Monthly Archives: August 2014

Aug
29
  • Packing it in!

    J and I arrived in DC Thursday night. The next morning, I had a second in-person interview with the environmental nonprofit in downtown DC. Due to nerves and my usual insomnia, I had trouble sleeping Thursday evening, and then I was up early again Friday morning. There was some kind of train delay on the metro, but it was waay early. So we had breakfast with the in-laws. Every time I go back to Maryland, I have a tough time adjusting to the pace there. During breakfast, I was internally stressing out wanting to get to the interview site so I could cram some more info and mentally prepare, but I told myself to try and maintain some perspective. There was plenty of time, and really, was breakfast with the in-laws too much to ask? No. Seriously, I needed to calm the fuck down.

    And anyway, by the time breakfast was done, the trains were back to running on schedule. So John dropped me off at the metro station, and I arrived at the office building still way early. Of course, every time I have an interview, I go crazy with having to use the bathroom like every 30 minutes! That said, I didn’t want to check in at the receptionist desk just yet, so I went out in search of a public restroom. I ended up going across the street and intersection to the National Postal Museum, one of many public museums in DC with free admission. So yeah, entry is free but you gotta go through security and everything just to get to the restroom! Yes, it’s overkill but hey, I was desperate. Regardless, I got to see the insides of a cool, old building…

    The interview itself went ok. The manager appeared in a dress, and she was all tatted up– like above the chest, on the fingers, arms, legs, etc.! I guess I wasn’t THAT surprised considering I had researched her profile beforehand and known she was from LA, if that says anything. Plus, she used to work in the music industry. Anyway, she said she was glad I didn’t wear a suit. Well yeah, I’m from California!!

    So all the stuff I had prepped for the interview? She asked nothing related to any of it. No org history; nothing about the technical platforms they were using; nothing about current products and technologies out on the market. She just wanted to hear about my project management experience. By the end of the meeting, it was pretty clear that she was worried that I didn’t have experience drafting formal project work plans and having to document EVERYthing. And I get it: none of my other roles ever really demanded explicit documentation… it sounds like this org relies super heavily on documentation– partly for measuring and gauging results but also for major CYA internally. She said she would feel better if I had a PMP certification… And then on top of that, the largest project I’ve handled is only a small fraction of the size and magnitude this role calls for…. So, I left there kinda questioning whether things would proceed.

    After the interview, I headed over to the Verizon Center to meet my parents and a prospective property manager for their condo in DC. The agent seemed responsive and savvy, so I’m hoping this arrangement will work out. I just asked for some references and there are a few things I want to negotiate in the contract. Otherwise, that’s good to go.

    After that meeting, my parents and I drove to see my grandparents. They appeared well. Grandma has slowed down quite a bit: she looks rather sleepy and tired, but grandpa is still very sharp, especially for a 90+ year old. We went to a local Chinese restaurant and ordered a few of my fav dishes: Taiwanese rice noodles and Beijing duck. So yummy!!

    The drive home took forever due to the holiday traffic, but I received a pleasant surprise email from the nonprofit… I’m invited to a third in-person interview with the IT director on Tuesday, the day after we fly back home. Yay! So, to recap the process, I applied at the end of June, and since then, I’ve done the phone screen, an interview with the CTO, an interview with the line manger, and now I have this upcoming interview with the IT director. I guess that’s a good thing, right?

    Overall, the trip back East went well. My dad actually planned some outdoor activities for us, which is different. He was asking me what we like to do, and I said, no museums but outdoor activities in nature. The next day, we went for a short, half-mile hike to Cunningham Falls State Park. It was hot and muggy (not to mention mid-day, because I slept my sorry ass in), but my parents were really good sports about it. Really accommodating, and I appreciated their gesture. After the hike, we re-hydrated on drinks and watermelon and then headed off to Emmitsburg…along the drive, I was reminded of all the churches and religious institutions all over MD. Mount St. Mary’s University plus the National Shrine of Elizabeth Seton… pretty places to visit and sight see, but religion always freaks me out a little.

    So now we’re on the plane. Bubs got wifi, so I prepped a few more job apps and caught up on my usual social media sites. I’m really pooped. I hope I’ll still be able to bring my A game for the interview tomorrow.

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Aug
29
  • Turning Things Around on a Dime

    I’ve been gaining decent traction these last few weeks… it feels great, but being the nerd that I am, I’m always trying to analyze and attribute the turn of events to very specific factors. Was it the optimized resume with less text and more white space? Was it the abbreviated cover letter? Was it the check-in email post submission? Honestly, my sense is that several factors contributed, but one definite thing that is helping is name dropping or connections. Every week, ProMatch reiterates that 80% of jobs are netted through networking. So fine. In the last several months, I’ve continued refreshing my old networks and reaching out to strangers. Slowly and methodically, I have grown my LinkedIn connections from around 100 to over 300. And the good thing is, I actually have met and talked with nearly all of those 300 people. I can honestly say where they work, what they do, and/or what they are seeking. Go ahead, test me! ;)

    This month, I had five phone screens and two in-person interviews, with a third one scheduled for Friday. In 4/5 job opps, I had an “insider” contact (a current/former employee or someone who knows the hiring manager personally) either plug me if we worked together, or mention me as someone they loosely know. Certainly, the personal plugs from former colleagues or former collaborators did wonders. In three of those cases, I was very quickly contacted for a phone screen. In the other scenario, where an insider just mentioned me and my application (but didn’t necessarily vouch for my competency), my resume and paperwork got enough “view time” to get me an initial screen.

    In two phone screens, I ended up withdrawing my application because of a very large salary gap, but still. These experiences really reiterate how influential any connection– even a remote one– is for recruiters and hiring managers. Turns out, HR is desperate for anything that will help filter and weed people out from the enormous pile of applications.

    I did something differently yesterday. I came across a job posting from June for a higher level strategic marketing and communications role at an education nonprofit. Based on the description, the role actually seemed like a great fit for my existing experience plus there looked to be some decent room to grow. When I looked online, I discovered a standard web submission process: register here, then fill out a bunch of online forms, then upload your docs, etc. I HATE those automated job submission systems. First, I had zippo “insider” connections at the org. Then, seeing that the position had been posted for two plus months, where SURELY my resume would end up on a tall stack of papers, I decided to do this shit up guerrilla style! The hiring manager was listed as just a job title (no name), so I found the name and email and just sent my application to her directly– bypassing the whole system and HR. You would not believe. Within 24 hours, I got an email from HR saying that the manager had passed my info to her, and she’d like to do a phone screen. That was this morning. Funny thing, one of the HR lady’s first questions was: So you found our posting online, and you saw the instructions to apply through the system, but instead you emailed the manager directly. Why did you do that? Eekk!

    I laughed nervously, because the HR director didn’t sound all too pleased about my blatant disregard for the process, but I just told it to her straight. I’ve attended a lot of job search workshops and read a lot of articles on job hunting. Sometimes you just have to do things differently, and see what happens. Change things up and try new strategies. Haha!! I didn’t divulge, but yeah, it’s all about adapting and iterating. I have heard SO MANY disastrous stories about applications falling into the black hole system, just getting stashed into some random desk drawer… Anyway, I’m sure she was a little annoyed and a part of me felt compelled to apologize, but heck, I was actually pretty proud of myself for scoring the call this way. Shows some initiative and gall! And in the end, if I’m a good candidate who offers value, who cares? Both sides win! Ice cream for all, as they say!

    That first question definitely caught me off guard, but after that, the call went really well. She said they were already super far along in the recruitment. Two finalists had already gone onsite for in-person interviews with the director. But she said she was impressed with me, and she would check to see how set the director was feeling on the other two. Maybe it would be worthwhile to bring me on site. Woot, woot!! That’s right, sister. I’m the dark horse blazing ahead in the final stretch! We’ll see what happens…

    In other news, J and I are headed back East to take care of family bidness. It’s going to be another packed couple of days. In person interview. Meeting with a property manager. Catching up with family. Then back on Monday to start September fresh.

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Aug
25
  • Ewoks Savor Fruity Jam

    I am back in action these days. It’s kind of funny, because I didn’t really say to myself, “I’m going to step up (even) more,” but through my actions, it seems that I somehow made a subconscious decision to say “yes” more often. I mean, not all the time and not to everything, but definitely more than usual. For example, last June, I took an “Uncover Your Calling” class. It was 12 weeks long, and boy was that class intense: there was a ton of homework and exercises to “discover my true self.” There were class presentations and all kinds of uncomfortable exercises in front of a small group. I distinctly remember feeling frustrated at the end of the class, because I felt like I hadn’t progressed. Things were still unclear, and I was still dissatisfied with who I was and what I was going to do with my life. One part of our self discovery process though included personality tests and the like. Actually, that was my favorite element out of everything, because I am obsessed with punching in short answers to a series of questions and then being presented with some kind of immediate answer.  For some reason, it makes me think of gumball machines– slide in a couple of coins and out comes the toy! Of course, in typical VGo fashion, once I got the answer, I was unhappy with who it had determined me to be. I know, this is the problem with being an overthinker. I am never satisfied.

    Long story short, I got ESTJ from the personality test last year.  The ESTJ is basically described as an administrator: someone who likes to get shit done and manage people and processes. To be honest, much of the description was accurate, but I dunno. It sounded like a boring person to me. I mean, who wants to be an administrator when the other options are so much more interesting: “architect” or “scientist” or “artisan” or “explorer,” you know? I didn’t like the answer, so I retook the test. Like 13 times. 12/13 yielded the same results. Sigh. The single outlier was ISTJ: practical, fact-minded, reliable. Still, incredibly bor-ring! But whatever. At the time, I just sighed loudly and acquiesced. I am what I am.

    Fast forward one year, and I was asked by the instructor of the class to demo the presentation/brainstorming exercise to her current students. This involved sharing a one-page document that described “my essence.” I had developed this file for the class last year and presented it then. Now, I was to present it again and then solicit feedback from the audience on how, on learning these things about me, they might advise/suggest that I proceed to uncover new opportunities that jive with me. I thought about revising the one-pager, but I didn’t really have time. Nonetheless, I did take the opportunity to redo a few personality tests. Haha.

    Whaddaya fucking know?? My personality changed!!! From ESTJ (Every strawberry tastes juicy) to ESFJ (Ewoks savor fruity jam). Holy crap, I’ve become much more of a feeler than a thinker, it seems… Here’s the description. It’s kinda scary how spot on it is. Now I don’t know what to think. I guess I’ll call it a lateral move. Hmph! :P

    But back to my earlier point. So I went to the current class and presented. Very nerve-wracking still to talk about myself to five strangers for ten minutes. But I got ‘er done. I must admit: had teach asked me a year ago, I would have declined. I mean, come on, it’s just too much. Enough to do it for my own class, but to do it again?

    But like John says, now I’m turning into a classic California granola hippie. I’ve been thinking a bit about karma. I mean, these people are taking the class because to some extent, they are dissatisfied with life and seeking alternative ways of living. If my brief period of discomfort helps them achieve clarity in some way, is it really a huge deal? It doesn’t really seem like THAT much to ask. So I did it. The people in the class were… interesting. One person was clearly stuck, walled in by her own hangups about what defines success. I know, sound familiar? If anything, I suppose my demo helped my instructor in some small way. I imagine it’s pretty challenging to work with people who are frustrated and dissatisfied (albeit taking action). Whatevs. Maybe the universe will appreciate my small gesture.

    Similarly, at ProMatch, my team co-leaders invited me to observe one of their meetings. By the end, I realized that they were actively recruiting me to join them! Again, a few months ago, absolutely not. But now, as I’ve gotten to know them better, I can see that several co-leaders are dedicating waaay too much time to the organization. They’ve politely asked for help, but no one ever pipes up. So I agreed to join and help. I know, now I am sucked into two additional meetings per week, plus I’ll have added responsibilities to facilitate some team meetings and training workshops. I’m such a sucker. And as soon as I did that, John suggested it was a bad idea given all the time I was already pouring into ProMatch. But I’m trying to adopt a more positive perspective on this. I mean, I absolutely loathe meetings, but they really are so much a part of the working world. So I reasoned that I’ve already been spared about a year’s worth of meetings. When I eventually do get a job, I’m going to have to deal with them again, so I might as well start wetting my feet. I know, I can rationalize ANYTHING, right? Well, cross my fingers. Hopefully, there really are some leadership growth opportunities with this experience… As they say at ProMatch, I’m going to “step into my magnificence.”

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Aug
21
  • Mental Training

    August has been another dramatic month. On one hand, I can recall multiple highs. On the other hand, quite a few lows.

    First the good. I had dinner with my friend L several weeks ago. Quite honestly, he is one of the nicest people I know. And to think we met on the plane… it makes for a great story. We had a great time catching up… time always flies with him. At one point, I gave an update on my job search. He probably sensed the frustration in my face and voice. He then said, “What can I do to help?” It’s kind of funny. That’s what friends do, right? They help each other. And many of them do help, but I rarely hear those actual words! In fact, I was so taken aback, I had to think about the question. I mean, who really asks? I think I may have asked only once or twice with other friends and that was because I was exasperated and totally out of ideas. I told L to just keep his eyes peeled for opportunities and/or contacts in my target areas. Afterwards though, for some reason, I really felt a need to clarify, like, “I didn’t ask you to dinner to get something out of you…” to which he responded, “Oh yes, I know. Of course. I know that, but I just want to see if there’s anything I can do.” It was I dunno, an unexpected and yet very welcome gesture. I think I will start to adopt that practice myself. Too often, I probably just assume that I know how to help someone, but wow, what a concept: ask and see what the person needs. Duh. See? I learn so much from L. He’s awesome. And so refreshingly candid too. I mean, here I am struggling with figuring out my life. It’s so easy for me to think that as a GM/SVP of a startup, he’s got all his shit figured out. But you know, he shares his own struggles too. Not like his challenges make me happy or anything, but it’s just helpful to understand that life really is a moving target for a lot of us… And it doesn’t mean we should just acquiesce and become passive either. Anyway, kinda eye-opening.

    Then, as I mentioned earlier, I appreciated hearing from my ex-boss. I also caught up with some ex-coworkers. Went for a bike ride with J. She was so sweet. I mean, I never expect or demand apologies from people for falling out of touch. I get it: life happens, but it was still thoughtful of her to acknowledge and apologize. Truthfully, sometimes when I spend long periods of time alone, my mind starts to fuck with me a little. I get flashes of doubt… I suppose it’s a form of insecurity. I dunno. Frankly, I think all these rejections from job hunting exacerbate that condition where I just need just a little bit of validation and reassurance. I know it’s an irrational fear, so I try to keep it in check as much as possible, but still, the occasional positive feedback helps. What else. I also had lunch recently with my bud M. Introduced her to Costco beef brisket sandwiches. Yup, stick with me, lady. I’ll show ya all the cheap and easy tasties, because I’m all about streamlining the meals. Haha.

    Oh, big news: my good friend G finally popped! And out came a big baby boy! So many years in the making, and wow, he’s finally here. What a celebration!

    Job-wise, my hunt is picking up more. After my great phone interview last Friday with a local environmental NGO, I went out on a limb to hustle the employer via my thank you note. My strategy worked, because on Monday morning, I got invited to an in-person interview yesterday (Wednesday)!! Yee haw! I was so thrilled. When I went in, the deputy director said she was really impressed by my thoughtful email, and that’s why she invited me in for the onsite interview. Check! I thought the interview went really well, and so this morning, I followed up again with a meaty thank you note, using the opportunity to expound on another question she asked me yesterday. Two hours later, I got the rejection note. Boo.

    Admittedly, the situation last week did sound like the organization had already put out an offer to someone else and like a dark horse, I weaseled my way into the final round last minute. Maybe this morning, they heard back from the candidate? I dunno, exactly. I suppose the positive perspective is that I made it pretty darn far. But the other side of me, still can’t help but feel sad and disappointed. Rejected again. Somehow, still not good enough, still not the right fit. Sigh. All this time and energy…

    I know, I really should focus on the brighter side of it all: I’m definitely getting better with interviewing. The nerves are calming with each successive event. I’m learning to ramp up quickly and come across intelligently on various topics. Plus, my onsite interview the day before with a national environmental NGO went well. I’m slated to meet the line manager in person next Friday while I’m in DC. Still. I really want a win already!!

    Beyond those things, I’ve been struggling a bit with periods of overwhelm. Robin Williams. Ferguson. James Foley. Violence, abuse, sadness, people harming/mistreating/killing each other… some days, it’s just too damn much. My heart feels so heavy with sorrow. I’ve been losing sleep again too, with my mind just trying to make sense of it all. But it just won’t EVER make. sense. Ugh. Time for Meditation Oasis again.

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Aug
16
  • Punctuating the Week

    Friday was a pretty good day. I got up early and did a ton of research and prep for my phone interview (later that afternoon) with a nearby environmental org. After I felt comfortable drafting my responses to anticipated questions, I decided to squeeze in a ProMatch workshop on Agile Scrum methodology. Agile scrum is a management framework for product development– usually software development. I’ve actually heard John and his sister (who’s in retail software development) mention agile a ton, so it was cool to learn the vocabulary and get the basics down. Honestly, I felt rather empowered afterwards. Of course, like a true nerd, I immediately texted John all the new words I learned. I know, I’m such a dork. What can I say, I’m addicted to learning.

    In the afternoon, I had my phone interview. It was a 30-minute call that went pretty well.  Beforehand, I started getting really nervous– my fingers went numb, my tummy started gurgling, and I could just feel the anxiety building. I took several deep breaths, did some pushups, and then the phone rang. I was pleased with most of my responses… at the end, the hiring manager kinda alluded to being pretty far along in the recruitment. I dunno how or why these timings keep being so misaligned for me, but reading between the lines, it sounded like maybe they had already extended an offer even, but if that didn’t go through, she said I was definitely near the top, and they would like me to go in for an onsite interview. So I guess that’s good news?!?!

    Friday evening, John and I were invited to a Havana Nights-themed bday bash at the local country club. Yup, totally chi chi. I didn’t even know there was a country club nearby! Tucked away in the hills, of course. I spent some time researching what to wear for a Cuban-themed party… my Miami connection advised a short, tight dress, high heels, red lipstick, and a fedora. I tried my best, and I think I pulled it off. Although at the party, I did notice that only the men were wearing fedoras. Ah well.

    My friend K was celebrating her 40th bday, and her whole family was there. They were all dancing and having a grand ol’ time. I couldn’t help but contrast that with how my family gets together: every meeting is just talking about serious family issues and life woes. No music, no dancing, no laughing hardly ever. So very different. My friend G has always said that Chinese culture is no fun, especially when compared to Latin culture (She’s spent a lot of time in Central and South America). Yeah, this bday party really highlighted the stark difference. My peeps are lame, man!

    IMG_2319

    Interestingly, I had my weekly call with my dad this evening. Last weekend when I called, my father was so “woe is I.” Seriously. I called and asked what he was doing. Sigh, sigh, sigh. Then, “I’m a gardener and cleaning man and carpenter and painter…” Apparently, several of his rental properties needed repairs and such. God forbid he hire people to take care of that low-level repair shit. Supposedly, he asked the tenant/realtor if she had a contact for simple repairs. No. So that automatically meant that no such service exists for the entire greater Baltimore area, right? WTF? Then Dad proceeded to say, “I’m a principal who is now a janitor.” Eye roll. Sometimes, my father is so ridiculously dramatic. That night, I emailed him a handyman service I found on Yelp. Jesus f-ing Christ.

    The thing is, Dad just wanted to feel sorry for himself. I mean, of course, he can hire someone to do the work. But I think on one hand, he kinda wants to do it himself, because he has that curiosity about how things work. I know, because I’m kinda similar. And for relatively simple tasks, he also feels like he has the time since he’s retired. But Maryland summers are no fucking joke. Hot and humid as hell. So he probably started doing the work and then quickly realized he shouldn’t have. It’s fine. We all make these silly mistakes of biting off more than we can chew. And I understand the dilemma. He is still bored as hell in retirement even though he handles probably 10x the amount of shit most retired folks handle. It’s just that coupled with having no friends and being antisocial and spending all damn day, every damn day with my mother…. well shit, it’s enough to drive anyone fucking crazy. I dunno. It’s a chicken-egg issue, I suppose. I wish he could just find something (besides busy work) to get himself back into the zone. He’s proactive but also beaten down, you know? Tired of life. Unmotivated. Unhappy. I dunno. So many times I look at my parents, and I realize how NOT to live life. They worked so so damn hard for so damn long, and now? It’s just sad. Life isn’t over yet and these circumstances are not irreversible, but where there is no will or motivation, it’s hard to see another way.

    Already, I’m having to take over some of his projects and logistics, for example, finding a realtor to get his DC condo rented. The current realtor is not my style, but Dad doesn’t want to break contract, so instead, we’re wasting time waiting for the term to expire. So lame, but whatever. I’m not going to argue for every little step with him. That’s what I mean when I say he’s tired. He just doesn’t have the same fire that he used to have. Needless to say, I’m contacting other realtors now to figure out who will take over next. And I’ll likely have to meet and go to the property when I head home later this month. I swear my father has just juggled so much shit for so long that he’s burned himself out. Frankly, there is just too damn much to handle. For me, it’s a good reminder that money never really comes easy. Even passive income is a constant hustle.

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Aug
13
  • Blast from the Past

    I got a pleasant surprise this week. After being out of touch for many months, my former boss sent me an email. It was so nice to hear from him. He and I kinda share a mutual appreciation for telling stories via email. He’s job hunting again in Berlin, but he and his family are having a good summer, it seems: doing some traveling and also checking out new activities with the wife, thanks to finally agreeing to get a babysitter. The childcare thing sounds like quite the game changer. I wish all my friends would adopt that route rather than push themselves towards insanity. Hint, hint. Haha. Sorry, I digress.

    Anyway, he asked me to be a reference, which I have done before and which I’m happy to do again. In my reply, I kinda apologized for the long silence. I said I would write him more later, but I just typed a few short lines about the job process being a bit of an emotional roller coaster for me. I didn’t get into the details at all. Yet, almost immediately, he replied with this lengthy email where it was just so damn evident that he got me!! I mean, I don’t know how to explain, but so many times in my life, I have struggled with feeling misunderstood and misinterpreted. Maybe that’s largely due to being first-generation Chinese-American and having immigrant parents. I don’t know, but more often than not, I feel like I have to explain and defend myself and my choices. Sure, it’s possible that all of this pressure is self-imposed, because I myself place so much value on reason and analysis…

    Regardless, what a relief it is to just be understood. R was never someone I had ever expected to befriend. When we first started working together, I really didn’t see that much in common. I mean, I knew we would work together fine, but I never anticipated any real connection. But through the years, I came to realize that he really is an amazing listener with strong intuition. On so many occasions, he has read between the lines and sensed the unspoken (I’m not ALWAYS a blabbermouth!!). And then when he responds, he just hits shit right on the nail. Er, hits the nail right on the head. Me and my idioms. So in his latest email responding to my three lines of text, he talked about his own struggle with identity and self-worth being tied to the job. He shared his own perspective as a hiring manager and talked about how he often found himself mindlessly seeking employees who most perfectly matched what the employer wanted in terms of prior experience. When he caught himself, he would consciously try to think outside the box and be more open-minded, but he wondered how many people failed to catch themselves. I distinctly remember interviewing for my role in his department. In my prior role, I had been doing marketing and client services for a fuel cell startup. My web experience was several years before that, so in that respect, he did take a chance on me. I knew I could do the job, and I knew I could deliver. But to have his confidence in me and his willingness to step beyond convention, I will forever be grateful. I wish more employers would take that leap now.

    After that, he went on about how I did so much more than web content and social media, and he listed out all this other shit I did. I mean, it’s been two years since we worked together, and he still remembered. It was just a really kind gesture. It was as if he knew my confidence was feeling a little broken from all the rejection and disinterest, and he was reminding me of my value. I was so touched.

    I hope this post doesn’t minimize our relationship by coming across like I only value him because he compliments me. It really isn’t that at all. I mean sure, who doesn’t enjoy praise and recognition for her work? But honestly, it’s more about his timing and his sensitivity. His thoughtfulness really lifted my spirits.

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Aug
12
  • Reviewing the Numbers

    A week or so into August, and the activity finally seems to be picking up, thank goodness. At my networking group, I am pretty much “all in” these days. Truth be told, I give the most credit to my impatience: for the last several weeks at our team meetings, most people have been reluctant to volunteer for duties. I dunno whether they can’t commit to three weeks at a time like some of the roles require or what, but invariably, we get to that part of the meeting where things come to a standstill. There are roles that need to be filled, and no one steps forward. We can’t move on to the next agenda item until that issue gets resolved. It’s a pretty uncomfortable couple of minutes, and frankly, my distaste for inaction and drawn-out meetings compels me to volunteer.

    Granted, I’m not the only over-achieving nerd. There is another newbie who is an even bigger sucker than I am… The dude has volunteered for EVERYTHING, from high-responsibility roles, to teaching workshops, to taking on leadership gigs. Seriously. And he’s such a personable guy to boot. He’s my Shawshank Redemption warden. I really dig him.

    So yeah, because I volunteered for a ton of slots, today I ended up:
    1. observing another team’s meeting,
    2. ushering during the all-hands meeting,
    3. reporting on the team I observed, AND
    4. volunteering at the computer lab help desk.

    Shit man, I was so swamped with people needing help at the lab that I didn’t even have time to hit the restroom. That said, the people are always so thankful for the help and guidance. One dude today asked me about DropBox and when I explained cloud storage to him, holy shit, watching his reaction to my explanation was like watching someone witness magic. He was so blown away. It was pretty frickin’ awesome. And he was so funny about it: he was all impressed with how quickly I navigated on the computer. He was in complete awe. “Oh my god, how are you without a job? You have crazy skills!! You need to be at Google.” So sweet, but clearly, this is someone who doesn’t interact at all with techies, you know?

    All in all, it was a pretty full day from 10-4. But hey, I clocked in my volunteer hours! Afterwards, I then met with a fellow ProMatcher who just started an environmental NGO and wants a digital marketing communications volunteer. I know, at some point, I need to stop volunteering and start pulling in the dough, right?

    Beyond the volunteer work for ProMatch, things do seem to be picking up. Last Friday, I had a really great phone screen with a recruiter for a communications manager role at a small and lean environmental NGO. Sadly, I ended up withdrawing my app. The pay was just waaay too low with no wiggle room and few other meaty benefits. Bummer.

    This Friday I have a phone screen with another environmental org– one really close to home. Then next week, I have round 2 (in person interview) with the big-name environmental NGO in the city. Sadly, still no word from any of the family foundations. Philanthropy sure is turning out to be a tough nut to crack! But I just keep plugging. Tomorrow, I’ll submit for a digital marketing manager role at another foundation nearby. Fingers crossed!

    As for my learning, I have a few job center classes on my calendar this week. One class is with the Sunnyvale library on using the A to Z special database to research companies and get the REAL inside business scoop on them. Another class is on interviewing, and then a third one is on negotiating. I haven’t taken any of the negotiation classes yet, but I ALWAYS negotiate job offers. It makes such a huge difference: several years ago for the fuel cell startup, I ended up earning $22k/year more than they had initially offered. Seriously. I know my worth, and I’m not about to get lowballed on that shit.

    Ok, so not that you give a damn, but I’m an engineer so just indulge me here. Yes, I have been tracking all my job activities in spreadsheets: one for info interviews and one for applications. Just to get a sense for my response rates, I have compiled the data. I requested 66 info interviews and have been granted 39. Since January, I have applied to 25 targeted job positions, and I have been invited to the first round on 8! Percentage-wise, I’m pretty happy with these rates. But clearly, I need to boost my numbers and cast a wider net. There’s so much more to do! Off to bed so I can rest for tomorrow!

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Aug
5
  • Progress

    I had my one-month anniversary last week at ProMatch. John had expressed some concern that the networking group was sucking too much of my time, so I started tracking my hours. The mandatory meetings and volunteer hours clock in at about ten hours per week, but I end up spending closer to 20 hours onsite including all the career classes. Truthfully, I’d begun feeling regretful about joining, but then I decided that the negative thinking just wasn’t serving me. So, focusing on the plus side, I’m still learning a ton and growing/developing my skills. Plus, I’m hoping things will die down a bit now that I’ve taken almost all of the classes. I still have a few more on presenting accomplishments, negotiation, and facilitation, but I hope to crank those out by the end of August. By then I’ll REALLY be a job hunting expert! Ha!

    In other news, my inspiration from BlogHer pushed me to update my personal branding materials. I updated my business card, and more importantly, I created a digital portfolio. To be honest, I dunno why I dragged ass on setting up a web portfolio. I had a lame PDF version, and I mean, in retrospect, wtf, I’m a “digital communications specialist”!! Duh. Whatever. The good news is, I tried out a new web tool, and wow, I ended up with a pretty badass site after all was said and done. I mean, it still took time, but less than I anticipated. I also kinda wish I had collected more writing samples from my last job, but whatevs. It is what it is. I’m pretty damn stoked nonetheless!

    So then what IS the latest scoop on my job hunt? I applied for a few communications foundation jobs a few weeks ago. I haven’t heard back, but I’ll follow up this week. I also applied to a couple of communications roles at environmental nonprofits– for both places, I actually have a connection. That said, my environmental education and immediate experience probably does appear more appealing to environmental employers than non-environmental employers. So yeah, I had a quick phone call today for a digital product manager role at a well-known environmental NGO. I spent a ton of time this morning ramping up on the organization’s history and current events, and I also practiced my responses to standard interview questions… But the hiring manager didn’t go there at all! The position actually sounds like a really good (and natural) fit, considering all the web products I created for the District. The manager says he wants to bring me onsite for an interview with him and another staffer. Yay. Finally, I’m advancing to the next round in the game. Goddamn. Yup, I’m taking a break tonight from my job hustle to celebrate this small victory!

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Aug
1
  • Cowgirl Boots

    Recently, I started wearing my cowgirl boots to ProMatch. Even though I miraculously managed to get my black patent wedges waaay stretched out for regular wear, nothing compares to boots when talking comfort. So I started wearing my boots with everything: dresses, jeans, cords, skirts… and man, I got so many compliments. One guy even came up to me after a meeting to say, “It’s nice to see someone around these parts wearing REAL boots.” Haha. The dude grew up on a ranch in Wyoming, not far from Jackson. Man, his comment made me feel so legit, almost like I should have plugged this website to him right then and there (I didn’t). Instead, I gushed about our trip to Wyoming last summer. Goddamn, that was such an awesome vacation. Easily amongst my top five.

    Regarding the positive feedback on my boots though: it’s kinda funny. All the people who complimented me were old(er) men. No women! But it kinda got me thinking… it’s nice to meet men who, you know, pay attention and know how to give compliments. I feel like with younger guys or with guys my age, they’re love withholders. John says he’s stingy with compliments, because he doesn’t want women to think he’s hitting on them or something. Lame. Maybe the older men are just better “trained.” I dunno, but I’m thankful for their comments. They just brighten my day.

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