Sunday, August 9, 2015

Update: more of the same

I have now done an informational interview with an acquaintance of my sister's! She told me a little bit about the nonprofit world, where she worked, and gave me a lot of helpful advice thinking through how to pull out my skills and qualifications. She suggested I revamp my resume as a skills resume rather than chronological. Have I done that since talking to her? No. I'm not positive that's what I want to do, but she didn't think not being able to trace through my employment history would be a big deal. But lots of helpful advice and I felt like I was a skilled competent person who could do lots of different jobs, so that's nice!

It's really easy to start thinking you are invisible, sending out tons of applications and not hearing anything back. Actually, it's easy to dwindle off and then stop sending out applications because you're not hearing anything back, and to get used to being silent and not really doing anything because you aren't around anybody, and then to prefer it, just living inside your own head, so I think that I will need to do these business-related meetings regularly to practice being business-social and keeping my eye on the ball. I mean, most people might find this whole unemployment state bewildering, but as an academic I have regularly frittered away relaxing summers and gone most of a week without talking to a human being while doing reading and research, so I will have to work against that state.

The other thing this week is I managed to pick up two classes from a local community college, and I need to finish going through the mounds and mounds of paperwork etc. And they start soon. Soon! Urgh. So I have some structure in my days soon and a little cash money and a reason to get out of the house, but I can't rely on this getting me an actual job so I need to be careful not to assume this or let that work overwhelm my job-hunting work.

Also I kind of fell off the wagon regarding walking and meetups so I think I need to actually schedule in a set time each week to plow through the events and pick them. Since the hike groups I keep going on regularly sign up about a hundred people (!) and they fill up to their limit within about a day of being posted (!!) and a lot of them are an hour or two drive from me and plan on being 10 miles long (that makes me too tired to even put in an exclamation point), I can get overwhelmed with making a decision and scheduling something, and also I have cancelled a couple hikes because I just can't handle the thought of driving someplace far and confusing and winding alone. I will need to come up with a way around that problem.

Another nice thing is that my sister's friend wanted to meet at a little hole-in-the-wall coffee shop I have never been to, and I discovered it is a big shabby space filled with old living room furniture and board games and a nice, "real" coffee-shop vibe and I guess it is where a lot of our local nonprofit people and elderly hippies have their meetings. I like it. It is my new go-to spot. I think they do live music there sometimes, and it reminds me of the coffeeshop/bar/laundromat I liked so much in Postdoc City. Now, one of the unexpected advantages of a small conformist town is that if you make one decent alternative spot, everybody goes there and knows each other because there aren't that many weird people around. It's a forced community but it's a community. I don't think it is as easy to find fellow weird people around the Bay Area because it is so big, and I think people are actually less tolerant because you can find about 10 people with *exactly* your fandom or weird interests, so why hang out with the crazy person 15 years older than you who tells weird stories of meeting Johnny Cash? I mean, that person could hang out with 11 other people who want to wear armadillo suits and reminisce about traveling the country following classic country bands. But in Postdoc City, that person would probably be friends with the one Goth kid and the one gay person who tries to put on drag shows and the guy who keeps dressing up like Darth Vader for various events. Just saying that it is nice to find a solid group of people who "get" you instantly but you might gain more from trying to meld your complementary styles of crazy. Anyway, I haven't really found either type of group here yet, ...but I'm not really trying that hard, either. If it comes down between putting my energies into hunting up a job vs. a social scene, I know which I have to prioritize first.


Flavia said...

This all sounds really good! Yay you!

(Have been reading along, but not commenting, because I only just got my computer/internet hooked up.)

I totally agree with you about the unexpected upside of a more homogeneous community. I love that the gay bars (they're few, but, technically, plural) in Cha-Cha City are welcoming to everyone, of all genders, ages, and subgroups, rather being a Chelsea Boy bar or a bear bar or whatever (though, granted, I'm not the one trying to find a partner in that community...), and that the "cool" restaurants have everyone from painful hip hipsters to "Jersey Shore"-types celebrating bachelorette parties to local wheelers and dealers to ordinary folks out after work or celebrating a birthday or anniversary.

I like that sense of commonality, even if those specific people aren't people I want to know better. Or maybe there's just age at which one is no longer so obsessed with finding one's exact niche.

Contingent Cassandra said...

It does, indeed, sound like progress (slow progress, admittedly, but progress). It also sounds like there's some potential overlap between expanding your social scene and job hunting/networking (you never know whom you'll meet at a coffee shop, or on a hike).

And at least in the present situation, the two cc classes sound like not a bad thing, as long as they don't take over all your time (but you're used enough to much heavier loads to avoid that). But somehow those don't sound like much of a networking opportunity, if only because most ccs are already well-supplied with people with similar skills, and greater seniority, who are likely to snap up any in-house opportunities that do come along. But I suppose you never know. At the very least, it's a continuing professional identity, and even if you're not going for a chronological resume, being underemployed/in professional transition probably beats being completely unemployed. "I'm in community college teaching, but I'm working toward a career change," or something along those lines, is probably a way of answering the "what do you do?" question that just might lead to a productive conversation, and you can always describe the higher ed "industry" as "unstable," or something along those lines (with complete truth) if you're asked why you want to leave.

JaneB said...

Yay for some kind of progress!

I get the impression that you and I are rather alike in our ability to be perfectly comfortable in a nice grey zone inside our heads and little local routines, so having the classes to force you to put on work clothes and leave the house for a set event will actually help with getting other stuff done too just by keeping you out of the drifting along state (which isn't depression, but is kind of related to it, in that it is poorly suited to actually doing anything or dealing with Other People...) - and we're always told it's a good thing to be seen to be doing stuff when unemployed.

How are the furry ones?? Inquiring minds wish to know...