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Communications Design Industry Discussion, Inspiration, & Tutorials

Nov 17, 2015

Year Long Quest II: Mentor Intervention

5-Part Series on an Exhaustive(exhausting) Job Search

Six months in to my cycle of apply-get a call-interview-pass or fail-then interview again, I reached out to my mentor to help sharpen my focus. To give me focus, really. In our three-year acquaintanceship she knew me enough to give homework and expect it *done. After a lunch meeting, she gave me homework.

The assignment: List the things (activities, aspects of the job) that you need to be happy in your work environment. List everything and rank them by order of importance. Make it an infographic.

I took a week or two and wrote this list then sketched the graphic, then played with the color palette, then emailed her an odd-sized PDF of my needs and wants for my ideal work environment.

She asked why graphic design was so low on the totem pole, and I had to be frank in my response, ‘I can make graphic design a part of any job—it’s an inescapable aspect of business in all arenas.’

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High on my list is that I make a positive impact—that I do something worthwhile. High on my list is a bikeable commute. High on my list is autonomy. High on my list is odd hours to accommodate my Jeffersonian sleeping habits.

With this graphic as my guide, I began my search again, half-a-year after my first email application was sent , I realized exactly where I needed to be and why. So I applied to every singly posting at one particular organization. Then after having heard nothing for over a month I reached out to everyone I knew with ties to this place. Folks who I hadn’t seen since grad school, someone I took an undergraduate class with, a former employee at destination X, a woman I met at the salad bar in the grocery store (yep I cyber stalked her) and even my mentor who knew somebody-who knew somebody.

Another thing that I did was to cast a winder net. I then applied with four nonprofit organizations, one museum, and I put in 5 resumes with the regions largest employer, and two with state government. Of the dozen applications, I had four interview requests (an impressive success rate in the current job market). In one case I was positive that I’d be hired, then wasn’t. In the other three cases—I learned a few home truths about the nonprofit industry of 2015. It’s a much different climate than even 5 years back.

First, I need a collaborative and effective team. Second, my move must be worthwhile and offer me chances to grow, and not get bored, while having a creative element and allow for autonomous work. Lastly, I've gotta be able to get there easily, have the  ability to start my day early, and get to they gym on the company dime. Not on my list is the fact that I refuse to work in a cube--apparently, the longer you do it the less soul-sucking it seems (which is reasonable considering you have less of a soul).
Up Next : Nonprofit Needs

* My mentor is also my former communications director