Monday, September 14, 2009

This darn recession!

Man, this darn recession!
This is a bit about my adventures as an unemployed college student looking for a job in the DC area.

(here comes a full disclosure, or something close to it...)

I moved here to DC after I finished on the Obama for America campaign. We (the staff and incredible volunteers) felt victorious and were on cloud nine. [Before you think another thought, this is just a note to say that I will not argue politics with you- I don't have to justify to you why I supported this candidate. And even if you disagree with his politics, his campaign was incredible; or maybe you just had to be on the inside of it. Regardless, this blog isn't a platform on which to argue politics.] There were 4,000 + paid staffers on the campaign and over 10 times that of volunteers. A lot of these folks sacrificed their home lives or their jobs... which meant that a lot of these people were also looking for jobs for the new administration after the victory.

I hate to admit that for a few weeks, I was a part of this naive crowd.

And then came our WAKE UP CALL.
The administration did not call me to say "Hey, we want you to work in the White House as Michelle Obama's staff assistant"... oh so sad! I refused to write cover letters and update my resume because I assumed that I would be an indispensable part of the new administration... haha. (It's really funny to write how delusional I was.) February came along and I couldn't find a job. I couldn't understand why I, a member of a historic campaign, couldn't find a job, much less an incredible, posh, lucrative job!!

Alas, that didn't happen and I took what turned out to be a life changing internship at Advocates for Youth. This is really how I joined the Reproductive Health/Justice/Rights movement. I learned some incredible lessons and met some wonderful people there and also found so many FUN and PROGRESSIVE groups that DC has to offer!!

So, starting February 16, I wrote cover letters. I applied. I wrote. I edited. I Gchatted with my Obama campaign buddy Paul. We discussed strategies about applying for positions. Between February and July, I wrote 175 cover letters. All of them were written from scratch. I was granted three interviews.

The first interview was for a scheduler position in a government office. Two women in their mid-twenties made me wait an hour (my scheduled interview time was 9:30, I was taken in at 10:30 for my interview, I arrived at the office at 9:00) for my interview. They sat across from me with my resume between us. They marked my resume up with their questions and concerns about me. Between asking questions and me answering them, they would stare and type on their crack-berries (oops, blackberries)... they were very critical of every experience I brought to the table. I didn't think so after the interview, but I am a fine and competent person who works well in stressful and fast paced situations. I would have been a terrific scheduler. But alas, that door was closed.

My second interview was much better. I met with a woman who wanted to discuss my experiences. She knew everything that was in my cover letter and my resume without referencing it in the interview. She simply asked me how I would do things if I was chosen for the job. I had never been a part of such an engaging interview that I would admit, I was a bit thrown off. It was definitely good practice; and it made me realize, maybe I don't want to work in a cut throat, competitive atmosphere like I once thought...

My third interview wasn't scheduled as an interview. I hadn't applied for the position. I scheduled a time for an informational interview with the Director of a Youth department. I was relaxed and simply wanted to learn more about networking and how I could access more positions or position myself better for jobs. I met with this fantastic woman, who I really enjoyed talking to and she asked me whether I'd like to apply for the position. So one thing lead to another and I was being interviewed for a position that I hadn't even known about an hour before. When she told me about the position, I was so excited that I felt so fortunate that I had the opportunity to learn about it! I went back home and immediately wrote the most inspired cover letter. No guarantee that it was the best cover letter but just the most inspired. Well, lo and behold, I got the position!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yay!

I started in the position about 6 weeks ago. I love it. I get to work with young people, use my strengths and learn more about things that really interest me.

I learned last week that they were downsizing. They had eliminated four positions within the organization... and one of them was mine. This isn't the time to get mushy but I was devastated for a minute, picked myself up off the floor and now I'm back to the drawing board.

If this experience has taught me anything, it's this. You never know what will happen... People keep asking me if i'm upset that they hired and fired be so quickly. I'm only going to say that I don't regret it one bit because it's opened a HUGE door for me. My supervisor (the fun woman I interviewed with) has networked me into so many loops. I am slowly learning Networking 101. Seriously, this woman is genius. Anyway, I am meeting as many people for informational interviews as humanly possible and hoping that they will know something/somebody that they can put me in touch with... the idea is that I can move people when I meet them more than what I can do on paper or by email.

So it's back to square one, but I feel like I'm already 10 steps ahead... Thanks for everybody's support. But if you know of anybody who might have any tips or might know somebody I should meet with, please let me know... Oh, and this blog wouldn't be complete without me mentioning "Operation Hire Reina."

Thanks a Million.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My thoughts on 9/11

This year, 9/11 seemed harder to get through than the past years...

For me, it was much more difficult; I don't want to be cliched and I certainly don't want to sound like some of the sterile news reporting that happened on 9/11/09.

On 9/11/01, I lived in Southern California. I was on the water polo team that used to have a mandatory morning swim (at some ridiculous hours... think 5-7 am). Every morning, we would be in the pool, with the radio on, doing sets. We only had the radio on so that we could have something to keep us distracted when we poked our heads out of the water between sets, but we never really listened to it. Around a half hour or an hour into the swim, I remember my coach stopping all of us from swimming so we could listen to the crackly radio... something about a tower in New York getting hit by an airplane. It made no sense. We all had too many questions and no answers.

The attacks did not personally affect me; that is to say, nobody in my immediate world was killed by the twin towers falling... But I was an emotional wreck.

We take safely for granted. We take freedom for granted. We take not being attacked on home turf for granted.

This event challenged my world view in many ways. As a non-citizen (read: LEGAL RESIDENT), who has lived her entire life in the United States, I would argue that I am more patriotic and more passionate about this country than some of those who have been born to your "rights" as a citizen of this incredible country. It's not just because i'm dating military. It's because the United States is still a symbol for hope and my symbol of home. [As a side note, my journey of not knowing "who" I am in the world has made me come to the conclusion that whether I am a citizen of a particular country doesn't matter, only that I pledge allegiance when appropriate.]

So, 9/11 tested my young (NAIVE) thoughts... as it did many.

I can't imagine what it was like to live through it on this side of the country. I now live in the DC area, I take the Metro from the Pentagon every day to get to work. This year on 9/11, the weather was completely crappy. It poured for the first time this year, and it seemed appropriate. I got to the Pentagon and for no apparent reason, was moved to tears. It's not something I can explain; I am dumbfounded by people who think they can terrorize others into submission... and to choose the United States?

I was also moved because I thought of all of the people who lost their lives on the day and the days following the tragic attack.

But my final thoughts as I dragged myself on the Metro was, "what have we learned in 8 years?" What will we do from here? How are we impacting the world at large?

I know that question is answered directly by my Military Mafia friends. Our Troops, our intelligence community and many others are ensuring our freedom. For the rest us civilians, what are we doing? What have we learned so we don't perpetuate hate in the world?

I urge you to think about the world you love a little more today...

my 3 things:
1) My precious puppy who makes me laugh
2) Flowers that I got from TJs
3) My Shan who is getting married, joining the Military community!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Semper Gumby and Sacrifice

Semper Gumby
One of the first things I learned as a Military Partner is that the Military does not bend for you, your life, your plans or your love. Semper Fidelis (forever faithful) is the motto of the United States Marine Corps. It's a beautiful sentiment, I think it's something a lot of us can aspire to.

Semper Gumby (forever flexible), is the unofficial and "too true" motto of USMC families and friends--and I would argue much of the rest of the Military as well. It goes along with the "Hurry up and wait" saying. Semper Gumby has been a direct but difficult lesson for me in the time I've been with my Marine. The lesson is: You can't PLAN anything... rather, if you schedule something, you can anticipate that the government can and will (without hesitation or notice), scramble those plans for you.

This "scrambling" can manifest in different forms. It could be the day he gets back from his deployment is changed 5 different times. It could be that a Marine can't be there for his wife while she gives birth to their first child. It could be that his tour is extended "only" a few more months and your plans to travel during your vacation time is shot...

In the beginning I thought that logic would prevail. Foolishly, I believed that "they" wouldn't do such a thing as plan inconvenient trainings or missions; or that if my Marine told whomever was responsible, that he already had plans, that he would be able to get out of whatever responsibility "they" were trying to give him. Oh how I was wrong...

When the President of the United States talks about the "sacrifice," I don't think the general public understands what it means. I am certain that I didn't know what that "sacrifice" meant a year ago... I am slowly grasping what it entails. It has morphed from an intangible concept to a reality. My understanding of this sacrifice is still shallow (maybe I'll look back after 5 deployments and laugh at what I'm writing now)...

But this is what I know now. Sacrifice is not being able to have what you want or what you think you need (your bf, husband, your best friend, your stability, comfort, etc.) for 7-36 months at a time, so that the country can sleep safely through the night. He might not be in a war zone, he might not be face-to-face with terrorists (although many of our troops currently are); he is still serving his country by doing what the country asks him to do, and we wait until they get home. Sacrifice includes the possibility that he might not come back the way he left you; it includes the possibility that he not come back at all... It's all a part of that word "sacrifice."

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Frame this Blog

It's been a while since I decided that I wanted to have a blog. I've been journaling since I was 16 years old and it's been a goal of mine to get published. Blogging seems to be a natural progression between private thoughts on lined paper and a beautifully polished and published novel...

I'm searching for my voice. My mission in writing this blog is simple. It's to speak out about all the things about which I am passionate and to infuse a "Human Element" that our world seems to lack from time to time.

I am not looking for redemption or reward in writing my thoughts. If you can relate to some or all of what I have to share, I would love hear what your experiences have been. This is an ongoing project to find my voice as an Asian, American, Moderately Progressive, Military Supporting woman in a complex world (my bubble centered in the United States, with off shoots in Japan, California and other fun places).

I am PROUD to be all of these traits. Finally, I am in a place that I can embrace and own the "I am's" of my life.

Three things to know about me: (As of 9.8.09)
  1. I love my Marine. I am SO proud of all of our troops.
  2. "Three Things": You know that activity you do with your family around Thanksgiving dinner, where everybody says something that they're thankful for each year? It can be awkward or it could go really well... I think of three things that I am thankful for each night before I go to sleep. Life has thrown me some curve balls but with this exercise, I'm able to keep my blessings in perspective.
  3. I am looking for a job. Again. Keep an Eye out for "Operation Hire Reina," whose Campaign Manager is the lovely Emily Goodstein.
Site Design By Designer Blogs