Skimming Deep

Searching, traveling, talking, reflecting, and exploring. Read along with me as I continue on my journey through life.

Month: August, 2013

The Joys of Job Hunting

So I've been wanting to do a blog entry on job hunting that is specific to me and those who might fit the same profile:

  1. late 30-something
  2. woman of color
  3. nonprofit sector
  4. youth work/ social services
  5. middle to senior management level background
  6. elite liberal arts school education
  7. master's degree in something (education, in my case, or social work, counseling, humanities…)
  8. new to a city
  9. with some degree of connections in other cities (not in the new city)
  10. wanting a job situation where skills are maximized, where creativity is encouraged and fostered, and where there are other smart, innovative people working together

Pretty specific, but take out some of the items (3, 4, 8), and I feel like I know others who are in a similar boat. Why is it hard for us/me?

How I articulate the difficulties to others is in this way: when you're at the beginning of your working life, your own merit and accomplishments matter more than connections. Connections always help, yes, but if you have a good solid resume with some good experience, you can find a job. It might not be the perfect fit, but you can get employed somewhere. (Well, at least that's how it used to be. Maybe the rules have changed now with unemployment still being pretty high… But anyways…)

If you're at a middle to upper management level and seeking positions, your merit matters less than the connections you have. It's less likely that you'll get a job through the cold contact (i.e. traditional) approach (finding a posting, writing up a cover letter, sending out said letter and resume and waiting for a response) because those doing the hiring don't know you at all, don't know your track record, etc. And if they have a candidate with a similar set of skills and resume (which is highly likely because there are a lot of smart people out there, and it only takes one other to compete with you) AND connections that can positively vouch for him/her, then the person doing the hiring will hire the known entity. Even if it's “knowing through a connection.”

I've sent out over a dozen cover letters and resumes for the last four months, and I've gotten only four first round interviews, and of those four, two were through connections. And I can't believe that I'm any less qualified than others that HAVE been offered interviews. But I think it really has to do with my not leveraging my connections. And I DO have them. We ALL do. It's just about looking at our relationships with a different lens.

I hate looking at my friends with this “different lens,” but I guess if I'm not ONLY looking at them in that way, then it's OK. And this “different lens” involves seeing that person as someone who can help you get what you want. It sounds shady and exploitative, and I guess it's about where you put the focus: on the “help” or “you want.”

If I spin the issue around a bit and look at myself with this “different lens,” then it's easy to focus on “help.” I WANT to help my smart, capable friends and colleagues get good jobs. I want to put in a good word for them if I mean it. I mean, I didn't work my way up to where I am just for myself. I want to get others in good positions and use whatever social capital I have for the benefit of the greater good, not just for myself.

If I look at others in the same way, then it doesn't feel so bloodthirsty or utilitarian. And since often people don't know that you need their help unless you ask them, then you just have to ask them to help and most likely they will!

I've been trying to be better about asking my friends and colleagues for help in this job hunt, and that has only happened in the last month or so. I'm learning how to use LinkedIn better to see who I'm connected to who might be connected to someone at an organization where I want a job. And I'm just making it a priority to put myself out there and ask for help!

This whole job hunting process has put into perspective big picture issues that are sobering and enlightening. There are lots of examples of institutional oppression in so many arenas that I both benefit from and am shafted by which makes for a very complicated analysis.

For example, I am a person of color from an immigrant family. Growing up, I knew about the importance of having a strong work ethic, but my parents were not well connected and did not know about the importance of networking and using connections. Because of that, and because of my introverted nature, schmoozing is really hard for me, and I really don't like it. At the same time, I went to an elite private liberal arts school, and I got access to a lot of resources that could help me climb the proverbial ladder. At the same time, I am physically petite, and I look really young, both of which I have felt give me a different presence in a room than a tall white man or woman. Taking up more or less physical space has interesting psychological effects.

Taking a step back from this whole process makes for an interesting case study in social processes.

The bottom line, though, is that it's hard to find a job. Anyone got any leads for me? 🙂

Another City, Another Library

I'm back in one of my favorite places, a public library. Berkeley Public Library to be exact. It's a nice open library. And, of course, they have free wi-fi!

I love the democratic nature of libraries. Everyone is welcome. No one is turned away. And all kinds of people are here for all reasons:

  • looking for jobs online
  • using the free internet
  • waiting between appointments (like me)
  • hanging out
  • tutoring or getting tutored
  • looking for or at books

Anyone can “belong” and anyone can access the free resources. How amazing is that? And everyone comes here– young and old, rich and poor, English proficient and not. It doesn't matter who you are, what your background is, you can come in and not feel out of place.

Despite the fact that physical books are seemingly growing extinct, I hope that public libraries will continue to exist.

That's my ode to libraries.

My parasite cleanse is plodding along. And I must say it's been difficult to adhere to. There isn't a manual that goes with this cleanse, just very vague instructions such as “take capsule three times a day, before meals. Avoid sugars and starches. Eat raw vegetables and fruits.” And with me and my love of food and the fact that the only way I know how to socialize with people is through food, I have had to choose between stopping my social life and eating what I love OR be loosey-goosey with the cleanse. And with my low willpower when it comes to food, I've chosen the latter course of action.

Because of this approach, I have not really felt any difference in my mind, body, or spirit. Well, check that, I have noticed that my eating habits are much more present at the front of my mind. I didn't realize how much I like to have a sweet ending to my meals– a cookie, ice cream, a baked good. I've been somewhat successful at curbing that tendency.

Also, I didn't realize how much of my meals consist of starch of some sort– rice and noodles mainly. It's been virtually impossible to cut that out of my diet, so I just haven't. I've merely cut back.

My general attitude toward this cleanse is that I'm aiming to eat a little healthier, be more conscious about what I ingest, and also continue to enjoy eating and live my life. This is probably not helping the goals of the parasite cleanse, especially since I haven't noticed any changes in my body or bodily functions.

Well, life is too short, I say. And I'm not going to give up my social life.

And here's a sample of some of what I've been eating while still on my cleanse:

Fresh corn, kale salad with sundry veggies, sourdough bread, asparagus

Not too shabby.


Cleansing the System

I am now back to being unemployed after a whirlwind summer job. Long hours (well, for a low-paying, summer job), lots of administrative work (counting inventory, double checking numbers), and a long commute (to Pleasanton from Berkeley, which is about 30 miles one way). But it was interesting and kept me busy. And I got to work with some great young adults.

So now it's back to the job hunt in earnest. It was nice to have money flowing into my account for a few months. And now it'll be reversing directions for… hopefully, not longer than a few more months.

I figured then it was a good time to do a parasite cleanse!

Some people go back to exercising, go on a diet, pick up a new hobby, relax and read… But I've already done some of that (minus the diet) and this is something I was introduced to at my yoga retreat.

We all have parasites in our body. There are beneficial parasites and invasive parasites. When I was at my yoga training, I was told by my teachers that since I had been traveling in Southeast Asia and since my digestive system was a little out of whack that I likely had parasites and should consider a parasite cleanse. Another symptom was that I was waking up in the mornings with indents on the edges of my tongue from my teeth. According to ayurveda, this is a sign that my body was not absorbing nutrients from my food intake– a sign of parasites.

I bought a wormwood kit while at the training, thinking I would do the cleanse at some point after my move. I knew I would need to cut out sugars and other rich foods, so I kept putting off the cleanse since I was still traveling. Also, it's recommended to start the cleanse near the full moon, and the timing just wasn't right until now.

I never thought I'd become one of THOSE people who do cleanses, but this is my first one, and I think it'll be good for my system. I've definitely felt my digestive system isn't working as it used to (I don't think I want to go into details here about my systems, but trust me!).

I figure also that with the exercising I've been doing (keeping up with running and biking now) and the access I have to organic, fresh produce, this is a great time and place for it.

The regimen is as follows:

  • take two herbal supplements (fresh ground cloves in a capsule and a wormwood combination in a capsule)
  • take an herbal tincture supplement (black walnut hill) in water
  • eat as much raw, organic produce as I can
  • cut out sugar and starch

I have to do this for a month and then an extra month of clove capsules.

There are some people who approach a parasite cleanse with a really strict diet. But me not being an absolutist, I'm going to see what I can manage and how my body feels. I'm definitely cutting out sugar and cutting down on starch at least at the beginning. But I just can't cut out rice completely. And I've also read conflicting accounts on whether dairy and soy are OK or not.

I'm hoping to keep track of how I'm feeling and how the cleanse is going here on the blog.

I'm not very good at being in touch with my body (physical, emotional, spiritual), so this will be good practice for me. To notice how my body reacts to this cleanse. Stay tuned!


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