Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Ultimate - our little secret?

I've been on tour with job interviews and academic conferences over the last week (explains the lack of posting), and I noticed something Ultimate related in the interviews. Whenever talking to people, I always wonder if I should mention I play Ultimate.

Why would I be concerned? Well, as many Ultimateers have noticed, the sport is not well known in the general public, and depending on the person you're talking to, the sport has an image that can be both good and bad. Depending on the situation, the hippy frisbee image can be both good and bad. Then you're also known to throw a frisbee with dogs, and last but not least, you must always be at the beach throwing a disc. Even scanning through the intramural sports list at a range of Universities and high schools, "Ulttimate Frisbee" dominates the naming of the game over "Ultimate". The latter seems to confuse people, and they think you're a mix martial artist, which I, personally, love to go with. My imaginary MMA record is 7-3 and I specialize in BJJ to protect my beautiful face, said with a wink ;)

Still, I'm proud of my affiliation with Ultimate. I list my coaching jobs on my resume, and I tend to use Ultimate stories to convey some of my skill set. My latest encounter turned out to be a benefit.

In interviews for University faculty positions, you spend all day in meetings with existing faculty. These meetings range from junior to senior faculty in various departments. I get edgy on what to say as seniority increase (as I'm sure all people do). In one of my meetings with the Dean of engineering, I decide to mention Ultimate. I notice a facial response from the Dean, but we continue our conversation and I can't explain the sport.

Is this a concern or not? Well, later in the conversation at a lighter point, the Dean mentions how he's familiar with Ultimate and his son played. The Dean remarks on his fascination with the sport and mentions how he's amazed that for the most part the game is unrefereed - good stuff.

I've decided (before this) that being myselfis the right road to take. Hey, if they don't want me the way I am, then I can't be someone else forever. Just like my flawed writing you have to get comfortable in your own mind and skin.

the real PJ


Mackey said...

Totally agreed on the "being myself" wrt ultimate. I made no qualms about selling my ultimate experience during med school interviews and could sell my experiences all sorts of ways--outside of leadership roles on the team, teaching the sport and working with hurt guys on the team were great barometers for what I want to do with medicine and was, in fact, an integral part of developing my vision for what I want to do.

I always think of it this way--we'll never change the perception of the sport if we're not upfront about our association with it. Even if it takes time, you can always help people get over their bias against if (if any).

Really like this post.

Stephen Hubbard said...

Ive gotten 2 great internships the last 2 summers because my experience of treasurer and tournament director for my team is on my resume. The interviews are chugging along and then both bosses got to the Ultimate and talked about that with me for as much time as they talked about my biology related stuff.

Perhaps its seems normal to us because we do it, but the dedication and hard work that we invest in this sport through our adult lives is a rarity and impressive to curious outsiders.

Vector said...

I interview medical students for positions in the radiology residency at a major midwestern university. If a candidate mentions ultimate in his or her CV, that candidate receives a Sub Zero disc (now guessing the university might be easier). In my experience, mentioning ultimate doesn't hurt, and it might give you something to talk about during the interview.