Or know someone who might be? (In this economy, everybody must, right?)

My company is looking to hire a Research Associate. This is the same position I'm in. We've been planning to hire someone for a while, but with me about to go on leave, it's particularly crucial right now.

As much as I complain about my job, it's a really good company to work for - very flexible and willing to let people really make their own job description to a pretty large extent. Better than average pay, average benefits.

We're still working up the job description and exactly what we're looking for in this person, but if you think you might be interested, or know someone who is, let me know. The job's not been formally posted yet, I don't think, but will be soon. If you want more information, comment here, or email me if you want something more discreet - tammylc@livejournal.com gets to me.

Edited to add - the position is in Ann Arbor, MI and wer are looking for someone to work out of the office here, not telecommute.
Important observation about self - I don't like it when things change midstream. Especially when the changes are externally imposed.

I was really enjoying working on this poverty paper. We had a clear set of research questions, which I was methodically going through and researching and answering. I was having some trouble fitting my answers into the frame that someone else had been developed, so was developing a framework that I thought suited the material better, with the blessing of TPTB. We had a clear deadline, and clearly defined product.

Then all of our deadlines got pushed back and the whole thing became much more amorphous. We're re-evaluating the questions, the structure of the paper, the goals of writing it in the first place. Everything is in flux. So I don't even want to go near it now, because a) I just know that it's all going to change again and b) I don't even know what the heck I'm supposed to be doing with it now anyway. And neither does anyone else. And once again, my supervisor is MIA, so I can't get any direction about any of it.

I'm incredibly frustrated right now. Is it any wonder I don't want to come to work?


Mar. 22nd, 2004 08:31 am
Even though work is more interesting these days, and I actually have enough to keep me busy and stuff, I have discovered that I still don't really want to go there. Upon realizing yesterday that it was Sunday, and that meant I had to go to work today, I got a little grumpy and out-of-sorts. I don't know what I'd want to do if I stayed home, mind you, but I know that I'm just not excited about going to work anymore.

This doesn't seem like a pregnancy thing, but hard to say, really. I just know I need to think some more about what I want to do afterwards. It's a quandary, really, because the pay is good, and I'm unlikely to find another employer who will a) be as flexible as this one and b) pay little ol' degree-less me anywhere near what I'm getting paid now.

Go back to school, maybe, and fix the degree-less problem? Of course, me going back to school will cost money and I won't be bringing in any, so making the finances work out could be a challenge. Maybe stay on half-time at less than satisfying job and go back to school half-time. And raise an infant - hmmm... seems overly optimistic.

And then of course, there's always the question of - degree in what? To do what with? What the heck do I want to be when I grow up, anyway?
I hate it when I realize that I haven't filled out my timesheet in a week and a half, and I have to figure out what the hell I did during that time. Sigh. Must start filling out timesheet every day to avoid this problem.

A respite!

Mar. 5th, 2004 02:47 pm
Just found out that the deadline for the poverty paper has been pushed back to the end of March. I'm so relieved! I've been working like gangbusters on it, but there's only so much I can take at a time, y'know? And the person who's supposed to be working on it with me has had no time at all, and isn't going to have any next week either, so I was starting to feel overwhelmed by it.

But it should be much more manageable with an extra two weeks. Phew. And it means I can actually spend my afternoon working on another project, which will be a nice change.


Mar. 4th, 2004 10:38 pm
Got up way early today to go to Detroit for their Regional Transformation Process, lead by Richard Florida. This is similar to the kind of work that my company does, so we were mostly going as spies to check out his technique and process. He's a really neat guy, and has a lot of interesting ideas. Included in the price of admission was a copy of his book "The Rise of the Creative Class," which I've been wanting to read for a while. The day was a disappointment, however. His process relies a lot on handheld wireless polling devices, and when the computer that was running the system crashed, they were totally unprepared and had no backup plan (well, they had a backup computer, but that one went down too!). So we got as far as brainstorming some strategies, but never got to prioritize which ones we thought were most important, and or to really talk about next steps. So it ended as a let down. One wonders why they couldn't have just started doing voting by show of hands - not very efficient in a room with 300 people, but better than what we ended up with. Oh well - at least I got a copy of the book. And the next time we're tempted to think that using a techy tool would make our process more effective, we'll be reminded of the pitfalls inherent in that thinking!

Felt really awful for a while after I got home, but then we went for dinner in the common house and I realized that I just needed to eat - it had been too long since my last meal. Plus, I hadn't eaten very well today - conference food will do that to you. But common meal was good, and healthy. I think I'll actually end up eating healthier at common meals than I do when I cook at home!

Since I was feeling better after dinner, I drove across town to the AASFA board meeting. I'm not one of the appointees for next year's board, so I have to decide if I want to run. I'm thinking I should just take the year off - I'm going to be busy with the baby, and I've been really involved with the Board for the last 6 years or so. Time to let other people step in. Of course, thus far there have not been hordes of people dying to participate. As president of this year's board, I need to post a little plug to the Stilyagi list talking about the board and what it does, in the hopes that it will generate some new blood.

I have to pay bills. I've needed to pay them for a while, and just haven't been able to bring myself to do it. We have the money, it's not a problem, I'm just procrastinating on digging through my paperwork and actually writing the checks. Why, I don't know. But I'm too tired and brain dead to do it now. So I vow to get it done in the morning, come hell or high water.

And high water is a distinct possibility. We're getting some heavy rain tonight, and - joy of joys - our roof is leaking...
I know a lot about poverty now. Some of it has been really thought provoking, and my personal understandings of various anti-poverty approaches are much more nuanced and complex now, frequently in ways that surprise me.

That said, I have no idea how to turn what's in my head and on a multitude of yellow highlighted pieces of paper into the rest of this paper I'm supposed to be writing. Partly because, despite the sheer volume of bits of knowledge in my brain, I don't have answer to all of the questions we've been asked to consider. Partly because the goals and structure of the paper are still something of a moving target.

Not sure what to do now. Some options: Acquire help from one of the other team members assigned to this project, assuming anyone has any time to spare. Continue to identify and hopfully fill in the knowledge gaps. Try writing little sections that I have enough information for, even if I don't know how they'll fit into the overall framework yet. Revisit my earlier strategy of just trying to compile all the little bits of knowledge into one place.

Don't know.


Feb. 26th, 2004 05:21 pm
Apparently I've actually learned something with all this research. I was talking to my coworker on this poverty report and saying "all the rest of it gets tricky to talk about because no one can actually agree on a definition of poverty." To which she responded "Well, how can it possibly be so hard to agree on what it means to be poor?"

At which point I was able to summarize (in a relatively brief period of time) exactly why that's such a tricky question. And make no mistake - it's a surprisngly tricky question.

Some fascinating poverty factoids:
Did you know that the official poverty guidelines in the US are based the cost of food in 1965? And based on a study from 1955 that indicated that the average family spent one-third of its income on food? And that no changes have been made to the poverty standard based on changing consumption patterns that indicate that the average family may now spend as little as one-seventh of its income on food? The only change has been to increase the threshold each year based on changes in the Consumer Price Index. And another thing that few people realize (I know I didn't before I started this project) - the poverty guidelines are national, and make no allowance for differences in regional cost of living or housing. And that's just the tip of the iceburg.

By the time I finish this report, I'm going to know a lot about poverty.
Lest I sound ungrateful in my rantings about work, I should really stop to say what a cool company I work for. Not only have they been really tolerant of my absences and flakiness because of my pregnancy, but they're wonderfully flexibile and generous to the moms who work for the company too. One of my coworkers works 2 days a week from home. Another works 32 instead of 40 hour weeks.

I'm not yet sure how much time I want to take off with Little Bean. At least 3 months, and somewhere in there I'll decide if a fourth would be helpful. And I haven't decided if I want to try working from home some of the time afterwards, or potentially even coming back with reduced hours. But my agreement with them is that I'll try to have some sense of all of that by about 6 weeks postpartum, so we can both plan appropriately.

But what's so cool is that I just went to talk to my HR person about my maternity leave, and I'm pretty pleased with the result. I'll get one lump-sum payment from short-term disability equivalent to 70% of my salary for 6 weeks. I can also choose to use some or all of my vacation time to cover other portions of my leave. Haven't decided yet if I'll do that, or if I want to hold onto it for later in the year when I'll no doubt want it. But here's the really awesome thing - not only will they continue to pay for my (and Eric's) health insurance while I'm off - I don't even have to cough up my portion of the premium (currently about $250/month). How cool is that?

It's not as good as Canada (where the government pays for 1 full year of parental leave divided as you see fit among both parents). And I'm sure there are other companies that have better plans. But given that I was really worried about the health insurance issues, and thinking that short-term disability might only cover 50%, I'm quite happy.
So things are being much more interesting at work right now. We've just gotten hit with a bunch of projects all at once, and everybody is very, very busy, including me. The big thing I'm working on right now is that paper about poverty that I mentioned a while back in my LJ. Our plan was to go through papers and make notes on all our various and sundry research questions, and then turn it into a paper once we were done with the bulk of the research. But I ended up reading a cluster of papers on a simliar topic all at once, so yesterday I just dove in and started writing that section of the paper (basically about definitions of poverty, problems with them, suggestions for fixing them, how they are used, etc). I've written about 6 pages so far, with another 1-2 pages sketched out. That takes care of about a fifth of the research questions.

Once I'm done that section I'll have to start reading again, but I think I'm going to try to do what I did with this section, and find a bunch of material on a single topic area, read those, and then write that section. It's worked really well for this topic - don't know if the source material for some of the other pieces will be as easy to pull together, but here's hoping. Certainly the section on welfare reform has a ton of stuff written about it, so it's just a matter of distilling it down into something that can be *part* of a 50 page paper rather than 50 pages of its own...

Anyway, so really enjoying being busy, and really enjoying this particular work. One thing I don't have that I'd like, is some method of getting feedback on what I've already written. As I said in my opening, everyone is very, very busy. Anyone feel like reading 6 or 8 pages on poverty and telling me if I sound like I'm full of shit?
It's just not what it useta be, you know? Maybe the pregnancy, but I think it's more broad based than that. Too much television, magazines instead of books, the Internet... I've been reading and reviewing papers for this poverty project for the last 5 hours (minus some email time, lunch, etc). And as the day has gone on, I've had to take more and more breaks, both more often and lasting longer. I want to do something different!

5 hours isn't a *bad* amount of time. If I can keep putting in 5 hours a day on it, I should be okay.

I'm going to try to write up the notes from the paper I just read, then take a break and do some other work. That's not going to take me through to the end of the day, so after that I'm thinking I'll go looking for more papers on the various websites on my list, and start with the reading and notetaking again in the morning when I'm fresh.
It's been a busy last few days, with not much time for posting. Thursday night was the gala award ceremony/banquet thing for the conference. This was held at the National Museum for Women in the Arts, which was a really great venue for that kind of thing. And the exhibits were open for us to look at. They had a great display on "Enterprising Women" with some fabulous Maidenform Bra ads and samples that were really cool. And up in their permanent collection I got to see some Judy Chicago and Freida Kahlo and other cool artists.

During dinner I ended up sitting next to director of the organization that produces the economic self sufficiency guidelines that I use a lot in my work. She's also a member of the Workforce Investment Council in DC and was familiar with CSW, so that was really neat and we had a good conversation. I stayed until the award ceremony was over and then took the first bus back to the hotel - I needed to catch up on my sleep!

I got up early Friday morning for the general session, hoping to win the Wyndham Spa package they were giving away (2 airline tickets and a night at a Wyndham Spa), but alas, my number was not called. Skipped the first roundtable session for the day because there was nothing I was interested in seeing, and spent the time looking at the exhibit hall instead. Picked up some interesting looking materials from workshops that I didn't go to, as well as handouts that various exhibitors had. Bought an adorable painted wooden fish puzzle for Little Bean.

The next session was a really good one on Colaboration and Coalition Building. Really excellent program and really excellent facilitation and materials used - lots of stuff I can take back to work from this one. Plus, one of the presenters was from a WIB in Texas and I got to talk to her after the session and give her some materials about our services. They're the kind of visionary, effective Workforce Board that we really enjoy working with, so it would be great if we ended up doing some work with them.

Then it was lunch, where I got to sit next to Robin, a really dynamic and energetic woman from Rhode Island who I'd be admiring all week. Excellent conversation was had all around, until my ride called to take me away to the next stage of my trip: meeting [livejournal.com profile] malawry.
I decided that Teresa deserved her very own post, she was just that cool (see my previous post). In other conference news, I continue to enjoy myself. It's great to be surrounded by such strong and empowered women. It's still a huge study in contrasts - the morning session was sponsored by the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association, and there was a copy of Women's Day waiting for me on my chair, but overall a really great experience. I even managed to do a little bit of work related networking today, handing out cards and material to three women, including the Executive VP of the Bank of America Foundation, who I talked to for a quite a while during lunch. And I had great fun in my intensive workshop this morning - The Facilitator's Candy Shop. While the facilitation skills and icebreakers and activities that I learned aren't really applicable to the type of facilitation I do for work, there's a lot that I can apply in other areas of my life where I use my facilitation skills, like cohousing and running SF cons... And it was fun, too - we did a lot of activities that got us up on our feet moving around and meeting people and tossing stuffed animals about and building things out of PVC pipe.

Most everyone is off to the Hill meeting with legislators. I'm going to take another nap, then probably get the early bus over to the National Museum of Women in the Arts so I have time to look around before the ceremony starts. And since my nails are a little long right now, rather than trim them I thought I'd take advantage of the nail kit and nail polish that I got in my tchotckie bag and polish them instead. Just for shits and giggles. Who knows - maybe I'll even wear some lipstick...


Feb. 18th, 2004 02:54 pm
Doing a little better, but still not peachy keen. I feel guilty about it, but I'm going to skip the afternoon workshops and try to take a nap. This being sick while being away is no fun, and I'd like to try to put a stop to it.

I'm enjoying the conference. Not sure how relevant it will be to my job (the ostensible reason why I'm here), but I've been meeting and talking with some really cool women, and that's been really neat.

This is my first ever professional conference. It's been interesting to compare and contrast it to my other conference experience - ie. SF conventions. There's a dealer's room with some things for sale (many of which would actually not stand out in an SF con dealers room...) and a variety of workshops, of course. No consuite, but they feed you breakfast and lunch, so that makes up for it. (How you can tell I'm really not feeling well - right now they're serving dessert, and I'm up in my room sipping water.) Name badges with your first name in really big print, and your full name, location and affiliation in smaller print below. It's too bad I live in a city with no need for convention organizers - I think it's a job I'd quite like.

Okay, time to nap. There's something I need to go to at 5 pm, and my ride to dinner will be picking me up around 5:45. I'm still holding out for dinner, but I've not totally ruled out just forfeiting my deposit and staying here in bed. We'll see how I feel when I wake up.
My aching back and an interesting dream )
Jewelry, and a Raise! )
Getting away from it all to an unexpected destination )
The further evolution of a house )

And that probably sums up my life right now. It came out much more verbose than I was expecting - but I guess a lot of stuff happened yesterday!
Remember all those interviews I was complaining about having to do? Well, I just finished my last 2 this morning, and have written them up and sent them off to the project manager. Whoo-hoo! One arduous task completed. There are more interviews on the way, but thanks to the big research project I mentioned the other day, I should manage to dodge that particular bullet.

However, it turns out that the sweet smell of success is actually the sweet smell of warm cookies in the kitchen, courtesy of the Hampton Inn across the street. I was trying to turnover a new leaf today, and eat less sugar. I even went so far as to bring in carrots and nuts as snacks. I choked down the carrots (I hate baby carrots, but I eat them because they are good for me), but the nuts had picked up a bad taste from being stored in the freezer, and just as I was pondering getting my orange from the fridge the email came out about cookies in the kitchen. And since I have no willpower, I've now had two to top off the one I had this morning (a leftover from yesterday's lunch). I suck, and am probably giving myself gestational diabetes or some other horrid health problem. Must try to find some willpower somewhere in my body and actually start using it.
Good old fashioned research paper, like I wrote back in college. 25-50 pages to discuss the general nature, history and attempts to address poverty in America from 1930 to the present day. Pretty much straight research/lit review, rather than heavy analysis. I'm not doing it on my own, but collaborating with a coworker. Luckily, it's my favorite coworker, and we have very similar styles, so it should be a comfortable team.

I loved doing this sort of thing back in college. And I was darned good at it. But I feel awfully out of practice at doing lit reviews, so I might be asking some of my more recently academically inclined friends to show me the ropes at the library... There's a lot of hours allocated to creating the paper (160 hours total) but the deadline is March 15, so it's a lot of work compressed into a relatively short period of time. During which we both have other work to do. My biggest worry is that we're going to have a hard time finding sources for some of the questions we're asking. But we won't know until we start looking. God knows tons of people have done research on poverty, so in an ideal situation they've already collected up the data into a few manageable chunks. Wouldn't that be nice?
We did a one-word check in exercise to begin and end our staff meeting. One word about how we're feeling - about the meeting, generally, whatever. At the beginning, my word was "pregnant" - it sorta takes over your life. At the end of the meeting, I copped out and said "still pregnant." What I wanted to say was "disconnected," but amidst a sea of "optimistic," "excited," and "ethusiastic", I just didn't have the guts to come out and say it.

I work with people who have a great deal of passion about the big picture of what we do. And I just don't share that passion. We did a lot of budget and markets work during the meeting, talking about what the next year looks like. And I see less and less places in that year where I'll have something to contribute.

According to our new economic model, I'm supposed to do 121 hours of billable work each month (tied with the other research associate for most billable hours required monthly, in fact). That's my contribution to keeping the company afloat and helping it prosper. But here I am, with virtually no billable work to do, and only tenuous indications of anything coming my way in the future.

I'm a good worker. I have a lot of skills and a lot to offer. And I just feel so completely underutilized and unfulfilled. It makes me sad and frustrated. Today I realized that there's a list of things that I used to have some hand in, that have now been entirely handed off to other people. Tracking proposals. Editing other people's work. These were things that I was good at and that I enjoyed. Things that I made a real contribution to and that were really appreciated. I developed the process we're using to manage proposals to this day. I developed the style sheet and style guide that we enabled us for the first time to give some consistency and structure to our printed work. I used to matter. I used to be able to make a difference. And now I feel like I don't.

I hate this.
Staff dinner was not-so-thrilling, and I was glad when I could politely slip out. Most everyone else seemed to be having fun, but they were the ones emptying the wine bottles - I think a glass or two of wine and I would have been a little more into the swing of things too...

Sad that many people consider The Earle one of Ann Arbor's best restaurants. We were ordering off of a mini-menu because we were in a group, but I was still seriously underwhelmed. How do you screw up a mixed green salad with balsalmic vinaigrette, for heaven's sake?

Twelve hours straight with work people is clearly too much - I arrived home pretty grouchy and grumpy. And the aggressively meowing cat awaiting me certainly didn't help. I swear he saves up his loudest meows just for me. He's been exiled to the basement and I've had a little time to decompress, so I'm feeling much less like throwing something now.

A glass of wine would still be really nice, though.
Well, I seem to be doing better this week.

I don't actually have much if any more work than I had last week, I'm just caring less about it. Trying to be more zen about the whole thing. Which seems to be working.

Today has been especially better, thanks to having some excellent music to listen to (finally brought my new Barenaked Ladies CD to work with me) and a little more initiative on my part. See, a while ago I talked to my boss about trying to incorporate more of my women's studies background into my work, something she was all in favor of. I was supposed to develop some materials on the role of race and gender in workforce development. I was really excited about this at the time, but then got intimidated by the scale of it. Especially when the first trimester exhaustion and pregnancy brain kicked in, and such a loosely defined project seemed impossible.

But I read an article yesterday on some research into the wage gap, and that kickstarted a renewed vigor for the project. So between calling employers with whom I'd scheduled interviews (and mostly being stood up), I've been google searching and printing out articles to read and use to develop my thoughts on the subject. At some point I'm going to need to get to one of the U of M libraries and do a periodical search too. If I can sustain my interest in this it has great promise for filling big chunks of otherwise unfilled time. And while I'll still be billing it to admin, it's a more justifiable use of that time...



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