Where Does That Leave Us

I have a source of income other than my investments. For that I am extremely grateful. Other emotions that I am feeling are anger, hurt, frustration, confusion, and lonliness.

I had prayed for vindication (along with a steady source of income of course) after losing my first full-time + benefits job after being lied about, gossiped about, and treated as inept, and I got it. My former job, which I enjoyed a lot, wants me back. It’s another contract position, although I had applied for a full-time, but they want me back nonetheless. And these people are more reputable than they place I had been working full-time in my current locale. So now I can say that I am also satisfied, but this is also why I am confused.

They said they liked me work and the would hire me back, and their living up to that, if only I could tell me former boss who thougt it best to fire the person with the highest numbers. I would say nothing, just show the offer.

The contract position would not start until January. It’s investment analysis in financial services, so it would be a step in the right direction, and some people have gone on to top b-schools, although they had been working full-time and not as contractors…

So the question I am asking myself is: do I leave what I thought was my dream state to move back to the area that I had expected to stay in, but couldn’t? I would say yes, but I don’t want to rush into anything, especially since I still owe a lot for moving expenses here, and can’t really afford to move. I can’t afford to stay though.

I had called some friends to discuss this, and I feel that that was a mistake. I also probably was not clear. (So much for those excellent communication skills I claim to have.)

I started studying for the LSAT (again) last week, and the day after I started studying for the GMAT. I am shooting for the top 14 for both more or less, with some safeties that I hope will give me a full-ride. I will need to be more strategic about where I apply like with undergrad, especially considering that some of these applications are $250.. My application process for graduate school was chaotic. It’s too late for me to apply to start law school in fall 2015, but I can still apply to business school to start fall 2015. I have to wait to assess my scores, but I need options. I think either would be a good fit. And right before I graduated high school, I was considering both. I need to have a plan, but I am thinking that I also veered off the plan and wasted money getting an MA in International Affairs, but I will strive to keep looking forward.

So I called one friend in the area. I guess for advice, but from a place considering my situation and not hers. I feel that I gave that to her by listening to what she wanted to do with her life and told her to think about the path, but I do not feel that I got the same from her. I think her basis was perception and no first-hand experience. When I spoke to her about graduate school it was from the perspective of someone who had been through it, and probably rushed into it. My intentions were to stay in DC and work for a nonprofit or government entitity though. Her advice was to get work experience. Ok. Vague. I actually do have work experience. I’ve been working longer than she has. Her advice was also if I were to go to school, to work at the same time. (Blank stare.) That’s what I did in graduate school, and its not possible to do this in business school, at least for the places that I intend to attend. If for work experience, she meant at least a year with the same company, working 40 hours a week, and receiving company benefits, I could see that. But what exactly is the point of that? I’ve been able to work in a variety of industries. Finding a full-time job only became an issue when I could no longer use my parents’ health insurance, and when I did not want to have to keep living week to week, but in my private sector job, I also had to constantly prepare for being fired at any given notice. I have a meeting with a b-school advisor today, and I believe that that is who I should be speaking with about my chances of being admitted. I didn’t want to get on the defensive with my friend, but I was just expecting to hear something that I didn’t know and something that would help, but instead, I wanted to ask her if she wanted to financially support me, since she really seems to think that it’s just sitting there waiting to be grabbed. She’s also the one who sucked me into paying about $70 for a drink when I was unemployed. I feel like in this area, most people are like that, lacking the ability to empathize.

She also said that I am already well-educated. What does that have to do with anything? The point of getting a MA was not to be well-educated, it was to be employed, which brings me to my other friend.

My other friend is done “playing around” as she calls it. She wants to make a name for herself. You can’t be mad a that. She is working on starting her own business while being the stereotypical housewife combined with the majority of the child-rearing responsibilities, and finishing her MBA. She decided now that she wants a JD as well. She wants to be “well-educated” like what my other friend called it. They’re actually both from the same area… The housewife friend, to be blunt, carries herself like arm candy. Any bit of advice I would give, unfortunately would fall of deaf ears. She looked for jobs on CraigsList and her husband let her. He’s very well employed and I’m 100 percent certain he wasn’t looking on Craig’s List. She’s not on LinkedIn, and she’s doing a temp gig as a receptionist. She could easily get a business internship. She was talking about her husband’s salary with the promotion, so why not actually gain some relevent job experience? Unless she wasn’t being honest about the income, and then there’s the issues with her doing most of the house work and childrearing. Not making me want children, and certainly encouraging me not to rush to get married lest I marry the wrong one for me. She thinks we’re in the same boat. I guess maybe I could at least tell her that my temp gigs do not go on my resume. Only related experiences that support the brand I’m trying to establish go on the resume. Maybe she does not undersand this, but where is her husband in all of this? I don’t have enough energy for myself.

So I don’t want to alienate my friends, but I don’t get back what I put out, and that’s what actually led to some of the time spent away from these two people in particular. I feel the same way about the job market, even in this role that I am in now. I process payment: ie I send an email with a signature approving payment. I let people tell me to be the contact person, but when I’m actually contacted, I do not know what the payment is for. From prior experiences in this state, I’ve learning that proactivity is not rewarded. They prefer to micromanage and to have to tell you want to do, so here I do my job, I get the paycheck, that is it. So someone called me about an email I sent and wanted the backup. I learned this term from my last job. Ironic. The person then goes on to talk about what it’s for and to be very adamant about what is needed as if I am the one that should know. Then someone else contacted me about a voicemail I left and scheduling the service. Just because I am the point of contact for one thing, does not mean I am the point of contact for everything. But they had accustatory tones, like I should know what is not being told to me. This is the same thing that happened at the other place. I feel that basically, the conclusion is, I am not a good Administrative Assistant, and I don’t know why people think I am. It’s like who ever is hiring the vendor’s services should know what they need to send to the purhcasing department. I just make sure it gets there, and I can relay what’s missing, but it’s like I can only go off of what was told. The other people have more intimate connections with the vendors, so they should know the ends and outs of that, my scope is the main policy and the funnling of information to the appropriate person. Blame me if you don’t speak to the right person, but don’t blame me for giving insufficient information because I relayed all the info that was given.

So where does that leave us? I’m over this state and over being an administrative assistant/receptionist/pseudo administrative assistant (the other job called it Business Analyst). Put me in some back room where I generate reports, analyze data, and relay the findings. That’s what I do. I am not a gopher.

Also, I just thought of something about the friend who discouraged me from going to business school. She wants to quit her job because she feels that it is not one that would help her get into business school. So why in the hell is she encouraging me to continue being a temp and searching for jobs in vain? I wonder if selfishness is something that’s just in the water here…

 

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Giving Up

I’m trying to figure out, when would be a good time to throw in the towel. Especially where I am now where I was hoping to be the diamond in the rough because most people don’t leave, employers seem to have low expectations, and there’s chivalry. Unfortunately, with not being from here, I get the resistance to outsiders, low expectations means micromanaging, and chivalry also leads to sexism and stupid comments like you’re not afraid to drive on the highway!? Or, you play basketball!?

I think September 2013 was when I stopped applying to full-time jobs all together. By the end of the year, I was confirmed to start an MSc program in the summer, but that was just a back up plan to get me to the city I wanted to live in. I wasn’t going to get a private loan, so I accepted the federal loan. I took a big risk. I also took a big risk on the stock market/Netflix, and that paid off, but my risk in Brazil is starting to prove less lucrative…

When I moved to my dream city, I don’t think I applied to many places for full time work. This was around May/June 2014. I can’t, physically or mentally, apply to another non-profit in the US. Now they want years of experience working in a developing country. I’m from the inner-city, I can easily go find roughness and poverty close to home. And I’ve heard horror stories about the Peace Corps, not to mention the debt that I have, why go abroad to get sexually harassed when I get sexually harassed here, but have laws that I could stand on? I really can’t work for people, like my last company, who pull requirements out of their asses.

So plan C, is being a temp worker. I’ve done this before. At least I get paid more than minimum wage. My only issue is that I’m not learning marketable skills, I’m working in a role that has no career advancement/development, I’m working for people I should be working alongside (if I wanted to work in a slow-paced environment were people spend a lot of their time gossiping and micromanaging, sticking to the status quo, and paying people to do nothing – or in my case  blog and submit job applications to other people… don’t know what I would’ve done without a computer), I’m being micomanaged, and I have to push myself to not push myself. From my last experience I have learned that in some environments, even if they may say otherwise, their not about improvement. They like the status quo. The like putting forth minimum effort, or just enough of what is needed to get status, pass the buck, or throw someone under the bus. I’m learning to keep my head down and do what is told, and nothing more, pretend that I don’t have a mind of my own. They like that.

So, I have applied to full-time jobs here, and elsewhere. I’m feeling that if I want what I had, I might have to go to cities that are actually known for being more intellectual, even though I did not want to give into that stereotype. I might even have to move back to live with my parents, and that pious pastor can be right: that a woman’s place is in the home and with her parents until she gets married. My independence was rebelliousness that was beat out of me.

The truth is I can’t temp forever.. Well maybe I could, but my bills would never get paid. I certainly can’t apply to any full-time positions in this field because I would have to discard my standard resume and either omit my college degree or lie about it if they’re looking for one.

It’s hard to think that I’m where I would be had I not even graduated from high school, and being where I am and my image, people will and do think that I did not graduate high school. For my pride and their pride (that’s what it is), it is best for them to think that. My supervisor knows that I have a MA, but I don’t believe from where, and if she asks, which I doubt she will, I will have to lie. The woman from the temp agency has seen my degrees, but I don’t think she understands the weight that they carry (in some places) and the cost, because all she had to say was that because I moved around a lot, it would be harder for people to hire me full-time. Where I’m from, people say that attending school in different areas and visiting different areas are in asset, so maybe that is another sign that I might need to leave this city and state…

I had an interview and was asked about my career goals. Honestly, I don’t know what they are. I had said research, writing, and using my languages in the interview, because I was being honest, but I wish I would’ve said it better because the last two are not relevant to that position. I could see myself in that role though and definitely growing within the company, if the company is what they claim to be… At this point, I really just want to be financial stable/secure, and be able to travel. I have not even been fully in the rate race, but I’m already tired of its foolishness. Before college, I thought I was going to law school. I took the LSAT once, it was embarrassing. I bought another prep book yesterday, to use at work while I do nothing and learn nothing, so we’ll see where this goes. In high school I interned at a law firm. I spent a lot of time reading, but when I did something, it was worthwhile. I even got a change to network. I was proactive and drafted a demand letter, and was praised for it. I’m not looking for praise, and I know I make mistakes, I guess I’m just looking for constructive feedback and skill/knowledge development.

Just a moment ago, one of the people in the office came by to see if I had been hired. They’re looking for a permanent person. I told her no, but they are looking for a permanent person. The other temp that was here was only looking for part time and she mentioned the opening and was excited about the $30K. Any money is good, but I would have to move out of my apartment if I took that, and then I might as well go back to my parents home. I would rather go back to my parents’ home, especially since they’re in a city where I could get paid more doing the same thing. I’ve told people no before, but I doubt they will be asking. I have showed up late. I have a problem with that here, yes. It usually happens when I am bored or depressed. I don’t understand why I have to show up so early to do absolutely nothing. It seems to be an image thing. This position is about image. Important people have Administrative Assistants (Secretaries) to schedule meetings for them when they could just use the scheduling assistant in outlook. Process improvement.

I also really don’t like people asking me for where stuff is. That’s my job now, but I have not been here long, and I do not plan on staying. I also did not do what I did to be asked anything other than about things related to translations, political movements, economic development, social changes, or other concepts that require indepth and occassional abstract discussion. To order supplies you go online and place an order, to find where people sit, you look on your computer in the address book…

I admire people who do this because it requires a lot of patience. I really don’t want to do this. It’s exhausting agreeing with everyone everyday, being idle, and not doing anything that requires some form of research.

Transitions Too

First off, let me give my sincerest apologies for the typos. I’ve just been free writing these posts and hoping that the words come together in a cohesive organized fashion.

So I started my new job in July. But, before I get to my first day, when I received the intial offer, based on conversations I had had with the recruiter, I thought I was going to get a signing bonus, and that helped me deal with the fact that I felt I was being underpaid by $10K. I was also hoping to start in June. Well once I got the offer with no bonus, I was distraught. I still had a lot of moving expenses to cover, so I was hoping that this offer would get me over that hurdle. I thought about the offer and realized I had no choice to accept, and resigned to be grateful for a salary that was above average for the area, but low for what I could be offered elsewhere. I was sincerely grateful, but there was just some miscommunication.

I was working in collections. Past tense, yes, as you can tell, I am no longer there. I was fine with working in collections. I put my budget together and looked forward to the end of the year when I would recover from the move. The people I worked alongside with seemed nice, the office was multilingual (the majority owners of the company are also Latin American), and the company is recognized worldwide. I put aside the fact that their product depends on exploiting the inability of poor people to afford more healthy lifestyle choices. (I would occassionally buy the product, but I was trying to actually stay away from it completely.)

The company is not cheap or frugal, they are stingy. They provided no supplies;  you would just take what someone left. That’s was not a problem. I was excited about working together as a team to meet our MBOs and get that end of the year bonus. I am very competitive and I strive to be first. Especially as the only female in that role, I was going to be first. However, first, I took a step back and observed. A shadowed a veteran in the position as I waited for IT to gicve me the access I needed. It took them a month. They didn’t respond to emails, those that said they would assist did not respond to emails. The culture was pretty much unless you are important within the company what you have to say does not matter, especially if you are new and a female. To those essentially not from the Northeast, I can be brasive. I felt that I was being hustled too, also part of the company culture, and I felt that I had been lied to about the “teamwork” at the company. They guy I was shadowing also advised that it was best to keep my head down, I should have listened – but I really couldn’t, and that I should be more assertive. I’m not one to pretend I know something when I don’t. I ask questions. Asking questions and understanding the full process was frowned upon (especially since very few people knew what the process, policies, and procedures were). I was trying to collect money from one client and she was asking about a trace number. I tried to but her in touch with AR, asking them to supply the information that she needed because that was not my area and I had no idea what she was talking about. There was silence on the other end. Eventually the women in AR said she did not respond because she did not understand… Ok.

The guy I was shadowing also suggested I push back a little more. In retrospect, I don’t know whether he was being helpful or whether it was a ploy to get me let go. But that’s the enivronment that company fosters, one where you cannot trust your team, you have to look over your shoulder, and you make sure you are not the last one holding the ball. I was warned by people when I had applied to the company last year, but I figured it could never hurt to try, especially since there are very few worlwide companies based in my “dream” city (not sure if I want to be here anymore). There were no good things said before I got there or when I was there. It was about the money, and there was soooo much gossiping going on. That was really foreign to me.

But so, I took the reigns. First I attended a quarterly meeting, found out a family member had passed, and then I decided that the slowness and confusion at the office needed to end, and I was going to focus on getting that bonus. I don’t miss deadlines. (I might have missed some.) But I didn’t go to the schools that I went to, and learn the languages that I did while missing deadlines and not being results driven, one of the company’s mantras. I get results. I was going to have the highest collection numbers, and all my accounts were going to be reconciled by the end of the year, because I could do that. Our collections goal was 95%, but I could go past that. After the quarterly meeting I saw how much the 1st place field performer got, and I wanted that. I needed that.

I put the experience aside after how long it took for me to get the tools I needed to do my job. For being so results driven, the company sure did not do much to provide me with the tools to do my job and not just sit there twittling my thumbs. One of my colleague’s said they like to just throw you in there to see how you do. I had given IT space, but several requests went in for the same thing, and the first ones were even from the higher ups. They were supposed to clone another ID, which they had done in the past, but they weren’t able to do it now for whatever reason, and they did not communicate that. They did not say they needed more information, they ignored it. Then once the ticket was assigned, they only addressed one request. I did say thank you along they way as I got help, but I realized I needed to have a more heavy-hand and really push them for quality and follow-through. They just wanted the ticket out of their queue. Another time, they said they were waiting for approval. The first two times, IT gave me the names of whom I could follow up with. One of them was one of my supervisors (reading and responding to emails was not something of value there), and the other was someone who had an away message on and instructed the receiver of that email to contact someone else for immediate needs! Did IT acknowledge that email, no! It just sat in purgatory…

I got quicker results when I was more direct, which came as I got a better understanding of the process with no help from my boss who was in the field and gave no feedback. This was the trial period, so maybe it was normal to not provide feedback? I had contracting positions that were longer and with more respected companies and they provided feedback: constructive criticism, and praise. Most of what my boss said was why don’t you do it like the other guy, this is not what I got before, as the people there. So I spent more time communicating with AR and with people at the headquarters, because when I pushed them, I got answers. My vibe from my boss was that he just wanted to be left alone and wished I was a guy, particularly that other guy. I sensed a lot of whining, and it appeared that for being a mostly male environment, a lot of them needed to grow a pair. (Pardon my French).

Then the rest of the field team. They said let them know if I needed them to follow up with the franchisees in the field. I did, and conversations were spotty. It was mostly email, again the emails that no one really reads. As the merger approached, I guess that was when the conversations were less. Right before then I wanted to quit and regretted not having continued to submit applications in June as I waited for my July start date.. I was grateful to be done with the job application process, or so I thought…

So most of the franchisees were cool. This one lady was fussing, literally whining about how it had been two weeks since she got a response. It had been less than a week, I was on bereavement, and she conveniently omitted my response emails from her chain with her whining. She was one of those women whose husbands allow them to play around with the business although they lack common sense, skill, and the aptitde to acquire those things. I have nothing against rich people, the elite, etc. The ones that I know who have more clout than that lady and are much more respectable. So the field guy who works with her followed up with me, which I appreciated. He wasn’t cc’d on all the emails, so I sent them to him and explained that she was lying about the response time and new it. I took his advice and tried to cc them on the emails going forward. As some of them sat on documents I was told to collect, I wasn’t cc’d though… Also this one field guy let everyone else call him Bill, but for me I had to address him by William… He was cordial to me for the most part though, except this time when we were dealing with a difficult franchisee and he wanted me to get the policy so we could be clear and present a unified front so his credibility wouldn’t be messed up. No one cared about my credibility as I “followed up” (those annoying words that everyone used without being specific and being sure that they were talking to the right person), and I should have been more concerned. BILL was there before I was, so he should’ve already known the policy. And the way he was talking to me was as if I was his assistant. Even when I was let go I held my tongue, but with my experiences and connections, I really could have put him in his place…

I would contact franchisees about documents we needed and they would say they already turned them in and clearly highlighted the organizational and communication issues we were having. This one woman did not double check the status of the documents that she would email to everyone and say were pending… I met with her though and we got some clarity and I felt better about working for her. Right at the end of August I knew the process better than most people, and that was an issue.

July numbers were 99.1. My boss said he was surpised they were that high because he thought it was going to be impacted by something else. In August July numbers went to 98.1. AR applied open balances incorrectly, didn’t tell me they were applied at the end of the month, and didn’t work to get them paid because the collection numbers aren’t within their scope. Yes, it’s not within their scope, but they need to act with more discretion because of the impact on the company, and the so-called “team”. My boss was not aware of anything that was going on, and I don’t really think he cared much anyways. I was going to find the problem and fix it, which I did and now those jerks are benefitting from my hard work.

I worked early mornings and in the evenings. All they were concerned about was that they did not see me at my desk at 9:30am, when I was told I could work from home. The office was chaotic and unorganized. People would just find people to do things, even if they were the wrong people, and then I felt that I was intentionally being sabatoged, so I worked from home more to get the work done and get that bonus.

I worked so hard to correct what had impacted the July numbers, and got it fixed. It was impacting August numbers too. Everyone’s August numbers were low at the middle of the month. At the end of the month, there was still one guy with low August numbers, but mine were the highes at 99.8%. I was told a deadline. One franchisee had an Aug 29th deadline, and he represented the majority of my account. I was told to “follow-up”. I said it wasn’t due yet, so what should I do? I was handling it, but it seemed that they wanted something else, and I was trying to figure out if the deadline had changed or if the policy dictated something otherwise. They probably didn’t get this, because their minds probably resorted to she needs extra support. The only thing I needed was for people to shut up, calm down, and do things right the first damn time.

The numbers for all the regions were also affected in August because of one of our larger franchisees, in my area, but mananged by the guy who was formerly in my role. I don’t think the field team knew that, and I think they blamed me. The guy said he was going to handle it, and he did. In the end, by the deadline, all the numbers were there. In the middle of August, I felt that I was being forced out. I was out for bereavement and I had some people ask me if I was on vacation. I went to lunch with some people and there was some gossip, which surprised me, so I have no doubt that people gossiped about me. They did it in high school. I could have announced the family loss, but I didn’t want to talk about it because it was personal, and because I didn’t know the people at work well enough. Maybe deep down inside I also wanted to see what would happen, to see if people actually knew their own policy. My boss had actually said “take all the time that you need”. I didn’t take that literally, but I was also wondering why he would say that if it wasn’t true. I’m more of a literal person, and at all the other places I have worked at in my field there was more of saying what you mean and meaning what you say, and also integrity. I was supposed to edit some slides too at some point, and it said for field team, since I wasn’t on the field team, I didn’t work on that. I wasn’t trying to step on anyone’s toes, and I had other things I could be working on.

So with the merger, there were talks of layoffs. It had happened before. I was warned before getting there, and once there. I had a sixth sense about this. It was creepy. I was determined to be perfect, or at least be number one by the end of August. I worked long hours, mostly from home, and I think had I not been at home, they would have let me go sooner. First, I had called my boss to check in, he didn’t answer. He wasn’t available the previous week either, so I was a bit suspicious to be honest. I was told that the numbers were the lowest they had ever been, that people complained about my attendance, and that the franchisses complained. I was calm, but I asked about the numbers and pointed out that they were 99.8%. My boss repeated that the numbers were the lowest they had ever been in the last 15 months. He sounded like a broken record. My mother who has a MBA and worked for a more profitable company said that with mergers, companies have to be careful with how they let people go. But from that conversation, I sensed the BS. Then the HR person said it’s a results-driven place. I looked at her with a blank face and I also said I guess that I could be honest about everyone telling me not to work there since I was already out the door. All I was focused on was the results, and I ignored the brown-nosing. As I wanted to leave anyway, at least this way I was still getting my vacation time. They almost lef me with the bill on the corporate card though, and didn’t let me send in the death certificate to waive at least the fligh change fee.

That was a learning experience. It was my first hostile work environment. Beyond that though, in matrix organizations (I actively avoid them now), I should be more proactive in communicating with my boss, especially, and any other field members. I need to kind of brag/say what I have been doing each step of the way with regards to what they have asked of me. And also, its really not good to be desparate for any job, having options is better. I should develop a poker face, and unfortunately also talk more about my credentials, especially in places like this when more respect and response is given to those with that status. I hate the last one though, and hate environments like that. Everyone has a job to do, so everyone should be responsive, and not intimidated. Like my last boss longed for his all guy team, I now long for being around people who don’t micromanage, are more intellectual, are team players, are truly resuls-oriented, are concerned about adequate training, and are not intimidated. I had all that a companies/organizations that were more impressive than the last one I was at, and in areas that were less superficial and known for having workers who are about providing quality work while meeting tight deadlines.

Thankfully that this is but one spec out of all the places that I have worked, which if I were to be graded for all the jobs I’ve had would still put me in the high 90s, at a 99.8% perhaps… It would be so great to have stayed at number 1 for August, and have a chance to show my smug look.

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.

Less is More

I was going to write this post yesterday, under the title of “The Devil You Know vs. The Devil You Don’t”, but as I stopped procrastinating on my job applications, another idea came to mind.

I moved to D.C. in December 2013, with the intention of moving to Florida in May/June 2014. I also decided that I would stop applying for full-time jobs because of the agony it caused me. And as I was copying and pasting across résumés and cover letters, and revising my LinkedIn profile I felt myself becoming more and more depressed and realized why I had stopped trying.

I don’t like the Washington DC metro area. I have family here and we would come here a lot over the summers, and it does have its charms, but it’s just not a good fit. I only came because I was offered a job, and because I had to get out of Boston where I was being harassed by a Trinidadian mother who spent her days being a religious hypocrite, a busy-body, and one of those people who feels they have all this wisdom when in fact at above a half a century they have the intelligence of a naive child still in elementary school. (I don’t mean to be harsh, but she is very cruel and represents the things I detest most in this world.) But back to DC…

DC has jobs, but it also has segregation, ego, arrogance without qualifications, men with goat beards, and an over-priced housing market. It’s pretentious and I pay $1295/mo for a small studio in which the cable doesn’t work because snow melts into the cable boxes, there’s a draft from the window and the melting snow creates mold and flushes insects through, and in the summer there is a major bug problem as they all come up through the cracks in the floor covered by the rug. And this is in Arlington Country, one of the most expensive in the nation, and I am not living in the projects. This is “prime real estate.” By comparison, I can/will pay $1275/mo for a 1 bedroom in downtown Ft. Lauderdale, FL, about 10 mins from the beach. It’s managed by the same company that manages the apartment I’m currently in, ironically. (The transfer process was nice, and while they do have some crappy places, they have some nice ones too.) With the apartment I’m in now, they clearly feel that less means more profit for them, which they can get away with in Arlington, VA. Also, I can expect to make as much as I’m making here, but that’s a whole different conversation.

While I had every intention of leaving Washington, DC, I decided to do a quick search on jobs. I only found two that matched what I was looking for, so that reaffirmed my belief that D.C. does not have jobs for me. I applied to the two that I found and am giving them two weeks to get back to me; so far, I have heard back from one, a rejection. Why two weeks? Based on my experience, that is all the time HR needs to decide if a candidate will be a good fit. If HR has a basic understanding of how to add value to a company, then they will be pro-active in pursuing a candidate before they’re hired by someone else. So if you don’t hear anything within two weeks, then they’re not interested; it’s like dating, even though you shouldn’t wait two weeks for that. If you hear back after two weeks, then you know that their HR is lacking. I heard back from an internship after I had already switched to my second job in DC, yet I applied to both at the same time. Even if the need for a new hire wasn’t as great, if people do they’re job well, then they’ll try to secure someone for the spot, like with apartments, you want full occupancy.

So the one company I heard back from in DC responded saying they were very impressed with my résumé, etc., etc. After the job market crash, it was the norm for employers not to respond to candidates, not even with a mass email, now I feel some are trying to engage with responses at least mentioning something positive about the résumé. If I wanted their opinion on my résumé, I would have asked for it. What I was looking for was a job. I was flown in for another interview where the guy said I was smarter than him and said I would be great for one of those top consulting firms. He was a nice guy, I was flattered, but what I wanted was a job, not flattery. And the consulting firms were not looking for someone like me because my GPA was not a least a 3.7, and now I’m too “specialized.”

With the job interview that I was flown in for, after I had a phone interview with some random HR person over the phone and didn’t get called back for the next round, I called the number they had provided to speak with someone. I was polite about it. The only thing snarky I said was that I could do PowerPoint in my sleep. During the phone interview, the person was asking routine questions that lacked substance, and it was clear she did not know what the requirements were. She couldn’t even test my Spanish or Portuguese. Just like Excel, languages have to be learned, and frankly its a lot easier to learn Excel at an advanced level than it is to learn Spanish or Portuguese. I asked my mother to teach me pivot tables just for the interview.

The company that responded to my last attempt at finding employment in DC related to my interest and skills by basically saying I was overqualified received a response email in English and French. The job was related to security issues in Haiti, but ironically, they did not mention anything about knowing Creole. That should have been a sign there that they were already quite limited in their understanding of the basics of the country and the Latin American and Caribbean region. They could have also been assuming that few people know Creole, which is true, because in the DC area someone who knows a foreign language well (reading, writing, and speaking) is very hard to find. I should have at least gotten an interview, so I just described the candidate they chose who probably over-stated his language skills, and then I offered my foreign language services. I provided the French in the email so they could have something to use to actually test his skills. (I went for an interview once where the level of French for the person who tested me where so basic, that I talked faster and threw in some complex pronouns so it would end quicker as she would realize that she was not able to evaluate me. I was very disappointed. This was a non-profit in DC.) I did not say anything to them about that.

I wrote another response email in Portuguese to a consulting firm looking for people who were multilingual. These people clearly have no one to test the skills they desire. While they say they want someone who’s skilled in areas they are not, the candidate can’t be too impressive because that will mess with their ego.

I don’t find my résumé impressive. I don’t find anyone’s résumé impressive. What my résumé shows are my interests, and the jobs I took related to my interests so I could find some enjoyment between 9-5 as I worked to live, to create the lifestyle I want, and increase my investment portfolio so that one day I will not have to work for people who are egotistical and narcissistic. All I want is money and happiness, and probably in that order, especially since I have already done a good amount of traveling which gave me happiness, so now it’s about the money.

So people, acquaintances and recruiters, have said positive things about my résumé, but yet I’m not getting hired for a full-time job, so how about they tell me what part of my résumé screams I do not deserve a full-time job. That information would be useful, because that is the point of the résumé, to get a job, not to impress people. On my own, I have come to the conclusion, that my résumé is too impressive. My cousin told me my intelligence was intimidating. She’s about the age of HR recruiters, so I’ve decided to go with less being more, especially with the Florida market with people placing Associate Degree as a requirement when BK has even decided to put a BA as a recruitment for cashiers.

So in my résumé, I include what they want to hear. I did that before with key words, but now I have to omit the education. I don’t want them to be impressed, I want them to be comfortable. I can’t give myself a male name because that would be unethical, so I have to strive for comfort and sticking with the status quo in the other areas. Plus, my first MA is not really relevant except to say that I am educated, which has done very little to help me find a job. At this point, it’s weighing me down. I should sue for a faulty product.

This is not the first time that I realized that less is more. A friend of mine had gone to the Middlebury Language Schools twice and applied to the Peace Scholarship both times. She speaks Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese, and some Italian and Arabic, so, the first time she talked about using language to connect with people on a deeper level to allow for connection. She did not get the scholarship. She told me that the recipients seem to be pretty homogenous and some of them had ideas that they never followed through on. So two years later, she decided to be a little more artistic and push for some emotion.

She’s black and from the inner city, but her parents are upper middle-class, like in the category without an end number and just the “& over”, and they both went to MIT. The income wasn’t enough to pay for her elite college and living expenses though, and Middlebury did not know anything about her parents income/background. Some people get intrigued when they find out she’s from the inner city and confused if they hear her parents went to MIT. So she used some of that. I should also mention she went to a private middle school and high school. She said her passion for languages and relating to people clearly got her no where, so she played the race card. She talked about the constant struggle of trying to pursue her education while being surrounded by gangs and violence as she grew up in the inner city. (They were nearby, just like serial killers in the suburb, but she did not spend her days running and ducking from them.) Then, she got wait-listed for the scholarship. If she had only talked about starting a coop for single mothers in the inner city and some place in subsaharan Africa, without a business plan, she probably would have received the scholarship.

So the conclusion is: for money, fit the stereotype. The job application process is not the time to be you and try to alter the status quo, say what they want to hear. Nuance is not their fortée; simple is better. That’s what being a good fit is all about, there’s a silhouette that you have to fill, which has nothing to do with being ambitious and trying new things, I mean clearly because I have been looking at places with a multinational focus, but yet they continue to hire people who don’t have an appreciatiation for multiculturalism.