Good news! I am a hypothetical job candidate and I just got word of my first hypothetical MLA interview today on December 24th. They’ve asked me to come on January 11th.
I live in Washington DC, attend one of the consortium schools, and make around $10-14,000 a year as a graduate assistant after taxes. I also have significant student loans, and have spent some money to travel to see my family.
I do not have a car, and pay around $750 in rent in the two bedroom apartment I share with my hypothetical roommate. Since this is the first notice I’ve received for an MLA interview, I’ll go ahead and make reservations and keep my fingers crossed that I’ll get a few more. I don’t have any hypothetical friends in Chicago, at least well enough to call and ask for a free hypothetical place to stay. The good news is that I live in a major city with two major airports, and I’m flying into another major city that isn’t unreasonably far away. Therefore, I’m in a good position overall, and my hypothetical budget is going to be on the cheaper end.
First I need to join MLA and pay for the conference.
Not bad; I’m thankful I can pay the graduate rate. Next I need to get a flight.
Much as I’d like to take a non-stop flight, I don’t want to be rolling into Chicago around 10 pm. Also, getting to Dulles (IAD) is expensive and difficult because it’s not metro-accessible. So, I’m going to Reagan at 1:30. Need to pick a return flight and here’s the damage:
Now I need a hotel room. If I want to stay at one of the conference hotels, here’s what I’m looking at:
And here’s what happens when I do Expedia for hotels on the Magnificent Mile:
I can keep looking around, but I’m just going to assume that I can get a room for around 91 dollars a night after taxes. I’d love to stay at the hotel where the conference meets, but every cent matters, and likely one of these cheaper hotels will allow me free internet and perhaps a free continental breakfast. So while the conference rate will be cheaper than the prices listed above for the Sheraton and the Marriott, I’m going to choose to stay in one of the two star hotels that are (hopefully) conveniently located and are (certainly) cheaper.
To get to my hotel from the airport, I’ll need to take a shuttle, which I assume will be cheaper than a cab.
I’ll give myself a budget of fifty dollars total for meals, and I’ll need about six dollars to travel to and from the airport on the Metro. Here’s how much I will (optimistically) be spending for the trip:
I’ve presented this without qualification or commentary, but I do hope this puts things into something of a financial perspective for both potential job-seekers and those who are looking to hire them. Also, we should be aware that some students are given a stipend for travel expenses related to job interviews, but often that money is limited.
I present this as something of an ideal situation for the moment: that is, I’ve found out about two weeks ahead of time, and I’m flying from a major city to another major city close-by. And yet, I realize this budget may be hopelessly naive – but keep in mind the graduate students who are just finding out about MLA interviews today. Or next week.
I welcome feedback from all participants in this process – those who are attending MLA as candidates and potential employers, and for alternate possibilities.