Why am I doing this?

Do you, too, have those moments when financial pressure overwhelmes you and you consider going back to employment although you are following your passion? I am currently right there, so I started looking out for a part time job in order to have rent, food and healthcare covered. It’s not that I’m not making money. It’s just that income is so different depending on whether it’s in or between terms in university, and I have not yet managed to smooth that. In this situation it’s tough to develop new products of which you know they will require their time until they pay off.

So, yesterday I went to this job interview and I completely screwed it up. I could watch the job slip through my fingers while I poured even more water over the sand. I have to say that I was not a perfect fit anyway, there were two things stated in the job description I had not done before, but that was obvious from my application. So why would an employer then dig into that hole instead of focusing on what I had achieved before?

Missed opportunities

There was no chance of bringing the interview back to my strength, the interviewer was much more skilled in manipulating people than I could ever be. All my questions about the ongoing change project, the political dynamics or specific challenges were squashed. Instead, they asked me totally irrelevant detail questions about stuff nobody needs to know by heart because the relevant legislation is publically available. They asked not one question related to my previous working field, though. I must admit that I am not used to not being considered an expert just for showing up after so many years as a lecturer 🙂 And I completely failed in showing off my expertise.

But the employer failed, too. They were not even clear about the working hours – which is totally in order during a re-structuring. But that was not their point. The answer was: “Well, we’ll discuss that with the applicant. We are short of money and it might be that half a salary is not enough, then someone might want to work 30 hours a week.” Ahm… nope. I am more of the ‘the less you pay the fewer hours you get from me’-type. But if you don’t have the money to pay competitive salaries you might have something else to lure me into your team? – They couldn’t be bothered.

The disastrous financial situation of this charity was all over the local media in previous months. Wouldn’t you expect such an employer to try everything to convince an applicant to chose them regardless of the insecure job situation? Wouldn’t you expect them to explain in detail what they plan to do to save the organisation? Or, if you invited someone who has succesfully turned around an organisation like that before, wouldn’t you ask this person what she would do to help your charity rather than what she knows about the single task of the job description you know she had nothing to do with before?

AAAARRRRGGGGGHHH!!!!!

I left the office knowing I was not good. Which is a pity, I would love to work in that specific sector. However, whether I would be a good fit professionally, I still don’t know because they were so shy about what their situation and challenge is. Every time I went into the direction where I thought the problem was, I saw the HR manager thinking “Fuck off, bitch!”. She was obviously not the kind of guy who often has her decisions questioned. So I can at least state with confidence: A cultural fit, I was not. Unfortunately, if you want to solve severe problems, cultural fits are normally not what you need.

And that was when I realised why being a freelancer is so cool. Nobody cares whether you are a cultural fit. The only thing important is: Are you doing a good job? Clients might even appreciate your outsider’s view. A consultant who questions decisions is not regarded illoyal but a critical analyst. If you try something new, people think you’re innovative not over-ambitious. You accept only jobs you know you can do well and reject all the other stuff because you don’t have to fit a job description.

Still, I cannot help but wonder: Am I such a hell of an employee; or is there such a limited number of good bosses?

Hm. Natalie

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Reader or Lover?

Today’s prompt made me wonder whether I should write about how to win my heart as a reader, or how to win my heart. When I thought about why I choose to read a book and why I read on, I realised that a writer and a lover have to do just the same things.

5 ways to win my bookish heart

  1. The Cover, including title and sub-headings. Although I have preferences for size, material and colours, the first thing which normally catches my eye is the title. Is it witty? Is it more matter-of-factly? Is it a teaser? A title might have something to do with me or with a topic I’m interested in to catch my attention. Can I believe what I see, or is it blatantly bs*ing into my face? When I pick up the copy, how it feels might  be an indicator whether I go to step 2 and read the jacket text or not. If the title and subheading is attractive enough in itself, I jump to step 2 immediately. However, I like paperbacks, the English-American paperbacks, not the German ‘Taschenbuch’. Taschenbücher usually feel cheap. Paperbacks are more solid, but not like a hardcover. Hardcovers look great on the shelf, but it’s not convenient to read them. I want a book which withstands being read without falling apart. And at the same time I want to leave my marks without distroying a perfect outside. Don’t get me wrong, looks are important! But I like a wide range of looks, and books should be fun to read, not fun to watch.
  2. The Blurb. It might include some scanning through the pages, reading one or two sentences. I don’t spend much time here. It’s a quick coffee or some small talk to see whether the first impression holds in the sunlight. Do you like what others say about the book, and more importantly, who is quoted as a reference? Do you like the language the writer uses or what he tells you about his intention to write it? Are you going to buy it and start reading?
  3. The Opening. I never remember first sentences, because for me, the first impression is already over when I open the book. During the first one or two chapters I find out whether I will read on. When I was younger I didn’t even consider not reading on. I read everything cover to cover, just for the sake of it. A bit of OCD, yes. But it also took me a while to figure out that it’s o.k. to quit if this is not what you were looking for. Buying the book does not bind you to reading it. This finding saved me from Jane Eyre! To this very day, I am not loooking for clues why I should read on but rather those warning signals telling me to stop. If they are not there, I read on. So you better not bore me, describe physical torture in too much detail too early, write from the perspective of a dumb person not knowing how dumb she is, or bragg about the obvious. If you write a texbook, cite your sources and credit the people whose ideas you are using instead of showing off. I have probably read the original source, so you better deliver an original approach to it.
  4. The Story. There is a difference between just reading on and falling in love, and that happens in the story. Why I eventually fell for Harry Potter although I hesitated for years reading it at all? Because it is so rich of details and side stories, and they all fit and come together at the end! Characters, good and bad at the same time, not plain ideals of heros and villains. Plot twists, unexpected, but then again making perfect sense. And the language! Beautifully written, no swearing, references to the weirdest persons in history. I loved every single page. And I still re-read the books every now and then.
  5. The Ending. There are three types of endings:
    • The crappy one. The one which ruins the whole story backwards. Like when a love story has no happy ending or the villain turns good for absolutely no reason whatsoever. An ending where you regret the time you spent to reach it, no matter how much you might have enjoyed the journey as such, as in Paula Hawking’s ‘Girl on the Train’. So much potential, screwed so thouroughly! .
    • The ordinary one, such as in Jonas Jonasson’s ‘The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared’. An ending blending perfectly into the story, answering every single question, leaving you closing the book with a feeling of ‘well, that was nice, now it’s over, thank you, bye bye’. You forget it the minute you close the book.
    • The non-ending. The one where it takes you days or weeks to re-enter reality. Where you are craving for more, not in the needy, addicted way but just because the whole story was talking to you, has meaning for you, changed the way you think or perceive the world. An ending which turns the story  of somebody else into a story of your life. You might close the book, but you take the experience with you, grateful that you had it. True Love.

Now, there you go! Write books or ask me out.

xxx

Natalie

+ 1

Yesterday, I went to a friend’s marriage. We are not that close so I had been surprised to be invited in the first place. But I totally appreciate the idea of inviting people you would like to spend more time with in your future life, and that was just what she wanted to do.

At one moment, another friend of her asked me whether I was Jen, which obviously I am not, but Jen was the link between me and the bride. So I introduced myself, and the bride added: She is Jen’s ‘Plus one’. And I was close to dropping dead. Like, did I get my invitation wrong? Is that all there is to say about me? So I decided to set up a small list of things not-so-close friends could tell other people when they introduce me. And here is my list of

Five things you could tell strangers about me to encourage small talk:

This is Natalie, and she

  • is a lecturer in business administration, strategy and HR management.
  • has recently started to perform as a comedienne.
  • cries in the movies when characters reach their dreams.
  • has never been to New York.
  • plans taking a road trip along Europe’s coasts next year.

By the way: As a host, introducing your guests to each other is a great way to help them mingle instead of staying within their cohort.

Suggests

Natalie (who had a lovely evening, thanks for having me)