Saturday, January 26, 2013

Before & After - Post-Holiday Clean Up

The Loft - Before & After
December was downright insane in my tiny loft studio. Don't get me wrong, I totally knew where everything was (most of the time). My work space was just, shall we say, creatively re-arranged for awhile. When my jewelry-making time is very limited but in high demand, there just isn't time to neatly put things away between projects. In fact, there is no such thing as being "between projects". I was making no less than ten different items at a time with constant overlap, so to put things away would be undermining my productivity. At least, that's what I told myself every night around midnight. 

But inevitably, the orders from my online shop slowed down after Christmas and I took a moment to look around. I was horrified. How did it ever get THIS bad? Every surface was covered in metal shavings and silver dust. Every tool was out. Things were even overflowing from my workbench onto the FLOOR. 

It had gotten way out of control. So I did what any sensible person would do in this situation...I avoided the studio altogether for several weeks. :) When I was finally ready to face the mess, cleaning up was such a rewarding project.

Behold! The clean studio!

Of course, it won't stay this way for long. Craft show season starts in a couple of months, not to mention the flurry of Valentine's Day orders hopefully coming soon. But for the time being, everything is in order and all is right with the world.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

How to Interview With JetBlue & Not Land Your Dream Job

Exactly one year ago today, I interviewed to become a member of the newest fleet of JetBlue flight attendants. And while it was a nerve-racking experience, it was also the most fun I've ever had at a job interview.

To give you a little background, I've always loved to fly. I get excited about it—borderline giddy—every single time. It's just totally amazing to me that the technology exists to transport hundreds of people through the air together in a giant metal tube. So, when the 8-6 desk job started feeling claustrophobic, I decided to pursue my passion for people, planes and travel. It seemed like the perfect complement to my part-time Lofted Designs jewelry career. I did some research, chatted with some flight attendants I know and started thinking I'd finally found what I want to be when I grow up!

In October of 2011, JetBlue (one of my favorite airlines for many reasons) posted job openings for in-flight crew. I was ready with my resume and applied immediately (applications are usually only accepted for a few days). As it turned out, I was one of 2,700 candidates to apply during this window. In November, I completed an automated phone interview, and after a few weeks I received a call inviting me to Queens, NY (home of JetBlue's corporate offices) for an all-day face-to-face interview on January 19, 2012.

My plane from BOS to JFK
I arrived in New York the night before, and spent a little extra time lingering in T5 at JFK learning about the history and culture of JetBlue in preparation for the big day. Terminal 5, if you haven't been there, is essentially a JetBlue museum featuring cool exhibits and embodying the airline's brand experience. They even have live concerts there. With musicians you've heard of. I'll put it this way: it's the only airport terminal I've ever wanted to hang out in.

From there, I made my way to Queens, checked into the sketchiest hotel I've ever stayed at in my life and did some last minute prep work. I'd already been preparing for this interview for three months, but when it comes to your dream job you can't really be too prepared. My suit was laid out, my nails were manicured and my hair was cut and freshly styled. I felt confident and ready to look and act the part.

Kiki Ward's Essential Guide – definitely helped me prepare!
The next day, I arrived at JetBlue's offices early for fingerprinting. There were about 40 of us interviewing on the same day...people from all walks of life. All ages, races, backgrounds and geographic locations. One thing tied everyone together—it was the friendliest group of people I've ever met. Honestly, I'd say about 80% of those people could have made amazing flight attendants.

After fingerprinting, we all gathered at large round tables in a conference room where a group of JetBlue representatives introduced themselves and presented information about the company and the job. Following the presentation, we each had the opportunity to introduce ourselves and participate in some ice breaker activities.

Next, we all took turns going into various smaller rooms for jumpseat and reach tests. In one room, we were asked to read safety announcements and answer a variety of questions where it was very clear they weren't listening for content but for vocal quality and speech. Toward the end of the day, we were brought into a room in groups of 3-4 candidates and asked one-on-one questions round-robin style:

  1. Give a brief overview of your work history, focusing on customer service experience.
  2. Talk about a specific time you were faced with unreasonable demands from a customer and how you handled it.
  3. Describe a time you had a conflict with a co-worker and how you resolved it.
  4. Talk about a time you worked with a team to solve a problem.
  5. Describe a stressful situation you've been faced with and how you handled it.

In between each of these segments, there was a LOT of sitting around and waiting. Following advice I'd read in several places, I made an effort during this "down time" to be as outgoing and cordial as possible by introducing myself to the other candidates sitting nearby, engaging with the JetBlue representatives and learning people's names and remembering them. I felt very confident at this point that I was doing everything right.

The interview wrapped up in the early afternoon and we were told we'd be contacted within a week, either by email if we were not selected or by phone if a background check was required to advance to the next step. About a week later, I received the dreaded email: "The competition for this position was strong. And, while your background and experience are very good, we have made the decision to offer the position to another candidate." 

I am eligible to re-apply now (there is a one year waiting period) but for the time being, my dream is temporarily on hold. My full-time desk job pays the bills and my crafty jewelry business Lofted Designs keeps me happy and creatively stimulated. Someday I hope to be one of the friendly faces in the sky—whether for JetBlue or another airline (Virgin America, I've got my eye on you!).

Airplane view from above
View from above – I always pick a window seat

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Giving Back in 2012

Another year has come and gone, and 2012 was a big success story for Lofted Designs! Happily, this translates to increased donations at the end of the year to organizations that help others.

As you may know, each quarter I select a non-profit organization to receive a portion of Lofted Designs' profits. In addition to the great success I experienced at craft fairs and events this year, I hit a huge milestone by surpassing 450 sales on Etsy in December! Thank you (yes, YOU!) for supporting my small business and helping to make this possible.

All proceeds from pet ID tags sold on my Etsy site between the time of Hurricane Sandy and the end of 2012 were donated to organizations on the ground in New York and New Jersey including the American Red Cross and the Humane Society's Disaster Relief Fund to help people and pets displaced by the storm. 

Beagles of New England States Logo
Beagles of New England States is a charity very near and dear to me, since I am the proud mama of a beagle rescue. I try to include them in my charitable giving whenever possible. They have rescued, rehabilitated and found loving homes for more than 1,200 beagles since their start nine years ago.

Based in Portland, Maine, the Center for Grieving Children has provided free bereavement support and crisis response to children, teens, young adults and their families for 25 years. They encourage the safe expression of grief and loss and foster each individual’s resilience and emotional well-being.

Hope Elephants is a unique facility in Maine that cares for retired elephants, provides education programming about elephants and inspires wildlife conservation. Rosie and Opal, a pair of aging and injured retired circus elephants, receive state-of-the-art physical therapy and nutritional support in a purpose-built habitat dedicated to their needs.