Callicrates (callicrates) wrote,

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The Saga of the Summer Minion (to date)

Back when I went to visit UNC in November, I started talking to one of the members of the walkthrough research group about coming out to my lab for a summer. We agreed that it sounded like a great idea. I spent the next three months (when I wasn't running myself into the ground) securing funding for him, and as of mid-March everything was in order. His planned start date was Monday, May 16. All that had to happen was for the lab to generate an offer letter, for him to sign it, and then we'd be in business.

That was the theory, at least.

On May 3, 6 days before he was planning to leave North Carolina, I got email from him wondering whether his offer letter would be arriving soon.

"Oh dear," I said.

Two days of semi-frantic calling around the lab and navigating a maze of people who were on vacation, on travel, or otherwise out of the office came up with an answer: they were still waiting on his transcripts. Brandon, I asked, what's up with that?

"Well, I sent them everything on the checklist. Let me grab it and read it off to you."


"Uh-oh. I missed a line."

He had sent in transcripts of his graduate work but had completely missed the part where they said they wanted undergraduate as well. This was going to be a problem. If the right people are hurried along, it takes the lab a week to generate an offer letter after the paperwork arrives. The offer letter must be signed and the paperwork complete before he can start. Also, HR won't accept just any transcripts, they want official transcripts in sealed envelopes with the registrar's address and a personal note from the chancellor saying that he himself hand-carried them from the printer to the post office. Or something like that. This was Thursday afternoon. If he couldn't get them in on time, his start date would be delayed 2 weeks... and he wouldn't know it until he arrived in New Mexico.

So, we had a problem. Another few hours of phone calls and I had the attention of various people in HR. I convinced them that, considering the last-minute nature of things, they could accept a faxed transcript straight from the university so long as it was followed up by a real paper one in a week or so. Meanwhile, Brandon was talking to the university (in Utah; remember, he's still in North Carolina) trying to arrange for next-business-day service on the transcripts rather than the usual 2-5 day lag time. By the end of the day, all we could do was hope.

Monday morning arrives. I call back over to HR and find out that his transcripts have indeed arrived. Miracles converge upon us: he's going to have an offer letter by the time he arrives. Later in the day I get a call from him on the road. It seems his housing arrangements have fallen through.

"Oh dear."

This turned out not to be as much of a crisis as it might have been. We have enough space that we could have put him up for a little while. He also got in touch with his church and found a host family here who were happy to let him stay for a few days.

He arrived without incident on Friday. willowisp and I took care of getting him oriented and fed, then took him out to dinner with the rest of the group from work. Since then he's been apartment-hunting. Yesterday was his first whirlwind day at the lab... and it turns out he needs his Social Security card (which he didn't bring with him) before they will give him a password for the network. That was supposed to arrive via overnight mail today. It did not do so.

Update: Brandon has just left. He found himself an apartment -- quiet little studio in a cozy part of town -- that will do fine for the summer and he needed me to fill out the employment verification stuff. It feels odd to be writing that for someone else when not all that long ago I was an intern myself.

Anyway. Assuming his SS card arrives tomorrow, we should be ready to have him get down to real work by the end of this week. Here's hoping it's smooth sailing from here on out.


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