Caitlyn Jenner and the Water Cooler

The news and social media have been inundated with Caitlyn Jenner’s coming out and transition, so obviously it has become the hot topic around the water cooler at work.

If I had a dollar every time I walked by and overhead someone talk about her with the wrong pronouns, or something generally stupid, I could probably take a nice vacation. But I really don’t know people in other departments so I really didn’t feel like it was my place to speak up. This is frustrating in itself. Just because I’m a lesbian doesn’t mean I’m the pronoun, gender, and sexuality police.

Then it came up in my department. I was preparing for it, but hoping I didn’t need to interject. It’s not like most people were saying things purposely wrong or ignorant but it made me cringe nonetheless. My brain really started to race. Do I say something, and if I do speak up how do I not sound like a condescending asshole. Teaching moments are fast and fleeting, and a hard tone or a judgmental look could ruin the entire moment.

I really have a hard time finding the right time and the right place to speak up. When I’m with people I know and I’m comfortable with I’ll tell them they’re wrong in less than a heartbeat. Coworkers or strangers – am I being too aggressive? What is my tone like? Do I really need to speak up now? Surely someone else will speak up?

Eventually I put on my big girl pants and jumped into the conversation, not correcting their language, but just using the correct pronouns. And then something fantastic happened – they self-corrected their language. It’s like I had magical queer powers.

I do believe that most people want to be truly opened minded and understand. That if they say something wrong it’s out of ignorance and not maliciousness.  I’m not entirely naïve, I know that sometimes people are just bigoted and downright terrible. That sometimes you do have to hit people over the head with how wrong they are. Other times, luckily, you can guide the conversation in a way that lets people figure it out for themselves.

I’m proud of Caitlyn and her journey – that she (like many other LGBT celebrities) is empowering so many people to learn and grow into truly open-minded and understanding people.

Moving Forward, Moving On

This past weekend my girlfriend and I moved into a larger, much better place.

All of this moving has got me thinking about all of the movement in my life. Physically, psychologically, emotionally. It’s funny how the word ‘moving’ can have different connotations. Moving forward, backward, or in one place. I’ve need to move forward and move past people and decisions and disappointments.
I’m almost a professional at physically moving. This is the fourth time I’ve moved in about 4 years. Moving past disappointment has been the hardest for me. Getting close to getting a job, and then having to move past the rejection, frustration, and sadness of not getting an offer.
It’s strange feeling like parts of your life are moving in the correct direction while other parts are stuck in place. My organization is going steady. Moving to a nicer place with my girlfriend of 2+ years is definitely forward progression. Having a steady job for almost a year and contributing to bills and paying off loans is positive. Being two years into my recovery and working towards bettering myself is forward momentum.
But for some reason I’m feeling stuck in place. Big parts of me are moving forward but I can’t get unstuck from the disappointment of not getting a position in the non-profit world.
I guess I didn’t realize just how terrible I was at focusing on the many positive parts of my life. I didn’t want to become a person whose job defined who they are, but here I am being all mopey about a job that in reality isn’t all that bad.
It’s time for an attitude adjustment. I need to train myself to not dwell on the negatives and to solely focus on the plethora of good that it’s in my life.
I’m doing well. And that is good.

Dressing the Part

Luckily I have been going on several interviews for positions in the non-profit sector. Unfortunately, I haven’t been offered any of these positions. Feedback has shown me that my resume , experience, and interview answers have been on point. Which is great… and extremely frustrating at the same time. If I was doing something obviously and inherently wrong throughout my job search I could fix it. Is there something about how I’m presenting myself that is working against me, at least on a subconscious level?

I don’t think that any person interviewing me is actively thinking that I don’t ‘look’ experienced enough, but I do have a younger looking face. Also, I’m always extremely aware of how I look going into an interview as a woman. Women who wear no make-up are sometimes deemed unprofessional while women who wear too much make-up are written off as air heads. I feel like this dichotomy  is intensified in the non-profit sector. If I don’t wear make-up, its assumed that I don’t look like I’m taking the interview and organization seriously, but if I do wear make-up it could seem like I don’t fit into the non-profit culture. Is wearing a dress too girly, but wearing pants not professional enough?

Also, when I’m wearing pants and a button up shirt (my favorite go-to for interviews), I’m starting to become more concerned that with my short hair, that I look too gay. That if I don’t look feminine enough, that there is a bright sign over my head that is flashing LESBIAN in big bold letters.

Again, I really don’t think any of my interviewers are actively think that way, but it’s still something that is probably hindering my job search.

However, are there subconscious decisions  being made about me that are ruining my changes of getting a job in my field? I don’t think that my appearance is the only reason I haven’t gotten a job, but constantly being selected as 1 of 5 people interviewed out of 120 applications, then not getting the job over and over again, it makes me wonder.

Hopefully the tide will turn, and my efforts will pay off soon. In the mean time, I just have to keep plugging along, and wishing for the best.

How To: Write a Non-Profit Job Description

Job descriptions are your primary tool for letting external job candidates know what you as an organization are looking for; you want to make sure that the descriptions of what you are asking for are clear, precise, and realistic. For a great job description you will need:

1. An overview of your organization’s mission and goals

A potential hire wants to know if their passion and ideology match up with your non-profit’s.

2. A realistic job title

3. The position’s reporting relationship(s) and key responsibilities

Many sources state that 3-5 key responsibilities will give the job candidate a clear picture of what they would be doing, without going into excessive detail.

4. A list of qualifications

Divide the qualifications into “must haves” and “nice to have”. What is absolutely essential, and what would be an added bonus?

5. Benefits and salary

Within your budget limitations, what is the best offer you can make to a candidate?

Check out the Bridespan Group for great examples of job descriptions for various non-profit job descriptions. Good luck!


Trust Me, I Know What I’m Doing

I have been job hunting for a while, but I’ve only recently gotten called in for interviews. I’ve noticed that while people are impressed that I co-founded my own non-profit, my organization is appearing to be a double-edged sword.

I always get asked if I am going to continue my work with my organization. Yes, I am very loyal to my non-profit, but if you are paying me, I know where my priorities lie. I’m not going to spend my time at your office working on my non-profit, and then have to explain why my work for the office isn’t finished. I rock at time management, and I am used to doing non-profit emails at weird hours of the night. I went to graduate school, had two-part time jobs, and managed my non-profit. It may get a little crazy, but I do know how to handle it.

Also, I’ve been asked multiple times about what writing skills I possess. With my non-profit I’ve had to learn how to write everything from proposals to tweets to brochures to donor letters. This is probably going to sound arrogant, but if there is a type of writing that an organization needs, I’ve probably written at least 20 versions of it.

My favorite question is how I would deal with working underneath a person since I’ve  been my own boss within my organization. First off, I’ve had other jobs, and I certainly wasn’t not the head of the companies. Also, between board members, constituents, and my co-founder, there is a lot of people I have to answer to. It would be great if I sat on a throne and listened to only my thoughts… but even when I’m my own boss I have to report to and be accountable to multiple people.

There is a plethora of reasons why I’m lucky to have created my organization. One of these reasons is how I’ve been able to learn so many skills that are applicable inside and out of the non-profit sector. I’ve written grants, built websites, managed shipping logistics, coordinated volunteers, and so much more. I’ve had to report to people, and have people report to me.

I know what I’m doing, and it’s frustrating that I’m having difficulty ‘selling’ my skills to other people.  I know it’s a part of life. but having to constantly convince others you’re qualified for a job you already do is beyond frustrating.

Hopefully, as I continue the interviewing process, I will become more equipped to ‘show off’  my skills in a way that is appealing to companies and other non-profits. I know I’m awesome, I know my organization is awesome, I just need to get other people to see what I can bring to the table.