Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Second Chances: Cooperative Education

I had interviewed for cooperative education positions in the spring of my freshman year of college, with no luck. One of the difficulties I discussed seemed to be proving my interest in aerospace on the resume, as an electrical engineering major.

So in the fall of my Sophomore year, I made a few changes to my co-op resume.  I added the Russian language I had begun to study.

The summer between my Freshman and Sophomore years of high school, I was a teen volunteer with the American Red Cross at the Base hospital.  They gave us a list of the hospital departments, asking us where we wanted to volunteer.  I had expected to work in some conventional department, but then I happened to see "Aerospace Medicine" on the department list.  So I signed up for it.  For the rest of that summer, I spent my Mondays in the office helping with paperwork.  I decided to go back and add this to my resume.

It seemed to work.  I don't remember how many interviews I got that fall.  It may not have been very many, but only one counted.

It was a telephone interview.  If I remember correctly, they called to schedule a time, and I agreed to an early morning interview by telephone.  It was something like 6:30 or 7:30 in the morning, and there was no one else awake on my dorm floor.  My roommate was still asleep.  I took the phone out into the hallway, so I could avoid disturbing her.

I don't know how long it took for me to learn that I got the job.  I was absolutely thrilled.  But also stunned.

I would start in January, I'd be working through the spring semester, go back to campus for summer classes, and then return to St. Louis to work through the fall.  It put me on a schedule opposite that of a normal student.  Opposite Brian.  The prospect of not seeing him for a whole year, had me in tears.

But it was something that I HAD to do, I could not turn this opportunity down.  Brian's response was quite sane: "We'll get through this."  And we did.