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Today's II went well. It was nice to talk to an old skool BMUGer anyway and furthermore to be talking about interesting stuff. I learned some HRish stuff which helps me understand what my immediate future might look like. My department has been a bit cagey about that. They don't wish me ill, I'm sure, but they're also looking out for #1. The information I learned today helps me prioritize what things to do when I'm at work and what things to do in my jobhunt. I feel a bit more peace-of-mind. I also feel more hopeful about finding another place here, hopefully in some of the departments that are doing exciting interdisciplinary work.

What I learned about the HR perspective of my situation has made me feel secure enough to risk spending the enormous amount of money UCB Extension charges for their classes in order to take their Graphic Design Professional Sequence for certification. I'm a little underwhelmed by their new curriculum (they used to have a program in Graphic & Interactive Design), so I'll look around to see if there's somewhere, maybe even somewhere cheaper, that I can get a rigorous and forward-thinking grounding in design principles. However, if there isn't, I'll sign up for UCB Ex. Actually, the class I'd be taking is in SF anyway (meaning I don't get the advantage of the "Berkeley" in UCB), so I should totally check out CCA's classes since no matter what I'm going to have to cross that freakin' bridge.
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I just got home from a 2-day vacation at Harbin. I nearly immediately swung into looking at job ads and trying to network again. I have a job interview tomorrow and honestly I'm a bit nervous about it.

So I was looking around LinkedIn trying to beef up my network. I asked my most recent co-workers if they'd be willing to "endorse" me and received a reply from one that HR will slap 'em down if they do that. I was astounded. She assures me this is actually pretty common at big corporations these days. Anyway, that made me start looking further afield. I haven't really kept up with more than one person from my CNET days. Like the job I just had at my most recent employer, I was in a department that was isolated from others. Both by caste and by location. It just made it harder than it already is for me to make lasting friends. I'm glad [livejournal.com profile] napa is my friend, though. So, anyway, I was looking through old emails trying to identify people who might be willing to bear witness to my work at CNET. And I found this old email exchange from CNET's employee chat list.

-----Original Message-----
From: Brent Hecht
Sent: Tuesday, August 28, 2001 10:45 AM
Subject: College Tips

Hi everybody,

Brent Hecht, Intern here. Seeing as I will be leaving for college soon and haven't yet done my spam-generating duty, I figured I would combine my two issues. I am a little afraid to ask, but does anybody have any tips for a first year college student?

Innocent High School Graduate,

-----Original Message-----
From: (me)
Sent: Tuesday, August 28, 2001 11:00 AM
Subject: RE: College Tips

Well, you're already taking advantage of my major regret: take advantage of those internships (even if they're unpaid)!

If you're going to a big university, immerse yourself in all the free/cheap social life they provide. You'll never have access to as many good free concerts, movies, etc. again in your life. Sign up for every student discount card you can get. Always ask for the student discount. Even the airport shuttles have them. That student discount comes in real handy for travel, as well.

If you're shy, get over it. Don't rely on just meeting people at the dorms. It's very limiting.

Take advantage of student health services and go not only when you're really, really sick, but go for preventative health care. You'll never have access to as cheap healthcare again (in the U.S. at least).

Get to know your professors and keep in touch. You'll need recommendations from them later on. Even if you don't think you're going to grad school.

Sign up for your alumni society if you're part of a big university. I'm soooo not a rah-rah, but I became a lifetime member of the alumni association because it gives me lifetime circulation privileges at all UC libraries. Worth the price of admission. And the price goes up each year...

-----Original Message-----
From: (me)
Sent: Tuesday, August 28, 2001 2:48 PM
Subject: RE: College Tips

Oh yeah...

If you're at all interested in theater, do some in college. It'll probably be the last chance you have to get into that sort of thing as you won't have the time once you pursue another career and the opportunities get more limited for amateurs.

This goes for other hobbies you might have. College is a great place to pursue other interests that may not necessarily be your major or your career.

Take advantage of any Education Abroad program your college might have. Cross-cultural experiences are broadening and it's easier to get this kind of immersion experience through college than nearly any other way. For instance, if I wanted to move to Sweden, I'd have to prove that I have an adequate independent income source, a Swedish job, or that I'm a student enrolled in a Swedish school. It's easier to arrange that last one than the former two. And you can gain valuable language skills depending on what country you stay in (not that Swedish is in big demand, but you know what I mean...)

If you don't already exercise, start doing so. You are probably going to put yourself through some rigorous living (possibly of the malted variety), and keeping fit will help you survive it and add years to your life besides. Play intramural sports, use the cheap student gym facilities. Build those habits now so that you don't end up a crumbling wreck in your 30s (not that I'd know anything about that).

-----Original Message-----
From: Toni Burton
Sent: Tuesday, August 28, 2001 11:56 AM
To: (me)
Subject: RE: College Tips

i think CNET is a great place, but honestly, your intelligence is wasted here... =)

So, Toni, wherever you are, know that your kind words brought a smile to my face and joy to my heart even 5 years later.
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Today is my last day at work. As well as the last day for 7 other people who were hit in this round of layoffs. I'm oddly chipper. While my future is by no means secure (I have no savings and live from paycheck to paycheck), temporarily at least, I feel a great weight lifted from my shoulders. There were things about this workplace I really liked and I'll be lucky if I get those traits in my next job, but my position itself was dead end and completely disrespected. So I got bitter and began having trouble shifting myself out of bed each morning.

I was very resistant to taking anti-depressants again, but it's been a good thing so far. I'm much more positive. I can see the bad points but I don't let them overwhelm me the way they used to. Which is INVALUABLE in my current circumstances. So today I'm feeling a bit up, eager to get out and get on with my life. I have a lot of work ahead as this layoff comes right about the time construction is finishing on the house. I will have a SHITLOAD of cleanup work to do from 1.5 years of lead paint, wood, and other toxic dust as well as having my stuff tossed around the house more times than an irate Skycap could have accomplished. I have lost things I have to find. I have to consult a lawyer to negotiate the weird territory of having renters but being a landlord-on-premises. Then I have to start the always yucky process of looking for housemates. And pray I can find people I can get along with before my money runs out. Even sooner than this comes the mad rush to look through construction debris for my 2005 medical receipts so I can file my taxes.

Then there’s trying to give my life structure so I don’t fall into depression. Thank god it’s spring. It’s a sunny day today and gorgeous. This will make it easier to go out and take walks and ride my bike. I need to get back into a regular exercise habit and unemployment is the perfect time to do it. I need to make time for my art and this will be a huge challenge because the voices my parents installed in me will be screaming that I’m too broke to afford such fripperies, that I should be looking for a job 24/7 and that I should take anything because everyone works at jobs they hate and why should I think I’m so special as to deserve a job that’s actually fulfilling?

Today, anyway, I feel up. And I feel like it’s possible to meet these challenges.
spidra: (Default)
People ask me what I'd like to be doing and I don't have a concise answer. Here's something I drafted up for someone else. If you hear of anything that sounds like a fit, please let me know.

Major components of current job:

tracking tickets with a primitive database system
tracking status of various FTP directories via email and FileMaker Pro database
communicating with teams about FTP directories
cleaning deadwood off FTP server, notifying of clearance, changing passwords and readying new directories as requested.
first line of FTP troubleshooting
tracking textual, web, and media errata
coordinating response to errata
advising on policy for addressing gravest errata, when needed
gave regular feedback to all departments on customer requests and trends
researched ill-documented company processes and often reinvented missing wheels
made up for severe dysfunctions in communication between departments, kept balls rolling

What I did that wasn't really taken advantage of:

Analyzing mistakes and developing ways to prevent them and to more efficiently address the ones that do slip by
Keeping on top of customer trends and communicating that information to other departments in ways that would have helped us adjust to market challenges as well as retain and build on customer loyalty
Analyzed places where my department was inefficient in ways that had no corresponding goodwill payoff and suggested ways to eliminate those inefficiencies and save money

What I am skilled at:

research (mostly in the humanities but I've done technical research on computer subjects)
interfacing between tech and non-tech people
explaining tech concepts to non-tech people
documenting processes
identifying inefficiencies and making suggestions for improvements (will implement improvements if allowed to do so)
great at following-through
tracking/traffic control
troubleshooting (both computer and other)

Fields of study/workplaces I like:

Historical Societies
Certain legal environments
Tech places that aren't total mills (I really enjoyed my Apple software QA stints)
Sustainable Living

What I don't like about my current job and would like to get away from:

phone switchboard
lack of respect built-in to the department/title
usually have to escalate the most interesting stuff to someone else because they are given more time to solve it
not having the tools I need to do my job
low pay

I know this is sounding vague as all shit. What I know is that if I can't do what I really want to do for a living (full-time vocalist, artist, whatever...), I at least want to be paid well for deferring my dreams and would like a job that's more fulfilling than most of what I've done so far.

What fulfills me:

Helping solve challenging problems
Being respected by my company and co-workers for a job well done
Learning interesting new things (not just proprietary stuff you can't transfer to other work and which has no application to your life)
Being able to use my intellect and especially my creativity
Being in a job that pays me enough to thrive and not just enough to barely survive
Being treated like an adult (not being micromanaged)
Having someone value my advice when advising in areas of my expertise

Jobs I'd like to do but probably don't have all the qualifications yet (either on paper or sometimes I just need a quick course):

junior sysadmin, trainer, project manager, software QA, museum assistant, historical research assistant
spidra: (Default)
I'm submitting a resume at a well-known creative media company. The kind of place that employs genii and somewhere where I'd only qualify for a very few jobs. I don't know anyone on the inside. My attempt to find names from friends of friends isn't panning out in time. So I had to come up with a cunning plan to have my resume pop. I was going to start in on the actual resume-writing first but, typically, I had a bitch of a time trying to do it. I dreaded it and I was procrastinating. The 3rd week of sinus headaches was making it even harder to press ahead. So I slept way too much of Saturday away. I started working yesterday evening. When I hit a brick wall with the resume-updating, I decided to move into the creative stuff (which is *normally* what I have a block with). I'm doing my resume as a pop-up model of a circus wagon. I have no special expertise with making pop-up stuff and have a terrible time with math. Being a mathematical person would have helped with this. Would have shortened the process by hours. But I pressed on with my usual bullheaded ignorance. After hours, I finished the mock-up pattern and I've just finished transferring that to the nice card stock I bought. Now I'm going to move into painting it with watercolors and gouache.

I feel a bit guilty for having done more with the creative stuff than ACTUALLY WRITING THE RESUME, but putting this much work into the packaging will not only help it get seen, but it will MAKE me write the resume because I cannot have put this much work into something only to putz out.

I wish my camera worked. I wanted to take pictures of this process. I'm hoping folks at work will help me document the finished product tomorrow.

I have such a hard time breaking through my creative block when it comes to the visual arts. So much familial bullshit and then add to that that it's been 15 years since I was prolific at all. The longer I go not practicing, the more intimidating it gets. I'm glad I had this way to trick myself into breaking it. I'm fairly certain the finished product will be something to be proud of, whether I get the interview/job or not.


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