The Whole Story

Posted by matthew on Oct 27, 2005 in cambridge, life |

Back in June & July when we visited Europe, Lotte and I started talking seriously about the idea of spending an extended stay there. We’d actually been talking about it since our previous trip when we visited Zurich and thought how fantastic it would be to live there. But this time we were talking about the practicalities rather than the dreams — if we wanted to make this happen, how would we do it exactly?

We figured out pretty quickly that the biggest hurdle would be for me to get a visa and a job. Lotte has excellent English and holds an EU passport, which makes everything pretty simple for her in many countries in Europe. It turns out that Switzerland is one of the most difficult places to move to in the world, and not even EU people can live and work there easily.

It didn’t take long for us to start thinking about the UK. It’s close to France, Holland and Sweden, and it has the distinct advantage of being a good place for an Australian to find work. It also happens to have a lot of universities.

When we got home, Lotte just asked me one day about where exactly I would like to live and work if I had my choice. The answer was obvious but I hadn’t really given it much thought until then. Cambridge. It’s about a year ago now that my supervisor was over in the UK and visited the Centre for Applied Research in Educational Technologies (CARET) at Cambridge. He came back with a lot of good things to say about it. The interesting thing is that they were clearly interested in what we are doing at Melbourne as well, because in some ways our work is complementary as well as overlapping. The background of CARET is as a research unit, whereas CDS (where I work now) is made up mostly of people involved in the production of multimedia.

More recently, apparently, CARET has started to turn its attention more to projects involving the development and delivery of materials for courses — the sort of thing we do here all the time. At the same time we are attempting to bring more of an applied research model to what we are doing here.

In one of those really fortuitous turns of events I just decided to do a search of jobs in the higher education and see what turned up. The second job ad I looked at was actually from CARET and the Faculty of Education at Cambridge. It was quite bizarre — these jobs don’t come up very often. The job description was a very close match to my background.

I applied in late August, and didn’t hear anything for about a month. I actually only found out that I was shortlisted last Monday, and the interview was on Wednesday night. Despite some technical problems (the videoconference didn’t go according to plan) I thought it went pretty well. I answered all the questions and seemed to get along well with the interviewers.

After the interview I had a strange deflated feeling — perhaps because I had hardly slept the night before with nervousness, but also because there was really nothing I could do after that point. I mentally prepared myself for the possibility that I might get the job, but I had also didn’t expect too much because I knew the other candidates would be strong.

On Friday night we got home late and got the news by email. It said that they had given the job I applied for to another candidate. Again I had that sinking feeling in my stomach, along with the sort of immediate acceptance that I had tried my best. But then I kept reading.

The next sentence said that they had been impressed with my interview and my background, and wanted to offer me a different, even better, position. I was absolutely stunned. Not only was I going to Cambridge, they were offering me a new position that they were creating just for me, and it would be 100% within CARET, which is exactly where I wanted to work. I had got even more than I’d asked for!

Lotte and I have been so excited since getting the news we have hardly had time to think about anything else. The position is for 12 months in the first instance. We’ll move to Cambridge in January. So if anyone knows of some good accommodation in or around Cambridge, let me know!