Saturday, January 8, 2011

Checking In

It's been six months since I graduated from UO and I haven't really addressed work here in quite some time.

Over the summer I found some marketing work, some of which I enjoyed and some of which I did not. I was grateful to have some money coming in and to have the opportunity to gain some experience in communications, but I knew that what I really wanted to pursue was production work, and I knew I wouldn't have time if I was working full time in an office.

In September I got a part time job as a Promotions Assistant for a broadcast company that owns a bunch of local radio stations. At first I was working a lot of events, but now I am primarily doing video work, which I love.

The hours are irregular (I've had anywhere from 2 - 30 hours in a given week), so needless to say, I am not making bank at this job, but I feel very lucky to be doing work that I enjoy and that provides me with valuable experience in my field.

I am also happy to have the flexibility in my schedule to pursue other opportunities. I've managed to pick up other production gigs from time to time. Some are unpaid, but when I do get paid I make a lot more than I do at my regular job. I hope that as I get more experience and meet more people in the community more of these opportunities will arise.

Right now things are very slow, so I'm trying to keep busy and get involved in as many things as I can.

I've been considering joining professional organizations such as OMPA and SPJ, but it's difficult to justify spending the money on memberships when I'm making so little. I keep visiting their Websites and trying to decide how beneficial they would be. I think this is something that will have to wait.

I've applied for some other jobs with no luck. I did receive one call, but I missed it and didn't hear the voicemail until a week later and they had already filled the position. It was a position that would have required a long commute and it wasn't something I thought I would want to do long term, but I was still frustrated to have missed the opportunity.

While I keep checking Craig's List and a few other sites that post media job openings, I am trying to focus my energy on being productive, regardless of pay.

Last week I spent some time updating OJM's social media and am helping them redo some digital slides with information about upcoming exhibits and events to show on a flat screen TV in their lobby. I haven't done graphic design in a while, so it's great for me to get to brush up my Photoshop skills in a low pressure environment. I also volunteered to transcribe some interviews for a local filmmaker who's writing a book. It's a bit tedious, but I enjoy listening to interviews and I'm happy to be able to help out.

Six months ago I feared that I would not be able to find work in my field at all. I do worry about money and I sometimes get frustrated that there is no obvious next step, but I try to remember that I have made progress. I have not resorted to applying for restaurant jobs. I am doing things now that I wouldn't have dreamed of before I moved to Eugene in 2008 to finish my Journalism degree.

Despite financial fears and uncertainty about the future, I feel pretty good about what I'm doing right now. I don't feel stagnant or trapped like I did when I was working in food service. I am enjoying my existence more than I have in a long time.

There is no straightforward path to a meaningful career in a fast-changing landscape. I think the best I can do right now is to try to stay informed about what's happening both in my field and my community, to be open to different kinds of opportunities and to try to get as much out of them as possible. My hope is that if I can make myself useful to people, develop my skills, and continue to remain flexible about my goals and aspirations, that in time I will be able to make a living doing work that I care about. If I can accomplish that, I believe I will feel successful.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Facebook Photo Bombing Update

Since my last post I sent messages to the accounts of Ted Wheeler and Berbati's Pan inquiring about the photo bombing incident.

A staff member of Ted Wheeler's named Katrina promptly responded to my message, informing me that she dealt with the issue as soon as she noticed it (within about an hour of the tagging).

" I discovered the photo bombing, untagged Ted and then blocked & reported "her" for spam, " she wrote. "Ted gets lots of friend requests from people he doesn't know and since he usually accesses FB via phone, generally just accepts the request and moves on. Unfortunately, this has led to a few instances where the "friend" was a spammer and later he or I delete & block."

Berbati's has not responded to my message and last night I noticed that they had been tagged in more photos of the same model, which were once again appearing in my Newsfeed. Either they don't mind or they don't keep very close tabs on their account.

Of course having photos of scantily clad women showing up on the page of a nightclub is hardly the same as having them on the page of a politician, and it's not surprising that Ted Wheeler has a system in place for dealing with such things, while Berbati's (which, for all I know, may benefit from the extra traffic driven to their page and arguably wouldn't suffer comparable negative consequences to those of a politician) either intentionally allows other accounts to tag them in such photos, or simply isn't worried enough about their social media image to monitor it.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Facebook Photo Bombing Targets High-Profile Portland Locals

This evening I logged into Facebook and noticed a number of pictures of a scantily clad woman accompanied by a link (I did not click it, but it claims to go to the site for which the woman models) in my News Feed.

I was surprised to see them, as I did not recognize the women, nor am I friends with anyone whom I would expect to post such pictures on the site. I quickly realized that a couple of local users with whom I'm friends, Greek restaurant and night club Berbati's Pan and State Treasurer Ted Wheeler, who is known for his avid social media use (last year, while serving as County Chair he broke the news of a ski-related back injury on Twitter before contacting any traditional media) had been tagged in the photos posted by another account, presumably belonging to the model in the photos.

I can't be certain if the breast-implant laden Asian woman in the photos is truly the 23-year-old UO student and self-described "Kind,Understanding and a simple woman" the profile claims, nor can I be certain whether it is this woman who is behind the account at all, but I was struck by how simple this marketing strategy is, and how surprising it is that I haven't noticed anyone using it before.

This tactic is essentially the Facebook equivalent of Napster bombing, though it seems not to work the same way in terms of targeting a specific audience, unless "her" goal is simply to get as many Portlanders as possible to view her pictures, and, if she's lucky, her profile.

Successful Napster-bombers would tag their music with the names of popular artists whose music at least resembled or shared commonalities with their own, thus reaching the ears of music downloaders who were likely to enjoy their music.

I am, presumably, not this model's target audience. I have little interest in viewing pictures of random nearly nude women on the internet, and, while I'm sure there are exceptions, I suspect the majority of Ted Wheeler and Berbati's Pan's Facebook friends are not looking for such pictures, either. Would it not be more effective, I wonder, to tag high profile models in the photos, rather than a middle-aged white male politician and an inanimate and un-sex-related business?

Furthermore, Ted Wheeler and Berbati's Pan (and all the other people tagged in the photos) will probably un-tag themselves (and perhaps unfriend her, as well) the next time they log in, leaving only a small window for all these people's friends to see the pictures in their News Feeds.

I suspect as this strategy catches on, more public figures and businesses will change their Facebook settings so that their friends can't tag them in photos without their approval.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Facebook's down! Quick, post it on...everything that's not Facebook

The web is abuzz this afternoon with news about Facebook's technical problems and users' thoughts on the situation.

The site seems to be in working order again, but its problems earlier today caused quite a stir.

Mashable, the best source I've found for this type of news posted this article today. The Huffington Post reported the story here. And even the Wall Street Journal blogged about it here.

But what I found most interesting was my Twitter feed, which is still full of insights and jokes (being retweeted like crazy) about the social media site and the impact of its complications. Some gems:

@CarlosMiller: "How come when Twitter goes through its weekly crash, nobody on FB really gives a damn, but when FB crashes, Twitter goes all up in arms?"

@OPB: "BREAKING NEWS: Facebook is down. Worker productivity rises. U.S. climbs out of recession." and 20 minutes later "Top Tweet! Can it become true? @ BREAKING NEWS Facebook down. Worker productivity rises. US climbs out of recession. "

@alexpriest: "Facebook fail whale: cc @"

@bcoz79: "First thought on being down was, "I should post this on !""

@alquaeda: " is down. Not sure if we did that, but we should claim credit anyway. Hitting the infidels where it hurts, etc."

@intuitivebridge: "Facebook is down....It just, you know...doesn't feel like it can go on anymore. It's not you, It's facebook. Really."

@mattwaite: "Irony: Hearing about Facebook being down on Twitter. Shoe. Other foot. Yeah." and "Dear internet: While Facebook is down, why don't you go on over to @ and get your learn on. Just sayin'."

I'm sure there will be plenty more to come.

I think what we saw today really underscores the importance of having multiple social media sites. While some sites may become obsolete, the trend of moving on to the new "best" site and abandoning (or never even trying out) all others, saying "I don't have time for more than one" may be unwise. Particularly with the availability of tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, it's easy to share information across multiple platforms.

I was certainly glad to have Twitter today while Facebook was down, not just so that I could find out what was wrong with Facebook (and what people in social web thought about it), but so that I could still share information with a broad audience and find out what's going and what people are reading/watching in my social web.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Opportunity Knocks X2

A couple days ago I was starting to feel a bit discouraged and was fearing it might be almost time to start applying for restaurant jobs again.

In some ways I really enjoyed the years I spent as a line cook, but I never made much money or had any benefits, and my arms were always covered in burns (in a lot of my wedding pictures there's a real beauty that a panini press left on my left upper arm ), I had a lot of lower back pain from all the lifting, and I often didn't get home from work until after Robert had gone to bed. I think the frustration that stemmed from that lifestyle is a big part of what motivated me to finally get really serious about school.

I know that Robert and I can manage on his income if we really have to, but it would mean making a lot of sacrifices. I'm trying to save us money by being really meticulous about keeping track of our spending and by cooking a lot so that we won't have to eat out, but once my graduation money runs out, it will take more than that to keep us afloat.

I also want to gain valuable experience and keep developing my skills. I've enjoyed getting to sleep in these past couple of weeks, and I really needed some time to recover from the residual stress and exhaustion of my last term at UO, but now that I'm finally more-or-less caught up I'm starting to feel anxious. I'm not used to having so much free time, and while I've managed to be pretty productive, I really haven't had to use my brain very much. I keep feeling like I must have forgotten to do a bunch of important stuff.

Fortunately, my persistence in applying for jobs and internships finally yielded some results in the form of two email responses.

About six months ago I was searching for new media internships in the Portland area and came across one at the Oregon Jewish Museum. I was particularly interested in this because over the past couple of years I've done a lot of genealogical research and have gotten in touch with a lot of relatives whom I had never met, and learned a great deal about my Ukrainian Jewish ancestors who fled to Boston in the early 1900s. I'm really interested in continuing my research and in learning more about Jewish history and culture, and I thought it would be very rewarding to get involved with an organization that helps to preserve these things and to educate the public about them.

After not hearing anything for months I assumed that I wasn't going to, but then I got an email from the museum's marketing director informing me that they now had openings. I called back right away and left a message, and then wrote him a detailed email. He wrote me back the next day and we scheduled an interview.

I went in to meet with him yesterday at noon and he said that he thought my skills would be very useful. The museum recently moved to a larger space and has a lot more going on than in the past. They need help with a lot of things that interest me including expanding their social media presence and making a video trailer to show before film screenings. It doesn't pay, but I think it will be very valuable experience for me and it sounds like it will be a lot of fun, too.

I also responded to an ad for someone to help with online marketing for an independent film and got an email back from the executive producer. I spoke with him on the phone and he said that I was the only applicant whom he had responded to because I had mentioned specific things he was looking for in my email. He told me a bit about what they need, which for now will mostly be setting up and maintaining accounts on as many social media sites as possible (something I have a lot of experience with). I'm going to meet with him in person on Tuesday to discuss things in more detail. This will be a part time position, and I'm not sure yet how many hours it will be, but it does pay! I think it will also be a great opportunity for me to get to learn more about the independent film industry.

I'm sure that I will need to keep looking for additional part-time work, but I am feeling much more optimistic now and am really excited to be starting on two different things that both really interest me and will actually make use of my education.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Life as a Recent Grad/Unemployed Person

Having gotten more-or-less settled in my new home, I finally have time to feel like an actual unemployed person. I am now among Oregon's roughly 41,300 unemployed, some of whom are good friends of mine and a great many of whom are talented media professionals. At least I'm in good company.

I've been checking Craig's List multiple times a day and have updated my Linked In account and made multiple versions of my resume in Google Docs. I've applied for about 10 paid positions and 6 unpaid internships. Not a lot of progress. There just don't seem to be a lot of interesting jobs that I'm qualified for and I know there's tons of competition even for those I feel I'm perfectly suited for.

I'm trying not to sweat it too much yet. I've been back in town for less than two weeks. Shortly after moving to Oregon in 2004 I was unemployed for four months and then finally found a job that I stayed at for three and a half years, only leaving when I moved to Eugene to finish school. I know the unemployment rate is higher now, but now I have a degree, more skills, more experience, and more confidence. I am certain that something will come along if I don't give up.

In the mean time I'm trying to be productive and find ways to make my new household more efficient and sustainable. Robert and I spent the weekend unpacking and organizing, and have gotten most of the house in pretty good shape. Since I'm free during the day, I have time to do things like tending the garden, cooking healthy meals from scratch, walking to the store, and coming up with systems for saving money and avoiding waste.

I'm hoping that meeting with a career counselor next week will help me to strategize at the very least. I'm also planning to look into temp agencies. Robert and I will have to take a good look at our finances and figure out how long we can manage on his income alone, which will determine how long I have the luxury of looking for jobs that I actually want. At least summer is the busy season in his industry and the weather is pleasant enough to keep my spirits up for the time being.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Post-grad Recap

I've barely had time to think since graduation on Monday. My parents and sister came out from Ohio and my mother-in-law drove down from Washington to attend the SOJC graduation ceremony.

There were about 400 graduating seniors from the program. I hadn't realized how many of us there were! I only knew about a tenth of them, almost exclusively Electronic Media majors. I'm glad I went, but by the end I was certainly ready to get out of the sun and have some lunch.

After obtaining some nourishment my family and I went to my house where we divided our efforts between packing up my belongings and preparing for the celebratory cookout my roommates and I had planned. We had people coming and going until about 1am. It was a lot of fun and I'm really glad I got to see some friends before I left. I could never have pulled it off without all the help from my family! Throwing a good party, I can handle. Preparing to move simultaneously, not so much.

Tuesday morning we had a fairly leisurely breakfast at Keystone Cafe before my parents and sister headed for the coast. My husband and my mother-in-law and I went to the DMV to get a trip permit for my car, which I hadn't been driving on account of my expired tags. She then helped us finish the after-party cleanup before beginning her long return drive to the Seattle area.

Robert and I then finished loading up our Volvo wagons and cleaned my near-empty bedroom to the best of our abilities. I wrote notes to my roommates and to my new sub-letter, and then we headed west to meet up with the rest of the family in Yachats.

It was nice to see the ocean and to have some down time with my family, but I had a hard time relaxing. After dinner I attempted to attend a production meeting via Skype, but finally gave up after getting disconnected about a half dozen times.

In the morning we got bagels, then began driving north on 101. We made a brief stop at Devil's Punchbowl, which was less crowded than the last couple times I'd been. We had thought about stopping at Three Arches, one of our favorite spots on the coast, but Robert and I were eager to start unpacking and the weather had become pretty dreary, so we headed east at the first opportunity.

I've been back in Portland for just over two days now. It's hard to believe I actually get to stay. I have to make a trip to Eugene next week to pick up the rest of my things (mostly books) and I'll be down there periodically to work on Broken over the summer, but Portland is my home once again and I am thrilled to be back here among this city's wonderful people and culture.

I still have a lot of unpacking and organizing to do before I can fully dedicate myself to the job search. I am checking Craig's List frequently, and trying to apply for at least one position every day. In a couple of weeks I'm meeting with a career counselor. I'm very grateful for the graduation money I received, which I hope I can stretch until I find some paid work.

For now I'm going to do my best to take it easy and enjoy my family's last few days in Oregon and try to get settled so that I can be as productive as possible next week. Here goes nothin'.