviewed next with the PI of the lab and he was an even MORE awesome guy. Ray’s enthusiasm and positive attitude were infectious and I soon found myself REALLY wanting this job. To boot, both of my interviewers were IMPRESSED that I’d taken off time to travel the world. This sounded like my kind of place!! Ray also took the time to come out of his office and meet my mom. Lol. 

Turns out, too, that Ray is something of a rockstar in the field of Biotechnology. He even has an impressive Wikipedia page!! This is a man you want to work under for a long, long time. :D

AND- I’d only have to go to La Jolla for about 3 weeks to train and then I’d return to USC to begin setting up the lab during the transition. This entire 30+ person lab is moving from San Diego to LA. It’s a massive undertaking. The lab is only in trailers for now, because they are BUILDING Ray a brand new building. Even the trailers are nicer than any lab I've worked in before :D 

With an incredible change of heart, I left the interview REALLY excited about this new job opportunity and REALLY wanting this job.

Amongst the mess after my interview. I had to ditch the pants!

This was all on a Friday and lucky for me, I got a call the following Monday with a job offer!! Even better, Ray told me to NAME MY SALARY. Here I was…all ready and nervous to negotiate and I didn't even have to!! I AM SO LUCKY!!

Since I was a little over qualified and the salary I requested was higher than that for which the job was listed, some changes needed to be made through the bureaucracy of USC. This took a few weeks, but I was more than ok with that, since it allowed me the time to get re-situated in California.

Annnddd lay around at the beach...

...goodness knows I've not done enough of that this year ;) 

In the beginning of November I traveled to La Jolla and the Scripps Institute to begin my training. I was put up at a rather nice beach-side hotel for the duration.

I took about one million shots of this view from my room

Scripps is an amazing campus. I was so impressed with the whole vibe there. In the lobby of our lab was a free gym for all employees that offered regular classes. There was an organic restaurant for lunches and a sunny courtyard. In fact, many of the veggies used at the restaurant were grown in this courtyard!

I have shaky hands

Preston came down for one of the weekends that I was there and we explored at Black’s Beach (one of his favorite surf beaches from his San Diego days), which has a steep hike down to it.

Everyone at the lab is nice and helpful. I’m a bit surprised at how disorganized most of my dealings with USC have been…but I guess it’s a bit of a paradox. I’d expect USC to be on their game, because they are so big…but I think because they are so big…they are not. ;)

All of the new employee kind of stuff…like insurance, benefits, pay, reimbursement, etc…I’ve had to figure out for myself. It's kind of cool though, because rather than a paper packet...USC has gone all green and all this info is online in your personal website. However, it would've been kind of cool if someone had mentioned this to me from the start. ;) I think much of this disorganization has less to do with USC and more with the massive transition of the lab from Scripps to USC. I think many things are falling through the cracks. It doesn’t help that one of the main coordinators of all this is out with a serious illness. Things are crazy!!

However, I’m SO lucky to have found such an AMAZING job and opportunity at such a renowned and prestigious University. I can’t deny that I’m a bit full of myself at the ease with which I found a new job and settled right back into working after an extended break. It definitely makes me stick my tongue out (a little bit) at all the naysayers who proclaimed me CRAZY for quitting a job in such a BAD ECONOMY. Ha!! I showed them ;) I try to make it a rule that I not let fear control my life. You have to take big risks and follow your dreams…it truly does pay off.

Our sweet new lab space

Seriously-these trailers are the nicest lab I've ever worked in. Haha!

Our office.
I am SO incredibly blessed that I got to achieve a lifelong dream of traveling the world and then return to an even better job than the one I left. It’s incredible that I only had to go on ONE interview. I’m so fortunate. I’m so lucky and blessed to have been given the opportunities that I have been and the ability to do well for myself. I attribute so much of this to my family, who have been there for me and made their own sacrifices so that I could be where I am today. I’ve had amazing opportunities and I am truly, TRULY grateful. 

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