I accepted a job for what I was told was a Princeton location but once I started I found out it was actually in New York City.

You may be reading this in February, but the original post, written in late December, reflects on events from September 2023 to December 2023.

I asked ChatGPT to explain the word misrepresentation.

Misrepresentation refers to the act of giving a false or misleading account of the nature of something. It typically involves providing incorrect information or omitting key facts, often with the intention of deceiving someone or influencing their decisions or actions based on that inaccurate portrayal. Misrepresentation can occur in various contexts, such as in legal contracts, advertising, or personal interactions.

After a round of interviews, I accepted a consulting role with a well-known financial services company, enticed by the recruiter's confirmation of it as a Princeton hybrid position – ideal given its closeness to my home, just a 10-minute drive or 30-minute bicycle ride away.

Negotiating a New Jersey hourly rate to reflect lower commuting costs, I agreed to work (one day a week) from the client's Wall Street office for the first few weeks until I was familiar with the team. Wall Street firms value these types of interactions. Having once survived an undesirable pre-pandemic commute to New York City for a banking client, I voiced my unwillingness to repeat that experience. The recruiter reassured me, and she confirmed in writing that the role was indeed Princeton-hybrid and that the New York commute was only temporary.

After a month of tolerating the demanding two-hour (each way) trip, I talked with the manager about timelines for transitioning to the Princeton office. To my surprise, the manager explained that it was a New York City-only assignment. He also mentioned a corporate announcement about an upcoming change to two days a week in the office, starting January 2nd.

I raised this discrepancy with the recruiter, which led to them promising to discuss it with their internal management. After I presented the email evidence of their original written statement that this was a Princeton hybrid role, communication ceased on their end on December 20th. My attempts to reach out were met with silence.

Fortunately, I continued interviewing, hoping to find the right remote or local hybrid opportunity. Knowing that I did not want to commute to New York City and seeing no other way out of the situation on Friday, December 28th I accepted a six-month contract with a bank headquartered in Buffalo, New York with a start date of January 22. I informed the client and the consulting company that I was leaving the role.

Because of this experience, I no longer expect honesty, fairness and professionalism in the hiring process. Human beings are no longer involved. The process is dehumanising. I know that my resume and cover letter will be scanned by AI and despite years of experience and hard-won skills if it’s missing the expected keywords, it will be discarded minutes after my online application is submitted. I know that I will be required to complete up to five rounds of interviews for any role. I know that after all those interviews if I am not the ideal candidate, I will be ghosted with no feedback.


Finding suitable employment can be challenging and emotionally taxing.

Finding employment can be a challenging and emotionally taxing journey. During the last several months of my employment search, I have experienced various emotions. I wanted to write a candid description of my mental state while I navigated this process.

Frustration: Initially, I felt frustrated by the job market's competitiveness. Despite my qualifications and experience, landing the right position has proven elusive, leading to moments of exasperation. The career outlook for security analysts is excellent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects information security analyst jobs to grow 33% from 2020-2030. Demand for skilled cybersecurity professionals far outpaces supply. Has that changed?

We’re in an evolving job market where employers complain that they can’t find the right people to fill their job openings. Their laments are ironic and tone-deaf as their actions of denying feedback alienate, discourage and blow off potentially perfect candidates.

Uncertainty: Job hunting has brought uncertainty about my future career path, financial stability, and direction. Bhavna wants me to stop consulting and find something full-time. But she can’t explain the benefits of working on a W-2 compared to independent consulting. My last employer of record had me on the payroll for a decade before a financial downturn[^1] made me a victim of involuntary collateral attrition in 2013. I was told by a friend who is now an Executive Director at the company that deciding who got to go was a flip of a coin for most managers. By 2010, they had outsourced all IT except information security1.

Self-Doubt: I grapple with self-doubt as the search continues. Rejections or lack of responses make me question my skills and worthiness as a candidate. The lack of feedback from recruiters and hiring managers after the interview is maddening.

It wasn’t always like this. In the good old days, providing feedback and constructive criticism to candidates was standard protocol. The hiring manager, human resources professional or recruiter would diplomatically tell the applicants what they did well and the areas they need to improve. These days, it’s rare to get a rejection letter or receive any input and advice from the company as to why I was unceremoniously passed over. All the niceties and politeness are gone. If they want to move forward, the candidate will hear from human resources; otherwise, they get the silent treatment{^3].

Hope: I have specific rate/salary expectations that align with market trends. To avoid lengthy and stressful New Jersey, Philadelphia, and New York metropolitan area commutes that range from one hour to two hours in one direction, I have been focused on finding local hybrid and remote-only roles.

Amidst the challenges, moments of hope emerge when I come across job openings that align with my expertise and interests. I get hopeful when the AI bots that screen the resumes and cover letters let me through. I get hopeful when I get a call from a recruiter or human resources to do a phone screen. I get hopeful when a round (or two, three or four) of interviews are scheduled. I get hopeful during the interview that I’ll be chosen.

Anxiety: The waiting game can provoke anxiety, especially as daily, weekly and monthly expenses exhaust our finances, Waiting for responses after interviews or refreshing my inbox hoping for positive news can be nerve-wracking.

Motivation: I have strong drive and determination, which have served me well in my career and continue to motivate me. I am continuously refining my skills. I have reassessed my skills, interests, and priorities. I have successfully managed large projects and successfully led teams in large corporations. I have highly respected certifications such as Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Cloud Certified Security Professional (CSSP), Certified Information Risk and Information Systems Controls (CRISC), and Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). I am pursuing AWS certification, which may lead to a new direction. Is this not enough? What is?

Resilience: Despite setbacks, I work hard to ensure my resilience shines through. I persist in my job search but with an increasing feeling of powerlessness. I feel like a pawn in someone else's game.

Support: My support system, including friends, family, and professional networks, plays a crucial role. Their encouragement and advice offer some solace during this challenging time.

Reflection: This period of unemployment has allowed for reflection on my career goals and aspirations. I want to work on projects that positively impact the employer and align with my natural talent and what excites me. I want to work remotely2 at home to avoid the commute stress and the noisy open-plan office environment3. I want to be fairly and equitably compensated. I want my opportunities for advancement to be based on my accomplishments rather than on my popularity in leadership.

Optimism: Ultimately, my journey is imbued with some pessimism. I must find a way to be optimistic that the right opportunity will come my way.

I prefer a remote work setup to eliminate time wasted commuting and value a quiet, focused environment. Fair compensation is crucial to me, and I prioritise engaging in meaningful work that contributes positively to society rather than solely benefiting corporate leaders and shareholders. Maybe part of my frustration stems from asking for something that doesn’t exist.

Part of my disillusionment lies in the disappointment with the idea that I am solely responsible for my career. My experience has taught me that it's not just about individual effort and qualifications. The modern job market is a complex ecosystem influenced by economic trends and corporate policies. It's a domain where sometimes uncontrollable external factors, such as market disruption or shifting industry priorities, play as significant a role as one's skills and achievements.

Recognising this has been both a sobering and liberating realisation. It has allowed me to understand (but not yet accept) that while personal accountability is crucial, my career trajectory is shaped by various elements beyond my control. This understanding is helping me maintain perspective, focus on what I can control, and find peace amidst the intrinsic uncertainties of the job search process.

  1. Now they are bringing that work back in-house. Good news if you live in India. That’s 1,500 formerly American (and formerly New Jersey) jobs going to India. ¯\_(?)_/¯
  2. I have worked remotely as a team lead for the last two years. I was so successful at my accomplishments that I was offered a promotion. However, the post-pandemic company policy required me to commute two hours one-way to their New York City offices twice a week. My team and the person I reported to work in other states. ¯\_(?)_/¯
  3. According to researchers, open-plan offices are full of noisy distractions that reduce knowledge workers' ability to think and be productive?

It feels like I am drowning

In photography, bokeh is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in out-of-focus parts of an image. The blur could be in the background, the foreground, or the mid part of the image. Bokeh refers to the quality of the blur, not the blur itself.

Many photographers misunderstand the term Japanese term bokeh. In photography, bokeh is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in out-of-focus parts of an image. The blur could be in the background, the foreground, or the mid part of the image. Bokeh refers to the quality of the blur, not the blur itself. Depending on the characteristics of the lens, bokeh can be good or bad.

I typically capture my images with the camera set to aperture priority mode, with exposure set to auto and ISO either fixed (35mm film) or assigned to a range (e.g. 160-1600). Ever since I bought my Fujifilm mirrorless camera, I have been attracted by the super-budget price tag and “look” that vintage lenses created. I still had my Asahi Optical Co. Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 55mm f/2 lens from my 35m film, so I melded the old and the new with an inexpensive adapter.

16 April, 2022 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF27mmF2.8 R WR

The XF27mmF2.8 R WR and XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR have decent bokeh characteristics, but as you can see from the images, my 40-year-old Minolta MD Rokkor-X 50mm f/1.7 lens beats them both. I have mainly used this lens adapted to my Fujifilm X-T3, where it functions as an excellent short (76.5mm full-frame equivalent) portrait lens. I love the buttery cinematic quality of the out-of-focus area that the MD Rokkor-X 50mm f/1.7 creates at f/2. I think it's the perfect portrait lens for my Fuji X-T3. Because this lens only has six non-rounded blades, bokeh is lovely and circular at f1.7, but highlights in the background become more hexagonal once I stop it down a touch to f/2 or f/2.8.

Bokeh | FujiFilm X-T2 | Asahi Optical Co. Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 55mm f/2

When I had the radiotherapy treatment for my Graves Eye Disease, I lay in the same position on a bed below a radiotherapy machine. A tight, form-fitting face mask was gently placed over my head and neck and fixed to where my head rested. The face mask was explicitly moulded for my head and face. The treatment took up to 30 minutes and was not painful, but I had two panic attacks during my first treatment. It took three doses of Xanax to calm me down enough to make it through the procedure. I used Xanax for the entire six weeks of radiation therapy. I had not expected panic attacks. I felt as though I was drowning.

I grew up on a farm, so I did learn to wash my hands frequently, but I have no phobias about diseases, Thank goodness. I would not be able to work in any modern office (there are no cubes or offices anymore).

I tolerated it for far too long, but the commute to Wall Street was an abomination.

Risk is defined as “the possibility of something bad happening”. I am triple vaccinated. The risks have been reduced. The possibility of anything wrong happening is extremely low. My cyber-security job involves the use of techniques and controls to mitigate risk. It’s just math, and the math of COVID suggests to me that the fully vaccinated have minimal risk.

Any risk management aims not to eliminate all risks (impossible) but to preserve and add value (being able to live life) by making intelligent decisions(get vaccinated). We all do risk management all the time. Some do it emotionally (bad), and some do it with data (sound). You do sound risk management when you buy insurance (risk transference) for your car. When you buy six jugs of milk (all of which expire are the same time) just before a major storm, you are not doing risk management; you are just panicking.

July 2021 | Minolta XD-11 | MD ROKKOR-X 45mm F2 | Kodak Pro Image 100

I think requiring face masks for all passengers on a plane or train is risk management theatre. It’s a performance with the illusion of control. Falguni sent me tons of information about how the air systems in the aircraft keep the air clean and how it’s safer than being in a crowded restaurant. Ok, so then why wear a face mask during the flight?

But the continued requirement to have masking on planes and trains means I can’t travel too far. Certainly not overseas to visit my Mom, whom I have not seen since March 2020. I may never see my family again.

9 February, 2020 | Bhavna | Pentax P3 | SMC Pentax-A 50mm f/2 | Ilford HP5+ 400

But the short answer is:

Bhavna and I never liked crowded, noisy spaces. We tolerated it. We have always chosen early morning movie times over popular times. We always go out to dinner (~ 5:30 PM) on Tuesday nights instead of Friday nights. We go to breweries just after they open on the weekend. We pay extra for the VIP tickets to the beer fest to enter one hour before the crowd. When we visit the Jersey shore in the summer, we do it in the middle of the week. We want the best experience. We do not feel we can get that in a crowded place at popular busy times.

So if the space is crowded, then mask or no mask, outdoor or indoor, it feels like I am drowning.