It’s Always Darkest Before The Dawn

The best kind of happiness is the kind that comes into your life when you least expect it. Between toxic relationships, endlessly job searching for months, anxiety, 2017 wasn’t the easiest year. But just like everything else, pros and cons go hand in hand. Although I struggled from time to time this past year, I also had a lot of great opportunities to experience and I’m so grateful to reflect on the better times because good always outweighs the bad.

I had the chance to visit a few new cities, spend a lot of time on the beach, read new books, focus on myself, start a new job and develop new friendships. I’m happy about everything good that has come my way, but I’m not entirely sad to see 2017 come to a close and I’m more than happy to embark on 2018.

As many of you know, I’ve had a difficult and defeating time seeking full-time employment this past year, which I know some people can relate to and I wish you all the best of luck in your process! However, I do not have to continue my search as I accepted a full-time offer right before the holiday. When accepting the offer over the phone, I literally said to the woman, “This is the greatest Christmas gift I’ve ever received”, and there is so much truth behind that.

The past few weeks, knowing that this is the last of my excessive free time, have been so stress- free and relaxing. The weight I feel has been lifted from my shoulders, from both external and internal pressures to find a full-time job, is indescribable.

As the saying goes, good things take time, and I guess time is what I needed. The past year and a half as post-grad have definitely been unconventional from the outside looking in, but I feel I’m right where I’m meant to be. I’m learning that as you get older, people’s opinions of your choices become more and more irrelevant, and I think that’s something everyone should keep in the back of their minds. I think my biggest regret of 2017 was caring so much about what everyone else thought and ignoring what I actually cared about. Maybe it’s easier said than done, but it’s an empowering feeling when you finally conquer this tactic.

Even though it’s just a change in date on the calendar, a new year can be an opportunity for change, growth and fulfillment. Although I don’t have a resolution, and I don’t normally do, I’m definitely more committed than ever to focusing on me in every way, shape and form. Whitney Port posted an Instagram that resonated with where I am right now and I couldn’t love it more.

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She captions the quoted picture with “Loving yourself isn’t only the greatest revolution, but the greatest resolution.”

Wherever you’re at in your life, don’t forget to love yourself. If you’re in a tough place or confused or lost, just remember, it’s always darkest before the dawn, as Florence and The Machine says.

Happy New Year!

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Why It’s Okay To Have An Unpaid Internship After College 

By: Shannon from You, Me & DC

You did it! You’re a college graduate. You finished your illustrious degree and you’re about to enter the real world. The only problem? The one place that wanted to hire you couldn’t bring you on as an employee and you’re stuck with an unpaid internship.

I get it. I’ve been there. I graduated with honors, was overly involved in college, had great work experience and yet nobody wanted me. I spent months applying and interviewing for jobs but would never hear back about full time paid work, instead I was offered an unpaid internship before I even finished the interview. I was flattered but that feeling didn’t last long. I felt snubbed, frustrated and frankly…really offended. I would struggle to fall asleep at night because I would constantly ask myself ‘What did someone else have that I didn’t?’ or ‘How could everyone else I know get a job, but I couldn’t?’ The world was against me but I had no other options. And maybe you don’t either. But that isn’t a bad thing.

An unpaid internship might put a bad taste in your mouth but grab a glass of water, rinse and spit because I am going to change your mind. An unpaid internship could be one of the best things you do with your post-graduate freedom.

A paying job that excites you and challenges you would be the goal but when that seems just out of reach, pivot and find what will help you get there the fastest. I’ve held salaried positions that left me bored and unsatisfied. Out of college, I took a job as an executive assistant at my dream organization thinking it would help me get my foot in the door. Instead, I was filing paperwork and running errands for higher ups while I watched unpaid interns doing real, substantial work. When I started graduate school, quit my full time job and entered the ~intern~ world once more, I found myself working on interesting projects almost immediately. It must be some unwritten rule but if you’re unpaid, the work you are assigned will likely be more meaningful.

Save for the internships that have you grabbing coffee exclusively (don’t do these), you will also be around the movers and shakers. You don’t need to be a salaried employee to become friendly with your coworkers. Unpaid internships are the best place to network. You are well placed to grab coffee with your director, chat up the technical advisors and pick the brains of the people who are in the job you day dream about. An unpaid internship is no one’s first choice but most people will understand if you’re using it as a stepping stone. You might not leave that internship with any money in your bank account, but you will be rich in connections. Connections can lead to job opportunities in the future and those opportunities come with a full salary and benefits.

If you’re trying to decide if an unpaid internship is worth it, ask yourself these two questions: Do I want to work here in the future? Does this organization align with my interests and values? If you answered yes to either of these questions, do it. When you take an internship at a company or organization that you identify with, you set yourself up for success. Maybe they are the foremost researcher in their field or you really connect with the company’s mission and values. These things matter and they are the things that will get you through the days when you’re working on something incredibly dull. It will also really help you keep a smile on your face when you have to head into Starbucks to work a second job to pay the bills.

The most important thing to remember is that it is temporary. If you hate it and it was a waste of time (been there), you can write it off as a learning experience and move on. If you loved it, maybe you find a way to stay until something paid opens up. In my experience, most organizations have more work than they have people. If you’re offering to stay as an unpaid intern, you’re not only going to earn brownie points, but also a strong network that will advocate for you when a salaried job opens up.

I am one of the most impatient people I know and when something isn’t working in my favor, I get frustrated. You probably do too. But put a smile on your face, volunteer for projects and keep looking forward because before you know it, you’ll have landed a really amazing job.

 

 

 

Your Setback Is The Platform For Your Comeback

It’s been one year since graduation, and I’m more unsure than ever of what my future holds. Crossing the stage, receiving my diploma I didn’t know what to look forward to, but after many setbacks this past year, it’s becoming more of a realization that life is just full of the unknown and it’s completely out of our control. Setbacks are a part of everyday life; whether they stem from anxiety, missed opportunity, hasty decisions, bad decisions, or the trials and tribulations of human life, they happen, and sometimes all we can do is embrace the mess and stay hopeful.

This year hasn’t exactly been easy, and at times I’ve truly doubted my abilities and worth. Anyone who has had to experience job searching post-grad can understand what I’m referring to. The time and energy we can spend applying for positions, the majority of them just being for the hell of it, usually lead us nowhere- not even a call back. So, maybe we thought finding a job would be easier, but we’ve come to know that even landing an interview can be an obstacle, or a setback.

Sometimes I’ve been presented opportunities that I’ve ran from or turned down because of my anxiety- anxiety regarding irrational things or petty fears, but if you’ve read the last two posts before this, you’ll know that anxiety is no joke and can sometimes cause self-inflicted restrictions that aren’t easy to settle. Although I’m dealing with these things day by day, it’s still caused setbacks.

Decision making can be tough, especially when it deals with life changing choices and not just deciding between which bars to go to this weekend. Making hasty decisions can lead to setbacks, because most of the time, it’ll be the wrong choice. It’s important to weight out the pros and cons of every choice before finalizing, but we’re only human and sometimes we trust our initial instincts more than we should.

Realizing you went to school for something completely uninteresting to you- setback; time to apply for grad school!

Having to live at home longer than you wished or thought you would have to- setback.

Still driving the car you drove in high school because your “adult job” salary can’t afford you to upgrade- setback.

Got laid off due to something completely out of your control- setback. 

Unfortunately, we are all just dealt a shit hand on occasion. We can work as hard as we can and still come up short. We’re put in situations that we’re forced to remove ourselves from, even when they just put us right back where we started.

It can often feel like we’re not progressing, achieving or experiencing, but that’s not true. Everyone has a different route to take, some may take longer to get to their destination, but we’ll all get to where we want to be. But guess what? I have no idea exactly where I’m going, and I’m okay with that. Life is constantly recalculating our plans with unexpected setbacks; whether it is you lose your job, the person you thought you would spend your life with ends the relationship, you get pregnant, you fail your program, someone gets sick, you get transferred out of state- the list goes on and on. But maybe that’s the point, right? Facing challenges, dealing with unexpectedness and tackling these problems every day is what we’re equipped for as humans. Nothing ever goes as planned, but that’s the exciting part of life, anything can happen- good or bad- and we just have to embrace it.

So don’t cry over spilled milk, just clean it up and pour another glass because something great is waiting to happen. But if we dwell on all of the annoyances in life, we’re just prolonging the destination.

Finding Your Identity

One thing that I think about often, is people who struggle with transition out of college and finding out who they really are. Let’s be honest, the four, sometimes more, years you spend in college do not shape you as an individual. They basically equip you with time management and social skills, if you’re lucky. So it can be eye opening to join the real world and not have any idea the type of person you want to be. Do you want to make as much money as possible? Do you want to help as many people as possible? Do you want to develop certain relationships with some more than others? Who do you want to be and what legacy do you want to leave?

Let’s slow down a little.

Just know that you don’t have to have the answers to any of these questions and most of us won’t know for quite some time. I still struggle with having sociopathic tendencies on a weekly basis. A lot of my free time is still spent wondering why I was such a dick in certain situations and why I have little to no filter. BUT I work at it every single day and compared to college where I was a full blown sociopath who didn’t care about anyone but me, I’ve come a long way. And that’s what it’s all about post-grad. Developing yourself little by little consistently every day until you look back, and after a year you’re able to think “Wow look how far I’ve come when I thought I was making no progress at all.”

It’s also important to understand that a lot of people will always see you as the person you were in college and their image of you may never change. It’s something that you have to accept and dismiss. If you live everyday with the drive to be better off today than you were yesterday, then there is nothing that can stop you because the only person you’re competing with is yourself. Don’t compare your jobs, don’t look down at others jobs and don’t put yourself down about your own job. Most people hate their first job right out of school and the “real world” is not like it’s made out to be where it all happens at once right after graduation. Some people will hit their stride out of the gates and others won’t hit it for a while. So live on the grind, compete against yourself and give positive enforcement to your friends. Some people will shit on your dream, or your job, or your decision to take a year off or whatever it is, but that’s because your vision isn’t theirs. You’re seeing everything through a different lens than everyone around you.

Just because you’re trying to find yourself and get control of the reigns doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Go out on the weekends- you can still even drink on Sundays, you’ll be surprised at how many people do. Go on trips- you have a steady income now and are able to do what you love. I love to write, so this is how I’m spending my Thirsty Thursday writing and watching the Yankees. Just have fun with it, whatever it is you do.

“Most people overestimate what they can accomplish in 1 year and underestimate what they can accomplish in 3.”

Substance Vs. Stability

As someone recently emerging from college, it can be hard to find a job you love, let alone a gig within your desired industry or field. There’s a constant, external pressure from society, or more specifically, your family and friends, to “get a job, any job”. And although this decision of settling for something will serve its primary purpose of paying the bills, it may not have substance, or any rewarding feeling for that matter.

It’s obviously far fetched to obtain a job within your desired field, or a “dream job” right out of college, but does that mean you should necessarily settle for something that will have you working 40+ hours/week with no substance in return? For some, this situation will be content for them, and kudos to them, truly. But for those of you who feel like they’re wasting away in front of a screen eight hours a day, performing jobs that hold no value to them, feel like they’re gaining no experience relating to where they wish to pursue their careers, and leave everyday feeling like their position holds no meaning, I understand. However, it’s hard to draw the line between when enough is enough since we do have hefty bills to pay and lifestyles to fulfill, but when do they paychecks become irrelevant in regards to your happiness?

It’s easy to keep a mindset that involves daily reminders to yourself that “it’s just my first job, this isn’t permanent, and I’m making good money”. And although I do think those are crucial prompts to keep in the back of our minds, the anxiety surrounding the mundane position you hold may still have the potential to effect your mood outside of work, take a toll on your own, personal happiness and leave you feeling empty and undervalued.  So, when do you decide to leave and find a role that fulfills you both financially and emotionally? That’s up to you to decide, because really, it’s all circumstantial to each individual’s life.

Some people want a conventional work life and are content with whatever 9-5 job pays them enough, and I appreciate those people for their determination and ability to subside with a role that they don’t necessarily have a passion for. But others may find that they’re not cut out for this lifestyle, and may have to turn to something more unconventional while waiting for something better to come along that will provide them with both substance and stability transpired in one.

Just because society has instilled this ideology of “getting a job, any job” for so may years, doesn’t mean we’re required to follow this road map that was laid out for us long before we were even born. We’re categorized as millennials and our role in society is to shake things up and change the precedent-ed way of thinking surrounding the working world.

I’m not saying quit your job if you hate it, that’s up for you to decide. But what I’m trying to convey is that there are other options aside from what you’re doing right now and it’s okay to be somewhat unconventional fresh out of college. If you relate tot his post in any way, think about what you’re passionate about, find a way to incorporate those interests into a profession and make a plan. We all have to start somewhere and we’re placed in a society where opportunity is all around us.