Archive | April, 2010

Getting Into a Real-World Mentality

29 Apr

The end of the semester is fast approaching for many college seniors. Even though you may be caught up in campus life, the professional world is just around the bend. Here are a few tips on how to get into a “real world” mentality to make the transition a tad bit easier.

Think about what you want to do. You have been studying a particular field for around four years, but that doesn’t mean you will—or will want to—automatically enter it. If you know that you want to pursue something else upon graduation, there is nothing wrong with not going into the field you studied. In fact, you’ll do better off knowing this from the get-go so you can build your career in another field. Regardless of what you want to do, learn about your options. Examine what you want your ideal day to be like. What kinds of jobs are available in your industry and in the region you want to work in?

It may sound silly but most new grads are on autopilot and, understandably, enter the working world taking whatever job they can get. But you want to build a career now that you have your degree; not just get a job. Put some thought into the direction you want to take.

Get crackin’ on a resume. I know it may seem daunting to work on something that doesn’t have a deadline—unlike turning in a final paper—but this document is equally as important. While you are on campus and have the resources, talk to the pros at your Career Services office and get tips for writing a resume, and feedback from people who know all about them.

Compiling a resume is often overwhelming for soon-to-be grads because they feel like there’s nothing to fill up an entire page, but if you really assess your skill set and look at the latest resume-writing trends, you can come up with a powerful resume that will get you the job.

Start looking for a job—yesterday. Again, you may be swamped with class work or you may be trying to relish your time as an undergrad, but nowadays, jobs are hard to come by. Add the fact that you’ll soon have to pay off loans and bills—and probably want to get your own pad at some point—and you will realize that you don’t want to be behind the eight ball. It is frustrating when your peers have great jobs lined up while they are still students. While that does not happen to everyone, many students are preparing to enter the professional world months before they graduate. Be proactive in your job search and start putting feelers out. You never know how long it will take to get a job and it’s smarter in the long run to get something fulfilling and profitable so you don’t have to take any old gig to get by. (Chances are, you went to college so you would not have to just “get by” anyway.)

Even thinking about what you want to do and where you want to live—and arranging for those things—is smart planning. Talk to your parents about the possibility of moving home or see if you can get a roommate if you want to be out on your own or plan to move far from home.

When summer starts and your classmates are at work and you are home on mom’s sofa, it may feel good for a while but it won’t be long before you will want to get out into the working world. Start your search now so you can make a timely transition.

Practice interviewing. If you aced your public speaking class and excel at debates, that doesn’t mean you will be a natural at an interview. Most of the time, the weight of landing your first job and the pressure of impending expenses can turn you into a frazzled mess when it comes time to sit down for a one-on-one. That kind of anxiety can take away every strategy you have mastered in the past. Start developing answers to common interview questions and practice a mock interview with a friend or a professional in the Career Services office. You can submit a stellar resume but the interview is what makes or breaks it. First impressions are huge in the real world.

Coming in to an office wide-eyed and bushy-tailed is common for recent grads, but you can get more comfortable with a professional environment by rehearsing answers and dressing up. Pay attention to things like how much you fidget—you may smell like an entry-level candidate to the interviewer but you don’t want to look like one, too!

Enjoy your last days in college. Even though it is beneficial to think about and prepare for the future, there is nothing like living in the now. Spend extra time with friends, sleep in, stay out late, hit up a crazy party, or enjoy campus activities. Even if you cannot wait to graduate, you will probably long to be a college student again at some point in the future—make the most of it now.

Balance, balance, balance. This is an overwhelming time for everyone so try to prioritize what matters. Yes, putting together the resume and starting your job search is important, but you may just want to get the foundation started before you start job hunting. Then you can use that time to complete coursework and make time for fun. There’s also nothing wrong with visiting a counselor to help developing coping strategies. If you’re feeling stressed, take a step back and make time to enjoy things—no one said you have to do everything before your graduation date, but starting to get things in order will help you in the future, too.

Kristen Fischer is the author of Ramen Noodles, Rent and Resumes: An After-College Guide to Life. For more tips on preparing for life after college and coping with 20-something issues, visit www.ramenrentresumes.com.

Got Stress?

20 Apr

We all have them in our office- the people stressed out to the max- their desks looking like the remains of a natural disaster and their hair- well also looking like the remains of a natural disaster. The people who you when you ask how is your day?” you immediately regret it and want to take it back faster than asking an overweight girl how many months along she is. The response usually goes something like this how’s my day? HOW”S MY DAY?! well I haven’t even had a chance to eat yet, go to the bathroom, I have 500 projects to get to by tomorrow, and my inbox just keeps filling up! This is the busiest day of my life!” To which I hold back from replying, ” Really? that’s funny because yesterday was also the busiest day of your life!”

We all know people like that, but to prevent from falling into the “frazzled-out” trap ourselves, here’s three of my favorite tips:
1. Change your mindset: You just got to work, and you are so stressed out you don’t know what to do. Okay, first thing is break down what you actually are doing. Unless you can say “I am treating emergency patients in the hospital right now, many of whom I have 30 seconds to save their lives,” or “I’m figuring out how many troops to send to war” or “I’m in combat right now in enemy territory” take a step back, and realize you really do not have anything to be stressed about. Is that spreadsheet, meeting, coding, sales pitch so dire that it is worth gaining weight over and taking away years of your life? You want to of course respond to things with a sense of urgency- do the best possible job on everything, but realize your boundaries and capacity. Stress is sort of like fog- when it clears, you can see things a lot better and get to your destination quicker. Sometimes you just need to change your mindset to clear this stress.  As my favorite saying goes, “Life is a lot less serious than my mind makes it out to be.”
2. Listen to something funny: my new obsession or born again obsession is Chelsea Handler. I have had a combined sleep of 2 hours in the past two nights since I bought all three of her books from Borders and can’t stop reading them. Her books are like pringles once you pop them open you can’t stop until you are at the very last sentence. So yesterday, when I was starting to get really stressed out, I listened to one of her standups on Youtube and felt better in 10 seconds. Another thing that helps is listening to a mediation channel on Pandora or whatever your music weapon of choice is. There is no day I feel less stressed than “Funk Fridays” where I turn on the Funk channel on pandora and jam through my work until it’s time for happy hour.
3. Stay Organized: If you clear your inbox (get it down to at least 10), file all of your papers and get caught up on all of your work, there is no greater feeling in the world. So if you try to stay like that all the time, you will always feel happy and calm, and light (seriously, inbox clearing is the new Jenny Craig). I know we all have things come up that can cause us to get behind, but if you let yourself fall too far along, it’s really hard to turn back. I mean honestly, have you ever seen a frazzled coworker with a clean desk? Or a coworker with a clean desk frazzled? Possible- but it’s about as rare as a hairless bear.
So next time you are stressed out to the max, take a step back, turn on some jams or talk to a funny coworker who makes you laugh, and be the Martha Stewart of Organization. It will lead to a much happier you and even happier workplace.

Fun Opportunity: Calling All Confident Women!

16 Apr

I was recently told about an opportunity that Dove is sponsoring in conjunction Seventeen, Marie Claire or Cosmopolitan. They are searching for searching for fabulous women to be Dove Deodorant Correspondents for each of the publication titles. This would be a short stint which would include a trip to New York, the chance to meet influential bloggers, a photo shoot, and being actively involved in social media.

To enter for the chance to have this one in a lifetime experience all you have to do is share with Dove how you remain confident throughout life’s ups and downs, while approaching life with a fresh perspective? And what activities and interests help support your confidence and help you express your uniqueness? There is a deadline deadline—but it has just been May 5, 2010. After reading the fine print one of the requirements is that you must be between 18-25 years , phew I made the cut off!

Although I applied and would die for this chance I thought it was a great partnership and too good not to share with our lovely readers who are maybe looking for the perfect summer opportunity during college, well this just might be it!

To find out more information about the program and apply click here. I feel lucky to know and surround myself with fabulous, fresh and full of life women everyday!

Happy Friday! Make the most of your weekend!

Swagapalooza: Great Ideas, Influential People

16 Apr

Photo credit: Bacon Hot Sauce

A few weeks ago I attended an event the first of its kind in San Francisco called Swagapoolza which was an experiment in the making where people with products or ideas that were almost ready to take to market could come share them with an audience of people who are involved in the online world particularity in San Francisco. I headed down there with Casi from San Francisco Noobs

The idea was to get all these people into the same room and give each company a bit of time to present and the audience to ask questions and then for the audience to be able to take the products home and potentially talk about them with their networks.

This is an interesting concept that was conceived by an ambitious young man who even got Guy Kawasaki to speak and Robert Scoble to sit in the audience and tweet. I think everyone would agree the best part of the night was that there was a live twitter screen on stage next to the speakers and as people flocked to the open bar the tweets got considerably more inappropriate.

Although the event was very interesting it was definitely the first of it’s kind and with more trial could be more organized and the products chosen more strategically. However there were a few innovative products that I was excited to preview!

  • The Helmet Lock: This is one of those ideas where you kick yourself saying, “Why didn’t I think of that?!” A simple and smart design  that ensures your helmet is safely attached to your bike lock so you never have to carry your helmet anywhere again!
  • The Joby Gorilla Pod: If you are anything like me you love to capture every moment and then post them on facebook the gorilla pod makes it easy to take pictures anywhere by allowing you to wrap your camera or iphone on anything
  • Bacon Hot Sauce: Okay so maybe this isn’t as much as a necessity as a helmet lock or a camera holder, but who could resist two of the worlds greatest foods in one?! Yes that is right bacon flavored hot sauce, a condiment like that begs to ask the question, do you even need food to accompany it?

It was fun being a part of this experience and I do think that previewing new ideas to a group of people is the new form of marketing these days. Although I still think market research and investor presentations hold value that will never cease I was glad to give my two cents about some of the products that I think are worth checking out!

For more information on Swagapalooza go here.

Just Say No

1 Apr

Image Credit: Cornell University news: www.cornell.edu/news

I always hated the word no. Maybe because I’m an only child, or maybe because it immediately takes me back to the checkout line when I was 6 and asked for 5 packs of zebra-striped gum (you can guess the answer), but the word itself still makes me cringe.

It’s no surprise then, that when I first graduated and entered the working world, I said yes to just about everything. Need extra copies? Sure I’ll help! Need someone to cover the front desk for you while you go on a cigarette break for an hour? Sure, why not! But it wasn’t until my last job that I realized saying yes all the time was only hurting my career. Spending so much time helping others out, (even though I was busy) was forcing me to have to work longer hours and make mistakes.  Sure, it’s very important to be a good coworker and help others out in a bind, but only if you are available.

When you first start a job, (especially right after college) and are in the honeymoon stage, it’s hard to realize when people are taking advantage of you. It’s like being in college all over again- you are the “fresh meat,” the newbie, the person dressed head to toe in your school colors standing in line for a keg cup. If you are firm and comfortable saying no from the beginning though, people will quickly move on to the next target. If you are tempted to give in,  imagine being in a meeting with your boss and confessing you didn’t finish the project, because Sarah needed help on hers. Sure, your boss will think you are a nice person, but they probably won’t be too happy with you for failing to meet the deadline.

I’ve found the easiest way to approach a situation where you are asked to help, (is it just me, or always the same people?), but swamped is this:

1. Say you are busy right now, but give your next time of availability. For example,  “Sorry Joe, I’m in the middle of several projects right now. I’ll be available to help at 4pm though when I am finished.”

2. Reach out to them first to offer help, when you have some down time.  If you have some extra time on your hands (hey every moment counts), instead of going on PerezHilton, let your coworkers know you have some time if they need help with anything.

Most importantly, stay strong my fellow people pleasers. As much as you think it is helping you, taking on more work than you can handle (especially if it is not yours) will only hurt you down the line. The good “users” will sense your weakness and beg you until you burst, but hold your ground and give them a firm answer. BUT, while you don’t want to be the Yes-man, you also don’t want to be the excuse maker. If assisting is part of your job description,  your hardworking coworkers are sick, overwhelmed or in a pinch, give them the help they deserve. Chances are, you will need their help one day as well.