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The One Question that Kills a Good Interview and Reveals Absolutely Nothing (

Originally posted 3.24.12 at

"If you want to know what my five-year professional plan is, ask me what I do on a Sunday afternoon and not what’s ticking on my career clock."

I was in a job interview last week that was going well. I was connecting with my interviewers, I’d done my research on the position, and the job sounded like it would be a good fit for my writing skills and desire to mentor undergrads.

Then came the killer question: “Where do you see yourself professionally in five years?”

This question really only has three answers, and when posed to an ambitious Gen-Y candidate, none of them will make you look good. Here’s what I mean:

Team Vermont Goes for Snow "Gold" at National Snow-Sculpting Tournament (Seven Days)

Originally appeared in the print version of Seven Days on Feb. 1, 2012.

At first glance, the 2-foot clay model doesn’t look like much. Its diamond-shaped, gridlike exterior gives it an odd, Epcot-esque quality; inside the structure’s hollowed-out core, a puzzle piece rests on a pedestal.

“It’s called ‘Inner Piece,’” explains Burlington sculptor Michael Nedell with a self-effacing grin.

Ah, that explains everything. By the end of next week, if all goes well, this visual pun will be recreated as a 12-foot-high snow sculpture in the national snow-sculpting championships at Lake Geneva, Wis. There Nedell and his two teammates, Alex Dostie and Brooke Monte, will represent Vermont and compete for the title of best snow sculptors in the country.

This will be the team’s seventh trip to the national championships. The Vermonters took home second prize in 2005 and 2007, and have consistently ranked among the top six teams. They’ve also paid two visits to the (invitation-only) international championships in Breckinridge, Colo., in 2008 and 2011.

Moving to Vermont and reinvention

Four months ago, I left a challenging and creative job at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and a semi-regular freelancing gig for the Philadelphia Inquirer for a new challenge: My husband and I moved to Vermont. Worn out by commuting and sick of the rat race, we went looking for greener pastures and found them in a little island just north of Burlington. While my husband is in the final stages of his reinvention from newspaper advertising guy to environmental-engineering-chemistry-communications-guy, I’m writing. And pitching. And writing. And…blogging.

After years of turning my nose up at anything other than print journalism (I even wrote a blog post about how bloggers were killing journalism shortly after The Bulletin folded), I suddenly find myself joining the ranks of those digital-media types. And you know what? It’s fun. Although the anticipation of running to the newsstand to pick up a paper with your byline isn’t replicated, it’s replaced by the thrill of hitting a button and…instant gratification.

So keep an eye on this space, and check out my first forays into adventure journalism at the Eastern Mountain Sports blog, where I’ll be blogging about all the excursions and adventures here in Vermont. Polar opposite from my city career? Yep.