Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What Looks Like Crazy...an update from the abyss

I just summed up my current place in life like this ... "It looks like crazy from the outside, but hopefully things'll work out" (I mean, I'm 32 and waiting tables with a law degree). At least my friend knew what the hell I was talking about! The truth is that I haven't written a blog in a while because I feel like I'm in a rut. I'm writing now to refocus, get my ass in gear and get fired up again.

Here's where I'm at...

1. Law firm: just switched everything to my own firm so that if I get more clients I can stash the cash for other adventures. Oh, and you know a girl's gotta look good on paper.

2. Microcredit: Still in love with this idea. I mean an economics theory actually being put to use in the nonprofit sector! I met with the USA Executive Director of the MicroLoan Foundation and took on a volunteer fund raising/development project. I then also waaaaaayyyy over committed myself by pretty much offering to assist on every other upcoming project.

3. FEMA: I just came accross a job posting for a dispute resolution/disaster relief position. It's an on-call emergency response position. You are sent to a spot in the USA hit by an emergency and act as a dispute resolution specialist. Well well well...travel you say? Helping people you say? No running water, electricity or daily necessities you say? Where do I sign up!

Okay, getting off said butt now.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

They Just Keep Sucking Me Back In...

Voice Inside Jen's Head: Pretty much done with this whole owning my own law firm thing. I'm ready for the next thing and don't want to spend what little brain energy I have on marketing and accounting. Instead I shall spend this energy on reading up on aid programs and meeting people who are already doing the work.

Random guy at the restaurant where I work: You're a lawyer? Really? I'm working on starting my own company and already developed a robotic prototype. Could you do the business filings?

Jen: Sure, let's meet up next week and talk numbers. I can definitely help.

Random guy number 2 at the restaurant where I work
: You're a lawyer? Really? I'm starting up an import business, could you prepare two trademark applications for the start up?

Jen: Sure, sounds exciting. I can definitely help.

Voice Inside Jen's head: $$ cha-ching, cha-ching $$. I shall stash away the money that I charge for these services so that I can pay my expenses in a few months when I volunteer for an aid agency.

Now, to just get paid....

Oh, also, for those of you following this blog (and by "all" I mean my mom) Kate has requested a correction to the Salsa post. Apparently I forgot to mention that in addition to the two bottles of wine, pizza and french fires we also consumed an order of fried calamari (oh, and the blueberry beer). I'm glad we got that all straightened out.

Good Day.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

My Girlie Magazine Horoscope Says....And a Note on Microloans

Obviously this means that within the next 20 or so days I will do something ridiculous that will ultimately land me the job of my dreams. I don't know why people read anything other than SELF and other girlie magazines. They make me feel like I am eating healthy, exercising and finding my dream job without any real effort. YYYYAAAAYYYY.

On a completely unrelated note to my horoscope, I am writing this blog whilst waiting for a phone call from a woman that works with microfinancing and microloans. Other than the ridiculously groovy sounding names, these economic and finance ideas are friggin amazing. The entire process is based on improving people's lives in third world countries by providing small entrepreneurial business loans. These loans are then used by small communities to start and run their own businesses with the goal of self sufficiency. I have to say, one of the most frustrating things I've found about the non profit world is a lack of business/administrative knowledge. I am intrigued!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Salsa Part Deux and More Boring Stuff

Well, since my internet and cable were down for a week, I was too lazy to post any blog updates. I am sure you'all are just dieing to know what I've been up to this past week. I'd really appreciate you containing your excitement and not peeing yourself in anticipation of my updates.

Update No. 1: A Little Salsa:

Well, salsa went a bit like this....

Thursday, June 18th

Kate's Text
: When does this salsa thing start?

My Text: Ugh, like 9 so we better do something before so that my ass doesn't get glued to the couch. I gotta open the restaurant at 7:30 on Sat.

Kate's Text
: Blech, I am sure as hell not goin back to Southie and then heading to Cambridge. I'll meet you after work, we'll eat pizza and then dance it off.

Friday, June 19th, SALSA DAY!!!!

Kate get's out of work at 3:30ish and proceeds to pick up a bottle of vino before heading to my place. We sit on my steps and polish off the bottle. We then get all gussied up and go and buy a new pair of sassy red shoes for Kate. Next, we head out looking like two wild and crazy sexy ladies to my neighborhood pizza place. There, we decide to split a pizza and french fries and of course another bottle of white. Success! We stayed out long enough to actually make it to the salsa club. YYYYYYYAAAAAYYYY US!! Then the conversation went something like this...

Kate: You know, it's already 9:00 and Central Square is all the way across the bridge (meaning a 15 minute walk TOPS). We could just skip it.

Me: We are such assholes. I am an old lady. You are 23 and therefore it is your job to make me stay out late on a Friday night. Really, though let's just go get a beer at Corner Tavern.

Five minutes later at the corner tavern...

Aldo (bartender/manager at Corner Tavern): Well hey ladies...you're looking pretty spiffy tonight. Why all dressed up?

: We were going to go salsa dancing.

Aldo: When does it start?

Me: 20 minutes ago...but then we split two bottles of wine and ate pizza and french fries in order to stay up long enough to head over.

Kate: But the place is allllll the way across the river.

: Two Wachusett Blueberries then?

Me & Kate
: Yes please and can you turn on some salsa music?

Update No. 2: A Little Networking

I met up with my friend Dee who is the executive director of a local non profit. In addition to the peel and eat shrimp recommendation and the accompaniment of an Ipswich Ale she was a great source of information. Basically I just picked her brain about how she ended up in the non profit sector and asked about local non profits and volunteer opportunities.

After reading that book on non profit career changers I discovered that the fastest way to go from volunteer to staff at a non profit is through their development department. Shocking right? You get the organization money and then they are actually able to pay you? Who'da thunk it right? Now, I've done a fair amount of fund raising in my time and good amount of grant research; however, I've never actually written a grant. So, I asked Dee If she thought I could volunteer to work with someone to write a grant. Her answer? "Um, are you effing kidding me, anyone would kill to have you take a proposal off their desk. I'll find you someone to work with but we won't tell them right away that you're a lawyer or you'll get roped into other work." Well gosh darn it to heck...that was easy.

Update No. 3: A Little Goal Setting
I don't really expect anyone to read this far (or the rest of this section) but I need to put this out there so that I'll adhere to the plan. When I was a case worker we learned how to set goals with our clients and how to make those goals attainable by breaking them down into smaller workable parts. So, I sat down for a few hours and wrote down my goal and how I plan to get there. Here goes nothing!

General Goal: By February, 2011 work/volunteer for international humanitarian cause

Stage 1 Research (July)

* Review organization descriptions on Idealist & determine likes
o Look at types of jobs available
o Look for positions with flexibility to stay in Boston & travel
o Look at job descriptions to determine compatibility
* Review term of service/volunteer international organizations
o Places
+ UN volunteers
+ National Counsel of Nonprofit Associations
+ United Way
+ Hands on Network
o Loan forgiveness
o Living stipend
o Health/life insurance
o Food/shelter provisions
o Type of mentorship/evaluations provided
o Number of people placed at one time
o Language requirements
o Program Fee?

Stage 2 Informational Interviews/Retrieve Necessary Applications (August)

* Contact Organizations for informational interviews
* Collect all necessary application materials from organizations
* Compile personal documents needed for applications

Stage 3 Applications (Early September)

* Redo Resume (human service not law)
* Create necessary cover letters
* Apply for desired positions
* Determine Necessary Visa & other travel requirements

Stage 4 Determine Budget & Fund raise (Mid-Late September through February)

* Determine $ necessary for all expenses while abroad
* Sell unnecessary household/electronics
* Look for investment/sales/invention (seek royalties) opportunities
o Resell: thomasnet.com
o dropshipservice.com
o inventright.com
o domainsinseconds.com
* Run a fundraiser
o volunteringinternational.org/fundtips/html
* switch credit card with frequent flier miles

Random Other things

* Nonprofit Networking events?
* Rewrite trident bio
* Grant writing classes
* Language classes
* Gates foundation
* Get New Business Cards
* Transfer all google contacts

POPPYCOCK...just checking to see if you're still here.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Today's Job Search Lesson...Go Salsa Dancing!

What you say? That Jen is insane you say? Well, most of you know that I am indeed insane so no surprise there. Here's the thing, that job search book that I skimmed through last week said not to forget to have fun and try new things. So, I am going salsa dancing tonight. Hilarity and a broken leg to ensue.

Additionally, I am actually going to go buy the book today and maybe read it a little more in depth.

On a completely unrelated note, I have decided that this is my new theme song...

Monday, June 14, 2010

The 5 Minute Pitch vs. The Little Voice Inside My Head

A few days ago I decided to stroll through a little bookstore in Harvard Square killing time before meeting some friends for din din. While there I decided to take a look at a career guide called The Idealist Guide to Nonprofit Careers for Sector Switchers. I got about halfway through the book while sitting there and plan to actually buy it sometime soon (sorry Harvard Coop since you are kind of "The Man"... I'm going to buy it at Trident instead). One thing that stuck with me is the idea of creating my own elevator pitch. While I know that this is not the world's most original idea it got me thinking a bit. Then, when I was in the shower this morning I came up with what I personally think is a good pitch. Immediately following this great epiphany the little voice in my head weighed in as well. Incidentally, while this entire conversation was going on in my head, I forgot whether or not i conditioned my hair, forcing me to repeat the entire process. Now my hair is silky smooth. Also, I'll probably bring up the whole voices inside my head thing at my check up next week.

Anyway, here's the elevator pitch:

Random Stranger: "Well hello there young lady. What prey tell do you do with your life when you are not in this fine elevator."

Me: "Well hello kind sir. Thank you for asking. I am actually in a transition period right now. Currently I am a lawyer and mediator and prior to that I was a social worker. Now, I am looking for my next career move. It seems that my skills and my interests lead right to the nonprofit sector and I am exploring careers involving international humanitarian aid. I think that my unique combination of human service, problem solving, crisis intervention and leadership skills fit well with humanitarian agencies. Plus, I love to travel and explore new places."

Little voice inside my head: "Truth is I have no effing clue what I am doing with my life. I left a defense litigation job about two years ago, then opened my own law & mediation firm. Now, I've decided to close down shop and tell the student loan companies to eat a fart. Additionally, I've been working as a Batista & waitress for the past two years, a position where I have no desire for upward mobility, just cash in hand. I leave work smelling like a not so pleasant combination of french fries and coffee grinds, stop and pick up a BBQ chicken pizza on my way home, eat the entire thing myself and then fall asleep on my couch in a self-loathing puddle of drool."

Dear Little Voice, SUCK IT....GOOD DAY...I SAID GOOD DAY! Thing is that working at a restaurant has allowed me flexibility, financial comfort and the ability to meet amazingly interesting people from around the world. Why just yesterday my supportive mommy sent me an article talking about what a great idea this type of work is when you are looking into starting a career.

When I was 25 I thought that I needed to figure out the rest of my life RIGHT THEN and choose a "professional career path." Now, at 32 I am the happiest I've ever been, waiting tables and figuring things out. And to my dearest student loan companies, I hate to sound cliche but you can't bleed a stone.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Worst Thing That Could Happen...

"The worst thing that could happen wasn't crashing and burning it was accepting terminal boredom as the status quo."

Oh Mr. Tim...get outah my head.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Andy Kelly's Career Goal: Being "The Torso"

I now think that my friend Andy is one of the smartest people in the world...no in the universe...no in the galaxy. He and I worked together at a little bookstore-slash-cafe. and for a while I never really talked to the book store people much (them being on the other side of the tracks and all). But boy am I glad that we've crossed the center line 'cause I never would've learned the "torso theory" by Andy Kelly.

Prior to Andy's return to school to gain his masters in library science (he he, geek), we discussed his career goals. And what you ask is the best sounding career goal? Andy's answer is simple...you gotta be "the torso". As he put's it: "you've got to position yourself in the torso: shit gets pretty bad, you lose a leg, or a hand; shit gets apocalyptic heads roll, but you can't do anything without your torso."

Effing brilliant Andy, effing brilliant. Now pondering how to become the torso in my new life.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Are You There God? Nope, It's Me Anthony Bourdain

Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit. Anthony friggin Bourdain is on the cover of the Improper Bostonian that came out today. This is a sign from the heavens. I must find him and do one of the following:

1. A la Family Guy I shall strategically lore him with a trail of irresistibly tempting tasty tidbits into a cardboard box held up by a stick and a string. Then I shall trap him and ship him off to somewhere that nobody will ever suspect he'd be (like rural Idaho or something). Following this delicate and intricate first step I shall just take over his identity and continue taping No Reservations without the least bit of suspicion. Bwaaahhh ha ha ha ha. Bwaaaaahhhh ha ha ha ha.


2. I may just read the article in the magazine and see if he's in town. Then I might possibly attend whatever appearance he's doing.

Either option is easily attainable and logical.

On another note, in the past three days I've started to review every relief
agency listed on Idealist. I've managed to find quite a few interesting organizations and send cold emails to a few. So far the response is fairly nice. Next step...actually getting a voice on the phone.

Also, since starting this blog people who thought my original email was spam now realize it was a serious endeavor. Truthfully, I am flattered and amazed at the thoughtful and comprehensive responses.

Oh, and Auntie Babs just gave me a tarot reading but you'll have to wait for the summary. I told her she doesn't get another mention until she learns how to text me a pic. of the cards laid out on her table.

Over and out.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

So, It's Time For A Change

It seems that every few years or so I like to change careers and the time is approaching once again (gypsy blood as Auntie Barbara calls it). Let's see, I've been a retail manager, camp counselor, video store clerk, waitress, social worker, lawyer and mediator. So, what's next? Well, I really don't know but I do know this...it's time to find out and I'm oddly giddily (prob. not a word) excited about figuring things out.

As a side note: for those of you with a hearty respect for the English language and the whole grammar thing please be advised that reading this blog will probably make you vomit, but honestly, I really don't care to edit the damn thing.

Recently I read the book The 4 Hour Workweek. Okay well I didn't really read the whole thing and I don't really plan to follow through with the majority of the book's advice but it was a good skim of a read. Mr. Tim seems like a damn funny guy and by the pic. on the sleeve, he's not all that hard on the eyes either. Truthfully, he also seems like he's probably a pretty big douche-bag in real life and fairly full of himself. This means that I would probably be insanely attracted to him, we'd have a hot and heavy porn-like two week shagfest and then bore of each other. You know what I loved about his story though? At some point he just stopped being a chicken shit and started DOING. People are always afraid to change things up. That whole fear of the unknown blah blah blah. I take comfort in the fact that someone else who does things their own way is actually successful.

Here is what I did take from the book: he suggests that you send an email to friends and contacts telling them you're looking for a career change and get their input. So, I sent the following email to about 100 people:

Hi all,

So, I am trying a little experiment here and value your opinions, suggestions and maybe most importantly...leads. I am thinking of making a career move and would love to hear about any opportunities that might spring to mind. Really, I MEAN ANYTHING, no matter how crazy or out of left field it might seem, I'd still love to hear some suggestions. I'm ready for the next adventure and hope it involves travel (to pretty much anywhere).

Can't wait to hear back!

You know what? It at least started a dialog and helped me to verbalize some of my desires. I want to travel and I mean TRAVEL with a capital T. Ideally, I'd either like to do humanitarian work or take over the Anthony Bourdain show on the travel channel. Truthfully, I'd also like to star as Tina Fey's crazy sister on 30 Rock (I recently described myself to someone as "Tina Fey with boobs"). At the same time, I'd like to keep home base here in Boston and have a job where I can travel for a few weeks to a few months at a time. I am also considering marrying a rich Jewish doctor per grandma Chonnie's orders.

Or, I could take any one of these suggestions from what I like to call "team Jen B's new adventure":

Carolyn: "So my suggestion is that you move to a European boarding school where you'll meet tons of other young people who like to travel." (there's a story behind this sugegstion, but it sounds funnier this way).

Brian: "I think you could have a prominent career as a reality TV star. Just change your name to Norma Gay, and kick Kathy Griffin out of the way, and you're all set :)"

Mount: "Or, you could get your own mediation show, like street court where the guy goes to different neighborhoods and mediates disputes. Or you could open a shop like Legal Grind, or go work with them. You could be a professional firer like Up in the Air. Also travel... I'm sure the circus needs a lawyer. As do celebrities. And politicians. And clergy. Or you could get into the legal department for high risk TV shows like The Biggest Loser or Jersey Shore. Or standup comedian. Or real estate."

Colleen & Liz: "Move here to Ohio." (Listen ladies I said travel not retire).

Lee: "WHO IS THIS?!?! just kidding. how about pole dancing? dog walking? both provide valuable services to the community, and keep you fit! seriously -- sorry, i got nothin..."

Josh: "How about working with me at COMIC CON?? New city, travel, single dudes… bwah haha" (Done and done. SHAMELESS PLUG: San Diego, booth 433, Royal Flush Magazine).

Mina: "Yentas? "A jew and a muslim, solving the mideast crisis one glass of wine at a time" (I'll have to explain this in another post).

Mom: "And I still think standup comedy is a good idea."

Deb: "Wait, I'm confused- didn't you just start your own business??"

Ally: "Would you be willing to start charging for being a ho?"

I did get some serious responses as well and everyone I know is kind of exited to talk about this little experiment. At least it's fun right?