Category Archives: Sammitt says …

Conquering the divide

When I was at my first full-time newspaper job, I first noticed how polarizing the conservative/liberal divide can be.

That particular day, some financial development had brought the ire of the publisher, who was ranting in the morning meeting about how liberals were constantly trying to steal Americans’ money with programs funded by tax dollars. He turned to me and said: “Aren’t you mad that you have to pay Social Security taxes? I mean, it won’t be there when you’re old enough.”

“But other people—including my parents—will need it sooner,” I said. “Why would I begrudge that?” He looked at me like I had three heads, and it suddenly became very clear how very different our lives had been and would always be.

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Politics aside, we never got along fine

(Apologies to Everything But the Girl for the post’s title.)

Lately, I’ve found myself with a quick temper and a shorter fuse.

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Face(book)ing off in 2017

I noticed last year that going on Facebook had begun to deliver diminishing returns. It should have been enjoyable to catch up on what friends were doing, so why did it seem like I was always in a bad mood when I closed out?

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Training day

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A Montana Rail Link train.

Late at night or early in the morning, when the automobile traffic has slowed, I can hear the trains as they creep their way up the tracks parallel to Grand Avenue.

The most dangerous train/auto intersection is the state is literally right down the street, about two miles from Casa Flor, which is perhaps why I can hear the engineers sounding their horns cautiously, continuously, as the p.m. trains crawl through town. That’s far enough away for those horns to sound musical, like trumpets playing a fermata note, but if I lived closer I probably wouldn’t find it as charming.

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3 Interview Mistakes No Company Should Make

Quick note: As you’ll see if you note the date of the “What Sam Wore” at the bottom of the post, I wrote this back in March. I held off posting, though, because I was worried it might be too sour-grapes, fresh off the interview process, but more than half a year later, I feel like it’s still worth a publish

Before I jumped in to the job market last year, I read a lot about preparedness and protocol. Did you know that using Times New Roman on your résumé is “the typeface equivalent of wearing sweatpants to an interview?” Have you considered how you’d answer the newest brain-busting interview questions? Bullet points! Elevator speeches! The right interview outfits! I clicked through way too many stories and slideshows about how to impress recruiters.

After a few early interviews, though, I reframed my mindset to include this incredibly important component: What were these recruiters doing to impress me? I’m great at what I do; my skills are stellar, impressive and wide-ranging. Most companies would be lucky to have me on board. If I’m bringing this much to the table, the company’s recruiters and interviewers should, too.

Job hunting and dating have a lot in common: You’re dressed up, maybe a little nervous, trying to make a great impression on someone. In dating, each person’s opinion of the relationship is equally significant and either one has the power to call something off. Well-qualified candidates treat job hunting the same way. (After all, my goal wasn’t to land any old job in my field, but to land a better one than I had.)

People tell their friends and families about what happened on their bad dates, and stories about bad workplace experiences get out, too, via sites like Glassdoor as well as through word of mouth. In each of my more atrocious job-hunting ordeals, the recruiter or interviewer had done something that would’ve been a surefire dating deal-breaker.

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Let’s get specific, with three real-life examples of why I decided companies weren’t good workplaces: Continue reading

A belated ode to my friend Vicki

Vicki Serna managed to set me up on my first ever date with a guy.

Sure, the date went as abysmally as anyone who knows me would have expected: I treated it like an interview and asked a lot of questions — A LOT of questions — without ever actually expressing personal interest. That’s not her fault — in fact, it’s borderline amazing that she managed to get me to agree to meet a co-worker socially in the first place.

When I moved to Arizona in 1997, I was pretty much starting life anew. I knew exactly one person—a former Colorado co-worker who’d recommended me for the job in Phoenix—but we worked different hours on different teams, and so I hardly saw him. But I met with Vicki freakishly early every Saturday morning as part of my job, to put together a layout for every issue of the entertainment magazine I worked on.

Man, she was amazing to be around: as outgoing as I was introverted, as boisterous as I was reserved. And somehow she learned that one of the sales guys had noticed “the new guy,” and took it upon herself to engineer a date. How Vicki persuaded a newly out, overly skittish me to such a thing is testament to her rapport with people (and her ability to imbue them with the same DGAF attitude that seemed to course through her veins).

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Electing not to pay attention

Tonight I’m thinking about Election Night 1996, when I happened to be on a vacation in Martinique that my brother sprang for to say, “Happy high school graduation! Happy college graduation! Happy every birthday and Christmas I missed! [Also, I want a single person to go on vacation with!]”

Anyway: Instead of working on the news desk (an Election Night rite I never enjoyed), I played volleyball, won a drinking game and didn’t pay attention to the news. When I went to bed that night, I remember thinking: “Well, if I find out that Bill Clinton won, I’ll be happy. And if I find out that Bob Dole won, at least I’ll be in Martinique for a few more days and able to shut it out.”

I should revisit that decision. It sounds just as brilliant even 20 years later.