Post-Grad Life Update

I graduated last June (2105) with a BS in English with an emphasis on Creative Writing. My long-term goal is to be a higher up at an awesome nonprofit that deals with human rights and to publish a book. So here is the story of how I’m trying to get here.

I graduated college without much of a plan, besides:

  1. Graduate college and work for a few (2-3) years and then go back graduate school.
  2. Make as much money as possible in those 2-3 years, afford rent, have a savings account, and travel a bit.
  3. Write during those 2-3 years.

The moment I graduated, I needed to find work. During the last quarter of my undergraduate I was applying to be a teacher in AmeriCorps. I was offered the position, and a teaching gig out in California’s Bay Area. Ultimately, I decided to turn down the job. My family is not well-off financially, and the 23K stipend the program gives its teachers was just not a livable wage for me at the time. I also realized that while I wanted to work for a nonprofit, I wanted to do so at the administrative and planning stage, not on the ground level, teaching and working with kids. It just wasn’t my ideal.

Having turned down my only job opportunity, I needed to find something fast. Here, I will go into a lot of detail about my pay and hours and work and feel free to skip ahead if you so desire. I just feel that sometimes when I was looking for information or first-hand experiences of post-grad life, people were vague and it was less than helpful to me.

So I turned to Care.com to find a temporary job in my area so I could make rent. And I was quick to see that I could make more than $20/hr if I found the right job. I highly recommend anyone looking for a temporary (or long-term) job as a nanny or babysitter to research the going rate in your neighborhood. It pains me to see friends or acquaintances working for minimum wage or even $14/hr when the going rate in Napa County and the surrounding area is closer to $18/hr. So, do your research. I knew that I needed a job, but I set my search parameters to view nothing that paid less than $18 an hour.

Then, I found my current job. They were offering $20/hr, and I negotiated it up to $22/hr. And let me just tell you, negotiating did not come easy to me. But I knew that it was important that I get the most out of my job in order to not struggle over finances, and to not feel trapped and cornered. So I read a bunch of articles online about how women tend to undersell themselves in the negotiation phase of a job and how to be confident in myself when asking for more money. I practiced asking my future employer for the additional pay over and over again. I read tips on how to phrase the question. I practiced and in the end, I got what I asked for. And to anyone thinking that a $2 raise isn’t much, with the hours I work, that comes out to at least $3,000 extra dollars a year. It’s a lot and it taught me to be stronger and know what I want and need out of a job. Any raise is going to help you.

So. It’s August and I’ve started my new job as a nanny. I was renting one bedroom out of a house for $600/month (very cheap for my neighborhood) and I was working 28hrs/week at my job.

Now that I had 28 hours of work/week, my bills covered, and an amble amount of free time, it was time to figure out a way to start my career. So I started to job hunt. I looked for internships anywhere close to where I lived. Now this may have just been my luck continuing, but after two interviews, I was offered my first-choice at a nonprofit in Silicon Valley that works with children under the poverty line in helping them achieve college readiness. Let me just say I love my job there. I work about 12 hours/week and besides the fact that it is adding to my resume and giving me great experience, it is really rewarding. I was brought on to their team in October of 2015, and I have been working there until now.

There are a lot of people who are able to take internships after college and have their parents help them with finances. I am not one of those people. I had to find a way to work for little or no pay at a job I loved and one that would help my career, while also making money. I was able to do so through my well-paying part-time nanny job and my part-time role as a Coordinator at my nonprofit. It is doable. It takes a little luck, dedication, lots of research, and a killer resume, but it is totally doable.

So that is where I am now. Part-time Nanny. Part-time Volunteer Coordinator for a nonprofit. This October I will be completing a year of this dual work thing. My next goal is to find a full-time job in October that is at a nonprofit and in the realm of my current position of Volunteer Coordinator. More on that, and the steps I’ve take, next week.

Now for some “Quick” Tips:

  • Don’t be afraid to turn down jobs. I’ll touch on the other jobs I’ve turned down next week. But I am so so SO happy that I turned down the Americorps job and the other nannying jobs that offered too little pay or that appeared to entail dealing with difficult bosses. I know that the job market can suck but what also sucks is getting stuck in a job that you hate. I have had depression that has gotten worse while working for a job that I hate, and I have learned to avoid that whenever possible.
  • Check going rates for jobs in your neighborhood and don’t sell yourself short.
  • Interviews are a chance for BOTH PARTIES to figure out if the job/applicant is right. Always ask the person you are interviewing with question. One, it makes you look prepared and assertive. Two, it helps you figure out if you want to accept the job if it’s offered to you.
  • And lastly, if you are wanting to work at a nonprofit, I suggest you start developing skills now. If you’re in college, take a leadership role in a human rights organization. My time at my college’s local Amnesty International is basically what landed me my job at my nonprofit. I had a track record of caring about the rights of others. I was also editor-in-chief of my college’s lit mag, I had a history of having my writing published, and I had public speaking experience. When trying to break into nonprofit work, most small to medium sized nonprofits want people with a wide variety of skills and experiences in leadership, fundraising, writing, etc. So the more you can do in college, the better off you will be.
    Also, if you can add Excel and Salesforce knowledge to your resume, you’re chances of getting hired increase SO UNBELIEVABLY much. Develop those skills now. Salesforce has a really good online tutorial and you can download a free copy of their program to practice. More tips to come.

Bye for now!

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May Reading Wrap-Up Part 2

And I’m back! I’m going to break up this post into sections with their own headers because I have A LOT to fill you guys in on, besides just my reading of the past few weeks. So if you’re just here to see what books I’ve read, you can scroll past everything else and just head on over to the last part of this post.

Sarah J. Maas Book Signing

During the first week of May, I attended the launch for A Court of Mist and Fury and Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park, California. It took two hours of driving to reach the venue, and if you live in the are, I would very much recommend Kepler’s to you. I can’t wait to go back when I have more time to just browse. They have a Women in Science section that looks phenomenal!

The place was packed. I’ve never attended a signing that was as full as this one. There was a standing room only section in that back that wasn’t pictured here. The two pictures on the bottom left and middle are the only ones of Sarah I thought to snap, and the last photo is of me and my boyfriend, who I dragged along to the event as well. He’s actually reading Throne of Glass now and enjoying it, so that’s awesome.

Getting to hear Sarah talk about everything from writing, to high school and embarassing moments, was a lot of fun. The topic Sarah talked about most was ACOTAR. As ACOMAF had just come out, she didn’t want to spoil anything for the majority of the room. During the Q & A part of the event, there was a lull when no one was asking questions, and before I could really think, I took the mic and asked a question. What my brain blurted out at me was to ask her what her favorite fictional character was and she answered Buffy. She elaborated with a long description on how Buffy was this super feminine girly-girl, but she was also a kick-ass hero and that she has always gravitated to those kinds of stories and characters because they aren’t really common. Obviously, readers of the Throne of Glass series can see that Sarah has put her love of strong feminine characters into her own stories.

After the event, we got in line to have our books signed.

The Winner of my Give-Away Was: Aya, over at A Blessed Brownie. Aya will be receiving her personalized copy of A Court of Mist and Fury in the mail soon.

To conclude this part on the event: Sarah J. Maas is a funny and humble person who seems to deeply care about her fans because she seems to understand how dedicated they are to her worlds. I came away from the event realizing that Sarah was as much of a fan girl as I am. It was a great experience.


I’m Moving!!

I currently live in a house with two roommates and I have been dying to move to a place of my own. I currently live in Napa County, which is located in California. I will go over my job and post-grad plans in another post, but what I will say now is that I needed to move closer to the Bay Area because of work related things. And I found the cutest studio that meets all of my needs and I am beyond excited to move their this Friday. I will be taking tons of pictures there and will make sure to give a tour. There are BUILT-IN BOOKSHELVES and omg I can’t wait. I think that the first thing I will be unpacking are all of my books and I am so ready to figure out how I am going to reorganize them on my new wall of built-ins. And hang up my new Dumbledore quote posters!!

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Head over to SimpleSerene’s Etsy page if you want to snag some of these awesome HP posters as well.


Launching Etsy Skirt Shop and Attending NerdCon:Stories

Last week, I purchased tickets to NerdCon: Stories. The convention takes place in Minnesota next October. For those of you who don’t know what NerdCon: Stories is, it is a two-day conference that celebrates the power and magic of story-telling. They have guests that include authors, illustrators, pod-cast writers, actors, directors, etc. I am so pumped and really hoping that I will be able to attend.

So here’s the catch. While I could afford a ticket to the event, and wanted to purchase the ticket before they sold out, I can not currently afford the airfare to get there. Currently. a ticket from CA to Minnesota is about $380. So that brings me to my other announcement…

I will be launching my ETSY SHOP! I am selling skirts that are all things nerdy. I will be launching sometime in June (more detail to follow). I just purchased a new sewing machine with giftcards that had been collecting dust in a drawer of mine, so I am stocked. I have also bought enough material for the first 17 skirts (the fabrics range from Anne of Green Gables, Dr. Who, Star Wars, bookshelves, Marvel comics, and what I’m most excited about: The four Harry Potter Houses!)

I’m hoping that my new business is successful. I will be using my profits to save towards airfare so I can attend this convention. So make sure to check out my page when I launch 🙂


Book Reviews

And here we are. The moment most of you are probably here for. If you haven’t already, head over to Part One of my May Wrap-Up to see what other books I read in May.

  1. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  4. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
  5. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
  6. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  7. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
  8. Habibi by Craig Thompson
  9. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

So in this Part 2 of the Wrap-Up, I will be talking about numbers 6-9. And boy, did I read a lot of YA this month. I promise, that will be switched up next month. I will be posting an “Books I will read in June post next week” and it will be filled with some YA, but lots of contemporary and historical fiction as well.

Let’s do this.

The ACOTAR series by Sarah J. Maas. Let me get this out of the way first: I do not typically like retellings of Disneyfied fairytales (see OUAT and my coming review of Cinder). I love folklore and mythology. I took an entire class on Arthurian Literature during college and I could not get enough of this stuff. But for some reason, when writers try to tackle fairytales that have been tied up in neat little packages (Disney’s Little Mermaid vs. the original tale), I feel that the story falls flat and predictable.

A Court of Thorns and Roses surprised me SO MUCH. I would give it a solid 3.5-4 stars. The was Sarah uses the Beauty and the Beast tale is both familiar and refreshing. There is something nice and warm about reading a story and feeling things click into place when they fit into an arch you know exists. It’s easy to see which characters fulfill which roles. But, it is not boringly predictable. And weaving in folklore on witchcraft and mythological creatures added to such a deep world.

ACOMAF is the superior book, in my opinion. I feel that any issue I had with ACOTAR was addressed and fixed wonderfully in the second book. While I love the protagonist and the world of ACOTAR, the romance, at least toward the end of the book, was lackluster to me. It was a bit of a cliche, idealized romance, one where there was a clear power imbalance.

***SPOILERS TO FOLLOW***

The plot points that are revealed in ACOMAF make ACOTAR so much better in hindsight! The fact that Tamlin is so controlling of Feyre that she has to leave him to be herself is so true and the cliche’s of the first novel fit in so well when you realize that they weren’t right for each other. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that Sarah allows her female characters to have multiple love interests during their lives. This is a reality that is often glossed over in YA fiction. Women can love and sleep with different men at different parts of their lives and they can grow into themselves and better understand what they want from a partner. Tamlin was what Feyre needed when she had nothing. But he wasn’t what she needed once she had found herself. I understand that some fans are upset because they feel like their ships are being betrayed, but I feel like the story is true and honest to female characters. And RHYSAND. I could talk about my love for him for hours. A FEMINIST LEAD MALE CHARACTER. wohoo. AND the strong female friendships. The women that Rhysand has as leaders of his court and their friendship with Feyre is great. I love seeing strong women in power. The world building also took the series to a new level. If you didn’t like ACOTAR because of the cliched romance or something similar to that I HIGHLY recommend you read ACOMAF. DO ITTT. 🙂

***SPOILERS OVER***

So basically, I enjoyed A Court of Thorns and Roses but I freakin’ LOVED A Court of Mist and Fury.

 

Habibi and Cinder. Both of which, I cannot do.

I am not going to waste a lot of time on Habibi, which is a graphic novel by Craig Thompson. I loved his other graphic novel, BlanketsSo I picked this one up while at the library last week. I did not enjoy it. I felt it was very offensive. The novel is set in some fictional dessert land that is so clearly the Middle East. Every man is a rapist and every women is a victim. The main character is stranded in a desert for years and starving constantly, yet she is ALWAYS illustrated as having a perfect nude body with no body hair. Okay, enough said on this book.

Now on to Cinder. Oh, Cinder, I wanted to like you. You are so popular with Booktubers and the internet. But oh dear lord. You are a cliche after a cliche after a cliche. It is like someone printed out a ver very basic summary of the Disney Cinderella story and made a basic check list.

  1. Shoe: she’s a cyborg so let’s make the shoe she loses her actual foot. Great.
  2. Evil Stepsister: Pearl, a literal copy of an evil stepsister, no depth or motives.
  3. And so on…

In ACOTAR, the trope of the evil stepsisters is used with Feyre’s blood sisters. They are both weak and force Feyre to be in danger constantly to feed them. But DAMN they are well-rounded characters that become likable by the end of the second book, all while retaining the qualities that made them cruel or selfish to begin with. None of that depth is in Cinder.

And the love story is so flat. The prince sees Cinder and THAT’S ALL HE NEEDS TO LIKE/LOVE HER.

I felt like it was such a waste of a neat sci-fi idea. Sort of **SPOILERS** Cinder is the Lunar princess and can challenge the evil queen. But she’s been hidden away her whole life and has to deal with being a cyborg that people hate. But this whole big surprise is supposed to, you know, actually surprise the readers later on in the book. It’s the whole point. But I literally knew the moment they introduced the idea of a hidden princess in the beginning of the book because there was ABSOLUTELY NO SUBTLY.

That being said I MAY still read book two in the series because my friend is telling me too and supposedly it GETS A LOT BETTER. We shall see.

 

Okay, if you stuck with me through all of that you are extremely awesome! Here’s what’s to come next week:

  1. A post early in the week about life as a recent graduate. New studio tour and all 🙂
  2. An unboxing of my first Illumicrate!!
  3. A post on books I plan to read in June.

Catch you all later. 🙂

May Reading Wrap-Up Part 1

Hello everyone!

So I got behind a bit on posting in May. But SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED. I’ve read a lot of books, I attended Sarah J. Maas’ event for A Court of Mist and Fury, I’ve packed up my entire house because I am moving in FOUR DAYS, I started my online business, and a lot more.

So let me dive into wrapping May up.

First of all, I finished the final three Harry Potter books.

I am such a fan already. Harry Potter will probably forever be my favorite character of all-time. Of course, there are other characters that are fantastic (Dumbledore, Hermione, Dobby, the entire Weasely family), but Harry has a special place in my heart.

Spoilers will follow now: 

I loved Harry the moment he faced Voldemort at the end of Goblet of Fire.

“He knew one thing only, and it was beyond fear or reason: He was not going to die crouching here like a child playing hide-and-seek; he was not going to die kneeling at Voldemort’s feet . . . he was going to die upright like his father, and he was going to die trying to defend himself, even if no defense was possible. . . .”

I was sitting in a coffee shop while I read that and I was crying. A lot. Harry’s strength of character and bravery is outstanding. The bravery of so many of the HP characters is beautiful. I think that is what made the final book so hard. All the characters who died did so bravely, for the greater good. And it broke my heart. Such a fantastic series.

Okay, Spoilery talk over. If you haven’t read the Harry Potter series yet, you definitely need to! I envy you, and feel free to comment as you start that adventure.

Next series that I read was:

THRONE OF GLASS by Sarah J. Maas.

Okay. So. I’m cheating a little bit by listing Heir of Fire here, because I’m only half way done with it, but that’s okay, I think.

I’m going to do this in a list form of reasons why I love this series:

  1. Caelena is a badass feminist character. She is tough, powerful and not defined by her romantic relationships
  2. Caelena is an assassin. This is the premise of the series. And Sarah J. Maas does not shy away from the brutality and the ugliness of that. I went into this series wanting realism and not a white-washed version of violence and war.
  3. And a final reason is that the characters are not stereotypes. Caelena is a girly-girl who loves buying things and eating sweat things. She is a strong (both emotionally and physically) girl, who is also very feminine, much like Buffy Summers (If you haven’t seen Buffy the Vampire Slayer yet, check it out while it’s on Netflix. Especially if you like the Throne of Glass series!

I am going to pause here. The Part 2 to my May wrap up (which will include the final few books I will be reading this month) will be posted tomorrow. It will include pictures and insider info on the ACOTAR series and ACOMAF book signing, new on my new Nerd Skirt business, and my review of Cinder, the first novel in the Lunar Chronicles, that I binged read last night because apparently everyone needs to read the series.

Thanks for reading!

Leave a message in the comments and tell me

  1. Who your favorite Harry Potter character is and why?
  2. Damien or Chaol?? I know. Not fair.

Bye!