Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Lessons Learned from Life

I was digging around the old posts and realized how very different I am now from who I was.  I can honestly say that I'm grateful for that.  It isn't that the old person was bad, I just appreciate what my experiences have given me a little better.  

 

'Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.', ~Rumi

I'm a lot more tranquil now, and when I'm not tranquil, I will quietly wrestle with myself internally until I find a way to unburden my mind... without ruffling too many feathers if possible. I think I have learned the value of being kind over being right and I save myself a lot of personal and ethical battles that way.  I can honestly say that I've learned to trust more; although it helps that I have more experience under my belt to learn what to trust and how to approach risk methodically when I am unsure.


'Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray,' ~Rumi

I allow people to own their own problems.  I also have grown more comfortable with the feeling of being emptied; whether that's of bias, preconceived notions, or even of hanging onto attitudes that really just don't serve me, no matter how noble they may seem at the time. 



I've also learned how to recognize the people who value others as much as they value their dreams.  One of the benefits of getting older, although you may find yourself occasionally grieving the loss of someone you hoped to build a relationship, is that you become more adept and valuing those who go out of their way to be more supportive and encouraging.  These are the people who nourish your souls and building those connections can provide you an incredible sense of belonging and a place for you to pour out your affections, when you use your gifts to help build this community.  Surround yourself with people who inspire you, who bring out the best in you and believe in you, even when you are unable to see your own beauty.  It's the best way to un-complicate your life and bring more joy to it simultaneously.




'What you seek, is seeking you,' ~Rumi

If you don't already have these things, live your life presently, and VERY, VERY fully.  You will learn what you value and who values you, so that you can move forward with much more depth and elegant simplicity.


I wasn't a huge fan of this video, I think mainly because I used to relate a lot to this character.  It took a strong will and a lot of behavioral conditioning to make myself more agreeable, but the biggest lesson that I learned from all of this is that no matter how much effort you pour into trying to make others like you, you can never be at peace with others until you learn to make peace with yourself.  Thank goodness the internet has provided me access to many ideas for how to find ways to do that.  

Btw, Does anyone else find it ironic that we've become so reliant upon technology these days to teach us to be more acceptable to other humans?  A friend of mine shared a really great article from the Atlantic regarding the over-reliance of online platforms like Facebook and how they have impacted our ability to feel truly connected to one another. The Good news is that it just so happens that my new friends, make the old people that I felt as if I had to chase suck it.  No seriously, one of the best skills you can ever do for your mental health is this: Learn to recognize the people who value others; esp. the ones who can teach you how to truly value yourself. 

Social media—from Facebook to Twitter—have made us more densely networked than ever. Yet for all this connectivity, new research suggests that we have never been lonelier (or more narcissistic)—and that this loneliness is making us mentally and physically ill. A report on what the epidemic of loneliness is doing to our souls and our society. 
Click here to read more...

See Zen's Greetings & Stress Management Tips


I really appreciated the idea of shifting the attention toward the practice of creating safe space in stressful situations (esp. during the Thanksgiving holiday). I suppose there's no better time to practice this skill than this period leading up to finals. So here are a few helpful tidbits from my FB feed that helped me to hone my super stealthy ninja stress management skills. 


❦~ Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh ~❦
We can learn to build safety with our in-breath and our out-breath, with our steps, with the way we act or react, with a smile or a word, with our effort to restore communication.
You cannot feel safe with th
e person who lives with you if you cannot communicate with him or her. You cannot feel safe when the other person does not look at you with sympathy, when you are not capable of looking at him or her with compassion. Safety can be built with your way of looking, your way of smiling, with your way of walking. It can build confidence. Show the other person that you are truly not harmful, that he is safe in your presence, in the way you think, the way you breathe, smile, and walk. Everything you do is peaceful. So by expressing your peace, your compassion, the other person feels very safe. And when the other person feels safe, you are safe. Safety is not an individual matter.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh ~
❧~❦~❧~❦~❧~❦~❧~❦~❧~❦~❧~❦
{{{{~The Mindfulness Bell Has Sounded~}}}}
Please pause and breathe joyfully three times


❈✶✶❈✶❈✶❈✶     ❄*✶*❄*✶*❄*✶*❄*✶*❄*✶*❄*✶      ❈✶❈✶❈✶❈✶❈✶
❈✶❈✶✶❈✶✶     ❄*✶*❄*✶*❄*✶*❄*✶*❄*✶*❄*✶      ❈✶✶❈✶❈❈✶❈
 ❈✶❈✶❈✶❈✶     ❄*✶*❄*✶*❄*✶*❄*✶*❄*✶*❄*✶      ❈✶❈✶❈✶❈✶❈✶❈
  ❄*✶**✶*❄*✶*❄**❄      ❈✶     ❄**❄*✶*❄*✶**✶*❄
  ❄*✶*❄*✶*❄***✶*      ✶❈❈     *✶***❄*✶*❄*✶*❄
  ❄*✶*❄*✶*❄*✶*❄**❄      ❈✶✶❈     ❄**❄*✶*❄*✶*❄*✶*
❈✶❈✶✶❈✶✶     ❄*✶*❄*✶*❄*✶*❄*✶*❄*✶*❄*✶      ❈✶❈✶❈✶✶❈✶❈
❈✶❈✶❈❈✶     ❄*✶*❄*✶*❄*✶*❄*✶*❄*✶*❄*✶      ❈✶✶❈✶❈✶❈✶❈



Stress Management Tip #1: Value your own sense of self worth and surround yourself with those who bring out the best in you. Seriously, when you're not feeling your best, it can be extremely beneficial to keep the company of those who can act as excellent role models for you. 

 You were meant to sparkle. Let your spirit shine!
~ Christine, The Brighter Side of Life


Stress Management Tip #2: Remember those who have supported you even when you didn't feel like your best self. Rather than vent to those people, find a creative way to express to that person, how much you value their support. Pouring you energy into love and appreciation for someone you may have neglected is a great way to spread good karma, boost serotonin levels, and build an effective support group.

 

"One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving."
- Paulo Coelho.


Stress Management Tip #3: before, even when the current option seems unfamiliar or unsettling to you. As long as you're willing to learn from your mistakes and to commit to a path that you believe will provide growth for you, you can always find the guidance you need that will inevitably lead you down the path that's best for you... even when things don't always work out as planned. Have Faith enough to trust the process so that you can be open to receive any good that CAN come to you. Have faith and trust that the answers you need that will eventually come to you. By remaining present and being aware of the abundance of possibilties that exist before you, you can discover or create opportunities you may not have noticed
 


 Stress Management Tip #4: Be Mindful of how you manage your time, as chance tends to favor the prepared mind. ; )



c/o Obligations (1950): Coronet Instructional Videos

 Stress Management Tip #5: Don't forget to mind your manners. Remember: "A bad attitude is like a flat tire; you can't go anywhere until you fix it."



c/o Improve your Personality (1950): Coronet Instructional Videos 


  
Begin each moment well and so serenely that you can't be too dragged down by your old nonsense

Stress Management Tip #6: You can create this kind of connection with others, simply by remembering to be thoughtful. : )



 Stress Management Tip #7: Listen to Marvin Gaye 
#heavensent : )



 


"If you cannot find peace within yourself, you will never find it anywhere else." -Marvin Gaye

Stress Management Tip #8: pray, meditate, go for a run, sing, or do anything that allows you to bring tranquility to your mind. once you can quiet your mind, you can bring your attention back toward something constructive, creative or anything else that will bring you cheer

 

 Every single thing you experience,
Every bump you encounter, every joy, and
every sorrow ~has been placed upon your
path to aid your consciousness into evolution.

~ Sheila M. Burke/ Zen-Sational Living ~


Stress Management Tip #9: The secret to building a strong faith (albeit, in a higher power, or in yourself) is this: Learn how to ask for what you need and who to ask for help that can help you find what you need... but don't expect them to do everything for you... but if you look in the right places you will inevitably find anything you could ever need ; )




Stress Management Tip #10: Don't Chase people, esp. when you're feeling down. Those who want to be in your life will make an effort to stay, and those who don't may have genuinely given you all that they were capable of giving. So forgive yourself, love others with an open hand and do the best you can with what you have. Appreciate those who can afford to stick around and for heaven's sake; lighten up. There's no better way to empower those around you than to cherish those who take time out of their day to spend time with you by giving them someone positive to be around (or to think about)


Sometimes when the wrong ones leave it hurts, there's just no getting around it. ~the mess


AND FINALLY:

I leave you with quite frankly, the only life skill you will ever need; the skill for which all other stress management tips are but preparation: Cherish your relationships. The one you have with yourself must be healthy if you plan to extend yourself well to others. And the health of this relationship is really best sustained with how you learn to repair your most important relationships and maintain your relationship to your values and God (or however you define your higher power; the source that brings out the best in you).

 
















Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Season's Grievings



One of the most difficult parts of working at any work college is learning how to navigate other people’s stress patterns, especially toward the end of the academic year.  Tensions ride high, for those who hold high expectations, particularly as students’ energy levels and initiative become inverse toward those expectations.  Often times, students become overwhelmed, and by this point in the semester, the faculty and staff must juggle accommodating those needs, albeit negotiating how to allocate the remaining tasks for the semester or work around students who may be at risk or suddenly develop special needs, like athletes game schedules or a family health problem makes your job a little more complicated, or your own life outside of work even gets a little bit too life-y.  I’ve noticed a pattern that seasonally, grandmothers have the tendency to get very ill during the weeks leading up to finals.  



When all of the obligations we tie ourselves to begin to spread us too thin, we first begin to cut the activities and little indulgences that we often find to be restorative and edifying – promising ourselves that when things “finally” slow down, we will take these hobbies up again.  And suddenly our focus shifts more toward staying afloat by steamrolling through our assignments through hell or high-water.  We begin to lose ourselves; through sleepless nights, missed breakfasts, and that repetitive panicked morning rush to class, back and forth to the office, just trying to stay afloat as we spiral down the path of frustrated guilt, anxiety and self neglect – all the while knowing that all it takes is one small snag to make everything we’ve worked so hard for unravel… and that we’re increasingly closer and closer to it.

Empathy, slowing down, focusing upon the present all become attributes that we view as unobtainable luxury; an indulgence we can afford to immerse ourselves in, when all the while our brains and intuition long and crave for that.  If we don’t find ourselves shutting down, we find other ways to make ourselves unavailable using other forms of self-resistance.  We become angstier, angrier, easily affected by others’ lack of accountability and frustrated.  We occasionally discover accumulated resentments that we didn’t even know were there.  It’s as if the change in weather crams us deep down inside ourselves, and although we long to burst free from the flurry of our unresolved obligations and complications, and each day becomes harder than the day before. 

Needless to say, I naively thought I had found the secret toward avoiding all of that.  Work/Life balance, that’s the secret to managing your own stress.  I teased one of my more scattered students juggling a sport and physics major (a somewhat impossible feat at this college) about his time management skills, chiding that “chance favors the prepared mind.”  What I found, however, is that even though I had found a way to reduce my own stress levels, by setting clear boundaries, limiting myself to one service activity, and going home every day at 5 (or somewhat close to it), the anniversary of the murder of my brother’s roommate (which took place right before Thanksgiving) did leave me a little unhinged.  I didn’t realize it until a week later, that in addition to navigating the misdirected anger of some of my co-workers that I was also grieving the loss of my family.  My brother and his family moved across the country just so that he could feel as if he could finally walk safely down the street again without having to look over his shoulder – ironically, enough the very reason I had moved to Kentucky to be near him, because I felt the same kind of anxiety (due to previous challenges with domestic violence) back home.  All of this time now, and the freedom to enjoy it, and I’d lost the one relationship I wanted to salvage because some disgruntled intruder had disrupted his peace at home. 
I couldn’t even take a harsh scolding at work this time of year with a grain of salt without being reminded of just layers and layers of messy memories, before I found myself spiraling along with everyone else into an epic inner battle between my need to overcome these obstacles and my (what would be understandable) subconscious desire to:

make sense of why I felt so toxic
fix the problem
and use every coping mechanism I could think of to be happy again.

Consequently, despite my best attempts, my brain was on overload and some of my efforts turned out kind of pathetically.

  

In fact, it wasn’t until after I’d spoken with my brother’s wife and realized that even she had buried herself into a nest of obligations and alienating resentment at work in order to allow herself to allow herself the space to love and accommodate my brother’s needs from a distance, that I realized how my efforts would be best be served.  

According to the two books I was working through, Psychology of Religious Knowing and the Wisdom of Yoga (I had to take a break from Ed Underwood’s book, “when God Breaks your heart” because it was a little too intense), I discovered that I would be best served to find a way to make peace with the fact that I felt bad and then use that time as an opportunity to shift my attention toward creating positive associations, rather than feeding any residual guilt.  And the results worked well.  It appears that this newfound discovery also aligned with what God wanted for me as well, as the Sunday Sermon at my local church talked about how we ensure that we heal our misplaced hurts in ways that can enable us to be more understanding and more comforting to one another (b/c evidently lashing out at people has become a norm in our society – which is weird b/c I tend to be more like those people who goes into seclusion whenever I feel too drained to give effectively), so that was at least helpful to learn so that I don’t take it personally.  

Which is good!  Because I found that being able to release that expectation of feeling valued or disappointment when others misplace their anger toward me allowed me to see those who have extended kindness as a blessing – once I realized that civility was not an entitlement in this day and age, but a privilege –because frankly, I’ve grown quite accustomed to people treating me with kindness and courtesy.  Maybe it’s just something I take for granted, but ever since reading Cloud and Townsend’s book on boundaries, I make an effort, through the behavior that I model, to establish those boundaries early.  I also defend them firmly but respectfully; even when I need to wrestle with myself a little bit.  There have been several afternoons where I have forced myself to walk away from an activity that I was excited about, but a bit afraid of, because I didn’t want to condition myself to respond to negative self talk, or any personal view that I deemed to be remotely derogatory.  I have an understanding that we all have the tendency to accept the love that we believe we deserve.  So I am always looking for positive reinforcements or affirmative inducements to condition myself to develop the skills I need.  

Here are a few helpful reminders I found that helped me to navigate this tough period effectively.


 Seriously, put your search engines to work.  Just as your search crawlers and search engine optimization tools like Google has that sometimes creepy connection with the ads in your Twitter and Facebook feed, similarly, you can manipulate your search engines to life coach you through the tough times by being selective about which material you interact with in those feeds.  If it inspires you, brings you cheer, or makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, be sure to click like.  When you don't know what's wrong with you, do searches online to see if you can pinpoint the answer and watch how your feeds begin to pour in self help information or inspirational messages that appear with eerily pinpoint accuracy.  Don't believe me, check out my next post; stress management tips that popped up in my feed when I was using this method to try to figure out how to manage stress better this Thanksgiving.  I just wish I had have thought of it sooner, I might have saved myself A LOT of money during my pre-black Friday retail therapy.  (Damn you express, for holding that 50% off sale 3 days early, thus capitalizing upon my fear of retail stores around the holidays and my secret desire to self soothe with shopping).



Also, don't be afraid put those endorphins to work.  Exercise, a good support network, the realization that what you don't have can be a tremendous gift and give you the freedom to take care of yourself can help you navigate the holidays.  If you know how to stimulate your serotonin levels effectively, you can find a multitude of ways to biochemically trick yourself into feeling happy without the use of mind altering drugs.

Scott Adams once said that "Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep."  I believe the same can be true when you allow yourself to take ownership of your emotions
and know which ones to keep.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I SYNC: therefore I am...

Remember how I said that it was my intent to blog about being a college graduate?  Well I must admit that being fortunate enough to become on of those recent grads who quickly found a job means that I have dropped the ball regarding my personal social media obligations.  But I assure you; I HAVE been up to some good stuff.

Starting with the first little tidbit of Good News:

I found a job!  

Evidently all of that hard work and real-time networking paid off.  I was fortunate enough to get hired at my alma mater as an administrative assistant in our department of Athletics.  Which is great, because when I received an email telling me that the position was filled I was certain that any candidate who beat me for the position would have had to have been exceptionally qualified.






I should probably warn you that my job has absolutely nothing to do with my degree. But my ability to research quickly using online applications like Google, Youtube & Wikipedia helped me brush up on the basics of the work I'd be doing prior to the skills assessment testing I had to take before my interview.  Critical thinking resources I learned to utilize while trying to crank out assignments for the courses I may not have been as emotionally attached to while I struggled to find time to pursue my real interests while finishing my degree.  Never underestimate the power of an electronic document and the ctrl-F feature.  For without these I may have never obtained my degree.


In an attempt to take my job seeking a little more seriously, I quickly amped up my Linkedin Profile and strategically keyword optimized it in order to better leverage my own personal brand.  What do all of those fancy words mean?

Well let's start with Linkedin

Linked in is AWESOME!!!

Seriously, where else can you connect with millions of people in your field of interest and collaborate professionally to help you find work that you love doing?!  Okay, there's always Facebook and Real Life, but where can you do that without spam or money?  The downside is that you DO have to know somebody, and I got into a little bit of trouble with the platform about adding people I didn't know.  But who cares, for anyone who is looking for a job who isn't already ridiculously well connected, having a completed Linkedin account is a necessity.  I'm saying this as someone who probably IS one of those people and I STILL understand the importance of using this thing.


Should College Students and Recent Grads Use LinkedIn?

The answer is an unqualified “yes.” LinkedIn is a powerful tool that can help you make the transition from college student to working professional. While Facebook helps you stay in touch and share your life with family and friends, LinkedIn helps you meet people in your field, connect professionally with fellow alumni, and create a personal brand. LinkedIn is a must for anyone who is serious about job hunting, career planning and networking with people who can assist you as you build a successful professional life.



Personal Branding





Sally Hogshead wrote a fantastic book called Fascinate that talks about why we find people fascinating and what psychological triggers they employ that make them stand out in our mind over other people.  What do people think when they think of you?  Or more importantly, what are you communicating to potential employers?

Dan Schawbel in his article Personal Branding 101 shares that

The single biggest mistake people make is that they either brand themselves just for the sake of doing it or that they fail to invest time in learning about what’s in their best interests. The key to success, and this isn’t revolutionary, is to be compensated based on your passion. In order to find your passion, you need a lot of time to think, some luck and you need to do some research online to figure out what’s out there.

Brand discovery is about figuring out what you want to do for the rest of your life, setting goals, writing down a mission, vision and personal brand statement (what you do and who you serve), as well as creating a development plan. Have you ever been called intelligent or humorous by your peers or coworkers? That description is part of your brand, especially if you feel those attributed pertain to you. To know if you’ve discovered your brand, you need to make this equation equal:

In short your personal brand should ensure that the messages you communicate through your resume, appearance, professional affiliations and so forth illustrate an alignment where

Your self-impression = How people perceive you
Who are the top innovators in your field? What makes them distinctive?  Are their idiots in the field who seem to be doing much better than you?  You may think it's the money, or access to people already in the industry, but it's possible that the only reason you haven't gotten where they are is because you haven't communicated your strongest attributes to your employers.  This could mean that you need to find better ways to keyword optimize your professional experience, play up your strengths, or revamp your image.  When marketing yourself to a prospective employer, sell yourself the way that you would market yourself to a potential client.  And you may need to read up on the basics of marking, sales and public relations in order to really understand how to get others to see more of your better attributes.
Starting today you are a brand.

You're every bit as much a brand as Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop. To start thinking like your own favorite brand manager, ask yourself the same question the brand managers at Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop ask themselves: What is it that my product or service does that makes it different? Give yourself the traditional 15-words-or-less contest challenge. Take the time to write down your answer. And then take the time to read it. Several times.

If your answer wouldn't light up the eyes of a prospective client or command a vote of confidence from a satisfied past client, or -- worst of all -- if it doesn't grab you, then you've got a big problem. It's time to give some serious thought and even more serious effort to imagining and developing yourself as a brand.
Start by identifying the qualities or characteristics that make you distinctive from your competitors -- or your colleagues. What have you done lately -- this week -- to make yourself stand out? What would your colleagues or your customers say is your greatest and clearest strength? Your most noteworthy (as in, worthy of note) personal trait?

Keyword Optimization of Your Online Resume


How you optimize your personal brand communicates how you add value to your field and the company culture

Is your resume SEO friendly?  That is, how easy is it to find on websites?  Hogshead mentions how something as simple as using a unique middle name for generic names make it easier for employers to find you during employment searches.  The same can be done to your resume to make it easier to find for potential recruiters.  A lot of HR directors will look for tags or specific keywords in order to find job candidates that match their job descriptions, so keyword optimizing your resume to match these targets, especially when you know very little about your employment options can be very useful.

Keywords and phrases reflect skills and experience necessary for the type of position and industry you are targeting. While an effective resume will include action verbs (e.g., develop, negotiate, analyze) for a human reviewer, keywords and phrases will play a crucial role when technology is used to select candidates.
 If you want an example of what a keyword optimized resume looks like, I'd encourage you to go onto Linkedin and look at how other job candidates in your field (or other high profile positions) keyword optimize their profile to leverage their resumes to get noticed.  I remember the first time I tried this exercise, I looked through the profile descriptions of the 1st and 2nd degree connections of my best networked connections and wrote down really great keyword phrases down on post it notes.  I distinctly remember thinking at one point:

hmmm...Strategic Development Coordinator and Operations Research Field Analyst; I don't have any clue what that person does, but THAT sounds INCREDIBLE!
For all I know that guy could have been in charge of ordering and stocking toilet paper rolls at Arby's.  Which brings me to my next note of caution: if you don't know what something means; google it.  Google your current job description and previous job duties for keywords.  You may know how to do things that you didn't even realize that there were keywords for.  But also Google these words to make sure that you haven't put something on your resume that isn't honest.  For example, as an employer, if someone submits a resume saying that they have experience as an operations research field analyst or strategic management, I'm going to have numerous questions in the interview about the work they did, and how they used those core competencies to develop specific projects.  So you better know the lingo and all of the work that goes into the work that you say you know how to do.  You also better be able to back up your resume with stories regarding specific experience.  Gains, losses, etc.  Your employers are going to want to know how you plan, how you implement strategies as well as how well you rebound from setbacks.  So keep that in mind when the time comes for the interview.

When I train my student workers; for every skill they learn, I provide background info about what kind of work they are doing, how it relates to their job description and how the specific applications can be used to enhance keywords on their resume.  They are also evaluated on flexibility in the workplace by requiring them to search for things that they don't know how to do online, construct their own tutorials, or if they must ask, do so using corporate or industry related buzzwords, to help them develop their oral communication proficiency.  They met me with a little bit of resistance at first, but now it's become a wonderful way to teach them valid skills as well as incorporate a little bit of play into the work environment.

For more info about today's topics, be sure to check out these articles for more info about:

Getting started on Linkedin

9 Linkedin Tips for College Grads
5 Linkedin Tips for Recent Grads
Getting Stated with Linkedin as a Recent Graduate

Personal branding
Personal Branding 101: How to Discover and Create your Brand
The 3 Rules of Personal Branding
When your Personal Brand Outshines your Corporate Brand
The Brand called You

Keyword Optimization
A Resume Writing Strategy that Makes a Difference
SEO your resume
Optimize your Resume with Keywords
Keyword Optimize your Resume
Resume Writing Resources and Tips: Leveraging Keywords to Get your Resume the Attention it Deserves


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Who took the farm out of farming?








Ahh, the ole head scratcher!  During a recent job interview, I was asked, "what does a hydroponic research technician even do?"  Well, in my case, I researched vertical drip irrigation systems and then attempted to tackle Britta Riley's neat little project the hydroponic window farm.  I liked the idea of the project because it forced me to really make use of reclaimed resources.  As you can see from the installation here, my window farm was made from reclaimed materials.  I promptly enrolled into a woodworking class afterward.  But I learned a lot about the limitations about using partially decayed materials, but also the potential it can have if you use the material properties with it.

One of the cute little finishing touches were the old rusted out bicycles gears I reclaimed from our local bicycle fix-it shop.

For this particular project, I also researched the prevalence of local food markets and how the ability to grow vegetables in areas designated as food deserts impacted the economic recovery in areas with community growing projects and local farmers markets.  Interestingly enough, the areas with the highest concentration of Walmarts and McDonalds correlated with the highest density of economic hardship and per capita poverty.

Sadly, the window farm was tampered with during the summer I did a semester long program and a new pump was never ordered.  But we did manage to grow quite a few local greens and peas with the help of my good friend and horticulturalist, Jennifer Boyle. 


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

 








I absolutely LOVE this site!  It's impossible to stay discouraged when you have access to this awesome page.  I wish they had a way for me to reblog their posts because they are ABSOLUTELY wonderful -- and oddly enough very timely!  If you haven't had the opportunity, be sure to check out the daily truths & inspirations from their segment "A Little Bird Told Me" from the Brave Girl's Club

Failure to Launch...

"whaaaat! you mean after 4 years of college, plus that other two years of college, 51.75 credits, 1320 hours of labor (just from berea), 55 convocations, 5 clubs, 4 honor societies, 1 city commission, 3 university governance committees, and 2 student government assemblies ya'll are just going to hand me this degree? uh oh! somebody must have slipped up! ...lOl." ...but seriously, even though it took me 12 years to graduate i'm incredibly grateful for the education that i received at Berea College, Ecosa Institute and Michigan State University - SPARTANS. Thank you so much to the three of these institutions for the valuable education as well as the degree! : )

That's right.... THIS girl FINALLY graduated from College! = )

Now that I've had a good month or so to recharge and eradicate some of those end of the semester college behaviors: (e.g. frantic work-a-holism, untidy living space, and diet of processed foods, etc.) I have begun to work upon taking the next toward finding work. I lucked out and happen to be in a unique position where I am house-sitting for some administrators on sabbatical, which gives me the freedom to sort out and list my expectations for the next step in life. And it's been good. I know that had I rushed to try and find a job during the hectic time we're all faced at by the end of senior year; it would just have been a disaster. But we'll get into that some other time.  It occurred to me that since there seemed to be a recent trend of graduates who were having difficulty finding employment, and all of the websites I consulted about freelance work for public relations professionals suggested that I blog what I'm an expert about, I thought that I'd blog about this.  You want to know what it's like for a recent college graduate to find work, then I thought I'd just give a few highlights of how my own personal journey works out, complete with implementation strategies for job seeking and so on...

I'll try to include little tidbits about my background as well, so you can see how that may or may not impact my capacity to find, or create work.  Hopefully, now that I no longer have a boyfriend to invest all my time writing "Dear John" letters to, I will be able to remain consistent with it.  But enough about that.

Are you intrigued yet?  You should be.

There's a lot of info embedded into my personal story that may or may not leak out, which you may find utterly captivating.  But I didn't want to provide too much info too soon because I want you to take me seriously.  Is it weird that this is where the beginning ends up?  Didn't we all go to college so that we could finally be taken seriously?  I was kind of a late bloomer and didn't realize until it was too late that I was walking out of one form of institutionalization into another form, when all I really wanted to do was develop technical proficiency and learn to replicate work that I found inspiring and innovate.  But sometimes life can have other plans...

Anyhoo, enough of my cryptic rants.

I spent day 1 of the "actively seeking employment" process trying to identify jobs within walking distance of where I live.  I don't have a car and in order to save up for a car I'd need some source of income.  I applied to work at the college since I'm still in the town where I went to school, but I received that crushing email a couple of days ago telling me that the position had been filled.  I looked on the staff vacancies page in order to see if I could find another position that would fit my desire to learn as I work and meet the requirements I would need to have some kind of a respectable work/life balance.  I noticed that the site had a vacancy posted that was similar to what I'd applied for; administrative assistant position.  But after I read the position for the evening coordinator position I realized that I was probably less suited for this position because the night shift required that I have pool maintenance experience, which admittedly I just don't have.

It was very tragic.  : )  I was really looking forward to getting that job.  Event planning, coordinating logistics, keeping detailed spreadsheets of budgets, integrating new task management software, and cloud sourcing the student scheduling were all areas that I would have been proficient in.  I also had much higher administrative skills assessment scores than most of the other applicants.  In fact I was told that I was 1 of only 5 applicants out of the broad number who applied to be interviewed, so although I was crushed not to get the coveted 8-5 office position, I certainly could not take the rejection personally.  As incredible as my resume was and how smoothly the interview went; I knew half of the interviewers and had done some exceptional work with them before, and I had prior experience in public relations, marketing and sales as well as working for an athletic facility.  So I understood that if they didn't select me for the position, it wouldn't be because I wasn't qualified to perform the job, it was because someone else who applied the position must have blown them away. 

After receiving the email informing me that I didn't get the position, I contemplated whether it would be prudent to reapply for the evening position.  This was partly because the realistic part of me worried that they might question my judgment, but the optimistic part of me wanted to believe that I might just be able to convince them that I had such a strong work ethic and commitment toward good sportsmanship and my work ethic that I could objectively put the prior rejection aside.  And either way I was prepared to sell myself as a person of strong moral character.  I was going to have to be really sincere about it.  Oddly enough, the dis qualifiers in the second listing kind of came as a relief.  I was in the process of working out whether I would genuinely be able to set the prior oversight aside and after much prayer I rationalized the hell out of going for it again.  I've since rationalized that I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity not to potentially make an ass out of myself, even though I am just slightly bummed I didn't get a chance to go for the position again.      

"Fall down seven times, get up eight"

~Japanese Proverb


So after a dear friend of mine and beloved barista talked me out of applying as a bus boy position just to have some revenue coming in, stating; "it will suffocate your soul..." I checked my bank balance to make sure that I had enough savings to cover my bills for the upcoming month (approx. $60 in utilities and $30 for a pre-paid phone bill).   Then I spent today going through the local chamber of commerce directory to see which jobs might have the kind of work experience I might be interested in, if I were working as a co op or externship so that I could modify and customize my cover letters.  I also bookmarked the Americorp site in case any of these potential employers might be persuaded to create an americorp position if they like my work and want to keep me around at minimal risk.  I mean I really don't need much to live, at least until the fall anyway.  I have veggies growing in the garden and I am a phenomenal shoe-string foodie and cook; perhaps I'll post pics of some of my summer meals later.  I just need enough to sustain my Ale 8 habit and occasionally buy medication which costs me $40 a month.

Ideally I'd like to be able to save up enough to pay back my student loans or pay a deposit and traveling expenses if it turns out that at some point I need to leave.  But that's it.  My clothes, although professional come from clothing swaps and thrift stores.  With my medication I'm no longer allowed to drink beer (I know, sad day).  So right now, I live simply enough that don't really need all that much. 

But unfortunately because I haven't really set any standards for what I want to aspire toward, aside the whole work/life balance thing, I have way too many options and also NO options.  If I'm willing to relocate, the world becomes my oyster.  But I must admit that after spending 4 years running around like a chicken with my head cut off, and spreading myself thin, running clubs, carrying study groups, supervising students, and eeking out innovative and cutting edge research and design projects, I am having to relearn how to function without the college... I am learning how to chart a course without an already established list of responsibilities or predetermined roles.  I have been trained to be a worker, to follow orders, to strategically plan and carry out functions, but I have not been taught how to find the kind of jobs that are going to value what I have to offer, which kind of freaks me out.  What am I, if not a work horse?

I spent the first month after graduation just trying to figure that out.  I learned a lot during that process of emptying myself of all of those preconceived notions of what others think I should be.  But what I realized afterward, is that as much as I enjoyed taking that much needed break, I knew that I needed to have a stronger understanding of that so I would know how to sell myself to take on my new roles.  But what is my new role?  And this is where the job search comes in...

One of the two major things that I'd been doing to pass the time here is that I started the ONE service project I am giving myself permission to take on.  It's called called the Yellow Ribbon Project that I'm using as a research platform to develop a self help resource guide for vets.


I'm using this project to learn more about social media marketing strategy so that I can learn how to build an effective brand. I have other reasons for doing it, which I find to be more important, but I don't know that I'm ready to discuss those reasons here... well at least not just yet.  ; )

Interestingly enough, this project has taught me some really valuable principles that I hope will prove helpful during my job search.  The first little helpful bit of advice that really resonated from my work online was this:

|  Job search tip no. 1 comes from Simon Chan: "DON'T BE A PERFECTIONIST - Don't let the quest for Perfection lead to inactivity. Just Do It and the lessons you learn from your mistakes will allow you to make the next version way better than if you sat there trying to make it perfect the first time... " - Simon Chan

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