Tag Archive | job search

The Long And Short Of Why I Want To Travel Far And Wide

There are some things in this world that I shouldn’t have to explain.

Maybe I should rephrase that. There are things in this world that can go without an explanation.

No, that’s still not quite right. What about, once a person has made a few mistakes in life, they start to learn from them and can probably make better-informed decisions later on?

Well, I’ve made enough mistakes with this introduction. I guess all that’s left is to explain a few things. It seems counterproductive compared to the intro I was going for. Or, did I do everything as I wanted to do, and it’s now exactly what I was thinking?

Plotting and scheming aside, the point I’m trying to make is that I sometimes feel criticized for wanting to go to Japan. While it hasn’t been said in so few words, the statements come down to things like, “you should give up on going, I can’t understand why you would want to go to Japan, you will be disappointed when you get there.” I usually hear, “do you have to go now? Can you wait 10, 15, 20 years?” Why should I wait? I’m not getting any younger, my body isn’t becoming any more capable. I already have to wait until I get enough money put aside, and that wait will be long enough. But when I hear people ask why I can’t put off the dream of going, I feel like they’re really asking why I can’t give up on going altogether.

Clearly, I need new friends. Or I’m overthinking things.

The short answer is, Japan makes me happy. I feel like people who care about me should want me to be happy.

Why does Japan make me happy? It just does. I can’t really explain it, and I know if I try to explain it, I might lose the magic. But of course, I apparently need to explain the whole thing.

It didn’t start with Wakkanai.

My Dad was stationed in Wakkanai while he was in the Air Force. I don’t remember if there were slides. For you kiddies out there, slides are basically physical photos that you can shine light through, and you put a tray of them on a special projector to help a room full of people fall asleep quickly. Anyway, that’s not important right now. He was in the Air Force as a Russian linguist. For you kiddies, the United States had a grudge against Russia for a number of years, and it was called the Cold War. My Dad basically translated radio transmissions.

When his time had ended over there, he brought home some stereo equipment that probably still works to this day. I was raised with the knowledge that Japanese electronics were superiorly made in comparison to American electronics. I watched the movie Gung Ho, and admired the Japanese work ethic. I think I watched Big Bird Goes To Japan as a child. But, I barely knew anything about Japan, I barely had an interest in Japan.

I had an interest in the Moon.

By the time I became a teenager, I loved looking up at the moon and stars. Astrology interested me, and I learned that my sign, Aries, was a fire sign. And then I was flipping through the channels on TV one afternoon and saw a cartoon with these girls who defended Earth in the name of the name of the moon or one of the planets. I saw a bit of myself in the title character, Sailor Moon, but my favorite character soon became the one who’s a fellow Aries, Sailor Mars. When they weren’t saving the day, they were living their lives in and around Tokyo.

I started watching Tenchi Muyo as well, and even a bit of Yu Yu Hakusho. Eventually I watched Fullmetal Alchemist.

One time, I was near the comic and gaming store and decided to drop in. I found manga, and bought one book as that was all I could afford at the time. But after I started working and driving, one volume of manga turned into over one hundred. I was a bit addicted.

When I was still in college, though, I started getting into L’arc en Ciel. I remember looking up song lyrics and translations in the computer rooms while I was between classes or after I had finished up whatever I was working on. After I graduated, I bought an iPod while working at my first job, and I had some Sowelu and Utada Hikaru songs along with some L’arc on there.

It wasn’t an interest in Japan, just in Japanese media, but I was happy. Life seemed to be going well for me, I had both of my parents, I had started working and had a car to get around.

And then I met a guy.

When I first met him, he kind of had a significant other. She didn’t really want him, and had ended things with him by the time I saw him again. They were both at a party that one of my friends was hosting, and I was there as well for no reason other than I was invited to a party. He was there because his now-ex was going to be there, but he felt a need to heal his wounds by getting drunk and crying on the sofa. I had knelt down next to the sofa, the armrest being all that separated me from his feet. I wanted to help, I wanted to be supportive. He ended up calling one of his friends who drove over and picked him up to bring him home.

This guy’s life was a bit of a wreck. Someone broke into his station wagon and stole things from him. He was driving a station wagon because that’s all he could afford at the time, and it was already falling apart. He was also living with his brother, who looked Korean. He actually looked Japanese to me, but was apparently half Irish and half Korean. His brother had a different father and was full Korean, if memory serves me correctly.

Not that it mattered what he was, because to me he looked pretty good. I really didn’t feel worthy of being around him. Oh, I should mention that after checking up on him the next day, one thing led to another and I started going over to his place nearly every day. I thought things were going somewhere, but I had never had a boyfriend before and I had nothing to base my experiences on.

One day, he started talking about looking at newer cars, and had his heart set on one at a local dealership. Knowing his struggles, I did what any foolish girl would do. Well, because I felt a bit guilty for enjoying Japanese stuff while I had an interest in an Asian guy, I sold the manga and gave him the money to put towards the car.

After about a month, he didn’t want to see me anymore. I learned a lot in that one month, more than I really care to explain. But I lost my interest in manga, and my interest in everything else waned as well.

The second time wasn’t as good.

Eventually, I bought more manga, though my collection wasn’t as impressive as it originally had been. I didn’t read the volumes as often or as quickly. But I met a guy at work who became a bit of a friend, nothing more. To some degree, he got me back into anime, but I wasn’t as interested as before.

I went to an anime convention with him, my second ever anime convention. I remember feeling like I had outgrown anime. I was surrounded by people cosplaying characters that I didn’t recognize. There were anime titles I had never heard of. The finest moment was meeting Vic Mignogna, voice actor extraordinaire (seriously, look him up on IMDB or something, he’s in nearly every English-dubbed anime you can think of). Aside from that, the day was a bit of a waste.

Eventually, I was rescued…  by food.

While working at a well-known grocery store, I bought The Manga Cookbook. Unfortunately my ingredients were limited, and I could barely make anything in the book despite the grocery store having an Asian food section with imported goods. I did try my hand at making udon noodles, though, which turned out alright.

While working that job, I lost my Mom, which caused me to move to New Jersey. Okay, a lot of things caused me to move to New Jersey, most of which were bad decisions. While I was living in New Jersey, my boyfriend at the time introduced me to Mitsuwa Marketplace. At first I was interested in going, but after going I was in ecstasy! All the ingredients I couldn’t find before, I could find at Mitsuwa! And there was a bookstore nearby where I could buy manga in the original Japanese! And I spent more money than I should have, but it was necessary.

I returned a few more times after that. I always made sure that I ate something from the food court, because there was no way I’d be able to make anything that tasted quite like it should. I loved the feeling I had while I was there. I came home after my first visit, and realized that I didn’t have any L’arc songs in iTunes, just a couple of Hyde’s songs. I started tracking down all of L’arc’s albums on Amazon and eBay, which gave me a bit of an endorphin rush when I bought another album and when it finally arrived.

I had forgotten how happy I once was to listen to Japanese rock and pop music. I listened to Horizon, and it reminded me of a dream I once had. But the food also made me happy, because everything was new, and everything I tried was amazing.

Japan was where I needed to be.

The search for a job can make anyone go a bit insane. The thought eventually popped into my head that I could move to and work in Japan, so that became the plan before I even knew what I was getting myself into. But a plan like that is good to have when you think of all the angles, and in my case I realized that my then-fiance and I were two entirely different people. Ignoring what I had to consider for myself, I realized I couldn’t have my fiancé travel with me to Japan because the flight would be too lengthy for him to deal with his disability, and then he probably wouldn’t want to go out and do anything with me once we were there. Not only that, but leaving him behind meant that we were back to having a long-distance relationship.

I like to think that the entirety of that discussion was one of the many factors why we broke up. Our relationship left me broke, but it also left me with the freedom to go and do what I want to do once I’m not poor. Since I put more thought into going to Japan, I know what I need to do to go, and I don’t see a reason why I shouldn’t go.

So what else?

I’d like to think I’ll eventually meet someone while I’m in Japan, and maybe I’ll give in and have children, thereby helping out their birth rate and keep it from declining further.

If I’m in Japan before the Olympics, maybe I can get into hospitality and be of some use when the place is mobbed by tourists who speak more English than Japanese. Otherwise, I could always just assist in teaching the language.

My interest in Japan isn’t anime and manga. I might go to a concert, if time and finances allow. I might do some video gaming-related things. Or I might decide to be boring and check out as many temples and shrines as I can. If I lose interest in Japan, I could go elsewhere.

I’ll have to go over on a student visa and go to a language school, then work part time to make a living. I can’t get on a work visa because I don’t have the right credentials, and it would be cheaper to get my bachelors degree in Japan. But it is possible for me to go to Japan, I just need to get my finances in order before I can go.

Tomorrow, I think I’m going to make a PowerPoint presentation of this entry, then save it onto my phone so I can make the argument at a moment’s notice. Basically, the Japanese stuff makes me happy, and so I’d like to go to Japan and live there for a while. I know what I need to do to get there, and unless you’ve travelled abroad, you can’t say that I don’t know what I’m doing. But there are things I can’t plan for just yet, because airline tickets change prices, tuition costs increase, rent goes up, so those things will have to wait until I’m at a point where I have to consider such things.

This is what I want. This makes me happy.

I’ve spent enough time trying to make others happy. Now I want to do something for myself.

Interview In Pajamas

I’ve become exceedingly lazy lately. If I can’t apply for a job by doing a quick application on a job board, or if I can’t populate all of the fields by linking my LinkedIn account, I hesitate to fill out the application because it will usually take an hour to complete. I have to constantly refer to my Facebook account to verify when I worked at certain places, and then I have to tweak my résumé to customize it towards whatever company or position I’m applying for. When you’re trying to get your application out to a lot of places in the hopes that at least one company wants to offer you an interview, that means a lot of time is spent just trying to craft the perfect application.

So I thought it was pretty awesome when I only had to submit my résumé for this one job I was applying for recently.

I received an e-mail later that day, or the next day, in response. It said there was a questionnaire that I had to complete. Awesome! Questionnaires usually mean they’re interested in knowing more about you. I spent maybe a half hour or so completing the questionnaire, all of those questions that ask how much you agree or disagree with a statement so as to give them some idea of what kind of employee you would be. At the end, I got a message saying I had passed! That was good news to me, because it would mean an interview was coming up.

I went back to the candidate portal to see if there was anything else I needed to do. Yes, I needed to complete an application. I swear, it felt like I spent at least two hours filling out this application. Not only did the application ask for the usual stuff like work experience and references, but it also asked for things like traffic violations in detail. The only one that I can account for right now is my speeding ticket from two years ago, not long after I got my New Jersey license plates, when I looked like someone who would definitely pay the  New York fines by mail. The joke was on them when I walked into traffic court, because I was still in the process of moving out of my New York home and wasn’t as much of an out-of-towner as they believed. I still paid the fines, because the district attorney wasn’t there and I couldn’t deal with the hassle of going back there again when I had more important things to deal with. But anyway, that was one thing I had to account for in the application.

The section for work history was fun, and by “fun” I mean it was quite useful. I could add as many entries as I needed to, because some of the entries could be used to mark periods of unemployment and to explain the reasons why. It also asked for references to verify why you were unemployed during that time, but for the earlier entries I didn’t name anyone. The only one who could really validate that I was unemployed was my own Mom who I was still living with at the time. Unfortunately we didn’t bury her with her cell phone, since she’d go through her data allowance because the cemetery doesn’t have wifi and she’d be playing Words With Friends all the time. So the company I applied for will just have to take my word for it when I tell them about my periods of unemployment.

After the long, exhausting process of filling out that very detailed application, I sat back and waited. And by waited, I mean I perused YouTube for the usual videos, or I just went about life as normal.

This morning, I got an e-mail about an interview! I was excited! I was wondering when they were going to schedule the interview, or what I would wear. I opened the e-mail, only to read that it was a digital interview. I was confused for a moment. A digital interview? I read the guide that was provided, and found that I would need a webcam and microphone. Oh great, I had to record myself. On the bright side, it means I don’t have to drive anywhere, which is a decent trade-off.

Not to mention, I can do the interview in pajamas, which I did.

I know what you’re thinking. “You had to record yourself, on WEBCAM, and you dressed in pajamas?!” My bottom half was still wearing my pajama pants which I had been wearing all day. My top half was in a shirt that was being borrowed from my friend who didn’t like the pink shirt I had chosen. I won’t admit it, but the shirt she loaned me was a better color on me than the pink shirt. She fixed my hair so it looked like I put some effort into it.

I needed a distraction-free environment. The only way I could do that was in the evening when the kids were in bed, since one of the young ones is suspended for a few days. But that also meant herding cats, like literally herding cats, because the kittens would have been doing parkour off the furniture at best and demanding to be cuddled in my arms at worst. Perhaps a kitten would improve my odds of getting the job, but only if the job was for a pet store or a veterinarian. I also wanted to make sure that my background wasn’t too distracting, so I managed to find a boring wall in the dining room with few decorations.

I started up my computer, which I had to move from the living room, then opened up the webpage for the interview. While I was doing that, I went in to my computer settings and worked with my sound input settings until I had everything in good shape. And then I started the interview.

It felt like any interview I’ve had. I had a limited amount of time to figure out a response to the questions being asked, and then I had to figure out which words in the English language to string together to form the perfect statement that also matched the jumble of thoughts inside my head. I feel like I tripped over my words a few times, coming off as if I’m not as well-spoken as some. I feel like I gave decent responses, assuming I’m not up against someone who rescued orphans from a burning building, at which point my responses are basically saying that I went to work and came home at the end of the day.

Maybe ten or fifteen minutes later, I was done with the interview. That meant putting things back where they belonged, making myself less pretty, and kicking myself because my confidence dropped out after the interview was done.

It was a nice alternative to sitting in front of people face-to-face, and I liked the convenience that also came along with doing the interview whenever I could. The only issue I really had was that I’m not completely comfortable sitting in front of the camera while recording myself. Sure, I can record myself without too much of an issue, but I’m always looking at my image on the screen to make sure I don’t look too weird. I did have the option of turning off the video feed so I didn’t have to watch myself, but if I did that, I would wonder if I looked decent. Overall, I do think more companies should offer digital interviews, even if it’s just used as an option for some who might be too busy to make the time during normal work hours.

But now I wait and hope for the best. Okay, I really hope I get this job, because it ties in loosely with me learning Japanese, and I can see how I might need to speak the language if only in rare moments. Beyond that, the job can help me get to Japan in two different ways, the first and obvious way being the income I’ll receive. I just have to be patient, though. If this is a good thing, it will come in time.

Workplace Awards

I feel like I’ve filled out more job applications in the past two years than I ever have before, and that’s despite the fact that I’ve actually been employed twice in that time. I’m at the point where I dread having to fill out an application by hand because there’s no way to populate the fields from my résumé or from another website where I’ve entered all of my career information. It’s about as redundant to me as small talk on a dating website, but at least there’s the promise of being paid if the job application leads somewhere.

One of my biggest peeves is when there’s a space to fill in any awards or accomplishments while at a particular job.

I realize there are jobs out there that actually celebrate good performances, so being a hard-worker sometimes pays off and sometimes it’s good luck. If you put in more time and effort than your peers who skip out five minutes early every day, you deserve an award. If you manage to get the most sales, you deserve an award. If you’re the reason why people keep coming back and it’s not because you did something wrong, you deserve an award.

However, if you got the most sales, it’s not always because you were skillful at closing a sale. It’s possible to be fortunate enough to get people who weren’t going to refuse your service and needed what your company offers. It’s possible that the ones on the low end keep getting customers who are on the fence and wouldn’t have closed a sale even if the best salesperson was speaking with them. The people with the fewest sales might just need to understand that they are doing something wrong, and what it is, and sometimes it takes the right person using the right words to get that message through to the struggling salesperson.

And then you have managers. Not all managers are blessed with a skilled team, and some can’t see the faults of their subordinates or know how to properly educate them to do better. Some businesses congratulate a well-performing team from time to time, but I haven’t heard of any company that evaluates why other teams were underperforming.

I don’t have any awards that I can put on a résumé. I could probably brag about getting a “kudos” when a customer said I did a good job back in 2005. However, that’s one customer out of hundreds that I’ve dealt with in the past 12 years. That’s not to say that I don’t have a few more satisfied customers, just that only one has spoken to a supervisor about me and it’s been put in writing that I was awesome. One customer isn’t much to write home about, so I don’t mention it.

I don’t even try to get awards. If I’m good, I’ll achieve something, but if I try, I’ll stress myself out and disappoint myself when I fail. So I go to work, I clock in, I do what I must, and then I go home.

What about the days when I’m not even up to my regular standards? I’ve gone to work while ill, when I had a bacterial infection in my respiratory system and couldn’t walk to the back of the store without being out of breath by the time I got there. I’ve gone to work with bronchitis, when my bosses wouldn’t let me take any more days off and I have to take phone calls in a call center when I don’t even have a voice. I’ve worked while I’ve had a parent in the hospital on their death bed, when a part of me has wanted to be by their side but another part reminded me that I needed the money and I convinced myself that I might be able to get my mind off of things if I kept busy. Of course, there’s no awards for going to work when you’re not up to snuff, when you’re physically and emotionally drained. The Center for Disease Control would love it if you avoided people while you’re ill, but your bosses always want to keep your seat warm and will be willing to replace you. And no one cares if your parents are dying, but you can get time off once they’ve passed.

So my job application probably looks like most of the other applications being submitted. Then again, maybe I’m the only one without any awards to her name. I don’t actually mind, because maybe I wasn’t in the right place to get an award, or on the right team to develop my skills to one day achieve something great. That’s not to say I don’t already have the right skills, just that I wasn’t in the right place or had the perfect opportunity to use what skills I do have. While I’m looking for that perfect opportunity, I’m definitely building my job application skills. It’s a shame that those skills only pay off when I land a job.