Tag Archives: career

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.

 

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 🙂

The Power of Perspective: How Shopping for a Mattress Changed Me

10 Jan

I learned something the other day.

I didn’t learn an interesting fact about another country or how to work some new software program. I learned something about myself, about my job, about my future; it wasn’t life changing but it was important…and that’s what matters. I learned about the power of perspective.

You see, I spent the larger portion of my afternoon at work, not answering phones or responding to inquiries or managing a guest list like usual, but doing research on a mattress. Where was it cheapest? Who had it in stock? What was a comparable mattress to the one we wanted? Do they offer free delivery? Pillowtop or firm?

It was exhausting, annoying and tedious. Not to mention, it wasn’t exactly a cheap mattress and since my employer is supplying this mattress to a white collar employee, it was frustrating, given my current pay grade…

I digress.

After hours of searching and contacting random salespeople at mattress factories and outlets in my state – a surprising amount, actually – we finally made the purchase (got it on the cheap, too!) and scheduled the delivery.

“This is not what I went to college for!” I thought, angrily. It was task work – monotonous and lacked autonomy – and I wanted nothing to do with it. But I did what was asked of me with a smile on my face while I died a little inside with every phone call or “View the Collection!” click. I was so ready to go home and complain about how irritated I was with this task.

Upon leaving, though, I felt no sense of anger, no frustration. Sure, I didn’t go to college to end up purchasing mattresses for my boss’s boss’s whoever. Sure it was a pain in the ass and sure it wasn’t exactly in my job description. But I got the job done and after I was able to look at it from a different perspective, I realized that from this task alone, I gained a lot of hands-on experience and helped someone in the process. I learned some skills that could be applied in many other ways at work and in my personal life. Who knew?

The power of perspective allowed me to understand that this task wasn’t about ordering a mattress, it was about learning life lessons:

The Early Bird Gets The Worm

I contacted tons of salespeople regarding this mattress. In some cases, I got representatives from the company who directed me to another representative, in some cases I got directed to another store, and in some cases, I heard no response. In one case, however, I received an immediate email response from an actual representative. Throughout the afternoon, as I asked question after question, she responded promptly and in full. Ultimately, we purchased the mattress from her. She provided answers, fast…and that was just what we needed.

Lesson Learned: If you have the time, take the time. If you don’t have the time, make the time.  You’ll see results.

Customer Service is Key

When I called one company, the phone directory prompted me to press 7 for the bed and bath department. The representative who answered, however, was not in this department and forwarded my call to what he thought would be the mattress department. I was greeted by a woman who barely spoke English when she told me, “there is no one in the mattress department today but perhaps I can help.” After some time, though, she ultimately asked me to “check online.” This was a complete turn off as a customer. The woman from whom we purchased the mattress never once sent me a copied/pasted email. She was prompt, friendly, and informative. It was refreshing.

Lesson Learned: A customer or caller should never be bounced from line to line to line. This is a waste of time. Companies should take the time to review their directories and messages to ensure satisfactory service. Also, people want a personalized experience, not a computer-generated message.

Research Leads to Success

If our office purchased the first mattress I found in the collection and style we wanted, it would have cost us nearly $1,500 more than what we spent for the same thing. After researching, though, I was able to find similar mattresses, similar brands, and lower prices.

Lesson Learned: The internet is a beautiful, beautiful thing! Research changes the game. You’ll never know what’s really out there unless you do the research. If you think you’re an expert, look harder.

Assistants are Assets

Ordering a mattress is something my bosses cannot be bothered with. They have so much on their plates…and then some! As their assistant, it is my duty to make their lives easier, even when it means typing “mattress companies in my town” into Google. At the end of the day, I am paid to assist in whatever they need and I know that by completing this task, they are able to check one thing off of their to-do lists and I know they appreciate that help.

Lesson Learned: Assistants make the world go round! Leaders: appreciate your assistants and show it. Assistants: reassure your leaders you are there for them, no matter what, by doing an excellent job.

By taking a different perspective, I was able to shift my attitude from “screw this” to something that was a benefit for me. That’s the power of perspective, ladies and gentlemen.

What life lessons have you learned by taking a different perspective? Share your stories with me!

Free College Stuff You’d NEVER Buy Today

18 Dec

Leaving the old stomping grounds behind for a shot at the real world meant letting go of all the beautiful things our college years provided: friends, education, memories…and tons of free stuff.

These things, these precious gifts from departments desperately seeking attention, we took for granted. Career fairs, awareness events, involvement fairs and the like made available useless novelties that we now yearn for. Now that our checking accounts are down and our penny-pinching skills have been put to the test, we would never be caught dead spending money on these 7 things.

Streetside Cupcakes

The signature fundraiser – a bake sale! When I was rushing off to class I’d pass a beat up old folding table topped with colorful homemade cupcakes and other goodies. Delta Nu is raising funds so they don’t have to switch from Charmin to generic! Donate and receive a cupcake. Today, however, while rushing into the building after sitting in 8:00 a.m. traffic, I’d never stop for a free cupcake from some rando sitting on the side of the street. For all I know, they could be the town’s serial cat-skinner. No thank you. I’ll stick to my trusted friend Little Debbie.

Printing Services

It was awesome having a certain amount of tuition allotted for printing services. Sure I was paying for it, technically (and still will be for upwards of ten years) but I used every damn cent. 20-page paper? No problem. Design an advertisement and print in color? Cake. Student org. needs flyers? I got you, dog. Walking into a Kinkos is completely out of the question now. Not only is it totally barbaric to have to drive somewhere to print something, but if I need something I can print it at work. It’s called being resourceful. Joking, guys! Relax..

Yoga/Pilates Classes

Wasn’t it cute how the recreation centers always tried to get students to come “relax” during finals at their free yoga sesh? And if I bought the semester pass it was what, maybe $30 for four months? Well done, rec center, the only cost appropriate expense around here. Needless to say, I haven’t done yoga since graduating. Yoga classes are insanely expensive to just be standing around in loungewear breathing slowly. I do that every morning for free.

T-shirts

College was a years-long free t-shirt bonanza. I could make a quilt for Paul Bunyan’s bed with all the t-shirts I got from school. I even struggled to find storage space for all of these bad boys. The thought of spending $10+ on a t-shirt today provides utter disgust. Not to mention, I still have nowhere to put a new t-shirt  in my cramped downtown apartment with a sorry excuse for a closet. Instead, I’ll hang on to every last bit of those memory-filled pieces of cheap cotton and wear them proudly, pit stains and all. 

Movie Screenings

In an effort to gain a followership and member base, student orgs all over campus would find ways to host free movie screenings complete with cheese pizza (cheapskates) and soda. I almost never went, but now I realize that I’d have to sell my grandmother’s watch to be able to afford a Carmike Cinemas feature presentation. Now I’ll NEVER see Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas. Netflix it is.

Women’s Basketball Tickets

Occasionally, probably only once, I reluctantly got up off my ass to go to a women’s basketball game…to get a free t-shirt. Sometimes the arena gave students free pizza. Why is it always pizza? Sometimes, on Greek Night, it was THE place to be because heaven forbid you miss a social opportunity to “network” with the other Greeks. After the season ended, though, and especially upon walking across that stage, women’s basketball has been nothing but a mere portion of a grain of sand in my cerebral cortex. The WNBA isn’t a real thing, right? It’s probably a no-tickets-necessary kind of thing because otherwise, I’d rather listen to Nickelback Radio.

SWAG

Little did I know when I first left for school I wouldn’t need those two bags of Bic pens and that 40-pack of Ticonderogas (obviously the best pencils ever). SWAG – Stuff We All Get – was everywhere: cups, pens, buttons, ID holders, pencils, magnets – I was a ninja in the fruit aisle. Although the endless amount of shit never seems to go away like that “Dorsey Hall 2009” keychain that always turns up somewhere, I’ll never walk into Office Depot with a significant need for desktop necessities.

The bright side is you get free stuff at work too! It isn’t all so bad. Who wouldn’t want contributions from their employer to a 401(k), annual holiday parties with dry sugar cookies, and unlimited amounts of room temperature fountain water?

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