Fort Point and Chrissy Field today.
Some of you might know that I moved to San Francisco recently. Two days ago, really. My lease in Chicago was ending at the end of August so in early July I had to decide whether good stuff in my personal life warranted big professional risk, i.e. unemployment. I decided it did, and submitted my resignation without my next job lined up. I had about 7-8 applications out at the time and I was in early interview stages for a few. By the time I accepted the position I’ll be starting September 8 (more details on that forthcoming!), I had heard back and interviewed with all but one of the positions I applied for—I also received two offers. As tempted as I was to chalk up this job hunting success to “omg this totally means I was supposed to move to SF and cohabitate and be wildly happy 4evr and evr” (I DO feel this way, too), it was also very clearly the result of much job search practice and a few key maneuvers I’ll detail here.
1) Do you want a (new) job in 2-3 years? Start applying and interviewing now. Practice, practice, practice. Practice writing letters, updating your resume, fussing around with your references, puzzling over job requirements. I’ve been applying to jobs here and there for almost the past two years. There was never a sense of urgency, but I know I wouldn’t have been able to push through this process without all that practice behind me. Most important of all, practice interviewing. Especially the damned phone interview. I firmly believe I couldn’t competently pass an initial phone interview until my 5th try. It’s hard. Bring three solid stories (a time you led a project/change, a time you failed, a time you worked with a team) and three solid questions to every interview. Know your shit—about them and about yourself.
2) I DON’T CARE HOW TIRED OF HEARING ABOUT IT YOU ARE, IT IS ALL ABOUT THE COVER LETTER. UNLESS YOUR PARENT OR GUARDIAN OR OTHER PAL PRONE TO NEPOTISM RUNS THE LIBRARY YOU’RE APPLYING TO YOU BETTER HAVE THE BEST DAMN COVER LETTER EVER FOR EVERY. SINGLE. JOB YOU APPLY TO. FLATTER THEM. TELL THEM WHAT YOU’LL DO FOR THEM. DON’T TELL THEM WHAT YOUR RESUME ALREADY TELLS THEM YOU DID ONCE AT SOME OTHER JOB. TELL THEM WHY YOU’RE THE BEST PERSON TO WORK FOR THEM. FIND A FRIEND WHO WILL TEAR THAT SHIT UP AGAIN AND AGAIN UNTIL YOU UNDERSTAND WTF A COVER LETTER IS ACTUALLY SUPPOSED TO LOOK LIKE. NO TYPOS. NO WHINING. WRITE THE BEST COVER LETTER EVER, EVERY TIME. YES THESE ALL CAPS INDICATE MY SHRILL HARPY TONE ON THE SUBJECT.
3. Stalk down some one, anyone who can pass your materials along. This is no guarantee, but it’s better than a stick in the eye. Once again, tumblr got me a job. Through a URL/Tumblr friend, I was able to connect with a wonderful woman who works for my future employer. Every person I interviewed with (all 4 of them) noted the fact that my resume had been passed along by this woman. This woman who I have NEVER met. But, as we have a mutual friend thanks to the Internet, good human nature and trust prevailed, and I had an in on other candidates. Connections matter, from URL to IRL. If you’re in the hunt, remember this at all time. Yes, LinkedIn DOES come in handy. It’s a way to share/see connections and keep control of your professional profile. Don’t neglect or delete it—you could be one connection away from a dream job.
4) If you find yourself needing advice, or trying to decide between more than one offer, seek counsel from someone who could be your boss in your NEXT next job. Yes, I was lucky enough to have two offers in my lap. And I was badly torn between the two. They were wildly different in almost every aspect, but both appealed to different areas of my strengths and potential (there’s a lot to be said for taking the job that will develop your potential, btw). I asked everyone I trusted, personally and professionally, for advice. I was up at night worrying. One person I asked, which gave me a really unique perspective on my ‘problem,’ was a librarian in a leadership position in a library I would love to work for one day. I asked of the two jobs, which would set me up in the best position to transition into the NEXT job I think I would like to have. I got the answer I suspected, but it was reassuring to get the opinion nonetheless. In the end, the answer came to me after some more self-examination and salary negotiation—but the advice stuck with me throughout the process. Oh and by the way we can repeat this all day and it still should be said again: humans are nice and helpful and you CAN reach out to them whether or not you’ve met in real life. Own your career and your path and ask questions. Someone is likely to help.
If you have any more questions for me on the process, please feel free to reach out. I’m happy to help, too. I’m so excited to begin my next professional adventure and I can’t wait to bring you all along, too. Your support has been immeasurable. Tumblr comes through again and again. All my thanks.
So much good advice in here. And of course I’d like to offer a healthy helping of congratulations to Kate. Welcome to San Francisco!
Family Bartenders Past
In the 1790s and early 1800s my family operated a store in a rural Vermont river valley, which later grew into a hotel and dance hall.
I recently came across an 1890s book, The History of Woodstock, Vermont, that details the Ransom store, which in addition to sundries, sold drinks at the counter:
It is interesting to observe the variety and cost of drinks at this store. The favorite beverage was sling, so called, a drink composed of equal part spirits and water sweetened: gin, the liquor commonly used, but brandy almost as often, and the quantity one gill, as a rule. A glass of rum cost 3d.; a glass of brandy 4 1/2d., equal to six and a quarter cents; a gin sling cost 7d., and a brandy sling 9d. For brandy and biscuit a man paid one shilling.
Now I want to host a gin sling party and serve brandy and biscuits as well.
STOP. Who approacheth the Bridge of Death must answer me these questions three, ere the other side he see.
WHAT…is your name?
WHAT…is your quest?
WHAT…is your favorite color?
To improve. Vague and general, I know, but there’s so many directions, right?
Where will the cool, old chairs go to live?
They’re not so cool. The feet pop off whenever they feel like it, leaving behind an upwards-pointed screw. But if you’re interested they’ll end up on Craigslist which I’ll link to here.
My library is replacing the main level tables and chairs for the first time in fifty years! The old, heavy, and very worn wooden tables are being replaced with rolling flipper tables. The faded wooden chairs — they were once red before the sun drained them of their color — are being replaced with comfortable modern task chairs.
With so much of our furniture now on wheels (tables, task chairs, and whiteboards), our students are welcome to reconfigure the furniture however they see fit. I’m curious what kinds of combinations we will see.