Tag Archives: job

Deadline Oriented


By Katherine Shaye

In my last post I noted that it is difficult for me to set my own deadlines. A friend of mine read this and remarked teasingly that I shouldn’t tell this to any future employers. This confused me. Yes, it made sense that no employer would want a worker who couldn’t meet deadlines, but I had never had this problem at work.

In fact I’ve been rather good at meeting work or school deadlines. My track record has been clean, showing up on time, turning in assignments, getting things done. I never asked for extensions or ignored due dates. But this was all in my work persona. For some reason those traits and habits aren’t translating into my day-to-day life.

Continuing my self-examination, I started wondering why this is. What are the conditions of a deadline that make it concrete in my mind?  Andhow can I make the goals I set for myself better fit this criteria? As always I have spent some time sitting with these thoughts and come up with a few answers that might help me understand the issue.

Expectation of completion – the first criteria jumped out immediately, an authority figure. Someone I respect who holds the expectation that I will get done whatever job they’ve asked. It gives me a sense of accountability that I have been tasked with something and that someone will know how and when I get it done.

So when it’s just me how can I set up that same sense of expectation? One strategy I’ve devised is to share my goals with other people. To write them down, say them out loud, post them in a blog, whatever. Some way to let at least one other person know and increase that pressure of expectation.

Dependence on completion- this was an especially important motivation for me at my last job, where ten people depended on me to keep my deadlines , so that their housing, food, and work schedules stayed in order. If not turning in my report meant someone in the office couldn’t get their work done on time that motivated me. If not grocery shopping meant putting strain on the food availability for my team that motivated me. Now, if I don’t apply for that job today, I’m the only one affected. I am more likely to make exceptions, procrastinate.

A possible solution to this might be to envision the longer chain of effects meeting or not meeting my deadlines might have. Sure if I don’t apply for a job today the sun will probably still rise tomorrow but if I don’t apply for jobs then I won’t get a job and without a paycheck I can’t make
rent. That would certainly affect my eleven housemates. And not in a good way.

Commitment to completion – Often times I find that when I set personal goals I either set the bar super low so that if I ignore it I can make up for it later or crazy high so that if I don’t reach it I won’t feel bad because it was a stretch in the first place. I can’t say that this is a healthy way to approach goal setting. I’m already making room for myself to blow it off or fail. I haven’t committed to my own success.

Now that sounds like a self-help-book line if I’ve ever heard one but unfortunately I think it’s the truth. Getting over this particular hurdle in goal making will require more than just a casual reassessment of my goal setting tendencies. In essence it will require me to start putting stock in myself and taking my own deadlines quite a bit more seriously.

Though these tactics may not be bulletproof and I still may spend some days wrapped up reading a good book rather than writing my own, I think that they will help me change my thinking around setting goals for myself.

So in the spirit of honoring my own deadlines I will now return to working on the book manuscript I aim to have finished by the end of this year, Imaginary Me. And anyone reading this can feel free to help hold me to it.

Introducing Mr. Lawver


By Bryan Lawver

I may have learned a lot of things in my undergraduate career, but there is only one thing that I learned after graduation: the world does not revolve around me.

I was always considered smart by my teachers, always earning what I wanted with a minimum amount of struggle, so I assumed that my good luck would continue into “the real world” after graduation.  Oh, what a fool I was.

I graduated with a B.A. in photojournalism in May of 2010, and though I knew that I was going into a notoriously difficult field, I expected an entry-level job by the end of the year, and then I would consider graduate school after a couple of years. The plan, as any post-grad can imagine, went awry quickly.

As soon as I graduated, I went to Iceland with a friend from school. We needed something to signify our accomplishment, and we could really, really use a vacation. In the weeks leading up to our trip, the Eyjafjallajökull volcano began to stir. The tremendous eruption stranded hundreds of travelers, us included. I being a writer and my friend a photographer, we considered this a turn of good luck – our first post-graduation assignment. I’ll save the details or another day, but things did not go as planned, and we were unable to sell anything that we shot or wrote on the trip. This, while being a relatively minor setback considering that the opportunity just fell into our laps, was my first sign that maybe things would not go as smoothly as I had hoped.

After returning home disappointed, I assumed that without school to worry about I could devote all of my time to finding a job. I was almost right; I devoted all of my time to trying to find a job. Over a hundred resumes later, I was still working in a coffee shop, scouring the Internet for jobs daily. I got a few offers. I did some freelance work, sometimes finishing the work and not getting paid. I was also offered a real, full-time job. I would transcribe news broadcasts for closed captioning television. The job was 40+ hours per week, the commute was an hour each way, and the pay was less than what I made at the coffee shop.

So I took a step back. I must be doing something wrong, I thought. I made lists of all the jobs I was offered. I crossed off jobs with no pay, or that required more experience than I possessed. Maybe one out of every ten jobs was left. And what were they offering? The chance to write product descriptions on eBay; to send out spam e-mails; to churn out content for scammy-looking blogs offering get-rich-quick schemes and vitamin pills for dogs.

This was not what I went to school for. I didn’t work for four years just to write about things that I neither cared about nor believed in. I didn’t spend all that time, only to get a job with a salary that I couldn’t live on, for work that I couldn’t live with.

So, then, what did I go to school for?

I wanted to expand our understanding of the world; I wanted to write something that would make a difference in someone’s life, to stand up for things I believed in and to – as the old saying goes – give a voice to the voiceless.

The standard says that you have to earn the right to do what you want to do for a living. You have to fight your way up the ladder to get to the moment where you are the one calling the shots. But that standard is badly in need of revision. Why keep trying to climb the ladder when even the undesirable bottom rung is out of reach?

If I wanted to succeed, instead of clawing my way to the top, I would have to find a side door.

I decided to skip ahead a few years on my plan to attend grad school. Cue the long and grueling application process, several sleep-killing months of waiting for admissions decisions, and finally getting into the school of my choice.

It is now about 16 months since I finished my undergraduate studies, and my first graduate classes start in 3 weeks. Check back often and I will do what I can to enlighten you in the process of going back to school, getting into the school of your choice, and surviving once you get there.

Post Grad by Day, Gamer by Night


By bowski477
(Bowski477 is a guest writer, from aesthetically-pleezin.com)

You can’t always get what you want.

That seems to be the theme song to my post-grad life. I graduated with a degree in English from Salem State University in 2010, and I currently work for a hospice care facility in Massachusetts. It’s not the field I went to school for, but it’s a job. More importantly, it’s a paying job.

With the economy being as tough at it is, and jobs being scarce in most fields, I am lucky enough to have a stable job with benefits. I know that many of my former classmates cannot say the same thing. But just because I work in a different field doesn’t mean my degree is being wasted. When my work day is done, I’m a different person. I’m a gamer and a blogger; and while neither of them pays, they’re still classified as jobs.

Gaming is more than a hobby for me. It’s a passion. Two years ago I decided to spread the word about my passion for gaming. I started my very first blog, Aesthetically-Pleezin.com. It was somewhere that I could put all of my thoughts about the gaming world and show them to other gamers. I made new friends with similar gaming interests, and I got their take on the things I was writing. I wasn’t afraid to make my opinions known to the gaming community.

Soon I found myself in Los Angeles listening to the top men at Treyarch debut their then up and coming game Call of Duty: Black Ops. I thought, I am just a goldfish in the giant ocean that is the gaming community, yet there I was listening to actual developers show off their new game. It was one of the happiest moments of my life.

The trip went by so fast, and I had to return to the “real world” where no one called me by my Xbox Live gamer tag, and no one knew what the hell a “noob” was. But a new opportunity came knocking a few months later. A new gaming site was just getting off the ground, and the fact that I had a degree in English made me a good candidate for the position of Editor-in-Chief.

I joined the staff of IRBGamer.com. It doesn’t pay, but like my personal blog, I love working on it. It’s another place I can use the talent I learned in college and mix it with the passion I have for the gaming community.

What are my hopes for the future? Well, ideally I would hope to someday get paid to write about games, so that I could pour all of my potential into what I love to do. But until that time, I do have bills and plenty of student loans to pay. Being jobless is not an option for me. Not having a job in my chosen field is a small sacrifice I have to make at this point in my life. But that doesn’t mean things have to stay this way. I’m getting my name out in the gaming community and trying to get noticed. Life maybe short, but I’m not really in a big rush. My opportunity will come, and I’ll be ready to grab it when it does.

Have questions for bowski477?  Feel free to comment!

Foot In the Door, Tossed on Your Bum Part 2


By sendmeonmyway101

The novelty of the table lasted only a few moments, and I was soon distracted by the notes scribbled all across the dry erase board. With nothing else to do, I tried to memorize what was on the board, as if I
 ould be quizzed on it, or something.

Finally the HR rep who had originally contacted me stepped into the room with a warm smile. (At this point we will refer to the HR rep as Judy).

Even though I knew I was about to be put under the same tormenting observations as a fish in the aquarium, I felt my jitters instantly recede. We shook hands, Judy and I, and then she took a seat across from me. I glanced down at the long, empty table, took a deep breath, and waited to begin.

Judy explained the 401K and health benefits that the company offered, as well as verifying some of the original information we had discussed over the phone (most of which were not my best answers). This time I was ready. With lines that I had gone over twelve times on the ride in, I expanded on my work history and my understanding of the job with absolute confidence. I could tell when I gave a good answer, because Judy would look down at her notes with a little, knowing smile.

After some time, fifteen minutes or so, she stood and left. I would now meet with three team members who had the job I was applying for. At this point I was relaxed – my back, which had been flush against the gray chair
when Judy first entered, was now slouching somewhat as I leaned over the table. The team members, each warm and friendly, proceeded to ask me questions, fervently scribbling my response. With every answer I wildly flailed my arms, barely noticing I was doing it. I’ve always been a very visual speaker.

When they were finished with their questions, they asked if I had any of my own. For any interview, I try to have at least three questions beforehand. One question that I use at almost every interview I’ve been to is “what are the best and worst parts of the job?” In the past, most interviewers have been caught off guard, but pleased, by the question, and this group was no different. They tried to hide their surprise, before explaining that the initial training was the hardest thing to get over. But after that, it’s like riding a bike.

I had a few more questions. That part of the interview lasted roughly half an hour. They thanked me in the end, and I made sure to get up and shake each hand once more, running over their names in my head.

By the time that the ‘big bosses’ came in, I was completely at ease. Until they started firing questions, that is.

“How would you define teamwork?”

“How are you at learning new things?”

“How do you perceive the responsibilities of this position?”

I did the best I could, spewing the first thing that popped into my head. I would normally stop to think about everything I say beforehand, but the way they were staring at me, like marble statues, made my brain turn to mush and my mouth into that of a child’s. Stream of consciousness, whatever popped into my head came out of my mouth.

The next twenty minutes were a whirlwind, and I can hardly remember much of what happened. Before I knew it they were asking if I had any questions, and I was dumbly saying, “No, I think all my questions have been answered.”

Judy returned, told me they would let me know if I got the job by the end of the next week. Then she led me to the door, and I was done. Just like that.

Dazed, I clambered into my car, started the engine and headed straight for the thruway. I spent the next few hours going over every word in my head, trying to find a weak spot, a failure. I arrived home, napping until my Father arrived.

The next day I sent a thank-you letter, but even as I hit ‘send’ I knew there would be no return call.

Foot in the Door, Tossed On Your Bum Part 1


By sendmenonmyway101

My past few posts haven’t been as hopeful – or helpful – as I had wanted them to be, so today I think I’m going to recount my first ‘real world’ interview. Hope this gives some of you a clear picture!

It was the end of June, and I was surprisingly giddy that morning; even though I had gotten up at 4:30 am to make the three hour drive to Buffalo. I may have downed two whole bottles of 5hr energy by the time I bounced onto the elevator, so I suppose being giddy explains itself. I spent the whole car ride into town going over potential questions, and my best answers. Then I begged the interview gods that I wouldn’t forget them.

I was aware of the interview for a week before hand (after surviving the phone interview), but the only person I had mentioned it to was Kyle. I didn’t want my parents to get their hopes up for me, and then be disappointed when I didn’t get the job. In the end I caved – unable to think of a good enough reason for why I would be getting up at 4am (well, I came up with some pretty good reasons, but I wanted some advice from my Dad, and when I told him he insisted I tell my Mom).

I had gone to bed late the night before – not my best idea, but I was up gathering as much research as possible on the people I would be meeting with. I could tell you who graduated from what university, with what degree, and exactly what their extra-curricular activities were. Creepy, I know (the fact that I was able to find this information so readily, and the fact that I memorized it), but I wanted to be prepared.

I knew I was going to have to step my whole game up a notch, so I dressed in one of the outfits I had bought specifically for post college interviews almost two years ago (fortunately, the pants and shirt still fit – black slacks and a beige blouse).

I was there for an office position where, if I had gotten the job, I would be responsible for handling customers, answering questions about the software, and editing the surveys (it was a survey company. Not exactly my first choice, but I was impressed with what the company aimed to do – forge a bridge between college students and the faculty/staff that affect their education).

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. I could feel the vomit building its way back up my intestines. Hell, I could taste the stomach acid burning in the back of my throat.

I swallowed it back as a woman guided me inside. The main work area was small but open. No cubicles. I was deposited into a glass conference room off to the side, and left alone.

Someone had once told me that employers will leave potential employees alone for a few extra moments just to psych them out. With this in mind, I tried focusing my thoughts on anything other than my nerves.

First I tapped my fingers along the counter top, marveling at how small I was in comparison to the bulky, tall table. I wished there was a telephone book or two to prop me up.

The novelty of the table lasted only a few moments, and I was soon distracted by the notes scribbled all across the dry erase board. With nothing else to do, I tried to memorize what was on the board, as if I would be quizzed on it, or something.

Finally the HR rep who had originally contacted me stepped into the room with a warm smile.

READ PART 2 Tomorrow Evening

Businesses That Won’t Bounce Back


By sendmeonmyway101

I was unnerved when Borders went bankrupt.

Well, not as unnerved as a Borders employee should have been. Mostly because I would be graduating and leaving the store for greener post-grad pastures (seems my pastures are as green as Borders future).

Don’t misread – especially any of my fellow borders alum. Because I loved my job – it was by far one of the most pleasant work experiences I have ever had. Everyone got along with each other; the majority of the customers were sensible and fun people (same could be said for my fellow employees). If every Borders store operated the way our store operated, I don’t see how they could have declared bankruptcy.

Our store survived the initial batch of closings because we were small, and we were a staple in the community. The only other bookstore in town was a Half-Off-All-the-Time mess, in a closet of a store. Our Barnes and Nobles competitor was more than half a mile outside of town. We were it.

Now all of the Borders stores are closing, and a lot of good people are losing their jobs. And Borders isn’t the only one – following a merger with First Niagara, HSBC recently announced their intentions to lay off 30,000 people. And these 30,000 people are being laid off to make room for 15,000 people in the emerging markets. What does that mean?

Emerging market = Asia, Brazil, Argentina and … Mexico? No comment.

The point is that with chains such as Borders or Blockbuster downsizing or closing, we college grads are facing more competition from experienced members of previous generations than they themselves faced. Not to mention how little a Bachelor’s degree actually means anymore.

I’ve been out job hunting, and the majority of jobs are seeking candidates with more years of experience than most people will get just from sitting in a classroom. I consider myself very lucky, in that I had two professors urging me in all the right directions, so I received experience while I was in school. But hey – I’m still unemployed, and finding employment is by the far the most frustrating, exhilarating, and mind-numbing experience a grad can face.

I don’t know the science behind it, but I am aware that four out of six of my friends (or two out of three, if you want to simplify things) are either registered for grad school, or planning to attend after graduation. OK, so my friend pool is relatively small, but it doesn’t change the fact that the growing trend is to attend grad school. Which means more student loans – fueling an already loan-centered, debt stressed economy. And let’s not even go into how grad students will be paying more in their loans following the recent debt deal laid out by Washington.

To break things down – economy is bad. Companies close. Good people out of jobs – competing with inexperienced college grads. Grads return to school hoping to graduate again with a more stable economy and job market. Student loans and the high cost of education support a society’s poor decisions to buy first, and pay later.

Now, before you start firing your keyboards and accusing this blog of inaccurately depicting social events, American society, or even financial situations, I have to point out that I know nothing about finances (I prefer to leave that to the people who know what they’re doing … of course, the people who know what they’re doing have already failed in preventing all the things they were supposed to prevent, so maybe they’re as knowledgeable as I), and everything mentioned here is only my impression of what’s happening.

A sign of market end times for future students and graduates? Or a time for change? You be the judge.

(Check out Mustang Daily’s article, Graduate school: to go, or not to go?)

The Obvious Downside


By sendmeonmyway101

I had hoped to get a few more postings about the positives of being a Stay at Home Daughter – Constantly clean house, free time, energy, and there are more, sure – but I have once again come face to face with the obvious downside.

I don’t get paid. Well, aside from the allowance my parents give me (which I earn from keeping up on the housework). This hasn’t been too much of a problem lately, because I had money left over from graduation and tax returns. But I realized my car is up for inspection, and it is NOT going to pass. Why? Funny story.

When I was at school there was a big winter storm, and the stress of snow on my car windshield one night left a very vibrant scar. Long, and in the absolutely wrong place, my car will not pass inspection until it’s repaired; repairs that will cost who knows how much (I’ll get an estimate tomorrow); repairs that this chick-y cannot afford, which shamefully means borrowing more money from the ‘rents.

Suddenly, being a Stay at Home Daughter blows. But before PGP (Post-Graduation Panic) could kick in, I met up with an old high school friend today, and she’s given me hope. OK, so she hasn’t led me in the right direction for a job, but her tale of carrying on five jobs at once with no days off for over two months has motivated me.

It’s not that I haven’t been trying to find a job. Since graduation in May (and even before), I’ve probably sent out resumes, cover letters and applications to fifty places (honestly, I stopped keeping track after twenty-five). I’ve only had two job interviews, and both have been at least three hours from home, and unsuccessful. Following my last interview, I was so certain that the call-back would be positive, that I didn’t bother applying anywhere else. I did get a call, but it was nowhere near positive and I was back to Square One. This was last Friday, and I would have started looking again, but a visit from a friend this past week has taken up most of my time and energy, and when I did think about job hunting, my mind said – he’ll be gone in a week. Then it will be OK.

I returned from my coffee break today determined. I essentially have four months to find a job, before my student loans kick in. Worst comes to worst, I can do some tutoring at the local colleges, as well as continue mooching off my parents while keeping up on housework. But let’s be realistic – it wouldn’t hurt to have a steady pay check. My current internships are nice, but they don’t pay the bills – or car repairs.

So, now I’m off to once again search for a job! Hopefully with some success this time.

On the plus side, USA Today promises a better year in job hunting for college grads, so I guess I have that to look forward to when I go to sleep at night.

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