Job Hunting By The Numbers

img_7471.jpg By Naomi Kolb

As graduation approaches, I find myself in the same boat as many of my fellow soon-to-be-alumni: I still don’t have a job or other obligation lined up for after graduation on June 17th. In the hopes of securing a job soon, I thought that I’d share part of my job-hunting experience. . . by the numbers.

  • Days since I submitted my first job application: 60
  • The number of applications that a Career Services Adviser told me was average to submit before landing an interview: 25-30
  • The number of applications that my coworker told me was average to submit before landing a job: 50-60
  • Applications that I’ve submitted so far: 15
  • Applications that I haven’t heard back about at all: 10
  • Positions that I’ve interviewed for: 2
  • Job offers that I’ve received: 0

Hopefully sharing my experience will help give my peers a better idea of what to expect when job hunting in Portland! Applying for jobs while still being a full-time college student is stressful to say the least and entirely unattainable for a lot of us. As many enter into our final days at PSU, I just wanted to say congratulations to all that are graduating and good luck on whatever your next endeavor may be, even if you don’t quite know what it is yet.

An Ode to the Deviants

img_7471.jpg By Naomi Kolb

I posted a picture of my graduation from community college on Instagram almost exactly two years ago to the day. The caption for my photo read, “official graduate of @inverhills with my associate of arts in gender and women’s studies. @portlandstate I’m coming for you next!” It wasn’t particularly unusual that I transferred to PSU from a community college, but what makes my situation a bit different than most is the fact that I earned my associate’s degree before I’d even earned my high school diploma. This means that when I graduate from PSU next month, I’ll only be 20 years old.

My educational path has not been traditional and I’m rather proud of that. Most of my immediate family has also taken a nontraditional path to higher education. My mom went back to school to get her bachelor’s and master’s degrees when she was a single parent in her 30’s. My brother switched his major twice and was a super, super, super senior by the time he graduated. They inspired me to pursue higher education and assured me that it was OK to take a path less traveled.

In part thanks to them, I’ll be the youngest person in my family to graduate from college with my bachelor’s degree. So to my mom, to my brother, to myself, and to anyone else who deviates from the four years that it’s “supposed” to take to graduate: this is an ode to you. There are plenty of ways to go about getting your degree, and as long as you do it in the way that makes the most sense for you, it shouldn’t matter if it takes you much less or much more time than the usual allotment of four years.

An “Honor”able Legacy

img_7471.jpg By Naomi Kolb

Every time that I see the Simon Benson House in the park blocks I’m reminded that graduation draws closer with each passing day. Today the sign on the building reads “53 days until you are alumni,” and that number will only continue to dwindle until the day comes that we don our caps and gowns. Amidst all of the other chaos of senior year, I’m currently in the throes of writing my senior thesis as I’m a member of the University Honors College. Instead of doing a senior capstone in the university studies program, I’ve gotten to pick a research topic of my choice and craft an entire thesis about it, a task that is as daunting as it will hopefully be rewarding.

Writing a thesis can be a lonely process, especially when the honors college has felt so separate from the rest of the university in many ways. When my peers who aren’t in the honors college ask about my capstone and I say that I’m actually writing a thesis instead, the conversation oftentimes comes to a screeching halt. I’ve noticed an air of misconception surrounding the honors college, one that unfortunately leads many of my peers to think that those who participate in honors are in some way elitist or exclusionary.

In my last term at PSU, I’d actively like to push back against that stereotype through both my thesis about queerness and veganism as well as in my everyday interactions with my peers. At its core, the honors college is about a hunger for knowledge, learning to conduct research, and preparing students for life after PSU. These are things that should be accessible to all of us as PSU students, and that’s what I want people to think of when they hear about the honors college, rather than a reputation that’s elitist or exclusionary. In the 53 days that I have left to leave my mark on PSU before I’m an alumni, this is the legacy that I’m hoping to establish as an honors student.

Scheduling Spring

by Emma Eberhart

Through and through I am a planner. I live for organization and tidiness. Arranging objects via color, alphabetically, by size or shape gets me ridiculously excited. I view my love for organization as a strength; however, it is definitely also a weakness because I allow little room for sudden changes.

This spring term I may or may not have committed myself to one too many things. And by one too many things, I definitely mean like five or six. Despite spreading myself far too thin, I am determined to fulfill all of my commitments and do so with grace, ease, and the aid of caffeine. I am determined to schedule all of my time down to the minute and stick to it.

In order to manage 20 credit hours for school, two part-time jobs, and my personal life I am heavily relying on the amazing trifecta of: bullet journaling, to-do lists, and calendar apps. Bullet journaling and organizing your time and efforts can definitely be overwhelming, but I have found it is very much worth the stress.

If you’re looking for any organization inspiration, I recommend a Google or Tumblr search for “studyblr,” which is full of beautiful photos of color coded notes and schedules and charts and a whole lot of other stuff artistically organized.

Lobbying for a Cause

edit 12By Jesse Turner

On Tuesday the 28th, I joined Planned Parenthood, with whom I intern with their Teen Council program (a peer-to-peer sexual health education program) and five other organizations as a part of the Reproductive Health Equity Coalition to lobby state senators and representatives to pass House Bill 2232 which requires coverage for reproductive health services, procedures, medications, and devices for all Oregonians, insured and uninsured, documented or not. Planned Parenthood was a part of the Reproductive Health equity coalition so the Teen Council program got to join over 100 individuals who acted as citizen lobbyist for reproductive justice. We were split up by our districts and had pre-arranged meetings with our state senators and representatives. My senator was unavailable, but my representative, Janelle Bynum, was able to meet with us.

In preparation for Lobby Day, we had been told to think of why this bill is personally important to us. We would likely have five or six other individuals with us in the meeting so we would not have long to express to our representatives why we wanted their support. My district is fairly large, so I figured I would not have to speak much, if at all. That morning, I found my legislative captain, the person who had been trained for this event and was familiar with lobbying, and she asked me if I was ready to walk to the Capitol Building as our meeting time was coming up. I asked if we should wait for the rest of the group members. She said, “I think you’re the only one!” To my surprise, I was the only constituent from my district, and thus had the entire fifteen minutes to speak to Janelle Bynum, a woman I really admire and voted for.

I expressed to her why, as a young LGBTQ woman who works multiple jobs but still cannot afford all of the reproductive and health care services she would like, this bill is incredibly important to me. It wasn’t a particularly heart-wrenching narrative, but she listened to me and share her own support and concerns about the bill. I left her office feeling confident that she would support the bill, and excited that I was able to participate in my local government for something I cared about.

How to Talk to the Adults in Your Life About Tough Topics

edit 12  By Jesse Turner

I recently celebrated my sister’s birthday with much of my immediate and extended family. I have a very conservative family and given the current election, conservative political and social ideas are often a topic of conversation. It took roughly twenty minutes before Colin Kaepernick was brought up, and not in a positive way. As someone who is well-versed in ideological family conflicts, I am here to give you advice on talking to the older adults in your life about frightening new ideas like gender roles, feminism, and protesting.

I know you care about the adults in your life and you want to protect them from harmful, scary new ideas. But as the times change, so must the people. If you don’t talk to your parents about tough topics, they’ll seek the information elsewhere. Who do you want your parents talking to? Glenn Beck? Bill O’Reilly? I didn’t think so.

Always start by giving your parents the facts. Asking someone for their preferred gender pronouns when you meet them won’t hurt you. The United States will not burst into flames just because Colin Kaepernick exercised his constitutional right to kneel.  And no, Grandfather, the downfall of the American family did not begin because women were given the right to vote.

Next, address the many startling images the adults in your life may be seeing on television or on the internet. Tell them it’s really not OK to share that racist meme. Be sure to remain attentive and make sure they know you’re listening to their concerns. You may hear some of the following questions: “I don’t mind people being gay, but why do I have to see it all the time?” or “Why doesn’t Christopher Columbus get any respect anymore?” and the classic, “This is my country, why do I have to press 1 for English?” Now, you may want to respond to these questions with anger, but remember, they’re learning and you’re there to help them learn.

Do your part, and make talking with the conservative adults in your life a regular part of your day.

Stop Praising the University of Chicago

edit 12By Jesse Turner

This week,  University of Chicago Dean of Students John Ellison sent a letter to incoming freshmen saying that the university does not support “so-called trigger warnings” and “safe spaces, where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.” This is not a welcoming or inclusive letter.

Trigger/content warnings are not meant to warn people that differing opinions are meant to be shared. I have never seen a trigger warning used in this manner, despite many people’s beliefs that my generation is so weak that we can’t handle hearing an opinion even slightly different than our own. On social media, I have come across trigger and content warnings informing the reader that the following content will discuss things like abuse, suicide, sexual assault, and police brutality. I have never seen the content warning, “I am about to share a conservative opinion.” So stop believing trigger warnings are useless and a sign of weakness.

One of my professors at PSU used a very helpful trigger warning in her syllabus. She informed us that in a class about death, we would specifically be discussing Death with Dignity, suicide, and dying in low-income and marginalized communities. In no way was she saying, “Here’s what we will discuss so don’t take this class.” She was saying, “Here’s exactly what we will discuss, so proceed with caution and take time to prepare and take care of yourselves.” That’s what trigger warnings are. They are a cautionary step, not the end to a conversation. Yes, freedom of speech and freedom of expression are both integral and important. But why does someone else’s freedom of speech mean that I have to listen to and read every story and conversation about rape and child abuse that comes across my timeline? Am I really stifling your freedom of expression because for my own sanity I don’t want to read another story about Brock Turner getting away with only 3 months in prison?

Not wanting to hear about sexual assault and abuse constantly doesn’t make you weak, it makes you healthy. Stop praising the University of Chicago for not caring about the mental health of their students and instead taking a hurtful and deeply misinformed approach to content warnings and safe spaces.

What it’s like Being a Fat Girl

edit 12  By Jesse Turner

At almost 200 pounds, I am fat. I don’t call myself fat as an insult, I call myself fat because it is the reality of the way I look and the body I maneuver the world in. I am what feminist writer Roxane Gay calls “Lane Bryant Fat.” This means I am overweight but can still reasonably find clothes that fit me. However, as much as I have worked to accept the size that I am, I also call myself fat so I don’t have to hear other people call me fat. If I know I’m fat, I take the edge away from people who would use “fat” as an insult.

A lot of people would think I should not be OK with being overweight because I am not the “good kind of fat.” I don’t have a thyroid condition, and I am not actively working to lose weight. I like eating, and I don’t make a lot of time to exercise. When I get off work, I would rather take a nap than go to the gym.

Now, there are precautionary measures I take to make my thunderous size as minimally shocking to myself and others. I am sure to include pictures of my body on my Tinder so I don’t get the grimace from guys who didn’t realize I was fat when I first meet them. I only wear crop tops if I haven’t eaten in the last five hours so my stomach doesn’t especially stick out. I would hate to offend someone with something as unsightly as a stomach full of food. I psych myself up for at least 24 hours before I go out to bars, as being the “fat friend” requires especially steely nerves.

What I find weirdly troubling is that instead of using fat as an insult, I have noticed that some men like to point out my size, claim “thick girls” as their fetish, and expect me to take it as a compliment. Recently I had a guy online tell me “You’re very beautiful I’m sure you are told otherwise from…ostentatious people who don’t know what a real woman looks like.” First of all, real woman? I’m not a real woman, I’m actually a bundle of limbs sewn together and packed with straw. Second, I know you thought you were doing a good deed, but you’re not noble or brave because you find a fat girl attractive. Telling me that I should grateful for your compliments because most people would be insulting me is a slap in my fat face.

 

Here’s How Little I Know about Portland

By Jesse Turner

We all know Portland is white. Very white. I am white. I grew up in a very white neighborhood and went to some of, if not the, whitest public schools in Portland. And for years I was told that Portland was “politely racist.” None of us are openly racist, because different races live in different worlds. There’s no opportunity to be “openly racist” as a white person because you rarely ever encounter a non-white person. I didn’t learn until I was in college that black people were not legally allowed in Oregon under the state constitution until 1926 when the clause was finally repealed.

I now work in the juvenile correctional system, which means I work with a lot of young men who claim gang affiliation. I will now tell you just how white I am and admit that the other day I googled, “gangs in Portland” because although I had heard of several gangs in conversation with the youth I work with, I knew nothing of their history, nor could I keep them all straight. I grew up in Portland, I have lived here for 21 years, and a few days ago was the first time I had ever heard of Lil’ Smurf or Kerby Blocc or vice nights. Because I live in a completely different world. Gangs have only recently become a part of my reality, and only because I work with people who are a part of them.

I also work at a residential home for formerly incarcerated young men. One of the housemates, one who is gang affiliated, was recently arrested for armed robbery and because he is 19, he will go to prison. This person is Latino and so is the man he was arrested with. Their mugshots are featured on the Oregon Live article about their arrest. And I am not exaggerating when I say that every public comment on the article is race-related, the vast majority of which are negative. The top comment is “Jeez, Maybe Trump is right….” Another person says “this is why we need Trump to build the wall.” Scroll a little further down and you read “Dreamers. They’re just here to work.” A couple people call out these racist comments and they are bombarded with comments of being too “sensitive” and needing a “safe-space,” the argument of people with no empathy.

These are internet trolls and likely not an accurate representation of the whole of Portland. But I would encourage you to question the nature of “Portland Polite” when it comes to race. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away.

I Got Fired, Now What?

edit 12By Jesse Turner

For the first time in my life, I got “fired.” I put “fired” in quotation marks because it wasn’t an official firing. It was a volunteer practicum position and I was offered a different, more restricted position for this term but was told that I could no longer continue in the position I had been doing for the last ten weeks. I was told I was causing too many disruptions, enough that the practicum had to end immediately.

I don’t want to go into the details of the firing (maybe dismissal is a better word) but I will tell you that I cried on my drive home, barely restraining myself from crying in front of my supervisor. I felt as though I had lost part of myself in losing that position. I tie my work ethic so centrally to who I am. I take pride in the fact that I work two jobs while going to school full time. I take pride in my exhaustion. I brag about my transformation from a lazy, self-pitying person to someone who has tried her best to take control of my future. Getting fired does not fit into my personal narrative.

This was my first placement in the specific field of study I want to work in. What do I do now? This is the field I want to spend the rest of my life in. Sure, I can study it in a classroom, but maybe I’m truly not good enough. My supervisor told me that he understood my behavior did not come from a place of malicious intent and that with more experience, I would do much better. I cling to his statement because it feels like all I have. This position was so draining, it consumed my waking hours and still I loved it. I miss it.

Now I am in a new practicum position, in a different youth correctional facility. I had my period of mourning but then was forced to take my love for my previous position and work to get a new one. In this position I have met young, incarcerated men who face rejection every day, rejection that is often worse than my own, and yet they continue to persevere. One young man earned his high school diploma, associate’s degree, and two bachelor’s degrees in five years under incarceration. There is no better kick in the pants than seeing people accomplishing more in lockup than you are on the outs. So getting fired is not all bad. It was a hard experience and one I will feel the sting of for a while. But I have to take it as a bump in the road, a learning experience, and not the end. I love this field too much to be done with it now.