Pearl’s Diary 31st March, Friday, Sunny
Early this morning, I woke up feeling happy and confident. I picked out my red underwear from the drawer and slipped them on. I once read an article in a women’s magazine that women wearing red underwear often got the job. I don’t know how true that is but there’s no harm being superstitious once in a while. Who knows what will happen today? I have a few pairs of red bras and underpants, and I love wearing them anyway. I examined myself in the mirror after I dressed up – the new outfit fits me perfectly. I know how important presentation is. Some people dress to kill, but I dress to feel good about myself!
My interview was scheduled for 11 a.m., so I had plenty of time to get ready. QUNE is situated in Mannington, an hour’s drive from my home in Sheffield. I decided to use public transport rather than driving. The train journey lasted 50 minutes. I prefer not to get stressed before an important interview, and there’s nothing worse than being late!
I arrived half an hour early and waited at the reception. I took another look at my notes and felt a bit nervous. I want this job. Will I get it? In my head, I was already thinking of my first flight to Singapore or China on business. That would be a dream coming true!
Mr. Alfred Wilson greeted me at 11:05 a.m. and escorted me to the large interview room. He is the Director of International Office and would be my boss if I succeeded in the interview. He is an urbane and friendly man in his late fifties and I liked him immediately.
As we walked into the room, he introduced me to the young woman sitting across the table. Christina Richardson is the Vice-Chancellor’s executive PA. She is very attractive, with dark, wavy hair and light-green eyes. She flashed a big smile when we were introduced. I was informed that the new post was created under the instruction of the VC, Sir Mark Hayfield. He has a strong interest in the Far East market.
We indulged in a bit of chitchat as we waited for the third and final member of the panel, Dr. Dick Appleton. He’s a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Politics and Economics. I was told that he’s been seconded to the International Office, on a part-time basis, to oversee a Scholarship programme with a Chinese partner.
Fifteen minutes passed; no sign of him. Alfred offered his apology for the third time and told me to go ahead with my presentation. It went smoothly. I presented a well-thought-out strategy for promotional activities relevant to the East Asian education market. It gave me great pleasure to talk about something I’m familiar with. I started with background information on China as an example, giving a brief market analysis, followed with a detailed proposal on how the University could promote itself as a well-established UK institution, and how best to attract potential students. I listed a number of variable recruitment channels, emphasising the importance of strategic links with overseas institutions.
I could tell that both Alfred and Christina showed a keen interest and approval. I did exactly 10 minutes. I wasn’t even feeling nervous! I was asked a number of follow-up questions and I think I handled them pretty well. They simply asked me to expand on what I had to say during the presentation.
Just as I was about to leave, a man burst through the door. He made a noisy entrance, complaining about the lack of car parking places on campus.
He was tall, at least six feet, and had a ponytail. What struck me was the casual way he dressed. Unlike Mr. Wilson, who was in a white shirt and a well-tailored, dark suit, Appleton was sporting a green Harris Tweed jacket, yellow shirt and a green tie with pink flying pigs. I remember his outfit clearly, because he sat directly opposite me and made sure that I looked at him when he shot questions at me. He was so obviously the academic present.
He did not make an apology and appeared surprised that I was leaving. I returned to my seat, ready to answer questions from him. He commented that the other candidates could wait, waving his hand dismissively.
Although he was smiling, I was unsettled by his questioning, in contrast to the other two interviewers. ‘Why don’t you pursue an academic career? Why do you want this menial administrative job?’ ‘If we pay you a lot of money, would you go and work in China?’
Going over in my head what had happened in the interview this morning, the interaction with Appleton was the least pleasant, but I guess I did fine overall. Let’s hope there is good news soon.
Would Pearl get the job she so wanted? You can find out in Trials of Life.