Wednesday, December 28, 2011

No Word Yet

I'm in Arizona for a few days. It has been two weeks since my interview and I have heard nothing! Yes, I called the other day to see what the decision was, but all I got was an answering machine.  I realize it is the holiday season and a lot of people are taking the time off, but they should not have told me they would be in touch in a week and not follow through. I am not discouraged by this however.

I had joined LinkedIn a few years ago but never completed the profile.  At the job center, they stressed the importance of LinkedIn as a way to network, which leads to referrals, which is the second best way to obtain employment, behind hiring from within. I have worked on my resume and profile on the site, requested connections from people I know and/or had worked with in the past.  This led to my reconnecting with a couple of my former "bosses" in the software industry and they were kind enough to give recommendations of my work habits.  As well, a surfing buddy saw my work history and informed me that his brother-in-law is a VP at a software company where I had worked as a temp a few years back. I was starting to see the value of LinkedIn!  I also realized that I wanted to get into the IT side of things as I have experience that could translate to that field.

Now, part of me does not want to pursue the hotel job.  A big part! I can't be picky though, and if they call me for a follow-up interview, I am there.

January 3rd is my skills evaluation workshop, I'm looking forward to that. I'm hoping that when I meet with my case worker I can start moving toward a position in the Information Technology field with minimal retraining!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Baby Steps

Last week was my interview for a position at a major chain hotel.  Supervisor of Guest Services.  Not the bottom, not the top, but probably the best starting point for me. I thought the interview went as well as I could expect.  I was confident and answered almost all questions without hesitation.  Except one.  I can't even remember the question at this point.  I admitted to the interviewer that I had a momentary brain fade and then answered the question.  He chuckled and not more than two minutes later he himself had one.  We had a laugh. I left feeling hopeful for a callback, either by email or phone, which they said would come sometime this week. I figure phone call is good, email is bad, Thursday is today and I am waiting, hopeful still.

The day after the interview, I returned to the job center where I attended a mandatory workshop so I could have a case worked assigned to me.  I now have a case worker!  Unfortunately, she went on vacation the next day until after the new year. Having a case worker enables me to work one-on-one with someone.  More help with the good ole resume.  She signed me up for some workshop on Jan. 3 which I am led to believe is a skills assessment.  On the 6th I again meet my case worker and we will go over the results to see where I fit in.  This could mean possibly getting some classes to bone-up on my skills in whatever area has the most demand and where I have some experience.  While the hospitality industry could be possible, I really want to get back to the IT arena, which is huge and has good growth potential and I think is much more stress free than customer service.

This past week I worked a couple of days as a painter and made enough money to get a room for a few nights. I was couch surfing earlier in the week for a few nights before getting the room. No workshops at the job center as it is just a skeleton crew during the holidays and the only reason to go there would be to use their computers.  I have my own.

Next week, off to visit my mom in Arizona and there I can access the job center web site as well as CalJobs to continue the requirements to get further assistance. Things are looking up a bit, I try to keep as positive an attitude as possible. To go the other way would be certain failure!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Helping Hands

A few days ago I found myself is a bad situation. I try my hardest to maintain an upbeat attitude, even though inside I am scared sh*tless, worried about what my future holds.  At times, that is not a pretty sight in my mind.

I was crashing on someone's couch and was told I could no longer stay.  These people are close to being in my shoes, and they have 3 children!  They worried about their lease agreement which didn't include me, obviously.  They worried I would jeopardize their food stamps if Social Services found I was staying there. I understood. They were kind enough letting stay there for the time I did. After discovering that Santa Ana was the closest shelter, I was forced to sleep in my car. I was unprepared as I had one thin blanket, a car with little sleeping space and no idea where to park.  Somehow, after talking to other homeless people, I found a spot to attempt sleep. Little came. Fortunately, no police contact.

At 5:00 in the morning I got moving, feeling very despondent, depressed, feeling sick (flu-like) and most of all, tired. That was not a space I wanted to be in, no sir, not at all.  You see, I had a job interview coming up the following day for a position that could change my life. No suit coat or tie to complete my outfit. I went to the Job Center with little hope for success (being tired and depressed will do that to a person.) I asked the worker who I have connected with for a moment.  I told her I was down and she said she noticed that first thing when she saw me in the parking lot. She also told me that the day before, when I was attending a workshop, that I was too up and she feared I would crash, which of course is what happened.

This woman took control!  A rep from Goodwill would be in later and she would see what she could work out with her. I had another workshop to attend.  When it was over, she pulled me aside.  I needed to head up to Goodwill in Santa Ana.  I would be given a voucher so I could get a coat to look presentable at my upcoming interview, something I haven't done in about 30 years. Interview that is, not look presentable. I have achieved that in the past.

What an experience that was! The people at Goodwill, like at the Job Center, were incredible.  I got a voucher.  Knowing I was now sleeping in my car, the asked if I had a blanket.  "Just  a thin one," replied I.  "We have blankets," came the reply.  She left and returned with TWO blankets, one for a pad and one for cover.  Next she asked if I was sick.  She could hear the congestion.  She reached into a drawer and gave me some cold/flu medicine along with a couple of Hall's.  Told me to keep the whole package of medicine. Awesome people.

It took visits to two Goodwill stores before I found a suitable jacket.  So I now had sufficient clothing for that interview. But I was still tired.  Hungry. Depressed at the prospect of sleeping in my car with nowhere to really get prepared for the interview.

I still had a little cash.  I needed someplace to stay where I could get sufficient rest.  I decided on a hotel or motel.  I knew what the going rate was a some San Clemente hotels and it would take all I had.  Driving to Tustin or somewhere with cheaper rates would cost me gas, and the interview was in San Juan Capistrano, so driving back would be more wasted gas. I found a much better rate at the Inn at Calafia Beach.  Very nice motel.  If you are familiar with it, you know that Nike took it over a few years ago for the summer. They fixed it up and the owners put back the money they received from Nike into more improvements. Well worth the price.

I got my room.  Worked on tuning up my resume and went to sleep!   I got a solid 8 hours rest and woke up with a much improved outlook on things, ready for that interview. As well, my short illness had all but passed!

More on the interview another time.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

South OC

One of the first things I discovered while seeking assistance are the lack of housing facilities for the homeless in south Orange County.  Having grow-up in Newport until age 12 and having lived in the Dana Point/San Clemente area for 25+ years,  I know the mentality of a lot of people down this way.  The NIMBY mentality. The "I'll just pretend they're not there," or "it's their problem" attitude. I myself was guilty of the last two.  For a huge variety of reasons there are people down in south Orange County who are living on the street or in a vehicle.  Lots of people. Many in the great SOC are just a missed paycheck away from the same fate.

Some of the homeless, especially those without a working vehicle, are drunks or (PIC) mentally disturbed.  There used to be state run mental hospitals (Fairview comes to mind) but with the passage of Prop 13 in 1978, many were closed as state run facilities and many of the patients released.  So here we are now, 2011 almost 2012, and nothing in those 30 plus years has been done to address the issue. Shameful.

Those were the homeless of a few years back.  Now it is a different mix. Regular people who have lost their job which led to the loss of the roof over their head.  People who are able and want to work. People who need a safe place to stay.  There should be such a place closer than Santa Ana.

A couple of days ago I went to the One Stop Center in Irvine, which is a job center run by the guvment, as I mentioned in a previous post.  One worker, a 20 year veteran in social services in England before coming here, has been very helpful to me.  While talking with her, she mentioned a couple with a child with disabilities, who are also living in their vehicle.  I met the wife in a workshop the day before.  She was a software programmer until a few years ago when she was laid off.  Not a stupid person in the least.  Quite personable in fact.  You could see just by looking at her the toll this is taking.  For two days the social worked called everywhere she could think of to get help for these folks.  A place to stay, not dorm style, since with the child their needs are a bit special. At every turn she failed.  She told me that in England 3 PHONE CALLS would have been enough to take care of them. 

This fine woman was near tears, that was the level of her frustration.  She told me how she had discussed the situation with her husband, at which point I said, "You shouldn't take your work home with you."  Sadly she looked at me and said, "I know, but I am human. I care and I know no other way."

Things need to change, people.  More another time.


First Step

Having been previously unsuccessful in my job search, I resorted to odd jobs for the past 6 or 7 years.  My expectations were very low at the prospect of finding a good job. I decided to see what resources the government has to offer.  I found the One Stop Job Center in Irvine, a state and federal funded program.  When I walked in there I had hopeful expectations of finding compassionate, helpful people but worried that it would be the same old disgruntled government employees.  My hopeful expectations were met and surpassed by the staff.  I have received help with my resume and cover letter. When they found out I was living out of my car, they directed me to Social Services so I could receive food stamps.  This was hard for me, I am a proud man and "being on the dole" is not a preferred place for me, but you have to do what you have to do to survive, especially in this economy.  Once again, I found a compassionate, understanding individual at Social Services.  Wow, what a surprise!

Previous to this, I had sent out my resume or completed applications for over 100 positions with only 1 reply.  Some were off of Craigslist, some from corporate web sites like Lowe's, Home Depot and Costco. Good news is that that reply was for a job interview which happens this afternoon.

I am interfacing with everyone I know, attempting to get the word out of my desire to work.

Next steps are finding a room to rent, at least for the next couple of months, and obtaining a sustainable job.  For all of you who are out there and hate their jobs, be thankful you have one...


New Beginnings

My plans for this blog are to document my steps to climb out of being unemployed, broke and living in my car.  Yes, I have nobody to blame for my situation but little ole me.