Friday, August 28, 2009

Crunch time

After receiving my last unemployment check, I did some math to figure out how many more weeks of unemployment I have. They tell you your remaining benefit balance, and it was looking pretty low. I only have ten weeks left. At that point, if I still don't have a job I will have to apply for an extension of benefits. I'm pretty nervous about that for several reasons. First, the application process can be incredibly long. You have to wait for interviews, approvals, blah blah bureaucracy, blah. When I originally applied, I had a small severance pay and my last paycheck to get me through about 4-6 weeks. Not this time. I've burned through my tax return that was supposed to be savings. I'm just scraping by. So are a lot of people, so I'm not looking for sympathy. That's just the reasoning behind my nervousness. Also, I've heard rumors that benefit amounts are being cut or denied completely. 

Now would be a great time for my phone to start ringing! I've followed up on the applications (4 or so) that I recently sent, but of course no response.  It looked like I was going to get a new nanny job, but that fell through. Right now, to make my minimum weekly requirement I am driving 275 miles per week and spending a little over 2 hours on the road daily. I commute from Santa Ana to Long Beach to Anaheim Hills back to Long Beach and then back home to Santa Ana. Yuck! I'm going to continue sending out applications, but on Tuesday I start school and will need to focus on my classes. I cannot and will not jeopardize my academics by spending hours and hours sending applications no one even reads. That might sound odd after all this talk about how badly I need a job, but school is my priority. I'll figure out a way to get my bills paid and keep my 4.0 average! 

I do have a small glimmer of hope. I don't want to jinx it, but I am applying for an internship for the spring or summer semester and its paid. If I get accepted and there is an appropriate agency to match me with, I could intern with a federal agency and make $550 per week. Get my foot in the door and actually earn money? Yes, please. If I intern during the summer, I could be placed anywhere in the country. There is a small part of me that dreams about working in Washington D.C., or maybe Chicago even, and that would be a great way to fulfill that desire without making a permanent life change and being even farther from my family. Here's hoping I get accepted!

To everyone else struggling in this economy, these will make great stories for our grandkids. "When I lost my job in the recession/depression of 2009..." 

Til next time. 

Saturday, August 15, 2009

how many people am I competing with??

Occasionally I take a look at craigslist job postings in other cities around the country. I've checked out Atlanta, D.C., Portland (fantasizing about going back), and Chicago.  As I perused the very few job openings in Chicago, I looked at a post for a Border Patrol Agent for the Northern border. (I think?) I don't actually want to do that, but I was curious. It was an updated post saying the position was now closed after receiving 12,000 ELIGIBLE APPLICATIONS!! People were more than welcome to send their resume for future consideration, however. WOW. After reading that I thought to myself, how many people am I actually competing with every time I send a job application? Dozens? No, it was dozens in 2006. Hundreds? Thousands? I'd love to see the math. If 11% of Orange County residents are unemployed and there are ____ job openings, how many applicants does an open job receive (on average)? I'm sure it depends on the industry, but I think the point is clear. 

The old tactics of faxing or mailing your resume as well as emailing to make yourself stand out, or calling to speak with an actual person, or even physically going to introduce yourself are no longer an option. Employers are emphatically saying NO FAXES, NO PHONE CALLS, NO DROP-INS, or things along those lines. So what can you do? If anyone comes across this blog, have you had success finding work? What did you do to make yourself stand out from the bagillion other people that submitted resumes? At this point I am guessing a personal contact is my only hope, but so far the few networks I do have don't know of any openings. What about staffing agencies? Do they work? Do non-profits use those? 

So many questions. Like I said before, I haven't been as committed to the job search as I should be. This week I did send two applications, and will be sending another tomorrow. I'll follow up via email (since that's my only option according to their instructions) next week. I know I have to be more dedicated and send multiple apps per week. Eventually someone has to at least want to interview me right? In the meantime, maybe I should try to eek out some time to try volunteering or interning to get me in the door. That probably sounds weird since most people assume the unemployed have nothing but time on their hands. But between babysitting, applying for jobs, watching t.v. and hating myself, there is little time left to volunteer. 

Til next time. 

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Can't find a job...what to do next? Blog of course.

Until now, I have never even considered starting my own blog.  I have never considered that people might actually be interested in my thoughts and musings on a relatively boring and standard life.  I still don't think people will be interested, but I am interested. I figured I could use a blog as an avenue to express my frustrations and constant discouragement. After stumbling upon a blog by a fellow unemployed that helped me cope with the impossible task of trying to reach EDD by phone, it struck me that maybe my experience might resonate with other people too. So, here I am. And here are my unemployment stats: unemployed since 3/6/09, making ends meet by supplementing unemployment with babysitting, have yet to receive one interview or even an actual rejection that didn't come in the form of just refusing to answer my emails or phone calls. 

In late January of this year, I entered a meeting with my new supervisor excited to share all the program development ideas I had come up with. My after school program had just been placed under the jurisdiction of the Child Care department, and they assured me they would provide me with more support and the necessary resources needed for my program to reach its potential. The week prior to the meeting, I attended a meeting with the school staff and the counseling department and I started developing ideas for a lunchtime mentorship program for 8th graders who spent lunch on the porch of my outdoor classroom everyday anyway. I knew my boss would love the idea! Unfortunately, before I had a chance to share it with her she called in another supervisor and awkwardly informed me my program was being closed so the resources used to fund the program could be redirected. The last day would be February 27th, and I needed to get a letter out to the parents and students immediately. "So we won't be finishing the year?" I asked. No, and encourage the students to join the other program on campus program so they have a place to go. Nevermind that the other program is severely, severely lacking, to put it kindly and mildly. 

Surprisingly, I didn't cry. Thank God. I wanted to, but I've been told that isn't very professional. Students were devastated. Parents were outraged. Staff members wanted to start a revolution. I felt the same way, but after awhile I just wanted it to be over. I knew there was nothing we could do, and I accepted defeat.  I was kept on for an extra week because no one else wanted the job of cleaning out the classroom. The last time I told someone that they thought I was being paranoid, but actually someone told me that directly. "We're keeping you on until the 6th because if you don't clean the room that means I have to." 

At first, I didn't try that hard to get a new job. I'm a full time graduate student and I thought it would give me a chance to take an extra class and focus on my studies. Now it looks like I will be graduating a semester earlier than I anticipated, so that's great. I decided to start nannying, but that was easier said than done.  Now I have two part time babysitting jobs that are over 20 miles from my home. For $12/hour.  In May I thought it'd be good to go back to waiting tables, but over 25 applications and only one interview later, I gave up on that idea. 

Commercial break: my sister just called to say my one year old nephew is eating dog food. "Put that in your blog." So there it is. 

By late June, I scrapped the idea of serving tables and had come to hate nannying, so it was time to pursue a full time "career" type job. Bad timing I think. I'm pretty sure the job market is worse now than it was in March when I first became unemployed.  I act like I have been applying to jobs like that is my job, but that's not entirely truthful. But I will leave that for the next post. 

Til next time. 
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