Job Title: Unknown

Sign: Piano Player Wanted, Must Have Knowledge of Opening Clams
Help Wanted Ad in Montauk, NY by ScotchBroom (2013) CC BY-NC 2.0 via Flickr

I spent the majority of my day working on “job research.” I must have looked at thousands of positions, drafted a cover letter for one that seemed a particularly good fit, and then spent a couple of hours agonizing over business cards. I have a cold, so I figured that staying inside and away from other humans was probably the best course of action.

The purpose of scanning job positions was to get an idea of what “buzzwords” and position titles seemed to mesh with the kind of job that would be both 1) within my skill set and b)that I want to do. (There are iteratively more points of complexity in that analysis, but those were the two main criteria I focused on.) Also, “skill set” may include things that I would be able to do after minimal instruction, even if I’ve never done them before. (i.e. I’ve never worked with this specific database, but I’ve worked with a similar one.)

Based on the advice of my career counselor, I decided to investigate making up a set of business cards to aid me in my professional networking endeavors. When confronted with the myriad choices available online, I started to panic. Cute cartoon owls? Floral patterns? Fleur-de-lys? Colors? Arggghhh! I also was bewildered by the “industry” specific choices. I mean, it makes sense for dogwalkers to put cute dogs on their cards, and music teachers to put treble clefs. But for an eclectic enthusiast, crafty worm herder, freelance child wrangler willing to try new things?

At first I leaned heavily towards the “networking cards” – which of course, that’s why I’m here, right? But I haven’t figured out career I’m in, much less what I want to market myself as – what job title/objective to I put on the card? I decided that I should go as simple as possible: For aesthetic purposes, for ease of readibility and for increased applicability to all situations. My name. My address. My phone number. My email. My linkedin profile url. No graphics. No borders. Black ink on white paper. (Goodness, that’s boring.) But functional. And the font was nice.

The website I finally chose was very easy to use and had a reasonable price for the business cards, except that every time I clicked “Next” the site tried to sell me additional items (pens! magnets! business card holders! return address labels!) that I neither wanted nor needed. Oh, complicated relationship to marketing and consumer products!

In an ideal world, I would have made my own business cards out of my handcrafted recycled paper, and printed my relevant info onto them with a rubber stamp. Cute and kitchy as they might be, they would definitely be a reflection of my personality. However, having too much personality seems like it might be a liability in most of the professional world.

I just listened to a TED talk by “cyborg anthropologist” Amber Case. Aside from having the coolest job title ever, she talks about how humans are a kind of cyborg, with our online internet selves as kind of a mental prosthetic. I am constantly policing my online self, to put the best face forward and trying to avoid a trail of obvious human frailty and poor judgment.

Despite what felt like a demoralizing day of data mining, thanks to the internets I came away with knowledge of some interesting new organizations, scheduled myself to teach 3 weeks of environmental ed in April, scored another dogsitting gig (maybe I *should* have had little dogs put on the business cards…) and signed up for a free storytelling workshop at the public library. Cyborg indeed! Maybe it’s okay that resistance is futile.


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