Then I had a decision to make based on the duties of each job, the challenge and learning experiences with each position, and the compensation and benefit packages. It was a tough decision because the health insurance company reformed the department I was joining, and only the supervisors had been there longer than two years. I had a feeling that they may not have been sure what direction they were going to go with the department, and it sounded very challenging and possibly very stressful. The job with the online survey company sounded more laid-back and flexible, but the opportunities for growth and the compensation and benefits were limited.
On the same day, I called the apartment landlords, figuring I had at least one of the positions, and asked for the open apartment on the first floor that we had planned to move to before I lost my job. It was still available, and we took it. We also said we were interested in taking the managerial position, but we had to work out the details later. We had actually planned on moving two or three car loads of stuff to Kyra's dad's house. (When I lost my job we thought that would have been the safest bet, especially if I was offered a job outside of the Madison area.) We dropped that plan and decided to celebrate with a friend. Even though I hadn't chosen a position, we were going to stay in the Madison area one way or another.
Over the weekend, we moved and I weighed my options with the companies. I decided on the health insurance company because of the opportunities for learning and the compensation/benefits package. I think it is going to be more stressful, but I will certainly learn more and be able to have some extra money to make our lives easier. (Eventually--first I want to pay off my student loans!)
I actually had two other interviews, too. One was before I received the offers, one after. The first was with a mental health center in eastern Wisconsin. The position was an assessment administrator, administering psychological assessments to people with psychological problems. The second was with a college in Chicago for a position as a survey coordinator. They both sounded less than ideal for many reasons. The assessment job was in a crappy town and half of the job was just paperwork/secretarial. The other job was in the inner city of Chicago (across from the Sears Tower, actually), which would require hours of commuting every day and high living expenses.
We started working as managers soon after we moved, and I started my job a week before Monday. I've been doing a lot of training on the practices, software, database structures, procedures, medical codes, and many other topics of the health care field. I completed a project last week examining different groups and they're behavior using medical visits. It was a bit tedious because I was using Excel instead of something more powerful like SPSS. I will be trained with SAS, so I hope it will be easier to run analyses later on. That's one of the perks--the company is paying for SAS training and providing opportunities to put it to use. I'll also be learning Business Objects and an internal data collection tool, not to mention new analyses related to the health care field.
The managerial position has been going well. The most annoying part is that the many children in the area litter all over the property, and some of them like to make trouble, like running like mad through our hallways. Kyra showed an apartment once, but we haven't heard from them again. We did our first weekend of cleaning last week and it wasn't so bad. It took a while to vacuum and sweep the entire place. I'm not sure how this is going to work after the baby arrives. We may need some help fulfilling the duties during the first few weeks. Oh well. We'll figure it out.
At the end of the day, I'm still surprised I was able to find a job in Madison and that we have an apartment all to ourselves. I guess that's what happens when you have nothing else to do but look for a job. I think it helped that I set up my own website with samples of my work (using Synthasite) and an email address associated with it (using Google Apps), and CareerBuilder.com kept me busy with relevant job listings. A flexible resume or two helped apply for jobs quickly, as well as a default format for "cover emails" (or, rarely, actual cover letters).
Some say it was luck or fate. It was not. It was hard work!
I'm happy that I'll be staying in the area. Thanks to everyone who supported us through this tough time. We'll need more of it in the coming weeks, too!
P.S. I have new audio clips of our son's heartbeat. I'll upload them soon! I hope before he's born!