Apprenticeship Week 2

Yesterday I finished my second week at Original One Parts!

Learning Inbound Calls

This week I started learning how to take inbound calls.

Monday I read the training material but didn’t actually answer the phone. Tuesday I took my first couple calls. Wednesday through Friday I took more calls and got more comfortable. I still have a lot to learn but I’ve learned from listening to the rest of the team take and make calls and taking some calls myself.

I was not walked through our process for recording the calls we take, but I figured it out. Tuesday and Wednesday I hadn’t been told I needed to put the calls I take on the log, but Thursday and Friday I realized it’s a great way to show my work in addition to it being important for the team.

We put in our initials, the name of the person who called, the insurance company they’re associated with (if it’s an insurance company rep calling us), the part they called about, the price of that part, and any notes from the call.

Hubspot and Salespad Account Information Project

I continued last week’s project of going through old orders and updating accounts in Hubspot and Salespad accordingly. I’m almost finished going through the previous sales team member’s papers to complete this project.

When I find duplicate accounts in Salespad, which happens frequently, I was emailing Tim, who is able to merge them. There’s a high volume, though, and sometimes he is unable to merge accounts because they’re both/all connected to CCC (a parts ordering platform) and have different ID numbers. To make it easier for him to see what needs done and keep track of what’s been merged and what the new account numbers are, I made a spreadsheet. I have the company name, the new account number, the accounts that need merged, and a spot for notes about the accounts or why they can’t be merged if they can’t.

Other Places I See to Create Value

I found out this week that our marketing “team” is just Kyle. He was working in the sales office some this week and I learned that he gets anything somewhat marketing related put on his plate and he’s the whole department. Once I master my position and am great at taking inbound calls and possibly starting to learn outbound calls, I want to leverage myself to take up some of Kyle’s extra work. I wanted to find a marketing position for my apprenticeship and this could be a good way to get my feet wet and start learning while also freeing up Kyle to do more of his more important tasks.

Learning Japanese with Duolingo – 1 Month

Alyssa Wright shares what she has learned in Japanese using Duolingo for just over a month.

I’ve been learning Japanese on Duolingo for about a month now. I’ve taken it slow, taking my time so what I learn sticks.

I’ve learned some handy basics so far, but the coolest thing I’ve done is make this meme:

I shared in on Twitter when I created it, and actually received correction to the text I had. I had a mistake before, but I also had a chance to learn from and correct that mistake.

I remember reading that Japanese fluency requires knowledge of about 2000 kanji the last time I started learning some Japanese. With Duolingo, in just a month a learned 19 to get me started.

  • 水 (water)
  • 食べ (eat)
  • 中国 (China)
  • 日本 (Japan, can be paired with 語 to be Japanese)
  • 飲む (drink)
  • 人 (used in constructions to say someone is from a place)
  • 学生 (student)
  • 先生 (teacher)
  • 私 (I)
  • 語 (language)
  • 何 (what)
  • 英 (English)
  • 名 (name)
  • 一 (one)
  • 二 (two)
  • 三 (three)
  • 時 (time)
  • 今 (now)
  • 分 (minutes)

There should be one more on the list but I forgot what it meant and how to use it. So I have some review to do to there.

Japanese is definitely a difficult language to learn, but I’m making progress. In one month I learned how to talk about being from certain places, how to talk about time, and how to talk about food. Now I just need to learn how to ask about the bathroom and I’ll be all set!

This was just my first month of learning Japanese using solely Duolingo. As I progress I plan to incorporate other resources such as Tofugu, Youtube videos teaching Japanese, and videos from Japanese people in Japanese.

Learning the Digital Design Tool Easil

Alyssa Wright shares her experience learning Easil and the fun she’s had with the tool over the last two days.

For this week’s value prop, I’m designing social media posts. I was initially planning to learn and use Canva, but was turned off by the price barrier. I did a search for free alternatives and found Easil.

For the moment, I’m actually not using the free version. I have a free trial of their premium with all the advanced features that includes.

The tool has a quick, simple tutorial to explain the basic functions. Beyond that, it was easy for me to figure out how to do what I wanted.

At first I built off of their templates. The first image I created I didn’t even change the background image. After that, though, I changed the images, the text, often the fonts. If I used a template it was for a specific element that I knew how to create myself but could save time by not.

Yesterday my blog post was “Robin Hood’s First Theft,” a short narrative poem I wrote in January 2015. In only 20 minutes, I found an image on Pexels that I liked to represent Robin Hood and created a storybook cover for the poem. If you follow the hyperlink at the beginning of the paragraph you can see that image.

I’ve had a lot of fun making graphics for this value prop and for my blog. I’ve temporarily taken a step back from writing for Over the Invisible Wall, but I’m going to make the images for the blog posts in addition to continuing to help edit. The first one will be up tomorrow, so be sure to visit the blog to read the new post and check that out!

First Value Prop

The details of Alyssa Wright’s first value prop, for Fundera.

Last week I created my first value prop for Fundera. They’re a business that helps other businesses get funding, make financial decisions, and learn about running or starting a business.

I wrote on my blog about learning SEO to write an article for them. I also learned about crowdfunding to dissect the pros and cons of using it. Both of those articles can be found here.

I had a lot of fun writing those two articles for Fundera. I learned a lot about SEO and crowdfunding, and I pushed myself to write quality articles in a short amount of time. I did all my research and all my writing for those two 1500+ word articles in only ten days total.

It was a bit stressful at times, but I pushed through to completion.

This week I’m working on my second value prop. I’ll share the details on that next week.

Learning SEO in 5 Days

Alyssa Wright details how she taught herself SEO basics in only five days for a value prop.

On Wednesday, Johnny Roccia, one of the Praxis placement advisors shared three open positions at a potential business partner called Fundera. One of them was a staff writer which involved creating frequent blog posts for their niche — small business financials. I was immediately drawn to and excited about applying for this position.

I sketched out a value prop — one blog post for them by today and one to two more by next Monday. I thought of three possible topics, and chose to write a beginner’s guide to SEO.

Before Wednesday, I had never delved into SEO. I had heard of it, seen a blog post from a fellow Praxis participant about her experience learning SEO and how her blog traffic improved upon implementing it. But I had never learned about it myself.

Over the past five days I assigned myself a crash course in SEO from various Youtube videos. (You can check out the resources I found helpful in this playlist I’m making.)

I learned enough about SEO to write an article about metadata, keywords, finding more keywords including long-tail keywords, finding content gaps, backlinks, and conducting an SEO audit.

Not only did I learn the SEO basics in only five days, I simultaneously wrote a ~1500 word article about it for Fundera.

I’m going to pay attention to my traffic, Google rank, and subscribers to compare before and after implementing SEO on my site. This will help me measure how much I learned and how well I applied it for myself. I have yet to do a full-site update, though, so posts about the results will have to wait.


If you like this post and my blog, be sure to check out my Patreon.

Vocabulary Differences

I use words differently than most people around me. Not in a way that hinders understanding, but my word choice sometimes surprises people.

Today at work, my manager remarked on my use of “unwieldy.” I actually realize now I said it wrong, because I said “unwieldly,” with an extra l. He said a lot of other people would have used “awkward” or another more common word.

Previously, another coworker was surprised by a word I used, though I cannot recall which word it was.

That got me thinking, why do I use a different vocabulary to most of the people I interact with?

For the most part, it’s fairly similar, with a few uncommon word choices. Sometimes I’ll use a word with creative liberty, like finagle. I don’t use that exactly as the definition, “obtain by devious or dishonest means” (according to Google). I have remarked to a friend that I was trying to finagle my hair tie (ponytail holder) out of my hair. It adds a layer of meaning that implies it is difficult and I cannot do it as I would normally.

Over time, I have encountered and learned a wide variety of words. I have admired odd or meaning-heavy word choices. I find it exciting and creative. That has likely contributed to my adoption of unusual and uncommon words into my vocabulary.

I tend to go through cycles of infatuation with specific words, interestingly enough. For a week or even a few days, I might really enjoy using unwieldy or finagle or some other word. (Sorry I cannot think of more specific examples other than those two at the moment.) Then I might find or remember another word I really like and start using it again.

When I think of a word choice that fits and feels correct, I use it, even if it may seem wrong or strange to other people. Most of the time, I have not had confusion with this approach, though it has been seen as amusing. I’ve also had cases where I learned I was using a word completely incorrectly and it did not work in my chosen context even with creative liberty. That happens. I learned and adjusted my speech and writing according to my newfound knowledge.

I enjoy surprising people with the freshness of unfamiliar or infrequently-used words. I’m not trying to show off or appear smart by using “big words” or words people don’t hear often. I’m trying to use the right word, and often that’s not the usual way of expressing that idea.

I love unusual words. Share your favorite uncommon word with me in the comments!

Newly Vegetarian: My First Week

For the last week, I haven’t eaten meat. The last time I had meat was for lunch on Monday December 3rd.

I decided to stop eating meat while writing An Informal Discussion of the Ethics of Eating Meat for Over the Invisible Wall. My research included an article about fish and fishing and a video of a vegan’s thought-provoking speech on eating meat. I did more research on the meat industry.

Monday night and Tuesday I hadn’t fully committed. I thought I would try it or eat a lot less meat. I was eating vegetarian, but thought I would eat meat Wednesday night. I managed to abstain from meat, including bacon. Bacon was the biggest temptation. My grandma offered me bacon on Monday and my parents made bacon on Tuesday. I almost caved. Almost.

Wednesday I thought I’d have a small amount of meat for dinner. I was ready to commit to eating significantly less meat, but was still debating if I’d have any meat. That night I found I didn’t want to eat the chicken. That surprised me. I’d expected it to take longer for me to be disinterested in meat. I was definitely not disinterested in the leftover bacon in the fridge, but I didn’t want the chicken I’d made.

Thursday was harder than anticipated. It was my first day back at work since I’d stopped eating meat. I thought Panera would be easy because there’s a lot of various options. How wrong I was! While making people’s food, I remembered how much I love the chipotle chicken avocado melt and the Cuban panini… and bacon. I was reminded of my love for bacon countless times. I told myself, “Bacon is the enemy,” and laughed at myself for that. I also realized only two of the soups are vegetarian and I don’t really like one of them. I still managed to not order anything with meat.

Friday was the best of the first four days. I had fewer problems with feeling hungry and had an easier time abstaining from meat. I talked with Julianna Carbonare, a member of my Praxis cohort who has been vegetarian and vegan, about my problem with hunger. She suggested that I need more protein, so I made an effort to increase my protein intake. I had eggs twice, for breakfast and lunch. I discovered that the green passion smoothie at Panera is fantastic with basil.

Saturday I had thought out what I’d eat ahead of time. I learned that Culver’s, a burger place, surprisingly has a vegetarian soup and a few salads. At this point, it was already getting easier and feeling more natural to not eat meat. I did not want it, and only craved bacon a few times while at work. I had a better understanding of how much I needed to eat throughout the day to not feel ravenously hungry.

By the end of the week (only a week!) it felt natural. I never thought I would ever be vegetarian, but now I am.

Throughout the week I talked a lot with my friend Justine about food and eating vegetarian. She shared the information she had and suggested some food ideas. At her recommendation, I bought a few vegetarian canned soups from the brand Amy’s. I picked out some other soups while browsing. I made overnight oats Friday night and they lasted through Monday morning. I made protein “cookies” for a portable, filling snack early in the week. That first batch had a grainy texture that didn’t feel like a cookie, but the taste was good. I made another batch Monday morning before work. I didn’t follow a recipe or write down how I made them, just combined ingredients based on my knowledge of baking in general and cookies more specifically. They turned out better this time, but they were a bit crispier than I intended.

I’ve had to be more conscious of what I’m eating and putting in my body. I pay attention to foods that contain protein, because that helps stave off hunger between meals. I did some research to make this easier and now have a list of 36 plants or plant based foods that contain protein.

It’s been difficult starting out, but I feel good about what I’m eating and that I’m not harming animals.