On rejection.

I’ve recently come to the conclusion that job hunting and dating (man hunting, if you will) basically follow the same painstaking process—especially because both are mostly done online these days:

  • You search; spending hours scrolling and scouring different sites for a description that ticks all your boxes.
  • You apply; reaching out with a message and hope that the online version of you presented via resumé or profile is enough to incite mutual interest.
  • You wait; if you’re lucky, you won’t be left hanging too long before arranging an opportunity to meet in person.

(Of course, in dating, you could always go the more traditional route of meeting an actual person, realizing you’re attracted to them, coming up with what you think is a cute way to ask them out, and STILL watch it blow up in your face. Gee, I wonder what that’s like …)

In preparation, you spend an excessive amount of time analyzing your closet:

You want to look nice, but not like you’re trying too hard. Should you go with flats or heels? Flats are more comfortable, but heels are more professional (and also boost us short girls up to an easier kissing height). Hair up or down? Do these earrings match this top? Subtle make-up, a spritz of light perfume, aaaaand is any of this agonizing over physical appearance even going to matter in a couple of hours? Are they really going to remember what you wore? Shouldn’t the conversation be more important than this superficial nonsense?

But first impressions are everything. And a first interview, or first date, sets the tone for the relationship, working or otherwise, that may or may not come next. So you sit there scrutinizing each other, trying to suss out what you might have in common. “Tell me about yourself” has never triggered so much anxiety. It’s a game of 20 Questions and each side should be equally inquisitive; if not, there’s already an obvious disconnect.

By the end, you either feel that it went really well or maybe you’re still unsure, but you cross your fingers anyway and hope to hear from them again. If a week goes by and it’s still crickets, how soon is too soon to follow up? Should you wait for them to say something first? What if they don’t? What if they’re waiting for you? It’s an excruciating guessing game and make no mistake, it is a GAME that needs to be played very carefully or you risk the one outcome that job hunting and dating definitely have in common.

Good ol’ fashioned rejection. Continue reading “On rejection.”

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On lowering your expectations.

NOTE: Gentlemen, never date a writer if you’d rather not end up as a character in a poem/short story/screenplay/script/novel or fodder for a cheekily-worded blog post.
You’ve been warned.

Is “cynical optimist” an oxymoron? So be it—that’s me. I’ve always had a tendency to look at life situations with a shrewd eye. I’m passionate, but calculated. Strong, yet sensitive. Pragmatic. Determined. And if it sounds like I’m filling out a dating profile … well, we’ll get to that later.

I’m a person you want in your corner when life gets tough or you don’t know which path to take, because I’ve struggled with carving my own path so many times over that friends often come to me when they need an “expert” opinion. As willing as I am to help people whenever asked (and sometimes when not), it definitely puts a bit of pressure on me. I’m no expert. I had no example to follow when I set out to become a journalist in 2010. I had to rough it and man, did I.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the relatively short time I’ve been building my career, it’s not just the fortune cookie sayings of “expect the unexpected” or “everything happens for a reason,” though those old stand-bys are certainly true in some cases. Nope, I would say that you have to prepare yourself for some cold, hard disappointment. And that’s the optimist in me talking. You have to, you guessed it:

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Continue reading “On lowering your expectations.”

On giving thanks.

Well, I’m thankful to be so busy these days that I seem to have lost the time to blog. And when I say ‘busy,’ I mean, three hours deep into binge-watching Gilmore Girls on any given night. I’ve loved the show for years and was thrilled to spend my Thanksgiving break on the couch completely devouring the six-hour revival with my sister. By the end, I reacted the way many fans did, but the one thing that stuck out to me was just how much Rory irritated me more than usual.

Rory Gilmore is the definition of entitled millennial. (Growing up with the financial ease of having rich grandparents able to write a check for an entire college career at Yale at the drop of a hat didn’t exactly help.) And while I always suspected as much, “A Year in the Life” finally vindicated my opinion that she also happens to be a crap journalist—read this, this, and this if you disagree.

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Trying to break into journalism? Don’t follow Rory’s example. A college education, even an Ivy League education, apparently only gets you so far—then you have to actually start working for the career you want, imagine that. No assignment should be beneath you. No publication or digital start-up is too insignificant to put on your resumé. Be grateful that someone wants to pay you to write and that there’s an audience out there willingly reading your words. Be hungry, nay, ravenous for every story thrown your way. No matter how dull a topic, there’s an interesting angle to be found. (Quite frankly, I thought the people-standing-in-lines pitch was sort of fun.) Thoroughly research the companies you want to work for and come prepared to interviews with a wealth of ideas. Oh, and uh, don’t doze off while talking to a source. One-night stands with them? Also frowned upon. Continue reading “On giving thanks.”

On “leaving” journalism.

captureThis past Thursday, my new team members and I all went out for lunch. (Sushi buffet. If you know me, you know I was pretty stoked about that. And it was delicious.) I’d already met each of them in my initial orientation, but this was an opportunity to get to know them better now that we’ll be working more closely together.

On our drive back to the office, my new manager asked me a bit about my background, what jobs I’d had before this, etc. I started to explain my history of jumping from magazine internship to online reporting to editing newspapers. Then she asked:

“So did you purposely leave journalism?”

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And that struck a deep, deep chord, man. I fumbled with my answer a bit, saying I wanted to do something with my career that was a little more reliable and paid better, while still allowing me to write and also bring me into a cause I’m passionate about (helping the cute and fuzzies of the world). It’s the explanation I typically give people who ask why I made this particular career move. It may even be the explanation I gave in the job interview. And yes, it’s the explanation I tell myself when I wonder and hope that I made the right move. (I have very limited experience with marketing, after all.) But did I purposely leave journalism … that question stuck with me throughout the rest of the day. And I’m clearly still thinking about it, so I came here to hash it out.

Have I left journalism? Continue reading “On “leaving” journalism.”

On asking for help.

My dad (with a plethora of tools) was here for the past couple days, beautifying my apartment. I came home from work Friday afternoon to find my bedroom decked out in the exact same shade of rich teal that it had been at home. It went from feeling like a hotel room to my room almost instantaneously. We hung my curtains, some shelves, some posters and knick-knacks, and now I smile every time I walk in. (The living room is another story—no frills, no furniture, just my TV and a love seat I bought on clearance. That’ll be a work in progress for a looong time, but if you can’t relax in your own bed, that’s a bigger issue.)

Rapunzel-PaintingA friend of mine scoffed when I said my dad was painting my place. (Whatever, Jen!) And I get it—you get the big girl apartment, you should do the big girl home improvement by yourself—but I think it’s fair to know your own limitations and me plus a ladder plus nine-foot ceilings and the potential to make an obscene mess would just be the worst combination ever. Plus, I suspect my dad has been secretly waiting for me to get my own place just so he could come be Mr. Handyman. 😉 Right, Dad?

Asking for help is hard. I certainly struggle with it. Sometimes it’s a matter of pride, other times it’s about hating feeling like a charity case. When I need—and receive—financial help, it usually drives me to tears because it’s an uncomfortable mix of overwhelming gratitude and bitter resentment that I had to ask in the first place. I imagine feeling this way isn’t all that uncommon. I think people who struggle with it, like me, are the same type of people who struggle with feeling a sense of failure. If you have to ask for help, it means you couldn’t do it yourself. There’s no worse feeling to those of us who are fiercely independent. And as someone so attuned to that feeling, it’s sometimes really hard to follow my own advice, but I’m about to give it anyway—in this industry and this economy, you just have to get over that shit. Continue reading “On asking for help.”