Hoops

The process of finding a job is very strange. I’m not sure if any company is “straight-forward” in this anymore. One job I recently applied for required two 1,000 word essays, along with a resume and generic application. Thankfully I like to write, and I’m also hopeful that the essays weeded out a few people who weren’t really interested in the position. One friend of mine actually confessed she didn’t apply when she saw that requirement.

Turns out, I made it to the next phase in that application process. Instead of it being a live interview though, whether via Skype or in person, it was a recorded video interview. Specifically, the HR representatives pre-recorded the interview questions and then I had 2 minutes to respond for each. At first, I was excited about the process. I was able to do it on my terms, where and when I wanted, with only a deadline to guide me. I spoke to people who have gone through similar interviews and got some insights, which was really helpful.

But then there is the strategy of the interview, which is where my nerves kicked in. In 6 total minutes (3 questions with 2 minutes each), what is more important: conveying the best answers or showing one’s true self and personality? Obviously it is a combination of the two and probably some other components, but I felt like a lot of my experiences were shared with the essays. I tried to view the video interview as an opportunity to show that I can present myself well and be an engaging speaker. I’ll let you know soon if that was the correct approach.

A personal account of #WheresRey

I hated Avengers: Age of Ultron. Anyone who brings it up gets an earful. Joe only just watched it recently, which made some rants in his presence more difficult. As an aside, a coworker of his, knowing that I hated it, suggested it was because Natasha is unable to have children. Omg, that isn’t even why and I’m even more frustrated that it wasn’t clear to someone else. So, to make it clear, here is why Age of Ultron is the worst: they take the one female character that they’ve actually allowed into the franchise (save Elizabeth Olsen, who I love, obvi) and instead of being a badass Black Widow superhero, she gets kidnapped. And needs to be rescued. By a man. Who she has a crush on. SERIOUSLY MARVEL? Think of how much better the movie would have been if the Hulk would have been kidnapped instead. Natasha to the rescue! Because women can save others too. Women need not only be victims, MARVEL. I’ll save the anger of the absence of her from the cover and toys for later.

Going into Star Wars, I felt there was no hope for Disney. I assumed that unless a woman was a princess, she didn’t matter. I honestly didn’t even want to go but I’m a good fiancé and stuff so I did. Enter Rey! Wow, I loved Star Wars The Force Awakens so much. I couldn’t even stay awake for Return of the Jedi, and now I want to see The Force over and over again.

I left absolutely in love with Rey. Holy crap, talk about a fantastic character. She has the mommy/daddy issues that I can relate to, and then is powerful in response. What a great role model. Further, Finn. How many people of color have even been in any Star Wars, and now one stars in it? I love it. Also, he is that great mix of naive and sweet. He wants to be a gentleman and offer Rey a hand, but boy, she’s got it. Ahh, love the chemistry so much.

After the movie, I couldn’t wait to buy my little brother the Rey action figure. She’s clearly the star, and I love to encourage the feminist I know is in him. So guess how many Rey action figures were available at Target on December 20th. Spoiler: the answer is zero. “Were they totally sold out?” you ask? No, my friends, they were not. Finn, Kylo Ren, and Stormtroppers were fully stocked. So I looked to the app! It told me Rey was in stock the next store over. We made the trek. They were not. Turns out, Target didn’t differentiate the SKUs and it read all of the Star Wars Black Series figures as the same. Fail. Well, at least they exist, right?

I then wondered: was the Rey outage a result of supply or demand issues? My gut told me supply, Joe suggested demand. Twitter had the truth. #WheresRey surfaced all of my frustrations and more. Why the fuck isn’t Rey the dominant character within the products for The Force Awakens? Why isn’t she one of the pawns available in Monopoly? Why isn’t she include in the 6 figure sets currently on shelves?

Turns out, Disney’s answer is “spoilers.” What fucking bullshit, excuse my language. How is the existence of Rey a spoiler? How can Finn be included and have this not be a spoiler but Rey’s inclusion would be? And, if the mere existence of Rey would be a spoiler, how does that reflect on Hollywood that we can’t even have a woman be a character without it being a spoiler. Ugh, it seriously doesn’t make sense.

Because this doesn’t make sense, and because I was on my MBA Entertainment Career Trek last week, I asked. Specifically, I asked Disney’s Senior Vice President of Consumer Products why Rey didn’t have a more dominant role in their products.

I can’t say that his answer satisfied me, because I am angry and I’m not sure anything could. He basically said it was 50% Hasbro making the decision and 50% them not wanting spoilers. Mmmkay… but then how come Black Widow wasn’t featured on the cover of the DVD? As this lovely fivethirtyeight article points out, this is also the case with Gamora from Guardians. Caroline Framkie also agrees in Vox that this isn’t a “spoiler” problem, but an ongoing sexist theme in toys.

A lot has been written on this topic and I’m not necessarily trying to add anything to the conversation other than my own anger. I care about the messages the entertainment industry sends to women and I want them to change. I want to have my Rey action figures and strong female characters and less sexism too. Some day soon I hope to be able to do more than just talk about it.

Finding a purpose

So I wrote this post over a week ago, but was sitting on it because it felt so unresolved. Now it might be resolved and I’m relieved. 

I’m at a fork in the road. An impasse. Basically I’m stuck. I’ve always had a purpose and right now I feel like I don’t. None other than to graduate from MIT, but that’s nearly done.

In high school, I wanted to do well in class and stay busy so that I wasn’t around home. Between my parents splitting up and my mom starting to drink, I liked to stay away as much as possible. I volunteered and took college classes and did all the National Honor Society stuff that a good student does.

In college, all my focus went towards Program Board and Student Government. I loved having an impact on the student body and contributing to the overall experience of my classmates. Student Government in particular gave me a great glimpse into the bureaucracy of business and I loved it.

After graduating, I remember going through a struggle similar to the one I am now. It was the first time I was embarking on a time of my life that wasn’t pre-determined. What I did after college was a blank canvas and I was nervous about that. It wasn’t a terribly long struggle though, because I had my job lined up before I graduated and started my corporate gig that summer.

Even then I found more ways to be involved. First, I started this blog. Second, I joined Girls in Tech and started giving a lot of my time to volunteering. It was a great experience and something I miss dearly. I tried getting involved with similar organizations while in Boston, but nothing has been the right fit.

Starting at MIT was a tad overwhelming. The classes were a lot of work and I got involved with a few groups, but I never felt like I was making an impact. Even when I was all in on the Its on Us campaign, the Women’s Advisory Group, and the Title IX Working Group, I didn’t feel like my efforts mattered. I’ve come to the realization that I have no idea where I’ll be living in a few months or what I’ll be doing and that’s hard. It’s also difficult to get out of bed every day when I’m not actively contributing to something I’m crazy excited about. I’m excited to find that next thing again soon. 

The next day though, I made a trip to NYC to meet with people in the entertainment industry. I ended up landing an opportunity to work with a small entertainment advisory firm. I’m going to be doing some really neat analytics work for identifying successful content before it airs. If it ends up being a perfect fit and I like the company and the company likes me, maybe it turns into a job. Even if it just working on extremely awesome analytics that focuses on content featuring strong females and meetings some really great people in the industry, that sounds just awesome too.

Yay recruiting

Before I get into it, please let me acknowledge what a great privilege it is to be graduating with my MBA from one of the top 5 institutions in the world. In the grand scheme of things, I’m highly employable and don’t need to worry about employment in the long term. I’m extremely fortunate to be where I am.

That being said, business school has been hard work and the perfect job has not been just handed to me at the end of it. Recruiting is a trying process that is emotionally stressful and very deflating. I often leave a rejection feeling “unemployable…” but I do have a tendency to be dramatic.

During the last week in October I had 7 interviews and received rejections from all. The level of competition for these roles is crazy. The first rejection came for a rotational program that I was extremely excited about and thought I was perfect for. I didn’t have quite as many years of experience as they were looking for, but I felt I had a compelling story for why that was okay. I got the rejection letter without the opportunity to interview.

One job that I did interview for was one I was a little less excited about, but sometimes the best opportunities come out of those circumstances. I made it through four interviews before getting the rejection. This situation was more frustrating because even after all those interviews, they were unable to provide specific feedback. I thought the interviews went very well so it is hard to determine what I can do better next time.

I made it to a third interview for probably what I would describe as my favorite job. At some point in the process there must have been a communication error though because halfway through the interview, my interviewer realized I wasn’t graduating until the spring and they needed someone to fill the role immediately. This was frustrating because it was just a timing issue; I’m hopeful a similar role will become available closer to graduation though.

A lot of my current frustration is my own fault too. Many of my peers have offers already in the bag. The entertainment industry is just different though. Hires are made just in time and its probably crazy for me to think I’m close to closing the deal. So, it’s probably just time for me to take a deep breath, enjoy the holidays, and resume the effort in the new year. Easier said than done, but I’m going to try.

Purpose

This was written while drinking wine and ignoring The World Series… 

I am currently in a course titled “Leadership Stories: Literature, Ethics, and Authority” and this week we’ve discussed social media at length. Specifically, how the digital age has evolved story telling. A clear theme from the class discussion was one’s ability to curate their life and to manage the way they are perceived. Some shared that they tend to only share positive things; one student referenced an ESPN article she had recently read about a girl who committed suicide even though her Instagram profile reflected something else. This caused me to reflect on the image I put forward of myself both through social media and this blog.

In many ways, I try to share both my highs and lows. The purpose of this blog is to connect with others online. Sure, a majority of my readers are family and friends, but there are also a lot of people who just stumble upon it. I want to show how someone who suffers from depression and who had a difficult childhood can still achieve and take matters into her own hands.

At the same time, not all the stories in my life are my own to tell. Which is sometimes why I sorta drop from the site. I don’t always know how to share my own internal struggles while upholding the privacy of others.

Personally, I’ve said and done literally tons of stupid things and I never try to appear perfect (except when I’m trying to convinced Joe I am perfect, but that is a little different). I can fully imagine a future-world in which I question my decision to be so public about my thoughts and feelings. However, writing and sharing my feelings has allowed me to grow in ways I may never fully understand. Which is why I don’t think it will ever be something I regret.

At the same time, I can be very lucky. I also believe I make my own luck. I hope there are things about me that make people think “wow, I can look up to her AND I can see parts of myself in her” and “oh! maybe I can go to MIT/apply for this job/put myself out there too!” I believe inspiration is most powerful when you are able to see yourself in another’s shoes and that’s pretty much all I want. I want others to know they can.

A random unsponsored rave review of Glasses.com

Bam! I love my new glasses, they are super cute. I had found a pair I loved at my optic place, but they ended up being $900+ for both the lenses and the frames. Sure, they were Chanel, but the lenses alone were $500 because my prescription is -5.0… although that is a weak excuse.

Considering I am unemployed, I decided to try glasses.com instead because they had this whole “risk free” offer where I could try them out for two weeks and then decide if I wanted to keep them, all before being charged. This is pretty genius on their part because I don’t think I would have tried them otherwise. You never know what you are going to get and I was worried I’d make the wrong choice on lens thickness and what not.

After checking out they texted me and I was able to text back with a picture of my prescription. They also needed my PD measurement, which is the distance between your pupils. I had no idea so when Joe got home he grabbed the tape measure and checked it out for me. I’m a 58, in case you are curious. I was able to do all this via text which was super convenient.

They estimated 5-7 days for me to receive the glasses and this was only 4 days before I was leaving for Ghana. To my great surprise they arrived beforehand! I was able to test them out for the trip but I pretty much knew as soon as I put them on that I loved them.

Blurry pic... sorry

Blurry pic… sorry

On glasses.com the lenses were $129 and the Burberry frames were around $250. It was a very easy process and I couldn’t be happier with the result!

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That one time I went to Ghana…

So I just got home from an amazing week in Ghana… but before I give you the full play by play, I have to go back to a lazy day at the office this summer. On July 16th, this email came into my inbox:

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tldr: write a 300 word essay to be eligible to win a trip to Ghana.

Thankfully, I was pretty bored at work and therefore used that time to write that essay. Not sure I would have spent the time at home to do it if I were busy… here’s what I wrote:

I have always had a passion for improving the learning conditions of young girls. Prior to starting at MIT Sloan, I was the managing director of a non-profit organization, Girls in Tech Minneapolis. The goal was clear: increase the number of girls pursuing technology professions by increasing their access to education and strong female role models. Even though I am no longer involved in Girls in Tech, this topic continues to be something I feel strongly about and will continue with once I earn my MBA. Girls all over the world should have better, equal access to education. It is this passion that drives my desire to learn more about non-profit education abroad.

The increased popularity of cause marketing has also turned my attention to the 1-for-1 model of non-profits. I first heard of TOMS through Hanson’s Take the Walk tour, and have been interested in the model ever since. How can we encourage more affluent people to give to those who do not have the same? By participating in this once-in-a-lifetime learning experience in Ghana, I hope to learn ways to apply this model to future for-purpose driven initiatives.

Lastly, I know this opportunity will teach me so much. Beyond learning about education and non-profit work, I will see a first-hand account of how to start from scratch. Adam Braun created something that is truly changing lives. Through this inspiration, I know I can do the same.

I also love the impact CommonBond is making and would love the opportunity to connect further! I am also a lot of fun to travel with.

A week later I got a 7am phone call from CommonBond in NYC telling me I had been selected. Cue intense excitement.

[My essay was also published on their blog, which you can see here!]


Last Wednesday, I took a flight from BOS to Amsterdam solo. Once there, I met up with Natalie, a representative from Pencils of Promise (PoP); David, Michaela and Ali from CommonBond; and Jason and Eryn, the other winners. Looking back, it’s kind of funny because I wasn’t once concerned about traveling to Africa with 6 complete strangers.

Completely unrelated, here is a photo of an Amsterdam Airport Donut:

Good donut.

Good donut.

The next seven hours were filled with wine and movies… but nothing really worth mentioning here. We landed late on Thursday and went to bed soon after we checked in. Early thoughts? — Ghana is hot.

Friday morning we left Accra for Ho early. There, we were welcomed by a great group of students who had been in a PoP school since 2013. After a performance of a traditional dance and the recitation of a poem, we were each presented with beautiful pieces made personally for each of us. Within minutes, rain started pouring and the students went back to their classrooms. We then got to see the inside of a PoP classroom and to observe students learning. The great thing about PoP is that in addition to building sturdy structures for children to learn in, they continue to support each and every community through teaching training and onsite support.

IMG_1960In Ghana, the teachers are taught tools to support active classroom engagement. And by active, and I mean active. The kids sing, dance, and move around because that’s a part of their culture. Outside of recess, I don’t remember ever having that in elementary school.

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The junior high school was a different story. Currently, PoP only supports elementary education, due in part to their focus on literacy and obvious financial constraints. The junior high structure was over 20 years old and was in pretty bad shape. The mixture of rain and a “faulty roof” clearly impacted students’ learning experiences. Here, they are moving their desks so their books don’t get wet.

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I left this community with mixed emotions. On one hand, I was so inspired to meet such great children. At one point, a handwashing station tipped over and multiple boys jumped up to help put it back up. The students even show up early to sweep the classrooms – there is so much pride in learning. That isn’t something I’ve seen in the United States – children just ready to jump up and help. On the other hand, the conditions are pretty bad. I can understand not being able to learn when something as common as rain interferes.

Next, we went to a site that showed an example of the “before” environments. Can you imagine going to school here? Whether your answer is “yes” or “no”… it gets worse…

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On Saturday, we were honored to attend an inauguration ceremony. After a few speeches and being gifted a goat (literally), we got to see the before and after. Saying it is a stark contrast is an understatement.

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A “classroom” under a tree with just a black board and two benches

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The new PoP built school.

Even more touching was the way the children ran and cheered into the new school once the ribbon was cut. After both getting dance lessons from the kids and teaching them to nae nae, we went back to the hotel to drink some beer and tell some stories.

That night, we really got to know each other. Up until then I wasn’t sure if my style was gelling well, but after a few good stories I had at least a few of them on the dark side.

Sunday… just.. wow. We went to a community near Togo where there must have been over 100 community members on site helping build. With PoP, they provide supplies and skilled labor, but require the community to provide the unskilled labor. It both ensures that the community is committed to bringing in the new school and that it is something they truly want. To see 50 grown men giving up their Sunday to literally make 4000 cement blocks to construct a school… I was just in awe. I think football dominates Sundays in the United States.

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After that we got in a small taste of tourism when we went to a monkey sanctuary. We were told a beautiful story about the history of the land and how monkeys came to be as important as they are. Then we fed them and I nearly lost my shit.

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And all of a sudden, Monday was our last day. We visited a commnity where PoP is piloting e-readers. It was so cool to see a classroom full of students on e-readers in the middle of a village with minimal electricity. They were actually in the middle of a sexual education lesson when we began observing. It felt rather intrusive but also really neat that they are learning about that at a young age.

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I left Ghana with such great respect for both the people in the communities and the impact Pencils of Promise is making. The children and families I met have such a strong desire for education and bettering themselves. They are hardworking and kinder than I see most days. Because of this trip, I know I will be a life long supporter of PoP. Beyond that, I formed great relationships and learned about starting a company from a fantastic CEO. I believe I have an even better appreciation for education and am excited to discover how I can impact the next generation. I have a deep understanding of what some lives and cultures in Ghana look like, and I will continue to reflect on the ways life differs in the United States. I believe this experience has even influenced the way I will raise my own children some day. It was the trip of a lifetime and I am so thankful to have been given this opportunity. I’m pretty much pinching myself right now.


 

Update 10/23/2015: a version of this post was also published on the CommonBond blog.

California Summer

The California-summer depression has started. Cue binge eating and emotional drinking. Last night, I met with a Macalester alum who is a producer in town. While her view of the industry is just that, only her view, it scared me a little bit. Not enough to make me run back home and never look back, but enough to make me think twice. I need to know that this is what I really want. Unfortunately, I don’t know what I want.

The gist of what she said is that she knows that she’ll never even be able to afford to have children or buy a house because producers are paid so poorly unless they are the top 50 in the world. “If you can see yourself doing anything else in the entire world, do that instead.” She equated the profession to being an addict – you only do it because you can’t live without it. Isn’t that depressing?

It’s depressing in itself, but pile that on a woman who is living in LA for the first time with her fiancé on the east coast and a job that is boring and pays so little she can barely afford to pay her rent let alone do the things she wants to do. Hint: that woman is me!

Now all I want to do it sit in my room and watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer and drink my Target wine cube wine. Which is what I think I will do.

 

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I’m going to be a producer!

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I went to a conference my first weekend here in LA. It was a Film in California conference and while some of it focused on tax credits specifically for filming in California, there was a lot of useful information.

The best part of the day was a panel I attended that had producers from True Blood, Ugly Betty and Mad Men, and a Vice President of Physical Production from Paramount. After hearing more about their day-to-day roles and the impact they have on the content, I decided that it is the job for me. But production isn’t the easiest part to get into, especially for math nerds without any film background. So, for the past 2 weeks I’ve been reaching out to tons of people and meeting with various production assistants and anyone else that will meet with me. The more I hear about it, the more I’m sure it’s what I want to do.

I’m even trying to line up something part-time during the school year. If I could find a local news station that needed part-time production assistance, I could feasibly do that in the morning before any of my classes. I technically could also wait until I’m done with school, but I’m impatient as fuck and want to be able to get a better job once I’m actually done. I also want to be sure it’s what I really want.

Right now, my gut is telling me I don’t want to be doing heavy strategy work. That’s pretty much the focus of my internship and I don’t know if it is the content or the work-load, but I’m not completely stimulated. Which will make for a long summer.

How He Fell in Love

Holy cow I can’t believe I almost didn’t even go out tonight.

Earlier today, I had run out of things to do at work so I started reaching out to some people who I hadn’t spoken to in a while. A Macalester alum that I connected with about entertainment back in November, was on my list. Coincidentally, he was actually on a plane to LA from NYC (where he lives) for the LA Film Fest. AND, he had an extra ticket for tonight’s screening of the movie How He Fell in Love. I didn’t know anything about it and it sounded kind of mushy, but I went for it anyway.

The first face that appeared on the screen? CO Bennett! [Ironically I had just watched episode 1 before the movie too!]

I was instantly excited to watch it. It turned out to be amazing too. It was slow but exciting the whole time and it made me want to have sex with Matt McGorry (you’ll understand what I mean when you watch the movie). I even teared up a few times but probably just because I was tired. Obviously I don’t feel emotions from romantic movies. Duh. I think the two main actors were absolutely perfect for it too, I don’t think it would have been what it was without them.

Then, after the movie…. THEY CAME ON STAGE! Both Matt McGorry and Amy Hargreaves were there, along with other cast members and the writer/director and the cinematographer and the music guy. I left the theater and then did that thing where I walked back and forth changing my mind constantly about whether or not to ask him for an autograph when he came outside. While I did have my ticket stub and a sharpie in my purse, I hadn’t taken a shower in over 24 hours so I was embarrassed of my looks. Then he was talking to all these super models in high heels and I lost all confidence.

So, I went up to Amy because she seemed super friendly and less intimidating. I didn’t want to sleep with her as badly either. I was able to say hi and she signed my ticket and then even asked if I wanted a photo! She said I should get Matt to sign too and I was all like “but he is talking to tall women in heels” and she laughed and dragged me over and introduced me. Then I told him I wanted to sleep with him. Obviously.

By the time we got around to taking the picture I was so nervous I couldn’t even take the damn thing. Ugh, I need to stop going limp-fan-girl all the time! Why can’t I just be cool? Like, it’s no big deal, you know?

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