Thursday, September 11, 2014

I Can Haz Job

The job search is probably one of my least favorite things about life changes. There is something about the combination of insecurity and bravado that makes the whole experience a little unsettling.

Much like my last job search, I started the process unnecessarily early long before we had left Bloomington and before the "Summer in which Sara Got No Sleep" began. I updated my LinkedIn and broke out all my networking skills to track down everyone I knew who knew someone in Austin. I lined up all sorts of meetings for myself with these connections when Cale and I were in Austin in May for our failed house-hunting trip. I even applied for what appeared to be a perfect position with International Studies Abroad.

The more people I spoke with the more often I heard the same mantra: "You have to have a local address and phone number or they just throw your resume out without even a second glance." I went so far as to get myself a Skype 512 number.

However, after all that effort, my summer started to ramp up, and I found myself without even the slightest hint of time to even remotely consider the job search. Initially this made me quite anxious. Sure, Cale had done whatever magical financial math he does that means we always seem to have enough money* and had assured me that I had until January to find a job. But as the main breadwinner, I found that hard to believe.

*We decided way back in Florida that the solution to an ongoing problem in which Sara was perpetually convinced we were on the verge of destitution was that Sara was no longer allowed to participate in the household financial management. Given that I hate to shop and spend money, there was no threat that I would just spend money willy-nilly oblivious to our financial circumstances. It has appeared to work rather well for us for the past seven or eight years.

Despite my concerns, my summer soon became too busy for me to even find time to worry about worrying. So I just stopped worrying altogether. There was nothing to be done about it until we were in Austin.

When we finally arrived in Austin, I began my job search in earnest. Set up my color-coded spreadsheet to track jobs, applications, responses, etc. Searched web sites. Networked like a pro. I applied for anything and everything that I felt even remotely qualified for and interested in. Fourteen positions in total. Not because I was willing to accept any position, but because I wanted the experience applying, writing cover letters, interviewing, etc. And, of course, I wanted contingency plans if that perfect position never appeared or didn't pan out.

When you are unemployed and in the middle of a job search, it feels like it will never end and you will write cover letters (the bane of my existence) for the rest of your life. But, to be honest, I have always been very lucky with the speed with which I find great positions. In this case, I had a screening call for the Senior Program Coordinator position with the McCombs School of Business MBA+ Program on August 13, two weeks after our move. That led to an in-person interview a week later.

For my previous job as a Program Manager at the Institute for International Business, I left that interview convinced I had bombed it. I went directly home, drank two PBRs, and ate a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Then I scheduled an appointment with SPEA Career Services to work on my interview skills. I was shocked when they actually offered me the job. For this interview though, I left feeling really confident. I felt that it was a job that I could do well and enjoy doing and that those I had spoken with felt the same way and that they would enjoy working with me.

Then began the terrible waiting game of doubt. They only interviewed two candidates for the job and anticipated making an offer the next week. When Friday of the following week came and went with no call, I convinced myself they offered the position to the other candidate and he or she was taking the long (Labor Day) weekend to make the decision. I anticipated a call letting me know I wasn't being offered the position on Tuesday. But Tuesday came and went.

On Wednesday, I was actually in an interview when my phone started to ring. I had it on silent, but even the vibrations were distracting enough that I had to apologize and grab it from my bag to end the call. As I walked back to the Jeep following the interview, I checked my messages and saw a garbled voice-mail-to-text translation that told me that the call was from the hiring manager at McCombs, but it was too unintelligible to know if it was good or bad news. Thankfully, she had sent me an email too. And there, clearly, in black and white in front of me was a job offer for a great position. And to top it off, they offered me the max budgeted salary rather than the minimum posted with the position in order to side-step the negotiation process. It was actually just a tiny bit more than what I had decided I would try to negotiate for (don't tell the boss!), so there were no complaints from me.

For the rest of the day the hiring manager and I played a frustrating game of phone tag. I called and left her a message to accept the position and sent an email as well. She called my back while I was in the middle of discovering the cat had a festering, puss oozing wound on his head. Etc. But finally, we spoke on the phone and made it almost* official.

*Even though I had accepted the offer over the phone, I was really waiting for the offer letter to make it feel official, which is why I have been a little silent on the job details, as it took another week to finally get that letter. 

I had promised myself when we first moved to Austin (and discovered there was a Krispy Kreme literally down the street) that I could have a doughnut when I got a job. I spent the rest of the day (when I wasn't with the cat at the vet) checking for the hot light. Finally, that evening I had my (three) celebratory doughnut(s).

There you have it. I can haz job.

I'll start work on Monday, and I am sure that after the first week, I will have a clearer picture of my responsibilities. However, I know that I will be recruiting and scoping consulting projects for McCombs MBA students across all the MBA programs. They average 30-40 projects for teams of 4-6 students each semester. In addition, I will be arranging professional development leadership workshops and coordinating students' access to a roster of executive coaches. I will be able to inject a little of my interest in international into the position, recruiting projects with international or multinational firms, working with international students, and possibly, leading one of the MBA Global Connections trips. The Global Connections program is run out of the MBA+ office where I will work and the office staff help with in-country logistics for the trips in the summer.

I'll check back in again next week after I actually can had job for a little while.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Saga of the Horn

This is the saga of the horn.

But first, a little background.
In Indiana, that bastion of republicanism, no damn goverment can tell you what sort of motor vehicle you can and can't operate on the (*cough) communally funded roadway infastructure. If it has wheels - well, it ain't GOT to have wheels, cause nobody is checking - you can ride or drive it to your heart's content.

These liberals in Texas have inspections. Some private business-person acting as a stooge for the state has to give all your vehicles the once-over to make sure they are safe. And they do it every year. And for a motorcycle, "safe" means it has a horn. Turn signals: Nope. Head light cut-out switch: ok on an old bike. Dry rotted tires: ok in the tread, but not on the side-wall.

I ride a 45-year old triumph. It is safe. Old enough for the cut-out switch, fresh rubber and everything, but the horn don't work. Never did.

So I have 30 days from the day we moved here to get inspected and plated, and the first step is to install a horn. I found one on ebay. Vintage triumph horn; but the reserve was too high. I'm not paying through the nose just to be what the ninnies in state government call "Legal." So I found another one on ebay and bid on it, but the auction doesn't end for-EVER. I'm not patient enough for ebay, so I buy a POS horn off amazon. It works for one-wire or two-wire systems! I have a two-wire system! OK!

Enter the second big player in the story: the repop Tricon switch. This switch controls the headlight. It has a slider; one end is low-beam and the other end is high-beams. Remember about the head light cut-out switch? On such a high quality item as this, head light off is anywhere in between low-beam and high-beam. It's convenient, but not the mark of a well manufactured product.

So I wire the horn up to the switch. Cake. I go for a ride. I should mention that the Triumph is not a huge fan of the 110 degree stop and go traffic. It doesnt idle real smoothly. I have to keep manipulating the throttle to keep it from dying at particularly long lights, or at lights where it takes me three phases to get through them. So I go out riding and the horn – which works – begins to work a little too well. Like it beeps a little bit at stops. At first. Then it beeps a little bit when riding. Then it starts beeping all to hell, and rattling around in the tunnel under the tank. Then the bike dies at a stop.

I'm the guy sweating his ass off in 110 degree heat trying to kick over a stalled Triumph with a horn blaring at like 4 in the afternoon in north Austin the other day – just in case you noticed me.

So I limp home horn still beeping intermittently. I take the thing back apart and begin to investigate. Here is how that Tricon switch's horn button works. You feed it a live wire, and it will ground it out for you everytime you press the button. And all the time that the convenient attach-it-to-the-handlebar screw is used. So to get the horn in the circuit, I feed it switched power, and then return the other switched-power-plus-horn line to the Tricon to ground when I press the button, thus completing the horn circuit and delivering a beep. Great. Except that the body of the horn (also for use with a one-wire system!) is ground. So the bracket for the horn is ground. So the beep is on.

I break out my exacto knife and some cork and set about isolating the horn from ground. I also have to re-attach the horn a little better to its bracket becaue some of the intermittent beeping was caused by it grounding out against the inside of the gas tank tunnel while it was bouncing around all loose. All fixed, and I go for a ride. I get about 6 miles in and the intermittent bad-ingnition system returns fouling out the right side plug. I turn around at mile 7, and go home at top speed ~45 mph on the 65 mph interstate. This is a full-on limp home.

Conveniently, I have a full set of replacement ingnition parts. Out with the old, in with the new, and I am finally up and running again. So I go get the inspection at this awesome bike shop (plug: and I am finally OFFICIALLY SAFE and ready to get legal.

Coda: It'll cost me about $600 to get all the vehicles plated. So I'll get legal later.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Job Search So Far - UPDATED Again, Again

Well, some how in my attempts to update this blog, I managed to delete all the code. Read: lost entire blog. I have recreated it with updates to the best of my ability below.

18 21 27 31

Days in Austin

11 15

Cover Letters Written

8 10 11 14

Positions Actually Applied for

3 4

Informational Interviews




Phone Screening Interviews (one that led to an actual interview)

1 2

Actual Interviews (one done, one scheduled)


Informational Interview that Turned Out to be an Actual Interview


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Deep in the Heart of Texas it's...HOT

Did you see what I did there? Heart of Texas? HOT? Get it?

I am so damn clever.

So, yeah, it is hot here in Austin. Luckily, it's just what we love. We re-acclimated to the heat quite quickly. Earlier this week, Cale and I were sitting at the kitchen table working on a puzzle (yeah, I know, insert nerd joke here), and I reached up to turn down the ceiling fan.

Cale: I was thinking it was a bit chilly in here, what is the thermostat set for?

Yeah, 77.

We've decided that 80 is a good indoor temperature. Texas heat? Bring it, we say.


P.S. Whatever my comfortability with the heat, the people out for a jog at 2 pm in 100+ weather are still crazy people. That has not changed.

Monday, August 11, 2014

New Digs

Well, we've moved again, and I have been remiss in my blogging.

Cale was accepted in to the PhD program at the University of Austin LBJ School of Public Affairs. So here we are in Austin, Texas for at least the next four years.

The lead up to the move was a little stressful for both of us. Cale was still working at IU on multiple research projects and managing all the details of the move while also adding in new responsibilities from his upcoming position with a research project in Austin. I managed the Global Business Institute this year and, starting with the early arrival of almost a third of the group, worked 100-hour weeks for four weeks ending July 19th. My last day of work was July 22. By July 30 we had all our earthly belongings in a 20-foot U-haul and the Jeep on a trailer. We hit the road for Texas on July 31.

We were lucky we even had a place to move our things to down in Austin. Cale and I had taken a house-hunting vacation back in May in the hopes of finding a rental home. We picked the dates based on advice from a real estate agent who recommended we come 30-45 days out.

Austin, you see, is a tricky housing market. You cannot find a place on your own. You need a real estate agent. Even for rentals.

Unfortunately, our original agent was full of lies and it is virtually impossible to lease a place more than two weeks out. So that trip was a total, expensive bust. At least we got a little vacationing in.


Instead, Cale and Jake made an emergency house-hunting and disk golf trip down to Austin two weeks before we moved. We finally signed a lease nine days before we left.

The ~16 hour straight drive to Austin takes quite a bit longer when you are in a 20-foot U-haul with a Jeep on the back. We drove 17 hours on the first day just to Sulpher Springs, Texas (and by we, I mean mostly Cale) and still had another six hours the next day to Austin. We averaged 45 mph and got about eight miles to the gallon.

We've been in Austin a week now. We're settling in. Finding the hipster brunch locations, walking to our corner bar, the usuals.

Cale will start classes near the end of the month. Hopefully, my job hunt will go quickly.

More later.


Monday, January 20, 2014

On the Road Again

I am traveling for work again. Just a two-day stop in San Jose, Costa Rica. I forgot to create my maps in advance this time though! I am falling down on the job.

Tidbits thus far:

  • Remember in Amman when I said the first restaurant we came to was a Buffalo Wild Wings? Well, a knock-off BeeDubs? There is literally a Hooters next to my hotel here. Not a knock off. We passed all things America on the way in from the airport. Wendy's, McDonald's, KFC, Taco Bell, Applebees, etc.
  • Tea with milk = cup of warm milk and tea bag.
  • Arctic plunge on its way to the Midwest. Eating breakfast outside in sunny 70s here.
More later.

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Year in Review

This past year Sara spent an entire year as a grown up again. It had been a while. And Cale started the last year of his graduate degree.

We started the new year with our New Year's buddies, Josh and Charlotte. This year there was almost, so very close, another Rodenberg to join the fun. But not yet. We would have to wait for February.

It's not entirely clear that anything happened to the family Reeves in February.

March, for Sara, is Women's History Month. As usual, Sara was at the Luncheon and the Leadership Development event. They are put on by the Bloomington Commission for the Status of Women. Sara has been the volunteer secretary for the past three or four years.

Teresa had a birthday

And this happened.

In May, Cale officially became a college graduate and celebrated appropriately.

In preparation for what was going to be a very busy summer for Sara, we took an early vacation and headed down to NOLA. It was our first long-distance trip on the Goldwing.

We headed south for the change in temperature, as all we really want to do for vacation is sit outside and read. However, the real draw to New Orleans was the Clutch show.

On the way back north, we stopped off at the crossroads.

May ended with a big milestone for the family Reeves. Our 10th wedding anniversary. Talk about feeling old. We celebrated by bringing together friends from all over the world for a camp-out and picnic at the place it all started, Brown County State Park.

June was the beginning of the Working Summer that Never Ended. Over at Sara's work, the Institute for International Business, we welcomed the students from the first of three summer programs we hosted.

This was the Global Business Institute (GBI), a joint program with The Coca-Cola Company and the US Department of State. Almost 100 students from eight countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and Near Asia joined us on campus for just more than three weeks.

Cale kept himself busy too, working as a research assistant for a faculty member at SPEA. If you need a lit review done, he is your man.

Somewhere we found the time to celebrate the Grandparents Carusillo's 60th wedding anniversary.

Luckily Sara wasn't working on the GBI project full time, as she was preparing for the group of Europeans that were arriving in...

The Global Social Entrepreneurship Institute (GSEI), also in collaboration with the US Department of State, brought 20 undergraduates from 13 European countries to campus for a month.

Halfway through July, our next program began: Business is Global (BIG). BIG is a two-week program for US high school students. We introduced them to three less-commonly-taught languages (Portuguese, Arabic, and Swahili) and international business.

Despite working more than 150 hours of overtime in the month of July (not that Sara was counting or anything...or getting paid overtime...that's what you get for being salary), we still found some time for fun, including celebrating Mom's birthday.

Cale, Sara, and Sara's boss took the GSEI students to Washington, DC.

Cale headed back to Bloomington after the GSEIers headed home, but the boss and Sara remained in DC for several more days to attend the USAID Education Summit.

Cale and Sara then headed to northern Indiana to celebrate a very Fish-Kipfer wedding reception.

Fish-Kipfer Wedding by Sara Reeves on
Fish-Kipfer Wedding by Sara Reeves

Sara was back in DC for another conference.

And of course, we headed out to Sacramento for the most hipster wedding of all!

Cale started the first semester of his final year of graduate school at SPEA. In addition to such fun classes as Applied Math, he was taking his capstone class as well. Quite possibly the smallest capstone on record, there were only four students in the class.

Finally, in October a chance to rest. Well, except for this...

but also this...

It was so very fall.

And this happened over the course of 10 days.

Sara was off on more action and adventure for work. This time an eight-day tour of four countries in the Middle East and North Africa. And it only involved one futile emergency drive to Chicago the day before her flight since the Algerian embassy waited until the last minute to return her passport.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you feel about it), Cale stayed in Bloomington tackling his capstone project analyzing hourly energy demand data from buildings on campus in order to create a retrofit prioritization plan.

Cale submitted his first batch of PhD program applications.

Sara could no longer stand Flickr's hideous new look and made the move to 500px.

We celebrated Solstice with Cale's mom and Milton.

Solstice 2013 by Sara Reeves on
Solstice 2013 by Sara Reeves

And then it was time for a Very Carusillo Christmas.

A Very Carusillo Christmas 2013 by Sara Reeves on
A Very Carusillo Christmas 2013 by Sara Reeves

Here's to 2014, when Cale will graduate with his masters, the summer will be just as crazy for Sara, and Cale will embark on becoming a doctor.

- Sara