5 things you can do to help me (and other laid off folks)

There are plenty of lists out there about this, but I swear mine is original. I’ve been laid off twice and am an expert in this by now.

Buy me lunch, dinner, a drink…

This sounds silly, but when you’re laid off, a large amount of your time is spent wallowing on your couch, thinking about being laid off. This is also probably done in pajamas.

I am uplifted every single time I get an offer from a friend for something as simple as Red Baron and stale chocolate at their house.

It means a lot to get dressed, get out of the house and laugh a little. It’s good to forget for a couple of hours, and pretend that it’s any other day or night. I would probably be pretty depressed if not for my friends.

Listen, and tell me when I’m being stupid (nicely)

Advice is something I get plenty of and while I appreciate it, what I really need is someone to listen to me whine. My dream conversation goes like this

Me: whine whine whine no job whine whine no money whine
You: Man, that really sucks. What do you think you’re going to do?
Me: whine whine bad idea whine whine
You: That’s a good idea….in theory. But I had a friend that tried this instead…

Let me wallow a little. Then tell me what’s a better idea without making me feel worse about my pathetic self.

Give me your contacts. Send me jobs of any kind

Send me every single lead on a job you have. Even if it’s a rumor you heard on the bus.

I send out about 10 applications a day and right now, it’s the only thing that makes me feel somewhat accomplished. It gets boring sending out nameless applications, so helping me out by attending a lame networking event with me or sending me your cousins neighbor’s e-mail (no promises they have a job) helps wonders.

Help me further my skills

One of my good friends is my savior. Between him and the boy, they have saved my blog from turmoil more times than I can count.

Not only that, but they push me to learn more tech skills. Java, jquery, whatever. they send me tutorials on how to set up stuff and walk me through it when I have no idea what I’m doing.

I will never say it out loud, but it’s really helpful.

Got a good deal? Tell me.

I’m trying to reduce my costs as much as I can, so any tips about how to get my cable bill reduced or whatever helps. Ways to get cheap books, movies, etc.

Need to get something? Buy it with referral credits and help me get some money. Know someone that needs a TV? I’m selling mine.

Any other tips? Let me know in the comments.

goals

I was e-mailing with a great business owner the other day and he asked me what my short and long term goals are.

It’ll be good to have these down of (psuedo) paper, so here is an edited version.

1) I’d love to get into blogging more and sharpen my writing. One of my goals is to take my existing blog to the next level or get in with a blog and get big enough that I can call myself a problogger. Being able to write every day is the goal here.

2) I love web production — the act of making sites and content better is invigorating. I Iike being part of the process of improving a site and how it works for its users. There’s so few producers/editors, I think there’s a real shot of success for me in the next 5ish years.

3) In like 10 years, I’d be the editorial director of a site, so I can be involved in both the writing and production. I used to think that it would have to be a journalism-oriented site, but anymore it doesn’t seem to matter. E-commerce, blog, news, it’s all where I want to be.

4) I really want to be part of something that becomes bigger and important. It’s one of the reasons I loved journalism — I felt like I was doing something I could be proud of at the end of the day. I’ve realized something doesn’t have to be blatantly making a difference, but it has to be doing awesome things I personally believe in.

I want to be part of a company, an idea, that cares about the future and wants help their employees succeed. I’ve worked for too many places that only see their employees as just workers, as opposed to people with dreams and goals.

remaining positive

I’ve hard a hard time of it in the past couple of days.

I know Gannett laid off another 1,400 employees, another 1,400 wonderful, well-qualified people out there looking at the same jobs I’m looking at.

I understand I’m good at what I do and I love what I do. I make stories better. I help Web sites relate better to their reader or customers or whoever.

The hard part is keeping that in mind against the thought that there is little money in the bank, I haven’t heard back from places I’ve applied and it seems there are just an endless number of doors closing on me.

I know, because I’ve been here before, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I will end up somewhere better. I will find a company that is financially and culturally stable. They will support me. I will find mentors again. I will grow and learn and I will be better.

The grueling task of my day is to look down that tunnel. It’s the grueling task for everyone who is unemployed right now. Looking down a very long, dark and despairing tunnel.

I am reading a book, The Art of Power, and in it there is a description of the art of letting go. It’s something I’ve had troubles with my whole life. Not grudges, but letting things that have past be. I rarely remain angry at people, but I tend to remain bitter at events. I work at it. I am working, hard, to let go and forget the darkness of where I am, but the light at the end.

back to unemployment

On June 19, I was “let go.”

This time I didn’t sign a confidentiality waiver, so I can talk about it more.

On the outside, I’ve been pretty sunny, saying that I was unhappy anyway and that I didn’t like the company’s direction.

But parts of my are flailing. This is the second time, almost exactly a year later, that I’ve been laid off. The first time I struggled with whether journalism was my true calling and luckily, I felt like i found a job in a new branch of journalism.

So far, I’ve sent out what must be near 40 applications now. I’ve e-mailed and facebooked and linkedin pretty much everyone. I’ve gone to four networking events.

I’m tired and I want to snap at everyone that is complaining about their job. “At least you have a paycheck. I don’t know how I’m going to pay rent!”

I haven’t yet.

I feel beaten down by the system, by the career that I love so much. I feel lost.

Again.

moving on

I read this article by one of the founders of SmartNow.com today.

On top of that I’ve been Twittering with some folks about being laid off. I feel it’s cathartic for me to write it out.

On top of that I’ve started journaling again. I’m trying visual journaling. Doodling seems easier than writing any more right now.

Julie Wainwright’s words hit me, though. This part:

I built my image of myself on two main supporting pillars. When those collapsed, I did too. What I mean is that I had defined myself as someone who was smart and could figure things out and also someone who was entering middle age as a married woman. The “smart” definition was fostered from my childhood. I was the oldest of four children with a mother who was ill and a father who worked long hours to make ends meet. Whenever I asked my parents a question, they would say: “You are smart, what do you think?” Believing I was smart helped me survive a hard family situation and still make top honors in school. I never bought into being a “pretty” girl; I was the smart one. I was not smart enough for Pets.com. I failed publicly. After more than 20 years of good to great business successes, I had crashed and burned.

For a long time, I’ve recognized that I have defined myself by my work. Work was everything to me. I had a good social life and I have a loving boyfriend, but work was what made me get up in the morning.

I am a journalist. Even my personal site says so. I am a journalist, a writer, a nerd. Those are work terms. They have nothing to do with me being a Asian American woman, in her 20s. I don’t define myself by my love of cooking, spicy food, my cat, yoga, reading until 5 a.m.

Perhaps this is why I, and other journalists, take the failure of the industry so hard. This is who I am. I am made up of newsprint and soy ink, or at least it feels that way. I am ingrained in content management systems and what social media can do for us.

I still read Romenesko. My ultimate dream? A newspaper hires me to be a web producer and wants and appreciates doing new things. Trying something different. The Boy is there at my side, egging me on, as he always does.

Pretty sad and simple dream.

I don’t know that defining myself by my work is an ultimate failure on my part, but it’s making this, sitting in my pajamas at noon with no intention of changing, harder.

I am coming to terms with the idea that I might not find a job in journalism. There are few and though my talents are rare, they do not fill newshole. That’s the main concern, it seems, for many papers. Not getting things on the web.

We had a blackout at a paper I worked out. I was saying I could take the computers to my house, get the whole paper on the web right now, so reporters wouldn’t lose days of work. They were worried about where to print the paper. The main concern was getting he print product out. Web was an afterthought.

The sports and features reporters lost all their work and those stories were never printed. Or put online.

I am a journalist, but I may not be practicing. That’s what happens, I guess.

roller coaster

Now that I’m thinking hard about this, I’m glad I’m moving home.

I can save some money, while I look for jobs and wait for people to get back to me. I’m so incredibly frightened by my future that it can be overwhelming.

While I remain generally optimistic about finding a job, I can’t help but think “what if.”

I’m scared. I am scared that while newspaper are failing and there is all this talk about revamping the way we do news, there are few jobs out there. I feel like I’m fighting tooth and nail for them, but I know that’s not unlike any other industry in the US today.

The recession.

I am scared that while I am planning to move to San Diego with my brother, I’m really hoping that I will find a job in the next month and I can move somewhere else.

At the same time, I’m pretty sure I’m a little depressed. I’ve sat in front on my computer for 6 hours today, but I’ve gotten little blogging done. I packed a bit.

I canceled my satellite.

I worried.

When I’m at home, I worry. I’m not really surrounded by a support system here. I love my friends in SLO dearly, but they have their own jobs and lives to worry about, no one needs to be spending time occupying my brain so I don’t panic.

It’s times like this when I miss The Boy the most. He’s been my constant for the past three years and he’s the only person I can really spill it all to. When I’m lying on my closet floor, freaking out, crying, it’s him that is trying to soothe me. And when I’m upbeat, he’s encouraging me.

I feel terrible about it, because we spend so much time nurturing my life that we rarely have time to talk out his problems.

I don’t want anyone to worry about my mental health or anything. I’ve been worse. I feel like I’m going through something important and I think I need to be totally out there about what’s going on.

Is it going to get me a job? Not really, but it’s cathartic and there needs to be at least one honest journalist writing about it.

a little bit about diversity

This past week I took off for Chicago for UNITY 2008, a quadrennial conference put on by the major minority journalist orgs.

I always get little sleep and have lots of fun — seeing old colleagues, meeting new people and remembering why I love this business.

This year I felt odd. I am one of the few laid-off young journalists I’ve heard of. I was still able to come (thanks to the folks at McClatchy, most of whom I do not hold a grudge), so I could look at all the gloom and doom statements with a little bit of experience.

On top of that, I was cruising the career fair for jobs, this time as a web producer.

Before leaving for the conference, I scheduled a couple of interviews with non-journalism companies looking for editors or marketing people. I was running low on faith that the industry had anything for me anymore. I had been beat up and turned out by journalism and I wasn’t sure I could go back in.

After returning, I’m not so sure. I realize I do have a perspective that isn’t out there.

I am an Asian American woman, who happens to love being a journalist and happens to love the web. That is rare.

There are other journalists who are doing it. There are other web folk that are pushing the envelope and I had several really positive discussions on the future of the web. I also had some bad discussions with recruiters and editors who did not really like the web.

I may have regained my faith. There are not many of us, but we are there. We can change the way journalism works and we can do it while maintaining and hopefully gaining diversity in newsrooms. I realize that I am rare and that if I leave, there will be one less minority view in the media, something desperately needed.

As budget have shrank, no one thinks about minorities. There are few internships anymore and the larger fellowship programs have mostly been cut. My company made the mistake of laying off a young, fresh, talented minority journalist and I had more than one person totally agree that it was a poor decision.

I want to try to make a difference and I don’t need a byline to make it. I can do it by helping newspapers figure out the web.

I hope this feeling lasts.

moving

It looks like I’m moving in with my brother in a month or so.

I didn’t get a job I applied to here in town and there is little likelihood that I’ll find something else, so it’s off to San Diego to save some money and continue to look for work.

If I’m lucky I’ll find something great in the next couple of weeks, but things are starting to look grim. I’m generally under or over-qualified for jobs. I would be a great web producer for another newspaper, except no one is hiring for that right now. No one is hiring for anything right now.

Thank goodness for unemployment.

you may have guessed by now

that I am not going to write about my former company too much.

Honestly, I think I’m over it. They screwed me over, but I’m working on righting it. I am not angry at most people. I am angry at the CEO who took a gigantic bonus this year, but still laid off 1,400 people.

I am not angry at my former paper, although I express dismay that I will probably not work in journalism again. It makes me sad to think that all the enthusiasm and hope I had leaving college for the field never really had a chance to be realized.

Anyway, unlike some company-sactioned bloggers, I did not have a financial advisor sit down with me when I heard the news. I do not have any savings. I have a significant amount of debt, from my car, credit cards and otherwise.

So. the job hunt has proved….sad. I haven’t heard back from anywhere that I applied and I seem vastly underqualified or overqualified for many things. I have a potential interview, which does not really excite me, but it will be a challenge to learn to write differently.

I’m looking for freelance work where I can get it, so I can add to my meager blogging income. But a full-time telecommute job is ideal right now. Or at least in the Bay Area.

I’m headed to UNITY next week to meet up with journalist friends. Hopefully I can get some job leads there and network my ass off.

If anyone is headed there as well, let me know and we can lunch or dinner or something.

I plan on taking my resume, nicely printed and shoving it in the face of every news organization on the West Coast.

Here’s hoping it works.

the best thing

Two things happened today. I talked to my brother and then I finished my book. In order of thoughts.

Conversation with my brother

My brother, who I generally refer to (out of love) as Ugly, was trying to convince me that I shouldn’t be afraid of what’s ahead. I was trying to explain to him that it’s not fear of being broke or having to move or getting a new job, it’s more that I have such a multitude of decisions that it’s overwhelming. I’m bad a decisions. Often, I’ll spend so long contemplating what to have for dinner that I’ll forget to eat dinner.

It shouldn’t be scary, he said. I have the chance and the push to try something completely different. Something I’ve been dreaming of for awhile. I can move across the country, or stay here. I can take my career whereever I’d like to.

It’s a rare chance, he said. To do something completely different.

And he’s right. There are some decisions that are simpler than others, like when I’m going to move home. The answer to that is soon. Staying with my brother won’t be a huge problem.

I will figure it out and I will find what is best and I will end up somewhere better. I know I’ve been saying that since last week, but I’m slowly starting to believe it. I’m trying not to be as lethargic and to get off my ass and actually do something.

My book

I just finished reading Phillip Pullman’s trilogy His Dark Materials.

It’s amazing. The theme, or moral or what I got out of the book is that you have to live your life for the greater good. Sacrifices are necessary. Things will suck. You will be sad.

It’s not anything I did not know, of course.

But I’m thinking that there is a purpose. I don’t really subscribe to God or Christianity strictly. I’m Pagan, more or less. But our lives have a purpose, whether small or great. We need to not live for ourselves. Of course happiness is great, but it’s not everything. Happiness is a piece of the puzzle.

I think. I’m really typing out loud.

So. I am trying to make the decisions I need to, after talking to my brother, that will be the best overall and lead me to where I’m supposed to be, after reading my book.

It’s almost as if I have two pieces of a photo and I can’t get the edges to line up right. It’s driving me nuts trying to get it done, but something is not working. So here I am moving the pieces up and down and left and right.