Job Searching Like It’s My Job

After a fairly uneventful month, I’ve had a jam-packed week of job searching and future planning full of successes and…well, total failure.

On Monday, I had an interview with a local Starbucks. I think I did well, but I may have done too well. Sarah said that I answered questions about my experiences too intelligently. I didn’t understand why that was a bad thing until she told me that if you sound too smart they won’t hire you because you’re less likely to stick around. Oops. Yeah, I didn’t get a call back, but that’s okay. I didn’t really want to work there anyway.

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On Tuesday, I drove to my alma mater for a much needed job search session at the Student Professional Development Center aka Career Services. I got some good advice about how to get an entry level job in the education field without a license or a master degree. I’m looking forward to using some of these tips and utilizing my LinkedIn profile more.

That night I attended a graduate school information session at UNCG and visited my best friend who is a student there. It was really informative and I got to meet some faculty members. When I told her my GPA, she cringed and said, “You’re almost there.” Then told me to study hard for the GRE and get good recommendations. I didn’t realize how much competition there is for grad school before. My program is cohort based so they only accept 20 applicants every two years. Pressure!!! But, I’m going to remain optimistic and open to the possibilities. The first step is writing the personal statement. I feel this is going to be difficult because, as you all know; I am not a woman of few words.

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I’ll post my statement on the blog once it’s completed for your comments!

After driving back to Elon and hanging out with my good friend, Tori, who by the way has an awesome blog as well, I was exhausted! The next day, I attended the job fair on campus. I have to say I was a little disappointed. Most companies were looking for sales reps or for students majoring in business and accounting, etc. I did meet a few teacher recruiters, but I’m not really passionate about teaching in a secondary setting anymore…I guess you know why. After leaving with a shockingly small number of cards and only giving out two resumes, I met a few friends at a local restaurant for dinner. That dinner made my trip worth my time. I don’t have any friends in Raleigh, so being able to socialize with friends after weeks of basically being a housewife for my family was awesome. We just talked and ate good food, that’s my idea of a great time. I miss them so much!


Well, Reader, I’m almost finished with my week; where is the promised failure? you ask. To be honest, this failure truly wasn’t my fault. I couldn’t have studied more or prepared more, I did everything I could. It was an act of God, that’s the only way I can explain it.

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I applied to an indie (read: pretentious) coffee shop in downtown Raleigh and had an interview on Saturday at 2:15pm. At 2:05pm, I drove into a parking garage behind the coffee shop looking fabulous and feeling confident. I was stopped by a woman wearing a blue collar who explained that all parking downtown was $7 due to a festival happening all weekend. I didn’t have any cash and my interview was in ten minutes, so I begged her to let me pay on the way out. When she refused to let me in, I asked her where an ATM was and turned around. I knew I would be late at this point, so I fought back tears…okay I opened the flood gates! and called the coffee shop to let them know. I frantically searched for an ATM and found one close by that was accessible by car (most ATMs downtown were on streets blocked off for the festival). When I got there, I saw lovely trees and a scenic meadow…and no ATM. Repeat this series of events six times, SIX TIMES. It wasn’t always a meadow, sometimes Google Maps led me to a bank nestled in an antiquated brick building blocked off by construction, sometimes an empty parking lot, sometimes to a building that was locked or closed. The minutes were ticking by and as I grew more and more desperate, I searched for an ATM farther and farther away from the coffee shop.

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ATM #7, a SunTrust. FINALLY, I got the cash I needed and called the coffee shop to let them know I was on my way. At 3:20pm, I drove into the parking garage behind the coffee shop with tear-stained cheeks and absolutely no confidence. I had cried off all my make-up and was trembling from frustration, but I put on what I hope was a smile of confidence and walked up to a flannel-wearing barista with thick-rimmed glasses to ask for the manager. After a few moments waiting at the bar, another flannel-wearing barista came up to me and told me that the manager couldn’t wait for me and left for the day. I asked her if I could reschedule, she said that they “weren’t interested” in me because it had taken me so long to get there. I stumbled out an apology and explained the situation. What I got in reply was, “It sounds like you’ve had a rough day. I hope your day gets better.” Luckily, I made it out of the door before I burst into tears. I cursed myself for not having $7 in my pocket. If I did, I would have been on time and probably gotten the job. Maybe not, I don’t own any flannel plaid, which is apparently the uniform since every time I’ve gone there that’s all I see them wearing.

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I don’t expect them to give me second chance; I wouldn’t take it even if they did. I was mostly using this interview as an opportunity for more practice, but it was humiliating all the same. After wasting so much of my time and gas, and trying so hard to just get there at all, I was turned away. I paid $7 to cry in a parking garage for ten minutes before I was capable of driving my car home.

Tomorrow, I start afresh searching for and applying to jobs again like it’s my job. Wish me luck!

Beck

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Life is Beautiful

Graduation

Who is in charge of speeding up and slowing down time? Whoever it is, you’re fired, because the past two weeks have sped by in a moment. When I was a kid, I remember my parents telling me that time would pass faster the older you get; they weren’t kidding. I wonder why it’s so hard to slow down and make the most out of enjoying the moment.

I graduated 12 days ago. It was a beautiful day. So much happened that weekend, it’s hard to process! I just remember smiling so much it hurt. I wanted to stretch each second out like taffy, so it would last as long as possible. When I finally drove away and realized I didn’t have any excuse to go back, it was a bittersweet feeling. That day I felt invincible, because I had accomplished something really hard, something not many others get to do.

My invincibility didn’t last long though. My car didn’t care that I had to drive to Raleigh that day; it still blew a tire. It turned out to be a nail. It was Memorial weekend though, so I had to wait until Monday to get my tire patched. A small hiccup in the day’s festivities, but a sobering one for sure. The rest of the day I spent driving 50mph on the highway for more than two hours trying get everyone where they needed to be.

The next day, my parents renewed their marriage vows and we had a celebration at church. I woke up early, got out my nicest salwar kamez, and headed to the church with my family. In our usual fashion, we were more than 30 minutes late, but what can you do when your entire family is wired for Indian Standard Time? We ate a cake with one of my parents’ cheesy wedding photos printed on it, and hung out/took naps in the afternoon. That night, we headed to an impromptu dinner at The Pit in Raleigh.

On Monday, I said goodbye to my hilarious Uncle and Mississippi friends who travelled up for the weekend. I also traveled down to Charlotte in order to spend as much time with my sister before she left for home in Seattle. I dropped her off at the airport yesterday. I miss her so much already!

What I’ve written here is basically a summary of events that I’ve participated in over the past two weeks. What I haven’t written here are the crazy ups and downs, dramatic arguments, and frustrating obstacles that my family and I have worked through in this short amount of time. The marriage vow renewel ceremony was also a family renewel ceremony. My family has been apart for so long, and we are just beginning to be knit back together. I am getting used to having my Dad around, referring to his judgement, and receiving affection from him.  At times, it’s uncomfortable, but it’s a discomfort I welcome, because I know it is good. We’re all having to relearn how to trust, rely on, and be there for each other. I may have come from a broken home, but it is no longer broken; for that, I praise God.

Beck

How to be Homeless in College

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I was stranded at my friends apartment last week while NC was in the middle of a snow storm. This reminded me of last semester when I was staying there almost every week because I had no other place to go. I learned a lot about how to go without last semester. Becoming homeless is a process that makes you realize exactly what you do and do not need to live. It’s a painful process.

I started the semester in a small apartment attached to a house nearby campus. The rent wasn’t bad and I had just gotten a job as a barista at the local B&N cafe. After about a month, I moved out because my landlady didn’t want me to keep my cat in her house, and I wanted to live with my cat (don’t judge me).

At the beginning of October, I moved into a house with a student couple, their evil cat, smelly dog, and loud chicken. (Yes, I did say chicken.) I settled in and then…I lost my job. Apparently, my availability was not working for them, even though I told them I could work anytime I wasn’t in class. With no job to pay rent and a new landlord asking for a deposit, I found myself, at the end of the month, moving for the third time that semester…home.

My Mom lives in Raleigh, about an hour from campus, and I had a full schedule with seven classes. I was so scared and I didn’t know what I was doing, but I had no choice but to keep going. For weeks, I woke up at 5:30am so I could drive the hour commute and be on time for my 8am class (and I’m not a morning person in the least). To save gas, I asked my friends if I could alternate sleeping on their couch, but I didn’t want to be a burden, so most of the time I slept in the library or took naps in my car.

I had a system. I would go home every Tuesday and Thursday night to get more clothes and food. I would shower in the gym locker room and do laundry on the weekends when I could stay home. I would work in the library and then drive home to sleep in my room with no bed. And I would student teach and try to finish my projects on time. Part of me knew this meant I wouldn’t be passing all my classes, but I’m nothing if not stubborn, and I thought I was strong enough to do it all.

Okay, so technically I wasn’t homeless, but I was constantly moving between my car, my friends’ apartments and public spaces like the library and gym. I felt homeless, and that anxiety really affected me and my ability to work. I learned how to get through the day by getting “free” coffee from faculty lounges and attending school events with free food. I ate a lot of pizza that semester.

Having no where to go makes one anxious and alone, and I very quickly fell apart. Every single one of my professors emailed me or “had the talk” with me about my low performance (some more than once). What could I say? “Sorry I didn’t finish the paper, Professor, I was busy trying to find somewhere to sleep last night.” I felt tired all the time and it wasn’t from the mountains of work I stayed up doing. I knew I needed to do something about my living situation and fast.

That’s when I remembered that I had been adopted recently. My church has a program that allows families in the church to “adopt” college students so they can get a home-cooked meal, and have a place to stay if they can’t go home for breaks. I emailed my “family” and asked if they knew of anyone that had an extra room to be rented out until May. I received a quick response offering a room in their own house for the year. It felt weird accepting help from people who were essentially strangers, but I wasn’t in a position to say no, and a 30 minute commute is better than an hour commute, so I said yes. I’ve been living here ever since. I won’t say it wasn’t awkward, really awkward, at first, but God has put me in a good home and I’m so grateful that He has provided a place for me to live during my senior year. I hope I can do the same for someone else one day.

What my adopted family did by taking me in reminds me of this passage in Matthew 25.35-40 (NIV)

‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

I was a stranger and they invited me in, and that’s pretty awesome.

Beck

How to Talk to Guys 101

Oh my goodness, I don’t know where to start with this blog post. I was debating with myself about whether or not I should mention my latest adventure…it may be too soon to call it. (You can decide for yourself after reading.)

I sort of met someone.

There is a sentence I didn’t think I would be writing this year let alone this week. I say “sort of” because nothing has come of it yet, but numbers have been exchanged. Omg, I have no idea what I’m doing. I have no reference book for interacting with guys. Just thinking about it makes me nervous. But I’m getting ahead of myself now.

This weekend my best friend from high school came to visit me at school. There was a party at The Bar near campus and we decided to go. After sharing a bottle of wine in my car (parked of course), we decided to go ahead in, even though it was pretty early. On the way in, a guy I met last time I was at The Bar tapped me on the shoulder and said, “I knew you’d come back.” I honestly can’t remember what I said in reply. I think I smiled. Last month when I was leaving The Bar, he introduced himself to me and kept saying, “I really hope I see you again.” By the way, he’s a bouncer at the club.

Later while I was paying for drinks, he came up to me again and starting talking to me. I was trying to be friendly. I promise I wasn’t drunk, but I don’t remember much. I was too nervous. The only question I could think to ask him was “Do you live around here?” which is probably the most generic question that you only hear in movies right before a guy strikes out. I decided to leave the bar before it got too awkward, which I kind of regret now, but my friend was waiting anyway.

After dancing for a few hours, we decided to call it a night. Here’s where I get out of character. He came up to me to say goodbye and came in for an awkward side hug. I can’t believe I did this, but I leaned in and said, “When are you gonna ask me for my number?”
“Right now” he replied and smiled. I can’t believe I said that to him, but really, it’s not like I didn’t know he was interested.

So…I gave out my number for the first time this weekend. I have no idea what I’m doing. I wish there was a class I could take to teach me how to talk to guys. -_-;

Help!
Beck

A Stranger Buys Me Tires

Coming in contact with the power and love of God is overwhelming. Having knowledge of His love is one thing, but seeing it in action is a humbling and transformative experience.

I woke up early this morning to drive my sister to work because her car wasn’t starting. On my way back, my front left tire blew violently on the highway just as my gas light came on. I freaked out, put my hazards on, and quickly merged right to get off the road. I felt the adrenaline so fiercely it made my stomach ache. (Ironically enough, Ingrid Michelson’s “Be Ok” was on the radio as this happened.) The first thing I did was email my professor on my phone to tell her that I probably wouldn’t be in class today. Then I texted my sister and Mom to tell them what happened. I closed my eyes, sat in my car and thought about how much money a new tire would cost and how much I couldn’t afford it. I can’t even afford an old used tire. I was on hold with AAA when I saw a brown wagon-sedan pull up behind me. I felt relieved as I hung up the phone and rolled down my window.

He was an older man with a thin face and kind blue eyes. He asked if I had a spare tire that he could put on my car. I said yes and popped the trunk. While he changed my tire we asked each other’s names and a few other questions. His name was Kevin. I told him I was leaving for school today after visiting my sister over the weekend. He told me he was on his way to visit his mother along with a few others who lived in the area. He was driving beside me when my tire blew and saw me pull off the road. He got off the highway and turned around so that he could see if I needed help. I did need help, but he didn’t stop at just putting on the spare. He told me to get off at the next exit because he knew there was a tire shop nearby. I didn’t have my purse with me (or any money anyway) but he said not to worry about it. I couldn’t believe my ears. I thought I had heard him wrong because the cars passing by were so loud and we had to shout to talk. After finding a Tire Kingdom, he bought me two new tires, told me to have a blessed day and left.

Accepting help from a stranger leaves an uncomfortable feeling of helplessness and gratitude. I felt helpless because there was nothing I could do to get myself out of the situation, and because I knew there wasn’t any way I could ever pay him back for his kindness. I felt grateful that someone did stop and help. He didn’t have to go out of his way to help me at all, let alone buy me tires, but he did. All the while, I felt unworthy of his attention and that I didn’t deserve to be so completely taken care of by a stranger. He treated me as if I were part of his family.  I felt God’s love through this experience. I cannot save myself from sin and can never repay Him for His faithfulness and redeeming love. I am grateful He would notice and take care of me, insignificant in the grand scheme of things as I am. God didn’t have to save us; He wanted to because He wanted to be with us, because He loves us. This kind of love is not something you can walk away from, because it changes everything. This morning was an amazing experience to remind me of that.

Kevin Ford is the senior pastor at Belmont Foursquare Church in Belmont, NC and I look forward to visiting him on an upcoming Sunday. If you live in the Charlotte area, I suggest you visit him too.

Beck