Saturday, January 31, 2009

Shoutout to Gavin L. Robbins

Praise for "Unemployed in Minneapolis":
I love your blog, keep it up. Never know what I might find on there. A picture of a book case, or perhaps a short paragraph about your day. . . . maybe even the meaning of life. I think you should write it from the point of view of Barack Obama. That would be great (though it makes little sense).

-Gavin L. Robbins

Thanks for your loyal following, Gavin!

Thursday, January 29, 2009


You can't underestimate the power of the Jewish Mother Network. From Pittsburgh, PA to Minneapolis, MN, Adam and I have encountered a couple useful connections already. First, a friend of a friend donated several pieces of furniture to us, which we are very grateful to have. Secondly, we were able to meet with one of the senior members of the city's United Jewish Federation (UJF).

Yesterday, we met for lunch with Brian, who was very friendly and had plenty of advice for us about local synagogues and ways to get involved in the Jewish young professionals' community. I was, of course, particularly interested in finding out more about potential job opportunities (so I can be included in the young professionals) and who knows whom. On Saturday evening, we'll probably attend a Casino Night function, where I will get the chance to be introduced to more people in the area. I'm hoping to meet at least one person who could serve as a job link because I'm not wild about the Las Vegas prom theme. Friends would be nice, too.

Also, I joined LinkedIn. I'm not entirely sure how the LinkedIn etiquette differs from Facebook, so I'm being shy at first. I'm trying to navigate how it could be effective for me to reach out to job contacts: do I "connect" with someone at the company I'm applying to so they can look at my profile? And how am I supposed to look attractive to recruiters/employers as a Pottery Barn Sales Associate without lying? We'll see... for suggestions on how to spruce up my profile or to "connect" with me, go here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Pity Party Continues... oops!

I just returned home from a "job fair" at a restaurant that advertised an open house on Craigslist for server positions. I told myself So what if I've never been a waitress? I at least have some restaurant experience. And I'm an intelligent, hard worker so I'm confident I'd be a good server and am prepared to convey that in an interview.

Too bad there were 100 other people who also applied. I arrived near the tail end of things (my mistake: not being the early bird to catch the stupid worm), and I was the last person to receive an application because they ran out (!). Even as I filled out the application, I realized what a dismal prospect I had of getting a call back. Taking a glance around at the others with their applications, I had to wonder how many were listing each previous job as "restaurant 1, restaurant 2, and restaurant 3."

On the walk home, the temp agency I'd sent my resume to called to inform me I don't have the consistent office experience their clients are looking for in employees. Can't a girl get a break? Oh, well. On to the next!

P.S. It's some small consolation that at least I don't have an impending company layoff keeping me awake at night. But I wish all those people could keep their jobs so I don't have any additional competition!

Monday, January 26, 2009

First Day at PBK

This is going to be a boring post. Everything went smoothly. Despite any ambitions to take the bus, it was 0 degrees outside this morning, and I didn't want to risk getting lost on the bus then traveling by foot. So, I arrived at the mall, which is pretty upscale (duh, Pottery Barn clientele), but I had never seen such a narrow assortment of stores. It was a housewife's dream mall: every store sold either home furnishings, jewelry or baby clothes. The good/bad news is I won't be doing much personal shopping on my lunch breaks.

Everyone I work with is really nice and friendly (oh Minnesota!). I felt very at ease and everyone was eager to make me feel welcome. But it wasn't exciting like my old job in Atlanta, where we had such a high volume of customers. The entire time I was there today, it was so slow. Kind of boring. Kind of like why people don't enjoy working retail... Anyway, I have hopes for better future shifts when it isn't Monday morning.

As I left PBK this afternoon tallying (4 hours x $9) - taxes= a case of beer, I remembered how desperately I need to keep pressing on to find a "real" job. Later today, I received a phone call from an organization I'd submitted a job query to that does all kinds of community outreach. Asking if I was interested in interviewing for an unpaid internship, I just shook my head. Whhhyyyyy?

Nope. No more self-pity. My job search begins again in earnest. Tomorrow.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Pictures of the new apartment!

the living room & Adam's big TV

view from the couch

dining room with built-in buffet

tiny kitchen but at least we have a dishwasher!

our bedroom (in need of decoration)

the bathroom and world map I'm studying

second BR, aka Adam's "office"

A Paycheck Is A Paycheck

I have a job! But, no, I will not be changing the title of this blog. Until I have a full time job where I'm earning a salary and benefits, I will not be modifying my title. Instead, I have a part-time job at Pottery Barn Kids in Edina, MN. I worked at PBK in Atlanta, GA in between China and my move to Minneapolis, and as retail goes, I actually enjoyed the experience. My co-workers were friendly, my supervisors were supportive, and I got the exciting opportunity to work in the company's first PB Teen store.

Now, I view my time in retail as temporary, but I really think you couldn't find a better company to work for than the Williams Sonoma family. My manager in Atlanta made a phone call to the folks in MN and gave me such a wonderful, glowing recommendation, the manager in Edina wants to bring me on board without so much as an interview. Needless to say, hearing that praise felt really, really good.

So, I start on Monday, and I feel a small weight lifted from my shoulders because at least I have something. I don't know which will be more rewarding, the small (but not insignificant) pay or a reason to leave the apartment... From unemployed to underemployed. Alright!!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Life Lessons

Considering this is only my second post and my readership (to my knowledge) consists of my mom and my boyfriend, it seems crazy to agree to do something I'm dreading only because it'll be good "blog material." Nevertheless, when I was indiscriminately applying for jobs during my application binge, I happened to send my resume to a marketing/sales company. To explain a little, the job posting online led me to believe they were hiring "account coordinators," so with little else to inform me, I applied hoping there was some creative non-sales aspect to the position available, too. While I do have sales experience, I am not an aggressive salesperson--I'm more interested in customer service. Which product will best benefit the customer and how best do I persuade them without pressuring them?

So, I'd applied Monday morning, and by that afternoon, I'd received a phone call inviting me to interview. To prepare, I visited the company's website that had little to no information about their services or clients and was oriented mostly toward recruiting new employees. My instincts: not good. Was this a start-up company where I'd be cold calling all day and working on commission? Yuck, no thanks.

The other downside was the commute. 10 miles west of downtown, in a suburban office park area, I'd have to drive Adam's car and wouldn't be able to take public transportation. All negatives.

So, yes, I'm "open minded." But I say that with a hefty dose of sarcasm & skepticism. In fact, I didn't even get wigged out that my suit coat was slightly wrinkled or that I was forgoing my heels for flats. Viewing this interview as practice, I submitted myself for blog fodder.

First of all, Googlemaps owes me a big apology!! After hand writing all the directions, I felt confident I wouldn't get lost, but still gave myself ample time to get a little turned around. A little? A little? How about the directions were impossible (!) and the township of Minnetonka seriously needs to work on their road signage. At 3 p.m., when I was scheduled to interview, I was pulled over on the side of the road calling the receptionist to explain my delay and ask for directions.

I'd come too far to contemplate bagging it and going home, so I persevered and finally (but not without getting lost again) arrived at the office. Once inside, the only people I saw were the receptionist and two other job candidates. They were playing 90s soft rock on the radio as if we were in the waiting room for a nail salon. So awkward. Nothing felt right.

But when the hiring dude brought me in to his office for my pre-screening interview, I was nothing but charm, grace and confidence. He asked me some icebreaker questions, then cut to the chase. Somehow, despite my best efforts, he read right through me. He asked me why I'd want to do this job if I don't want to do sales? He caught me off guard, and then his patronizing tone completely turned me off. When I told him the lousy economy had me considering sales, he balked that the economy actually isn't bad (WHAT?) and that if he went to Careerbuilders right now, he'd find 200 jobs I could apply to (WHAT?) Ok, I was ready to leave but not without sounding like I sincerely appreciated his advice to apply to write for a newspaper (didn't he read that the Star Tribune filed for bankruptcy?)

If someone had been filming my embarrassment for a dark comedy, I'd have slipped on the ice in the parking lot.

Lesson learned: Discovering what you don't like isn't necessarily a bad thing. That's the last sales job I apply to!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Inaugural Post

Today is the day before Obama is sworn in as the first African American president, and I'm aching inside because I'm in Minneapolis and no longer in D.C. So, I graduated from GW a year too early. And not only because I've moved away from my prime location 5 blocks west of the White House and 4 blocks north of the Lincoln Memorial. I graduated a year too early (or, really, too late) because the economy is in the slumps and I'm unemployed.

A couple years ago, I remember reading an article that forecasted 2008 would be a wonderful time for college graduates to enter the workforce: the babyboomers would be retiring and everyone else would move up the ladder, providing ample opportunity for entry level jobs. Instead, my parents' generation's savings recently got wiped out and now they may never afford to leave their middle management jobs. Across the country, and including Minneapolis, there's a hiring freeze (MN pun intended), and no one in the creative field is creating jobs.

I have been in Minneapolis now for two weeks, and I comb the Internet for job openings daily. Already, I had an interview at a magazine, where I applied for an editorial internship. I felt confident, but unfortunately, the company decided to suspend their internship program as a way to cut costs. I was disappointed--mostly because I felt it predicated the outlook for the rest of my job search. "Sorry, we aren't hiring right now."

Yeah, yeah, boo hoo.
Well, I didn't get a college degree to become a barista, but I'm realizing I must ride this out like everyone else. Nationwide unemployment numbers are on the rise, which sounds scary and yet reassuring: I'm not alone. Being an English major never guaranteed a dream job immediately following college, and so here I am. Swallowing my pride, eager to earn money any way possible, and not taking for granted all the free time I have to write.

Afterall, just yesterday, my mom thanked me for not turning to acts of immorality or criminality as a way to get by. She heard this horrific story of a man attempting to carjack a couple, who got pumped with bullets by the carjacking "victim" who happened to have a gun. Times are tough, but I'm not willing to risk getting shot.

So, to conclude today's rant, I am pledging to myself to report on my Minneapolis discoveries as I plug away at job applications. I'm living in a new city, and I'm determined to have an adventure as I make the most out of my unemployment/vacation. While I must be diligent about looking for new job opportunities, maybe a job will find me once I stop trying too hard. (Or is that love?)