Thursday, September 10, 2015

Dammit Jim, I Want a Career, Not a Job!

September 10th, 2015

Don't know what's new to tell you except that my application game is strong. As in I am sending out a lot of applications, but it's more of the same "You'll here from us, or you won't".

I have been training in my new job as assistant editor for Theology Today, and I'm making an excursion into the city next week. Partly to meet with contacts, but also because my brother just moved into a new apartment and a good friend of mine started grad-school and it'll be good to see them.

There's only so much socializing with my cat and computer screen before I need to go out into the world and do something else.

One outing in particular lead to a conversation with a similarly starving artist about how his parents rave about how "kids today just think they can do anything they want!"

The conclusion is that, yes, because YOU TOLD US WE COULD. If we go to college, we can do whatever we want in the world--or at least that's how it seemed to be 30 years ago.

My friend said, "I'm looking for a career, not a job." He's older than me, and since that speaks to me on such a personal level, I can imagine how it might be for him.

The threat if we didn't go to college was that we'd end up flipping burgers. Well, burger flippers are the ones with the HELP WANTED signs when we don't have 3-5 years experience for an entry level job in the field in which we want to work.

This is the lament of the millennial: the generation given the participation awards. And we are still participating, because all that's left is to keep trying.

It's not a bad place to be, but it's limbo enough to be disappointing after a while.

Keep your mind occupied. Part time jobs, applications, cooking, exercising, reading-- I'm working on getting back to that. I'm writing notes on the book of Exodus for a women of the bible study group I'm in. I've picked up Kameron Hurley's Mirror Empire. I want to brainstorm ideas for NaNoWriMo this year.

What will you do to engage your mind?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wow, Such Jobs!

August 21, 2015

In the past two weeks I've sent out about twenty resumes. I thought I was doing pretty well, but then my parents sit me down (because I still live with them for now, no shame) and my mom says "Your goal should be to send out about 100 applications by the end of the month."

O ________ O

Well then.

At least I sifted through 50+ this week. Does that count? 

I stand by what I'd said before about sending out between five and ten applications a week, but the truth is that sometimes, you can send out 200 applications and maybe hear back from three places. At my mom's suggestion, that means in two months I'll hear from three people. At my actual speed, and it's been a good month, I'll hear back from three people in five months. 

Of course, that's also like saying you can flip a coin and get tails half the time, and heads half the time, as opposed to having a fifty-fifty chance. 

But you know what? My glass is at least 1.5% full. I've been home since December, and yeah I've infrequently cranked out 40+ resumes in a month, but my three places in 200 applications is due. 

And it's taken this long to get my first ever rejection letter! YES. Why is that exciting? Closure. Most places these days say something along the lines of:
"Due to the number of applicants, understand that we can only reach out to desired candidates..."
Translation: You'll either hear from us, or you won't.

 I get why it happens, but it's frustrating, too. Sometimes you don't know if they're still figuring it out, or if they've dropped your resume in the recycling already. After a month, they've probably found whomever they're going to hire.

But little bits of help come along the way. I did get a part time position as an assistant editor on a magazine that only requires five hours a week.

I'm still waiting on something full time, but while I'm waiting for my three people in two hundred, I'm doing okay.

Monday, August 10, 2015

76 Utilikilts

August 10, 2015

A week back from GenCon 2015, and swag bags of games and gadgets are all unpacked and ready to play.

From day one of the con, my boyfriend and I decided to take a tally for every utilikilt seen--not including the table where they were being sold.

76 Utilitkilts

Now what is that? It's basically a kilt and some cargo pants had a drunken one-night stand. The fact that there were 76 seen that week is entertaining to me, because it reminds me of the "Seventy-Six Trombones" song from the Music Man. A con man trying to promote a flashy idea to an unsuspecting town, the splendor of a marching band! Well, we're all at a con, so does that sort of make us con-men? (and women). There is a lot of splendor and pizzazz, and you really do get caught up in the moment before you realize. So instead of humming "seventy-six trombones led the big parade," it goes a little more like "seventy-six u-til-i-kilts at Gen-Con!" give or take some properly stressed/unstressed syllables. And I would doubt very seriously there weren't any Marian the Librarians there--nerds love their books!

It's weird I was only at the con a week ago. There were over 60,000 people in attendance, I'd be comfortable saying that about a third of them dressed up--my favorite cosplays were the Disney Heroine Ghost Busters:

Tinkerbell and Meg bustin' ghosts

The whole city gets psyched for this event--restaurants had signs in the window welcoming the nerds of the world, and comic themed paintings were hung on the walls of establishments, onomatopoeia decals everywhere--it was amazing! So much energy, and the overall body odor of that many people (some of whom unfortunately fit the stereotype of the Slimer-physique and who do not bathe as regularly as one should) wasn't really as bad as I'd been prepared for. 

Oh, right! The games. The main point of GenCon. Yeah, we totally played some games! The gamer hall was sometimes overwhelming, that's where you could test out some table top games for free or purchase them at booths, or just hunt for the nerdy "stuff" that become collectors items or cosplay pieces. My boyfriend and I ordered some tickets to play some other games not on the market yet, too, and my favorite out of those was hands down 1879. 

1879 is a steampunk London, with some mythical creatures thrown in like trolls and elves. Steampunk is a style of gears, steam powered gadgets, and Victorians. It's based a lot around a DIY culture and the romanticism associated with the age of invention and corsets. 

I got to play a "fiddler," and my newbie mistake was that was not the equivalent of a bard in a D&D game, but is the old London slang for a con-artist. 

Still extremely fun, fiddle or no fiddle, when my character ran into a mob pointing rifles at her and I got to say: "Move, there's a grenade," and the mob dives out of her way, letting her escape. See, while her combat skills were not so great, she gives off a great air of sincerity, even when the "grenade" is a police club. Sorry, bobby club. Also there are characters that can make steampunk gadgets that work the same as defense spells, so that's brilliant.

This RPG doesn't come out until October, but it's definitely on my list. 

There goes my summer break, right? So back to work!

Eight applications sent out this week, and you know, at least a couple of them were to people I met at GenCon. There are a lot of freelance editing opportunities in gaming that I didn't know about until the con. 

The requirements, as I'm told, for getting into the gaming industry for editors are that you must:

1. Be talented.
2. Be on time.
3. Be available.

Great! I have at least TWO of those things! I don't like to brag and say that I'm a triple threat, know. I'm pretty awesome, too. How do I get other people to know that?

There's the question I'm working on. But with eight more applications out this week, that's not a bad start.

And last item for this post, my blogger friend just launched her first eBook, and hired me to edit it for her. 

I'm really proud of this and so glad I had the opportunity to be involved--I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I'd read the ingredients in a soup can if she wrote them--and I think it's got some really helpful materials for people trying to organize their lives. I know I've picked up a tip or two when I read it!

Check it out here!

"Seventy-six u-til-i-kilts at Gen-Con!/With eight app-li-ca-tions sent, a book published..."

And you know, that song is only in Act 1.

Thursday, July 30, 2015


July 30, 2015

Hello everybody! Still applying, still networking, still maintaining my freelance and looking into getting personal business cards for fall...

And you know what else?

This transition period in a person's life means working extra hard getting your name out there. But few people also take advantage of the fact that we are young adults, and some of this "free" time we have from not working full time, while a little frustrating, is also a gift.

Once we do get the full time job we want and/or can temporarily tolerate, you're going to miss having that free time. Don't stop sending in applications, but if you can swing it, go somewhere. Some people can afford a trip out of the country, that's fine, but if you can also just go into the nearest city, go to the beach, visit friends, do that! A little vacation won't hurt especially while you've got the time, because if you don't you'll miss the opportunity.

That's a big concept that people miss. Opportunity doesn't have to be solely about jobs. Sometimes it's there for your mental health as well.

This week, I drove down to DC to visit Captain Cadaver. (Remember her from the NY internship part of the blog? Studied bones, graduated, and now works at a fancy restaurant half a block from her apartment, best friend from home--that's her!)

Not a bad time to be a tourist, though we did get a bit more sun than anticipated. Evidently we were outside during the exact time bracket it was advised people stay inside. Whoops. But worth it.

Also Batmobile lives across the street
from them. Nanananananananana...
 We walked along the monuments, tried some delicious Korean BBQ (my first Korean BBQ, but Cap'n's favorite way to eat!), thereby making use of the calories burned that afternoon.

Another thing I'd wanted to try for a long time, my aunt gave me a kit for molecular gastronomy. Basically, it's the modern art of food science.

Cap'n and I ended up making balsamic pearls on top of a caprese salad.

Agar agar is a substitute gelatin powder (vegan, too, for those who care!), and in the case of the kit came in a little pouch. The powder got dissolved in the balsamic when boiled, then with a syringe, got sucked up and squirted into a chilled glass of oil. Agar agar solidifies at room temperature, which is how the chilled oil immediately made the little pearls of balsamic.

The pearls got rinsed so they wouldn't, I presume, get congealed in a mass of pearls stuck to each other like dough balls on monkey bread, and then spooned and sprinkled over the caprese for a delicious, photogenic, scientific meal!

Next up...GenCon in Indianapolis, IN with the boyfriend. (The overall experience write up expect next week!)

GenCon is basically ComicCon for gaming. You get to listen to the professionals (designers, players, writers, publishers) discuss new releases, how they got their start in the business, and this part is important: how to get your foot in the door.

I am not opposed at all to writing and editing stories and scripts for games. It's a harder niche to get into, but sounds awesome! Interactive storytelling is my jam. Regardless, it supports my personal beliefs in the need for creativity encouraging escapism, not just in adults but in teens.

We will also be playing new RPGs  (Role Playing Games), making foam weapons, and learning how to LARP (Live Action Role Playing; basically playing a character-based board game on a bigger field when you are your character. Best example I can think of, LARPers may disagree, is the difference between Harry and Ron playing little wizard chess versus standing on the big chessboard themselves. Minus potential death, and a greater range of free movement!)

As fun as this will be, I am also using the opportunity to take several copies of my resume to booths with me in case I run across publishers or editors. Vacation can sometimes be helpful to vocational goals, if you let it! Just remember to balance. There's not much fun if you're ONLY there to network.

Don't be afraid to balance the fun in your life with work. My nana told my parents when they got married to take advantage of time you have. If you keep saving up your vacation time for "later", you're gonna miss out. My nana and poppa traveled some, but they were planning a trip for my poppa's retirement to go to Hawaii. He had a heart attack and they never went. This was before I was born, and still a dream destination for my nana.

My mom and aunt wanted to take her to Hawaii to have that family trip, but they kept waiting...until my dad said if they kept waiting, it wouldn't happen. For my nana's 80th birthday, they went to Hawaii. They had to be careful how much walking they did, but worth every penny.

Basically, work should never get in the way of making memories.  If you can swing it, always go for it. My parents do this, and they tell my brother and I a lot "well, don't expect much money, but we'll leave you a good name!"

I'm good with this. And if I maintain a similar philosophy in life, I think I'll turn out okay.

Thursday, July 16, 2015


July, 16, 2015

Four applications sent, and one to go!

My life is gradually getting back to some kind of order. I met with clients this week about freelance projects, I've been putting some thought to looking into business cards, and maybe one day a website to market myself better as an editor...

Still applying of course--I still want my own cubical, but there are plenty of publishing people who do freelance work on the side, like copy editing. And I've been reaching out to contacts, and I have some marvelous friends looking out for me to make me more contacts as well.

But motivation to keep pushing myself towards these things hasn't always been as high as it should have been.

One of my good friends suggested I make myself a motivation chart or collage. What is a motivation chart? It's where I write a box that says "What Motivates Me", and then I branch out like a family tree to give myself examples of things that motivate me to work aggressively towards getting that first time job. Like:

  • Activating new levels of adulthood
  • Getting my own cubical
  • Getting my own kitchen (apartment)
  • Saving money for fun things after I've gotten the boringly necessary things out of the way (utilities!)

You get the idea.

The motivation collage is a little different. It is meant to function the same as the chart, or list above, but is full of mostly images instead. I think what my friend had in mind was that I cut out magazine clippings, and while that sounds fun, I will admit I was lazy enough not to want to go find magazines to vandalize, and instead stayed at my computer and opened up a word doc.

ZERO of these images are mine, I really just googled for key words, some of which were more specific than others--for instance, I specifically looked for peach pie, as well as searched for a picture with a cat and a piglet in it. Because I love pie and it'd be nice to get my work life in a place in which I can indulge in happy food like pie. And because I really want to someday own a cat--since I do not know how long I psychologically can last without having a cat--and a pig because pigs are awesome. I can do a whole post devoted to what I presume owning a pig will be like based on what I've read. I'll save it for when I've met someone in person who has a pet pig and does not simultaneously live on a farm.

Only thing I'll say about it now, however, is that the piggy there is a baby and it is really misleading when someone is like "oh yes I have this adorable tiny tea cup pig pet, it'll look this way forever" because it will NOT look that way forever, even the tea cup piggies grow to be about 60 something pounds. (If someone knows better, please let me know, but regardless: they are not going to stay small enough to sit in your tea cup unless you drink from a monstrous sized tea cup like one of those rides at Disney.)

Also yes that is Zhu Li in the upper right. When I get my own cubical I intend to frame a picture of the awesome lady with the phrase "DO THE THING" to motivate me to be even a fraction of the assistant she is in the show.

Now when I see the collage, I can see all in one place a wonderful reminder of what all I'm working for. Try one out for yourself!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Sorta Productive?

July 10, 2015

Uhg. Okay, you know those weeks where you think you've got your call to action and you're so pumped to be productive and then you are productive--but not on the project you had intended?


To be fair, I knew that I was doing this multi-day gig this week, in which I would be more or less out of commission for my writing projects, even before I quit my old job.

There was a Preaching Boot Camp for seminary students being hosted at the beach that I got hired with my aunt to cook for eleven people regularly. Additionally, I had been hired to help plan said event and make reservations. So, busy but also really, really fun. With the exception that I got a cold towards the end which severely altered my beach time into sleep-indoors-so-I-can-breathe time.

What was especially awesome about cooking for this many people is that they expected the traditional camp food--you know the kind that is filling but you don't expect much out of it, but you hope that there are brownies one of the meals anyway?--but we gave them legit home cooked meals, and with my aunt's flair for upscale recipes, we were rockin' it AND stayed well within the budget! The fanciest meal was goat cheese mashed potatoes, roasted asparagus, and parmesan crusted chicken. Otherwise we stuck to crock pot kind of meals that you can throw in and forget about until you have to stir-and-serve. People are impressed and you hardly have to do anything! It's great, and I highly suggest you look into it if you haven't.

Besides that, I've dealt with some of my freelancing, and finally moved my stuff out of my friend's house. The sad part is that I could fit everything into my car--except one bedside table. So I'm going back tomorrow to officially get out of her hair.

So what did I fall behind on? Applications!

It's a vicious trap that a lot of people fall into: I did not apply for as many jobs as I needed to because I was too busy doing jobs.

Ideally, if you don't have a full time job and you're looking for one--or a couple of part time jobs together--you need to send out:


That's right. That's the minimum. If you can squeeze one a day, that's even better, and many people send out even more than that. I, unfortunately, only sent one this week...but I'm aiming for a roaring two this evening.

For those already employed full time, you're even supposed to job search and apply every six months. You may be perfectly happy in your job where you are, so the worst that will happen is somebody calls you and you say "No, thanks!". But maybe there is something available that you didn't know you were qualified for that is better than where you are--and you'll never know until you try! Every answer is no if you don't ask. 

But I get it. It's a lot harder to set aside time to update your resume and do the routine job search when you work full time. Especially cover letters. Cover letters for me are like the standardized test essays in high school. You don't know if the person reading it wants you to be super formal or not, you don't want to sound too generic, but you don't want to miss the major points that everyone has to write about sucks. 

But solidarity, brother. We shall write them, we shall sell our talents, and we shall be employed!

So here we go. I didn't take advantage of my call to action before like I'd wanted, let's take two--they're small--and see how I go this round.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Back on Track

June 29, 2015

Why, hello there!

Here I am this very day, and I am in the mood to once again start up a healthy habit, and that habit is writing regularly.

Blog culture has always been a point of interest to me, and with the exception of my internship experience--*cough* OVER A YEAR AGO *cough*--I've had no idea what to blog about.

One of my best friends from high school is a professional blogger, and frankly I'd read the ingredients in a soup can if she wrote it. My friend often gives tips about how to write your own blog, so I asked her to help me. Blogging is fun, and it gives me a routine to exercise my mind and typing fingers since I'm out of school.

Basically it went down like this:

"Shash, I can help you on how to write your blog
 if you get stuck, but I can't tell you what to write."

Well darn.

I tried a cooking blog once and failed pretty miserably because colleges have meal plans and I was being cheap. Doesn't mean I won't try it again some time, but currently I am living back at home with my parents wherein my dad rules the kitchen. I could blog about my dad cooking I guess, but I'll wait on that for now.

Book reviews, YEAH! That'd be awesome! Except that in the attempt to balance my adult life, I have binge read series, and then for a little bit I took a job that did not suit me and I was lucky if I had the energy to read a few pages a day. (I've been reading the Hitchhiker's Guide series, and the Night Angel series most recently. Both incredible. Both incredibly dissimilar.)

I've decided that my answer is here. Sort of. It's called NY: On the Write Track.

I finished school and went home to NJ, and after about two very depressing months of unemployment besides the semi-regular babysitting gigs, I got a part-time job as a bookseller at Barnes&Noble. Fun Fact: only managers are full time workers. But hey, it was the first time being home that somebody wanted me, and it was with books, so I took it. In my interview I made it clear that I wanted to be an editor, but in the meantime I needed to build up experience, and editors love bookstore and/or library backgrounds. Caught in that awkward middle of "entry level job you applied for to get experience won't hire you without experience".

After a few months, the pay was okay, but only so long as I kept living with my parents. And even then, I had no regular hours. I've reached that point in adulthood when I need schedules as far in advance as possible. My calendar is color coded and beautiful. Barnes&Noble is supposed to give you your schedule three weeks at a time. I get that sometimes things get too busy and the schedule might get put off for later. However, that is super inconvenient for the workers. Scheduling for some side babysitting to make up some extra cash became annoying when I couldn't tell a new family what days I'm free next week because Barnes&Noble is two weeks behind, and even though the past three weeks I've only worked Thursday, Friday, Saturday, that is liable to change at any time.

There are ways around it, of course, and some people have been part-time employees there for years. I hadn't found a method that worked for me yet. But then it looked like things were looking up.

In about 12 hours from when I'd sent my application, STC Direct in PA gave me a call to set up an interview. Whoa. STC Direct is set up so that in the morning they give you "classes" that will teach you how to sell any product and work with just about any kind of customer. In the afternoon, this particular branch represents Verizon FiOs (Fiber Optics--fancy underground internet/cable wires that give you faster internet and better quality cable), they go out into one of 35 different Walmarts in a radius of the office to sell the product.

"Hi, how's it going? Quick question, who do you have at home for TV and Internet? Comcast? They charge you how much? That's crazy. Reason I'm asking is that I'm with Verizon FiOs, and we've got a special in-store promotion..."

A full-time job offer that at minimum gave me about $200 more a week, but a job that is WAY out of my field! Sure, a good high school friend let me live with her in the area at a gorgeous house for next to nothing, but this was nothing at all what I wanted.

But it was full-time. So I took it.

A few things,

1. Nobody likes the people in malls whose purpose is to convince you that you need something you did not come into that store to buy.

2. Please don't be assholes: these people are required by contract to ask you questions, and it is hard to stay charming for 8 hours on your feet.

3. Sometimes, it actually saves people money. If you are paying over $200 for one TV and basic 50/50 internet speed, SWITCH. Also, anyone with Clear internet--I'm sorry, they're going out of business in the fall. Helping folks in those situations is great.

4. STC Direct is great for entrepreneurs because it is a merit-based promotion rate, and when you are promoted to manager you are guaranteed your own office, your own team of 5-10 people, and you may represent whichever company you want from their list of contacts.

5. Oddly, for someone who does not want any of those things, it is a relatively soul-crushing experience.

By day three I was already crying in frustration in my car. I'm not a crier, so you can imagine how awkward it was to not know what to do with all of these emotions. By two weeks, I quit as a birthday gift to myself.

I went from NJ doing almost what I wanted to do, to PA doing nothing what I wanted to do--except freelance editing, that I've kept up. Now I'm back in NJ, but I've level upped in adulthood.


That's right folks. I took a leap of faith that I can find something in my field, even though I am temporarily back to being unemployed beyond freelancing. So I have standards for my job now, even though they're minimal, I deserve that.

It's okay to say no, sometimes. Everyone deserves happiness, and your job shouldn't make you so miserable you have to get out of there after only three days.

The most common response I got after quitting my job was, "Congratulations." But the second most common response had a follow up, "Good for you. I'm jealous. I don't know if I would have the strength to get out of there so soon, even though it made me miserable."

I'm being optimistic, I know. But it gave me clarity that I had put myself father off track than I had thought I did. Now, I'm back, I will be blogging about it, and I will not be applying for any job outside of writing and editing. That may change, depending how long the new job search goes, but for now I'm looking to you, New York. Don't let me down!

And here is Snuggles for the Cat Tax.