One of the consequences of my extremely late start on this school year is that my financial aid package, though adequate, is extremely rudimentary. It’s basically a big pile of Stafford loans on top of a decent-sized Pell grant, but there are no bells or whistles at all. I didn’t even qualify for workstudy, which meant that getting an on-campus job wasn’t a given. Almost all jobs on campus are workstudy-funded, which means the departments offering them have to leave them unfilled if they can’t get any workstudy students to apply. They don’t have the money to pay for them any other way.
Compounding the frustration here is the fact that the Office of Student Employment’s online job search system isn’t reliable about its listings. You can search for "non-workstudy only", but of the six interesting jobs I found by searching that way at the beginning of the semester, all of them were misfiled, such that when I sent off messages to the people in charge expressing my interest, I got back only polite expressions of regret.
As such, when I noticed yesterday that the school newspaper, the Maine Campus, was looking for a columnist, I figured that was probably mislabeled as well – but what the hell, I mean, it’s not like I didn’t have writing samples lying around. So I fired them off my 2004 Better Newspaper Contest entries and a later piece I wrote about the WPI Fountain of Useless Knowledge, along with a copy of my résumé in all its tattered splendor, thinking the worst that could happen was another no.
Instead, I seem to have been hired to write a biweekly column, and invited to attend the regular news agenda meetings with an eye toward picking up some slack (if there is any) in the news department. Apparently they don’t get many applicants who’ve worked for several years at "real-world" newspapers.
I would not have predicted that I would find myself working for a newspaper again in this setting. No word yet on whether the new column will be the return of Off the Top of My Head or something new, but the editor-in-chief did say "on the topic of your choice". We’ll be meeting tomorrow afternoon. I’m looking forward to it.
In other news, the weather forecast is good (but cold!) for tomorrow evening, so I should be obliged to visit the observatory. That’ll be my first visit to the facility; I’m not entirely sure what I’ll be doing, despite having read over the Observation Project spec sheet a dozen or so times. Hopefully it’ll become apparent once I’m on the scene. Either way, I’m looking forward to that, too. I mean, yes, I’ll be freezing my butt off, but still, I mean – observatory!