Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Open Spaces, Open Water

Although being in the middle of Times Square is just what happens sometimes when you live here, I don't particularly enjoy these urban hubs. My day-to-day existence in New York involves as much time in the open grandeur of this little island off the New Jersey coast as possible.

I like to spend time in parks, museums, and libraries. These spaces that I enjoy the most are also spaces that I've help maintain over the years.

When I lived in Chelsea, a few blocks east of the Hudson River, I would go running in the morning on a broken path. In the decade since I lived there, it has greatly improved. I would see very few other people while the white noise of the cars along the West Side Highway mixed with the water rocking softly against the piers under my feet.

The part I loved the most about these mornings was seeing the ships traveling along the Hudson.  In a time of computers and intellectual property, here was a reminder of the deep waters surrounding this island. All the waterways converging around it, made this island the ideal port. New York being a port led to it being a city, to the center of industry, and now a center of thought. Those lone majestic ships once traveled in the same river as part of a crowd.

The world changes the world. We adjust. We adept.

Photos: Isla and Isla (detail), Yoan Capote

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Well Written Blog Post from Someone Else

This is a link about prep and expectations from a hiring manager. My favorite part is when she reminds people to check attachments since once someone attached an essay about her cat. The essay is at the bottom of the post. Love it!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What My Wednesday Looks Like

After 5 months of being unemployed, I am used to the way days blend into each other and how relative productivity can be. I've been up since 5:40am.

At 6am, I walked dogs with my every-Wednesday-morning-we-run friend. We did not run for a great reason: she is recovering from a recent marathon which she ran fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon. This is sort of the running equivalent of being ranked in tennis.

It was light out when I got back to the apartment at 7am as my partner-in-crime was just waking up. We had coffee together, figured out dinner plans, and said goodbye.

8am I returned the latest Netflix, picked up the paper, and spent the next hour reading-- bringing me to 9am. At which time I wrote emails, read favorite blogs, and check out links posted by friends on Facebook.

10am brought a phone call from a friend about hanging out on Friday afternoon. We caught up for about 15 minutes. The call reminded me of a filmmaker I meant to look up. Read interviews, watched YouTube clips, and generally was satisfied by my new knowledge by 11am.

Made a snack and coffee number two before writing this post while ignoring the 8 other tabs I currently have open in the browser.

What else is going on today? I want to finish reading "The Good Earth" by Pearl S Buck (Pulitzer Prize, 1939), will lift weights at the gym, will get a manicure in preparation for an interview tomorrow, practice French with a downloaded podcast, meditate for half an hour, and have dinner with friends.

I wasn't expecting to be unemployed at all but when the reality hit me in mid-April I planned to enjoy it as much as possible while putting one foot in front of the other towards finding the next right job. It still feels like I'm in a holding pattern, but I've embraced it for what it is.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Scheduling is the First Part of the Interview

On September 2nd, I applied for a job that I could do perfectly while asleep. It is working for a great company with more earning potential than my last job. At the time, I was thinking about moving to California and this seemed like a reasonable alternative.

They reached out to me by email on Monday to schedule an interview for this week. I gave several large blocks of time that would work for me. They set something up for a time next Monday when I was not free.  I rescheduled so I could be available for them.

This afternoon, they asked me to come in tomorrow during a time that I am also busy. I replied with a request to discuss rescheduling by phone and have not heard back. Why, 6 weeks after ignoring my application, is this urgent? I have already rearranged my schedule to accommodate them once.  If HR called me on Monday instead of emailing to ask about tomorrow afternoon, I could have rescheduled but I will not reschedule at this point. I have written about this sort of this before but I'm surprised so many potential employers start off on the wrong foot.

On the other hand, the place that I interviewed with a few times in the past few weeks (and have another interview with later this week) has felt more respectful of my time. When I made it through the first round, the second round person was not expecting me but agreed to see me anyway. The most important interview so far was with someone who was expecting me on a Thursday, not a Tuesday but we met for over an hour anyway. My next interview is with an executive so I need to take a train for this meeting. Since it was scheduled far in advance, it was easy to say yes.

Is it possible that my decision to not let this other HR person's disorganization spill over into my life before I've even gotten the job will prevent me from being considered? Yes. Yes it is. But if it was you, would you rethink your application if the process looked like the list below before you even got in the door?

Sept 2: apply online, tell friend at company who emails relevant parties
Sept 8: friend emails relevant parties again to confirm receipt of my application
Sept 21: I email relevant parties restating my interest
Sept 28: friend emails me to see if I heard back after Sept 21 (no)
Oct 4: friend emails relevant parties asking if position is still open
Oct 11: HR asks when I am free this week, I respond with 3 large blocks of time this week
Oct 12: HR picked a time on Monday when I am not free, I reschedule my plans, and respond yes
Oct 13: HR asks me to come in tomorrow afternoon (I am not free)
Oct 13: I ask them to call me to see if we can work something out

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Calling Out Sick

One of the best parts of not working is having a cold. I know that sounds counter intuitive but it feels great to be home sick taking care of myself without worrying about all the things I'm not doing at work.

At my last job, there was a day when I went home early. There was a walk through of a storage space that, as most spaces of that nature, becomes a dumping ground for items that might be useful some day. Actually, in my apartment my spouse refers to this spot as "the compromise corner." I think of it as the "Goodwill staging area" but it somehow can take weeks to exit the premises.

Everyone knows that apartment rents are high in Manhattan but commercial square foot rentals can be 10 times the rate of residential rentals. In such a world, such spaces should not exist at all. Whatever the item, buying a new one is cheaper than squirreling it away in a place that should be an office.

Trying to emphasize both the luxury of a storage space in the first place and the need to keep it organized in order to hold on to it did not go over well with my team. On this particular day, there was going to be a walk through and a small party to reward the newly organized space.

I woke up while it was still dark out to throw up. I was able to get back to sleep for awhile but the scene repeated itself just before taking a shower. I made it through the shower. I did not quite make it through the door before round 3 hit. But I was going to get to work and I was going to be at that walk through.

The walk though was scheduled for 4pm-- the end of the day-- so the party would not interfere too much with the regular work day. Before lunch, I tried laying down on the floor of an unused conference room. That was after throwing up a fourth time. This rest was interrupted by my needing to dash into the ladies room, throwing up for a fifth time. After being so adamant about the work needing to be complete in time for the walk through, I went home early. By leaving, I felt I was letting my team down.

At my previous job, I once called in sick with the flu. I rented and watched "The Pianist". Let me tell you, nothing makes you feel like a bigger loser. Watching a movie about Holocaust survivors when home with a stuffy head and a fever does not make you feel better.

I have had two nasty colds over the past two weeks and it is the nicest feeling to have no obligation beyond getting over it.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Plus Column

I've started so many posts but not finished them this week. You see, I'm excited that I may have found the next right thing. It isn't want I would have imagined a year ago but it has a lot of items in the plus (vs minus) column. Part of my excitement about this position is that I know a number of other facilities managers nearby.

The interesting thing about this unexpected good fit is that I have this amazing network of people to reach out to about it. Three friends gave me information about what it is like working for the company, what the most important part of the job is, and even details about the people I interviewed with. People think of New York as such a big city but it can also be small in some ways.

One of my friends, a facilities manager I know from a professional organization, was laid off last week. This friend was already looking for work and we would often talk about how few opportunities we have seen. It is anecdotal, but my original theory that since construction has slowed that facilities becomes that much more important to companies is not holding true. Perhaps the people making decisions see it as an area that does not generate revenue so it is an area where reducing costs will have a positive impact on the bottom line.

Whatever the thinking, I'm glad to be part of this community and am looking forward to helping people be happy at work in the near future.