Week 1: Cat-sitting, searching for work, and finding new hobbies

Classes at Penn started this Wednesday, which left me feeling extra insecure about all the free time I was letting slip by. This week, I continued my search for a part-time job while exploring a few new hobbies.

The highlight of my week was cat-sitting with my roommate. My entire camera roll this week has been photos of this cutie! Taking care of him has only reaffirmed my lifelong desire to take care of a pet of my own sometime soon.

Earlier this week, I turned down a contract position at a company that I found out served the interests of political candidates I had strong reservations against working for. The company culture reflected these interests, which felt uncomfortable at best. Although it was hard to turn down one of the highest design contracting rates I’ve seen in a while, it felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders once it was done. Overall, this experience helped me realize that I have the strength to realize my moral boundaries and design ethically.

Losing the contracting position sent me into a frenzy to find a new part-time job to fill the void. I applied to a bunch of in-person, customer-facing positions and landed a position at a nearby fast-food chain. I’m hoping that starting work will introduce more structure into my life and help me regain my sense of self-discipline.

This week, I also restarted two remote part-time jobs at Penn. I’m continuing my design work for Penn Medicine, working on incorporating user interview feedback into an app that will help parents and teachers of children with autism. I’m also tutoring general chemistry, organic chemistry, and biochemistry for the Penn Tutoring Center this semester.

I’ve also been planning what I want to do and where I want to work this summer. I surprised myself by reaching the interview stage at a few companies I never thought I’d get the chance to design for, so I’ve started revamping my portfolio once again.

Outside of work-related tasks, I’ve been exploring a few new hobbies. For most of my life, that hobby was drawing, which turned into design, which is now a job for me. I’m looking to reintroduce some kind of creativity in my life through a different outlet.

I’m continuing to learn electric guitar. I learned fingerstyle versions of At My Worst and Demons. I also finally learned how to play the dreaded F chord, which has opened the door to many more songs. This week, I want to focus more on learning new strumming patterns and establishing a better sense of rhythm.

I also spontaneously picked up juggling after being inspired by the fruit in my fridge. So far, I’m able to do four passes of the three-ball cascade using clementines. By the end of this week, I hope to be able to do six passes to complete the pattern.

I started a new Pinterest board for DIY project inspiration. This week, I completed one project: I made a rainbow album cover wall!

To start getting in shape again, I went on my first run along the Schuykill River since I’ve been back in Philly. I ran for just over 2 miles and had to pause quite frequently, but my lungs felt alright since the weather has been warming up. Back in November, I ran my first 10k, so I’m hoping to reach that distance again by the end of February.

Since classes for my friends are about to begin picking up next week, I also spent some quality time with them this week. On Monday night, we went to Chinatown for boba and groceries. We came back to the apartment and celebrated my friend’s 21st birthday with hot pot. Later in the week, I also celebrated my boyfriend’s 20th birthday with him by watching our favorite show over Zoom.

This coming week, I hope to find ways to keep myself busy. As everyone around me starts classes, it’ll be up to me to find my own structure. I also hope to start going outside and cooking more. It’ll be good for me to start being more proactive with my free time.

student @penn & designer @pennlabs | portfolio @ jesstan.me