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Gen Y Wants to Work It!

With the new website coming to life (huge thanks to Andy Merrick) and a few exciting meetings last week, I’ve been tied up and unable to blog as much as I usually do. All of these developments for my business are so exciting but have sapped some of my creative juices away. In attempt to get back into the swing of things, I’ve been sitting here contemplating what topic to kick off the week with.

Thanks to the newest poll feature, I noticed that of the few people that actually took the poll, everyone had the same answer. To the question, “What’s your biggest career fear?” Everyone’s response was: “working for someone else my whole life.” Very interesting.

I know that entrepreneurship has always been a dream of mine, but is it also a dream for the majority of my generation? According to a recent article written by Michael Malone in the Wall Street Journal, “An upcoming wave of new workers in our society will never work for an established company if they can help it. To them, having a traditional job is one of the biggest career failures they can imagine.”

Wow, a career “failure” is working for an established company? That might be a first. What about these shocking statistics: Today, 80% of the colleges and universities in the U.S. now offer courses on entrepreneurship; 60% of Gen Y business owners consider themselves to be serial entrepreneurs, according to Inc. Magazine. Tellingly, 18 to 24-year-olds are starting companies at a faster rate than 35 to 44-year-olds. And 70% of today’s high schoolers intend to start their own companies, according to a Gallup poll.

So as Gen Y continues to get the reputation of being self-centered, obnoxious, lazy and under-dressed, we are apparently also quite ambitious and independent as well.

Owning your own business is no walk in the park. It requires managing money, marketing, selling, paying attention to details, using your life savings for start up costs, making tough decisions, taking risks and wearing many hats at once. In my short time in starting a business, I’ve learned how completely consuming it is. It is definitely NOT something that I can stop thinking about once the clock strikes 5pm.

I do wonder though, what is it about how us twentysomethings were raised or the times that we live in that make us want to take on owning our own businesses so much? Perhaps we saw our parents get laid off from their big safe job after 30 years with no loyalty back from their company. Perhaps we saw large politicians and CEO’s break our trust after we initially looked up to them so much.

Or, maybe we really are just too damn selfish to want someone else to tell us when we can take off work or how we are supposed to run our division. Maybe we hate rules and authority. Or perhaps we are just so creative that we feel stifled when we have to work under someone else’s vision rather than our own. We’re not afraid of technology and we feel we deserve everything that we want in a career.

So, my little poll question quickly gave light to a huge topic I need to spend more time writing about because apparently I’m not the only twentysomething who wants to talk about starting a business. I’m sure many of us are nervous about the economy, nervous about keeping our jobs and also nervous about how to pay down our debt. The answer might be starting a business to hedge the risk and do something you love.

I get super irritated when people complain but don’t do anything about it. If you dream about working for yourself someday, why can’t you start now? You’re the only one who can get yourself to the next level, so start dreaming about what you want and then figure out how to get it. Anything is possible, right?

And if you have questions along the way, ask me and any other person who is passionate about entrepreneurship because we are all willing to help.

From Lost to Found: Chapter 1 of Amanda Miller’s Career Journey in NYC

amandaBy, Amanda Miller

Hi, I’m Amanda Miller and here’s my story.

I was a Communications/Journalism major in college and had no idea what I wanted to do with myself when I graduated. I tried dabbling into finance-needless to say, that was definitely not my true calling. I quit the job 3 months after I graduated with no backup plan, had just signed a lease on a new house in Queens, and had no idea what it was I wanted to do with my life. I had to survive and pay my bills, so I started picking up odd jobs to get by while I feverishly searched for my dream career. After the horrible experience I had at my first job out of college, I swore up and down that I wasn’t going to just settle for anything. That is single handedly the best career advice I could ever give to someone just out of college. My biggest mistake was taking the first job that was offered to me, even though it wasn’t a good fit. DON’T DO IT!

I started out waiting tables at an Italian restaurant in East Hampton, which, long story short, lead to me finding a part time nanny job in the Upper West Side. This connection was probably the most powerful one I had made during my search for my new job. The mother (who also happened to be from the Midwest, like myself) was 51 years old, had dedicated her life to her career, and had just started her family. She gave me great advice and encouraged me not to settle until I felt that the job was worth it.

This woman gave me enough hours to make ends meet, set me up on play dates with mothers who were significant career women-bankers, attorneys, producers, power brokers, entrepreneurs- all with the purpose of helping me discover what direction I wanted to take for myself in the career world. I took every job interview I was offered, but if I didn’t like it, I wasn’t afraid to say no.

After 6 months of dead ends, I was getting frustrated. Nothing seemed to work for me and I couldn’t figure out how someone with a 4 year degree and all the confidence and stamina to succeed in the business world was making a living wiping noses and singing along to Nick Jr. But giving up was never an option for me. Out of the blue, I got an e-mail from a grade school friend to check out the company that she worked for in Manhattan. After reading about the job openings, I applied, figuring I had nothing to lose.

I had no idea that I was going to fall in love with everything about the job. I aced the interview, loved the casual, laid back work environment, and was so excited to grow and learn in a career that was related to my degree and the root of my passion. I had never been so sure I wanted something more and was willing to do anything to get this job. In 2007, I made the move from professional stroller pusher and Mommy & Me attendee to Media Buyer extraordinaire.

My responsibility is to negotiate advertising rates and purchase ad space for two well known consumer packaged goods companies and a global office supplier with a variety of magazines, trades and newspapers. I also help to create unique advertising campaigns and programs to help promote my brands (I currently have about 30 active at the moment) and leverage my clients’ presence on both a national and global level. Don’t let that description fool you-nothing about this job is boring (and it’s not because I work in the heart of Times Square, either). In addition to my responsibilities, I also get to attend magazine launches, parties (which are usually client sponsored), mingle with some of the industry’s top marketing and publishing executives in the world, get on site continuing education through a media school program and have met some of the most inspiring women in the industry.

Advertising is so much more than an ad in a magazine or a billboard in Times Square-there is research, calculation, planning and loads of intelligent people behind each and every one. There is a job for every single aspect for an advertisement-buying, planning, creative development and implementation…I could go on and on. Despite the recession, two of my clients are planning new product launches, re-introducing brands that had been hibernating. Clients are still spending money and agencies like mine still need people-one media career site posted 2,000 new jobs in the past month!

If I could say anything about the road to finding my true calling in the career world, it is to seek the advice from women who have had years of professional experience. I came from a small town in Wisconsin, had no professional female role models, no contacts at all when I first came to New York. Without the advice and guidance from the woman I nannied for, the women I have met while job searching, and the professional women I am still meeting and engaging with on a daily basis, I would have never made it to this point.

No matter what the circumstance is, NEVER SETTLE and NEVER GIVE UP! Do not make excuses for yourself-whether you want to blame the struggling economy, the fact that you can’t find anything that doesn’t feel right, that the perfect job does not exist, whatever! Set the bar high and make goals for yourself. You are the only person that can make yourself happy and successful, so whatever you need to do to get to that point, make like Nike and just do it.

Talk to other professionals, network, be willing to try new things and do the unexpected. We all have it in us to succeed, we just need to have the courage to act on the unknown, conquer our fears and not be afraid to lean on others to propel us forward.

Obama’s New Stimulus Plan and YOU.

o_stimulusb4a4cf1c-b4ac-4afe-9d99-caa0dea07075Here’s a brief breakdown of how the new stimulus plan could help you!

  • First-time homebuyers who purchase their homes before December 1, 2009 would be eligible for an $8,000 tax credit, and people who buy new cars before the end of the year can write off the sales taxes.
  • College students-or their parents- are eligible for tax credits of up to $2,500 to help pay tuition and related expenses in 2009 and 2010.
  • We can expect to see about $13 extra in our weekly paychecks, starting around June, thanks to the new $400 tax credit to be given through the rest of the year. Couples would get up to $800.
  • Those receiving un-employmet benefits this year wouldn’t pay any federal income taxes on the first $2,400 they receive.
  • For those who have lost their health insurance as a result of losing their job, the government will now pick up up the tab for 65% of the cost of continuing insurance through the COBRA plan for the first nine months while you look for a new job. COBRA is typically very expensive, often over $1,000 per month so this is a huge cost savings for job seekers.
  • Homeowners who add energy-efficient windows, furnaces and air conditioners can get a tax credit to cover 30% of the costs, up to a total of $1,500.

Information from the Associated Press.

Online Stock Tips? Buyer Beware.

There was an article in the Wall Street Journal on February 4, 2009  about new social networking services that allow users to share investing and trading tips. It is a great way for like minded people to build a community and share ideas. In many ways the idea is not new – we have seen chat rooms, message boards, and the like before. However, these sites operate more like Twitter where messages are limited or truncated to a preset number of characters and people only build ‘followings’ only if they have something of value to say. The idea definitely is progressive and timely as many people are seeking ways to build or rebuild wealth in a deepening recession.

But buyer beware! There are a few things to keep in mind or questions you ask yourself before you throw your money into any investment based on the advice of someone – especially someone you don’t know.

No one knows where this market is headed – let alone any individual stock. The current financial crisis is evidence that not even the pros on Wall Street have a handle on the markets. This could be one of the riskiest times to put your money into the unknown.

Speaking of unknowns, who is providing the information on the stock? What is the track record of this individual? I always seek advice from someone who has been successful in whatever subject they are discussing (not just money). So, if the person dishing out the information retired from an investing career, it might be worth considering. Otherwise, be careful.

Be realistic. We have seen with the Maddoff scandal – and countless other examples – that if it seems too good to be true it probably is. Yes, we have heard this before, but the tough economic times are giving life to more scams and con artists than ever before.

Is the timing right for you? Given how hard the markets and our portfolios have been hit, is now the time to put your hard earned money into ’stock tips’?  We all are eager to make up for our losses, but there is (still) no quick fix. Building wealth is a lifetime endeavor. Don’t get yourself into deeper financial straits by trying to make up for the market meltdown. We all are hurting.

Final thought. Personally, I would rather see my financial or investment adviser tracking and researching the markets. I worry that someone who is texting stock tips or using social networking services may not be focused on the right activities. Markets move rapidly. Information changes even faster. I need and want an informed adviser – not a good sales person.

Copyright FELA, Inc. 2009
Ms. Career Girl, a Financial Education & Literacy Advisers company
www.themindsetforwealth.com

Resilience in Times of Economic and Career Crisis

I received the following Facebook message from someone I went to High School with today:

Nicole,

I am finding that my motivation to do my job is falling off little by little every day and the push to keep going and insure I am the best is becoming a greater challenge every day.

I am telling you this in hopes that you- one of the very few people who may understand my mentality that anything short of the best is not good enough- could offer some words of wisdom or bits of advice on how to push through it.

I find myself day dreaming of what it would be like to have a normal job, one that does not include the responsibility of keeping others employed, or having to continuously be an ass, or worst of all put up with two moron bosses that never communicate. You know, the kind of work where I have a few simple tasks a day and maybe a slightly difficult decision from time to time, and then I can go home to an average life…

Well hopefully you have some words of wisdom, because I’m running out of them…

-C.

I asked my friend if I could use his message for a post, because I’m almost positive a majority of twentysomethings feel hopeless about their job and career path at times.

First, the news has becoming depressing. Hearing about friends and family members losing their jobs and getting pay cuts is sad. Feeling the slow down of being in an industry that is highly dependent on the economy is scary. Seeing huge financial institutions fail, and their CEO’s making millions of dollars a year is bizarre. The fact that America is now considered “debt nation” and the government has to bail us out is awful. All of this “doom and gloom” has probably led many people to a small case of temporary depression!

As far as offering advice to this common situation, my first suggestion would be to take a few days off. Or maybe more if you can. Perhaps a little vacation would give you time to get your head together and either cope with the situation or pursue a new path.

Second, if you’ve determined that you are truly miserable accept that only YOU can change your situation. This may require going back to school, moving to a new city, quitting your job to pursue a new one, etc. Usually you will know if it is time to take the leap. My guess is that you will feel a million times better once you do.

Lastly, I think C.’s email brings up a VERY important topic: resilience. When talking to my business partner, Blake, over the weekend we emphasized how important this trait is when facing the challenges of building a solid business or career. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it- right? C. mentioned that “anything short of the best” is not good enough for him. If that is the case, he may need to accept that either a. he is not in the right job at all, or b. that being the best, or accepting the most difficult challenges are usually the most daunting and the least fun.

So why is resilience so important? Resilient people bounce back and don’t quit or give up easily. Their ability to keep going will eventually lead them to success. Resilient people can thrive and progress in difficult circumstances, and tend to get ahead when less adaptable people won’t.

After receiving C’s message, I wrote back and asked if I could post a response to his dilemma. He agreed and then wrote the following:

I asked my friend yesterday if he thought what is going on around us right now will affect the way our generation saves, works, changes… The way I see it is that we turning into our grandparents’ generation, that of the depression era. The mentality of working until your eyes are burnt, fingers are bleeding, and thoughts are worthless all to go to bed and wake up the next day to do the same thing. And for what? The fear that we will lose our jobs and be out of work for years to come?

That is a very interesting question that I hadn’t thought about before, but really it makes perfect sense. Living our twenties-a vulnerable time period in it self- while in a time of economic hardship and turmoil must affect the way we handle risk, finances and career choices. It seems that many of us are becoming paralyzed by fear, and therefore settling in many areas of our lives. It sounds like people like C. are hoping to hold on to anything that is stable and secure, even if it makes them feel like they are dying inside.

Gen Y is said to be a self-centered, free thinking and entrepreneurial generation. It’s almost ironic that Gen Y is also living through the present conditions we are. Perhaps it’s a big lesson we needed to learn.

Either way, my advice is to make choices that make you happy and keep looking forward. Be resilient and know that we are only in our twenties and have the rest of our lives to pursue more glamorous ventures.

Good luck to C and all others who are feeling this way!

How Technology Changed Dating

I had a great lunch with John Head yesterday in which we somehow got on the subject of dating and389361140_129554721e_m technology.

The topic came up after we discussed John’s experience with interviewing, hiring and firing Gen Y’ers who all seemed to have huge entitlement issues. John had some funny stories about Gen Y’ers. My favorite story was about a young male employee who refused to take down pictures of himself smoking marijuana from his Facebook page. Since the lad refused to take the pictures down, John asked him to disconnect with all company employees and clients as an alternative. The young man didn’t like this request either, and ended up quitting his job instead. Wow!

The point of his story was that in today’s world, your private life is no longer private. At any time, anyone can follow you on Twitter, Google you or check out your Facebook page. How does this new level of transparency affect dating and relationships?

I must admit, a few of my relationships ended due to things I found out via technology. I’ll let your imagination run wild with this one, but I will say, “Thanks a Million Technology!” you just saved me a lot of time and heartbreak.

Technology makes being shady easier AND more difficult at the same time. It’s so easy to strike up conversation with someone new via text or Instant Message and unexpectedly become sucked in. Yet it is also SO easy to get caught. All it takes is your significant other finding a few shady emails, or being confronted by your boyfriend’s mistress through a Facebook message…

2409341265_93268f3b43_m1How has Technology affected your dating and relationship experience? Do these scenarios sound familiar?

• When meeting a new guy, you text for two weeks before you meet in person or talk on the phone because it’s less scary.
• You are constantly distracted by your cell phone/PDA while you are out. Then you wonder why your guy doesn’t call you much the week after your date. Perhaps he thought you were totally uninterested in him AND rude.
• You use technology as an easy out rather than picking up the phone or dealing with an awkward situation in person.
• You find yourself trying to interpret text messages, Wall Posts, and Facebook Pokes to the point that you start to feel a bit crazy.
• You meet a cute guy at the bar one weekend and are now text buddies with him. You just got out of a serious relationship and have no desire to actually make this into anything, yet you enjoy the distraction from reality and keep it going just for fun.

Technology presents a whole new dimension of confusion, drama and complication to our love lives. Technology can be a friend and foe at the same time. On the bright side, we can assume that if something shady is going on technology will most likely bring it to light. On the downside, it’s easy to get mixed up in the implied meaning behind technology. My vote? When in doubt, pick up the phone and avoid technology in your love life as much as possible!