The day before I moved out to Seattle, I had a final interview with the company I really wanted to work for. On the flight over, I thought about how things were out of my hands now and how I did all I could do to try and get this job. I had another interview with a different company out here a few days after I landed, and I thought about the opportunities I could have with this company. A million questions kept running through my head. What if I don’t get either job? What if I get both? What if I get the position I feel less strongly for? 

You could say the interview with the company out here went well. Well, it was more like a series of interviews or discussions with four people who worked there. I got an email within a few days asking to interview for the fourth time. 

But that company is no longer relevant. 

The morning I got that email, I got a call from the company I interviewed with right before I left New York. They asked how I felt about the position and the interview I recently had. I answered with natural passion and enthusiasm, showing my excitement for the potential position.

"Well that’s good to hear because we want to extend an offer to you."

I looked at my roommate, pulled the phone away from my mouth and said “OH MY GOD.” The recruiter continued to talk quickly about upcoming paperwork and emails should I choose to accept. I hung up and screamed.

The company is Avanade. Owned by Microsoft and Accenture, they work to offer solutions to clients with Microsoft technologies. I’m pleased to announce I accepted a position as a solutions developer (read: consultant). I’m incredibly excited and am thrilled about the possibilities that Avanade has to offer me. 

I’ve been working really hard for this. I’ve applied for over 200 jobs, sent countless emails out, scoured LinkedIn, and made phone calls to people thousands miles away to get me better connected. I’ve been working with Avanade for months getting this squared away, and it’s finally here. It took a lot of hard work, but I’m beyond happy with the position and I’m excited to start work in September.

—-

I’ve gotten a few messages while out here about the job search and moving across the country. If anyone’s interested in speaking further, you can reach me @AnneMarieNY on Twitter and I can DM you my email if you want to speak more.

I don’t understand how anyone can call this “funemployment.” Nothing about not having a job now that I’ve completed grad school seems fun. In fact, it feels miserable. I’ve been applying to jobs for months, have been doing my best to network in the new city I’m moving to, have had many phone interviews and have exchanged emails with lots of new contacts out there. Yet, here I sit in my teenage bedroom without a job. I thought it was supposed to be a breeze to get a job in IT? More about that later. 

Let me back up a bit. So, yes, I’m moving to Seattle. AnneMarieNY is moving to Washington State (no, I don’t know what I’m going to do about my Twitter handle. I’m working on it). I made the decision quite a few months ago, but it’s all official now. When I tell people I’m moving, I typically hear about how awesome the West Coast is and how I have to go to venues x, y, and z. But more often than that, I’m asked "why?"

I was born and raised in New York and did my undergrad and grad in Central New York. All my life, I’ve been in this state and it’s time for something new. There are some people who can’t imagine living anywhere but New York. (You know, those diehard New Yorkers who think this city is the most amazing place on this planet). I’m someone who thinks there are places outside of this small bubble of yellow taxis and boozy brunches and am ready to explore a completely new part of the country. If not now, when? 

I don’t fit the stereotypical New Yorker mold. Besides the occasional slip of my accent and the ability to cross any street during a red light, I just don’t feel like I belong here. One of the quotes that has always inspired me is “I’ll find my place in every city, and I’ll never lose my voice.” It’s time to find my voice in Seattle, a beautiful Pacific city with lots to offer.

Seattle is a hub for large companies - Microsoft, Starbucks, and Amazon to name a few. The growth of technology is just beginning, and it’s a great place to be in right now. Have I mentioned that it’s absolutely gorgeous? I won’t mind seeing the mountains everyday. I’ll be living with a few friends in a gorgeous city with lots to offer me professionally, so why not? It’s far from home, but that’s the beauty of the move.

So back to being unemployed. 

I made things a bit difficult for myself when I said no to repeating internship offers that would eventually land me full time jobs. I made things even more difficult for myself when I said no to a full-time job in New York City because I was looking to move out West. Ballsy, huh? But I don’t like to settle.

Finding a job across the country hasn’t been easy for me. The New York address on my resume immediately took me out of the running me for jobs I had the skills and experience for. I applied for nearly two hundred jobs, but only heard back from a handful. Typically, I heard nothing. Other times, I’d gain some initial interest but would never hear back after emailing telling them times I was available to speak for the first interview. That may be the most frustrating part of it all. Why ask when I’m available and then suddenly stop responding to me? What changed? 

I’m not going out there with no prospects. I don’t want to mention too much, but the future looks good. When I have something official to announce, trust me, I will.

So yes everyone, I’m moving to a brand new city without a job. But I will have a roof over my head, I will continue to search for something, and hopefully one of the opportunities I’m currently pursuing works out. This is all going to be a crazy experience for me, but I’m welcoming all of the ups and downs with open arms.

I’m leaving tomorrow for the West Coast. I’m nervous, I’m anxious, but I’m mostly full of optimism and excitement. New York, you’ll always be home, but I’m just not for you. Seattle, I’m ready for you. 

I’ve been asked this question several times throughout the past year. Undergraduates, who were curious about furthering their education, came to me with a long list of questions about life beyond their undergrad days. Was the work harder? What was I concentrating in? Am I enjoying it? Graduate students in other programs would often ask me the same thing, wondering about my less than challenging workload and my abundance of free time. I was continuously bombarded with questions about what life has been like since I left the world of frat parties, easy 101 classes, and a world where all of my friends lived within a two mile radius. 

If you know me, you know that I will tell you how I see it. I would bluntly reply that graduate school has been much easier than my undergraduate career. Sure, the papers are longer, assignments require more research and analysis, and there aren’t check-up assignments to make sure you’re doing your work on time. Getting your assignments done is on you. You’re taking three classes instead of five, but the work is more intense. But if you’re effective at managing your time, you’ll be fine.

I was one of those undergrads who did everything. I was in clubs all across campus, was President of an organization I founded with a peer and faculty advisor, had several radio shows, gave tours of campus for families and prospective students, and was working a few jobs. But then I graduated with my Bachelors, most of my friends moved away to enter the real world, and I continued taking classes. I didn’t have the same opportunities to participate in those activities anymore, so my life slowed down. 

The undergraduate and graduate programs here are quite similar. In some cases, I was taking the same class again, but at the graduate level. Material was not new. I was staring at slides of the same concepts and terms I had just studied for the past four years. I quickly lost motivation. There were no exams in some courses, simply papers that required me to regurgitate information back at a professor. Do you really need a Masters level of education just to spit back information? Certainly not. It seemed like graduate school was a breeze. So much so that every A I received came easy rather than what I would fight to earn as an undergraduate. 

School wasn’t challenging so I spent lots of time exploring myself. With my light courseload, and some classes that were online, I found myself with more time to myself than I knew what to do with. So I worked. I had five jobs at one point. Even though some of them required minimal work, I still worked as often as I could to at least get out of the house, keep talking to people, to network with others, and to make money. After all, the real world is approaching and I can’t live with Mom and Dad forever. (Even though, if you know my Mom, she’d love that). 

I learned a lot about myself this year with all the free time I had. I fell in love, traveled to new cities, made flight arrangements to different parts of the world, met new people, discovered what it is I truly wanted to do in my life, and grew up. I found what my passion within IT is and I found out what I certainly didn’t like. I discovered the types of companies I enjoy working for, and what I was looking for within organizational culture. None of these experiences/revelations would have occurred if I didn’t take the time to focus on myself, to learn about myself, and spend time figuring out what it is I wanted. It is through the new experiences I put myself through during graduate school that have shaped who I am. 

Who I am now is a much more confident version of my recently graduated self. I fit into my own skin so much better than I ever could have imagined being at the end of my undergraduate days. When I took pictures on the quad with my best friends after Commencement, it felt like a part of me was dying. I was in love with Syracuse and the people I met here. How was it over so quickly? How did the four years so suddenly come to a close? I struggled to answer that question for a long time. 

But today, I am alive. It is the last day of classes for all students and I couldn’t be more excited to take everything I’ve learned and be a part of the world. Graduate school, even if it didn’t teach me new concepts I hoped to learn, greatly shaped me into a better professional, team member, colleague, and person. I am ready to work, which is something I didn’t feel after I graduated as an undergrad. I have drive, I have motivation, I have the skills to enter the workforce and am ready to work contributing to something greater than myself. I am eternally grateful for that drive. That fire I have finally found within myself. 

The question you’re all probably wondering: do I have a job? No. Not yet. I am working on it though, and am currently interviewing with an awesome company out in Seattle. As soon as I have a job, you’ll all know. Trust me. 

TL;DR yes. Everyone who has asked, yes. It was worth it. Perhaps not academically, but to grow and learn about myself is something I couldn’t have done without the different personal challenges graduate school presented me with. Never pass up an opportunity to learn about who you are. That newfound knowledge will help you tremendously in all areas of your life. And for that, I am incredibly grateful.

 

Upon completing my undergraduate studies, I was faced with a difficult decision: do I face the real world head on or do I spend more time learning in graduate school? Nervous about the real world, thirsty for more knowledge about information security, and unsure of the answer to the dreaded question “What do you want to do with your life?” I chose to enter the Fast Track program at Syracuse University.  I accepted the offer to graduate school, and am now two courses away from walking across the stage one more time.

Current undergraduate students have asked me countless questions about my decision. “Why did you go to grad school? Is it worth it? Is the work hard?” The truth is that graduate school means different things to different people. Every student will gain something different based on their program of study, their background, where they go to school, and other factors. However, regardless of these factors, there are a few important things to consider before choosing to attend graduate school.

1. What do you want to study?

Although this is a seemingly simple question, it is still one of the more difficult ones to answer. I still ask myself what it is that I am truly passionate about. Undergraduate studies have lots of fluff. You are required to take lots of liberal arts courses to broaden your horizons and help you figure out what you want. Graduate school is for those who know what they want. Courses you must take will all be directly related to your field of study. This is one of the things that makes graduate school so intense and focused. Be sure you know what you want before you devote hours of coursework to the topic. 

2. Do you have any real world experiences to support your studies?  

I found myself at a disadvantage as I started my graduate coursework. Students were older and more mature than I was. They had years of management, leadership, and work experience to draw from during class discussions. Starting my Masters as an undergraduate student left me with very little to contribute to some class discussions. Working a few years allows people to figure out what they like and don’t like (read #1). 

Although you can learn a lot from textbooks and class lectures, nothing compares to real world experiences. Figuring out how the industry works can allow you to figure out how you work. Learn some more about yourself and bring that knowledge with you to a graduate program. 

3. Who’s going to pay for it? 

You’re probably sick of the student loan bills that have started coming in, and more debt probably sounds like it isn’t an option. Regardless of where you go to school, look into positions as a graduate assistant (GA), research assistant (RA), or faculty assistant (FA). Often times, these positions will provide good monetary compensation for your work. Whether it’s a stipend, tuition, or generous hourly pay, positions like these will help you greatly in terms of paying for your education. Make sure you inquire about positions like these within your program of study if finances are a concern. 

4. What do you want to do with your life? 

Everyone’s favorite question. I  started looking for jobs within the past year and realized I should have started a long time ago. Internships, classes, as well as other real world experiences have led me to figure out the direction I’d like to take once I finish up school. As I page through job descriptions, I realize what it exactly is that employers want. Do the same for your field of study. Is a graduate degree necessary? It might be beneficial to look at the LinkedIn profiles of someone who works at your dream company. Did they go to graduate school? In some cases, a graduate degree is necessary while it may not be in other cases. 

5. Do you really want to be here?

Writing this post became a big topic of conversation with some friends in graduate school. Joanna Kitts, a student in the International Relations Graduate Program at Maxwell, wrote that her biggest piece of advice “would be to consider whether you’re actually ready and want to go to grad school or whether you’re using it as an excuse to put off finding a job or because you don’t know what to do…because that’s what I did and I regret it a lot.”

Instead, Kitts suggests taking a gap year. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking a year off or doing something that isn’t necessarily related to your field for a little while in order to figure out what you really want…I wish I had done that.”

Graduate school is a big decision! Make sure you take it all into consideration before making a final decision. 

I went to the local college bar a week or two ago. I was sitting with some friends from my program, when someone I didn’t recognize started talking to me.

"I think we’re in a class together."

I felt bad, for I didn’t recognize him. I introduced myself and we started to talk about the class. He bought me a drink and we started to dive into our thoughts about the class. I felt indifferent about the class, but he started yelling in my ear about his frustrations with the class. Being uncomfortable with his loud voice directly in my ear, I started to tune out.

But then he started talking about my attitude toward the class. "You don’t have a SHIT" he said. "You stare blankly into your computer and you don’t even look up."

I told him that the class was frustrating to me because I already took it as an undergraduate so the material wasn’t challenging or refreshing. I told him that I felt stuck, and that the assignments in the course didn’t require me to recall that information anyway. 

He started to scream again about how stupid the professor was. “He’s an idiot! He doesn’t know anything!” What the fuck is this!” he kept saying over and over.

His anger started to escalate more and more and I became even more uncomfortable. I told him that my feelings about the course were more towards apathy than anger. I told him I took steps outside the classroom to take advantage of my education rather that complain about it, but he didn’t want to hear anything of it.

I do understand his frustrations with the program. But it’s not enough to complain about it over whiskey. Do something. You’re here. You’re in a great program. Take advantage of it. Finish your drink and do something about it in the morning. 

Okay, maybe not everyone, but I am.

I jumped right into my graduate degree. And by jump right in, I mean that I started it three years into my undergraduate degree. The program offered at my school allows you to start your Masters early and ultimately finish in half the time. You save on time, you save on money, and you get another degree. I was sold.

I was sold until I started to realize that I had no idea what I wanted. The classes I was taking overlapped with what I took as an undergraduate, which made me feel like my time wasn’t being well spent, contradicting the initial promises of the program. I was taking classes to fulfill requirements instead of enrolling in them because I wanted to be intellectually stimulated by the class topics. 

I found myself intimidated by my new peers. Many of them were older, had years of work experience to discuss in context of classroom discussions, and knew exactly what they wanted to do after graduation. Meanwhile, I could count the number of internships I’ve had on one hand and couldn’t tell you what I wanted to do when I was finished with school.

"But you’re in grad school, shouldn’t you know?"

Yes, I probably should know. At least that’s what everyone thinks. Yet, I am still trying to figure out how society expects 20-somethings to know what they want with only minimal experience in the real world. Yes, there are internships to guide you and help you explore the possibilities. But there are so many possibilities out there, that it can be difficult to find the one place that makes you want to work the rest of your life. It is unbelievable that people can find their passion so young. Why is it so easy for some and so difficult for others? 

I thought I liked information security so I started to fulfill requirements to receive a Certificate of Advanced Study in Information Security Management. However, now that I’m taking these classes, I’ve found that I don’t really want to do that anymore. “Great, now what?” I constantly think to myself. Time is running out and I still haven’t found the one thing that drives me professionally. 

What’s so puzzling about education to me is that we are all expected to learn from books, PowerPoint slides, and homework assignments that really just require the ability to look up articles in a library database. I don’t learn from that. I learn by doing. 

Sure, there are laboratory sessions I’ve taken time and time again that give you “hands on” experience in your field. But how can you compare a two hour lab session in a virtual environment to two months within an actual company?

An internship last summer cleared up some questions for me. I’ve found that I’m a manager at heart. My last internship helped me determine my strengths within the field as well find a job that fit the skills I possess. But I only found that information by stepping out of a classroom and thus, out of my comfort zone. 

This isn’t just me. My friends are confused. People who are applying to grad school and willing to spend the money because school is a more legitimate excuse for a 20-something to not have a job than a unforgiving job market. People want time. People want to convince themselves that they grad school will help them figure out what they want.

Yet here I am, about six months from walking across a stage to shake some hands, and I am more lost than when I started. I, in no way, blame the program that I am a part of. As one of the best schools in the country, they provide several different opportunities for students to learn in different areas within technology. Perhaps the overwhelming possible tracks within technology also intimidate me. There is so much to explore, but so little time to get acquainted with each subject area. 

It is a combination of my lack of experience, societal pressures, and skill sets in different areas that lead to my confusion. I am confused. I am taking risks by trying new things, pushing myself to learn outside of the classroom, reading and re-reading job descriptions online, and speaking with former professors. It seems as though some of them can tell me where I’ll be in ten years better than I can.

I will most likely return to NYC after I shake those hands and work at a company I previously interned with. I will get the long-term experience I have been sought throughout my college years. I will grow. I will learn by doing. I will meet people who live outside the Syracuse University bubble and have different experiences to share. Most importantly, I hope to figure it out. 

I had a whirlwind of a summer.

I finished an internship at Fox News Channel yesterday. I was hesitant to take a position within a large company due to a disappointing experience I had with another large company two years ago. I applied to be a digital intern on a whim, and could not believe when they called me saying they wanted me to work there. I sat on my decisions for weeks, but ultimately decided to take the internship and give corporate a second chance. I didn’t want to totally dismiss the idea based on one experience, which was difficult for my (very) stubborn self to admit.

I typically get nervous easily, but found myself calm on the first day. I was amazed at the work environment they created. The staff put on Matt & Kim while interns filed in for orientation. The staff was young and enthusiastic, which was the complete opposite of *cough* other internships. People were willing to set aside time to share their experiences with me. Questions were welcome. Learning more and “why” was always an option. The work environment was welcoming. People laughed in the office and shared stories. We joked about news stories. People weren’t miserable.

I wasn’t used to this. It’s sad that people do live lives where work sucks their soul up and turns them into a miserable blob of a person. How awful.

My first internship made me so nervous about life post-grad. Are all corporate companies filled with cubicles?! Do people not socialize after work? Are people even happy to be here? I was so scared that the real world was just a mundane series of events on repeat that I sucked up every bit of college and got sick at the though of working in that lifestyle again.

I am pleased to say that I have personally found that all jobs are like that. I went out for an intern’s birthday about midway through the internship and one employee said to me, “Sorry you don’t stop having fun after college. Did we scar you?”

He was serious.

I told him, “No! That is exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you.” 

I can discuss the technical and project management focused things I learned at the internship (which was a lot).I’m more thankful for finally being optimistic about my future. I’m confident that you can be happy at a job. I’m also more confident than ever that adults aren’t lame, miserable people who stop going out and having fun. In fact, it’s probably easier to afford more things when you have a salary.

There’s so much to say, but those are just my two cents. I have so many thoughts around that I’m just letting it all flow out into this blog post. Maybe I’ll write something more organized later.

This was life-changing and I’m so incredibly thankful. 

I’m sorry I’ve completely neglected this blog. This was a place for me to write about technology, but I was hired as a blogger for Infospace and stopped posting here.

Rather than writing tech articles here, I may use this as a more professional blog. We’ll see how it goes. 

QuestionDo you know where I can buy/download any of The Blue Pages albums? Answer

You can google “The Blue Pages bandcamp” and get their album for free!

courtenaybird:

Twitter’s real-time response to the women’s Olympic soccer gold medal game

711,646 tweets were posted during the 2-hour soccer game from 433,797 different Twitter accounts. The most exciting moment during the game was at 19:55 UTC when Carli Lloyd scored the second US goal, which hit a peak of nearly 12K tweets per minute. At the end of the game, celebratory tweets about USA’s win skyrocketed up to around 22K tweets per minute.