Just get a job?

Over the past few weeks I’ve been kept pretty busy and unfortunately have been MIA in terms of my blog!

I experienced my first ever Portland snow – I LOVE snow, so for me this was great!  Check it out!

I continued to apply for marketing/communications/PR jobs and watched a little Olympic figure skating in between.  I’ve always been jealous of the fluidity and skill these ladies and gents have, not to mention the amazingly intricate skating outfits!

Ashley-Wagner-Hot-Sexy-2014-Winter-Olympics-Sochi-Figure-Skating

I also celebrated a few milestones with my wonderful boyfriend (we had our second Valentine’s day and our first anniversary within the last week or so)!

Excuses, excuses, I know!

Other than work, my job search is what’s kept me most busy and I’ve gained some interesting insights in the process.  Currently I work retail – not the most glamorous, but it’s a job.  I can’t tell you how frustrating it is for customers to comment on how my degree (which I earned less than two months ago) “obviously didn’t pay off” because “if it had, you wouldn’t still be working retail”.  Excuse me!?  I never ceased to be amazed by how blunt and completely rude total strangers can be.  These people know nothing about me, other than the limited information I share with them while I spend 30-60 minutes helping them with their purchase, and they clearly haven’t taken a look at the current employment situation in our nation.  I’m always tempted to snap back that I’m actively searching for a job where I can apply my interests and education, and an Always Sunny in Philadelphia gif frequently comes to mind:

I know I talked a little about how frustrating it is to come across entry-level positions requiring 3-5 years of prior experience in a previous post, but since then I’ve observed more and more with each posting I review, each application I submit, and each interview I attend.

Job hunting can be…frustrating, exhausting, and depressing.

Searching through job boards, company websites, Craigslist, and anywhere else you can find job postings, is time-consuming – filtering by field(s), looking for postings with titles that contain anything relevant, reading each post to see if everything matches up and you’re qualified, and deciding whether the salary (if listed) is fair and enough to pay the bills, only to come out the other end with a mere handful of potential jobs.  So you go back again, searching a little more freely and being a little less picky.  Search after search and day after day, this routine becomes monotonous, frustrating, and frankly, discouraging.  Pair that with the fact that you (probably) aren’t going to hear back from all (or many) of the companies you’ve submitted applications to, and things can start to look pretty bleak.

Over the past few months, my job search and rejections from a few coveted positions has at times made me feel pretty depressed –  my mom suffers from depression and I’m always aware that I’m potentially at risk – so I found a few ways to avoid letting the job hunt drag me down.  Taking breaks to go for a walk, clean, bake, re-pot a plant, or get crafty with a DIY project; just getting out of the house for fresh air or immersing myself in a creative or hands on endeavor has helped. A lot.

Valentine's baking

I also try to make sure to treat myself – for every x number of quality applications I submit I reward myself with a brownie or spend time giving myself a manicure.

photo 3-6

Basically, even though the job search can leave me feeling downtrodden, I always try to balance it with other activities so I don’t get burnt out or overly discouraged.

Interviews provide a lot of insight. Also, don’t let them freak you out too much.

Nerves are good – to a certain extent.  In my experience, if you’re not a little nervous, you’re probably not prepared, or you think you’ve got it in the bag – and a cocky attitude might not be the best attitude to take into an interview.  While a few butterflies are healthy, letting yourself get overly worked up before an interview can be detrimental.  The biggest piece of advice – other than a few deep breaths – that has been invaluable to helping me balance my interview nerves? An interview is as much an opportunity for you to learn about the company and the job as it is for the company to learn about you.  Every interview I’ve ever been to, from retail to professional jobs, has provided an opportunity for me to turn the tables on the interviewer and ask my own questions.  So show up prepared with a couple of key questions that will not only answer the questions you have about the company and the position, but also help you determine if the company is a good fit for you and your career goals.  I went to an interview recently and after speaking with the interviewer, asking my questions, and reflecting on what I had learned, I felt confident that, while the job had looked promising on paper and was a phenomenal position, it did NOT fit what I was looking for in a career.

Follow directions. Double check everything.

Read application directions carefully.  If it says to mention a certain phrase in the subject line, do it – no matter how weird the request might seem.  If it asks for your application materials in PDF, convert those .docx files.  Another huge thing I’ve learned along the way: research the company, figure out who your audience is and tailor each cover letter and resume (and hopefully interview conversation) to individual postings – if a company is very formal and buttoned-up use a more formal tone in your communication and demeanor, whereas if the company is more laid-back and creative, find a way to incorporate that.  I cannot stress the importance of tailoring your application materials to individual postings!  No two jobs are the same – and if they are, the companies are probably different, so find that difference (even if it’s small) and work it to your advantage!  Part of this individualization also involves proofreading!! Double and triple check your spelling and grammar (spell check and grammar check aren’t perfect, trust me), the dates you list on your resume, and – if possible – have someone proofread your documents before sending them off; one slip up might be what leads an interviewer to throw out your application, and no one wants that.

Smile.

No matter how rough things seem, or how disparaging the job hunt can be, don’t forget to smile – on the phone setting up interviews, during interviews, and every day!  Life is beautiful, even when things look bleak. Go watch a sunrise/sunset, take a walk, visit with family and friends, cook a sinfully delicious meal, and eat one too many gummy bears, because things could be worse.

Anyone else out there on the hunt for a new job?  Let me know what works for you and how you’re getting through!

Rainy Days

Since moving to Portland just over a year and a half ago, I’ve discovered the wonder known as…the crock pot.  Throw all your ingredients in, set the dial, go about your day, and you come home to a meal and a deliciously scented house!

Now, I actually like rain – the sounds, the smell – and I always seem to get some quality self-reflection in when the sky is open. Even though it rained in New York and snowed in New York and got cold in New York, I was never a big fan of soups and stews.  That being said, I became attached to warmer, steamier dishes my first rainy winter on the ‘left coast’; the rain makes everything feel an entirely different kind of cold – not the dry snowy air of the Northeast, but a damp and biting cold that makes me want to curl up in a blanket all day.  Enter the crock pot.

Once again, Pinterest has provided me with endless ideas and opportunity for my own creativity in the crock pot meal realm. Currently top on my list of winter favorites, Ropa Vieja.  My mom made this dish when I was little, and when I stumbled across the crockpot recipe for it a few weeks ago, I knew I had to make it.  Since that fateful day I’ve cooked the dish twice, with a few alterations, depending on what I had in my fridge and what sounded good to me.  Both times, I left out the capers because (and I’m not really sure why) they creep me out when I see them in a jar.  I also left out the bay leaf because I hate having to fish it out when everything is done cooking.  Other than that, I left the recipe the same and both times it came out wonderfully.  The second time I changed up the color of the peppers the recipe called for based on what I had on hand – because, I’ll admit, I didn’t want to run to the store.  For me the key to the recipe is the meat; buy a good cut – seriously.  I spent a few minutes talking with the butcher at my local store and he explained some of the differences in chuck and recommended a cut – and let me tell you, the meat fell apart perfectly (and just as he described) as it cooked!

Pair it with some nice crusty bread and a wine and you’re set for a rainy night in.  My brother and my boyfriend both have tried my version and love it as much as I do!

There are a million other recipes I want to try, although I’m a little limited in what I can make – no dairy for me, which means nothing with milk or cheese in it.  Unfortunately, I keep running into dishes loaded with cheese (I start drooling perusing the recipe to see if I can leave out my favorite – but forbidden – ingredient).  Despite this, I have managed to find a number of other recipes, including this Brown Sugar Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin.

So that’s where you’ll find me for the rest of my second Pacific Northwest winter – perusing Pinterest and loading my crock pot full of ingredients!  Be sure to let me know if you have any crock pot favorites that you’re willing to share!

A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words…and Perhaps A Whole Lot More

A few months ago I watched a short documentary on Vimeo called Instagram Is.

The film was created by Paul Tellefson and features a number of Instagrammers.  The documentary project all started in a class when Paul was asked to create a trailer for  a mock film; after creating the short trailer, Paul realized there was an entire story right in front of him.  He ended up creating Instagram Is as part of his capstone project at the University of Texas at Dallas.

A year and half ago, I graduated from a college where I had an amazing four years with an amazing group of friends, and shortly after I picked up my life and moved from upstate New York to Portland, Oregon.  Before stumbling across the video on Instagram, I liked Instagram because it allowed me to quickly document my daily life and post a picture for my friends and family to see three thousand miles away.  And it’s reciprocal, so I got to see everything my best friends were up to even though we were now sprinkled across the country and not living on campus within five minutes of each other; it was a great way to keep in touch and to a certain extent made me feel like we were still physically a part of each of my friends’ lives.  Then I watched Instagram Is, and became obsessed with Instagram – as a mobile app, as a community, as a window into other worlds, as a way to document and change perspective.

After watching Instagram Is, I still see it as a window into other worlds and method by which to document a life story, but also a lot more.  It’s a way to meet and connect with other people from different states, different countries, and different worlds.  Through conversation on user photographs, users created Instameets to meet up with members of the Instagram community in cities all over the world.  Users crafted a community and took a uniform, digital community and infused it with creativity and physicality.  I hadn’t realized the strength and realness embedded in Instagram; most digital communities seem cold and lacking genuine sentiment.  Since watching, I’ve got to admit, I’ve become obsessed – to a certain extent – with Instagram.  I love being able to create and share photos with not only my friends, but also people around the world; being able to explore other worlds and different perspectives on my own world through photographs.

Instagram – and my obsession for it – gives me a little more faith in social media and makes me want to dive into new platforms to see what’s going on! What social media platforms are you obsessed with? What platform inspires you to create, share, and explore?

Follow noramf25 on WordPress.com

Connect