A Letter to my Former Employer: I’m Number One

This is what I would very much like to say to former co-workers who had a part in my departure from this fast-food company I used to work for, either directly or indirectly. Maybe I’ll get the chance to say this one day. The company would actually be the perfect example of horrible business strategy: poor understanding of the target demographic, hostile work environment, poor work culture, sexism, racism, poor management, poor organization, frequent lawsuits from partners, crude training, no innovation, no to low standards, lack of collaboration, etc. I am trying so hard to think of one good thing about the company that it is giving me a headache, so I must stop.

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Dear All:

I want to thank you for letting me go. I had wanted to quit since after the first month, but I stayed for the money. I convinced myself to stay for just a few more months, just long enough to settle some debts and establish a solid savings. I then got the corporate card, and put off leaving until after the corporate card was paid because I was all to familiar with how well-organized the company is. Then I though it might be nice to have a corporate job on my resume for at least a year, and then that would coincide with bonus and the Olympics, so maybe I should stay a little longer for that whopping week vacation.

I had a friend looking for a job. I was honest with her and told her that I would only refer her so I would have company at work, but that I would not wish this experience on my worst enemy. From day one I felt like an outsider. From people name dropping universities, incorrectly, by putting a near by state school and MIT in the same breath not understanding that those who attend the latter have no idea what the former is, AT ALL. The way people looked at me as a minority female and really made me want to start swearing in the 5 languages I know, carry around my top tier diploma (top tier meaning “top ten of the ranked”, not just bragging about it being ranked), brag about my two degrees of separation from the president, Donald Trump, and even an MVP quarterback, and my one degree of separation from a Principal at McKinsey.

You told me the numbers were bad, the partners complained, my attendance was poor, and the little bimbo in HR dropped something about the company being “results-driven.” Where did she go to school again? While she was playing with finger puppets, I wrote a 60-page thesis, which later became a published book now available on Amazon. From what I could see, I had the best numbers period, not just for a female. As I understood the company more, I could see why that might be a problem.

The company value was falling, but that was going on prior to my arrival. I had looked at the financials hoping to talk about rapid growth, but was surprised to find none. With regards to the partners, one woman was mad that she did not get what she wanted and deleted emails to support her claim that she was being ignored. I had all the emails. Even while out for bereavement I responded, but I guess you must have believe the gossip that I was on vacation, hence “attendance issues”, despite the fact that I frequently stayed late too. The partners were frustrated in general because they were given the run-around and saw that internal communication was poor and I neither denied it or affirmed it. I tried to fix it, but as my colleagues spoke of things like “sink or swim” and “passing the hot potato” it appeared that the problems were just supposed to be swept under the rug while at the same time trying to find a scape goat. Que me.

I was your scape goat. I worked my ass off to be the best in the midst of poor organization and people running around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to be the best and trying to be the elite when they can’t even distinguish up or down. You blamed me for issues with a large partner that wasn’t even mine to control. You all would have known that if you had bothered to be organized and have decent managers. Or maybe you did know. Now your rhetoric, the same one that includes “meritocracy” and “results-driven” has blown up in your face.

Before I left the bimbo from HR told me I would still have health insurance. I didn’t really believe her. I requested written confirmation and got no response. Once I needed the insurance I thought I’d call to see the status: inactive as of the end of my last month with the company. More rhetoric, but yet in the U.S. there is this thing called COBRA. Since I’m not the HR bimbo, I know what it is. Since I am not the HR bimbo, I can pull up my records where I reached out to her for confirmation of health insurance and she never responded. So I hope you enjoy the fine you will be receiving from the U.S. Department of Labor and thank you also for confirming that I was in fact surrounded by idiots while working for your company. Also, consider this payback for not paying the corporate card on time, but I will also be doing everything within my power to get you blackballed from recruiting on elite campuses, no that will not include that little state school you are so fond of.

And then there’s your little cult mantra that includes “meritocracy”. Typically companies with strong, positive cultures that are in fact meritocratic do not need to advertise this on every wall… I saw that my salary and bonus was used nicely to give raises, namely to those who didn’t ask questions and behaved like good drones sucking up to their male superiors and talking about how the little wife is at home wishing he would come home early from work because she’s been waiting for him all day to take her shopping.

Next, my favorite, “results-driven”. During my exit meeting I had nothing to say at that point because it didn’t register. It’s not that I needed time to process, my brain could not compute that NONSENSE.  That’s your company’s mantra and then you let me and countless others like me go, or they leave. It really seems like you and I were just playing a game of chicken. The bimbo tells me the reasons for letting me go was because the company is “results-driven” but yet I went to a top 10 private school, a top 10 university, a top 10 graduate school and have a résumé would confirm the fact that she was sitting in class playing with finger-puppets. Borrowing, and modifying a line from Captain Philips: I’m number one.

You all schemed, laid off, and spewed rhetoric to become number one, but I am number one. Thank you. I work for a billion dollar company. Your earnings only represent a tenth of ours. They give decent benefits and still have earnings that blow yours out of the water! Did I mention that my company is in fact number one? I don’t think I did. Just so we’re clear, this is what “results-driven” looks like, not whatever sham of a company you are running.

So, again, thank you. Thank you for helping me leave when I wouldn’t. Thank you for showing me what the bottom is and releasing me to be with my people, smart people, results-driven people.

Be sure to keep an eye out for that fine from the Department of Labor. I wouldn’t want you to miss it because they’ll probably charge interest, if they haven’t done so already. I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Also, let me know if you want me to send you some postcards from my 3-week vacation in China. Oh, but they’ll be in Chinese. I hear Chinese is a hard language to learn. I wouldn’t really know though because I speak it 😉

 

Cheers,

WHL

We Deserve More

Once I got this new job that I love, I thought I’d pay it forward by helping others who have also been struggle to find decent work. I put in a referral for an acquaintance of mine from college for a job on the opposite coast from where she was located. Yet, after about two weeks I saw that they declined to interview her. I was disappointed. She has much more experience in this field than I do, and is willing to take less money. Between the college she went to, her background, and the referral, she should have at least gotten an interview. Yeah, she applied to a job on the opposite coast, but she has family there and was more than willing to relocate. I mean, are recruiters that close-minded to think that people do not have connections in different cities and are not willing to relocate on their own dime? This seems to be the case in Florida, but I have lowered my expectations for Florida-based companies, but I expect more from the west coast and the mid/northeast.

So when my friend saw that she was not selected for an interview, she called to follow-up with me. She said exactly what I thought, that will all she had going for her, she should have at least gotten an interview. Why no interview? She had a few positions where she was only with a company for a few months, but she has only been out of college for 5 years. She also went to a top 10 school. There is no doubt in my mind that she excelled where she went and probably learned in a few months what it would take an average person to learn in a year. I found out later that the recruiter left the company kind of abruptly. Considering potential internal communication issues, I thought it possible that the application got lost in the shuffle, so I worked with her to help her reapply.

I say all this to explain why I am not only disappointed, but also frustrated and angry. She should have at least gotten an interview. That’s exactly how I felt after I applied for hundreds of jobs and received no response: I should’ve at least gotten an interview, especially in a state with generally low standards that they broadcast to the world.

There are intelligent people everywhere, at all types of schools who work hard and work smart, yes. They shouldn’t be excluded just because they did not go to a “top” school. However, at those “top” schools, the intelligence metric is skewed towards the higher end, so if the general market is saturated with mostly average applicants, the top candidates should get an interview. A nice rejection email will not even suffice. So why don’t we get the interview? Recruiters feel intimidated (especially with the female applicants or minority applicants), recruiters/employers are cheap and assume we’ll ask for a lot of money (I ask for more now because I had bills that are past-due and I’m a little bitter. Back when I was chasing non-profits, I would have been fine with mid 30ks – mid 40Ks.), or hiring is done internally. In Florida, another issue is that people do not understand the school rankings, most likely because most of the people recruiting are not from the U.S. and come from cultures where simply going to school in the U.S. gives high class status, and also for some very strange reason, Florida is regarded as some type of Mecca where everyone is flocking to: Latin Americans, yes, Americans, no.

Since moving to Florida… I have been told that I am under-qualified to be an Administrative Assistant by the same person who had trouble making an international phone call and was more interested in hearing about my program at an un-ranked Florida state school than my undergraduate degree, and recently when I mentioned wanting to get a Ph.D. at a private university here to someone who attended the undergraduate school, the guy said it was a good school at then dropped its ranking in an obvious attempt to solicit a reaction. When you round the number you get #50. My undergrad is ranked higher. I said nothing. What was I supposed to say? What was he assuming? I was just trying to talk about the program, not the ranking…

So suffice it to say, Florida is a very special case, a twilight zone. But, going back to my prior point, when you make certain achievements in life, you deserve to sit at the table, and in this case, be granted an interview.

In getting back to the title of this piece, for me, my disappointment, frustration, and anger begins with myself and my peers not getting and interview and ends with being lumped together alongside of and compared to those who by our standards do not have the same intellectual capacity or even the desire to acquire it. The last time I felt above average was in middle school and then I would go home and my parents would give me impossible problems to solve and I felt challenged. From high school to (most of) graduate school I didn’t feel unique, and then after graduating, I felt my brain was dying for the most part of the time. Now, I feel like I am being told to slow down so others can catch up… maybe they need to move a little faster…? I had a few classes in college where I was falling behind. It was frustrating, yes, but I learned from it, and certainly did not try to slow others down because of me, and the professor certainly did not slow down for us slower students either.

I feel that I am being told to slow down, and even indirectly being held back because they’re little for me to learn from those in my same role. In our initial training, we did some things in Excel (my mother does everything in Excel, so she made me learn it) and this one guy could not find the “sort” feature. Ok, maybe he did not learn it, but I consider that to be basic Excel/Office, and so did my brother who is an Excel pro and makes fun of my minimal knowledge (not in a mean way), which compared to the guy at the office is probably advanced… Anyways, there’s the issue of him not knowing where the “sort” feature was, not searching for it, and not asking someone, another Florida thing, with the machismo (“gag”). So, I know Macros/VBA because I went on YouTube. I did this lovely Microsoft Office test where I had to create a Macro, which I did, by following the directions. This other lady comes out and says it was asking me to do stuff I had never seen… Follow the DAMN directions!

My other colleagues do not appear to be familiar with checking email regularly… We get things through Outlook that they don’t see until late, I was scheduling the meetings, and then this other person just copied and pasted directly into the Macro and not the function bar, repeatedly. Do something once, or twice, okay, but then troubleshoot and do something differently. Ironically, the stuff that I know in Outlook is more in line with being an Administrative Assistant (you know, the thing I was under-qualified for), but somethings I just happened upon by being curious. In high school, when we first got our email accounts, we went over email etiquette. Until Facebook happened I was checking everything daily, and now I’ll look through it, but only my work emails usually get a response during the week, and then on the weekends, good luck.

So maybe they don’t know these things, but while they figure it out, I can be promoted and given more money, not told to slow down while people learn things that I learned years ago. And then the issue with troubleshooting. My high school, college, and parents taught me to be analytical, and I guess I was probably born inquisitive too. I cannot not be analytical, which is why my writing tends to go in multiple directions at a time because I see various topics that can be further explained or further analyzed. I cannot not ask questions. I cannot not solve problems (I love jigsaw puzzles by the way). I do not understand people who need constant instruction and cannot take the information given and run with it. I do not understand people who cannot isolate the variables to determine the cause either on their own or with others. It is basically a higher level of thinking that I was surrounded by that I need near me again so I can stop coming home and being shocked by how little people actually know how to do. Well, I guess this also speaks to the gap in education quality between institutions and regions, but that’s a separate topic.

Again, back to the point of this post. My job is amazing because of the company and the people I work with you are all very nice. I actually get along with the Managers and the people not on my team a bit better. The concept of networking seems to be lost on some… We had very comprehensive training and there is all sorts of information we can reference and people we can contact if we have any questions, but ultimately, we were given the tools and told to run with it. There was this new training recently that was more lecture-based, more European/Latin America style, so I am going to have to review the information on my own. There was no PowerPoint presentation. I feel like that really makes me sound like a spoiled, privileged American, but presentations should have PowerPoints with key takeaways. You doing something and me watching you is horrible for me and not the environment that I am used to, and arguably an environment that has proved to be the most successful.

So continuing on from that last point, I feel that it will be therapeutic for me to tell the recruiters who did not get back to me and my former employer who proved there is hell on earth exactly how I am feeling at my new billion dollar company that makes them look like fools playing in the dirt. My parents would advise against is, but the Scorpio in me is telling me I should do it. It would be smug, Bill Maher-style, but I will feel good once I write it. I did this 3 times already. One I actually regret, and another I really don’t. The third ons is not worth mentioning. For the one I regret, I misread the email… The recruiter was checking in with all applicants saying that they need more time to review the applications. I misread it, and said something like, “Thank you for letting me know and for helping me realize that now is the best time for me to move.” My moving deadline was either before or at the same time they intended to make their decision. For the other one, it was a top management company looking for bilingual Spanish speakers with Portuguese being a plus, for their Latin America team. They emphasized that the person must have a university degree from a top university. This is in Florida, and I am really sensing that here, “top university” is synonymous with Florida college/university. So, they sent me an email saying I wasn’t going further in the application, and I responded, in Portuguese, telling them they are going to have a hard time finding someone better. They’re still looking…

I most likely will write back to those recruiters who wasted my time asking for foolish things like a high school transcript. But in the next post, I will write what I want to say to the worst company/management I have every worked for. My intention is not to send it, but I make no promises.

Recovery

It’s hard not to think about all the things that I could’ve done differently, but now I am in a better place. I am still struggling financially, but at least I enjoy what I do, the people I work with, and have steady cash flow. I wish I could’ve gotten here sooner, and I wish I could tell those people off who insulted me. I might just do that… (I heard that SNL overlooked Stephen Colbert and Jim Carey…) I could just send an email that says thank you for not calling me back so that I could work for a billion dollar company that makes your revenue look like lunch money…I’ll think about it.

Unfortunately, my feelings regarding towards Florida and mostly south Florida have not changed. I think they have actually been validated due to an article published in a Tampa news paper stating the state has agreed to lower achievement expectations based on race — as if the public school system in Florida is anything to be proud of, I guess unless you are from Latin America (http://tampa.cbslocal.com/2012/10/12/florida-passes-plan-for-racially-based-academic-goals/) — and my new job where all the higher level and non customer service positions are interestingly located outside of Florida, and in the Global North.

Regarding the article, which I actually thought was from 2014 and not 2012, this is all I have to say: Not surprising. I will be surprised when decisions are made based on sound empirical evidence and decision-makers stop thinking within a vacuum. I had to turn off a political discussion on the news the other day, attempting to be Meet the Press, because a woman quoted her source as “the internet”… If no one is vying to understand and emulate your educational model, then maybe there might be just a few other educational models out there that can be considered, maybe just a little. I mean, what if they were to consider looking into the educational models of this little unknown area far up north called New York. I hear they have a similar multiracial demographic in one of their smaller cities by the same name. The state might not be as established or well-known as Florida, and certainly people don’t consider it to have anything that could rival major cities in Florida, but I think they might be able to find a little something to work with.

In regards to my job, it is actually in an international affairs related field and I get to use Spanish and French on a daily basis! In fact, I am the only one on the team who speaks French! Also, it’s in the private sector and there appears to be genuine opportunity for growth. Another shocker, the job description was accurate, unlike that last place where I was called Business Analyst but was more Collections Agent/Customer Service Rep. Oh, and by the way, that company’s revenue has taken a hit, they’re overall revenue is only 1/4 of the revenue for my new company, which is in the billions, and I contacted the Department of Labor about them not sending my my COBRA information, so they should be hit with a fine of at least $100/day since my last day. Maybe that’s why the recruiter was checking out my résumé… 🙂 But on to the new job. The pay is low. It’s high for the area and if you went to state school, but as Florida is not the center of the universe from me, I cannot really join my colleagues in gushing over the salary and finally being able to give up their second job. This is what I made in grad school, without a degree, I declined two interviews for jobs that would pay me about $30K more — one maybe in the state of Florida, the other definitely not — but even with the higher cost of living I would still actually have a savings, and now I also have to look for a second job and possible relocation. The jobs I applied to right before I committed to this one appear to still be open, and if they’re still there in a month, all bets might be off…

In December 2014, I was ready to leave Florida and never look back. Neither my parents nor I had the money to fly me back home for the holidays so I was seriously about to spend Christmas by myself in this state that I am indifferent too (when it’s cold and people speak to me in English, its value to me plummets.) I could not do that. I sold the last of my stocks and got a one way ticket home. Right after I bought my plane ticket, I heard from the company I am at now, only a few weeks after I applied. I actually gave then the full résumé, except I left out my certificate in Chinese because it wasn’t really relevant. I played up translation and language skills because that appeared to be the tipping point, but now I am concerned by boss might think that that is my background… Anyways, I was supposed to have the last interview right before my flight, but it got changed, and I went north. I was there for two weeks before I did the last interview and received an offer. I lowered my salary expectations by $5K so I could get in the door, but I was told that there was potential. And the reviews on Glassdoor are amazing! As is the company. The low salary is a BIG issue though. The two companies who would’ve paid me more contacted me for interviews after I had verbally committed to my current job, but I did not have time to wait for a paycheck, and I was also curious to see where this would go. So, here I am back in Florida.

After this month, I will have been here longer than I was at that hellhole that I worked at when I first got here, and even the place I worked at through the temp agency. I met people at both those places who had a warped since of self, and just sometimes I wanted to be like, are you serious!? Now I want to be like who’s the one excelling in fast-paced environments will high revenue now. I’m still thinking about that email… It wouldn’t be beneath me because I am a Scorpio and I am human. I would channel Bill Maher’s smugness in my email. Anyways… My lease is up at then end of May and I have bills to pay. I am not going to pay a premium to sign a short-term lease, so I have to figure out where I want to be and where I can be. I would love to stay with the company, but all the opportunities for growth are elsewhere if I want to overcome the Florida ceiling. I might be able to negotiate staying here for one of the positions I am looking at, but then do I really want to stay here?

Honestly, for $15-$20K more and maybe also an analytical role, I could make it work, at least until I get engaged/married. I connected with someone the other day who is about to get married and he said that he could not raise his children here, and I completely agree. I came here for the weather, the beach, Latin America, cost of living, and to meet a multilingual foreigner (not fresh off the boat; Americanized), but I honestly do not want my children to be subject to the low standards and delusions of south Florida. (I also really want my daughters to go to my middle school/high school.)

UCF, UF, or one of these large Florida state schools was included in some list of public ivies. I found that list and understood why some people actually refer to then as Ivy League schools. But why do they do that? I mean I know why, but they are really serious about it. Always be proud of where you went to school if you must, honestly, I have mixed feelings about most places I attended, but don’t be disillusioned because then you look/sound ridiculous. “Pretentious” was an abstract concept until I got here… I did not go to an Ivy League school just to be clear. I’m always amused when I talk to my friend who went to MIT about the “Ivy League” Florida schools here by their acronyms and she has no idea what I am talking about. I do feel bad about this deep down, somewhere, but it helps me keep things in perspective. Everyone around here knows was MIT stands for, or at least has heard of MIT, but I have to tell her what USF, UCF, FIU, and FAU is, or for fun, I just make her guess… And then FIU has these new entry standards for their graduate school that would actually make her ineligible to apply, lol, while she actually got into Brown and Vandi. When I drive and think about things here, I just go WTF and just move on because my brain hurts after awhile. Cambridge has a cutoff like FIU, but they’re Cambridge, they can do that. When you have degrees that are known to be well transferable outside of the city/locale of your college, you can do that, it’s annoying, yes, but you have that established reputation.

So, so far Florida is more ridiculous than not #FakeorFlorida, but I am still here because I got a job and because of the multilingualism. I think I also might be here because my very self challenges the general population’s perception of who I should be, and it amuses me when I cause them confusion. I think that’s also the same reason why I must leave at some point. Probably just for my sanity: I can’t work with pretentious people, those who embrace the status quo, have a warped sense of self, and believe in strict gender roles. I guess I should also mention that my company is not based in Florida.

Why I am angry

From December 2014:

I had dinner with a friend of mine over the Thanksgiving holiday. My mother doesn’t like her at all, and she very rarely has strong opinions on anything, let alone my friends, especially at this age. My mother never liked my friend, we’ll call her L. My mother has very good reason not to like L and after I speak with her, I constantly ask myself why I am friends with her. I remember one time, L made rude comments about the dishes in the sink and the mess in the car. I said something of course, and am wary about introducing her to other people I know. But also, her family was/is not as wealth as mine, so I played it off as her insecurity, especially since I don’t really care for her opinions. As I think about why I still communicate with her on occasion and even maybe call her friend,  I think it’s because I have known her for so long, and she’s one of my few friends from childhood, outside of school, that doesn’t have at least one kid out of wedlock and aspired to more than just graduating from high school and finding a man. As I think about it further, my mother also has a friend that I don’t like because she insulted me, maybe there is something there as well…

Anyways, L is arrogant and annoying, but also loyal and ambitious. She’s not one you want to talk to when your down, but she’s educated, so you can have intelligent debates with her. She’s also a snob though, but I would be friends with a snob over a bum. She was supposed to go to an Ivy League college, according to her, but she’s doing pretty well without having gone to an Ivy League school, according to her. She thinks she’s quite knowledgeable although most things she says have very obvious counterarguments. She went to a summer program at an Ivy League school, and she would tell me that because she went to the summer program she would undoubtedly be attending that college, despite the fact that the fine print said that the program in no way boosted one’s chances of attending the college. Because my high school was feeder school for Ivy Leagues, did not know the extent of it until I graduated, I felt I had to apply to at least one. If I could go back, I would apply to the other one, which might have actually been a good fit, but weather and location were very important to me (academic rigor was a given). All those years, I kept my mouth shut, again because my saying anything would come across as arrogant because I actually had/could’ve had the pedigree that she wanted. I’m a legacy, sorority and college, but decided not to cash in on that either, because I wanted to be my own person. My children will have no choice, or maybe at least two between myself and my parents.

L is in law school know and had a series of jobs as a legal assistant. I don’t know the extent of her employment history, but I do know she stayed close to home until law school, when she still did not go far. Again she wanted to go to an Ivy League school, but seems well on her way to have full-time employment as an attorney after law school.

I was going to say that I am angry because despite her arrogance, she still manages to have a job and go to law school. However, it’s not that I want her to not have those things. As I think about this, I am actually quite thankful that she did not get into an Ivy League school for undergraduate or law school because NO ONE would ever hear the end of it. Unfortunately, now she wants the responsibility to fall to her children…

As I think about the one job that I wish I never agreed to, I’m also very angry that they’re still employed. I am angry that the heads of the company went to Harvard and are wealthy as the operate a patriarchal organization whose policy mirrors the practices of their home country, which should not be part of the culture of a US company as the goal is to move towards non-discriminatory practices and more of a work-life balance, and not away from it. Then again, the people that I aspire to emulate would have never worked there. So, I guess, they can have that. For most of the people there, that was the highlight, for me it was the lowlight. I said yes for the money.

There are other things that I can be angry about though, like the fact that I have very limited control over what I applied to, recruiters who recruit without understanding the industry and who give false hope, and also being in a sea of people who are under-qualified and are being hired precisely because they are under-qualified.

I worked hard to graduate from some one of the best high schools, I worked hard to graduate from one of the best colleges, and I worked hard to graduate from one of the top graduate schools in its field. Despite this, I got told by someone who was pretty and had long hair that I don’t produce results. Of all the people I had worked with, at much more respected organizations, she was the only to say this, based on her feelings. I feel like the genius on Scorpion who got arrested in Arizona and said that he could not possible be tried by his peers because of his high intellect. I do not go around saying things like that. I never even considered myself to be all that smart. Yet, when people say they’re impressed with my resume and make hints at me leaving for something better, it makes me certain that I am not being hired because I worked to hard. I had an interview once with a global company and the head guy said that unlike most people he was not afraid to hire someone smarter than him. He also was refreshed to see that I had some “normal” retail experience.

So now, I have to find some way to try to make myself appear somewhere between normal and impressive. I leave things off my resume, change the titles, remove certain responsibilities, and leave off some of the languages that I know. I tried full honesty, and it’s no longer an option. I have to make sure I smile, and act more personable and demure. I sometimes wonder if having longer hair would help, certainly in Florida… For certain companies, I have even wrote the college name of my university and not the university itself, so it’s not that obvious and I don’t have to deal with concerns over pay, etc, and all the other stereotypes that come along with it… No one seems to care about my graduate degree though, whose institution is less known that the other, so I was hoping that would create some balance.

And then it’s like, what was I supposed to do? I needed money, so I went to places that I hoped would give me the best ROI, and that I happened to enjoy as well. And now, what am I supposed to do? I tried honesty, full disclosure, and being myself, but then I get people saying things like “we don’t care where you went to school”. The only people who say that are those who do. Just like the only people who say “we’re about meritocracy” are those who aren’t. Think about it: do companies/organizations known for being meritocratic and diverse proclaim it every chance they get, or is it found somewhere on their website, or in their actions?

I’ve been dealing with a recruiter who did not get back to me until I contacted my former boss. She told me to call today, but still no response. I do not want to be a recruiter because I prefer analytical work over administrative work, and prefer not to be in customer/client-facing positions. But I sometimes wonder, if it would be better to have the actual analysts periodically receive and review the resumes, but I guess that’s what a referral is, but I had a referral, I used to work for the company before and was asked to interview for a full-time position even when I did not apply for one. (That’s one of the things I regret, but I now have a better understanding of the recruiting process.)

Most days I feel like I’m suffocating. If I had followed my high school plan, I would have been in law school now, but I wanted to try things, ignoring the fact that most people do not try things. I have made another plan, which of course has to include borrowing more from Uncle Sam, but as I think about how much debt I will have at the end of it, how I would much rather work, and how I had a plan before that got completely derailed, I just wonder if this is all futile. Then despite my best efforts I still continue to breathe. I search for jobs again, and then I stop as I think that they’re just going to hire someone less qualified.

Lying on Your Resume

I’ve always liked experiments, so I decided to play around with my resume to test my theories since I’ve been living in Florida. These are the assumptions:

  1. Most people have high school diplomas; a college degree is rare.
  2. Local colleges/universities are more highly regarded than those outside the state.
  3. Exact word matches are important.
  4. Less is more.

Before I arrived here, a friend of mine said she would pass along my resume to her sister who was going to share it with some law firms. I put all my degrees on there and all my work experience highlighting the legal internship I did in high school and the time spent working on law-related issues for the federal government. She was impressed. Honestly, I didn’t care; I was just trying to get a job in a field that I enjoyed in a place where I thought I would be happy. I heard nothing back. The sister went to a law school I have never heard of and is happily working as a lawyer. I feel like I should’ve gone to a no-name school to make people more comfortable. Oh, and then my cousin called me intimidating.

I have not been the “smartest” (grades, analytical skills) person in the class since elementary school. I have just been trying to do what I am interested in and obtain the skills necessary to work in fields of interest. I entered college as a wide-eyed dreamer, and now I am a bitter realist. In college I really wanted to work for the CIA so I could support my country, but they passed on me because of the propensity to compromise and be honest. Ironically, now I have recognized the value of lying, er, omitting the truth.

So, I have an online presence that will lead you directly to me, unless… I use the fact that my name is quite common, and hide myself in plain sight by removing my middle initial, in addition to all the other locks on my accounts preventing people from finding me unless I want them to. (how’s that for clandestine, CIA). The heading of this blog is misleading. I don’t lie, I just don’t tell the whole truth. Unlike most people on the internet who talk about embellishing their resumes, I do the exact opposite: downplay all of my experiences and accomplishments. Lo and behold here in the sunny state of Florida, I have gotten more responses by being less ambitious and driven. (I guess I was not smart enough to understand why the friends I knew here had left…)

So…

  1. Remove middle initial so I cannot be found online
  2. Remove graduate degree
  3. Add local school that I attended briefly to establish a common bond; it should not be on all my resumes because I do not want to appear overqualified or smart with the pursuit of a graduate degree
  4. Think minimalist: one undergraduate institution, one degree, no certificates; the resume should not show a desire to be proactive or do things differently (i.e. language certificates and time spent abroad are irrelevant)
  5. Resume should be polished, but not too much; it should not stand out and be overly impressive; stick to one bullet point
  6. Exaggerate administrative roles (I am a female, so that is more acceptable, and people will be more comfortable); anything that says “analyst” should be “assistant”, to better connect to administrative assistant
  7. Try to keep the resume to one page
  8. Cover letter should be short and sweet; nothing too detailed
  9. References should be good friends and not the standard professional references, because the real references should not be wasted

I received three callbacks with my revised Florida resume.

I interviewed for a Hotel Manager role at a high-end hotel hoping to snag a rich husband like my friend. (I mean, I really was not going to strip myself of everything I was proud of to work at a no-name motel.) I made the mistake of not rehearsing well enough before to help me to not over share and stick to the script. For this one, I also listed the college and not the university so that I could actually get the interview, and then hoped that they were not too familiar with Google… I was asked what luxury meant and I mentioned quality and some other related things including my own travel. I had thought that that did not go to well and I should have said more superficial, Miami-sounding things, but in retrospect, I think it went ok. I really needed to work on my lines though.

I interviewed for an Administrative Assistant role as well, and had a second interview today, but I don’t think it’s going to work out. I was surprised the second interview was even scheduled. I put my college’s more common name on this resume, but sticked to one degree and added the Florida school. Thankfully I was not asked about career aspirations. I was asked about my administrative assistant experience, which I do have, but it is minimal, and the first interview admitted that it’s not overly complicated, but she wanted to know what experience I had in it. Then she asked for my preferred salary, which was $15K more than what she was hoping for. That’s why I thought that that was the end of the conversation. Then she had the nerve to tell me that the place I was temping at was paying me $20.25, hinting that I should lower my expectations. As I mentioned before, I was experimenting, and I was hoping to use this company as leverage as well. (Again, more CIA tactics, lol)

So this is the kicker. First I was insulted, but then I thought maybe I did a good job constructing an average resume. Unfortunately, that also means I might actually have to consider lying in the future. The first interviewer for the admin role emailed to schedule an interview with the HR person. It was scheduled for 11. I did not hear from the second interviewer until I followed up with the first interviewer. The second interviewer struggled a lot with her English and the phone. They wanted Spanish and Portuguese skills for this role, so we could’ve switched languages, but again I had to make sure that I did not intimidate in any way and display any sort of proactivity. We finally spoke and she said I was a bit “junior” for the role because they’re looking for someone who could grow into an office manager, contracts administrator, or HR position. Whaaaat!? Welcome to Florida. I had interviewed for contract admin roles, at least now I know where they stand in the scheme of things.

I thought maybe she didn’t understand where I went to school. So I said, I do not know if you are too familiar with my school or where I worked. She recognized the school. I thought then maybe she was trying to be mean and use this as an opportunity to get back at those who went to top tier schools. She said the same thing that the other place I worked at said about my being under qualified for fast-paced and demanding environments. So, that being said I am understanding that this place is chaotic and unorganized, so now, I really don’t want to work there, but then I need the money, and have to make sure to be the one to quit first before anything else goes down. In the beginning she was more interested in my Florida school and not the undergrad. Explains a lot. I also do not want to work with people who take themselves too seriously to their point of stupidity, like this lady… I called the first interviewer back to say that I was confused about the position because the second interviewer said I was under qualified… When I mentioned where I worked, I made the mistake of going with the full name and not the abbreviation, which most non-industry people do not recognize. I was poking holes in my own script. She also started asking if I had a LinkedIn profile because there were a lot of people with my name… I tried to avoid giving her my middle initial, but I had too, and then figured with that, I would not get called back. She said she had another call that she had to attend to so she would email me about talking again. (I’m not holding my breath.)

I had another interview earlier today as a Sales Associate. It was supposed to be part-time, but the person arranging it was never really listening. And then now, full-time would actually be better. She sent me the address to the mall (who interviews at the mall when they don’t have a space there???) where I was to be interviewing and she got the name wrong. She also kept sending me the wrong confirmation times, and when I followed up with a call, she read through the exact same script as the initial call. (If she can get hired, why must I jump through hoops for an administrative position???) But, then again, I arrived late for the 9am interview, but the guy interviewing me does not know that because he wasn’t there. The organizer was supposed to move the times back an hour… He apologized for the unprofessionalism, but I mean it’s Florida, so my expectations are slowly lowering, and then I was late too, so I might be right where I belong… (If I got over my fear of stripping, I would be much better off, but I digress…) All I have to do now is pass a background check and drug test and I’ll be at work on Saturday. I’m not too concerned with passing the background check with my “alternate” resume, because the dates line up and I did not embellish. (Who would dismiss someone for dumbing down their resume???) The pay makes me wish I would’ve dropped out of high school. I am trying to make it about the money now, but if it was always about the money, I could have worked retail in between college and then been store manager once I graduated and be in a much better position than I am now, but I decided to be different. So, I also substitute teach, which requires a MA. So if I take the sales job, I would have to give up substitute teaching, which pays more per day when I get it and actually would not trash my resume. I do have this research intern thing I am doing, but it is so boring and confusing. The full-time sales role has benefits though, but I’ll probably have to pay a lot out of pocket since I am not corporate. Then I will also have to quit before they fire me for not meeting the quota. I hate sales. I actively try to discourage sales people from approaching me because I will not buy what I don’t want. I mean, I do not even enjoy browsing at the mall.

So that was the experiment. I think it proved me right, which makes me know longer regret going to UMiami, but does make me regret ever coming here in the first place, although it was only because I intended to go to Florida that I took the short-term jobs in DC and was able to put an economics degree on my resume. I regret coming here. The Florida chapter is closed, but I regret coming here and would strongly advise any and everyone against moving to Florida unless that have a job lined up in tourism or real estate.

I also cried today and thought about killing myself, but unfortunately, that is a normal day. If I did not have family to mourn me, a life insurance policy that would not pay out, and a fear of hell, I would probably be dead. I can probably eliminate the fear of hell though because seeing as my life is crumbling before my very eyes, and I have to hide the truth to get ahead, would my suicide really be my fault?

With all my debt its pointless now to try and work for the CIA despite the progress that I have made in my ability to manipulate words and people for personal gain. They would fear me becoming a double agent… I will leave it at that…

College and Post-College Careers 101 – A Letter to my Younger Self

First off let me say, that when I took up drinking as my hobby, I had one of the worst hangovers that I’ve ever had. I let go of the hard drinking for now, and just have a glass when I’m feeling really depressed. I was saving the bottle for a happy occasion, but as I feel myself getting slower mentally and my birthday is approaching, the hope for the happy occasion has long since subsided.

To be more engaged with others when I was in a happier place when I moved back in with my parents, I volunteered to interview high school seniors as a part of my college’s alumni association. Then I was excited for the students and really wanted to encourage them on their pursuits. Now I feel like I have nothing to offer. I have failed. How am I supposed to sit across from them and explain how invaluable a college degree is, the experience, blah, blah, blah? I can’t, but I can offer the truth. I can bring them back to reality and tell them what I wish I would’ve heard at their age:

1. Where you go to college and what you study matters.
People say it doesn’t matter in the long-run, but they completely skip over the fact that a recent graduate needs to first enter the workforce before they can even think about the long-run, not to mention the HUGE amount of debt everyone but the extremely wealthy and the extremely poor will amass. (Not $30K but more like $100K, but in my case $300K when you add graduate school.)

First, where you go to college…

If you want to be able to work in any state in the United States, you’ll need to go to a school that’s respected and known in every state in the United States. You will need to look at the university rankings on USNews, Forbes, etc. This becomes especially important if you want to work on Wall Street or in Consulting, or at any other well-known financial or business institution. If that is your goal, you’ll also want to stay away from getting a graduate degree from any school whose undergraduate program is not in the top 10, with some wiggle room given for the top 20, or top state schools since there is  bitterness towards people who go to top 10 schools and more recognition that the cost of college is ridiculous when compared to the returns. That will bring down your resume and remove opportunities that you could have probably had with just your undergraduate degree.

On the other hand, building off of the bitterness towards the top 10 schools, if you go to a top 10 school do not venture out of the major metropolitan areas. Outside of the major hubs, there is a preference for local candidates from community colleges or local state schools. This preference is very strong in places like Florida which is generally seen to have a weak educational system at all levels, and neither it’s state schools or private universities are highly ranked with the U.S. (In Latin America people will say MIT and FIU in the same sentence, but then people from MIT have no idea when an FIU is, but in Latin America, you get extra points just for attending school in the US.) So if you know you want to live in Florida, go to college in Florida. You must be sure you want to stay in Florida, because your chances of leaving Florida are slim. You can compare that to degrees from state schools in California, North Carolina, or Texas, which have more national regard.

Second, what you study…

Do not major in a qualitative area. People stay study what you enjoy, and follow your dreams. If your dream involves majoring in a qualitative area, go to whatever school you want, as long as you don’t have to take out any loans. The other option is going to law school, but you MUST go to law school. Do not do what I did and delay law school for a lackluster MA degree. If your focus is on law school, you’ll need to get into a top 25 school if you want to eventually work as a lawyer. You can go to a school not in the top 25, but you should NOT take out any loans to do so, because that would be a waste of money. Taking out loans for law school if you get into the top 25 is a safer bet. Yes, it is betting.

The place for your dreams in college, are the electives, minor courses, and you extracurricular activities. You also should not choose an “easy” major so you can get a good GPA. Your GPA matters, yes, but so does your major, not the courses, but your major.

So, major in a quantitative field, especially if you are a minority. Also, learn another language, but only one, so that people do not think you want to be a teacher or a translator. No one likes an overachiever. Top 10 schools generally do not offer a major in business, so if you are looking for national mobility, consider these majors: computer science, economics, engineering, biology, chemistry, physics, math, finance, or statistics. You can double major if you want, but having a double major alone is not something to brag about. Do not worry about studying abroad, nobody cares. If your foolish like me and want to live in south Florida or such similar places know for its low intellectual capital thinking that it might not be all that bad, look at the market. The locals are only going to understand what the locals know. Here, the market is tourism, real estate, business, and sales. Majoring in business, hospitality, real estate, or finance is your only option. Absolutely do NOT come to Florida or similar places with a non-standard degree, meaning, at my college, you could create your own degree. That’s not useful for Florida, as it will not be understood. Stick to the basics and what is easily understood.

2. You cannot make an investment with loans.

Going to college is not an investment in your future, it is a necessary evil and a business transition. A friend’s mother when to MIT and I am pretty sure she did not pay more then $11K for her education. Overall, I believe back then, it was a couple thousand per semester. (That’s an amazing ROI for the baby boomers.) She graduated MIT and her starting salary in an engineering role was $20K. (Notice the specific and clear major leading to the job that had the degree/major in the title.) Her starting salary was higher than the cost of her education. That is not going to happen today. I think MIT is about $50K/year, and the starting salary is probably not above $70K with 70K being generous. Total college tuition will always be higher than your starting salary. Accept it, and move on.

That being said, without a college degree, in most places, you will not even be able to be an administrative assistant. I say most places, because in south Florida, you can have a MA and work for some of the best companies in the country and be under-qualified for the role of administrative assistant. Then, in DC many interns are recent graduate school graduates.

I am not going to say do not take out a loan. (shocking) I have $300K in loans. I applied to 9 schools, and got into 8. None of the schools offered me a scholarship, and so I still got to go with my first choice, which happened to be the best out of the ones that I got into. I could’ve gone to a state school, but then my options would’ve been limited as they are now. You can decide whether you prefer to be debt free, or disengaged and always the smartest person in the room. (There’s a saying that if you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.)

If you take out a loan that is greater than your expected salary, you have no choice but to major in a quantitative field as mentioned above. After all, you are also getting hands-on financial experience. (That’s a joke, no one cares about how you manage your personal finances expect for when there’s something negative in your background check. I mean, I’ve traveled all around the world, but yet I’m somehow not qualified to arrange other people’s travel… I digress…) Also, BY NO MEANS, should you be taking out a loan greater than your expected initial salary to attend a school that is not ranked in the top 50. I thought this went without saying, but from recent experience I guess it doesn’t, your starting salary will vary based on location, industry, degree type, major, and school.

So schools will tell you that college is an investment. Not true. I thought maybe it could be true, because you invest a little bit now for much more later, but if you personally have nothing when you’re 18 and are relying on credit, you’re gambling, not investing. I’ve made investments with cash, from a part of my actual salary, not based on an expected salary that was not guaranteed. Gamblers use credit to roll the dye and see what happens. With college financial aid, you’re using loans to gamble for and with your livelihood. Also consider mortgages and the housing market… With loans you are gambling. Do NOT get caught up in the word investment. Accept that the loan is a gamble, the Department of Education and Sallie Mae are loan sharks, and move on. (I mean, explain why I can still qualify for an educational loan, although I won’t qualify for a personal loan until I am 60 at the earliest??? I wouldn’t want one by then anyways…)

3. GPA might matter, but it depends.

If you want to go to a top-ranked consulting firm, you will need at least a 3.7. Go anywhere but a community college, and get a 3.7 and you will be fine. Overall, you do not want to get below a 3.2. Do not stress over the GPA, but focus on the coursework, as going about it that way will probably help your grades. Grades are about 50 percent what you actual do and 50 percent what your teacher thinks about you. Attending office hours and getting to know your professor goes a long way. Try to be genuine with it, and you might also want to get to know them a little bit more before you start speaking up more frequently in class less they view you as a challenge or a brown-noser.

For graduate school and professional school: the lower your GPA, the better your standardized test scores have to be.

4. Graduate school.

If you go to a top 10 school, do not go to graduate school right away. If you have undergraduate loans, do not go to graduate school unless they pay you. When applying to graduate school, the ranking of the undergraduate institution matters as you consider wether or not you want to attend. The same principles regarding location and major mentioned above apply to graduate school as well. You can use graduate school to relocate and enter a different field. Unless you are a business or prelaw major, only get a graduate-level degree that COMPLEMENTS your undergraduate degree.

If you go to a top 10/20 undergraduate school, your graduate school should be in the same tier otherwise your skills and aptitude will be questioned. If you attended an undergraduate school that was not ranked as high, attend a graduate-level school of a higher rank to increase your options. Especially, now, doing so will make you appear wise, as it will be assumed that you attended a lower ranked undergraduate institution to save money and that is one instance where what you do in your personal life matters for your career. You will also appear to be a hard-worker who persevered despite less opportunity, etc., etc.

 

So, to wrap this up, college is not about you finding yourself and exploring your interests, it’s about being employable. Some people are lucky enough to go to those places that allow them to be universally employable, but if that is not you, you’ll still have to strategize to make sure that you are employable locally. You’ll need to look a college as a business and adjust your mindset. My “friend” called me a “free spirit” because I said I was moving again even though I said I was moving for a specific job. I was offended, because I think that all she hears is that I am traveling to another location, not relocating to work. But, she was probably right. I had dreams like her and was going by my feelings, which led to ruin. She was the smart one who had dreams and married up. Being practical is all there is, and dreams will follow, maybe. That is the status quo. That’s what people understand. Accept it, and move on.

New Hobby – Alcohol

So, I spent most of the day crying. I managed to not cry at my desk, but I scheduled some time to go cry in the background. I also completed some job applications, but what is the point? I’m sending these things out, hoping for something to happen, but it hasn’t happened in four years, so why should it happen now? True, I almost got a job offer at a place I could’ve been happy at as a full-time and was happy as a part time, but it did not required any foreign language skills and had nothing to do with Latin America. I thought I would fare better in the Latin America in the U.S., i.e. south Florida, WRONG! I was told, oh, you resume is so great, you speak so many languages, come to South Florida, WRONG!. They only want their own, people who have never left this god-forsaken area. And it’s a disadvantage that I am not exactly Latin American…

So, I didn’t exactly get offered the full-time, but I was being interviewed for it and it seemed very likely. They want me back for a part-time, so I guess they were the only ones who didn’t lie to me. My old boss said he would want me back if I was still unemployed, so he got his wish. I do appreciate his honesty, but what about my wishes? Er, past tense, the wishes that I had, because now I am done with aspiring to be anything. What exactly is the point of that? I down-played everything on my resume and got an interview for a Reservations Manager at a hotel. I chose the hotel because of its’s expensive clientele. I’ve been told that I am easy on the eyes, and sense that is the only thing that I can market these days, why not market it hard? There’s a part of me that regrets turning down an offer to be one of many girlfriends for this unattractive old guy I met at the pool. He had money, or so he said, and he was European and mentioned marriage… Damn you self-esteem and pride for turning down money and European citizenship! *cringe*

I’m a bit buzzed right now, yes. I was saving the cachaça for a happy occasion, but then that requires some type of hope for a better future, so why not use it to make the occasion happy? I feel good. I haven’t felt good in a long time, and it feels good. I wish I could go somewhere, but I know no one to ask, and I can’t drive. Even in this state I know my limits.

But where was I… I have chosen to be atheist, not that wasn’t it… I turned down a job to experience south Florida. FAIL! With a master’s degree, I’m overqualified. By not being Latin American, I’m under-qualified. I do have a job waiting for me beginning January, but I have to move back and I have no money. I mean, I have enough to move back, as a long as I don’t get a demand letter…

The buzz is wearing off… Time for another drink…

Ok. Ice and cachaça is not good. I’ll need to get some fruit juice tomorrow…

So, there’s a position open overseas. I hope to be considered for that, but I was told I have the wrong citizenship. I know someone else who also has the wrong citizenship working in the same city, so why not me? But there it is, it has always been not me. I regret not going for that full-time job, but silly me wanting to use my language skills which are worthless in the US. Also, I was offered the ability to interview for the full-time and I didn’t even apply because I was focused on moving to Florida, a-n-d thought I had no change because I had applied to other full-time jobs in vain. I also think one of the reasons they were interested because I had that I was attending a MSc Economics program. That came up in the interview… maybe I should put that back on, but seriously, I will since I am technically just on a “leave of absence”.

So I believe in God, I guess, but now I am atheist because God does not believe at me. I worked for some conniving bastards who are not number one in their industry, but are still making money, so if God really cared, that would not be so, right? And here I am contemplating living out of my luxury car, which I bought, used, because I basically said f- it. If I am going to be on the brink of poverty because of student loans and dreams, I might as well splurge so people can say it’s because of lavish spending. I love my car. I could live out of it, but I am a female, and I don’t want to be raped. Someone at my last job made a comment about the company raping its franchisees, I think he is still employed. God, maybe now would be a time to step in…

So, still feeling happy off the juice. I want to get some actual juice so I can bring it to work with me to keep me going, or… this can be that aspiration that I need. I can go to work looking forward to the paycheck and the drink, because they paycheck isn’t enough, I need something to make me happy. That’s an idea…

Another so… So, to wrap this up, I’m embracing the effect of alcohol, or specifically, rum, cachaça, and tequila. Plus I need to lost weight to actually get one of these modeling gigs I have been auditioning for, work at the strip club if they’ll teach me to dance, get one of those suggardaddies off the internet, and go to this cattle call interview for the Reservations Manager. The positions is more than respectable, but I know they’re looking for someone pretty and respectable. That’s what they want here. The languages help, and I learned along time ago to hide where I went to college. I did not lie: I went to a specific college within the university, so I just put the college. You can probably deduce now, that it wasn’t Yale or Harvard. But I played the system and got the interview. I downplayed my other positions, emphasizing the customer service, I’ll ask some friends to be the recommenders, and hopefully this works. This worked for Victoria’s Secret, although I disclosed my MA and the job titles. I was also lied to and told I could be on the Manager track that would come two years later… So basically my education counted for nothing. Why was I going to stay at a place that basically told me I wasted money on college?

I mean seriously, I just can’t anymore. I can use the alcohol to give me what I need to put on a happy face, and be the pretty, dumb girl, because that’s what people want. People at my job today were talking about my old place of work, they didn’t have all the facts straight, and I thought about saying something, but I held back. I’m supposed to be the admin asst without any aspirations, who didn’t finish college or high school for x, y, z reason and has to be told when to do things despite being able to cuss you out in five or six languages you don’t know and create macros around your ass… So I said nothing, and stayed in my lane… I stayed in character.

Everything else has failed me, so I will allow the alcohol to let me stay in character. It keeps me going. Alcohol, soup, and water is my new diet for happiness and weight loss. And I’m limiting my phone calls. My parents preach this foolishness called hope, and my friend wanted to advice me to gain more work experience instead of getting an MBA while I had my first job at 14 and she had her first in college or after, I have a grad degree and she doesn’t, and the preBusiness advisor at our college was only concerned about my quantitative deficiency. When she asked me about grad school I based it on MY OWN EXPERIENCES IN GRADUATE SCHOOL. Her “advice” was based on her feelings, no doubt corrupted by South Florida, assuming I did not work while in grad school. Yet she got a scholarship to Columbia. So, I guess it’s back to the alcohol, the only thing that makes since, because doing the “right” thing sure as hell doesn’t. FYI, if I got knocked up I would be able to get welfare, but since I do not desire to be a baby-mama, I get penalized for not having a ward for the state to take care of… Food for thought.

Also, I know I veer on the line of bitterness and contempt, which is why I have prescribed myself at least one cup of hard liquor per day to help alleviate those symptoms… indefinitely.