Two Saturdays ago, I ended my job with the Census. I turned in my last time sheet and a few other things to my crew leader earlier last week and that was it. Being a temporary job and considering that I only had a few questionnaires left, it would have only lasted another week or two, but I felt that it was about “that time” for me, anyway. It wasn’t a bad experience, but it certainly wasn’t easy. I’ll be the first one to say that it is a flawed system, but what can you do about it? The information can’t be submitted by people via internet form, where it would be easy for hackers to get and spread around the internet in a matter of a minute if there was a security breach, and temporary employees might not be trusted with high-tech computers that could be used to easily log the information. So what’s left? The old fashioned way of visiting people’s homes, just the ones who didn’t turn the form in on time (if at all), with a paper form and a pencil is the way to do it and get it done somewhat correctly.
I liked the people that I worked with, but dealing with some of the people that I had to go out and interview was difficult. Of course, visiting people at their homes unexpectedly and not knowing their schedules would be challenging no matter what kind of job it was, but there were still some who were unreasonably rude about it. For every one person that was kind and willing to provide the information, there were maybe three people who were either rude and reluctant or not home at the time and didn’t call back when provided with a notice, name, and number. Regular citizens were hired to ensure that the population count was as accurate and complete as it could have been, so why be rude to fellow neighbors who are only doing the job they were briefly trained to do? And believe me, training in the field was very brief compared to what I was faced with once I got out and started going to people’s homes by myself. When it comes down to it, time, money, and aggravation for all parties could have been avoided if everyone just filled out the simple form in the first place and put it in the mail- no stamp needed!! I don’t see the issue of providing basic information so the community can get some money for programs, schools, etc. but that’s just me.
Aside from rude people and as far as other barriers are concerned, the most common one that I encountered in my area was Spanish speakers who knew very little English. I heard stories from Census workers about people who didn’t understand because they spoke languages like Hindi, Portuguese, Polish, etc. In those cases, an outside translator had to be secured in order to do the questionnaires and we were lucky to have people in our Census crew who spoke different languages, particularly a lot of Spanish speakers- fluent and semi-fluent (like me!) I was able to communicate with Spanish speakers and fill out a couple of questionnaires, and it was easy because we had a few of the forms in Spanish to read off of. Even with the forms, though, there were still a few whose dialects/accents I couldn’t understand, especially over the telephone, and so I had to pass them on to the native speakers to handle.
Oh, and the hot, humid weather these past few weeks didn’t help, either. Walking around in the heat and humidity, then coming back to my car, which is black and has dark interior that just absorbs all of the heat… I feel hot just thinking about it.
The main reason I resigned from my Census position before my time was up was because I found an internship. That’s right. After submitting resumes everywhere and a few interviews, something finally came along, thanks to a Craigslist posting and a resume submission via email. I start on June 21st, less than a week from today, and will work through July- a full 5 or 6 weeks. I will be receiving 3 credits for the internship, added on like a class to my fall schedule, and a small weekly stipend for basic expenses, which is certainly better than other opportunities I was faced with that were unpaid for the same amount of hours of work (24-30, tentatively.) My focus will be social media marketing using the company Facebook, Twitter, and website to gain followers/fans and inform them about the company, their views, and their products. The company is in an early stage, but already has a contract selling their products to Whole Foods and other supermarkets in the Eastern/Atlantic states. It sounds exciting and I am eager to start working with them to see how a smaller company, specifically a company in the food industry where there are already tons of products and competition, grows and supports it’s image.
More good news came along after I got that position: I had an interview with the Princeton University Press and was able to secure an internship position with them for the fall! This is a position that I am also very excited about. Although it’s unpaid, I will be getting credit for the spring. It sounds like it will be a cool job, 10-15 hours a week that I could easily work into my fall school schedule, and a great chance to learn more about the staff and operations at another university.
So those things are a few of the highlights for me so far this summer. I also ordered some fabulous summer clothes from Victoria’s Secret online catalog and got great deals, but that’s not as huge as the internships lol.