Tag Archives: careers

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!

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

2009 Grammy Looks

2009-grammy-awards-best-dressed-6 One of my favorite looks of the night was Carrie Underwood’s gorgeous nude colored gown. I absolutely love her makeup and simple hair style. Her highlights and white teeth are so bright that she seems to glow. Carrie did an awesome job performing live too!

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Katy Perry. Hmm…not sure what to say here. Love her lip color, and would like to know how to get my hair to have those cool 40’s waves. The dress…well, I think it would be a better look if it was not that 80’s pink color. An off white, black or red would be better suited for such a busy ensemble. I do like the slight mermaid bottom but overall I think there is just wayy too much going on here.

I will say this odd look is better than her performance costume which consisted of green flats and a short Las Vegas show looking get-up with sequences and glimmering fruit all over it. Katy seemed to struggle with moving around the stage and singing at the same time. After seeing her fashion and live performance, I would put her into the one hit wonder category.

48_mia I have mixed feelings about performing live at the Grammy’s on your due date, but either way, go M.I.A.! There’s no doubt that MIA’s first born is one lucky baby to have such a hip Mom who had the “guts” to get up there and show the world how proud she was to be a mother. It was nice to see someone with a little meat on her bones too, by the way!

17_jordin_sparks I’m totally in love with Jordin Sparks but am breaking up with this dress. Not a good look for anyone, let alone someone who is as tall as Jordin. It looks a bit like a huge tablecloth to me. I especially don’t like the cut-out piece that comes up beyond the neckline, nor do I like that it is a full length gown. I do have to say I’m sad that “No Air” didn’t win Best Pop Collaboration. Jordin is totally deserving and talented.

12_kim_kardashian2Kim Kardashian. If dating football players and being bootylicious is enough to get you to the grammy’s then you might as well do it up. Although I have NO clue why Kim was at there, I think her Grammy’s look deserves an honorable mention. She pulls off a classy, elegant, classic movie star look. I love her glamour earrings, her pulled back Audrey Hepburn hair style, eyelashes and the gown she’s wearing.

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Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus did an awesome job on their live duet performance AND with their classic black Hollywood gowns. Miley Cyrus has been criticized for not dressing her age, but I thought her Grammy gown was perfect for her. I loved Miley’s hairstyle as it showed her fun personality and youth. I found myself checking out her hair color and highlights, and think they are a great fit for her skin. They seem to have a warm honey tone and the little bit of blonde highlights add dimension. As for Taylor, I’m getting a bit bored of her small spiral curls look but I suppose it does fit her style and “first love” type of songs. I think this dress definitely gave her a bit more credibility as someone who is here to stay. I really liked the way her eyeliner was done too. It almost changed the shape of her eye. I’m a huge fan of the “cat eyes” with simple eye shadow and understated lips. She looked more like a woman- good job girls!

2009-grammy-awards-best-dressed-15Jennifer Hudson. My favorite girl of the night, and of the last two years really, Jennifer did an unbelievable job on her live performance. She also won best R&B Artist. Her acceptance speech was short, to the point and so real. She was teary, nervous and seemed to prepare her words on the fly. I enjoyed how authentic it was. I hate saying anything even slightly negative about J-Hud, but I must say I didn’t totally understand her dress choice. I know these types of dresses are super trendy right now, but the top looked a little too napkin-esque for me. I think the dress would be ok at any event except for the Grammys. Great job Jennifer. You are an inspiration to the world and evidence that the American Dream really can come true!

Leave the Drama at Home: Personal Issues and Your Day at the Office

369014983_153e8b24e6_mOne of the biggest challenges young career women face is leaving their personal lives away from the office. Up until your first job, it’s totally normal to vent to everyone around you about the breakup you are going through with your boyfriend, the fight you are in with your best friend, or how rough you are feeling from going out last night. Unfortunately this type of talk is not well suited for most work environments if you are hoping to be seen as a leader and a professional.

It is inevitable that we are all going to go through rough patches at home or in our personal lives. The challenge is not bringing it to the office. Going through some of these things for the first time in Corporate America myself was difficult and taught me some important lessons about balancing personal issues with your job.

First, there will be good days and bad days. The bad days are REALLY bad, and you may feel like you can barely function at work. This may mean catching up on filing or organizing to stay active. Make sure you aren’t doing something that requires tons of “brain power” or attention to detail if you are having a terrible day, because chances are you are distracted and will make some big mistakes, leading to more stress later.

Second, don’t recruit your co-workers to participate in conversation about your personal drama. Women often feel healing through talking about what is bothering them. Unfortunately, this is usually not ideal while at work. Not only do you look stupid, but it’s a waste of time and eventually everyone is going to get sick of hearing the latest update of what’s going on. Soon enough your co-workers will start avoiding you like the plague, consider you immature and unfocused.

Third, as tempting as it is to email your friends and family about how you are feeling all day, you are better off closing that personal email and focusing on work. Why? Because nothing is going to change by 5pm. Also, the more you start emailing, the more you get sucked in. Time will vanish; you will be behind on your work and worse off from where you started. Before you know it, your bosses and clients are upset with you for things you forgot to do thanks to your emailing spree, and you feel even more stressed out and upset then you did to begin with.

Lastly, do nice things for your self to get through the day. For me, this means getting a manicure at lunch, stopping at Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks on the way to work, or taking a walk at lunch. If you’re going through a breakup, remember to think about all the movies that feature girls who went through bad breakups and then ended up better off for it (Legally Blonde, The Holiday).

If you’re going through something personal, no one expects you to be perfect. It’s inevitable that people have bad days. Just try your best to put a smile on and stay as focused as you can. If things get really terrible, it may be best to take a day off to clear your head. The last thing you want is for your co-workers or superiors to think that you are incapable of doing a good job at what you were hired to do.

Tales of “Woe” from Girls Who Date Bankers

My sister sent me a link to a New York Times article which I found as oddly addicting and bizarre as an issue of US Weekly. The article is called, “It’s The Economy, Girlfriend.”
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The article highlights a group of twentysomething aged women in New York City who started a support group called “Dating a Banker Anonymous” and a blog. The women who started DABA noticed their romantic relationships with investment bankers and traders tanked with the economy. The women said that as the economy went down, the stock market shed points, and jobs were being cut on Wall Street their sex lives, gifts and date nights were cut as well.

Their blog is totally funny and addicting. Women write in to tell their dating stories and misfortunes of having their trips to foreign countries cut, their bottle service being eliminated and how sad it is that someone would want to move to the Midwest for a more affordable lifestyle. There is even a story that mirrors a segment that aired on Good Morning America yesterday which tells the story of a 24 year old girl who is dating a married millionaire who enjoys trips and designer gifts from her “sugar daddy.” When he is faced with having to eliminate 20 people at work, all of which have children to support, she whines that he isn’t getting her enough stuff anymore.

Although the stories are fun to read, they definitely make me question what was significant enough about these stories of “misfortune” and high expectations to make the New York Times?  While most of America is losing their job, their home and their retirement accounts, the New York Times is highlighting a tiny group of twentysomething ladies who are no longer receiving Louis Vuitton bags, bottle service, Manolo Blahniks and trips to Italy from their boyfriends. Seems out of balance. Apparently the public is ready for an escape from reality though, which might explain why these girls already got a book deal.

The concept that the DABA girls created is absolutely entertaining. Unfortunately, I don’t think it promotes financially savvy and independent women. Then again, the girls’ experiences of dating rich men was enough to get them a book deal and perhaps they can start buying their own Louis Vuittons now!

Beware of the Newest Credit Card Game

ABC’s Good Morning America aired an interesting segment today about credit card companies that are looking at the places people shop to determine credibility.  So for example, if the credit card company’s data shows that a high percentage of people who shop at XYZ Store don’t pay their bills on time, some companies are using this as a reason to significantly cut customer’s credit limits without warning. 

The subject of the segment was a man named Kevin Johnson, a 29 year old who owns a PR Firm in Atlanta and has stellar credit (a 764 FICO score).  He had been a loyal American Express user when he received a letter saying his credit limit was lowered from $10,800 to $3,800.  Ken says he rarely kept any balances on his credit cards and has always paid on time.

This new twist is called “behavioral analysis” or “behavioral scoring” and it seems quite unfair.  Apparently this is just another way for credit card companies to assess their risk during the recession.  It’s a bit strange to me, especially for those who are trying to save money by shopping at a discount store or for those who have always been loyal paying customers. 

The other weird part of the story is that American Express received more than $3 billion in taxpayer money from the “Troubled Assets Relief Program,” yet they are choosing to cut off great customers like Kevin Johnson.  It is the Kevin Johnsons of the world who are paying the taxes to fund thse bailout programs…

I guess the moral of the story is that in a battle between a single consumer and a huge credit card company, the credit card company is going to win.  During times like these, we as consumers need to remember that we can’t count on using our credit card company’s money to get by.  They have the right to revoke our privileges at any time.

Read the whole story here for more details.