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Friday, July 31, 2020

The Things We Keep

In preparation for a probable impending move, I've been going through my stuff.  I ordinarily lean more in the pack rat direction, but there is something about having to pack stuff into boxes and move it that inspires me to do a major sweep and get rid of things I normally wouldn't think of parting with.  I like to think of this as one of the few benefits of moving.

Anyway, I came across something I had forgotten about, although it had been with me for some time:  a half-finished knitting project.  During grad school 1.0 (as in the degree I completed when I was in my twenties), I decided to learn how to knit.  With my mom's direction and help, I knit a scarf for Scott, whom I was dating at the time.  After finishing his scarf, I decided to make one myself.  I was living in Columbus, OH at the time, and I remember taking a bus out to a strip mall that had a Penzeys, an Indian restaurant, and a yarn store.  I stocked up on spices, had a delicious lunch, and selected some blue and purple yarn to make a scarf.  And then at some point, I stopped.  I'm thinking it was probably because I was going to Syria for a year, and didn't feel like taking a knitting project with me.

Anyway, this half-finished knitting project has been living inside a Gap bag since then.  It has either accompanied me or been relegated to storage for numerous moves.  And yet, in all this time, I've neither finished it nor committed to throwing it out.

At this point, if I wanted to finish it, I would need to relearn how to knit because it's been so long.  And truthfully, I don't know if or when that would happen.  I've spent years dreaming of all the things I would do if I ever had the time.  But this summer, I've actually had quite a lot of free time, courtesy of both a pandemic and a long, frustrating job search.  And I've come to the frightening realization that if I didn't need to work for the sake of having money, I could keep myself busy for the rest of my life with all the various projects I have in my mind.  I'm not sure at this point where in the queue relearning how to knit and finishing a scarf I started in my twenties falls.

I'm sure there are some lessons here for me, including the dangers of both unfinished projects and being too ambitious in my purchasing of craft materials.  But right now, I'm just trying to decide if a half-finished project makes the cut to move with me once again.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

How To Be A Kind Employer

After having graduated with my MS in speech-language pathology in May, I'm still looking for work, and it's making me grumpy.  For the uninitiated, the way it works in this field is that new graduates have to do a clinical fellowship year (often abbreviated as CFY or just CF) in order to get their certificate of clinical competence (CCC).  The CCC is what makes you fully licensed.  The clinical fellowship year is essentially a year (well, a minimum of 36 weeks and I think 1260 hours) of supervised practice.  You get paid for this, although the pay is often substantially less than what fully licensed speech-language pathologists receive.

The need to do a clinical fellowship year seems to create a bottleneck, at least in some parts of the country.  The impressions I've gotten from this job search are that (a) some employers will not consider you at all without your CCC, and (b) the ones who will may be in parts of the country where the shortage of speech-language pathologists is more acute (which may or may not be the areas of the country where you want to live).

I tend to forget between job searches how aggravating the process can be and how obnoxious some employers can be.  So, for employers who want to be kind to job-seekers, I've compiled the following tips:

1.  If you interview an applicant and decide not to hire them, you should reject them in a timely fashion.  (Looking at you, skilled nursing facility that interviewed me in late May, and you, school district that interviewed me in early July).  This really should be a matter of common courtesy.  Sometimes people really get their hopes up for jobs they interviewed for, and if they get that far in the process, they deserve an answer one way or another.

Bonus points for kindness if you can also officially reject the applicants who don't make it to the interview process.  This doesn't have to be a personalized rejection letter; even a form letter to let people know they are not under consideration suffices here.  I recently applied for a long-shot dream job, and they rejected me within days.  Sure, it's a bummer to receive a rejection letter, but it's better than going for weeks feeling like you have a chance if you don't.  Honestly, I don't know if this is the effect this particular employer was going for, but the fact that they bothered to let me know they weren't interested makes me hope even more that I might get to work for them someday in the future.

2.  If the applicant's resume makes it clear that they are lacking something you require, don't waste their time by interviewing them.  (Looking at you again, school district that interviewed me in early July).  A recruiting company arranged this interview with a school district for me; had I been hired, I would have worked as a contractor for the district.  I wasn't upset that the school district didn't give me an immediate answer because my interviewer told me it might take 1-2 weeks, and I wanted to investigate other opportunities anyway.  Well, more than 3 weeks passed and I received an offer (which I'll get to shortly) from someone else, so I wanted to see if this school district had made a decision one way or another.  I got in touch with my recruiter.  He hadn't gotten an actual yes or no, so he did some digging for me.  It turned out the district was making offers to some applicants, but they were all people who already had their CCC.  It was obvious from my resume that I'm a new grad looking for a clinical fellowship position.  Frankly, the hour I spent interviewing with this district is an hour I wish I could get back.

3.  If you are interested in hiring someone, don't lowball them.  (Looking at you, private practice that made me a really crummy offer after two rounds of interviews!).  I get it--not everyone is going to get the salary of a professional athlete.  However, it's not that difficult in this day and age to do some research and get an idea of what is standard in your industry.  There are certain circumstances that might make someone accept a lower salary, like if the employer has a lot of cache, or if it is located in an area with a low cost of living.  However...

If it is a salaried position, there should be a compelling reason for it being substantially lower than industry standards.

If it is an hourly position, but the number of hours per week are not guaranteed, the hourly wage should be higher to account for that.

If the position requires travel and the company is not paying travel expenses, the hourly wage should be higher to account for that.

If the position is in an area with a high cost of living, the hourly wage should be higher to account for it.

If the benefits are terrible, then--you guessed it--the hourly wage should be higher to make up for that.

AND...if an applicant does accept your lowball offer out of desperation, don't be surprised or offended when they move on.    Know how you like having a roof over your head and food on the table?  Yeah.  That's what we all want.  A possible red flag for this happened during my first round of interviews with this company when one of the interviewers asked me if I planned to stay in the area for the long term or if I was just looking for a stepping stone.  At the time, I took it to mean that some new grads left after a year because they wanted to live somewhere else, but now I think the lousy compensation is really what drove their decisions to move on.

I'll cap my rant at this for now.  And if anyone wants to hire a middle aged grumpy clinical fellow, you know where to find me.