05 5 / 2013
So this post isn’t going to be all about work … but, it has now been a month since I started working at the JCC in Manhattan. So far so good. I like the work, I’m getting things “in hand,” I like the team I’m working with, and I think they like me too.
I must tell the story of “saved by the espresso window” or “what could have been a 100-dollar espresso” depending on how you look at it. I guess it’s more the latter. So, I go to this little coffee place—well it’s a restaurant, and quite a lovely one, and it has a take-out window for coffee—almost every day at some point in the afternoon, and I get an espresso at the window. It’s good, and it’s well-priced (not Starbucks style), and it’s close enough to work that it just takes a couple of minutes, yet far enough (eg not in the building) that I get outside for a few minutes of fresh air.
For the information of non-New Yorkers, we have a monthly metro card here that costs $112 for unlimited subways for 30 days, which works for me since I take the subway for at least two and often three rides in a day. (Each ride is 2.50, no matter if you go one stop or switch lines three times.) For the first few months I was here, I had just been putting money on the pass as I needed it, since my subway use was random. On the way to my first day at work I got the monthly. Just three days later, I realize when I’m about to head home that my metro card is gone. First I consider panicking. Then I try to retrace my steps. I realize it probably fell out of my coat pocket when I went to get coffee, since I happened to have cash and subway card in the same pocket. Right. “Well it probably won’t be there, but I’m going to go by and look.” I get to the coffee window, see that there’s a large trash can just to the right of it, bend down to look behind it … and yes, my subway card is there! I felt like one lucky New Yorker! (I also now have a safer dedicated place for my subway card. And my Long Island Rail Road pass … back to that in a minute.)
06 4 / 2013
At the JCC in Manhattan.
Last Friday, I got the offer letter. I had already thought it through thoroughly by then, and accepted right away.
My role is traffic/production manager for the marketing team. I’m officially noted on the staff listing page (under marketing & communications).
This Wednesday I started, and I’ve had three days on the job thus far. So far, so good. I like the work itself, I like the people I’m working with, and I like the overall environment and “vibe” of the place. I even like the style guide. Also, we work on Macs. Yay.
Added to that, we have a fantastic gym and a number of great fitness classes, which I can participate in as one of the benefits of working here. (They also have shoe-making workshops … yes, really.)
I’ve spent most of my work time so far focusing on getting oriented and figuring out what’s going on … which has included going through several folders of notes, charts, and lists that my predecessor organized—and very well at that, I must salute her for it.
It has also included a fair bit of talking, meeting and greeting … with my supervisor the Creative Director, with our four fab designers (the six of us share a two-room office on one corner of the “office floor” of the building), the marketers, the finance team, and some of the program directors and executives. Everyone I’ve spoken with has been very nice, welcoming, encouraging, and helpful.
29 3 / 2013
It started off with preparing for and heading out to a noon interview.—The result of which I shall state at the end of this post.
After grabbing a salad at a restaurant with wifi so that I could also write my thank-you notes there :-), I walked around a bit as there were some spots nearby (Upper West Side) that I hadn’t seen yet and wanted to take a look at—ongoing city exploration.
(And if you don’t recognize what’s happening in the top photo, read this. Walked by but missed the dancing part.)
I headed down to the West Village to find a place to do some work for a few hours. First tried a place I had been to before and liked (V Bar—note the good signage in the pic below), but it so happens their wifi was down for the day. (That seems to happen to me often enough when looking for a place to work. But this is a post about good things, and good they did become.) Around the corner, I found myself another now-new favorite—The Zinc Bar.
They make a good espresso. When I first went in, a children’s chess tournament was wrapping up, and a couple of espressos later, the kids left and a large group of jazz musicians came in and started tuning and warming up their instruments … when I left, they were starting a show. I had other plans to head to, but got to hear a little, and have reaffirmed that working in coffee bars in NYC makes for a lovely environment, especially at the right time of day. (So the below was my view for awhile, while it was still empty-ish.)
24 3 / 2013
Monday afternoon, I interviewed with a PR firm that had approached me the week before, and I believe it went quite well because within about an hour, just as I was about to send my thank you note, I got an email about coming back to meet the CEO whose EA I would be … though the date for that interview has not yet been set. So, still awaiting that.
Monday evening, I participated in my first “sealed deal” in the TimeRepublik community. I was the bartender at an event that I also greatly enjoyed (along with gaining “free hours” in my wallet). (I was then also the featured person in TimeRepublik’s newsletter of the week.)
The purpose of the event: raising funds for high school scholarships for teenagers on Mfangano Island, Kenya. The venue: Smart Clothes Gallery, on the Lower East Side. The happening: Presentations from professional storytellers who work with The Moth.
And with those presentations, I have now discovered yet one more “new” form of NYC entertainment to enjoy. Though, really, it’s presumably the most ancient form of entertainment, or maybe the second most ancient … Anyway, I had no idea that it existed in the manner it does, much less that it was as entertaining as I found it to be. I think what I liked so much was for one, its simplicity—it’s just a person, telling a story, about something that happened to them (and of course their thoughts and feelings while it was happening). No bells and whistles, no technology, no “gimmicks.” Very human and very real. And very truly funny! I will definitely be attending more storytelling events.
17 3 / 2013
So I’ve gone two weeks without a post. My, my, getting lax. Well, really, getting busy.
On Monday March 11, I began my first week of NYC employment. It was a one-time job, it only lasted a week, and I did the work from home. Nevertheless, I have officially been employed here in the city, it’s a start, and I am happy for the experience.
Technically I worked for my staffing firm, who set up the gig, but the job itself was for “The Daily News”—Apparently the fourth largest newspaper in NYC.
I went in Monday morning for a meeting with the VP who assigned me the job. They’re in a temporary office in Midtown because their downtown building is still non-functional after being hit hard during Sandy.
The work involved typing up a fairly large quantity of archived articles related to a major story they’re going to do a featured site or section of their site about … back in the day, news/media agencies did not keep their material on file. Doesn’t that seem so odd? So do some other concepts that I came across in the course of the project—such as that 20 years ago, if you needed to call the police, you had to find a pay phone or “police box.”
My boss for the week was a British gentleman. When he handed me the stack of files and I said I could do it by the weekend he said “that would be brilliant” … and yesterday thanked me for “being so speedy.”
Mildly related, I learned, through this job, that “employe” is a valid variant spelling of “employee.” As is “cigaret” for “cigarette.” Always happy to learn something new about words. (And both of those could be useful in Scrabble.)
It was a busier week than the usual of late, as besides giving regular work hours/days to the project, I had translation and editing deadlines in the works, keeping me busy most evenings and the weekends on both ends of the week. But I’d far rather be too busy than pacing the floors … not that I’ve ever actually done the latter—and if I ever were to have nothing to do, I’d more likely be found reading a book.
Yesterday I settled on my “official favorite” coffee shop in my neighborhood to work in—the Black Brick. Good coffee, good atmosphere, good prices, and just a few blocks away.
In other happenings, I participated the previous week in “The Future of Education #2” event with Be Social Change—doing check-ins/greeting, and bartending. I continue editing for SocialChange.is (including corresponding with contributors and getting them on a schedule). Last night, I “sealed” my first deal with TimeRepublik—I’m going to be bartending at this fundraiser event … on Monday, just a few hours after an interview I have planned with a PR firm who found my resume and reached out to me last week about a potential opportunity to work with them.—That they are a PR firm, and that they contacted me, are both things I’m happy about. Stuff is happening.
A Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to all! (Believe it or not, I will be celebrating it today for the first time. It’s just one of those traditions that was never going on where I was at before now … looking forward to trying that green beer, though something tells me that after one or two I’ll be back to the standard more earthy colors of the beverage.)
*Photos: the livingroom of my temporary sublet apartment … where I spend many working hours, and which I have until April 8—by which time I must figure out where to next.
02 3 / 2013
On Thursday night, I went to the first NYC gathering of TimeRepublik. It’s a great new social network concept, and rather than trying to write up my own explanation, I’ll say check out their intro video here: TimeRepublik on YouTube.
The NYC community manager had reached out to me a few weeks ago, based on us both being part of the “Be Social Change” group … and I thought it sounded interesting, and signed up right away … I have yet to either contribute my services or contract those of others, but I will be doing so soon. I get to be a charter member, with a few extra bonus hours and other privileges, yay, and I already have my T-shirt.
The people I met were amazing! I was the first one there so had plenty of time to talk with one of the co-founders (the other lives in Switzerland and they’re both Swiss—which gives me a good feeling about this working) and the community manager. Then about 10 others joined throughout the following couple of hours—a cozy and lively crowd, who I had a great time connecting with, gaining many interesting insights, sharing ideas, and coming away with a slightly bigger network of fabulous New Yorkers. I’m having brunch with one of them today, will join an interesting meetup/event with a couple of others shortly, have my first possible “service” in the works, and last but not least, there will be regular happy hours. This is going to be a good community, me thinks.
24 2 / 2013
Over the last few days I’ve been thinking about an aspect of being between jobs and job hunting that I hadn’t quite put into clear thoughts or words before: The good that being in-between jobs has done me, as a human.
I’ve been asked more than once in the course of recent interviews and talking with recruiters and others: “Why did you leave your previous job?” and “Did you like your previous job?”
The truth is, I did like it. A lot. I liked it so much that, over the years, it had “crept” into nearly every moment of my waking (and sometimes sleeping) life. My work became my life. In looking back at it now from a reasonable distance, it seems that happened due to a combination of my natural desire to accomplish things and the rush that I get from achieving something—making me want to do it more and more, sort of an addiction; and the fact that being with the same company/team for so long, there was accumulated responsibility and an increased sense of responsibility over time.
I had come to expect a certain level of output and always-on-it-ness of myself. And so had the people I worked with. The amount of things I had taken on far exceeded a 40- or even 50- or 60-hour workweek. A couple of years back I had realized this wasn’t healthy, that I wasn’t giving myself what I needed, and that I wanted my life to be different—something at least a little closer to balanced.
I tried cutting back on the time I spent working. I tried setting various limits, like times where I wouldn’t attend to emails and calls. I tried playing any number of “tricks” on myself to keep work in its place. I just couldn’t do it. Not that I never had any fun, those who know me know that I did! But I never, for example, went a full day without checking my email, even if I was on vacation. And to quote the Dowager from Downton Abbey, “What is a weekend?”
I needed a clean break. So, after over 10 years of working in the same line and mostly with the same team, I bade it farewell, moved across the world, and I’m starting over, in more ways than one.
22 2 / 2013
Several have asked how the job hunt is going … since I last wrote something here on the blog, news and progress includes:
I have broadened my search a bit, and am looking in several directions now, from nonprofits to banks, from administrative roles to public relations and community manager/social media manager positions.
I had an interview last week for a position that I am seriously interested in, which would use my language skills, pay decently, and where I really liked and connected well with the team members I spoke to. They’ve been communicative since we met, and I am hopeful I’ll get a callback on that, though it might take a little time.
I also met with a few of the team at a staffing firm this week, and had some positive conversations with them, and emails since then. They seem very “on it” and aggressive in a good way about finding interesting leads for me.
02 2 / 2013
So, here are some of the ventures I’ve gotten involved with in the past few weeks:
Some time ago I had “joined” a Meetup group called “Be Social Change” which I thought sounded so interesting … and then a couple of weeks ago I finally attended one of their events—a happy hour mingling/networking gathering. I met a number of fascinating people doing interesting things in the social enterprise and nonprofit realms. This is a “tribe” I can see myself becoming part of.
One of the people I met there works with Catchafire, a neat organization that I had heard about before, and had actually considered signing up to work with … it was one of those things where it went from being an “interesting website I had come across” to “the team of people Jason works with,” and that made it so much more natural to get involved. Good lesson, marketing-wise.
I took on a pro bono project of copywriting for the new and improved website of a great nonprofit with an antiquated website.—I’m not naming them or linking to their site now because I don’t think they’d be happy with that, ha, but I’ll be sure to show off the new once it’s done. I met with the project organizer last week (who was in town visiting from Boston), a lovely woman who is also very organized in her project management, who I’m looking forward to working with.—I’ll get started next week.
21 1 / 2013
the beginning or introduction of a system, policy, or period
- the formal admission of someone to office
Like many Americans, today I watched the inaugural address of President Barak Obama. Like less Americans, I watched it from the perspective of both an American and a foreigner, having only recently started living in my own country as a “third culture adult” so to speak. I’m experiencing my own inauguration, in the sense of “the beginning of a new period.”
One of the first thoughts that came to mind while watching is that the 44th and current POTUS is himself a “third culture kid,” having spent several years of his life living and studying outside the USA. I like that about him. (Minor side point and attempt to add some humor: Was I the only one to chuckle when he used the word “musket”? Was it kind of a “horses and bayonets” moment?)
Doing a quick “life in review,” I would say that for much of the time, since I’ve nearly always lived overseas, being American was something that while present in my life, was more in the background. Its most visible manifestations were:
*English was my first language and I speak it with (somewhat of) an American accent.
*Ever since I can remember I’ve had the habit of speaking my mind (trying to be tactful about it when it wasn’t the cultural style of those around me, but not always perfectly succeeding).
*My choices in entertainment were based more on US popular culture than that of the cultures I lived in (but I think many non-Americans would say that too).
*A strong belief, to my core, that all people are created equal. And, I would add, that there is something special and beautiful about every human being.