Friday Frivolity

By this time next week, I’ll be recuperating from a huge Thanksgiving meal and enjoying a much-deserved break from work.  Yes, having worked five days straight means I need a break!  It’s hard transitioning from couch-living blogger to worker bee!

Since I’m so worn out from actual “working” and “productivity” in addition to getting acclimated to the big city, I’m going to take it easy for this post and simply point you to a blog that I enjoy.

100 Reasons NOT To Go To Graduate School

My thoughts on graduate school have been discussed before but I enjoy this blog’s tongue-in-cheek look at all the reasons why a sane person would never, ever get involved with such a crazy endeavor.  Although one graduate student I know read the blog and commented that those were some of the reasons they chose graduate school, so there’s that.

My favorite reason?  You have to deal with the condescending question of “you’re still in school?  at your age?”  That has to be almost as bad as “so, what do you do?

Current graduate students, what do you think of this list?  Hilarious or depressing?  What would you add?

Living On The Dole

Unemployment happens.  Google unemployment rates if you want to look at some numbers that will make you sad or check out any of the many posts here about the ups and downs of the job market.  As oft-described, it is the suck to be unemployed.  But there are some resources for those who find themselves job-less.

One of those resources is unemployment benefits.  Benefits vary state to state but essentially are a weekly payment based on previous wages and salary that are made to those who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own and are actively job searching but are unemployed or partially-employed.  I encourage any one who is in that situation to take advantage of unemployment. If you have been working, you have earned that money.  I’ve spoken to many people who are concerned about the stigma of receiving benefits – trust me, most people have received benefits at some point in their life.  It’s not a permanent solution but it can really make the difference during your job hunt.

How to Apply for Unemployment

1.  First, be sure to document all the information regarding your termination.  Generally, benefits are only extended when you lose your job through no fault of your own but if you feel that you were wrongfully terminated, there are opportunities to still receive benefits and address that issue.

2.  Before you file your first initial claim, visit your state’s employment/workforce commission website.  It will have all the details regarding filing.  Read the fine print – policies vary from state to state. Many local library branches have volunteers on hand to assist with understanding this process – take advantage of speaking with someone before you get started! 

3.  Some information to have on-hand when you’re ready to file – your past employment history for the last 12-18 months including wages, employment dates, supervisor contact information, reason for leaving, etc, and the details regarding your most recent termination.

4.  Generally, you will file an initial claim online.  This will determine if you qualify and for how much.  Once you receive a letter stating that you may receive benefits, you will still need to file weekly to receive payment (generally through direct deposit or a pre-loaded card).  All states require you to document your job search, so be sure to do thoroughly.

Tips for Filing Painlessly

  • Most states require a waiting period 1-2 weeks after your last day.  Do not expect a check to come sailing in right away!
  • It’s important to communicate with your most recent employer if you plan to file – contact human resources to see if there will be any challenges to your claim.  This shouldn’t necessarily stop you but if there is going to be an issue, it’s better to know going in.  No money will be dispersed during any fact-finding process.
  • Benefits are determined based on previous wages/salaries, so if you were terminated from a full-time, high-paying job 8 months ago and then let go from your seasonal part-time gig 2 months ago, your benefits will be based on all the work you’ve done.  It also won’t matter that you were previously fired if the claim you’re filing is from an employer who lets you go due to lack of work.
  • Be organized!  Write down EVERYTHING pertinent to your job hunt – I used a label in Google Mail to track all job-related correspondence for weekly filing.  You do not have to accept every job offer you may receive but you have to document everything that happens!
  • Benefits usually only last for 26 weeks.  Some extensions may be available.  Keep this in mind when job-hunting – you’ll need a plan for when your benefits do stop.
  • Benefits are taxed!  I recommend having taxes taken out prior to being dispersed.  It makes life easier.

My final word of advice?  Keep in mind that, like many government-operated programs, there is a lot of paperwork (mostly on-line) and very few staff members.  Stay on top of the progress of your claims and find out who the deputy assigned to your case is that you can have a point person to talk to.  Also, any delays (as small as a misspelled name to as serious as an employer challenge) will freeze your money, so be prepared!  Unemployment benefits can be a great help for paying bills when you’re not working but you’ll want to try to have a safety net or plan in case that money doesn’t come through.

Readers, how many of you have filed for unemployment?  Please share tips or suggestions, especially state-specific, in the comments.  Any questions?  I’m happy to share more about my experiences.

Sixth Time’s a Charm

I have been hired for what is technically my sixth job this year.  They have been as follows:

  • Non-profit jack-of-all-trades [result: mutual separation]
  • Substitute teacher [result: job I said I did but really never did]
  • Retail sales jockey [result: left for greener pastures and/or paychecks]
  • Temporary employee for insurance company [result: terminated]
  • Call center desk jockey [result: never started due to job #6]
  • Non-profit jack-of-all-trades [result of an an agonizing interview process]

It’s funny how you can end up exactly where you started, despite all the bouncing around and uncertainty and angst.

Of course, I’m not exactly where I was in March.  For one, this new non-profit position is for a much larger organization in terms of the scale of the project and the responsibilities.  Also, I had to relocate for this job – a first for me!  I am currently living [aka crashing at a friend’s place] in our nation’s capital!  Luckily, I happen to love D.C. and it’s only a short drive/bus trip from my real home here in the Blue Ridge, so it’s totally ideal.

Because it has all happened so quickly – two weeks from the day the resume was sent to the job offer – people are naturally curious as to how I managed to snag such a sweet deal.  I’m going to be truthful here, folks.  It’s really just dumb luck. The chain of events is fairly simple:

1.  I had to apply for jobs weekly for unemployment and my own sanity.
2.  My roommate had given me a few “sad bastard days” post-termination, which I had exhausted, so I had to get serious about my future.
3.  I randomly selected 5 non-profit job listings from the Washingon, DC craiglist.
4.  One of the jobs happened to be a great fit and was so enthusiastic in the phone interview, they asked me to come up to meet in person.
5.  During the face-to-face, they asked if I was willing and able to move in 7-10 days.  I lied and said yes.
6.  When I got the job offer, I had to force myself to be willing and able to move.

You know from reading this blog that job-hunting is not easy but it when it does happen, it happens fast and my best piece of advice is to say yes, yes, yes – and then force yourself to live up to your word.

Of course, I’m not pretending that I’m made in shade yet.  No job is permanent and luckily, I can keep my “country estate” in the Blue Ridge [as I’m calling it] just in case.  And I might actually “save” my “money” for a rainy day this time.  Be sure to keep reading – this next chapter might be the most exciting yet!

Music Monday: Dolly Parton

I have an unabashed love for Dolly Parton.  Maybe it’s because I’m from Texas, where you learn to have a healthy respect for buxom big-haired women, or maybe it’s from watching Steel Magnolias at least one hundred times (I don’t trust anyone who does their own hair. I don’t think it’s natural.)

Regardless of the reason, I love Dolly – love her music, love her movies, love to drunkenly belt out Jolene at karaoke, love every darn thing about her.  So it feels apropos, on the first day of my new job [details to come tomorrow!] to let my girl Dolly get me in the mood for heading back to work.

Nine to Five – Dolly Parton

[Also, this may be one of the strangest videos I’ve seen for awhile.  Do Minnie Mouse and the princesses have some sort of labor dispute?  Is this some sort of trenchant social commentary on Walt Disney?  Why is Dolly the only person in the world who can pull off so much fringe?  I digress.]

This is a song, that for all its cheesy and slick production, never fails to get me a little excited about working.  It sends me back to my youth, when I thought going to work was going to be like the film Nine to Five or Working Girl – I’d get to wear loud suits and struggle with oppressive male bosses and persevere on pluck and hairspray.  The great thing about Dolly is you always believe what she’s singing – her sincerity isn’t manufactured.

So, although I’m a little nervous for my first day, you can be sure that while I’m doing the crossword on the Metro, I’ll have Dolly piping through my headphones.


Friday Frivolity

Hello friends!  I have returned to the beautiful Blue Ridge from the Big Apple safely but I have so much news.  Be sure to check back in next week for details on my new big girl job, my thoughts on moving after 7 years in one place, my advice on filing for unemployment, and more!

Of course, because today’s Friday, we’re going to keep it simple.  A dear friend who blogs about being a PhD candidate over at Literary Ambitions posted a great video a few weeks ago and I wanted to share it with you.  I think it reaffirms why most of us will never pursue a PhD in our humanities-field-of-choice and provides a cathartic laugh for those who actually are!

So You Want To Get A PhD in Humanities

For the literary nerds, “Harold Bloom is a misogynistic, narcissist” is pretty hilarious as far as nerd jokes go.

Friday Frivolity

When you read this, I’ll be tooling around New York City with my biffles, perusing art museums and seeing Jimmy Fallon LIVE.  Of course, between eating from every food truck possible and stalking Anthony Bourdain, we’re taking a trip to some sites spotted on one of my favorite television shows, Flight of the Conchords.

Whenever I get concerned about my job prospective, Jermaine and Bret always give me the appropriate perspective.  So, this weekend, just remember that no matter how bad things get, you don’t have to be a prostitute.