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Holiday Wishes

With the year-end holiday season come introspection and reflection. It’s the time to unwind and remind ourselves to give thanks and express gratitude.

This year has been unusual. Hard to find good when we lost loved ones and dear friends. Hard to find justice with racism and gun violence continuously rearing its ugly head. Hard to find leadership when those entrusted to preserve, protect and defend, pervert the truth and desecrate faith.  In times like these it’s easy to give up and wish about fast-forwarding time to erase the current and move to greener pastures.  OK fast-forward time and then what?  

We’ll get the vaccine. January 20th will come on January 20th.  But time?  We have a say over our time. It’s what we make of it. It’s ours to use or waste, and the ultimate decision-maker is ourselves.

  • Look at yourself in the mirror and smile!
  • Appreciate you, your interests and what you like
  • Follow your curiosity, ability to think and learn
  • Reach out to friends and family members

There’s a lot we lost this year, but the “me, mine, us, and ours,” is yours. Always.

Let’s enjoy the now, before it goes, because it will.  Though we may not have much say over things that go haywire, our time is ours to do as we wish.  Let’s be grateful for our time and make the most of it.  Afterall haven’t we given away enough?

Wishing you and yours a Happy Holiday Season and much Peace and Zen in the New Year.




It’s been 7 weeks since Memorial Day; it’s another 7 weeks until Labor Day.

For those who remained employed, many worked remotely. For others it’s been a summer of cancelled opportunities and internships, rescinded offers, layoffs, and furloughs.

If you’re in the latter category, I’m sure you had many well-intended folks weigh in and encourage you to embark on creative projects, acquire new skills, cultivate your professional network, to get organized and have something to say and show for Summer 2020.

We’re half way through Summer 2020.  What have you done?

We had and still have COVID-19, compounded by tragic news and politics to make matters worse. Plainly put, it’s been a hell of a summer, we get it.  Unfortunately, that’s not going to cover up the gap in your resume for Summer 2020. The good news is it’s not late… remember we have 7 weeks till Labor Day.  Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Turn off the cellphone and dedicate a block of time. You don’t have to spend hours, unless you can and/or want to.  This may be one of the few instances where frequency matters more than duration to develop mental muscle memory to think and focus in order to act.
  • Write a list and keep it short. Max 5 items you want to tackle throughout the week. The number of items on your list is a personal preference. Some claim 7 is the magic number, others say 3.
  • Set a deadline and establish a timeline for each one of your items from start to finish.  For example, if an item were to take a month (4 weeks) to complete, breakdown weekly tasks to be completed during week 1 through week 4.
  • Check in with yourself midweek. What did you get to? What you haven’t gotten to should go to the top of the list.
  • Evaluate yourself at the end of the week.  It’s OK if you don’t complete all items on your list, but if you notice certain “To Dos” keep getting bumped down, ask yourself why. Did you overestimate your capacity to complete the task for the week or underestimate the amount of time needed. Do you keep tackling the easy stuff and putting off the harder ones. Is your time getting hijacked by others, or are you letting them do so and thus sabotaging yourself.

It’s important for all of us to keep in mind that thinking and getting projects completed take time. There’s no app in the world that’ll complete your “To Do” list for you in a nano second.

Practicing to develop mental muscle memory to tackle your projects is like learning to play a sport, play an instrument, speak a foreign language.

Just imagine, when an interviewer or a professional you’re looking to impress asks “What did you do during that difficult Summer of 2020?” You’ll be rewarded by having something meaningful, productive and proud to talk about.

You don’t need this article to remind you that there are plenty of great sports teams that won after being down at halftime.


Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and many more, they’re not the only ones, #SAYTHEIRNAMES !

I’m sharing the link below, an extensive list of resources compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein in May 2020, brought to my attention by my former colleague Megan DaPisa-Keita.


Meet & Greet: Northwell Health

Project Job recently hosted a virtual Meet & Greet recently with Mr. Lesly St. Louis, Inclusion Specialist at Northwell Health for candidates with disabilities in the New York City area. We are grateful to Mr. St. Louis for his excellent and engaging presentation on current opportunities at Northwell Health, and job search tips.

Here are some key takeaways:

  • Maintain a professional email address
  • Spell check, grammar check, proof read resume, cover letters, and all correspondences. You may want to ask someone to look it over.
  • Resumes should be clear and concise; quantify your accomplishments and articulate impact on the department and organization
  • List hard skills (i.e Microsoft office, foreign language, programming software,etc…)
  • Soft skills are expectations, embed them into your accomplishments to articulate impact
  • Objectives or summary should speak to the job description
  • For virtual interviews – confirm your IT connection, camera, audio, are in working order; sharpen your virtual interview skills, as they have become increasingly necessary and popular
  • Arrive 15-20 minutes before an in-person interview; for virtual interviews,10 minutes.
  • Maintain eye contact, be mindful of body language, sit up straight, avoid hands and gesticulating in the picture
  • During virtual interviews have a professional background
  • Research organization and have at least 5 questions to ask
  • In expressing your interest for the job, speak to the job, cite personal interest, and then the organization
  • Last but not least, always send the interviewer a thank you email within 24 hours!!!  Not sending one is a deal breaker.

Our eternal thanks to Northwell Health and to all healthcare workers for their hard work and dedication during these times.

Best, Mariko

Ace your virtual interview

Who would have ever thought hiring an employee would be done without meeting the candidate in-person? Businesses may have shutdown requiring many to work remotely and from home, however the need to meet competitive demands and to adjust and excel in this environment are mandatory in order to keep their doors open. Even if it’s a virtual one. 

Today, meeting with clients, sealing deals, and collaborating with colleagues via Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts has become a standard.  The ability to communicate persuasively and virtually without an in-person meeting is a necessity and has increased in value. For job seekers virtual interviews are here to stay. Therefore, it’s imperative to develop an awareness of how we look, sound and are perceived virtually.

The basic steps to preparing for an interview will always be the same:

  • Research the employer
  • Rehearse articulating your skills and experiences in order to demonstrate qualification and fit
  • Have a list of questions for the interviewer that reflect your research

Virtual interviews have added layers to the preparation process that also require thought and practice. To best understand and analyze these added layers let’s go through the various stages of the interview process:

The Handshake

What do we typically do when we first meet an interviewer? We shake hands, introduce ourselves and say “It’s nice to meet you!”  In a virtual interview, we don’t have the benefit of shaking hands. Look straight at the camera, smile, introduce yourself and say “It’s nice to meet you!”  then ask if they can hear and see you ok.

  • Know your interviewer’s meeting software of choice. (Zoom, Google Hangout, Skype)
  • Double check your internet connectivity well in advance of the meeting
  • Know where your camera is on your screen
  • Position your screen so the camera is at eye level otherwise you will appear to be looking down at them, or if the screen is set high, they will only see the top of your head
  • Make sure they can see your entire head and shoulders
  • Dress appropriately, avoid clothing with busy patterns
  • Have a clean and appropriate background

Sharing your computer

What’s the next thing we typically do after initial introductions? We bring extra resumes, and may hand them a copy.  In a virtual interview you may want to email your resume in advance of the meeting. Ask them if they would like you to share your screen to show your resume.  

  • Have your resume file ready and available on your desktop, you don’t want to be seen fumbling through files in search of your resume
  • If you’re asked to give a presentation as part of your interview, have the Power point slides and other materials open and ready on your desktop
  • Keep your desktop clean, what you have is what they see

Communicating your actions

During an in-person interview, it’s not unusual to take notes. During a virtual interview, you can do the same. Unlike an in-person interview, keep in mind the interviewer can only see you from your shoulders up and doesn’t have the benefit of seeing and knowing why you’re looking down.

  • Explain “I am jotting some notes, on my pad”
  • Communicate to avoid your body language from getting misconstrued
  • Avoid keyboarding, the sound is distracting

Ask questions

It’s always important to have at least three questions to ask the interviewer.  It reflects your research on the employer and your intellectual curiosity about the work they do.

  • What is their timeline for hiring during COVID-19 and even after reopening? 
  • How does the team communicate with one another?  Microsoft Teams, Google chat, Beehive?  There are multiple meeting and collaborative software programs utilized by organizations, ask which one they use
  • Familiarize yourself with the most popular ones and communicate your knowledge and ability to navigate the platform
  • If you’re not familiar with their platform, it’s OK to say so and let them know you’ll check it out

Thank you

After any interview whether it’s in-person, by phone, or virtual, write a thank you note.  Not writing one is a deal breaker. 

  • Thank them for taking the time to meet with you, mention that you wish it could have been in-person, but given the circumstances, you’re grateful for having had the opportunity to meet with them virtually
  • Keep it short and mention one thing about the interview that you appreciated
  • If you checked out their particular collaboration software after your interview, let them know that
  • Invite them to view your Linkedin profile, they may take a look and who knows if they like what they see they may connect with you!

Rehearsal tips

  • Record yourself
  • Recruit a friend, relative who will provide honest feedback
  • Avoid waiting till the last minute

With practice, your comfort level, confidence and competence will show through. Good luck!

Best, Mariko


As many states start to reopen and others contemplate the timing of their reopening, we’re left to wonder how the workplace and our personal habits will be forever changed. Whether one agrees with the reopening or not, changes to the way we seek work and get work done are inevitable.  Same old same old is gonzo.

What will the new normal look like?  Will we have staggered shifts as we take turns working remotely or commuting to work wearing masks, gloves with disinfectant wipes in tow. Whatever the transformation may be, the ability to present ourselves virtually and address preceptions virtually will be key. Virtual meetings, presentations, and interviews are here to stay and will become increasingly valued.

Change is hard. It requires us to confront ourselves, reevaluate our own capacity, retool and pivot.  Often we realize our perceptions of ourselves are not what we actually see, and the truth hurts, it stings. The sure thing is no longer, and venturing into the unknown is scary and causes anxiety. History shows we’ve made remarkable changes after major crisis. The way we travel, the paradigm of work and financial regulations, how we view and care for our environment are just a few examples of changes made within the past 20 years.  Though some may debate their efficacies, most would agree on their intentions – to provide safety and to preserve quality of life.

NYS Governor Cuomo announced subways will shutdown from 1am-5am starting May 6 to disinfect each and every NYC subway car on daily basis. Yes the hardy and early morning commuters will be inconvenienced, but wow perhaps the homeless will finally get the attention and care they desperately need. The city that never sleeps may finally get the rest it needs to rejuvenate.  Change is hard, change is good and change can be productive if we embrace it.

Best,  Mariko

P.S. Project Job Zooms presents: The Art of Virtual Interviewing is coming soon, so please stay tuned!

Keep Movin’

How many times have you heard, “It’s not the problem you have, or are dealing with, but how you handle it.” 

In the past month, we’ve seen an epic shift from a world of mass transit commutes, Starbucks, Broadway shows, to working remotely, Instacart deliveries, and virtual happy hours. Different people have reacted differently. For some, the onset of back to back Zoom meetings in the remote workplace made them realize time is at a premium, requiring intentional and selective action about their schedules.  Others seemed to be lost in paralysis. Caught up in the world of social media to play inane games to bide the time, complain, or assign blame.

For job seekers, today’s employment landscape is in flux. Internships are cancelled, job offers rescinded, on hold, or with delayed start dates. However, there are websites with remote internship opportunities, sites for seekers to connect with businesses looking to hire those whose offers were rescinded. Some organizations are posting again after having reassessed need and hiring capacity. Telephone and virtual interviews via Skype and Zoom are taking place.

Opportunities are out there.  They may not be what you’re looking for, but they’re out there. This is an important time to: Reassess, Pivot, and Fill the void.

  • Your dream job may not be in demand at the moment. What opportunities are there currently where you might utilize a skill you have already or might learn a new one? That is of interest to you, or related to a hobby?
  • How are you going to fill your time? If your dream job at XYZ is not available will you consider volunteering at XYZ?  Identify a contact on Linked In who works at XYZ and ask for a 20 minute exploratory chat/Zoom?
  • Do you want to learn a new skill – to code, paint, speak a foreign language? Is there a book, a piece of literature you’ve always wanted to read? Is there a period in history you were always interested in looking up?

Doing something is better than doing nothing. Nobel Prize-winning Physicist Albert Einstein once said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, keep moving.” Keep moving, keep adding to your resume. When the virus is gone, you will be asked to look back on this time and talk about what you did. Have answers and remember, it’s not about the problem and what you’re dealing with, but how you handled it.

I’m turning virtual, I’m turning virtual, I really think so!

Everyone wants to predict the post-pandemic future, trying desperately to figure out when things will go back to normal. Though none of us have a crystal ball, it seems inevitable that the new normal would reflect a recalibration of standards on how we view and value working remotely, our concept of space whether it’s at home or in the workplace, and how we interact with one another socially and professionally.

What would the workplace look like? Will there be new restrictions limiting the number of people in any given area. Will employees work in staggered shifts, while others work remotely. Will virtual Zoom meetings make in-person staff meetings obsolete. How will we hold ourselves and each other accountable at work in this new normal.  How will job seekers need to modify their job search process in this new and changed world. We may not have all of the answers right now, however virtual interviews which were utilized during pre-pandemic times are key today, and here to stay.

Get IT fluent.

Confirm your internet connection, know the employer’s choice of virtual meeting software e.g. Zoom, Google Hangout, Skype, and become familiar with how to navigate them.

Clean up your desktop. When you share, what you have is what they see. Make sure the desktop image is appropriate, and hide any files/folders you don’t want anyone else to see.

Some experts advise to keep the background bare or neutral. I’m of the opinion that it’s ok to stylize your background, to show your personality, just make sure it’s neat and organized, appropriate, apolitical, and non-controversial.

Get dressed, but don’t overdo it; ensure the focus is on you and your face.

Keep a notepad and pen next to you to jot things down.  Avoid typing and keyboarding during the interview.  The sound is distracting.

Body Language. Get an understanding, appreciation for what you look like, how you come across and sound like. Many are often surprised at what they actually sound like, or what they look like when they’re speaking.  Practice by using the software, record yourself, then observe and listen to your recording.  Are you making eye contact, blinking too much, saying “um” or “you know” excessively.

Save the water break for later. Avoid taking a drink of water during the interview.  Watch the news on TV. Do you see Anderson Cooper chugging his water when he’s delivering the news and the camera is fixed on him? I don’t think so. Remember when Marco Rubio took a sip of water during his post- State of the Union speech? He got a lot of heat for it and became the butt of SNL’s jokes.

Turn your cellphone off!  Even if you know the interviewer can’t see your hands, leave the cellphone alone. You wouldn’t check your cellphone during an in-person interview, right?

Take notes. If you have to look down to do so, explain to the interviewer quickly and briefly that you’re jotting down a few words.

Practice makes perfect. Imagine yourself as an actor preparing for your show. You need to rehearse and know your lines, read your audience, and envision how you’re coming across to your audience. Your virtual interview is your time to shine.  The interviewer is your audience. The spotlight is on you, you’re the star of the show, make the most of it. Lights, Camera, Action!

Best,   Mariko

#validatingyou #samehere

I just finished reading What Happened, Hillary Clinton’s book about her 2016 Presidential bid and loss.  Two sentences on page 398 stuck in my mind. “When people are angry and looking for someone to blame, they don’t want to hear your ten-point plan to create jobs and raise wages. They want you to be angry, too.” Those 2 sentences got me thinking. Got me thinking because we all want validation. 

We are bored. Bored of the lockdown, self-quarantine, the news. Bored of back-to-back virtual this and a that. Even virtual cocktails and happy hours get old after awhile.

We are anxious. Anxious of listening to Coronavirus Breaking News 24-7 and ambulances screeching all the time flying up and down the streets. None of us like being told of a virus for which there isn’t a test, therapy or vaccine. None of us like being locked up indoors, and having our freedoms curtailed. I hate it too! 

OK I got it out, posted it, and desperately want to move on.  Let me know when you’re ready, the more the merrier. Stay safe and healthy!

Best, Mariko

Check this out!

Last week was packed with Zoom sessions, Google Hangouts, FaceTime Videochats, and other meetings using all of the hi tech’s latest and greatest apps. There was one common underlying theme to each and every virtual meeting and phone call last week.  With life relegated to Netflix, Amazon, and other streaming services, many reported feeling lonely, isolated, bored, and less engaged.

The Museum Arts Culture Access Consortium has compiled a wonderful trove of resources available for all to tap into. features links to over 30 New York Citywide museums and cultural organizations’ websites, as well as links to virtual tours, podcasts, online courses, learning and teaching resources for parents and students, and many more.  Simply said there’s something here for everyone.  My personal favorite is the Smithsonian Learning Lab. I really enjoyed watching the video of Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-135 Astronauts (including one female astronaut) talk about their mission that took place in July 2011.

Next time you’re bored or know of someone who is, why not visit There’s alot here to keep you busy, plus it’s fun, and you’ll learn a lot!

Best, Mariko

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