Archive | December, 2009

Another Year is Upon Us…

31 Dec

As we say farewell to two thousand nine we approach a new year, a year of limitless possibilities and the chance to make this year the most successful one yet.

Pondering the last year and how quickly it went by, I have been mentally preparing for the new year for quite some time.  Everyone has that unspoken list of new year resolutions — but for me this year it is a little different, my  list is about what I want to accomplish before I turn 25 (in September) so I am trying to pack my list in a couple months before 2011.

When thinking about things I would like to accomplish in the new year I have found it is best to separate personal and professional goals in order to create a balance of both and ensure that I have attainable goals for each area of my life.

At the end of the year is a good time to sit with yourself and ponder the happenings of the last year. I find that with the business and routine of life I often don’t take time to sit back and have this important internal conversation enough. Ask yourself some valuable questions like; What did I accomplish this year? Am I where I want to be in my career? Am I happy with my current lifestyle? What have I done that has made a positive impact in my own life and for others around me?

As I get older each year I feel more responsibility and more pressure to really analyze my successes and failures. My priorities expectedly always change with each year and of course rounding my quarter life mark really makes me contemplate the past and prepare for the future.

A couple of my personal goals for the next year include:

  • Running a full marathon & completing a triathlon
  • Spending more time reading and learning
  • Take the GMAT

What are you goals for the new year? How do you hope that 2010 is different from 2009? What has helped you follow through with your resolutions?

Thank you so much for taking time and reading The Mad Grad we really hope to write more and more in the new year.

Have a happy and safe New Years Eve!

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Winner of the HP ProBook Giveaway!

30 Dec

Congratulations to Megan, winner of the recent contest we held for an HP ProBook. Here’s what she had to say:

I’m a 25 year old tech support person living in Berkeley, CA. I love vegan cooking and baking, biking, running, and fibercrafts. I’m planning on using my new computer to (a) find a better job, (b) start writing a cook/craft zine, and (c) helping me figure out some goals now that I’ve graduated! I’m looking forward to have a LIGHT computer so I can actually take it places, like coffee shops and libraries, so I can get out of the house every once in a while. 🙂

Thanks so much to everyone that entered the contest- it was wonderful to read everyone’s comments. Stay tuned for more contests coming soon! And be sure to become a fan of www.facebook.com/hphome and www.facebook.com/hpstudent on Facebook.

Some Lessons I’ve Learned Along The Way..

29 Dec

I’ve been thinking a lot lately, about what I’ve learned since Graduating in 2007. As I’m turning 25 next week (eek!) and in a new job, I’ve realized how much I’ve learned about myself and my career in just a few years. I’ve been a Case Assistant at a law Firm, a project manager at an online design company, an executive Assistant for a Virtual world company, and am now doing Recruiting for a large search engine company. I know what you’re thinking- this girl has Major job ADD. But honestly, I wouldn’t trade any of these jobs for the world (as miserable as some of them were). I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the mistakes, successes and lessons I’ve learned along the way.

If a new graduate asked me what I know now that I didn’t then, here’s what I’d tell them:

You will never be good at a job you hate. Maybe it pays well, you get overtime, a new car and a bonus but if you don’t like it, you aren’t going to do well. Of course, you should always give your all to any job you have, but you aren’t going to perform as well as someone who really loves it. If the passion and drive isn’t there, it will show in your work no matter how much you try to hide it.

It’s okay to leave if you aren’t happy. My first job after college, I worked in a supply closet with files literally barricading my desk, and attorneys screaming in my face if something wasn’t done in 15 seconds. After 6 months of being there, I knew I wanted to leave, but was torn because everyone told me to stay at a job at least a year. If you give yourself adequate time to make sure it isn’t for you, can explain to future employers the reason behind you leaving, and make sure to leave on good terms with your boss no matter what, there’s no reason to stay at a job you are miserable with. It’s better to get back on track to a field you are interested in, and leave while you are on good terms before your unhappiness interferes with your work performance.

Don’t be taken advantage of. Even if you have the same position as another coworker, if you don’t set your boundaries immediately, your best friend will be the copy machine and your work will falter as you struggle to manage your work and that of others. You want to be there for coworkers when they need help, because that’s what makes great companies, and there’s a 150 percent chance you’ll need their help in the future. But be sure to be on the lookout for people taking advantage of your lack of experience, and don’t be afraid to say no. This also applies to situations where your boss is taking advantage of you. Are you working incredibly long hours, and running errands not in your job description, when you are getting paid way under market? If so, be honest with them and stick up for yourself or this pattern will repeat itself for your entire time there.

Don’t make money your only incentive. At the job I have now, I took a huge pay cut.  The reason? I knew that while I’m making a lot less at this job, it will lead to more money in the long-run as it’s the field I want to be in, an incredible company and I’m learning a lot. The high pay was the biggest incentive for me to take the assistant job, but this was not worth it as I wasn’t happy or had passion for what I was doing.  Don’t get me wrong, you should not settle for lower pay than you deserve, but money should not be the primary factor in taking a job. In fact, I’ve spoken with a lot of people who have taken a job strictly for pay and regretted it, but haven’t talked to anyone who took lower pay for a job they really loved and regretted it.

First impressions matter: At my last job, one of the recent grads who started would always respond to the exec’s requests within 2 seconds to beat everyone, and stay 5 hours longer to ensure she scheduled more meetings than her coworkers. She ended up making mistakes because she took on more than she could handle, and although these mistakes were small it was hard to gain the respect back from the execs and coworkers. You want to show up to work on time, push yourself and give the job your all, without being the annoying eager beaver and biting off more than you can chew. It’s better to do less work with no mistakes while you learn the ropes, then to take on too much and mess up.

Don’t act your age. I know I know, you are 21, your favorite night to go out is Thursdays, and you can’t sleep before 4am. But chances are your older coworkers will not be sympathetic to the one too many beers you had. Also remember that it’s always important to ask questions if you do not know what you are doing, but make sure to phrase it in the best way possible. Instead of saying ” hey how the heck do I use the fax machine? The person at the school library did it for me.” Say “I haven’t used this particular fax machine before, would you mind showing me how when you have the chance today so I will know in the future?” Even if you work in a relaxed environment, it never hurts to dress up in a way that makes you look mature and put together.

Always leave on good terms: No matter how much you dislike your boss, your coworkers or company, make sure to leave on good terms. Always check in every now and then with them- send an email, a text a Christmas card just make sure to keep in touch. Even if you live in China and they live in the US, employers do rigorous background checks these days and it’s very important to be on good terms with everyone you encounter. Think you are off the hook despite treating your lab partner poorly Freshman year? Lots of companies check with other coworkers that attended the same school as you for their opinion before hiring, so be careful not to burn your bridges.

Book Review: The Google Story

24 Dec

At my last job one of the first things the CEO said was that in order to work there I needed to immediately read The Google Story, of course two years later I finally read it, and I am sure glad I did.

The journey of how these Stanford graduates created an empire is both captivating and motivating. This is a great example of a simple idea that flourished into the most successful company of the decade. Throughout the book you learn secrets from behind the scenes of the whole process of how Google came to be.  The chapters take you alongside Larry and Sergey’s travels around the world as they expose their product to different countries.  And seeing the impact of how their free and thorough search capability has really changed the world as we know it.

I found it particularly interesting that while on their way to the top the founders were able to maintain their core values and their motto of “Don’t be evil”. This manifests in the fact that they do not want to make money or run ads that have to do with things that they don’t believe in, such as; drugs, sex trafficking etc.

While unleashing some of the mystery behind the inner workings of Google I was shocked to find out that they have a huge secret network of servers on the back end hosting all this information. Throughout the book there was a constant theme that they always needed to “order more servers” because the amount of information they were gaining access to was growing at the same speed as the company itself.

Reading a first hand account of this internet revolution was very insightful and a great read for anyone who has an idea and needs a little jump start. The internet is an amazing place and thanks to Google it is getting more profound every day. I would certainly recommend this book to anyone especially those in the online and tech fields.

Happy Reading!

HP ProBook Giveaway!

17 Dec

So it is officially Christmas time, a time when we are running around buying gifts for everyone else, but how about something for yourself? Well lucky for you that you read The Mad Grad because we have a special giveaway opportunity just for our readers and the chance to win a brand new HP laptop!

HP thought that The Mad Grad readers would be a perfect audience to benefit from a new laptop, it is the best job searching tool there is out there, not to mention this laptop weighs less than 5 pounds so you can take it everywhere you go!

Here is some info about the computer:

  • HP dm3 offers an ideal balance of performance, mobility and affordability in a 1″ thin, sleek design that features a meticulously clean design and iconic keyboard enhanced by a brushed aluminum-magnesium alloy case.
  • Features like  Homegroup makes sharing music, pictures, videos and documents on the home network easy.
  • The dm3’s HP MediaSmart along with it’s BrightView LED display, SRS Premium Sound and Altec Lansing speakers with the option to connect to your HD TV via the HDMI port make the device ideal for experiencing music and video
  • Windows 7 power management contributes to battery longevity by running fewer background activities, automatic screen dimming, powering off unused ports and more.
  • Windows 7 enhances that experience with features like Play To, which allows users to play media through a home video/audio system, and the Windows Media Center that enables users to watch Internet.

Who wouldn’t want a free laptop with all these great features? The giveaway will end December 23rd at 5pm PST.  For a chance to win, leave a comment sharing which of the HP dm3’s features would help you the most in getting your dream job and using Random.org we will pick a winner and ship the prize to you! Good luck!

This contest has now ended, thanks for participating and check back for more giveaways in the future.

Thanks to HP for sponsoring this post and giveaway.