Sunday, February 12, 2012

JOBS UPDATE (February 2012)

So I had a few close possibilities, none of which panned out. One non-profit architectural international development organization was interested in me. I never realized how much working for USAID (or any government agency) helps in getting jobs with NGOs who need to interact with the government especially if the interaction is for funding requests. And this is why the architecture international development firm, MASS Design, was potentially interested in me. In the end, they didn’t have the money, at the time, to bring me on full-time. But I do try to help them out if I can with small questions, scouting, and information mining.

The other hope for me was another science-acting gig. Many of you know the work I was blessed to be able to do in the first half of 2011 as the physics host for a science curriculum show. This time I was privileged to learn that National Geographic was starting a new show, and just like the producers of the K-12 science show, National Geographic decided “instead of hiring actors as we usually do, let’s hire scientists and engineers who actually know the material.” So I was again in the same situation, sending in my headshot, bio and resume. I again asked which resume they wanted—a science one or an acting one. I sent them both. Then a few days later the casting director asked if I had any links for any video/film work I’ve done. I was able to send him 3 things from 2011—a link to an episode of the science show, my DC 48-hour Film Project team entry, and my SPARKS video explaining the anatomy of a SPARK. A few days after that, he asked me to come in for an interview/audition. Strangely enough, though the interview/audition was supposed to consist of 1) a brief interview of myself by the casting director, 2) reading cue cards of outros and intros, and 3) a mock interview where I interview an actor playing a famous scientist (whose information was sent to me by email); it only lasted 5 minutes. I estimated at least 20 minutes for all of that. When telling about myself, the director interrupted me and asked me specifically what I was doing now. When I told him that, he interrupted and asked if I could read the cue card. Because I didn’t memorise the cue card words (though they sent several possible cue card readings by email) and they didn’t a teleprompter, I had to look at the cue card and away from the camera to read sections of the card at a time. A teleprompter would have kept my eye on the camera the entire time. After one reading, he stopped me and said to sit down and ask this actor a few mock interview questions. After my second question, as I started the third, he interrupted and said thank you. He was in a hurry!

Needless to say I never heard from them. There were probably at least 22 people who auditioned before me that day and I recognized a few of the names. A friend of mine showed up as I was about to go in so I was able to give her the tip that it’s really quick, and there’s no time to get warmed on the interview or to redo the cue card reading with direction from the casting director. None of the people I knew had heard anything from the casting director, and I started emailing him every 2-3 weeks asking if anything was announced. Each time he just said that the National Geographic producers were still reviewing the tapes. It was then that I realized he was not deciding who would be chosen. His job was simply to record everyone, but I’m sure it wasn’t my best work.

The job I decided to take is based in London with a technology company. It’s a job where I’m a (global education) training development specialist or an (global education) instructional designer. I help design/create/write training curricula/courses for engineering faculty/students/professionals and business owners and IT professionals across the developing world (Middle East, Asia, Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe). It was a long process that was delayed by several months. If it had been a US domestic job, I would have started the 1st of September with no break. Due to visa regulations, applications, and processes, I didn’t start until the January 2012. But it finally happened, and now I’m here.

Incidentally, there are two jobs I’m really interest me that are in the process of moving forward. First, I’ve always wanted to join the NASA Astronaut corps. I’ve only applied once. Since finally being eligible to apply in 2005, the biannual process has only actually had open applications once instead of 4 times (2005, 2007, 2009, and 2011). I applied (I believe it was 2007 but perhaps it was 2009) and did not get in which I expected (people say you don’t get in your first time; as well, you should something else you’re very passionate about because you may never get in; my plan is to apply every two years for the rest of my life as I do other things). Due to government budgetary problems, cutbacks to NASA, NASA layoffs, backlogs of astronauts who still haven’t flown, and the shutting down of the shuttle program, in 2009 I was told it would be another 4-5 years before they opened applications again. Well, for some reason they opened them for a brief 3-month window from November 2011 – January 2012. I was surprised because usually the applications are on a rolling basis; in other words, they take all the applications from 2 years ago up until the next deadline and evaluate them. But this time it was only 3 months. I applied, but it’s really hard because the entire first stage/step is computer-automated. You don’t even get to stage 2 unless the computer chooses you. Oh well. :-)

The other job that really excites me is a design fellowship with IDEO. First, I applied for a job with I never heard back from them, but I like them and have used them as an example in a professional development workshop I led for middle school science teachers on how to incorporate engineering into the middle school science curriculum. We used IDEO’s design process to learn about the engineering design process (as an analog to the scientific method). Well, a good friend told me that IDEO had a new .org side in which they worked only with non-profit clients toward poverty alleviation. Do you understand why this excited me? It excites me because this was what my USAID fellowship was supposed to be—using my engineering design skills toward poverty alleviation around the world. Instead, I spent most of the time doing communication, coordination, administration, training coordination, workshop organization, etc. So the fact that someone said I could directly do the design work (instead of working for the government managing people who manage contractors who manage subcontractors), I got very excited. Sadly, is only a fellows-run expansion of They have 3 teams of the 3, with one IDEO designer plus 8 fellows, 3 of which come from within the company, The other 5 are open to application to people outside of IDEO. It’s an amazing 11-month design fellowship, and I really wish I had known about it during the 2010-2011 year. The inaugural class started in August 2011. I applied for the 2nd class of 2012. And I was lucky enough to pass Phase 1 and get to the quarterfinal stage of Phase 2. I turned in those materials (including a recommendation letter), and we’ll see what happens. In the meantime, check out IDEO. (the company side) (the .org side) Careers Fellowships past projects current projects

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