Job hunting real talk: second edition

At the beginning of 2015, I posted a roundup of all the job applications I sent out and the responses I received. Several friends responded in person that it was helpful for them to see my ratios of applications to interviews to offers. As I noted in my previous post, when you’re in the midst of jobseeking it can feel like you’re sending out a million applications with zero returns, and it can be reassuring to see (a) that is an exaggeration and (b) you are not the only one having that experience.

The job I landed after that particular search did not work out in the long term. It would not have been long-term anyway, since it was a part-time position. In addition to that, it was a deeply troubled workplace, and every day I spent in the office was tense and uncomfortable. I worried for awhile that the problem was me, that I simply hated work. Now that I am safely installed at a job that I really enjoy, I know that isn’t true.

I was so unhappy at that job that I put in my notice before I had something else lined up–always a risky move, and there were two uncomfortable months of unemployment that summer. Another complicating factor is that I was still trying to finish at least a draft of my dissertation by the year’s end, and I already knew that I couldn’t balance that with a full-time job. So, this job seeking report is divided into two parts to address two very different job searches over the last year.

Phase 1: Seeking part-time employment

From May to July 2015, I looked primarily for part-time or freelance employment. My goals were to secure a baseline level of income and a schedule that would permit long uninterrupted stretches of time for dissertation writing. I cast my net wide–retail, customer service, clerical–but I was hoping for something that offer some continuity with my previous work experience, so I also applied to jobs in editing, copywriting, etc. Some were remote, but many were right here in Philadelphia. It’s not uncommon for nonprofit organizations to offer part-time positions because they can’t afford a full-time staffperson; I was careful to avoid “part-time” jobs that specified 30 hours or more a week.

During this period, I sent approximately 24 applications.
I was invited to 7 interviews, 1 of which was by phone.
I declined 1 interview (job was grossly misrepresented in its listing) and withdrew my application after 1 interview (pay too low).
I had no second interviews.
I was offered 3 jobs, all of which I accepted.

The three jobs I accepted did not really follow the conventional application-interview-offer arc. First, I simply asked a local grocer if I could clerk in their soon-to-be-opened branch. No interview, no application; I had been a long-time customer in my more financially stable days, and I started as soon as the new branch was opened. Meanwhile,  I responded to a Craigslist ad to clerk at a store that sold local wine. I was familiar with the shop and wrote a poetic email about doing a tasting there with my family; the manager replied almost immediately to set up an interview. He also hired me during the interview, which is not common, and which for some jobs would be a red flag–in fact it made me a little nervous–but this decision made sense when I got to know the job and the manager a little better. Between the grocery store and the wine store, I was working 40 hours a week, but this still helped meet my goals: both shops were small; I was often alone; I was permitted to work on my computer between customers.

The third job was unusual. I applied to be a tour guide at a local historical site even before I left my unhappy marketing position. I did not get an interview, and I wrote back to ask why. There is a non-obnoxious way to do this, but that is not the way I did it. For some reason, though, the hiring manager responded by inviting me for an interview. I did not get the job. Some months later, though, she reached out to offer me a slightly different job: historical tours, but at night. I took it. This job involved a night shift five nights a week during one month, which mostly precluded getting any writing done that month, but it was a cool experience and I was grateful for the money.

Sometimes, fellow academics who are new to non-academic jobseeking ask whether their educational background will be an impediment to their job search. Overall I would say not, although of course this varies by employer; one firm responded to my application with “Your beautiful resume certainly shows your creativity and attention to detail, but we are concerned with your happiness in an admin position.” I also had a few interviews for part-time jobs that would have better suited my academic and professional interests: audience engagement manager at a local art center, advertising coordinator for a sculpture magazine, program assistant at a university writing center. I do not know (since we usually never get to know) why I wasn’t offered those jobs, but if anything it’s likely that the timeline of my education was a factor. Employers don’t expect people to stay in part-time jobs forever, but few want to hire and train an employee who is going to take off in less than a year.

Aside from that, the lesson here is that higher ed and professional experience don’t make you unfit for jobs like the ones I took; my application-to-interview ratio wasn’t terrible, and many managers are just happy to hire someone who seems competent and knowledgeable. There are certainly challenges to working behind a counter: customers all day long; a high likelihood of poor management; the unnecessary yet involuntary embarrassment when answering the question “What are you up to these days?” But all three experiences offered opportunities to learn and meet people, and I did scrape by financially and complete my dissertation. I can’t say  that I regret that period of underemployment.

Phase 2: Returning to full-time employment

Once I had a complete draft, I began looking for full-time work. From December to June, I applied to jobs that drew directly on my writing and marketing experience as well as a few that were more administrative in nature; my primary goal was to achieve financial stability and start paying off the credit card debt I accrued in my underemployment. In February I reapplied to the historical site as a daytime tour guide, and left the wine and grocery clerk positions. This turned out to be the best possible decision: the historical site offered slightly better pay, excellent co-workers, and a fascinating day-to-day, but I still really needed the flexible schedule it offered to finish dissertation revisions. I left for my current full-time job in July.

During this period, I sent approximately 34 applications.
I was invited to 7 interviews.
I declined 2 of these interviews; one was offered after I accepted my new position, and the other turned out to be a pyramid scheme.
I had 1 second interview.
I was offered 2 jobs–the historical site and my current position a few months later–and I accepted both.

I also interviewed with two staffing companies that claim to place marketing and communications professionals in local jobs. These interviews felt thorough and promising, but I applied to approximately 50 positions between the of two them and got zero interviews, so I can’t really recommend this strategy. I haven’t included this tally with the rest in part because it didn’t take much time–just click and submit through a website once you’ve uploaded a one-size-fits-most application–and because I don’t really know what the deal is with these companies. If this is a scam, the con must be on the the other end, as the process didn’t cost me anything. Maybe they are just badly managed; one staffing company did helpfully reach out just last week to see if I was interested in interviewing for a specific position. I am 3 months into my new job; 7 months since I’ve spoken with anyone from that company. I choose not to inflate my tallies with these outliers.

The lesson here is that it is a little harder to land full-time, salaried, specialized work; the jobs are there, but the applicants are numerous. All the same, patience and perseverance do pay off. My interviews were for positions with a variety of responsibilities: editor for a travel magazine; project coordinator for a med school research program; marketing and communications manager for a couple of different museums. Any of these would have suited; landing one or the other was partly a matter of being in the right place at the right time.



The Laws of (Marketing) Magic

A few months ago, I wrote on Facebook that about 60% of the staff at my current job refers to my work as “doing my magic.” It’s a variation of an old meme:

  1. Something is needed
  2. Sara does her magic
  3. Profit!

At first, I was somewhat flattered by this–“I really feel like a magician, y’all” was my exact phrasing. But it’s starting to wear on me a bit, so I thought I would take the opportunity to remind everyone that even magic has rules. Consider Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration from the Harry Potter universe: while magic allows you to summon or conjure many things, there are certain materials or conditions that can’t be created magically. One is food, which–as Hermione explains–can be multiplied or summoned but not made by magic. Money is another; I imagine that money can’t even be multiplied, because that would create substantial problems with an economy based on precious metals. If a wizard wants money or food, they must trade goods or services like any Muggle.

In the kinds of marketing I do–writing and designing promotional material for print and digital distribution–the relevant magical law is the Iron Triangle. Also known as the project management triangle, but obviously “iron” sounds a lot more alchemical.


The version of this I learned from working with printers is: you can have it fast, cheap, or good; pick any two. In other words, you can optimize the costs of your project (which tends to be the major concern for nonprofits I’ve worked with) and you can have it done well, but you have to allow time and plan well. Timing and planning is not a specialty of my current employer, however, and I find myself butting up against the laws of marketing magic regularly as my supervisors assign me last-minute tasks or make eleventh-hour changes. And while they understand certain mathematics of production–if we order double the brochures that we planned, the final bill will be greater than the price estimate we were given–that it might take more time to print and fold those additional brochures came as a surprise to them.

A couple other magical laws that may apply to marketing:

Knowing the true name of a thing makes it easier to magically affect. So, for example, when I am asked to remove all the Times New Roman font from a document that contains no TNR, I have no idea what to do. (Turns out my supervisor does not like serif fonts, period, but I did not know that at the time.)

Certain magic cannot be performed without artifacts of power. I just created a glossy full-color trifold brochure in Microsoft Publisher, y’all. And it looks pretty okay. But it was not easy. You have to sort of jury-rig bleeds and crop marks unless you want a white border all the way around your piece. Also, you can’t do much to modify the .pdf resolution settings, and you can’t create a CMYK document even pretty much anything printed in color is printed in CMYK. I yearn for Adobe software.

More fun with the magic of making-to-order:

How a web design goes to hell, from The Oatmeal

A sweeter, gentler story about book design at The Toast

An entire Tumblr dedicated to difficult clients.

Elsewhere on the Internet: Jobhunting real talk

Career change the fourth (or third or fifth, it’s a little hard to keep track): I recently left my publishing job for a similar marketing position in another local nonprofit. I lucked out: the new job happened to be a good fit with the kind of work I want to do and the kind of schedule I need to have, the latter of which only became apparent to me about three months ago. Before that, I looked for jobs casually over the course of a year, looking primarily when I was feeling frustrated with my existing job, and primarily for jobs that offered greater compensation for greater responsibilities. (Ultimately I took a job with less compensation for greater responsibilities, but substantially more flexible hours–which is my most pressing need this year.)

Over the past year:
I sent approximately 50 applications
I was asked to submit additional materials (editing test, portfolio, etc.) 3 times
I was invited to 10 interviews (3 of which were on Skype or phone for various reasons)
I withdrew my application after 4 of these interviews
I had 2 second interviews
and was offered 1 job, which I accepted.

I like to be transparent about these numbers. I’ve been on the other side of the hiring process often enough: I interviewed candidates for my replacement when I was promoted, I’ve hired student workers and interns, I’ve reviewed resumes for potential new staff within my department. I’ve been involved in enough hiring processes, particularly with small companies and nonprofits, that I’m well aware what a crapshoot the whole procedure can  be; it’s easy to overlook strong candidates in a deluge of applications, it’s extremely common for two reviewers to have completely different impressions of the same  resume, and it’s very hard to judge from one or two interviews how well a candidate will perform and fit in. (Though I pride myself on making several very good calls in the last few years.)

But even with that experience, and even though I approach the interview process as though I am trying on the company for size instead of the reverse, there’s still a voice in my mind whispering that I must be doing something wrong, that I must make a poor impression or have glaring mistakes in my cover letters. And regarding the stats above: if I had estimated them rather than looking through my files for hard data, I would have guessed that I applied to “more than a hundred” jobs and interviewed for “several.” Being on the market felt a great deal more laborious and fruitless than it actually was.
I know that some of my dear friends are applying to jobs right now and grappling with these anxieties. So, jobhunters, my stats and the following links are for you.

Via The Billfold, a Medium piece about how the hiring process is broken. It opens with a story about the author’s participation in a hackathon, and then examines some stats that sound a lot more familiar to me (and probably also to you):

  • In 2005, a firm ran a “mystery shopper” experiment with more than 100 healthcare employers. Professionals posing as job candidates applied for work with tailored resumes showing skills that matched or exceeded the posted job requirements. Yet 88% of the candidates were rejected. Even perfect applicants don’t get interviews.

  • “Usually when people talk about hiring for fit or culture fit, it’s a shortcut for saying I want to like you,” says Ji-A Min, a research analyst for Ideal Candidate, a Toronto-based company that uses predictive analytics to help employers hire sales professionals. “That’s where hiring breaks down and all these biases are introduced.”

  • “Years ago, we did a study to determine whether anyone at Google is particularly good at hiring,” Laszlo Bock, Google’s senior vice president for people operations, told a New York Times reporter in 2013. “We looked at tens of thousands of interviews, and everyone who had done the interviews and what they scored the candidate, and how that person ultimately performed in their job. We found zero relationship. It’s a complete random mess.”

I also really appreciate that the Medium author, Deborah Branscum, ultimately takes a more expansive view toward hiring success than “the best possible candidate was hired.” It’s clear she got a lot of good out of the hackathon; similarly, my feeling has been that no application and especially no interview is wasted, since each time you put yourself forward is an opportunity to learn something new.

This is an older column, but because Ask Polly is so good (and also because some of you need this): I Hate My Job and Feel Like a Fraud. What Should I Do?  Or if you aren’t sure why you hate your job or what kind of job you’d hate less, there are some good links in this old roundup.

By the way, Ask A Business Lady is there for you at The Toast.

Finally, if you’ve made it this far and want more sympathy and commiseration, feel free to share your Weird Hiring Stories in the comments. I don’t have any doozies from this go-round, but plenty of mild disappointments: the friendly, conversational interview that ended abruptly after I revealed that I didn’t have training in a field that wasn’t mentioned in the job listing; the hiring manager who asked me very little about my qualifications but grilled me (pardon the pun) about my food blog and where I get my CSA. And I found one sad Email chain in my files: a message containing my application, a brusque reply asking for my salary requirement, my reply containing a lowballed salary requirement (nonprofits, what can you do?), and then silence.




Kind Masterminds

First, some personal backstory: after a few meetings with a career counselor not long ago, I took a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test and a Strong Interest Inventory. The assessments were extremely satisfying and helpful for me: it’s not that I learned anything about myself that I didn’t already know, but the assessments gave voice to and legitimated my preferences for the work sphere. I’m introverted, intuitive, thinking, and judgmental, but I have a stronger interest in artistic pursuits than is usually associated with the INTJ type. This means that I’m often the person who provides structure in a creative environment; I’m inventive, but will take no risks without scrupulous research; I’ll take charge when needed, but prefer to work quietly in the background.

I know that such tests, MBTI in particular, have their flaws, but I found my results tremendously empowering. Instead of feeling self-conscious about the dynamic I introduce  when I focus on bottom lines and practical applications, I consider such intervention a strength that I can offer. Instead of feeling harassed by emails and phone calls and frustrated with my own lack of patience, I can remember that I prefer to be the one to initiate interactions, and make informed choices about when and how to make myself available to others. (Theoretically one would discover these work style preferences through the Two Exercises I advocate for jobhunters, but the temptation to downplay introverted idiosyncrasies in favor of a ready-for-anything Game Face is strong.)

Still coasting on the glow of these revelations, I gleefully followed a Tumblr meme to learn what characters in literature share my MB type.  TV Tropes calls INTJs the “Mastermind” type, and its examples are mostly nerds, outcasts, and villains: Ross Gellar and Ben Wyatt, Jafar and Scar, Batman, Smaug. How unflattering! I’m reminded of a book my press published some time ago about eggheads in popular culture: during an awkward phase between the calculated mass destruction of WW2 and the physics-powered Space Race, while Americans were both fascinated and terrified by the power of the atom,the planners and schemers of television and literature tended to be suspicious characters. Even today, you rarely encounter a kind mastermind in popular culture: at worst, you get megalomaniacs and villains; at best, even the good guys tend to lack emotional reasoning and social bonds.

Such characterizations make me long for representations of INTJ-types who use their powers for good instead of evil: characters who are introverted, but not sociopathic; intuitive, not irrational; thinking, but not unfeeling; judging, but not always judgmental. Here is a short list of relatable and even emulatable characters who may or may not be INTJs but share a characteristic love of logic, self-sufficiency, and pragmatism:

Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice. Say what you will about his charms or lack thereof, but when the people he cares about need help, Mr. Darcy gets shit done. Then he gets all flustered and weird about people knowing and thanking him for his help.

Sherlock Holmes, various adaptations of Sherlock Holmes. Although Sherlock Holmes is pretty terrible about human interactions, he is a mastermind who more or less acts in favor of the common good–or at least reacts, since he’s not so much devising benevolent schemes as dismantling malevolent ones. The BBC adaptation in particular dramatizes this juxtaposition of Sherlock’s particular skills and limitations with those of evil geniuses.

Olivia Pope, Scandal. Olivia solves problems for a living. She is a quick thinker and a pragmatic planner, but also a quiet aesthete who values her alone time. As I noted in Things I Love About Scandal, it’s unusual for an introverted character to carry a company and a television series the way Olivia Pope does. But other characters allow her to tell them what to do, not because they fear her or love her, but because they know she’s right.

Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit. Bilbo makes a much better INTJ than Smaug. Sure, they both live in holes and prefer not to be bothered, but when it comes down to a battle of wits, it’s Bilbo who bends the slippery logic of riddles in his favor. Smaug loses his head and flies off in a fiery huff; Bilbo, who (like me) abhors a risk, adventures with caution.

Violet Baudelaire, A Series of Unfortunate Events series. Violet has a talent for inventions, a practical form of problem-solving that is most effective when combined with her little brother’s imagination and her baby sister’s brute force.

Tali’Zorah vas Normandy, Mass Effect series. Even during her adolescent pilgrimage, Tali is already a mechanical genius with enviable survival skills and enough self-possession to travel the galaxy on her own. But like most quarians, she understands pragmatism doesn’t mean self-interest; she is deeply invested in promoting positive outcomes for her community and team.

I welcome further examples of introverted leaders and unlikely heroes who use their analytical prowess for good.

More fun with personality types:

Where did we come from? What are we? Where are we going?


Painting by Paul Gauguin

Ten years ago, I conducted ghost tours in New Orleans. This era of my life has become one of my party tricks, an ace tucked in the sleeve: the job title itself is an attention grabber, but with it comes a cast of colorful characters, a louche lifestyle, and a sort of appealing tenebrousness that surprises new acquaintances nearly as much as my tattoos do. My opportunistic storytelling–this reminds me of the time I learned to read palms and that sort of thing–is what prompted a Toast commentor to encourage me to pitch something to the site, which I did.

It’s easier to tell that reminds me of a time stories than it is to string one together in a coherent arc. I didn’t want to use the piece to retell the ghost stories themselves–they are really all over the internet, and in fact I’d need to use internet versions to reconstruct my own, since the memory of my scripted tour spiel has eroded with time. So instead I wrote about my impressions: how the streets looked, what was said, how it felt. These were much easier to remember, especially with the help of my old journals. I had a lot of time on my hands in those days, and have numerous files  and notebooks full of prose dedicated to the particular chartreuse light by the river and the winter fogs and the sound of hooves.

My journals also record my preoccupations of that time: yearning for a purpose or career, frustration with my lack of focus, hopeless crushes, detailed play-by-plays of parties or fun nights out. These were startling: in them I can very clearly see myself as I am now, ten years later. In some entries I am only just starting to articulate the values I hold now, or casting about for the language to describe observations I now hold as beliefs, but “I” am already there in those entries, such as “I” am.

It has always been important to me to think that I have changed, and that change is always possible. Everything I believe in depends on the conviction that people can and do evolve. Writing 101: your fictional character should change as events unfold. How surprising to think that maybe we don’t. How humbling to see my emotional core exposed, wanting the same things it has always wanted.

About a month ago I hosted a friend who had once lived in my city and was returning to see it, and me. We took a stroll in West Philly: he wanted to see the campus where he’d gone to college, and as we walked around he pointed out places where he had lived, gone to classes, had parties, met girls. “What do you think your self at 20 would think of yourself today?” he asked me.

I was surprised by his question and even more by my answer. I think that myself at 20 would admire myself in my early thirties. On paper I sound pretty good. I have an extensive education and an interesting job in a related field. I write when I can, and sometimes the things I write earn me attention and even money. I have a nice apartment, a comfortably busy social life, no spouse, no kids. That is more or less what 20-year-old me imagined as glamourous, desirable adulthood.

This was surprising because I spend no small amount of time complaining about my job, my bank account, my degree, and my perfectly lovely apartment. The question made me feel a little defensive, as though I had to justify my restlessness to this younger version of me.

20-year-old me is not necessarily the expert on who I am and what I want. 20-year-old me knew a lot less and experienced very little of the world, and she was likely to be impressed by things that seem stale or uncertain to me now. I don’t think that experience is the opposite of innocence: the life my 20-year-old self wanted isn’t more true or pure just because I wanted it first.

Still, that’s something to think about. What she wanted, and why. What I now want, and why. Why want is the core constant.

My mom has been going through our old things: notebooks, drawings, photos upon photos from when we still took our film to the drug store and got extra copies of everything. Some time ago she sent me a package that included a peach-colored envelope on which my teenaged self had written:

1. If you know what you want, find a way to get it.
2. Always be friendly, but don’t always make the first move.
3. Pay close attention to people, but seem to not notice them if they’re not talking to you.
4. To be happy you must be independent. To be independent you must be strong.
5. Should a cat walk by herself? Only if she feels like it.

I posted it on Facebook because I thought it very funny. How Machiavellian of my teenaged self. I wonder what I was reading or doing to prompt a back-of-envelope manifesto.

It’s also funny because the list so recognizably me. Rule #3 became a deeply rooted self-preservation instinct. Rule #4 is the north star of my love life. Rule #5, of course, refers to Kipling’s Just-So cat who refuses to be domesticated yet insinuates himself into domestic comforts such as warmth and milk. I’m still like that, I still don’t see why I can’t have it both ways.

I want to tell a story about myself that goes in a straight line, preferably forward and up: I endured and now I am stronger; I learned and now I know. But how many times have I had to relearn the lessons I tried to teach myself on the back of an envelope so many years ago? Suppose a character arc doesn’t arc at all, but loops back itself over and over? What can I do differently? What should I?

A blog post that ends in a question begs an answer. A painting that ends in a question provides itself as the answer: an landscape, a mood, something that exists in space and not in time. That’s how I intend this post. It’s an artifact, something to return to in a later year and ask again.

Elsewhere on the Internet: Your Dream Job

After work last night, I stopped at a bar to join some of my old colleagues from the art museum in celebrating the tenure of our former manager, who is retiring. (Sort of. She’s not one to rest on her laurels for long.) One of the lovely things about working at that museum was a cohort of smart, savvy coworkers, some of whom I haven’t seen much in the last two years, so much of my visit was spent catching up on what everyone was doing. Some were still working with visitor services; others had migrated to other departments, or begun graduate studies, or veered off in another direction entirely. We swapped stories and feelings about our various career situations.

When one former colleague said that she just didn’t know what she wanted to be, it struck a chord with me. Since college, when I locked down my post-graduate plans to Teach for America before senior year midterms, I’ve always presented myself as someone with a plan and an endgame–even during periods of floundering. But it’s not just that I wanted to be perceived as purposeful and together; I really believed that there was a True Job out there for me, like a True Love, waiting to be found and to transform my life into what it was always meant to be. Academia really enforces that belief in a number of ways, and when I finally admitted that the ivory tower was not the right home for me, I redirected my pursuit to a career in publishing. This has worked out pretty well for me–it was not an uneducated guess, I took some steps to consider my options–but even as I’ve grown comfortable and competent at my job, I’ve come to realize that the dream job is a fairytale. Some people find it; many others don’t, but that doesn’t make their work or lives any less valuable or meaningful. Publishing suits me, but so would working at the museum, had I stayed. So would a number of jobs in education, editing, or the arts. 

I’m not at all sure I conveyed my unromantic perspective to my colleague  with the intended balance of wisdom and YMMV, but just today The Hairpin linked to this smart piece at Jacobin about the myth of “doing what you love.” Miya Tokumitsu looks at the idea of DWYL from the perspective of its implied flip side: if having your dream job is integral to your life meaning and self-realization, what about everyone who does the unloved but necessary jobs, the sanitation and unglamorous care and production jobs? The DWYL ideology, she writes, is the perfect tool for exploitation: it renders invisible the needs and labor of undercompensated workers, and it particularly enforces unreasonable expectations for labor among those of us who really are supposedly doing what we love, particular women who hold jobs in education, childcare, or “public face” type fields. It’s difficult to quote this piece because the whole thing is so relevant: it’s a good piece to send to your fellows in customer service, marketing, or grad school.

Speaking of grad school, Jacqui Shine at Chronicle Vitae also criticizes the idea, particularly fostered by graduate schools, that academics should labor for love. The points about exploitative labor raised by Tokumitsu, above, are particularly relevant to the ongoing adjunct crisis in higher ed; Shine’s focus is more on how the academic climate affects mental health. “We are steeped in the belief that one has to truly love the work in order to succeed,” she writes. “It’s a conversation I have with my adviser a lot: whether or not I love the work enough to see it through, to be sustained by it. But depression makes that a question I can’t answer.”

On the more cheerful side of things: I’ve been wanting an excuse to link to this charming piece on The Awl, in which Elizabeth Stevens looks behind the scenes of Fraggle Rock to discover why so many Fraggle alums describe that work as “the best job they ever had.” She breaks down the Jim Henson company practices into some basic principles of fostering imagination, productivity, and collegiality: vision, creativity, collaboration, funding (!), and challenging work. It’s a lovely inside view for anyone who loved Jim Henson growing up, but it also offers some perspective on what material, strategic steps could turn an exhausting job into an exhilarating one.
Of course, not everyone wants or can thrive in a creativity-driven, elastic, and cooperative environment like the Fraggle Rock staff–and not all necessary work can be done in such an environment. But it’s evident from the success of the show and the warm recollections of its members that their collaboration was a productive and meaningful one; in other words, they were supported, not exploited, in Doing What They Love. It certainly led me to wonder–what would the supposedly creative and collaborative environments of my career history have looked like with adequate funding, collegiality, and incentives to work outside the box? 

Finally: it’s never not the right time to link to Captain Awkward, so here is her well-considered list of Job Search Red Flags and Due Diligence for all of you job-hunters and career seekers out there. If you make it to the copious (and wonderful) comments, you’ll read a couple of my own job interview red flag stories.