Job hunt virtual presentation — Thursday, May 28 @CASSUG_Albany @PASS_ProfDev

In light of the jobs being lost throughout the COVID-19 crisis, not to mention my own ordeal with joblessness, I offered to the folks who run the PASS Professional Development virtual group to do my presentation about unemployment and job hunting — an offer which was accepted.

Therefore, I will do my presentation titled: “I lost my job! Now what?!?” on Thursday, May 28 at noon EDT. It will include an interactive session with Paresh Motiwala to discuss the job search.

If you are interested in this session, use this link to sign up.

I’ll talk to you on May 28…

The #Coronavirus chronicles, part 13: Running for my life #COVID19

I’ll admit that the COVID-19 crisis has had me fall into some bad habits. This morning, I decided to address one of them.

Since gyms have been shut down due to the crisis, I have fallen off the wagon when it comes to my CrossFit workouts. I’ve been doing a lot of sitting on my duff. Since I work in IT, it’s the nature of the beast and a job hazard. I woke up this morning to a sunny morning (for once — we’ve had a lot of rain, sunny days have been few and far between, and it’s directly affected my mood, not to mention my motivation), and decided to do something.

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It may not be much — I just went around the block a few times — but you gotta start somewhere.

I went to the Couch to 5K website and did a little reading. I’ve toyed with the idea before, but never pulled the trigger on it. For whatever reason, this morning was different. I downloaded the C25K app to my phone, put on my shirt, shorts, and CrossFit shoes, and followed the instructions for Day 1 as I went around the block several times. Day 1 is essentially a 20 minute AMRAP (or maybe EMOM might be more accurate — I’m not sure) that alternates between 90 seconds of walking and 60 seconds of jogging (not including a 5 minute warm-up and cool-down walk at the beginning and end). It sounds pretty easy, but I was still winded by the time I was finished.

Will I keep this up for eight weeks? We’ll see. Right now, the jury’s out. For all I know, I might wake up tomorrow morning and decide that I want to stay in bed. But hey, we all need to start somewhere. Maybe at the very least, when the COVID-19 crisis is over and I’m allowed to go back to my gym, I won’t cringe when the coaches tell me that the WOD is a 5K run.

The #Coronavirus chronicles, part 12: The return of the milkman #COVID19

This morning, we got our first delivery from a local dairy farm!

If you were alive in the 1950s, you probably remember milkmen. They went around to houses, picking up the empty milk bottles that you left for them, and they’d leave you with fresh bottles of milk. I’m not old enough to remember milkmen (I had to look it up on Wikipedia to get info for this article), but I do remember hearing about how prominent they once were in our society and culture. From what I understand, with the improvement in refrigeration technology and the increasing ability to buy milk and other dairy products in grocery stores, milkmen largely became obsolete.

That’s changed with COVID-19. Now that people are quarantined within their own homes, people need to take delivery of goods and services. I don’t have any statistics, but I’m willing to bet that the number of deliveries of various items has gone up. Before the crisis, I never before ordered groceries to get them delivered; now, I’ve already done so several times in the past couple of months. Last month, I got an email from a local creamery announcing that they would start delivering products to local city residents. We decided to take advantage of that service, and we received our first delivery this morning (which is the photo of the milk crate you see above).

It seems like, out of necessity, a lot of these old-fashioned delivery services, like milkmen, are coming back into existence. I’m wondering how long these services will continue after the COVID-19 crisis is over. As of right now, I intend to be a regular customer of this creamery delivery, but I’m also wondering how long I’ll maintain it after we’re allowed to leave our homes again. Besides, there’s something to be said about the convenience of running down to the corner store.

There’s no doubt that COVID-19 will change our lives in how we eat, work, and shop, once things have returned to normal — whatever “normal” is by then. I wrote a couple of weeks ago about supporting local business. This is another way of doing it. I hope we can maintain it, even after this crisis has passed.

The #Coronavirus chronicles, part 11: Goodbye, farewell, amen (again) #COVID19

Today is my last day at PwC.

Well, okay, my paycheck came from TEKSystems, not PwC, but nevertheless, I still felt like I was part of PwC. They accepted me as one of their own; heck, I even represented PwC at an event or two. And although I’m finished at PwC, I’m not necessarily finished at TEKsystems; they are looking into either placing me with another client or finding me employment at another firm.

I won’t get too much into it (for privacy reasons, I’m not going to ‘blog very much about my job hunt exploits), but my job search continues. I had a phone interview last week, and I have two more lined up for today. I’m still sending out resumes and filing applications. Also, I have my business that I started. I don’t yet know whether or not that will become my full-time or my side gig; it will depend on whether or not I can find new employment. But I do intend to keep it going, regardless.

Anyway, leaving a job is rarely ever easy, even if you don’t like your employer. You develop relationships with whom you work; these people become your brothers and sisters. I still maintain friendships that I made from pretty much every job I’ve ever had. Not only do I feel good socially about the friends I made, it also benefits me (and them) professionally because it expands and solidifies my professional network. These people have worked with you, and they can speak to your skill sets that you develop.

In any case, it’s time for me to move on. Until my next stop, wherever it is…

The #Coronavirus chronicles, part 9: Going into business for myself, part 3 #COVID19

Yes, two “parts” in one post. Go figure.

So, now when someone asks me, “what did you do to improve yourself during the COVID-19 crisis?”, I can now say that I started my own business!

Well, at least I will be able to do so soon, anyway! Technically, I can say that I have my own business, even though I am not yet in business; last week, I registered an LLC. My thinking is that, at my age, there is a lot more uncertainty each time I lose a job, and as I get older, that uncertainty gets greater. I figured that the time was right to start my own venture, so I did so. I’m not quite open for business just yet — I still have some things left to do — but at least I can now refer to myself as a president and CEO!

I won’t kid. This is a little scary. I’ve never had my own business before, so I’m venturing into uncharted waters. Then again, doing something new adds to professional growth. As I’ve written before, you won’t get anywhere unless you step out of your comfort zone.

And by the way, I did have a phone interview last week as well. If I do end up landing another job, I will keep my new venture going. Even in just a few days, I’ve already invested quite a bit into it, so I might as well keep it going. Even if I’m employed elsewhere, it would make for a nice little side gig.

So, what did you do during your Coronavirus quarantine?

Going into business for myself, part 2

Earlier, I wrote about the possibility of going into business for myself. That idea is gaining traction.

This is uncharted territory for me. I’ve thought about being self-employed before, but I lacked the knowledge, motivation, and focus about how to approach it, not to mention that the timing just didn’t feel right. Well, now that I’ve reached a possible crossroad in my professional career, the moment now feels right to attack this.

I will mention that there is a precedent within my own family for this. My parents — who are both now retired — owned their own businesses, as do my siblings. I guess it runs in the family, and now it’s my turn!

Last night, I had a meeting with a friend who’s in the business of consulting small businesses. Her website is here, if you want to check it out; I’m listing it here both (1) for my own reference, and (2) to send referrals her way. Drop Lisa a line, and tell her I sent you!

Per her advice, she told me to hire a CPA. It just so happens that I have a friend who’s a CPA. I have a phone appointment with him later this morning.

I spent yesterday afternoon writing up a business plan. I looked into articles about writing business plans, and came across this. I used this (note: link downloads a Word document) as an example to formulate my own. After running my plan past Lisa and asking for her feedback, she gave me suggestions for improving it. I’m still tweaking it as of this morning.

One question that I had: as an individual business owner, how much can I pay myself from my business? I Googled the question, and as it turns out, the question is not as uncommon as I think.

I’ve started working on a website for my business. It’s currently a work-in-progress; I’ll reveal it once it’s closer to completion.

I even have my first client already lined up! I told my friend (and client-to-be) what I was doing, and he had some advice (he, himself, is also a small business owner) and words of encouragement for me.

I will say that, even though I’m looking into doing this, it’s entirely possible that my endeavor might not be enough to pay my bills (at least not at first). So as I’m pursuing this course, I’m still hunting for new employment.

So, the ball is rolling on my endeavor. If the pieces fall in the right places, it’s entirely possible that my new employer will be… myself!

Going into business for myself?

This afternoon, I had a phone call with an old friend and colleague. We used to work together in a previous job, and although we haven’t said much to each other in years, we still remain friends.

Yesterday, my friend, who has his own business, pinged me. He had heard my news about my contract ending, and wanted to provide me with a small project. It’s not a full-time job, per se, but it’s work, it sounds like an interesting project, and it’ll look good on my resume and my portfolio.

It also got me thinking about something else. Could I make a living from doing projects like these? Can I get enough of them to sustain an income?

In other words, maybe my next job shouldn’t be looking for a new employer at all, but possibly going into business for myself as an independent contractor.

I’ll admit that the idea scares me. I don’t know the first thing about starting my own business. I Googled “how to become an independent contractor” for some ideas. I did read one article, and it seems straightforward enough. There were a number of other articles on the list that I’ll also have to look through.

I already have an idea of the type of services I’d offer. Mainly, I would do documentation work, as well as other related services as they pertain to IT and technical communication. To the best of my knowledge, there aren’t a lot of contractors who do that (I know of one local firm off the top of my head). Whenever I’ve done technical writing in previous positions, I’ve always thought of it as “doing the work that nobody else wants to do.” Perhaps there’s a possible business niche to tap into?

I have a number of friends who are independent contractors. If any of you have any advice, please feel free to ping me or leave a comment below.

I’m still making calls, filing job applications, and sending out my resume, but perhaps striking out on my own is a possible career avenue to consider.

I am #JobHunting again #Networking #SQLFamily

I just got the word this morning. I was informed that my contract will end at the end of the month.

I did not see this coming. I was blindsided by this.

After an almost three-year run, I am, once again, looking for a job. I enjoyed working in this position, and it was a fun ride while it lasted.

So, I wanted to write this article to post a few thoughts.

  • Let me emphasize that I am NOT taking this personally, and I do not have any ill will toward my (soon to be ex-) employer. I know how the game is played. Right now, my main emotion is getting over the shock of being blindsided by this news. Once I’ve had a chance to collect my thoughts (which is the main purpose of this very article), I should be okay. To their credit, my employer and client have reached out to me and offered their willingness to help me out. It is entirely possible that I may remain with the company handling my contract, but we’ll see what happens.
  • The secondary purpose of this article is to shake the networking tree. If anyone knows of anything (per the guidelines below — keep reading), feel free to reach out to me.
  • In terms of what type of position I’m seeking, I’m probably best-suited for a role in business or data analysis, technical writing, or technical training. I’m pretty far removed from my days as a developer, but I will not rule it out.
  • In terms of positions that do not interest me, I have no interest in sales or helpdesk call positions. That said, if necessary, I would be open to any temporary position to hold me over, regardless of whether I’m interested in it or not.
  • I want to remain local to the Albany, NY area. That said, I am open to remote/telecommuting positions (which seems to be just about all tech positions these days).
  • In regards to what industries interest me, I would be willing to work for almost any industry, but the one that interests me the most is academia.
  • If you are connected with me on LinkedIn, please consider writing me a recommendation. If I am able to do so, I will reciprocate. Additionally, please let me know if you’re willing to serve as a reference, and if so, send me your contact information where you would be willing to be contacted by any of my potential employers.

I’ve worked a wonderful position for the past three years, and as I sit to think about it, I realize that I’ve been spoiled during this time. I’m saddened to be leaving this position, but I’m also excited to see what the next chapter of my professional life brings.

The #Coronavirus chronicles, part 8: Food, wonderful food #COVID19

Tips and tricks for grocery shopping online during the coronavirus ...
(Photo credit: USA Today)

Here’s a little-known secret: I actually can cook. Granted, you won’t often see me cooking up any gourmet meals, but I’m also not so bad that you’ll see me on Worst Cooks In America. I can hold my own in the kitchen. (Just ask my wife; I haven’t poisoned her yet!) That said, with my (non COVID-19) busy schedule, I have to be in the right mood to cook, and when I’m busy, that isn’t often. My microwave oven and GrubHub are my best friends.

In that regard, I’ve gotten into some bad habits, and the COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated some of them, especially the part about ordering out. Even though I’m not going into the office, I’m still keeping myself pretty well occupied throughout the day (as I mentioned before, I am still working from home, after all). If I have good things in the refrigerator or pantry, I’m pretty good about throwing together a quick sandwich for lunch, but if not — hello, GrubHub! It’s a habit that I desperately need to stop doing, and I’m well-aware of it.

One thing that I have taken more advantage of during this crisis is that my local supermarket offers delivery, something I’ve never used before this crisis. I’m usually insistent on going to the store myself to get whatever I need, but with my quarantine at the start of this crisis, that changed out of necessity. It isn’t perfect — on my first order, I requested 1.5 pounds of Angus ground beef, and instead got 1.5 pounds of Angus roast beef cold cuts (this is a major reason why I’d rather go grocery shopping in person, not online). Also, because the supermarket is overwhelmed with seemingly everyone using this service, there’s no guarantee that I’ll get my groceries delivered on the same day that I order them. That said, I’ll give the supermarket employees credit; they’re doing the best they can throughout this crisis, and they are among the unsung heroes out there trying to make life better for all of us.

We all need to make adjustments during this crisis, and I am definitely no exception. It’s just another thing to deal with until our lives get back to normal.

The #Coronavirus chronicles, part 4: Getting accustomed to my work environment #COVID19

Earlier, I’d written about getting myself situated in my home office. While my environment is still not ideal — my place is still a mess, and I’m still working directly from my laptop, instead of connecting to a full-sized monitor, keyboard, and mouse, as I’d prefer — I’m discovering that, as I continue to work within this environment, I’m getting used to it more and more.

I’m noticing that I’m much more productive with this setup than I was sitting in the living room recliner with the TV on in front of me. As I write this, I’m sitting within the privacy of my own home office (hey, I’ve always wanted my own office; maybe this is how I get it!), I have some good jazz playing over my stereo speakers, and I’m getting my work done. It does make for a good, comfortable working environment.

When I go to the office, it typically takes me fifteen minutes to drive to my office, and that doesn’t count stopping at the corner Cumberland Farms or Dunkin’ Donuts for my morning coffee and a quick bite for breakfast. Now, my commute has been cut down to however long it takes for me to go from my bedroom to my home office downstairs (all of, by my estimate, fifteen seconds, not counting the time it takes for me to start the coffee maker, fix myself breakfast, or occasionally feed our two demanding cats).

Let me emphasize that I would still prefer a good monitor, keyboard, and mouse, as opposed to working right on my laptop. At some point, I’ll need to take the time to clean up my work space, maybe head to Best Buy and get some decent equipment, and get myself better situated. And if there’s one thing I’m missing, it’s the camaraderie of my office mates (our occasional virtual meetings notwithstanding). But when it comes down to it, this setup is likely one that I could get used to, if I absolutely have to do so.