Remembering Me

While refining my job search I’ve thought a lot about myself as a child. Particularly, I’ve thought about the things that defined my personality as an adolescent.

One thing all of my family and most of my friends would agree on is that I was the very definition of weird.

I was always that odd child who embraced my oddness, which made me weird according to many.

Rewind – I was born premature and spent a lot of time in the NICU, this impacted my early life. Furthermore, I suffered many illnesses as a child which endeared me to many.

I point this out because it explains why all of my cousins and my sister had to go outside to play but I had a choice. It explains why I spent so much time with adults and often out of school during my entire elementary and secondary school years.

My beginning impacted the advantages and disadvantages of my life as a youth. I wasn’t exactly a spoiled child; however, I was possibly a bit sheltered. Specifically, due to the health related challenges I faced during my youth, my family made exceptions for me often.

I spent a lot of time with adults because I was unwell and receiving medical treatments. I also had a lot of doctor’s appointments that interrupted my childhood.

My cousin who is only a few months older than me taught me how to read and ignited my love of reading. We would enter the annual reading challenges hosted by our local library and attend storytelling sessions. Our parents and grandparents enjoyed this particular hobby of ours.

Not only was reading one of the least expensive hobbies at the time; my family was certain that our love of reading would translate into us pursuing and obtaining higher education and eventually careers that would spare us from many of the financial challenges they faced.

I loved reading everything…but I only stayed in the library for hours because my cousin (at the time she was the closest thing to a hero that I had) enjoyed the dusty place!

Really, she loved reading books in the library and then checking out other books to take home. I preferred to go to the library, choose books, return home, read books, and return them the following day.

She was my hero-peer mentor so I stayed at the library many times pretending to read the book I would check out to read in the comfort of my room.

This doesn’t sound weird to many of you I’m sure, but loving to read alone was not exactly cool!

Let’s talk about how I read. I mentioned reading in the comfort of my room, well there’s more to it than that. I sat in the corner – same corner every time – to read. I also put headphones (initially ear muffs) to block out the outside world while I read.

I still like to wear headphones when I read. Partially because people think I can’t hear them and I saw it on tv as a child and thought it was cool!

I didn’t like the outdoors so reading in the park – also something I saw on tv – was not remotely cool to me.

Another consistent theme in my youth is that I always spoke out for people especially when I felt that they were not being heard.

I spoke out for my family members regardless of their age in comparison to my own. I spoke out for my peers when I thought the teachers or even their parents ignored them.

I wrote letters to agencies when my snack cake wasn’t good lol! I’ll have to tell this one particular story later.

To be continued…remembering me

Finding My Niche…

Hello everyone!

I hope that life is treating you kind. It’s official, I finished school one month ago. I have the degree in the closet to prove that I am finished. I am not stressing over completing my dissertation or any of the other annoying things that come along with a doctoral degree in the United States.

I’ve traded that stress in for the stress of the job hunt. I cannot say that it is going bad because frankly, I am so exhausted from all of those years of preparing for a job (career) that I am acutely aware of the type of jobs I will entertain.

One issue with having a PhD is that one has to mention it on resumes, especially if there is a gap in employment. Hmm…I sure some of you are wondering, Why would anyone leave the PhD off of their resume? It is not a matter of shame; although, depending on how much headache and heartache your PhD process was, it may feel a bit shameful or at the very least like something you’d wish to temporarily forget! However, it is usually because of the perceptions others have of the PhD.

Of course, it goes without saying that the PhD is a research doctorate and many individuals dream of pursuing a research career upon completion. PhDs are often prepared to enter academic positions based on the skills and knowledge obtained through the process. There are not enough tenure track positions for everyone and many PhDs realize they are not remotely interested in academic positions.

Many of us who suffered through the PhD process, have a least one course that includes writing or submitting an academic CV; but, we rarely are ask to write a resume using the transferable skills necessary for alternative academic and industry careers.

One of the things I do is help individuals write resumes and academic CVs and if I do say so myself, I do this very well. The individuals I help write resumes range from people who never graduated high school to individuals who have doctoral degrees. I’ve assisted many of the individuals with doctoral degrees with both resumes and academic CVs – they tend to have a better grasp of the academic CV.

I enjoy coaching people on how to write resumes, academic CVs, personal statements, teaching philosophies, and research philosophies and also just writing effectively so I find myself doing this a lot.

I heard someone that individuals should look at the things they do the most and are naturally inclined to do when they are considering what they should do for a career…well none of the things I am naturally inclined to do are directly related to my PhD. I believe this is common in many people with PhDs; however, that does not mean that the PhD is worthless.

It is important to understand that regardless of your educational background how you use the skills, knowledge and values you obtained will look different. I enjoy editing and consulting…those skills were refined during my PhD program. I enjoy research and that was definitely refined.

My goal is to convey through a few lines on a piece of paper who I am and what I have to offer an employer without being overshadowed by the perceptions of the PhD.

As my tagline on this blog states – I am more than my attributes and my attributes are great!

Who Am I?

I’ve never been one to have a lot of nicknames.

For a fact, my first and middle is as close to a moniker that I have!

My name is Amber, in case you were wondering. I love to laugh. Enjoy writing and I am passionate about helping others. I have been blessed with many opportunities.

I’ve had several blogs through the years – I deleted them whenever the thrill was gone!

Most of my blogs via various platforms focused on my life with endometriosis. These blogs were instrumental during times when I needed reassurance that I was not alone in the painful struggles.

My picture is included in many endometriosis awareness videos created by individuals I interacted with online.

Now I blog about whatever happens to be on my mind…I’ve read that this catch-all type of blog is the least profitable! Sigh.

If you’ve read my recent posts, you know that I have academic degrees and I’m on the job market.

My name is very common so it’s difficult to google me with much success! I’ve had many friends who’ve tried.

My blog title: Strong Caring Beauty is a collection of words people used to describe me during one of those social media quizzes.

I have a difficult time describing myself because there’s so much to who I am. Plus, I have no issue with people developing their own opinions without my persuasion.

However, I’m grateful that you took the time to read this post and to visit my blog. Thank you

Accommodations & The Job Search

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990; it marked a major legislative change in civil rights law.

Basically, the law states that it’s illegal to discriminate against any individual with disabilities and it states that reasonable accommodations are made in areas related to public life.

Laws are subject to interpretation and ADA is no different; therefore, several changes have been made to the legislation since its initial passage.

Anyone in the United States who has a disability knows that the way you are treated depends a lot on the presentation of your disability. This is one of the reasons there’s many forums about invisible disabilities.

How does all of this impact the job search? It depends.

Remember that as a country, we are keen on appearances (gross overgeneralization, but focus) so if you are able to not disclose your disability during the hiring process…maybe at this stage your disability has little impact on your ability to acquire employment.

That’s not necessarily the case, but it’s an argument made a lot when individuals battle for the winner of the “most disabled disabled person” – it really does seem like there’s a competition for such title.

As I read job announcements I notice immediately how the wording alone eliminates a group of individuals who could do the job with reasonable accommodations – if any are necessary – but these individuals are discouraged from even applying

For instance, in the fictional world in my head – there’s a job posting that says that the individual must be able to work long hours while sitting. The individual must be able to communicate effectively via phone and email. The individual must be able to hear and see.

I’ve seen all of these things mentioned in real world job advertisements. Take a step back and think about the array of disabilities…how many individuals are discouraged to even apply because they have to have bathroom breaks, they use specialized phones, hearing aids, or visual aids -other than glasses or contacts, or they need to stand after sitting for so long.

Many employers promote anti-discrimination and equal opportunity, but like the with ADA, policies and practices are not always on the same page.

It’s important that individuals think about the wording of job announcements to decrease the chances of discouraging an otherwise qualified individual who just so happen to have one or more disabilities.

On the job market

It’s no surprise that being on the job market is less than exciting and potentially stressful

I spent most of my young adulthood years in school…3 successfully completed degrees and one almost doesn’t count attempt at a degree

I have a bachelors, a masters, and a doctorate…I attempted another masters degree whose incompletion ruins my academic resume

PAUSE: I’ve seen many (more than I ever imagined plausible) academic resumes with incomplete degrees listed so I know it does not ruin things but it certainly hiccups the reading flow.

Ok so back to my point – I have these degrees and considering my background – I am ecstatic about that very fact!

Backstory light: I am an African American cisgender female from a rural, working class town. I am the first in my family to complete any postsecondary degree…so it’s a big deal that I have the degrees…in that respect at least!

You may notice that I digress a lot, I should look into storytelling!

I have a research doctorate in case you’re wondering…I loved research as early as my second year of my undergraduate studies and I still love the research process…especially when studying the complexities of a phenomena.

Hmm, what was I discussing? Oh yeah, job hunting.

Naively, I assumed that once I finished my dissertation – actually before I finished – I would have these beautiful ideas in mind about what’s next for me! Oh that was so naive.

I failed to consider just how draining, the dissertation process is and more importantly, I failed to see my personal and professional growth.

Eh! What are you talking about? That’s likely the question that you wish to ask me now.

Bear with me, I’ll explain…eventually

Just joking! Here’s my explanation:

I was so invested in finishing my doctoral program with a decent dissertation that I did not see myself.

I did not see how over the years I went from an overly optimistic, naive 20-something year old to a 30-something with a more balanced view of the world and how I fit in it.There’s nothing wrong with being optimistic; but my optimism was of the fairy tale world type. You know thinking that my fairy godmother (read someone who admired me immensely) would pop into my life, pay my bills and give me the freedom to cultivate my talents.

I’m not sure what those talents were but you see…my optimism left out me actively working to cultivate my talents.

One good thing is although I was overly optimistic, I didn’t simply sit around waiting for fairy godmother to appear with her magic dust! One sprinkling of it and my life would be forever changed.

No, I worked. I worked hard but I was still out of balance. So now as I approach the job market with ideas of the impact I’d like to have, I am working hard to keep a balance.

There’s a lot more to me than some fancy pieces of papers that take a long time to receive and I aim to convey that person when I apply to jobs.

So often I’ve met individuals who allow titles to unbalance them and that’s the person I would’ve been if the 20-something year old me was on the job market; but the 30-something year old me knows that degrees – although every owner of them should be proud – are not a testament to how well an individual can do a job.

Oh, if you haven’t noticed – my mind is all over the place – that’s definitely not helping my job search!

Thankfully, I can blog to center my thoughts.

Before I go – I have many emotions and thoughts as I search for and apply to jobs; most of those are fear-related, but none are that my degrees make me more than any of the hiring managers or recruiters.

Although, since I’m being honest with you – a fairy godmother who could place me in a job that’s a good fit for me would be welcomed…but that’s not how the job market works.

Small Town Love

I was born in the suburbs; raised in the country; became an adult while residing in various college towns.

I know little of the suburbs; however, due to the extenuating circumstances surrounding my birth, I lived in one for the first few months of my life.

I don’t remember those days, but I’ve seen pictures of me surrounded by advanced for the time medical equipment and I’ve heard stories about the beginnings of my life.

I could write more about that…hmm…maybe in another post. Right now I have to get to my small town love.

When I say I was raised in the country – don’t think of country life as on movies and television. I don’t know how to drive a tractor (or a car for that matter – another post!). I don’t know the first thing about field work or even gardening. I would have to consult my elder family members if I was to ever lose the basic essentials that I take for granted…seriously!

So instead of country, maybe I should say I was raised in a small town. At one time in my life, the residents were familiar with who lived here or at least their family units.

For instance, I recall being in one of the grocery stores (yes we do have those here…stereotypes, run deep!) and someone would ask me if I was my maternal grandmother’s granddaughter or my paternal grandfather’s granddaughter…once I said yes, my personal identity (like my name) was unimportant.

Thankfully, my grandparents’ reputations were good so I proudly identified myself with them. Currently, if someone asks me who I am, I identify my grandparents (they are more well known than my parents).

My high school was small and graduating from high school is still a major achievement in this area.

I love my small hometown and it has loved me through the years.

Now that I’m finished with my educational pursuits (I really do have a PhD and it’s not a Playa Hating Degree!) and I’m in my hometown I have a newfound fondness for this place.

As a teenager, I wanted to move away; go to three different universities in different states and get a degree from each of them and ultimately get a PhD. I did something like that.

Wait! I need to tell my teenaged self that the moving, three different schools, three different degrees, including the PhD — overrated! I’m thankful and consider myself blessed, but it certainly wasn’t the ADVENTURE I imagined.

Ooh I have a hard time staying on topic – small town love!

I love small towns, at least I can appreciate a sense of community. Wherever my adventure, takes me next I desire a small town feel, suburban amenities and security, and big city entertainment.

In many ways, I can do whatever I want to with my life now. I have the education and charisma to be an asset to many different sectors. I have no personal ties, keeping me in any certain area, and I have many individuals in my small town cheering me on.

I love my small town and it’s people love me!!!