Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Reblog: Blogging Positivity

This was a great post at Dressed Up Like a Lady regarding the disconnect between positive blogging and a not-so-great period in one's life.

One of my favorite bloggers, Cammila, says:

"I realize there's a disparity between me being stressed and our blog being basically the same upbeat tone it always is. And there are a lot of legit reasons for that; the focus of the blog is sort of positivity. . ."

The point of Roar these Twenties is meant to encourage, support, and celebrate, so I had a similar dilemma these last few months. I moved back home and was sleeping on the couch, looking for full-time jobs with no luck, and waiting to work. Got hired at a retail store for the holiday season and was substitute teaching when there were calls, but the retail hours were few and the school kids had time off. I folded lots of sweaters on Thanksgiving Day. I looked forward to sleep, which is very uncharacteristic of me. Crying in the car became a regular thing. I had interviews but no call-backs. I had second interviews with no call-backs. I did a lot of calling back, myself, to no avail. I kept looking forward to potential jobs and then did not get those jobs. There was no definite end in sight.

"What if I'm in the same place in another six months?" I thought. "What if I'm still here next year at this time??"

Luckily for me, and this blog, an end -- a beginning -- came soon.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Los Angeles vs. Caroline

Los 'The Big City' Angeles - 1,
Caroline 'The Energizer Bunny' - 0.
Next match: February 2014.
Courtesy of RACINGMIX, Flickr

After three months freelancing and working part-time in LA County, I'm back again in the California desert, sleeping on my parents' couch.

I had several interviews and even a few second interviews, but couldn't find a full-time job and even with two jobs, I wasn't getting nearly enough hours or assignments to continue paying the rent in the LA area. My family didn't expect it to work, but two of my cousins and a few acquaintances have successfully pulled off the jobless move, so I thought I could figure it out, too.

I wish the best of luck to the two wonderful roommates I left behind and hope to join them in Los Angeles again sometime soon.

Until then, here are some of my favorite motivational songs -- because sometimes life hands you your butt on a plate and it's hard to find your own optimistic words to spur yourself on.

We Are Kings, Tall Animals

Survivor, Destiny's Child

 Me Against the World, Superchick

Stand Up, Superchick

Super Trouper, Superchick

Dangerous Girl, Akon


Roar, Katy Perry

Katy Perry, Firework

Alicia Keys, Girl On Fire

Beyoncé, Run the World

Unbreakable, Fireflight

Defying Gravity, Wicked

What are your favorite inspirational/motivational songs?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

5 Obvious Ways to Sabotage Your Own Interview -- Or Maybe Not So Obvious??

Courtesy of the Lucius Beebe Memorial Library.

I went to a group interview and was very surprised at the things people did that I thought were common-knowledge mistakes. (Some background: this was not in Hemet. The position was at a natural medicine office in Westwood, and the interviewer said there were over 300 applicants.)

1.      Dress professionally. I know, you’ve heard this before. Hasn’t everybody? But one person showed up in Uggs, yoga pants, and a beanie. Another one wore slacks and a blazer with red velvet stripper heels -- so no, apparently not.

2.      When the interviewer is talking about her company/business – even if she goes on for a while – for heaven’s sake, don’t look bored! People were staring ahead, looking out the window -- not engaging with the interviewer. Just because she’s not asking you questions at that specific moment doesn’t mean she’s stopped evaluating you!

3.      If they’re looking for a friendly, outgoing kind of person – try your best to feel and act friendly and outgoing. Coming off bland and cold while saying you are a friendly person isn’t going to cut it.

4.      When introducing yourself, don’t sabotage yourself by listing off things you’ve done that were questionable, at all. Also, don’t get personal. For instance, “Hi, I’m 22 and I have four children” is not the best way to start things. Not only does it have no bearing on the job at hand, it also makes it sound like you make bad decisions. I’m sorry, but nobody’s going to believe that you had four children by 22 on purpose, even if you did. Further elaborating that none of them are twins really, really doesn’t help.

5.      Be professional and read books on working/careers so you know what’s considered professional and what’s not. A resume that comes as several pages in a folder is not a good idea. One page, people. One page.

Can’t promise this will get you the job, but I will say it may help get you to the second interview.

I wish I could hear about what I did wrong from whoever was eventually hired.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Life as a Transient

I've been living out of a suitcase for the last month! Some friends and family generously let me bounce around between their couches and guest rooms as I looked for a job and an apartment. So far I have found one and a half of those and am excitedly looking for that last piece.

I landed a gig as a part-time general assignment reporter at Pasadena Now, and have been staying in the area, then driving home, then driving back for a few days -- this went on on for a few weeks, which is why tomorrow I move out of the house! I found a two-bedroom apartment in the San Gabriel Valley to rent with two other girls. It's not an ideal location, so I may not stay for more than a few months.

Then again, I may not stay even that long -- need to find another part-time or full-time job. (That's why I've only completed 1.5 out of two of my goals!) I'm looking first and foremost for teaching positions at community colleges in the area, but also for other writing positions, or office jobs, or openings in retail.

Looking for jobs, apartments, and more jobs while moving and working can get pretty hectic. I just keep repeating this quote and reminding myself that it's true. Books are published only after some writing, much hair-pulling, and a flurry of editing and revising and negotiating with agents and editors. Parties aren't pulled off unless the host spends the day running errands, hanging streamers, and nearly burning dishes in the oven. Trips are preceded by a week or two of packing and plans and uncertainty and reservations.

It reminds me of surrealist poetry: for best results, you have to embrace not knowing what's happening or what's going to happen.

How do you deal with moving and job hunting?

Here's to living with uncertainty and difficulty and pushing through to the success that follows!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Procrastinating by Working

Courtesy of Astronomyboy, Flickr
As an undergrad, I remember talking to a TA about avoiding work/homework that we disliked by doing work/homework that we enjoyed.

"Procrastination," he said. "We have so much to do that we have to procrastinate by working."

It was funny, but his comment presented the situation in a negative light.

Penelope Trunk kind of addresses this in a cool post she wrote about how rethinking time can help you be more productive. She suggests that people divide their time into hours they spend engaged in what they are doing and hours they spend on unengaged tasks:

Engaged time/Unengaged time: People actually don’t mind working long hours when they are engaged. Burnout is not a result of how much work you’re doing but what type of work you’re doing. So instead of organizing time into work time and personal time, you could organize it into time when you like what you’re doing and time  when you don’t like what you’re doing. This is actually my big gripe with Tim Ferriss. He says he only works a 4 -hour week, but he really means he only does four hours a week of work that is not engaging to him.
People are doing this with learning as well: binge learning. This is when people take courses that are compressed, and they watch all the courses at once, sort of like watching a whole season of Arrested Development at once.

She also hit on a good idea when she suggested that people think of getting things done in terms of weeks or more, rather than days.

Days/Weeks: A lot of times you have a day where you do no work or a day when you do all work. And then you might feel that the other part of your life is in trouble. But instead, you can think in terms of weeks and months. You can have a week where you mostly work, and a week where you mostly don’t work. That’s balance, but in a larger picture. The idea of balance seems impossible hour by hour, but there are other ways to think about having a balanced life.
And you know how you can tell if your way of thinking about time is working? It feels good.

It makes sense, because this is also the best way to think about food and working out. It's okay to have a chocolate truffle at lunch and then a milkshake after dinner Friday night because you know you didn't have truffles or milkshakes every day last week, or even any day last week. Same thing with exercise -- maybe Monday you skip the gym, but you know you'll spend twice as long there the next day because they scheduled two classes you enjoy.

I enjoyed Penelope's post because recently I've been trying to approach my homework with these two methods. I'm getting pretty tired of my thesis, but I have a lot of poetry homework, so I'll work on thesis stuff and then reward myself with a "break" to write poetry. Plus, writers are always saying you have to write so many words every day, but really, if you write 500 words a day or 1,000 words every other day, will it make that much of a difference? If you can still finish your novel and get it published I'd say not. (Though, I'll let you know if/when that happens! :)

PS Aren't pocket watches the bomb? (Sheldon thinks so, too!) I have one from high school that I used to wear a lot.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Ellen DeGeneres Quotes & Career Advice

Courtesy of bernie.levine, Flickr.

Ellen is one of my favorite people. She's does great interviews, and I love that she is funny without being mean. She teases people and points out ridiculous thoughts/decisions, but she does it while laughing with them instead of at them (even when she's airing their embarrassing Facebook photos on her show!).

GH: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
ED: The most important thing for me is to know that I represent kindness. I'm glad I'm funny. I'm glad I make people happy, because that's very important. But I'm proud to be known as a kind person. You listen to any monologue on late-night TV or just in general, to people talking, and there's always a joke at someone's expense. It's sarcasm; it's nasty.  
Kids grow up hearing that, and they think that's what humor is, and they think it's OK. But that negativity permeates the entire planet. I think that's where bullying comes from. I mean, I grew up watching Dick Van Dyke and Lucille Ball, and they were nothing but sweet and funny. It wasn't "negative comment, negative comment, laugh track." So I'm really proud I'm not adding to the negativity. I'm proud that for the hour my show is on television, I'm not being mean, and I'm hopefully helping one other person go, I'm going to be kind. Because then it all just kind of spreads, and the world is a little nicer out there.
Besides being kind and encouraging, she is also smart, optimistic, and hard-working. Here are some of her most inspiring pieces of advice. . .

From Ms. Career Girl (who also posted advice from three other successful women):

"Though you feel like you're not where you're supposed to be, you shouldn't worry because the next turn you take, it will lead you to where you want to go." 
--Ellen DeGeneres
Or maybe the next few turns, since Ellen has worked as an oyster shucker, house painter, bartender, waitress, and vacuum cleaner salesperson. But the point is, eventually she got to where she meant to be going, and it was probably in part because of the next quote.

"Follow your own path, not someone else's."  
--Ellen DeGeneres 
 Usually I'm not someone who cares about others' opinions or who feels the need to follow, but I do tend to worry that I don't have the same career path as someone in the business that I admire. Not always sure what or how I should be doing things, I try follow the steps of people who have gone before me. But Ellen is right -- everyone has their own path: how many other comedians and talk show hosts have both shucked oysters and sold vacuums? While you can use a role model for ideas or guidance, taking a different road doesn't mean that you won't be successful. Career Hub blog has some more great pieces of advice from Ellen.

Friday, April 19, 2013

How do you deal with fear of failure?

Paul Agone of All Grown Up wrote a fun guest post this week for another favorite blog of mine, Life After College: 7 Strategic Ways to Un-Succeed. He listed one of the "strategies" that I have the most trouble with.

6. Never Fail

If you’re failing, you’re trying way too hard. If you’re committed to Almost-Success than you should have numerous instances of Almost-Failure as well. You can’t have one without the other.
This is so true.

I worry about failing a lot. What if I lose the job? What if they don't call me back to work here again? What if I develop an unprofessional reputation? What if I get a bad reference?

You have to fail in order to get anywhere. I know that failure must happen before success. I remind myself of this over and over, but still have trouble taking risks. Just because I know failure is okay and necessary doesn't mean that I feel that way.

Does anybody have any special tips on how to psyche yourself out of avoiding failure?



Friday, April 12, 2013

Is Majoring in Science More Practical Than Majoring in Art?

The simple answer is yes, but the world isn't a simple place, so: it depends.

I majored in Creative Writing as an undergrad and couldn't find a job afterwards that would let me pay the rent.

"Well," most people would say, "Duh."

And many of them certainly have.

But what if I had majored in medicine or science or computers or business? Not only am I disiniterested, but they do not employ my strengths as a person. Yes, computers and medicine are where some of the best jobs are right now, but would you want a slow computer repairman? Would you want a nurse who got nervous around needles and blood and open wounds?

In college I carpooled with a guy who liked writing but majored in business. He complained about his business classes all the time, and I always wondered if he was going to complain about having a business as much as he was complaining about learning about business.

So what other major options are there, besides history, philosophy, art, or political science -- all of which are as useless or almost as useless as creative writing? Though Penelope Trunk and I may disagree a bit here on doing what you love, we come up with a similar conclusion.

What I wish I had figured out is how to take what I'm good at (reading, writing, humanities/arts) and choose a major that was related to that but would be more useful in the job market -- like public relations. I have not always wanted to be a PR rep, but PR reps still write and talk to people. The position employs skills that are similar to those needed by journalists, writers, and professors. Working for a PR firm may not be my dream job, but it's something that I would enjoy and be good at.

That's my suggestion -- don't go into a field that you aren't interested in, that you're not good at, just because you can't make a living painting. Do major in what you love. Then maybe try finding an alternate job or career that uses those talents that you enjoy using.

Update: Liberal Arts Graduates Create Careers.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Front-page news!

The last month has been pretty busy with school, interning, and now -- stringing for The Valley Chronicle!

Each week I compile the crime report at the Hemet and San Jacinto Police Stations. There is a lot more crime in this area than you might think -- it takes me several hours to write it up and format it for the editor.

Additionally, each week I get to write one other story for the paper. In December, I covered a dance concert, a Christmas play, new library technology, and a police department volunteer. My latest story is on two kidnappings that occurred in Hemet in the same week. It made the headline for this week's paper!