Sometimes Life Works Out!… It Just Takes a Little Work First

Originally published on May 16, 2012 on Beyond the Elms: Scripps College Career Planning & Resources Blog. 

So, I have some good news and some bad news. I’ve always preferred to get bad news out of the way first (that way you have something to look forward too!), so here goes: I didn’t get an on campus position I applied for to do next year.

But, before I let myself throw a pity-party; I can’t exactly complain about the reason: I’ve been asked to be a Writing Mentor for a new experimental writing program for a semester next year. I’ll still be receiving the Peer Tutor training, but Professor Simshaw wanted to give as many Scrippsies as possible the chance to get involved in the Writing Center. Part of that process unfortunately includes not giving me two jobs with it.

See, aren’t you glad we’ve gotten the not-so-bad news out of the way? And if you thought the Writing Mentor position was the good news, just wait to hear my next item of information:

I got a summer internship!

I will officially be working as the PR/Marketing & Communications Intern for Miss Representation in San Francisco. I’ll be writing for their blog, helping with press releases, forming press relationships, forming a virtual book of press mentions, and more. It’s a great opportunity for me to explore a different application of my English major skills (other than journalism), and it fits in perfectly with my interests in Gender & Women’s Studies! In fact, I’ll actually be receiving credit in the GWS department for the internship.

But wait, the good news isn’t over: If you’ve read my previous posts, you may remember my dilemma deciding whether to choose a summer internship or a family vacation to Greece in August. Well, now I don’t have to choose! Conveniently, my boss will be leaving on maternity leave at the beginning of August, so my work there will be completed in time for a little well-deserved relaxation.

So now you’ve heard the good and the bad… now it’s time for the uncertain. I’m still waiting to hear back from another on-campus position that I applied for.

So far, my work has led to things working out quite well in my job search, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that that trend will continue. I guess the best part of this entire process has been reaffirming that no matter how futile your work can seem, it does matter. My internship may be unpaid, but my work will still pay off for years to come!

Keep Calm and Watch Sherlock

Originally published on May 1, 2012 on Beyond the Elms: Scripps College Career Planning & Resources Blog. 

I never have a good feeling about a week when my planner’s lines are too thick to squeeze in all my obligations, even when I use 0.5 mm lead in my mechanical pencil instead of 0.7.

This week was one of those weeks. Actually, now that I mention it, last week was one of those weeks. And I’m pretty darn certain that every week until blissful summer arrives is going to be one of those weeks.

While professors are demanding essays now, suggesting you think about your next essay due in a week, oh yeah, and don’t forget to start studying for the final – it can be hard on your nerves. My time management wasn’t helped by the fact that my friend introduced me to Sherlock just as my extra time was dissipating.

I found the motivation within me to postpone Sherlock until my commitments have been met, but it seems like every time I turn around a new commitment sneaks up behind me.

“Boo!” the commitment cackles. “I know you were planning on spending Friday afternoon with your boyfriend, but come in for a job interview instead!”

And, as my nerves knot up just a little bit tighter, I smile and reply, “Sure!”

Why? Because I genuinely want to be doing all that I’m doing. I’m not in a class I don’t like, and I want every job I’m applying for. But my refusal to say no to opportunities can sometimes lead to my planner getting so jumbled up that I can’t keep up with them all.

Case in point: I am in the middle of a six-day period in which I have three job interviews. Wednesday morning, I have a phone interview for a summer internship. (I’d hoped I would have summer plans nailed down by now!) Last Friday, I interviewed for a tutoring job on campus for next school year. And this Thursday, I’m interviewing for another on-campus position.

Even at this moment my nerves are screaming at me to spend more time preparing for my interviews instead of writing this. “You’ve never had a phone interview before!” they’re warning me. “You won’t have any visuals to distract from the number of times you say ‘uh’ in a sentence!”

But, because my nerves have screamed some variation of this at me before every job interview I’ve ever had, I know I’ll be okay. And I know that sometimes all my nerves need is a little distraction.

So, mimicking the professional and collected tone I’ll use on the phone tomorrow, I confidently reply to my nerves, “Keep calm and watch a Sherlock.”

And that is exactly what I plan to do.

Student Employee Appreciation Week

Originally published on April 10, 2012 on Beyond the Elms: Scripps College Career Planning & Resources Blog. 

In honor of Student Employee Appreciation week at Scripps, I’m going to take a moment to reflect on the work I’ve done as a student over the past year. Neither of my jobs are the traditional type found on campus. I don’t have set hours; I work on my own time. It follows that I’m not paid hourly, I’m paid by article, or simply paid in the gratification of getting published and hoping my words will reach someone else. I’m making a mark on campus, even if my work doesn’t always make a significant mark in my bank account.

This past year I’ve worked as a Staff Writer for The Student Life newspaper, mainly for Life & Style but I’ve also been working for Special Features this semester. As is implied by the name of the paper, my bosses are my peers: my editor is also my partner on Scripps A-Team.

I’ve had previous experience working on publications, in situations with real bosses, in similar peer-led newspapers, and in taking the role of leadership myself. Yet my experience at The Student Life has been community based in an authentic way, with no advisor looming over our shoulder. Late nights (the few I’ve gone to as a writer) are filled with jokes and innuendo and snacks, with a break to watch the Wednesday night Pomona snack A Capella concert.

At The Student Life, no one puts on airs of superiority. My opinion is valued and my suggestions are listened to. I have learned to express myself better, not just in my writing, but also with my coworkers. I’ve learned that even by bosses are still my co-workers, because we are all working towards the same goal. I’ve become more confident and this confidence has already helped me in interviews for jobs for next summer and next year.

Blogging for CP&R has also improved my self-motivation. As a volunteer position with little interaction with my superiors, my writing is something that I make myself do each week. And, excepting one particularly essay-filled week, I’ve succeeded.

I’m not a traditional Student Employee, but I still appreciate the opportunities I’ve had through my work here on campus, and I can’t wait to see what opportunities next year brings!

Appreciating Women’s Colleges (Women’s History Month)

Originally published on April 2, 2012 on Beyond the Elms: Scripps College Career Planning & Resources Blog. 

March has come to an end, and before it is a distant memory I want to acknowledge Women’s History Month. Personally, seeing as women have existed all of history, I don’t know why we aren’t a more significant part of history all the other eleven months as well, but that’s a rant for a different blog.

At the beginning of March, I happened upon an article entitled “Women’s History Month: The Power of All-Girls Schools” by Tereza Nemessanyi on the Huffington Post. In addition to simply reminding me I go to an all-girls school (it can be surprisingly easy to forget with guys in the classes and once you get used to Diva Cups being sold at the Motley), it reminded me of many of the reasons I chose Scripps. And, on a related note, it reminded me of many of the reasons why employers would be lucky to hire any Scripps graduate.

The article lists influential women who went to women’s schools (high school or college) such as Hillary Clinton, Gloria Steinem, Meryl Streep, Martha Stewart, Katharine Hepburn, Julia Child, and Lady Gaga.

If that list alone isn’t enough to feel some female pride, read the article. Take a deep breath and appreciate the unique skills that Scripps instills in its students, skills that these strong women have used to their advantage, skills that we will be able to use to ours for the rest of our careers – skills that are applicable whether we’re the next Secretary of State or the next pop star sensation.

Just another reason I’m glad I chose Scripps. I think this one might even rank above the fresh baked cookies.

Playing in the Sandbox

Originally Published on March 27, 2012 on Beyond the Elms: Scripps College Career Planning & Resources Blog.

Recently, my high school celebrated its annual Writer’s Week, and I was more than a little jealous I couldn’t be there. As an aspiring writer, I savor the opportunities I had to engage in conversations with inspirations such as Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas and novelist Gail Tsukiyama. And except for one strange experience with an author who buried her cat beneath her study so that its bones would be under her while she was writing, each writer I’ve met has reaffirmed my passion for writing.

Fortunately, Scripps is far from lacking in opportunities to explore my passions, and this week was no exception. Earlier this month, three Scripps alumnae (Fantasy author Melanie Rawn ’75, Web Content writer Julia Cook ’05 and Children’s Book author Stacia Deutsch ’91) volunteered their time to speak to eager Scrippsies about their careers in writing.

Like every other time I’d met with an author, I left inspired, but this experience did what none before had: It reaffirmed not just my passion, but also my conviction that I could achieve my dreams. Beyond practical advice for navigating the publishing world and finding an agent, the writers also encouraged us to never limit ourselves. Rawn encouraged us to be like children in a sandbox, building up castles and gleefully ravaging them until we learn what types of shovels we need to create a world that works best for us.

These writers all used a variety of metaphorical shovels to reach their current state. Their degrees (English, yes, but also History and Religious Studies) and previous jobs helped them to build a satisfying writing career from them. Melanie Rawn, for example, used her historical expertise as a foundation to create intricate, believable alternative worlds. Each of those women had sat in my place between seven and thirty-seven years ago, and if they could achieve their dreams, my own certainly couldn’t be out of reach.

Furthermore, each writer wrote in drastically different forms. While Melanie Rawn wrote fantasy, Julia Cook wrote for the web. Stacia Deutsch had ghost written Nancy Drew and transformed movie scripts like The Black Night into novels, and even wrote the Simon & Schuster young adult romance novel below, part of the collection that had been my guilty pleasure throughout middle school.

With so many available avenues to explore writing, I left confident that I would find at least one that would lead me to my personalized version of success.

Admittedly, as Melanie Rawn reminded us, “there is no type of writing that is easy.” Luckily for me, there’s also no type of writing that’s off limits, and there’s no type of writing that I’m not willing to try.

Besides, I’m willing to work hard so that when I’m done playing in my sandbox, my sand castle will be the best in town.

Expert for a Day

Originally published on March 9, 2012 on Beyond the Elms: Scripps College Career Planning & Resources Blog. 

At college, every day we’re pushed to look towards the future. To consider what classes we have to take for our major. To apply for an internship that will push us to the next step in our career. Even something as simple as eating dinner has to be planned in advance here, with friends to be texted, a cafeteria to be chosen, and limited hours to do it all in.

At times, the future can be overwhelming, so this weekend was a welcome chance to spend some time thinking about the past. It’s hard to believe that more than a year has already passed since I flew down and saw Scripps for the first time during the JES (James E. Scripps) Scholars Weekend.

Just one short year ago, I was mostly silent on the bus ride from the airport to campus; too shy to try to forge connections with people I wasn’t sure if I’d ever see again. Today, I talked more than anyone else in my group of scholars, hailing from places as varied as Austin, Texas and Baltimore, Maryland.

This year I was the one answering questions, not asking them. I reassured scholars that, yes, there are guys on campus; I astounded them by commenting that actually, this sixty degree weather is pretty cold for us; I entertained them by pointing out the cupcake stores and the best boutiques on the drive through the village.

Last year, I was in their shoes, stressing about my interview with the professor who would become my adviser and, this semester, my Core teacher. Now, I find it strange that the constantly smiling Scripps professors ever intimidated me. Last year, when the admissions workers asked my major, I spurted out a top ten possibilities list. This year, when the prospies quizzed me, I calmly responded, “English dual major with Gender & Women’s Studies.”

Admittedly, I still had no answer when one girl from Chicago asked me what my concentration is, but I’m only a freshman. I’ll wait for another year or so to fly by before worrying about the answer to that question. In the meantime, I’ve learned that when stressing about the future, sometimes the best thing to do is to think about the past, because that, at least, is something we’re all experts in.

Doing my Part to End the Gender Gap

Originally published on February 27, 2012 on Beyond the Elms: Scripps College Career Planning & Resources Blog. 

The facts surrounding the gender gap in the professional world have been drilled into my head repeatedly through attending Scripps and through my regular reading of online feminist media like Jezebel and Feministing. However, despite my disgust with the information I was reading and my desire to take action, I had never absorbed the statistics I read as applying directly to me.

My brain had somehow compartmentalized the gender gap information into a folder of interesting information that didn’t affect my life. My career, my dreams, my goals, they couldn’t possibly be limited by percentages quoted in articles.

I never paused to consider that each factor in those percentages was a career full of hopes and dreams just like mine until I read “Promote Women: Use Your Network to Solve the Gender Gap” by Ann Friedman and Amanda Hess (an article posted on Good News, which I discovered via Feministing). This article focused directly on the media industry – the exact field I’m looking to enter – and indirectly referenced statistics from the Women’s Media Center, which found that the media world is overwhelmingly male, and the gap is only growing.

However, instead of sharing the statistics and moving on, like I had allowed myself to do so many times before, the article placed me (and every other reader) in the center of the problem, stating that, “Reading big statistics, it’s easy to place yourself in a bystander role. You acknowledge that women are underrepresented in your industry … You know that they are far less visible, and probably paid less, than men of equal experience. You’re frustrated … But what have you ever done about it?”

The article then walks readers through steps to help alleviate the gender gap. First, think of three women in your industry who are under recognized. Then, think of three powerful contacts in your industry who could assist them. Finally, email the influential professionals and recommend your female friends.

Admittedly, it’s not an overnight solution. It’s not even a solution I can contribute to at the moment, as I’m lacking in influential friends. But it’s a solution that can work.

For now, I’m going to take advantage of the process by forgoing the middleman. In my search for a summer internship, I discovered that I’m only two degrees removed from an education writer at the San Jose Mercury News. When I found out they don’t offer traditional summer internships, I was going to let the chance for contact drop. Now, I’m preparing an email to initiate communication. Because, who knows? Maybe she’ll be the professional who knows a professional who can help me do my part to help end the gender gap.