Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Starting a Career as "We" (not "I")

If you had asked me three years ago what I considered the most important part of my life, I would have unhesitatingly told you that I cared more about establishing a career than any other life goals.  I had just graduated from community college, where few of my local friends had goals similar to mine.

K and I are getting married largely because he wants to, and I don't not want to get married enough to argue. I love him and want him to be happy, and getting married makes him happy.  That said, the institution of marriage makes me uncomfortable: it involves the community in what I consider a private relationship and opens healthy relations to public scrutiny.  Plus, it traditionally involves the commingling of assets, and I haven't successfully established myself as an individual with individual assets.*

This terrifies me.  Another smart person from the internet writes: "I often think that as a feminist, I should be self-driven, self-motivated, and self-inspired when it comes to my career." This sums up my feelings precisely: I want to establish myself individually before I commit to establishing myself as part of a marriage.  K keeps offering to give me money if I need it, but this makes me really uncomfortable. I'm supposed to have my own money: we're not technically married yet.

The problem? I want to marry K, and I want to marry him now. Yesterday, even.  Every time we see each other, we're tempted to call up our friend, who's an officiant, and just get the paperwork done.

See, we're already half-married for most practical purposes: we've already effectively made a life-long commitment to each other. Breaking our engagement now might not be as legally tricky as a divorce, but it would have a huge impact on our community. We've already integrated into each other's family. We have more friends as a couple than we have as individuals.** We'd have to figure out how to divvy up the kitchen stuff and the bedding and even a little bit of furniture.

So, I can't look for a job without considering him. I can't take just any offer that sounds like a good fit for me: I need to wonder if he'll be able to find a job, too. I need to consider if the job will force me to relocate often.  I need to figure out how far we can each commute and how long we're willing to live apart (not long: we've already done it quite a bit, and we don't like it very much).  On the flip side of this, though, he's looking for a job, too, and only one of us needs to find work before both of us can move and begin establishing our family. I need to remember that I'm not in this alone, even if it feels that way while he's finishing his last semester. It's only a few months until he graduates.

Starting a career as a "we" makes the job search harder.  Having K is worth it.

*To be fair, K hasn't established himself, either.
**We do each have our own friends, and we're not isolating each other or anything creepy like that. It's just a side effect of our relationship: we meet and grow to like each other's friends.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Its Courage Had Seen It Through

I'm working on a craft project and actually making pretty good progress, which thrills me because I haven't been making good progress on very much lately. I was going to blog about it, but while I was in the basement looking for some scrap cardboard, I found our Game Boy Color, which I had thought was lost to the ages.
a green game boy color and four games: Tetris, Pokemon Gold, Pokemon Crystal, and Pokemon Red
I'm really glad I saved those games.
So now I have a crafts project that's going well and some Pokémon to catch. I guess I will have to bump the real blog post to tomorrow.

Catch you all then!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Other People On The Internet Are Smart

I have found some posts around the internet related to the things I am trying to do. I could try to summarize and give my own take on each of these, but instead, I will round up some links.

I am not the only one trying to balance a fiancé and a job hunt. Fortunately, if it doesn't work out in either the short or long terms, I don't have to feel crushed because I'm not "successful" (thought I am terrified of being unable to contribute to the household. I always dreamed I would have a nice permanent partner interested in doing the bulk of the home stuff, and while K is game for that, he may be more employable than I am, at least over the short term, and we will have to make it work however we can).

How to build a starter wardrobe for $150. Or: it's OK that everything I own comes from the Target clearance rack (except for my bras) while I'm establishing myself professionally. I can replace things later, once I actually have money. Apparently, jackets are magical things, which is brilliant because I love the concept of easy layering.

Apparently following a Tumblr that admonishes me to make my bed every morning causes me actually make my bed every morning. I've set alarms to get myself to do things, but apparently if an actual person does the telling, it motivates me, even if the person is a random stranger from the internet. Now, I have extra magical space. Brilliant.

This is seriously creepy. I can't even fathom what the school that wants to "[reserve] the right to require any female student to take a pregnancy test to confirm whether or not the suspected student is in fact pregnant" thinks it can accomplish through this pointless invasion of privacy, and I'm pretty sure I don't want to know, either. Yuck.

EDIT TO ADD:  And this, which helps me articulate that, even though I have various behaviors that our culture has assigned a gender to, I still don't like assigning a gender to myself.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Pinterest Made Me Make Cookies

I may need someone to ban me from Pinterest.

You see, when a friend persuaded me to join, I didn't think it could cause any harm.  What is the worst that could happen? I thought rhetorically. I pin a bunch of neat ideas and never follow up on them?

Apparently, the worst that can happen is that I find a neat idea and then and entire evening disappears as I experiment with it.

Here is what I did:
pictures of various stages of making marshmallow fondant. Picture One: unbaked cookie dough. Picture Two: partially-melted marshmallows. Picture Three: melted mixed marshmallows. Picture Four: marshmallows with icing sugar added. Picture Five: kneaded marshmallow-sugar concoction with fingerprints. Picture Six: cutouts of rolled-out marshmallow fondant. Picture Seven: baked cookies.  Picture Eight: greek symbols on cookies. Picture Nine: Leftover fondant wrapped in cling wrap.

The finished cookies looked like this:

Cookies decorated with mathematical and greek symbols, including phi, psi, sigma, pi, tau, h-bar, delta, zeta, an integral sign and an infinity sign.
Sideways, because I am lazy.
picture of cookies wrapped on an index card that reads "I love you". The cookies spell out M-O-M.
My mom was feeling unappreciated. I fixed it with cookies.
WARNING: I gained three pounds from eating these cookies.  (Whoops.)  Proceed with caution.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Wish List for Job Postings

Recently, I've found out that "entry level" jobs can require more than three years of relevant experience. This baffles me, so I hopped on the Internet to learn more. I follow the Ask A Manager blog in an attempt to keep a sense of perspective and learn more about professional conduct, and in this post, Ms. Green recommends a book called Why Good People Can't Get Jobs by Peter Cappelli. The Kindle version was under six dollars, so I decided to pick it up. It made me feel a great deal better about my job search and helped me articulate some things that hurt both employers and candidates.

Based on this and some of my more recent job-search failures, I have developed a wish list for employers-- stuff that would make my life easier and might help out HR at the companies to which I've applied, too.
  1. If you're going to kick out my resume based on a hard-coded binary decision, do so before I spend 45 minutes filling out your application.

    Ms. Green suggests that Dr. Cappelli overstates how often this happens, but I know that it's happened to me at least once after filling out a particularly odious application. Most vexing, and super easy to fix.

    Look, you can even copy and paste the following phrase: "We will not consider applicants without ___________."  Just fill in the blank, and I will automatically think better of your company (unless the requirement is ridiculous).
  2. When you post "entry level" jobs or positions "for new graduates", make sure you clarify how much experience you require.

    I keep running into jobs "for new graduates" that require more than three years of experience. I realize there are a few people out there who worked between high school and college in professional roles and a few more who have gone back to school to change careers, but the pool of people in this boat can't be THAT big. Still, over the past week, I have started applying to at least three different "entry-level" jobs that list minimum experience levels ranging from three to seven years before cottoning on and either (a) abandoning application (for the one that required 5-10 years) or (b) applying anyway (for the one that specified a 3-year minimum).
  3. The more searchable you make the job listings, the better I can determine which positions fit me well.

    Right now, as a recent graduate, I don't really live anywhere and I'm somewhat open to relocation. While "four hours away from anywhere else" doesn't work for me*, there are a lot of places I will move to at my own expense. I'm more interested in finding a position where I can make an impact and build value-- but I can't search positions based on skills and qualifications.
  4. Similarly, the more detail you include in a job listing, the more productively everyone can use time.

    If you're looking for a mechanical engineer whose core responsibilities will be determining price and dimensions for gas furnaces, please say so-- I won't apply, mistakenly thinking that you're looking for a mathematician with some business sense, and you won't waste your time interviewing me. Meanwhile, bonus points to employers who list core requirements and then rank nice-to-have qualifications based on how important they find them.
  5. Don't store passwords in plaintext.

    Just don't.
If anyone has any good workarounds for any of these, I'd love to hear them.
*Where will K find a job if you are the only employer in a two-hour radius? Alternately, will you pay me enough to make up for his lost income?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Profligate Layabout

My fiancé makes me feel better when I don't want to do the things I know I have to do. It's a small thing, but I appreciate it (and the rest of him, of course).
ME: Waaahhh. I don't wanna cut up this chicken. I wanna lie in bed with the fan blowing on me and eat a Klondike bar while I read my book.
K: I can't remember the last time I had a Klondike bar.
ME: That was supposed to be a request for you to tell me to get up off my duff and go do something useful instead of being a profligate layabout.
K: Oh. Go do something useful. And bring your duff over here so I can snuggle it.
ME: I am not sure that will help with the whole "profligate layabout" issue.
K: I will be the judge of that. <3
After this exchange, I cut up the chicken, marinaded it, and wrote out some baking instructions. Then, I ate a Klondike bar (double chocolate, if you are curious) and read my book until I took my nap.

After my nap, I had plenty of time to work on job applications to ward off any further profligate layabout tendencies that might have been lurking about.  I consider the exchange a success.