Monday, October 31, 2016

Officially Official

So today I went into Starbucks, filled out my paperwork, and got my first scheduled hours for training, Thursday and Friday 10-1. Next week, I'll have a much fuller schedule. I'm told I can have as many hours as I can handle, which is a very good thing, and it seems I can pretty much set my own schedule as far as timing goes, which is a truly great thing. There's no way I want to be traveling to work at 4:30 in the morning in Philly the middle of winter (or anytime really).

I already knew that Starbucks is a pretty progressive company, but really I had no idea. Full benefits for working over 20 hours, free food, coffee, and lots of other perks, plenty of opportunity to move up and grow, and a company culture that not only accepts diversity in its workforce but actively welcomes and promotes it.

The last part is really a new thing in my experience. I've worked for plenty of companies that say they hire and fire without regard to race, sexuality, gender ID, etc., but never one which actually goes out of its way to say not just "We don't care what you are." but takes it a step further and says "There's a place for you here." There's a big difference between just being tolerated and actually being welcomed. For me, as a trans woman, that's new.

So yeah, I'm feeling pretty good about this new job. If I can just get the housing thing worked out, I'll feel even better. I think I'll give my landlord a buzz tomorrow and see if we can work something out.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Call Comes...

...and I got the job!

Next Monday, I go in to fill out paperwork and then at some point soon after that, I'll start.

Now I guess I can tell you. I'm gonna be a barista. Yeah Starbucks, and a pretty busy one too. When I was there at about 3pm yesterday there was a fairly long line so it's pretty safe to assume that this place does a good business throughout the day. That's not surprising since it's a corner store in one of the busiest areas of Center City.

Busy is good. I like busy. Busy makes the day go by faster, plus if and when there's an opportunity to move up it's always an advantage to have experience in a well-trafficked store, especially when you live and work in a major city. It's much easier to find people who can handle slow and easy. Being able to deal with fast and busy is much more valuable, especially here.

Now I have to make a Jersey run at some point this week and hit a few places for things like some (more) black tops and a new pair of sneakers to wear to work. My current pair are nice and comfy but they look like shit.

Here's the funny thing: I don't even know how much I'll be making yet. I guess I was so happy to finally be seriously considered and hired I forgot to ask. I guess it can wait until I go in on Monday.

Holy crap, I have a job. An actual, non-freelance, show-up-for-work-and-get-an-actually-decent-paycheck-with-benefits job.

Cool (coffee) beans.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Job Interview Update

So I had my interview today, and I think it went really well. It's for a position at a small place in Center City. The manager who interviewed me is pretty new to the company and is in the process of trying to put together a good team to run this store. That's the best kind of situation to be in as an applicant because you're coming into something new, not trying to replace or compete with others.

She asked good questions and I think my answers were pretty good. I also think there was a little retail manager bonding happening. I get her and she gets me, and I think that came through during the interview. It's an important thing when you're looking to put together a retail store team. She knows that I've been where she is so aside from the actual specifics of my job duties she's not going to have to put a lot of effort into training me. That makes her life easier. Also, she knows that I have experience with training retail staff so once I get comfortable in the job I can probably help out there as well. In short, I think I managed to successfully talk myself up and highlight the benefits of hiring me without sounding like I was bragging or narcissistic, which is exactly what I was trying to do.

There's no way to be certain of course, but I have a strong feeling that I aced the interview. She promised me a call tomorrow before 2. With any luck, tonight will be my last night among the almost totally unemployed. I do see potential in this job and with this company, but even if that proves not to be the case, it's almost always easier to get hired when you're already working somewhere.

So, I guess I'll know and will report more tomorrow. Right now, it's almost time for Maddow.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Clearing Hurdles

On Monday, I'll get to do something which until now I haven't been able to successfully manage since I moved here:

I have a job interview. An actual, face-to-face, come-on-down-and-meet-the-boss, opportunity to score myself some work. It's part-time at a local retail establishment which I don't think it's appropriate to name unless and until I actually get the job.

Sure, I wish it was for something full-time, but hey, I gotta start somewhere and this is a job I know I can do and be good at. It's also for a company with a pretty progressive rep and I know the trans thing isn't going to be an issue. It shouldn't matter, of course, but it does.

If there's anything I've learned looking for work here in Philly, it's that too many employers just don't want to hire a trans person. It's no surprise that they're not open about it. After all, it's illegal here to refuse to hire someone because they're trans so no smart employer is ever going to admit to it. Still, there are plenty of clues which tell me that's what's been going on.

Many of the jobs I've applied for I'm fully qualified for, some even overqualified, especially the ones in retail. Yet in no case until now have I gotten an actual interview. Instead, I get a "Thanks for applying, but..." form email in just about every case.

Having been a retail manager who's made and participated in hiring decisions myself, I have a good idea of what companies are looking for as well as what constitutes a red flag. I've seen candidates rejected for all kinds of reasons, but most commonly for two things: Potential longevity on the job, and physical appearance.

The first one is usually when the job is something that will require an investment in time and (sometimes) money to train a new hire. Many employers are reluctant to make that kind of investment in an employee they believe will quit as soon as something better comes along. This includes young people who will likely be off to college soon as well as those who (like me) also work in other industries.

The other is tied up in how a potential new hire appears and how management thinks they might be seen by customers. Sometimes, it's genuine racism or anti-LGBT sentiment where a manager believes that customers don't want to see a person of color or someone visibly Queer behind the counter. Other times, it's when someone comes in for an interview inappropriately dressed.

While racism and anti-LGBT bigotry are always the wrong things to base hiring decisions on, I have far less sympathy for those who dress inappropriately for interviews. Showing up for a job interview in clothes that make you look like you just walked off the basketball court, a street corner, or out of a club sends a message you don't respect the job, that getting hired isn't important enough to you to dress to impress.

No one expects an applicant for a low-level retail position to show up in Brooks Brothers or Lord and Taylor, but you can say a lot to a potential employer by wearing an outfit that indicates respect, both for yourself and for the company you're hoping to work for. I've seen many potentially good candidates rejected out-of-hand because they showed up in baggy pants and a backward cap, a skirt that was too short, a top that was too revealing, too much or too slutty makeup, etc. These cases can often be sad, because even though the applicant might be fully qualified, no one's going to consider their qualifications once it's been determined that their manner of dress is inappropriate and/or disrespectful.

It's important to remember that regardless of the level of the position, you're applying for work at a place of business, one which the manager interviewing you is highly invested in. If your appearance doesn't reflect the same kind of respect for that job and that business your interviewer has, you might as well just turn around and go home because you're not getting the job.

Simply put, managers hire people who they believe are going to make their own jobs easier and make them look good. If you don't convey that message through how you present yourself for an interview, a good manager will keep looking for someone else who does.

In many cases, trans applicants start with one strike against us the moment we walk in the door. We're trans, and that itself can bring with it a fair amount of baggage in terms or who and what people think we are and how we live our lives. If you can get past the hurdle of actually getting the interview in the first place, proper presentation at an interview can go a long way toward quelling those kinds of fears and inspiring your interviewer to judge you based on your qualifications rather than your trans status.

I've already got two possible outfits picked out for Monday. I'll make a final decision that morning, when I see what the weather's like. For this interview, business casual is the look I'm going for.

Fingers crossed. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Here We Go Again...

Yeah, I know it's been a while since I posted here, but I was just in the mood so here goes...

I just found out that I'm going to have to move again soon. Apparently, my landlord thinks she can do better on rent by adding a few appliances and jacking up the rent so I have until February to find a new place to live.

Five months is a decent amount of time to find a new place but it sucks, and of course it's going to be expensive.

Honestly, I like it here in Philadelphia,and I can't really afford more than I'm paying now. And yet, suddenly all of my options are open once again and I find that intriguing. I'd definitely be willing to move, even far away from this area, for the right job.

That said, if I can find a place I can afford I'm seriously considering moving back to Jersey. Even after seven months here, New Jersey still feels like home. Much to my surprise, that still matters to me more than I thought it would.

I know New Jersey. I feel centered there. A lot of my friends and family are there. I do enjoy living in Philly but it makes me feel kind of detached from the rest of my world.

I wish I could find an affordable situation in New York City. It's another place where I feel centered and at home.

I dunno...I guess I need to give this more thought and do some research.

Leads and suggestions are most welcome.