I’m currently reading the The Martian by Andy Weir, and hence the title of the post. If you read the book, watched the movie, or are a Mars enthusiast, a ‘sol‘ is a Martian day. It’s 24 hours, 39 minutes, and 35.2 seconds long (approximately 40 minutes longer than an Earth day). I did the math, and hoping that I did it correctly, I have spent approximately 96 days in the DC area or 93 sols.
So, what have I done?
Honestly, not as much as I would have liked. But, instead of saying all the negative things, I’m just going to describe my journey.
The Early Beginnings
I set up some informational meetings with some professionals in the DC area. I met up with a Berkeley grad, who currently works for USAID. She’s actually been really helpful in this job seeking process. I also met some people from the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, the Council on Foreign Relations, and New America.
Most importantly, within the first few weeks of being here, I got an internship. Yay!
I had signed up for a newsletter, which told me about an interesting event on debunking creativity in government, attended the event (#BeyondtheBox: Government) and was really impressed with the CEO of the company, gathered the courage to introduce myself to their CEO, and the rest is history!
That’s the company that I work for.
InnovatorsBox, a DC-based education startup, seeks to empower professionals with creative insights and confidence through workshops, events, and other educational services. This is predicated that creativity is not only good for the soul, but an important skill to have in the professional world. It’s a community to unleash creativity in places that don’t seem creative.
I was instantly attracted to InnovatorsBox because I’m a person that claims to be in two worlds: economics/academia/policy on one hand and filmmaking/art/creativity on the other hand. So, I found a deep personal connection to InnovatorsBox, and I was eager to find out more and pursue this internship. Creativity can come together with my professional life? Yes, please!
I wear a lot of hats in my work for InnovatorsBox: event management, project management, research, customer service, marketing, graphic design, executive assistance, website management, etc.
Check out some of the graphic design I’ve done:
I never thought I would enter the entrepreneurship/startup world, but I’m really glad that I just followed my interests and did. I’ve learned a lot about creativity, and what it’s like to run a business – sales, marketing, emails, etc. (startup life is tough!). But, I like what I’m doing, and I really like my boss. She’s awesome.
So far, I’ve been able to help with 6 events in a little over 2 months, and we have more coming up. My boss has a lot of ideas on how we can grow, and I’m really honored that I can be a part of the process.
It is through InnovatorsBox that led me to my current temp job at Clarity Campaign Labs.
Events are a big part of what InnovatorsBox does and what I do, which is great because it helps build my network. My boss is also a part of StartingBloc, and she invited me to attend a StartingBloc pop-up she hosted. At the pop-up, I met someone who works at Clarity Campaign Labs, and she told me about an Analyst Fellowship that was open for her company.
I applied, had an interview, and was offered the fellowship! I was absolutely ecstatic when I got the offer, I couldn’t sit still for at least an hour!
Clarity Campaign Labs is a data analytics consulting firm that works with political data, providing models and analytics for progressive campaigns and organizations. It’s really interesting, especially with this general election coming up in a little over a month. We’re following certain presidential candidates and other candidates to important Senate and House offices. Clarity fields in-house surveys / polls, creates models and scores, and provides strategic consulting.
As an Analyst Fellow, my work is a little tedious, but I’m patient. There’s quite a learning curve, but I’m picking things up as I go – Goldwave, SQL, Twilio, etc. I edit audio and write scripts for our IVR polls, and I also write model docs, the deliverables that we give to clients. I also provide any support on projects that the Analyst Team may need help with. I also really like my colleagues there too. For National Coffee Day, my colleagues and I all took a walk to Dunkin’ Donuts to take advantage of the 66¢ coffee. It’s a relaxed environment, which means that I wear my Converse and jeans to work, but in this high-demand season, everyone is working hard.
So, what have I done?
I’ve been pretty active, but the actual applying to jobs has been slow. I’m working double-duty now, and I’m still trying to meet up with new people as much as I can. I’m learning a lot about the opportunities that are here. I’m learning some business and technical skills. But, I haven’t sent out that many cover letters / resumes. I’ve only been on 2 interviews, and I feel like I don’t have the time and energy to look for jobs. Plus, because in the last month I’ve been working full-time, I feel like time has passed by so much more quickly that before. I really need to better manage my time.
I told my parents that if I couldn’t get a job by September, I would move back home. My fellowship at Clarity, even though it’s temporary, was offered to me on August 29th. Just in time! It’s permitted me a two month extension in DC, but my dad gave me an ultimatum a while back: if don’t get a full-time job by the time my fellowship ends at Clarity, I’ll have to go home.
It’s fair to my parents, but I don’t think it’s fair to me. I have spent the last 93 sols working and looking for a job. I still haven’t experienced what it’s like to live in DC, and I still don’t feel like I’ve had a proper vacation after graduating from college. I would hate to have spent the last three months just looking for a job and having to return home because I couldn’t find one. My mom is getting worried, asking why I chose such a difficult place to look for a job. And I don’t know what to tell her. I’m trying not to take it personally that I don’t have a job right now, and trying to keep in mind that ‘good things happen to those who wait’.
My 93 sols have been filled with a lots of stress, anxiety, and self-doubt because I’ve been looking for a job and I constantly feel like I can’t rest because I still don’t have one. I’ve been looking for a job for 9 months now, and that’s a hard thing to accept. It’s also been difficult in the sense that I feel like I’ve overstayed my time at my aunt’s house, and I don’t want to be a continuous burden to her and her family. Then, I expend a lot of energy commuting over two hours everyday to work, and still feel like I haven’t experienced the DC scene at all. (I still haven’t done so many DC things! – need to visit all the Smithsonians!)
So, it’s been a challenging time, but I just also want to say that I’m very lucky. I don’t want to lose sight of all the things that I am grateful because things are tough for me. I’m thankful for the opportunities that I have been able to receive and the things that I have learned from them. I definitely feel like my horizons have been expanded because of them, and despite the time constraints that they do present, I do enjoy my overall experience. I’m thankful for the great people who I’ve met, who have all been friendly and willing to help me. I’m thankful to my friends who have been there when I feel low and have provided emotional support. I’m thankful for my aunt and uncle for letting me stay in their house for free, with all the basic necessities.
Mark Watney had to survive over 500 sols on Mars, where he had to make his own food, air, and water and with only disco music and re-runs of 70s TV. I am thankful that I don’t have to live in those extremes, but if he can do it, I can certainly do this.
Over and out.
PS. I know The Martian is fictional.
PPS. If you live in the DC area or know anyone of that lives/works in DC, I’m looking for personal and professional recommendations to explore the city.