In other news, I'm going to be starting another blog. Since this one is career oriented (and will stay that way with all the Brazen Careerist stuff), I will be starting up one that will be exclusively chronicling my adventures and discoveries in my new home of San Francisco! All will be in preparation for a book I plan to write about the whole ordeal.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I know I haven't posted in a few days... sorry. Things are wacky: drove my car down to Atlanta, had another VC interview today, and I'm moving on Saturday. In between there's packing, parties, and general insanity. Something constructive should come through either on Friday or over the weekend.
Friday, May 23, 2008
VC today went great. So great that I heard back from my recruiter by the end of the day, and she scheduled the next round with me (instead of her assistant). Tomorrow I meet my rather frighteningly important potential director. We'll see how it goes... in the words of my recruiter, "this is promising!"
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Well, I finally did it. I took charge of my life yesterday by booking the flights necessary for my move. My car is getting sold this weekend (along with a much-needed visit to the family in the south), and Elvis and I have a one-way ticket to San Francisco next Saturday.
In this tumultuous year-and-a-half of major life decisions, I have learned an incredible amount about my personal decision-making style. In my recovery from my knee injury, I spent a lot of time weighing the pros and cons of returning to dance. It seemed as though each weighed differently with each day, and it seemed as though I would never figure it out. All it took was one deciding factor (injuring the knee a second time) for me to make a split-second decision, and I've never looked back.
This move has been a stressful one to plan. On one hand, I wanted to fly out to San Francisco six months ago when Nick started his rotation there. I didn't because, quite frankly, I'm not the kind of girl to fly across the country for a boy (there's nothing wrong with doing this, it's just not my style). Finding a job has been an incredibly difficult process at a distance of 2,000+ miles, but it's an incredibly scary thing to move away from your hometown to an even more expensive one without any sort of income. In the back of my head I knew it would all work out because I am incredibly lucky to have the safety nets that I do.
Nick had a pretty unfortunate encounter with a pretty miserable 'talent acquisition' person at work, telling him that he had to settle for something he had no interest in just to have a job. This was a huge wake-up call to us: watch out for yourselves! Suddenly he knew that he had to take matters into his own hands with regards to the job search, and it showed me that I couldn't depend upon the company that has been there for us for two years to help with moving our lives out to California. Suddenly, my decision was an easy one, and I'm moving in less than two weeks.
What have I learned? I will weigh all possible options and outcomes extensively, but will have no problem making a swift and drastic move as soon as a frontrunner establishes itself. To the outsider it seems a little crazy: first I can't make a decision to save my life, and then it seems like I make a completely impulsive move. I think I do this because I spent my whole life trying to plan and worry for my parents who are the most impulsive people I have ever met!
To everyone who said it would all work out: thank you. But don't you dare say 'I told you so'!
Another VC interview is in the cards... for tomorrow. This second team is supposed to be a better fit for me, like I discussed earlier. It's refreshing to work with an HR department that is so invested in the person instead of filling the opening. Granted, this has to do with the sheer size and wealth of this specific company, but kudos to them. From what I've seen in my friends' (especially Nick's) cases, a vast majority of the large companies out there have unwieldy, unorganized, and generally unthoughtful HR departments (and isn't that an oxymoron?).
What makes BPTW's long process worth it is that at the heart of their recruitment process is a pure goal: get the best people possible in the spots where they will be happiest. This seems to be an incredibly smart time investment to me because, for the most part, a company's most important aspect is going to be its people. Whether the cornerstone of their profits is in new products, better products, consistent products, customer service, et cetera, it is their employees who are going to make this happen.
It always blows me away when recruiters are distant, or nasty, or just plain clueless. In a roundabout way, the hiring process can be seen as the most important mechanism in a company's success. They should have the best interests of both the company and the job hunter in mind, striving toward finding a good balance for the two. In my searches, and in Nick's, we have not experienced this. From our experiences (I realize they are limited) the average recruiter seems more interested in the bottom line: filling X position with whoever fills Y qualifications for the least amount of money. As the hiring world is going to have to go more service-based in order to attract the best and brightest, it will be the idealist hiring mechanisms coming out on top.
My recruiter called me yesterday to tell me a story, about a girl who was interviewing for a role similar to the one I am looking to fill. They found her FOUR teams to interview with before everyone felt as though the best match had been made. Moral of the story, according to my recruiter: the important part is not only finding a job, but finding one where you will be happy and extremely successful. And BPTW will not make a hire until this happens.
It might be that I now have a rather large crush on my potential future employer...
Friday, May 16, 2008
I hope some higher power blesses Ryan Paugh for writing this article today. Anxiety is a huge issue in my life, and probably the largest contributing factor to my current state (which happens to be laying in bed until I make myself go to the gym, and then crawling back in until the next day). It takes huge guts for a seemingly confident Type-A to admit to any sort of instability, so I tip my hat to Ryan... and it also gives me a great template from which to explain my situation. I've got anxiety about my anxiety.
Ryan's first tip: "Don't put yourself in a box"
- My apartment gives me heart attack-caliber panic attacks. In typical vintage Chicago fashion, it is a dark little box made up of smaller boxes, it is dingy, and not all of the doors work. During the winter I felt like I could never get out of here.
- High school and college put me in a box. I hated being labeled: 'goth girl', 'ballerina', 'brainiac'. These taxonomical boxes made me feel like less of a person and made me highly anxious to get out of school. End result: I sped through both in little over 3 years, and didn't enjoy a single minute.
- Even when I was able to dance professionally, I hated the constraints it put upon you as a person. Everything you ate and did related to dance, and it was not a happy life. It was a miserable, constraining life that made me so anxious I stopped eating, which is why my quadriceps gave way on the day that I blew out my knee.
- Structure keeps a person with anxiety from feeling too pressured to occupy themselves constantly, which is an exhausting task. While unemployed in Chicago, with my boyfriend and family on opposite coasts, I try very hard to impose structure upon myself: 3 yoga classes, 2 dance classes, 5 gym visits, 3 social activities. This regimen is great in theory, but gets blown out of the water when I have panic attacks about the things themselves...
Tip three: "Give yourself things to look forward to"
- This one I can't completely agree with. I certainly want to. But personally, I find my anxiety to be so debilitating that it almost puts me in a state of anedonia: nothing makes me happy, nothing upsets me more than life in general, and because of these things nothing can possibly make me excited. Why am I still in Chicago? Because the beautiful prospect of moving to San Francisco is being clouded by my anxiety around being broke, getting fat, and not being able to find a job.
- In theory, having something to look forward to might work well for some with anxiety and/or depression. But when I do have something on the agenda, I find myself getting anxious about the hours that must be passed before I can go do whatever it is I am going to do.
- This one really hits the nail on the head. There's nothing like heart palpitations, pounding in your head, sweating, hyperventilating, and passing out (in my case) to make you feel totally insane and completely alone. The only way to fully get out of one and to try to break the cycle is to have someone who knows what's going on... and like Ryan says, almost no one does.
- I've had Nick there for me for several years now, but it took some time for him to understand exactly what was making me behave so erratically and irrationally. He's an incredibly stable person who only deals with a bit of depression here and there, so it's been a learning process.
- I found, in my friend Tony, someone who experiences what I do. We have promised to call each other when we feel one coming on, or in the aftermath when we need help putting the pieces back together. Finding someone like this is like finding a gold mine (or an oil well, these days) because there is NOTHING more comforting than feeling like you're maybe not so crazy.
Thanks a lot, Ryan.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Well, I just got off of the phone with my recruiter at best place to work. Apparently I got rave reviews from the team I VC'ed with for the last two weeks, but they are still looking at other candidates. She was worried that they would take too long, so she went ahead and submitted me for a post a little bit out of my league (someone with my amount of experience would normally support Directors, but this is for supporting two VP's). Apparently I will be able to use my creativity, and my art and PR backgrounds a little bit in this post... not to mention having VP's at this company as my mentors will serve me incredibly well when it comes time for promotions. So, more video conferencing is in my future!
I've always worked in very small offices, and the only times I worked somewhere with more than 20 employees were in retail/warehouse settings. The beauty of this large corporation is that they apparently have decided they want to find a place for me, and there are enough spots that we all can keep trying until a perfect fit is found. I've always been against working somewhere with 10,000+ (15,000+?) employees, but since it's 'best place to work' somehow it seems okay.
My 'in' at the company warned me about a ridiculously long recruitment period. As of now it's pushing four months. Thank goodness for the serenity that my sun salutations grant me!
p.s. I have a sneaking suspicion you've all figured out what 'best place to work' actually is...
Friday, May 9, 2008
First of all, I had final round interviews for the 'best place to work' position, where I was able to meet with and talk to the Directors I'll potentially be supporting. The first was wonderful and basically told me that his vote was for me to get the job. The second woman, whom I've decided is the most tired woman in America, was much more difficult to read. Her questioning style was a bit more confrontational and seemingly skeptical of my abilities, and she asked this dance and philosophy major for technical user input on a couple of the products that she helped develop. Yikes! In the end she told me that her only worry was hiring someone whom she has never met in person. I'm going to see if I get a call today (things seem to happen with them on Fridays), and if nothing comes through I'm going to offer to fly myself out to have lunch with the team. That's why I've been saving those free Southwest flights, right?
The big news for the week: I made my triumphant return to dance class. Okay, maybe not so triumphant. It was a jazz class with my favorite-ever teacher... the exact class where I first blew my knee. I was confident going in, and thanks to my faithful yoga practice I actually held my own and felt like I haven't lost too much ability. It felt great, it probably looked okay, and I was able to keep myself fairly low-profile since it was a small class full of people I don't know. Perhaps the biggest triumph of the entire ordeal was that I could walk the next morning!
The euphoria was short-lived and probably almost entirely founded upon adrenaline. Yesterday I went back to class, running into several girls I danced with at school, as well as two girls from the company I danced with. Furthermore, the 'cliquey' nature of dance ensured that those who had seen me in class on Tuesday had done a lot of talking and investigating on their parts, so everyone knew my situation. With the cat out of the bag, I went back to feeling fat, slow, unflexible, and a quitter. All adrenaline gone, I was able to realize during this second class back that my knee probably has a fairly major arthritis problem, and I've been in pain ever since.
Do I chalk this up to a failure? Certainly not. I got over a major fear that has been haunting me; since the initial injury in February 2007, I've been through physical therapy, surgery, more therapy, a return to dance, and a re-injury in August. Since August I've been living in denial about my need to return to class, and I've finally gotten over it! I feel rather elated, and I'm also glad that this is going to give me a sense of routine to my weeks. Two dance classes, three yoga classes, and two big workouts at the gym give me something to write in my planner for every day.
And now, back to the waiting game...
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Today was my big, bad VC interview with 'best place to work'. I've heard absolute horror stories about the face-to-face interviews, but it was such a treat. I was in the Chicago office for 90 minutes, and spoke with three different administrators in different areas of the company.
The first interviewer was actually the woman whom I would be replacing. She seemed happy, but tired (everyone in the Chicago office, in both of my visits, also seems happy and tired). The position sounds as though its pretty much straight-up calendar scheduling, but the woman I would be supporting encourages taking on outside projects. There would also be a lot of opportunity for some very interesting event planning. I can also work with the engineers if I have an idea for another way/place to use the platform the team develops.
My second interview was with a gentleman who was an absolute hoot... disheveled but so friendly and energetic. He went to school in Chicago, so we had a great time catching up on restaurants, neighborhoods, and weather. After finishing school at U of Chicago, he worked as an admin/account coordinator for a very small marketing firm; what was perhaps most encouraging about speaking to him was that we had so much in common. He asked a couple of tough questions, and I shot back with tough ones of my own. Apparently, I can go in a number of different directions after this position, and he said that it would not be unheard of for an administrative associate to jump onto the events team or into project management. They have a policy which would allow me to spend up to a full day each week sitting in on projects in other teams that interest me, such as events, project management, or even the .org entity.
Number three was 'Mamma Admin'... she supports a very important VP. She was one of those 'balls to the wall' types, and her interviewing style certainly followed suit. Thankfully I've been reading all of my interview books and was ready for her. I was feeling a bit uneasy just because we didn't 'click' as well as I did with the first two, but I sealed the deal at the end. She asked me how dance will play a role in my work life, and I came up with an answer that even surprised me, because I had never thought about how dance can help. As it turns out, dance gave me a skill set incredibly suited to this position at this company, as it forced me to make creativity, analytical thinking, attention to detail, and outstanding memory/recall simultaneous habits. Piano has also done this for me. She was impressed with the answer and it was a perfect way to end the day.
Hopefully they all felt that it went as well as I'm convinced it did. Next step will likely be onsite interviews in California, and the position is to be filled by June 1. May could be quite an exciting month!
My recruiter at 'best place to work' just called. Apparently everyone loved me yesterday, and its off to another VC next week with two more on the team. Supposedly they might be able to hire me after that one, unless someone wants to meet me in person. Hooray!