Murderous Anticipation.

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I have been applying to so many jobs in the last ten months that I actually forget about a lot of them. I do write down all the places I applied to and the position and what site I used. But they cease to stick in the forefront of my mind anymore unless, and until, I get the seemingly inevitable “We appreciate your interest in the position but at this time bla bla bla you suck bla bla…” email. Recently, though, I sent in my resume and a writing sample to be considered for a blogging internship with the NGO, The Borgen Project.

Blogging? Talk about a dream come true! Plus, writing for a great organization that works with politicians to end extreme global poverty? Hell yes. My levels of anticipation have been mounting for days.

I actually got an email back from them at the end of last week informing me that they liked what I sent and that I had been moved forward to the second stage of the hiring process! Yes! All I had to do was write a 400-500 word article on one of two topics and send it on in with a good title and sources, and if that was a success there would be a phone interview.

So I sat down and researched my topic, how ending global poverty could benefit the United States, for a few hours. After studiously taking notes and making references to quotes and data, it was time.

Can I just say that going from writing academic papers for Literature (usually 5-10 pages) to writing personal blog content (whatever feels like a good length without too much rambling) to trying to write a 400-500 word blog that is essentially a news article is…super damn complicated. Basically I had to write out the whole thing and then spend two hours tweaking and deleting and rewording before I had something informative that came in at just 487 words.

After hours of editing I finally realized that I was no longer getting anywhere and that it was what it was going to be and just went ahead and smashed my hand down on the mouse to send it. What a relief!

Psh. Nope. I proceeded to agonize over it endlessly and get no sleep. Then worried about it all day. Actually, for the last three days I’ve been checking my email every couple of hours, holding my breath, and then furrowing my brows when I realized there was nothing there. There has been a constant battle in my head about “Well not hearing anything right away is a good sign” and “Seriously? Why did I even try, I fail. Wahhhhhhhh”

Today at work, though, I pulled out my phone to figure out how to spell some complicated flower name so I could put it on a chalkboard sign (oh, working floral) and out of habit I checked my email.

Re: Blogger Internship

The conversation in my Gmail between HR and myself was all bold and highlighted, signifying that an email had been sent to me.

There was a moment where I was totally convinced I shouldn’t poke that email until I was off. But I stabbed worry and caution in the face and opened it.

Hi Chelsea,

You passed the writing exam! I would like to set up a phone interview for…

And then I started jumping up and down and flinging my arms about.

What a relief!

PSH!

FryPhone interview means “Lets start frantically researching the organization and reading all their blogs and liking them on Facebook and researching SEO writing and generally panicking and rereading the email.”

I wish I was lying when I said I’m getting a haircut tomorrow. For a phone interview. 

It’s just that this could be a monumental internship for me. I finished my social media marketing internship with Environmental Paper Network in a very anticlimactic fashion last month. And the other marketing and communications internship I started with Out Network is apparently on hold as the founder/my friend/my mentor recently started a new big boy job, went to Maryland to get married, and reenlisted in the Reserves and he has yet to message me back (I’m letting him get to it when he gets to it). Aside from pumping up the volume on my pathetic resume, it will give me something else I need SO desperately. A writing portfolio.

It has been so frustrating to find posts for writing jobs only to read,

Requirements:

  1. ___ years experience
  2. Portfolio of published writing

I mean, technically blogging isn’t really the same as getting published in a newspaper or a magazine or an academic journal. But it’s a start, and the fact that I’d be writing for an organization’s blog and not my own is a plus.

So, here’s to 2013 actually working out and this being what helps me get a real job.

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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.

Volumes of Volunteering

In an attempt to fill my days, pump up the resume, and do some good in the world  I have started looking for some volunteer work. It turns out that Asheville is just teeming with volunteer opportunities.

I did sign up for something called the Book Sorting Bonanza! on September 19th. It’s a 2 hour long event where people get together to sort, organize, and clean out used books. Once that is done, the books are taken to children in need, the homeless, and prisoners. Should be  fun event and it’s  a great cause. If anyone is an advocate for more people reading, it’s me.

I also expressed interest in:

  • Helpmate – Reception
  • Western North Carolina Alliance – Office Support
  • Asheville City Schools Foundation – Education Coach
  • Asheville Greenworks – Office Support
  • YWCA – Clerical
  • The Rathbrun Center – Front Desk
  • Our VOICE – Prevention Education Volunteer
  • Green Opportunities – Office Support
  • Three Streams Family Health Center – Office Support
  • Smith-McDowell House – Museum guide
  • Asheville Art Musuem – Shop and Guest Services

I realize that is a lot to try and do all at once. But these are all “ongoing” opportunities. So I figure the ones that actually need volunteers right away will contact me first. And in this case it’ll be first come first serve.

Some of the things I want to do simply because of personal interest, like the Art Museum and the Smith-McDowell house. I chose Our VOICE because I’m passionate about sexual education and the prevention of sexual crimes. The rest are a combination of interest, passion, and the fact that the present really great opportunities for job related experience.

The more I can prove myself now, the better my chances are at getting a decent job later down the road.

Plus, I have always really wanted to spend more time volunteering, but have found it to be difficult with my insane work schedule and constantly changing availability.

I really think this should a good time for me.

Resume with the Resume`

ImageI’ve been fiddling with my resume for a few weeks now. Good thing, too, considering my situation.

But I’ve been trying to decide whether I prefer to submit an application or a resume. Both are kind of a pain in the butt. But this is how I see it:

Application:

  • Can submit it online – Pro
  • Just have to fill in fields – Pro
  • Already asks the questions company wants answered – Pro
  • Impersonal – Con
  • Many applications come with “personality assessments” – Con

Resume

  • Can submit online or in person – Pro
  • Have to create from scratch – Con
  • No personality assessment – Pro
  • Personalized – Pro
  • Professional – Pro
  • Might not answer all of company’s questions

They are pretty equal for the most part. But that personality assessment is a huge loss for traditional applications. They’re the most absurd thing. And the questions they ask are kind of insane. For instance:

Many years ago, I was applying for a cashier position and had to take one of those tests. One of the questions actually asked if I used methamphetamine. Yes, because crystal meth addicts frequently tell strangers about their drug use. One question even said “If you were alone in an office and there was a nice pen on the desk, would you steal it?” How stupid would you have to be to say “Yes, I would”?

And when my boyfriend was applying for a promotion recently they asked “Do you ever think about being a super hero?” What could that have to do with a management position? Apparently day dreams about fighting crime = middle management material.

But, in the defense of applications, writing your own resume can be rather daunting. You basically have to sell yourself, and frankly I’m not very good at that. It’s a very delicate balance between humility and explaining how fantastic you are. Plus, you really have no idea if you’ve sold yourself appropriately. I’ve been working on mine for years and while I think it’s fine, I haven’t exactly had people calling non-stop to give me a fabulous job.

In the end I have to go with the resume. It just looks more professional at the end of the day. I’ll just have to keep trying. If you need help with your resume I had some luck with these.

http://www.livecareer.com/resume-builder

http://www.resumebuilderonline.org

Happy hunting.