Bits and bobs

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Hello blogosphere,

I feel pretty bad for not having posted anything on this blog for a while. As I mentioned in a previous post, it is not that I do not have ideas for blog posts but rather that writing can be difficult for me. This time, my struggle was perfection. I have tons of amazing blog posts that remain unpublished because I felt that the grammar was bad, the writing was average, that it required more research etc, etc. ENOUGH! I have been reading great content on other people’s blogs and I am dying (not literally) to share some of my thoughts.

In sum, this blog post will be a collection of random anecdotes, thoughts and rants that I have had throughout the week; in other words, do not expect much coherence between each story.  I will also be posting a “Things I’ve been digging”/ Favourites post either today or this weekend.

K, here it goes:

On Consignment Stores:

Over the past week, I went on an insane shopping spree spurred by a dress code that my soon-to-be-employer, agricultural firm B, had sent me.  And by insane, I mean that it depleted my bank account. So I  tried to be reasonable and to sell/consign a few of my ill fitting clothes to second hand stores. According to Wikihow, these were some guidelines to keep in mind:

  • “Vintage” stores usually prefer clothing over 20 years old. This is a great way to profit from your families fashion disasters from the 70’s.
  • “Contemporary/used” clothing stores usually prefer clothing currently in-style or less than a couple of years old.
  • Consignment stores sell your clothes for you for a commission. Like the other stores they may only take in certain seasonal items at certain times. Call ahead. These stores are great for getting rid of formal gowns, bride’s maid dresses, etc.
  • If you have clothes that are nearly new, then many cities in America have a Junior League “Nearly New” store. They are willing to pay a lot of money to get clothes that are basically new.
  • Note: Thrift stores re-sell donated goods.

With all this information, I went off to sell my basically new clothing (most of them were acquired between September 2012 and January 2013) to consignment stores only to meet the most pretentious people I have ever (like emphasize the EVER) met in my life.  They were like “Oh, we only take magical, decadent and colorful clothing. I would probably put those in the free pile” or “We want fall items or vintage” or “If it is not kooky then we don’t want it. ” Meanwhile, their stores had clothes that would make anyone scream with horror and they managed to keep a straight face while looking at my clothes with contempt!?! I wasted a whole two hours of my life and I missed an appointment with a personal trainer because of these trifling Vancouverites. I kid you not I even cried in frustration (cringe)

This incident not only made me realize that there is a lack of a re-use culture in Vancouver but also there is a lot of falseness and pretentiousness amongst people.  So I am stuck with either donating my clothes or selling them on Ebay. In the end, I returned some of my purchased items because well, I could always use the money.

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On Sailing

The other day, my friend took me out sailing on Jericho Beach. I wish I had a picture but I am not that forward thinking yet. Sorry. Anyways, it was my first time sailing since high school; though, we were off to a rough start I must admit that there is something magical about being in nature. It even made me consider starting sailing or water sports as a hobby. Then again, there is the whole money-is-a-little-tight-now situation.

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On the colour black

The other day, Teju Cole, a famous Nigerian writer who tagged the expression “white saviour industrial complex, ” wrote an article and a series of tweets about ignorance and language. Before you read on (I’m surprised that you are still reading), you should take some time to check out some of the words here.

One of them stood out to me: MOCHA. Term used to describe black women’s skin. No other meaning known.

Which inspired me to write an entire Facebook status:

Things I don’t get:
When did “black” become a bad word? I am not talking about the N* words, but saying “I’m black, she’s black, he’s black, we’re black.” Have you notice how instead of saying “black people,” the media prefer referring to our skin colour either as food– “Her chocolate/mocha/caramel/cafe latte/ plain drip coffee skin” — or as woods (ebony, mahogany) . Even worse, the word, deep: “Oh we don’t carry makeup for deep tones.” Like why? What’s going on?

I know you don’t believe me. Check this out: Makeup Ideas for Deep Tones or Try Pintrest. And there is also that time, that someone was so afraid that the word black is politically incorrect that they called Nelson Mandela an African American.  Houston, we have a problem.

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An update on Job-hunting

Ok, if you have managed to stick around until this point, you deserve a pat on the back. Because there were only words on a white screen (I know, how aesthetically draining, right?!?). I am just going to give a quick update on my job hunting.  I have conducted three informational interviews which ranged from motivating, eye-opening and inspiring to slightly frustrating.  Since I have a contract starting up soon, I have been slacking off a little on contacting people for informational interviews. It is just so damn difficult and apparently, it seems to people that I have no clue what I want to do. Which sucks. Oh and it reminds me I have a bunch of resumes/cover letters to send. Which also sucks.  I start work next week at what the interviewers described as a data entry position.

On that note, I will wish you a pleasant Friday.

xox, S.

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inCOnSistEncY

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Hey blogosphere,

So, I haven’t written in a really long time. Yeah, [insert awkwardness here]. Anyways, I have been working on some blog posts– including one on my first impressions of Canada which could take a while before it is posted. However, in the meanwhile, I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer and I, instead, wanted to talk about communicating what you are looking for.

Recently, I completed a three month research contract for Company A which left me, as we say in French, déboussolée.  I guess the term would roughly translate to desoriented but the difference is that déboussolé etymologically has the root word boussole, which means compass. Therefore, for me, it conveys losing the path that was set by the compass.

Anyways, prior to the position at Company A, I had completed all the exercises in What Colour is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles and I felt that I knew what types of jobs I wanted. Nonetheless I feel that I have changed ever since taking this position and that most of my self-reflection may no longer be accurate– leading to a problem of people perceiving me as inconsistent.

How is it that one minute, I state that I want “business development, marketing or market research positions” and the next I apply for a job in a seemingly random industry– agriculture? Okay, I didn’t apply for an agriculture position, but, you need to understand that I have to keep this blog as anonymous as possible; hence, I will not mention the actual industry where I sent in an application.

How is it that I am considering doing a Masters in Management but that I am working all over the place? Where is the consistent narrative in my past work experience? Why the lack of directions? If I really want to be a management consultant, why don’t I just apply for that?

I find this perceived bias incredibly frustrating– even more so than the stupid questions, students ask recent graduates. There are two ways, I could explain this : first, I could backtrack and explain my randomness or I could explain why the idea of inconsistency is frustrating.

Stick with me here and I will explain both.

My dream job is as a management consultant for Firm X. However, finding an entry level position in consulting is incredibly difficult, not only, because they want you to have experience from renown companies, but also because if you do get extended an offer, your application will not be evaluated for two years. That’s right! You are basically black-listed for TWO years. Let’s be honest. It freaks me out that I could accidentally lock myself out from my dream job for the next two years. Therefore, I never applied.

Moving onto the Masters thing. A Masters in Management is not equivalent to a Masters in Business Administration (MBA); the former is a one year program that students from non-business backgrounds can use to strengthen their business acumen and add prestige to their resume. Considering that such a program offers both practical, hands on business knowledge and networking opportunities, I think that it is an attractive option if I want to go into my dream job.

Then where did the biz dev, marketing and research come from? Until I get myself together to apply for either the Masters program or the consulting positions, each of these options present an alternative, and, dare I say, more accessible entry level career. As a Political Science graduate, I have been trained to be an analytical, problem-solving, kick ass communicator. Marketing is about connecting brands with consumers and biz dev is connecting firms with future markets (ie for consumers).  During my  undergrad, I conducted original research and sat through a boring seminar about methodology. I actually want to learn stats and I have an interest in it.

Meanwhile, the agriculture position all started because I feel in love with a firm that offered a Recent Graduate Rotation program wherein, the graduate would work in a variety of arenas while being prepared for a position that is analytical by nature.

To summarize, I am a people-oriented communicator who enjoys work that is analytical (includes problem-solving) and non-repetitive.

Most of all, this consistency issue annoys me because it essentializes humans. As an avid reader and a social sciences student, I know that humans are complex and that their behaviours do not always fall within the good/bad dichotomy. We all wish we were “good;” however, we know that facing situations of great adversity we may do shitty things. I find that economy as a discipline, often reduces humans to a set of simple maxims. It is perfectly normal that, as complex creatures, we have diverse interests and that we do not necessarily breathe solely for one type of industry. So yep, I may seem inconsistent but from where I am standing, I am damn proud of my complexity.

xox, S.

Quick Post: On being in a limbo

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Hey my invisible readers,

So I have to be honest. I haven’t really been feeling like writing in this blog mostly because I feel like shit. Yes, I feel terrible. This aren’t new feelings and neither are they abnormal according to psychological studies on unemployed people’s wellness (and this article).  Nor am I suffering from a lack of inspiration: I have so many ideas for blogposts and so much to share out there.

I feel that what is blocking me from writing is whether my feelings are valid. As you may have guessed from my previous posts some of my closest friends have not finished their studies yet and therefore, are somewhat oblivious to the pain of unemployment. There is a person, let’s call her Adeline, who found a job in two weeks– a corporate job in two weeks– who therefore, feels qualified to dole out advice. Mind you she found this job within two weeks of finishing classes. Not even graduation. Just classes.  All of these factors beg the question: “Am I normal?” Is it just that I am not trying hard enough? Why is it that I simultaneously seek and dread the word, “networking.”

I know that it is often recommended not to compare oneself to others, yet, part of me thinks that it is inevitable; we have been compared to each other since we are children. Who has the best toy? Who is the brightest? Who is the cutest? etc etc etc. Unemployment removed my points of references and the whole “have you found a job yet?” is an inadequate goalpost because one can progress in their search without scoring the holy grail of contracts.

Anyways, this post was about everything and nothing. I just wanted to mention why I am not as motivated to write.

That’s it from me, xox. S

The graduate | student divide: The root causes of Bitchassness

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So earlier I wrote about how sometimes, university students can say really mean things to recent graduates (read post here). I wanted to be fair and discuss the root causes for the insensitive comments. Now I could go into market research/public opinion research mode and create a short survey — but ain’t nobody got time for that!

Instead I will use myself as an example. You see, when I was a student I was exactly like many of  people I described in the previous blogpost. I judged people for not finding jobs and if they were working a Jill job, I judged them for doing something ‘beneath’ them. Needless to say that in my time on the job market radically changed my mind and that now I recognize that there is dignity in any position, and that one’s job does not define their future jobs or their intellectual capacities.

So how do we  get to the point of being so critical of each other? To the point of being so bitchy? My answer is that we are surrounded by myths from a young age that do not get addressed before we have graduated.

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Myth :  Get good grades at school, go to a good university and get good grades there and then you will get a job. Eventually, you will buy your own house, get married and have kids.

Reality: We should be telling people to mind the gap between university and entering the professional workforce. For many people, the reality looks more like this:

Go to school –> get good grades –> go to university –> intern/volunteer/ work x repeat throughout degree –> | unemployment| –> get the job that you were hoping for.

Canadian statistics say that on average  88 percent of graduates are employed within six months of graduation (but that could really mean any job. I was employed within four months of graduation but it was not permanent). However, most people will have found a position within two years of graduation. And unemployment doesn’t only happen to Arts students; as the comic series Wasted Talent illustrates, engineers can also go through unemployment. In fact, I know an engineer who has been unemployed for, at least, two years.  All of this is to say, that the relationship between university and the workforce is not that evident.  Finding a job is not something that happens instantaneously. I, and several of my other peers, thought that we would all score positions within one month of graduation. Yep, that expectation got rapidly revised.

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Myth: We should only admire people who managed to get a job offer before graduation. If you haven’t gotten one before graduation then you failed. If you are working a McJob, then you truly, and utterly are doing nothing with your degree.

Reality: Even when people intern and volunteer, they may not be aware that the summer of third year is when most of the recruitment occurs for job offers extended before graduation. They may not feel confident enough to apply to companies that could offer that type of security. And some companies, such as, management consulting firms,  blacklist you for two years, if you fail their recruitment process–which can serve as a very powerful dissuasion method for a university student. The student may also be going through some personal, financial or other type of problems preventing them from applying. So to summarize, people may not participate in the graduate student recruitment process because of a) lack of awareness, b) lack of confidence or perceived skills mismatch and c) miscellaneous reasons.

Therefore, it is not fair to expect all students to have secured a job before graduation. Now about the Jill job. People have bills to pay. A monthly pass in my city, Vancouver, costs 91 dollars a month, the equivalent to a full day of labour at a $12/hour position.  In some cases, people also have to start repaying their loans, or maybe they have to pay rent or maybe their phone bill. As recent graduates, we no longer get student discounts (unless we cheat our way to get them) and so the fiscal responsibilities suddenly start appearing. Can you really blame someone for trying to make ends meet? And even if that person doesn’t need a Jill job, can you blame them for deciding to structure their time instead of facing unending hours of agony?

From a young age, we are taught to admire prestige– prestige is the unattainable. It represents you being the creme de la creme. We admire the high school students who are valedictorian in their class, do a plethora of extra-curriculars and remain popular in their school.  Prestige heightens a sense of accomplishments. However, the truth is that it should not be that way. Jobs do not define a person’s worth or contributions to the community and if they do, like Barbara Ehrenreich who wrote Nickel and Dimed said,

“[t]he ‘working poor’… are in fact the major philanthropists of our society. They neglect their own children so that the children of others will be cared for; they live in substandard housing so that other homes will be shiny and perfect; they endure privation so that inflation will be low and stock prices high. To be a member of the working poor is to be an anonymous donor, a nameless benefactor, to everyone else.”

Being critical of one’s thoughts is difficult ; yet, remembering that everyone has dignity in their line of work has helped me immensely in my interactions with others.

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Myth: Grades matter.

Reality: Only sometimes. Some jobs, such as management consulting, commercial banking or investment banking, will truly care about your grades. In fact, my last position at Company 1, was in none of those fields, yet they asked me to send an unofficial transcript along with the rest of my application. Nonetheless, many other positions do not require grades. In fact, now that I think of it, I do not really see how grades always demonstrate ability. In certain classes, the top marks were given to those who knew what appealed to the professor’s taste and not to those who thought most critically.

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Of course, there are many other myths that could be addressed. I think that The Travelling Epicurean does an excellent job of addressing them in his/her blogpost called “What College Never Taught You.” I hope that this blog post started unravelling some of the root causes for the division between university students and recent graduates. At the end of the day, the short answer is that students have not woken up and smelt the coffee.

That’s it from me. xox S.