Category Archives: post grad

Filling the Gap


For a lot of people struggling in this economy, there are gaps. Gaps between the monthly paycheck and the monthly rent. Gaps between what we’d like to spend and what we are able to spend. Gaps created by too few hours and too low salaries. Gaps between the lives we want and the lives we have.

Now some of these gaps can be lessened by the adjustment of expectations. Goodness knows I’ve done my fair share of wants vs. needs charts; downsizing in favor of a more reasonable lifestyle, but at a certain point I
can’t cut back on the needs column any more (i.e. bills, food, good books…).

In my continued searches through a frustrating job market, I have noted the presence of some interesting opportunities to ‘fill the gap.’ Ways to make that extra bit of money finish out the month; or if you’re like me,
ways to make some money instead of none.

The most obvious of these fillers has been employed (pun intended) by workers of all types for years—the part-time job.

Whether it’s bartending nights or selling shoes on Saturdays, a part-time job is a good way to fill the gap. Scheduling is flexible, And it can also be a nice way to do something different a few days a week, in case your real job (or non-job) drives you bananas. As previously mentioned, I have been searching for a few part-time gigs to fill out my weeks and amp up my bank account. A few days ago I applied to a bakery in my neighborhood, so fingers crossed on that one.

Another ‘filler’ that suits me in particular are sites like gather.com or skyword.com, where writers can contribute articles with limited time pressure and be paid based on how the contribution draws in readers—more readers, more cash. This is especially helpful because it lends even more freedom from scheduling constraints, so if my free time is at 3am then that’s the time I use to get paid for writing. There’s also a relatively uncapped earning potential depending on the number and popularity of articles written. If I have lots of time to write a bunch of really engaging articles, I can earn quite a bit.

For those who are slightly less journalistically inclined I have also recently discovered a site called taskrabbit.com, a nifty idea that allows people with extra time to run errands for those without it. Need your groceries picked up, or you house cleaned, hire a task rabbit; a whole range of tasks for people with varied skills and extra time looking to turn those assets into cash. I don’t know about anyone else but I love this
idea. I signed up to be a task rabbit yesterday and am waiting to be approved sI can choose my first assignment. Perhaps someone out there needs me to make hem tea and read them a book…

My final source for odd jobs is the ever trusty craigslist. They have a section labeled ‘gigs’ that ijust bursting with small, one-time/ temporary jobs waiting for people with the time, talent, and inclination to get them done. If I remember correctly, that is how I found out about and started writing for this blog. It’s at least
worth a look.

These are the opportunities I’ve happened upon so far in my search but I’m sure this isn’t the end of the list. Someone before me discovered that sometimes people end up with more free time than they know what to do with and is out there trying to help us make use of these idle hands. To help fill the gaps, as it were. At the moment all I have is gap so hopefully using these strategies will help me keep my head above water as the real search continues.

Part Four: Summer 2011


PART ONE
PART TWO
PART THREE

This article was written by guest writer, Miss. Stefie.

I started at the library in the middle of March. For the rest of the month and for all of April, I am holding down five jobs (to recap: library, zoo, retail, modeling, work for dad), working at least 60 hours per week with no days off. I often work 12-14 hour days, bouncing between two or three jobs a day. I live with my boyfriend, but I never see him. Wake up, go to work, go to sleep, repeat. Then all of a sudden, the semester is winding down, the art classes have no more need for models. Around the same time, my dad actually hires someone to work with him, and I am free of that job as well. As April ends and I am filling out my day planner with May work schedules, I see it: a blank day. I triple-check my schedules, but it’s not a mistake, it’s really there. It’s a Thursday, and it is a day off for the first time in almost two months.

My day off is glorious. I wake up at 7, as I do every day, but I don’t get out of bed. I check my e-mail (unanswered for the past week), check facebook (untouched for the past month), wander through neglected messages and unvisited sites. It’s barely 10:00AM before I decide I need more days off. Even a few hours off. I still hardly ever see my boyfriend. I need to quit Bargaintopia.

My next Bargaintopia shift, I begin planting the seeds of my departure. I’m lamenting my return to work, raving about my day off. My co-workers know I have not had one in quite a while, and are excited for me. They’re all trying to find different jobs, and are mostly baffled as to why I continue to work there when I already have two jobs. I find the manager that likes me most and tell him I think it’s a bit too stressful holding down three jobs at once, and I realized that yesterday when I had a whole day to myself. He says, “Oh, that’s understandable. I wouldn’t want to work that much. But you’re not leaving us before inventory, right? We need you.” I agree to stay on for inventory, but could he please give me fewer hours? I’m sure other people would appreciate some extra shifts.

I am busy, but not unbearably busy, through June. I’m only working 40-50 hors per week, trading away many of my Bargaintopia shifts, waiting for my last day, July 7, inventory day. Finally, it arrives. The shift is from 6PM-2AM, I have to be at work at 8AM the next day. I manage to not fall asleep in the store or at the zoo or library the next day.

For the rest of the summer, I work 15 hours at the library and 15-30 hours at the zoo, depending on how busy the schedule is. I have Sundays off every week. Sometimes I have other days off as well. I adore the library. It has lived up to my expectations, and I can’t believe I didn’t realize earlier that this is what I want to do for the rest of forever. The only snag is, to be a full librarian, I need a Masters in library science. Until then, I can’t work more than 15 hour per week. Some sort of labor law. So now I know what needs to happen. It’s fun working at the zoo, but next fall, I’ll be a student again, working toward librarianship.

I think back to this time last year, having just moved, John dropping out of school. I’ll need a scholarship, or loans, or some kind of help. But I’m prepared to do whatever it takes. I’ve been scouting schools with distance programs lately. I am determined not to move again. I keep thinking that it’s about time for something to go terribly, terribly wrong. It’s strange, I feel the exact opposite of what I felt a year ago: happy, and hopeful, like I have a future waiting for me.

Finding the Right Job Opening


By Nicole Hosette

Becoming employed is a multi-step process. First you have to locate open positions; then comes the tasks of writing a cover letter, updating your resume, and hopefully preparing for the interview. Everyone puts a lot of emphasis on the application and interview steps – as they should. Your resume shows employers what you can do, and the interview proves what an awesome addition you would be to their organization. These steps are super important, so there are a ton of websites all over the Internet dedicated to helping you excel with them.

But before you can write that cover letter, you need an open position. Online job boards make it easy to search for that perfect job from home. Do a quick Google search for “jobs” and you get over 2 billion hits of job boards and more. Narrow that search down to include your location and you’ll still get a couple hundred million sites.

While Google is awesome for finding openings, it doesn’t mean you won’t have to sort through some pretty awful websites to find anything decent. When it comes to job postings, there are so many variables – industry, experience, location, application deadline, etc. And not all job boards are created equal.

I’ve become pretty well acquainted with a number of job boards recently, and I spend a lot of time on them. I figured I’d be helpful this post instead of just whining about being unemployed. So here’s a quick list of a few of my favorite places to look for jobs online:

1. Indeed.com
You might be familiar with this one. When you do that Google search I mentioned earlier, this will be one of the first hits. The great thing about Indeed is that it aggregates listings from all over the web, so the selection is great. Plus, it has an option to look at the average salaries and trends for whatever position you’re checking out.

2. Idealist.org
This website is actually a platform for non-profit organizations to post events, volunteer opportunities, and jobs, among other things. If you’re interested in working for a non-profit, the job board on Idealist.org is great place to look. Depending on your preferences, you can search by either job title or by cause. So if you really want to work for a group that works for LGBT rights, animal welfare, or education, you can find the groups that are hiring in your area. If you’re not picky about the cause, you can search for the position you’re looking for instead.

3. Craigslist.com
This one is really hit or miss. I like it because it has options for writing “gigs” as well as writing “jobs”. Here you’re much more likely to find something like a small start-up or blog that isn’t able to pay you, but if you’re looking for clips or experience, it’s a good place to start. This is also a good place to find part-time or service jobs to help pay the bills. You do have to be careful – watch out for the sketchy looking ones, and remember that listings with credible links are always a good thing.

4. Journalismjobs.com

Unless you’re looking for a job in journalism/PR/marketing, this one probably won’t do you any good. But the problem with journalism jobs is that they often don’t fit into “major” job boards, like Monster or Indeed. So boards like Journalism Jobs, Media Bistro, and Mediagigs.net are great resources for a job seekers who have a specific skill set and don’t want to search through the many, many listings on general boards that want employees with “great communication skills.”

These sites are my favorites, and they have what I’m looking for, but every job search is different and I get that they might not work for you. If you have a favorite place to look for jobs, please feel free to mention it in the comments!

The Ups and Downs of Finding a Job


In response to my last post, where I claimed I was finally feeling settled into my new home, the universe decided to take me down a notch.

Up until now, my job search has been pretty relaxed. I sift through the postings on all of the job boards I can find, trying to find something remotely related to what I want to do. When I see something, I apply. My boyfriend is very supportive, and our savings are healthy enough that we’re not financially desperate yet, so I feel like I have a little bit of time to put into finding the right job for me.

I spent six years working in the service industry, all through high school and college. I worked as a dishwasher for a nunnery, a caller for market research, a grocery store cashier, and more. I know better than to expect to land my dream job right away, but after all of the jobs I’ve had so far, I’d be happy now with a position that allows me to grow professionally and doesn’t make me dread going to work every day. I want a career, not just a job.

I’ve faced a few problems. First, there aren’t a lot of journalism jobs. The pool becomes even smaller with the fact that I’m not willing to move away from my partner for a job (insert cliché about love here). I’ve tried to get around this by looking for any position that wants someone with great communication skills or knowledge of public relations. But this leads to the second problem: nearly every job, even the “entry level” ones, wants someone with at least a year’s worth of experience.

After four weeks of looking and several rejections, I came across a job that was as close to perfect as I could hope. It was a reporting job with a weekly newspaper for a nearby community, and they encouraged everyone to apply. So I fixed up my resume, wrote one of my best cover letters to date, attached two writing samples and sent it all along.

Less than a week later, I got a call for an interview. It was for a reporting job at a different publication within the same media company. The office was further away than the original position I had applied for, but it didn’t matter. Reporting jobs are hard to come by, so I was elated that I had earned an interview at all, and I felt confident that by showing up well prepared I could sell myself as a great employee.

For 24 hours, I was a delightful wreck. I was nervous and excited and anxious and eager.

The night before the interview, I received a call saying that it had been cancelled. I tried not to let my disappointment show in my voice as the hiring manager explained that the company had decided not to fill the position at this time. He reassured me he would call me when the company changed its mind, and I thanked him sincerely.

After we hung up, my boyfriend asked me who had called. I felt stupid for starting to cry while answering him, but I couldn’t stop myself. It had been such a high getting that first call and it was heartbreaking to get the second.

Starting your career is hard. It means not only knowing what you want, but knowing where to look to find it. It means getting very comfortable writing cover letters. It means having a dozen different versions of your resume saved to your computer. It means being patient but not lazy. It means getting used to rejection. It means not getting your hopes too high while not losing hope all together.

Unemployment.edu


By Katherine Shaye

Time and money.

Those are the two things I am able to trade for the goods and services I’ve come to depend on in my daily life. In some cases, those two forms of payment are interchangeable. Pay for a taxi or wait for the bus. Hire a handy man or fix it yourself. Buy it at the store or craft it at home. Most of us make these decisions everyday based on our current allotment of time vs. money. For me, with my net income dwindling in the negative I am investigating life based solely on time currency. If I have learned anything from unemployment so far, it’s that I have a lot of time on my hands, and I might as well put it to good use.

Something I seem to be running across more and more in my efforts to live my life with minimum expenses are businesses that take money out of the equation. They take direct manpower for their services, allowing people like me, who have a surplus of time, to trade work for all the other things I need/want. Back in Denver, I heard of a restaurant called Café 180 where you can “pay” for lunch by either giving what you can or trading an hour of volunteer work. Here in Boston there is a dance studio where you can trade an hour of
work for an hour of dance class. Then there’s WWOOF or World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, where people have travelled the world exchanging their labor for a place to stay and some food.

With all these options, I sometimes think I may never need another job. In a way, money is just a way to keep track of previous investments of time. Then again, the convenience and versatility of cash money is not something I could give up lightly.

Another helpful use of time that has benefitted me in the past is volunteering in general. I’ve gained a number of both obscure and sometimes useful skills from offering up my relatively unskilled labor. In high
school, I learned to use a cash register volunteering at the local resale store then later was able to apply to be a cashier in a grocery store. Not big on the scale of life skills but it certainly got me the job over several of my other unskilled colleagues.  Now I am hoping to volunteer some time with either my local library and/ or the nearby Planned Parenthood office with the hopes that my time investment will help me get paid to be in these industries at a later date.

The last and arguably most fun use I have found for my time in unemployment land is learning. In the past week, I have learned how to do laughter yoga, how to make tomato zucchini fritters and how to make chai tea
from scratch. I’ve learned to play telephone Pictionary and seen “The Wire” for the first time. I’ve discovered two new restaurants and a great bookstore in my neighborhood. And I’ve met four new people, two of whom offered to keep an eye out for a job for me.

Now while I can’t be sure that any of these things will lead to a job or help me develop a marketable skill, they do encourage me to continue working on myself while nor otherwise working. I could research skills to gain that would give my resume more of a competitive edge, or look for classes that could help me hone the talents I already have. Either way I’d like to start thinking of my unemployment as a workshop— a time dedicated to self-development, self-discovery, and who knows what else. Hopefully, this change in thinking will help brighten the next few unknown months ahead of me.

A Situation Only a Journalist Could Dream Of Part 1


By Bryan Lawver

I have my first graduate class this week, but before I start talking about grad school, I would like to talk about what I did after finishing my undergraduate classes. Not the relentless job hunt, or the angst, but what I did right after graduating; the not-necessarily-productive part. The “this is just for me” part.

There are a lot of opinions floating around about what to do between undergraduate and graduate school. Some people say that you should get a job, or an internship, or spend time honing your craft – whatever it may be.

I went to Iceland.

The plan felt more like it formed around me, rather than I had an authorial hand in it. It started with a tax return, an unexpected call from a sibling, and a fondness for Icelandic rock music, and in the beginning of May 2010, as my classmates were walking across an auditorium in caps and gowns, I was – along with a friend – boarding a jet owned by Icelandair.

Our timing was fortuitous. A volcano beneath Eyjafjallajokull, a glacier seemingly named by a cat walking across a keyboard, erupted that spring. It covering acres of Iceland in ash, and stranded hundred of international travelers; generally making life even more difficult for a lot of people already living in a particularly forbidding landscape.

Okay, fortuitous might not be the right word. In the end it may have been a bit sociopathic. But that’s how it felt to us. I was a writer, and my companion was a photographer. This would be a great chance for us to cover something momentous, something unique; something that might get noticed. We ran the idea by a professor from our school – who was also a contributor for a local newspaper – who said that he would pass it along to his editor.

And then off we went. If this all sounds rushed and ill-planned, that is simply because it was. We went, despite the myriad of ways that we expressed and explained and excused ourselves to friends and family. We had the idea in our heads and we were determined to have fun.

The first thing I noticed about Iceland was that we were about to crash into it.

At least that’s how it looked. We descended slowly, painfully slowly, through what I assumed to be a layer of clouds. I was looking straight down out the window, waiting to break through so that I could see the island from above and watch our approach. What I saw instead, the instant that we broke through, was the ground just feet below us.

I jumped, not even having enough time to register my own fear, and then realized that what we had been passing through was a thick blanket of fog.

The same sheet of gray cotton lay over the countryside in the cab that we took from the airport to Reykjavik, trying to make small talk with our cab driver. He spoke English, but not well. I was disappointed to realize that I could not use him as a source for my article.

Upon arriving in Reykjavik, I was relieved to find that the man’s unfamiliarity with English was not the norm. Nearly everyone under 50, I was later told, spoke English fluently; and I saw evidence of this everywhere. Signs and menus in English, clerks effortlessly switching languages when they realized that my companion and I suffered the mono-lingual handicap. I thought about the imperialism of English, and what this meant for the culture of Iceland – usually isolated from the world by its physical solitude and the inscrutable mindset that seems to pervade island nations. I asked a lot of Icelanders about this, and no one seemed to care much. There has always been Icelandic music and literature and film, and there always will be, I was told.  Some things are expressed better in Icelandic, and they will continue to be.

Damn, I thought, another dead-end topic.

We trudged on, moving from a hostel to the house of a group of students whom we had agreed to stay with. We bounced along, visiting cafes by day and bars by night, having a good time, but always on the lookout for a good subject, a photo opportunity, a striking detail to open my article.

I probably would have gone on this way, perpetually disappointed, if we hadn’t rented a car and driven into the country.

CHECK BACK NEXT TUESDAY FOR PART TWO!

One Month Anniversary


By Nicole Hosette

September 1st officially marked the end of my first month in Massachusetts. A few days before I left Iowa, I spent a night saying goodbye to one of my best friends. Having followed her fiancé across the country a few years earlier when he joined the Navy, she knew what I would expect. She told me I would probably be miserable for a while, but that after a few weeks, I could fake it. She warned me that it might take a few months for me to be completely comfortable in my new surroundings.

These are things that no one else came out and told me when we made our decision to move. I just assumed that there would be things that I miss about my old home, and that it would take time to adjust. But she was the first and only person who plainly said, “Yeah, it’s going to suck for a while.”

And for the most part, she was right. My parents helped us move out here and spent a day helping us to get settled. The first few days after they left were the worst. I was constantly on the verge of tears and couldn’t force myself to help my boyfriend unpack. I felt that the boxes were like a safety net – all of my things were still packed up, so in theory I could still change my mind. I found myself looking at flight schedules constantly.

During the first week or two, I cried out most of my fears. Peter sat patiently with me and listened to all of my doubts, countering each one as they came up until I had calmed down again. We repeated this cycle over and over, and the space between my panics grew longer. We found ways to keep busy – unpacking, making plans for our new space, exploring the area.

What helped me the most was a visit from Peter’s parents. His dad was given the chance to take his boss’s place at a conference in Boston, so both he and Peter’s mom came for a 6-day visit. It helped me immensely to spend time with someone besides Peter at a place that wasn’t our apartment. They wanted to make the most of their visit, so we ate at some great restaurants all over the city and took in some interesting attractions. They gave us a reason to see parts of our new home that we hadn’t seen before, and my affection for this new place grew with the more that I saw.

The past seven days since their departure have been busy. Our weekend was wasted preparing for a hurricane that barely showed up (here, at least, as I know other places got hit pretty hard). Following that was the anticipation and culmination of my birthday on Tuesday, which was immediately followed by Peter’s first day of grad school on Wednesday.

At this point, I’d like to say I’m past faking it. I really do like it here, and every day it seems more and more like home. My friend’s advice was helpful, and I’m glad that someone told me honestly what to expect.

So this is me, honestly telling you what to expect. Hopefully you’re a more stable person than I am and get through it quicker. Hopefully you have someone to help you through it. Because as awesome as it can be to start your post-grad life, it’s not always instantly comfortable. But a month makes all of the difference.

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