The Jobhunt Begins… in Earnest

The Jobhunt Begins… in Earnest

A couple months ago, I refreshed my resume and drafted new cover letters. I sent my vitals out to a variety of employers, mostly nonprofits. These days, my “targets” keep changing… am I really that fickle? You see first, I aimed for nonprofits, especially those working with Chinese women. Then, tech companies drew me in with their young staff, non-existent dress code, and souped up offices… perhaps I could squeeze in as a tech writer, I thought. Then following my semester at Jiao Tong, I felt compelled to apply my Mandarin in a work setting. Unfortunately, that search quickly went dead: employers either want native Mandarin or Mandarin PLUS Cantonese skills. The industries requiring Mandarin/Cantonese don’t even sound very interesting– mainly business or trade or customer service. BOR-RING! So now, I’ve decided to go back to environmental engineering. It’s not that I’m selling out again (as my friend suggested) or anything. The truth is, I’ve always liked environmental engineering in its truest sense– to me, it’s this great combination blending pragmatism, innovation, problem-solving, sustainability, and education. I suppose what disillusioned me years ago was the bureaucracy (and consequently, the turtle’s pace toward trying new things) and well, to a lesser extent, sexism. Anyway, that was four years ago. Thankfully, more people are finally starting to give a shit about environmental stewardship and pollution prevention. Also, companies are changing. Surely even stodgy places are sprucing up their images, right? So environmental engineering might just be a whole new world… we’ll see.

How did environmental engineering even re-enter my brain? In early July, I met up with my former CDM PM in Shanghai. Chris has always been a cool dude; he’s pretty much the antithesis of the stereotypical engineer. Anyway, he’s working on some landfill gas projects in China, and during our meals, I was all excited about getting the industry scoop. Haha, I even remembered some things about landfill gas (I did write a thesis on it)– pretty good considering my last contact with engineering was in 2002. Chris started rattling off some names, and I knew most of them. What a small world, eh? I guess there are only a handful of landfill experts. Needless to say, my meeting with Chris resparked my interest. So now I’m jobhunting again for environmental engineering jobs. The twist, however, to making this experience different than before, is that I’d like to get in on the “soft engineering” side of things. All the hard engineering stuff? Sizing pipes, calculating gas flows, pressures… that doesn’t sound as sweet as it once did. Now I’d like to try my hand at marketing… like writing project proposals. I think that could be a really good fit since I have the tech background and I want to develop this whole persuasive writing skill… Imagine the things I could do with that.

So this past Tuesday, I hopped right into the pool with a job interview for a part-time grant writer position. I met with the development director for a nearby domestic violence organization. The director was super cool, and I think I would learn tons about fundraising, grantwriting, the art of pitching… I was really pleased too, because she wanted to put me on the shortlist– in with the final runners– if I was really interested. So the downside, of course, is timing, pay, and benefits. Fortunuately, she understands that what they can offer is limited. The position is only 15 hours/week with NO benefits. And pay is $18-25/hr, with the upper limit of course going to someone with actual grantwriting experience. So, not so great. The plus side is that I’m always a softie for nonprofits– more so for orgs focused on women. The staff is also really diverse and multicultural, PLUS the office is dog-friendly. Dayum!! Ah but age has turned me into a greedy beotch. I want it all: challenging and meaningful content, progressive co-workers, a nice office with kickass resources (that’s what happens when your hubby is a tech nerd), AND high pay (or at least higher pay). Sorry, but I just don’t want to be a 30-something earning $35k/year in an area where a 3-bedroom townhouse costs $900k! Know what I mean?

ANYway, tomorrow I’m meeting with an environmental engineering headhunter. Honestly, I didn’t even know those existed! Silly me though: I threw all my suits in with our ocean freight. Guess slacks and a top will have to do. I’m such a retard.

In other job-related news, I started reading John’s book, 12 Bad Habits that Hold Good People Back. Apparently, the authors are Ph.D. psychologists at Harvard or whatever. The text is surprisingly readable and insightful. Unfortunately, I think I possess like 4 of the 12 bad habits! Yeah, I’m bad news. Great start, I tell you.

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