Saturday, April 09, 2011

Changing Directions

The trip to Baltimore and Washington this past week was quite eventful. Well, actually, the traveling wasn't eventful, but Wednesday was. I stayed with my aunt and cousin just north of Baltimore. It was great to see them again - they're wonderful people, very supportive of me and my wild hairs. And this trip fell into the "wild hair" category. After traveling on Monday, I spent Tuesday doing my final research and preparations. Then Wednesday morning dawned early. (Okay, it "dawned" at its regular time, which I'm never awake for, so dawn to me is ungodly early.)

My cousin dropped me off at the Camden Yard train station and I caught the MARC train to Union Station in DC. This one hit all the stops, tootling thru the old beat-up industrial areas in south Baltimore. I was looking out the window at all these old factory buildings, thinking what great studio spaces they'd make. When we got into the more rural and residential areas, it was pretty boring until we rolled into Washington. Then it was off the train and down to the Metro station.

For my first stop, I went into downtown Washington. I've applied for a really cool job with a national nonprofit, and one of their main offices is in downtown DC, so I wanted to go by and talk with them in more depth. I'd sent them an email and made two phone calls to set up an appointment, all without any response, so I took the bull by the horns and just walked into the office. To be frank, I wasn't expecting much - to judge by their earlier non-responses, they probably weren't very interested in talking to me.

I was wrong. I spent well over an hour talking with a guy who was very interested, both in me and in talking about his organization. Our conversation ranged over a wide area: the organization's mission, what they're looking for, what they see for their future, what I cold do for them, and far, far more. It was very encouraging. I came away from the meeting even more pumped about the organization, what I could do with them, and about my chances of actually getting onboard. I spent today revising my resume and cover letter to better reflect that understanding. Keep your fingers crossed. This is a really cool opportunity.

From there, I went to the career fair. This was a big event - there were about 80 companies who were (supposedly) looking for new hires. I had identified three that would probably be good to work with, three more that had potential, and five more that at least deserved a look. None of them are as good as the nonprofit, but a guy's got to have a backup plan in place, doesn't he? So I talked to all six of the top companies. Some were better than I'd thought, others not, but that's why you talk with 'em.

What was really interesting to me was the responses I was getting to my background and resume. One guy looked over my resume, gave me his own email address at work, and told me to send him the information about which jobs I was interested in so he could contact the specific decision-makers. Another one told me how to game his company's online job application system to increase the odds of my resume actually getting to somebody important. Apparently, I have a pretty good resume - which is reassuring after getting turned down for so many other lower-level jobs to date with terms like "not qualified" and "not in the most qualified group".

I met up with an old friend from Baghdad there. He and I worked for the same guy at the Corps of Engineers and we're both job-hunting. And, as it turned out (much to our amusement), we have applied to many of the same jobs. So we double-teamed one company's recruiter, offering to arm-wrestle for that particular position. It was cool to see him again and I hope he gets something soon, even if it's one that I applied for, too, as long as I can have the non-profit position. (No, he isn't interested in that group, so I'm safe from competition from him there).

When I wasn't talking with recruiters, I had a great time people-watching. This was a military-oriented career fair, so the place was loaded with Type-A personalities who were on a mission. Don't get in their way or you'll get run over. The newly separated or soon-to-be-separated guys seemed to be wearing the same blue blazers with gray or tan slacks that they got from Joseph A. Banks. There were quite a few of us slightly older guys, and a few who were well past retirement age. I even saw one guy with a bad gray toupee. Never seen one of those before. A gray one, I mean.

Eventually, I got to the lower end of my list of prospective companies and realized that I had absolutely no interest in talking with the recruiter in front of me. Time to leave. Since I was in Washington, I went straight to the Smithsonian's American Art Museum. Got my creative batteries recharged on Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, John Singer Sargent, and more. Then it was time to grab the MARC train back to Baltimore.

My trip home was uneventful, except that I left the power supply for my laptop up at my aunt's place. She's mailing it back to me. Yesterday I had to take care of stuff that popped up while I was gone, namely the "Check Engine" light on the car (why does this only come on when I'm gone?), cutting the grass, and taking care of a few other nitnoid things.

I've made the decision to close down my studio at the end of the month. After my Washington trip, I came to believe that it may not be long before I have a decent job offer in hand. When I do, I'm going to have to move somewhere pretty quickly. Asheville is probably not in my future for very much longer. So it's best for me to pack up my studio now and be ready to go when something happens.

So that's how things stand this Saturday night. It's been an eventful week. My head is in a much different place now than it was at this time seven days ago. Wonder what the next seven days will bring?

2 comments:

Shea said...

wish you all the best, Skip

Captain - Special Duty Cryptology said...

Please don't pass through DC again without allowing me to buy you a beer!