Going Virtual: On A Different Kind of Job Fair

having attended grad school, supposedly, has many perks. One of these, of course, is that one is able to establish connections and learn of events that will help to launch his or her desired career. For the past couple of weeks, I had been preparing for such an occurrence: the Bender Virtual Job Fair for persons with disabilities, that I learned about via my Queens University Career Counselor. They put this fair on through a platform called CareerEco, which seems to do this on a regular basis for organizations and entities like universities that wish to present opportunities to a wide variety of students all online.

One thing I did like about this Career Eco platform is that they clearly attempt to make sure that everyone will be able to use their website and its chatrooms easily, through tutorials on screen-reader usage and recommended technologies. It is heavily suggested that Windows with Firefox and NVDA be utilized when participating in the chats, as one is most able to hear the incoming sounds as recruiters and others send them public or private messages. But being the maverick that I am, I kind of figured I could probably still make it work with my Mac, which I’ve now owned for a little over a year and am making fairly decent progress on I should add.

RELATED: I’m The Mac Daddy

I know, I will likely install Windows 10 on here someday soon, because yes there are some things that the Mac definitely does not do as well. In this case though, I would say that it did ok.

First, I put in a nearly full day at the day job, which I of course will retain while considering other options. The challenge with this decision though is that by the time I launched the site, at around 3:15, many of the recruiters had indeed already taken off. Some had indicated that they would be around later in the day, but as I figured they began shutting down around 12 PM. The fair went from 9 AM till 6 PM after all, and there were probably only so many attendees. Plus, well you’d naturally need to take a break from the screen for a while.

That being so, I still managed a couple of brief conversations. I spoke with someone at the Federal Aviation Administration, because we all know I”m a travel junkie and would love to find a position within this federal agency. I also chatted with a Walgreens rep who noted that most of the positions for which they were specifically hiring were somewhere in Illinois, but that I could try and get on at any store. Walgreens does have a good track record of hiring people with disabilities, so we shall see.

I wanted to see about talking to Apple, but their person had closed up shop by the time I arrived. I’m not certain how much of a retail person I could be, and the Apple stores are fairly loud, but it did look like an interesting path to explore. It’s ok though, just because the fair is over the potential connections do not have to be.

Finally, I spoke with and looked up information on the organization itself: Bender Consulting. They have an interesting story: founded by a woman with disabilities who seems passionate about helping more of us achieve competitive, no pity employment. I am definitely going to continue looking into that and gaining a fuller understanding of what exactly they do.

I would say that on the whole, the online job fair was a unique and good experience. A couple of big advantages it has over in-person fairs is that one, that one being me, is able to hear everything that is said with ease, even as the crowd ebbs and surges, depositing questions and seeking answers. The other, as touted by the ad itself, is that everyone is able to present on a more level playing field, without regard to dress, obvious disability status, and/or lacking of linguistic and other bodily cues that recruiters might consider. Of course, if one were invited into an in-person interview, he or she would then need to present well in these areas, but I suppose it at least allows the conversation to be started.

So with that opening shot, my career preparations are now fully underway. I am getting a number of irons in the fire at the same time, and hopefully something will take shortly. Every little experience helps in firming me up for that to occur.

Have you gone to a job fair recently? If so, what kind of connections came out of it? I did become curious about who put on the first such event, and the answer to this question is hard to find. Do you know?

Read It And Share

Already a month since I’ve darkened these pages? Oops? I had intended for once a week, but I guess adjusting to this new life has caused that to temporarily fall off of the table. I shall make no further promises of the sort, but well we’ll just see what happens.

In today’s post, I thought I would discuss a big way that my wife and I are merging and/or sharing hobbies: that of consuming the written word. As I’ve noted before, I have to remember that allowing parts of myself to be shared with my partner and her with me is probably one of the most important things we can do for each other. Not as easy as it should be for one who has largely grown up in his own bubble most of the time.

RELATED: On Sharing

In addition to, and derived from, many of the NPR stories I referred to in the linked post, I have generated a vast love for reading. I like to think, perhaps wrongly but whatever, that I now have a decent understanding of the kinds of books those closest to me might enjoy. In an attempt to introduce my wife to the joys of reading for pleasure (she helps kids learn to read for academic reasons with the idea that it might extend to pleasurable consumption and does a great job at that) I opted for a title that is considered Young Adult (YA). Not too complicated or long and easily relatable to those of us who grew up in low-income households. This book is entitled Piecing Me Together, by Renee Watson.

The gist of Watson’s story is that mentoring can be a powerful, but also challenging, way to help bring people up. We follow Jade, a 16-year-old living in supposedly rough North Portland, Oregon. Jade already has aspirations to attend college, but her main immediate goal is to visit a Spanish-speaking country in the school’s study abroad program. Every chapter is given a Spanish title in fact with its English translation.

The story gets more complex as Jade encounters racism in the stores, is fat-shamed, and generally made to question her very essence. One of the school’s staff, Mrs. Parker, recommends Jade to a program called Woman To Woman, where persons are paired with mentors who also attended the elite school to which Jade has been admitted. Maxine, her mentor, has all kinds of difficulties herself that revolve mostly around relationships and job choices. This of course effects her interactions with Jade as well.

I like the pacing of the book: even as a somewhat difficult topic one still enjoys the humor that is throughout the story. I also appreciate the many references to Jade’s bus rides and the people she meets onboard, one of whom turns out to be a really good friend until their relationship also hits some snags. I often end up reading the bus ride scenes as I take my own commute with people who are all familiar to each other and now to me as well.

Every time my wife reads it for a bit, she manages to shoot way past me and I must then catch up. She still has surprisingly good comprehension of the content, probably due to having to learn scan-reading for academic purposes. I, on the other hand, must pick my way along slowly. But the important thing is that we are taking this in together, and it gives us something else to discuss beside life’s usual stressors. She has suggested that we do a classic, a biography and a historical nonfiction piece of some kind, and I am down with this idea.

This is not our first attempt at such an endeavor. We started Kindred, by Octavia Butler, way back in 2015 (boggles my mind that it’s been three years already!) but then life intervened. Butler is also well known for her ground-breaking science fiction meets black history stories though, and if you haven’t read that one I would recommend it. It seems to have heavily influenced another, more recent, one that I read called Long Division, which I may have written about previously in this journal.

So we have reading, some NPR, and of course the near constant ragging over Carolina/Duke that will be especially intense at this time of year. If you have a partner now, what kinds of things are you doing to share enjoyment and de-stress together?