And just like that, training is over.

I was in San Francisco for 26 days completing three and a half weeks of training. I need to set up my home office and put my training to use–I’m going to get students to the biggest private art school in the nation. I wish I could have taken advantage of the opportunities for which I am now a resource. They are quite amazing–helping you sharpen your craft of choice and break into the industry.

My view walking home from work after the first Friday of training

I’m pretty terrified to do my first presentation… at a huge event in front of my managers, nonetheless. Practice, practice, practice makes perfect. There are parts of my job I am SUPER excited about–interacting with tons of new people, being a resource for art education, traveling… but other parts I am not to excited to do. But alas, I get paid to put my skills to use in something I am passionate about and that’s what counts.

Training was challenging! We had a week of info dumping, product knowledge, and tours. Followed by a week of student engagement and communication techniques and then a week of policies and procedures. Oh, and two 100-question assessments. As grueling as it was, majority of it was vastly interesting. And I had an amazing group of coworkers to serve as wonderful study buddies, food/coffee buddies, happy hour buddies, everything buddies. What a blessing. Sometimes you just click with people. Having met 8 people from so many different places with a ton of different experiences and perspectives has been wonderful! It’s exactly what I need and love. I hope I’ll get to see them when I find myself in San Francisco.

Around the corner from the second building where I was training | San Francisco City Hall
Blackbird in the Castro after our last day of training

I wish I could have explored The City a little bit more, but working 9-6 sure is tiring! Not to mention the studying I had to do. But fun times were definitely had with both friends and family. And “living” in a different city always helps me find out more about myself and what I believe in. There are issues here, like in any other big city–homelessness, gentrification, lack of resources for low-income communities, transportation–things that get overshadowed by tourism and city glamour. “Oh, that’s just how it is in SF.” Yes, it does make me appreciate my current situation. But what else should I put my weight behind? [Okay, I don’t weigh that much, but still.] It was easier in college–I threw my efforts at purposeful organizations, sometimes even helped shape them. But without labels and deadlines and the guise of students issues (as I am now in “real life,” not college), it’s hard to prioritize or even grasp my place in the issues. The world is so big and there is so much going to just spend my time lost and static. Where do I go if my paid duties do not explicitly focus on social issues? There is the focus on personal development. As always. But it is now a question of how I weave that into “real life,” affecting change somewhere, somehow.

 When you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity… you do not slam it shut behind you… you reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.  –Michelle Obama

I am ready for this new chapter in my life. Okay, and even if I am not ready, it’s happening. It’s nice to have a salary and benefits… though I could use a few more vacation days! Time to get it together and get to work!

That’s that real “real life.”

When it rains, it pours. And the blessings are raining down on me right now. It’s wonderful.

I will be starting my career, forreals this time, with the Academy of Art University as the Northern Los Angeles Outreach Representative. Basically I get to talk all day and be a resource for students to get to the biggest art school in the nation. Although the school is in San Francisco, my position is based in LA and requires 75% travel. Public speaking, art, students, travel… how did I get so lucky? All the things I love wrapped up into one AND I get paid for it? YES.

I am flying to SF on Sunday to complete a one-month training program… how sick is it that I get to spend a month in the Bay? With per diem for all my meals? In a fancy hotel? Pretty sick, if I may say so myself. And those are just the perks. I get to represent an amazing university in which creative minds get to explore their craft and realize their potential. I also have the opportunity to attend different events such as fashion shows, gallery auctions and film festivals.

Getting this job is a dream come true and it’s only the beginning. I’m SO glad I didn’t settle for the lucrative, yet unsuitable, opportunity where I found myself about a month ago. In this day and age of huge student loan debt, a focus on practicality, and a struggle to maintain our individuality while finding out place in society, we cannot forget our dreams. Even though it took me a little longer than I had hoped–I finished school in March–I earned a position that suits me and will undoubtedly challenge me to take initiative, exercise leadership, and continue to expand my communication skills. Snaps for personal development!

Who said getting married at this age is constricting? Surely, they didn’t see me coming. Rather than dwelling on the thought that “there could be something better out there” or wondering how I could explore other continents and careers because I’m “tied down,” we’ve chosen to find those better things and take on those new experiences together. Ezrael and I have a bunch more things we want to accomplish before our time here is done. We challenge and motivate each other, instead of thinking of our relationship as a mere extraneous commitment to be factored into bigger life decisions. But I do suppose finding that person and making sure you two can stick together is another feat in itself.

If only everyone could open their minds and perspectives to find that driving force–it doesn’t have to be a lover, friend, or even a person–to help them realize their dreams and experience contentment. Amidst the journey toward those goals, it’s also nice to consider the other things that make the ride worthwhile… like bridesmaids and groomsmen! That’s right, we’ve got all the people in place for our bridal party! We are on the smaller end of the big side :P And we are super excited to include more friends and family in different roles in our celebration because Lord knows it’s gonna be a little large.

“Real life” is shaping up pretty well! New career, bridesmaids&groomsmen at the ready, and I get to marry the man of my dreams? Not too bad.

A Day’s Worth of Post-Grad Advice

Yesterday, I attended a Sociology Alumni Panel at the UCLA Faculty Center, facilitated by the Sociology department chair. It was quite eye-opening and definitely motivating, as it’s easy to feel lost as a sociology major. But listen people, sociology is a valuable field! It can take you anywhere! Because hello… there are people and groups of people interacting EVERYWHERE. :)

These were the four alumni speakers:

Timothy Harris
Senior Vice President, Business Operations
The Los Angeles Lakers

Susan Kellogg
President
VF Contemporary Brands

John Kobara
Executive Vice President and CEO
California Community Foundation

Krystal Walden
Founder and CEO
Krystal Spa

After hearing these speakers’ journeys, experiences, and how they relate sociology to their careers, this is what I learned…

Work in the corporate world! It’s just like a grad school experience, but I can make a steady income and have the opportunity to learn every facet of a business. Working in corporate teaches you a number of invaluable skills. VF manages about 30 different high-end clothing brands and Susan oversees 4 of them, such 7 For All Mankind. She said you never know where life will take you, but leap at every opportunity.

Understand how to interact with people. Relationships are key. Okayy, do I hear my sociology degree at work? Sure I won’t directly refer to that one lecture about Durkheim or even recalls Goffman’s facework… but we need to understand people in every realm of business in order to do any type of business.

IQ and EQ are extremely and equally important. In order to be successful in almost any career, people need both intellectual and emotional intelligence.

WIGO. What Is Going On? and Why Is is Going On? We need to understand how things work and how to make them work better.

Confidence is key. This was the collective answer to, “What do you look for when hiring young people?” A passion diagnostic exists and we are easily being measured! People will say they are passionate and say they will show they are passionate just to get a job. But people who are genuinely passionate about the job for which they are applying will bleed passion. They will be committed to the mission of the company or organization to which they are applying. When we are interviewing for a job, we must be able to answer this question: “Why is this the right place for you?”

Key characteristics: passion, ambition, a collective mind, and a team player. You can teach someone how to do a job and fill a role, but you cannot teach they key qualities that are important for doing well in your career.

Track people down. Follow up. Go old school. Krystal suggested stalking your potential employer to show them how badly you want in. Learn about the mission and purpose. Show them you did your homework.

Do what it takes to learn. Learn the ropes from the bottom up. [Almost] nothing is beneath you. ALWAYS take opportunities to learn more, even if it means sitting in on some classes or trying to attend events you weren’t explicitly invited to. Experiential education augments formal education.

You are a salesperson. You are selling your most valuable product: yourself. Learn how to sell yourself.

Be intelligent, hungry, and do your homework!

Hearing these four alumni speak was so invigorating. Sociology degrees are not useless! Sure, it sounds like some cookie-cutter advice from a career website… but to know these people were once in my exact position is somewhat comforting. And motivating. I’m trying to get on their level!