Advice From Abroad: Travel, Travel, Travel!

As I’ve commented before, everyone’s life after college is going to look different as there are a plethora of lifestyles to live. While surveying different people on their post-grad life, I’ve been choosing people strategically to sharpen these differences and bring into focus why it’s so important to remember that everyone’s path is different after getting that diploma.

“I think that there is a general expectation, or maybe hope, that after you graduate college, you will have it all figured out.  For some, that may be true, but it certainly was not for me.  I knew where I wanted to be, but I had no idea how to get there.  I still feel that way.  There is a lot of undue pressure put on new college graduates.  As obvious as this may sound, you figure it out as you go and that is more than okay.” – Kate, Graduate Student in Edinburgh, Scotland.  

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Initially I was curious how she ended up in Scotland, as she is native to Philadelphia, so she gave me a brief background on what she did right after graduation from La Salle University. “I went on a service trip through La Salle to Kenya for three weeks, where I was inspired to fully pursue the course of study I am presently undertaking (international relations).  I continued to work at the Independence Visitor Center in Center City, Philadelphia where I worked for three years throughout college.  During that gap year, I applied to graduate schools throughout the UK.  I traveled with my mother to Belfast and Edinburgh to visit the two prospective schools I was torn between but now, here I am in Edinburgh!”

So basically, travel is in Kate’s blood and she wants to urge recent graduates to consider their traveling options now while they have the chance. “Please travel! It may be the first instance where you have a large amount of time to do so. There is no better way to connect with other people in this world and yourself.  I can promise you that you will never regret the money spent on making memories while traveling.”

Any transition, small or large, is going to be challenging so I asked her what her what her expectations were for post-grad life upon graduation and Kate commented that, “I knew it would be hard to transition from being a student for 16+ years to not being a student.  However, no one quite prepares you for that first August/September when you are not back in a classroom.  Personally, that was a tough adjustment because being a student was something I felt I was good at.  I had to figure out who I was without the “student” label.  A year out of school can feel like an eternity and adjusting back into being a student can feel just as strange, especially in a foreign academic system.  I still haven’t quite found the academic rhythm I used to have, and I am not sure I will.  However, I sure am having a lot more fun than I did throughout my undergraduate years and that sure is the best surprise!  I’ll take the memories made with awesome people over top marks any day and that has been the best realization I’ve come to in my post-grad years.”

Which I then followed up by asking what she found to be recurring frustrations surrounding her life right now which she answered, “This is probably a cliché answer, but I would have to say the uncertainty of what to do next.  I think at least once a day about how I am spending a lot of money on a fancy piece of paper that is a master’s degree to not be sure of whether or not I will be able to use the knowledge and skills I hope I am acquiring in the professional world.  That is a risk all students take who are pursuing higher education. You have to factor reality into your goals and sometimes that can be quite discouraging.” 

There is definitely something daunting about her last statement, but it definitely holds a lot of truth. However, hearing other people voice the same thoughts that I have in my head makes it somewhat less discouraging because it brings me to the realization that there is this whole community of twenty-somethings facing the same confusion and questions, and that makes post-grad life a little less extreme.

Although Kate stressed multiple times in her survey that she loves everything that is embodying her life right now, as humans, we still face obstacles. Kate added that, “The biggest obstacle I feel I faced and continue to face is myself and the own pressures I put on myself.  I have fallen into episodes of “Imposter Syndrome” where I did not give myself credit where credit was due.  My first postgraduate semester at the University of Edinburgh was a bit tough because of this.  It took me a while to feel that I deserved to be among my peers.  I wouldn’t say that I would do anything differently, but I wish I would not have psyched myself out so much and accepted that moving at your own pace or feeling like a rookie in new situations is perfectly fine.”

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It was interesting to see this answer come up because in the previous survey I conducted from a grad school student, their answer was pretty similar.

In addition to her advice on travel, Kate also encourages college graduates to keep in touch with former professors.

“After graduating, keep in touch with professors who have had a positive impact on your academic experience during your undergraduate education.  They will love to know what you are up to and love it even more if they knew how they have inspired you.  You will need them later as well if you intend to pursue postgraduate education and they will most likely be more than happy to help.”

Kate’s life in Edinburgh is a life that one should admire. Seeing all of her pictures from traveling to different countries throughout Europe makes me jealous but also so proud of her for having the courage to do something most cannot, which is moving out of your comfort zone and finding a home away from home on your own.

I asked Kate to leave me with some quotes she lives by and this one seems fitting.

“You’re looking at a middle-class guy. I am who I am.” – former Vice President, Joe Biden.

“I am proud of where I come from and the family I come from.  There is nothing I love more in this world than my family, friends who are family, and the city of Philadelphia.  I am a firm believer in the importance of remaining true to yourself and your roots.”

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

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Job Interviews: Why They Can Be Awkward, Stressful and Disappointing

Interviews typically happen in different stages; phone, in person and follow-up. In some cases, the company may just require a one time meet and greet, others can be more extensive. I’ve been through them all multiple times and can say with full confidence that every one is different. And to be even more direct, some are just really fuckin’ weird.

I’ve heard horror stories, and also witnessed some, so I wanted to talk about some of my experiences on here and reiterate that I didn’t let these rare occurrences discourage me from continuing my job search.

Over the summer, I had applied to what seemed like a really modern and upcoming marketing firm, and was super excited to get a call back that they wanted to conduct a phone interview.

Now, in the past, the phone interviews I’ve been selected for basically consisted of the representative of the company providing more information about the company and position, as well as some general questions such as, “Where have you been working since graduation?”, “What provoked you to apply for this position?”, “Do you have experience?”, etc. The conversation is generally short and they do most of the talking.

So, when I picked up the phone for this interview, I was a little thrown off when there were three other people on the other end.

It began quite normal for the first few minutes until they threw curve ball at me asking for my criticism in regards to their Instagram page. Luckily, I had checked their page out prior to the interview, but how are you supposed to respond to a potential employer when they ask for your honest feedback on their work?

To be honest, I thought maybe it was a trick question so I tried responding with a double-sided answer subtly, but they didn’t like my response. I don’t even remember how I worded it but basically I told them that they had good content but too many posts with just quotes and words.

Don’t ask for criticism if you can’t accept it.

Then they continued to ask what brands I followed on Instagram. I was stumped. I mostly follow friends, families and select celebrities and maybe one or two clothing stores that post frequently about sales.

At this point I couldn’t wait to get off of this call and luckily, it didn’t go much further.

About a month later I received another call for an in-person interview at a different company for the position of a Marketing Assistant. The only thing on my mind after leaving was: pyramid scheme.

Walking into their lobby, something immediately felt off as they were blasting techno music at 9 AM on a Monday and the first thing you see walking in is a ping pong table.

The interviewer came out, greeted me and escorted me to a room with nothing inside with the exception a table and two chairs. I felt like I was in an interrogation room.

The interview lasted maybe under 10 minutes and he didn’t once ask me anything about myself or my background, yet thought I was a “great candidate for the role” and asked me to come back again tomorrow for a second round of interviewing.

After he basically sugar coated that this was a door to door sales role and began talking about some irrelevant YouTube video, I knew I was never coming back. There were red flags everywhere.

Although I was desperate for a job, I wasn’t this desperate.

The third one I want to talk about was when I interviewed for an Administrative Assistant position in a corporate headquarters for a bank. I didn’t even remember I had applied because at this point in my job search I was just shooting out resumes everywhere, I couldn’t keep track of who I was sending them to anymore.

The woman who called me basically hyped me up primarily only talking about the pay and benefits, which were extremely enticing. And although she thought I was great candidate for this position, the two women I interviewed with 2 weeks later in person, did not.

It was an extremely awkward interview followed by two written tests which I was not forewarned about. Definitely bombed the one.

There were a few more interviews that followed that last one which were all relatively normal but required more experience than I had, but it’s okay because I persevered and found the position I’m currently in now and I’m very appreciative.

Lesson learned that you’re not going to land every job you interview for and sometimes, you probably luck out by not getting the job. If there are obvious red flags from the start, don’t take it and get yourself into something not worth your time, there’s always going to be something better down the road.

In addition, there are some really useful tips and advice for interviewing on the internet and my best advice is to just be prepared, research the company you’re applying to, print your resume prior to the interview, over dress, and most importantly, be yourself.

Good luck to anyone going through this frustrating process, it will be worth it in the end!

 

 

 

 

 

College Life to Mom Life

I remember being so jealous of Maureen’s life in Los Angeles, it was the definition of living vicariously through someone.

She was studying at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (where LC went for any Hills fans), living in an apartment building with a roof top pool, meeting celebrities like Mariah Carey, partying at high end clubs, and working in fashion day in and day out. She was living out my sixteen year old dreams that were based off of Lauren Conrad, and as her best friend, I couldn’t have been more happy.

 

During college, as well as after she moved home too, Maureen was presented with various experiences, tribulations and opportunities. Although our undergrad years were drastically different, post grad life hit us like a brick wall.

‘What now?’

That haunting question that keeps you up at night, the one that is impossible to silence, struck Maureen upon moving home to Philly.

While reflecting back on what her initial expectations were for life after college, she notes that she thought it consisted of “freedom, partying and doing whatever you want, which does happen during a short window of time, but reality hits when you’re back living with your parents, loans kick in and you’re basically forced to find a full-time job. You have to grow up really quick.”

Stress is something that is inevitable for all of us, and Maureen often finds herself stressing over is being too hard on herself even when she realizes she shouldn’t be. On a more professional level, she stresses about not being in complete control which is why she hopes to one day be her own boss.

And speaking of stress, she advises all soon-to-be grads, to NOT stress and cherish the last moments of college life and have fun. “Whatever you’re stressing about will eventually be over with sooner or later. Don’t worry about getting your dream job right away. Do what works for the time being and the right job will come at the right time.”

So now three years out of college, Maureen has not only found the right job, she found her dream job: becoming a mom, which she comments is both the toughest and most rewarding job in the world.

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When talking about parenthood, I asked Maureen if she felt that others view her only as a mom now and no other role, and she responded by saying, “Yes and no. I think more so yes for those who don’t know me very well. I think people innocently assume that moms are just moms because they might not know any better. They assume that your life only consists of your child, which is pretty accurate because your child will always be your whole life, but they have no idea what you do outside of your kids. Some are so quick to assume that moms do nothing but be moms. I think being a young mom makes it harder for people not to judge me. Age is just a number, your actions show the kind of mother you are. I defy this stereotype by just being myself. I still do the things I want to when I can and it works. My boyfriend and I are truly an amazing team. Without someone by your side who truly loves you, parenting would be a completely different ball game.”

I admire and respect Maureen for balancing everything she does. While living in New York she had the opportunity to work for Armani, now she works at a high-end bridal boutique in Philadelphia which she comments on and says, “it’s a different side of the industry that I never saw myself falling into but I enjoy being able to be a part of a girls big day and helping them feel their best, it’s a rewarding job.”

On top of working and being a mom, I don’t know how she balances it all but she does and hats off to her for it. I can barely balance my life and I have significantly less responsibilities! Addmittedly, Maureen finds herself frustrated sometimes that she isn’t able to work out as much she would like to and not always being able to follow through on personal goals.But I know that when the weather is nice, she loves walking as much a possible with her daughter, Ava!

As I said in the beginning of this post, I was so obsessed with Maureen’s life while she was living in L.A. and I can confidently say I’m obsessed with her life now too. She has found something some people never find: true love. Not just with her boyfriend but in her daughter, too.

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The future is never clear, and sometimes it presents obstacles, but it can also present opportunities.

Post grad life for Maureen is going pretty well, I’d say. She has a job she’s passionate about, a supporting family, and the most beautiful daughter who is so full of life and love, it’s hard not to be jealous.

I want to finish by including some words of advice from Maureen that seem to be a similar response for those doing these posts. Every response I’ve gotten holds the central theme I’ve created for this blog.

“Be yourself and never doubt it. If you are still figuring yourself out that is okay too. Embrace it, it is okay to not always know the answers to everything or how you feel about everything. Whatever you do, do not let others mold you. You will get lost. Stop caring about what other people think.  People are always going to talk no matter what, thinking about it solves nothing. Do you and don’t look back!! You’ll be happy when your older and can say I didn’t give a shit what people thought of me!  Lastly, as cliche as it sounds, follow your heart. So many people our age feel obligated to get that big job or buy a car or even a house. Do what feels right. You might find a job you love that has absolutely nothing to do with what you went to school for. Does it make you happy? If it does, then that’s all that matters. Life really is simple if you take a step back sometimes. Don’t get caught up in the drama of what you think you should do, do what you WANT to do!’
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Eagles Fans: We Celebrate As A Team, A City, and As One

Criticized for our enthusiastic fandom surrounding The Philadelphia Eagles, we do not apologize for supporting such a deserving and dedicated team.

Without a strong fan base, a football team is just that- a football team. I’m proud to live in a place that is able to unite for a common love and interest. It’s inspiring to support a team that stays determined when faced with difficult obstacles, continually thanks their fans, and WINS!

As a city, we may get a little rowdy, a little loud and a little proud, but we’ve waited years for this opportunity.

I think that as a community of believers, we have earned the right to publicly celebrate our team whom is recognized for their underdog story, because we have followed along this journey for years.

Admittedly, I’m not someone who follows football regularly, and although I am genuinely excited for the Superbowl, I think I’m more excited for the players, the coaches, and their families, the die hard fans and everyone else who bleeds green.

It’s no secret that Philadelphia sports teams have struggled in recent years, and it was devastatingly disappointing when Carson Wentz was injured mid-season when their was a beacon of light pointing towards our spot in the Superbowl, but the Eagles didn’t give up.

Nick Foles wasn’t expected to lead us to victory, but he sure did in true fashion, and will continue to deliver on Sunday in Minneapolis as we take on the New England Patriots.

As a Philadelphia native, it was incredibly disappointing to read an article from Philadelphia Magazine that rendered their was ‘white privilege‘ regarding the celebrations following our winning of the NFC Championship.

In today’s society where everyone is perceiving actions and statements differently, it’s sometimes difficult have a united front. But when it comes to sports and a city that wants nothing but to celebrate their teams success, it’s upsetting that people can believe it has anything to do with something so controversial.

We live in such a diverse city where sports is an almost universal language. We celebrated that Sunday as a team, as a city, and as one. No questions asked.

After all, we are the City of Brotherly Love.

A friend of mine compiled a video of clips front the celebrations following the winning of the NFC Championship that went viral and I am more than pleased to share it here:

 

The anticipation continues to rise as we’re another day closer to winning the Superbowl and we sure are thrilled to watch those Eagles fly.

GO BIRDS!

 

Side Hustles: Why You Should Have One

I first heard the term ‘side hustle’ while reading Ann Shoket’s millennial guiding book, The Big Life  , and it’s a term that has stuck with me since then. Typically, a side hustle is a way of earning extra cash outside of your primary income, which I think is great and incredibly smart and responsible especially for those of us in our early stages of adulthood without the responsibility of kids or running a household. However, Shoket has her own terms and conditions surrounding this term that seems to be on the rise.

Get a Side-Hustle. The idea that one job can be your everything feels so dated, doesn’t it? Sometimes you need a day job that pays the bills or gives you security, even if it doesn’t feed your soul. That’s when you need a side-hustle—a project you work on to put yourself in charge or build new skills in your career. This is how you pay yourself in self-respect.”

I think the idea of this is incredibly inspiring, especially in today’s society, and urge all of you to give this some serious consideration.

I, myself, do have an actual side hustle in it’s truest form, a second job at a local restaurant and brewery, that provides me extra cash outside of my bi-weekly paycheck from my 9-5. Which is awesome considering the loans that need to be paid off, the monthly bills, attempting to lease a car, and all other expenses life has to drown us in.

Even though that side hustle was intended for its primary purpose, it’s turned into much more than that because I genuinely like what I do when I go there and I’ve also made so many new friendships.

So, if you’re contemplating finding your side hustle but hesitant because you might just feel like it will make you more miserable than your existing job while also taking time away from leisure activities, find something that works for you; try different roles out, or, best case scenario, find a way to make money off of something you already love doing.

This recommendation brings me to my next point of my other side hustle, the one not entirely intended for extra cash.

I started this blog about 18 months ago and I’ve watched it progressively grow which has been super rewarding in regards to many aspects. In contrast to my side hustle that compensates my bank account, maintaining this website compensates areas of my life that lack substance. It helps me improve my writing skills, enhances my time management and organization, provides insights into social media and sharing, and pays me in self-respect. This website is minimally profitable, but with more views I get, the more money I potentially earn. 

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I’ve read that other people’s side hustles often include playing music in clubs, dog walking, organizing book clubs, life coaching, and blogging, among other things.

Sometimes our jobs, especially early on in our career can leave us feeling undervalued, bored and passionless. Finding a side hustle can help with all of that.

We all have hobbies, so why not find a way to turn the things you’re passionate about into profit or productivity? And even if that’s not possible, it’s nice to work at things that make you feel good, inspire you and reward you in different ways.

If you do have an existing side hustle, comment below, I’m interested to hear different answers! Cheers!

 

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!

6 Books To Help You Through Your 20s

As an avid reader, I’ve always found a comfort in books due to the way they can take you away from all of life’s distractions. But, this past year the distractions have been harder to silence and more prominent in noise, that I’ve had to adjust my reading list from fiction to non-fiction.

The 6 books I discuss in this post have been helpful while navigating through adulthood, familiarizing with post-grad life and overcoming everyday obstacles. The stories that line the pages of these books are a true comfort to anyone simply just trying to figure life out. Also- any of these would make for a perfect Christmas or graduation gift! Hope you find something of interest

The Big Life by Ann Shoket

In this empowering book written by Ann Shoket, former Editor in Chief of Seventeen magazine, ‘The Big Life’ is defined as that delicious cocktail of passion, career, work, ambition, respect, money and a monumental relationship. Shoket stresses that this life is something that you want on your own terms, which is important to remember throughout your life. This bad bass babe wanted to be able to provide advice for those women who thirst for this kind of life and she crafted this book in her own unique way- through hosting a series of dinners in her apartment. Each dinner consisted of a group of about 6 or so friends of a friend of a friend coming together to talk about their life and what they felt was missing. After a few of these dinners, Shoket began recognizing that a lot of the questions these women were feeling internally were similar across the board of all different demographics. These included:

  • How do I find a career that is also my passion?
  • How do I find a partner who honors my ambition?
  • How will I be able to have a big, demanding career without taking my foot off the gas when I have children?
  • How do I get paid what I’m worth?
  • How do I get the respect I deserve from my bosses?
  • And finally, will all this struggle be worth it?

These questioned framed the story for this book and the real-life stories you will read are pure, hard-core and relatable. This book resonates so well with many of the posts I have written on this blog and was also very entertaining and educational. It definitely does not disappoint!

Side note: I was able to meet & speak with Ann at Head House Books in Philadelphia about this book which was an incredible opportunity as a writer. 

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All Groan Up by Paul Angone

This book entails the time line of a guy who struggled a for a long time with post-grad life. Unfortunate endeavors, dead ends, highs and lows, and small victories. His story and his writing are inspiring and had the ability to comfort me about the immediate state I was in upon graduation. He makes his readers know that it’s acceptable not to have a concrete plan or a road map to success, and sympathizes with the struggles faced by recent graduates who live in a world full of unknown. Paul Angone outlines what it’s like to be in the real world with absolutely no answers, through his personal experiences and endeavors, and how he finally got to where he wanted to be through hard work and a lot of trial and errors.

And he was right, things do work out, even if takes some time to and even if they end up in ways you didn’t expect. All Groan Up is emotionally fundamental, but also hilarious, witty and entertaining!

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Bossypants by Tina Fey

It’s no surprise that Tina Fey is comical in every way, but her writing in this book actually had me laughing out loud. Her wit, honesty and bluntness make this book about finding your way through the details of her own personal accounts will make you feel better about yourself in every way.

I was completely sold after the short 3 page introduction caused by joke after joke. I highly recommend this book not only to those having a difficult or confusing time after college or in adulthood, but anyone in their 20s! It also instills a mantra to carry with you which is that of:

“Either way, everything will be fine.”

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Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

Maybe I’m a bit biased because I love every single thing about Minday Kaling, but this book was an absolute page turner. Similar to Bossypants, which is appropriate because Kaling has been referred to as Fey’s younger sister before, ‘Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me?’, this book instills the theme and importance of resilience in your life. Kaling is so respectable because she is honest and makes fun of herself and doesn’t give a damn what people think.

Part Two, I Forget Nothing: A Sensitive Kid Looks Back, was one of my favorite sections as well as her take on Jewish guys.

These humorous, truthful essays were entertaining and insightful and I’m eager to read her latest book, Why Not Me?

Apologies in advance for anyone who doesn’t know Mindy outside of her character on The Office- she admits she is nothing like Kelly Capore!

P.S. If you haven’t already, check out The Mindy Project  on Hulu!

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Wild by Cheryl Strayed

To be honest, I didn’t think I was going to like this book. I felt it was too heavy and emotional for me especially after reading the first chapter. But I am happy to admit I was wrong because I cannot give enough praise to this book. Truly inspiring and sincere, Wild evoked emotions I didn’t even know I possessed. The feeling of being lost in her own life resonates with me to a certain degree and maybe that’s why I enjoyed following alongside her journey so much, so any post-grad still looking for answers, this book is a great read while you figure it out!

A true story of strength, perseverance and courage, Wild is one to inspire. It is honest and naked to the core.

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101 Secrets for Your Twenties

Author of All Groan Up listed above, 101 Secrets for Your Twenties is a book full of great insights for any post-grad, millennial or anyone trying to survive adulthood.

In his introduction, Angone writes, “I think we can all agree: This twentysomething shoot ain’t easy. It’s a decade exploding with intensity and ambiguity. Anxiety and excitement. Purpose and pointlessness. Answers riddled with questions. Paradoxes mixed with 100 percent certainties. There are so many “firsts”. So much change. So many “what ifs, what nows, and what the hecks.”

This book is crafted perfectly for anyone asking themselves the question, “What now?”

Here are a few of my favorite “secrets”:

  • Making and keeping friendships in your 20s is harder than G.I. Joe’s Abs.
  • Those friends who are uber-successful in their 20s are the outlier- not the norm.
  • A college diploma is not your golden ticket into DreamJobLand.
  • Obsessive Comparison Disorder is the smallpox of our generation.
  • The Freshmen Fifteen is nothing compared to the Cubicle Cincuenta.

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I hope this guideline of books for your 20s was helpful and enticing! Even if you don’t usually read, you may want to give one of these a try, especially if you’re a post-grad and feel like you have no answers!