Tag Archives: Your First Job

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.

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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.

Day Trading and The Quarterlife Crisis

By, Jack Cosier

I am a commodities trader. I never thought I would enter this world of ups and downs. Although you may be surprised, my profession parallels the emotions and feelings behind the quarter-life crisis. Even more importantly, trading has taught me how to manage and express these emotions to positively enhance my productivity.

2757635571_98ba2533ffFirst, the emotions behind trading are huge. Many traders claim trading is 90 percent psychological. It’s about being mentally prepared for losing, maintaining a positive temperament, and knowing that every execution will not strike gold. I have seen these ups and downs second-hand from my father, a trader for 30 years. Whenever he let the stress of a bad day get to him, it snowballed; he would get discouraged about one trading day which led to a bad week, month, and so on. When I got into trading I made sure I maintained a positive attitude and confidence in the system I was taught; if I stayed disciplined in these areas I would eventually be successful.

These emotions and feelings are similar to the definition of a quarter-life crisis:

An emotional crisis in one’s twenties with anxiety and self-doubt following academic life (dictionary.com).

To me, this “crisis” is 100 percent psychological, and correlates with the “law of attraction.” Embarking upon a new stage in one’s life brings with it a lot of uncertainties and self-imposed high expectations. However, these anxieties are easily tamed with positive thinking, which will help maintain control of the future.

Like trading, there are ups and downs when striving for a successful career or life. Most importantly, in order to truly take advantage of “good trades”, we need to brush off the bad ones. If we are unable to do that, any chance of moving forward in a positive direction is hindered . The more we dwell on something not going our way, the longer we prevent ourselves from making that negative happening/occurrence a distant memory. Instead, brush it off quickly, think positive thoughts and use them to fuel your next action, idea, etc.

Believe me, I know it’s not the easiest task to just immediately forget about something not going your way. Human nature seems to force us to keep dwelling on it. I know this through and through as a result of trading. Example: I have had many days where I just miss capitalizing on a particular trade. When I started trading, my reaction to these instances was not positive, as I would shake my head in frustration and get annoyed. Then I learned, “How can you get mad at the market?” Just keep doing what you’re doing and it’ll eventually work in your favor. I now try my best to shrug it off and keep a short memory about missed opportunities or small losses.

Yes, I’m still learning to organize these ups and downs as far as trading is concerned. But, I’ve realized it’s not a sprint, rather a marathon, just like our careers. Success doesn’t happen instantly. The lottery has one in 18,000,000 odds for a reason (savingadvice.com); instant wealth and success typically do not happen in one minute.

Stay patient. Keep grinding. Stay focused on the light at the end of the tunnel. Clichés such as looking at the glass as half-full are excellent tools to help keep yourself motivated. Believe me, they work. Keeping a positive attitude despite tough breaks is a tall task. But, if you find a way to manage the breaks and turn them into something productive, you’ve set yourself up for success in any facet of your life.

Good luck to everyone. I welcome comments on this post, and I urge you all to stay positive in your endeavors.

Jack

Jack is my wonderful and amazingly supportive boyfriend.  Watching him grow as a person and find his career niche over the past year has been an awesome experience!