“The City” and the Job Hunt

Hello? The 5 Bazillion Other Cities of New York


The problem with living in a large metropolis and networking for a job hunt is this: When I tell people that I am from New York, they are like, “Oh, well, why don’t you just go back to the city and network with friends and colleagues there?” Um… which city? There are like 5 bazillion cities in NY, only one of which spells itself as N-Y-C. Yes, people, NY is ACTUALLY a state. Sheesh! And no, Upstate NY is not a separate state like Virginia and West Virginia. Last I checked, there were only 50 states. If you came up with 51, you counted on an extra finger there…

I know. I’m being testy. However, you would know all this if you were a long-suffering New Yorker. And I do not mean someone living in “The City” who “talks funny,” has “attitude” about “real bagels,” and drives a taxi. From the back seat. NYC is like another whole country sometimes. You’ve already given it state status, so don’t go thinking it really IS another country too. But really. There’s no commuting from upstate NY to “The City.” It’s just too far. The pace is faster. The cost of living is higher. There’s more attitude. There may be even more available jobs there. The unemployment figures just dipped below 12% in CA for the first time in a long time. Like LA, it does not snow much in NYC and traffic is always congested. Like CA, NYC has a high crime rate. The difference is we in LA say  “Have a Nice Day” after we rob and shoot you. And carjack your Cadillac SUV. But NYC, nope, not LA or upstate NY by a long shot…

I Want to be Your Handyman(person?): Expanding Your Skills

So here’s how I planned my career: I would go to grad school, get a degree in career development because a Master’s degree in student personnel did not provide enough information on the career planning process. I would then live happily every after counseling college students about their careers. That is not what happened. As they say, life is what happens while you are busy making plans.

The career counselor jobs were few and far between and paid less than my IT job in a college multimedia center. I did eventually work my way up to an associate director of career services position. However, a lot of the job was event planning. I hate event planning. My checklists were never comprehensive enough. Something always fells through the cracks. So I left higher ed for the recruiting industry, thinking that the experience would make me a more valuable employee when I returned to career development in higher ed. Except the recession happened, and I fast-forwarded to my planned retirement career: writing.

I can now tell you how to take apart your washer and dryer. I can instruct you as to why your sub-flooring has buckled. The ice maker on your refrigerator/freezer combo will probably work better once I tell you all the things that could be wrong with it. I could probably also relieve your panic at not being able to open the door on your self-cleaning oven. Need to figure out why your vacuum cleaner stopped in its self-propelling tracks? I could help you there too.

I did not plan to acquire these skills. My present home and garden writing job demanded that I figure these things out. If you have worked in a variety of careers or have taken on the work of downsized employees, you probably have a boatload of skills that you never expected to acquire either. However, these “extra” skills may be the ones that help you find your next job, whether you are unemployed or looking to move to a higher paid position. They may also help you to segue back onto your chosen career path. The key is to keep an open mind and take every training and new skill opportunity offered to you. It shows that you are open to learning, you have a can-do attitude and that you are flexible and willing to take on new skills to help your employer. This attitude toward learning and skill acquisition can keep you employed or at the very least make you more employable in a recession. Now if I could only figure out where my ice maker skills will take me…


CSI Wedding Vows: Ripped From the Headlines

One of the things I have to do as a writer is to peruse daily headlines to ensure that my articles are up-to-date. It always amazes me when the news reports on all of the off-the-wall stuff that married people get up to. Being newly single again and once more on the dating scene, my friends wanted to “help” me craft an online dating profile. Nope, I am done with online dating. Too much weirdness. However, when the topic moved to writing your own wedding vows, I was all for it, even though it was getting a bit ahead of our single selves. As I’ve said before, writing teachers tell me to write about what I know, and after two years of writing, I know headlines.

So if I was ever crazy enough to get married, this is what my “CSI Wedding Vows” might look like:

I promise never to:

*Kill, cook and eat you

*Misplace your children

*Go after your ex while wearing adult diapers

*Crawl down your chimney, get stuck, die and then smell bad

*Pick you up from your hair plug appointment with the convertible top down

*Drive around with your long-dead corpse in the front seat … with the convertible top down

*Plant your corpse in the freezer among the frozen vegetables you really hate, like lima beans

*Chop off certain body parts, or if I do, not to put them down the garbage disposal where they cannot be retrieved

*Use your favorite router to make frozen daiquiris

*Change your Netflix, Qwikster movie preferences to footie pajama party porn

*Drive your car through your house and into your side of the bedroom

*Sell your porn collection on eBay … for a dollar

*Sew shut the front of your boxers out of sheer frustration

*Hem your pants with pink duct tape

*Call you Bubba unless that is really your name

*Send you to work with your lunch in some Hello Kitty Tupperware

*Cook an antifreeze casserole for you

*Erase your memory

*Play the drums better than you

*Post your cross-dressing pictures on Facebook

*Sleep with your identical twin and swear “I thought it was you.”

*Make sure the nurse marks the wrong leg for amputation

*Turn your pool table into a sewing project area

*Reveal your “Ace of Base” addiction

*Re-alphabetize your iTunes music library … in Farsi

*Use your state championship bowling trophy as a cookie press

*Serve you a “divorce cake.” For dessert. With divorce papers printed on a napkin.

Hmmm. That’s a lot of promises…

When Doing Your Job Changes the World

One of the dynamos of the computing world passed away today. Steve Jobs was a huge force in the world of science and computing. His work also changed my life in big ways and small. My writing career got started on a Mac and it will continue on a Mac. The company that he built has always impressed me as a consumer. Yes, the computers are more expensive than PCs, but the service I have gotten through the years has always been from courteous, interested and speedy people.

The man impressed me too. Pancreatic cancer is a terrible disease. The prognosis for those who get it is never very good. However, he held out for a long time. Honestly, I don’t know how he did it, how he held out and worked for so long. His suffering must have been terrible; you could see it in his face, yet I do not think I ever read or heard about one instance of him complaining. That alone helps me to put my own life experiences in perspective.

My sympathy goes out to his family, friends and colleagues at Apple. Mr. Jobs, thank you. You will be sorely missed.

The Great Guess-Who’s-Getting-Fired-Next Contest: Trashy, Not Classy

There are supervisors who try to help their employees get training, gain skills and just generally survive during a tough recession. Then there are those supervisors that take a certain malicious glee in preying upon their employee’s fears and making work a miserable place to be.

So says a judge in Iowa today who ruled that a convenience store’s contest with a $10 prize to guess the cashier who would be fired next created a hostile work environment. Ten dollars? Really? How could anyone think that this was amusing? Trashy, not classy. The company’s HQ should send that supervisor a “Guess Which Supervisor is Getting Fired?” memo. With no prize.