Life After Undergrad: Knock on every closed door

When you leave college and shed your student security blanket it can be hard to find other opportunities that give you the same challenge that college used to. For me college was something I became good at– and very proud of. When I came back to school after a hiatus I put my all into being a good student, staying organized and having a good GPA. When undergrad came to a close I kind of mourned my student status because I had put so much effort into making it great. I realized though that I could put the same amount of effort and time into my professional status to build that up just as high.

A professional network is much wider and much more vast than my student one. Recently, my regional boss came to visit my office and to my surprise it went well. In fact it went better than I could have imagined, after my days long panic over the visit. I was so focused on making sure I didn’t screw up that I didn’t stop and think that I should be marketing myself. Not market in a cheesy way but instead showcase my abilities and competence in my job role. After going over the Ps and Qs of my job we actually had a conversation and I shared some of my marketing and social media ideas with him– and he liked it! I was even given permission to start a hashtag campaign for my office, I was stoked!

My point here is not to leave any stone unturned– go out there and make it happen. When you’re confident other people take notice and they gravitate to you. After that office visit the regional manager told my boss that he was impressed with me– something that I’d never imagined could happen. Sometimes I think I sell myself short and forget that I’m no longer a 22-year-old with little experience. I’m considered an industry professional with nearly a decade of experience– and I need to be darn proud of it!

Life After Undergrad: Get your credit girl!

In the real world things are slightly different from the college student world. For instance your credit score matters– a lot! I, like many other early 20 somethings, made a mess of my credit when I started getting offers left and right. The emails seemed so enticing, no interest or instant approval! I got carried away and before I knew it I had quite a bit of debt with a little bit of money and an interest free deadline rapidly approaching. So I ended up in a pickle and ended up paying off these cards and silly purchases for years to come. It’s taken three years to get my credit back off the floor but I’m getting it their slowly. So I figured I’d share three quick tips with my readers to save their credit– and their sanity.

  1. Be realistic with yourself and with your funds. If you can’t afford whatever you’re tempted to swipe, in full, within the next 30 days– wait. If you’re mulling over a big purchase that’s more of a want than a need, reassess and maybe save up at least save and swipe the rest.
  2. Baby steps are key. Open a line of credit and use it for recurring charges you’d pay every month anyway and arrange for auto pay so you don’t forget your bill. Things like your monthly metro, amazon prime membership or even the gym, are great smaller charges to use your credit for.
  3. Stay on top of your accounts. Don’t open too many accounts for many reasons; one being it’s easy to forget about one and get hit with a late fee and another is it’s harder to monitor them for fraudulent charges.

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Life After Undergrad: The hunt is on

Happy April everyone! With the turn of a new month my job hunt goes into overdrive. As tax season begins to wind down I’m starting to think more seriously about finding a full-time job in my actual industry– tech writing. As much as I’ve loved, and grown, at my current job I am ready to spread my wings. I want to find a job that truly challenges me and uses all of my abilities because I want a job I wake up everyday excited to get to.

When I started to look around at jobs and companies I realized quickly that without a plan and a set of “must haves” for my jobs that I would be overwhelmed very quickly. So I started to draft a list of the things I needed from an employer; health insurance, paid vacation, sick days and so on. More importantly though I started looking at the company culture, meaning what the company stood for and where their morals laid. In 2018 most companies are trying to be progressive and open-minded and be culturally inclusive and smart with their ads and policies–but how did they treat their main stream employees? I wanted to find a company that wasn’t starch and pressed, that was less corporate and more incorporated– one that focused on the talent and the brand and not some silly outdated industry ideology.  

I made a Glassdoor account to start sifting through companies and how they ranked among their employees as well as their salaries and compensation packages for employees. I was able to save or bookmark the ones I was interested in and start reading their job listings so I could tailor my resume to align better with what they were looking for. A former professor told me “you’ll never have one resume” — which confused me. How could I have more than one? With only one job history what could possibly go on multiple resumes? Well, the same things essentially but in different words, tones and activities. I developed different resumes, designs and tones for different companies or job roles to be able to start click applying and as I start applying I’ll keep you all updated on my journey!!

Life After Undergrad: Love yourself like you mean it

Three words, eight letters, say it like you mean it. No, I’m not talking about telling your kids or significant other that you love them every chance you get (though you should because life is short). No, I’m talking about reminding yourself that you love who you are unapologetically, every day. Self-love is the foundation for every other type of love we have in our lives, and it’s arguably the most important. For years in our adolescents (and sometimes beyond) we critiqued everything about our appearance, tried to be thinner, more athletic, have better skin, and so on; but now we’re adults and how many of us can say those habits haven’t followed us far into our 20s? I can admit that it followed me, and haunted me brutally after I had my daughter Ava, I couldn’t understand why I got such bad stretch marks, why I didn’t “snap back” and why that baby weight hung around for 10 months.

In all of this self-doubt we forget to love the good parts, how kind we are, how organized we can be, how good we are at crossword puzzles or Sudoku. Every morning I used to wake up and think of all the things I HAD to do, run through a mental list of these tasks that I had to check off and complete; but more recently I’ve started ignoring that mental list and finding positives like, today’s weather is going to be beautiful, I can’t wait to do _______ or just reminding yourself that you’ve got this. When you wake up feeling like you’ve got a handle on things and not the other way around you just feel better.

I’m far from perfect and I know I have my flaws but I’m slowly learning to turn even those into strengths, I’m learning to share, to let people help and most of all to trust in my abilities and what I can do. I try to face challenges or setbacks with poise and patience and not feel like everything has gone to shit because when I let that feeling of panic take over I ended up creating problems that weren’t there to begin with. Everyone has a new year new me goal (if you say you don’t- you sir are a liar!) even if they don’t broadcast it to the world and you know what; good for you. You owe it to yourself to be the best version of yourself that you know how to be—and love the crap out of yourself while doing it!

Life After Undergrad: A reminder about 2018

This year got off to a roaring start, so much going on and so many changes that I felt a little overwhelmed. I just graduated and shed my student status, started job hunting and building my professional persona. I came across this little note I wrote to myself on New Year’s Eve and want to post it to remind myself, and my readers, that it’s never too late in the year to make those changes.

In 2018, I promise to be kinder to myself.

I promise to listen to that little voice in the back of my mind that tries to remind me that I need to put myself first sometimes.

I am going to be selfish with my time, selective in my company and stand firm in my morals. In 2017 and years past I’ve given too much of myself to those who did not deserve it. I’ve taken time away from my own happiness to see to it that others were happy.

Not this year. This year, I will not lose sleep worrying about problems that don’t belong to me. I will not put the needs of the people ahead of my own, especially when those people never check on my happiness.

I will open my mind to new opportunities and experiences, even if they’re a little scary and unknown to me. I deserve to live my dreams, and I’m going to spread my wings far and wide.

I will learn to say no, and stick to it. I will learn to decline people, situations and opportunities that are not in my best interest or aligned with my goals or who I am as a person.

I will not let things that I cannot control, control me, my peace of mind or happiness anymore. If I can’t control it and it doesn’t affect my well-being, I will let it go. If it does affect me, I will deal with it as it comes, and then move on.

In 2018, I will grow, I will be happy, and I will make sure that I am okay before I check on the world.

Life After Undergrad: A very Happy Birthday

In a post that strays a little from my theme this semester, I would like to wish my daughter Ava a very Happy 9th Birthday!!!! On this day nine years ago I was in labor with Ava, I was 18 and freshly out of high school. Today on Ava’s ninth birthday I am a college grad, who is pursuing her Masters Degree. On the day Ava was born I had no idea what the future held because the picture I’d painted had dissolved into a whole new reality as a teenage mother. On Ava’s second birthday  I was failing out of John Jay College and was giving up slowly on myself and my future. On Ava’s third Birthday I used my whole tax return to throw her an elaborate themed party to mask how much I felt like a failure. I figured if all looked well then nobody would notice that I was working a crappy retail job and couldn’t figure out what I was going to do about college.

When Ava was four I went back to school and I had a firm sight on where I wanted to be– and nothing would get in my way. This June I will walk in my graduation ceremony and it will be the second time that Ava will have seen me receive a degree. I do this not only to provide from her but to show her that you can fall as many times as you want so long as you GET BACK UP!

My college career is Ava’s as much as it is mine because I’ve never been in college without Ava. Even when she was just a baby bump, she came to college with me. She’s sat through lectures with me, said goodnight to be over the phone, sat and watched me type essays and annotate article after article. While some nights she did complain, she always tells me I’m doing a good job and that makes it worth it– even on the days she is driving me insane. This year as Ava turns nine I see more of myself in her than ever, and I want better from her. I know she can be better, do better and reach higher than I ever have– and it frustrates me when she doesn’t. Nonetheless I know she is bound to be great and make a name for herself– after all, a queen only raises a queen!

Life After Undergrad: People don’t always grow up, they just get better jobs

When I was younger my mom told me that sometimes adults can be more childish than actual children. I didn’t quite get this idea until I started working full-time– more so in a leadership role. At first it baffled me how people who were in positions of such esteem and regard could be so immature and petty. I witnessed grown adults holding grudges, gossiping and being cliquey– worse than middle school girls. My first thought was “well I’ll just avoid all of that and mind my business” but unfortunately gossip culture will find you; and it will test you.

I figured that by being nice to everyone, not overstepping the work/ socializing boundary that I could avoid that whole whirlwind of picking sides– I was wrong. In being nice to everyone and chit chatting over the water cooler, I opened myself up to other employees prodding for information about their coworkers because I seemed to get along with everyone. When I didn’t play into the game I became a scapegoat and a goody-two-shoes. While I don’t often let idle gossip bother me, dealing with such petulant behavior from adults was tiring. I ended up putting my foot down and just making it clear to all that if something was amiss or there was confusion I should be asked directly– and not relayed messages through the grapevine.

In my middle school days, gossip and ally making was rattling to me and I wanted to badly to be on the right side. I found however, that the “right” side often meant compromising my character or my morality and I just couldn’t do it. In elementary school I was an outcast for making friends with a girl who had an accident and in middle school I was made fun of by proxy because one of my best friends was a little overweight. Once I reached high school I was over it entirely and I built myself a network of girlfriends who didn’t give a damn what people thought of them and although not all of us keep in touch anymore the lesson they taught resonated.  

I don’t need to be liked or loved by everyone to do my job, or to be good at it and I certainly don’t owe anyone anything. The most important thing that I can say is to be firm in your footing; stand up for what you believe in and who you are. Most of all, do your job, do it well and don’t tread anywhere the ice may be too thin.

Life After Undergrad: How I managed to check my anxiety at work

With more knowledge comes more power, right? Well in my case more knowledge and more ability came with a larger office, more employees and more targets to hit. Naturally I was flattered my boss thought highly enough of me to promote me, but deep down I was panicked. Part of me even secretly hoped I wouldn’t have to do it and I could sit quietly in the shadows. When I looked at myself in the mirror though, I realized that I needed to look at myself in a better light. I needed to believe in myself and view myself with confidence and not doubt of what mistakes I may make.

When the season started I was jittery, but I tried to sound as confident and positive as I possibly could when I met my new team of employees. I found that they were a really great group of people who were relieved to get a new leader at the helm; this made easing into a new role easier. I’d heard once in a psychology class that there are two types of leaders; transactional and transitional. Transaction leaders are a hands off type of leader that only handles things that go wrong or need attention, but a transitional leader will lead by example– and that’s the kind of leader I wanted to be.

I started by making a list of exactly what I needed to do that day, down to the most minuscule of tasks because it made the whole day seem like less of a challenge. I checked off the must do stuff first– things that had time deadlines or needed to be done the same time every day. After those tasks I worked on the bigger projects and tasks that took more of my time and effort. Breaking up my tasks made my time seem like less of a long-winded spiral. I found that managing my time made me less anxious because it eased the feeling that I wouldn’t get to everything I needed to do. As I started to develop a routine I started to worry less about the day-to-day and just organize my days in a way that made the most sense– and I haven’t looked back since.

 

Tell me readers, how do you stay organized?

Life After Undergrad: What now?

Have you ever finished a book or a TV series and then looked up and thought “what do I do now?”. That was the exact thought I had the first day I was able to go right home after work. What do I do with all this free time? Should I start knitting? What is life without college like? I’d been in school for 80% of my 20’s and I got so accustomed to being in that student state of mind that this whole commute and “call it a day” lifestyle was new to me. I decided (like I mentioned in my first post) to start taking better care of me. Cooking at home, getting back into the gym and trying to focus on the plus and not the minus.

Meal prepping for me was a whole new world. I’d never been super into cooking or baking so I decided to start simple; chicken, veggies and some brown rice or quinoa. Well, I ended up eating this for about 3 weeks straight for lunch until a co-worker said “Sam, are you on some special diet?” Well, I kind of was the “I have no idea how to cook” diet, but that was a wake up call for me; it was time to try new dishes. So with the help of my best friend, Mariah, I ventured into simple step meal making.

My first creation was chicken tortellini, Alfredo, which, if I do say so myself was delish. Now If you don’t believe me, I also fed this to my mom and co-workers and nobody died–so there’s that. I’m sort of lazy when it comes to cleaning pots and pans but making that was shockingly easy, so the next adventure is going to be pasta salad or penne-vodka– we will see. But this endeavor into cooking is just a sign of the change in times because a year ago instead of wrangling tortellini I’d have been in lecture, or running from work to class. Now I have some time to explore skills and other things that I just never had the time for– and it’s exciting. I look forward to seeing what else comes with this new phase of life and I can’t wait to share it with my readers too!

Life After Undergrad: Finding my new groove

Hey everyone, if you’re just catching up I’ve changed my blog from “Virtues from Motherhood” to “Life After Undergrad” as I chronicle my transition from college student to full-time working adult. First let me say that I am considering grad school and getting my Masters Degree but I’m still on the fence. Transitioning from a college student routine into one without any school is surprisingly challenging. I thought that I’d be relieved and carefree now that I didn’t have to worry about papers, midterms and passing grades, but truth be told I feel a little lost without it. I got so used to planning my day out and rushing off to class after work while making sure that everything was done and organized.

Now, I wake up and get ready for work but I feel light, there is no bag full of books and notes, there is no folder filled with a syllabus and assignments. It’s just me and my now downsized bag headed off for a brisk 9-5 shift. Last week the spring semester began and I felt a little sad, some of my friends are still there and my siblings are back in class, and then there’s me, headed home at 530. It’s not all bad though, I’ve started meal prepping and trying not to eat out. I also started going back to the gym and trying to take better care of myself. While I was in school I was on the go for 15 hours a day so eating right and exercising took a back seat.

Now as I try to get into the groove of things I try to keep a positive mindset. I’ve made a habit of pointing out the positives to myself and dealing with and discarding the negative. I’ve learned throughout my college career that attitude is everything and will affect anything you do. I’m not sure what the future holds for me right now but I am excited to find out. Now that I’ve achieved what I thought was impossible I am more confident than ever; I believe in who I am and what I can do. That ability is invaluable, you need to value everything about yourself, no matter where you are.