Posts Tagged ‘Students’

Dear People of a Certain Age,

My dad used to say, “Old age ain’t no place for sissies.” Later I found out he pinched* that from Bette Davis.

Anyway, I’d reply, “Yeah, yeah,” and go on about my business.

So now I’m old(ish), and I see.

Except sometimes I can’t see without my glasses.

And that’s new.

Eddie calls this my sexy librarian look. What does he know? He’s old(ish) too.

Let me hear an “Amen” on these other surefire signs of aging:

  • The mind says, “Yes!,” but the body says, “Not so fast.”
  • You agree to events in the moment, and then are thrilled when there is a reason you can’t go:

Yes, I’d love to go to your cousin’s friend’s yard party, but (insert name of first family member you see) just isn’t feeling well.

  • What used to be a punishment as a kid — “Go straight to your room, young lady; you’ll be going to bed early!” — sounds like a perfect night.
  • When you do go out, you lose your mind. It’s like you have to make up for months of the above. At least you get to talk about “that time when … ” After all:

Bad decisions make good stories.

  • You wake up at 3 a.m. No reason. And that’s your ass, because you can’t go back to sleep.
  • Your friends text at 6:30 and 7 in the morning, and you’re not even mad. You’re up. You get mad at the ones who text at 10 p.m.
  • You have (or have thought about) beginning a sentence with the words, “Kids today … ” I swear to God I called some student a crazy whippersnapper Friday when he nearly hit me in his Mustang. (In my head, I called him this. I’m not quite into audible “Get off my lawn!” territory.)
  • Songs suddenly hit a nerve. Take, for example, the lyrics from “Live Tomorrow” by my new favorite band, Jesse’s Divide.

    Work today, work tomorrow.
    Before you know it, you’re 83
    Living life inside a memory.

    Work today, live tomorrow.
    Before you know it, you’re 63
    And living life was just a memory.

    That’s not depressing at all. I’m not crying. You’re crying.

  • No more catcalls on the street. That could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your ego/past/tolerance level.
  • The top thatch is thinning a tick (or a ton maybe). This is not my problem, though. Mine has gotten thicker. Downside: shedding (i.e., clogged drains, hairballs in corners, strands all over everyone’s clothing all the time). Gideon reports:

Somehow I found one of your hairs in my notebook!

  • Waistline creep. Large fries from McDonald’s now cut down to just one you steal from your kid and eat like a squirrel with an acorn. (Or is this just me?)
  • You may think you are young and hip but your pop culture references say old and outdated. Actual conversation from mere days ago:

Me, opening the classroom door: I have so many keys, I feel like Schneider from ‘One Day at a Time.’ (looking at student next to me) Uh oh. I guess that doesn’t mean anything to you.
Student: Oh I get most of your references. I watch Nick at Nite and other throwback channels.
Me, aging 10 more years instantly: Ouch (said internally where it’s dark and sad).

  • All of a sudden, parts of your body start speaking to you in an unpleasant tone of voice. I woke up the other morning, and my hip was barking at me. Why? I don’t know.
  • You see someone old and unattractive in a window and realize it’s your reflection. Rude.
  • Gray hairs appear in new places seemingly overnight.
  • If you have dry skin, like I do, then you suddenly are spending your retirement savings on various potions to beat the lines and crepiness into submission. If you have oily skin, you are good to glow (literally and figuratively).

  • For women: There’s a vast wasteland between Forever 21 and Coldwater Creek.
  • For men: Don’t complain to me. You age and get “distinguished.” Never a shortage of women of all ages who are interested. (Two old ladies felt up Eddie in the grocery store this week. He now has a #metoo story.) Women? Sorry. You’re just old. Suck it up, Buttercup. (Yet it still beats the alternative of NOT getting to age.)

In just a few short years, I think I’ll be the living version of Maxine. Horrifying.

Send a cryo pod, STAT.

Laughing to keep from crying,
Beth the Aged


* Yep. I’m still British.


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Dear Helicopter Parents:

I’m going to have to ask you to stand down. Before you get your knickers in a twist*, know that I know you: I too am a member of Gen X. Like you, I was raised by Baby Boomers who never knew where I was until the streetlights came on.

(Or when Chris Marosy’s dad rang the dinner bell in the Marosys’ front yard, whichever came first.)

Stop checking your child’s calendar, Snap and Insta for a hot second and listen to me.

What happened to you?

You know good and well that we didn’t have play dates or Pinterest-inspired birthday parties or gender-reveal parties or baby wipe warmers or organic food. (We ate Chef Boyardee ravioli out of the can, FFS!)

You know what else we didn’t have?

  • Car seats or (many times) seat belts. We just rolled around in the back of cars, putting on shows with our feet in the back window.
  • Hand sanitizer. We barely washed our hands.
  • Awards unless we came in first place. Not first? Loser.
  • Remote controls. We got up to change the channel on the TV. Only four channels; not much of a workout.
  • Cable, Netflix, Hulu, etc. See above.
  • A ride to the corner store. We walked our asses there to get our fix of Bubble Yum, Atomic Fire Balls, Bottle Caps and candy cigarettes.
  • A choice when it came to chores, the food on our plates, sitting quietly at events (no tablets or smartphones to keep us occupied).
  • Parental supervision. We were latchkey kids. We were babysitting by age 10 (sometimes earlier). The only goal was to keep the kids alive until their parents came home.
  • Words of encouragement. “Good job” not typically in a Boomer’s vocabulary.
  • Attention. Not even for injuries. That is, unless a bone was sticking out of the skin. Then we might get a Band-Aid.
  • Timeouts. We got the belt if we were acting up. Or, in my case, a whack with a flyswatter.

I’m not saying all this was great, but I am saying that we all turned out fine. We are suspicious of authority, skeptical of everything, but fine.

Our kids will be fine too. You DO NOT need to hover — I promise. We made mistakes, and we learned from them. You are making it harder for them to be adults by doing everything for them.

These are things you’ve said to me or around me (names changed to protect them like you want):

  • “Kyle is having trouble making his morning class. Can you go to his room in the mornings and wake him up?”
  • “Madison needs to learn to advocate for herself.” (Yet you come to every meeting and interrupt her when she tries to speak up.)
  • “Who will be doing Dylan’s laundry in the dorms?”

I heard a story about a dad who came to his son’s job interview. The kid did not get the job. Of course.

Poor kids.

It’s not their fault. You made them this way.

I would have DIED if my parents had talked to any of my professors or college staff. You would have too.

My parents showed up at college twice:

  • To move me in.
  • To see me graduate.

That’s it.

Times have changed. I get it. And I know there are positives to being more involved in your child’s life (like maybe fewer snatchings, less drug use, a feeling of being more connected — loved even).

I’m just asking you to back off — just a bit — when little Connor goes to college.

All of us who work at universities will thank you.

And that means you will have more free time to take up new hobbies like:

  • Finally watching “Game of Thrones.”
  • Exercising (that stomach isn’t going to flatten itself).
  • Day drinking.
  • Napping.
  • Both of the above in that order.

Thank you, from the bottom of my after-school-special-loving heart.

* I’m British now. Didn’t I tell you?

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Merinda_Epstein_job_interviewDear Job Seeker:

You did it: You made it to the in-person interview. You do not, however, have the job yet. Don’t get comfortable. Nowadays, the hiring process is a marathon for job seekers, not a sprint.

Here are Auntie Beth’s Top Five Tips for Sealing the Deal in the In-person Interview:

  1. Dress appropriately. Auntie Beth keeps saying this, so it must be important. IT IS! Research the organization and know how employees dress at work. You should dress one or two steps up the fancy ladder. At Auntie Beth’s organization, suits and dresses are de rigueur. Imagine her surprise when a fellow wore jeans to his interview.
  2. Pay attention to hygiene. Please bathe, fix your hair, brush your teeth, clip or polish your nails, shine your shoes, etc., in preparation for your interview. Take pride in your presentation. Auntie Beth don’t want no scrubs.
  3. Prepare for interview questions. If you have been interviewed over the phone or via Skype, then you already know what kinds of questions organization representatives will ask you. Now is the time to tighten up those answers. Know the points you want to make about your education, experience, work ethic and goals that make you the right fit for the organization. (These are called “talking points,” boys and girls!) Match key details to the job description. For example, if they ask you to tell them about yourself, do not share your biography from age 3 to present in a 20-minute monologue. Simply offer a few sentences about what makes you the best candidate for the position. If they ask you about your greatest achievement, do not respond, “Getting off the pole.” (Auntie Beth heard that true story  from a friend at a staffing firm. The candidate stated that she still had her pimp, though.)
  4. Remember that you are still in an interview. Do not ask for a larger office (another true story), a refrigerator and microwave in that larger office (true again), or comfortable couches so people can “hang out” (yep, also true).
  5. Have fun! This is perhaps the most important part. Yes, Auntie Beth knows you are nervous, but you need to show your personality. You will spend at least 40 hours at work each week with these people. You likely will spend more time with your work colleagues than you will with your friends and family. Do you like them? Do they like you? Smile and turn on the charm.

Auntie Beth believes in you. Carpe diem!

In other words, seize the day,

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2013.09.27.skype-conversationsDear Job Seeker:

If things go well at the job fair, the next step might be a Skype interview. Auntie Beth is here to help.

Auntie Beth’s Top Five Tips for Acing the Skype Interview:

  1. Use a professional handle. Use your name or an appropriate variation (e.g., WriterBeth). (You can save “HoochieMama12” for your chats with friends.)
  2. Art direct your space. Find an appropriate location that looks professional. A home office is a good spot. A garage with recycling bins behind you is not.
  3. Troubleshoot your equipment. Run tests with friends or family to make sure everything is working properly. Set up your laptop/iPad/computer on a stable surface that is eye level. Don’t even think about holding your iPad in your hands for the interview.
  4. Dress appropriately. Wear interview attire. Just because you might be at home doesn’t mean professional dress doesn’t apply. Don’t try to disguise sweats by wrapping yourself in a big scarf. Have some sense!
  5. Remember that this is a bona fide interview. For the love of all that is holy, do not take your laptop into the kitchen to make a sandwich during the interview. (True story, says Auntie Beth.) Look into the camera and answer questions the way you would in an in-person interview.

May the bandwidth be ever in your favor,


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'I'd like a job as a job creator so I can create an easy, high paying job for myself.'

Dear Job Seeker:

Auntie Beth is here with more advice to help you get a job. This is the first of a three-part series on interviewing: Making the Most of the Job Fair, Acing the Skype Interview, and Sealing the Deal in the In-person Interview.

Auntie Beth’s Top Five Tips for Making the Most of the Job Fair:

  1. Do your research. Find out which companies will be at the job fair and what jobs are open. Tailor your résumé to fit each position you want.
  2. Come prepared. Based on your research, make a list of what positions are open where and which résumé fits. (Type A people, this is where you can color-code some folders!) Put your tailored résumés in a proper carrier, such as a nice leather bag. Do not shove them in a ratty North Face backpack.
  3. Dress for success. Wear proper interview attire. Do not wear jeans and a hoodie to a job fair. (This seems like common sense to Auntie Beth, but you’d be surprised at what she has seen with her very own eyes.)
  4. Be ready for an impromptu interview. If company representatives like what they see in your résumé, they will want to talk to you right then. Formulate responses to key questions. Auntie Beth was shocked recently when a candidate simply wanted to drop off a résumé at a booth and was not prepared to be interviewed that moment. It’s a job fair, people — that’s why you are there!
  5. Talk to everyone. Even if companies you are interested in do not have a job open that is right for you, talk to representatives anyway. Give them a résumé. Let them know what kind of job you would be suited for in their organization. If you are personable and seem like the right fit for the company, chances are good that they will remember you later. Don’t forget to ask for business cards and follow up with a nice note.

Doing well at the job fair may be the difference between being gainfully employed or being 35 years old, eating a steady diet of government cheese, thrice divorced, and living in a van down by the river!

Yours in motivation,
Auntie Beth

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970249_539592979431185_1168549634_nDear Job Seeker:

Auntie Beth is here to help you get that dream job, or at least something that may lead to your dream job. Just so you know, kids, Auntie Beth has never been unemployed, or even underemployed. Auntie Beth has worked her heinie off since the tender age of 15 when she scooped ice cream at Baskin-Robbins. Auntie Beth has no sympathy for whiners.

If you want to work, there are jobs out there for you. “Work comes from work,” said the great sage Jerry Saltz, art critic for New York Magazine, at a recent SCAD event. It is a full-time job to get a full-time job. Get out of your robe, get off Facebook, and get going.

Here are Auntie Beth’s Top Five Tips for Getting a Job:

1. Rework your résumé. Put everything on one page. Yes, ONE PAGE. People don’t have time to sift through your stuff looking for interesting nuggets. Make it easy. Tailor your résumé for each listing. Use their keywords. If you have gaps in employment, use the header “related experience.” If your education is the best fit for the job, put that first. If it is your experience, put that first. Persuade people with your résumé that you are the perfect fit.

2. Do your research. Once you know that an organization is hiring, find out everything you can. What are the organization’s strengths and weaknesses? How can you contribute? What are your unique skills that would be valuable to the organization’s goals? This will help you take on No. 3 below, and will help you if you make it to the interview stage.

3. Use your cover letter to persuade by offering proof. Your cover letter should consist of three main paragraphs. In the first paragraph, explain how you found out about the job. If someone in the organization gave you a lead, NAME DROP. Explain why you want the job and are the best candidate. In the second paragraph, prove how you were successful in previous jobs and tie your proof to what they want. If they say they want someone with time-management skills, don’t just write, “I have excellent time-management skills,” prove it by writing, “I was able to juggle three college courses while working two full-time jobs — one of which named me ‘Sales Leader of the Month.'” In the third paragraph, reiterate why you are the best and explain what you will do next (i.e. “I will call you in two weeks to set up a meeting to discuss the position.”). Then do it. You cannot be passive. (Although if the ad says, “no calls,” you have to respect that.)

4. Network. Use your vast Facebook friends list for good: Tell everyone that you are looking for a job. Tell them what you can do and what kind of job you want. Ask former colleagues and supervisors to endorse you on LinkedIn. Join groups so you get notifications of open positions. Most people get jobs because of people they know. One of my former students tracked down the information on the person doing the hiring for a position he wanted. It turns out that the person and I worked together and are still Facebook friends. He asked for a reference, which I willingly gave because he is industrious and I like him. The chance of you finding a job through simply responding to ads on monster.com is next to nil. Most people will go out of their way to help you and connect you with people they know who are hiring. Follow up on all of those leads and then thank each person in writing.

5. Put on your big girl panties or big boy pants and get out there. Dress for the job you want. Jeans and a hoodie are not going to cut it. Invest in a suit. It is an investment that will pay off handsomely. Go in person in that suit to organizations where you want to work. Drop off your résumé. Be friendly and energetic. They’ll be impressed, I promise. A student of mine did that and had a great job in less than 24 hours. Remember: The worst thing anyone can do is say, “No.” It’s scary but you must do it.

Remember: Your job is to get a job. If you cannot pay for your own living expenses without help, then you are either a student or you are underemployed and need a better job.

Don’t be afraid to take a good job just because it isn’t exactly what you want. Cliché alert: It is a foot in the door and a step in the right direction toward the “right” job — and it pays the bills in the meantime.

Now go get ’em, Tiger. Make Auntie Beth proud!



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Dear AWP Program Directors:

I’m mystified by something that happened this morning. Please help me make sense of it.

One of you complained that prospective students often ask her this:

What job am I going to get?

The overwhelming majority of the rest of you laughed as if to say this:

Oh, how silly! Why would someone ask something so crazy?

She went on to lament “consumer culture.”

Wait just a hot second. Are students not consumers of a product, albeit an intangible one? In return for their money, time and effort, they earn a degree and, one hopes, a job.

Why is this bad?

I talked to the woman who made the comment. She said she got her M.F.A. because she is an artist. I said:

But don’t you want to get paid for your artwork?

Then I found out she is a poet. Oh. And she represents a poetry degree program. OH!

That explains her situation, but what about the rest of you? I appreciate art for art’s sake, but it is better when you can make a living doing what you like best. No?

This seems to me to be another example of AWP acting like an ostrich.

Weren’t you just talking about the rising cost of college and increasing student debt load? Don’t you want to help students get a job so that they can pay off the college education that helped them get a job?

I’m confused. Please help me understand.



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