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Me: ...and analytical chem can DIE IN A FIRE. An uncalibrated fire!
Roommate Number Three: Why do you always study at the dining room table?
Me: You've seen my tiny computer desk. With that in mind, would you say I'm taking up 60% of this generous table, or 80%?
- Socratic dialogues of 2011


Study table. Please note this picture was taken before I added my analytical chem materials (and dread old McMurray, to clarify one point) to the stacks.





Is anyone reading this planning to go to FOGcon in SF? It's an easy day trip for me, so I'm probably going to attend and renew my fannish roots.



Unflamey excitement this weekend has been shopping for business camouflage casual. Goodwill came through on button-downs, sweaters, and practical black pants. DSW furnished aggressively sensible office shoes and slightly less dowdy loafers which might go back; my big toe wants to poke through the leather, and I'm not sure that bright stitching will clean up nicely. Shoes with no laces and leather are a wardrobe novelty: left to my own devices, I trend toward running shoes, jeans and t-shirts, occasionally upgrading to Mary Janes with a fancier top. I'm still not sure if December's attack of Girl was a healthy indicator of personal growth, or a psychological fungus brought on by excessive winter rains. Either way, 2011 may the the year my professional wardrobe finally levels up.
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Starting a 1-to-3 month lab contract job on Monday. My checking account is relieved. The recruiter made optimistic noises about contract extension, which is nice, if ridiculously optimistic. I'm getting at least four weeks' pay and a local job on the top of my resume; if I can build some local network and references, I'll come out of this contract well ahead.
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A rough guide to the interview process for a step-from-entry-level opening in biotechnology in the greater Bay area, my experience so far:

1.) Phone screening, 5 - 20 minutes. Followup with promising candidates a week later.
2.) First interview, 30 minutes - 3 hours. Followup with promising candidates a week later. Followup with blatantly unsuited candidates sooner, or when they email HR.
3.) (Optional) Second interview, 1 hour. Followup with "thanks but no" letters about a week later, after a candidate has accepted an offer, or when the "thanks but no" people email you.

Total time from initial application: two weeks to a month.

I've been trying to get a sense of scale for the job market in the Bay area. The recruiter I talked to last week said his office had sent something like 60 - 70 resumes for one position, which sounds ridiculous, but then one considers the field of applicants. Like college, you only need to get accepted once, but like college, as you get less confident in your top choices (or more desperate for anything), you expand your application horizons. Since California has a 12% unemployment rate, both the quantity of job applicants and the high quality of candidates may merit snowing HR with electronic noise, but if I'm trying to see the bright side in just getting the callbacks, I'm sure there's lab managers tearing their hair out at the number of great people they just don't have the budget to hire.
ase: School day icon (Academic Happiness)
1.) Arrays in perl
2.) Notebook++ (the last time I was this emotional about tools, I'd just been introduced to a nanodrop)

Eventually I will get to a point where pipe and grep come back into my life. And then I will be unstoppable.

Oh yeah,

3.) Paid off another student loan. Probably should see about putting the last-and-greatest loan into deferment or forbearance now, yes?

I did not burst into tears (joy or otherwise) at the resume feedback I've gotten, but it's been incredibly useful. I know what I did at my old jobs, but I was in the guts and cogs of it, so figuring out how say I'm awesome and value-adding is an ongoing and only somewhat welcome challenge. A better challenge would be getting hired and working on lab stuff, but hopefully some cover letter tune-ups and interview practice will make that happen.
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Okay, this is awesome. Taunting people through negative reinforcement is wrong, yes, but how often do you see "cleavage for science!" blog posts? Outside of geology blogs, that is.

I'm waiting to hear back about an interview, and in the meantime page through job listings. I'm jonesing for a CLS license as I look at the ads, but realistically, it's a training track that would mean four courses of prerequisites, an intensive 13 month academic and internship program if I'm accepted, and after all that: is the career path really what I want? Where do you go from CLS entry level? What would I do with it? (Other than, wait, more student loans!) Pick up a clinical license (with associated student loans) and maybe some progress management certifications or an operations M.B.A. (more loans!), and spend my 30s fixing biotech workflows? I feel like the clinical license and the operations stuff are two ideas that may pull in different tactical directions. And neither of them is getting me a job right now. I may block the internet tomorrow morning and make myself run around Golden Gate Park and the beach until I'm feeling a bit less like I'm spinning my wheels.
ase: Computer and internet icon (Digital chained wretch)
Ten buzzwords that are buzz kill, and I used four of them in many cover letters and summaries of qualifications. In my defense, my references will back up all four. Do my annual reviews not speak of my strong work ethic and excellent team player skills? Why yes they do. Obviously it's time to sulk with Perl for Bioinformatics now. I didn't put "meets or exceeds expectations" (because really, what expectations? You can meet and exceed the good and the bad) but I plastered "self motivating" all over several cover letters.
ase: "Inspiration - 99% perspiration" icon (Efforts will be rewarded)
Last night I searched craiglist, clicked on the third ad from the top, and two hours later had a small dresser and modest bookcase. The bookcase was promptly pushed into place and had library books added to the top - and after momentary consideration, bottom - shelves.

Now San Francisco feels like home.




I'm spending some time perusing interview questions this morning, in that way you do when you're a gentle(wo)man of leisure and would like to alter that status as soon as possible, and asked my roommate, "what one question would you ask in an interview?" (R. has significant life experience on me.) After some thought, R. said, "what part of this job would you find most fun?"

I think this is an awesome interview question and hope to adopt it in future.
ase: School day icon (Academic Happiness)
I had deep thoughts about cultural construction of beauty as natural or artificial, and how this plays out in systems of oppression and cross-cultural signalling, but that was before I pulled a nine-hour day. So I came home, packed lunch-and-dinner sandwiches for tomrrow, watched an NCIS episode which blew its budget on horses versus helicopters while snagging Mira Furlan as Minor Character of the Week, and actually put a filter between my brain and my homework. ("I should travel more. My medical history would be more colorful" is not appropriate for your infectious disease answer sheet.)

So that was my Tuesday, with bonus subfreezing temperatures. Up next: hump day! With highs significantly above freezing!

ETA: Wait, what? Watchmen comes out March 6th? I thought it was a May release! I haven't even seen Coraline yet!

Mulligan!

Jan. 29th, 2009 06:32 pm
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This week has seen: unresolved laptop issues, the email about my cousin's little girl's brain surgery on Monday (she's fine - okay, as fine as post-op gets), the latest cultural appropriation round (what's the escalation from trainwreck?), snow, Wednesday's icepocalypse, cancelled evening class, and continued laptop troubleshooting, and Thursday's impromptu 1.5 hour work meeting on What's Changed Since Our Last Meeting (Lots). Also, I left my mp3 player at home. It was sorely missed.

Tomorrow is payday, with 2008 bonus money, and it's also the WSFA Fifth Friday party, which I volunteered to host. By taking the low road (bedroom as storage room), most of the house is mostly presentable, which leaves only food prep and nervous collapse from pre-entertainment nerves. Next time I do something like this, I'm exploring the merits of semi-potluck.

Fortunately, tomorrow is payday, and I get to see people I like, and in a stroke of genius, I foresaw the brewing Steelers Fans Versus Everyone Else conflict and took Superbowl Monday off. I'm debating the value of 1.) going to the free afternoon at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, 2.) finding someone with TiVo to watch the ads with, 3.) investing some metro time and seeing college people on Sunday. Or combining all of the above, whatever. The point is, it will be a restful three day weekend, except for that part where I have to start studying for class.

If anyone needs directions to Fifth Friday and doesn't have them, comment or email. The ase at livejournal address is broken: use the yahoo address.
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Explaining why I was awesome this afternoon involves tedious backfill regarding sample handling and how much I miss people who are on vacation (one more day! One more day of trying to be two people!) but today I rocked the fast turnaround. And then I made "experiment with margarine" chocolate chip cookies and had roommate hang-out time. Go me!

Also, my desire to cope with the less than 10 hours of daylight thing and rock my errands correlates wonderfully well with the day's high temperature breaking 35 F.

I'm rereading The Fellowship of the Ring at night and on the bus this week (and last week, and for several weeks to come), and having lurched out of Bree I think I'll manage to finish the book. However, reading it in winter at 25 instead of August at a still-new-to-me 14 is a very different experience: much more implicit grappling with despair (and losing all the time, real subtle, JRRT!) and much more awareness of how wavering and uneven Fellowship is, and such a fit for the weather it's not a pleasant resonance. And yet - still reading.

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