Archive for the ‘generation y’ Tag

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.

Human Resources: Please Stay True To Your Word

I understand that it’s a tough world out there. I understand the Human Resource world is a busy world. Interviews, resumes, applications, meetings, conferences, etc.  I understand if you are interviewing hundreds of people that it is impossible to call them all back to say “I’m sorry you will not be moving forward in the employment process.” However, if you say, during the interview, “I know that waiting is hard and we will be in touch-whether we hire you or not- it would be nice to get a phone call to find out what the answer is.” Actions speak louder than words. That’s all I’m saying. If you don’t say anything about calling me, though, you’re alright. I still love you. Otherwise….continue reading (well continue reading anyway)….

Human Resources is usually the first impression of the company a potential employee gets on the company.  If the interview goes so-so and the HR person says, “Hey I’ll call you back no matter what,” and they end up calling and saying, “Hey sorry there was someone better than you.” I won’t hold that against them. I will keep them on my list of good companies and companies to apply for in the future, when there may be another better position for me. I may even pass on the name to others in my professional network. Their Human Resources department is reliable, dependable and stays true to their word. And so is the company! If, on the other hand they say they’ll call and say something and they don’t I probably won’t keep them on my list because they aren’t true to their word and reliable. Sure, it may be that one individual that I was working with – but they have to remember they are representing their whole company. And they just left a bad taste in my mouth. Their actions weren’t that great – actually kind of bad.

Many of the positions I have applied for have been in small organizations and companies. It’s a small victory even getting an interview. Some have even shown me the stacks of resumes they’ve gotten via Craigslist.  So- say from that stack – a small company interviews 13 of 100 resumes they received.

They interview people for two or three days. They also say they’ll call back these potential employees back no matter what.  In my estimation this type of phone call could last about two minutes. Just a quick, “Hi this is so and so from small organization. I’m sorry we won’t be proceeding with your application.” A few questions will be asked and a polite thank you will be exchanged.  Thirty seconds for a breather and then the Human Resource person will continue with the next person. That’s about Thirty Three minutes. Thirty Three minutes of your time Human Resources….that’s it. Like I said before, I understand your time is money and I want you to use your time wisely but can you use it to do some community relations work? Let the community know that you are true to your word – reliable, dependable,  a good person? It would just be nice to know there are still good people out there (I know there are some!)

I say these things because this has happened to be a handful of times. It irks me to know that there are probably a handful of other people that may have been waiting by the phone for the same “yes” or “no” answer that I was. Of all the job hunting, job interviews, thank you notes, and uncertainty that I have had to feel in professional life I have been told 4 times that I will receive a phone call about my professional fate. Of those 4 statements, I have only actually received 1 phone call back. So, HR professionals, stay true to your words because 3 organizations have lost 1 great voice due to bad actions.

The Dream Job Versus The Job

One of my best friends in the whole wide world is going off to graduate school in a few weeks. Well, not so much “going off to” since the university is about 5 minutes from our mutual stomping grounds, but she will be starting school, and I will continue my job hunt. As we were talking about her classes (they sound fun and I kind of get that itch to go back….) she asked if I had applied for jobs in areas that do not appeal to me (i.e. – telemarketing, seasonal tax preparation, administrative assistant)

This got me thinking, when is it time to give up on your “dream job”, move on and look for just “the job”? I’m going on about 10 weeks of sustained unemployment. I’ve mentioned before that the average job hunt takes 6 months, that’s 26 weeks? I haven’t even hit the halfway point. How am I supposed to start really worrying about things when I haven’t even hit the official average halfway point in the job hunt? Of course there are the days where I wonder why that interviewer didn’t call back. I rocked that interview. Or wonder why I never did get a call back about that position for which I poured my soul out in my cover letter never did call me back

Here’s the thing. I went to my local workforce office today to take a typing test for two jobs. Surprise! I wasn’t the only person there. And if I had asked how long a handful of those people have been unemployed, I’m sure that at least a few of them have been unemployed longer than I have and haven’t given up looking for the “dream job.” So, no best friend who most likely will be in my same position two years from now (with a big juicy diploma and a fancy M.A. at the end of her name), I am not giving up looking for “the dream job” just to find “the job.” Well, at least not yet.

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.