Thursday, February 23, 2012

Reinvention In The Digital Age

It used to be, gentle readers, that one could go off to college and be a different person than they were in high school. It used to be that one could move to a new city or a new country and be a different person than the one they had been before.

And your MatchGirl isn't speaking about anything nefarious. It's simply that it used to be so simple to leave one's old self behind. To invent yourself from scratch. Or, at the very least, put aside your bookish nerdy self and become a cheerleader-type. Or some such thing.

But how do we do that now?
In this digital age, when everything about you is available for everyone else to see?

It's hard to escape your past, for sure, but it's not so hard to look to your future.
Your MatchGirl's advice to those looking to reinvent themselves, just do it. You don't need to forget who you were (or are) to get where you are going. But you do need to see where it is you want to be.

And honestly, from one geeky girl, who never did turn into a cheerleader-type, to someone probably not that different (if you're reading this little tome, anyway), why would you want to lose all that old stuff? It's what adds up to make you who you are today. And that person ... probably doesn't suck.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

How to Stay Motivated While Unemployed

Ah, gentle readers. A lot of people have been asking lately how your MatchGirl stays motivated to keep up this blog (and others) while searching for a full time job and doing a bit of freelancing. How does she keep going when the pay-off doesn't seem so immediate?

The answer isn't simple. There are certainly days when a Netflix marathon seems much more enticing than writing, emailing or ... pretty much anything else. But staying motivated is a mindset.

To-do lists are your best friend. Promise. They are a way to keep you motivated and feeling accomplished all at once.

Timers are good, too. Say you are going to write for an hour? Set your kitchen timer, put aside other distractions and just write. When the timer beeps, get up, walk around the room, go for a walk around the block, and then move on to the next item on your list. The same goes for replying to e-mails, or reaching out to potential employers.

Bribe yourself. Really want to watch the season finale of Downton Abbey? To eat that last piece of cake in the fridge? Wait. Finish your work first. Reward yourself for what you've done. Not what you're planning on doing.

Staying motivated is hard. YourMatchGirl isn't saying otherwise. But it's important. Make a mini-schedule for yourself and get your work done. And, equally as important, know when to set your work aside and pay attention to the people around you.

Good luck!

Friday, February 10, 2012

On Debt & Parachutes

Do you know about Skillshare?

Learn anything, anywhere, from anyone.

Your MatchGirl has quite a few friends who have taught classes. And she has considered teaching some herself (on what ... she's not quite sure.) Skillshare is on the forefront of the new education model that's been much buzzed about of late.

And in the interest of promoting that new model, they are hosting a "Golden Parachute" contest:

It's time the little guy gets bailed out! Enter for a chance to wipe out $5,000 from your student debt.

Click here to enter.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Interviews Are Conversation

As your MatchGirl heads out on another job interview, it's important to take a moment to talk about them, gentle readers.

An interview is a conversation. You need to give as good as you get.

Here are a few tips to help you through:

Dress up. Even if it's at a jeans and t-shirt kind of place. Take your clothing to the next level. It shows you care.

Don't interrupt. This is hard for some people, but it's important to remember. Bite your tongue and hear your interviewer out.

Pause. Don't jump right into you answer. Take a moment. Think about what you'll say. Then go.

Don't say "like" or "um" in your sentences. If you're searching for the word, simply pause. You'll seem more intelligent.

Eye contact is important. It shows you're paying attention and that you're interested in the job.

Ask questions. Come in prepared with at least one question. If you're meeting with several people, this is a rough one sometimes, but you can do it. Asking questions shows that you're excited about the place and the position. It shows that you listened as they were speaking and that you did some research before you showed up.

Remember that this is two (or more) people sitting down for a conversation. And it's as much about them, who they are and what they are looking for, as it is about you. If you keep this in mind, you should do just fine.

Good luck to you - and me!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Safety Nets

Ah, gentle readers. Let's talk about safety nets. I imagine quite a few of you out there are taking advantage of one or another right now. Is unemployment insurance a safety net? Do you become poor living on unemployment insurance for long enough, while you struggle to find a new position?

The federal poverty line is $10,800 a year for a single person, $22,000 for a family of four.


Can you imagine living on that? Let alone in New York City, where everything from food to rent costs more than most other places in the US?

About a week ago, GOP Presidential hopeful (and my former Governor) Mitt Romney said, "I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I'll fix it." He went on to speak about how he's concerned mostly with the middle class in America, who is struggling. He didn't say that a lot of them are teetering precipitously close to that line of being amongst the very poor.

In your MatchGirl's opinion, gentle readers, Mitt just doesn't get it. While he was governor of Massachusetts (though not voted for by me), it seemed like he might. He rolled out "Obamacare"(otherwise known as health care reform) before Obamacare was even a term. Or, you know, about a year into Obama's career as the Junior Senator from Illinois. Your MatchGirl still has a lot of friends in Massachusetts and the reform itself has mixed reviews, but, overall...  isn't it better to be able to go to the doctor, to take your kids, than to either not be able to or to break the bank doing so? Your MatchGirl thinks maybe.

But back to those safety nets.

Your MatchGirl wonders if there is not something more that can be done.
What good is a safety net, after all, if there is no way to climb out of it?

Sure, the majority of the country isn't at the poverty level. Yet. But that number is growing.

We need more than nets to catch people - that brings to mind fish gasping for air to this seacoast girl's mind. We need a way to make the American dream more than a dream for more Americans

In my opinion, dear readers, this starts with education reform. Big and hard changes that will scare the people who think the only way to measure intelligence is by having a kid fill in little bubbles on a scan card. That there is only one way that kids can learn. I've written about it before. And I'll keep talking about it.

Because America is falling behind - it's falling behind not only the Asian countries that the candidates keep calling out as our biggest threats, but smaller countries, like Finland. Because we don't look at the problem long term.

We look at everything in terms of electability.
In terms of a manufacturing sector that does not exist in the way it did for our grandparents (or parents).
In terms of the good old days where you could provide, well, for a family on a high school degree and where you could be guaranteed a good job with a college degree.
Guess what - we live in a different world. And we need to adapt to it if we're going to survive.

America, dear Mitt, doesn't need safety nets (nor, Mr. Gingrich, does it need trampolines - you just fall back down, you know)

It needs a ladder.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Hiding In Shadows

Today, some groundhog, with a cute name, in some city in America, peeped his little head out of his burrow and saw his shadow.

Or he didn't.

As I write this, gentle readers, I have no idea what the rodent saw.
And it doesn't matter. Not one little bit.

Life keeps on moving and there's no reason that one should hide in the shadows.

Get yourself out there. Say hi. Be seen.

Whatever you do, no matter where you are in your own life, don't go hiding from your own shadow.