Thank you for taking the time to read my cover letter. It's more of a statement really, on who I am and the non-linear approach I have taken to things like career and the idea of moving up the ladder.
I'll try and keep this to the point and as succinct as possible. That's usually easier for me in an interview - the succinct approach. Perhaps you'd deduct a point or two for my brevity. It's only that I have been used to keeping my opinions to myself for the most part - at least until we gain a sort of confidence and trust in one another - as well as not taking up too much space. I'm working on both of those things, particularly the last one - taking up space. I mean to say that I'm working on giving myself the breadth to take up more space. Because I know that I matter and that my voice is important (and I know you'll want to know my opinions in order to decide if I'm a good fit for your company).
You'll find in my resume that I've graduated from a university in Seattle with a double major. You'll also find my two certificates, one in Non-Profit Management and the other in Editing. I love learning. I love gaining new skill sets.
What you won't find under the Education section is any note about the three-year shamanic practitioner training program I completed in November 2015 or the year-long Mentoring and Leadership Program that I finished the year before. You won't see anything about the Velocity Dance Studio's summer dance intensive I participated in or the art project I did (check out my Photos section on my website) for the public. You won't hear about Bent, a queer writing institute, and how taking poetry classes there opened up the idea for me that I was a writer and a creative and my words were important, not just for me, but for my community too. From my resume you won't know that I read poems on stages in Seattle and Portland in front of strangers. Or that I co-created a performance poetry event with six other artists in 2012. You won't hear anything about my life growing up as an only child in a military family, or about my experiences living on military bases in the 1990s in both South Korea and Japan. All part of my education. I would even argue that these experiences are more relevant than the fact that I'm a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
I know how to work with programs like Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel (most of us do, I think). I can also transplant lettuce and kale starts while sitting on the back of a moving tractor. I know how to sow seeds using machinery, and I know how to use programs like Final Cut Express to edit and format video, something I learned in college when I made short films. I am versed in the donor database world, and have used programs like Salesforce and Little Green Light. I can drive a tractor and I can proofread books. I understand basic pruning techniques and how to install irrigation for backyard vegetable garden beds. I am pro-Oxford Comma and understand the importance of a good style sheet. I can coordinate volunteers for large events. I know how to hold sacred ceremonial space and offer soul retrievals and house blessings. I can travel alone for months on end on a budget with success. And, if you need me to travel to the UK, I can drive on the other side of the road - without incident - in the rain traversing very narrow roads (#newskill).
I can and will challenge myself without needing the external mandate or directive to do so. In fact, I thrive on it.
You'll find gardening and development work on the resume; both great experiences and I would be delighted to talk about either of them.
If you ask me about other employment, I will tell you there's more gardening, also a stint at Whole Foods, and a student position at the University of Washington Libraries: Preservation Department (first foray into editing!). I interned at a large organic farm in Western Washington for a season and I did the barista thing in Seattle. I also interned for the Seattle International Film Festival (I loved it so much that I did it twice). Finally, I was involved on the Board of the UW Film Club as an undergraduate, as well as the Board of Bent, the queer writing institute I mentioned. #boardleadershipexperience
But none of this tells you about me or my capabilities or drive or desire in a sensible, orderly fashion.
If anything, for the linear person who sees a forward path from A to B without diversion, my life experiences post-college seem to present chaos rather than clarity. For the linear person, this is not one rung at a time on a very specific ladder.
That said, I believe that it is through my diverse experiences and non-linear route - with each job opportunity specifically calling to me for one reason or another - that I have continued to engage in critical thinking, making conscientious choices about where I work, what I do, and for whom.
In fact, I intentionally wanted to work at Whole Foods to understand the consumer role in the food system. From that I found an internship on the farm - which I have mentioned - in order to better understand the intensive and laborious process from which farms operate in order to feed us. Then, it was the strong desire to work in the non-profit sector around food security and the food justice work, thus my time at the food bank. A full circle.
I just completed five uninterrupted months of independent travel. In June 2016, I quit my job, let my apartment go, and left the comfort of a community and a city I had come to know intimately over the past thirteen years. I left it all to explore myself, explore other countries (as well as our own), and explore my creativity. I can't put this in a normal cover letter or in a resume. This isn't traditional work experience but it is work experience nonetheless.
I was the Executive Director, the President, and the CEO of my travels.
I had to manage a budget, create a workable plan and execute it, and maintain the business (or body in this case) such that it survived and in fact, thrived. No business (or person) seeks mere survival as the ultimate achievement. We want to thrive and grow and find new opportunities. I found all three. In truth, I woke up each morning feeling expansive and new, blessed and grateful. I had made the decision to take the spaciousness to make inventory of my life, my achievements, and my dreams and ask myself three questions:
- Where did I want to continue to grow and develop my skills and my passions?
- How could I best serve community and my own life dreams?
- What did I want to do next?
New York City. Through Cinematic Storytelling. As a Writer.
Why? My strong love of independent film in high school flowed into college. Cinema Studies, SIFF, UW Film Club, countless hours writing and directing short films "just because" began to resurface a decade later as something to consider, to pursue.
I know I said I'd aim for brevity, but I think you should know all of this. And I'm aware of this unconventionality of this post.
I want to be seen as a whole person, and I know that's not possible with the form cover letter and resume.
I want to write and edit. I want to be creative (did I mention I'm working on a series of screenplays?). And honestly, above all, I want to work in an environment that is progressive and creative, thoughtful and understanding, compassionate and honest. I want to work hard, play hard, and build something great with fellow thinkers, both linear and non-linear minded individuals alike.
Ask me about my shamanic training and how I think it's relevant to working for you. Or about how I think that my experiences harvesting from sunrise to sunset on a large-scale farm can relate to your fast-paced work environment.
I'm ready. I'm willing. I'm open.
Thank you for your consideration.
Erin L. MacDonald