Wednesday, September 02, 2009

that stings a bit

I had my audition for Kaplan last night, and just got my rejection via email.

Yesterday I settled on the topic, "How to Look for a Job," and practiced several times during the day, making sure I could cover the material in 5 minutes.

I arrived at Kaplan and was directed to a small classroom where there were 5 or 6 guys seated conspicuously at the back of the room. I was immediately sensitive to being the only woman there, not to mention being old enough to be mother to all but one of them. I made a teasing comment about them all sitting in the back and they laughed nervously. I put my things in the second row (the first row was too close to the board) and noticed the white board markers in the tray.

I have enough classroom experience to know that it's frustrating to grab a marker only to find that it doesn't write, so I took the opportunity to try them out and see which ones actually worked. I think the guys appreciated it.

The Kaplan guy came in and gave his spiel: the courses are very scripted, they only take the top, your timing has to be spot on. Nothing surprising there if you know anything about how these test prep places work.

Then he asked for a volunteer to go first and everyone froze, so I took a deep breath and went for it. I paced myself well although I may have been a little rushed, and my handwriting on the board was lousy -- I am out of practice and the board was higher than the ones I am used to, she said, making a couple of lame excuses. I finished within my five minutes, but I failed to include any interaction with the "class," which may be why they rejected me. Five minutes is a short time, and given my topic, I had a complete failure of imagination on how to integrate feedback and still include everything I wanted to say. Clearly I should have cut some material to give myself time for interaction, but as I said -- failure of imagination.

The guys did their presentations, at least one of them didn't finish in time. Here are their audition topics:

- How to do the Time Warp from Rocky Horror

- How to Clean Your Pool - now I know that you have to plug, vacuum, and then backwash for best results

- How to Survive a Zombie Attack

- How to Pick a Lock (we voted for that over "How to Build a Nuclear Bomb")

- How to Calculate the Odds of Winning Powerball

I won't comment on their auditions except to say that I liked the Powerball one the best.

I will say that from the moment that the Kaplan rep walked into the room I got the impression that he thought none of us were good enough. There was a definite "we are the best and you should be grateful we're giving you this chance to even be considered" vibe there -- it reminded me a lot of how some people were about MIT. There were many, many nice people at MIT when I was there, but there were also some arrogant idiots, and this guy had that demeanor. There's a way to talk about a position that requires very specific qualifications without implying that if you don't have those qualifications you're somehow a lesser individual, and this guy did not practice it.

I think it would have been great to get some class time with high school kids, and the money is not bad considering everything else out there (which is not much, at this point.) However, the hours would be all weekends and evenings, and frankly I would much prefer to spend those particular hours with my family. Maybe my ambivalence manifested as insufficient enthusiasm; even as I was driving to Tempe I was thinking, "Why am I even bothering with this?"

Even so, it's never fun getting rejected. My ego is slightly bruised, but I'll get over it.

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