A Quandary.

So I have this interview tomorrow. But I’m unsure of what I want to do. See it’s this marketing internship with a well-known and respected IT company. $12 an hour and 40 hours a week. Pretty sweet deal, right?

But, here’s the kicker. It’s only 60 days. At the end of the period there’s a review. If I’m doing really well and there’s a job opening they’ll give me a job. A real, business, marketing fucking job. If I do horribly, they’ll just terminate the whole thing. If I do really well and there is not a job opening…I don’t get a job…

So I realize that the only way to succeed in life is to take chances and make waves and all that. But I also realize that there are these very real things called bills. And I have quite a lot of them. And if I don’t have a job at the end of 2 months, then I don’t have a way to pay my bills. I also forfeit the raise I’m about to get at my current job, dental insurance I’m getting, and quite probably my full-time standing. I can’t take a leave of absence because I have only been there a year. My coworkers have informed me that if I leave on a good note I can get my job back in 2 months if things with this other company don’t work out. And judging by the amount of people I know there who have left and come back repeatedly, I know this to be true. Mostly. What I don’t know is that my specific job will still be there. The job as the only actual full-time cashier/respected department floater who has been depended upon for the last week to run a department while the department head was working at another store. So I could come back, lose any and all benefits, and only be working 15 hours a week. Do you see the issue?

My mother does not see the issue. She’s says to go for it. And I understand where she is coming from. But, my mother and I have always differed in the way we think about the future. As well as money. I like to know that I can pay my bills and eat my food and be what I consider to be a contributing member of the household and not a total drain on my wonderful boyfriend’s money. She responds to this with “Well, just get a different job.” Yes. Because that’s been going so well for me thus far. I actually have amazing jobs thrown at my head every day, I just find the joys of working at a service job even though I have a degree to be really rewarding… I get that too I guess. As a woman who hasn’t worked for “the man” since about 1982 when she and my dad went into business for themselves and who is currently a real estate agent who, while she works at Century 21 and technically has a boss, still essentially works for herself, she might not have the best idea of getting a job these days. Frankly getting a job in the 70’s when having a 4 year degree was still impressive and the population was a lot lower and so was the cost of living (and hitchhiking across the country was still considered relatively safe) was a bit of a different experience. I try to explain that “just getting a new job” really doesn’t exist anymore. As I ‘ve discussed I’m over qualified for a lot of things and under qualified for the rest. It becomes a matter of finding someone who is either willing to hire me even though I have too much education and experience or hire me even though I don’t have enough. Quite the gamble.

It seems like settling to stay at a job where I make just enough to get by and that is not a career. But it seems silly, also, to take a chance on something like this without the guarantee of a career. If I was still a college student, this would be a no brainer. If I was younger and still having things like my car and health insurance as well as my cell phone paid by my parents, this would be a no brainer. But as an almost 26 year old entirely on my own with an all too familiar understanding of what happens when you don’t give companies the money you owe them, I’m unsure. I guess if I take it, don’t get the job, and can’t go back to the one I have now I could go back to writing about the woes of being totally unemployed. Without the benefits of receiving unemployment…

Thoughts?

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Ghost Firing.

So this was too funny. I know it has been a thousand years since I wrote. Or a month, really, but mess has been nuts. This incident prompted me to write, though.

I accidentally fired a former employee of mine today.

I was sitting at the bar in my boyfriend’s place of work and decided to text my old coworker/sort of boss to see if he wanted to hang out. He told me that he was working a double because he firedone of the other people. Well I am friends with this guy and I was concerned, so I texted him and it went a lot like this:

“I heard you were fired, I’m sorry!”
“What?””Chris told me you were fired!”
“Well he should call me because he hasn’t told me anything.”
“Oh..”

Opps! So I had to text Chris and ask why he didn’t tell Coburn because I totally just did and therefore I technically fired him…

It’s about to get a little rough for my friend Chris since he’s going to have to tell his boss what happened and he could either be like “whatever” or like “RAHHH WHY DID BLABLABLA.” Knowing my former boss, my bet is on the second reaction. Glad to be starting the new year right! Four months away from the place and I’m still running it.

She Works Hard for the Money

Well. The day has come. I have been offered a job. I really cannot decide how I feel about the whole situation. Part of me is relieved that I’ll have an income again. Part of me is disappointed that I am taking another service industry job. Granted, as far as being a cashier, there are worse places to work.

It’s at a  brand of super nice grocery store. The atmosphere is much better than your usual fluorescent, over-crowded, 80’s hits playing store. They offer all the usual stuff like produce, meat, fish, dairy, dry goods, etc. But they also have an amazing prepared food area with organic meals and classy looking little desserts. A wider variety of food options and better quality looking food overall. The focus is more on the experience and what they offer than on cramming as much GMO crap into one space as possible. There are lots of organic, vegan, whole food options all set out in a quaint looking little store with soft lighting and friendly people.

So I could do worse. When I think about the idea of working in another grocery store like the one I had my first job at, I cringe (like I mentioned in this post)

The screaming kids and angry customers with fake coupons wanting their money back…ick.

The pay is…eh… much better than what I was getting as a cashier before. Not actually enough to continue living the way that I was, but better than minimum wage. There’s a review after 90 days and the possibility of a raise. So that’s nice.
And they promised full-time. So I kind of had to take it. Who am I to turn down the offer of full-time work that pays above the minimum wage? So many people are out there, in worse situations than I am, looking for work just like I am. Am I to decide that I am ultimately better than they are? Am I too good to work as a cashier? No. I did go to college and get the degree and gain tons of debt. But that doesn’t mean I’m a better person or a better employee than the other people with the same education, more education, or even less education. Turning down this job after over a month of trying, putting in over 50 applications, and literally no other viable opportunities just seemed… self-righteous and a little silly.

This also ran through my mind: What if I don’t get another chance at work for another month? Or two? Or three? Am I really going to live off of $244 a week from unemployment for several months? Plus, the longer you are out of work  the worse it starts to look to future employers. They start asking for explanations. So what do I tell them? That I was offered full time work and turned it down because I thought I could do better? If the next job offer is another service job that probably wouldn’t go over so well.

Sometimes, in this life, we all have to accept what we are given and then do everything we can to try and improve our own situations, as well as the situations of those around us. That’s why I’m still very interested in volunteer work while I have this job. Fitting it in could prove to be much more difficult, of course. But it’s something I’d still like to attempt.

So, what do you guys feel about this? I’m truly curious. Did I make the good choice? Should I try to back out while I still can (I have a pretty good excuse. My boyfriend and I are sharing one car because his is no longer okay to drive)?  A friend of mine works there and it literally took her 2 years to get moved up just one position…so it doesn’t look like there are too many opportunities to move up in a reasonable amount of time. Do you think that going from management to peon will look bad on my resume? Let me know! I could really use some feedback.

Worse for Work

So there may be an opportunity on my horizon. My old boss, Chris, has a wife who works at Ingles (grocery store for those of you in other parts). She talked to her boss about me and I am going to go in and talk to her on Monday. I am deeply appreciative of the opportunity. I need a job and I need money. The money I have saved up in my bank account will only get me so far.

Not to mention my overwhelming boredom, the failure of the YWCA to return my attempts to contact them about my volunteer application, and the tension that can rise between my boyfriend and I about the fact that I have been out of work a month tomorrow. A whole month! Ugh!

And while I am thankful for the chance to possibly get a job. I am wary of working at a grocery store again. My first job was at a Food Lion 9 years ago. And it was mostly a fiasco. It does not help that my manager was kind of nuts or that the store was located just off of an island and completely slammed all the time. People could be rude or on drugs (seriously) or stealing or trying to scam you. If your drawer wasn’t right you were shouted at and accused of stealing. Maybe I just had a bad first experience and I’m a bit gun shy now…

I also remember next to nothing about the job. I mean…take the thing, run it across the scanner, someone bags it, take money. But there’s the whole WIC, food stamps, checks, cashier’s checks, traveler’s checks, and all that to deal with. I’d have to get back into the swing of remembering all that. Although if I just shove all the old and useless ice cream information out of my mind I will probably have room for it. And it might be easier with the newer cash registers. When I was working at a grocery store we were using the older technology. No touch screens or anything like that.

Then there’s this, here. Anna Sam is an inspiration! And I have such a similar story. I took that job at the ice cream store to make money while I studied literature and then just sort of got stuck doing it. Of course at the end of working at the grocery store, she has a best-selling book. Whereas, I’m jobless and considering taking over her old job as a grocery store check out girl… She gives me hope. But mostly a sense of dread. Especially because I’ve lived those customer service stories so many times before. Women chucking money in your face because they don’t get free things on their birthday. Men having their 6 year old daughter call and cuss you out because the product you sell is too expensive even though you’re just a peon in a corporation that decides how much money you have to make for themevery year… I was really hoping to move away from that sort of thing by this point in my life…

I also sort of feel bad because the second I could get something better I would be out of there. That could be a week and it could be two years. Who knows? I know it was annoying when I was managing when I would ask a potential new hire how long they wanted to stay only to be let down. Of course the person would always respond with “Oh, at least a year!” and then a month and a half later out the door they went. It was annoying because training costs a lot of money. Someone, usually some sort of manager unless you have certified trainers, has to take the time to train the person for a few days up to a week. And while they are doing that the business has to put someone else on the schedule to cover the job that person would normally be doing. Then, on top of all that, training is paid these days. So you’re basically paying three people to help the same amount of customers one person would help. To have that person you just trained walk out is a total loss of money and time.

I’m sure it is silly to feel bad about that. A job is a job and money is money.  They can always hire someone else. I think it mostly stems from the fact that I am getting a recommendation. I feel like that sort of puts even more pressure on me to do well. Or not screw them over, regardless of how good my reason for doing so is. My success and actions would reflect on me, but also on this other person.

It would be minimum wage, probably part time work no way related to what I want to do with my life. It’s depressing that money is so important that we end up doing something we don’t like or even hate just to get things we need to exist until we retire. Or die.

Yes, it is better than what a lot of people have in the world. A friend of mine was telling me how she has a number of homeless children in her class. How horrible! Kids living in shelters and hotels with their mothers, still trying to go to school so they can hopefully do better for themselves. But that’s my point. Jobs don’t just get thrust at you. There is always competition. Always someone better or cheaper to hire in your place. So when anything at all comes along we have to launch ourselves at it and hold on for dear life, no matter what it is. Just to survive.

If I could figure out a way to live a self-sustaining lifestyle with some like minded neighbors that would be amazing. We could all grow and raise different things. And trade for what we need… right…. let me use my several million dollars to buy acres of land, the crops, animals, machines, buildings, and materials necessary… In the mean time I would really just appreciate the chance to prove myself in the field of my choosing so I can maybe enjoy my life’s work as opposed to dreading my waking hours.

This post has taken a slightly morbid turn. It has just made me think about how silly life can be. When we are kids we are told to do what makes us happiest and reach for the stars and we will succeed no matter what. And here we are.

It’s exciting to have the possibility of work so close to my grasp. No need to turn your nose up at any sort of job when you’re getting desperate for money. Yet I can’t help feeling that I am taking a few steps back at the same time.

Letters to Live By

I was considering recently that the art of letter writing is absolutely lost to us. I remember that as little as 10 years ago I still held actual letter correspondences. And the act of really taking the time to write about my life and my feelings and inquiring into the well being of others was relaxing. The anticipation of a return and finally having the product in my hand to read and laugh over was delightful. It seemed that the person cared because they took the time to craft something personal.

I was listening to the John Tesh radio show the other day and he mentioned how the stationary business is suddenly booming because people are starting to realize that writing letters was awesome. Emails come off as distant and all the romance is completely removed.

There’s something sweet and romantic about a shoe box full of old letters. Yellowing and cracking with age. The ink slowly disappearing. It really symbolizes Time and all the affects it has on our lives. As a grandmother it’s nicer to look through old letters, smelling the hint of past lives on the fragile paper than it is to boot up the old laptop and search through your archived Gmail messages.

When soldiers were off at war so many years ago they received hand written discourse from their mothers and girlfriends. Sadly some of those were Dear John letters. But that, to me, would probably be better than a Dear John email with a bunch of winky faces or sad faces stuck in. Granted email makes it easier to stay in touch with pictures and videos. You can Skype and all that to have real time interaction with your loved ones.

Emails serve their purpose in the business world and for super long distance conversations. But I would still rather receive a birthday card and letter as opposed to some animated singing thing through the internet.

It is because of this that when a good friend of mine told me that she was going to start writing me letters and that we would have a Fitzgerald – Hemingway letter correspondence I immediately agreed. Not just because of my (and her own ) literary background. And not just because I consider Fitzgerald to be an absolutely brilliant writer. But because I wanted that experience for my life. I want the shoebox in the closet. I want the chance to receive real letters and the cathartic act of writing my own letters.

Plus, as she mentioned, when we are older (and clearly brilliantly famous) we can put them all together and make them into a book. How beautiful!

Most certainly an admirable way for me to spend some of my excess time.

Publishing Powers

Sounds about right…

Aside from writing super interesting blogs, I like to write creative non-fiction and poetry. I know there are other people like me. I also know that they are generally just as screwed as I am. As grand as it would be to sit at a typewriter by a window all day pounding out glorious poems and witty self-autobiographical pieces, it would also be rather depressing. Because the typewriter would be in the box I would be living in and the window would be a jagged bit of cardboard I ripped out.

Regardless, there are still people out there, like myself, who would like to get their name and their writing out there. To leave an imprint. To add to the beauty, the magic, and the understanding of the world around us.

It is almost impossible to just write a book of poems or essays or fiction and have the money just roll right in. It certainly does seem to happen. Look at Stephanie Myers and her mediocre  tale of forbidden love. Or J.K Rowling and her fantastic stories about friendship, bravery, and strength.  Neither woman could have known their books would explode in popularity the way that they did. And yet, with some gumption and luck it happened for them.

So, how can you get started down the road of published writing?

  • Write, duh! Really write, though.
  • Join a site like Writer’s Digest
  • Search out contests
  • But a Writer’s Market book
  • Submit, submit, submit, and (yeah) submit to publications.

I personally have joined Writer’s Digest. Partially because they have some great contests. And partially because they send out pretty good advice. They also have workshops and great deals on materials for getting published. You don’t necessarily have to go the same route. But it might be a good idea to look into a similar site.

One of the best ways to find good contests and publications that are  geared towards your writing and interests is to get one of the Writer’s Market books. They have a general one, but there are also Poetry, Fiction, and Non-Fiction Market books available. They detail the best ways to get yourself noticed in the writing world. They also provide a very in depth directory of all the publications and national contests in the country. This includes what type of writing they take, the cost of entering, the dates of acceptance or contests, and how difficult it is to get in or win.

This book has provided me with a wealth of information. I’m sure that there are other books similar to it. And even websites. But I’m not sure they are as comprehensive as I haven’t looked into them myself.

And once you find the contests and publications you want to submit to…do it! Write until your brain falls out. And your fingers cramp. Write and edit and write some more, until you have some pieces you are truly happy with. Write a good cover letter, put together a good portfolio, and do whatever you can to stand out in a sea of jumbled letters and similar entrants.

If you get rejected, just realize that you always have the chance to try again. And pretty much all writers get rejected repeatedly before they get the chance to shine. So keep your head up. And remember that I’m out there too, toiling along with you.

Freelance Fancies?

This is how freelance writers spend their time, right?

One of the things that has crossed my mind, as I’m sure is has for most people in my field, is the idea of freelance writing. And why not? When you can make upwards of $1 per word/$100 an article/$50 an hour from major clients. You have your own schedule, mostly, and can even do it from home in a lot of cases. What’s not to like?

Well, for starters, it’s a business that’s saturated at the moment. In 2006 there were a reported 135,000 freelance writers. Six years later, what do you think will have happened to that number? This can be discouraging for the blossoming writer. It can really seem like it’s impossible to be noticed out of hundreds of thousands of people.

To make things worse, because there are so many writers,  you have to be great. I mean really great. You have to be an excellent, fluid writer with the balls the size of a bull and an aggressive personality that still seems employable. I mean, you don’t actually want to come off as a jerk. Just like you have the propensity for it. Of course, if you’re content with snagging a low-profile job every so often to supplement your income, then mediocrity is perfectly acceptable. If you want to score that job writing for Oprah.com I saw posted today…well…you better be just fabulous.

So how do you even get started?

  • Have a very nice, tailored resume.
  • Have a writing portfolio to show off your work
  • References are a plus
  • Relevant education
  • Relevant experience
  • Specialty
  • Huge balls as mentioned previously

I think the most serious factor in preventing me from attempting it at all is the fact that you can’t really say that I have a portfolio. I have the resume. I have my degree. I have a small amount of copy writing experience. I have a professor as a reference.  I haven’t really chosen a specialty, but a considering copy writing/grant writing/technical writing/online writing courses. I just don’t really have the portfolio. I mentioned yesterday that I have my coursework, all of it, from college. Saved all my papers. But emailing my college essays and research papers and critical analyses to Oprah (or rather, the person who runs her website) is nauseating. Not that they’re bad or anything. I just really doubt the webzine/website/magazine editors of the world want to read about various motifs  present in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. And, while a piece of that nature would show off my grammar and writing style, it would hardly make anyone go “Oh yes, she’s just perfect for the job writing about weight loss.”

So what in the world do I do? Should I just pick random topics, write about them, and send those in? Hope I find a place that doesn’t require you to send a portfolio (ha!)? Or just mope?