Day One-Hundred-and-Twenty: Full-time badass/writer

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“So I want the monogram to read M-A-X P-O-W…”

 

I am happy to announce that an actual real-life company has deemed me employable. Yeah! Not that any of you ever doubted that, right? (Right?)

So, I have a full-time job.

This is both awesome and scary.

It’s a big tick in the ‘Growing up and getting my shit together’ box, and a big step further into the adult world–which, let’s face it, still makes me feel like Will Ferrell in Elf.

I spent my first day as a technical writer being shown around the building, having stuff explained to me in a “we’re not trying to overwhelm you, but you probably need to know this” kind of way, and double-checking that they had hired the right person and I was not part of some switched-at-interview mix-up.

It’s not that I’m super surprised that someone would give me a job–I do have a degree now, and a not-useless set of skills–but a lot of writers only dream of being paid (in a full-time position) to just, well, write.

When I get a census form whenever the fuck those things come out (every five years, apparently, so I’ll be waiting until 2016), or am filling out any other form that asks for my occupation, I can actually put the word ‘writer’ in my job title. Not a vague ‘Administration’ or ‘Hospitality’ (because KFC totally counted) or ‘Sales’, but a studied-to-get-a-freaking-degree-in-this writer.

This is a serious win.

 

“I thought you studied journalism,” some of my more observant friends will point out.

This is true. I did study journalism. I also had a second major in Creative and Professional Writing.

“But didn’t you want to be a journalist?” the same friends will tactlessly push.

While it is true–though, admittedly, shocking–that a student of journalism would be considering a career as a journalist, asking the above is a bit like asking a science student, “But didn’t you want to be a scientist?” It’s kind of reductive to assume that the broad set of skills one obtains in each of those degrees would only be useful and desireable in one single job. (Besides, ‘scientist’ is about as vague as you can get. Some of those guys don’t even wear lab coats and swirl beakers. I know!)

I did consider getting a job as ‘a journalist’, and even applied for a few, but at the end of the day, my most basic desire is to work as a writer. I want to have a job where the skills that I paid a painful amount of money (that I don’t yet earn enough to pay back–writing jobs, eh?) to get are being used. If that job is as a journalist: great. I love journalistic writing; I’ll probably do it on the side anyway. If it turns out, as it has, that a job as a technical writer ticks those boxes, then I am happy to broaden my horizons beyond the expected, and get some new skills to boot. Someone actually wants to pay me to do what I love? Show me to my desk.

So, here’s to Monday to Friday, bussing to the city, budgeting with an actual income, challenges and new experiences, and the impending appearance of some kick-ass business cards.

 

TB

Technical Writer/Bad-Ass M.C.

Day Sixty-Nine: Hey, adulthood, what gives?

I should have realised by now that this ‘grown up’ thing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but I’m calling bullshit on a few things that adulthood has dished up. In fact, I’m considering suing adulthood on the grounds of false advertising. You see, there are things that were fabled when I was just shy of 20 that have not come to pass.

 

The following are entirely unacceptable and require immediate explanation:

 

Bad skin

ImageI’m calling it: 23 is too far from your teens for pimples to be attributable to teenage hormones. You know that acne is a teenage problem when you get diagnosed with ‘adult acne’. I suffered pretty badly with it through my later teens, hoping against hope that this was just a phase, that there would be a time soon where my skin would be smooth and glowing and people would stop and say, “damn, that’s some nice skin.” It’s not that I’ve lapsed back into full-blown acne at any stage in the last few years, but I am pretty consistently plagued by little bumpy skin demons who love nothing more than to arrive unannounced before big photography-heavy events (think school formal, graduation, significant birthdays). Some days I look at myself in the mirror and wonder if I’ll still be fighting spots when I’m 60, my arthritic fingers fumbling to apply globs of concealer over the offending blemishes before I head to bingo. Maybe my friends will even be jealous. Zits are super youthful, right?

I think it’s about time my skin just settled the fuck down and got its life together.

 

Money (or lack thereof)

ImageNobody in my family was ever especially rich, and, while we had some nice things and didn’t struggle, I was hardly growing up a Kardashian. Nevertheless, simple maths told me that based on the number of hours each of my parents worked, we should have been totally rolling in it. Well, they should have been totally rolling in it. I did always suspect they had more up their sleeves than they were letting on. Keep in mind that this was during a time of my life when $10 was a small fortune. I couldn’t wait–well, still can’t wait–for a time when I was making a couple of grand a fortnight and buying like 100 Ghost Drops at a time whenever the hell I wanted. Alas, adulthood has greeted me with a continuing run of casual employment, incredibly modest paychecks, and not nearly enough small flavoured lollies. It’s probably got something to do with six-year-old me’s assumption that by now I would have a job as a singer/actress/model, split my time between London and Paris, and appear on the cover of magazines (I had big plans, ok?).

Since I’ve only just finished studying, I’m going to give adulthood six months grace to address this little hiccup.

Oh, and a tiger. I want a tiger.

 

Cooking skills (or severe lack thereof)

ImageI’m not sure why, because I never was particularly involved in helping my parents with dinner, but I was working under the impression that when it came time for me to get my own place and feed myself I would be some kind of Jamie Oliver-Nigella Lawson hybrid, as beautiful as I was culinarily talented. All I can say is thank god for Google. I shit you not, I had to look up how to boil an egg. Ok, I’m not brain-dead; I get that there is water, a pot, and an egg involved, but I had zero idea how long to put it in, whether to boil the water first then add the egg (turns out to be the wrong way), or why you had to stir the water after you put the eggs in (to centre the yolks, it seems, which would have been helpful to know before I went ahead and let them sit). I sound incompetent or spoilt (the former is probably true), but I really just never had to think about this kind of stuff before now. I didn’t boil too many eggs at the family home, as it turns out. Cooking meat to non-charred, non-bleeding perfection, experimenting with flavours without poisoning myself and others, and learning the difference between a pan that is hot enough and a pan that is instant-stick-and-burn are all coming to me slowly and with much trial and error (mostly error).

I get the feeling that adulthood is going to be reading a lot of recipe books this year…

 

Being disorganised/unmotivated

ImageMy parents are both neat, orderly people, who write things down, manage hectic schedules, and stay on top of bills and birthdays. It seemed that Mum never did something unless it had a purpose, and every spare minute could be effectively used to complete a pending task (no doubt child-related, sorry Mum). I don’t know whether it’s this example or a deep-down knowledge that I only have a finite amount of time on this earth, but I feel like a total waste of space when I’m just sitting down relaxing. Not that this mentality is conducive to achievement. It’s almost the opposite. My mind seems to think that guilt is code for “fuck this, let’s eat chips”. Disorganised may be the wrong word for it. My days are heavily scheduled, just not with stuff that’s immediately important or useful for my future/present. How can I possibly tweak my resume while there’s a fingerprint on that window? I can pay that bill next week after I get paid–ooh, pretty dress, must buy! I have so much washing/cleaning/writing to catch up on on my day off *texts friends to see what they’re doing*. I’m going to get up and go for a run tomorrow–zzzzzz.

If there was a gene that was supposed to click on when I turned 20, I am yet to feel its effects.

 

Maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world that I haven’t crossed irreversibly into some realm of joyless, clear-skinned, freakishly-organised humans. I get the feeling that I’ll look back in ten years’ time and laugh that I’d entertained the notion that I was an adult. Actually, it’s just as likely that I’ll look back and laugh at all the fart jokes I’ve made. Hehe, farts.

 

TB

Day Ten: What I really want to put on my resume

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(Photo source: funnyjunk.com)

 

Have brain. Will work for peanuts.

The ability to write a good resume and cover letter could be the difference between getting an interview and ending up on the ‘no’ pile. I’ve been told this many times over my school and university careers.

“You can be the smartest, most creative, most hard-working person that ever walked the earth,” teachers told us. “But if you can’t translate that onto paper, then you won’t get the jobs.”

Being a writer, I should be good at this. My letters are well-written, but unfortunately I find it hard to ignore the little voice in my head that screams, “YOU IMMODEST WANKER” everytime I write about my skills. (Even writing the beginning of the previous sentence had me worried I’d sound pompous.) The problem is that modesty only comes across face to face. Downplaying your abilities in a written format just reads as, well, having no abilities.

Over the years, I’ve learnt that reading the job advertisement thoroughly, and essentially ‘parotting’ back what they’ve said is a good place to start.

“We’re looking for a creative person with excellent problem-solving skills…”

I am a highly creative person, whose problem-solving skills are legendary. This one time I solved two Rubik’s cubes at once…

Notice, too, that I’ve thrown in an example. It’s usually not enough to say, “I am really good at resolving difficult situations”; you need to add, “like this one time where a shark grabbed my leg and I punched it in the face until it let go”.

I’ve found that it’s also really hard to let your personality shine through in a formal document. Much as I’d love to write cover letters in the same vein as I write my blogs, the professional realm demands some degree of politeness and restraint. (They’re not keen on f-bombs either, I’m told.)

The other issue that comes up a lot is truthfulness. I’ve lost count of the number of times that people have told me to “just make it up” on job applications (and credit card applications). Part of me is ok with small lies, particularly if you know that after one week of training you’ll have that skill down anyway, but fibbing about bigger stuff has a strong likelihood of backfiring.

“We’re doing today’s interview with a German scientist. He speaks very little English, but that shouldn’t be too much of an issue, hey Frauline.”

The funny thing is that, if you think about it, you can usually find a genuine situation where you’ve had to use that skill (albeit in an abstract way and maybe not even in a job setting).

“The applicant will have strong leadership skills and have a demonstrated ability to lead a team…”

One time I was waiting for my meal in McDonald’s and it was taking ages, so I led the crowd of hungry customers in a chant of “Where’s our food?”…

“The applicant will have an exemplary customer service record and always go above and beyond to provide excellent service…”

I have never hung up on a telemarketer, and I’ve even offered them some great deals on home loans while I’ve got them on the phone. And I don’t even work for a bank…

In an ideal world, an interview would be guaranteed, and a cover letter would be a mere formality (or abolished all together). If cover letters really must be provided, we should be able to write candidly.

Look, I’m not an idiot. I don’t necessarily have all of the skills that you’re looking for yet, but I learn really quickly, and I’m willing to spend extra time catching up on the things that I haven’t yet grasped. Let me work for you for a few days, watch me during that time, and decide based on that whether to hire me. Also, I am hilarious.

Alas, I must save such clear and simple talk for the informal channels (hence, posting it here), and put the ‘professional’ element of my Creative and Professional Writing major into practice. Thank god for KWB100: Fudging a Resume. 😉

 

TB