I had a moment of panic while I was applying for that job. I clicked through to the next page and all of a sudden I had to answer the question I'd been hoping not to see. They wanted me to choose from a list, who I would most like to work with. Who do I even know at their institute?! And if I don't know anyone, how do I choose? I hadn't had time to research that kind of stuff! But then I actually looked at the list. One of the names looked familiar.
I looked her up on the university website. It was her, no doubt about it! She had been at the conference in Australia, five years ago, and she had liked my poster! Could it be that she remembered me? Or at least, that she was still interested in these topics? Or knew of the people I had worked with at the Quantum Center and their research? Could the reserence from my former boss ascually mean something here? Well, at the very least, I had some idea, whom to choose.
After a few days, I got the first email. I had passed the initial selection. Out of about five hundred candidates, only half remained, and I was one of them. My excitement only lasted a moment. Five hundred. There had been five hundred of us. And there were still more than two hundred left. I'd expected that kind of competition at the prestigious university in England, which had rejected me some time earlier, but here? What had I got myself into? It was still good news, or at least a very definite lack of bad news, but I still didn't dare to get my hopes up.
I found the second email today. It had been sitting in my inbox for a day or two, between a student's homework and an announcement from the Dean's Office, and when I first noticed it, I nearly mistook it for spam. But it was an email from the person I had applied to work with. Apparently I've got a job interview next Tuesday.
Of course, this is as far as my connections, such as they are, will get me. If I screw this up, I'm not getting the job. But I've been given a chance. I wonder how many out of those more than two hundred, out of those five hundred, got to this level. Can't be more than fifty, right? And yet, here I am.