Monday, February 26, 2007

Live-blogging the Clearinghouse

Well, I suppose a traumatically-induced, frenzied search whose possible outcomes are a year of separation from my wife or a complete failure of one of the primary objectives of my professional life for the last eight months is the sort of thing that might make for some good comedy. This is a case where we would do well to heed to words of the great prophet, Jimmy Buffett, who taught us that if we couldn't laugh, we would all go insane. So, here I will live-blog my navigation through the Clearinghouse process.

The rules of the exercise:

  1. The places I will be applying to will be in the Clearinghouse for the same reason I am: they didn't match up. No matter how they try to spin it, I am picking from the leftovers.
  2. It's unlikely that there will be positions open in Chicago. A lot of big schools tend to be in the middle of nowhere, and people want to live in the big city. Chicago is likely sold out.
  3. At 10:00 am Central, a list goes out of all the programs that didn't match. Additionally, on an e-mail listserv, training directors can also post openings. This means that I will be a slave to my e-mail account.
  4. So, I need to find a psychology internship that deals with kids, one preferably in the Midwest that at least pays something (some places are "unfunded"... which translates into "slave labor."), and is APA-approved.
  5. Applications are basically done by e-mail, with my CV and my cover letter as my only materials. Places then might call me back for a quick interview. I'm told that positions are offered fairly quickly, to the point that some people start the day at 10:00 unmatched and have a job at 11:00.
  6. An internship is necessary to graduate from my program. So, failure to secure one means that I'll have to postpone graduation for another year (From June '08 to '09). Right now, it's not sounding like such a horrible thing, given the alternatives.
  7. Other than that, there are no rules.
As always, all times Central.

Sunday night -- I explained it to my father this way: "Remember when we had the fish tank and we would drop a couple of fish food flakes into the tank and all the fish would come zooming to the top to try to grab some food? It's like that. We're the fish. The programs are the fish-food flakes."

9:18 am -- I believe as a way to taunt those of us in the clearinghouse, APPIC just sent out their match statistics. 75% of those who applied matched. Of those, 45% matched to their first choice and roughly 80% to one of their top 3. There are now 296 positions unfilled at 150 programs, and 842 folks who are looking to fill them. That's about a 35% chance.

9:29 am -- Just got a call from my faculty advisor. She advises me to delete the tagline from my e-mail, "Ask me why I'm a Christian." This is non-negotiable. If you'd like to know the answer, click here.

9:51 am -- Tick tock, tick tock. At 10:00, the floodgates open.

10:10 am -- Florida, Texas, and California have the most openings. There's one in Atlanta that looks interesting. Free room, board, and Russian lessons sold separately.

11:34 am -- Sent out a flurry of e-mails. Got bites from two programs near Chicago (yay!), although one is strictly adult, the other is very psychodynamic (think Freud). Got nibbles from a place in NYC. May be asked to go to Allendale, Illinois for an interview at a site. At least someone is returning my phone calls.

11:55 am -- Prospects so far: Two sites in Chicago, as mentioned above. Two in California, one in Miami, one in Atlanta, one in NYC, one in upstate New York (Frederic Church country!), one in Providence (near Quahog), and one at Baylor in Houston. Unless others come through via e-mail, this might be the list.

11:59 am -- Already, the first e-mails are rolling in saying that positions have been filled. My, those fish sure swim fast.

12:24 pm -- Consulted with director of our mental health center. She gave me the scoop on Allendale, and said she'd make some phone calls. I've also been in almost constant contact with my research advisor. My poor cell phone. It's not gonna like me after today.

12:32 pm -- One possible option for folks out there is to do a military internship. You get 63K a year, but are then commissioned as a Captain in the Army and must serve 3 additional years. In other words, this is a sneaky way of recruiting.

12:39 pm -- Alright, a rundown of the places:

River Oak in Carmichael, CA. They work with kids, and their site is wonderfully non-helpful! Update from my advisor: "She sounded interested!" but "She had a few offers out."

Sharp Healthcare in San Diego. Seems to be mostly inpatient/hospital stuff. Not bad.

Marcus Institute in Atlanta. Mostly developmental disabilities (autism, MR), but it's in Atlanta...

Alexian Brothers Health Care in Chicago. Mostly adults. Talked to the DCT there, who said she wasn't ruling me out, but I'm not a really good fit...

Allendale Association in Chicago. My #1 choice. In Chicago (sorta, 50 mile commute each way...) Deals with kids. Big into Freud. Can't have everything in life.

North Bronx Healthcare Network in NYC. Hospital based. They at least e-mailed me back! Could be a lot like the time I spent at Cook County Hospital. ER fans in the room, the actual hospital looks nothing like that. And I didn't sleep with any of my co-workers.

Ulster County Mental Health in Kingston, NY. Seems fairly general. Anyone know where Kingston is?

Brown University Medical School in Providence, RI. Pediatric HIV Clinical Research. Not exactly my specialty, but then again, I am working as a stats consultant to such a project...

Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Adult and Adolescent Psych rotation. Well, at least I know how to do one of those two things.

1:00 pm -- Alexian Brothers is filled. Another one bites the dust.

1:19 pm -- After about 50 messages from the Clearinghouse e-mail server, I've gotten my first spam message of the day, exhorting me to buy stock in some Canadian mineral company. I never thought I'd be that happy to get spam!

1:29 pm -- My faculty advisor has been calling a lot. So, every ten minutes, I have the hope that it's a program calling me. It's her. However, it's because she's basically taken up a position on my wing to call everyone at all of these sites. Back in high school, I founded a small cult to the worship of zebras. The work that she has put into today on my behalf makes her a candidate for the cult's highest honor, the Order of the Emu.

1:32 pm -- Over the weekend, having nothing else to do, I finished up a manuscript and sent it out to American Psychologist. I doubt it will be published there, but I figured that it's worth a shot. I've also crossed into the time zone where I should be working at my real job.

1:41 pm -- A position pops up on the e-mail in Massachusetts. I'll bite.

1:50 pm -- We're now reaching the point where nothing is happening. If you've ever watched "Without a Trace", you know that this probably isn't a good thing. Well, since I'm in the neighborhood, enjoy this.

1:52 pm -- A nibble from River Oak, which I found out is in Sacramento. Imagine me moving to the C-state.

1:56 pm -- And now a note from Allendale that says that they are processing all the applications they've gotten. All? Oh dear...

2:18 pm -- The silence is deafening.

2:24 pm -- San Diego and Houston are both out.

2:26 pm -- So is upstate New York.

2:36 pm -- There goes Atlanta. That one hurts, because I would have at least had some connection back to my wife. I could have lived in her old bedroom. Is that weird?

2:38 pm -- Friend Steve points out that there could have been multiple "Stay Classy San Diego" jokes... To that, I can only say, "Lou, how's the weather gonna be?" (Nice.)

2:46 pm -- RIP River Oak. No California sunshine for the Pizza Cutter.

2:57 pm -- I have the websites for each of the sites that are still in the running up on this computer. There are, sadly, only four little Windows left (Allendale, North Bronx, Brown University... please no jokes about friend Omar..., and somewhere in Massachusetts.)

3:05 pm -- Goodbye Boston... although I'll be there in a few weeks.

3:16 pm -- You know that point in the party where it's just time to go home? I think I've finally hit that point.

3:26 pm -- Another period of eerie silence. Most of what I'm getting is e-mail from friends telling me to keep my head up. Thanks much, to all of you.

3:28 pm -- Brown Medical School has decided not to fill their position at all. Only Allendale and NYC remain.

3:33 pm -- Last night, I did my usual Sunday night grocery run and call to my parents. I got to the store and as I was walking to the car, I noticed that something was awry. If you're the sort of person who takes the same things in your pocket each day, you know what I mean. I'd forgotten my wallet at home. Thankfully, this wasn't in the check out line.

3:48 pm -- Nothing.

3:56 pm -- A metaphor, if you will.

3:58 pm -- News out of New York. They've filled their spot. One place remains.

4:22 pm -- No word from Allendale. I called them and they are reviewing things. So, I'm now holding my breath to see what happens there.

5:09 pm -- Well, I'd love to post something here, but there are only so many ways to describe waiting in limbo. I've got no more bullets to fire. There's nothing left to do but sit and wait.

8:00 pm -- Resignation. It's not gonna happen this year. Looks like I start again here.


Dove Knits said...

New York wouldn't be so bad. We know lots of people there. And flights are cheap.

Dove Knits said...

Houston sucks anyway. San Diego is too far away. Who cares about upstate NY.

Whiteboy said...

You know, the biggest downside to San Diego dropping out is that a year's worth of "stay classy" jokes went out with it... ;-)

Whiteboy said...

Well, hey, as long as we're on Lewis Black jokes about cities that are dropping out, we could always go with Atlanta and it's "subway to NOWHERE."

friend Omar said...

Hey Brown University has a lot to teach you ;).