Friday brain-melt

The job interview was yesterday, and… I have no clue about it. Here’s the run-down:

* 3 separate interviews with 3 different members of the team. – Those all seemed to go pretty well and I think I made a good impression on all of them.
* Writing test. – I think I kicked ass. (Actually, Dave’s boss told me that mine was way better than the other candidate’s that he saw. Nice to have the affirmation.)
* Lunch with Dave, his boss, and another engineer. – Fun. And the food was awesome. (Japanese, one of my favorites.)
* Teleconference interview. Singular: interview. With 3 people at the same time. Yeah. Three engineers in two remote offices (two guys in Texas, one guy in California), who btw were all asking me questions at the same time. – Holy mother of God, that was intimidating. For one thing, since it was on the phone, I couldn’t read anyone’s facial expressions and see if they were responding well to what I was saying. For another, two of the three guys aren’t native English speakers (one guy is French, and the other one is… I don’t know, maybe Indian? I couldn’t place his accent), and the conference room speaker phone was fuzzy, so I think some things might’ve gotten lost in translation. But besides that, some of their questions just threw me because they were completely not “technical writer”-y questions and it was just really, really strange.

The whole interview process took about 7 hours (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and was unbelievably exhausting. I was showered and in my pajamas before 6:30 last night. It kicked my butt, to say the least.

So, honestly? I have no idea how it went. I just hope I find out one way or the other soon, because I hate waiting. Patience is not one of my virtues, to say the least.

Moving on! Guess what we’re doing tomorrow?

(Apologies if this song gets stuck in your head for 10,000 years. We’ve been singing it around here for days.)

So, yeah. The North Carolina Zoo is in Asheboro, which is about 60 or so miles from here. It’s about the halfway point between here and Charlotte, so my brother and sister are going to drive over and meet up with us there. Catie is unbelievably psyched. I can’t tell if she’s more excited about seeing Tracy and Chris, or if it’s going to see all the animals, but either way, she’s practically bouncing off the walls about it.

You can expect about a million pictures when we get back. Should be fun! Hope everyone has a great weekend!

my expert phone interview tips

I’ve had three or four job interviews over the phone in the past week, and when I started thinking about it, I realized that I’ve probably had hundreds of them in my lifetime. I usually interview pretty well over the phone, and it usually gets me to the next step, which is the in-person interview.

So, since I’m starting to think of myself as somewhat of an expert on job interviews, here are a few of my tips. You know, just in case you happen to be in the job market yourself.

1. If you have small children at home, get rid of them. Find a sitter or whatever, but nothing is going to make you sound unprofessional faster than your 2 1/2 year-old shrieking, “Mommy! I need more juice, pweeeeez!!!” in the background. Personally, I take Catie to a drop-in daycare facility that’s only a mile or two from our house. It costs $8 an hour, and I consider it money well spent.

I did one interview on a day that Dave happened to be working from home, so I let him watch Catie and I locked myself in our guest room for my interview. Of course, Catie had a huge screaming tantrum while I was on the phone because she wanted “Moooommyyyy!!!”, and I’m pretty sure that the interviewer didn’t hear her because Dave did a good job of keeping her at the other end of the house, but I could hear her, and it was more than a little distracting.

2. Tend to all personal needs before the interview. That means go ahead and use the bathroom, so when your 10-minute interview runs for over an hour, you aren’t doing the pee-pee dance around your living room by the end of it. Not that I have any experience with that one myself. *ahem*

3. Have a glass of water nearby, in case you get dry-mouth. Note that this does not apply to soda, as that will likely just make you burp during the interview. And most interviewers – I’m guessing – deduct points for belching. Water, though, probably won’t make you burp and it’s better for you anyway.

4. Don’t try to multitask. During one of my interviews, I thought that I would take advantage of the fact that Catie was at daycare and tidy up the living room during my interview. It’s not like putting toys in the toy box requires a whole lot brain power, right? Um, wrong. It didn’t take long to realize that I wasn’t really hearing anything that the interviewer was saying, so I stopped, sat down and concentrated on making my best possible phone presentation.

5. Don’t curse during the interview. This might seem really obvious, but you’d be surprised. Years ago, I had an interview right after a major dental thing, and I was on painkillers, which is my excuse for this huge blunder. But I said the word “crap” in the middle of the interview – I honestly cannot remember the context or why I said it, but I know I did. The interviewer kind of paused for a second, then wrapped up our conversation and I never heard from them again. So, yeah. Learn from my mistakes, y’all.

There you have it. Clearly I missed my calling as a career counselor, no?

on the prowl (for a job)

Last fall I got a part-time job doing some freelance technical writing for a small software company that’s based here in Raleigh. I enjoyed the work that I did for them, and I was excited for some of the projects that they had coming up. However, they’ve had some major employee turnover in the last month or so, and now it seems that things like “have our freelance writer produce more documentation about our awesome software” and “pay our freelance writer’s invoices” have gotten pushed to the back burner. It sucks, but what can you do?

So, new year, new opportunities. I decided to start looking for another job. Obviously I’d prefer to work from home, but I’m not opposed to an office job either. I started sending out resumes, but I figured that it would take a long time to find something that would be a good match for me. And suddenly this week, I’ve come across two different jobs that both sound really good, both companies seem very interested in me, and I’m not sure which one sounds better.

Job A: Entirely work from home, and while it’s in the IT industry, it’s a side that I have absolutely no experience with, but it sounds like it would be a LOT of fun to me. And even though it’s work-from-home, it would involve a lot of talking on the phone, so I’d still get that need for adult interaction fulfilled, and not feel all isolated and hermit-like (which I know is a downfall of a lot of work-from-home jobs). However, the pay is just so-so – it would be more than enough to cover daycare expenses and still have some money left over, which I guess is the main goal.

Job B: It’s an office job, but it’s straight up technical writing, which is what I’m used to. (And I really enjoy technical writing, so that’s not a bad thing.) It would challenge me, which I love. And the salary would be… well, a lot more than the Job A, that’s for sure. It’d probably be enough to bump us into another tax bracket.

Now keep in mind, I don’t have hard offers for either of these jobs, I’m just in the early stages of interviewing with them. But, how do I choose between two seemingly great opportunities? Do I go for the work-from-home job, and take a chance on my gut instinct that’s telling me this would be a good fit for me? Or do I stick with the side of the industry that I know, and accept that security (and ok, the money) in exchange for having to commute to an office every day? Is it all about the dollah-dollah bills? Or is job flexibility the key to happiness?

How would you choose?

Random Friday thoughts

With headings, Mimi Smartypants-style.


I had a job interview today. The job would actually be pretty good – not super-exciting, but ok; I’m qualified for it, the people seem nice, etc. And the interview went really well, I won’t be surprised if they make me an offer. But I think I’ve talked myself out of it simply for the fact that it’s a full-time office job, and the office is over 30 miles away. That’s a long-ass commute. Especially if it means that Catie would be going to daycare full-time, tacking an extra 45-ish minutes onto the beginning and end of each workday just for the drive? I don’t think I want to do that.

Although, I would get to pass this sign every day, which might make it worth it.
I hear it makes for a really crappy commute *rimshot*
Yes, I actually pulled over to take that picture. Don’t judge me. (Oh, be sure to hover your mouse over that pic so you can see my Flickr caption. I’m kind of ridiculously proud of myself for my juvenile sense of humor.)

Anyway, I figure that any job interview is good practice for the next one, which might actually be for a job that I do want. So, eh. Moving on.


Of the two days that Catie went to daycare this week, one day was great and the other day not-so-great. On the really good day, Nicole (our daycare provider) set Catie and Kiersten (Nicole’s daughter who is Catie’s age) up with some toys in Kiersten’s room, and then Nicole left them alone, but listened to them from the next room. She said that they played really nicely together for a long time. They talked to each other, role-played with their Little People action figures, and had an overall great time. So that’s good.

One of the things that Nicole mentioned last week, which was really bothering me, was that Catie often seems to be on the verge of tears when she’s at daycare. I couldn’t figure out why that would be, since that’s not her normal personality and Catie tells me all the time that she loves going to Miss Nicole’s house.

Then the big “DUH!” hammer smacked me upside the head. Remember how I mentioned recently that Catie goes to bed way too late for a 2 year-old? Well, on normal mornings where she’s just hanging out at home with me, she wakes up between 6:30 and 7 a.m., she has some milk, and then we go back to sleep for at least another hour. But on daycare days, we just get up and go. So, hi there, Big Fat Obvious Answer that I overlooked: she’s tired! Of course she’s tired! DUH! I’m kind of mortified that it took me this long to notice that.

So, we’re working on bedtime. I’m trying to bump her bedtime back about 10-15 minutes earlier every night. Last night she was in bed at 10:00, tonight I’ll aim for 9:45. I know you 8:00 bedtimers are still appalled that my child is up that late, but whatever. That’s the first time she’s been in bed that early since we left Washington. (Hey, maybe that’s the problem! She’s still on Pacific time! Even though we haven’t lived there in over a year. Hmm.)


Catie has gone Christmas crazy. She’s absolutely berserk for the cartoons, the decorations, everything. And it’s only going to get worse because the child is essentially having FOUR Christmases this year. No exaggeration.
* 1st Christmas – Next week, when my family is here for Thanksgiving. Since we’ll be in the UK next month, they want to do our big celebration and gift exchange now. Which is fine with me, really.
* 2nd and 3rd Christmas – With Dave’s dad and mom, respectively. I guess this is when divorce pays off, the grandkids get two sets of presents from two sets of grandparents. Score!
* 4th Christmas – When we get home from the UK, because you know, Santa understands vacation plans, and he knows that suitcase space is limited. He doesn’t want to deliver Catie’s new toy kitchen to England and make Mommy & Daddy haul it through customs. So Santa will reschedule delivery for, I don’t know, maybe New Year’s Eve. It depends on how jet lagged we are tired he is after making all those Christmas Eve deliveries.

So, yeah, she is WILD for Christmas. It doesn’t help that Christmas decorations are currently everywhere, so she sees Christmas stuff every time we leave the house. She loves it. Everything is about “Santa and reindeer, and look, it’s a snowman, Mommy! A SNOOOWMAAAN!!!” It’s awesome to see her get so excited about it, because it reminds me of how magical Christmas was when I was little, but it’s also completely exhausting.

My Little Elf

She’s an awfully cute little elf, though.