The end of this internship is approaching and I stand at a wall.
It's now time to write my 5 page (minimum) paper on my experience. What to write? What to write? If nothing else, my perspective on the type of job I desire has changed. I often dream, as many others, of the stay-at-home job where I can work on my own schedule with almost no supervision. That has changed. It just doesn't fit the person that I've grown to be. I need a more structured profession -- so freelancing would be almost impossible. The ironic thing is, I've tried that before, but I thought it was just the field that made me sway away from it. (I was doing technical writing.)
I need structure. Although a procrastinator, I live on deadlines and time demands. I get lost in life -- sometimes. During this semester, my boyfriend not only was in a car accident with a tractor trailer but had to have a total hip replacement surgery with his left hip. That alone rearranged the order of things in my life, since he is, techincally, my domestic partner.
I need people. Because I was doing this internship at a distance, it was only me and my computer. And quite frankly, Mr. Dell isn't as exciting as the guy who promotes him on t.v. I need personality. I need others whom I can learn from. I need culture, experiences ... fun!
I can be a literal person on the job and because of this I need constant communication. I need to know if what I'm doing is correct. I need to know if I'm improving. I need to know where I stand. I guess you could say I'm a true Gen X employee -- I work off of rewards and constructive criticism.
You live and learn in order to make a more comfortable life for one's self. With that said, I'm off to write and article about a major some people may not know a lot about -- haven't decided which one yet. But once it's created, I'll post a copy just for the readers. :)
It's Coming Along
So, I've been on the job for two weeks and it's coming along.
The hardest thing for me, in training, is adapting to the generational gaps. I'm sure you're thinking, "But there are older people in college," but it's not the same. Those that attend college have their mindset on getting a better education. Those in my class, however, are having a major culture shock. I'm learning patience day by day. I mean, some have admitted to not being in a classroom setting since I was born - 1985, so the importance of staying on topic and minimizing side-bar conversations wasn't really a priority of theirs. That was until we all received our first test grade.
Which I received a 100% on it. *wink*
The training is helping me to refine my researching skills. A lot of the time it's not about memorizing or knowing-it-all, but knowing where to find it. I'd like to think I'm an avid Googler, but that means nothing when it comes to the Department of Treasury. There's almost a new tax law or an amendment to one every month, so it's important to know where to find that information.
The teachers are also trying to stomp application skills into the class. It is things like these that make me proud to be an English major...
Honestly, it feels like we have literature class after literature class and you wonder, "When will I ever use this?" But, in actuality, those classes have helped me with my application skills. Those classes taught me to not just read, but to read for understanding. They taught me that knowing the meaning and theme behind things was not enough but I had to apply that to today's world. How does this work in the tax field? Every situation is completely different and the tax publications only serve as a guide. One must know how to take that guide and be able to apply it no matter what situation is brought to your ears.
I previously talked about an obvious generational gap in our class - but it isn't the only one. This is one department that has yet to do away with paperwork and boy was that hard for me. It took me an entire evening trying to figure out how to figure out all the paperwork for the job and sign up for my health benefits. All I could keep asking myself is, "Who still does this?" I'm used to toting my BlackBerry around to get business done and now you want me to find a pen and something to bear down on? Definitely couldn't do that while crossing the street!
...and to think, I have to do my timesheet by hand. So, it's either swim or sink and if has anything to do with getting paid, I definitely won't be doing the latter.
On another note, I did learn something interesting this week. Did you know that deceased taxpayers still have to fill out a tax return?! That was an eye opener, because my father passed three years ago and my mother definitely didn't know that. It's no penalty for the survivors, actually it can be more of a benefit. But, I won't go into all that.
Well, the weekend has started and I am dead tired, so....
Until next time.
My Big Break!
Every star has to have their stepping stone -- that commercial we'll always remember or that part as an extra that catches everyone's eyes -- and I just received mine.
Monday, I was sworn in as an employee of the Internal Revenue Service [IRS] and I am nothing short of ecstatic about it. What am I doing, you ask? Well I'm a Customer Service Rep ... for now. *mischievous grin*
I am one of the respondents to that lovely 1-800 number that you see on the irs.gov site, providing the best customer service experience to taxpayers needing assistance with any issue regarding their taxes. The process to receiving the job was kind of tedious. First, there was the long application which you had to calculate your experience and your education using a decimal-ful formula to see if you were qualified. Then there was the appointment in which those that made it pass the application process had to be fingerprinted and fill out the necessary papers assuming one would get the job. Both of those were in June. Then - it was the wait. In mid-August, those that passed had to take a telephone assessment. In mid-September, we were all offered the position which just started Monday, October 6th.
Training lasts for about four months and when it's all said and done the foundation for a career with the IRS will have been laid.
If you haven't caught it yet, my favorite part of the job is that it's federal which makes me feel a bit stable in the occupation area. The benefits and incentives are great too. We were just told that upon January we will receive a 3.9 + cost of living raise [better believe that every part helps]. I'm on a probationary period for a year but once that's complete and every year after I will move a step up on their pay grade system (as long as my performance is satisfactory).
I plan to use this position and any other opportunity they hand to me as a way to get where I would like to be. Where that is, right now I'm unsure. But, this will definitely give me a start on ideas.
Later, I'll have to fill you all in on more. Tomorrow is picture taking day for our badges and I can't be caught slipping.
I shall return with an update on the job ... and what I've been trying to do to help improve the Arts & Letters Career Management site.
Be a Risk-Taker!!!
A lot of us live our lives through a script; a predetermined set of plans to get us through this thing called life. We know when we want to go to school, when we'll finish, when we'll meet our soulmate, have kids, etc. And for some of us, it doesn't stop there, if the events in a day don't have a clock-in or clock-out time, we're a mess ... and that's not the way to be. Think about it ... the best moments in life are those that are unexpected/unplanned, ie. you can plan for a pregnancy as much as you'd like, but the [birth of the] baby is going to come whenever it wants.
Yes, organization is a great facet in life, but it's okay to have a few loose ends. There are many ways to tie a bow; the beauty that could come from the realms of spontanuity are endless. Not knowing every detail forces you to sucuumb to new experiences, leaving room to learn more ... ponder on these:
- Most of the time, it's when you're lost that you find "new" routes and shortcuts.
- It's when you go with the flow of a relationship, that you get your best results
- It's when you press your luck, that you hit it big
- It's when you don't cram/study before the test, that you realize how smart you really are[ok, so I don't recommend this to all at all times, but come on, everyone has had that test grade that surprises the crap outta them because they "thought" they knew nothing]
- It's when you just choose to "hang out" that you run into the most interesting people
Now in my life, because you know I'm not the most organized person in the world [lol...far from it], it wasn't exactly conjuring up a script that left me in a 'blah' state, but it was becoming comfortable with the routine of things. I continued to clock in and out a job I felt I had grew completly out of, but didn't want to leave because I had "plannned" to be there until graduation and had become accustomed to the characters I interacted with on a daily basis. That was until I figured that I don't know where I CAN go if I don't try, and that was when I applied to be a Travel Consultant at AAA during the Summer of '07... and although the position was seasonal ... WAHLAH ... I was there learning more and more about an aspect I found to be quite interesting while creating some great friendships.
And it didn't stop there. Before, I had become accustomed to the same routine day in and day out with my ex [whether it was good or bad] and decided to settle myself in it because I was familiar with this character and would take anything from him before I would from another, assuming that a new person would be similar. One day, I said forget it, what am I waiting for, and assumed the life of a completly single female. Along the way I met some cool people, one being my current boyfriend. We started off as friends. A friendship I had no plans for ... no expectations ... my only goal was to go with the flow of life for the moment ... and that friendship ended up growing into something that I am more than happy to be a part of. It's allowed me to not only learn a lot about others, but to accept and learn some things about myself that I had ducked and dodged. [lol]
So yes, rip the script and burn the planner and live life on the edge a little. Tired of the same old? Create a new. Don't feel like you're going anywhere? Take a new route. There are an abundance of positive possibilities when you choose to live your life a little more free-spirited. So, if you learn nothing else from my life experiences, know that sometimes it's okay to close your eyes, mash on the gas, and take a turn to the unexpected ...
until next time.
Make Misery into Millions ...
So, I've been MIA for a little bit -- but I'm back.
In the course of two weeks, my boyfriend (who was the only one with a car in our household) was in an accident with a tractor trailer which totaled his car. He's fine, but the accident left us both stranded. With that stated I left my previous job, bought a car and am now preparing for a much bigger adventure as an employee of the IRS.
With all that said - the good and the bad -- life happens. We must just learn to embrace the cliche of our culture and turn those lemons into lemonade...
...and then milk those miseries into MILLIONS! How so? You must learn how to make your skills marketable. With obtaining a college degree becoming a commonality of our culture, one must find the traits that make them stand out amongst the rest.
Marketable skills are skills that you learn in everyday life that don't necessarily come from job experiences. They can come from things you've learned about yourself within the relationships, those things that may have been overlooked in school or the leaderships in life you assume and are not appointed. It's not enough to say that you're hardworking, diligent and have a good work ethic. Employers want to know to what extent these terms apply. This is where our marketable skills come in. And, to get the most out of your marketable skills you should make sure they are transferable as well. Transferable meaning, they're not moment specific and could easily be applied to the different options your prospective field lends.
For the sake of this blog we will go over marketable social, organizational, personal development and critical thinking skills.
Having good social skills is being able to get your point across effectively when writing or speaking. They are very important in the world today and in many occupations it can determine the success of an employee and the company they work for. With our country increasing it's diversity by the millisecond it's important to be able to have a level of global-mindedness when it comes to social skills. An immense level of patience, empathy and understanding are needed when crossing cultures and language barriers. Many times I attribute my attendance to ODU with my efficient communication skills. A school that is heavily profiled for its increasingly diverse campus, I note the fact that I come in contact with different cultures, religions, etc. regularly. You can have a 4.0 GPA and awards for days in your B.S. in Sociology but if you aren't able to relate and connect to people - nothing else matters.
Where do you stand in a group? Do you assume the lead? Are you for the team or would you rather work alone? How are your organizational skills? Companies want to know about your organizational effectiveness and leadership. They want to know how you are at supervising, directing and guiding individuals and groups in the completion of tasks and fulfillment of goals. Your ability to work with a group to reach a common goal is important as well. Amongst my group of friends, I'm known as the 'aunt' and sometimes even the 'grandma.' I've been donned these nicknames because I have an 'old soul' and always assume the maternal role in our group. With that, when it comes to planning trips, doing things and when something goes wrong - I'm the one to take initiative. Often times my role is assumed before I even get a chance to decide what I want to do. In a resume or interview I would make it read as just that. I'm a leader who's willing to take initiative -- when things go wrong, you can always count on me.
Personal development is the desire to always improve you, whether it is physically, academically, financially. To what extent are you willing to go for your dreams? We all know how hard the job market is these days, but what steps are you taking to make your mark? Take for instance in the movie The Pursuit of Happyness, the main character during a job interview attempts to make it evident why he's a great candidate for an internship. He says -- loosely quoted - "I'm the type of person that if I don't know something, I'll say 'I don't know.' But, I will guarantee you I will look it up and find the answer to it." Needless to say, he got the internship. His statement showed that he has a desire for knowledge and to get the job done.
Lastly, for this blog anyway, there are the critical thinking skills. Critical thinking not only asks the question of whether or not you're able to think outside of the box but how fast? If the company was in a bind with seemingly no way out ... how would you react? For this one, I will use the situation I opened up the blog with. All odds were almost against me. Knowing that I would have a new job coming in almost two weeks, I thought on my feet! It would be much easier to find a ride for one instead of two so I quit my previous job to make things a little easier. (Hey, at least one of us has to bring home the bacon, Ha! Ha!) As I waited on my new job to approach us, I evaluated our finances and bought us a point A to point B car to take us where we had to go and hold us until my boyfriend was able to get something better. Then, when he did, we would have two cars and wouldn't be so dependent upon one. There's always that question in an interview where you're asked "Tell me about a frustrating time that you had to pull through." This would be the perfect time for that.
So, evaluate yourself. What makes you unique? And, what things in life have proved to be worth more than just memories but money making potential?
For more help with evaluating your marketable skills and other areas of skill to think about, visit the following websites:
This past May I was donned a graduate of Old Dominion University...
..Well, sort of.
Actually, I walked with less than a semester's worth of classes short of my degree. I traded my title as a super senior for one as a 'transitional student' -- or at least I'd like to think so. With nine credits left to complete my degree, I felt as if it was more economic friendly if I were to do so ... at home.
Returning home was no walk in the park. Two years short of 25, I witnessed first-handily what it meant to experience the Quarter Life Crisis. I had no idea what-so-ever of what to do next. Of course I still had the same knowledge, talents and ambitions I did before returning home, but I had no idea of where to start. After 17+ years of schooling, how do you begin in a world where the only things you register for are health benefits and life insurance? In a world where days off are accrued and no longer exist whenever you just don't feel like going and you can't just withdraw when you feel you're not performing up to par? And, most importantly, how do you make someone want to invest their time and money into you?!
I spent the beginning of the summer reading any and everything I could to try to figure out how to connect my past of academia to a future of prosperity. Thanks to one of my best friends, I didn't have to read too long. As a 'walking' gift, she gave me the book Great Jobs for an English Major. This book was the best! Eighty-five percent of my collegiate career was spent reading and discussing short stories, novels, poetry and plays, but never did it don on me the types of skills I'd gained from it all. The book informed me that my major helped to refine the skill of thinking outside of the box. English majors are innovative! That's if you haven't already realized that. Discussing the differences of an author's choice to use magenta as opposed to salmon in a poem has made us analytic, detail-oriented and above all, we have the communications bit down. Above all we know how to decipher. And, because most of our classroom gatherings consisted of workshops built on receiving constructive criticism, writing portfolios to ensure growth and the encouragement to give our opinions, what ODU has done is actually prepared us for the boardrooms of Fortune 500 companies. Not only did the book help me to realize all of this, but it taught me how to display it in a resume (we English majors can be pretty wordy) and be able to discuss it in an interview. It also gives suggestions to jobs that the typical English major may have never considered and Googling tips. All things I could have easily learned from taking advantage of the Career Management Center, but didn't think would be too difficult until I stood dumbfounded. Oh yea, and if you haven't gotten the idea yet - this book is a great investment for all English majors. The manual to all things possible!
P.S. - Don't worry non-English majors, the company has made books for other broad majors too :) (I know for sure Amazon.com has one for Psych, Criminal Justice, Foreign Language, History, Anthropology, Sociology, Physical Education, Film, Engineering, Music, Math, Business and Environmental Studies majors.)