Oh me oh my. The interview I have stressed about for the past two years was yesterday morning.
Myself and Fellow #3 were interviewed by the director of a certain institution in Venice, Italy for a two-month summer position there. Director (of our fellowship program) was also present; it took place in her office. The internship program at this institution accepts 25-30 college students each year, but none of them get interviewed. They mail in applications and wait for a response. The only reason we were interviewed was because Interviewer was going to be in the U.S., and he is indebted to Director for assisting him with a major crisis several years ago. Ever since, he has been personally interviewing fellows, and I have learned that they are always accepted (with the exception of one, but that was only because three fellows applied for two positions). Yeah, pressure.
The interview was scheduled at 10:00 a.m. I arrived at the office, breathless, at 9:55, but since neither Interviewer nor Fellow #3 had arrived yet, I was in good shape. I spent some time scrutinizing my appearance in the ladies' room, and when I returned to the office minutes later, the others had arrived and we were ready to begin.
Fellow #3 and I followed Director into her office, where Interviewer sat. As we walked to the office, Director turned and whispered to us, "It's going to be fun!" I looked at #3: oh yeah, fun.
We entered and found an older gentlemen with gray hair and thick glasses that magnified his eyes sitting at a small table by the window. He stood up and shook our hands. He had a marvelous British accent and a very warm manner. I liked him right away.
We all sat down and he said that he had read our materials (applications, resumes, transcripts, recommendations, personal statements, the works) and then he commented, "Impressive." Good sign, good sign. We were then asked to introduce ourselves so he could match the face to the information. #3 sat closest to him so she began. The more she spoke, the more impressive she and her accomplishments were. He was utterly fascinated. They spoke for several minutes. The longer it went on, the more insecure I felt. I smiled nervously at Director, who was beaming with pride at #3. When my turn came, I did my best to sum up my academic career and previous internships, and he seemed just as fascinated. He really was a lovely man, really.
The funny thing was, applicants must speak both English and Italian. On the application, you had to check one of three boxes: Fair, Good, or Fluent. For Italian, I was torn. I have had a year and a half of it, will be two years by the time summer comes. Am I 'good'? I wanted desperately to check Fair to be on the safe side but I worried it would not be good enough, so I checked Good. As #3 and Interviewer had their discussion, I read our applications upside-down as they sat before him. #3 had checked Fair. Damn it! Now I was worried. He thinks I'm better in Italian than she is. Will he speak to me in Italian? He soon broached the subject. He asked #3, "So you're 'fair'?" She explained that she has taken two years of it but then took a break and is now rusty. She's going to Italy next month, though, and he was confident that she would pick it up again in no time. Oh boy, here it comes. He looked at me and said, "And you're the one who's good in Italian." I gave him my best smile and said, "Yes." (Listen, it's subjective. I'm good for my level. I can speak it.) He said, "Your teacher certainly thinks so," referring to my recommendation, which made me feel a little less guilty because he was not going on my checked box alone. He said that this would help me with the job, and then we moved on to another topic. *Sigh of relief*
Throughout the interview, he spoke in definite terms. "You will come at the end of May, and we will help you find housing." "You will be with an international group of interns, very few come from the States anymore." "You will be coming at a great time: long days, very hot."You should begin researching these topics so that you are prepared when you come; it will make it easier for you." Does this mean we have the job? We couldn't help but wonder. At the end of the interview, Director asked Interviewer about the remaining process: "So you'll bring their application materials and your impressions from the interview back with you, and then...?" He answered, "Yes, and then we will send the two of you letters (according to the application, only those who are accepted get letters) and get everything in motion. Right now we're doing selection, and we have a stack of applications this high." He gestured with his hands; it was high. "Highly competitive. But don't worry, we will choose good peers for you."
It was all we could do not to jump for joy as we stood up, thanked him, shook his hand, and exited the office.
I spent the rest of the day visiting Veteran Seeker at his job and then bumming around with Fellow Seeker. We were at a coffee shop for several hours, writing and sketching on napkins. While we were there, F.S. got the news that he is now certified and can begin his career as a teacher. Yep, it was a good day. We scrawled praises to Shekinah on the napkins, we were both so happy.