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Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

This week I’ve been hit with a bunch of work interviews in the city. Which is great – as it means I’m steps closer to finding solid work – but also involves a wardrobe meltdown.

Firstly, the only summer clothes I have that are suitable for NYC are maternity clothes. UK, and even Australian, summer threads just can’t hack it in the living rice steamer that is July and August in this city.

And then my body shape has changed since having a baby – bras too big, waistbands too small… you get the unglamorous picture. So most of my smart pre-pregnancy clothes don’t quite fit right either.

I’m fine with the creative industry interview. You know, cool printed trousers and a T-shirt, but the corporate-ish ones get me every time, and I end up wearing a weird white shirt that I bought once with a vague idea that I had to up-smart myself in order to get a promotion (I didn’t), and my black fat skirt. I felt like a nun on her first day of service before the bulk habit order has come through.

Shudder. It goes against every fashion-loving instinct in my body. I mean, to nail an interview, you have to be happy with what you look like, right?

To do NYC summer well you need loose clothing, made of light material. Trust me, when you are waiting on the subway platform in the devil’s sauna of 34th Street, UK-grade cotton is going to feel like a goat-hair vest. This is probably the only time you’ll be glad you’ve bought man-made fabric – no sweat patches (it’s too busy trickling into your knickers).

Normally I’d suggest Atterley Road as a go-to but in this weather, I’d stay well away from anything that isn’t NYC-made (or at least designed here). Tory Burch or Kate Spade would be obvious choices but who exactly wears a dress and heels to go to work in New York City, apart from Carrie Bradshaw? Plus, dresses are for garden parties, not interviews.

Although it isn’t NYC-based, ASOS is a more affordable bet, given their newfound fans of Jessica Alba and Michelle Obama – both who have to turn out fancy when the temp soars. I’m a fan of the skirt and top (apart from the novice nun ensemble, of course), and a massive, massive fan of culottes.

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clothes from ASOS

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Working Mothers Stop Feeling Guilty

Have a read… and worry about something else instead…

(Reuters) – Children whose mothers work during their early years do as well at school as those with stay-at-home mothers, debunking a common parenting myth that has piled guilt onto career women, according to research released on Tuesday.

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Viva La Visa

As you may have picked up from a few of my early posts (here and here and here and, oh, here), when I came out to the US I was on the H4 visa. And, as you may have also gleaned if you’d read them, I was less than happy about it.

When the move to the US was first discussed, I was promised a working visa, so I could continue my career as a journalist and web editor, and so I could contribute to society as any educated, mildly ambitious and intelligent person would wish.

However, because of a cock-up by the previous management – or a total lack of foresight or planning at the very least – we ended up with the H1B on, well, an H1B and me on the H4.

The H4 visa is called The Trailing Spouse visa. That is not a joke – it’s actually called that. On it, one cannot work, can’t even volunteer – making cupcakes for a school fete could be considered entrepreneurial by a particularly jobs-worthy immigration agent.

So you are simply expected to sit idle, or breed.

If the bebe hadn’t come along and forced me into maternity leave, I would have gone mad. Or gone home.

The visa is retrograde, repellent, offensive, unrealistic (show me a couple that can afford to live on one salary in NYC), and misogynist (I’ll bet my oven glove a high percentage of those spouses are women).

And my heart goes out to anyone who is on it. (Not that I have anything against sitting idle; although involuntary sitting idle is basically prison.)

Anyway, after a lot of paperwork and cajoling of editors to say nice things about me, I am now the owner of the 01 visa, which gives me full working rights. And it’s nice to be in the real world once again.

(The 01 is aka the Extraordinary Ability Visa, and when the Consulate officer interviewed me and asked me what I’d been doing in the US for the last near two years, he said, so what’s extraordinary about being a mom and wife? I nearly punched him. But I didn’t because there were men with guns nearby.)

If you are on the H4, and don’t want to be, don’t give up your search for a suitable work visa. I think the H1B’s HR department got so sick of us complaining and asking and bitching (me, not the H1B – he’s more professional), they just agreed to help us so we’d leave them the fuck alone.

Advice on finding a new visa: don’t bother with the USCIS websites or lawyers; find someone in the same situation or similar industry as you. Those websites are, I’m sure deliberately, very hard to make head or tail of, and it’s better to get a personal recommendation for a lawyer anyway.

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pic from J Crew

Now I’ve had the baby, set up home and found my feet (just about in that order too), my ever-active mind is turning to full-time work.

I’ve managed to shift the dreadful H4 visa onto a less archaic 01 visa so am all good to head out into the Big City and find some permanent work.

Working in NYC – in a shiny office, not just from home – would complete my experience here. I was a career girl in Sydney and London before the H1B whisked me off to foreign climes, so taking so much time out to set up a home and have a baby has been, at times, very frustrating.

As much as we share the H1Bs earnings, I do have to run major purchases by him and it makes the independent woman in me feel like I’m asking permission.

Plus, I won’t lie, I relish the working wardrobe that comes with earning your own cash. Browsing J Crew and ShopBop isn’t a pleasant experience for me. Materialistic, me? Well if it’s good enough for Madonna….

Anyways, I found this great article by Moda Operandi CEO Áslaug Magnúsdóttir on crossing the cultural divide in the NYC workplace.

(Note: don’t invite colleagues to the pub after work – a concept that is thoroughly alien to any working Brit.)

“While every day I learn a little more about how to conduct business in America as an American would, I still find myself smacking into situations where my foreign-ness is the culprit…” READ THE REST OF IT HERE…..

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