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Archive for June, 2012

How I Got My Job

I promised that I would write a quick blog about how I went about getting a job. Obviously, the area I live in will differ from yours, and therefore may have more/less/different job offerings. However, a couple things helped keep me afloat while searching for a job.

  1. Apply Early: I started applying for jobs a month and a half before I graduated. This helped me get a feel for what was out there as well as hone my cover letter skills for when I graduated. In fact, the job I have now was a job I applied for before graduation.
  2. Apply Often: I looked for at least 30 minutes a day. Sometimes I wouldn’t find anything new, but other times I would find five jobs worth applying for, and I would bang those out that day. Some days, I spent more than an hour looking through various websites. Some websites I used included the normal job search engines (Monster, Indeed, USA Jobs, America’s Job Exchange, my state’s Department of Labor website, my nearby town’s Chamber of Commerce website, my local newspapers’ websites, my local region’s job website, as well as a couple companies’ websites I had an eye on).
  3. The Worst They Can Say is “No”: There were a couple jobs that I applied for which I was not entirely qualified for, but I applied for them anyway. Sometimes company’s look for less experienced workers in order to tailor them to their needs. It’s easier to make a habit than break a bad habit. My mother, who used to work in Human Resources, told me that her company rarely wrote off a recent college grad applicant, because graduating college showed that someone could commit to something for four years. The job I have now wanted more office experience than I had, but they were still willing to look at me.
  4. Show Someone Your Resume: I did this as a part of a course I took, but I think it would be beneficial outside the classroom. Give your resume to classmates, professors, your college career development office, your family, etc., and ask them to give you any criticism. The might catch proofreading errors, they might suggest adding or taking away something, and they may suggest flipping a few things around. It doesn’t hurt to get feedback, especially since the resume is often one of the first things an employer looks at.
  5. Interview with Enthusiasm: I interviewed four times after graduation (three for the job I currently have). When I interviewed, I tried to loosen up because I am quite introverted. I took a quick moment to think about the question they asked me, and answered thoughtfully. When I was asked questions about my experience, I told them exactly what I have done and didn’t embellish or lie. And when they asked if I had done something, I resisted the urge to say I had when I hadn’t. Bring out your best personality when you interview.
  6. Be Persistent: I didn’t do this step, but I was close to trying it. When you apply for a job, if you haven’t heard back in a couple weeks, call the employer. Ask them if the position is still open and when to expect a call for an interview. The office that hired me took more than a month to call me in for an interview (I found out that it was because they received 150 applications).

My best advice is to not give up or get discouraged. When I started worrying about the fact that no one had called, I reminded myself that I had all this free time to enjoy. I read, wrote, watched movies, etc….Things that I hadn’t been able to do as much while in college. So, enjoy those things while you have unlimited time to enjoy them, but never neglect to look through some job websites for jobs, because you never know when the one will pop up.

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One Month and Some Change After Graduation….

June 26, 2012 1 comment

I am officially employed. At a “real” job. You know, the 8 hour job with benefits.

But first, I want to thank all my followers because yesterday I reached 20 followers! I never thought anyone would find me interesting enough to follow, so thank you.

Yesterday, I had my third interview at a law firm and I wasn’t sure what to expect. When I got there, one of the partners came out and greeted me. He then took me into the conference room and began to tell me that the office was impressed with my education and credentials and that they wanted to have me join the office.

The position is a secretary position. However, they train their secretaries in paralegal work in the event that someone in the office should leave. That way, I would move to the legal assistant position and they would find a new secretary. He explained that they planned on hiring another woman in about a month (she has the same credentials as I do: recently graduated, etc.). When she joins, we would likely split the position and be half secretary, half legal assistant. It’s a great opportunity to gain some legal experience and I am grateful that they see potential in me.

I’m starting work today and can’t wait to see what skills I learn and use. In a few days, I plan on writing a quick blog on how I found a job (it wasn’t as easy as it seems to have panned out for me) and how to keep up the fight. I only graduated about a month and some change ago, so being employed this quickly is great.

Thank you everyone for the well wishes and I hope everyone is doing well, whether you are writing, working, traveling, reading, etc.

Cheers!

Anna Karenina Movie Trailer

The other day, I found out that Anna Karenina was being made into a movie which would begin playing in November. I thought, “how fitting that I would start reading the novel before knowing a movie would come out too!” I’m hoping the movie will be well done. It looks like it has been done well. I’m excited to compare the novel to the movie (I know, the novel will be better).

Living Outside the Reflections of Other Lives

June 25, 2012 3 comments

I continue to read Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, a translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, albeit slowly. While I read, I mark pages with quotes that catch my interest in some way. This week, I have a couple to share.

When he saw it all, he was overcome by a momentary doubt of the possibility of setting up that new life he had dreamed of on the way. All these traces of his life seemed to seize hold of him and say to him: ‘No, you won’t escape us and be different, you’ll be the same as you were: with doubts, an eternal dissatisfaction with yourself, vain attempts to improve, and failures, and an eternal expectation of the happiness that his eluded you and is not possible for you.’

But that was how his things talked, while another voice in his soul said that he must not submit to his past and that it was possible to do anything with oneself.

I don’t think this quote needs any commentary, and it appears that it could fit most people’s lives. However, the reason it touched me in such a way is because I have been having doubts about the life I want: the job search has been slow, although it has made progress, see my previous post; I’ve been grappling with what would happen when I do get a job, would I have time for reading, writing, blogging, adventuring?; and the biggest doubt of all, can I obtain a life I am truly pleased with? Like the quote, these questions are raised by one voice inside me, and the other proclaims, often, that I CAN do this, I can have a job and have time to read, write, think, blog, and explore life. Most days, this voice wins, but sometimes, the other voice can be quite loud.

It’s okay, in my mind, to have both voices: the negative and the positive. Sometimes they both have something really important to say, something worth hearing out. I guess I just need to focus on listening to one of the other more.

The next quote is a nice description of reading:

She wanted too much to live herself. When she read about the heroine of the novel taking care of a sick man, she wanted to walk with inaudible steps round the sick man’s room; when she read about a Member of Parlaiment making a speech, she wanted to make that speech; when she read about how Lady Mary rode to hounds, teasing her sister-in-law and surprising everyone with her courage, she wanted to do it herself. But there was nothing to do, and so…she forced herself to read.

The quote does not give the passage justice as the point of the passage is to show the characters inability to read because she is following “the reflection of other people’s lives” rather than living her own. But, as an avid reader, I understand this feeling since I have felt it on occasion, especially when I have had too much on my mind. Does anyone else experience this?

There are many nicely-translated and thought-provoking passages in the novel and I will continue to throw a couple up here now and then when I have time and if the marked passages still evoke something within me when I re-read them a second time.

I have heard of people keeping quote journals. I wonder if anyone really does that? And if so, is it nice to leaf back through them later?

The First Real Possibility of a Job

Over the past two weeks, I have interviewed twice at a law office near where I live. The first time, the interview lasted a mere ten minutes, and although I felt that the interviewer liked me, I wondered if the amount of time he spent questioning me indicated that the interview hadn’t gone as well as I had felt. After all, I have had longer interviews at previous jobs (in retail, especially, where some of my interviews have gone on for quite some time).

However, the following week (last week), the secretary called me again and set up a second interview, this time with on the law partners. When I arrived, I met with another member of the office first who told me a little bit about how she came to work there and how the office worked. Both stories made me feel much more comfortable and more excited about the job opportunity.

When she went to get the partner, I was still feeling much more comfortable, and actually slightly more spunky than normal (which is great considering I am fairly introverted). The partner came in, I shook his hand, we sat down, and he explained that he was embarrassed that he hadn’t yet looked at my resume. He told me to tell him a little about myself while he perused at a few things on the resume before him.

So, I told him what I generally tell everyone: I recently graduated with my B.S. in English and minors in both creative and professional writing. I am still looking for what I want to do with my life and want to explore my many interests to find my passions. Law is one of my interests, and an opportunity to find out if the environment makes me passionate would allow me to explore this interest further. I enjoy writing, hence my two minors, and I feel confident that I can learn how to write in any setting and for any situation.

He liked that. He asked about a few lines on my resume and I explained them briefly while adding spunky quips here and there. I’m not like that around strangers, I tend not to feel comfortable enough to say spunky lines, but I continued to do this the entire interview.

Again, the entire time I spent in the office wasn’t long. Perhaps thirty minutes. So, I left again wondering if I had made a strong enough impression during the short period of time I was there.

Apparently I had because on Friday I received a call from the partner asking me to come in for yet a third interview. Since graduating, my interviews have never reached three in one office, nor have they reached two. I feel like this is the first real possibility at a job with my degree. It both excites and terrifies me.

I look forward to seeing where this goes!

The Needs of the Day

One thing I enjoyed in college was the use of a literature journal. A professor never made me keep one until my senior year when I took two courses with a professor I look up to now. Part of my grade in both courses (20% in fact) was keeping a journal. What he wanted us to do in these journals was to think. And, when I first started the first one, I saw what he intended. As an English major, I read many many many texts, and sometimes, later, I wouldn’t quite remember too much about the book or short story or essay unless we discussed specifics in class. What my professor intended with these journals was to make us remember what meant most to us in the text. It could be quotes, thoughts, soup boxes caused by something the text said, etc.

This literature journal idea is something I want to keep up, but something I have been less-than-willing to do because it almost requires me to have a pencil in hand to mark a passage I want to go back to later. However, since I recently began reading Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, I almost want to start back into journal keeping. Instead of marking a passage with a pen or pencil (using an * tends to be my favorite way to mark a place), I just folded the corner of a particular page which caught my eye.

That passage is near the very beginning of the novel:

There was no answer, except the general answer life gives to all the most complex and insoluble questions. That answer is: one must live for the needs of the day, in other words, to become oblivious. To become oblivious in dreams was impossible now, at least till night-time; it was impossible to return to that music sung by the carafe-woman; ad so one had to become oblivious in the dream of life.

One of the reasons I noticed this passage was because I had just finished reading The Count of Monte Cristo, and was struck with one of the lessons the novel tries to give readers: wait and hope. Both¬†Monte Cristo and Anna Karenina‘s message is about life (about the human condition!) which literature tries to depict.

With my more recent interest in Russian literature, I am struck by the darkness of this quote. But, what did I really expect? This is actually the kind of quote, the kind of question I am interested in looking at. People tend to focus so much on the positive, but I think that something negative can say something specific about the human condition as well.

Having said that, I have problems with this particular quote. However, I do like what it says when you strip away the negative implications of it. Sometimes we focus so much on the dreams, the desires, the wants we have for today, and we forget about the needs of the day: taking care of family, taking care of finances, taking care of the house, etc.

My generation has recently become obsessed with YOLO, you only live once, which besides being grammatically incorrect, is not as happy and positive an idea as everyone seems to consider it. I understand the thought behind it. Carpe diem, YOLO, live life to the fullest….

We can’t forget the life isn’t just about wants. It’s about needs, too. I don’t necessarily want to get a job and lose the freedom to read and write that I have now, but I do need a job in order to deal with all the other needs of my life. Until I find a way to break into a freelance writing career, I have to go into the work place and leave my comfy room with my over-filled bookcases. It’s not as bad a thing as it sounds once I put it into perspective. It’s one way I’m coming to terms with no longer being a student.

I don’t want to be didactic. These are just thoughts. Thoughts which should be in my literature journal that hasn’t been created yet. But, these thoughts are extremely relevant to my return from an undergraduate degree into the real world, and that’s exactly what this blog was started for.

Finding My Writing Groove

June 20, 2012 2 comments

Since I am still searching for a job and enjoying the free time that I have, I have been doing as much as I can with two of my greatest passions: writing and reading. I will get to reading later, because, today, I am mostly focused on my writing.

Last night, I sort of had a breakthrough in a plot issue I had been pondering for my current short story. My breakthrough is helping the story along (I was trying to write without a plan, which actually semi worked for me). Now, this short story has been marinating in my head for a few months. Why? Because college gave me more than enough to write, so I rarely had time to put anything creative down on paper. However, I am trying to make up for that.

I am a slow writer. Which is something I am trying to work on with my free time. Therefore, I am writing without going back and editing (a very bad habit of mine). It seems to be working. Although I am still writing slowly, I am writing more than normal. My other completed short stories (which, in no way, are ready to face the world) have been half the length of my current WIP.

How did I get here? Well, I have been experimenting with different ways of finding my groove. During my final semester (in the spring), I finally discovered that I work best in the morning. Therefore, I now get up fairly early (I’m still enjoying sleeping in while I can). After breakfast, I sit myself at my computer and write. Today, I did something slightly different.

Normally, I have a few webpages up for when I need a quick mental break. This has turned out to be a bad way to write because my quick mental breaks turn into longer web surfing episodes. So, today, I kept a single window open for my music. I quickly (for me) banged out 1,000 words. It isn’t much, but it is more than I can normally get done in the same amount of time.

I’m going to continue playing around with my writing habits. Hopefully, by the time I get a job, I will have a nice schedule or plan down that I can follow and keep up with my writing.

If I get too distracted, I think I may try going back to free-hand sometimes. Free-hand usually works when I have writer’s block and I could see how it might help me when I am too distracted by the internet.

How does everyone else make sure they write? Any suggestions?