Category Archives: career women

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.

How Do You Stay Organized?

 By, Jessica Lawlor

As a student and future career woman, it’s extremely important to learn the fine art of organization.

Here are the three main ways I stay organized:

1. Planner– I write down everything in my planner: school assignments, meetings, appointments, weekend plans. I check each item off as I complete them. My planner is weekly, so I am able to look at the entire week ahead. I use my planner as an overview of everything I need to accomplish in a week.

2. “Everything” notebook- I have a medium sized notebook that I carry everywhere with me that I have fondly named, “my everything notebook.” Each week, I create a detailed to-do list with absolutely everything that needs to be accomplished before the week ends. I love the sense of accomplishment when I cross an item off the list. My to-do list differs from my planner in the fact that my list is more specific. I also write down possible blog ideas, story ideas, and general notes to myself in the notebook.

3. Google- I can’t even express how much Google has simplified my life. I am obsessed with my Gmail account, and use it to keep my e-mail organized. Gmail allows users to create labels for different activities or tasks. For instance, I have a label for homework, PRSSA, PRowl Public Relations, internship, and sorority. When an e-mail comes in, I tag it with a label, and if I ever need to find that e-mail again, I know exactly where to look.

I also love the ‘archive’ feature. I leave everything in my inbox, until I’ve replied or done whatever the email is asking, and once I’m finished with it I archive it. If there is something in my inbox, it means its unfinished business or I need to reply.

Also, the Google calendar feature is a heavenly application that allows you to color code activities, meetings, or events and place them on a calendar.

These are only three small methods I use to stay organized, so I took to my Twitter account to find out how some of my followers keep their lives together.

@daydreamwriter says, “A planner and a desk calendar.”

@mattsnod says, “My life exists on my iPhone. I’m so forgetful, I’d be lost without my iPhone synching my life.”

@jamielovely says, “Color coded tags in Gmail saved my life! It’s the only way my inbox stays somewhat organized.”

@courtney903 says, “There is ALWAYS a to-do list on a dry erase board in the house. That way I can erase and add and it never looks overwhelming.”

@jennips says, “I started using a DayTimer planner last year. I’ve been using it & it helps me keep track of things better so I get less sidetracked.”

@tomokeefe1 says, “Calendar, stickies, bookmarking, writing things down, and periodically cleaning everything up! Oh, and having a good memory.”

@heatherhuhman says, “Organization is all about knowing what you have to get done and by when – prioritizing is key.”

@kpricester says, “I keep a constantly updated calendar on iCal that I keep synced with my smartphone. And I plan every minute of my day, including TV.”

@jesshatchigan says, “I use Excel to track progress/action on multiple ongoing projects, and make daily to-do lists.”

What are the ways that you stay organized?

Jessica Lawlor is a public relations student at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. She is currently the Director of Public Relations for PRowl Public Relations, Temple University’s first and only student-run PR firm, and serves on the executive board of Temple’s PRSSA chapter.

Follow her on Twitter: @jesslaw
Check out her blog: PRowl Public Relations blog

Women and Money: Thoughts?

I have read Suze Orman’s popular book Women and Money and thought it had some great points.  Check out this video clip and let me know what you think.  Are women putting their needs last?  Are we putting ourselves “on the sales rack?”  Are we undervaluing what we do, therefore making the world view us as less valuable?

Financial Savvy is Sexy in 2009

Did you know that women could not obtain a mortgage without a male cosigner as recently as the 1970’s, even if they were head of their household? Neither did I.

Like most bank employees, I am required to complete monthly compliance training on different topics. The training I completed yesterday was on Fair Lending. I had NO idea that women were so discriminated against when it came to personal finance as recently as 30 years ago.

Business woman with moneyTake a look at a few of the facts I learned:

The Fair Lending laws were enacted to address a history of discrimination and preferential treatment in lending and the extension of credit. Here are some examples of discriminatory practices:

* In the 1970s, female heads of household could not obtain a mortgage without a male cosigner.
* In the 1970s, married women could not obtain credit in their own names.
* Throughout the 1970s, revolving credit accounts were automatically revoked when customers reached the age of 65.
These facts shocked me. Yet they also explained to me why so many women are/were groomed to believe that they would never need to be in charge of their own finances because a man would handle it for them. When banking law mandated that women could not obtain credit without a man, I guess women of past generations had to succumb to getting married or depending on their father if they ever wanted to buy a home. Is it these types of ridiculous and sexist laws that are partially responsible for the high level of divorce? (Did women assume financial freedom=marriage, even if it wasn’t ideal?) Is it these types of laws that bred generations of women who are financially illiterate?

Female financial literacy is a HUGE value of mine. I believe it leads to better relationships, more personal confidence and hapiness in women’s lives. Ladies: stop waiting for Prince Charming. If you are lucky enough to find one, remember that at any moment things could change and he is not responsible for thinking for you when it comes to YOUR money.

Ironically, I just started reading “Prince Charming Isn’t Coming: How Women Get Smart About Money” by Barbara Stanny, and I can barely put it down. I’ve always wondered what it is about personal finance that scares so many women away. Trust me, if you know about Christian Louboutins, the latest True Religion jeans, and the today’s gossip on Angelina Jolie, you are more than equipped to learn about credit scores, managing your debt and buying a home.

Please don’t squander away the rights that the women before us have worked for. Don’t take it for granted that you can be financially independent, buy your own home and get a credit card without a man. Think for yourself and get in control of your finances so you can pick your own Prince Charming for who he is rather than for how he can take care of your finances.

Jump Start Your Career by Becoming a Leader and Decision Maker

Want to kick butt in the career world? Then get comfortable making good and timely decisions. Leaders are known for being decisive and admitting their mistakes if they make the wrong decision. Fear of making a decision makes you come across as a bad leader.

2609730948_7617deb345_mMy motivation for writing this post comes from my own experience of improving my ability to make decisions. Growing up I really struggled with even the simplest decisions of what to order for dinner, what to wear and what my plans were for Saturday night. As I got older the decisions naturally became a bit more complicated. I’ve come a long way since then, but looking back I realize how much time can be wasted and opportunities missed when you’re indecisive.

Start small. Start mastering small decisions because small decisions lead to big decisions. Whatever you do, don’t avoid small decisions at work because they will quickly snowball into big decisions and leave you looking unreliable and unworthy of being a leader. If you’ve heard the expression “putting out a fire” in regards to a tough situation at work, you understand that disasters happen. It is much easier to put out a kitchen fire than a forest fire.

On a side note, I think this is a simple strategy that can be applied to almost any area of your life. I’ve started thinking this way when it comes to decisions about money “Those shoes are amazing, but do I want to deal with the bill later when my goal is to have no debt?” Or relationship decisions “I disagree with him on this so I will discuss how I feel now rather than blow up about it in a week.” Or if you’re single: “Why should I agree to drinks with Mr. Obnoxious when I know I’m not into him and never will be. He’ll probably get the wrong idea and keep calling. I will run out of excuses so I should probably cut off communication now.” Nip it in the bud ladies; start small to avoid being in a big jam later.

Back to decision making in the workplace. Women need to be especially aware of their decision-making ability so they are not seen as pushovers, too emotional or too docile to deal with the aftermath of making a decision. Leaders who make good decisions do so in a timely, decisive and courageous manner.

Another trap I think young career women, including myself, fall into is asking others for their opinion. Keep in mind that these other people are coming from a completely different frame of reference than you are and ultimately this is your decision. Us Gen Y’ers are guilty of needing constant feedback and support. There are going to be times when you’re on your own. Girls with guts get ahead.

Lastly, remember that you do not need to have ALL the information to make a good decision. Having all the information is unrealistic so get used to having ENOUGH information and go from there. There is always more than one answer to any problem.

I will share another personal example. In my first job out of college, I was in sales and would constantly analyze the prospect’s financial situation and start crunching numbers and googling the company they worked at before I picked up the phone. I would waste so much time doing this because I felt that I needed to know every possible fact in order to answer to the prospect’s questions. When I would finally make the phone call, I would get their voice mail 99% of the time while my co-workers had already made 4 phone calls. I was so hung up on knowing all the facts that it ended up putting me behind my co-workers who were willing to pick up the phone knowing enough facts to get through the call.

I came across the following list of skills that leaders use in an article written by Moya K. Mason. I think this is a great list to take into consideration if you want to start being seen as a leader.

1. The ability to accept people as they are, not as you would like them to be.
2. The capacity to approach relationships and problems in terms of the present rather than the past.
3. The ability to treat those who are close to you with the same courteous attention that you extend to strangers and casual acquaintances.
4. The ability to trust others, even if the risk seems great.
5. The ability to do without constant approval and recognition from others.

Challenge yourself to be more decisive today and see how it goes. I have a feeling you will quickly feel more in control and respected by those around you.

Think Like a Bitch, Don’t Act Like One.

You’re a smart, passionate and talented woman. You rock at what you do and are not afraid to show it. When does being savvy turn into being bitchy? Is it bad to be a bitch in the workplace?

Back in the day, aggressive opinionated women were very rare. Therefore, women who were somewhat “bitchy” tended to get ahead. Now that there are several ferocious females in the workplace, being a bitch is a dime a dozen and our strategy needs to be tweaked.

Here’s my take on this:

Always think like a bitch. No one is going to get you where you want to be, recognize you or give you what you want unless you request it and go get it.

Back your “bitch” up: stay consistent, deliver results and be dependable at work.

Don’t act like a bitch. Acting like a bitch is not going to get you anywhere. It will push people away. Your co-workers won’t respect you as a leader nor will they want to be on your team for the next project. Others will assume you are out for yourself rather than to carry out the company’s vision. No one will confide in you or give you information at the water cooler about things you probably want to know.

Be smart and savvy instead of bitchy. Pick your battles very carefully. Don’t be afraid to have an opinion or ask for things, but proceed with caution.

If you are in a frustrating situation with a co-worker or boss, I suggest that you:

· Clarify their expectations

· Wait

· Ask more questions

· Then acknowledge the other persons feelings before trying to get what you want.

Although it temporarily feels liberating to be a bitch, don’t do it. The negative consequences that follow will set you back. Like they always say, you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” Keep this in mind next time you want to be a bitch at work!

Today is “Clean out the Negativity” Day

Everyone knows that one person at the office (or really anywhere) that may be referred to as “the cancer” of the group: the person who is constantly negative, having an issue about something or someone at work and complaining about everyone around them.

I strongly believe that attitude is contagious. Therefore, don’t let this person bring you down! If you are hoping to be seen as a leader or someone who is working hard to achieve the goals of the organization, don’t become closely associated with this “Negative Nancy.” Others will assume that since you like and hang out with them, you must have the same attitude that they do.

When I first graduated, I was guilty of being way too nice to everyone at the office because I wanted to be seen as a friend to all. Being Miss Nice only lead me to hearing way more than I wanted to know, wasting time and energy, along being left with toxic feelings of negativity.

Misery loves company. Stay focused on your goals and bring a positive attitude to work with you every day. When people know that you will be positive and strong, they will stop bothering you and start respecting you.

If you’re a believer in images2The Secret” (I’ll admit, I’m a little obsessed ☺) you know that your thoughts determine your feelings, which then turn into your actions and the outcome of situations in your life.

If you have draining people in your life, distance yourself from them now! And then sit down and make sure your thoughts are aligned with what you want so that you don’t attract these types of people again. Start thinking positively and good things will come- Try it today!