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Yesterday I did my usual winter narcolepsy for most of the day. In fact, my sleep schedule is all fucked up because of it. Need to get on the ball not only to make the most of what little time I still have off work but also to be on a regular schedule so I don't suffer unduly when I go back to work.

My aim is to sit down and brainstorm on what I need to do, what I want to do, and what my goals are for short, medium and long-term. I will be prioritizing those lists.

I've decided to make another pass through my books and be more ruthless about what to keep. The amount of my possessions is oppressing me. This realization doesn't mean it will be easy to get rid of stuff. I still have tons of emotional baggage around my possessions. But what drives me even more than my own need to simplify my life is the need to make sure the renters here have as much storage and workspace as possible. I have to maximize that so that people will feel the rent is worth it.
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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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On my schedule today were a brown bag presentation and a lunch with someone I had a couple conversations with that I wanted to make contact and have lunch with before they turf me out here. Both went really well. Whereas most presentations (of any sort, not just brown bags) have been full of the worst sort of Power Pointillism ™, this one was so much more dynamic. Plus the subject matter was really interesting. Later this summer these guys are going to launch a site called "Remixing Çatalhüyük" that looks to be really impressive. Of course the proof is in the pudding. I wasn't able to sit down and actually use the site on something less than a T1 so I could judge it for accessibility and user-centric design, but it looks awesome. Now, this would be good anywhere but it's especially impressive at the University of California because most UCB sites suck bongwater. That's what happens when you take the taxpayers' money and dump it into private sector-distorted salaries for regents, chancellors and a bloated administration - the actual educational mission of this institution gets buried sometimes...

Then the co-worker and I actually had our brown bag lunches by the banks of Strawberry Creek. He was alternately exhilarated and crestfallen at the presentation. A similar project he'd worked on for 5 years hadn't been able to get the support it needed to reach full fruition. But he was certainly impressed and intrigued by the work this other group had been able (and allowed) to achieve. We tossed ideas back and forth about the department, approaches to presenting information, my job prospects, his job prospects, etc. He told me "you say what you think - don't ever change that about yourself...I love that." We got up to go back to work and he thanked me for some ideas I'd given him. I emphasized that I wanted to keep in touch even if I couldn't stay at the university and he said honestly that he's pretty terrible at doing that but he'd try. I was glad that he framed it candidly ahead of time like that. Otherwise I might have taken it personally instead of just realizing he's very busy and he's bad at using some of the other means folks have for staying in touch.

After I got back, I dropped a line to the brown bag presenter. He'd asked me my name as I was leaving and I spaced. Plus I wanted to make actual memorable contact with him. I dropped him a line and he replied saying, "Of course, I remember you--particularly, as the articulate spokesperson for common sense at [our big department] meetings". Whee!

I came back to an email from my lunching co-worker saying he's really enjoyed our talks. I'm glad that my idealism and candor, which have probably held me back most of my working life, are actually appreciated by some folks.
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Lots of down thoughts today. I called my friend P to see if she wanted to join me for lunch since unless I wanted to spend yet another lunch eating an Atkins bar, I was going out. Luckily, she was able to join me. I haven't had lunch with anyone for a while. I ask folks...it's nice when both people's schedules can jibe. Anyway, she's not having a good time, either. Lost her job, about to lose her place to live, relationship not swell, Aunt Flo is visiting. We made quite a pair! But it was good for me to listen to someone else's troubles. Gets my mind off my own momentarily.

So I got to see P.

Then I went back to the campus jobsite and saw that although the first review was this Wednesday, I'm still able to apply for the job. Although I still feel ambivalent about the job, I will work this weekend to update my resume and write a proper cover letter and get it in. If I do, that will be the first job I've actually applied for yet. Though I look at job ads every day, many times a day.

So, job still open.

For the last couple days I've been investigating what's on offer at lynda.com When I worked at Peachpit, I thought their Hands-On-Training books were the best tutorial books (as opposed to reference or task-based) we had. I looked at some of their sample videos for CSS and already I'm learning better than I was from one of Peachpit's books. I love reading, but I've always learned things better from being shown than from reading. I Googled and found a coupon code for a 7-day trial of their online learning library. And I will probably fork over $375 for a full year's membership after my 7 days are up. I can tell that this resource could really help me learn quite a lot. It'll be easier for me to upgrade my existing skills as well as learn new ones and it's cheaper than taking as many classes, it's flexible, etc.

So - some hope of learning good things.

Got some exercise walking down (and up on the way back) to downtown Berkeley.

Asked my brother who has started his own business what that's like so I can make a more realistic assessment of whether I even want to go down that road.

Asked for an informational interview with the head of Collaboration Tools and we're scheduling that.

I *do* actually try to remember that it's more handleable if I try to think about all of this in shorter periods of time and what I have to do to get through the hour, day, week, etc.
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When you have a month or more before you have to make a decision, how do you approach things? Do you compromise immediately or what? I read and re-read the job req for this one campus job. It is likely I wouldn't have to take a huge paycut. While my work has been hard for the last year, this particular job would be more physically exhausting, I thought. Probably more stress and office politics. Then there were some job reqs that I could learn but wasn't that impressive in yet. So I waffled and finally decided not to apply. Yet after the informational interview today and how that sorta squelched much hope of finding really interesting work in the same overall department, I began to regret not applying for the job.

I'm very tired of settling, going from entry-level to entry-level, paying my dues, hoping there's a career development ladder and finding there's none. On the other hand, I have a *very* thin financial cushion. I won't be leaving the university any sooner than they push me out. Unless I find some tremendous job on the outside. Otherwise, I'm looking at transferring somewhere in the uni or waiting until I'm kicked out because I can't afford to give up the unemployment insurance.

Hmmm. I'm having trouble phrasing my question clearly. Let me try again: How high are your standards when you're looking for a job? Do you compromise early and often? Do you try for a "realistic" goal? Do you hold out for nothing less than what you think you deserve? A combo, depending on how long you've been unemployed?

BooYAH!

May. 5th, 2006 07:41 pm
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I was offered the job. Offered it at the salary I requested. And I have accepted. Solvency, here I come!

Friends who work at the university? Give me your stats so we can start having power lunches.
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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,
Brent

-----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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I'm mostly through with packing. Was going to leave early but I'm taking the time to comb through old user email and print out the ones that really singled me out for thanks. I didn't get a lot of thanks on my job, especially not from management, so I've got to hang on to what I've got. Maybe I'll make a little chapbook of them. I need to remind myself that I rock more than I think I do.

There were a couple people (::cough::Director of Marketing::cough::) who continued snubbing me right on through, but I got some pleasant surprises today in the form of co-workers who took me aside to tell me how much ass they thought I kicked on this job. Some were people I knew were allies and others were people from whom the news was a bit surprising.

I know I'm a sensitive person. My shrink says I definitely pick up on stuff that's going on under the surface but I don't always interpret it correctly. And the folks who surprised me with their sincere admiration are a good lesson to me not to run away with some of the more insecure thoughts my sensitivity leads me to have.

I was really moved by the couple folks who had kind things to say about my skills, work ethic, and demeanor.
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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.

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