Tag 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.

Checking in on Your 2009 Goals and $10 a Day

So it’s already February, and I have to ask:  how are those New Years’ Resolutions and 2009 goals going?  Most people fall off the wagon 6 weeks into the New Year.  Don’t let it be you!

 

Most of us (me included) set goals to get financially AND physically fit this year.  It’s not as easy as it seems, is it?!  Well, I’m here to be the annoying person who gives you your February “Reality Check” to help you stay on track. 

 

I was scanning my book shelf the other day to gather ideas for this post and came across Jean Chatzky’s book, “Pay it Down,” which I purchased at the peak of my over-spending days.  The book is based around the idea that you can get out of debt on $10 a day. 

 

I’m a huge believer that debt and overspending can be traced back to psychological factors and/or personal insecurities.  So before we get to the part where we find that $10 per day, I must ask: How did you get into debt in the first place?

 

For many women, the reason is simple: we needed to fill the gap of what we make and what we need to live.  For many others, we had inadequate savings to bail us out of an emergency.  Lastly, many women have a spending problem.  Although society constantly makes jokes out of shopping too much, i.e. the new movie “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” it is a serious problem for many.  Retail Therapy is a topic that deserves its own post, but in the meantime consider if you may be guilty of this “disease.”  Regardless of your reason, identify it so you can stop history from repeating itself in your life!

 

Did you follow my advice and get out ALL of those icky credit card statements at the end of 2008?  What did you see?  If you haven’t done this yet, you need to.  You should know exactly how much debt you have, and how much debt you’d like to end 2009 with.  Yes, a number is required here.  You aren’t allowed to say “I want to have less debt and more savings” because that is not a clear goal that you can work towards. 

 

Back to finding an extra $10 a day.  The obvious answer is to cut lattes and going out to lunch but for many American’s, this isn’t the answer.  We like to get out of the office and we have a Starbucks addiction, fair enough.  $10 a day is about $300 per month.  I took inventory of my own spending habits and wanted to share ways that I found an extra $300 per month to put towards debt or savings:

 

  • Going out.  My biggest spending weakness.  I’m not at ALL saying don’t go out.  Live it up, have fun but just keep an eye on it and maybe limit the # of nights you go to the bars if it’s cutting into your pay check too much.
  • Books.  I can’t stop buying books on amazon.com!  I suppose this is a healthy way to spend money, but I’ll admit sometimes I buy more books before I’ve even started reading books from my last order.  Perhaps I should consider going to the library for FREE…
  • Gym Membership.  Jean Chatzky says that if you use your gym 0-1 times per week, then it may be time to cancel it because you are wasting money.  This is a matter of personal values and choice.  For me, I can’t imagine life without my gym, but if you aren’t using yours consider cutting it.
  • Travel.  Don’t go unless you can pay for your ticket in full.
  • Hair.  Platinum blonde is super expensive.
  • Manicures/Pedicures.  Do you really need them every week?

 

You get my drift.  In order to reach goals, you will need to identify your weaknesses and hang up’s.  I don’t want you to start living like a pauper who wears ugly clothes, has roots and never goes out-gross!  I don’t think that is realistic.  Find out what you value, and maybe have less of it.  If you really can’t part with being blonde, for example, find a way to spend less on being blonde, or better yet find a way to make more money (yes, part time jobs are GREAT!) so that trips to the salon are no longer a burden you need to charge on your credit card.

 

I’d love to hear more of your ideas on how you can save $10 a day (or $300 per month) because I know there must be a thousand ways to do it.  I could use the advice just as much as any other girl could.  Please share your thoughts!

 

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

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.

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!