Category Archives: Quarterlife Crisis

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.

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!

Surviving Adult Children

I came across an interesting press release about a new website for parents who are dealing with immature adult children, called SurvivingAdultChildren.com. It sounds funny that there is now a support group for parents whose adult children still live at home with them, but as we’ve heard it is more and more common for Gen Y’ers to come back home and sometimes never leave. This is an interesting debate for me, because it is one I can see both sides of.

3020643003_76909156d1_mTo illustrate the website’s purpose, there was a video that shows a mother vacuuming, and then her 26 year-old son comes out at noon and basically says “I’m still sleeping Mom! Can you stop that!? Oh and can you help me with my car payment and cell phone bill this month too?”  Eek!!

Now that I do NOT understand! But the point is that there is enough of this happening in America for there to be a whole community created around it. According to the website, adult children who are living at home are causing a serious financial strain on their parents. It also says that some parents are afraid to let go out of “fear of rejection, losing contact with grand children and even physical abuse.” Seems a bit strange, no?

So my boyfriend and I got into this debate yesterday as we both have friends and relatives who still live with their parents. Luckily none of our friends or family are like the 26 year old in the video though! Both of us also lived at home for a while after graduating college and felt it was beneficial to get us started.

Here are a few of my thoughts on the topic:

• If you’re living at home so you can buy more purses, shoes and clothes that is not cool.
• If you’re living at home to save for a down payment on a condo/house, that is awesome! Just make sure you are really saving that money instead of taking your third trip to Vegas this year.

• If you are unsure about your career path or how long you will be at your current job, it might be smart to live at home so you aren’t locked into a lease.  Just remember that eventually you will have to take a risk and decide on something!
• If you live at home, you should pay “rent and utilities” to a money market account so that you become used to the financial burden and budget that living on your own will require when you DO move out. I would prefer if you couldn’t touch or see this money market account so you can’t tap into it. Remember, when you move out, you can’t “borrow back” your rent/mortgage payment.
• Make sure you are working towards an established goal otherwise before you know it the months and maybe even years will pass you by and you will have nothing to show for living rent-free.
• If you are living at home to pay down debt, put your debt payments on auto-debit from your checking account so that each month a pre-determined chunk of your income goes towards those. Don’t wait for the bill to come and “decide how much you feel like paying this month” otherwise you will never get rid of it.

Heather Huhman’s “How to Prepare for Your First Day of Work”

Check out Heather Huhman’s article “How to Prepare for Your First Day of Work” on examiner.com today.  I think this is a great topic.  Heather’s article presents a wide range of advice given by some great career coaches and bloggers you should definitely check out!

Notice my slightly contraversial piece of advice on this topic:

3. Go shopping. “Please make sure you know the dress code and are dressed accordingly. My biggest pet peeve in my first job was seeing girls who looked like they were ready for a night at the club rather than a day in the office. Ladies, watch your cleavage and thongs please.  Gentlemen, Abercrombie shirts may not cut it anymore,” said Nicole Crimaldi, founder of Executive Vision, Inc.

Money and Love

As featured on womenco.com!

For those who follow my writing, you know that I love drawing parallels between things that seem unrelated at first glance. Let’s investigate the ways in which women handle money affects their romantic relationships.

The way women think about money can be very emotional and typically transcends into every aspect of their lives. An underlying theme for many women is dishonesty. Women are often dishonest with themselves about money, saying they don’t need to worry about it or face it. Many women tell themselves “it will work itself out later”, or assume that eventually a guy will take care of it for them.

Women’s relationships with money tend to reflect their relationships with themselves and their romantic partners. We’ve all heard that the #1 cause of divorce in the United States is MONEY. It makes sense. For example, in a time of crisis, some women blame their husbands for not taking better care of things and not planning properly. Managing and planning finances is a lot of pressure for one person! Once something urgent happens, the downward spiral of arguing and personal attacks begins.

What about women who were taught that “money is the root of all evil”?  Last time I checked, if you want to provide opportunities to your family, you need money. If you want to care for your sick relatives, that healthcare costs money. If you want to send your kids to a better school or live in a safer neighborhood, you will need money. There is nothing greedy about wanting to take care of your family. Why are so many women conditioned to think that discussing money is inappropriate?

Are women afraid of being “too powerful?”  If women were brought up to believe in Cinderella stories, and taught that “money is a man’s job” or that “money is evil,” perhaps women are afraid that if they take control of their finances, they will be seen as too greedy or self-centered.

Women love getting others’ approval and making people happy. Are we afraid that if we get smart about money, we won’t be loved as much?

I am here to say that you can have a relationship with money and with your partner at the same time. In fact, psychologists say that “when a woman becomes financially independent, she gains self-assurance and peace of mind, and her relationships become healthier and more mature.” (Stanny, 50). Psychotherapist Annette Lieberman says, “those who take charge of their money develop the same qualities people need to enjoy sex: higher self-esteem, a sense of mastery, confidence and permission to enjoy pleasure.”

If your relationship with money is struggling, and you also hope to improve your love life, I hope you will relinquish the Cinderella myth and get real about your relationship with money. Stop waiting for someone with an extra piece of anatomy to take care of YOUR money and YOUR future. Stop blaming others for your relationship with money and start believing that YOU can do it!

3 Economic Principles You Can Apply to Your Life

Time to rewind back to Economics 101. The beautiful topic of Economics is based on the principal of scarcity: we have a limited amount of time and resources available to us and must make choices of how to allocate what we DO have. In college, this means balancing the 3 S’s: Sleep, Studying and Socializing. Take a look at the following three principles and think about how you can apply them to your own life.

Opportunity Cost

This balancing act presents an opportunity cost: what you need to give up to attain what you2384185522_71ae7b4334_m want. For example, you can choose to study for an exam or go party with friends. If you choose to study, your opportunity cost is partying with friends. Opportunity costs do not always have a monetary value associated with them, rather, the cost is: anything of value to the person assessing the situation including energy and time.

We are faced with many situations where evaluating opportunity cost can be very valuable. Here are some examples:

-Should I go to grad school that costs $X,000 per year, or continue at my job making $X,000 per year?
-Should I save that extra $100/month or put $100/month towards my high interest credit card debt?
-Should I go out to a trendy new restaurant with friends, or stay in to work on my freelance projects?
-Should I grow my side business, or put more hours in at my day job?
-Should I stay at this job or should I find a new one?

These are not questions that other people can answer for you. In order to make better decisions, you have to figure out what you value first. Perhaps easier said than done for most twentysomethings, when we are still in the stage of figuring out what we want and value. We are so accustomed to listening to our professors, parents and bosses. But, at some point we need to figure out what WE value and want for ourselves.

Sunk Costs

Sunk Costs are costs that are already incurred and cannot be changed regardless of what action we take. For example, a gym membership that you’ve never used or a car you’ve already purchased. A dangerous trap is the irrational thinking of “well, I’ve already put so much money and time into this so I might as well just keep going.” In many cases, this type of thinking leads to throwing “good money at a bad investment.”

Instead, it is more economically rational to think of your decision going forward and leave your past expenditures out of it; your money and time are already gone. From there you can determine your values and use the principal of opportunity cost to make your decision.

The Law of Diminishing Returns

1933599909_d5dde5519e_mThe law of diminishing returns states that if one factor of production is increased while the others remain constant, the overall returns will relatively decrease after a certain point. “For example, if more and more laborers are added to harvest a wheat field, at some point each additional laborer will add relatively less output than his predecessor did, simply because he has less and less of the fixed amount of land to work with.” (http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-diminish.html)

Here are some real life examples that might make more sense:
-Eating your 4th hot dog brings you less satisfaction than your first or second did.
-A drug addict needs more and more of a drug to feel the same pleasure he did from his first high to get the same effect.
-An extra hour of studying at 2am is less productive than your 1st hour of studying at 9pm was.
There are mathematic ways of calculating the point at which your action has less of an effect. The truth is, being aware of this basic principle should help you keep things in check in terms of spending money, buying too many new shoes, over eating, sleep, work etc. At some point the things you do in your daily life have a diminishing return.

Twitter Poll: If You Were 20 Again, What Would You Do Differently?

I decided to conduct a Twitter poll for some research on an article idea I have and found the responses quite interesting.

I asked my Twitter friends what they would do differently if they were 20 again. The rule was that they had to be over 30 to answer.

Here’s what they said:

How to handle debt/money. Ed Gallagher, Author, Blogger, @egallagher2k

I live by no regrets so even thinking about doing it over again doesn’t make sense. We are because of our experiences. Lost in Office Space, lostinofficespace.com, @LIOSinCT

I would handle the politics of my in-laws a whole lot differently….it’s total hell now.  Rachel Martin, mominreallife.blogspot.com, @rbmmom

Wish I’d known how young I was; I made too many decisions thinking there wouldn’t be other opportunities. Ann Smiley, Graphic Designer, @annsmiley

That the choices you make at 20 create your future. Better choices better future. Frumi Barr, MBA, Ph. D, Founder of Frumi & Associates, LLC, @Frumi

If I were 20 again, I would have taken advantage of my school’s study abroad program. Vanessa Abron, @VanessaAbron

If you stop thinking about it and just do it, it will catch on one way or the other. Do more think less. Jack Stands, @LASnark, LAsnark.com

What I wish I knew: If you are qualified and intelligent people will pay you for your services. Leah Dossey, Graphic Designer, Founder of Blueleaf Creative, @CreativeWisdom

And lastly, this response came to me in an email from Farrah Hoehne.

Hi Nicole,

Your blog is great. I wish I would have had access to your blog when I was just out of college!

There are a lot of things that I wish knew when I was in my 20’s!

First, I would have done an internship while I was in college to prepare and leverage myself in my career. Personally I’ve had 7 jobs in 10 years. While each of these positions have been a great learning experience and have allowed me to gain a very diverse background, I wish I would have decided that I wanted to work in advertising first and followed it throughout my career. I feel that I would have been able to work my way up the corporate ladder and be in a better position right now.

In college, I wish someone would have told me that a bachelor of science in marketing with a minor in French is more valuable and goes further than a bachelor of arts in French international marketing.

I started my job within 2 weeks of graduation as well. I went back home which was a great move but I wish that people would have engrained in my head that I should have taken advantage of traveling before starting work. I never thought that I would be working and counting down the days until vacation and just waiting for one day off!

I also wish that I would have decided to get my MBA in my 20’s. After a failed attempt at the GMAT, I gave up and decided to continue working. I would have gone part time while I was living at home. Since getting married, life just becomes more complicated and it is harder to think about going back to school when you want to have a family.

Last but not least, I wish I would have started working with a financial planner in my early 20’s so that I could set myself up for a more financially stable future. I should have been more aggressive with my 401K before 01 and learned how to scale back when the market was crashing. If I invested in a financial planner, I feel that I would have been able to organize my finances much better.   -Farrah

Thanks everyone for such great responses!  I found it interesting how diverse each person’s answer was.  Anyone else?