Blog

Online Self-Directed Learning: My Experience

Hello. If you follow me, you must have noticed that my posts have been quite inconsistent for a while. There are two reasons for it – one, I have been feeling a little anxious and depressed since my husband’s last seizure; two, I’m studying for an online course I started last year.

Being a stay-at-home Mom in the midst of the pandemic (with on-and-off lockdowns), I could not sign up for a full-time course, so I chose online, self-directed or asynchronous learning instead. It basically means that you sign up for the course, you have a facilitator to post course content, assign projects/assignments/discussion topics, answer any questions you may have and offer you any help you may need to get through it.

Since I was a kid, I have been equally passionate about writing and teaching. When I was an undergraduate student in India, I only wanted to teach at the university. That was my dream. And I realized it, too, for a while before I moved to Canada. Since I came here, however, I began to focus more on writing and teaching took a backseat. I used to teach at a learning centre part-time, while working as a copywriter, but that was it.

So, after my second kid’s second birthday, when I realized that I had to upgrade myself if I wanted to land a job, I decided to choose a course that helps me nurture my love of teaching, as well. Hence, the course I chose was Adult Teaching/Staff Training. As I said before, I am pursuing an online self-directed course. I am working towards a certificate so I start one course at a time.

The main reason why I like this format is because I can make my own schedule. I need to spend three or four hours during a week to complete weekly activities or assignments and I can choose when I can devote that time to the course. This format helps me work during hours that work for me. I usually go through the course or participate in discussions on weeknights, after the kids have gone to bed, and I work on assignments (usually, that’s once a month) when it’s my husband’s day off. The flexibility is really helpful for someone like me who always has a million items on my to-do list.

Also, since I’m more focussed when I read something on my own and I’m more responsive to the written word, going through the course content at my own pace, on my own time, really works for me. I can always go back when I don’t understand something and take a break when it gets overwhelming. That way, I do not feel discouraged or distracted.

Also, since I’m an introvert, I get a little conscious while participating in face-to-face discussions. In self-directed learning, the discussions are mainly written, so I can gather my thoughts, do my research and post my views in a logical, coherent manner. Of course, I know that in-person discussions would be better for my confidence, but so far, I like being in my comfort zone, without the added pressure of public speaking.

Another advantage of this format is that the flexibility means I can still work on freelance projects or apply for full-time jobs without worrying about completing the course. On top of it all, it also helps me brush up my research skills and academic writing, while also preparing me for a fruitful career in the teaching field. Plus, since I do one course at a time, I keep completing courses on LinkedIn Learning and Google Digital Garage that I wish to add to my resume.

I’m currently looking for options that can provide me the stability of a permanent 9-5 job, while also indulging my love of teaching. Some of the courses that I came across that can help me do that are adult education, instructional design and content creation. If you have come across other fields that writers/teachers can explore, please feel free to comment on this post, or send me a direct message.

In the coming weeks, I will be writing about essay writing, online sources for writing references and citations and courses I have found helpful or interesting. If you’d like to suggest topics that you’d like to see more posts on, please feel free to reach out.

©️Pebble in the Ocean 2021

Blog

Applying for Writing Jobs – My Experience

I should probably have covered this before interview prep, but what’s done is done. So, here are a few things I do while applying for writing jobs.

For the last few months, I have been applying for 4-5 jobs every day, on an average. I take a break over weekends, as someone once told me that emails received over the weekends have a greater chance of getting lost in the recruiters’ mailbox.

I had mentioned in a previous post that I mostly use LinkedIn and ZipRecruiter for submitting job applications, as they have the option of easy/1-click apply, which I find quite useful. However, you have to make sure that your profile is up-to-date and thorough so that you can make the most of this option. It is a good idea to even ask your potential references to leave recommendations or reviews of your work (both platforms have this option), as that makes your application way more effective.

Tips for Filling Out Job Applications

  1. Resume – Pay attention to your resume. It is like your advertisement. Whether you get the chance to show them your potential in an interview or not, depends on this, to a certain extent. My resume includes these sections, in particular- A brief summary, highlights/achievements, strengths, relevant experience, education. The achievements should be relevant and, if possible, measurable. The strengths should include soft skills, as most recruiters in the interviews I sat for recently emphasized on this aspect. The resume should not be too long – mine is 2 pages long. The experience included should be relevant to the job – I usually take off some if they are not relevant to the job posting. I also have a bullet list of specific tasks performed in a particular role. Make sure the list is consistent – so, if one point starts with “Wrote copy…”, the next should say “Performed proofreading…” not “Performing proofreading…”
  2. Customization – I went to a career counselling service when I first started applying for jobs in Toronto. They told me that a lot of times, resumes go through software to help recruiters save time and choose applicants with experience matching the requirements of the job. So, every time I apply for a job, I change the wording on my resume to match the job descriptions. Please note that I do not cheat or add things I haven’t done before. I just use synonyms or different explanations for the same thing to make it closer to the posting.

    These days, I do not have a lot of time to do that (#mommyoftwo), so I make sure I apply to similar jobs (mostly copywriting jobs in Toronto), so I don’t have to spend a lot of time working on the resume.
  3. Creativity – Have an interesting “About me” prepared. For writing jobs, creativity is more important than anything else. So, I usually attach the poem I have written about my writing journey in that section. Some recruiters have told me that that’s what made my application stand out for them, and the reason why I got called for the interview.
  4. Online Writing Portfolio – A link to an online portfolio is something that a lot of recruiters have asked me for, at the first stage of the application process. You can create one for free using WordPress.
  5. Document for Common Questions – Sometimes, job postings require you to fill out a detailed application form. They usually need summary of experience, education, and other things included in your resume. They also usually have “a message for the recruiter.” I have all these listed on a Word document, so that I can just copy and paste it all. I started doing this recently, after I did something really silly.
    I was applying for a job after a rather long, exhausting day (Bad Idea!). So, I filled out all the sections, attached resume and cover letter. When I reached “message for the recruiter”, my mind was blank. I couldn’t think of anything to write. So, I just said, “Hello! Please hire me. Thanks.”

    It is embarrassing to even think about this, so I’ll end the subject here. So, since then, I have written a short message listing why I would make a good match for any copywriting job along with a generic closing line. I just copy and paste it if I face this question while filling out an application now.
  6. Proofreading – This step is so important for writing jobs. Grammatical errors, inconsistencies in your resume can instantly create the wrong impression, right, if proofreading is going to be an important part of your job. So proofread the resume and cover letter, or have someone else do it for you.
  7. Cover Letter – I also have a cover letter – complete, concise, clear and clean – that I send with every application.

Recently, I have also started making a list of all jobs I apply to, as I don’t want to keep applying for the same jobs over and over again. When I receive notice they have moved on to other candidates, I just cross it out, to keep a record of it.

With all the competition out there, I think it is imperative for us to be meticulous, especially at the first stage of the application process.

Let me know if you find these tips helpful, or if you feel like they are missing something. If you need resume writing or proofreading services, send me a message to discuss the assignment. If you’re looking for a job, good luck! Hope you find the perfect match soon.

©️Pebble in the Ocean 2021

Blog

My New Project – Words Matter

Hello! Happy Monday. I like Mondays. I like that I can leave the mistakes, moods and meltdowns of the previous week behind and make a fresh start every week. So, I feel like Monday is the perfect day to introduce you to my new project. It’s called Words Matter.

Why?

I started this project because every single day, I see warriors on Instagram and Facebook, and in “real life” too, if that distinction exists anymore. I see people who are facing, fighting and overcoming new challenges on an ongoing basis. I find them inspiring and I find the support and encouragement they receive overwhelming.

However, I am appalled by the hate that they receive, and they do receive quite a lot of it, for no apparent reason. I feel like this is one of the pitfalls of social media, isn’t it? With our screens as a cover, we set out to pile on our insecurities on people who have nothing to do with them, without responsibility, without accountability.

I’m afraid I cannot argue with anyone through chats – yes, I have shortcomings, too! So, I have to ignore any negativity I come across, especially on social media. At the same time, I have to do something about something. That’s what writers and thinkers do, right?

Since words are all I have, I use them to play my part in the larger scheme of things. Hence the project. It is my belief that words can heal as much as they can hurt. So, I send out uplifting scrolls with personalized poems to some of the warriors I come across. I send one or two scrolls every week. So far, I have sent 4 to cancer warriors who I met through Instagram.


What next?

If you know of a warrior who can benefit from this project, please follow pebbleintheocean2021 on Instagram, send me a message, and we can take it from there. If you would like to contribute to the project or help out, send me an email, and I’ll be happy to discuss the details with you.

Have a nice weekend, everyone.

©️Pebble in the Ocean 2021