Posts Tagged ‘employment’

Upon your graduation … some advice to the Class of 2012

May 14, 2012

Since I’m never going to be rich or famous enough to offer tips for success to new graduates, here is my advice for the newly minted graduates of 2012.  Some are funny, some are serious and some flat out address my pet peeves from the class of 2011.

25. Live beneath your means, at least for the first 5 years out of school. 

24. Do your own taxes.

23. Take a class on retirement planning. This summer.

22. Get a copy of your immunization records, birth certificate and medical records.

21. Get a number of a locksmith.  Put it in your cell phone and glove compartment. Trust me.

20. Set your Facebook profile to not let people auto-tag you in pictures.

19. Tight clothes are never appropriate in the work place.

18. Trust me, your boss knows when you come in, when you leave and how many breaks you take.  So do your co-workers.

17. Find a hobby that is off the beaten track of what your friends do.

16. There isn’t a job beneath you; there isn’t a ‘dream job’.

15. Eating fish at your cube will result in comments being made.

14.  Share chocolate not drinking stories.

13. Learn to travel alone.

12. Take a job you think you might be interested in.

11. Stay in touch with former employers, professors and colleagues.

10. If you get fired (and you probably will), spend some time thinking about why you were fired.  Generally both parties could have done a better job in communicating.

9.   Always write a response to your review: just don’t sign and date. Put some thought into the critique of your performance.

8. Know a job you would excel at, know a job you would not like, know a job you would want if you could have any job in the world (even if it’s not in your field).  All are popular interview questions.

7. “I’m a people person”  or “I’m a hard worker” are probably the single most over-used phrases in the hiring process.

6. It’s ok to say you do not aspire to be a people manager.  Some people manage projects better than people.

5. Keep your work colleagues separate from your friends.

4. Stay current with your profession, even if it’s on your own time.

3. Take advantage of tuition reimbursement offered by employers.

2. Leave your laptop, cell phone and blackberry at home during your vacation.

1. Find your passion.  You will be spending a lot of time during your life at work: working in an area you feel passionate about makes all the difference in the world.

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The Employment Road: Part II

February 5, 2012

At some point in my life, I realized I picked up the mantra, if it’s an honest job, there is nothing wrong with the work.  I still believe that statement.  I have learned, however, there are lunatics out there for bosses and that when given the chance, run.  I obtained a position with an individual who “sold ideas” (note, I’m still not clear what this means, what idea he sold, or really if we were on the same planet).  His great idea (at the time) was to make a database of all elected officials in the United States listing contact information, term and key issues.  I though the idea was flaky: he was basically making a PAC database and there are only several hundred, if not thousands out there based on a host of criteria.

I never thought I would need to clarify the world all.  I mean, it’s a pretty one-dimensional word:

1 a: the whole amount, quantity, or extent of <needed all the courage they had> <sat up all night> b: as much as possible <spoke in all seriousness>
2 a: every member or individual component of <all men will go> <all five children were present>
When I accepted the position, I roughly calculated the number of political offices nationwide and figured this was 6-8 months of solid work which would give the economy time to right itself.  This guy thought it could be done in a month.  After a week of work (during which we had 3 meetings to discuss the project – he was horrified that I expected to be paid for this since “I bought you coffee”), he didn’t understand why I wasn’t done with Alabama.  Our conversation went something like this:
Employer: I only have so much money budgeted for this project.  How long do you think this is going to take.
Me: 6-8 months depending on how accessible some of the local information is.
Employer:  I don’t have that funding! You need to go faster.  (so typical in project management)
Me: Uh, ok.  But you realize not everybody has a website?
Employer: Who doesn’t have a website?
At this point, I realize Mr.-I-Sell-Ideas is not the most astute person in the world.  After some back and forth, he decided that “all” meant all state houses, governors, and federal office holders and cities.  All cities.  I asked for his definition of the word city (I caught on):
Employer: You know, any town that is called a city.
Me: Do you have a population criteria?
Employer: Look, if it’s called a city I want it listed.
Me: Even the ones of 4,000 people or so?
Employer: There is no city with 4,000 people.
Me: Uh, yes, there are.  All over.
Employer: Not in Massachusetts.

School time

Yes, that is true.  Massachusetts does have population requirements for cities, town, village notations.  Most states do not.  Then we moved onto counties: how some states do not have counties, some states call the counties parishes (like churches? uh, yeah, same word but no, they are not churches. good, I thought that was against the law).  Once I went through about 15 hours of basic government principles including the election/retention/appointment of judges, I thought I could finally start.

I tackled the US House of Representatives first.

I had the list sorted by leadership then alphabetical order.

Employer: Why does it say she (Nancy Pelosi) is from California?

Me: She’s from the 8th District of California.

Employer:  You mean I didn’t vote against her?

Me: No, the Speaker is elected by the majority party in the house.

Employer: Do you think that is fair? I mean, I didn’t get to pick her!

I never tried to explain the President of the Senate concept. I think I’d still be at a Dunkin’ Donuts.  There were more bumps and bruises along the way: Nebraska’s unicarmate no political party legislature, Massachusetts senate seats being designed by parts of counties (Like Suffolk 3,4,5 and not MA Senate 1), Nevada legislature meeting every other year and the damn independents.  He didn’t like independents.  How did we know if they were Republicans or Democrats? And why did Tennessee have the Democrat-Repubican party? Pick one.

And on. And on.

I did get paid, he did go over budget.

A few months ago, he called me back.  I was working a contract and took a pass.  He tried to persuade me.  I gave him an outrageous hourly rate, demanded he withhold taxes, and a list of other insane things.  He wanted me to tell him how long it would take somebody else to do the job.  I said I had no idea.  Not even a clue? Nope.  Well, could I research it?  I figure if you can’t take the information I gave you, do a data/sort/header row/end of term in Excel, well, even my teach people about government streak had been tested.  I saw his position posted again on Cragislist.  I only hope the person who took the job had a lot of free time for sitting at Dunkin’ Donuts teaching somebody about government.

The Employment Road: Part I

February 4, 2012

I’ve spent most of the past two years looking for a job, working as a temp. During the process, and it really was more of an ordeal than a process, I learned a ton and had my typical wacky adventures.  I promised myself once I had an honest-to-God offer letter, I’d write about some of the more interesting tales.  None, zero, nada, zilch of what I’m writing about happened at the company that now employs me.  All of these are my (probably) distorted perceptions of some of the truly insane things that happen when you start to look for a job with a bit of I applied for a position of “event planner” (I loved, loved, loved that aspect of a former job).  The company screened through a placement agency (common) and passed me on to the company.  I didn’t think that the employment questions from the placement agency matched the job description I had been given but I know enough to know that there are a lot of let’s-see-how-you-can-handle-this type questions.  At the time, I was grateful that nobody asked me about flowers because the only thing I know about flowers is that white flowers are culturally inappropriate or appropriate and they all make me sneeze.

I drove over to the corporate headquarters located on a nondescript office campus.  Yes, it was lovely like the recruiter told me (note, these are things I don’t care about).  Yes, it was right off of a main route (right after a left merge which means it was really off one of the prime Boston bottlenecks!), and yes, they had a cafeteria (see things I don’t care about).  Little did I know these observations were the only “normal” experiences of the day.

Do you remember these guys? I interviewed with them.

They exist!

They exist!

 

In what can only be described as one of the most surreal interviews of my life, I was transported to the world of the Spartan cheerleaders.  Ok, I am the first to admit, I am not exactly the most overtly bubbly person in the world.  I tend to arch an eyebrow and have beyond a sarcastic/sardonic sense of humor that if you don’t get, well, there is a reason I adore the I-95 section from Philly to Maine.

They flapped. They clapped. They showed me a rah-rah video.  I’m thinking ok, this is event planning: when are they going to ask me about my budgeting skills, my favorite places in some major convention cities, great ‘escape’ places for reward trips.  You know: drilling me on the industry.  The Will Ferrell interviewer told me about his team.  Apparently, somebody was able to book 4 Broadway tickets and the customer was so grateful, his employee was sent a box of Godiva chocolates! (each word emphasized, each word said with great enthusasim…each word made I’m-really-interested-in-what-you-are-saying-face smile while my brain was churning, um Godiva? Dude. 12 pieces is like $15 bucks. And the chocolate isn’t that great.)  The Cheri Oteri interviewer asked me what my favorite travel experience was: I honestly had to pause and think.  I said it was either watching the whales dance across the ocean in South Africa or being in Paris (anywhere. It never gets old for me).  I get I’ve been all over the world and back again.  I’m lucky.  The Spartans looked at each other and said, almost in scary unison, you’ve been to Paris with an inflection of “you had dinner with the Dali Lama?” Cheri continued to explain the services offered and about how the customers were the “elite” of American society.  I really struggled not to laugh.  I suddenly connected the dots: this is the place you call when you want to redeem your credit card rewards points from American Express for something other than movie tickets or Starbucks cards!  My first thought?

There were some actual issues with the job itself and the company after I did some research (I never would have interviewed with them had I known who they were at the time).  In the middle of the recession they had 20 openings. The reason? After six months, they offer benefits and a set schedule.  The average length of employment in this position is just under six months.  It’s a burn and churn that is open 6a – midnight with no fixed days off, no set schedule, and no request for time off for the first year.  I’ve kept my eye on the company.  Every six months, they have about 20 or so openings.  They are not growing: they are burning and churning people.  It is a port in the storm economy: but having worked retail and in call centers, I know they can make a fixed schedule with a need for variation.  There (should) be statistical data that shows call volume, work loads, and other metrics.

After doing a bit of research (and getting a short-term temp job), I withdrew my name from consideration.  I knew it wasn’t a good fit: I’m not peppy.  I knew I’d run into problems with their lack of a schedule and my inability not to get sick, winter traffic (remember the Winter of 2010?) and a 40 minute commute.  It took me 3 attempts to withdraw my name: they kept calling telling me how happy I’d be to work for their organization: how they always had fun.

We Want You

We Want You!

Task: Also a 4 letter word

August 19, 2011

Days 4 & 5:

  • Simplify work tasks. Our work day is made up of an endless list of
    work tasks. If you simply try to knock off all the tasks on your to-do list,
    you’ll never get everything done, and worse yet, you’ll never get the important
    stuff done. Focus on the essential tasks and eliminate the rest. Read
    more
    .
  • Simplify home tasks. In that vein, think about all the stuff you do
    at home. Sometimes our home task list is just as long as our work list. And
    we’ll never get that done either. So focus on the most important, and try to
    find ways to eliminate the other tasks (automate, eliminate, delegate, or hire
    help).

So, this is one of those things where one I don’t have as much control as I’d like (ok, I’m a Type A control freak).  Since I am working as a temp, my work tasks are dependent on others.  I can’t be proactive using lull times to get ahead.  The sad thing is that I’ve become a the type of person who comes in, does her job and leaves.  Since I’m at the end of the totem pole, there I do what is assigned and moved on.  The sad reality of the not-in-a-recession-but-sure-looks-like-it economy.  Hey, I’m working, I have enough to pay my bills and put a bit aside, I’m not complaining.  I’ve just come to realize how much not being vested in an organization has made me disenfranchised with what I do day in and day out.

Simplify at home: oh the both sides of being single! To say I despise cleaning is a mild understatement.  Every fall, I do a massive purge.  This year, I have a hunch is going to be particularly ugly.  I have a few boxes that I haven’t unpacked: I moved to this condo in ’07. Um. I’ll make sure they aren’t things like old tax returns but something tells me they are going in the donation pile.

One of the challenges of tasks I need to simplify is my commitment to shopping locally owned as much as possible.  Yes, target is far more tempting given the fact it now has groceries.  However, I’ve found a different level of intention in shopping local (aside from the do I really need this):  chatting with the grocery store owner of the Brazilian market, having a random conversation about paint with a retired engineer at the hardware store.  Somehow, it has become less cumbersome being in the smaller places versus dodging shopping carts, reckless drivers and the general hassle of big box stores.

What are my big goals for my home this fall? Organize my guest room.  If I haven’t used it, touched it, thought about it in the past 2 years: it will be Ebayed, freecycled (maybe, that sorta creeps me out) or donated.  Then I’ll organize it into some sort of space, I haven’t decided yet (Jackson and Lafitte are angling for a kitty jungle).  The condo has been a giant to-do list for a myriad of reasons I’m not going to blog about: I’m finally ready to untangle the havoc.  Right now, I have the last 3 places I’ve lived sorta in a heap.  Ack.  It’s time to break out the calendar and map the next 8 weekends for the clean, purge, re-do plan!