Friday, June 19, 2009

Reflections on communism OR my weekend in East Germany

I would like to start this post by saying I am officially too old for my body to effectively handle two, 12 hour parties in one week but I am not too old to push through them like a champ.
The husband and I went to a wedding outside Berlin in the former DDR this past weekend, which was quite an interesting experience. It was actually quite an interesting experience for the German guests, too, many of whom had never been to Berlin. One of my favorite sights was the wind turbines! I realized that I have never seen one in real life before. They are truly an awe-inspiring feat of human ingenuity. Apparently (according to my green energy industry friend and fellow wedding guest) the area we were in has the 2nd most dense concentration of the turbines in all of Europe. The flat landscape and lack of any other kind of industry made it a perfect area for green energy development.
Back to the lack of any other kind of industry. There are two obvious remnants of the communism state - the lack of people and the lack of industry. The town we stayed in is clearly dying. On a gorgeous Saturday afternoon there was no one walking around town. There were no little stores in the city centre like you find in even the smallest American towns. And similarly, no franchised fast food restaurants! Fast food may be the scourge of America, but it is also an excellent small business opportunity.
None of the guests (nor the bride and groom) were actually from Berlin - a combination of factors led to the party being held there. So the foreigners were not the only ones with wide eyes. In a very capitalist move, the catering was mostly staffed from Berlin and brought to the country and the food was bought from a local entreprenuer organic farmer!
Excitingly, we got a lift back into Berlin after the festivities and so got to experience the autobahn. Very fast. Loved it.
From the sparseness of east Germany came the most ridiculous extravagant affair of a Cambridge May Ball. Don't ask me why "may week" is in mid-June. I have ceased to try to solve the many mysteries that make up life in Cambridge... suffice to say it was another 12 hour affair. My feet are killing me, my eyes are showing my age, and I had to sleep for 15 hours to recover. Thank goodness there won't be any more weeks like this in the near future, but I certainly enjoyed this one.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

It's a work day

After spending the better part of Friday simply existing in my new summer house - that is, house I will dwell in for the summer, not "summer home" ala Hamptons hideaway - I need to get some more reading done today. I spent about 2.5 hours last night sending in some job applications and setting up some new job alerts. I really need to be out there meeting people and setting up informational interviews but it is very difficult to determine who the sustainability people are within organizations. Oh, sorry - organisations. I have to practice writing in British now. Everytime I think I have finally covered all my bases in the job search - 3 more sources pop up. Annoyingly they generally cover the same positions, but every once in awhile one source will produce a job the others don't. I'm still searching for the appropriate group/ club to join here on CSR like the "women in microfinance" group I was a member of in DC. Sadly I am going to miss a great Georgetown networking opportunity as I am attending a wedding in Berlin. I'm very excited to see Berlin though! If anyone out there in cyberspace knows of some networking groups for CSR/sustainability in London, shoot me an email.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Back to blogging?

It's been over a month since I last blogged, but as I previously mentioned, there were many good reasons for said absence. I still haven't decided whether I will continue blogging for the long term but as I am still continuing the job search, that's something worth blogging about.
So in the past month (in this order) I got finished my final papers, got married, graduated, drove to St. Louis and was a bridesmaid, drove back to DC, got a summer internship (in CSR, yeah!) and moved to Cambridge, England. And then moved into a house for the summer.
Whew. I slept a lot this week, as one can imagine. Life has been rather exhausting recently. So the internship is a short-term research project over the summer that comes with an expenses stipend which gives me some breathing room and doesn't require me to put my name in for administrative temp work around Cambridge. I'm not sure how much else I can post about it after reading the non-disclosure agreement I was supposed to sign last week, but in short, the project is about corporate reporting on sustainability issues. This is my coveted "CSR" internship I was trying to get during the school year last year but nothing really came through. It's independent work which means I do not have to commute into London very often. I also have the flexibility to take interviews (oh please let there be interviews) when needed.
The internship came together rather quickly and 4 days before I left. I applied Monday evening (understanding the Brits would receive it Tuesday), got an email Wednesday asking for an interview Thursday.
Me: Ummm, I'm in Washington DC until Tuesday.
Them: OK, we'll call you instead.
I had a three hour interview and assessment on Thursday, somewhat distracting from my packing operations. I pored over my advanced regression analysis text for an hour that morning only to have the assessment be like market research stats. Whew.
Persistence and willingness to accept a short-term gig seems to have paid off. Hopefully this will build my CV in the right direction enough to land me a longer term position!