Framing Effects

It’s been a rough semester. To the total surprise of all of the professors and research advisors rooting for me, I didn’t land a position in a PhD program for next fall, despite all of the things that make me an excellent candidate, lots of research experience, crazy great GRE scores and grades, and glowing recommendations. It was discouraging and humbling, but I’ve dealt with it the best I can. I prepped for upcoming research presentations at conferences and the end of semester (finals, papers, etc), met with a career counselor, and started working on my resume. I thought maybe I’d take a gap year, earn some money, and then apply for more realistic graduate programs next year, something where the competition isn’t so brutal, perhaps a master’s in counseling.

And then completely without warning, a very experienced researcher (who taught one of my classes this semester) with a very prestigious reputation pulled me outside of class after our final exam and told me he wanted to hire me. I was exhilarated. Just when I’d given up hope, resigned myself to the situation. A huge opportunity just showed the heck up. Or so I thought.

I was floating as I went away to my conference, thrilled. The fact that I was killing it at the conference and felt totally in my element only intensified my excitement about the new position. After I had a chance to talk it over with Spook (position was part time and probably wouldn’t pay much, the researcher had said, so I thought it prudent to run it by Spook before accepting), I emailed the researcher back to tell him I’d like to discuss particulars but that I was interested.

Unfortunately, that was the point when he wrote back to tell me that there must be some misunderstanding, that he didn’t have summer funding (maybe he was talking about next academic year?), that anything this summer would be unpaid, volunteer work, the usual, basically. He agreed to meet this week to talk, so we’ll see what’s what. I can’t believe I thought the whole thing up (I swear he offered me a job), and I’d hate to think he was full-on misleading me (though I suppose it’s possible), so perhaps there’s actually something to be excited about in there. Trying not to get my hopes up though. The letdown would be too much at this point.

I also hate the fact that I got so upset when I got the email saying that there had been a misunderstanding. I was fine before I got the job offer. I’d made peace with the rejections and the likelihood I might never get a job within the field, despite training my buns off for it. But when an opportunity showed up unexpectedly and was snatched away? Well, I might as well have been a kid whose lollipop was stolen.

As much as I hate the expression (I have acquaintances that overuse it), I’m starting to think The Universe is fucking with me.

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