If you’re interested in it, you can find it

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Did you know that there are dozens of free events in Boston every week? Since the new year, I’ve been attending events several times a week for anything that looks interesting. And you can find events for almost everything.

© Alice Kathryn RichardsonThanks to General Assembly, The Civic Series, and even the Massachusetts One-Stop Career Center, I’ve been getting my fill of free classes, free networking events and free seminars. They’ve been at different places around Boston, too, so I’ve gotten to see some cool community workplaces in addition to meeting new people.

At One-Stop, I took classes on how to make networking work for you and how to develop your self-marketing pitch. My first General Assembly event was called “Designing Delightful Experiences,” and I thought who wouldn’t want to learn about that? The event was about UX design, which isn’t in my wheelhouse, but I met amazing people who care about why we make what we make, and that’s inspiring.

Last month I attended a Civic Series event about GMOs, which have always intrigued me. Are GMOs really harmful? What’s all the deliberation about labeling? The two-hour event was full of great information and led by a professor from Tufts. The Civic Series used one of my pictures from the event on their blog, so that was awesome.

One of the most important things that you can do when you’re unemployed is attend events. Most of my unemployed days were spent alone in my house with only my dog for company and the occasional conversation at the gym. Once I started attending events, I got used to introducing myself and talking about my work, and I realized that I was basically practicing for interviews. Attending events kept my mind clear and my words focused, and I got to meet great people and learn about cool topics.

Follow me on twitter to read about the other great events I’m attending in Boston! I can’t wait for General Assembly’s Intro to Boston’s Blogger Community tomorrow night.

On Being Unemployed

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For the second time in my life, I’m unemployed. Like so many others in America, the company that I worked for had lay offs and I lost my job. Everyone had advice for me in those first few weeks of unemployment: attend lots of networking events, see a resume writing professional, don’t forget to sign up for unemployment benefits.

I was packing up my desk when a (former) coworker said to me the one thing he wished he had done when he was unemployed was enjoy it. Wait, what? Enjoy not making enough money to pay my mortgage? Enjoy not having the camaraderie of colleagues? I nodded empathetically but thought yeah, right, like I’m going to enjoy this. 

You might have noticed, if you’re a diligent reader of this blog like me (just kidding), that I haven’t posted in a while. My last post was actually from my last week at work. I attended an event armed with self-awareness, self-confidence, and the self-assuredness that comes with having a full-time job. I had been there almost two years, but before that, I had been unemployed for 8 months.

The longer you’re unemployed the harder it is to get motivated to find a new job. It’s harder yet to pull yourself out of the mindset that you’re not continuing on with your life. You’re not getting interviews, your family are all off at work or school and continuing on with their lives, and you’re not. I did not enjoy those 8 months, and I was scared of feeling that helpless again.

When I was let go this time, I cried. A lot. If there hadn’t have been lay offs, I would still be there loving it and striving to be better at my job. My coworkers were the best and made everyday so much fun, and I knew all of that was over.

I wanted things to be different from the last time I was unemployed; I could never go through that again.

Today marks the 20th week that I’ve been unemployed, and I’ve enjoyed it. Over the last few months, I dedicated my days to myself and my wellbeing. I practiced yoga twice a week, slowly unwinding all of the kinks that had built up from stress. I started walking my dog 20 minutes a day, then 40 minutes, now 60 minutes. I joined a gym and my average steps per day went from 8k to 12k. I’m also caught up on all of my TV shows #showhole but that’s a different blog post…

I’m trying to fill my days with stuff that matters and not contribute to that butt-print in the couch. I’m applying to jobs too, and as anyone who has ever been unemployed can attest to, that’s a full-time job.

My silver lining to unemployment has been the time off: I wouldn’t have been able to focus on myself and figure out what step I wanted to take next in my career. And that’s exciting! It could be something great.

The Mass Media Expo

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“In five years, are you comfortable with your skills becoming obsolete?” asked Ben Jones, Art, Copy & Code (Google). The crowd laughed in empathy: technology pushes us to change more frequently, and adaptability becomes key. Our industry of production is no different.

Vendors from all over Massachusetts set up booths in the open atrium of WGBH on September 26th to talk the talk with local Boston production professionals for the Mass Media Expo. The #MassMediaExpo is an amazing opportunity for networking, schmoozing and conducting real business, for those so inclined. Producers, designers and editors gathered to hear panels from production professional on topics ranging from Data Management to Drones to AVID’s latest software.

The panel for Mobile Content and Storytelling consisted of five producers and creative directors who prompted the most engaging conversation of the day.

“Can the digital experience be better than the live experience?” Ben Jones asked, this time not rhetorically. Athena Peters, an executive producer for the Lord of the Rings online games at Turbine, responded by asking how the interaction is adding to the experience, bringing to mind the new Oculus Rift and other virtual reality devices. What would it be like if you could learn about the Civil War by being in the Civil War, asked Lauren Prestileo of American Experience (PBS). What if you could create a world, walk around in it, and learn some history like no one ever has before?

The day-long expo of panels and vendors culminated with the production team from Black Mass, an entirely local team, talking insider about the work that went into making the film. Dan Cayer, the Digital Effects Supervisor, impressed the crowd when he divulged secrets behind the “winter scenes,” and Virginia Johnson, the Costume Supervisor, stunned when she mentioned the dry cleaning bill ran into the thousands, all of which went to a local business.

Boston is full of talented production people, and this event proudly highlights what the city has to offer. Keep tabs on Mass Production Coalition events, they are always amazing.

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