My Life in the Learning Business
I have always worked in corporate training, and I have a penchant (a gift, perhaps) for working for organizations that reorganize, get bought out, or otherwise restructure. For a lot of companies, when times get tight and push comes to shove, learning and development positions are categorized as a “nice to have”, not a “need to have”. Consequently, I know my way around a layoff, and I’ve had to become adept at all things job search as to keep my expensive habits of eating and living indoors.
Recently, for the fifth time in my career, I found myself unexpectedly in a position where I needed to change jobs. The last time around, my position was unexpectedly eliminated on the day I returned from vacation. That was about two years ago, and I was not expecting to have to do this again quite so soon. However, life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans. I also know that of all the times I worried about an impending layoff, I have never seen it coming when I was directly impacted. Consequently, I’ve learned to try to be successful in whatever professional position I have, while also knowing that I need to be to seek out an alternate position given the ever-changing climate of business.
My Job Search by the Numbers
In a previous blog article, entitled “Job Search Insights by the Numbers”, I listed the statistics associated with my last job search. This time around, things moved a bit more quickly than I initially expected. Keep in mind, too, that about half of the jobs for which I applied have not responded. In their defense, I was on and off the market pretty quickly. It’ll be interesting to see who I hear back from eventually. With that, here’s how this job search shaped up:
Differences from Previous Job Searches
My last job search lasted 147 days. That's right. It was exactly 100 days longer. So what were the differences between then and now? What magic did I use to so quickly land a great new position?
Time of Year
Fortunately (as I look at the bright side), I knew I needed to make a change in late September. I’ve found that being unemployed over the holidays nearly guarantees about an extra month or two of job searching (or more likely, waiting). In fact, my longest two job searches included the holiday season, lasting 180 and 147 days respectively. The best advice that I have is to take some time off from job searching over the holidays. This time around, when I estimated the possible length of my period of unemployment, I surmised that I would either secure a new position before Thanksgiving or I’d most likely be waiting to start a new role until February or March of next year. Getting a jump start, even by a couple of weeks, made a big difference.
During layoffs one and two, I lived in Madison, Wisconsin. While I love Madison as a city, as someone whose chosen profession is corporate training, I knew that I needed to move to a larger job market or consider doing something else for a living. In the middle of my second big period of unemployment, I started targeting companies in Minneapolis. Even with the challenge of relocating (and managing all of the other areas of my life that were in transition right then), finding a new job took under five months. Being in the greater Twin Cities area, even with me being more selective on where to apply, I still had a lot of options. This gave me a better chance of one of the positions I applied for moving me along to the interview stage. It also made it easier for me to manage my job search related anxiety by applying for additional positions each time I was concerned about not hearing back from one potential employer.
I started using LinkedIn seriously in 2006. Since then, I’ve connected with coworkers, members of professional development organizations, colleagues with whom I’ve interacted, and pretty much anyone who I encountered and found interesting. I stay active on social media sharing useful content and attend industry meetings on a regular basis. Having this robust professional network and assisting individuals in my network when they are job searching or exploring new fields of interest, has helped me immensely. When encountering a position that interested me, I immediately looked to my network to see who might be able to put in a good word for me and help me get pulled out of the initial pile of candidates. I have also had more than one “informal interview” with a possible referer so they feel comfortable recommending me for a position. Since people are putting their reputations on the line, I don’t take their assistance for granted.
I’m at the point in my career where I know what kinds of jobs interest me. I have good formal education, recent job titles that are well aligned with roles for which I’m applying, and I’ve stayed current on the industry. While having someone refer me for a position helps, I know that I still need to be a well-qualified candidate. Those qualifications are what help me get from a courtesy phone interview to being considered a viable candidate for an open role.
Pure Dumb Luck
There is a certain amount of planet alignment that happens whenever something good manages to actually happen. In this case, a company in a field that interests me (software) had an opening for which I was qualified, and I had a former coworker who was willing to refer me for the position. The quotes “The harder I work, the luckier I get” comes to mind as does “luck is preparation meeting opportunity.” Sometimes, timing is everything.
What Do You Think?
What are your tried and true job search strategies and secrets to success? Include your thoughts in the comments.
I Did a Thing!
On, Saturday, 6/29/2019, I completed my first inline event! Yes, it was a race. For me, finishing is my winning. Not only did I "win", but I got my best time to date for the distance. I completed 6.23 miles in 50:24, which gives me an average pace of 8:05 minutes per mile. Success!
Why I Picked This Event
In previous blog entries, I have outlined my 3 phase inline marathon training plan. To help measure my progress and stay on track, I included 4 key events in my plans. Completing this 10K skate was the second key milestone in my overall plan. Here are those 4 milestone events:
My Goals and Objectives
For this particular event, my primary goal was to finish the event. I estimated that I could finish in about an hour given my times on previous 6-ish mile skates. I exceeded my own expectations by finishing in less time than anticipated.
Above and beyond just plain finishing, I had a few more objectives:
My Preparation: Training
I signed up for this event since it was nearby and fit in well with my overall inline marathon training plan. To get ready, here's what my physical training looked like from the beginning of May through the event:
My Preparation: Planning
As the event drew closer, I thought about logistical planning. The day before, I picked up my bibs (numbers) and t shirt. That same day, I drove the course. In retrospect, I should have done that WAY SOONER to get a handle on the terrain.
I figured out core logistics of parking, getting to the start line, and getting from the finish line to where we parked. I also enlisted my husband to be my road crew. He drove us to the event, kept us on time, got us parked, helped me pin on my numbers, and brought my shoes to the finish line. He executed all of the plans to get us where we needed to be, when we needed to be there that would have stressed me out on the day of the event.
What Went Well
The event itself went well. I achieved my primary goal of finishing, and even made good time through it all. My nutrition and hydration worked and I didn't feel dehydrated or have what I will politely call "gastro-intestinal distress" on the day of the event. I achieved a personal best time, and I felt good after I finished (perhaps partly because I got to stop skating after doing many, many hills). Post event, I ate a good meal, did some yoga, took a power nap, soaked in Epsom salt, and iced my left knee. Now, a day later, I'm only a little bit sore, which is encouraging.
I also realized how supportive people are at these events. There were some professional inline skaters at the front of the pack, then people who were more recreational. Along the whole course, people were encouraging. This included volunteers directing us the right way, police officers directing traffic, people who passed me, the water station helpers, and people not in the event who were just skating or running by. Everyone had words of encouragement to share. As I was struggling up the last, ridiculously long hill, I heard "almost at the top," "only 1 kilometer to go," "looking good," "you got this," and "you can do this!" That type of support in the moment makes all of the difference. While I pride myself of my ability to power through adversity, voices to help cheer on the voice in my head telling me I'm going to make it help. It also gives me faith in the goodness of the world.
What Could Have Gone Better
While I did drive the course, I drove it the day before the event--which didn't give me a lot of time to course correct my training. During that drive, which was almost an afterthought, I realized that there were a fair amount of hills on the course. I was worried about going down the hills and not totally losing control. I knew how to ascend hills, and though I was not very efficient in doing so, I knew I could complete the course as long as I could navigate downhill stretches.
In retrospect, I would have checked out the course earlier and trained accordingly. I definitely made up time from climbing the multiple hills by doing a little faster downhill afterwards. The last hill was very, very ugly. I definitely need to do more, different terrain so that isn't such an effort--or a surprise.
Lessons Learned and Next Steps
My next inline event is the first Saturday in August in St Paul. Here's how I will change my current training plan to be more successful in that event:
What Do You Think?
How have you trained for athletic events? Include your thoughts in the comments.
Standing on the Corner, Waiting for a Bus
When I moved to Minneapolis, I started working downtown and realized that many people opted to take public transportation rather than driving. A few years later, I also moved not far from the light rail train, so for a solid decade, I took the morning train, worked from 9-5 and then I took the train back home again. As job possibilities presented themselves, one of my ongoing requirements was being able to continue my easy train commute.
On a Downtown Train
After my position was eliminated at the end of last year, I started a new job, and for the first time in 12 years, I am driving daily to and from work. I was reticent to make this change, but I also received an offer for a job that was a perfect fit for me, so driving to and from work seemed a small price to pay for a great career opportunity. The other day, I took the train downtown to meet a friend for coffee. It reminded me of the good, the bad, and the ugly about commuting to work my train.
Why I Usually Loved My Train Commute
For me, taking the train was quicker, safer, cheaper, easier and enabled me to have a smaller carbon footprint. What’s not to love?
Why I Occasionally Disliked My Train Commute
Lower cost? Easier? What's not to like? Well, there are a few things...
What Do You Think?
What are the good and bad parts of commuting to and from work using public transportation? Include your thoughts in the comments.
Support your local roller derby!
In the Minneapolis/St Paul, Minnesota area, there are multiple opportunities for adults, teens and children to watch, and even learn to play, roller derby. Here's the lowdown on each organization.
Where to Attend a Roller Derby Bout as a Spectator
North Star Roller Derby
North Star Roller Derby (formerly known as the North Star Roller Girls) is a skater-owned and operated flat track roller derby league in Minneapolis that is affiliated with the WFTDA (Women's Flat Track Derby Association). Bouts are held approximately 6 times per season at the Lee & Rose Warner Coliseum at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St Paul. The four home teams are the Banger Sisters, Delta Delta Di, the Kilmore Girls, and the Violent Femmes. Northstar Roller Derby also has two travel teams: the Supernovas and the Northern Lights.
The Minnesota Rollergirls is a skater-owned, flat-track roller derby league in St Paul that is also affiliated with the WFTDA. Bouts are held approximately 6 times per season at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium in downtown Saint Paul. The four home teams are the Atomic Bombshells, the Dagger Dolls, the Garda Belts, and the Rockits. In addition, The Minnesota RollerGirls have two traveling teams: the Minnesota Rollergirls All-Stars (A Team) and The Minnesota Nice (B Team).
Minnesota Men's Roller Derby
Minnesota Men's Roller Derby is a member of the MRDA (Men's Roller Derby Association). Teams are comprised of inline skaters, former hockey players and more. Bouts are held approximately 6 times per season at Champion's Hall in Eden Prairie. There are two home teams for regularly scheduled bouts: Destruction Workers and Thunderjacks. There are also two traveling teams: TC Terrors (A Team) and The Terrordactyls (B Team).
Learning Roller Derby: Adults
Satelites is the North Star Roller Derby's recreational roller derby league. Skaters of all skill levels from those with no skating experience to those retired from competitive roller derby and everyone in between are welcome. In order to participate, you need to be at least 18 years old, have safety gear and have primary health insurance. Purchasing WFTDA insurance is also required.
There are three levels: Space Cadets (beginners), Space Rangers (intermediate) and Astronaughties (advanced). This is a great place to learn roller derby whether your goal is to be more active or if you aspire to compete. Typically there are fall and winter sessions with the option to practice once or twice a week.
(As a point of reference, I've been part of the Satellites program since early 2017, and I love it.)
Debu-Taunts is the training program affiliated with the Minnesota Rollergirls. The Debu-Taunts give skaters a positive and challenging environment to learn roller derby skills whether they aspire to try out for the competitive teams or to play recreationally. In order to participate, you need to be at least 18 years old, have safety gear and have health insurance. Purchasing WFTDA insurance is also required.
Debu-Taunts practice twice per week and hold 12 week training sessions in the fall and in the spring. There is currently a waiting list to participate.
Some people, who are doubly dedicated to learning and practicing roller derby as much as possible, enroll in both the Debu-Taunts AND the Satellites programs.
Fresh Meat Locker
The Fresh Meat Locker (or FML) is the training program for the Minnesota Men's Roller Derby. The program is open to people over age 18 of all gender identities. This training program is intended to help teach new skaters roller derby skills to help them become "battle-ready derby superstars." Contact Minnesota Men's Roller Derby for details.
Learning Roller Derby: Children and Teens
Twin Cities Junior Roller Derby
Twin Cities Junior Roller Derby helps "Derby Dudes and Derby Dames" from ages 3-17 learn roller derby skills. Skaters can come in with no skating experience at all or feeling very comfortable on skates. They typically have a fall session and a winter session where skill groups, (beginning, intermediate and advanced) each have dedicated training times. Many trainers have competed in roller derby, and enjoy helping children learn basic skills. Skaters get to pick their roller derby names, can purchase TCJRD scrimmage jerseys and can participate in scrimmages with other area teams on occasion, too.
(As a point of reference, my daughter has been involved with TCJRD since early 2017 and has enjoyed it so far.)
NERDY Junior Roller Derby
NERDY Junior Roller Derby (North East Roller Derby Youth) helps children from ages 7-17 learn roller derby skills regardless of their skill level coming. They organize skaters by size (rather than skating levels) into "Bigs" and "Littles" and into "contact" and "non-contact" for scrimmaging purposes. Many trainers have competed in roller derby, and enjoy helping children learn basic skills. Skaters have the change to sign up to practice twice per week, and skaters can drop in for practices and pay a per-class rate. Skaters get to pick their roller derby names, can purchase NERDY scrimmage jerseys and can participate in scrimmages with other area teams on occasion, too.
What Do You Think?
Additions? Corrections? Thoughts? Share your input in the comments.
Previously I posted about indoor roller skating rinks that are open year-round in the Twin Cities area. Now, let’s talk about other skating options:
BYOG: Bring Your Own Gear (and Wear It!)
For these roller skating options, there’s no equipment rental. Instead, you need to have your own skates, and your own safety gear (knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards, helmet, mouth guard) as well. In some cases, safety gear is required, but in all cases safety gear is just plain a good idea.
Wear Safety Gear Outside
Personally, I fall down a fair amount because I’m trying a new skill, doing something involving contact or dodging small children—and that’s inside on a floor designed for roller skating. Outside, it’s a whole different experience. Now you have things like heat, cold, rain, wind, puddles, uneven terrain, rocks and potentially traffic.
When skating indoors, even just at a roller rink, I always wear some kind of knee pads. Always. Outside, I recommend wearing closer to full gear. You may feel like a dork for a bit, but injuries suck, and sitting on the side of a trail bleeding is not cool at all. Regardless of heat, I also suggest wearing leggings of some sort. Falling on even a thin layer of material is much more pleasant than having your bare skin scrape across pavement (as my daughter learned the hard way).
Skating Outside=Different Wheels
That’s right. Indoor skating and outdoor skating require different wheels. Who knew? Well, now you do. In short, roller skating wheels vary in how hard they are and for outdoor skating, you need softer wheels to absorb the shock of uneven terrain. Wheels are labeled with a durometer (or hardness) number. The higher the number, the harder the wheels. Wheels considered outside wheels typically have a durometer of 78a. Hybrid wheels (appropriate for both inside and outside) are typically 84a. 88a and above (the scale goes to 101a) are for skating indoors.
Given that super quick description, get thee some outdoor wheels. As a frame of reference, I picked up wheels that are a 78a, for myself. I also have dedicated outdoor skates, which were my starter roller derby skates. I I know myself well enough to know that I was not going to take the time to change my wheels each time I wanted to switch from skating outside to inside.
For my daughter, who currently has 1 pair of roller skates until I figure out if her feet are done growing, I got a set of hybrid, or indoor/outdoor, wheels with a durometer of 84a. Again, I’m not changing her wheels every time we skate, and the extra grippiness of having softer wheels indoors for her is not the worst thing as she learns new skills.
Where to Skate Outdoors
Now that we’ve had the safety gear and outdoor wheels talks, here are ideas on where to actually get to the outdoor skating:
Special Indoor Skating Events in the Twin Cities
Here are a couple more options for skating. These are inside events where you need to bring your own skates and safety equipment. They only open at special, scheduled times:
Find a Skating Buddy
If you're in the Twin Cities area, and looking for a buddy for skating related fun, check out the Skate Dates group on Facebook.
My daughter and I started roller derby earlier this year. Suddenly, roller skating on a regular basis became a priority. I asked around with the Twin Cities Junior Roller Derby Parents, and got a few ideas on places to roller skate in the area.
In short, there are 5 roller skating rinks open year-round in the Greater Twin Cities area. Click here for general tips on roller skating rinks, and a few notes on each.
How To Decide Where To Skate
For me, when figuring out where to go, it comes down to a few key factors:
Roller Skating Center Possibilities
Cheap Skate, Coon Rapids, MN
Roller Garden, Saint Louis Park, MN
Saints North, Maplewood, MN
Skateville, Burnsville, MN
Wooddale Fun Zone, Woodbury, MN
Find a Skating Buddy
If you're looking for a buddy or group for skating related fun, check out the Skate Dates group on Facebook.
Brenda is a dynamic training & development leader & innovative learning experience designer.