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Friday, June 20, 2014

Interview Questions: Your Favorite Job and why... Go!

I'm not sure why I was thinking about the things that you have to talk about in the interviewing process since I am not looking for a job. Well, other than the fact that we had someone come in to talk to us about the interview process and how to get better candidates for the positions that you post on the open market. Which, as my mind wandered brought me the to question that I love and hate to have asked. And one that I am dying to ask of some of the people I have met recently. And that question is: what was your favorite job.

My answer is almost never the job that I have and not the one I am about to apply for. The answer will always be daycare. With the daycare I got to do everything that I am good at and had to learn really quickly how to do the things that I could not or did not immediately know. It is the kind of thing that very few jobs can offer someone with an over active brain and a lot of energy that needs directing. All of my skill sets came in handy and the spiritual gifts were exercised.

Discernment: Being able to read both parents and children helped to gauge how to structure rules and when to amend them; when to offer advice and how much advice to offer was helpful or overwhelming but most importantly... discernment helps you know when you are being fibbed to.

Hospitality: encompasses all areas of entertaining. You have strangers in your home everyday. It is like running a hotel or bed and breakfast except that no one is spending the night. You serve 2-3 meals and have to make them fun and enjoyable without losing a sense of decorum on some level so that you don't find yourself cleaning up the remnants of an Animal House styled food fight during nap time.

Hospitality also means that you are putting on birthday parties, teaching children how to mark time with the calendar holidays and teaching manners to some degree. With children many more things are events than with adults. Catching wildlife is an impromptu event which requires fast thinking to keep it special and educational and does not usually mean there will be cake or cookies... unless of course cookies were part of the craft project. In that case catching a butterfly meant that I switched out whatever fast cookie cutter was an option and digging out the butterfly. Likewise, catching a good snowfall in Winter that made a perfect day of impromptu sledding called for a special treat of hot chocolate and high carb goodies that normally were not served. To some degree, when the Mr Roger's Neighborhood Plan and Play book came out with the season lineup so that you could have the stuff to do the activities along with the show, TV was an event.

Hospitality is catering to guests needs and wants before they know that they need or want something as much as it is about food and comfort.

In the daycare that meant that I could do everything that I wanted to do with the kids: games, art projects, books, field trips, outdoor activities, cooking, teaching.... sometimes there was only time for one or two activities. But on many days what ended up happening was that I taught everything, art, science, culture, reading, cooking, baking, manners and etiquette... exhausting.

At the same time it was all very rewarding. I haven't done daycare in 20 years. And it's been 7 since I've had to think about any of this for a resume. After the seminar I spent the day thinking about it though. And I realized that I tend to forget two things in the discussion of my favorite job, two things that are the most geeky and least used of my skills and passions in any other job I have had since. Research and writing.

As a 19 year old dealing with kids and parents, you realize that there is a lot you don't know even with nine years of babysitting for 40 hours a week under your belt. Fortunately at the time I started my daycare the print industry was enjoying a glorious and lucrative season. There was a magazine for every topic and every kind of reader imaginable. So for someone dealing with kids and needing some help there were some great magazines. I got a couple of subscriptions which I made available to the parents of my daycare kids. But the checkout and return process was a little cumbersome. And not every article applied. So I ended up just starting a filing system for articles and when a subject came up I could whip out the expert advice for us all. I read everything I could find. And with the provider groups I belonged to, I was able to get my hands on a lot of information that normally you can only find in early childhood development classes.

One of the habits that I got into rather early was to write notes to the parents at nap time. Things that were funny and quotable that their kid would say as well as noting physiological and behavioral issues kept the parents feeling like they were not missing out on things. And it included the parents in the social loop where inside jokes and group specific language patterns happen. Some of the things made for such entertaining stories that it seemed a shame not to share it with everyone in our group. And that lead me into writing for my families.

Research and Writing lead me to create a newsletter. And since I had a good solid publications course I was able to cut and paste that stuff and run it off in no time. Once a month we had a good newsletter go out with the kids. It was almost a scrapbook and almost a real school newsletter... some thing that was in between and as much fun as it was work to produce. I'm not sure when it occurred to me but I did realize that having a blog or four is completely natural to me. Technically I have been writing a blog since 1991. A blog is just a newsletter/journal/family letter at the holidays/school or church newsletter. The only difference is that one is digital and has the ability to have open subscriptions and the others are on paper meant for a select audience.

Blogging is as natural to me as anything else that I do on a regular basis. I am not any different today than I was in 1991 only the technology has changed to provide proliferation of my own thoughts. I would wish that I had a job where I can again use all of the skills that I have instead of applying them in so limited a capacity. But if I did that with this job then I would not have the energy to pursue the German culture and food blog, nor the art and watercolors that I am doing. The job that I have encompasses enough details that I should be content to have two separate lives instead of having everything as intertwined as it was in my youth.

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