Posts Tagged ‘blog’

Carrie: Your Wayward Guide to Cool Jobs

Carrie: Your Wayward Guide to Cool Jobs

Howdy folks, and welcome back to “My Cool Job” which has been on hiatus for some months now.

It’s funny how many times I have mentioned this blog to people in the last few months…and yet it is only in the last few days that I’ve come to realize:

a) How long it’s been since I posted anything, and how much I miss the fun of finding my interviewees and learning more about them;

b) How much I miss my WordPress pals:  for a while now I’ve spent more time in ‘real life’ than online, but it seems that I need the creative outlet that this blog provides and the awesome interactions that come from it.  Having a few of you peeps on Facebook just doesn’t seem to satisfy so I’ll humbly ask you to let me back into the blogosphere; and

c) I’ve committed a faux pas of the highest order by wheedling a dear friend into providing an interview, which somehow never got published, and it’s time to make that right!

Hopefully, all of the above will be corrected within the next 24 hours when the secret of what a ‘Usability Tester’ actually does is revealed in detail…

Stay tuned and tell me you missed me.  I have certainly missed all of you!

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According to my research, the 2008 election had the highest voter turnout as a percentage of the voting age population since 1968.

132,618,580 voters arrived at the polls and one of the many, many hardworking people responsible for that historic voter turnout last November was today’s Cool Jobster, Political Organizer Mary McClelland who works for Rock  the Vote.

If you’re looking to turn off your computer and go home at 5pm every night, then working in the field to organize voter registration may not be the Cool Job for you.   However, if you have a passion for politics and think it is especially important to help young people become active in the voting process then you’ll not only enjoy today’s interview — you may just stop by at Rock the Vote and ask what you can do to get involved!

With a presidential inauguration just days away, the timing couldn’t have been better for a peek  behind the scenes at the type of effort and dedication it took to actually “rock” the vote.    Thanks for being today’s Cool Jobster, Mary!

When people ask you “what do you do?” how do you describe your job?

I work for Rock the Vote which is an organization who’s mission is to engage and build the political power of young people.  We use music, pop culture and new technologies to bring (and keep) them in the process.  My official title is ‘Deputy Political Director for Field Operations’ at Rock the Vote or as I lovingly refer to as the DPDFO (pronounced ‘dipped-fo’) – but rarely use that title as in my tenure here I’ve seen the organization grow from 4 people to 20 in the midst of the insanity that was the ’08 election, so my role and responsibilities shifted constantly.  In my day-to-day I oversee our field operations which means in election years I organize large scale voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts and work with our volunteer base around the country.  Within that there is a lot of partnership work with other political organizations as well as implementing new technologies in our effort to organize 18-29 year olds in the political process.  Now that the presidential election is over we are shifting our focus to issue advocacy to make sure the issues we care about get implemented.

What are the things about your job that you love?

I love the ability to be creative and implement new ideas – we have to break through the clutter to reach a younger audience and we can’t be boring.  I love thinking about how to use new technologies to politicize people. The partnerships can be hilarious everything from WWE (yes, the wrestlers) to NFL players to actors and musicians.  And of course the added bonus is I get to go to a lot of concerts for ‘work’.  There are worse things than having to go to South by Southwest and having an all-access pass or having the Beastie Boys perform at your Inauguration party.

What are the things about your job that you hate?

Rock the Vote has been around for 19 years and is a name that people have usually heard of (I was actually caught off guard recently when a younger person hadn’t heard of us – a nice lesson) – with that comes some unrealistic expectations.  Many people believe we are an arm of MTV but we actually have always been an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization with a limited budget – I constantly have to say no to people who think we are flush with cash or expect some merchandise or staff to attend their event.  At our peak in the election year we had 20 people to run a program that registered over 2 million people and implemented huge programs so the strain on resources is constant.

What education, training, vocation or just plain luck would someone have to have in order to get a job like yours?

For me it was luck and a passion for the issues.  I have a B.A. in English Literature which does not scream political organizer but when I graduated I ended up with a position in California working for an environmental organization, when I moved to DC a few years later I stayed in the political field working for a non-profit that focused on campaign finance reform.  Once you are in the DC political community it becomes quite small and through various networks you are able to work for different organizations on different issues.  I ended up working for a group called Young Voter Strategies in the ’06 election cycle and coming out of that the two organizations decided to integrate to add a political and research departments to Rock the Vote – I was in the right place at the right time and feel incredibly lucky.

For someone who would like to get into politics there are so many opportunities to get involved in campaigns if you are willing to start towards the bottom.  There are many organizations that train organizers and give you entry into the political sphere – even volunteering with a campaign to learn the ropes could score a position.  The type of degree you have is not as important as the type of passion and work ethic you have – these are not 9-5 positions and most likely don’t pay very well, but you can go home at the end of the day and feel like you did something.

What is the funniest story you can think of that involves your professional training or your job?

There are so many it’s hard to pick just one!  There could be the time where I went to the Baltimore Raven’s training facilities to register their players to vote or the time I ended up driving around Jack Johnson through the city of Richmond talking about environmentally friendly burial processes or getting mobbed at a festival in Venice Beach doing voter registration with WWE wrestlers or being a part of ringing the opening bell at NASDAQ on Super Tuesday.  A seriously crazy year.

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…why not visit my other blog, Carrie (Like the Movie) and enter the Holiday Contest?   You know you want to….

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Meet my new baby, arriving next week via UPS!

Meet my new baby, arriving next week via UPS!

Hello readers!

I know it’s been a few days since I last posted a Cool Job, but I’ve got a project in the works that I hope will be worth the wait. I’m going to combine my new cinematic “skillz” with my love of cool jobs and if all goes according to plan, in a few days you should be able to WATCH the next Cool Jobster answer the interview questions right here!

Please be patient, and while you wait for this new chapter in MCJ history to begin, you can check out The Complete Cool Job List above, or just click on over to Carrie (Like the Movie) where you can watch a few videos and have a little fun! I’ll keep you posted on my progress with the movie: Step One is waiting for my fancy schmancy new video camera to arrive, so if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to sit by the mailbox!

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celine-in-france“Hey, Jimsmuse!” you’re saying to yourself after reading the job title above, “Didn’t you already feature this cool job when you interviewed Douglas Dunn who works with English and American Sign Language?”   Interestingly, and lucky for me as your guide to the world of work, the answer is no.   Although many people use the words “interpreter” and “translator” interchangeably, to those who work in the field they are very different occupations.

An Interpeter is someone who provides live, spoken communication between people who speak different languages, and a Translator provides that communication through the written word.   Today’s Cool Jobster, French to English Translator Céline Graciet, has even written a blog post on this very subject, which makes clear not only the difference between the two jobs, but her preference for translation!

I love the English language and have always been a “word freak”, but didn’t become interested in the subject of translation until I read Douglas Hofstadter’s incredible book Le Ton Beau De Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language.   While the main text of the book deals philosophically with what constitutes a “good” translation between two languages (or if a “good” translation is even possible), he also explores some of the most challenging translations ever attempted and the thinking and creativity that went into them.

For example, Hofstadter spends quite some time considering the translation of “La Disparition” by Georges Perec, a novel written in French that does not contain a single use of the letter  “e”.   What is the “right” way, Hofstader wonders, to translate this novel into English?   Would a literal, word for word translation into English (which would surely contain many instances of the letter “e”) be the best way to convey the original (more…)

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I was very saddened to hear this weekend that Pulitzer Prize winning author, radio broadcaster and activist Studs Terkel had died at 96. I’m not going to go into huge amounts of detail about his career and his life, because his hometown paper, the Chicago Tribune, has created a fantastic tribute to his life and works here, where you can spend a few minutes learning about Mr. Terkel’s fascinating life and his many professional accomplishments.

I would, however, like to pay a very small personal tribute to Studs Terkel today because although he wrote about subjects as diverse as the great musicians of the early years of jazz, the subject of race relations in America, and his own personal search for faith — there is one book that stands out for me among his many works, because if it weren’t for that book, then “My Cool Job” probably wouldn’t exist, and I wouldn’t have made the acquaintance of so many Cool Jobsters, and so many awesome readers who’ve now become my blogging “family”!

The book is entitled Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do, and was published in 1972. I first read it in the late 80s, as I was starting my own working life and things I read in “Working” back then still affect me today. Studs Terkel spent many years interviewing people from every walk of life and every level of the economic scale about their jobs and how their working life changed their outlook on the world. Although some of the people in the book had fascinating, glamorous careers, the majority of interviewees had the sort of blue collar, industrial and service jobs that keep the real world operating smoothly — the sort of jobs that most of us never even stop to think about.

After the first few pages, I couldn’t put “Working” down. It wasn’t filled with clever, witty descriptions of colorful characters doing menial tasks, and it wasn’t filled with detailed analyses of how each profession fit into the grand scheme of American Society. After each short chapter introduction, “Working” was filled with the words of the workers themselves, as told to someone who they felt comfortable enough with to share in depth not only the tasks that comprised their jobs, but the feelings they had about their work and their lives.

For years after that, and still today here on my blog, I’ve been inspired to ask everyone I meet the same sorts of questions that Studs Terkel asked about work, and have never been bored with any of the answers.

I regret that it took his passing for me to let you readers know that if there’s a “patron saint” here at My Cool Job, it’s certainly Studs Terkel. I hope I can do justice to his memory by continuing to share the world of work with all of you.

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This is NOT the prize for the contest...

This is NOT the prize for the contest...

I know some of you link to my “silly” blog through My Cool Job, and I want to make sure no one misses the exciting conclusion of the “about me” contest.   If you missed the contest but would still like to see how well you might have done, click here.

If you’re simply dying to know who won and which amazing facts about me are true, you can click here to see if you’re a winner and get some details on those crazy facts!

Now if you’ll all excuse me, I have only 24 hours left to finish my entry for the pumpkin carving contest here (which I’m hoping to win, of course!).  See you all next week!

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I know I’ve been away for a few days, but I assure you that I have been diligently surfing the globe for Cool Jobsters!  Now I’m back to share with you my latest find: Juggler Steve Thomson from Stirling, Scotland.   Steve began juggling in 1993, “turned pro” in 2001 and hasn’t looked back since.  In fact, he’s so passionate about juggling that he’s also the proprietor of an online juggling supply company!

I’ve never been able to master juggling myself, but I was lucky enough to date a juggler for a while (yes, flaming torches on your birthday are pretty romantic!) and I can tell you from experience that it requires an enormous amount of practice and dedication to attain the level of skill required to be a professional juggler.   The jugglers I’ve met also seem to have a passion for sharing their skills and teaching the art of juggling to anyone who shows an interest, and Steve is no exception.   Next time I’m in Scotland (and I’ve been to Stirling before, it just might happen) I’m certainly going to look him up and get a lesson!

So what’s it like to “juggle” a performing career,  a strong Christian faith, volunteer work with people of all ages, an online business and The Stirling Juggling Project (not to mention a bunch of balls and flaming torches)?   Let’s ask Steve!

When people ask you “what do you do?” how do you describe your job?

I am a Professional Juggler with an Online Juggling Equipment and Novelty Items store!

What are the things about your job that you love?

Working with Nursery and Primary School aged children (age 3-13yrs). They have such an enthusiasm for trying out Circus Skills (diabolo, juggling, devilstick, poi, plate spinning etc) and they love to be entertained! I wouldn’t want the (more…)

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I assure you that within the next 24 hours there will be a new “Cool Job” appearing on the site — you asked for more Cool Jobsters in the performing arts, and I’m happy to oblige.

In the meantime, for the benefit of my stalkers I have updated the “About” page on my other blog to include some interesting personal facts that will astound and amaze you…if you can figure out which ones are true!

Come see me here to join in the fun!

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Today I’m going to play a little catch-up on various things that have been transpiring lately on My Cool Job. Here are a few updates for you, a few minor pleas for help, and a fun video to wash it all down with:

1. Sadly, although I tried my very best, apparently I am not fabulous enough to be a contestant on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” (see post here for more info). Despite all of the good wishes and positive vibes you all sent out, alas I will have to find a million bucks some other way.

2. On the plus side, longtime reader and Cool Jobster Khyri was entertained enough by the recent adventures of Flat Tony in New Jersey that she invited “Flat Carrie” to come and visit her in Arizona! You can view my enjoyable visit to the desert, the gynecologist and KFC here. (I wonder if the activity list would be the same if I visited in “real life”? 🙂 ) Thank you for the video, Khyri! You rock! (And OF COURSE if anyone else would like to have “Flat Carrie” come visit, you have only to ask and her atoms will be transmitted via email and will rearrange themselves in your inbox as a “Flat Carrie” image that you can do with what you will — you have only to ask!)

3. As is my usual habit, I always have a few feelers out in cyberspace for Cool Jobsters, but nothing has come to fruition in the last few days so I’m on the prowl again. The people with the coolest jobs are of course the busiest people around, but if you know a potential Cool Jobster that you’d like to see on the site (and has a few minutes to spare), please send them my way!

4. CurlyWurlyGurly had an iSketch party last night, and a great time was had by all. Due to my lack of artistic skillz, CurlyWurlyGurly, thedailydish, and morethananelectrician kicked my butt all over that whiteboard, but I had a great time anyway and am looking forward to doing it again soon! Thanks for the invite, CWG! I can’t tell you all how much I miss Acrophobia — if it’s reappeared online somewhere and actuall works, would someone please let me know?

5. After a bit of director’s block, my latest film is coming together well, and should be available for your viewing pleasure in the next day or two. It’s about pumpkins. Aren’t you excited?

6. As promised, here is your video reward for being kind enough to read this far. One part german talk show host Stefan Raab, one part Will Smith, and one part ukelele. Coolest version of “Men In Black” ever! Enjoy and have a great weekend, all!

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