Earlier today I was feeling super nervous about an interview I have. My heart was beating fast and I couldn’t concentrate. It was the same feeling I get after breaking up or being in trouble. It was a fight or flight feeling, and how I felt whenever I was in the classroom and things were out of control.

It is the worst feeling of my life. When I feel that way for prolonged periods, I get physically sick.

But I had a mock interview with an old friend, and after that I felt a lot better and freer. I realized there are things I can do to prepare, but ultimately interviews are not only about who can do the job, but who they want to work with every day.

Once I realized that, I came upon these other conclusions:

The person I’m best at being is myself.

I can’t adopt a new personality in order to get a job. When I do, I’m not going to do a very good job because the job would be a poor fit for me. I can only present the best me and hope that the employer likes that person. But it is never a winning idea to try to be someone else, BECAUSE EVENTUALLY YOU HAVE TO BE YOURSELF!

Life goes on whether I get this job or not.

Even though it is an incredible opportunity, I’m not going to become a different or better person if I get this job. And even if I don’t, life goes on. It’s not the last interview I will ever go on, and it’s not the only job in the world. It’s not even the only job in publishing or in the company. I can reframe the interview as something that can only help me because there is nothing to lose

An interview is a chance to see if you’d work well together.

When I was interviewing and just desperate for jobs in the past, I always thought I had to impress the interviewer. But now that I’ve landed myself in some truly miserable and poor fit jobs, I realized that an interview is not only about winning the employer over, but about finding if you’d be a good addition to a team. In that case, it truly is a two way street! At this point in my life, I am looking for a place where I belong too.

Looking for a job is an extremely ordinary thing.

My parents always make it seem like I’m in trouble or something is TERRIBLY WRONG with me/my life/my fate when I’m looking for a job, but job hunting is actually extremely mundane. Millions of people all over the world, every day, are looking for work. They include students applying for residency, migrant workers looking for their next seasonal job, artists looking for their next gig, career changers looking for entry level jobs. It can happen in one day or it might take months to a year, and one thing I realized is that there’s no hack to it. (If there were, there would be no unemployment.) Unless you have extraordinary skills or connections, job hunting is just the pain that it is. Embracing that has been freeing. I’m still responsible for APPLYING and INTERVIEWING for jobs, but I’m no longer responsible for GETTING a job because that doesn’t have on my end. Only an employer can hire me. 

When you think it’s in your power to win a job, that only leads to misery and a lot of frustration (AKA feeling like a loser and wondering what’s wrong with you)

Be proud of your history and who you are. 

Having said all that, I think one way to embrace the job hunting process is to be proud of who you are. I think the hardest job hunt I had was after college because I had no work experience. I simply had nothing to talk about. But now, I have SO much to talk about because all those things really happened to me, and I don’t have to make up stories. I can wear my failures as badges of honor and signs that I have worked and lived life.

Probably my biggest takeaway from all of this is to embrace the process and not fight it. Also, be yourself and know yourself well! Job hunting is a way to bring your skills to a place where they’ll be put to good use. It’s really about alignment rather than winning.


Job Interviews!

How to Answer ‘Why Are You Interested in This Position?’ in a Job Interview

  1. Your answer must reflect an accurate understanding of the job. When that doesn’t happen, it’s usually because the person has talked about how excited they are to do X, when X is only a tiny portion of the job, or not likely to be part of it at all.

  2. Employers appreciate when people are excited about the company, but they generally want to hire people who are invested in and enthusiastic about the job they’ll actually be doing.
  3. Typically, a good answer to “why does this job interest you?” will not only explain what appeals to you about the job, but also explain how it fits in with your career path. That’s especially true if the job is very different from roles you’ve had in the past, in a new field, or a sideways or downward move.
  4. Your interviewer wants to make sure that you’ll be satisfied doing this job for at least the next couple of years. If you sound like you’ll be itching to move on quickly, that’s a negative.
  5. Does it use skills you’ve spent time building? Try to imagine someone who really does love the job and what they might be responding to about it, and think about whether any of that resonates with you.

How to Answer ‘Tell Me About Yourself’ in a Job Interview

Interviewers who ask this question are generally looking to get a broad overview of how you see yourself as a professional.

A good answer will summarize where you are in your career, note anything distinctive about how you approach your work, and end with a bit about what you’re looking for next.

“I originally got into ____ because I really wanted to work with ____. Pretty early on, I found that my ___ background was especially helpful in being able to ___. I love being able to ___. For example, last year I (accomplished) by doing ___. I’m excited about this role because it would let me continue to use my ___ background while ___.”

Don’t drag yourself.

“What are you currently working on improving on, and how are you going about it?”

“I used to be ___, and now I’m ___ by doing ___.”

They’re looking for a short explanation that makes sense and doesn’t raise red flags about your professionalism or ability to get along with others.

When you talk about challenging pieces of your current and past jobs, do you sound intrigued/excited/driven by the prospect of solving problems and accomplishing something? Or do you sound more like you’ve chosen to just stick to the bare minimum?

“The role turned out to be ___, and I found that I really missed working with ___.”

What do your former managers and co-workers say about you?

How to Prepare for an Interview: The Ultimate Guide

The more you can think of an interview  as a collaborative business meeting where you and your interviewer are both trying to figure out if it makes sense to work together —  the less nervous you’ll probably feel.

“The culture of a company is really important to me, and I realized I wanted to work somewhere that’s more team-focused with more opportunities to collaborate. Not only do I get a lot of satisfaction from that on a personal level, but I also think it generally makes the work stronger as well.”

10 Impressive Questions to Ask in a Job Interview

“How will you measure the success of the person in this position?”

“What are you hoping this person will accomplish in their first six months and in their first year?”

“How would you describe the culture here? What type of people tend to really thrive here, and what type don’t do as well?”

“What do you like about working here?”

 “What’s your timeline for next steps?”

Your goal is just to give a good interview that shows why you’d excel at the job and what you’d be like to work with day to day.

YA girls, figure skating, and police brutality

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed

First, what a beautiful cover! This book has been on my list for a while, and I was happy to finally read it. It pairs nicely with Ahimsa. It’s a little bit simplified, but it does tell the story of slavery and how it can happen TODAY, in the age of cellphones. (In the story, Amal’s owner takes her cellphone away so she has no connection to the outer world.) I am really glad that there is an opportunity for South Asian authors and artists to tell their stories now, especially in the kidlit world.

Spinning by Tillie Walden

This is a graphic novel memoir about figure skating, but it’s really about growing up and being unsure of who you are. Tillie Walden grew up figure skating and it was a huge part of her life, before and after school. The part that resonated with me the most was how ambivalent Tillie was throughout the whole thing–both toward skating and toward life. That is how I felt a lot, basically most of my life. There are a few brief periods in my life when I felt very passionate and present in life, but I’ve more often felt like life was something to be endured rather celebrated. The book ends with Tillie feeling apathetic and quitting figure skating, but we don’t find out what happens next. In the end note, Tillie talks about how Spinning didn’t necessarily have a point–it’s based entirely on her memory and she purposely did NOT do research by revisintg her old skating rinks. It was a way for her to process her childhood and teenage years.

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

This book is a poem. It’s about police brutality and the African American boys (truly, they are boys) killed by White police officers. The ghost of Emmett Till visits the protagonist, Jerome, and Jerome really doesn’t know why. The most powerful part of this book is probably making the reader see that they are BOYS. They are not adults, they are boys who are confused and scared. They are not perfect or brave boys. Yet the police feared them, whether it is real fear or an excuse. Rhodes made it really clear that this is not a book attacking law enforcement–it is a book to call us to do better, and there are opportunities every one of us, including police officers, the children of police officers, bystanders, citizens, to do better. Thank you Jewell Parker Rhodes for writing this book.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez

Oh my gosh, this book blew me away. People have said that the best art begs to come out, and the artist is just the medium. When I was reading this book, I certainly felt like the story of Julia and Olga was begging to be told, and Erika L. Sanchez was the only person who could have told it. Julia, the protagonist, is rude and obnoxious and decidedly imperfect. Her dead sister, Olga, was the obedient and perfect Mexican daughter, who was having an affair with her boss. (BTW, I think her boss was a predator.) I could feel Julia’s desperation and the way she wants so much out of life, but is limited by the circumstances. I really felt like I knew Julia and Olga, and I loved both of them?! Thank you for giving us the deepest dive into a Mexican teenager’s life, author.

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

I have not read this year, but will come back to it!

Politics and self-care

There have been so many disturbing attacks on the humanity of our country. It has been going on for the past three years, but it feels like we are in a full-blown attack on Latino immigrants. Scarily, we are on the verge of fascism.

Prior to the 2016 election, I always thought that fascism and the KKK existed in the past. It’s history, it couldn’t possibly happen again. Not after Barack Obama has been elected. Not in the age of social media and smart phones. It’s just inconceivanle that there could be another Hitler. That we would regress to the Jim Crow era. That a known rapist could become the Supreme Court judge. That children would be put into cages.

It’s super disheartening and I don’t know whether to mute it all so I don’t know. For a long time I ignored all of it because I was in survival mode, and I didn’t need to know anything else terrible. But now, I cannot imagine ignoring it. Politics has to do with all of us.

There have been so many attacks–on teen girls, children, immigrants, brown folks, parents–perpetrated by white supremacists. With every awful act that goes unpunished, unrecognized, or unnoticed, a more awful act is allowed to happen. I don’t know how much more awful it can get.

How do we empower ourselves? That is the question I’m always asking. What can we do? Are things even more hopeless than we think, or is there a way to pull it around? What does that look like?

I do not have the answer but I’m going to find out what I can. The ways I’m going to attempt that is by:

  1. Bringing peace and conflict resolution in my micro-community
  2. Bear witness to the more global things happening around me–whether it is a car accident, a shooting, or
  3. Be intentional in the workplace and recognize biases.

Some more on this topic:

“This Land Is Our Land” is the Manifesto We Need at a Time When Immigration is Being Criminalized

Club Thrive: 2016 Election

What if courts treated young sex trafficking victims like Cyntoia Brown as People, Not Perpetrators?

‘I’ve Got Nothing Over here’: Michigan Man Deported By ICE Dies in Baghdad

Introducing #kidlit4gunsense