What it's like to live and breathe Scientificblogging.
The Interview - Sometime in September

Graduate students are always looking for part time jobs to subsidize their livelihood. So, when I scaled back my course schedule from four classes to two, I started searching for some work on Craigslist.org.  Some science website was looking for interns, so I sent in my resume, never thinking I'd get a call back. What they'd want with an English major I have no idea---

That same night, I get a call. The voice on the phone says, "It's Hank Campbell, with Scientificblogging." He sounds nice, courteous, and I'm picturing some balding, older-looking professor, sporting a white beard and plaid. We arrange a date and time for the interview, and I tell myself that it'd be okay working for that old guy from Jurassic Park, so long as he didn't ask me to replicate genes.

The day of the interview, I arrive fifteen minutes early. Scientificblogging's offices are located in a big white one-story building with lots of other offices inside. The well-lit interior is white with clean lines and the pleasant smell of newness. It seems like a nice place to work and I'm certain the restrooms will always be stocked with toilet paper. I tell the receptionist at the front desk my name and she picks up the phone to call Hank and tell him that his "9 o'clock is here."

Some young guy with a lot of hair and even more attitude saunters out and shakes my hand.  He introduces himself as Hank, but I don't really believe him because he reminds me more of some Miami Vice guy gunning it down the street in a convertible than a hard-nosed scientist. He waves his arm out as if to say, "Follow me," and I trail after him down some hallways.  We walk past a few offices, and people smile at me from their desks. Hank has a corner office. The first thing you see when you step in is some framed sci-fi fantasy drawing of some blond princess knighting some guy in chainmail. The rest of his office: a big desk with some pictures, a desktop computer, three laptops, a printer and a recliner. 

He sits down. I sit down opposite and he starts talking.         And talking.         And talking. I listen to what he has to say about how the company started, about carbon monoxide, global warming, on and on. Really. He doesn't stop. The whole time, I'm wondering at the back of my head--is this guy going to ask me anything? Isn't this an interview? He pauses for a moment, and I try to break in with some info about myself, my education, my background. I flounder, stop, and then he starts talking again.  He stops. All in all, I've probably gotten in about 30 words to his 30,000 or so.

Then Hank introduces me to Matthew Brown, a really, tall, good-looking guy working as an intern. Before the interview, I'd done some research on the site and even read Matt's bio. I knew he was an Oxford grad with a degree in Physiology. He asks me a few questions and I stand there blathering, wishing I could keep my mouth shut so he doesn't figure out how much smarter he is than me. In the end, he shakes my hand, and brings me back to Hank.

Hank shakes my hand and tells me he's going to email me a press release that I have to rewrite and make interesting. I nod and leave thinking, "That was AWFUL." When I get home, I realize that Hank never gave me a business card, an email address or an office number to reach him for a follow up. I'd gotten the classic, "Don't call us. We'll call you," brush off.

A couple days pass and I haven't received an email from Hank. Well, I don't want to work with Oxford grads, neurophysicists or aerospace engineers anyway. "But then maybe, just maybe," I think, "this is some test to prove how assertive I am." So, I search the website for Hank's contact info and email him asking for the article he promised to send. He emails me a press release about tamoxifen and breast cancer. I read over every word carefully. It's badly written and unintelligible. I do some research, focus hard on what the release is about, and rewrite it to the best of my ability. When I'm done, it still seems like I've done a bad job of it, but I send it off to Hank. The next day, he emails me back asking me when I can start--I've been at Scientificblogging for about a month now.

I come in a few hours a week to write, blog, comment. BS at SB. All of us interns are herded into one office, Erin Richards and Ashley Cox and me.  Today, over my shoulder, I ask Erin if she'll let me interview her for this blog. She spins her computer chair around, kicks her feet up onto the desk and says, “Sure.” I like Erin. She’s funny, and says all the stuff I want to say before I think better. I like her articles. They're smart and clever--like her.

Like me, the lowly intern, Erin Richards. Photo Credit: Me
When I ask her about her interview with Hank, she laughs. "Oh my God. It was terrible.  I was really, really nervous...He kept talking about himself and he didn’t ask me any questions. He went on a random tangent about health insurance. I walked out and said, “(Expletive deleted)! That didn’t go well.” Erin was hopeful, but surprised when Hank hired her. Just like me.

"It’s challenging, but a fun challenge....I feel like I have a lot of freedom to expand my knowledge base."

Later, we confront Hank about our bizarre interviews. He says it's an interview process he's perfected over the years. The concept--Interview by anecdote.

"Tell a whole bunch of stories about past experiences and judging by how the person interacts with you, you'll have some idea of whether they'll be able to do the job you need them to do," Hank says.

I guess it worked, because we interns rock.