So, one of Matsco’s loan requirements was that I find a part-time associate position, making at least $600 a week. I had a lot of anxiety with this one. After all my searching, I ended up landing 2 interviews.
This position almost felt like fate, but alas, fate can be such a big tease…
On the AAO careers website, I found a job listing for a part-time medical ophthalmologist in the East Bay (30 miles away from San Jose). Apparently, this practice’s medical ophthalmologist suddenly fell ill, and needed someone to fill in while they searched for a full-time replacement. Given that it was Springtime, the hiring cycle had already passed, and most graduates already had jobs lined up. Hence, I had imagined that they would be happy to find someone like me, with a California license, ready to go. On paper, it sounded like a perfect match to me.
I flew to the Bay Area, and spent half a day with this guy, seeing patients with him. He had 85 patients scheduled on that day because he had to see his partner’s patients as well! Crazy. He pimped me along the way, and had me see a few patients on my own as well. I nailed every single pimp question, and one patient actually gave me glowing remarks about my bedside manner in front of this guy. Cool!
Regardless of that fact, when the day was over, I knew that he wasn’t going to hire me. I didn’t get the best vibes from him from the get go. At first meeting, he was nonchalant, had poor eye contact, and a limp handshake. He also showed up 30 minutes late to clinic. Although, he was surprisingly kind and mild-mannered to his patients. The weirdest thing about this guy was that it felt like he was trying size me up on every attribute I tried to sell. If I told him I had performed 200 cataract surgeries in residency, he would tell me how he did 202! He tried to outdo whatever I said over and over. It was so annoying! Why are you so insecure with yourself that you have to look better than the guy that’s begging you for a job! In an interview, my job is to market my skills and virtues in order to make myself as desirable as possible. I just didn’t feel like he was giving me that opportunity. Instead, I felt like I was just in a pissing contest with him.
I appreciated his candor however. He told me about the other candidates he was considering, and that I would probably be the fastest available fill-in. He also told me that he still hadn’t made up his mind whether to hire an interim physician or to suck it up and to see 70 to 80 patients a day on his own for the next few months. Anyway, I never heard from him again.
2017 update: To this day, I’m still super annoyed with this guy. I didn’t mind that he didn’t give me the job, even though I ended up losing my Matsco loan because of it. It’s his practice. He can do whatever he wants. What really irks me is that he did not have the common courtesy to inform me that I wasn’t going to get the job. I flew 2,000 miles to interview with this guy, and he just blew me off. Funny thing is that everyone else in the area also thinks that this guy is a complete tool. I’ve gone to his website a few times, and not to my surprise, it looks like he has burned and churned through a few associates over the years.
My anxiety level was fairly high. I needed to get a part-time job, or my loan was going to vanish. My practice was going to fall apart before it even began. Of course, I couldn’t telegraph my desperation during the interview.
I landed my second interview through the Berkeley optometry job listing site. The practice was in Marin County, which is 60 miles away from San Jose. My guess is that the practice manager screened the job inquiries, and decided to give me an interview.
It took me about an hour to get to San Rafael from San Jose. There were a good number of candidates there. Based on what I’ve been hearing, it sounds like the optometry market in the Bay Area is abysmally saturated, with 60-70 graduating each year. The ophthalmologist that interviewed me was actually surprised that I was an ophthalmologist. She was impressed by my credentials, but didn’t think she could afford me on a regular basis. I told her that I was willing to work at an optometrist’s rate, but she said she had to think about it. This doctor was actually very friendly, kind, and receptive. She also started her solo practice 10 years ago, and could relate to my situation. We had nice conversation, but she sounded like she preferred to hire an optometrist.
She told me that she would keep me in mind if she needed vacation or holiday coverage. That was a kind gesture, but it wasn’t going to get me my loan. So, I wasn’t going to get this job either. No job, no practice. Not a good situation.