Four days, twenty-four interviews

On Wednesday afternoon Chris and I started our trek to San Diego! But this wasn’t a vacation. Every January, thousands of economists descend upon a city for the annual meeting of the American Economic Association. The economics doctoral candidates who are on the job market head out as well, but instead of attending the conference, they do a weekend packed full of 1/2 – 1 hour interviews with various schools, government agencies, and companies. It’s actually a really efficient way to do things, but it’s pretty grueling for the job candidates.

The first almost-eventful thing happened when we arrived at Reagan National airport in DC. We got our bags checked (YAY Southwest and free bags!) and made our way to the security line. When I handed my I.D. to the woman, she informed me that my license was expired. Crap! I’d somehow packed my old one! Thank goodness it took me only a second to remember that I had my passport along. We’d talked about taking them a few months earlier, since we’d be so close to Mexico, but I’d forgotten all about it. Right as we were walking out of the house, Chris asked if we should throw them in, and I said, “Sure, why not?” I’m not sure what would have happened if I hadn’t had a second form of I.D., but I’m really glad I didn’t have to find out. Someone was really looking out for us!

We had a pretty easy flight out. Chris scored us an exit row that had no third seat, so we didn’t even have to flip a coin to see who got stuck in the middle of the row. When we arrived we headed to our hotel in the Gaslamp quarter of downtown and got ready for Chris’s first big day.

Thursday was his lightest day, with just two interviews. It was a good warm-up. I walked along with him and waited while he chatted with the interviewers, and then we went to check out the Seaport Village. It’s a small, touristy area of shops and restaurants, and we enjoyed a late lunch and a sunset walk along the bay.

Friday was a “work day” for both of us. We started out at 6:45, and Chris wasn’t done with his day until 8:30. He ran from hotel to hotel all day doing 10 of his interviews. I’d worked it out to attend the conference for my office, so I went to sessions all day. That was actually pretty fun. We’re such nerds!

Saturday was another full day for Chris… he had nine interviews. I had the day to sightsee, so I met my friend Vu, who was also out there for the conference, at the trolley station, and we went north to check out Old Town. It was a really neat little historic area. The state park is a little like Williamsburg, VA, but with Spanish rather than colonial influence. The area is the original San Diego, and it’s actually the site of the first Spanish settlement in California. We spent the afternoon checking out all the historic adobe homes and buildings. There are lots of little shops and museums to see, and lots of great, authentic Mexican restaurants.

Sunday was our last day in Cali, and Chris was down to his last three interviews. While he met with folks, I walked down along the harbor to check out the Midway ship and the Broadway Pier. After he wrapped things up, we spent the afternoon relaxing and then met up with four other UVA students who were out there interviewing. We had a great meal and lots of drinks as they unwound and exchanged war stories.

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