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

Flying the Coop

Homecoming

Throw back to my second year!

It’s crazy how time flies. I’m graduating college in nine days. So many changes have happened in my life in such a short period of time! Four years sounds like a long time as a first year student, but it goes by in the blink of an eye. I want to say I’m going to miss college. It’s “the best four years of your life”, right? But honestly, there isn’t much I’m going to miss about Elon besides having friends nearby. Part of me wishes I had more time to participate in the community, but that’s only because this was the first year I’ve actually been able to do that in a meaningful way. I think I will miss being challenged intellectually. I really enjoyed the discussions I had in some of my classes. Where else do people come together and devote their time to dealing with complicated issues and new ideas?

But I’m tired of talking (and writing essays) about these ideas; I want to act on them. I feel ready to move on to the next stage of my life. I want greater intellectual challenges and opportunities for community. I want to start a career that allows me to be the person I became through this experience and helps me continue to grow.

The other day I was walking past the small downtown streets of Elon. The bricks led me past the pizza place, coffee shop, and student theater. I smelled the honeysuckle in the air. I looked up into the canopy of ancient oaks. I heard the train blow past the school, just like it does every day at 5pm. And I realized that no matter what happened to me here, good and bad, it’s still my home, and I love it. I won’t miss Elon, because I’m taking Elon with me (No, I haven’t stolen a brick yet!). Everywhere I go, I will remember the friends I met, the professors I was honored to work with, and the memories I made that make my heart swell with warmth.

The same itch that had you to get out of the nest as a high school senior is the same itch you get as a college senior. It’s a restlessness that is filled with nervous excitement and the knowledge that something amazing is about to happen. But one of the first things you learn when you get to college is how awesome your mom’s cooking is, how warm your old bed is, and how far away your friends are. I am relearning all this now that I’m leaving home for the second time. But, this phoenix is flying the coop, because there is much more to experience in life, and I am so ready for it.

Beck

White Girl Black Girl, a poem

I learned today that one of my poems was chosen as a winner of the Human Rights and Social Justice Writing Contest at my school. I am incredibly honored to have won. I almost started crying during my midterm when I found out.

I wrote this poem to make people uncomfortable and get people reflecting on who they are on campus. It’s not supposed to make you feel happy, and its purpose is not to offer solutions, but to bring awareness. It was born in a moment of reflection and frustration, and I hope it creates a moment of reflection for you too.

White Girl

Get out of my way Brown girl
I’m walking here
My North Face jacket and cowgirl boots
won’t stand for your presence
See this Longchamp purse?
It cost more than you spent
on textbooks this semester
And I have it in five colors

Get out of my way Black girl
You don’t belong here
With your Payless shoes
And your sub-par brands
I make sure you know
You can’t match my style
When I stare you down
at the coffee shop

Yeah, keep hiding in your MCC
That’s where we like you
Out of sight, out of mind
Not seen or heard
Not On Our Campus
We own these bricks
And all these societies we join
Ensure we’ll never mix

You wish you were me, you all do
With my straight blonde hair
And my classic blue eyes
My polished ivory skin
and my Vineyard Vines
Don’t even try to compete
You’ll just fail again
like you always do

Get down Black girl
When will you learn?
Your knappy hair and
Your face like mud
Will never outshine me
Why don’t you just give up?
Crawl back to whatever ghetto
you managed to escape from

Don’t worry, I’m not racist
I have that one Brown friend
We haven’t spoken in weeks
But she’s convenient to me
Don’t worry, I’m not ignorant
I’m fully aware of the distance,
Of the disparities between us
And that’s just the way I like it

This campus won’t ever change
Always separated, never equal
Always silenced, never celebrated
There’s no hope rising from these ashes

Every slur that goes unnoticed
Every crime that goes unchallenged
Fuels my fire, My desire
to stay beyond your reach
And leave you in the dust
Cause we both know
you don’t bELONg here

Photo courtesy of Heather Cassano, The Pendulum.

Photo courtesy of Heather Cassano, The Pendulum.

Black Girl

Go ahead, White girl
Walk past me with disdain
Stomping down the bricks
In your brown leather boots
Your nose stuck in the sky
I’m impressed with the number
Of designer purses you have
Tell me, how many will you
Be taking with you when you die?

I don’t have to explain my style to you
I don’t have to defend my face and hair
Against your judgment and your stare
I can express myself with or without
Whatever brands I choose
You can keep your expensive-
Eco-friendly-keeping-up-with-the-Jones-’
mine-is-shinier-than-yours-Porsche
I’ll stick with my simple-broken-in
Gets-me-where-I-need-to-go-sedan

Tell me, did your daddy buy you
A new MacBook Pro
After you told him yours was stolen?
Do you understand what it means to work?
To be in need? To go without?
Your moneyed perception is so blind
To the realities of this world
Your excess is sickening
But your ignorance is just sad

Truth is, I’m a threat to your
Imaginary superiority complex
Because even though I come from the ghetto
And you come from old money
We ended up in the same class
At the same college
And your perfect White world
Is disturbed by my presence

Truth is, you ignore me
Because you can’t come to grips
With the crimes of your ancestors
You come from a history of injustice
I come from a history of resilience
I would never want to be you
You hate me because you hate yourself
You hate me because I remind you
Of your guilt; it’s okay White girl,
Some things you can’t help being born into

Don’t worry, rich girl
One day you’ll learn
That you can’t keep us down
That we’ll never give up
That difference doesn’t mean deficiency
That the world is only turning
A more beautiful shade of brown
With every passing generation

This campus may never change
Always separated, never equal
Always silenced, never celebrated
I’m covered in ashes
Still I rise, filled with hope

Every slur that goes unnoticed
Every crime that goes unchallenged
Fuels my fire, My desire
To remain, to be heard
To change the status quo
Even though, we both know
Minorities don’t bELONg here
Minorities are just allowed here

Beck

News Items and Leftovers

I was approached by the Director of Community Organizing for the National Coalition for the Homeless about my article in the newspaper. He invited me to speak at a panel called the Faces of Homelessness in November at my school. Anytime you get approached by an organization that calls themselves a “coalition”, you say yes; that shit is cool. I guess I’m a cover girl for homeless people now. Homelessness never looked so hot; or as my sister would say, “You’re like the Kardashian of Elon.” Except that I’m getting noticed for not having a place to put my clothes, not for taking my clothes off. Hahaha

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A friend and classmate asked me if she could post my story on the blog, Elon Awareness. I said yes, of course, and I was grateful for the invitation. It’s a really great blog, you should read some of the posts; they speak so much truth.

I’m applying for jobs, which I guess is not really news considering I’m a senior. I thought I would mention it since it’s taking up so much of my time. I’m really glad I don’t have a full schedule this semester; otherwise I would struggle to find time to do it. I’m looking for positions in nonprofits, higher education, and secondary teaching. I’m also researching graduate schools, but I won’t be ready to apply until early fall. There’s a residence life fellowship that I’m really interested in as well. Not that I don’t want to get away from my college, but it’s a really great opportunity to explore higher education as a career. I’m completely torn between secondary and higher education! My dream job would be at Project LIFT Charlotte. It’s an amazing nonprofit organization that deals with education and I really want to be involved in some way next year. They are doing some great things in my hometown.

This brings me to another preoccupation I’ve had this week: I miss teaching. I really miss teaching and talking about education. I’ve been helping my sister with her TEACH Charlotte application and interview and have realized just how much knowledge I have about pedagogy and classroom management. But it’s all going to waste. I’m not using any of it and it makes me sad. When I think about how I could be student teaching instead of taking classes, it makes me angry about everything that happened last semester. I took all the classes and, even though I did not pass one or two, I learned the content, but I’m not getting credit for any of it. When potential employers look at my application, all they will see is a low GPA and that I was kicked out of my program. I’m afraid no one will give me a chance. I can’t even ask my education professors for letters of recommendation because I failed. Who wants to recommend a student who failed their class? I feel that if ever my name is mentioned between professors, they shake their heads and say, “What a waste of potential.” I hate that, because it’s not true. I guess I shouldn’t care what they think, but I don’t like the idea that I disappointed them. Okay, so I’m still working through leftover feelings from last semester, but there’s no set mourning period for broken dreams, I’m still within my rights.

Let’s end on a high note, shall we? A few weeks ago, my boss over at Duke asked if I was available to go to China in August to be a Teacher Assistant for a Leadership class for high school students. I said I was available and very interested. I don’t speak Mandarin, so I’m not a prime candidate, but I do hope I can go despite that. I would love to learn more about Chinese culture, and it would be great to have the opportunity to see some of my former residents that live there. Cross your fingers!

Beck

Editing Me Out

I wrote an article for my college newspaper recently about my experience last semester. When I read it today I was a bit shocked with how much they changed. It felt weird, like I was reading someone else’s article. It just didn’t sound like me. I feel like I’ve been edited out of my own article. I want to be angry but I know this is just how media works; that doesn’t make it okay though. Along with the cuts and edits changing the message of the article (my ending was stronger), they changed the tone and voice as well. Ew. Haha Below is my original article with the major cuts in italics.

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Being homeless is not something you usually want to admit, especially at Elon, but it is an issue that needs more attention and awareness on campus. For most people, it is not even on their radar. It seems strange to think of Elon students sleeping in cars, but the truth is, it happens, and it’s a more widespread problem than you might think. Homelessness doesn’t happen all at once; it’s a process. For me, the process started late last August when I received an email from the Bursars office that basically told me I needed to write a huge check if I wanted to come back in the Fall. I’ve received this email every year, but while our cost of attendance continued to rise every year, my financial aid package slowly shrunk, and now that I was starting my senior year, I was out of money and out of options. After being tossed between the Office of Financial Planning and the Bursar’s Office for days, it was decided that in order to stay at Elon, I would need to find a place to live off-campus, which for me meant finding a job. Taking seven classes and working a part-time job is not easy, so I was sort of relieved when I lost that job due to my limited availability. I was not so relieved when I realized this meant I had to move out of my house. With nowhere else to go, I found myself, at the end of October, moving back home to Raleigh, NC.

I knew trying to finish the semester would be difficult with a two hour commute every day, but I didn’t have any choice. I woke up early to make it to Elon for my 8:00AM class, and drove back to Raleigh late at night. To save gas, I slept on friend’s couches or in the library. My closet, bookshelf, and cupboard was the back seat of my car. I didn’t have a meal plan, so I became really good at improvising meals. I attended free events with food, found faculty lounges with coffee makers, and made friends with dining hall workers who occasionally gave me leftovers. I made being homeless a science. I planned out my days and worked out the details, so that I could stay in school. It wasn’t until Thanksgiving Break that I finally found a place to stay. My church has a program that allows families to “adopt” college students so they can have home cooked meals and a place to stay during holidays; I was in need of both. When they learned of my situation, my adopted family invited me to rent out their spare room for the rest of the year, an invitation I accepted gratefully.

Along with the physical and psychological effects of this homelessness, my academic performance also suffered. It should come as no surprise that students cannot do well when their basic needs are not met. I was treading water for weeks and I felt like I was drowning. For me, being homeless affected me so much as to change the course of my college career. That’s why this issue is so important. It’s not just a place to stay; it’s giving students the foundation they need to reach their potential while in college. I know I have not been the only homeless student at Elon. I wasn’t homeless for long, only about four weeks, but what long weeks those were. I can only imagine how much more difficult that semester would have been had I been homeless the entire semester and not able to commute to Raleigh at least partially. My question is: Where are the resources on campus for those students that struggle to find affordable housing? Where could I have gone for guidance and support when I saw this coming? I believe if you admit a student with financial need, which Elon wants to do more of in the future, you should see them through, and make sure they receive enough financial and academic support to graduate.

Elon prides itself on being a residential campus. We’ve spent millions of dollars creating one. But if we have the facilities and not the resources to provide access to those facilities, that’s not something to be proud of. We are missing something from our Elon Commitment. This is not me waving my finger at University officials and administrators for letting this happen. This is a wake-up call. There are students at Elon who are homeless and need the support of their institution in order to finish their education. This is me saying, please, pay attention to your students; genuinely care about where they sleep at night, because if they are here, but are not set up for success, you do them a disservice, not a favor.

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Read the published article online. There’s also an audio interview if you want to hear how weird my voice sounds when recorded. Readers, I want to know what your reaction to and thoughts on this subject are! Comment below!

Beck