Why can’t American job applications be like this?


The-Bodleian-Library-006

Original Image — Copyright John Downing/Rex

So, I went out on a limb and applied for a job at Oxford University in the UK which has the most romantic, best fucking library in the whole world (the Bodleian Library which was the model library for the Hogwarts Library in Harry Potter). Obviously, it’s intimidating and feels completely absurd to even apply. I was nervous and worried what the process would be like, but it was the easiest application I have ever completed and by far the most considerate.

Anyone applying to librarian or professional jobs in the United States knows how harsh the job descriptions and requirements can be.  For example, this is a quote from a Digital Research Services Librarian for the Humanities (a job similar to the one I applied to at Oxford). It says the minimum requirements are:

Education/Licensing: An advanced degree in a humanities discipline (Master’s degree required, doctoral degree preferred) (with preference for art/art history or modern languages) or science discipline. An additional ALA-accredited MLS preferred.

Required qualifications include: professional-level work experience in an academic library or equivalent research setting; demonstrable understanding of the research processes employed in a range of disciplines with particular focus on the research data lifecycle; demonstrated expertise employing digital tools for e-research, including big data management and curation, text mining, research practices relating to data, preservation, and retrieval; demonstrated ability to lead change.

Is your brain reeling yet? Two Master’s degrees, doctoral preferred … Basically, if you don’t have these qualifications and didn’t spend your entire life in school to make $50k: go fuck yourself. On the other hand, Oxford considers these the essential qualifications for their position of Social Sciences Research Data Librarian:

1. A good undergraduate degree and a higher degree in social science or librarianship/information science.

2. An informed understanding of social science information needs and uses, research methodologies, and knowledge of scholarly communication patterns.

3. Demonstrably excellent communication skills and the ability to work collaboratively in a complex organization including experience of building effective working relationships with faculty.

4. Demonstrably excellent I.T. skills and highly competent in searching a wide range of online scholarly materials including data resources.

5. Understanding of legal, policy and ethical frameworks governing research data and information.

Also, look at their explanation of how work experience can be gained, as considered by one of the most famous and prestigious universities in the entire world:

Your skills and experience may have been gained though paid employment, voluntary/community work, domestic responsibilities, spare-time activities, and training.

I am still in shock … They recognize that people can gain professional skills through domestic responsibilities and spare-time activities? The job applications I have seen usually state that you MUST have a minimum of 3 years experience in the position you are applying for. It begs the questions: how the hell do you get experience and what if your “experience” is gained through non-traditional means?

This job posting also gave amazing information on the application process, when applications would be short-listed, and an exact time line when interviews would be conducted.  It is a huge relief to know that if I am not contacted by the interview date I didn’t make it to their list. This is unlike most applications I have completed that state you can not contact them, they will not contact you, and best of luck in waiting around in confusion for 6 months.

As for me, I doubt I will hear anything from Oxford. The application closed a few days ago, but in general the purpose was to spread my job hunting wings and feel professionally hopeful and adventurous.  I did spend a day (or two 🙂 ) imagining us moving to Oxford.  How it looks: We are happily living in a cottage right by campus.  My boyfriend (cough, cough — husband for the Visa) is at home caring for our beautiful British babies and as happy as can be.  Every day I riding my bike home for lunch, we sit on the grass by the river and have picnics, laughing about how silly academics are.  Oh no! I must be off! Look at the time.  I kiss my man and babies, jump on my bike — wearing a flowing cotton dress and looking rather British.  You see, I must get back to the Bodleian because a famous scholar studying C.S. Lewis needs some materials and to bounce ideas off me.  I think I will stay in this dream life for a while….

oxford_bodleian_apple_girl_bike_tall

Photographer Unknown — Bicycle and Girl at Bodleian Library Oxford, England

Advertisements

Why I take medication for my ADHD


200

This little boy is my ADHD cheerleader.

I was diagnosed with ADHD at the late age of 24 when I was in library graduate school.  While this was something I struggled with my entire life, I had never been able to put an exact diagnostic to what was “wrong” with me. Being diagnosed, accepting, and embracing my ADHD was a blessing and allowed me to understand why I was different. This different-ness (yes, I made up a word) isn’t a curse, it really is what makes me — and others with ADHD — very special.

Women with ADHD are often not overlooked at a young age. This article from Additute Magazine really sums up the issue: many women are not diagnosed (or diagnosed late) because us ladies express hyper-activity much different than boys.  We express it through being overly social and other less disruptive ways (for example forgetfulness or failure to finish assignments).  Many women go their whole lives untreated; this results in low self-esteem and often substance abuse problems as a way of self-medicating.

My Background
From an early age I was always very dreamy, social, unfocused, and ditzy — but smart. I have lost my wallet and phones more times than I can remember. I have never been good at testing or reading, often find myself drifting away into thoughts, day dreams, and anxieties. I have so much energy I was often called “annoying” because I couldn’t stop talking, jumping around, and being excited. School was difficult for me and I was drawn to fields like the arts where I could use my hands. While I did ok in school, I had to work much hard than other people just to accomplish homework assignments. To be honest, I have entire courses in high school and college I was not mentally “present” for. Yet, I was creative and full of ideas. I was a happy kid with tons of friends and did well enough in school to not gain attention from teachers. Privately, I was struggling with self-esteem issues and hating how different I felt than everyone else around me.

I found ways to unknowingly cope with ADHD while growing up. I kept lists of everything I thought and everything I had to do because I learned I would not remember anything 2 minutes prior to the thought. I wrote down every homework assignment and my planners became my life line to success.  However, I discovered in my first semester at graduate school I could not be succeed with these constant distractions and I sought help. This need for help was highlighted by my boyfriend in our first years living together. I realized as we cleaned he could stay in one spot and do the dishes while I was literally running from room to room fulfilling very thought I had as they arrived in my head. It hit me like a ton of bricks: why can he stay in one spot and I literally CAN’T? I tried and I felt anxious and cloudy.

Help came in the form of a little pill called Ritalin.

How Meds Help Me
I was very hesitant at first, but I have had nothing but a good experience with ADHD medications. I was prescribed a very low dosage of Ritalin and have stuck with this dosage because it doesn’t make my heart race and I  feel like myself.  The first day I took Ritalin I remember feeling very clear. Like, fucking clear. My thoughts slowed down and I realized all these years I have been living in a cloud. A dreamy little cloud that enabled me from being present in my life. The next day I went to work and realized I had done one project for 2 hours straight! I cannot tell you what a miracle this is.  I had never before sat down on the computer and focused solely on one thing.  It was the most amazing feeling in the world — I remember thinking, “is this what my friends feel? Do they go through their daily lives like this?”

I don’t take my medication daily, but I do sometimes take it for work/school related assignments and extremely social atmospheres where I know I will get overwhelmed and end up talking myself into a corner. I can function well without it, but it is nice to have when I need to conform to the focus-driven world of today. My story is a success story: I finished my degree with a 4.0 and even wrote a 100+ page thesis.

Love Yourself — Embrace ADHD
If you are struggling with ADHD as an adult, I really have come to see what an amazing gift it is. We think differently and that makes us very special and a great addition to society. We are idea people and can make multitasking our bitch.  Learn those things that make you unique and embrace them professionally and socially.  In the fabulous book Delivered from Distraction, I read something that changed how I see ADHD: if we lived in a different time — i.e. the days of hunting and gathering — us ADHD people would be the most successful, diligent hunters.  We have short attention spans and are impulsive which allows for “hyperfocus” under the correct circumstances. It is the hunter vs. farmer theory; we are the hunters. The world we live in is adapted for farmer mind-sets, but we can still thrive if we accept that we are different and can bring a different viewpoint the world around us.

I hope this can help someone out there struggling with ADHD and if they should take medications.

love, Sarah

The Jessica Alba + Britney Spears Work Out Routine


Britney Jessica BodI would like to preface this post with the obvious fact that I am in no way a personal trainer and I have compiled a new workout based on research of less than scholarly blogs.

Along with being awful at waking up in the morning, I am also awful at motivating myself to work out.  I have always been incredibly thin — to an awkward point… my boyfriend almost peed his pants when he found a picture of me from 7th grade because I was so tall and skinny. Yet, at the ripe age of 26, I am finding myself at that stage where I need to work out to not diet.  This must be a sign of more fun things to come. Thus, it is time to motivate myself by reaching within and idolizing celebrity bodies! So the Jessica Alba + Britney Spears Workout Routine was born from the ashes of my procrastination and day dreaming.

The Jessica Alba + Britney Spears Workout Routine

Day 1 – ARMS

Treadmill Cardio
10 minutes total [2 min walking fast (speed 4.0) / 6 min running (speed 6.0) / 2 min walking fast (speed 4.0)]

Strength Training Arms
Shoulder Press Machine [3 sets at 20 reps each]
Bicep Curl Machine [3 sets at 20 reps each]
Lap Pull Downs [3 sets at 20 reps each]

Abs
Bosu Ball Crunches [50 reps]
Bosu Ball Plank with Knee Raises [50 reps]
Bicycle Crunches [50 reps]

Treadmill Cardio
10 minutes total [2 min walking fast (speed 4.0) / 8 min running (speed 6.0)]

Strength Training Arms
Shoulder Press Machine [3 sets at 20 reps each]
Tricep Extension Machine [3 sets at 20 reps each]
Lap Pull Downs [3 sets at 20 reps each]

Abs
Bosu Ball Crunches [50 reps]
Bosu Ball Plank with Knee Raises [50 reps]
Bicycle Crunches [50 reps]

Stretch Sun Salutations Yoga [I usually do 2 songs for timing]

Abs
Bosu Ball Crunches [50 reps]
Bosu Ball Plank with Knee Raises [50 reps]
Bicycle Crunches [50 reps]

Day 2 – LEGS

Treadmill Cardio
10 minutes total [2 min walking fast (speed 4.0) / 6 min running (speed 6.0) / 2 min walking fast (speed 4.0)]

Strength Training Legs
Seated Calf Raises [3 sets at 20 reps each]
Leg Press Machine [3 sets at 20 reps each]
Lunges with Dumbbell [3 sets at 20 reps each]

Abs Bosu
Ball Crunches [50 reps]
Bosu Ball Plank with Knee Pulls [50 reps]
Bicycle Crunches [50 reps]

Treadmill Cardio
10 minutes total [2 min walking fast (speed 4.0) / 8 min running (speed 6.0)]

Strength Training Legs
Seated Calf Raises [3 sets at 20 reps each]
Leg Press Machine [3 sets at 20 reps each]
Lunges with Dumbbell [3 sets at 20 reps each]

Abs
Bosu Ball Crunches [50 reps]
Bosu Ball Plank with Knee Raises [50 reps]
Bicycle Crunches [50 reps]

Stretch Sun Salutations Yoga [I usually do 2 songs for timing]

Abs
Bosu Ball Crunches [50 reps]
Bosu Ball Plank with Knee Raises [50 reps]
Bicycle Crunches [50 reps]

Day 3 – BACK

StairMaster Cardio
10 minutes total [2 min slow / 6 min fast / 2 min slow]

Strength Training Back
Superman (Pilates) [3 sets at 20 reps each]
Back Extensions (add weight if you want) [3 sets at 20 reps each]
Cable Seated Row [3 sets at 20 reps each]

Abs
Bosu Ball Crunches [50 reps]
Bosu Ball Plank with Knee Rises [50 reps]
Bicycle Crunches [50 reps]

StairMasterCardio
10 minutes total [2 min slow / 8 min fast]

Strength Training Back
Superman (Pilates) [3 sets at 20 reps each]
Back Extensions (add weight if you want) [3 sets at 20 reps each]
Cable Seated Row [3 sets at 20 reps each]

Abs
Bosu Ball Crunches [50 reps]
Bosu Ball Plank with Knee Raises [50 reps]
Bicycle Crunches [50 reps]

Stretch Sun Salutations Yoga [I usually do 2 songs for timing]

Abs
Bosu Ball Crunches [50 reps]
Bosu Ball Plank with Knee Pulls [50 reps]
Bicycle Crunches [50 reps]

Day 4 – LEGS

Treadmill Cardio
10 minutes total [2 min walking fast (speed 4.0) / 6 min running (speed 6.0) / 2 min walking fast (speed 4.0)]

Strength Training Legs
Seated Calf Raises [3 sets at 20 reps each]
Leg Press Machine [3 sets at 20 reps each]
Lunges with Dumbbell (add weight if you want) [3 sets at 20 reps each]

Abs
Bosu Ball Crunches [50 reps]
Bosu Ball Plank with Knee Pulls [50 reps]
Bicycle Crunches [50 reps]

Treadmill Cardio
10 minutes total [2 min walking fast (speed 4.0) / 8 min running (speed 6.0)]

Strength Training Legs
Seated Calf Raises [3 sets at 20 reps each]
Leg Presses Machine [3 sets at 20 reps each]
Lunges with Dumbbell (add weight if you want) [3 sets at 20 reps each]

Abs
Bosu Ball Crunches [50 reps]
Bosu Ball Plank with Knee Raises [50 reps]
Bicycle Crunches [50 reps]

Stretch Sun Salutations Yoga [I usually do 2 songs for timing]

Abs
Bosu Ball Crunches [50 reps]
Bosu Ball Plank with Knee Pulls [50 reps]
Bicycle Sit Ups [50 reps]

Research

From the website Pop Workouts I looked at many different routines and decided the Jessica Alba 3-2-1 Workout was the best routine for my level of endurance (or lack there of) and strength training goals.  BUT this workout lacked the proper ab emphasis needed to achieve those nice abs Britney rocked. Thanks to blog London Moore Beauty and her post on the Workout Routine from Britney Spears in her Prime, I can incorporate some ab routines that Britney might have used.

Here are links to the different exercises: Shoulder Press Machine, Bicep Curl Machine, Tricep Extension Machine, Lap Pull Down, Seated Calf Raises, Leg Press, Lunges with Dumbbell, Superman (Pilates), Back Extensions, Cable Seated Row, Bosu Ball Crunches, Bosu Ball Plank with Knee Pulls, Bicycle Crunches, and Sun Salutations.

I also played around with many different apps to discover the perfect companion for a workout.

App Rejects:

  1. BodBot was useful when you don’t have a routine, and I liked the interface… but did not like how you could not customize the workouts  yourself.
  2. Bodybuilder.com was recommended by a friend who is doing a routine. The BodySpace portion seemed like a good fit and I even inputted the entire workout and created a new workout routine (you can link to it here if you want). The first day in the gym I tired to use it and it was AWFUL to navigate on my phone and track the workout in real time. I eventually got so fed I deleted the app. I did like how you could create a profile and track your weight, BMI, and photos, but I hated that it was a public profile! I dont want to share that with people (excuse me… that is personal). I am sorry, but that is not motivating for me.
  3. Fitness Buddy FREE was a hopeful contender, but in the end the free version was just not good enough for me.  I like the calender aspect and the navigability, but if you are looking for a free version this one only allows you to save 2 workouts.
  4. GymPact is a really cool idea for a workout app… it pays you to workout, and if you don’t workout on your committed days you have to pay THEM. I did a free trial and found the anxiety too intense. If you do work out it pays you like $.10 and if you don’t you pay $5 a day. Also, you can’t track a workout routine.  It is just to check into the gym while you are there.

App Winners:

  1. Gym Geek won in the end! It allows you to create your own workouts and track in real time. It took some time to set up, but while I did the workout it prompted me to move forward to the next set which was fun. It also gave me a star when I completed a workout set. I am a sucker for little rewards like gold stars so… this won my heart.
  2. Daily Ab Workout is a great app for different sit-up routines! It has a video that goes along the entire time you are doing it, allows you to play music while crunching, and has many different routines to choose from. I won’t be using it from now on my workout days, but I did use it for about a year and even paid the $.99 for the paid version! This goes to show how awesome this app is.

Current Workout Experience

I am currently on day 3 of this routine and it is incredibly LONG… I have had to cut it a bit short to not spend my life at the fucking gym.  However, maybe as I learn where the machines are and get comfortable with the routine it will shorten a bit. Overall I am sore, but not feeling TOO sore like I over did it. I did up the weight on the calf raises and did only 10 reps because I want to build bigger calves rather than lean calves. I also started the crunches with a goal of 40 (rather than 50) and plan to work up to 50 by next week.  My advice on the weight to use for strength training: I have no idea. When I started researching for workout routines I was all, “How the hell am I suppose to know how much weight to use?!?! Someone direct me!” The first day on the routine I tried different weights until I found one that burned but didn’t hurt. I think it is just trial and error.

I took a “before” picture the first workout day but I refuse to post it until I have made some actual progress.  Maybe I will take a week-by-week photo and post it when I am feeling Britney + Jessica fab 🙂

love, Sarah