Monday, July 7, 2008
In the meantime, please, check out my other, shinier, newer blog here: Daily Randonimity
Actually, it's been up for a few months now, so you should probably catch up if you haven't yet.
Thanks so much for following my on my job search journey. And I'm sure in the near future I might even recount that journey right here, in the old job search blog.
Monday, April 7, 2008
I'm digressing. My boyfriend sent me this amazing video of a rescued elephant and it reminded me of something: myself and all my fellow entry-level job seekers. Here's the link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=He7Ge7Sogrk
In case you'd rather read the rest of my post before you watch it, I'll give you the synopsis: Rescued elephant takes a paintbrush and paints an elephant holding a flower. Sure, it's not Rembrandt, but it's pretty damn amazing.
Before I saw this video, I had no idea that elephants could paint anything other than shaky lines and splotches. To watch an animal paint a self portrait of sorts really opened my eyes to something: I've been underestimating elephants.
And you know what else? A lot of times it seems that people underestimate entry-level job candidates in the very same way. Just like the elephant, we have no track record of proven effectiveness. We have little to no professional experience. We've never before had the opportunity to show the world what we're truly capable of. Well guess what? That elephant has mad artistic skills, and until some caretaker gave him (or her) the chance to shine, nobody ever knew it. And without that chance, nobody probably ever would have.
I understand the importance of experience. Nevertheless, I think entry-level job seekers have the upper-hand in a different way. We're hungry. We're slightly naive (in a positive way, of course). We're passionate. We have a lot to learn, yes, but we're especially eager to learn it. All of it. To us, that first job is like a shiny new toy. That first taste of real experience is delicious. It's not just another step. It's our first step...and we don't want to screw it up. Talk about wanting to give 120%.
I know that's the case for me, Sally. I know what I'm good at. I know what I'm passionate about. I know what situations really allow me to shine. And although a few years of experience will surely enhance that someday, if given the chance, I know that I could prove to an employer that I could truly create some doggone good stuff.
A freaking elephant painted an elephant because the right person gave him some paint and a brush.
I can only imagine what we entry-level job seekers could do if given the right tools.
I'm off to commission that elephant to paint a mural for above my fireplace. He really does do good work...
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
So I was listening to a Chicago morning radio show as I dropped my son off at school this morning when I heard something...disturbing.
Before I get into what that disturbing something was, I'll have you know that it got me thinking. The gears were turning and I thought it would make a great regular feature of my blog. I have decided that when I discover an odd or quirky job that seems off-the-wall, I will write about it in a multiple-part series I'm currently calling "Careers I Wouldn't Want."
Now, if you're a sharp one, Sally, you've probably guessed by now that the disturbing something I heard this morning was a career I wouldn't want. (So kudos to you. Pass go, collect 200 fake dollars. Just don't try to pay your rent with it...your landlord probably wouldn't see the humor.)
Are you tingling in anticipation yet? Do you want to know what the first career of the series is?
Wait for it...
(It's worth it, I promise.)
...the first Career I Wouldn't Want is...
Bikini Area Bedazzler.
No, your eyes are not deceiving you. There is someone out there making a living out of applying rhinestones to newly waxed hoo-has.
Now, I thought that bedazzled belts, hats, and doilies were pretty bad. And up until this point, I figured that the Bedazzler tool had bedazzled everything it possibly could. But, necessity is the mother of invention, and apparently someone found it necessary to dress up her nu-nu with a little bling. And voila! A new career was born.
Now I assume that a Bedazzler tool is not involved in the process and that the rhinestones are not permanent, so my choice to avoid this career at all possible costs has nothing to do with my fear of blood or piercing someone else's skin.
The true fear lies in having to explain what I do for a living. I understand that salon technicians work in a very specialized and demanding field. (Believe me, I appreciate their hard work. When they succeed in making this stress-filled, single mom look like a super model, I realize that they've got their work cut out for them.) However, at what point after all of that training and specializing, does one decide that he or she will take on the task of applying jewels to private parts?
More important, how do you put that on your resume?
I imagine it would look something like this:
Beauty World Salon and Day Spa
-Performed body waxing on clients with precision and care.
-Specialized in: Upper lips, under arms, and bikini area
-Used creativity and a (very) steady hand in order to adorn the bikini area to resemble a Fabergé egg.
But I imagine that resumes aren't the most embarrassing places to divulge the fact that you have bedazzled hoo-hoos for a living.
I would assume that social events, where a common question is: "And what do you do?" would take that embarrassment to a whole new level. "Well, Sally, when I'm not plucking eyebrows, or demonstrating make-up techniques, I'm bejeweling crotches."
I suppose, since this service is offered, there are clients that must appreciate it. In my opinion, you can achieve the same effect with a swanky new pair of glittery panties, but that may not be enough for some. I guess I get it.
And I don't want to offend the bikini area bedazzlers out there. Yes, I think the whole idea is silly, but hey, I'm the one still searching for a job while you're out there making bank.
I'm just saying this is one career I simply wouldn't want.
As for the procedure itself...I wouldn't want that either.
I'd rather have a bedazzled flowerpot or oven mitt than a bedazzled nu-nu.
Saturday, February 9, 2008
So I've been thinking.
I recently graduated in December with a B.A. in English - Professional Writing and a 3.54 GPA.
For the most part I received good grades. During my second semester I went through some personal things that made me put school on the back burner and unfortunately instead of dropping classes, I took poor grades. It was a valuable lesson in itself and I realized that it was better to drop a class if the load was too heavy than to accept a below par grade.
But I'm digressing now. Here's the real sad situation: Upon graduating I learned that Purdue Calumet's Outstanding Student Award had some very poor limitations.
I managed to balance up to 3 jobs at a time, 18 credit hours (that's 6 classes, Sally), and raise a young child while graduating with an above-average GPA.
It would seem that my ability to get through the pressures of school and the added pressures of life off-campus would make me or anyone else in a similar situation a darn good candidate for the Outstanding Student Award. This is not the case, however.
The Outstanding Student Award only recognizes those students who maintain a good GPA as well as participate in extra-curricular activities and community service projects. It makes no room for those of us who, due to our off-campus responsibilities, could not fit extra-curricular activities such as glee club, theater, intramural sports, student government, or other various clubs into our busy, high-stress schedules.
The reality is that there are plenty of outstanding students who cannot fill their plates with extra-curricular involvement because they've got too many other responsibilities.
So I didn't join the dance team. How many students managed to work those 3 jobs, take 6 classes a semester, while raising a healthy, well-adjusted child? Extra-curricular activities are important. They help to create well-rounded individuals. But a person can become just as well rounded by working and taking classes at the same time, or even raising a child at the same time. I wasn't Student Body President; I did, however, have one of the hardest jobs in the world: raising another productive human being. There's something to be said about that, wouldn't you say?
I split my time between academia and my son for 5 years. That's a big sacrifice on both sides. There were times when I thought I was going to pull my hair out in frustration, or that I was going to break under the pressure. Times when I had to come home and start my homework at 10pm after a long day because my son needed help with his own homework or just wanted to play.
I'm sure there were also students who didn't have children but still had to work hard to pay for their educations that maintained good grades through it all.
But we get no recognition for this fact. And when it comes time for the job search, our resumes suffer as well. We can't rightly put "single-parent who took 6 classes at a time while working 3 jobs" under our "Activities" section. Some of us, myself being one of them, couldn't even fit an internship into our schedules because of the fact that many of them are unpaid. How could we possibly devote anywhere from 15 to 40 hours a week for an internship without any income for three months?
So even though we worked hard and managed to find a balance between work and school and family, it seems to go unnoticed. It's a scary thought. It's a very sad situation.
But I refuse to think that this is just the way that it has to be. That our hard work is useless because we didn't participate in French Club. That our degrees are worth less than the degrees of students who had more flexible schedules. It's just not true.
When I do find a job and establish myself, I would really like to find a way to honor those students who, like myself, managed to excel in academia with outside responsibilities fighting them at every turn. I would love to be able to establish an award that lets those students know that the struggles they faced are understood and that just because they didn't play in the band or study abroad, it doesn't mean they didn't get the most out of the college experience.
I will succeed, not only to better my life and better the life of my son, but also to show those students out there who are struggling like I struggled that what's important is doing what you can feasibly do---and doing it all the best that you can. That what works for you is what matters and your dreams are just as reachable as those who may have had more options in school.
The fact that we are even in school shows our determination and drive. That in itself is our first success. That in itself makes us outstanding.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Vanilla. It's a staple in the realm of flavors. And although I think there is a time and place for vanilla (in the confines of two sticky and delicious, mushy ice cream sandwich cookies, for example), I've realized that vanilla says a lot about the person ordering it---especially when given a choice between other, more colorful or interesting flavors.
So what brings me to question one's choice in a flavor? (More important, why is this relevant to the job hunt?) I attended a luncheon today, arranged by the big boss of my current workplace. He wanted to thank us for being his "family" of sorts. After a hearty lunch of salad, breadsticks and an all-you-can-eat, design-your-own, cooked-to-order pasta bar (suddenly I find myself on a hyphenated adjective kick...go figure), the waitress kindly reminded us that it was time for ice cream.
Normally this would have made me jump for joy (especially since, in addition to a salad and pasta bar, the club also had a sundae bar), but I made a New Year's resolution to eat better. I figured I would pass on the opportunity and eat vicariously through my coworkers. Fortunately for me, however, the waitress listed four flavors of frozen deliciousness to enjoy: vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate, and raspberry sorbet.
Sorbet! Yes! Less fat, refreshing, and a bit exotic. That sweet tartness of raspberries served up in a frothy, icy ball. Perfect. The waitress went around the table taking our orders.
"Raspberry sorbet, please," I smiled.
The next few seconds played out like a skipping record, one by one my coworkers ordered:
At that moment I had another one of my epiphanies: I was surrounded by a tableful of "Vanillas." It went beyond ice cream at that point.
I dove into full, psychological evaluation mode.
What did their choices say about them? Well, vanilla is comfortable, plain, and ordinary. It isn't dressed up or unique. The only way to give it pizzazz is to cover it with flavored syrup or sprinkles. To make vanilla stand out, you have to cover it up with bells and whistles.
I am not vanilla.
I'm not necessarily raspberry sorbet either, but it was my only option at the time. If anything, I'm a bright pink bubble gum: sweet, surprising, and fun or margarita ice: tart, zesty, and out of the ordinary.
What I'm saying is that in that moment, I realized that I was surrounded by a group of people content with where they are at in their careers. People seemingly afraid to step out of the line and dare to be a little different.
That's just not me. I have some pretty great dreams, and they're not vanilla. They're flavorful and bright and positively delicious. The same holds true for who I am. I'm different. I want to stand out and be noticed. I don't want to stand in line waiting for things to happen, I want to get out there and do those things. I want to get to a different place than where that long line is leading.
I'm not saying that I'm an oddball (at least not ALWAYS...), it's not like I'd try too hard and declare myself some form of flavor-overkill like Head Cheese - Anchovy Triple Cod Liver Oil and Fudge swirl. That would just be presumptuous.
I'm unique, but not weird.
Besides, if you have to de-bone any part of your ice cream, I'd suggest passing on that particular flavor...just don't settle for vanilla.