The Right Fit

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Finding the right career is a lot like trying on shoes. It’s difficult to find the perfect fit and looks can be deceiving. Sometimes what you try on in the store feels different later because it’s the wrong size. Often, it’s just the wrong shoe.

After graduation the hope is to immediately settle into a career. Some students have positions lined up before graduation and already know where life will take them next. For others, it’s a struggle.

The first 6 months after graduation you’re optimistic and determined to find the perfect job doing something close to what you majored in, if only the right company will give you a chance. You flood the market with recent graduate resumes and stalk your own email.

Six months later, after no responses, you’ll take anything that pays enough to make your student loan payments. But it’s the anything’s that make for bad fits. The hasty “it’s not what I really want but it will have to do because they don’t have my size and I’m tired of looking” fit. In the end, these fits are uncomfortable and only leave you shopping for a new shoe.

So how do you find the perfect fit?

If helps to have a great network and a marketable brand that people are interested in. I’ve joked that finding a job is like prostitution for work, but reality is you have to sell your skills to get noticed. Everyone wants a job. Many want the job you’re interested in and employers are looking for the best fit. It is more than just being qualified. The competition may be just as qualified, if not more. To land the job, you must be the purple cow – you must stand out.

It starts with a spectacular resume that showcases your skills. No matter what field you are entering a poorly organized resume or one with errors (even one) can cost you an opportunity. So think outside the box and find a unique way to showcase yourself. Second, prepare to be frustrated with the application process. Imagine spending an hour filling out a job application only for a computer program to sift through it in search of key words to determine if you’re a good fit.

I hate uploading a resume I’ve spent weeks revising only to have to parse it into little boxes that make it look ugly. Whose brilliant idea was that? Sometimes I wonder if it’s a test of patience. If you survive cutting and pasting your beautiful resume into an undesirable format you’ve passed the first test. To save your sanity, prepare a simple version of your resume as well and save it in rich text format (.rtf) for easier parsing.

Reality is we must work to survive. Sometimes in order to do that we must wear shoes that some days feel cramped and confining until we can get a better pair. But don’t stop trying on shoes. The right fit is everything.

Think about how much time you spend at work and the people you spend most of your time with. Are you happy? Do you like your coworkers? Do you feel satisfied in what you do? If not, you should. Happiness, not a paycheck, should be your ultimate goal, because you spend more time at work than any other place. What good does it do to drive a chariot if you have to meditate in the parking lot each day before you go into the building and avoid your coworkers?

Steve Jobs said it nicely,

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.
If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.
As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.
And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.
So keep looking until you find it.
Don’t settle.”

It may take some time to find the right fit. There may be some imposters along the way. Just be more selective in the brands you try and get to know your preferred style. They should be attractive and comfortable, with just the right amount of space. Nothing beats slipping into a pair of shoes that feel good, but still leave you room to grow.

Best of luck in finding the right fit.

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Pomp and Circumstance

It’s New Year’s Eve and instead of making resolutions for 2015 or waiting to watch the ball drop in Times Square I am looking forward to the fact that tomorrow I get to sleep in. December has been a busy month and I have much to be grateful for. In fact, I am about to embark on my next journey which crosses several hundred miles. It’s time to go home.



Tennessee - Texas

If you have been with me from the beginning you know I have been a Tennessee Texan for the past two years and seven months while attending graduate school. Two weeks ago I attended Murray State University’s commencement and walked across the stage as they called my name to accept the keys to a dream I have been chasing. As I look at graduation pictures sometimes it is hard to believe I am the girl in the photographs. Surreal does not even scratch the surface of what it felt like to be in that room. It was the Academy Awards for graduates. Our procession in robed regalia to Pomp and Circumstance was the red carpet, and walking across the stage and being recognized for your hard work was like winning the Oscar.

Even though it was not the intimate graduation our English Department has planned in May and even though my immediate family in Texas could not attend, I am so glad I participated. My daughter, who has been with me along this entire journey, was there to see me graduate which made it even more special. If you are grauating soon make sure to attend graduation. Think of it as the Pre-Oscar party to the rest of your life. It is worth it!

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Now that I am officially no longer a student my focus has turned to finding employment, finishing my first novel, and traveling. My goal is to attend AWP – 2015 which will be held in Minneapolis and get settled once I return to Texas. I would really like to do more book reviews as well. I hope these posts have been helpful and encouraging, especially for those of you who may be considering entering graduate school. If you have any questions about the thesis process, low-residency MFA programs, road trips, or just want to talk about writing please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.

Right now, I am surrounded by boxes, but as always, I  am excited about the next adventure. The next time you hear from me I will probably be back in TEXAS. Thank you Tennessee for the Texas-sized welcome. Kentucky, I am pleased to be able to take a piece of you back with me. Texas, I will be home soon.

As always, keep reading, keep writing and keep dreaming.

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Happy New Year!

Pipe Dreams

I couldn’t pass up today, 03/13/13, without posting because it’s one of those “I almost feel lucky” days, which if you’ve learned anything about me by now, is a pretty rare occasion.

I could spend all day going on about how the curves of the numbers look happy, or the roundness symbolizes harmony with life, but then I’d be venturing into what my daughter calls “Taylor Swift” territory since she’s obsessed with the number 13.

So much has happened since my last post. For starters, I got a full-time job after spending years (after graduation) searching, my mentor and I are still clicking, I finally put together a five-year plan, and oh – I turned 40.

The job came about through an employment agency in the area. I can’t tell you how many agencies I’ve contacted here and received no response. It still amazes me how they can have a city, but no real job opportunities. I’m surprised they have employment agencies here at all, because they’re really aren’t any jobs.

The mentor connection-thing is something I’d hoped for, but didn’t see coming. After residency I just knew when it came time for the phone conversations that he’d be sitting by the phone with a time clock and ruler, ready to chastise me and point out how unqualified I was as a writer. I don’t know how I come up with these dreadful scenarios. Anyway, I’m not usually so off when it comes to reading a person, so this was completely unexpected.

What’s different about him? He’s motivating. I’ve spoken previously about his teaching abilities, but this is different. It feels like he believes in me – which is hard to wrap my head around, so instead of analyzing it I just keep writing and working towards my goals.

Someone close to me recently said that this quest I’m on to become a writer is all a pipe dream. I knew exactly what the phrase meant, but for some reason it had a different impact than being accused of having my head in the clouds or chasing dreams. It stung as if someone had stuck a needle filled with arsenic through my heart and kept stabbing me with it until all the contents rotted and fell out.

At first I was hurt and angry, then the writer in me kicked in and I got literal with it:

A pipe dream is described as a vain but fervent hope for an impossible or unlikely situation.

So basically, this person thought I was the crazy person building an elaborate underground bunker, so when the green, bobble head, big-eyed aliens come with their powerful spaceships to take over our planet, suck out our brains with their laser guns, and use our bodies for experiments I’ll survive. Hmm. Yeah. Okay.

The idea that someone who played such an integral part of my life believed my goals were so ridiculous and unfathomable that I didn’t have a chance in hell at success was extremely unsettling  – I cried. Then I used what was intended for harm as motivation and started finding support in other areas and through other people – like my mentor. Although we won’t get to spend nearly as much time together as I’d like, I’m soaking up his guidance like a sponge and hoping that when this journey comes to an end he’ll be there to celebrate with me along with my other friends.

The five-year plan materialized early one morning when I only had a few more hours before I had to get up and get ready for work – but it was not without apprehension. A part of me knew that when I finally figured out what I wanted to do with my life things would begin to unravel. It’s not karma, or doom and gloom, but more along the lines of the natural progression of things.

I think it’s important to set goals, but we must be realistic. To actually think we’re in control of anything that happens in the big picture of life is a bit naive. Sometimes life happens (good or bad) and you have to roll with it until the next ship comes along, which is what I did the  next week when I quit my job – the day before I turned 40.

Of that experience I’d say I’m grateful for the opportunity, but oil and water simply won’t blend and everyone has their breaking point.

Regarding turning 40, I do feel age is of importance, but you truly are as young as you feel. Right now, like Taylor Swift, I’m feeling closer to 22 – “Happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time” with the sky as my limit. One lady told me 40 is the new 30. I don’t know what it is, but me and Ms. Clairol are rolling with it, and I’m already looking forward to my next adventure!

By the way, I now have pipe cleaners above the desk where I do my writing. There’s nothing like a good bit of motivation to get the words flowing.