Saturday, April 30, 2011

Searching for Jobs in the Net

Coming out of a great program such as the Creative Communicatins program at Red River College, prepares me for a promising career. At this point, I just finished my work placement. Now, it's full gears to finding that right job.

We've got the internet to rely on for the latest job updates. There are numerous job sites available and it's a matter of clicking on that button for that particular site to send you a job alert. If you know what you're looking for and you've narrowed down some of your choices, these sites can be really useful instead of annoying.

Here are a few sites that you can check for jobs. I find these very useful and it really keep me in the loop on what's out there (a good site for jobs in the non-profit sector)

A good friend once told me that even if you found there's nothing out there (no job postings or anything that suit your qualifications), go out and pitch yourself. It wouldn't hurt if you 'sell' yourself to organizations that you'd like to work with, so long as you know how to present your best qualifications.

So in our search for that right job, keep it going and send out resumes. Give cold calls to organizations or companies, and ask if they have any job positions open. You would be surprised that some would accept your resume and they will keep it on file let's say, for the next 6 months.

I hope that I was able to help. All the best in your job search and let me know if the links I've provided are useful to you.

Friday, April 22, 2011

I Survived the Program with a Positive Attitude

Time definitely flies by so quickly and it's amazing to know that I'm on the final leg of my program. I'm currently on my work placement at a big telecom company here in Manitoba. All I can say is that I'm enjoying every bit of it and learning a lot of new things.

I have always told myself that wherever I work, there is definitely something new to learn. Keeping a positive attitude towards work and learning, is the key to a satisfying and successful career.

I knew of someone who was undeniably intelligent and he had proven himself to emerge from every conceivable debate there was with such enthusiasm and unimaginable wits. But one thing he lacked was the ability to appreciate learning from other people, wherein he thought that he knew it all or didn't need to be bothered hearing from what others have to say. This might be a case of opinion or preference, but his attitude most of the time got in the way.

This reminds me on how important it is to be flexible and have an open mind, especially learning from other people who have treasure troves of experiences and insights to share. We're talking about industry professionals who have 'been there' and have something to share to the rest of us, who are just about to embark on our professional careers as communicators.

I have worked in the advertising/marketing business (in addition to the several other industries I have worked for) for over 10 years but have decided two years ago to go back to school in order to upgrade myself. I have never regretted going back to school and I believe that my desire to continuously learn, helped me to be succesful in the program. I swallowed my pride so many times but realized earlier on that pride wouldn't do anyone any good at all- so why bother with it?... Throughout the course of my program, I learned so many great things from people who are both older and younger than me. It was such a smorgasbord of great and wonderful people- each one has something good to share.

A week from now, I'll be finished with my work placement and would have to scour the job market for an indefinite period of time.  As I prepare myself for my future job position, I believe that it's high time to get my resume going and put some 'finishing touches' to my portfolio.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Not Your Usual 'Pretty in Pink'

You've heard of J.Crew- an ever-growing clothing business in the US that includes retail and outlet stores nationwide and a profitable online and catalogue business. Just like other clothing businesses, it's busy tapping on its market, promoting the latest trends in clothing but what's the buzz all about? Well, it all started with a direct mailer ad that shows some pink toenails, not from a little girl but from a little boy.

Let me give you some background- J.Crew sent out a mailer on April 5 featuring it's executive and designer Jenna Lyons with her pre-schooler son, Beckett wearing a grey-and-white Coastline stripe pullover. The photo shows Lyons smiling and looking at her son with such adoration. At the same time she's also holding her son's feet painted in bright pink Essie for J.Crew nail polish. The ad had a quote from Lyons saying, "Lucky for me, I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink."

Since the mailers were sent out, different groups expressed their opinions regarding this. Frankly, there's quite a variety of opinions ranging from the subtle to the outrageous ones. I looked at the ad first time around and honestly, it didn't bother me because I knew all along that it's a clothing ad trying to make a sale and promoting a line of J.Crew products. It only dawned on me later on how this ad affected other people. Let me take one as an example from

Culture and Media Institute is targeting a new demographic - "mothers of gender-confused boys." Writes CMI’s Erin R. Brown:

J.CREW, known for its tasteful and modest clothing, apparently does not mind exploiting Beckett behind the fa├žade of liberal, transgendered identity politics. One has to wonder what young boys in pink nail polish has to do with selling women's clothing.

Brown adds that the ad is part of something bigger:
Propaganda pushing the celebration of gender-confused boys wanting to dress and act like girls is a growing trend, seeping into mainstream culture. NBC’s Today show on January 3 featured a segment on the ‘Princess Boy’ in which five-year-old Dyson Kilodavis was seen twirling in pink ballerina tutu, much to the delight of his mother Cheryl and host Meredith Vieira.

After reading this, I never thought that this seemingly innocent J.Crew ad had taken on such different meanings and interpretations. A creative and artistic person myself, I appreciate the visual being presented and just that. I think it's a creative concept but I think what blew the fuse out from some people is the fact that the ad used a boy (or what others had said, 'exploited') and had his toenails painted pink. Looking at the photo again, I think that the message of a mother and her son bonding with each other is more emphasized in this ad rather than the son's toenails being painted pink (at least that's how I see it). But of course, after reading Lyon's quote, some people would interpret it differently.

Personally, I know of someone (a male at that) who was simply soaked by his mother's adoration. He had a photo taken when he was two years old, wearing a girl's dress (in bold red) and had his hair tied in a ponytail (just like Pebbles' in Flinstones). No one would ever suspect that the baby in the photo was a boy. His mom was a very responsible and loving parent. According to her, she just thought of dressing her boy in a girl's dress just for the fun of it and just that. Of course, that 'dressing up' happened only once. Just like this J.Crew photo, my friend's mom was looking at him with such fondness and adoration. And mind you, this photo of my very close friend was taken in the 1960s!

So my point is, if my friend's photo was used for an advertisement for millions of Americans to see, it would surely spark some extreme criticisms (or much worse than what this J.Crew ad received). It's a photo taken for its face value and nothing more. But of course, I am in no way defending J.Crew's side. When they were asked for a commnent regarding this controversy, they simply didn't comment. From a PR perspective, they could have taken a position and simply told the media why they came up with such a photo or ad concept. I believe it wouldn't hurt if they had taken a stand and honestly tell the whole world the truth; that would surely quell a lot of those harsh criticisms around including accusations that this ad was indirectly promoting cross-dressing among young boys, if that were the case.

If Lyons and her son's photo was originally meant for their own family album, it wouldn't hurt. It would just be a sweet keepsake that would remind the mother and her son of their sweet moments together. But obviously, this was a photo meant for commercial use- to be printed on an ad for a direct mailer and to be consumed by millions for the sake of selling a product. That's when seemingly innocent photos especially of young children become sensitive in the eyes of many,  especially when it's taken differently or used differently for purposes of advertising and consumerism. I believe that's when the fineline should have been drawn out because we still have our different audiences to consider and bear in mind. That's when we still have to be sensitive of what the social norms are. But since J.Crew was said to be targeting a new segment of their market, they have taken a very liberal move to capture that particular audience if what CMI was trying to claim was right.

Going back to my male friend, he's every inch of a man. He may not be openly proud of his photo dressed as a girl, but he was surely touched by his mom's attention. That's how I see the J.Crew ad and not focusing on the products being promoted. For me, it was simply a touching photo of a mom and her child. We can discuss this photo in great lengths and talk about the supposedly underlying message (or even propaganda), and even talk about transgendered identity politics, its negative effects on the child, etc. So for you, what do you think about this ad?... Does it even bother you?...How about the pink toenails on this boy?... Is it outrageous?... What about the quote given by the mom?.... I'd like to hear from you so give me your comments or you can discuss this with your friends or family and see what they have to say about it.

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Laundry List & Some Sleep

I haven’t had a sleep in the last 39 hours. Several things took place before my last leg in the Creative Communications program wrapped up. Sounds crazy, right?...The first time ever I missed taking a sleep was in the first semester of my first year. I had two journalism assignments—one was to cover any Remembrance Day ceremony and the other one was to write a story on any war veteran. It’s not that easy as it seems. My interviews started in the morning and continued on till the evening. Both assignments have to be done and turned in at 8:00 a.m. the following day. I was able to get my stuff on time and submitted my write-ups without any delay. I felt good; but at the same time, very tired.

Yesterday was especially hectic. My oldest child was sick and so I had to stay home to take care of her. There was an event for the current students and graduates of our program in the late afternoon but my plan of going there was scrapped out. My sick child obviously took the lead in getting my attention. Children are always a priority.

I was planning of finishing my advanced creative writing stuff yesterday including the seven journals for my visual dialogue course. On top of my plans to finish my work, I also had to review for my visual dialogue test.

Being a parent and a student at the same time was a huge challenge. I’m proud to say that I was able to balance these roles (including that of a wife and homemaker) in the past two years. So apparently yesterday, I was only able to start working on my stuff at noon and it went on until 6:30 of this morning. Having to skip your much needed sleep is obviously something that I wouldn’t recommend. This morning, I wasn’t that alert that much; I had trouble comprehending others because of my lack of sleep. But of course, this was simply temporary and my senses will be as sharp as before, so long as I get my much needed sleep.

In most of our classes, writing a ‘laundry list” is discouraged. But somehow, I find it useful in sharing the major events of the day that took place today. So here goes my list:

-We had a memorable ‘last class’ in our advanced creative writing. We went to the Free Press Cafe on McDermot and our instructor Karen treated us to free coffee. At the same time, we had two of our classmates do their presentations on the last chapters of the book.
-Handed in my 29-page creative writing stuff.
-Test in visual dialogue!

-Submitted my complete journal assignments in Visual Dialogue

-And CPetty treated us to some sweet desserts—yum!

-Had a pizza & movie dinner with my family (The first time ever since i got into the two-year program).

And now, the only thing I’ve been waiting for is to—

S L E E P.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Sentimental Spring

We're on the countdown until school is finally over and we'll finally have to decide on what we really want to do with our lives. For most of us, it's about getting a job in the communications field and who isn't excited about it?... Every second year has high hopes for the future especially that each one is armed with a treasure trove of immaculate knowledge and skills.

I would only have to attend my classes until next week. At this point in time, I am finishing off a few more assignments and I'll be done in no time. My work placement would come afterwards but that's already part of working in the real world. Somehow, I would miss school - the wonderful people I've met and made frends with, including those who just made our two-year creative communications program a very memorable one. There are amazing people in our program who can spark a bright light in our midst and can pull off with a really funny joke; with such wonderful people, there wasn't a single day without really laughing our hearts out. There would always be that bunch of individuals who I will remember even after I step out of the college.

Finishing the program would only mean that I will be able to devote more time to my family - something that I have been waiting for these past two years. Being in the program is no easy task; I was informed during my interview prior to entering CreComm that much will be demanded from me. Honestly, I took that very seriously. Having to manage a household; a family with children; and studying in a full-time program were enough to test my determination to succeed and put everything in order. It was a tiring journey but truly a very satisfying one.

As spring is almost here, I cannot help but be sentimental about it all. Leaving school very soon would be a bittersweet experience but I would always cherish the wonderful people I met and the great instructors who made my two-year life as a student simply wonderful.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Child Only Has To Worry Being A Child

When one's rights are violated, it only makes sense to seek for justice- especially if the rights violated are that of a child's.

I had recently read an article in Reader's Digest (March issue) about a 10-year-old girl from Yemen who was forced into marriage by her own father because of extreme poverty. In their tribal culture and tradition, girls as young as 13 can get married and the husband-to-be will give the girl's family a dowry which usually comes in the form of money.

Nujood is just like any other 10-year-olds. She loves to go to school and plays a lot with her brothers and sisters. But all that had changed when her Aba (father in Yemeni) arranged for her to get married with a 30-year-old man. Nujood  was briefly told about this arranged marriage but she was in no position to question or even complain. Girls and women in Yemen are subservient to their male counterparts, as it is very untoward for girls to disagree.

The marriage ceremony took place and very soon, Nujood was fetched by her new husband who she just saw for the very first time. Life for Nujood changed for the worse. In her husband's house, she was treated like a slave cleaning floors, cutting vegetables, and doing errands for her mother-in-law and at night, she was forced to have sex with her husband. It was arranged between Nujood's husband and her Aba at first, that Nujood won't be touched until she reaches the age of 13 but all that was not followed and their marriage was consummated even from the very first night.

Nujood's story moved me and I felt so much great pity for young girls like her who live in situations like this where escape seems impossible. But not for Nujood- she was able to find a way to go to a court house and file for divorce. As strange as it sounds, filing for divorce even if she's just 10 years old is the only way to escape her horrific life. In the end, Nujood was divorced from her abusive spouse and she returned to her family. An international humanitarian organization is helping her now to get the education she needs and she has more time to play with her siblings. She's happy to where she is now and is more protective towards her younger siblings who might fall into the same trap. Should the same thing happen to her younger sister, Nujood knows exactly what to do- 'she'll call the police.'

Nujood's experience could be the perfect plot for a documentary film but the horrors she went through were unfortunately real. Young girls are given off by their families in marriage at a very young age in certain tribal villages in Yemen. Nujood's case was extraordinary as she was only 10 years old and the agreement made by both parties was not fulfilled. One may think that not only are her rights as a child were violated but as well as that she's a victim of rape under the hands of her husband. The trauma she went through was unbearable for a young innocent girl like her. Not only did she suffer too much pain but she was also beaten and physically abused by her husband and mother-in-law.

I could go in lengths rambling about the injustices suffered by children like her in a country where traditions seem not to protect the welfare of everyone esepcially girls and women. Traditions for one may be good to help preserve the identity of a certain population but if it's 'backward' and denies the very basic rights of its people, I think it's time for change. Easy to say but hard to do- I think that we will always have injustice in this world. People come from different backgrounds and are brought up in different cultures and traditions.

But I do hope that for young children like Nujood who is supposed to just enjoy being a young child can be out there to play as long as she wants; enjoy the presence of her family; and learn new things in school. The only thing she has to worry is how to be a child and that's all. For the rest of us who live in places where children's rights are looked after, let us also uphold the basic rights of children like Nujood.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Colours of Hope Leaves a Legacy

I went down to Siloam Mission yesterday to hand in the reports on my recently concluded Colours of Hope event. I was all prepped up for the meeting with the director, with all my receipts and documents in tow. The meeting went by very smoothly as we skimmed through the papers and ran down the list of donors to be receipted. After our 40-minute discussion, the meeting wrapped up with a visit to the art room.

The director shared so many updates with me that I can hardly remember each one. Everything that she shared had something to do with the impact that my event had generated. I may forget some of them but what remained within me is the great feeling that something really good came out of my hard work; those many long nights that I have endured just so I can stay on top of everything with regards to planning, coordination, and preparation.

As we entered the art room, I was amazed on how differently it looks now. Before it was more of a spare room to store various stuff like chairs and tables but today, the venue is more inviting and exhibits an air of inspiration with walls decorated with framed artworks done by the patrons housed within a board meant for this purpose. Shelves house numerous books as well as game boards, and topped with young plants in uniformed plastic containers.

The director continued on to share inspiring stories and developments. One of which is the joint venture between Siloam Mission and Red Road Lodge to conduct a common art program made possible by a grant recently awarded. Because of my event, many had registered for the art program and many more are interested to join. There are also several interests and proposals coming from the outside and one of which is the commissioning of the patrons’ artworks. Also, Siloam Mission may eventually turn this into a full-time program. There were other wonderful developments happening as well. Patrons were so encouraged that they are so proud and happy to see their artworks on display in the facility. At least for once in their lives, these patrons have something to be proud of which could help them regain their self-worth and eventually move forward from a life of homelessness to a life that is more productive. The place creates so much attention among interested individuals that it can serve as a starting point for people to sign-up for Siloam Mission's other programs.

Before I left the premises, the director pointed out to me the walls of their dining area decorated with artworks. I was so touched by the colourful display that it melted my heart. The director remarked to me, “You have encouraged us.” At that moment, it dawned on me that inspiration, encouragement, and hope were the lasting results of my event and anyone can see it as one walks in at the very area where the homeless come in to seek help and ask for a meal. The very area where people with broken hearts and broken lives, look for answers and find a little comfort from people who care. The colourful display of artworks including a huge heart made out of collage was meticulously created by the hands of the very people suffering from homelessness and poverty. The artwork created was a sign of hope to anyone, who may think that there’s nothing left in life but great despair.

As I left the building, the very faces of people who contributed to my event flashed in my mind. I left Siloam Mission with a big smile knowing that I live in a city where generous people live and where community spirit prevails.

Here are more photos of the art room that I was talking about. The last couple of photos show you the printed cards I received as a token from Siloam Mission in appreciation of my hard work. To Siloam Mission, ‘thank you’ for the great opportunity of serving you!