Wants More

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

Here’s my mini bio: I spent my youth involved in sustainability and
environmental activism after getting an English degree in college. In
my forties I went back to get a master’s degree in teaching. (Insert
rant about having to re-take horrible math classes.) Now I teach
English as a Second Language in a very small school district for wages
that rival migrant workers. I have benefits but am expected to
accomplish what can only be done with a 60-70 hour week. I have
served on some statewide curriculum-planning committees, in part to
meet people and network to a better job. A highly connected person
on one of them encouraged me to apply for a job at the local
university, a part-time teaching position. In an ideal universe I would
have kissed her and groveled my thanks. Here’s the problem: It’s to
teach a subject with which I have only passing familiarity, and would
occur during summer when I am already pretty booked, though with
pleasure and relaxation, not work. I like that she sees I am capable.
Do I accept, tell her what I really want, or decline?

Wants More

Dear Wants More:

No transition was ever made without some stretches, big or small. The
most important thing you have said is that someone who is connected
to an institution that offers you a completely different and better
professional track has expressed an interest in you. Being encouraged
to apply is not the same thing as being hired. But it is a very positive
signal that the seeds you planted are beginning to sprout.

Two steps are called for. First would be a phone call and if possible a
lunch with the woman. Tell her how excited you are about the
possibility, primarily because you want to create a new career track for
yourself. Give her enough of your back story to interest her and
impress her with your commitment and gumption. Then ask about the
specific course, being both confident and humble. Ask if you’re better
off waiting for a situation with which you have more experience or
saying yes and getting in the door. The conversation has one goal:
getting her to become your mentor. Do what she says and if you do
end up getting the job, work your tail off to impress as many other
people as possible. My predictions that a year from now you’ll be on
your way to a shorter and more fulfilling work week.