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What Back-To-School Means to Me

4 Sep

For most recent grads and young professionals, back-to-school season is a lovely reminder that you’re no longer dealing with final papers, dreadful professors and those muggy bus rides spent secretly watching your seat partner lose horribly in candy crush. Instead, we can celebrate the accomplishment of graduating while covertly resenting our peers who still get to experience college.

Working in higher education, however, provides a unique experience when it comes to back-to-school season. It used to be that back-to-school meant the last day of my summer job, making two, three, or seven trips to Target for some updated apartment decor and checking my email hourly waiting for a new syllabus to appear. Those days are over.

Now, for me and most other higher ed staff, back-to-school means GO TIME. In the higher education industry, back-to-school is a time to quickly regroup and gear up for the incoming and returning students. This means planning trainings, answering parent questions, coordinating events and catering and…my least favorite: leaving for work ten minutes earlier because the traffic in town will be dreadful. It means greeting all students – incoming freshmen, returning, transfers, non-traditional, with arms wide open and saying, “this is going to be an awesome time.”

Though the lazy summer days are behind us, intricate fall projects are lining up fast. Dates are being set. Meetings are being held. Calls are being made. There is a wonderful, energetic buzz on campus that I’m totally feeding off of this year. Not to mention, some great sports are back on

So, I would like to wish all the students and teachers of the world a very happy back-to-school season. It is important that we don’t fall into old habits that create a mundane atmosphere. It is my personal challenge to up the ante this fall and do big things within reach. For the sake of the students and all others involved, let’s keep this lively buzz going all year!

And especially for my fellow higher ed staff/faculty/leadership out there: Happy Back-To-School season to you, too! Here are a few unconventional motivational quotes to keep in mind as this semester picks up:

 

 

 

 

Posters: Startup Vitamins

What does the back to school season mean to you? How do you stay focused during this busy time of year?

Find Your Niche, Find Your Dream – Ending Employment Unhappiness

16 Jul

Imagine a life where you’re living to work. A life where Monday mornings aren’t accompanied with pissed off Facebook statuses and double doses of sugar in your coffee. A life where your personal interests and your learned skill sets collide into something awesome. A bit hard to imagine, right? That’s because we don’t view employment this way. We don’t all expect a job that is soulfully fulfilling because the messages we are sent during high school, college and those horrid entry level years don’t align with what many consider, this imaginary life.

The good news? It doesn’t have to be that way. Despite the messages from Career Services offices nationwide and employment agencies all over, who give resume workshops, urge networking skills and encourage job boards, finding happiness in employment is no easy task. What’s it take? Finding your niche. Finding that one thing that makes you feel invincible and figuring out how to monetize that skill, that interest, that dream.

Sometimes endless messages can make it difficult to realize what you want. It takes time and experience to hone in on what really drives you. Sometimes, it’s as simple is talking it out with someone. The Niche Movement, a movement to help young professionals avoid employment unhappiness, aims to do just that. Kevin O’Connell, founder, dreams of a day when traditional career myths are debunked.

Kevin has spent the last eight years working in college student affairs, personally mentoring more than 200 students on leadership, personal branding, digital identity, communication and more. His experience in higher education has proved to him that academia and student affairs practices are not taking risks. They’re not telling students what they need to hear about life after college.

So with his passion behind The Niche Movement, Kevin’s writing a new book! I’m a sucker for inspirational books. The Niche Movement: New Rules for Finding a Career You Love will change the way we view employment by offering true, inspirational stories along with research and life lessons from real professionals who believe that career services needs to be disrupted. Think inspiration meets career advice meets the silver lining in being a twenty-something.

The book, whose kickstarter campaign launched Tuesday, will amplify this idea that finding your niche will lead to employment happiness and help college students and recent grads harness the experiences they’ve had, the experiences they’re living, the experiences they’re going to have and continue to ask themselves: why am I doing this? How can I get back to what motivates me?

This is huge, huge news for millennials. We are constantly bombarded with messages on how Gen Y folks expect too much. Is it too much to expect a fulfilling job that gives purpose? Is it too much to expect a happy, successful life? Is it too much to expect to not change jobs seventeen times before finding something worth staying? I think not.

Let’s face it, dreading your job, the place where you spend more than half your life, is an issue. It’s a big issue. What’s worse? Dreading your first job fresh out of college ready to take on the world. Society should want this for young professionals.

Take some time to check out The Niche Movement: New Rules for Finding a Career You Love and The Niche Movement. Let’s get this great idea the traction and attention it deserves. It’s a powerful idea, don’t you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Kickstarter.Projectimagev3

Defending My Career Philosophy

8 Jul

I believe in employment happiness. I believe in doing work that is purposeful and fulfilling, work that incites satisfaction regularly. I also believe that if the process of obtaining that dream job takes a few unplanned steps or means enduring some not-so-fulfilling roles, so be it. If the promise of a meaningful career is accompanied by some tiring, stressful, developmental years as a young professional feeling out the real world, so be it. If the intimidation and expense of applying for and attending graduate school requires some extra months of thought and deliberation, so be it. This is my career philosophy.

As long as the steps you take are thought out and strategic moves toward the larger picture, there’s no issue. The relationships developed along the way help to build a strong, close-knit network of professionals willing to help as the future unfolds. The knowledge learned, the skills acquired , the experience earned during a “stepping stone job” are all leading toward a bigger, better goal. A dream. An accomplishment. This is my career philosophy.

So when someone recently told me to “wake the hell up” I began questioning my philosophy on life, especially as it pertains to my career path.

“Stop taking on all these little side projects [blogging, PR assistance, community volunteering] you’re doing for free and focus on moving yourself forward,” one said.

Am I not making moves? Is my plan not working? Am I wasting my time? This uncomfortable uneasiness lingered and left a strong feeling of self-doubt and stress. Its not like I’m working full-time in a field I love. Wait actually, I am.

There is this traditional view on how things are supposed to happen. We continue to burden our creative tendencies, our exploratory needs by forcing a timeline on life with these condescending little check boxes that, if remain unchecked, reflect failure. #FailingAtLife

…Why?

When so many others scrapped the book of life, the traditional methods toward obtaining The American Dream: Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Mark Zuckerberg. These people are successful. They are revered. They are influential.

That my personal career philosophy, which perhaps doesn’t fit into the plans suggested to me, is coming under so much scrutiny appalls me. My side projects make me happy. They give me purpose. They’ve broadened my network from simply the tristate area to a nationwide network of bloggers, business owners, thought leaders and just all-around cool people.

SO HERE’S MY DEFENSE:

I believe in employment happiness. I believe in doing work that is purposeful and fulfilling, work that incites satisfaction regularly. I also believe that if the process of obtaining that dream job takes a few unplanned steps or means enduring some not-so-fulfilling roles, so be it. If the promise of a meaningful career is accompanied by some tiring, stressful, developmental years as a young professional feeling out the real world, so be it. If the intimidation and expense of applying for and attending graduate school requires some extra months of thought and deliberation, so be it.

This is my career philosophy.

As long as the steps you take are thought out and strategic moves toward the larger picture, there’s no issue. The relationships developed along the way help to build a strong, close-knit network of professionals willing to help as the future unfolds. The knowledge learned, the skills acquired , the experience earned during a “stepping stone job” are all leading toward a bigger, better goal. A dream. An accomplishment.

This is still my career philosophy. 

And if you don’t like it, you can remain chained to your check boxes, because that’s not how I roll.

 

Professional Wardrobe: Spring Must-Haves

17 Mar

What a bipolar winter we’ve had! I’m starting to think this is how the world is just going to be forever…and ever. One day 65 degrees and partly cloudy, the next 27 and snowing. When will it end?!

In an effort to keep an open mind about this weather, I’ve started to prepare for my spring work wardrobe – and by that I mean I made a Pinterest board full of items my closet will probably never see. My fashion goals this spring are plain and simple: achieve a stellar outfit without having to work too hard…or iron. Then again, isn’t that every lady’s goal?

To get the looks I want, I’ll need a few essential pieces that I can pair with numerous other items already in my wardrobe. Here’s what I’m thinking:

Usually, polka dots aren’t my thing but with the pop of the bright aqua cardigan, they aren’t overwhelming. Key item: patterned blouse.

Before I ever had a blazer, I didn’t realize how much I was missing out. Blazers are lifesavers! They keep you warm AND you can put just about anything under them. My favorite: all my cute summer tanks that I never get to wear in winter. Top them with a blazer and I’m good to go! Key item: blazer.

Although I could never pull this off, I love this look! She looks so put together but fresh and free-spirited at the same time. Key item: striped pencil skirt.

You can’t beat this classic fitted dress. It has the perfect amount of professional and sexy. Plus, it goes with just about anything. Score! I’m loving the solid, quiet grey that allows the accessories to do the work for it. Key item: solid fitted dress.

Here’s a fun, easy look. She has a classy but edgy blazer with the color pop skirt. I’m thinking some coral somewhere in the outfit would have topped it all off. Key item: solid pencil skirt.

Since I work in West Virginia where the signature colors are old gold and blue, this outfit struck my eye. It was a great idea to pair the green statement necklace to add another element to the outfit. Key item: statement necklace.

Of course, I could go on for days and days about all the wardrobe items I need this spring but I’ll not bore you with my tired wardrobe desires.

So, what items or fashion trends are you trying to achieve this spring?

Fun, Inspirational, Quirky and FREE Desktop Wallpapers

26 Feb

In my recent BuzzFeed Community post, 15 Totally Useful Ways to Waste Time at Work, I offered the idea to change your desktop wallpaper. A new and interesting wallpaper could change your attitude while you’re busy on your computer getting things done. Something funny could brighten up your morning while an inspirational background could be the kick in the butt you need to start a new project. Basically, if you have the classic Microsoft background or the cloudy sky wallpaper, you’re doing it wrong.

I scoured the internet for unconventional wallpapers. You’d be surprised what’s out there! And for free! Here’s a list of my favorites:

hermanmiller

thefoxisblack

briannarose

^my current background^

thesweetescape

briannarose

twotwentyone

thefoxisblack

designerdaily

designlovefest

pinterest user

thedesignwork

What did you think? Where do you get your desktop wallpapers from? Do you design your own wallpapers? Send some to me! I change mine weekly 🙂

Another Millennial Wants More – But Its Not What You Think

12 Feb

Hundreds, if not thousands, of arguments exist out there that millennials are spoiled, egocentric and lazy. We want too much, expect too much and ultimately get too much. Blah. Blah. Blah. Well you know what, world? I want more and I’m not sorry for it.

Is it more money? No. More time off? I’ll pass. More work-life balance? What life…

What I want – brace yourselves – is something more. Something more than earning a degree and getting a job. Something more than a paycheck. Something more than a nice desk. Something more than my boss’s acceptance. And I’m not alone. 

The problem is that our society isn’t built to support these kinds of “outlandish” dreams all in one lifetime. Seriously, how many 20-somethings can start an awesome company, travel to India, meet Bono and get invited to the Oscars all in one lifetime? Probably about seven. While some lucky folks get the opportunity to fulfill these desires, most do not. Unless your dad’s coworker’s aunt’s daughter’s best friend’s sister-in-law is planning to open a start-up company, you’re pretty much bound to societal expectations: get a degree, get a job, and shut up! There’s intimidating competition, limited time, and yes, inadequate amounts of money. I know, “GREAT! Another millennial complaining about money.”  Well you ain’t about this life so please continue reading. 

With that being said, you should know that I did graduate college, I did move away from home, I did get a job in the field I wish to pursue, and I do plan on being successful. And maybe I am the typical millennial but it is just not enough. While sitting at my desk all day, every day, I can’t help but dream about who I want to be. The torturous question, “Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?” haunts me because the answer is nowhere to be found. Besides becoming Beyonce’s personal assistant, obviously. If only!

This is an honest confession, if you will, where I admit that I want more but I don’t know where to start and doubt my desires. Ultimately, I struggle with who I am and where I’m going. But I’ve learned that that’s okay! So, here’s a [working] list of the dreams I have and the doubts that come along with them. I welcome your feedback! Please, feel free to offer suggestions, rebuttals, comments and the like. Here goes nothing…

 I want to:

♦Start a business, but what business?

Make a difference in someone’s life, but in what way? 

Advocate for change, but what’s a good, trustworthy cause?

Organize and host a 5K run/walk, but for what and who?

Learn accounting and bookkeeping, but where to find the time? 

Meet inspiring, educated people, but how and where?

Design a mass-produced invitation, ad, or brochure, but for who? 

Become popular on Twitter, but for what?

Play a significant role on a team, but what team? Athletic? Work-related? Volunteer?

Teach someone something meaningful, but I’m no teacher or expert, am I?

Donate a gift to my alma mater, but what would actually make a difference?

Create a useful, life-changing mobile app, but do I have any good ideas?

Be a role model, but for doing what and for who?

These are silly dreams, maybe. Attainable dreams, probably. Some of you might encourage me to just go for it! But like a true millennial, I want it all…and fast. However, I shouldn’t be sorry for wanting success, service, and education. Either way, the road is not yet paved and it should be an interesting journey.

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