Friday, November 26, 2010
I'd like to walk you through the steps that I take upon finding a job that strikes my fancy (note--though I currently already work in my dream job, I apply for jobs on a regular basis to keep my skills sharp).
Step 1: Find a job that strikes your fancy.
In my case, it was a prestigious position working at the Ontario Science Centre's summer exhibition entitled "Harry Potter: The Exhibition." This exhibition was going to be one of the most exciting Harry Potter exhibits ever to hit the world, full of props, costumes, artifacts, all kinds of things that Harry Potter fans care about. The OSC was seeking out talented individuals who would be able to lead the groups of visitors around the various Harry Potter stations (magic, flying, broom game thing, wizards, etc.) and answer any questions. The guides were also required to speak in British accents to remain in character and to wear cloaks. Now, I've never read/watched Harry Potter but I knew this was the chance of a lifetime. I immediately sent over my cover letter and resume.
I knew that this could possibly be me.
Step 2: Work that Cover Letter!
Cover letters are important. We all know this. But how many of us really take the time to craft a memorable and impressive one? I've always believed that employers hate reading the same generic, placating cover letters that many career books advise you to write. In my cover letters, I usually take the opportunity to tell a story about my little brother, share my most embarrassing moment, explain what I would do if I was rich or an animal, etc. Of course, when you're taking liberties like these, you MUST ensure that it's tailored to the position you're applying for.
Please see my below example--my cover letter for the Harry Potter position.
You will note that this cover letter is very specifically tailored for the position, with plenty of references to Harry Potter, yet with a few personal tidbits thrown in there as well. It's important to strike a balance to show that you care very much about the job but also about yourself as well.
I bet Dumbledore and Harry Potter wish they were many leagues under the sea.
Step 3: Perfecting the Resume
Resumes are important. We all know this. Resumes are so important, in fact, that many people get a little overwhelmed and try to pad their resumes. There's no need to do this--I'm sure you've accomplished many wonderful things in your lifetime. You just haven't thought to list them on your resume!
See my Harry Potter resume below:
Upon a careful reading, you'll notice how I have subtly highlighted my skills that will be of most importance in this Harry Potter position. The "Profile" section of your resume is your first chance to explain a little about yourself. Try to choose a wide variety of relevant skills and interests that will grab the employer's eyes. For example, I have revealed that I am an avid reader (much like Harry Potter!) and am single with no children (also like Harry Potter). Employers will subconsciously pick up on these types of traits and want to hire you.
Harry Potter: single with no children.
Now, as for the Work Experience section, this is where employers just want to make sure you've worked for people that you're not related to*. List all of the places that you've ever worked at and remember, no job is too small to list. To be honest, I think the "Work Experience" and "Education" sections are the most boring parts of a resume and most people just skim over this stuff. Keep it simple and humble because chances are no one's going to read it anyway. And, believe me, you'll get your chance to brag soon enough.
Harry Potter can do all kinds of magic but he's still a pretty humble boy.
*Note: It's still okay to list your mom as a reference.
Step 4: Time to shine!
Many people have trouble when it comes to the "Achievements" section of the resume. I happen to find it incredibly easy. Remember to have an open mind with this section--almost anything can be considered an achievement! It's best to list every award that you have ever received, any moniker ever bestowed upon you, any sort of experience you have with any type of activity, celebrities that you resemble, etc, etc . Don't forget to consider your ancestry an achievement (I mentioned that I am part British, as Harry Potter is quite obviously at least part British) and if you own any pets or children.
Harry Potter looks British to me.
Equally important is the "Future Accomplishments" section (also often called "Projected Accomplishments"). Here's where you ruminate on all the things that you believe you COULD accomplish in your life. You could accomplish all sorts of things, like becoming a doctor or learning the keyboards or buying a bunch of cats or having practically no cavities--really, almost anything! Try to be honest, though--do you truly see yourself winning the John Newberry Medal for a distinguished contribution to children's literature? If you do, then yes, put it down. If not, try something a bit more realistic, like writing an sci-fi version fanfiction script of The Wire. Your employers will admire your ambition and be impressed by your (future) talent.
I usually like to throw in one more category, often "Astrological Sign," sometimes "Sport I'm Best At" or "Favorite Song Lyrics." This is kind of like a wild card, bonus tidbit to leave you lingering on the employer's mind when he/she goes to bed at night.
Harry Potter is a Leo.
Step 5: Going Above and Beyond
Even if your cover letter and resume are stellar, it's always best to provide some kind of supplemental material to really make employers remember you. I try to include some kind of homemade trinket, usually a collage or two (2), IOUs or gift card. If I could make wood sculptures, then I would do that. For this position, I thought they might be receiving lots of collages so I went a different route and included a supplemental list of books I read in 2009.
Including a book list has multiple benefits. Firstly, it proves to your potential employer that you're literary and therefore intelligent, and b.) it displays a bit more of your personality. Chances are your employer will have read one of the same books and then you have something to discuss during the interview. In the case, I was hoping we would have shared an appreciation for 777 Great Clean Jokes so we could both have a laugh. Humor is very important in the workplace.
Harry Potter and his schoolmates love to laugh.
Step 6: Follow that thing up!
You know how after a first date you're supposed to call your date to make sure they got home okay, then to see if they want to have dinner with you again the next night, then to see if they want to meet your family for Christmas, then to see why they've stop answering your calls? Well, it's exactly the same concept when applying for a job. FOLLOW UP IS KEY!
I'd recommend following up your cover letter, resume and supplemental material with an email/phone call/visit to ensure that the employer received it. It's best to ask for a cell phone or home number (or both, if you really care about the job) so you can reach them with any urgent questions, like how much you'll get paid or if you can take Halloween and your birthday off.
One warning regarding the follow up--beware of automated email replies. Don't make the same mistake I did and assume that the automatic reply after emailing in your resume is the same as being hired. Apparently it usually is not.
You know what, emails that appear in your inbox so fast it's like magic are confusing; it could happen to anyone.
Harry Potter would have known.
Though I was not hired or contacted further to work the Harry Potter job (I believe they may have found the headshots I also sent perhaps a bit too intimidating for the wizard-loving crowd), I can say with some confidence that if you follow my six (6) steps, they will perhaps lead you to more career success than you can handle.
Let me know how that promotion goes for you! Tell Mr. Trump I say hey.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
First, a little back story:
Here's me and Britto in 1996:
Had these young gals been able to look into the very far future, they would have seen one girl getting married and buying a very cute house with her husband and the other renting with 2 female roommates and writing a blog. It's maybe why they say the future is best left unseen. Or that tomorrow is another day. Or some other saying involving time. All true.
*NSYNC concert, 2001. My sign says "Marry Me JC" and Britto's says "Britt heart Lance."
(Can you believe these posters were confiscated by the security guards before we even entered the concert? Totally ruined any chance of me actually marrying JC. I'd say Britto fared okay though--we all know how that Lance situation turned out.)
So after my friend Jenn (also a high school best friend of mine & Britto's) and I made plans to meet up in Jackson for the wedding and booked our flights, it was off to Mississippi we go!
My review of Mississippi at this point: Awful, AWFUL state! And confusing.
Suck on that, Michael Carpenter!
Check out the shelves of cornbread mix they have in Mississippi. Sometimes I really miss southern food. Like cornbread. And biscuits. And Great Grains.
My review of Mississippi at this point: She's redeemed herself nicely due to existence of Target and availability of cornbread mix. Keep it up, gurl!
At this point, the sun has melted our makeup, flattened our hair and created a delicate glimmer of sweat all over our bodies. Mississippi was officially kicking our asses.
It was an absolutely perfect ceremony. Britto abided to the old adage of KISS: "Keep It Simple, Stupid" and the ceremony was kept light, fun and clocked in at about 20 minutes.
I think this is how every bride should look right after the ceremony: bursting with happiness and most likely ready to hit the wedding bar.
My review of Mississippi at this point: Best state ever.
We're not even sure what happened to Britto in this picture but it's probably my favorite pic of the whole night. Brides-to-be, don't forget to pretend to morph into a monster for at least one pic; it's a great option for the "thank you" cards.
And ohhh, how they danced.
The beautiful bridesmaids danced in flip-flops all night long.
And then something magical happened. Softly, somewhere in the distance, we heard the opening chords of the male musical group *NSYNC's hit song "It's Gonna Be Me." Now, this song has quite a lot of significance for me, Jenn and Britto (and many of yourselves, too, I'm sure). Back in tenth grade, we devoted a very large portion of our time to memorizing the dance to this song. After we mastered it, we performed it every single chance we received. House parties, marching band awards banquets, our own empty living rooms...seriously, our high school friends must have hated us.
So you can understand our confusion/sense of wonderment when we heard the song begin to play. I realized I remembered almost nothing of the dance and glanced over at Jenn, who shared the same panicked expression. But as Justin Timberlake says, the show must go on...
And yeah, we had a rough beginning...
I found Britto's wedding gift at a Goodwill in Orlando and knew immediately it was the gift for her. It's not every day you come across an *NSYNC collectors edition JC Chasez marionette doll, now, is it? Don't worry, this isn't the only gift I got for her. Good lord, what do you think I am?! No no, Britto will be receiving the rest of the set one by one as I seek them out and collect them.
This car's bumper stickers can pretty much sum up Mississippi much more succinctly than I can--"Jesus is Coming, Get Right or Get Left," "CAUTION: I stop at all Walmart stores."
Congrats, Britto & Brian! I wish you guys all the best.
PS--All of the photos in this post which are beautiful were taken by Jenn, who is quite a talented photographer/blogger. All of the mediocre/grainy photos were taken by yours truly. Capturing important moments in time in crappy quality, yet another talent o' mine. Thanks, Jenn!
Thursday, November 4, 2010
To my surprise, we both showed up in holiday-themed outfits. I was a Christmas tree (one of Velvet's old costumes, circa 2008) and Christina was a less superior holiday elf creature. Sadly, we were the only employees who dressed up and the $500 cash prize was eliminated. We each received three (3) candy bars instead.
As an added bonus (I know, what could top the candy bars?!), we already have our office holiday card picked out. Client relationships are very important to us.
So going into Halloween weekend with already 3 candy bars in my pocket, I was obviously very excited. My roommates Heather, Velvet and I were heading to a Halloween house party on Friday night. We were a little wary because it was a "costumes optional" Halloween party, which really makes ZERO sense at all. We laughed to ourselves on the way there, picturing us walking into the crowded party and discovering that we were the only ones in costumes. Oh, how we laughed at that thought. Can you even imagine it?! We were so silly. Ha!
Velvet had to rush to the party straight from work so she quickly whipped up a costume. She dressed in all gold and was a "gold star." Sadly, she ended up looking a bit like a prostitute, but like a high-end, sparkly one. Then our friend Jason arrived dressed as a pimp, which really didn't help her case. Soon Velvet just gave in and went as Jason's main lady, or, as he referred to her loudly the entire night "his five-dolla holla." Such a sweet guy.
And sadly, we don't seem to have any pictures of Velvet's actual costume, which was a saloon girl. It turned out really nicely, which you can't accurately tell from the above picture. It was pretty much identical to these:
People on the bench alternated between singing the Mario theme song for Adam and the Indiana Jones theme for E.
Honestly, I think part of the reason that we won both games (besides our incredibly complex strategies and the fact that we're all on steroids) is that the other teams were kind of weirded out by our costumes and enthusiasm. Get used to it guys, we're doing this EVERY WEEK now.
I hope you all had terrifying Halloweens. Did you have awesome costumes? Meet any celebs? Dress up your pets? Tell me all about it.