Sunday, 7 April 2013

My application to work at Google

Dear Google HR department,

I have recently bought the book Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google? I have not had time to read it yet, as since becoming a mother I have only read a handful of books, but I fully intend to take it on holiday with me next month and to pretend things will be different because I am using the word holiday, and that I may have a chance to read.

Nevertheless I would like to apply to work at Google, specifically in a very senior position that earns googols of pounds.

I have much experience working as a writer, editor and lecturer, including writing two non fiction books and teaching at a prestigious university. However my application focuses on the experience gained during the two years since my daughter was born including the recent arrival of my son.

During this time I have developed excellent skills in project management. Every activity my family is involved with includes planning, organising and research to ensure completion on time and within budget, from working out journeys that facilitate naps to checking the availability of refreshments. This often involves balancing the competing requirements of the group.

I also have much experience in logistics, making sure people, facilities and supplies suit our requirements. This has included the planning of several holidays and travel on many modes of transport.

As leader of my team I frequently liaise with other team leaders to arrange activities that are both fun and educational. This includes assessing external settings and applying the criteria set by many interested parties and maintaining effective networks.

My communication skills have also developed in my current role. I already had much experience writing, editing and broadcasting. However I can now convey with a look, a twitch, a small intake of breath or a barely perceptible shake of the head whether something is allowed, whether it is dangerous and what level of punishment can be expected if I am disobeyed.

Crisis management has become one of my specialities. I am able to quickly assess any situation and go to the person or object most needing help whilst being aware of the speed in which other crises may be developing. Nothing fazes me, from overflowing sinks to precariously balanced irons or paint about to spill on the sofa.

I have daily responsibility for my team's budget, and can quickly evaluate the value of a carton of apple juice versus a box of raisins. I also now understand the value of a chocolate button, and the value of a cuddle. I also know the price of a 6 pint bottle of milk, and indeed the value (and cost) of 30ml of expressed breast milk.

Learning to delegate and to split tasks to ensure all members of the team feel involved in every project has been a key area for me. This sometimes requires changing the direction of a task in the middle of it. However I feel this is worth it to create a harmonious environment for everyone to work in.

I can assess danger in an instant, explain my decision and persuade all parties that they want to do things my way, regardless of the position they adopt at the start of proceedings. I have also become an expert negotiator and my skills in this area include knowing which battles to pursue and using all resources at my disposal when something just has to be done. A good example of this is convincing a two year old to brush her teeth.

In additon to this I often have to present progress reports on my work to other interested parties such as my husband and my parents, and to ensure a cohesive approach when using external contractors.

I have also acquired experience of interviewing and applying HR functions including hiring and firing. This has involved visiting several nurseries and deciding which best serves the needs of all parties.

All of my work seeks to meet short term goals whilst contributing to a long term strategy.

I am happy to expand on any of these points and very much look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

Ellie Levenson

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

The importance of party bags

My daughter loves parties. She loves cake and singing happy birthday and, above all, she loves party bags. Parenting forums such as Mumsnet are often full of threads bemoaning the plastic tat you get in party bags and suggesting you give kids a book or donate to charity instead. Well my daughter loves plastic tat, as did I. Give her a pot of bubbles, a balloon and a plastic dinosaur and you'll have a special place in her heart. Not that she doesn't like books or do-gooding as well, but they don't really suit the frivolity or jollity of a party.

We went to a party yesterday. She went to bed talking about her party bag and woke up asking for it. We will make a special trip to the park this afternoon just to blow the party bag bubbles and chase them. Ah, the small, yet massive, pleasures, that make up a childhood.

It's things such as these that upset me most about the 'Bedroom Tax' and benefit cuts. Well that and denying people enough money to have housing and food and clothing. Those tiny things that me and George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith probably think cost hardly anything, that we are making even harder for people on benefits to afford. A pot of bubbles. Birthday candles. A balloon. A day out to a museum with 50p to spend in the shop. An apple juice in the cafe after a run around the park. A present if you are invited to a birthday party. Just make a card you say? Sure - but how to afford the paper and crayons? A swim in the pool in the school holidays. The bus fare to go and see a friend. A magazine or comic that you have absolutely set your heart on. A piece of cake.

I don't go in for vouchers instead of money. Zoe Williams explains why perfectly in her column here. But even if you don't object to a voucher scheme, what would you do? A voucher for a candle? A voucher for a bubble?

That's the thing about this Government that strikes me even more than any other - they are not only anti-aspirational, using rhetoric about getting into work (what work?) and improving lives to actually make lives harder and dull any aspiration by removing the likelihood of achieving it, but they are actually preventing a whole generation of children from having what they and their own children take for granted, and should take for granted - the occasional thrills of an everyday party bag that to some is tat, but that is far far more precious than that.