Sunday, July 17, 2011

How did I get here?

Where am I? Why am I here? How did I get here???

Here is what I remember. I am still wondering whether it all really happened or whether it was just a dream.

On March 2nd, a dear friend and mentor, Professor Jim Valdez, contacted Mark Alexander at Bechtel Corporation on my behalf to inquire about employment opportunities. On April 26th, after 55 days of calling, e-mailing, praying and resume revising, Mark informed me that he had "exhausted" his primary contacts at Bechtel. They weren't interested in a guy whose resume goes "overboard about how great he is..." "Oh well," I thought, "I never actually believed that I was worthy of being called a 'Bechtel Man.'" The words of my critics were always with me reminding me that I was 2nd class and destined for mediocrity... It was time to refocus on finding a job, any job, so that I could feed my family. Following my heart would have to wait until my next life...

Two weeks later, on May 11th, I was completely caught off guard when I received a call from a recruiter with Bechtel Oil, Gas & Chemical (OG&C) in Houston. They were interested! Following my conversation with the recruiter, the phone and e-mail remained silent until May 19th when I received an e-mail from an HR rep requesting a phone interview. The following Monday, after hours and hours of preperation and anxiety, I spent 30 minutes on the phone with two procurement managers in Houston. I felt good about the interview but it was just a 1st phone interview and I was realistic about my chances. They asked for, and I provided them with, references on May 26th. However, I would graduate in 16 days and would leave for our 2-week trip to China in 18 days and I couldn't begin to calculate the odds of receiving a job offer from Bechtel.

It was Wednesday, June 8th, and I would be graduating that Saturday and leaving for China the following Monday. My references had not been contacted and Bechtel's HR rep was not responding to my e-mails. Suddenly I received an automated e-mail inviting me to apply for a job on their website. What did this mean? Did this mean that I was now "qualified" to compete with Bechtel's other candidates? It appeared that I was still at the starting line of the process. I was so disappointed and frustrated. "Okay," I remember thinking, "you won't have a job before you leave for China. Deal with it. You are just going to have to come home and work tirelessly to land a job at Bechtel or elsewhere. That is going to suck being at home unemployed again while Lindsey is still working..." I applied to the online job posting immediately with all the resolve I could muster...

The very next day, my last day of final exams, I received a call from a Bechtel HR rep informing that she had been assigned the task of extending me an offer. We spent about 10 minutes discussing some details while I paced in the courtyard at Kennedy Library. When we were finished, I hung up the phone and feelings of relief and thankfulness washed over me. It had been a little more than 2 years since my bitter separation with my previous employer. It felt as though I had felt nothing but fear during that time. Borrowing from the great Coldplay song, Lovers In Japan, the morning had come, the sun had finally come out. I stood there and wept.

Less than 48 hours later, I celebrated graduation with some of my dearest friends and family. Given the challenges of the previous two years, and what the day meant to my wife and children, it was one of the most special days of my life.

Another 48 hours later I had left San Luis Obispo and my family bound for China. I'll elaborate on the trip in my next post. To sum it up, it was a great experience filled with opportunities to bond with my classmates and pick up valuable knowledge and skills related to modern China in our modern world. However, throughout the trip my mind was elsewhere, reflecting on the past and dreaming about the future. I had worked so hard and waited so long to be able to care for my family again. All I could think about was getting my family to Houston. The trip was fun, but the end couldn't come soon enough. I had promises to fulfill.

Two weeks later we returned to the States. In an amusing twist of fate, I was booked on a flight from Vancouver to LAX that departed and arrived 4 hours after the flight that all of my classmates were on. Looking back, I am embarrassed by my crazy behavior as I negotiated with airline personnel to get onto the earlier flight. Despite Professor Coget's best efforts to teach me how to control my emotions, I would have ended up in a Canadian jail if they hadn't put me on that flight.

Seeing Lindsey and the kids again at the airport was one of the happiest moments of my life. Lindsey was 100 times more beautiful, David was 100 times more wild, and Kate was 100 times more adorable than I had remembered them. I was back where I belonged.

48 hours later we all boarded a plane for Houston. It was hot and humid when we arrived but I didn't care... it was home. We arrived on a Wednesday night. My mom joined us the next day and, together, we explored the city and looked for our new home. I drove everyone to the airport on Sunday morning and, as I watched them enter the terminal, I was overcome by the reality of only the second extended time away from my family in my life (the first having ended just five days prior).

Tuesday morning I became a member of the Bechtel family. I am thankful for the opportunity and confident that my journey has adequately prepared me for the road ahead. I think of my family constantly. I think of my mentors and what they have taught me often. Unfortunately, I think of my critics often as well. I miss my wife and kids terribly. Every day they feel a little further away and I feel lonelier and sadder. I am beginning to think that we will never be able to turn the page and get on with this new chapter...

So, there you have it. I woke up six weeks ago in San Luis Obispo and had absolutely no idea how dramatically my life was about to change. I was an underachieving, inconsistent, unlucky, and unworthy guy with a lot of student debt, few prospects, and little confidence in my ability to prove my critics wrong. And where am I now? Well... we live and die by the will of a Creator who knows every hair on our heads and He has granted me respite for now. I am grateful but stand at the ready for the next battle that surely looms large.

No comments:

Post a Comment

There was an error in this gadget