Archive for March, 2009

Last week’s trip to New York for the CBS Early Show was outstanding! Oh, yes, the limo driver was late and there’s always traffic from JFK, but my daughter and I still managed to connect with a family member late Tuesday afternoon. Our room was at the Helmsley Park Lane, just across the street from Central Park and about a block and half from the studio.

Oh, and the reason for my trip in case you are new to the blog? — to be on television with Harry Smith and Susan Koeppen for a series on job searching in 2009. The CBS News Early Show selected me to represent the 55+ individual who was unemployed.

“Why Diana Schuman?” you might ask.

Well, according to Gene Burnard who owns workforce50.com:

“It started with a call from Audrey Gruber who identified herself as a producer for CBS NEWS Early Show. That was on January 7, 2009. Audrey described the series she was producing and wanted to explore how Workforce50.com could participate. She needed a group of over-55 job seekers from the Northeast willing to talk to the media and participate in the program. From these she would select a single candidate. She also needed a career coach and resume writer. For its participation Workforce50.com would receive recognition on the Early Show. What a great opportunity to highlight issues encountered by older job seekers! Workforce50.com kicked into action. First, find the candidate. Should be a straight-forward process. We have compiled over 1000 survey responses from employers and job seekers interested and willing to speak to the media about employment issues of the over-50 workforce. Thirty four anonymous profiles were provided to the producer. She selected 6 candidates. Workforce50.com contacted the 6 and explained the situation prior to providing their contact information (we take the issue of privacy very seriously)…. Diana Schuman, an unemployed teacher living in Dover, NH, was selected.”

(BTW, workforce50.com has put together a wonderful page that shows all the videos connected to the series. http://www.workforce50.com/Content/CBSnews-job-squad.cfm#CBSNEWS-Job-Squad-Workforce50.com.

The nine weeks since I was selected on January 21 were drawing to a close. We arrived at the studio around 8 am and proceeded to the “Green Room.” Kelsy was “live on air” that morning and Jack had been live the day before. Jeanne and I were both taped “live in the studio” with her profile being aired Thursday and mine Friday, March 27.

The number of people in the Green Room increased and decreased as the morning went on, going from nearly empty to overcrowded and everything in between as the show proceeded through its different segments. At some point Susan came into the Green Room and chatted for just a moment asking how things were going. I told her that it had been a great experience, that I had not yet had any offers (in fact, no interviews since January), but that with my birthday on March 24, I was viewing my nine months of unemployment as a rebirth. She would quote me later on.

I had been told to arrive in my interview suit with hair and makeup done. I would get “fluffed” when the time came. Because of an unexpected delay in makeup, however, I was no sooner sitting in the chair with a towel around my shoulders when the phone rang that I was needed back upstairs. The makeup artist said, “She just sat down. How much time do I have?” Well, she and the hair stylist did what they could in about three minutes.

Back upstairs, I was miked and escorted into the studio requiring stepping over lots of wires and around lots of equipment. There must have been a hundred rectangular lights hanging from the ceiling, and there were at least a dozen cameras.

Jeanne’s interview was done. Harry was wishing her well. He and Susan then went to change into “Friday’s” clothing. I just stood off to the side and looked around. I was not the least bit nervous. This was going to be fun!

Back on the set, Susan and Harry did their introduction to the series and then a chair was moved in for me. I walked over, climbed the two steps, sat down, straightened my skirt, pulled down my jacket, and sat up tall.

The video, which I had not as yet seen, was begun. Harry and I talked while we watched. He asked about the video resume to which I laughingly replied, “It was traumatic” and then we were LIVE.

Two minutes go by incredibly fast. The only thing I remembered saying was in response to Susan’s comment about my being willing to not be in the classroom any longer. Since people always see little kids when anyone mentions teacher, I thought it important to say that I had been working with adults in different capacities.

Before I knew it, we were done; and Harry was doing two or three takes on his closing comments. We remained in our chairs and chatted a moment. He said I had done very well and that he would hire me in a minute. I responded with, “I can telecommute.” After a bit more conversation, Susan, Harry, and I had a photo taken that will be sent to me along with a copy of the video and interview.

I was then escorted back through the studio to the area where Kim had watched me on a monitor. She gave me a thumbs up and said I had done a great job. Whew. Silence would have not been a good thing.

After a little more banter with Harry and a photo with Audrey and her intern, Lindsey, Kim and I were walking back to the hotel and then off to meet an old family friend for breakfast at Sarabeth’s Kitchen which was right next door. We took a cab ride to Riverside Drive a couple of hours later to visit with a friend and former colleague of Kim’s; and then at 3:15, it was back to JFK for the ride home.

24 hours in Manhattan and lots of great memories! … and about 36 hours till I would be sitting down to watch the episode from my home in Dover.

If you didn’t get to see the live broadcast or haven’t googled me lately to see all the copies of it on the internet, here’s a link.

Read Full Post »

This morning at 8:10 am, The Job Squad piece was launched on The Early Show on CBS. The four of us who have been followed were introduced and a short video clip was shown. I am very pleased with mine.

On Tuesday, March 24 (my birthday), I am flying to New York with my daughter so that I can be interviewed live in the studio on Wednesday morning. My full story will be shown on Friday, March 27, 2009, sometime between 7-9 am.

CBS has set up a website for the entire series: http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/earlyshow/series/jobsquad/main504043.shtml.

The video from this morning’s show is available at: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=4883792n. From there you can also click on the link that that says, “Rewire to Get Hired, Against Daunting Odds” which will take you to the section where additional information is located including info from the experts that worked with the four of us and comments from the producer, Audrey Gruber.

Not only that, they have set up a special email should there be interest in any of us or questions from any of you at earlyjobsquad@cbsnews.com. My profile and information are at http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/03/18/earlyshow/series/jobsquad/main4874208.shtml.

Short of standing on the street corners and dragging people into the studio to hire us (or hire us themselves), CBS has done a great job in getting the word out about us along side the TV visibility. Thank you, CBS!

So get busy now and check it all out!  😉

This is the last and most exciting leg of this journey of about nine weeks and one that will have my face and story before millions of people. Funny thing, I’m not at all as nervous as I thought I’d be.

Though I have not had an interview in nearly ten weeks, I am feeling more confident and enthusiastic about the process as frustrating as it can often be. Maybe it’s that old “cockeyed optimist” again looking at the best in every situation. Maybe it’s the result of the conversations, assessments, and encouragement that came from working with Kit. Maybe it’s that killer red and black suit (and new and improved resume). Maybe it’s spring and a time for change. Maybe it’s being a “media star” (Oh, I have gotten lots of teasing along this journey – even to my early birthday cake being decorated with “Happy Birthday to the CBS TV Star” – thank you, Husband). Maybe it’s finally getting more comfortable with the networking piece. Whatever it is, I’m ready for a new adventure to begin.

So, hold on to your hats, World. Here I come!

Read Full Post »

I mentioned in my first blog that about 60 years ago my dad starting fixing televisions in Manhattan. That came about after he used his World War II GI Bill to study at the Delehanty Institute. He was born and bred in the mid-west and married my mom, a native New Yorker, after a 12-week courtship, 6 weeks before he shipped overseas and 6 weeks after. They had almost 49 years together until he died suddenly in 1994. For about 20 years, he owned Ace Radio and TV on Amsterdam Avenue near West 95th Street in Manhattan, about a block from where Virginia O’Hanlon of “Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus” fame had lived.

Although the first television broadcast took place in 1928, it wasn’t until after the war that the networks started growing and people started to own their own TVs. My dad built our first one. It had a picture tube about 10 inches in diameter and a bunch of vacuum tubes and other gear within a frame about 12×12. There was no case, just a chassis. It sat on top of my dad’s dresser in their bedroom in an 8-room apartment in the mid-90s in Manhattan that we shared with my grandmother, unmarried uncle, aunt and cousin until we got our own place in the late 50s. I found a couple of photos on line that will give you an idea of what it looked like.

I remember sitting at my little Formica child-sized table and chairs (which I still have) and watching Howdy Doody and Miss Francis (in black and white, of course). Once we got a bigger TV in the living room, like many, I had one of those Jon Nagy plastic shields that went over the screen so you could use your crayons and color along with the artist.

Even in New York, there were only a few stations in those days, NBC (Channel 4), CBS (Channel 2), and Dumont (Channel 5), later joined by ABC (Channel 7). I don’t know how many hours a day there was actually service, but I do remember seeing test patterns and then snow when the stations went off the air.

Dad had a suitcase measuring about 24x36x6 that was chockablock full of vacuum tubes. He would carry this up and down the streets and up and down the four or five floor walkup apartment buildings on his repair calls. The box was heavy, and he would be very tired after his long day opening at 9 and closing a 8 six days a week. If he couldn’t fix the TV on a service call, he’d have to take the chassis out and bring that back to the shop as well. His hands were very rough from the hot solder that he would use to repair the circuits.

Most of his customers were common folk, but he had his share of celebrities. One I remember because Dad talked about how many cats she had was Eartha Kitt who passed away recently. I do wish I could remember some of the other names. Unfortunately, with mom gone now too, I have no one to ask.

Those were the days when most TV was live. CBS, the dominant station at the time, had the Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday nights (which introduced us to Elvis and The Beatles, among others), Playhouse 90, and I Love Lucy. Today, about the only thing that’s live beyond the news and weather are the early mornings shows. Most laptop screens are bigger than our first TV was.

So here am I, a “product” of the black and white 50s, getting ready to be in “living color” on Friday, March 27, 2009, between 7 and 9 am on the CBS Early Show.

Who woulda thought? Hopefully, Mom and Dad will be watching on the “really big screen.”

Read Full Post »

During Lent and Advent, I receive a daily electronic devotional written by The Reverend Ron Glusenkamp, a pastor from Colorado, who is a good friend of my friend Peter Mayer. Ron bases his devotions on the lyrics to Peter’s music.

Peter is a very talented musician who writes incredible music and plays a mean guitar. His “day” job is lead guitarist for Jimmy Buffett. For seven years, my family and I helped bring Peter and his own band to Dover, NH, for a benefit Christmas concert that raised over $35,000 for local and worldwide charities.

Why do I share all this with you on a blog about unemployment?

It’s very simple. Peter wrote a song about one of the unsung heroes of the Bible, Joseph. Today, March 19, happens to be St. Joseph’s Day and the subject of Ron’s devotion. (You can read the words from Matthew at the bottom of the page.)

The story of Joseph is all about faith. Joseph had no idea what was going to happen. He was stepping out of his comfort zone, his culture, the expectations of his time and place in history. But he followed God’s leading to “keep walking,” to put one foot in front of the other.

“Hey Joseph” by Peter Mayer

(Hear the song)

On a cold dark night a man and his wife to be
Walked a wilderness road
With a donkey, supplies, and a woman with child
Don’t you know its a heavy load

Joseph a good man of carpenter’s trade
Had made plans to make Mary his mate
Then an angel appeared and said Joe don’t you fear
But the spirit will dance with your date
The spirit will dance with your date

Hey Joseph keep walking, Hey Joseph keep walking
Hey Joseph keep walking to Bethlehem
Hey Joseph keep walking, Hey Joseph keep walking
Keep walking Joseph you’re part of the plan

They came to the city of David that night
But no inn had a place for their keep
Mary said Joseph I think it’s my time
Said Joseph Oh Lord Why me
Said Joseph Oh Lord Why me

So they arrived at the last inn in sight
With no room but a stable so low
And Mary gave birth to the savior of earth
With the faith of her good husband Joe

On the freeways and byways, in village and town
On this 21st century road
We’ve traveled so far but still look for the star
Don’t you know it’s a heavy load

Hey Joseph keep walking, Hey Joseph keep walking
Hey Joseph keep walking to Bethlehem
Hey Joseph keep walking, Hey Joseph keep walking
Keep walking Joseph you’re part of the plan

Pastor Ron says, “It’s a grand day to reflect on the whole idea of faith. And by that I mean to really celebrate Peter’s exhortation to ‘keep walking’ no matter what. As you know, that’s not such an easy thing to do. For example, sometimes when I am out doing one of my training walks, my legs get tired. Or the weather doesn’t seem to be cooperating with my agenda. At times I feel I just don’t have enough time to do what I want to do. So, you know what I’m talking about. It takes faith to get started walking. It maybe even takes more faith to keep walking given the detours, obstacles and impediments along the way.

Many of you have written to me about some of the struggles or problems that you’ve encountered in the past or that you are currently experiencing. Despite the severity and intensity of those situations, you have continued to walk in faith. I applaud you and pray for you as you keep moving.”

For those of us going through unemployment, we may face some of the common struggles: depression, worry, damaged self-esteem, questions about our abilities, anxiety, fear that we may never get a job, concerns about paying bills and losing homes. It’s just plain scary sometimes.

We have two choices, however – stop walking and let the struggles win or keep walking to your new destination.

I know which choice I have made. Like Joseph, I have to keep walking ‘cause I’m part of the plan. I hope those of you who are traveling the same road will join me.

Matthew 1:17and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah. 18Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 24aWhen Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.

Read Full Post »

You’d think that nine months of unemployment would have been a wonderful opportunity for the spiritual disciplines (prayer, study, meditation) in my life to be enhanced, developed, and improved. Unfortunately not.

In many ways, I have become less disciplined over time. I get consumed by the intensity of the job search and spend way too many hours pointing and clicking. By the same token, I end up frittering away a lot because the days are all the same and without the external schedule I need.

Oh, yes, I do a daily devotion from The Upper Room, but now that I read it on line instead of in the little booklets that are available at church, it’s easy to read the emails ahead of it before I spend time absorbing the daily message and meditating on the Scripture and prayer focus.

I tell myself I will pray early in the morning when I first wake up; and should I actually awaken before the alarm, I doze back off. Oh, I could get out of bed when my eyes first open up, but my excuse for that is the house is so cold. I tell myself I will pray before bed and usually find myself barely able to get through a few words before I’m zonked. While I do pray for family and friends during my day, it is not exactly “praying without ceasing” as the Apostle Paul tells us.

Does this resonate with any of you? Despite these failings though, grace still abounds. I may not be making as much time for God as I should, but He continues to stay close to me.

Frequently when I wake up, there are words of praise in my head. Sometimes they are simply a “Praise you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus.” Other times, they are words to a song.

Very recently I woke up for about a week with the chorus to “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” in my head. That’s not even one of my “top ten” favorite hymns, but the words were there, round and round, over and over.

Pay attention, Diana. There’s a message here.

“Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see; all I have needed thy hand hath provided; great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!”

In the midst of my unemployment walk, with miles far greater than I ever anticipated, those words provided great assurance for me. Thus far, our needs have been provided (and some wants too) and every morning has been a new discovery, a new chance to learn, a new chance to grow.

A few days later I awoke hearing an African American spiritual that we often sing at church on Sunday mornings.

“Guide my feet while I run this race. Guide my feet while I run this race. Guide my feet while I run this race, for I don’t want to run this race in vain!” (Hold my hand…, Stand by me…, I’m your child …, Search my heart)

I about danced out of bed. Now, that’s prayer!

If that weren’t enough, for the last couple days my song du jour has been

“Over my head, I hear music in the air; over my head, I hear music in the air; over my head, I hear music in the air; there must be a God somewhere.”

… and there surely is. AMEN.

Read Full Post »

I’ve been very fortunate to have faced true unemployment only twice in my life. I did a long stint in adult education that was based on enrollment, so I was either teaching a bunch of classes or none. That’s a very different road than the one of full-time employment to zero-time employment.

The first time it happened to me was in 1993 and, with the wonderful 20/20 view that hindsight often allows us, was in reality one of the best things that happened to be professionally. However, it was many months before I made that realization.

There are both similarities and differences with my experiences in 1993 and 2008/2009.

In 1993, the RIF took me by complete surprise (Reductions in Force are what layoffs are called in education). There was a restructuring plan being presented and eliminating my position was necessary to allow for the additional ones that would be needed. Of course, I could see many ways that my position could have been saved, but that was just not going to happen. After exhausting myself mentally and emotionally in trying to fight the inevitable, by mid-February my job was gone.

In 2008, because of the local demands placed on the school budget, eliminating three positions that were not direct classroom instruction made sense to the powers that be. While I made it a point to attend the related school board meetings, based on the lack of conversation around the impact the loss of the two technology positions would create, the handwriting was again on the wall.

Older and wiser perhaps or simply in a better emotional and spiritual base (and now without a child having just finished college and another yet to go) and with the option of pursuing retirement, I was overcome more with sadness rather than the anger I had felt in 1993.

Sadness that is sometimes palpable has been my traveling companion both times, however. I was driving past my children’s elementary school in summer of 1993, when tears started rolling down my cheeks. My heart cried out how much I was going to miss not being in a classroom and how desperately I wanted a job. I had not realized till just that moment how much being a teacher meant to me. Of course, part of that sadness had to do with leaving my comfortable surroundings, great colleagues, and even greater students.

Summer into fall into winter of this year has been no different. When Labor Day rolled around and I knew there was no job, that was tough. (Just ask my husband.) Since I started kindergarten at the age of 4 1/2, there have been perhaps two or three Labor Days that didn’t find me getting ready for school either as student or teacher and the ones that didn’t were due to either relocation or pregnancy.

When the school closings were being announced on the radio the morning of the December ice storm, I literally cried when my former school system was announced. “That’s supposed to be MY snow day, too!”

I miss the laughter, the professional camaraderie, the challenges of each new day, working with small groups of kids, assisting my colleagues, being part of the wonderful program called MLTI (Maine Learning Technology Initiative one-to-one laptop program) and lots more.

In 1993, my professional self-esteem ended up at a very low point, lower actually than I had realized until I started my new job the last week of August. The hiring principal gave me free reign to put together a four-year technology curriculum and to do whatever I needed to make it work. It was balm to my spirit and brought great healing. I jumped in with relish even though it would be over a week before the school board would actually vote on my appointment.

The road I travel now has thus far has been long and circuitous in many ways. I know there is a job for me; the details have just not been completely worked out. God gave assurances in 1982 and 1993 that I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. Why should this be any different?

1993 saw me move from high school to middle school (and discovered that philosophically I am very middle school). 2009 will be another opportunity to be a phoenix.

It has been almost nine months since the official end of my job. I am live on national TV the week of March 23, a guest on The Early Show on CBS. March 24 is my birthday. Can this experience be the beginning of a rebirth for me? We’ll all have to wait and see.

Read Full Post »

There’s a popular World War I song called “Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag, and Smile, Smile, Smile.” It boosted British morale in the midst of that “war to end all wars.”

Sometimes this song goes through my head while driving back and forth to meet with my career counselor, Kit Hayes. Seems odd, doesn’t it – But is it really? Perhaps not.

Now I am in no way indicating that Kit is old. After all, we are contemporaries. But a “kit bag” is a large bag that was a means of carrying along your personal equipment like bedding, clothing, etc., used in both world wars and for some time after, sort of a forerunner, if you will, to today’s backpack.

It seems to me that what I have been doing as part of this CBS piece was gathering tools to either expand my horizons or sustain me along this bumpy road of unemployment. No, they weren’t troubles, but they were sometimes things that didn’t necessarily feel good in the moment – all the work on refining my resume, taking assessments (and doing so while being filmed), developing more comfort with networking or doing informational interviews, gaining better skills for the actual interview, just to name a few, most of them being done with Kit’s help. Today’s exercise, for example, was to start working on specific interview questions and how to answer them.

So how does the song fit in? All of the hard work will pay off. New skills are being developed. Some old ones are being honed. I’ve got to keep my positive attitude and sense of humor all the while.

And that’s not bad advice no matter what the journey. Stuff both the troubles or concerns and those things that will help you get through them into your kit bag and don’t forget to smile, smile, smile. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »