BA Quest

Where College Students Meet Their Fate

Posts Tagged ‘college

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.

Written by dfockler

06/24/2012 at 11:26 PM

The Impostor Syndrome

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By Daniel Fockler

For the past few years I have had this feeling like I wasn’t good enough to be where I was in my life. Sometimes I felt like I shouldn’t have the job I have, or have the grades that I get. I had just chalked it up to my already low self-confidence. I made myself believe that the accomplishments I had made were because I was lucky. I worried that everyone around me was doing so much better than I was and that I wouldn’t be able to compete with them. My self-doubt and low self-esteem in my abilities had prevented me from participating in high school activities before. My stress about failure coupled with my confidence issues, felt crippling when confronted with competition. I’m now a senior computer science student and these feelings still crop up. I worry that all of the other students will be able to find jobs and I will be unable, due to my self-evaluated programming skills.

Just recently I learned that this feeling was not uncommon but has a name, the Impostor Syndrome.  In a study done by psychologists Clance and Imes in 1978, they found that many female graduate students felt like they didn’t deserve what they had accomplished. In further studies done by other psychologists this same phenomenon was found in many other collegiate students and teachers in some cases. They also found that the syndrome presents in men equally to women. Often the ability to self-evaluate creates a situation in which the person cannot accurately evaluate themselves. They compare themselves to their peers even without the knowledge of their peers abilities. For all the impostor knows the other people they are competing with could feel exactly the same way, or have equal or worse abilities to them. Often times people will not congratulate themselves for their accomplishments, but they will dwell on their errors and failures. It’s a difficult thing to realize and even more difficult to correct.

I realize that more and more life is all about fake it til’ you make it. In my experience people with confidence rarely believe that they are better, they are just pretending until it becomes normal for them to feel that way. As a scientist it seems silly to judge my ideas on unknown information, but that is exactly what I was doing. I was letting my feelings of doubt affect how I viewed others and consequently how I judged myself. Whether I knew how my abilities stacked up didn’t matter. An important step in overcoming this feeling is to take an accurate look at your competence in your field and not to judge yourself against others without objective information of your progress. Do you know the materials you are learning? Is there any solid evidence that you are doing worse than you should be doing? It’s easy to slip back into the impostor way of thinking if you are having a tough time with your work. Truly analyze your abilities, look at your accomplishments and don’t let yourself undermine what accomplishments you have achieved. It’s easy to keep raising the bar and devaluing what you have done, but keep looking at the evidence and you will find that you are keeping up and deserve the success that you have.

Written by dfockler

12/14/2011 at 2:14 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