A few weekends ago, I stayed in with some couldn’t-put-down reading. The characters were dynamic—they came from big cities and small towns; they overcame hardships and achieved great success; they included students, scientists, mothers, and mentors.
I only wished they would come to life.
But wait, they would! In just a few short days I would meet these fascinating individuals—candidates for our 2014 corps who I would interview in-person as the final step of their application process. Tomorrow, thousands of applicants from our first and second application deadlines will find out whether or not they have been accepted into our 2014 corps.
Each year hundreds of TFA staff members—after many hours of training—depart their day-to-day jobs to interview thousands of corps applicants. It’s one of my favorite and most stressful times of the year.
The stress comes from the immense responsibility. My decisions affect the kids each candidate could teach. I’m looking for applicants who will set and strive for big goals with their students; balance that drive with compassion and empathy to form lasting relationships in their new communities; and always remember that the challenges they face as new teachers pale in comparison to the challenges their students face growing up in poverty.
My decisions also affect the future of those in the room. One thing all the candidates have in common is that they care. They want to make a difference. I’m helping to decide if our program is the place to channel that devotion. And that’s where the fun comes in as well. I love hearing their stories and learning about their accomplishments. Their passion invigorates my daily work.
I’ve sat on the other side of this too. My TFA interviewer seemed mysterious (and a little scary). What was she typing so vigorously? What did she think of me? Could she really get to know me in one day?
Now that the tables have turned, I want to peel back the curtain on some of that mystery.