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A job for you and me.

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By Daniel Fockler

Well the time is upon us. The graduating women and men are are being shuttled to the precipice. “Find a job!,” they yell as you fall and look up at them with a confused look on your face. The more I look for the jobs the less I want one.  I have applied to a few large companies. I’ve been turned down by two. I have yet to get an interview or a positive message back from anyone. From a jobseeker’s view it feels like I might as well be putting my resume in a bottle and throwing it into the ocean. The worst part is that I don’t actually want these jobs and I still don’t know what I want. I know what I can do, and I know I have potential to do better. So where does that leave me? The fortunate part is that I can do anything I want. Entertaining the idea of a low-wage job for a while is something I have thought about. It would be nice to not have artificial stress for a while, the foreign concept that it is. After I have graduated there is no one to push me any more. I will have to break out the oars and row myself, which will be a nice change.

Sailing the High SeasLife is out there waiting to be taken, squandered, spoiled, cherished, whatever! The field that I’m in gives me options, and that is terrifying and awesome. It’s just something that you have to deal with if you want to succeed. I think fear is the contributing factor to whether people are able to succeed in life. Although there are two kinds of fear. That lovely paralyzing fear that turns you into a tree, unable to move, then there is that glorious motivational fear. Motivational fear causes you to run fast and far, knowing you are going to die and not wanting to in the slightest. It’s only you, and you must accomplish something on your own. The good fear is not always easy to attain. You need support. You and your trusty shotgun are out there on the road killing the zombies of life. You can’t lay down and die. You’re better than that!

Bam Bam!I’m not sure what I was thinking when I was younger but there are no fantastic revelations waiting for you out there. It’s just there and you can do what you want with it. The world I mean. I recently realized that society is the creation of a collection of motivated and unmotivated individuals. The motivated ones create and force society to move. The unmotivated ones move within society, following the wake of those that determined the will of society. I truly think that the only way to be an individual is to create. Create whatever you want, be it video games, movies, books, art, buildings, science, organizations, anything! If you are not creating you are consuming, consuming what others have made. That fear of death should cause you to create. If you have ever wanted to be immortal, creation is your best opportunity to do so. Take god for instance, his/her only claim to immortality is the ability to create. Shakespeare, Newton, Cleopatra, Einstein, Bach, they all created; they created empires, theories, plays, or music. But we don’t remember them as people. We remember them for the things they did, the things that they created. I’m not saying that you must become great at creating for people to remember you. Just try, people who don’t challenge their own ideas die in them like coffins. They become entrenched in those ideas and they are never able to leave, change, or get any perspective. These are hindrances to creation.

Those are your hands!If you aren’t creating then what are you doing? Wasting, that’s what! You are wasting away, swiftly! You will not have made anything, and you will have not left any mark on anyone. You will become a forgotten gravestone in the ground. It’s a harsh sentiment, but an important one for motivation in the current spectrum of world order. So please, please, please go out and create. It will make you feel better, and the people around you feel better. You may fail in what you wanted, but you will have tried and your ideas will have changed, and made you better. Live a life you would be proud of. There’s nothing you can’t try. Except drugs, maybe only once.

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Written by dfockler

06/24/2012 at 11:26 PM

A Rapidly Deteriorating Lifestyle

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By Daniel Fockler

When you get into college you have this idea of how it will be. You might imagine that you will study diligently every night in your dorm, and you will hang out in the library with the comforting quiet of the books surrounding you like a blanket. You might envision yourself partying everyday, coming to class hungover and tired, but still skating by on wit and charm. How ever you thought it would be there are fundamental truths about college that persist through the many years of the collegiate institution. It’s not about studying or partying though, it’s about the life you have in college.

The more I think about it the more I realize that school is a lifestyle and working is a completely separate lifestyle. I’m in my senior year and as I think about graduating, it feels like being let out of prison into the population. I’ve served my sentence for 16 years and my time is finally up. As soon as you’re done with your last day of classes the world is completely different than the minute before. You have no responsibility other than to your self. You have been trained for this for a decade and a half. A decade and a half of people telling you what to do, assigning you homework, and expecting things from you. Whether you flounder or fly is up to you, but you have been pushed out of the nest and the reliance on any form of structure you once had has disappeared beneath your feet.

I would imagine it’s similar to culture shock. The idea is that when you are introduced to a culture other than your own, their practices and standards are completely disorienting to you and cause you to have social anxiety. How you change from one lifestyle to a completely different lifestyle over the course of a month is the difference between succeeding as an adult and being stuck in your culture shock. Eventually people get out of their shock and acclimate, but until that happens not much progress is made. For whatever profession you chose/choose people will tell you the tips and tricks, how to network, how to succeed. But it doesn’t matter all that much compared to you, and how you are able to progress from one part of your life to the next.


Written by dfockler

10/31/2011 at 1:56 PM

The Trickster’s Ruse

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The worst part about trusting people isn’t when you give them the initial okay, it is the eternity afterwards while you hope you made the right choice. This isn’t so important if you want to gain employment at a place like Taco Bell. The structure of Taco Bell is mechanical, no one worries if the manager at their local Taco Bell, Wal-Mart, or Minimum-wagetown, is trustworthy. As long as they don’t sexually harass you, and give you enough hours to pay your bills, everything is fine.

Someone finally gave me a shot to do content writing for them. It may seem odd to say it, but it has been the most stressful thing that has ever happened to me. That isn’t shocking, my life has been short and rather easy. Compared to say, sleeping in until 11am and then walking to class, something like this should seem stressful. The problem was why it was stressful.

Let me say that my final goal is not to be a content writer. The work seems fair, the pay is workable, but it is not what I spent four years learning. It is not what keeps me awake at night with a passion that forces me to scrounge about for my notepad at 4am. Content writing is a means to an end. It allows me to work where I play, to sit on my butt for 20 hours a day instead of just 12. So when someone bit, and asked me to do some content writing for them, I didn’t know what to say. Ignore that I quite literally didn’t know what to say, and then put on top of that the metaphorical “I didn’t know what to say”. How much money do I ask for? How do I ask who they are? How do I get paid? A few hundred questions went bouncing around in my brain.

I’ve accepted the work. Then I was asked to give a rate, aka how much do I want to be paid. This is a funny story, you’ll like this part. Now I was told in original e-mail correspondence that I would be doing a ‘couple’ of articles. Couple, 2-3 right? So I went on a grand journey to figure out how much I should be paid. The end goal of being paid is always to make enough money for the time you put in. A couple of articles a week said to me that I should be able to work on these couple of articles, and at least make enough money in a week that it felt like I was actually working at minimum-wagetown. So I set my per-article price at something like forty dollars each. The reality? I was going to be working on around 20 articles a week. Making my original rate sound like I was trying to murder them debt. It was all worked out in the end though.

Not all of it, actually. I still only make minimum wage if I can finish each articles in about 20 minutes. If I take any longer, I’m being underpaid. I also still don’t know anything about the people paying me. Since they aren’t public, they didn’t want to give any details they didn’t have to. All I have is a name, and an e-mail address. I get paid through pay pal. I haven’t received a new assignment for a week and a half. It isn’t perfect, it wouldn’t even keep me off of the street if I didn’t have the support of my family. It is a start though, an extremely shady foot in a dark door.

Should I worry that I’m effectively making spam for someone who doesn’t want to be named? I’m more worried that days after I got my first paypal payments, I received an e-mail in Chinese that said my paypal account was going to be sending $300 dollars to some guy named Wong. I wish that was a joke.

So I’m just going to trust these people for now. They seem alright, and they have actually given me a chance, and paid me. That is more than I can say for Wal-Mart or Taco Bell. I’ve already learned from these people, my resume is growing, and I’m still not being sexually harassed. So it seems like everything is going great so far.

I’ll keep pushing forward.

Written by MD Kid

10/04/2011 at 8:18 AM

The Mentor Approaches

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Networking is one of those skills that means everything, and is rarely taught. When I received training to work at my community college, networking was always on the topic of the day. My boss, an amazing lady by the name of Dr. Mari Kruger, made sure we knew that communication and connections were just as important to to success as any skill. There are thousands if not millions of people out there that have skills like mine or better. That means the only way to get anywhere is to know someone who is willing to give me a shot.

That said, I suck at networking. It is probably because I’m lazy. I’m also shy. I’m not very hip. I don’t always have the best haircut. I also have a pretty goofy laugh. The lazy part is big though. There have been many bridges extended to me, and I usually leave them hanging in the air. Anyone who knows bridges, or has played one of the estimated billion bridge building games on the app store, should know that a bridge extending to nothing but air is going to crash and burn. Now that I’ve entered my 4th or so month of unemployment, I think my feelings about bridges should make a change.

When I went to the Penny Arcade Expo, I had the chance to hear from a lot of people who do exactly what I want to do. They write, and they enjoy writing. They are freelance writers who work on game magazines and websites. They are indie role-playing game developers who create stunning worlds for others to play in. These people are living the dream, and they were there for me to talk to and ask questions. They gave me a lot of good advice about stick-to-it-tiveness (a real word, look it up), and how to survive in a world where writing isn’t exactly the quickest way to the white picket-fence. I don’t remember any of their names, so obviously my bridge-related skills are taking baby steps. I remember some of the projects they worked on, and I have absorbed a lot of their advice.

The panel on freelance writing was full of people, more than even the panel organizers expected to have there. It was interesting to see a room full of nerds who wanted nothing more than a chance to formulate essays and articles about their hobby. Actually, it wasn’t very surprising at all. It was more disheartening to realize exactly how many people were trying to get their foot in the door of the freelance market. I don’t like having my feet stepped on, so shoving my tender foot into a mountain of sweaty shoes is a turn off at best. Still, I listened to what they had to say. The main advice was to be persistent, and to start out where you can. Make a blog (I don’t know where I’ll get one of those), write your own articles, don’t try to start at the top. A good piece of advice came when a man asked how he could get in the door to interview game developers so he could sell the article to magazines, he was pretty much told he couldn’t. It was hard enough for magazines to talk to some developers, a freelance without any ‘cred’ wasn’t going to get very far. The main thing I learned was to get myself out there, which I’ve been trying. It is good to know that I wasn’t on the wrong track.

Another panel was the indie developers panel. This wasn’t for digital games, with bleeps and bloops on one of those LED screens. No, this was about pen and paper, dungeons and the dragons that populate them, nerds imagining their way to entertainment. The creator of some indie projects were there, like the creators of Panty Explosion and Apocalypse World. The greatest advice here was that an indie developer does not need to sacrifice their own money to publish. The best idea is to start small, work with playtesters online, and then self-publish through services like Lulu.com. That way when a copy of your game sells, you make money. You never have to print a large mountain of copies and hope to sell them all, you can work on 100% profit.

So what does all this mean for our dashing hero? I’ve decided not to quit yet, that is one thing. The experience of PAX was already amazing, yet hearing from people who have been published only reignited my quickly fading flame. I know that I need to get all the experience I can get, and to keep writing here and other places. If I can get one break, any break, things may turn out fine.

In the meantime, I need to start writing down people’s names. At least add them on twitter or something.

 

Written by MD Kid

09/18/2011 at 9:32 AM

Nothing is Worth Nothing

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The first thing you learn from selling yourself, is if you are worthless. Not that I have any self-esteem issues, not yet anyway. I’ve been trying to find work related to my degree, work that I’m interested in, work that I can be proud of. Instead I’ve sold myself to any gig that I’m viable for, and haven’t even earned a rejection.

I think when I got this degree I expected a fairy-tale situation. Sure it would be difficult for a month, everything would look real grim, and then a big fluffy cloud of sunshine would come just in time to save the day. I would get a just-good-enough job to take on, and then I could move on to the next chapter of my life. Now I’m at the end of my rope, and my checkbook.

First I tried to use the well named ‘freelance writing gigs’ website for help. That didn’t get me anywhere. Since then I’ve kept an eye on craigslist anyway, since most of the jobs on the freelance site link back there anyway. Sure it isn’t the best resource, but I think I can definitely count myself as a beggar by now.

My second attempt was Elance.com. An interesting site in concept, the execution is a lot more depressing. Elance.com works on a bid system, where freelancers can say how much they are willing to work for and why they are good for the job, then hold their breath until they get hired or end up in the obituaries. The first gig I applied for, a small ghostwriting project, I said I could work for 10 dollars an hour.

That’s an okay rate, I’m not exactly an expert. The rate looked like $11 to the employer, because Elance has their own overhead. When I did the math, this was just enough money for me to survive for the duration of the project. I wasn’t trying to put money toward a small island, I just wanted to eat next month.

I received a message from the employer that my rate was the highest one. I was shocked, this couldn’t possibly be the case. When I looked at the other proposals, every writer was either from India, or part of a group. There is no way I can compete with the cost of living in India. They can work for $5, and they have experience on top of that. The only chance I have, is to earn less money than what I need.

So that was it, I made two attempts. It was time to throw in the towel.

Alternatively, I could embrace what the job market, if not society, was trying to tell me. My writing isn’t worth anything. Correction, my writing isn’t worth anything right now. Two years of writing in an academic environment means nothing in the big world of paychecks and meeting loan payments. I need to build up a resume in the boring business world. I could have writing samples with TPS reports, or maybe really good contracts I typed up.

The new plan is to try working for nothing. The positive, I won’t be making any less money. If I work for friends and family, writing up the things they need done for their websites or businesses, I might actually get a resume worth looking at.

I’m still waiting on a miracle though. At this point, I can use it.

     

Written by MD Kid

08/23/2011 at 6:12 AM

Our Hero Denies His Destiny

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I didn’t think it would be that easy. So I feel vindicated, it isn’t easy at all.

In the two weeks since I last wrote about looking for a job, I have taken a lot of steps to find work. Not the usual steps. I didn’t go looking in the classifieds. I haven’t started filling out resumes at Taco Bells and KFCs. My pride wouldn’t allow it. I stuck to the plan, and I’ve tried hard to find a job appropriate to my education. So I went to Craigslist.

In my defense, I didn’t go directly to Craigslist. First, I tried to find websites that would carry jobs I was qualified for. This lead me to look for freelance writing work. That word, freelance, has never applied to me before. In my head I was always an author, a writer, an English dude. No one told me to consider myself a freelance writer. Maybe that is because I’m not qualified to be one.

I found freelancewritinggigs.com. The name is right on the nose. Everyone should know that freelancewritinggigs.com list freelance writing gigs each weekday. These jobs are everything from copywriters, to ghostwriters, to resume editors. Most of the links on their website, lead directly to Craigslist. Undeterred, I prepared to sell myself. I made a text document to list every job I applied for, when I applied for it, and details of what the job entailed. This way I would know every detail of the position I was going for.

Two weeks later, I probably have two dozen entries on my application list. Craigslist, for the uninitiated, usually keeps contact limited to e-mail. This is a real downer when looking for work, since you can’t call to check up on how your application is doing. Instead you send your resume and samples into the ether, and hope for the best.

My only hope these two weeks has been from one of the few jobs I didn’t find on Craigslist. In an effort to maintain the purpose of my mission, I applied for a job at Valve. Valve, the mythical creators of the Steam gaming platform, always keep a few positions hiring. One of them was a customer service representative. It was the sort of job that I said I didn’t need, one completely unrelated to my four year degree. I applied, and they e-mailed me back for more information. This ruined at least two pairs of underpants, and then I e-mailed them back. Finally, Valve sent me a test of my etiquette when dealing with customers. The prompt dealt with the mother of a 12 year old who was non-plussed over her son seeing a rated R movie. I thought my response was even and fair, without being overly apologetic. Valve didn’t seem to care for it.

Now I feel like I’m starting over again. No one has contacted me for work, and time is grinding forward. Another two months, and I will be required to start paying on my student loans. I have to double my efforts, but I may also have to prepare for inevitable failure.

My newest efforts to stay alive with a BA in English, is to join a site called Elance. Elance is quite different from craigslist, yet similar at the same time. This site requires that you verify your number, take test to verify your skills, and still put up a resume and work samples. Employers have to verify that they have the funds to pay you, and then the freelancers bid for a chance to work on projects. It sounds horrifying, I’m in.

Written by MD Kid

07/30/2011 at 6:45 PM

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An English Major Seeks a Job

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(Originally created on 7/16/2011)

You ever heard the one about the English major? He spent four years getting his degree in Unemployment. People also think English majors all become teachers, so does that mean, “Those that can’t do, teach,” is a joke on English majors as well?

I can understand the animosity. As degrees go, English is ambiguous and archaic. Are English majors humanitarians, all hoping to be the glistening angel in some young person’s life? A goal like that is soft. Teaching young children is seen as feminine in the states, a pampering job, a maternal job. Do English majors comb old tomes, digesting tidbits from the long dead? Then they’re seen as useless to our fast moving present. What still remains to be read? Maybe English majors are artist yearning to be superstars? If so, they sure chose the wrong profession. Writers are just above fashion designers and right below wrestlers in the grand fame hierarchy.

Unfortunately, I’m an English major. Even worse, I’m one by choice. I have no intention of teaching. I don’t read classics all day. My writing won’t be on a best-seller list anytime soon. I have no intention of being a superstar, but I will be a writer. Nothing will change that part of me, barring some incident that puts me in a coma. So what is a poor English major to do?

When I was preparing to graduate, my first goal was to get the most boring job I could manage. This is still an option. Nothing makes you want to go home and write like a mind numbing desk job. That’s something that doesn’t occur to people, a writer can write no matter what their job is. I have answered phones before. Seven hours of answering phones, repeating the same message, and entering data. I have a notepad full of doodles from that job. Nothing motivates you to draw a spaceman like hearing a woman complain about her 13 year old.

Now I have a new plan, forged in the embers of summer weather. It is the sort of plan to be proud of. A plan full of conviction, passion. A plan that shapes the future, based on what matters most. A plan that can be easily canceled the second things don’t go my way. Which is something I’m prepared for, I finished an English degree after all.

You see, I love games. Not just video games, but board games, tabletop games, card games, pen and paper games. Since I was young, I’ve wanted to use my stories for games. In elementary school, I planned my own games out on paper. My friend and I mailed off a game idea to Nintendo, in the 4th grade. They sent a polite rejection. Maybe I would be better off now, if they told me to get lost. Instead I tried to write super hero stories in Jr. High school. In High school, I wrote game reviews for my friend’s website.

Everything changed in college. University gave me a chance to take classes that actually related to my craft. With a full schedule of classes about classics and basics, I had no time to dream. School washed me clean of my aspirations. My mind was refocused on literature. I’m thankful, I never want to lose that knowledge. As I took my last classes, I realized that I didn’t need to sacrifice what I was about. Literature is about people, and writing becomes what you care about.

So I need a job. Not any job, a job that lets me be myself. My game loving, nerd-centric, dry humored self. Which means some very odd job hunting. Trust me, careerbuilder.com isn’t good for writing work. I guess this is the best place to track my progress. I need to change my resume, get myself out there, and go on plenty of interviews. Hopefully everything works out, because I’m ready to give up at the first sign of difficulty.

Written by MD Kid

07/30/2011 at 11:06 AM

Posted in Job Hunt

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