My situation is that I was just shortlisted for a TT position before Christmas and now the interview is coming up January 30. I am working on my slides and have read all of the “do’s and don’ts” available online, but none address my situation.
Like one of you I have two offspring and the younger is 14 months and still takes in 90% of his calories from breastmilk. Combine this with my oversupply issues and this means I have to pump every 4 hours for comfort. The last thing I want is to leak while meeting with someone or presenting. I’ve asked and they’ve said the day will go from 8:30am until dinner starting at 6. This means potentially 3 pumping breaks I need to fit in (the interview is local and I am not staying at a hotel, but it is quite far from my home).
The secretary offered an office space but informed me that there are large windows so there will be no privacy, or told me the other option was the “large restroom” (after I specifically said no restrooms!). I wrote back and politely said that I am fine with a non-private space, my as long as others will not be uncomfortable or disturbed by the noise of the pump.
My other issue is that the schedule as they have structured it only has 30 minute breaks for me, and I need at least that to pump. I’ve asked for more time, but I don’t want to seem too demanding. Yes, I can multitask, but it is not very relaxing to be doing prep. while pumping (at least not for me), and sometimes I need to focus on one thing at a time.
Advice on how to handle this gracefully? Also, am I to avoid all mention of the offspring and details of family life during the day? Merci!
First off, the short advice. Bring anti-histimines. They’ll dry you up temporarily (not all the way, but they take the edge off and help prevent leaking). Since you have an over-supply you won’t need to worry about making up for lost milk.
I’ve actually pumped all sorts of places… airport restrooms, my car, the worst recently was a restroom in a fancy new building at the Stanford business school where they ridiculously didn’t have electricity sockets near the sink so I had to do it on the floor next to the door. (That was ridiculous, but I only needed to pump a little bit so I didn’t bother asking the organizers for an extra space– had I known the only outlet was on the floor I might have!) If you’re worried about cleanliness, you can always pump and dump. Yes, it would be nice if there were dedicated pumping rooms everywhere, but one has to be pragmatic. I think the key is whether it is a one-time situation or a long term expectation of bathroom pumping. Generally when I’m invited to give a talk some place while still needing to pump, a faculty member offers his (male-dominated field) office and I use that. That may still happen, though it is odd that the secretary wasn’t able to arrange that for you in advance. (Possibly a red flag, possibly not.)
What kind of prep do you think you’ll need to do during your interview? What can you do to minimize the need to do any prep during the day? Usually on job interviews I just needed a break so I didn’t have to talk to anybody or think about anything. Pumping suits that pretty nicely. Even without pumping, I’d warn against trying to fit anything in during breaks because talking to that many people and being “on” can be pretty exhausting. So make sure your talk is prepared and practiced in advance. And remember that you don’t need to know everything about everyone before talking with them– it is fine to ask people the same question, and it is fine to ask everybody what they like about working where they’re working and if it’s a research place, about their research.
As for how to deal with scheduling questions gracefully, be super polite to that secretary when you get there. Thank her graciously for setting everything up etc. A little appreciation can go a long way when you’re asking for something a bit out of the ordinary.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say to avoid talking about the kids and family. Not because it’s bad to talk about kids and family, but because when you’re talking about them you’re NOT talking about what’s important. You want them to remember your stellar research. Your great teaching ideas. Your professionalism. How you’re going to fit into their program. Not cute stories about your adorable kids and amazing husband. That’s not to say if they ask point blank you shouldn’t answer direct questions on how many kids you have, but that you should then follow-up that question with another question about the job.
Now, some parts of the interview may be more relaxed (usually food is involved), and don’t need to remain 100% focused on research. Those are when you ask questions about the town and they tell you about the school system (whether you have kids or not) and so on. But you live there so you already know all that stuff. Still, you can chat about things you like in the area etc. Stay upbeat and collegial. And sneak in a little bit of fun research-related talk in there (interesting questions, stuff they’ve done etc.) too.
Grumpeteers, any advice?