Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Good News: Going from UNemployed to UNDERemployed

I'll be honest, the writing isn't going as well as I hoped. I'm having that same problem I had writing my diss: I need to know everything before I write it but once I know everything, I know how it ends and don't feel like writing it any more. I'm just hanging on to Chuck Wendig's advice to writers: "Finish your shit."

On to more interesting news. I have an offer for a part time job. It's a part-time, as-needed admin gig for Boyfriend's company. There are no benefits but the pay is the same as my GradU paid for anatomy TAs, which is noticeably above minimum wage. If I can get an average of 3 days of work a week, I'll be able to pay the bills. Not ideal but it gives me a chance to make some money and prove that I can work outside academia and have useful skills.

For those wondering how this happened, given my utter lack of interviews, here's the story. Boyfriend (BF) invited me to his interview with the owner of the company (owner okay'd this). I haven't seen Owner since but I guess I made a good impression. A few weeks back, BF and Owner were traveling between job sites and my lack of luck in finding employment came up. Owner mentioned that they needed a fill-in admin to cover for people who were sick, on vacation, etc. BF mentioned this possibility to me. I sent an email to Owner that I was interested. HR person suggested I shadow one of the admins to see if it was something I'd be willing to do. I was but did the shadowing thing anyway. It went well, so I said I'd be willing to do the job. I start training tomorrow. No application. No resume. No cover letter. Just network of people.

Side note: the shadowing day also gave me the dubious opportunity to discover that most of my pants do not fit. I can get them over my rather generous derriere and even button them. However, I max out the stretch around my thighs - not a very professional look (though I suppose that depends on one's profession). This led me to two realizations: 1) skirts are much more forgiving on thighs and I'm thankful I own several and 2) pants meant for skinny 20-somethings need to give way to adult clothes for women with curves at some point. In my case, that point was clearly about two months ago. On the upside, those curves look damn good in a pencil skirt. Makes me glad I bought all those business clothes when I was in academia - may have overdressed then, look pretty darn good now. See, the universe can be forgiving of your fashion choices.

I'll post an update about this new life soon. Good luck to y'all in your job hunting and turkey day prepping (would that be a food channel version of "Doomsday Preppers"?).

Friday, November 2, 2012

I am not my degree & NaNoWriMo begins

I got my degree in the mail yesterday. The actual piece of paper. It was in a giant cardboard envelope. I made a crack about the size of the degree being equivalent to how much it costs. I didn't open the envelope though. Not right away. It sat in its giant cardboard envelope on the chair in my work room, surrounded by necklace pendants and buttons for a steampunk costume I still need to finish. I left it there. In the dark. All day.

The day before, we had gotten a notice in the mailbox that there was a package for us at the apartment office. So yesterday, I went to pick it up while he was out. It was the giant cardboard envelope from GradU. I knew what it was. I didn't need to open it to be sure and I completely forgot about it until Boyfriend came home. He asked about the package. Then he was kind of surprised I hadn't opened it yet.

Let me offer some explanation why that envelope sat in the dark. I am not proud of my degree. I don't go around asking people to call me "Doctor." I actually avoid putting that suffix into my applications (it is on my resume). I am happy I finished. I don't regret doing it. However, it was just a thing I did, not who I am.

Yes, I know not everyone can do it (though I think more can than actually do) and that it is an accomplishment. But that's all it is. It's a thing I did. I know for people who stay in the Ivory Tower, this degree and the ensuing profession becomes a nearly all-consuming identity for them. And if that's what they want, kudos to them.

It's not me. It wasn't when I was in grad school. I remember other things I did before going to grad school. I remembered I wasn't always in grad school. That I was more than my education. It's helped on this transition out of academia.

The aggravating thing is, I think that's all people see in my resume. They see my degree and assume that I am only my degree, and whatever stereotype they have attached to that identity. I know the psychology behind this - that it's kind of a short-hand our brains do so that we can function at the pace of society. That doesn't make it any less annoying. For that matter, I know the degree intimidates people. If my degree intimidates you, I don't want to work for you. People should never fear a piece of paper or three letters.

So where does that leave me in the job hunting process? I've narrowed down the types of positions I'm applying for. I can't get traction on admin jobs around here. There's too many people with the specific experience they want around here. I'm focusing on data analyst jobs. These are usually considered management positions where you help the company figure out how it's doing and how to be more efficient. I seem to be having slightly better luck with these, or at least more interesting rejection letters.

Also, it is November and National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. So, I'm focusing on getting a novel written in my down time. The premise of this particular story (yeah, I've got a few percolating) is that the crazy people take over the government and convince people that they can prove there is a grand plan to the universe and that they can tell when you've served your part in that plan. It's a dystopic novel where religious views are used as a political weapon to get rid of the unwanted and political enemies. Once you're declared "Irrelevant" by the government, you get chucked into a Reserve where you're cut off from all government support and the ones you love. The main character gets thrown in since she cannot find a job and is unmarried. She loses everything and all her accomplishments mean nothing in the Reserve and she has to decide what to do next. [For some background: the Reserve has been operating for a few years at this point. People who came before her have created new economies, new cities, and new towns. New societies have sprung up there. Old friends and enemies are here. She is not alone. Oh, and the government is considering euthanizing these people to free up resources for "Relevant" people.]

Out of curiosity, what would you do if you lost it all and were thrown into the Reserve? What would you pay for whatever dreams you have left? Would you find something new to fight for?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Interesting question for the interwebs

I recently received an email for a work-from-home job opportunity. It sounded interesting but the actual business name was not given. I sent back an email saying I was interested in the job. I received an email in reply. Here's what followed:

The email initially reads very legitimate. It offers a salary that was on the low end for the job but was in a normal range. The benefits were pretty typical. Even the bonuses sound normal. It offers partnerships for small and medium business owners. Job responsibilities were listed that were entirely reasonable. Sounds too good to be true right?

Cue alarm bells.
  • The email was in my spam folder, not the inbox.
  • The email was addressed as "Dear Job Seeker." If you're hiring me, use my name.
  • The email claimed the company did social media/web design/digital marketing, yet the company could not be googled. If that's what you do, even if you are legitimate, you're not very good at your job.
  • The company website was far too generic for a web design firm.
  • I did a View Source on the website. It's a wordpress.com site, not a standalone .com
  • The text of the website is just a little awkward, suggesting that whoever put it together was not a native English speaker.
  • The email said the company was five years old but the website had no testimonials from past clients or any designs in their portfolio from those clients
  • I was now very suspicious. The company claims to be based in Houston, TX. The address does exist on Google Maps, so I called the Texas Secretary of State. The business has not filed any paperwork. No tax ID. Nothing.
So, here's my question: should I simply ignore this email or send back an email asking why a social media company has no paperwork and cannot be googled? What do you think interweb wanderers? What would you do?

I am also going to admit to a bit of naivete here and say that I have sent them my resume. It only contains basic contact info so is not a terrible inconvenience for me. Just an FYI for the rest of you NOT to do that.