Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Where ya from is where ya at

Well, in my case...where I'm from is where I just left.

It's now 3 weeks of Sacramento living and I have to say I'm so tired of the bad fashion and especially the Ugg-like boots and puffy coats with the faux fur collars. Blech!

As I was wandering into my 4th supermarket (when avocados are $2 each you know food prices are sky-high here) behind some woman in pink stretch pants, white faux-fur topped snow boots and a too-short puffy coat, I patted myself on the back thinking: Thank goodness my license plate says Texas.

I've never been one to say I'm from this place or that. I don't claim any city as my "Hometown". I spent my 1st 13 years in Southern Cali, spent Jr High and High School in the PacNW, 2 years of college in AL, some of my adulthood in NYC and Houston. But after being here for 3 weeks and reading the March issue of Texas Monthly (did you know this the Terquasquicentennial or the 175th Anniversary of the start of a great nation = Texas?) I am really leaning towards claiming Houston as my hometown or at least Texas as my home state (but I will always be a wannabe NYer in my heart).

It's not so much that the fashion is in dire straights here, that the drivers rarely hit 75 mph on the highway, the speaking cadence hurts my ears, that the thrift stores suck, or that this place is super suburban. It just doesn't have that home-like feeling.

But what makes Houston, TX that much better than Sacramento, CA?  It's easy to learn - if you can find the malls, then you can find your way around town. I can get my eyebrows threaded for under $10 bucks (here, it's $12). The museums are centrally located and free EVERY Thursday. Discovery Green and Hermann Parks - need I say more? Montrose is within 10-15mins. Titos vodka.

Don't get me wrong. There are some pluses to Sacramento such as 2nd Saturday (akin to 19th on 19th in The Heights or 1st Saturday in the Heights), the outlet mall is only 32 miles away, decent Cuban and Indian food. San Francisco is about an hour drive.  The mountain ranges and being close to Yosemite or Reno (when it's not snowing).

So I guess I'm trying to ward off the blues.  I didn't think I would miss Houston as much as I do. But being here with The Fella is a the best plus and hopefully we can discover the weird, cultural and fun events  that Sacramento has to offer.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Career Girls

Thanks for everything, Julie Newmar.  Yes, I watched To Wong Foo this morning - love Patrick Swayze in a dress. He was so stylish.

Yes!!! I received the offer for the position I wanted.  No haggling on the salary (woo hoo for having to submit an application and providing my salary), great benefit package, and I believe it will be an awesome working environment.

I love this sentence from the offer letter: Please note that no Laboratory employee can own or have outside contact with rodents such as mice, rats, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, and chinchillas.  Please discontinue rodent contact 10 days prior to your start date.  

Good thing I left all my rats in Houston! 

So now I can do as The Fella ask - sit back and relax.  And plan my first day of work wardrobe.  I'm feeling outfit photos coming on as I learn how to dress California-ish in a research lab. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Interview Tips

Ok I'm not a pro at this, but I've now had 4 face-to-face and 2 telephone interviews (3 of which for the same position). I think I can give ya'll a few helpful tips to get you through the scary process.

First off, dress the part. I have 1 traditional interview suit. I bought it on a whim (and on sale) a few years back at Ann Taylor Loft.  It's a classic shape, classic color (black pinstripe), the skirt hits right at the knee. Yes, the blazer needs some tailoring due to weight loss and because I am in between petite and misses so I used some hem tape to temporarily fix the sleeves. Try on your suit/outfit at least the day before to confirm fit and style it with shoes and accessories. I am a firm believer that for the first interview you should dress conservatively even if you know the company is very casual. You can downplay your dress for your second and third interviews.

Second, leave your purse and cell phone in the car. I'm lucky enough to only need a key fob for my car, so I only take that a simple leather portfolio inside with me. Always bring your photo ID, your car key (1 key only) and your resume.

Third, if you're like me searching for an admin position, bring fresh writing samples.  And remember your girl scout training - be prepared and bring extras. I watched the faces of my group from my last interview light up because I came prepared with samples.

Fourth, if you are moving along to the second round...think about questions from the first interview that you want to expound and write out your answers.  An interview is your time to sell a product, you.  So coming to the first, second and/or third round prepared proves that you are organized and can prep.

The best tip I can give you is to be yourself.  Take a deep breath, let it out and relax.  Remember the folks your are meeting with were once in your shoes.

So these are just a few tips. I will keep you posted as I progress along.

Friday, March 11, 2011

3rd time's a charm

Or at least I am hoping.

I had my face-to-face/video conference interview Wed for the job I really want. Of course following most interviews you contemplate all the answers you should have given versus the rambles you did give.  Some of us kick ourselves and wish for a do-over.  Well today, I did get my chance to expound on 3 items that came up during my 2nd interview. 1. An issue was raised about my needing training. I think that was taken out of context from my telephone interview. 2. Working in a fast pace environment. Everyone thinks their environment is faster paced than others.  Science is a hurry up and wait arena. So you learn how to balance priorities and stretch out the days, if needed. 3. What would I look for in an admin (if I was on the other side). Future goals, an interest in constant learning and great customer service skills.

These folks know I can do the job, now it's time to see if the personalities will fit.  I promise to squash the voices in my head and keep my personalities to 1, if hired.  So I welcomed today's one-on-one coffee meeting.  I know the group was impressed when I showed up with writing samples on Wed and I think today's person was even more impressed because I came with written notes from Wed's interview. I think she likes my anticipation level.

So I sit here in anticipation of news. And prepare for another interview Monday.  What will I wear (I only have 1 interview suit which now needs to go to the cleaners).

Thanks Merry and Kim for your votes of confidence and well wishes.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The joys of interviewing

Argh!!!! I hate trying to sell myself to others. What happened to the good ole days when you interviewed for a job and you knew by the end of the day if you had the job or needed to seek elsewhere? What HR person thought these multi-day, multi-panel, multi-month interviews is the best way to discern the best employee for a position?  I'd like to shoot that HR person. Just offer a position already.

Today's interview went well. The reason being is because I know I'm overly qualified for the position so I had a response for each question and hopefully, I didn't come across as a snob. I may not be hired because I can be seen as a threat by one of the women who interviewed me.  Oh well.  The joys of working with women. Funny thing is that I've done this job and can do it in my sleep. I told funny ancedotes about my days as an assistant. I seem to have the room at ease, made eye contact, didn't fidget and I came prepared with questions. And best of all, I have wonderful references.

So the dog and pony show is over.  I can sit back and fret or I can continue my search.  I have another interview set for next week.  This will be the 2nd interview for the same job and this is for the job I want - EA to the GM.  So keep your fingers, toes and eyes crossed that I get it.

But until then, I may just hit a temp agency so I wont sit in this apartment going stir crazy. I need something to do.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

2000 miles to Graceland

More like 2000 miles to Sacramento! Whew, what a drive!!

And yes, the longest part is trying to get out of Texas. I swear that last 247 miles from Ft. Stockton to El Paso had me thinking someone moved El Paso!

The cool thing about Ft. Stockton is seeing the metal cowboys welcoming you to town. The saddest part of the drive was crossing into Las Cruces, NM and watching the Texas border fade away.  I did a little dance in my seat as I cross the Continental Divide and again when I crossed the Colorado River into California.  I was a bit sad that the CA rest stops weren't open from the border up to Desert Palms :(

But this drive wasn't all roses and blue skies.  I left Phoenix earlier than planned (no Taliesin West on this trip) in order to avoid the rain and make it into California before the temperature dropped. I did hit San Bernardino by 12noon on Saturday (nice timing) only to spend an hour driving around town to find my childhood home. FOUND IT.

Enter the not so smart part of the drive. I deviated from the route thinking that I went north to Barstow and then west to Bakersfield, I would bypass LA traffic.  Oh I bypassed traffic alright, only to hit the steep mountain grades of the San Bernardino National Forest.  Needless to say the warning signs of "Extreme Weather, Reduce Speed, Use Caution, Use Chains in Mountain Areas" scared the ______ out of me. I made it to Junction 58 towards Bakersfield thinking that was smooth sailing - and it was through Edwards AFB and the Mojave.  Then I hit Tehachapi.  Who knew it snowed in the desert? I surely didn't. Who knew Tehachapi is the land of four seasons?  Yeah, me either. I thought the grade was scary along 215, it got worse up 58 and then you add some curving roads that are slick. All I could think of was Kathy Bates dragging my butt out of an embankment. I was white-knucked, radio off, seat upright all the way from Tehachapi to Bakersfield.  I shouted at the top of my lungs when I saw the turn for Bakersfield.

Um, yeah...Bakersfield.  Truly the armpit of America.  If you're from Bakersfield, I hope you moved.

Thank goodness Bakersfield to Sacramento is somewhat flat. No scary mountain grades. No slick roads. Only California Highway Patrol and cruise control set at 80!

So my new adventure begins.  I have a job interview with UC Davis set for Thursday.  My interview with Jackson Labs is being postponed.  I really want the job at Jackson Labs, but UC Davis will do nicely too.

The Fella and I are looking forward to making the best of this move, enjoying what Northern California has to offer and strengthening our relationship.

So a word to the wise...if you have to drive the West Coast anytime soon - stay on I-10.