Friday, January 6, 2012

You're Hired

TigerBlog and Jon Kurian were reminiscing about Kurian's first day as a Princeton employee, which by now was a long time ago.

Kurian, who works in the business office, remarked that on his first day, nobody took him out to lunch, only to have TB remind him that on his first day, Kurian muscled his way into half of the sandwich brought by John Cornell, Princeton Athletics' second - and last - publications person, as the need for a separate publications specialists left long ago with Cornell.

The occasion of this discussion was Day 1 of the Diana Chamorro era in the Office of Athletic Communications.

Diana comes to Princeton from Seattle University, and before that she was at Santa Clara, her alma mater.

She replaces, essentially, Scott Jurgens, who left Princeton in the fall to become the marketing director at East Carolina, either because he felt that was a better career opportunity or maybe because he thought his dog looks better in purple than he did in orange and black.

When Scott left, Yariv Amir went from a 10-year run in the OAC to take over the marketing department, leaving an opening in communications.

Hiring is always a difficult process, because there are so many applicants with so many different backgrounds - and because the downside of hiring someone who cannot handle the responsibility is so huge, there's a huge necessity in getting it right.

And yet how do you know?

You can check references, read stories on line, listen to what people you trust say about a particular person, check out their work, all of it. Until they're actually in your office, there's no way to know what kind of job they'll do, what kind of work ethic they'll have and, equally as important, what impact they'll have on office dynamic.

The hiring process here used to be more of a nightmare, back when the OAC employed three interns who were essentially in two-year positions.

In some years, the OAC would have to hire two new interns, and then the following year, just one. The biggest pain would be that just when they were experienced and gaining institutional memory, they were booted out the door (many times to be hired by fellow Ivy schools).

Regardless, the process would begin each May with an ad in the NCAA News and elsewhere and then the flood of resumes. Because there were so many internships at the time in college athletic communications, the OAC often got letters that pointed out that the applicant was applying to a different school, and indication that the person had used the same cover letter for multiple inquiries.

The interviews themselves were often comical.

One candidate essentially made up everything on his resume. Another disqualified himself by saying that he had been a college athlete but could not remember his coach's name.

On one occasion, TB was interviewing the first of three candidates. When he got back to the office with the candidate, she asked TB about the timetable for the hiring. TB explained that she was the first of three candidates who were coming in, only to have the other two call and say they had taken other positions, all in the same two minutes. When TB hung up the phone from the second, he looked at the woman and said "when can you start?"

In fairness, the candidate - Jenn Garrett, the pride of Erskine College in Due West, S.C. - had made a great impression and is in the OAC intern Hall of Fame.

TB worked with 17 interns between the time he started here and when the positions mercifully became full-time. Of those 17, one lasted less than one day (yes, one day, actually six hours) and two others didn't come back after the first year.

The others? Most were A's, some were A+'s and a few were A++'s.

And they certainly did a lot of work, and for not a lot of money. Of course, they did get free housing, an apartment in the Hibben-Magie complex that the three of them shared.

Imagine that. You work for little money, long hours - and when you go home, two of the people from your office were there, offering you no escape.

Actually, as TB wrote down the names of the interns, most of them got along surprisingly well, to the point where strong friendships that continue to endure to this day - and will long into the future - were born.

And then there are a few who faded away. Longtime coaches will come in here every now and then and ask when the last time TB heard from this one or that one and then tell some stories about them.

Others? TB talks to some of them weekly and even daily.

Eventually, with Yariv's arrival, the positions became longer-term, and the constant need to replace interns each year ended.

Diana's hiring, for example, is the first in nearly four years.

TB wishes Diana good luck here, both for her and selfishly for the OAC as a whole. So far, so good.

Her hiring has reminded TB of all of the searches he was part of back in the intern days.

Like so many other things that were part of the OAC back then, TB has pretty good fondness for it - and is glad that he doesn't have to do it anymore.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Couple of things...

1. I was more than just the Publications person. I was also the fencing SID and covered women's hockey when Yariv was on the road with the men...

2. I have no idea who this Kurian person is but the story reminds me of something that happened when I first met "The New Guy".