Ramil has a job.

This week, I started my few first days of work at Acumen Fund as the Fellows Associate.

And it feels great to be able to say all of those things: Acumen Fund... Fellows Associate... WORK! It's been a rough last couple of months since I started this blog back in January, but I believe I've grown a lot in a short time. I've learned how to balance priorities, how to run on far less sleep, and (perhaps most of all) deal with rejection. I've realized what it means to be honest about strengths and weaknesses, and that it's actually quite empowering to know what my limits are.

While I'm glad to be moving on, my biggest regret is not being able to stay at the Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health. I had developed very strong relationships with my colleagues there, and I felt like I was finally getting my projects off the ground. GCF allowed me to travel all over the Gulf, meet the most amazing people, and gave me the chance to be part of the recovery effort of one of the biggest ecological disasters in history. Everyday, I really felt like I was contributing to something that was going to make a difference in peoples' lives. However, in the end I knew that I was a little bit out of my element. My interests are still so broad, and I need my first job to extend beyond philanthropy.

That's why I'm so excited to be at Acumen working on the Fellows program. Acumen combines philanthropy with entrepreneurship to create lasting solutions to the problems of global poverty. And the Fellows program adds to the equation an education and leadership development piece - something that I see as being a strong part of the rest of my career. Already after just my first week, I have met so many interesting people, and I know that I will meet so many more. When I was learning about organizations like Acumen at NYU, I often imagined that I would end up working in a place like it, but it seems so unreal now that it's actually happening.

I feel enormous gratitude to everyone who has helped me with this process - all of my friends who put up with canceled plans and endless banter about career planning... My teachers and advisors who nudged me along while never giving me the easy answers, and had the wisdom to let me make my own mistakes... My bosses and colleagues who helped me to realize what professionalism means, and that I'd probably be better off with less of it... My family who has always believed in and supported me, no matter what kind of person I thought I wanted to be that day... But the person who I owe the most thanks to is my sister. You're the Chair of my Advisory Board, you're the president of my fan club, and you've without a doubt been the greatest sister I could have asked for. Even though you can overwhelm me with over-planning and dozens of daily bike/job listings, I know that I would have never made it through this without you.

The getting-a-job process has been by far the hardest thing I've ever done, and I will not soon forget what I went through. With this under my belt, I have a lot of new goals and challenges: being successful at my job, finding an apartment, becoming a Jeopardy! champion... but I'm confident that I can handle just about anything that comes my way now. Over the last couple of years, I have been searching and searching for the beginning of my career path, and for the first time in a long time, I feel like my life has a clear direction and purpose. I don't know where this road will take me in the future, but I know that the first steps are to get comfortable with losing control, to never stop questioning, and that hard work - even though it might not seem like it at the time - will eventually pay off in the end.

Goodbye for now,

College: complete

The last few weeks have been crazy with interviews, finals, end of the year events, and graduation - but I finally made it out alive. Over the last two weeks, I made a conscious effort to notice the effect that the end of college had on me. But every time something that I thought was supposed to make me sad or nostalgic didn't pack quite the emotional punch I thought it would. Like when I sat through my last class, I didn't feel anything special. The same nothing happened when I took my last final. And when I tried on my cap and gown. And when I walked across the stage during graduation. And when I walked out of Yankee Stadium.

I DID finally felt that familiar "end-of-something-big" feeling the other night in an unexpected situation - while I was watching TV with two of my residents. We were all getting ready to move out, and two of my residents came by to hang out. We were flipping through the channels, and we stopped on the NYU channel - the NYU Reality Show was playing. (For the non-NYU readers, the Reality Show is a musical production that's part of each freshman year orientation and serves as a theatrical guide to NYU life -- complete with songs on STDs, depression, roommate conflicts, you name it...) We managed to catch the end of the show, right at the beginning of the song "Learn to Love and Live." And then it happened.

I started to remember when I had watched the Reality Show when I was a freshman. I remembered feeling so overwhelmed and not knowing what to do next, and not knowing who to talk to. I remembered walking to my first class, and not raising my hand for at least the first 2 weeks. I remembered how shy, nervous, and awkward I was. I remembered having late night conversations with my roommate. I remembered all those weird things you do and places you go as a freshman - like hooka bars, sake bombing, and Asian pub - and NEVER going to Brooklyn.

I began to realize what a completely different person I was back then. Back then, all I wanted to do was play and teach music. I dressed terribly. I was really awkward around people I didn't know. And I never spoke up. Now, I'm almost the opposite. I still want to teach, but I now I desperately want to get into the nonprofit world, whether it's in social enterprise, philanthropy, or the education side of things. I'm much more comfortable around new people. And I always have something to say.

But it's not just about the beginning and the end, it's also about what was in between. While my residents and I were hanging out (and while I was contemplating the last 4 years of my life), we talked about how one of the two residents was thinking about taking a semester off. He didn't feel engaged in his classes, and he knew that he needed a change. I remember feeling that way a few years ago, and I eventually figured things out by trying a lot of different things and talking to a lot of people about their experiences. I told him that he should think about what he wants in life, that he should do some exploring - what I was told when I felt lost. He listened to me, but he didn't take it in - how I reacted when I heard those things the first time.

It's so hard to let uncertainty take hold and to find what feels right when you have no idea what direction you're going in. But I think part of growing up is not only learning how to explore during college, but how to make your entire life one big exploration. They say that our generation will make around 7 career changes in our lifetime, so this uncertainty thing doesn't just start and end during college.

So, as I sit here in my old college dorm room full of boxes, at 6am, listening to that cheesy song from the NYU Reality Song over and over, I don't feel the panic that I thought I would feel from not having a job by the end of college. I went to a great school, I've got a pretty good head on my shoulders, and I'm confident that my mission to get a job will soon come to an end. I know that if I just keep on exploring, while I might not find exactly what I set out to look for, I'll probably stumble upon something even better.

Now is where our lives begin
Stop and take it all in
There are things that you lost, there's things we can win
Stop and take it all in
We all are one, we're in this together
The world's all ours, take care of each other
Maybe we can learn to love and live
Maybe we can learn to love and live
Maybe we can learn to love and live

Will Ramil get a job?

For the first time since I started this blog, I feel like I might be coming very close to my goal. A couple months ago, I was worried because I wasn't hearing back from any of the jobs I applied for, but now, I feel like there are almost too many opportunities available to me that it's hard to keep up!

This week:
Tomorrow - Harlem Children's Zone (2nd in-person interview)
Tomorrow - Uncommon Schools (phone interview)
Thursday - Acumen Fund (in-person interview after a phone interview)

This week also includes school and work, so it will be hard to balance everything and do well - but I am confident that I'll be able to pull it off. I've been juggling all of these commitments for such a long time, and I'm so glad that it's starting to pay off. I'm so grateful to have all of these opportunities, and my only concern now is that I won't be able to take advantage of all of them. I know that any of these organizations would be a great place for me to start a career in education/nonprofit, and I wish there was a way that I could do them all.

But I can't get ahead of myself. There's a lot on my plate, and it's all happening in the next week. I need to focus on acing my finals, performing well at my internships, completing my projects, and most importantly, making a good impression in these interviews. It's crazy to think that what happens this week just might end up determining the next few years of my life...

-I had two great (but very sad) goodbye meals with my Alternative Breaks and Gramercy Green family
-...and I'm proud to say that I won the Poster Picasso award (for creative excellence) for the second consecutive year :)
-I made $BANK bartending a party for the Aye-Ayes! Suh-WEET.
-I'm finally done with M-BRO-A!
-I just took the last class of my undergraduate career...
-I'm graduating from college in 9 days...
-This is how I feel...

Quick updates!

(June 17 means nothing)

- I'm getting a lot of good experience at Do Something & Gulf Coast Fund in a lot of different areas - marketing, grant making, social media, research, and other fun things
- I'm getting more responsibilities at both (please follow GCF on twitter)
- However, someone called me "Ricardo" today at the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors office

- Hey FINALS, Jamaican me CRAZY!
- Omigod, school is over...

- I got to the second round of interviews for Harlem Children's Zone (Tuesday)
- I have a phone interview with Acumen Fund (Friday)
- I heard back from the Success Charter School Network for a phone interview (TBA)
- That one application a day thing really worked
- I think the next job hunt strategy should be more networking-based... I'll let you now what I come up with.

- I'm feeling overwhelmed, but I've got things under control... for now at least.
- I'm pumped to go to NOLA in May with GCF, and to BONNAROO (probs defs) in June.

- Word on the street is that my blog makes me sound depressed.
- However, nothing could be further from the truth! While I am very worried about my future and while I am under a lot of stress, I'm really excited about all the opportunities that I have available to me.
- It's hard for me to deal with rejection, and so those first few NOs got me kind of down. But after hearing back from all of these great companies in the last few weeks, I feel like I've gotten a second wind.
- I know that I still need to keep applying/networking/interviewing to find the best possible job for me, and I'm looking forward to what is going to happen next.

Waitlisted... yet again

So I heard back from TFA yesterday, and even after expanding my preferences to include NY and NOLA, I am still on the waitlist. I got the e-mail in class (Management and Organizational Analysis), and when I read it, I shut down. I felt frustrated and hopeless. I turned off Gchat, and stopped raising my hand. I had been so sure that I was going to get in again, and I was shocked to find out that my status update was merely the SAME waitlist message I had received twice before.

I felt a similar feeling today, too. It was in Spanish class. We just finished reading a book called "Réquiem por un campesino español," and I just wasn't accepting the explanation that profesora was offering. I found the main character's actions completely irrational, and I kept on insisting that my explanation was the right one. I e-mailed profesora later, and she helped me to see (in English) that I was just being stubborn. I was trying too hard to impose my own interpretation that I was unable to see things from another perspective.

As graduation and real life gets ever closer, I'm realizing that I don't have as much control over everything as I would like. It's not all going to work out sometimes. There are going to be things that I can change, and then there are going to be things that I can't, and the most anyone can try to do is know the difference. For example, one thing that I cannot change is using clichés.

Tomorrow, I have an interview at the Harlem Children's Zone. (TLA on HCZ - http://bit.ly/bPsSgL)

I've done my research. I've planned out how to get there. I've shaved, set my alarm, and laid out my suit. All I can do now is ace the interview. I just have to go in there, tell them who I am and why I want the job, and see what happens.

I'm not going to waste any more time doubting myself or being hard on myself. And if I do fall back into a rut, I'll just turn on HOT 97, and (apparently no matter what time it is) I'll hear these encouraging words from my friend Drake:

What am I doin? What am I doin?
Oh, yeah, thats right, Im doin me
Im doin me
Im livin life right now, mayne

And this what Ima do til its over
Til its over
But its far from over...

Progress Report #2

Things are going better! I am sticking to my commitment of 2 applications per day, and I've sent out four more applications since last post. They've all been development positions in nonprofits: Institute of International Education, United Negro College Fund (NOLA!), Jewish Funds for Justice, and Cinereach. Seeing them all in a list now, it seems pretty random, but all the job descriptions were very similar, and I think I would have fun at all of them.

I'm still feeling overwhelmed with school, internships, and job hunting, etc... but I'm happy to be busy because I really feel like I'm making the most of my time during these last few weeks of my college career.

Last night was the new staff meet-and-greet for the dorm where I am an RA - Gramercy Green, and it reminded me of how different my life is going to be next year. I've been an RA for the last two years, and looking at next year's fresh batch made me think about how lucky they all are to still have so much of college left!

I'm starting to feel more and more jealous of others' positions. Earlier today, I was celebrating my friend getting his THIRD job (he is working three jobs consecutively). We went around the table and all the seniors talked about their jobs lined up for next year - a social media consultant, art-something at the Whitney, web designer in Colorado - and I couldn't help but feel inadequate. Don't get me wrong - I am SO happy that my friends have been so successful at securing their jobs, but I just wish that I could find my dream job, too.

In other news:
- I have an interview next week at Harlem Children's Zone. It's for a college advisor position in the college success office, and I really want it!!
- I hear back from TFA on Monday! Hopefully I actually get off the waiting list this time.
- The Alternative Breaks REorientation End of the Year event went AMAZINGLY well. Thanks to everyone who came and dressed-up.
- I ordered my cap and gown for graduation... it's really happening...

Progress Report #1

I haven't been doing well with my one-a-day goal!

It's already April 13th, and I've only sent out 4 applications! (Ford, Trickle Up, Open Society, Harlem Children's Zone) That's 9 short of where I should be! Even though midterms have ended, I've felt even more overwhelmed by everything. I am quite disappointed in myself, but rather than continue to make excuses, I'm going to try to make up for my lack of commitment. Here's how I'm going to do it:

For the next week, I am going to commit to sending in TWO applications per day. That's right - TWO. Two a day for the next week should just about catch me up to where I need to be.

I know this might sound stupid - because if I couldn't do one a day, then it REALLY doesn't make sense to do two - but I think part of the reason why I never got around to doing those applications was because one application isn't that big of a deal. I mean it IS because it could potentially result in the beginning of my career, but it takes like 30 minutes to apply to a job. If I do two at a time, it'll take at least an hour, and I won't be able to put it off as easily.

I'll let you know how it goes, but in the meanwhile, here is some good news:
- Midterms went well (I got a 91, a 94, and a 101! who gets a 101!?)
- I won a President's Service Award from NYU (see above picture)
- I'm nominated for RA of the Year... and CarnEVIL is nominated for best program
- The fundraiser for my microfinance project in Thailand went unexpectedly well! (we raised $800+!)
- My unpaid internship (Gulf Coast Fund) is taking me to NOLA in May!