Category Archives: Job Search

The Job Search (Pt.5) – eHow = More $$$

I love my job as a teaching assistant. It’s extremely challenging but unbelievably rewarding. Serving developmentally-disabled students is ideal experience for my future goals, and I haven’t felt so natural in a job for a long time. I honestly don’t believe there is a better way I could be spending the interim between undergraduate and graduate school. However, I have previously mentioned that the job does not pay much. As this is really my best opportunity to save money for my graduate expenses, I really needed an additional source of income (however small).

Naturally I went looking for online options, particularly because I had coincidentally read several blog posts in recent weeks on the topic. For example Amanda‘s guest post at The Smart College Grad and a Lifehacker.com article. I am extremely skeptical of anything that promises lots of cash for simple online work (as I believe I should be). But I did read in various articles that “content farm” work like writing for eHow.com can be worth it if you write effectively and efficiently. I’ve been a fan of writing since my high school days, so I thought I’d give it a shot. After tweaking my resume a bit to highlight my professional writing experience (which is virtually nonexistent) and spending fifteen minutes quickly creating a “tutorial” style writing sample, I applied for a writer position. Just days later I was accepted and got right to work.

There are two ways to make money through eHow: fixed fee or revenue share. Fixed fee typically pays $15 an article, which many argue is not enough. Revenue share is based on ads and traffic. Though I’ve read revenue share is a better long-term investment, I’m looking for quick cash, even if it just covers my gas expenses! Here is my experience thus far:

As of today (been a writer for eHow for one week) I have written six articles. Three have been approved and published (and yes, I have legitimately been paid for them), the other three are pending an editor’s review. So far, none of the six articles have taken me more than one hour. In my opinion, considering the $15 I make for 45-60 minutes of my time, the fixed fee seems like an alright deal. If anything, it is a better use of my time on the computer. Perhaps motivating above all is my general thirst for knowledge; which really seals the deal for me. I can get paid to spend an hour learning how to do something and then writing about it? How could I speak against such a proposition? As long as I choose articles that I know will not consume multiple hours of my time, this will continue to be an efficient way to make a few extra bucks when I get home from work. For a future broke grad student, every little bit helps!

Have you ever made money online? What did you do?

Job Search series: Part 1 – Part 2 Part 3 – Part 4 Part 5


How to Bomb an Interview (in 3 easy steps)!

I spent the weekend in Buffalo, NY on my 2nd graduate program interview. I am confident it went well, though that is no guarantee of acceptance. After a very positive experience at this program, it got me thinking about my first interview for a grad school (which was just a week before this past one). It also became glaringly obvious how awful I did. This is no exaggeration. It was horrendous. I’m a very personable individual, and I’m also very confident in my ability to communicate my strengths, weaknesses, and any other information about myself. I was wonderful at this; perhaps a bit too wonderful. In retrospect, I spent very little time being friendly (or even smiling for that matter) because I was so preoccupied with portraying myself as a professional and work-oriented person. Following the interview, I realized how little the ‘real’ me actually participated in the conversation. I was interviewing for what I thought they wanted, not who I really was. As I said, this occurred to me shortly after the interview, and became really apparent after my Buffalo interview, during which I was committed to stop this “acting job.”

Regardless of the outcome, I have looked at that first interview as both a wake-up call and a learning experience. I believe it took these mistakes in round one to be successful in round two. But to help those of you out there who would prefer never to make a mistake at all, or perhaps to make the worst mistakes in the books, I present to you three easy steps to bombing your first interview:

1. Don’t even think about smiling.

By not smiling, you communicate to your interviewer that you’re neither friendly nor interested. This is the first, and perhaps one of the most important steps to bombing your interview. Employers want to see a mature yet personable individual. While they often take their power to hire extremely seriously, a program is usually looking for someone with a bit of spunk too. Someone who can smile has an immediate advantage. If you’re looking to bomb, this is an advantage you’re not interested in. So keep your happy thoughts and positive verbalizations to yourself. They won’t do you any good for this cause. [Bonus points for a frown.]

2. Don’t prepare.

The prospect of improvising your way through an interview sounds exciting, doesn’t it? Even if your people-skills are the best in your league, this is another great way to turn an interview into a disaster. If you wanted to ace the interview, you’d do your research on the program or workplace and prepare solid responses to typical questions. But since you’re looking to bomb, use it as an opportunity to work on your acting; pretend you know what the program does, and try even harder to explain why you’re wasting their time.

3. Appear disheveled.

If the company and/or program was worth being a part of, they’d accept you no matter what you dressed or appeared like! Professional attire is for the sucker, right? Wrong. Pat yourself on the back for being a fool (if that’s what you’re going for). Your attempt to stick it to the man will most likely assist in your journey towards the big ‘bomb.’ Employers want to see someone who takes themselves and the interview opportunity seriously. To them, your initial behavior during this interview is a direct reflection of both your attitude about your work and your maturity. By not showering for a week, waking up, throwing on sweats, and hopping in your car to the interview, you’re sure to screw up big time!

Congratulations! You’re well on your way to bombing your interview. The rest will come naturally if you’re foolish enough to follow the first three steps! Good luck, and never forget to stick it to the man (if you want to live in your mother’s basement for the next decade or two)!


The Job Search (Pt.4) – A Job That Pays (very little)

Get a Job. Check!
And so the deed is done! I’ve landed a job as a teaching assistant in a school for children with special needs; quite a boost for the resume, but not for the bank. The salary is embarrassingly low, and I have not worked for such money since my early high school years (granted I’ve been a well-paid lifeguard for 6 years). But it is, nonetheless, a job. The job itself will require me to work with students (anywhere from 1-3 of them) in the classroom, and directly implement the behavioral and education plans each one has outlined for them. The job itself is really an ideal experience for me, as someone pursuing a degree in school psychology. It just requires me to change the vision I had for this time off between undergrad and graduate work. I would have preferred to use my hard-earned degree to make a reasonable amount of money in the time I’ve been provided to do so. Instead, I’ll be pocketing some solid experience in lieu of cash. While a bit of a downer, I know that there are valid and important reasons to pursue such opportunities (I am reminded of this every now and then by Teacher Girl, who remains passionate in her dream job, despite less financial potential).

I still plan on keeping an eye out for some part-time evening work (doing pretty much whatever) to compensate for the pay. Starting next week I have to fill out paperwork and take TB and/or drug tests. The process will take about two weeks, and hopefully I’ll start working in early March (it’s about time)! The sooner the better, seeing as how I plan on leaving work and entering graduate school come Fall (to be expanded on in a future post). This plan in particular has been a great point of stress for me; when do I tell work my education plans? How do I explain the staggered days that I need off for grad school interviews?

For a job I just landed, it has already created an awful lot of anxiety! I’m hoping, however, that I can now just look forward to beginning this job and stop stressing over things that shouldn’t be stressed over quite yet. And perhaps once I have a regular paycheck for the first time since the summer, I’ll feel less guilty about spending money when I’m out with friends. Of course, this spending comes only after the financial resolutions I’ve set for myself this year: a regular contribution to either my IRA or my student loans, and as much as is reasonably possible to put into my savings account!

Job Search series: Part 1 – Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5


The Job Search (Pt.3) – An Offer and Still Searching

Last week I went for an on-site visit with the organization I interviewed for prior to my trip to Europe. The job was for a counselor position in a group home for people with developmental disabilities. It was a good opportunity and I was looking forward to the possibility of working with them. However, during the course of the visit, I learned of the shift I was expected to take. The available shifts ran from mid-afternoon to late at night, or overnight. I don’t consider such a shift compatible with the type of life that I would like to live. At the end of the visit I was offered the position, though I requested time to mull it over; it was a dilemma that I knew would be on my mind constantly. I considered all of my options, and (perhaps foolishly) decided that I am likely to land another job in the next few weeks. I turned down the offer (much to the supervisor’s dismay).

Ultimately what it came down to was that even if I took the position, I wouldn’t halt my search for another job. If a better and more suitable position came my way, I would leave this job, possibly in the middle of the three-month training. I just couldn’t justify turning around and leaving this company after they’ve invested resources and time into my training, not to mention disappointing the group home residents.

It seems extremely counter-intuitive to turn down a job after I’ve searched so diligently. Even so, I know it was the right decision for myself and the company. In the mean time, I had a phone interview last week, and I believe it went well. I look forward to hearing back from them, but you’ll hear more on that in Part 4 of The Job Search.

Have you ever turned down a good opportunity? Did you regret it?

Job Search series: Part 1 – Part 2 Part 3 – Part 4 – Part 5


The Job Search (Pt.2) – First Interview!

What color tie should I wear?

What color tie would you wear?

Bright and early this morning I had my first job interview! If nothing else is to come of it, it was a valuable experience on its own. The interview was for a large nonprofit that services people with developmental disabilities and offers a variety of resources to their clientele.

It began in a waiting room where I was left to size up my competition. I was expecting a middle-aged applicant pool, but instead found myself surrounded by other recent college graduates. I found myself trying to determine, on the basis of their look and dress, who would interview well and who would not. I was one of just two or three males, versus thirty or so females, so I felt as if that might work in my favor if they were seeking male employees.

After waiting, we were pulled six or seven at a time to a conference room for a group interview, during which we were able to discuss our relevant experience. I was glad I had done some prior research on the company’s mission, philosophy, and services prior to the interview because we were practically tested on it. We were also presented with a difficult scenario regarding ethics, which we had work out as a group. Following the group interview, we were interviewed individually; this one, however, seemed to be less about qualifications and more about whether my desired position, salary, and shifts lined up with their needs.

As of now, I am unsure of how it went (it seems interviewers are experts at hiding their thoughts). I believe it went well, but I am continuing to search and apply in case the available openings are not ones I can or want to fill. I hope that I receive calls back from other applications, but from what I gather in reading and speaking to others, it is never really that simple. My fear is turning down this job (if the shift is less-than-ideal), and then sitting around for months waiting to get another phone call. Plus, I’m not sure how long I can go without a source of income! It’s a hard thing watching your account balance dwindle with no end in sight. Mint loves reminding me when my net monthly income is negative! Quite the sadist.

What was your first job interview like? Did you get the job?

Additional Reading:The Real Postgrad Life: Interviewing

Job Search series: Part 1 – Part 2 Part 3 – Part 4 – Part 5


The Job Search (Pt.1) – a Paradox?


The Experience Paradox!I’ve been on the job prowl for just a week or two now, and I’ve already noticed some factors working against me. For starters, something I’ve heard referred to as “the experience paradox.” Even at entry level, many of the jobs I have applied to require very specialized experience (often rightfully so). For example, applying to a center for people with developmental disabilities requires at least one, if not two years of developmental disability experience. While often this prerequisite is completely justified, it’s extraordinarily difficult to gain experience if no job will tolerate inexperience for some time. I still feel that in some cases it’s worth applying anyway. The employer may find that you are qualified for the job in other ways, or have gained experience that they feel is relevant. The worst-case scenario is that you are respectfully taken out of consideration for the job. This likely just means no phone call, which some might consider the easiest way to go down.

One of the earliest steps that I took in this job search was to create a profile and upload my resume to some major career search websites (Monster.comCareerbuilder.com, and CareerRookie.com for entry-level jobs). While it hasn’t been overly-fruitful, I did receive a few responses, most of which were just general offers directed at probably every college graduate on the site. Still, it’s comforting to know my resume is out their working for me when I’m not surfing the web for openings. It’s still important, however, to check new postings regularly.

I’ve also made use of my college’s job postings website. Most schools offer a whole host of resources for job-seekers. Visit your college or local career center and take advantage of all they have to offer. Your college career center may also have special arrangements with companies and/or firms that may give you a leg up in your search. Often times companies will hold interviews specifically for students at particular universities. I have made it a general point to check posted flyers on-the-regular for potential openings.

The take-home message is not to pass up any chance to hear about a job. Do your research, hand out resumes, and talk to people (you never know what other people can do for you). Don’t be ashamed to ask for a little help to get your foot in the door. Give it time, but never stop looking!

As for me, I’ve got my first job interview on the 21st. I’m not sure what to expect, but I feel confident! I’m going to do my research, and I’ll report back in Part 2 of this Job Search series.

Additional Reading:

Graduated Learning’s Guide To Finding And Getting A Job
Top 10 Job Hunting Tips of 2010

Job Search series: Part 1 – Part 2 Part 3 – Part 4 – Part 5