Professional Advice

Responding to the call of JURY DUTY

Like many of you (I assume), I’ve been postponing my call for jury duty for the last four years while I’ve been off in the land of Syracuse. But about a month ago, I received my “IMPORTANT: PETIT JURY SUMMONS ENCLOSED” documentation stating exactly the following “YOU ARE SUMMONED AS A TELEPHONE STANDBY JUROR FOR ALL COURTS IN QUEENS. BEGIN CALLING FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 27TH, 2009”. And I’m not exaggerating with the uppercase font – this is how they wrote it I guess so that we don’t forget or ignore it.

This wasn’t my first time receiving this document so I knew what to expect – still, I read through everything. I had to start calling after 5:00 PM at a certain 888 number and had to listen for my code letter and numbers. First day I called “you do not need to show up on Monday, November 30th”…YAY!! – but that wasn’t the end. You have to continue calling everyday (Monday – Friday after 5PM) until you hear your letter and number be called. I called the morning of Friday, December 4th (because I forgot to call the Thursday night before) and guess what, I had to show up that day at 8:30 AM. Below is an approximating of what to expect when you show up for jury duty. Please note that this is for Queens county, I don’t know if all the other counties do the same thing but I’m assuming it should be the same or very similar.

Jury Duty Timeline

8:30 AM          Arrive at the court house you are told to appear. You will go through metal detectors so make sure to not bring anything illegal and to take everything out of your pocket. The court house I had to go to has accessibly to wi-fi so I brought my laptop.

After going successfully passing through security point (if you’ve travel in the last couple of years you should know the routine – except we don’t have to take our shoes off) I was told to go sit in this huge room with several chairs and wait for further instructions.

9:00 AM          The court officer turned off the televisions and began to give his spiel. By the sound of his voice you can tell he’s been doing this for several years. You wait and listen to all of the instructions he has for you. You start writing in one side of the documentation you received by mail, rip another side of the same document, had it over to him, etc, etc. To many things to be writing it down here so you’ll here when it’s your turn to wait.

9:45 AM          After all the instructions we  get a lovely talk from a judge – in my case he was very wise (graduated from HS in 1936 – you do the math).  We here about why we perform jury duty and his personal and career life. Pretty much it’s a story you here.

10:30 AM        Once the judge is done, they start calling groups of people. Each group consists of about 15-20 jurors. You go to another room where there are two lawyers. You sit down and they tell you a little about the case but can’t tell you the specifics. They select 6 people to sit in the front 6 seats for questioning – the 6 people are selected randomly. (Side note on juror selection – for civil court 6 jurors and 2-4 alternative jurors are selected. For criminal court, 12 jurors and about 4 alternative jurors are selected) In my case I was in civil court.

For the next couple of hours, there is a rotation of 6 people sitting in the front seats who are asked several questions. From these questions, the lawyers will decide who of the jurors are not bias and will be good for the case.

If you are selected, you get to sit outside of the room and wait for the juror selection to be complete. If you are not selected, you will be sent back to the large room you were first at to wait for you name to be called again. This cycle can go on for anywhere from 1 -2 days. I was lucky pick number 6. I still don’t know why I was selected but I guess I seemed like a good candidate.

12:45 PM        Lunch time for an hour then return to the room you were instructed to go to.

1:45 PM          When you return for lunch you stay in the same cycle. Bring a book to read because the waiting will seem like forever.

4:00 PM          Around this time, if you were selected you wait for the court officers instruction about your case and when you should return then go home.

If you were not selected, you go back to the large room and wait for further instructions. They will either tell you that you are dismissed and don’t have to return for another 6 years or that you have to return the following day (or next Monday if it’s a Friday).

5:00 PM          You will be out by this time.

I had to come back today, Tuesday at 10AM. And as I’m writing this post (11:48 AM) I’m still waiting for me and my fellow jurors of the case to be called to the court house to start our civic duty. In most cases, civil cases are settled before there is a trial but don’t count on that.

If you are a full-time worker you will have to inform your employer and ask if they pay for jury duty (some do and some don’t but most do). If you are a part-time worker, or if your employer doesn’t pay for jury duty, the state will pay you $40 a day for your service. Yes, that is about $5.71 an hour (10AM-4PM) .

For more information on Jury Duty in NYC (Queens, King, Statan Island, Manhattan and Bronx counties), here is a link to the official website.




So many of us have a twitter account and tweet about every single event of our lives. But now it’s time to take tweeting to the next level…the professional one.

Recently my brother sent me a link to another blog discussing how to use Twitter as a hiring tool. With the job market filled with applicants, it’s important to figure out ways to brand yourself in new creative ways.

Follow the link to read more on this:



A Filmmaker’s Journey: Jason Hoffman’s Going Home

GoingHome-PosterHey everyone! My name is Jason Hoffmann and was a member of Torch around 5 years ago. I grew up in New York City and went to LAB for high school. Afterwards I went to Emerson College in Boston to study film production. Now, I am currently living in Los Angeles and am working the entertainment industry pursuing a career as a Director / Editor.

Most recently, I have finished a feature documentary called “Going Home,” which is about my search for my birth parents in South Korea.  Ever since I could remember, my parents have always been open with me about the fact that I was adopted. They never lied or hid it that I was adopted. Growing up in New York City, I never assumed that I was different from anyone else, or anyone else in the world for that matter.

Individuals hold many different identities and through art, strive to express their own individuality. Around the world, audiences of all races and cultures are able to communicate through the common language of cinema. It is the responsibility of documentary filmmakers to communicate stories through the visual medium of film/video to create human truths both small and large for the world to relate to.

“Going Home” acts as an educational tool informing people about adoption, in hopes of making the subject matter more accessible and comfortable to discuss. In addition to that, this film serves as a bridge for adoptees, as well as their families to better understand today’s modern families’ dynamics.

Originally “Going Home” started as a short documentary but grew into a feature as production progressed. During pre-production, we needed to fundraise the entire budget and secure our permits for production. We created production packets that were essentially our pitch to fundraise for our film. Once we were in production, we shot for close to one year (both in the U.S. and in South Korea) and were editing for a year as well. We shot on miniDV in both 30i and 24p, as well as 16mm film. We had over 200 hours of footage and edited the entire film on Final Cut Pro. We are now currently screening the documentary in Film Festivals.

“Going Home” is the biggest challenge and endeavor I have ever taken on in a professional and personal level. But without our incredible team that we trusted and relied on, “Going Home” never would have been a reality. Please visit our website for more information.

****Jason’s film “Going Home” has been shown at Puchon International Film Festival (2009), Rhode Island International Film Festival (2009) and most recently at the San Diego Asian Film Festival***

“10 Questions for Jason Hoffman” an interview by Lee Ann Kim, the Executive Director of SDAFF can be found at:



Preparing for the interview: Common interview questions

I thought it was important to make a list of some of the most common interview questions and some unusual ones. Here are some I’ve had and heard about. Share some of yours.

  1. Tell me about yourself. This is most likely the first questions interviewers ask.
  2. What do you know about the organization? the position? Always be prepared to know something about the place and position you are interviewing for. Know this will show your interest in the job you are interviewing for.
  3. What are your strengths and Weaknesses? Be aware of your abilities. The weakness question is always tricky because though you may talk about a challenge, you need to show how are you overcome challenges.
  4. What kind of bosses do you prefer to work with? This may be a tricky question because you don’t always know what type of boss your interviewer may be. I recommend that you prepare answers explaining your relationship with previous employers and though you should be honest, choose your words wisely.
  5. Do you have any questions for me? Similar to question # 2, be prepared with questions for your interviewer – this shows interest. I find this to be somewhat difficult at times but ask about current projects and about the future of the organization.

In addition to being prepared with these five (5) questions, be prepared to answer questions about your education, experience and skills.

  1. Education – What did you major in? What did you choose that major? What were some of your favorite classes? Why? Interviewers like knowing what you have been doing in college. If you are like me and have an uncommon degree, be able to explain it- I majored in Communications and Rhetorical Studies and I can’t count the amount of times that became a conversation in itself.
  2. Experience and Skills – What was the last job you held? What were your responsibilities in your previous positions? Remember what you have on your resume.  Be prepared to answer questions about specific projects and duties you have done. Be specific with anything similar to what you may be doing in the position you are interviewing for.

Here’s an article posted on CNN about the 10 toughest interview questions.

Have some off interview questions? Share them so we can all be prepared in case we are asked it.



How confident are you with your interview skills?

I’ve been to 4 interviews so far since I’ve graduated. I’ve felt confident in most of them but I will admit that to some I may have been a little nervous and gotten tongue tied. Since then, I’ve been connecting with different people and joining different groups to learn different interviewing skills and techniques that will get you the job.

The following is a video that was posted to one of my LinkedIn groups ( It is an ABC segment- How to Interview Like a Pro.

Though this segment gives some good advice on what to be prepared for, you still need to make it your own. Interviewers will especially remember you if you make yourself stand out by being yourself. They will be working with this person so no need to create a character for the interview and become a different person if you get the job.

And when it comes to how do you look, also be yourself. Though you should wear a suit, I don’t believe in it having to be all black or navy blue unless it’s in a very corporate environment. There are suits of different shades but keep it neutral colors and neat. But always keep in mind the type of environment your going for an interview at.

Share some of your experiences-the best way of learning is from each other.



Creative portfolios/resumes

For all of you creative minds out there (which means everyone from TORCH), here is a great idea I found on someone creating a video resume/profile/portfolio. She is an Event Planner but I think this idea would work for anyone.

During this time in the job market, one needs to keep creative ways on how to show your abilities, your work, yourself. Below are some other virtual formats you can create to expose yourself more.

1-      Personal Website: Create a website for yourself. Have your resume on it and examples (a portfolio of sorts) of all the works you have done. This site will show more than the words on your resume and it will express your creativity even more.

2-      Video: youtube_logoMake a video of the work you have done. It can be drawings, paintings, events, ads, video, etc. Anything you have, add to the video. Of course try not to overdo it so if you have a lot only include the most important ones. Put in on youtube and on your site.

3-      LinkedIn: If you have yet, create a profile. It’s similar to the resume format linkedinpic1but you can add some extra applications and you can have individuals recommend you on it. It’s become widely popular in the professional world.

Good luck to all who are looking for work and good luck to all who have jobs!

And if you’re over 21 and are free next Thursday, September 17th from 6pm – 9pm, come enjoy some fun and chat with some communications & arts professionals @ Hurley’s, 232 W. 48th Street (btw Broadway & 8th Ave.)



Entrepreneur Spirits: A Look at Cassie Guzman’S CraftCass

CraftyCassMy name is Cassandra Guzman, and I run CraftyCass, a boutique of handmade jewelry that uses color, texture and geometries. This is my story on how I began my boutique.

One day, I got aggravated because I lost an earring. I kept thinking to myself “why don’t they come with backs?”. Suddenly I realized that I could make my own jewelry, allowing myself to have another creative outlet. I’ve already been exploring my creativity studying Architecture at Wentworth College. My Architecture background helped me to create meaningful relationships between shapes and colors, fitting beads together to form a bracelet or necklace.

I began by taking several trips to Michael’s. I gathered many supplies, each bead seeming nicer than the last and with each bead came another idea on how to use them.

My mother suggested that I make my hobby into a business; I told her she was crazy. I had doubts in my ability to start a business because I thought you needed to have a background in business, taxes, laws, etc. I did some research and I realized I could start a business so I decided to take the plunge. First order in business was to get a tax ID number (so easy and you can do it online!). This number lets you register for craft fairs or events in your state and it also allows you to buy wholesale. Then it was time for my website. Having found a while ago, I decided to set up shop with them and I have loved how easy it is to do everything.

Milky Swirl Set (Earrings and Bracelet)
Milky Swirl Set (Earrings and Bracelet)

Marketing was next. I wanted a cohesive look for all of my materials and something that was simple but fun. My experience with TORCH helped me in this step thanks to the advertising/marketing projects I was involved in the visits to advertising agencies.

I began attending craft fairs; it was both educational and profitable. I learned firsthand the importance of face to face selling and learned several tricks on how to both attract and sell to clientele. It is also a good place for me to meet with other vendors and learn from their experiences and take advantage of their advice.

Aqua Set (Earrings and Bracelet)
Aqua Set (Earrings and Bracelet)

My goals for the future of CraftyCass are to continue providing affordable jewelry that is handmade and unique; it is important for the jewelry to mean something. One of my best memories is when a mother bought a bracelet for her daughter’s prom. Knowing that someone was going to wear my jewelry to their prom sent me over the moon, and made me realize that I want to do this forever!

CraftyCass is currently a side project of mine but one day it may be a full-time experience! I just graduated and have more free time to dedicate to expanding the line.

My experience at TORCH has also taught me to dream big and reach for the stars. So maybe I can catch a star and make a necklace =)

My website is

My blog is

Thank you so much!



As I Search For A Job…Jennifer After Graduating

As we venture into the world of job hunting during a period of recession, it is important to keep our minds positive and make the time we have count.

After already spending some well needed time with my family and friends, I urge to spend some time in the field I would like to work in, event management. This led me to volunteer at some events that will be occurring this summer.

The first is Central Park’s SummerStage. hp_central_park_summerstageSummerStage was establish in 1986 to present
“performances of outstanding artistic quality, free of charge, to serve the diverse communities of New York City”. So far I’ve signed up to volunteer at 3 events. If you are interested in either attending an event or volunteering, here is their website

I’m also volunteering at the New York Latino Film Festival. This would be the festival’s 10th year.HBO_NYI_LATINO_LOGOpd “NYILFF’s mission is to showcase the works of the hottest emerging Latino filmmaking talent in the U.S. and Latin America, offer expansive images of the Latino experience, and celebrate the diversity and spirit of the Latino community.” I will be assisting the Press Manager so I will be dealing with alot of pressure but that is what makes this industry exciting.  If you would like to volunteer or attend one of the films, here is the festival’s website, FYI….tickets went on sale on Friday, July 10th.

Though I haven’t found a job yet, these volunteer opportunities will provide me a chance to meet many individuals who know the ins and outs of the industry. I have a chance to shadow them and to ask them what qualities they look for; this is an excellent time to soak in everything I learn and prepare myself better for the job search. Not only that, but in my next interview, when asked what I have been doing since graduating, I can inform them of the opportunities and experiences I’ve had this summer.



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