Bound to a place

We have the tendency to deliver the bad news first, good news after — perhaps as a form of mental defense and to soften the blow whatnot — so I am going to do the same here.

The bad news: I have not received a single interview invite yet for 30+ job applications I have sent in.

The good news: I have finally learned how to narrow down my job preferences. As someone who is multiskilled — or realistically being made to learn and master as many skills as possible in a small agency — I had a feeling it had been hard for companies to pinpoint my expertise. Are you a Project Manager? But also a UX Strategist? A Content Writer? And you do social media too? I have also learned that over the years as a Project Manager for a small distributed team, the combination of tasks and roles I had done are almost similar to the tasks of today’s Product Manager. In the discovery of this, I have made a decision to narrow down my job search to the Product Management area, and cater my resume and cover letter specifically to this role. I have also enrolled in a Product Management course in Coursera (see Status Board below) to refresh what I have learned hands-on before, and to learn what’s new in the industry. So that’s the good news. (For the record, I spoke into existence today of what I am as a professional currently, and what I am aspiring to be — in hope that the universe will listen and grant me what’s good for me.)

I have been asked before: why keep looking for a remote job? Why not relocate (back) to Kuala Lumpur or other cities where job opportunities are more abundant, and I can easily find one that fits my qualifications? I have always been hesitant about answering this question, for the fact that not only I find remote positions more productive and sustainably friendly, but also, I am unfortunately bound to a place. This is probably a situation not many — in the words of Anne Helen Peterson — ‘hyper-mobile millennials’ understand, not a lot of us can just pack up and move, at least not anymore. Anne said exactly what I thought, “But sometimes you don’t just “want” to be near your extended family; your extended family needs you there. Or they help provide the child care that makes it possible for you to work. Or your partner has a good job that you can’t or won’t give up. Or you love a community, have loved it your whole life, and want to be part of its future.” In my case, I am bound to the person who birthed me, whose life and families and easy access to her medical care are also bound here, and there’s only both of us after dad passed away. I know there are many others like me out there, who can’t just chase after any employment opportunities and more so than often, give up all of these seemingly amazing opportunities because we are bound to a place for many reasons.

It’s quite demoralising to open your email inbox every day to find another rejection letter, or to find no good news at all I admit. But then again I kept telling myself, I just submitted my PhD thesis only over a month ago. It’s still fresh, and my viva is still not scheduled. I still have all the time. I am exactly where I am supposed to be right now. But how long can I keep telling myself this?

Quite a long list on what I have been reading over the weekend:

  • “This very brief overview of the basic relationship between the colonial power and colonial knowledge helps us distill some of the characteristics of a colonial relationship. We will use these characteristics to make a determination about the current age and its own centres of power. We will ask, is tech colonial?” Sareeta Amrute, again asking the important questions. Also, I have to learn from Sareeta on always giving visibility to women and PoC scholars, as she had gloriously cited all their works in this piece.
  • An Indian politician is using deepfakes to win voters — the first ever record of a political party anywhere (also it isn’t the first time deepfakes emerge during a political campaign, as in the case of the UK general election) has used a deepfake for campaigning purposes, a decision that comes with ethical baggage.
  • “Offices used to be gulags, but at least they had a clear purpose. You wouldn’t hang out in a cubicle farm, let alone spend time there on the weekends. Then companies like Google came along and reinvented the rat race into something with purpose and, along the way, confused work with the rest of life. Now, your coworkers are supposed to feel like a family. Hierarchies have been flattened, conventional job titles replaced by ones like “wizard” and “ninja.” The vacation days are unlimited (not that you’d ever take them). And forget about work-life balance. It’s all about work-life integration.” Not sure about the gulag comparison, but I wholly agree with this article of how Silicon Valley ruined and expected work culture.
  • What would happen if salaries were made transparent?
  • “I told her that I’d woken up with this pain the morning after watching the debate. She paused what she was doing, resting her gloved hand on my stomach the way you’d calm a skittish animal. “Yeah, I’m seeing a lot of this lately,” she said. “Women who haven’t had problems in years coming back in. People have all kinds of different reactions to trauma.”” What a revelation.
  • “Last year, I did a big feature for the Times on the ten essential Persian recipes, and we had such a wonderful and positive reaction to it. But then, well, it turns out that people can like our food and still want to bomb us.” An interview with Samin Nosrat, chef, author, and all-round delightful person.
  • There’s an unconscious tendency to tune out people you feel close to because you think you already know what they are going to say. It’s called closeness-communication bias.
  • How our relationships change over time. The parents and the dog/pet ones punched me in the gut.

STATUS BOARD

  • Reading: bell hooks’ Teaching Critical Thinking.
  • Listening: Ibrahim Maalouf, a French-Lebanese jazz trumpeter and composer.
  • Viewing: I enrolled in this Product Management course on Coursera to prepare myself for job interviews as a Product Manager.
  • Food & Drink: Lots of affogato today.

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