Archive for the ‘GEN Y’ Tag

What Did You Learn At Your Last Job?

Whether you’ve been laid off due to the economy, left your previous employer due to mutual differences, or are leaving your position to move on to a brighter future, all professional positions can be considered learning experiences. It may be hard to see past terminations and lay-offs due to downsizing. But! consider that the average American will change their career 3 to 5 times in a life time, leaving a job in the grand scheme of things should just be considered part of life. Think of the following few things after you leave:

Lots of people use a previous position to rule out their next step in a career.  Maybe the position will help you become more specialized in specific area. Or, even realize that one specific specialization is not the area for you.

Did you hate working on your own? Maybe you loved the specialization but you want to work on a team to support the cause.  Or did that team just clash with your views? Maybe a different company will help you realize your dream.

How about your boss? Was there something that just irked you about your boss? Did her make-up just drive you up the wall?  Or maybe it was something real, like no feedback on projects that just was not helpful. Well, during your next interviews take an extra look at your potential boss’s appearance or ask on one on one feedback.

Was there a way paperwork was completed that drove you crazy? Ask about administrative policies. Did your previous company take forever to reimburse travel expenses?

Ask! Find a company that meets your expectations! So many people say that you are interviewing the company as much they are interviewing you. If you don’t feel like the company is a good fit for you, you’ll just be back at square one. And that’s a bummer.

Professional development does not stop when you don’t have a job. When you walk out the door for the last time, ask yourself what you learned at your previous place of employment and how you can find a new employer which builds on what you learned while you were there.

Finding Your Professional Moment

When I started this blog I wrote a long and lengthy entry tracing my journey into the non-profit world. As I get deeper and deeper into this current job of Case Manager for children in the care of the state, I think I finally I can finally pinpoint the moment where everything changed. I probably would have found my way to this position, even without this moment, but it just makes even more meaningful with the moment.  I think for young people, Generation Y (and even Generation X at some times) discovering and pinpointing that moment that drives you to your professional calling is key to finding your place in the professional world.

My moment involved two boys; two brothers who I came to love and adore during my time with Project Transformation. Their mother dropped them off on the last day, and in Spanish said, “They won’t be here tomorrow.” I explained to her that it was the last day and that it would be alright. We continued on to enjoy the last day. We gave all the kids big hugs, we gave them books, parents gave us going away presents, and some of the interns cried. I was one that cried. I probably cried too much (I have a history of crying too much).

As the kids started to trail off in the bright 4 o’clock Dallas sun, the boys’ mother came up to the door with their little cousins.  I had developed a pretty good relationship with the mother, as I and just a handful of the church staff could speak Spanish. She waited for the kids to run off to play and then started to cry. She said, through her tears (of course all in Spanish) that her husband had been taken away by immigration and that she was afraid for the boys. He made enough money through construction and other side jobs to support the family. She, however, did not work. She was so scared that the few interns that were around me started to get concerned. I’d reached the end of my Spanish proficiency so I called the office staff that I knew to discuss what we could do for her.  This was a turning point for me, politically as well. Before this I was worried about the democrats’ new star, Barack Obama and his ideas. Today, even though we’ve hit some rough patches, thanks to this mother and her boys, I believe in many of his ideas and his goals. Every time I think that his ideas are a bit off I think of these boys. And that’s how I got through ACORN (even if I didn’t agree with some ideas) – thinking of those boys and their mother.

Now, for these amazing little boys. I cannot remember their exact ages. I think they were 9 and 11. Aside from the occasional bad behavior I saw little emotion from these two. They were very close to their mother. They would hug her when they saw her in the afternoon. It was cute. And apparently, they were also very close to their father. She had told them he went to Mexico for vacation, but these boys were smart cookies. They knew why he was gone. After the office staff went to speak to their mother I went to see the boys. I had already cried about leaving these particular siblings. And then, the oldest boy started to cry. I hugged him like there was no tomorrow. I knew there was nothing that I could do for him, except be there for him.  I hugged the younger brother too, but the older brother, being the oldest and getting emotional was so hard. He was a tough guy. And he cried. And I cried. I don’t know if anyone else cried, but I do remember crying as well.

I don’t know what happened. I don’t know if the boys moved, if their father was able to come home or if their mother was able to survive on her own. It still makes me a little sad to think about this. It clicked with me sometime this week that this was the moment, when those boys showed some sort of emotion about the loss of their father, that makes me want to fix the world and do everything I can. I was leaning towards this vocation before I this event, but after this event, it was a foregone conclusion that whether it be helping people who cannot speak for themselves, like the boys’ mother, or the boys themselves, that’s what I’m going to do. I encourage all of you, no matter your age, to find that one particular moment in your life that drives you to do your job, whether that job is social work or public relations…find that one moment and live in that moment. The thing is, when you lose that moment is the second you lose your drive and purpose.

Exploration and Renewal During the Job Hunt

Unemployment is a great time of exploration and self renewal. It gives me time to explore new ideas and new paths. The last time I was unemployed (or semi unemployed) was exactly a year ago. I got lucky, as a job landed in my lap a few months later. I explored job options then, but not as much as now. since the job probably isn’t going to fall in my lap again.

I’ve always pondered the idea of being a writer. Not a novelist, I don’t have big enough ideas to be a novelist (as most of my ideas revolve around falling in love with an imaginary Prince). But, my idea of writing revolves more around blogging, reporting and general snark of life. It could happen.

I’m about a year in to my luxury fashion blogging experience with b5media. I love the freedom, the growth, and the few connections I have made. I have not fully explored the networking, the PR, or even the social media aspect of the job. And, I know that’s the next step. And part of exploration. Maybe my next step isn’t to be the CEO of a non-profit. Maybe it’s to be fabulous writer who writes in her PJs and midnight about Lady Gaga’s crazy get-ups. Who knows.

I’m exploring this option and taking a step towards it by not just looking at Freelance Writing postings, but actually responding to them. I am putting together writing samples. I am entering contests to get me into New York Fashion Week.

Yes, a contest. You heard me. And that’s where I need your help. GStar Raw, a great urban fashion company announced a great contest earlier this week. They are taking one person from Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Flikr to New York Fashion Week Spring / Summer 2011 as a Raw Reporter.  The winner needs to exude what they believe to be a “raw reporter” and that includes getting a pretty high number of votes by early February. Early February. That’s a while. So, if I can build a great cushion early then it will be smooth sailing (and exploring by February); or at least that’s my idea.

So, to get me to the Northwest Passage of the job hunt exploration (did that actually exist?) I need you all to click this link and vote for me. If I can win this may be a new great beginning!

Craigslist and My Job Hunt

Yesterday I wrote about Christmas. Today I’m writing about love. Craigslist is love. Not that I know much about love. My experience with love is limited to the San Antonio Spurs, my desire to own a pair of Christian Louboutin boots, and Justin Timberlake (darn that Jessica Biel!). But, when it comes to the job hunt, today’s love is Craigslist.

Craigslist is such a fabulous place. We all know Craigslist’s history (or we should and that’s why I’m telling you about it today). It started out way back in 1995 when Craig Newmark connected with friends to let them know what was going on in San Francisco. It grew and today, if I could meet this Craig Newmark. I would plant a big ole kiss on his cheek. I find a job to apply for nearly every other day.

But, how do you do this you ask? You can’t just bookmark the one place you’re looking for like “Non-Profit” in my case. I’ve come to the realization that a ton of people are just don’t really know how to navigate the simplistic site many great jobs end up in the wrong place.But, how do you find the right job? Here’s how I’ve navigated CL…

  • Admin/Office is a good place to find data management jobs. If you are a Microsoft Office guru check this area out.
  • Marketing/PR is great for outreach or organizing jobs. If you love people, are into social media and are ready to “transfer” your skills head over here.
  • Education area is where I have found a few positions in job training. Use your people and teaching skills to write a killer resume and cover letter for this one.
  • Health area is great for Case Management positions.  If you have previous case management experience, some non-profits drop their case management positions here instead of non-profit thinking they’re more health related.
  • Writing and ETC is great for Grant Writing positions. Since grant writing is more of a writing skill than a non-profit skill, some organizations put their writer positions here thinking that writers can express the organizations opinion better than someone with a non-profit background.

This doesn’t mean, though, that I neglect my standby and my targeted field, “Non-Profit.” That section of Craigslist is checked every few hours, as I’ve mentioned before…the job hunt is a full time job and I always have my eye out for the scam jobs as Craiglist has begun to warn us of background checks, credit checks, free trial offers, and other such icky things and people.

Much like love, jobs can be found in many places. And that’s why I love Craigslist. But, now…we must move on to the next part…actually getting the job!

Sleeping in on Christmas Morning and the Job Hunt

I’ve heard numerous times that looking for a job is a new full time job.  But, that doesn’t mean that looking for a new job doesn’t have to be fun or even slightly entertaining. It’s been estimated that for every job posted online that there are about 6 applicants.  That’s on average. What about highly coveted positions, or positions that have fun titles? They have to be higher than 6.

And some days, that’s just disheartening. I just want to go to sleep! After about a month and a half on the job hunt (during the holidays, nonetheless) I’ve come to the conclusion that sleeping in isn’t that bad of an idea.

Searching for a job is like a full-time job. When I see a new job posting it’s like Christmas morning. It’s even better when it matches my qualifications and I can write a new cover letter and resume to send-off to the person hiring for the position. But, do you really think that the person in charge, whether it be an actual HR Manager or an Office Director is sitting at their desk waiting for the perfect candidate to send them a pretty ribbon covered resume and cover letter? Hardly. They’re continuing on with their daily business and will get to your e-mail when they have a chance.

So, when you find that perfect job posting don’t get too giddy. Unless, of course, the deadline to get the application in is at midnight that night.  This is because of the recency effect.

As much as we hate to admit it, we all fall prey to the recency effect – remembering the first things we see and the last things we see.  I’ve come to believe that sending my resume towards the closing date is more effective than sending it at the beginning just because it’s one of the last things the person in charge is going to see, and remember. If you fall in the middle it’s just a big old mess  – even if you are a stellar candidate.

Based on the recency effect, sleep in! We’re adults and Christmas isn’t going to be over at 7am! Even if you know that job posting is there at midnight, take a Lunesta (no, don’t do that!), drink a glass of warm milk, count sheep, or whatever it is that puts you to sleep and think about the cover letter and resume in the morning. The person in charge will get there when they get there. Their presents arrive when they find their perfect candidate – at the deadline.

And then, you can jump up and down with joy after you get off the phone with the person in charge who set you up with an interview after you slept in and waited to send in your resume.

Don’t Mean Nothing To Me

Don’t Mean Nothing to Me. That’s the title of a song by the Tinted Windows. And that’s how I feel about my current position as unemployed. I know that I will find my way and I know things will be okay.

I know, I know. I am a horrible blogger. I’m pretty sure I don’t have an avid readership. And I haven’t updated in months. But, but, but…I will try my hardest to try!

The last time I wrote things were fabulous. I was following my dream, living it, serving, and being it. Today, however, things are different. And I will not rehash what can easily be read on BigGovernment.com or MediaMatters.org.  All that is necessary to know is that, much like many other non-profit positions, the money is no longer there and the grant is gone.  I mentioned in The Non-Profit Passion entry that my position was a temporary position, and indeed…it was.  The NeighborWorks grant contract was through March 2010, however, based on current events and occurrences, the grant was voided and now my position isn’t necessary.

At the present moment, I am taking my skills (you know those qualifications you put at the top of your resume…Microsoft Office, communication skills, reliable, adaptable, etc) and trying to find another great and rewarding position. Whether those skills lead me towards writing, development, outreach, policy, or case management is an unknown. It’s scary and well, just scary.

But, the things I have learned in the last year and a half with the previous organization has taught me so much.   I’ve learned how to communicate with so many different people. I’ve learned when to say that I’ve done something wrong and to fix it….and when to just fix it without pointing out that I’ve made an error. I’ve learned to be an Excel wizard. I’ve learned that working on the fly is sometimes the best medicine, but other times a plan is what is necessary to get things done. I’ve also learned to keep my eye out for myself.

Keep an eye out on yourself. Be prepared for the worst, but hope for the best. And that’s where I’m at now. While the purpose of what I am here for is service and others, there comes a time and place where I am at now. There were so many times that I heard people say, “Well do what is best for you,” in regard to looking for jobs and just generally being kind of nasty in the office. However, at this point, I really do need to be on the lookout for myself. The day BigGovernment.com broke the first video tape I was appalled. I was shocked. And, that’s when I hit the ground running. That was mid September. By the first of October I had my first job interview. The company wasn’t what I was looking for and I wasn’t what they were looking for, but nonetheless, I was looking out for myself. And now, a month and a half after the hunt started things are looking good. Fingers are crossed that hopefully I’ll just “unemployed” for a week.

I’m also smiling, I’m hopeful, and prayful because being unemployed don’t mean nothing to me right now….I know it won’t last long. And I know things are going to be alright.

Foreclosure, calling, and others who share my passion

I have mentioned before that Project Transformation helped me find my call to service. My call service my not be outward, it may not be at the pulpit, it may not be at a church, and it may not be noticeable to many. In the long run, however, that calling in between me and God. However, for those of you that are looking for that call to service let me share with you a short story about Reverend John Lasseigne, the city of San Antonio, me, and how they all are intertwined.

This Saturday, August 9, 2009, I flipped through the newspaper and saw the headline “Saving souls and homes: LA priest labors to keep his flock out of foreclosure.” I would have read this article no matter what, the topic is near and dear to my heart, since 45 hours of my week are devoted to the cause. As I began reading the article a particular line struck me, “Works of justice are an integral part of the priesthood. We have to take stands in aiding the needy and denouncing the injustices of society. ”

Social justice for the needy is what ACORN stands for, and part of why I initially applied to work for them.  As I began my time with ACORN I began working on my campaigns and was pointed towards foreclosures. At the time the word was nothing but a small thirty second story on CNN or MSNBC to me. Texas was a bubble. We were immune. My boss, however, said, “if we can stop it now, it doesn’t have to become a problem.” And that’s the approach I took. And that’s how I look at it today. There are foreclosures and delinquencies all over the city. It may not be a thirty second story on CNN, but it’s there. And that’s what I’m dedicated to, because that’s what social justice and my calling is.

Back to the priest… so Rev. Lasseigne didn’t start out devoted to foreclosures. It wasn’t on his radar. It wasn’t something he thought of on a daily basis. But, what he did know, as I mentioned before, was that Social justice was important. He has a J.D. and only after struggling with the thought of attending seminary, decided to join the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. At this point he learned Spanish and worked within the surrounding community, which was predominately latino and low income.  After finishing up his time in San Antonio he moved his way over to a similar neighborhood in Los Angeles.  It was not until a parishioners asked the Reverend to pray for them because they were going to lose their home to foreclosure that foreclosure came up on his radar. This was not his first, nor would it be the last family who would ask for his prayers and support through this tough time. These tough times is what has allowed this man, who has been called to Social justice, and to the Word, to help more the 1,500 people in one sitting.

I have, on occasion, said that I will pray for families that have come in to the office, only after they have brought it up. And I do. And it’s not just that day, but I have a whole list of families that I think of on a daily basis. Some have been helped through the housing counseling that my organization provides, some have been lost in the shuffle, and others I have lost complete contact with. In a weird twist of prayer, one client who was on this list, came in to the office a few days ago because she needs help again. Her son, who was the main source of her grief, had brain surgery, and massive medical bills which she was paying. Things are better for her son now, but her bills are still around and she still needs help. She is still on my list. There is another family, who says they will pray for me every time I get off the phone with them. And I will do the same. And not just because they say they will bring me enchiladas all the way from New Braunfels.

So, this interwined mess of serice, Social justice, the Word, non-profits, and life is crazy. And its never ending.  And I love it.

For the full article about Rev. Lasseigne read the article here.

For information about Foreclosure Prevention click here.

The Non-Profit Passion

When originally choosing to attend college my top three reasons for attending the school I did were the following:

  • 1. Size
  • 2. Distance from home
  • 3. Food

That was pretty much it. I visited Texas Lutheran University once, had an amazing meal and said, “Sign me up!” As I look back, two years after graduation and a year and a half into a non-profit career there probably were other reasons (and other forces) which guided me towards this choice. Whatever those forces and reasons were, it got me to where I am today.

As a sophomore in college I found the Wesley Foundation. It was pretty much the perfect time for me to find the United Methodist group. It started out large, but by the time I was a senior it was a core group of 5-6 people who could count on each other for thoughts, prayers, fellowship. and weekend outings. I also counted on them to find what to do after graduation.

And that’s where the non-profit journey began. With two degrees in hand (Psychology and Spanish) but no direction (much like this blog) I headed to Project Transformation where I would search for what I would do next. Of course, much like all Psychology majors, my idea of post-graduation was, “Well I’ll help people for a little bit and then go to Grad school for something…” but what would I do for that time in between? Would I be a social worker? Would I be a counselor? Would I work in HR? Project Transformation showed us how we could serve the world according to our purposes.

There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. – 1 Corithians 12:5

pt_logoThroughout the summer, this verse was explained through various “experiences.” By visiting people who were “serving” in different ways I saw that serving wasn’t just being a “social worker” or a “minister” or a “teacher.” It was very powerful, and life changing.  With the explosion of service and the increased funding for Service I recomend every college student spend at least a quarter of a term with AmeriCorps; whether it be with PT or with another organization that better suites you.

Taking these findings back home, I set out to find my way to serve according to my purpose. Oh my, did that take a long time. Student loans started to come, cell phone bills came and went and I was desperate. It wasn’t long until serving with a purpose took the backseat to making some type of money. I wasn’t going to be strong enough to play the Emerging Church enlightened follower yet. No ma’am. No sir. So, I set off to find myself, not, the job, but a job.  And I found it. I found one. As the deeded telemarketer. And I wasn’t the only college graduate who couldn’t find a job there. We all dreaded the days in and out of the cubicles, “smiling and dialing.” But it paid the bills.

I let my bosses know that I was looking for “the one.” It was like the telemarketing job and I were friends with benefits but nothing would ever come of what we were doing together. Sad, because there were ways to move up in the company. I went on several interviews, including “social worker” and “case manager” but none panned out until March of 2008. It was a dreary day in South Texas. I trekked my way downtown to an area I would never have gone before to an office building that I got lost in. And I got hired!

I got hired for “the job.” It was as a “community organizer.” I had never heard the term before and this was just before Barack Obama burst on to the national scene to tell everyone what a community organizer was. Hearing some of the things an organizer did scared me. But, it was an excited scared, not a scared scared like telemarketing did to me.  I was going to be helping people, I was going to be fighting for rights and justice and the people I wanted to help from the time I was young. I was going to be working for ACORN.

And then came elections. And I didn’t register a single person to vote. San Antonio registered a handful of people to vote, all friends of friends. But, Ohio, Nevada, and Missouri sure did register a lot more people to vote then I did. So many that the people that were funding my paycheck didn’t want to pay it anymore. And that’s when “the job” was gone.

Back to square one, back to the internet and back to prayer. And Oh my. What to do? What to do? Well. Five to ten interviews came and went with no luck. The funding still hadn’t come back…but then came the phone call. It was ACORN Housing, “NeighborWorks is going on its second year and we need someone for Quality Control. Will you do it? It’s full time. And even though it says temporary in the description, I can say it’ll last at least two year.” Score one for me! And here I am. Fully employed, serving according to my purpose, saving the world, one house at a time, and I love it. And everyone has their story. And this is mine.