Archive | June, 2008

Fun and Inspirational Wallpaper for your Desktop

27 Jun

As hard as it is to admit, I spend about 75 percent of my time at work staring at my computer screen. (okay fine 85 percent) This is why I’m always on the hunt for fun and interesting wallpaper to spice of my computer a little bit. However when I find a photo or artwork that I want to use, it generally isn’t the right size or looks funny on my computer screen. I find the sites just for free wallpaper remind me too much of the babushka dolls I used to play with as a child. By the time I click through the layers of pop-ups I forget what I was looking for in the first place. Thankfully, Jen (fellow Mad Grad author) told me about realsimple.com‘s inspirational wallpapers. They’re cute, visually appealing, professional and have wonderful quotes on them to inspire you as you work. AND they have different sizes so it won’t look stretched out and weird on your computer. Click here to get one for yourself!

Advertisements

Quote of the Day

23 Jun

“What is the recipe for successful achievement? To my mind there are just four essential ingredients: Choose a career you love, give it the best there is in you, seize your opportunities, and be a member of the team.”- Benjamin F. Fairless

Putting Career tests to the er.. test

23 Jun

I’ve never been a fan of tests- (22 years of class sort of wore me out). However, still unsure what to do with the rest of my life, I thought I’d give some career and personality tests a try. My two major requirements were “Free and Simple.” My overall opinion? I think there’s no replacement for experience, and the best way to know if you have an interest in something is to try it (volunteer, do temp work or a full time position). However, these tests do help you realize what you excel in and enjoy the most, not as you read their report or assessment, but as you discover your own pattern as you answer the questions. Here’s some of my favorites:

The Princeton Review Career Quiz: It’s hard to imagine how choosing between a History Professor and Account Manager will give them an accurate assessment, but it was free, short (25 questions) and pretty right-on in their description.

HotJobs Career Tests: There are 3 tests: Career Interest Profile, Career Values, and personality Index. You get a basic report overview for free but for the full assessment of your results you have to pay 14.95 (no thanks but could be helpful if you have the money for this). These tests were a bit longer but the questions were short and only took about 10 minutes per test. I learned what I enjoy doing from simply taking the test, not as much from the assessment. I like how it narrows it down for you, in the first section I eagerly clicked yes to liking music, but as it narrowed it down to “musician” in the next section.. I knew this would only be a side hobby.

The Career Interests Game: This is more of a thinking exercise than a test. The directions are simple- you walk into a party and which of the 6 types of people would like like to associate with? Gives great insight into the type of work environment you would thrive in, and also got me interested in researching the Holland Code more.

 

Daily Inspiration: Obama Represents

20 Jun

“My job is not to represent Washington to you, but to represent You to Washington”– Barack Obama

No matter who your candidate of choice is for the 2008 election, this quote by Obama should make you think about what you want from any candidate. Whether it’s your Senator, Governor or Mayor it is so important to vote for someone that will have your voice heard. When we vote for candidates we have to think not who will deliver the State of the Union Speech best, and let us know every now and then how the economy is doing. We want someone who is going to listen to what we have to say and fight for changes that we as everyday Americans believe in. This is important to remember for all of you recent grads that may for the first time be voting in an election that you really care about. (Myself included) Look for a candidate that not only is smart and keeps you informed, but really listens to what you have to say.

Cool Find of the Day: Magnetic Push Pins

20 Jun

Okay, so you got a cute new bulletin board for your home or desk and you can’t wait to put up pictures of your loved ones and friends. Here’s the problem: You don’t want to put holes in your prized pictures or postcards! 

Thankfully, OXO, realized this problem and invented MagTacks. Now you can put up all the photos you want and not have to worry about turning them into a pair of Ambercrombie and Fitch pants. And they’re not too expensive-7 dollars a pack (well worth persevering your memories)

3 Steps to a Better World…Reduce Reuse & Recycle

20 Jun

 

We are “generation green” if you will and recycling seems to be the one word off the tip of everyones tongue these days. Could it be easier? Well I guess if there was a machine that automatically recycled your items in your house and reproduced them for you! (you never know we are getting closer each day). For now, we actually have to take the time to learn and separate our items out into the famous blue bins. Many posts and articles I have seen about recycling are threatening and telling us all the negative effects of failing to recycle. Well I am aiming to do the opposite, so below you will find all of the wonderful things you are doing for the planet when you take the time to toss those cans & bottles in the proper bin!

Here’s a few of the many positives of recycling (from http://www.recycling-revolution.com/recycling-benefits.html) 

  • In the U.S., processing minerals contributes almost half of all reported toxic emissions from industry, sending 1.5 million tons of pollution into the air and water each year. Recycling can significantly reduce these emissions
  • Manufacturing with recycled materials, with very few exceptions, saves energy and water and produces less air and water pollution than manufacturing with virgin materials.
  • Every bit of recycling makes a difference. For example, one year of recycling on just one college campus, Stanford University, saved the equivalent of 33,913 trees and the need for 636 tons of iron ore, coal, and limestone.
  • Recycling and composting diverted nearly 70 million tons of material away from landfills and incinerators in 2000, up from 34 million tons in 1990-doubling in just 10 years.

 

Here are some helpful resources to boost those recycling skills:

 

Recycling doesn’t have to be complicated!  As Denis Hayes put it, ” Listen up you couch potatoes: each recycled beer can save enough electricity to run a television for three hours.” 


 


 

 

What to Avoid during Job Interviews

19 Jun

If you’ve seen You, Me and Dupree you may be familiar with this line when he goes for an interview: 

“I’m a people person, very personable. I absolutely insist on enjoying life. Not so task-oriented. Not a work horse. If you’re looking for a Clydesdale I’m probably not your man. Like I don’t live to work, it’s more the other way around. I work to live. Incidentally, what’s your policy on Columbus Day?”

As hard as I laughed during this line, it goes without saying that this is not the ideal description of yourself to give to a potential employer. Even if you have graduated from an Ivy League and have a stunning resume, there are several mistakes that can make or break you during an interview (and leave you sleeping on your roommates couch):

1. Being Silent Bob: There’s bound to be a couple questions that may surprise you and you may not know the answer for, but whatever you do, avoid saying “I don’t know” or worse nothing at all. Take your time answering the question, and do your best to answer it in the best way possible. Anything is better than not answering it.

2. Dressing like Britney Spears: While your new sparkly tank top may have gotten a lot of applause from your friends the night before, it will most likely be frowned upon by your interviewer. Dress as professional as possible, and never wear jeans, shorts or capris. If there was ever a time to take Mom’s advice and be “well groomed” this is the time. Brush your teeth, wash your face, if you are a girl wear minimal makeup, comb your hair and trim your nails! Remember, you are a walking reflection of their company if they choose to hire you. (And easy on the cologne and perfume, deodorant should be sufficient)

3. Boss Bashing: Okay so your previous Boss was crazy. She made you work weekends, bring her coffee every morning at a specific temperature and left you with nothing other than a prescription for anxiety medication and rogaine. However, your potential boss does not want to hear this. As bad as it was focus on the positive. Instead of saying “She was flat out crazy,” go with, ” I learned how to remain calm in stressful situations and stay organized to meet strict deadlines.”

4. Weak Sauce:  It’s the dreaded question that we all know is coming in every interview.. “What are your biggest Weaknesses?” Even though terms such as “Disorganized, procrastination and bad temper” may immediately pop into your head, DO NOT SAY THEM! This is one scenario where honesty is not the best policy. If you have superpowers, than you may answer “I do not have any weaknesses.” But for the rest of us, saying “I have no weaknesses” will get you an instant ticket to unemploymentville. Instead, think of something somewhat positive, “I’m sometimes too hard on myself, but I’ve learned to do the best I can and be proud of it.” Or say something you learned at your last job that you would like to focus on in the new one, “I didn’t see the importance of filing, and grew frustrated with it, but now I realize how important it is to keep an easily accessible record of all files and hope to improve this in my next job.” 

Motor Mouth: While you may have a lot to share about yourself, keep your answers short and to the point. If they ask broad question like “What did you do at your last position?” answer with three to four sentences in a way that relates it to the position you are applying for. This is where being prepared comes in handy, because if you are nervous and haven’t done your homework you may tend to ramble on for longer than necessary.

Name Dropping: As much as you want to tell them that you are currently on the new committee to develop a new interface for the iphone.. this will most likely scare than impress them. It is okay to say you worked with high profile companies and give specific examples but try not to give the names. Easily sharing confidential information about past employers will make them think you will do the same with their company, and who wants to hire an employee they can’t trust?

The Me Me Me Trap: You are going to be asked a lot of questions all about yourself, so they can determine if you are a good fit for their company. But this is also a time to see if they are a good fit for you. Always come prepared with questions. This shows you have researched their company and are showing interest. If not, it’s like a bad date where the other person talks about themselves for the whole time, leaving you unimpressed and extremely full.

Not bringing enough Treats for everyone: You never know how many people will be interviewing you, which is why it is always important to bring several copies of your resume. Also, bring a pen and paper in case you need to take notes, and personal identification, money (no not to bribe them.. what if they ask you to join them for lunch after?), and any letters of recommendation.

Gum Smacking, knuckle cracking, pencil tapping, hair twirling and any other bad habits must be left at home. 

And one more thing.. Please Silence your Cell Phones

 

 

 

 

“Give a grad a fish, and he eats for a day. Teach a grad to cook a fish, and he saves sick amounts of money.”

13 Jun

This quote in one of the blog posts by Kristen Fischer, author of Ramen Noodles, Rent, and Resumes (which hopefully you bought after our last post), was just too good to not write about. While some of you may feel differently, I found it much easier to cook in college. It was easier to slip in trips to the grocery store between lectures, and lets admit it, who didn’t prefer to go to the store over reading the next biology chapter, or studying for your Spanish final? Another huge contributor to my Rachael Ray Phase (ok, my Roommates in college would laugh pretty hard at that one, I don’t think frozen chicken and veggies qualifies me for that sort of label), was my prettier bank account. With the extra contributions from the parents every month, paying rent and making frequent trips to the grocery store was not a problem. 

Since graduation, and starting my 9-6 job, I honestly can’t remember the last time I even used the kitchen except to microwave a Lean Cuisine.  It’s so much easier to run to work, snack on whatever is available in the kitchen and grab lunch at a restaurant by my work. In reality, bringing my own lunch would save me money and calories. Here’s some tips that will replace your “I only eat out” mentality and make you a more feasible candidate for the next Top Chef:

Cook Ahead of Time: Picture an angel and devil on your shoulder. The Angel is saying “get up and pack lunch!”, while the devil is saying, “Go back to sleep for 20 minutes!” We all know who usually wins this battle. To avoid this oversleeping temptation pack your lunch at night, or better yet make some meals on Sunday and freeze them for the week.

Have your parents/Friends teach you a recipe: A lot of recipes are easier than they look. The next time your parent, sibling or friend is cooking dinner watch what they do and make notes while you go. With Fathers Day Coming up.. this is the perfect time to ask. Trust me this will make the cook happy and your bank account happy-it’s a 2 for 1 deal.

Don’t go to the store without a list: We all know what happens when you go to the store hungry, you end getting twice as much food because the bag of chips looks as tempting as Johnny Depp . Writing down a list before you go and sticking to it, will make your shopping trip shorter and cut your bill in half.

Bored? Watch Cooking Shows: Anytime you turn on the Food Network its hard not to be instantly mesmerized (and hungry). Watching Rachael Ray whip up one of her 30 minute meals, or Robbin Miller make one of her “Quick Fix Meals” can be very inspiring. So instead of turning on the Friends re-run and Seinfeld (although they’re very good choices), tune into the cooking channel and get some great ideas for quick and easy meals. 

 

 

Great Reads for Recent Grads

10 Jun

I usually skip over the emails from companies of whose newsletters I have knowingly or unknowingly signed up for. However, a couple of days ago an email from Amazon.com caught my eye: Books for Grads. Thinking this would be great info to share with the blog, and add to my reading list I eagerly opened it and was very pleased with the selections. Here’s some of the ones I’ve read on the list, that I can promise will not be a waste of time and be very beneficial in your post college life search:

1. The Alchemist: This book by Paulo Coelho is hands down my favorite book of all time.  The reader learns several life lessons as they follow the journey of a young boy on his quest to find his “personal legend.” It really makes you stop and question what your own life purpose is and encourages you to seek the right friends, knowledge, family and mentors to help you find it. 

2. What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles. The cover says it all, ” A Practical Manual for Job hunters and career changers.” It’s filled with resources such as career tests, personality tests and a self-evaluation. As one Amazon.com reviewer put it, “It’s like having a high-paid career coach.” (Did I mention it’s updated yearly?)

3. The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch. Okay, so this one wasn’t on the Amazon list, but this is a must-read for every age, especially recent grads. He encourages everyone to follow their childhood dreams, live life to the fullest, accept constructive criticism and remain positive and energetic despite what obstacles come our way. Great advice to know BEFORE you take your job and enter the working world. 

4. Ramen Noodles, Rent and Resumes (An After-College Guide to Life), by Kristen Fischer:  While they had me at the book title, the content was just as captivating. It is a very uplifiting and motivational book that encourages grads to look forward to this exciting time in their lives, and gives some helpful tips on finding jobs, moving back home and dealing with finances.

5. What Now? This is an incredible book by best selling Author Ann Patchett (Whom you may know from her books Bel canto, The Patron Saint of Liars and more) She writes about her own life inspired by her commencement address at Sarah Lawrence College where she addressed the many crossroads in her life and personal struggle with the question, “What now?” after college. This can be enjoyed by people of all ages as her 86 year old mother in law said, “The question (what now) is always there. It’s just that sometimes you hear it a little louder.” This book helps you do just that. 

These are only a handful of the many other wonderful books out there that provide great advice and inspiration for graduates or any person at a crossroad of their life. More to come!!

Grad School.. Only Fools Rush in

5 Jun

For some of you smart cookies out there, it might be very tempting to go straight into grad school after college. If you sat at graduation eagerly awaiting your next final,  and if you from birth knew your life calling and it had at no point changed since then, by all means go for it! But for the rest of us lost souls who change our “future professions” more than we change our toilet paper rolls, going straight to grad school might not be the best idea.  Here’s why:

After college, you are filled with a great deal of knowledge, but not experience. You may have learned about modern art from Pollock to Warhol and anxiously waited the day where you would work in an Art Gallery. However, you graduate and land an internship at a museum only to discover a passion for psychology.  This situation is very common among recent graduates. Many of us find that once we are in the jobs that we daydreamed of during college classes, they aren’t anything like we expected. Very few of our jobs end up even being related to our field of study.

I might be an extreme example, but since graduating a year ago, I am already on my 3rd job! I went from psychology, to law to project management. As crazy as this sounds, I wouldn’t trade it for anything because each job has brought me a step closer to what I want to do. It is especially hard with parents, friends and the media pushing us towards certain positions. (I can’t say wanting to be a lawyer had nothing to do with the glamour of Law and Order) 

Post Graduation is a confusing, emotional and exciting time for most of us. Racing into grad school, when you are not completely sure of what you want to do will only waste your time, effort and money. The amount of time you choose to take depends on how ready you are, and what field you are in. The average age of business school applicants is 27. They usually require at least 4 years of working experience. The average age applying to Law School is slightly lower around 24.7. 

Point being the recommended age of applying to grad school varies depending on your desired area of study. But no matter what you decide to do, taking at least a year off after college and volunteering, interning or working in the field that interests you BEFORE applying to grad school can be life changing. It will not only improve your application if you choose to go with the career, but will save you lots of time and money if you take another path.

For some, grad school can be an excellent choice to gain knowledge and advance your career, but don’t rush into it. Years down the road, you don’t want to feel “stuck in your job” because you spent so much time and money in Grad School to get there. Instead, take your time and enjoy the journey.