Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Greetings from Corporate America

I send this muse out to you in the shape of a postcard:
On the front of the card is a panoramic expanse of miles of little grey boxes. Looking closer, you might see, peeping out from the otherwise indistinguishable mass, a few decorations of small newspaper clippings, stuffed animals, pictures, and other paraphenalia reminding of the existence of life outside the box: an attempt to stem a tugging undertow of quiet desperation.

Tho' I can't tell you exactly by name where the machete-hacked trail before me has opened into (hint: It starts with an "Int" and rhymes, coincidentally, with "hell") , I will say that it's big and puts the 'silly-con' into the Silicon Forest. I'm in Portland, Oregon...Any guesses, class? Anyone...anyone? ...Bueller?

Across this vista is splashed: "Greetings From Cubical Farms of America!" Scrawled across the back, bringing to mind the old joke: "The scenery is here; wish you were beautiful."

Yes, my latest chapter of swings and arrows in the jungle is a foray into that special place where that which isn't mind numbing is de-humanizing and that which isn't dehumanizing is soul destroying and for all these experiences -- along with everything else here -- we have an acronym for that.

The name of this place doesn't really matter. The point is that, while hacking my way through the Jungle, I have stumbled suddenly into a much wilder and woolier neck o' the woods: Corporate America.

More to come....

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Carpe Craigslist

Seize the interconnectivity software.

I remember when craigslist was my little secret.
My 'Monster' away from 'Monster(Today's the day!TM)'; my vine-swinging friend in the Jungle.

But now that the point of critical mass has been reached, crushed, and rolled over by the teeming throng of job seekers flocking to its' friendly (and free) shores, I'm becoming a bit wary of craigslist.

The job specs on craig's used to be an invitation. A lonely hearts club of employers just lookin' to find that special someone who likes to take long walks down to the filing cabinet.

Simple times.

But now, things have changed. Employers may read the first lucky few resumes before they are compelled to run screaming from the room, terrified by the growing pile of incoming resumes threatening to burst the seams of their Inbox. [There's one for the 'dept. of homeland security' to set their dogs on.]

Meanwhile, how's my curriculum vitae supposed to stand up to that kind of competition?

It's like being The Quilting Channel in the expanding universe of cable television. Who's going to stop surfing for 'lil ol me? I've got great corners -- but no sex, drugs, and rock and roll to draw 'em in!

I'm very tempted to write a job description ( one that would get my saliva going ) and post it myself, just to see who responds. Then I can get some idea of what I'm up against in the Craigsphere...

[...not to mention the added benefit of diverting traffic away from the postings that I want to respond to!] ;^)

Hey, jungle times call for jungle measures...

Friday, January 07, 2005

Give Us This Day Our Daily Temp...

My prayers have been answered!
I got woken up today at 755am and asked if I wanted to drop everything I may or may not have planned for the day and come in to answer phones for the rest of the day. ( Boy howdy, do I ever! Besides, who makes plans but to hope that one will get such a call at 755 am.)

Ah the life of a Temp! Adventure, Danger, the Brave Unknown! And that's just figuring out how I am ever going to find my way to the obscure address reeled off to me from the other end of the phone line. That's ok, call me Bond, Jane Bond.
This message will now self destruct.

Friday, December 31, 2004

Caveat Emptor

...which means 'buyer beware' is a much loved, oft quoted, expression of my loved one. In fact, as I sometimes tell him, he occasionally employs it when he really should outsource the job to another turn of phrase. However, despite my misgivings about using it for anything beyond shopping @ Walmart, I'm taking a page from his book and attempting to stretch it to fit around the latest chapter of my job hunting safari: The Laws of the Jungle.

Law #1= Caveat Interview--Beware of Interviews, I say!
No matter which side of the table you're on!

The JobSafarist's Developing Checklist of Things that are Definitely Out In Interviews:

1. Being Honest (see also Frank, Candid, Open, Aboveboard)

The moral of this story: Enthusiasm and 'telling them what they want to hear' are the watchwords in the Jungle.

Helpful examples:

Interviewer: "The job description says we're looking for a Project Manager, but realistically you'll be helping out in the mail room and collating copies. We like to think of it as a 'team player' role. How do you feel about that?"

Candidate X replies: "Frankly, I was hoping I'd get to use my brain, talents, creativity, and initiative to develop my potential, augment my resume, and boost my career trajectory."

The Savvy Jobsafarist replies: "What?! You mean I'd get to collate photocopies in this job, what a coincidence: I LOVE the repetition of mindless tasks! Combine endless photocopying with an opportunity to work in the mail room and I'll be well on my way to vocational heaven! Though long term, (if I might dare to dream) I hope that I could parlay this position into an opportunity to do some mindnumbing data entry as well. Then, I'd really feel the glow of job satisfation."

Interviewer: "Hmmm, I noticed on your resume that you have an English Honors degree. Why do you want to work here?"

Candidate X replies: To be perfectly candid, I'd rather be independantly wealthy and working on a Pulitzer Prize winning screenplay, but I need this secretarial gig to pay the bills.

The Savvy Jobsafarist replies: "I really wanted to earn a Meaningless Drugery degree at my University, but due to limited course availability of Braindead 101, was forced to cloak my ambition and declare English Hons. instead.
Nevertheless, I have always dreamed of a position that would allow me to deploy my gifts in filing alphabetically and transcribing dictation."

Interviewer: "We're trying to get away with paying you as little as possible. What are your salary requirements."
Candidate X: "I've become accustomed to eating regularly and sleeping indoors. So, ideally, I'd like to make enough to buy groceries and pay my rent, as this facilitates both of these habits nicely."

The Savvy Jobsafarist: "Sure! $8 an hour is PLENTY to meet my needs. After all, eating is overrated. And I feel sure that a tarp in a doorway can be made to feel quite homey, if i put my mind to it."

(*Note: Candidate X, is always candid and therefore will never make it through the interview process. Remember: it's a jungle out there.)

Checklist To Be continued....

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Who moved my after-college job....?

My momma once told me there's no such thing as a free lunch. And yet as I sit here, post-graduation, navigating through the reams and reams of classified ads advising only those with "minimum three years experience" to apply, it occurs to me that the idea shared by all those employers out there is that she was wrong; there actually IS a free meal to be had…and it appears, to my horror, that I'm it.

After over thirty thousand dollars and at least that matched in hours I am presumably now qualified to donate the next three or so years as an intern-- in other words, a worker with no salary at all, in layman's terms: labor for FREE (…and won't mom and dad be proud?)

Maybe it's because I've graduated with something as obscure as a B.A. degree in English Literature ("So, what are you going to DO with that...?", they all ask.) But after four years, all meant to prepare me to be taken on by corporate America(TM), I was singularly unprepared to discover that the only thing that distinguishes me from a high school kid is that the McLaborer has no student loan to pay off and he (the clever-negotiator) won't work for less than a $5.15 minimum wage. Meanwhile, the employer for any job that would put me in line to use the skills I've developed during the best years of my youth spent in rigorous study expects me to work for 'the experience', 'the contacts', in other words: 'the opportunity to fetch our coffee and collate our copies, for significantly below what fruit pickers in Mexico are paid'.

Call me a dreamer, but this is not the future I saw as I flipped through glossy brochures for the private institution where I ended up plunking down my hard-loaned money and my ambitious self before the altar of higher education. According to those shimmering pages, I would gain much more than a degree, I'd gain a new, more marketable self, bursting with so much skill and professional savvy that employers would be tripping over each other in their attempts to woo my qualified brain to their table.

Speaking of professional savvy, you would think that having a four-year undergrad degree at the very least signifies my ability to navigate through the bull-shit politics of academic life, this skill being the one which probably MOST qualifies me to participate in the 'real world' because of the relative ease with which it transfers to navigating the bull-shit politics of the office.

But in actuality, all the professorial butt-kissing, those 'make it happen' all-nighters, that brilliant creative problem-solving, the team-building group projects, and those hours of lab overtime has qualified me for, in the mind of my prospective employer, is: jack-zip.
I have emerged from the chrysalis not as a butterfly, poised to float on the zephyrs of financial liberty, but one of those ubiquitous silkworms of the daily workday grind: the office coffee fetcher. Actually, as it turns out, in some instances below a coffee fetcher: one company informed me that before they deign to take on a free laborer (euphemistically dubbed "intern") they like to see that the tart has already worked for free in one or two previous companies.

This can only mean one thing: SOMEONE out there is buying into this (I see you there! Hiding behind the filing cabinet and living in your parents' basement to fund this fiasco won't protect you! Admit it, you encouraged them, not only to perpetrate this monstrosity, but to have the chutzpah to be PICKY about it!)

At this point, I realized that I've reached the breaking point. If it's true that I am not only too inexperienced to work for pay but also unqualified to work for free then there's no alternative for me than to do something drastic. If I can't give these guys a reason to hire me I will give them a reason to fear me, I'll become… the COMPETITION! I'm going to pull myself up by my bootstraps and START MY OWN BUSINESS. Call it the realization of some primordial American spirit, but I guess the bottom-line is after four-years of turning my brains inside out to the tenured powers-that-be for nothing more than alphabet marks, now if I'm gonna work for nothing for someone, it's darn well gonna be ME.

I've got my business plan (affectionately known as: "the crush the competition play-by-play). I've got my office (ok, ok… it may only consist of my laptop computer perched on my lap at the corner Starbuck's, but it's my cubicle away from cubicle.) And finally, I've got my pride, intact, ready to take on the corporate world that dared spurn me and my newly minted B.A.ness.

And it's gonna be great, I tell ya, if I can just get some help with all the grunt-work it takes to get this corporate coup off the ground, someone to run off a few copies, to fetch me a refill…

Maybe I could take out a classified ad and hire an intern…