Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sweet Skills, Part 1

This post and the one that will follow it started off as one humongous post-- a post so long that I kept losing interest and focus while I was proofreading it. Lucky for you, dear reader, I realized that if my writing can't hold my own attention, there's no way it will be able to hold yours. So I chopped the post in two, which means that you're about to experience a Why You Should Hire Me first: a two-part post. Whoa.

Since this is a blog that I hope potential employers will be looking at, I feel compelled to list some of my own skills, although I'm going to go somewhere else with this train of thought in the next post I write.
  • organizational skills: I can organize files, inboxes, arts and crafts supplies, calendars, and groups of people.
  • writing skills: I can write reports, handbooks, lesson plans, witty and not-witty emails, essays, and blogs.
  • proofreading and editing skills: I can and have proofread/ edited just about every kind of document you can think of.
  • people skills: I have worked in many different office environments and with diverse populations; I've also recruited, managed, and trained volunteers; worked at front desks; attended diversity workshops and trainings; and gotten along with just about everyone I've ever met.
  • drawing/ designing skills: I can make visually attractive fliers, invitations, and signs (this may become its own post if I can ever get my hands on a working scanner; in the meantime, one caveat: I don't know how to use any sort of design software... yet), and I studied a lot of fine art in college (mostly drawing and painting).
  • language skills: As I hope this blog has demonstrated, I am a good writer who truly loves the English language. I also speak good Spanish, bad Italian, laughably bad Portuguese, and perhaps three words of Arabic.
  • computer skills: I am proficient with both Macs and PCs, Micosoft Office, and a variety of databases.
  • being professional skills: I've worked in a wide variety of offices and have maintained a friendly, calm, and professional manner in all of them.
  • tutoring skills: I have experience tutoring adults and children of all ages and in a variety of subjects.
  • cooking skills: This may not have much to do with a job description, but any office I work for is virtually guaranteed to get tasty homemade treats at least once a quarter (more on that here).
OK, so those are the skills that ought to convince you to hire me. But what really sparked this blog post was my increasing frustration with my lack of tangible skills. It's great that I can analyze the heck out of a Victorian novel or a grant proposal, but I can't even tell you how much it irks me that I can't fix my car or build a bookshelf. Stay tuned for Sweet Skills, Part 2, in which I ruminate on some skills I would like to acquire and why.

Friday, September 24, 2010

I'm kind of a big deal (again).

Wow, so it turns out that maintaining a blog while applying to grad school (more on that in a later post), volunteering twice a week, working a full-time job, and still being a functional human being takes up a lot of time and brain power. Why You Should Hire Me has definitely fallen by the wayside, but never fear-- I have a couple of posts in the works that just need some finishing touches and then I'll be back.

In the meantime, I just did my first stint as a guest blogger! It's on my parents' blog, Free Range. Check it out!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Oh, Here it Goes Again

Several years ago a band called OK Go released an amazing music video for their song "Here it Goes Again." Those of you who've seen will doubtlessly remember their amazing treadmill choreography. Those of you who haven't seen it, you owe it to yourselves to check out this video:

Why am I talking about a video that came out almost five years ago? Simple: because the title of the song is perfect for the blog post in which I announce that I am polishing my resume, dusting off my cover letter writing skills, and generally gearing up for job search 2.0. So here it goes again. My last day at Theatre Action Project (TAP) is still a couple of months away, but this morning I took myself to a neighborhood coffee shop to test the online job-posting waters and they are not terribly hospitable-- lots of ads for executive directors and interns, and not much in between. Yikes.

However, I feel good about the decision I've made. I had the option for signing on for another year at TAP and, as much fun as it would have been to stay, it's not the right place for me at this moment. I have accomplished a lot at and learned even more, but it turns out that fine arts education just isn't a driving passion of mine-- though I'll also be the first person to say that I think arts education is incredibly important and that TAP does amazing things using it as a tool for social change.

I have no idea what the future holds, but I'm excited for it. I just hope I manage to move forward with as much flare as these OK Go guys... although it suddenly occurs to me that they don't actually move forward that much, being on treadmills and all. Hmmm. Well, I'll keep you posted on both forward and backward progress, because I suppose a bit of both is inevitable. Here I go again.

P.S. As long as I'm talking about OK Go, I feel compelled to point you, dear reader, to this link. It will take you to a music video of the only other song of theirs I know, and it will blow your mind. Seriously. Rube Goldberg would be proud and maybe even intimidated.

Monday, October 12, 2009

So much news!

I have not fallen off the face of the earth, despite all evidence to the contrary. I can't believe it's been more four weeks since I last posted. Yikes. All I can say is that it's been a hell of a month, with so many highs as lows that, were I to map them all out, I think the end result would look a lot like this graph of annual water discharge from the Edwards Aquifer. (Sometimes when I get bored, I like to poke around the LCRA's website, OK?) A lot's happened, but here's the high point:

I HAVE A JOB. A real one. I'll be the after school programs assistant at the Theatre Action Project, an arts education nonprofit in my hometown, Austin. Texas. It's exactly the kind of position I've been trying find for the past 14 months, and I could not be more excited. I start the first week of November, which will give me a couple of weeks to settle back in to living in Texas.

And now I have to run off and pack an overnight bag so I can accompany my mom on a two-day trip to our bison ranch (being back home has some serious perks), but I promise to update soon. I'm not 100% sure what I'll be doing with the blog now that I'm employed, although I certainly hope to keep writing it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Reason #5: I am kind of a big deal already.

Well, OK, I'm not. But Peanut Butter Plan is! Check us out (and see the back of my head--I'm in the red sweater) in this fabulous article in today's Chronicle.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Thank you. Thankyouverymuch.

Here's a secret: I am an Elvis fan. "Graceland" was always my favorite track off of Paul Simon's album of the same name. I am the proud owner of a necklace with a photo of Elvis on the pendant. I've been known to listen to "That's Alright, Mama" when I'm feeling down. Last year, I read Last Train to Memphis, an excellent biography that chronicles Elvis's rise to to fame. (Careless Love, by the same author, tells the story of his downfall, though I have yet to read it.) And I have been to Graceland. Well, not the actual house, but the area around it, which was rife with Elvis fans and impersonators. I can't wait to go back.

One thing I love about Elvis is that his signature sound byte (or at least his signature spoken sound byte) was "Thank you, thankyouverymuch." I think it's pretty cool that a superstar of his stature is known for graciousness... well, among other things, but let's focus on the graciousness for now. While I don't have fans in the same way Elvis does, I have been thinking I really ought to have a thank-you section on the blog to recognize everyone who's helped me out and encouraged me in my quest for a full-time job, and so, in the spirit of the king, let me take a moment to acknowledge all these wonderful people (It's ok if you want to skim--I know there are a lot of names here):
  • Kendra, my roommate, for putting up with my shenanigans for all these months, making the yummiest brownies in the whole wide world, and weathering her own job search woes with grace
  • Kirsten, for her unflagging support, seemingly endless tolerance for bellyaching about unemployment, and superior cover letter proofreading skills
  • Renata, for listening, cracking jokes, cooking, being weird, being studious, and for knowing me almost better than I know myself
  • Cady, for her patience, wry humor, generosity with chocolate samples, and limitless knowledge about all things San Francisco
  • Jack, for letting me invade his store, complain vociferously about unemployment, and then feeding me when I was finished complaining
  • Joseph, for being an appreciative eater and offering sound advice
  • Ryan, for introducing me to the joys of dark and stormies, pool, The Office, and 30 Rock, and for being a rock
  • Leticia, for giving me great advice and amazing volunteer opportunities, and for sending me the nicest email in the history of the world
  • Marcela, for her brilliant conversation and vote of confidence in this blog (and in me!)
  • Julia, for her contagious optimism, sense of adventure, and fabulous style
  • Eugene, my favorite phone tag partner, for his candor, generosity, and fine story-telling
  • Diana, Jess, Sayd, Ana, Lexy, Katie, and especially Aston, for staying in touch and regaling me with excellent stories of post-grad life
  • Kendell, Whitney, Kim, Zoe, Julia, and Liz, for telling me about their adventures and reminding me that I've had several of my own
  • Kate, Maddie, Rennie, Liza, and Juliet, for commiserating with job-search woes and for sending me job postings
  • Tom, Jenn, Lauren, Caroline, Paula, and Karen, for their fabulous messages of support
  • Tito, for leaving the best comments (and also phone messages) and for being my brother
  • Thea, for her sass, sense of humor, ability to mimic just about anyone, and general cheerfulness, and also for being my sister
  • Jorge and Marisa, respectively, for discount sushi and never getting impatient with my lack of tech skills, and for passing job opportunities my way
  • Emilie, for mad pie-baking skills, sending me job opportunities, and being the coolest Wisconsinite around
  • Leigh, for putting the "leigh" in "leader" (Get it? It's like a joke, but not as funny), overseeing an amazing internship, and continuing to send along job postings
  • Ninive, for taking a chance on hiring me and introducing me to wide and wonderful world of development
  • Uncle John and Aunt Isa, for thinking about me, introducing me to some wonderful people, and just generally being super-cool
  • Phil, for giving me the most insightful informational interview I've ever had
  • Katie, for her incredible kindness and for making time for me, despite a grueling schedule
  • Laura, for her sharp insights into and deep knowledge of the nonprofit world, and for explaining, finally, what the field of communications is actually about
MVP Section
  • Milton, for his tireless assistance in sending me job postings, forwarding me connections, and just generally motivating me to keep looking
  • Susan, for being a source of inspiration and sending me bajillions of job opportunities in Austin
  • My parents, for their constant encouragement and support, and for getting me into the habit of writing thank-you notes
Update: It just occurred to me that I should also thank the coffee shops whose internet and desk space I've been mooching off of. So, thank you to Philz, Haus, Java Supreme, and especially Sugarlump for providing delicious beverages, (mostly) delightful music, and tolerance of my deadbeat tendencies. I really appreciate it.

All of you rock even harder than the king, and that's saying something.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Food for Thought

I applied for a couple of positions at the branch of Whole Foods that's about to open at Noe and 24th, thinking that working there would be a convenient way (I live just down the hill from the new location) to buy myself some more time to network and find the kind of career I actually want. Plus, one of the positions was for a cheesemonger, and how cool would that be? I even wrote up a cute cover letter about how I've been a huge fan of their company ever since I first pushed one of their kid-sized carts up the tiny aisles of their original store in Austin.

Well, it turns out that B.A. in English does not qualify you to stock shelves at a grocery store. I got the second of two rejection emails last Friday, and, even though I sort of suspected it was coming, reading that second was quite a blow--a sucker-punch, really--to my ego. I was initially puzzled as to why this particular rejection cut me so deeply (after all, I've weathered a lot of rejections in the past thirteen months), but I've concluded that I had just started to realize how much I care about food and had been hoping a job at Whole Foods would be a tiny step forward in pursuing that interest.

Now, I don't want to be a chef or a farmer and I don't want to open a restaurant, which is part of the reason I've had such a hard time figuring out that this interest in food could potentially be a career path. (Full disclosure: I would like to own a restaurant, but only if it was a coffee shop/ bakery attached to a super-cool bookstore with a garden in back-- sort of Book People and Explore Books meet the East Side Cafe and Tartine. There would also have to be a bookstore cat. And maybe also an art gallery.) But, as I sat on my bed nursing my bruised ego, it finally occurred to me that I could work on what I guess you could call the Michael Pollan end of the food world. It's actually a little embarrassing that this possibility didn't occur to me sooner. Not only do I cook at least four nights a week, but my family owns a bison ranch that's all about sustainability, my mom has been super-into food for as long as I can remember (which is how I came to be so familiar with Whole Foods in the first place), and I even wrote my college application essay about cooking and how it brings people together. Moreover, I've always loved farmers markets, urban farms, and community gardens, and am constantly on the lookout for articles like these about food and farming.

I mean, duh. Of course I should be looking for jobs that have to with food.

So, if I ever get regular access to the internet again, I will definitely be looking into food jobs, as well as the graduate programs at The University of Gastronomic Sciences, the Slow Food movement's university. Frankly, taking classes on the social history of food, slow food on film, culinary techniques, and gastro-writing as a candidate for a Master's in Food Culture and Communication sounds like a lot more fun than stocking shelves anyway. So, Whole Foods, it was definitely your loss and my gain. Ha!