Tuesday, April 21, 2009

An unexpected compliment

I recently met with one of the potential PhD candidates the school was trying to recruit. Normally, I steer clear of the process, as I'm trying to establish my own research agenda before I start building a base around it.

But this one was different. During the meeting in which the selection committee set our list, this person had jumped out at me. The perfect combination of coding skills and cultural understanding, I placed him at the top of my list.

When he visited I met with him at length. We talked for three hours in my office and when I found out the school hadn't made dinner arrangements for him, I took him to the Sink for dinner.

During that afternoon/evening, our conversation wandered from systems theory, to journalism business approaches, to popular culture, to topics better unmentioned.

I received a card from the student the other day in which he informed me of his choice to attend another university.

But in the note, he included a surprising compliment:

"You were one of the main people I met on my visit who made it a difficult decision between Colorado and [other university]. I think it would have been fun and invigorating to work with you, and I hope we can collaborate in the future. Personally, I also enjoyed talking with you and would like to continue correspondence regardless. It is rare that I find someone smart enough that I can genuinely enjoy talking with them at length about a range of topics, and enjoy them as a person, too."

Wow. Coming from the person in question, this is high praise indeed.

Every once in a while, I'm surprised by the words of others. I don't often assess my capabilities or efforts, more content to just "get things done."

But this compliment certainly put a spring in my step I hadn't had in a while.


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