Spreading “Rumours” As a Career

I admit it — I am a self-professed choir geek, maybe even a Gleek, having sung in choruses and choirs since I was 8. I also sang in choirs for about 15 years after graduating from college, even performing in a singing tour of NYC, Finland and Russia. So I nearly fell off my office chair in surprise when I learned next week’s Glee is tackling Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” album. How awesome is that? Well it’s pretty dang awesome, having heard some of these tunes already. And I am so jealous. Most of the tunes work because the musicians have stuck, with a few exceptions, pretty close to the original music arrangements. The Glee cast is spreading “Rumours” to a whole new generation. Not a bad career move, considering some of these twenty-somethings “kids” never sang professionally until they hit Glee.

“Go Your Own Way” has been given a feminist twist by the powerhouse Lea Michelle (Rachel) and she really carries it with Cory Monteith backing her on drums. It is hilarious to see Dianna Agron’s (Quinn) face as Rachel belts out her very own new anthem about her ex.

“Songbird” has always been one of Fleetwood Mac’s sweetest pieces, and the bitchy Santana (Naya Rivera) softens up to sing it and bring it to gal pal Britney (Heather Morris) in a rare solo for her character. Is she or isn’t she? The rumours are flying…

Kristin Chenoweth from Pie Hole fame reprises her role next week as Mr. Schue’s friend from the past and duets with him (Matt Morrison) on “Dreams”, bringing an eerily and scarily similar Stevie Nicks sound to the mix. Not a bad pairing vocally, considering that “Rumours” brought that FM sound that always had a little something, something to the world. Maybe this couple brings it back just a bit…

The clunker? Has to be “Don’t Stop.” Sorry, New Directions, but if you had stuck with the original arrangement, you would have had another hit. As it is, this one is too stylized, too show choir-y, and does not evoke the original FM hit backed by the USC marching band. Go Trojans? Hmmm, sounds more like they took Bill Clinton’s campaign song and gave it an Obama-like twist as in: Be the change you want to see — but I’m just not seeing it. Changing the music definitely does take it in whole New Directions; just not the right one. Bummer.

Kevin McHale as Artie is definitely “Never Going Back Again.” He does a terrific job with his folky voice, and the back up guitar is faithfully rendered by the Glee instrumentalists. Where did they find these guys — they too are terrific. Oh yeah, this is L.A. home to underpaid, mega talented musicians.

Cory Monteith as Finn is a monster talent, seeing that he never studied music or sang before coming to Glee. However, his duet with Dianna Agron (Quinn) on “I Don’t Want to Know” unintentionally turned into Dianna singing back up. The balance is off somehow, and her voice gets lost in the background for the first half of the song.

Another admission: I now actually understand the words to the “Rumours” songs. I don’t know if it is because I am older, due to cleaner production values or that Glee left that I’m-so-stoned sound behind. Whatever they lost, though, they sure bring mega sound on most of these songs. Can’t wait until next week like me? Surf YouTube for next week’s Glee “Rumours.” Have fun spreading them…

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When Kids Go To Work — Summer Jobs and Internships

Tomorrow is Take Your Kids To Work Day, but there are plenty of kids out there who have already gone to their parents workplaces, maybe even several years in a row. They are probably old enough to be thinking about a summer job; unfortunately, this will be one of the hardest summers on record for teens to find a summer job.

If you are a teen looking for summer work, why not develop your own internship? While it is not always easy, developing an internship gets you thinking about what you want to do and what you want to learn on the job. You can use internship directories or online internship search sites to get started. These resources will give you an idea what is possible: both where to work and what kinds of projects you can do at an internship. Then look around you. What interests you? Live near a golf course or marina and are curious how they are run?

Make a list of what you would like to learn at each place of interest and some example projects you could do. Come up with your dates of availability, whether you want to work full-time, part-time, volunteer, credit, paid or barter. Write up a basic resume or at least make a list of skills and part-time jobs you have held. Ok, deep breath. Here is the hard part: Find out who hires at your internship place of choice and call them with your proposal. Do not get discouraged; some places have never considered having an intern. Others may not want to deal with insurance liability issues of having you work there or will not have funds for a summer intern. Tell this person how you could benefit them, and ask for feedback on how realistic your internship project ideas are. Keep calling places in which you are interested until you get a “Yes.”

Getting Started

The Princeton Review puts out a new “Internship Bible” each year with tips on applying or creating your own and a list of places offering internships. Check Amazon.com or your public library for the current edition.

Resigning: Exit Through The Chop Shop

The two week resignation notice is garnering huge debate time on the internet. Mistreated workers contend that you no longer have to give two weeks notice when leaving a job, while others say it is still a must. Honestly, I have resigned both ways. Giving two weeks notice is professional, gives you time to complete projects or to write hand off notes on them for the next person. But there are workplaces where the bosses and co-workers are less than professional, and resigning feels like you are being fired or “chopped.” Unfortunately, if you are moving on to a company that is a competitor of your current company, you can expect your professional two weeks notice to be tossed out the window and an escort through a quick exit interview at the “chop shop” or HR and out the door. Sometimes, it isn’t personal. Having you around for two weeks makes it difficult to discuss confidential company matters.

Unfortunately, sometimes the reaction to your resignation is going to be personal. Your bosses or mentors may be angry or hurt. They may have put a lot of time and energy into training you and helping you to do your job. Now they have to start all over again with someone else. This is where a formal letter of resignation and exit interview can help. Your letter should state your reasons for leaving in a professional manner and the date of your last day of work. An exit interview gives you an opportunity to discuss why you are leaving and how you plan to finish up your projects before your last day. Everyone should be clear about what is happening. Get HR involved if you think your exit interview will get dicey and your boss will handle it unprofessionally.

Your company may not accept your letter of resignation, demand more time from you or even let you go immediately. If you are let go immediately, contact your new company. They may be able to bring you on board right away. Unless you have signed a contract, you are under no obligation to meet your company’s demands if they do not accept your resignation. If you want to stay on for two weeks in this case, you will have to present a strong argument. You may be due at your new company in two weeks, so give your boss a detailed plan on how you will complete or hand off your assignments.

How you resign is your own personal decision, but whether you give no notice and hand in a formal resignation letter to both your boss and HR, or you give two weeks notice — be professional, even when your boss or company isn’t. Your reputation in your career field is valuable, and a messy, unprofessional resignation can hurt it. If you stay for two weeks, finish your projects, do not complain to co-workers about how unfairly you’ve been treated, and say good-bye to co-workers and bosses on the last day. I feel strongly that you do not have to thank your bosses and the company for giving you the opportunity to work in a job where you have been mistreated if that is the case. However, you should thank those who have helped you along the way.

Is Working At Home Greener?

Working at home definitely has its ups and downs, but on Earth Day, I’d have to say my job has definitely made it easier to be green. I’ve noticed prices going up on everything here in Southern Cali. Gas is now close to $4.50 per gallon in certain places. And my favorite 7-11 coffee just went up a dime. The paycheck is not getting any bigger for now, so something has to give.

I finally decided to sell my car because gas is so expensive and insurance on a car that is at the top of the most stolen list in CA was outrageous. I am lucky in some ways because my lifestyle and job made it easy. I have access to everything I need: coffee, groceries, doctors nearby. I really did not need a car once I began to write from home. Do I miss it? Not yet. It made me crazy to spend money on insurance, parking and gas so I could drive my car around to nowhere to keep the battery charged and the car running. And there are some interesting developments happening in car sharing. See ZipCar, for example. While ZipCar is not available yet in my area, there are other ways to get around, at least for me.

On the other hand, you can’t beat the convenience of owning your own car. I’ve been fighting off a nasty case of bronchitis this week, and being able to jump in the car to get to the doctor and quickly pick up a prescription instead of figuring out another way to do this would have been helpful. But I think the obstacles of car ownership have far outweighed convenience at this point.

BTW, are you celebrating Earth Day today? So is Starbucks, so if you have a travel mug handy, put on your walking shoes, pick up your travel mug and head on over to Starbucks for a free cup of coffee. Happy Earth Day!

6 Things to Know About a Freelance Career

Freelancing gives you great career flexibility whether you are a consultant, a writer, a photographer or whatever else your career passion may be. It can give you wonderful opportunities to use your talents and to express yourself. You can also pick and choose which freelance jobs you want to do, while passing up on others. All of these things are a plus, but there are some other things you should know about freelance careers.

Home Sweet Home

Freelancing may mean you get to work from home; however, you need to plan your finances carefully so that you do not fall behind in mortgage or rent payments. Renting can be more difficult, as the landlord will want to know you are employed full-time. Some may even refuse to rent to you, or your rental agreement can change. I figured I had until the end of the summer to decide whether I will move from CA, but with a new property management company comes new decisions this spring. A year-long lease is safer when freelancing because it is more difficult to be evicted should there be problems. Month-to-month leases are more flexible, yet you can find yourself without a place to live or work should problems arise.

Go-To Person

You are “IT” when you work at home. This means that unless you set some boundaries from the beginning, people who are at home, kids, spouses, whomever, will take it upon themselves to interrupt you at every opportunity just because you are there. Your family or neighbors will call you to pick up their sick kids, pick up their mail, pick up their overdue dry cleaning, you name it, you’ll get a call for it. You need to figure out what your boundaries are and stick with them. My phone is set to outgoing calls only, which drives people crazy, but my work gets done. That may not work for you. However, you can set up different ring tones on your cell phone for calls you absolutely must take and let the others go to voicemail if your phone has that technology.

Crowd Sourcing

So if working from home can be a distraction, what about writing at a cafe? Ever hear how loud those frappe machines are? Cafe music, screaming babies and rude people on cell phones are all a part of that cafe scene, so if you are desperate to get out of the house to get some work done, source out a quiet cafe. Public libraries may be another option, but their internet may be slower, and you leave your laptop to run to the bathroom at your own risk.

Procrastination

It is easy to put off doing your work until the deadline or the bills come due. There is always another chore you could be doing, another website to browse, another sale at the store. And there is a fine line between creativity and procrastination. Sometimes, I DO have to do other things while I let an article form in the back of my mind. Writing when I am not ready leads to bad writing.

Tablets – You Said it Would Work. You Said!

New technology becomes an issue if your freelance career relies on some means of connecting to the internet. Tablets are one of the newest forms of internet connecting technology. Make sure the tablet of your choice works with the software you need and does everything you need it to do before you fall in love with it and have to buy it. Need flash? Forget an iPad 2. Need to use an ethernet connection? Ditto. Need to dock the tablet horizontally? Ditto. Test it before you buy it. Writing for 12 hours on a computer is very different from doing the same on a tablet even if it does have a longer battery life.

Tax Matters, Task Masters

Find a really good tax person, and let her do what she does best: your taxes. An accountant or bookkeeper who knows the laws on freelancing will free you up to do what you do best: freelance. The cost is worth it, as she can find you deductions you would never dream of and can keep you out of tax trouble.

Meeting the Diva: Career and Compassion

Walk the hallways at the Walter Reed Hospital in VA and you will see a lot of recovering soldiers listening to iPods. Many of those iPods were loaded with music and given to soldiers through the Stevie Nicks Soldiers Angel Foundation. Stevie visits Walter Reed Hospital when she can and brings the iPods with her as gifts to the soldiers. She doesn’t care that these young men and women may be too young to know who she is because by the time she leaves, they know they have a new friend. What I admire most about this foundation is that it is done without a lot of fanfare, little publicity. There is no rhetoric about war, for or against, on Stevie’s website. Now, maybe it is a ploy to drum up publicity for Stevie, a nod for her “good works.” But I don’t think so. She just contributes when she can, and gets friends to upload the music to the ipods, seeing that she is not a very technical person herself. There are no much-publicized interviews on the foundation, there are no loud appeals for funds or donations. It just happens.

It takes a certain kind of person to bring this type of foundation into being and make it work. Empathy and compassion go a long way in this world, especially when so many people, not just injured military personnel, are struggling. Stevie’s stroll across the stage and handshaking during her concerts are legendary. I got to meet her at one concert in San Francisco, where she stopped to shake my hand and talk. I have no idea what she said because I was standing in front of Waddy Wachtel and his guitar, and that boy is loud. And, honestly, I don’t really care what she said because there are some people you look at and know they get it. They know what empathy and compassion are and how to act on them.
Setting up the Stevie Nicks Soldiers Angel Foundation  is a great use of a career. Why not? Stevie has the fame and fortune to pull it off. She is also smart enough to recognize the healing power of music. Many of these military people are at Walter Reed for a long haul of physical and mental recovery. Love her music or hate it, this woman has had a music career that has spanned over 40 years, longer if you count her baby years standing on the bartops of country western bars performing with her grandfather. She has survived serious drug addictions when many of her contemporaries perished. Stevie has also engineered a spectacular musical career comeback both in her solo career and with Fleetwood Mac. And she still carves out time in her schedule for Walter Reed.

We all work long days and get frazzled sometimes, and while we are on our own road to recovery out of a recession, it is still hard. Many of us are underemployed, struggling under a pile of bills and do not have secure living and food situations. However, compassion really does go a long way, and it doesn’t have to be giving away piles of money or other things. It’s as simple as offering a kind word to a co-worker, finding solutions to problems together instead of bickering, or even offering help on a project or a sympathetic ear. It’s just a few words, just a few minutes. It’s so easy, and it can change everything…

I Am Homesick For Play-Doh

There are days when I wake up and think, “I want just one sniff of Play-Doh again.” Remember that wonderful smell? I wonder how may people know that Play-Doh actually started out as a wallpaper cleaner back in the good old days when coal stoves and furnaces deposited a sooty mess on the walls of a house. The wall cleaner was rolled onto the wall to remove the soot. Then came the demise of the coal stoves and furnaces, and wallpaper cleaner was no longer needed. The product, true to its physical properties, morphed into something else. It was used as a modeling compound for pre-schoolers to make Christmas tree ornaments that were baked in an oven. Many tweaks later, including adding that wonderful almondy scent, Play-Doh hit the market in blue, red and yellow. The cans of Play-Doh we had at home had the metal top the color of the dough inside, and you had to pry the top out of the can each time. If you didn’t put the top back on properly, the Play-Doh would dry out and crumble. It also made wonderful collages when it heated up and stuck to the heat registers in the kitchen. How many products actually morph successfully into something else and are still in existence? Probably not many, I would guess. Yet those of us who work are asked to do that all of the time, especially during a recession when you are asked to do more with less at work.

I was born in the early 1960s at a time when adults chose a career and pretty much stuck with in their whole working lives. Not so my generation (tail Baby Boomers) or the generations that came after them. My career path so far: Head Start teacher, medical social worker, cataloger, multimedia supervisor, editorial assistant, career resource specialist, associate director of career services, recruiter, copyeditor, and writer. I think our generation was the first that had to be quick on their feet, willing to reinvent themselves, willing to be flexible and embrace career change. It was hard — really hard. I think we looked to our parents to get an idea of what working life would be like and saw that if you were successful, you had job security, you could pay off the house before the kids went to college. In some ways, it was almost like we were cheated out of that stability that the American dream owed us. But the upside is that, no matter which generation you are, if you are able to deal with job insecurity and career changes, the opportunities, especially as the economy gets stronger, are out there and are exciting. Or scary, depending on your outlook. Your next career could be right around the corner. Me? I’m headed out to buy a can of Play-Doh…