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Employment Index: Week Three

I shall not type for less than $100K/year

This is part 3 of an ongoing series about my job search.  You can catch up on this series by reading Part one and Week 2.

This was an interesting week.  Following the successful score of “awesome!” on my assessment test for one potential employer, I waited patiently for a phone interview.  It came on Wednesday.  It was more nerve-wracking than I thought and I didn’t think it went that well from my perspective.  I think it had to do with what I’m going to call Fear of Prima Donna syndrome, for lack of a better word.

I have a lot of experience from my years in the drug industry and I even managed to get promotions(!).  Imagine that.  I think that had to do with the fact that despite my lack of a PhD, which seems to be maniacally important to the drug industry these days, I managed to overcome the fear of learning new things.  This is something I frequently saw did not happen with some PhDs I worked with who seemed to want to hide the fact that they didn’t know absolutely everything when they sprang fully formed from the head of Zeus.  Not all of them were like this but a fair number appeared to be hiding behind their comp exams and not engaging with the new stuff in front of them.  I had no such qualms.  I fully admitted up front that I didn’t know everything and the more I knew, the less certain I was that I knew everything.  So, when someone threw me a new application or problem to solve, I figured I might as well try it as not.  What’s the worst that could happen?  Ok, I almost lost a protein we worked 6 months to grow and harvest but I pulled out a miraculous save in the lab that day and all’s well that ends well. We got a paper out of it.

Anyway, I digress.

My point is that when a prospective employer sees that level of experience and the salary that went with it, they start to assume that you’re 1.) going to be an ego driven prima donna and 2.) you will think the compensation they’re offering is going to be too low so that 3.) you will leave for greener pastures at the first opportunity.

The phone interview was an exercise in trying to dispel those notions.  But the reason I am HERE in Pittsburgh and not chasing research positions in Cambridge or San Francisco is because I did a cost benefit analysis of running from start-up to start-up in the current drug industry environment without a PhD and thought it was a losing proposition. By moving here, I structured my lifestyle in such a way so that I would have the freedom to learn new things in a new industry and not feel like my livelihood (or my house) was always one paycheck away from ruin.  That is not to say I am not going to be extremely cautious from now on.  For example, if I get the job, the first thing I’m going to do is start saving my six months salary in case of a future layoff.  I have learned my lesson and the economy will feel the impact of the thousands of us who have been burned- repeatedly.

The Fear of Prima Donna syndrome hypothesis got another data point when another prospective employer sent me an email that said, in effect, “Um, we can’t possibly pay you what you were making previously.  You do realize this is an entry level position, don’t you?”.  I had a good laugh over that one.  Yes, I am working part time and without health benefits but if you offer me a full time  job with insurance, I am going to refuse it because you are unable to pay me my customary $92,000/year + 15% bonus.

Silly, silly, people.

There is one employer in the area that I have decided not to pursue any further and that is UPMC, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.  They post a TON of administrative assistance positions on their sites and I have applied to almost every one of them.  But I never hear back from any of them.  I don’t even get rejection letters, which is what I have received from other institutions.  This is not the University of Pittsburgh, by the way.  It’s the hospital system.  It’s a shame because I had heard from the career counselor that it was a reasonable target employer.  However, I have met some recent employees of UPMC, both former and current, who say that they tend to discriminate and layoff based on age.

And, this is interesting, these employees also say that the age discrimination is related to UPMC’s desire to save money by not employing anyone in their 50’s due to the cost of a healthcare insurance policy.  This is a strange thing to say since UPMC *is* an insurance company.  You’d think they’d discount their employees. If it is true, then Obamacare didn’t take care of this problem, apparently.  I don’t have any proof that this is the case but when I first started to apply to UPMC, it was the only employer that specifically asked for a birthdate on their online application form.  Someone must have complained because they have dropped that.  But it is the employer that now asks if the applicant has been unemployed for more than 30 days and in this modern employment environment, I think that bar is set too high for most people looking for work.

I’m pretty sure my rejection is not due to my qualifications.  I have applied to senior admin positions as well as those that require a year or less experience.  With my proficiency with Microsoft Office, coupled with my experience running the administrative tasks for the hardware team at my previous job for many years, I should have more than enough in the way of qualifications.  But I hear nary a peep from UPMC.  I have no idea why they have excluded me from even a phone interview.  It could be that I don’t know any insiders at UPMC or that they’re just posting pro-forma jobs while they plan to hire internally anyway.  I have no clue or data to help me retool my strategy.  So, I am dropping them from my list of potential employers.

Next week, there is a career fair featuring some local employers.  I plan to go.  I think it helps if they see you in person to get rid of some of the silly notions they have in their heads about your temperament (much better), sense of humor  (I’m going to write a satire someday), team player quality (I swear, I don’t want to direct), physical fitness (superb!), etc.  At least I hope this is the case. However, if there is real discrimination going on based on employment status or age, it’s probably beyond the scope of an applicant to address.  It will take investigation and legislation for that.  Given the number of us who are underemployed and have many years to go before we get to social security age, I wouldn’t put it off if I were congress.  Sooner or later, something will need to be done.  Either we get a champion now so we can support ourselves or we will end up costing society more as we age when it will be forced to support us.

And the employer who called me for the phone interview is not out of the picture, but I’m not buying champagne yet.  There is still at least one more trial to overcome before I get the grail in that quest.

Total applications this week (end 09/13/2014): 7 (cutting out UPMC dropped this number considerably)

Total applications since the beginning of this project: 42

Total number of phone interviews: 1

Total number of calls for on-site interviews: 1

  • Temp agency: 1
  • Direct position: 1

Total number of assessments taken: 1; Number passed: 1

Total number networking contacts: 3

 

 

The Book Book

So, apple has a new watch and Kansas City has a new Ikea.  The new Ikea opened on Wednesday.  I think it’s just a stone’s throw away from Katiebird’s house.  Some of my favorite Ikea products in no particular order are:

1.) Lack tables

2.) Kallax shelving unit (you can’t have too many)

3.) Chocolate

4.) Cinnamon buns

5.) Curtains (they’re all pretty good and affordable)

But did you know they also came out with a new product with the latest technology?  Check it out below.

 

That video reminded me of the Medieval Helpdesk (video from Norway):

Go Scotland!

The Picts are back. Get your woad on.

In case you haven’t been following this issue, Scotland is having a vote on September 18 on whether to separate from Britain.  When I think back on how many centuries and lives it took to bring Scotland into the fold, it’s astonishing that the whole thing could be undone by the relentless pursuit of conservative policies over the last 30 years.  It’s almost like the Thatcherites and sons of Thatcher have been for years yukking it up in Westminster over Scotland, saying, “Riiiight, where are they going to go?”.  I’m not sure I would have been so confident, given that the Romans had to build a wall to keep the Picts from marauding and that William Wallace trounced Edward I’s forces at Sterling Bridge. Earlier this month, I had found a long post written by a pro-independence Scottish journalist but I’ve misplaced the link (neglected to save to instapaper. Grrr).  His argument was convincing but here is a list of pro-independence arguments from the Independent Scotland movement that are very similar.

Basically, the sentiment is that the Scotland that most people grew up in post WWII is rapidly disappearing under the policies of the conservative movement and the concessions that the Labour party has made to it in order to keep the peace.  There is a deterioration of public services and an alarming increase in the rate of privatization.  Along with that, the government in Westminster is becoming increasingly stingy, sending less and less money back to Scotland over the last decade.  The result is that Scotland is becoming a bit like, well, us.  There is more inequality, more mean spiritedness and less willingness to help others pull themselves up.

Scotland keeps sending Labour party representatives to Westminster but nothing ever comes of it.  The voice of the people is continually muffled.  Scotland also has it’s own parliament, by the way.  Think of it like a state legislature.  Anyway, they haven’t gotten anywhere in quite some time.  It would be like having the state of Massachusetts run by Rick Perry and his Texas Republican legislature, or the entire east and west coast and urban areas of the US politically at the mercy of a bunch of plantation owner wannabees from the South.  They’ve had enough.  They want to be more like Sweden or Iceland.

Since the latest polls have come out showing the pro-independence forces having a snowball’s chance in Hell, there have been boogie man “Oooo, don’t go down to the cellar!” posts in the last couple of days to try to keep Scotland in the fold.  Scotland says it wants to keep the British pound as its currency and still join the EU.  Krugman predicts disaster, the pound took a hit yesterday but Scotland carries on. Sometimes you have to accept a loss in order to have more control over your life.  It looks like England has pushed its harsh form of conservatism over the Scottish border one time too often and Scotland is now determined to reassert its boundary.

Meanwhile, Bank of England governor Mark Carney tells UK workers that may deserve a raise but first they have to earn it.  They’re not productive enough, to which I ask, productive enough compared to whom?  Scottish voters may be asking themselves the same thing.

Anyway, I find the whole thing fascinating.  It’s like watching the western world’s version of the Arab Spring.  Call it the Caledonian Autumn, or some such thing.

Maybe it will spread.

Be Brave.

 

It all came out right in the end.

By the way, Brook does the best Merida impression.  It cracks me up every time  she says “I want to change my feet!”

Monday: Research Professionals in NY, NJ, CT- pay attention

riverdaughter:

A blast from the past, this post from 2011 hinted at where the 1% are going. Krugman and Atrios are three years late to this party.  

Now, we only have to ask ourselves if this is connected to the reason why there is no employer mandate for Obamacare until 2015- or ever, for all we know?

Originally posted on The Confluence:

A lot of you are understandably upset that the world expects you to take a steep cut in pay and forego benefits because they don’t see how the chicken gets made, plus you belong to a reviled profession.  You’re only a step above health insurance claim processors and nuclear reactor specialists (there are family members out there who are laughing very loudly right now).

Anyway, how do you pay for everything on your vastly reduced salary while you fly back and forth between coasts trying to keep your head above water?  Well, this article in the NYTimes describes one possible option.  It’s called the Freelancers Union and it is growing:

For most of the 20th century, it was efficient to link benefits to jobs this way. But today, more and more work falls outside the one-to-one, employee-to-employer relationship. Work is decentralized, workers are mobile, and working arrangements are fluid…

View original 780 more words

Gah! Need assistance.

I have been filling out job applications for what seems like years.  I can’t take it anymore.  This is ridiculous.

Hello to all you people in the Pittsburgh area.  Let me know if you have any connections to UPMC, Pitt, CMU, Carlow, Chatham, Bayer, Thermo-Fisher or any other company in the area.

Thanks!

 

End of Summer Bliss: Ballet on the Beach

Have I got a ballet treat for you, even if you don’t think you like ballet.  Joy Womack, formerly of the Bolshoi and now a principal dancer at the Kremlin Ballet, was filmed (what a quaint word) dancing on the beach this summer.  I’m guessing the beach was somewhere in California where Joy’s family lives.

This video captures the athleticism and strength of modern ballet.  Pointe shoes not required.

Enjoy!

Twitter campaigns necessary but probably insufficient.

There’s a “Hands up/ Don’t shoot” Friday campaign going on over at Twitter. It’s a nice gesture, no pun intended. But I can’t help thinking about how much more powerful the message would be if we could get ordinary Americans, not just the social media savvy and political activist types, out on the sidewalks banging pots together.

I used to think that internet campaigns would be enough.  Not anymore.  Non-violent, but non-silent demonstrations are probably the way to go.

MLK Jr. would approve.

Update: My sisters-in-law were a little uncomfortable with me using the word “thug” to describe Michael Brown in a post the other day.  I see their point.  I based my assessment on the video that was released of his actions in the convenience store.  One of the things that struck me as I watched it was that I really couldn’t tell what was going on with him and the clerk behind the counter.  Reaching over the counter to get something doesn’t mean stealing, not that stealing something in a convenience store is justification for getting shot 6 times.  It’s not, by the way.  This is not 18th century Williamsburg where a servant could be hanged for stealing a silver spoon.  But I couldn’t tell with any certainty what was transpiring at the counter. Plus, the volume on the video was off so for all I know, he might have had a perfectly friendly interaction with the proprietor.  There just wasn’t sufficient data for me to determine what was going on there.  I would not be friendly to the prosecution on a jury if the charge was shoplifting or robbery based on that video.

No, what bothered me was when he left the store and roughed up the clerk on the way out.  The clerk clearly looks distraught and Brown’s actions looked aggressive and unnecessary.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with pointing that out.  But “thug” is a right wing word, apparently.  I’m not a cable news junky so I’m going to have to rely on the SILs here when they tell me to refrain from using it to avoid looking like a right wing nutcase.  Maybe “bully” would be more appropriate.  Still not a killing offense, though probably more prosecutable than we can feel comfortable with, considering what happened shortly afterwards.  It looked like a minor assault to me.  I guess it would have been up to the clerk as to whether it was worth pursuing.  For sure Brown needed a stern talking to, but, um, not 6 shots to the torso.

I’m troubled by this piece of footage for many reasons.  Matt Taibbi’s book, The Divide, describes so many instances of young black men being arrested and harassed just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, like on the sidewalk or the stoop in front of their apartment buildings.  And the trouble they face because of these arrests is unconscionable.  Really, it’s overkill and debilitating.  Then I see this video and I think, that kid definitely needed correction.  Maybe not jail, and not a mark on his permanent record and certainly not death, but something.  Like, maybe his grandmother should have been sent that tape so she could see he wasn’t a choirboy.  Shaming your grandmother might have been enough.

So, this one time, I’m correcting my language from the right wing “thug”, which I came to independently of cable news based on my first impressions, to “bully”, because that’s what Brown’s actions show.

We shouldn’t be afraid to tell it like it is though.  That kind of behavior is unacceptable.  Not worth dying for but certainly not good.  It doesn’t diminish the horrible and unnecessary impact of Brown’s death.  Or of Eric Garner’s death as he was chokeholded by police.  Or any of a number of tragic deaths at the hands of people who think black people are less than human.

So, to all you Fox News watchers out there, there is a reason why racism is not acceptable, in thought, word and deed.  If you are thinking it, it becomes OK to hurt people who are not like you.  You need to ask yourselves if it’s Ok to be an anti-semite in your head as well.  Of course it’s not OK.  What we are seeing in Ferguson is a variation of the dehumanization and malignant behavior described by Phillip Zimbardo based on his Stanford Prisoner Experiment and his investigation of Abu Graihb in his book The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil.

It starts in your head when you allow yourself to think other people are less than you are and it’s all downhill from there.

Don’t start down that road.

 

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