Tag Archives: Chicago

My Favorite Sandwich

Do you ever feel like you experience true happiness from a certain food? I thought I would share with you all a food that gives me great joy the moment I take my first bite. My all-time favorite sandwich is the #9 veggie classic from Nhu Lan Bakery on Lawrence in Chicago. It’s a game-changer. A life-changer! Here is a picture of me enjoying my favorite sandwich and possibly my favorite food ever (no other banh mi can compare):



The Job Search: What I Have Learned So Far

In February, I finished student teaching in Appleton, Wisconsin and I moved back home to the Chicagoland area. For the next two months, I worked on paperwork to become a substitute teacher, as well as on a (pretty darn awesome) teaching portfolio. Between February and now, I also aced the two education exams in Illinois and successfully substitute taught at my old high school without being too weirded out. However, do you know what I still don’t have in hand? A job! I have been actively searching for a job since April and, although I am still on the prowl, I certainly have learned a thing or two along the way. Hopefully my advice will have a bit more credence after I have sealed the deal on a job for the upcoming year.

1. Network! It does not take very long in the job application process before you realize that, as frustrating as it may be, the majority of jobs are secured as a result of connections. Use. Your. Connections. I cannot stress this enough. Make sure everyone you know is aware that you are seeking a job in a certain field. Anyone could be the person who gets your resume on top of the pile or to even get an interview. For example, just because your mom’s close friend is a pharmacist does not mean that her brother is not the assistant principal at a school where you applied. Don’t think you’re above using your connections to get an interview; everyone is doing it! If you feel like you’ve exhausted the connections you already have (or perhaps you’re new to the neighborhood and you don’t know anyone yet), I recommend getting involved in volunteering, a church group, an intramural sports team, or anything that will help you meet lots of new people.

2. Proofread your applications. Toward the beginning of the job search process, I read over a few applications I sent out and grimaced that I was missing a word in one of the sentences I’d written. D’oh! If your application initially stands out from the rest, but then whoever is reading the application notices a typo, then that’s an easy surefire way to get your resume tossed out. From what I’ve been told, there is often such a volume of applications that the hiring people need to find reasons to eliminate you from the process; a typo is an easy way to lose (especially for someone looking for an English teaching job, like me)!

3. Apply to as many jobs as you can find within a certain distance. So, let’s say you’re looking for jobs as a secretary and you live in Seattle. Decide how far you are willing to commute for a job, then search for and then apply to every secretary job you can find that is within that radius. Statistically speaking, the more applications you send out, the more of a chance you have in getting a job. The less picky you are in terms of job description and distance from home, the more likely it will be that you’ll get more interviews and/or offers.

4. Do not apply to a job that you would not accept. Now, I know it may be tempting to apply for lots and lots of jobs, some of which may not be exactly what you’re looking for. I know you want to have as many options as possible. However, you should also consider before applying if you would accept a position if offered one. What if that job is the only one that makes an offer? Would you take it? This is very important when considering; you don’t want to waste time applying to something that you could not really see yourself doing.

5. Ask relevant questions to the employer at the interview. Congratulations! You got an interview. Even though you may feel that this interview is all about the potential employer sending you through the wringer, you should take the opportunity to interview them, too. There are several different types of questions you can ask, including questions that show you did your research on the company,

6. Send a thank you letter immediately after the interview. This one doesn’t require much explanation. It’s a great to touch base with the person or people with whom you interviewed to thank them for taking the time out to interview you. You can also take this opportunity to remind them of the reasons why you would be an excellent match for the job.

7. Don’t miss that phone call! I am ashamed to say that during my job search process so far, I have missed a whopping three calls from potential employers. Once I was walking around the cacophonous city of Chicago, once I was in the bathroom, and once I was asleep. Regardless of the reason, you should do everything in your power not to miss those calls, even if it means bringing your phone to the bathroom with you. Answering the phone shows that you are interested and eager; it will also save the time for the person who is in charge of making those calls.

8. Don’t get discouraged. Depending on your approach to the job search process, this could be one of the most difficult points on the list. About two months into the job search process when I had not gotten a single response from an employer (not even an email to say that a different candidate had been selected), I had a brief period of time when I felt helpless. My self-efficacy was at an all-time low and I couldn’t bring myself to put another three-hour stint into an application. But, you know what? I slapped myself (figuratively), got out of my funk, and continued to apply. Just keep trying. Never give up. You never know when that follow-up email or phone call could actually produce an interview!

Good luck, job seekers!

Goals of Week 4

I had a little bit of a rough week because I discovered how hard it is to do it all. For example, when I’m working on job applications with tunnel vision, then I have no qualms about just grabbing whatever food I see that doesn’t take time to prepare. I also don’t prioritize exercise the same when I’m busy either socializing or working on my professional career. Any tips on how to actually do it all would be much appreciated!

1. HAIRCUT. (Beauty) Yeah, my hair still remains a little frizzy, wavy, long, and riddled with split ends. I have a weird thing with my hair where I don’t like getting it cut. I guess I’m pretty change averse about anything that’s out of the box. I’ve also never gotten a different haircut (except when I grew out my bangs in elementary school) and I’ve never died my hair. Hopefully this week will be the week to tackle this baby.

2. Brush twice and floss every day. (Health) It’s weird that this goal isn’t easier to relieve from my list. I brush every night without fail and I always floss now. This is a big improvement because I used to floss like twice a month (ew). I’ll work harder on establishing a morning brushing routine this week!

3. Lift weights regularly. (Health) I’m not ready to let this one go yet. I did weights three times, but I still don’t feel like I’m working myself hard enough. I will say that my last weight lifting session (if you can call that when I’m lifting FOUR pounds) was more productive than ever because I realized how much harder it was when I only waited 10-15 seconds between sets.

4. Read Game of Thrones. (Hobbies) I haven’t touched this book this week, but I have been reading Interviews with Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace, a short story collection. I crossed off this goal because I think I need to re-define it into something more of a habit and less of a specific accomplishment. So…

4. Read every day. (Hobbies) I’m not talking about articles on yahoo! or Thought Catalog (no offense, TC). I’m talking about books, stories, and poems of literary significance.

5. Do not bite cuticles. (Bad Habits) This goal is officially my biggest fail of the week. The good news is that I have not bitten nine of my fingers’ cuticles in weeks. The bad news is that I have chewed the crap out of the skin next to my right finger nail. I mostly bite it because it’s sticking out, making it a big old ugly cycle.

6. Enter sweepstakes every day. (Novel Experiences) I’m not going to lie. This is, hands down, the most inane item on my list of goals. I know it’s stupid and silly and insignificant and a pretty bad use of my time. And yet… I entered to win several things last week, including tickets to Fiji, a Vitamix, an entry into the Chicago Half-Marathon, and an iPad Mini. All of these have been decided already and I didn’t win. I feel like I can’t take this off my list until I win, although if I really have made entering a habit, then maybe I should retire it. Let’s check in next week and decide!

7. Keep a food/exercise journal. (Health) I’m rocking this. I’m giving it one more week to make sure it’s a solid habit, then I can release it from my focus list. Sometimes I don’t have time to record the calories, but I definitely write down every single thing I put into my body, as well as all exercise.

8. Keep a positive things journal. (Personal) I’ve been going at this for ten days and I love it! For example, yesterday felt like a negative day because I lost my shirt on the stage at a school (long story). However, when I wrote in my positive things journal, I realized my day actually kicked ass (I volunteered at a south side school, received an incredible compliment from a volunteer, networked a TON at the volunteer event, bought five renowned hard cover books for $9 at a book sale, and explored a new neighborhood and new cuisine in the city with my friends).

9. Apply to every teaching job in the Chicago area you can find. (Professional) Now that I’ve gotten the hang of applying to jobs, it’s time to step it up. It’s getting to the point that schools are hardly putting up notices for jobs anymore. As a result, I need to make sure I apply to every single one I find.

10. Make inquiry calls about positions for which you applied. (Professional) This one is a little tough because there are a LOT of jobs I applied to weeks and even months ago. I have not had a single teaching interview or any feedback about positions being filled. Some employers specifically ask that you don’t call, but others don’t condemn it. I need to make inquiries to those schools that presumably allow phone calls.

11. Do not pick scabs or bite skin on lips. (Bad Habits) Okay, this is kind of like the cuticle one, so I figured I may as well focus on this bad habit, too. I’ve been doing decently the past few weeks without making a concerted effort, so hopefully I can knock this one off soon.

12. Establish a proper skincare routine. (Beauty) I’ve been winning with this in two ways since I started this: I always take off my makeup before bed and I wear sunblock almost every time I leave the house. I have not been winning at this in that I don’t really wash my face and I don’t use any skincare products (like moisturizer or exfoliating stuff).

Here are my accomplishment goals from the week!

1. When nail polish starts to chip, remove it and re-paint. (Beauty) I paint and re-paint my nails without dragging my feet now. I realize how incredibly easy it is to do, as long as I make a point to do it.

2. Early to bed, early to rise. (Health) I can’t believe I’m removing this from my list this early in the game, but this is really going well. Notice that in my “Health” goal tab, I specify that there is one exception to early to bed and early to rise: socializing. I broke my sleep schedule once this week and it’s because I went to my friend’s birthday party. I fell asleep at 4AM and then woke up at 6:45 AM to volunteer the next morning. You better believe I woke up at 10 AM this morning!

3. Write one-page journal entries. (Hobbies) You know what, I win. I’ve got this. My only exceptions to this are when I’ve stayed out late with friends and I do a quick quarter or half page. As long as I make up for it the next day or during the week, then I’m good to go.

4. Submit three job applications. (Professional) I applied to SEVEN jobs this week! Also in the professional realm of my goals, I did a two-day interview. Despite any lagging in the health department, I am proud of the solid job progress I made this week.

Have a fantastic week everyone! Be the best you. 🙂

Thank You, Yelp!

carolyn yelpyIn February, I had just moved back home after finishing student teaching. One day, I checked Yelp for reviews of a restaurant I was thinking of dining at with a friend and it clicked that all those reviews are written by actual people! It dawned on me that I could easily write reviews on the places I ate and also about anything from the local grocery store to concert venues to my alma maters. I started reviewing up a storm and eventually I applied to become an “Elite” for 2013. My application was approved and since then, I have met a ton of incredible people and tried a ton of incredible food all thanks to complimentary Yelp Elite events.  One of my goals to maintain is to try a lot of new food, which Yelp has really enabled me to do. For example, through Yelp I have tried vegetarian sushi and Afghan cuisine, just to name a few new dishes I may not have tried. Additionally, Yelp has been incredible in helping me get out of my comfort zone when it comes to socializing. I’ll never forget my very first event. I took the L train with three different transfers when I had scarcely ever ridden that train alone before, let alone figured out transferring train lines. Once I arrived, I learned that there were going to be about fifty people there. I took a deep breath and started introducing myself. I ended up making some great friends and I even got to roll my own sushi for the first time!

But more than anything else, Yelp has taught me to really value and pay attention to what I eat. I find that I am much more observant and thoughtful about the food I eat because I know that I will write a review later. This has also transferred to my everyday eating, which contributes to my being mindful of what foods I put into my body. So, in a roundabout way, Yelp has inspired me to be healthy. In my quest to improving myself in a number of ways before my 24th birthday (and beyond!), I’m happy to say that Yelp has been and continues to be an important part of the journey.