RIP, The NE Portland Where I Grew Up

_DSC6107 by Jennifer Vo-Nguyen

I’ve lived in NE Portland for my entire 22 years of life. I remember when I was little, my neighborhood consisted of mostly African Americans and Latino families. The entire apartment complex that’s right next to my house mainly consisted of African Americans whom my siblings and I made friends with and invited over to our house. My entire neighborhood was filled with black-owned businesses like barber shops, bars, and little convenient shops. But as of today, all of that is gone.   

It wasn’t until recently that my siblings and I became old enough to fully grasp the concept of gentrification, especially because we watched it unfold right before our eyes. We had a conversation about how our neighborhood quietly transformed so much throughout the years but we didn’t notice it until now. The apartments next to my house are now   inhabited by mostly white people, the only black neighbors I have are the people right across from my house, who have a huge, colorful mural of Prince painted on their garage. The convenience store that was once owned by a black family has turned into a “hipster” brunch restaurant.

It’s very sad to see the community of people that I grew up with slowly disappear. I honestly don’t feel like this is my neighborhood anymore. It’s not the NE Portland that I know. On a positive note, I’ve done research and found that there has been lots of work being done to try to de-gentrify my neighborhood. But I hope the issue of gentrification in Portland gets brought up more in conversations because it’s moving our city in the wrong direction and needs to be addressed.

 

Not Many People at Work Look Like Me

_DSC6107 by Jennifer Vo-Nguyen

Over the summer, I worked at my first internship at a marketing and advertising agency. It was great. The people were nice, I learned a lot about the career that I’m trying to pursue and I gained so much experience from it. But since the first day that I stepped into the office, I couldn’t help but notice one thing: Nearly everyone there was white.

I’ve worked many jobs before. Regular minimum-wage jobs like stores at the mall, and diversity has never been an issue there. But since this is my first job in a professional environment, it really opened my eyes to the lack of diversity in the professional working world. Everyone at my internship treated me well and my race has never been a problem or affected my work, but I still couldn’t help but feel somewhat out of place. It was like a cloud of discomfort that filled the entire atmosphere for me every day at work. It feels lonely when you don’t really see reflections of yourself on a daily basis. There were only three people of color at this office: myself, and two other girls who were also Asian. I talked about this issue with one of them and they felt the same way I did.

From this experience, I had to ask myself: What can I do as a person of color to improve the issue of diversity in the workplace? More importantly, how can I use this struggle to work harder towards my career goals and help others who face the same problem? I’ve looked online and found that there are so many other individuals who have dealt with this issue. It’s great to know that I’m not alone. Perhaps in the future, I want to work with organizations that offer resources that help people of color, specifically students, get into the career that they are trying to pursue. I have found some great internship programs and organizations based in Portland that do just that, and I’m happy that they exist. It’s a great starting point to tackle this rarely talked about, but important, problem.

Internship Fever

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

When I started this fall term as a junior, I was bitten by the internship bug. Portland boasts so many great businesses and opportunities for internships. Luckily, PSU offers students a way to find potential employers. Handshake has hundreds of employers with job and/or internship openings. I recently found an on-campus job through Handshake and have discovered a couple of summer internships that I’ll definitely apply to. 

PSU also recently held a career and internship fair. I always found career fairs more awkward and stressful than anything. I would wander around aimlessly and always leave feeling unaccomplished. Once I found out Handshake lists all the attending employers, it changed my approach. Before any career fair, I peruse Handshake and find the employers hiring my major. From there, I narrow down which ones I really need to visit based on how their business fits my own career path. It makes the whole experience much more focused, efficient, and less stressful once I’m actually at the fair.

Even though it’s only fall term, some summer internship deadlines are fast approaching. I scroll through Handshake often to keep updated on deadlines and new opportunities as they come up. So far, I’ve been able to find internship opportunities that really align with my career focus, and I’ve never been more excited. Now, it’s all about applying and hoping for the best!

How I Deal With Stress

_DSC6107 by Jennifer Vo-Nguyen

This summer has been the most stressful summer I’ve ever had. I was balancing two jobs and an internship all at once and it was quite chaotic to say the least.  I remember asking myself, “How do people actually deal with stress in a healthy way?” I know there are people out there who deal with way worse than what I was dealing it, but I was genuinely curious about how people handle this type of mental frustration. I wanted to know what healthy coping mechanisms people use when they’re stressed, so I did research and found that these are the methods that worked the best for me:

1) Go on walks or long drives:

I preferably like driving for a long period of time with no destination with the music blasted. This helps me a lot and gives me a time to think and clear my mind. However, the most energy and cost efficient method is to go on a long walk. It not only gives me my workout for the day, but it gives me a time to just breathe in the air and think.

2) Watch a funny movie or videos

I love a good laugh every now and then but I especially love it when I’m feeling stressed out and need my mood brightened up a little. I would go on either YouTube or Netflix and find the stupidest thing I could watch that will give me a laugh.

3) Get a manicure, facial, massage or any type of beauty and health service

For me, getting a manicure not only makes me feel better because my nails will look good, but it’s also relaxing. Same with getting a facial. It cleanses your skin and it feels so good when your face is getting massaged. And of course, getting a full body massage feels heavenly and actually may improve your sleep quality and mood.

4) Talk it out

One of the methods that I find most effective is simply talking it out with someone. I have a few people who I can always depend on when I need some advice or feedback on my problems. This way, I don’t bottle things up and suffer silently.  

5) Sleep

I saved the best for last. Sleeping is my favorite method to feel better from stress. Sleeping in general is one of my favorite activities to do, actually. For a short amount of time, you forget about your problems and the world stops for a few hours.

 

The Vegetarian Lifestyle

_DSC6107 by Jennifer Vo-Nguyen

I have officially been vegetarian for a year and seven months. The decision to transition to this diet was random and spontaneous, but one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. I chose to cut meat out of my diet because I simply wanted some sort of change. At the time, I was going through a lot of struggles and decided that I needed to make some sort of difference in the way I was living, so I started with my diet.

I know that changing  what I eat wasn’t going to affect my personal problems in any way, but it was still a small step that would get the ball rolling for me to make bigger steps. Since then, I have not gone back to being a carnivore, and at this point, I feel like I would never go back.

I’m actually so grateful to be living in this hipster of a city because the vegetarian options for food are endless. Every restaurant that I’ve gone to in Portland has had at least one vegetarian and even vegan and gluten-free options, and it is such a blessing. The bad thing about this is that I got so comfortable and confident that wherever I go there will be vegetarian-friendly food that I forget that this is only a norm in Portland. When I took a trip to Vegas a month ago, I went to a restaurant and was shocked to find that there were absolutely no vegetarian options whatsoever. For vegetarians and vegan, we’re lucky to live in Portland.

I’m not a die-hard, vegan and animal rights activist or anything but I do encourage people to transition to this diet if they can. No, you won’t magically have clear skin or lose 10 pounds in a day but you may (keyword here is “may”) reduce your chances of getting diabetes, lower your cholesterol, and overall feel “cleaner.”

If you are hesitant about making this change, maybe you should try it out for week or maybe even a month and see how you like it. Who knows? Maybe you’ll end up sticking to it and like me, feel like you made one of the best decisions of your life.

 

The Great Unknown

IMG_7864 by Molly MacGilbert

I’m graduating in 11 days. The emotion that arises when I think about this fact can only be expressed as a cross between a celebratory squeal of freedom and a blood-curdling Hitchcock scream. The question I’ve been asked at an increasing frequency in recent months, weeks and days provokes a similar cocktail of excitement and terror: “What’s next?”

Really, the person who has asked me this question the most is myself. And despite the ominous tick-tocking of the clock of my undergraduate education, the answer remains: I don’t know. I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. And regardless of my search for answers and the anxiety that arises when I come up short, I think I’m becoming more okay with not knowing.

From a young age, there’s so much pressure to know what we want to be when we grow up. We grow up playing house and prescribing careers to our Barbie dolls, from pastry chef to firefighter to fairy princess. Our high school years are geared toward preparing for college, and most of us start applying our junior year. I don’t know about you, but at age 16 I could hardly plan my breakfast, let alone pinpoint the career path I was supposed to follow for the remaining (hopefully) several decades of my existence. Which is probably why my college years have been full of indecision, confusion, change, dropping out and transferring.

But with every stressful semester and unpleasant job, I’ve gotten a little closer to figuring out what I want. And even if we never figure out what we want to be when we grow up, I think that’s okay. I’m pretty sure no matter how old I get, I’ll be stumbling blindly through life with more questions than answers. And anyone who honestly thinks they have all the answers is someone I neither want to be nor be around. Life is inherently mysterious and ridiculous, and we might as well accept that.

The one thing I know I’m doing after graduation is taking a well-earned road trip down the Pacific coast. Not only does this give me an opportunity to get a little less pale, it also gives me an opportunity to run away from my anxieties and put off the job search until July. Cheers to that—and cheers to the great unknown.

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.