Billy Magic

Hello, friends. (Or rather, for most of you, soon-to-be-friends.) Does anyone else feel like they’ve hit the ground running at full tilt this semester? Welcome Week lasted for a day, and then the floodgates opened to swamp me with more responsibilities than I know what to do with.

Well, I’ve procrastinated on this blog post almost as long as possible. Even in the course of writing these first few paragraphs, I’ve reorganized my desk, gotten up to get water, fussed with my hair, and made a couple of playlists on Spotify in order to avoid it. I guess I was hoping that the longer I waited, the more time I could give myself to come up with an idea that I felt had a truer spirit of originality or had a better value than the ideas I currently have. Yet, here I am (shoutout to the other citizens of the procrastiNation), sharing what I feel like isn’t the coolest idea that I have the potential of coming up with, but sharing it anyways, because I’m a fan of working with what I’ve got.

I’m an engineer, and on the brink of my job-search process. As a ChemE with a minor in writing, I think I can speak from unique position on what it’s like to be a soon-to-be-graduate, a woman, an engineer, and a hopefully-soon-to-be-employee. I also spend inordinate amounts of time with my fellow ChemEs, so I would be able to draw on not only my own experiences, but also those experiences of my friends and classmates as we navigate the post-graduation-planning process. My hope in writing about myself and my experiences would be twofold: to inspire those who follow in my footsteps as ChemEs (or engineers in general) and to enlighten those who haven’t walked the same path as I. If I’m being ambitious, and since it’s so early in the semester I feel like I might as well be, then I’m going to say this: I want to be the Billy Magic of navigating the job search as a female engineer. (Sans musical though. I can’t sing for beans.)

I certainly don’t pursue the act of writing about myself in a public forum as a source of comfort or relaxation, so using myself and my peers as my subject material wouldn’t fail to present opportunities for learning and growing pains. I’m still hesitant about this topic, especially in light of Ray’s caution against “splashing around in creative non-fiction.”

However, if I were to pursue this idea of documenting my job search experience, I would be able to draw on the disciplines of entrepreneurship (via the UM Center for Entrepreneurship), psychology (regarding the related processes of choosing companies and candidates), and engineering (regarding how learned topics are applied to interviews and on the job). My focal objects would include myself, a few of my peers, and perhaps a recruiter or an academic advisor.

When it comes to my confounding variable though, I’m somewhat stumped. I initially was drawn to the idea of putting a twist on the topic by adding a filter that accounts for gender, and whether or not female engineers get jobs because they’re the best candidate or because they’re fulfilling a diversity quota set by their company. But I’m not sure that this is quite enough. Perhaps adding a layer that involves video-recording my experience (as I attend career fairs, as I polish my LinkedIn for the thousandth time, as I sit in interviews) might be what I need, but I’m not sure how I feel about recording certain parts of this process. I don’t really want to jeopardize my chances of getting my dream job because I strapped a GoPro to my head during the interview. So, more to come on that component.

Thanks for reading, friends.

-Rachel

PS. On another topic entirely: I’m fascinated by letters and letter-writing. If I were to create an idea that feels more “cool” than what I’ve got right now, I think it could be really interesting to dive into the culture of letters. Before the telephone and the internet, handwriting was such a pivotally important part of everyday life. I’m enchanted by memories of perusing the bookstores of Berkeley, spending time flipping through collections of letters written as personal correspondence centuries before my birth. The idea that penmanship and composition could be more important, more practiced, more valued than they are in the modern age captivates me. If anyone has any pointers or if I spark an idea, I’d love your input on this subject.

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