Saturday, September 8, 2007

Social Enterprise

Job search did not resume as promised. I am too busy dodging and looking for jobs at the same time, if that makes any sense.

Life was getting even more complicated when I started auditing the "Social Enterprise" class at Berkeley. Due to scheduling conflict I had to (sadly) quit my board position in Sasha's preschool in order to make it to the class. The first class was GREAT! So many like-minded people, who wanted to make a difference in this world with their brilliant business ideas. Only problem was, the class was soooo full that people were sitting on the floor. Today an email from the professor pretty much told us last-priority-alumni-hopefuls that we won't be able to audit the class because it is too full. What a bummer!!!!

This is the thing about doing good in this world - there are so many people who want to do it that you might not get on the wagon!! Just yesterday I logged on to Kiva and they have run out of microloan applicants - every single business was funded!! It is UNBELIEVABLE.

Oh well.... If I can't figure out a way to do good, might as well go back to the good old consulting, which I do know my way around (somewhat). Will have several important calls over the next two days. Be back in a few.

Yours truly,

Monday, September 3, 2007

Price for freedom

If you ever predicted that this blog would be short-lived, you were probably right. Things started to really happen around me right after I posted the first blog. I mean it was a pure coincidence of course. No one who called me about giving me a job ever read this blog. Nonetheless it was very interesting how life seems to turn on a dime (or a blog).

Following several interviews/meetings over coffee my stress level quadrupled. Big $ signs were staring at me, so was the prospect of going back to a hectic schedule immediately. How nice it would be to be able to replace our living room floor without dipping into our savings....And money would suddenly be a non-issue when it come to Andrei's piano ordeal - heck I can just hire tutors to oversee his practice sessions instead of enduring the torture myself. Yeah it is true that I don't have a lot of material needs but it surely would be nice to have so much more $$ to spend or save at will.

So why was I so stressed out when people were offering to pay me to start the next day? Is it possible that I actually relish my freedom, very much? What is the price that I would be willing to accept to give up my freedom, the precious time with kids, the evening classes at Berkeley? Strangely enough, i can't even put a price tag on it.

I realize that if I ever am to go back to work, it would have to be something I really love to do. Alternatively, if the price is right and my husband can stay home with kids and work on his startup, I would love to give him the chance to enjoy the blessed freedom that he so generously provided me for over a year. After all, the most fitting price for my freedom would be the freedom of my loved ones.

Yours truly,
ps. Job search will resume this coming Thursday.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Next stop - Google

Job of the Week

Job Title: Director, Business and Operations Strategy

Company Name: Google Inc.

Cool Factor: 4 &1/2 hotwheels

Social Responsibility: 4 hotwheels

Match with my Background: 3 &1/2 hotwheels

Now here is a company that doesn't need introduction. I love this company because:
1. They have bleeding edge technology and always seems to be creating buzz with something new
2. I love Google map and Google Earth and even my six year old loves to google
They have a huge philantrophic division
4. Have you seen their stock price lately? I would love to get some stock options with exercise price at $500!!

Wish me luck!

Monday, August 13, 2007

To be or not to be.....

Kiva has not called, maybe will never call:-( However got a call from a headhunter regarding another job I applied long before this blog started. This is a consulting job in Healthcare -familiar line of work, (probably) good pay, with unknown degree of social responsibility.

To be or not to be.... With a potential job looming in the horizon, I am suddenly aware of the many perks of being a housewife. Leisure lunches, drawing lessons, swimming pools, bowling games, boating in Lake Chabot, traveling to fantastic places at moments' notice... the list goes on. The kids' laughter ring in my ears and the pitter patter of their feet fills my heart with gladness. I know I will miss them terribly.

This is one of those times that I wish there were two of me. One keeps chugging along in a world-changing job, while the other enjoys the bliss of spending endless days with children.

Alas, life is all about choices, isn't it? Well today I don't choose. I go to sleep. Tomorrow I will call the headhunter back to discuss next steps, then I will take the kids to Lake Chabot, rent a boat, and feed the ducks. Not having to choose is a luxury, if only for a few weeks.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Before I was known as "Andrei's Mom"....

I used to have an identity. Single, Asian female with too many degrees hanging over her head and one simple dream of becoming a filthy rich business executive or working for a filthy rich business executive; Single, Asian female pushing 30 with a biological clock ticking and happily dating a cute, bookish Russian guy..... Anyway it was with that identity that many of my friends today came to know me. And it was from one of these friends that an apparent breakthrough in this job search arrived in my inbox today. She wrote: (Please keep reading after the letter because there is a point to this, I promise)

Nancy Z,
Oops, I think your stint as blogger is going to be shortlived. I know someone closely associated with Kiva and once he meets you, you'll definitely get the job. He's a good friend of xxx's and he attended a party at my pink palace apartment years ago. Ex-Siebel. Want me to introduce you?
BTW, I was unable to post a comment. The page kept reloading in an endless loop.
How come you are having so many conversations about swim lessons and piano teachers??!! You need to branch out of your social circle!!
Congrats on the blog!


Dear MH, in you own very special way you not only brought me the good news (I guess we will see about that), but also taught me a lesson about friendship. "I know someone closely associated with Kiva and once he meets you, you'll definitely get the job" - Lesson No. 1: Friends are people who believe in you even when you don't know what to believe; "How come you are having so many conversations about swim lessons and piano teachers??!! You need to branch out of your social circle!!" - Lesson No. 2: Friends give honest advices

For these reasons and many more (including another email from ND exclaiming "This is soooo cool!"), I am grateful today, grateful for friendship, grateful for another identity that I used to have.

Yours truly,

Friday, August 10, 2007

Cover Letter to Kiva

This is the cover letter I sent to (see my previous blog "Job for thought"). Now that it's sent out I feel that it might not be as sharp as it can be. Should I send them the link to this blog?

Dear friends at Kiva,

I graducated from the full-time MBA program at UC Berkeley in 1998. Since then I have worked in the consulting indutry for many years. The consulting experience provided me with rigorous training in the areas of project mangement, client services, and financial analysis.

A year ago I decided to take a break from working in order to explore opportunities of staring a social enterprise. Micro-financing was among the ideas that I have brainstormed with potential business partners. I was absolutely thrilled to find out about Kiva on NPR. I love the concept of giving the general public a chance to participate in this wonderful and effective way of helping other people. I would love to contribute to the success of KIva in any way I can. Microfinance Partnership coordinator seems to be a great fit with my background and my strengths. However I am open to explore any opportunity to work for or with Kiva becuase I firmly believe in Kiva's business strategy as well as its noble cause.

My life has split almost exactly half and half between China and US. I came to US in 1988 as a twenty-year-old graduate student. I have great professional networks both in China as well as in the Bay Area. I would love to be able to do what I can to contribut to Kiva's further success.

Thank you so much for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you!

Best wishes,
Nancy Zhang

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Job for thought

Let’s face it. If you are reading this blog, you must be just as desperate and agitated as I am. About what? - about finding out if a job that is both interesting (not counting money at a Bank or facing eternal doom in a big fancy conference room) and flexible (so your kids are not made to feel guilty when sick with flu by a super stressed mom) actually exists.

I am, in this sense, a very desperate housewife at the moment. You need to look no further than the living room littered with toys on the stained carpet to know that my job performance as a housewife is poor. And I know I simply cannot survive another conversation about swimming lessons and piano teachers. There must be something better out there. Everyday people are changing the world all around me, at least so it seems if you listen to NPR. These people with whom Terry Gross or Michael Krasny have great conversations day in and day out inspire me. Now THAT is living. To have a job that is worth talking about, for over half an hour, to thousands of people!

So THIS is what I will write about! (The idea just came to me and now I am EXCITED). I am going to apply for an interesting job every week and we can all talk about what is cool about this job (or not). Maybe if you have a similar job you can tell me if it is actually that interesting or meaningful. And if you don’t, maybe you can apply when (and only when) I am turned flat down.

What? You think I don’t have the foresight to know that this column could be short-lived if I should be so lucky to actually get one of these jobs? You are wrong - I am an optimist at heart! So if I do get a job, one of you (whom I will get the privilege of choosing) will continue with the column until you too find that ideal job and so on….. Sounds good? Sure! Let’s begin….

Job of the Week

Job Title: Microfinance Partnerships Coordinator

Company name:

Ratings (1-5 hotwheels)

Cool factor: 4 hotwheels

Social responsibility: 5 hotwheels

Match with my background: 4 hotwheels

I am applying for this week. Do you know about this company? They enable ordinary Joes like you and I to be micro lenders to those people who can really use the money. And by that I don’t mean my son who really could use $25 to buy a new Star war Lego set. I mean some nice woman in Guatemala who will use the money to buy more yarn to weave more shawls to sell on the market so that her three kids can go to school. I first heard about them on NPR, when one of the lenders (I think also a journalist) talked about his visit to Kabul where two merchants have benefited from his loan to start their businesses.

Since then I have frequented the site and became a small lender myself. I love the company because of these simple reasons:

1) It is a really simple site to use, elegantly designed, and the whole site gives a feel of greenie and socially responsibility

2) They have a great partnership program with local organizations so that they can reach far and wide to remote (and therefore truly needy) places

3) I love the transparency of the site – everything from the rating and default rate of their partners to the profile of lenders and borrowers. You know the faces of the people whom you lent your money to and how they are working to repay you! They are also open about fees that the local partners will need to charge in order to sustain their operations

4) Smart business partnership – they are the first site that Paypal offered to handle all their transactions for free – this saves loads of YOUR money in transactions fees

All in all, this seems to me a well-run company with great vision and strategy. I would feel honored to work for them. I would be willing to pass this column on to the next blogger in a heart beat if only….!!!!