Transitions

I moved to my dream city and finally got a full-time entry level position that will actually lead to career advancement! I’m so excited that I’m speechless. I’m grateful and humbled considering what I have been through and what I have put my mother through to get to this point. My mother’s response to the news was go course, congratulations, but then she said I should start putting together a budget, which I have done before, but it tends to always get dismantled… A friend of mine who lives in the area was super excited for me, but then took it to a completely different level by talking about shopping. To her credit, she did talk about moving up the corporate level, but it seemed to all go back to dollar signs. At some point she even called me an inspiration.

I’m just really agitated, and unfortunately, I have been here before. There was an older woman back in my hometown who thought of herself as a second mother figure in my life although I never did. She was trying to help me through my depression, but for most of the time I had to take what she said with a grain of salt and just nod and say “ok.” She would offer advice that did not coincide with my beliefs, which had already allowed me to achieve more than I could have imagined and more than she could have ever imagined or experienced, and it would not sit well with me, just like the interactions with this friend are not sitting well with me now. Deep down inside, the women meant well, but she was speaking from her own experiences and fears without acknowledging that and then believing it to be a universally shared experience. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for being building off of commonalities, but a housewife who has never managed her own finances, does not have a college education, has not lived on her own, and who believes a woman’s place is in the home, has very little ability to relate to my experiences.

So then there’s my friend calling me her inspiration as I’m trying to figure out why we were friends to begin with and why we are still friends. At this point I feel that because of my experiences I am being called to be her friend and help her see what she cannot see or is unwilling to admit, but I really believe that she cannot handle the truth. We don’t have a shared struggle. She’s been through a lot in her development years, and in comparison I have lived a life of privilege. She grew up in a single parent home, has a stressful relationship with her mother, left college to pursue her dream, left her dream to pursue college and marriage, was finishing college when I was finishing graduate school (although I would’ve been done if I hadn’t taken a gap year), got married right after finishing school, and tried some new age birth control and then got pregnant two years too early and she’s still not clear on what she wants out of life. She then makes comments about how she can’t wait until I have a child and I start hyperventilating and call my mother to have her remind me that I do not need to feel/internalize the pressure to have children.

There’s just so much running through my head right now that I want to scream, but I don’t want to abandon her just because I got a new job and I can’t relate. But it’s that now I have this job I can better manage my finances and start to really pay off my loans and she’s just really impressed and my friends were already doing this. This is what people do. The work hard in high school, finishing college in 3-4 years, get a job, and then get married if they want, and then wait at least 1 year before having a child if they want. I know people who operate outside of that plan, but we’re not close. I got shaken up when the “get a job” wasn’t going as planned and had to learn to adapt and now I feel that my friend is just trying to suck me into her world so she can have someone who can relate.

When I met her she was an artist with a long-term boyfriend. It seemed that she dealt with some deadbeats in the past and found herself a good man, so honestly I believe that she needed him. Now besides her trying to set me up with the only shared trait between the guy and I being that we’re single, and the comments about me finding someone soon and having a baby, she says family is important to her, she wants a luxury car like mine, she wants to move up the corporate ladder, she wants to work to support her family, she has to get home to fix dinner, she wants to make a name for herself, and she wants to run her own business. She says things and I feel like I’m just a yes-woman. She really surprised me when she mentioned creating a business plan and I just want to tell her to focus on that and the family. I want to ask her if she understands that if she goes into corporate (specifically what I’m doing, which is what she references), she won’t be cooking dinners every night, and she will not have her baby, who’s actually a toddler, always by her side. I want to ask her when the last time is that she went on date night with her husband. I want to ask her when the last time is that she slept with him since the toddler still sleeps in the same bed and has no crib, and when her baby is peacefully in the arms of another she goes for her child because she misses her and the child is not crying for her, but yet later talks about how much she has to do.

I can’t do this any more. I am single. I can do what I do because I am single. I have chosen to be unmarried and without child to be able to do what I do. I shake my head even thinking about what she said about getting the same car I have. It’s a convertible that’s a faux-four seater. It’s a pre or post baby car, so that’s not going to happen. What is she thinking? Her set up is that she has the family car and the husband has the sports car, which I pretty sure he saved up for… So now I just want to scream what were you thinking!? And I’m just so scared. She can’t be talking about wanting to do more to contribute to her family and then talk about wanting my car, then saying her husband was concerned about her spending, and then planning a shopping trip. My God! I think she really tried to bond with me over the fact that we were both working for temp agencies and other temporary positions at some point, but our situations were still different because of the wages and types of jobs I had, as well as the fact that I was either focused on not selling my investments until I had exhausted all other financial options, and then doing what I could to have the funds to invest more and pay down my loans, while also finding time to have fun too of course.

There are just so many things going on, and I feel that it’s all superficial. I don’t eat out a lot, and if you give me a recipe, I can cook pretty much anything and it will taste good. Yet, people think as an unmarried woman I can’t/don’t cook. Why am I going to waste money on food that I can prepare myself? I would much rather put that money towards a nice apartment, car, traveling, and investing (I get a rush as my portfolio grows!). And that’s precisely what I do, while also refusing to pay inflated prices for apartments. I like clubbing, but I can get there when it’s free for ladies, and I don’t need a drink to have a good time. My friend new this about me, or maybe not because we didn’t spend to much time together one-on-one talking about our goals maybe. But now I think she has an image of me that seems like it’s from one of those reality shows like Love and Hip Hop, or whatever other show is out there about women being “about that life.”

Lord Jesus, I just want to scream! I can’t deal with this, but I’m letting it get to me because I feel that I am supposed to be her friend. I feel that I should be helping her. I know older married couples who have been through what she is going through. In some form or another, I research pretty much every path I decide to go on. Am I supposed to connect her to the knowledge I acquired through circumstance and proactivity? Or should she be out searching for mentors on her own?

I just want her to be herself and stop thinking in stereotypes.

She invited me on a couple’s trip once, which she said wasn’t a couples trip, but it was, and I felt so uncomfortable. I am perfectly fine with going out with couples, but they usually also have individual identities. I went out with my brother and his girlfriend and it wasn’t awkward. From that experience I also raised my eyebrow to her doing something that made her look like the damsel in distress… So if she plans a group outing, I’m not going. But I was thinking about one, that could help her deal with what I perceive is actually not enough couple time with her husband, and a friend would come with me. She asked if the other friend would be ok with that, and I do not get why my friend would not want to come along… Then there’s the baby. PUT HER DOWN! I guess the mother-in-law doesn’t want to watch her because she’s a handful. I guess… the child is one… I haven’t been around her much, and the only time she was hyper was after sugar, and then she just wanted to crawl around. That’s what the play pen is for, or the crib, which they do not have… My friend also commented that her baby was calm with me, and I saw her being passed around just fine… It looks to be a mommy thing… I was a nanny for one of those mother’s whose child was in elementary school, spoiled child and clingy mother… I’m not watching her kid again, and I’m not watching my friend’s kid if the situation turns out to be the same, which looks to be happening…

I have nothing to give. If she wanted her name in lights, maybe she should have thought about the plan, the hardwork, the continued struggle, and maybe actually having her name, and not also attaching the title of “mommy.” But then it’s like she’s more comfortable with the wife and mother role, so she should embrace that while also getting a crib, not going within smelling distance of the mall, and not wearing heels while carrying a child…

Foreign Language Fluency vs Excel Proficiency

Which takes longer to do: become fluent in a language or become advanced/proficient in Excel?

The other day I went to practice Portuguese and was asked by someone who insists on giving me employment advice despite having been out of the job search game for a while, you can’t find anything better to do?

A few days later, I went into another depression as I began to start another week of sending out applications and hoping that someone would take me, and called my mother to share my woes. She reminded me that I can’t change the past and should look forward. She said I made conscious decisions to focus on learning languages. (FYI: my degree is not just in languages/linguistics) Shortly after the conversation with my mother, I perused LinkedIn to see how my profile stacked up against those in my chosen fields. I came across GPA’s that blew mine out the water, and then I wondered again why has my overall GPA remained consistently in the range of 3.2-3.4 since high school and my concentration GPA stayed closer to a 3.7?

One obvious reason was that I had issues with some teachers/professors. One high school teacher lowered my grade because of several absences, which she knew was due to my digestive issues, which eventually resulted in the removal of my gall bladder, but she could care less. (True story). Another obvious reason, is that school was hard, I guess, but my grades always fell after the first year, so I guess I just got bored.

The only time I was really excited about school was in high school and during the summer language programs. I liked my college, but I was raised to view college as a requirement, and after having spent time abroad I was just focused on getting a job so I could go back to traveling and was uninterested in the college social scene. And I knew that to be able to live and work wherever I wanted, I needed to know at least one other language other than English, and decided to master most of the UN languages.

So I made language fluency my goal, but now employers are saying I need a degree in Economics to do what I want. I could’ve majored or minored in Economics in college, but at that time I thought I was going to work for the Foreign Service or some non-profit agency. Living in DC soon helped me re-evaluate those desires and come to grips with my place in the hierarchy. However, alongside the econ requirement are language requirements. But do these people want someone with an economics degree, or just someone who can do financial modeling, VBAs, and pivot tables at an above average level? I’d say it’s the latter.

Learning those econometrics skills is a challenge, yes, but one that can be overcome with a simple course. For that interview with the home furnishing company, my mother taught be how to create pivot tables before they flew me out for the final interview. You can’t learn Portuguese that quickly, which is probably why some employers have decided to indicate native proficiency to weed out those people who think taking one course in a language makes one fluent.

Lower Your Expectations

I did some promotional modeling on the side and worked with a girl who was had a connection to the CEO of Carnival, or so she said. I had told her that I was relocating to the Miami, FL area and she told me to send her my résumé and she would pass it along. I did, and have yet to hear anything… Today, I came across a Black Enterprise magazine with the CEO on the cover, so I thought I would pick it up and take a look. Inside, I found a list, “The 10 Wealth for Life Principles,” in the Frugal and Fabulous section. Not surprisingly, I take issue with numbers 1 and 2: I will live within my means, and I will maximize my income potential through education and training, respectively.

Overall, I thought it was a good article with sound advice, and I really liked how the author mentioned that saving has become hard for those that are unemployed and underemployed. However, items 1 and 2 are vague, and the assume a return on investment, that is no longer guaranteed, and further the two can conflict with each other.

If I were to have lived within my means, I should have gone to state school and not Duke University. I should have also never attended graduate school. I wanted to go to Duke because of the work hard/play hard philosophy (people at Duke do not take themselves too seriously), and the opportunities in international affairs. I also applied to Boston College, Tulane, American University, the University of Miami, Wake Forest, Yale (I felt obligated to apply to at least one ivy), and Furman University. Duke was my first choice, followed by Wake Forest and the University of Miami. My mother thought that at least BC would offer me money, but no one did. However, had I scored just 10 points higher on my SAT, I would have received money from UM, and I occasionally wonder how my life would have been different. So, because no one offered me money, I got into my first choice, which was recommended by my mentor and also out-ranked the other universities (I did not get into Yale, but someone would have had to force me to go if I had), Duke is where I went. Interestingly, one of my good college friends turned down Columbia for Duke because Duke gave her a full ride, and she was very bitter about this for quite some time.

I honestly don’t regret attending Duke. I’m disappointed, or rather go through bouts of depression thinking about the $160K+interest I owe, but there is no other place I wanted to go. And I do believe, that had I, being who I am, chosen to go to a lower ranked school my prospects and earning potential would have decreased significantly. So, as for wealth tip #1, sometimes you have to live above your means for the sake of #2.

#2 Should specifically reference college education. I think that’s implied especially since I am finding that in some areas an advanced degree has some sort of unattainability and prestige attached to it, which I believe is unwarranted. Also, one cannot just get an education or training form anywhere, with any sort of degree and expect a return on investment, and despite people saying that attitude and passion are a factor, not so much. What affects the value of the college degree: name, type (BS vs BA), major, GPA, internships, and location. Basically, if you want to work in the high profile areas in banking and consulting, where the money is to pay off your loans, this is what is important: name, BS, (quant field or economics), 3.5+ (3.7+ preferred), and relevant internships (with a higher GPA, internships are less important, with a lower one, they become more important). In this instance location is irrelevant. If your GPA is lower, then you actually compete with people who graduated Phi Beta Kappa from lower-ranked schools, but good for them, and not good for you. They’ll still have more hoops to jump through, but then that makes you wonder if paying for the name was worth it when you could have gone somewhere else and graduate summa cum laude.

Location is another important factor because of school recognition nationally (FYI, I’m just focusing on US markets). With more recognition you and your degree can generally move more freely from one place to the next, but there are also some less high profile areas that prefer their own kind and stick with the regional schools. Another important thing to consider is what jobs are available in an area, and what degree is required for that job. This is exactly why I went to graduate school in DC: to work in DC and belong to one of the schools that I thought the actively recruit from. Now, however, as I leave DC, I face the challenge of being overqualified and even pricing out of jobs because recruiter think they know what I’ll ask for. This one person assumed that I should get 70K easily with a MA. We were the same age, but I knew about those other factors mentioned above. It’s really frustrating to think that the people that review my résumé have that same simple-minded understanding of the value of a degree and applicant expectations.

This brings me to two other articles I read on résumé review practices: How Recruiters Read Résumés in 10 Seconds and Five Résumé Red Flags. Because of where they’re published, they’re not the most credible, but considering that I keep being told that my résumé is impressive, while not receiving any offers for full-time work, what’s written makes sense.
For the first article for #1 Location and #7 Turnover, screw you recruiter. The author says that many companies don’t want to pay relocation in this economy, but did they ever think about how many applicants would relocate themselves because of this economy? I’m hoping that the people who reviewed my résumés and were impressed enough to write back, but still turned me down, followed this logic because then it was obvious we’re not a good fit if they’re unable to look at both sides. Those companies that are intellectually-challenged say on the postings that they will only consider local candidates. More astute companies will just say that they do not pay relocation expenses.

#7 I applied to a well-regarded company in home furnishings and wasn’t invited to an interview until I became angry and called back. I wasn’t rude, but just explained very directly how I met all the qualifications mentioned in the job posting, and some. I think I did an online assessment, and then had a brief phone interview with someone who was clearly reading a script. (I hope to God she was new.) Foreign language ability was a requirement, and she just asked me about my skills, but didn’t test me; that and all the other questions had been answered on my résumé. There was no room for dialogue, so it was pretty pointless. I was mostly shocked about not hearing back because not many people want to move to that area for work, let alone those who with the needed language skills, who could probably barely be counted on one hand. This interview was in early 2013 and I had graduated in May 2012, and this person asked about my switching jobs and not staying in one place for too long. I wanted to ask her if she could read, but I just said I was in school and those were temporary positions. So from that experience, I guess I need to include temporary next to the job title/company name, which is valid, but I can’t make the font any larger to help them read the education section.

#7 of the first article relates to “Employment Gaps”, the first item in the second article. The same recruiter with reading challenges, asked me about gaps in employment. I was also asked that when I was being interviewed for my Secret Clearance, and they could tell I was annoyed, but alas, they were both following the script. My answer: I was in school. Them: and then? Me: I was in school. Them: Oh. Me, to myself: stupid. So after that home furnishings interview, I tried to fill in the “gaps” in the employment section to limit confusion.

My mother tells me to stop calling those people stupid. In person I humor them. That makes me think of when I did a French speaking test with NDI and was basically talking to myself because they person on the end couldn’t follow. Hopefully she recorded that to share with someone else who could actually test me. They were offering a whopping $12/hr for DC, for me to move back from Boston to DC. It would have been different if it was just part-time, and I thought about getting a second job, but I would’ve been overqualified…

Throughout this job process, I have expected employers and recruiters to review my résumé and cover letter against the job description and the overall mission of the company. I expected the job description to be accurate, but in my cover letter I would address how I could assist them beyond what was in the description, so the accuracy of the job description itself wasn’t a big deal unless it was far off. I expected job descriptions to not have typos. I expected companies to want to best candidate, not the cheapest, while basing the salary requirements on their own assumptions without negotiating with the candidate. Yet, from this process I have learned that those expectations are too high, or maybe they’re just too high for most people and I am just waiting for that diamond in the rough. After all, all my credentials landed me a temp position with a company whose name makes people oooh and aaah (smh). I was just a temp position though. I just need to find normal people, companies, recruiters, who don’t have to be dropped on their head to recognize a quality candidate, and can put their ego aside and not be intimidated.