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!

What I Wish I Knew As A Freshman

With most students heading back to school this week, I want to share a post talking about my college experience and any advice I would have for incoming freshman. I’m definitely not qualified to dish out advice, but I can certainly reflect on my four years and discuss certain aspects I would have done differently, especially predicaments involving financials and long-term effects.

I understand that it’s not easy to make decisions regarding the future when you’re first starting off, everything appears to be more exciting than it actually is and you’re so focused on just living in the now. How do I know that? Because I disregarded any and all practical advice from recent graduates or people who actually did know better than myself. And if I could go back and listen I would because I often want to go back five years ago and shake my eighteen year old self and tell her that college isn’t just all about the partying and newly instated independence from your parents. So, I’ve compiled a list of things I would do differently in college if I were given the chance, and hopefully someone will listen.

If you live anywhere remotely close to your chosen university- LIVE AT HOME.

Although I loved living on campus and have so many great memories from doing so, I would also be significantly less debt now had I lived at home. I only lived 20 minutes from campus and chose to live there instead of driving there for class. Living at school definitely presents you with a different college experience, and I highly advise living there for at least your first year because that’s when you will meet most of your friends for the next four years, but if you have the ability to commute, do so, because once you graduate, you will be financially able to move out of your parents’ house. Now I am 23 still living at home because my student loans restrict me from doing otherwise. It’s probably time for me to start looking into my options. For instance, I could consider refinancing them with Earnest for one monthly payment at a lower interest rate.

Do an internship at least one summer during your college career.

I held two different internships during college, but neither of them took place during the summer. I was so focused on relaxing and having just mindless, part-time summer jobs that I waited until my senior year to have an internship, which I had to do during the semester, causing more stress on top of my already existing stress. Also, most summer internships that are full-time are usually paid so that’s a bonus! I would recommend doing it the summer going into junior year so that the following summer, predisposed at your “last” summer before the real world, can be yours for the taking. My friends and I lived at the beach that summer and I wouldn’t trade that for the world. It’s also incredibly crucial to have some type of internship experience when applying for jobs so keep that in mind!

If you have a meal plan, USE IT.

I know as well as the next person that cafeteria food isn’t always appealing or appetizing, but if you’re paying for a meal plan, you might as well get the most out of it and save your cash for other things besides eating out with your friends multiple times a week. Part of the reason I was always so low on cash during college was because my friends and I would decide to go off campus for dinner or lunch instead of swiping into the dining hall, or in later years, making food in our kitchen at the house. And trust me, I know the thought process of “It’s only $7” or “I get paid tomorrow so who cares” but once you start consistently thinking those things, the tab starts to add up and your checking account continues to diminish.

You do not need a new outfit every weekend.

I suppose this one more accurately applies to girls, but maybe not. Some weeks when Friday would roll around, my roommates and I would begin to think about what we would be wearing out that weekend and even between four full closets and over stuffed drawers, not one of us would be able to find an outfit acceptable enough to wear out. This resulted in a mall trip, usually ending in the swiping of our debit cards. Trust me, the black shirt you just purchased resembles the other 500 black shirts you already own.

If possible, get a part-time job.

I know that it isn’t always possible with heavy workloads during different semesters, but if you can, hold a part-time job during the school year. If you have to sacrifice a Friday or Saturday night for work, just do it. I promise that the frat party will be the same next weekend. You also don’t want to be that person who has mom and dad constantly wiring money to your account every week as an “allowance”, no one should be getting an allowance after the age of sixteen.

If you’re unsure about what to major in, go to community college first.

This might be my biggest regret. I went in as a History major, then to Communications, then into the School of Business until finally declaring Marketing my junior year.  Although I believe I received a good education at my four year college, those first two years of taking gen eds could have been done at any school for a way lower price. So, if you’re undecided, take your early credits somewhere else and then transfer to a larger school!

GO TO CLASS.

I’m not saying I was a no-show to every class or someone who just showed up for the mid-term and final, but I definitely did my fair share of skipping. Attendance can so critically effect your grade, it’s scary. It doesn’t matter if you ace every test, project and assignment, you could still end up with a B in the class due to lack of attendance. I understand there are times where skipping is necessary, but try to stay under the allotted amount of skips allowed per semester.

Starting college is such an exciting time that is filled with so much opportunity you don’t even realize. But the decisions you make during your time there truly do effect you in the long run. How much effort you put into each class, how you spend your summers, where you live, how much money you borrow in financial aid, who you date, what you do on the weekends. Everything has a consequence, whether that be positive or negative, is up to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Times Hollywood Misconstrued Life After College

Before actually being here, I thought this point in my life was to be glamorous- cabbing all over the city to meet up with your friends after work to sip on some cool restaurant’s signature cocktail, sushi dinners, looking like you’re ready for a Saturday night out after sitting in an office for 8 plus hours, and somehow being energized enough to do it all again the next day.

When I pictured life after college, I guess sometimes my vision was a bit exaggerated. I just pictured skyscrapers, attending meetings in different and foreign cities, coffee breaks at hip cafes, and endless after work happy hours. And for some people this life is true, but for me, it is unfortunately not- yet!

But I’ve realized I had this idea in my head because of Hollywood, and how easily they can portray lifestyles to look so attractive, enticing, and easy. But in return, we’re forced to face the harsh reality that these illusions they create are unrealistic. So ponder with me all the different scenarios they’ve created to make us crave this “exciting” thing called adulthood.

  1. Apartments on the Upper East Side – In all the movies and TV shows, there is a precedent that right after graduation, you move out on your own, and never return to your bedroom at mom and dad’s. Again, for some people this is an actual thing, and kudos to you, but for most of us- there is no option but to move home right away. Even if moving out is affordable, the idea of living in the heart of any major city is a bit far fetched. Hollywood creates these sets of spacious, beautifully decorated, remote apartments in locations of prime time real estate for corporate America goers. Basically something out of an IKEA catalog. Fun to dream about? Yes. Realistic? No, not after college while your monthly loan payment is probably almost always higher than your checking account balance.
  2.  Red Carpet Ready After Sitting in an Office Since 8 am– Think about the girls in the movies that meet their friends or boyfriend/ girlfriend after work for dinner and drinks and look like movie stars- no pun intended- yet, they’ve been in the same clothes all day, most likely sitting at a desk the majority of this time, and have been awake for almost 12 hours. Somehow, their make up still looks fresher than ever, curls still perfect, and clothes not wrinkled one bit. Honestly, I wish this was realistic, because at the end of the day, my face is either A) oily, B) covered in mascara, or C) makeup free. And my hair? Most definitely frizzy and in a bun.
  3. The Endless Wardrobe – I haven’t even started my job yet, and I know I’m gonna be an outfit repeater. RIP to college when having Mon, Wed, Friday outfits aside from Tuesday and Thursday outfits was acceptable on campus. Hollywood would never dress a character in the same outfit twice, and as the idea of that would be incredible, I’d rather spend my money on weekend clothes rather than clothes I’m wearing to the office. Also, no one actually looks cute in business attire, don’t let Hollywood fool you. Finding a decent pair of work pants that fit well everywhere is like finding the needle in the haystack.
  4. Looking Like You Survive on Water and Veggies– Obviously in Hollywood, the societal image associated with them is a size 2, which is fine, but the lifestyle the characters indulge in like eating out, getting drinks, etc., don’t match up with their figure, especially since they seem to never work out. If only…
  5. Spending Like You’re Loaded – Finally, the root of all things said above, MONEY. Seriously, after paying loans, bills, insurance, gas, groceries, and basically anything- I’ll be lucky enough to have some money in my checking to go out on the weekends and build a small savings.

Obviously, movies are movies, whatever. They’re there to be appealing and enticing and full of envious lifestyles, but maybe they could be a little more realistic. The lifestyles they set for post grad life seem to be more suited for someone that is 33, rather than 23.

Maybe Hollywood is right, life after college is pretty glamorous in some aspects, but not in the same ways they think. Honestly, I’m perfectly content with my life right now, as long as I’m out of my parents by 25, I’ll be happy!

Love Yourself

Valentine’s Day is, in my opinion, an overrated holiday filled with unnecessary expenses like flowers and chocolates that are overly priced this time of year due to the high demand. Oh, and don’t forget the $5 card from Hallmark that your significant other will most likely toss in the trash a week from now. However, the holiday holds a respectable meaning behind it, which is obviously love. A day to celebrate love, appreciation and gratefulness… kind of sounds like a similar holiday we already celebrate in November, but it’s fine.  Here ends my negativity towards the holiday, and why I now view it as more than just a day for people in relationships, which is what society has come to depict it as.

First off, Valentine’s Day was a lot cooler when the whole class was your Valentine. Everyone got a cute little card and a bag of candy, and your teacher would throw you a party with enough junk food to make you sick. February 14th used to be a lot easier and fun as a kid, then it got weird and hyped up in high school and college, but now it’s becoming pretty cool again.

As someone who has a lot of friends in relationships, it makes my heart so happy to see them in love not just today, but everyday.  And to see my guy friends step up to the plate for the day? Refreshing.

This year, according to other blogs and social media accounts I follow, the trend of “Galentine’s Day” is becoming progressively popular, which I think is awesome. Your girlfriends are the ones who let you bitch to them about the same things over and over again, talk you off the ledge when you have drinker’s remorse, drink a bottle of wine with you in the middle of the week just because, shop with you, kill the dance floor with you, and probably hold your hair back while throwing up after a long night out. WHY NOT appreciate these lovely ladies in your life on Valentine’s Day, they’re basically holding you together like glue! And to all of my girlfriends out there, and you know who you are, I love you to the moon & back.

I’m also feeling a lot of love for myself today as I recently started a new job in a  full-time position, finding my daily routine, planning exciting things for later in the year, and above all else, finding the happiness I deserve. Sometimes we don’t appreciate ourselves enough, so today can also be a day to reflect on the person you are and think about all the things you love about yourself. Be as conceited and self-absorbed as you want today, we deserve it.

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So, whoever you are, go out and treat yourself tonight! Whether it’s a bottle of wine, a pizza, dessert, a scratch off (guilty pleasure), or whatever it is you love, go get it! Because you are loved, appreciated and beautiful, and you definitely don’t need a life size teddy bear or flowers to tell you that. Love yourself, today and everyday.

Happy V-Day everyone, cheers!

I don’t know how to do my taxes, but I can tell you when Michelangelo died

At the end  of a recent post, I started questioning why our college educators waste their time teaching us irrelevant subjects that have no relation to our focus of study, like philosophy and history. And I’m not insinuating that I didn’t enjoy these courses, because most of the time, they landed at the more vibrant end of the spectrum after putting my course load into perspective. However, they serve no purpose to me, especially when it comes to getting a job, starting my career, and making important decisions that effect me long-term. My concern here is mostly that these irrelevant classes that make up our “core curriculum”, could have been replaced by more useful and insightful tips for everyday life. (And also that most classes like these require you to buy a custom made textbook from your hippie and homeless looking professor that your school store never buys back).

For most of us, we graduate from school and are faced with decisions regarding our loan payments like how many years we wish to make payments for, where to consolidate them, fixed or variable interest rates, etc. Now for us business majors, we were fortunate to have finance classes included in our curriculum, so we know a thing or to about that language of rates and numbers that’s almost incomprehensible. But for those of you who were in either a School of Liberal Arts or School of Nursing, God help you and pray that you’re blessed with parents who can help with these hefty decisions.

As it’s now February, it’s accountants favorite time of the year- tax season! And as a lot of my friends are slaving away day in and day out crunching numbers, my other friends are probably clueless on how to even begin filing their taxes. Even as business major, I don’t think I could do it alone. Why weren’t we taught something useful like this? Tax season is something that is inevitable for the rest of our lives as long as you hold a job. And since all us tax payers are all looking for the same end goal, to receive the biggest return, it’d be nice to have an idea on achieving that.

Other useful things that might not be relevant to us now, but will be in the future, are expenses and responsibilities like mortgages, home owners insurance, life insurance, drawing up wills, etc. I’ll stop there because I hope that most people reading this are no where near dying, but still, it would be nice to have common knowledge on these concerns when the time comes.

Truth be told, when I’m faced with any practical life decisions, I don’t think knowing about Dolly Madison, Aristotle, when the Sistine Chapel was painted, how to cite a research paper, or how to determine how train X made it from point A to B, will prove useful. Sure, some of this might be interesting knowledge to possess, prove helpful during a round of Quizzo, or serve as random fun facts, but I don’t find them as being worth the amount they cost in tuition dollars. But again, I guess we’re not paying for what we actually learn, just the proof that we put our time in and got that expensive piece of paper at the end.

What Deems Someone as ‘Qualified’?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, obtaining your Bachelor’s degree is nothing more than taking a bunch of irrelevant classes for four years (with the exception of people who majored in something very specific like nursing or teaching), spending a lot of money, and coming out with nothing to show but a piece of paper that’s supposed to deem you as ‘qualified’. But what really makes someone qualified? Experience? Skills? Knowledge? It’s all garbage. According to an article published by The Washington Post, only 27% of college grads have a job related to their major.

While job searching, when I’m seriously considering applying for a position within a company, particularly smaller or newer companies, I like to look at the ‘who we are’ page and read the description under each employee. Before discovering that alarming statistic above, I was shocked when I would read that employees within marketing or financial positions in a firm would have degrees in education or biology or political science. People who have no degree even remotely related to business are the future of Corporate America.

I understand this though I suppose. It doesn’t take a genius to learn basic office skills and most companies provide a standard, two week training process when hiring new employees, whether you’re fresh out of college or have been working in the field for 20 years. So why do all of these companies set these unrealistic requirements of experience in their job descriptions? Probably a question I’ll never know, or understand, the answer to. Most entry-level jobs could 100% be done by someone who never even went to college because I don’t feel any smarter than someone who’s highest degree is a high school diploma. Kudos to those people for saving those tuition dollars.

I don’t necessarily remember every aspect of what I learned in college, at least not enough to make me an expert in anything particular, but I know that when I was there I remembered it for the duration of a semester. To me, this is equivalent to attending a two week training session in which you are exposed to the kind of work your new employer needs you to do and when you begin work you continue to learn and you’ll remember it for the duration of your time there, but once it’s over? It’s back to square one when you begin at another job and have another two week training session. So why does a Bachelor’s degree deem someone qualified?

What we learned in college, in my opinion, is irrelevant. All the bullshit philosophy and art history classes aren’t going to help me in any job I ever have. Sure, they may have been interesting, but for the price I paid for them to not be useful? It’s a waste. But this bring me to another point which I’ll unfold in my next post- stay tuned!

A Very Open Letter to Hiring Managers

To Whom This May Concern,

As a recent college grad, I’m slowly and surely learning that the four years we spend actually working towards graduation and our degrees is only half the battle. No one ever told us how much work we would still have to put in after the fun was over and the real world kicked in (before getting that full-time job).

This letter is mainly a complaint to anyone anywhere working for a company within Human Resources. Those people’s whose only job it is to read resumes and cover letters, determine if the credentials and qualifications fit, and then either place them in the yes or no pile, and send them to the next person in charge.

Cake, right? Doesn’t seem like rocket science to me, but hey, I was a Marketing major, so what do I know, right?

Applying for a job today is more than just sending your resume; sometimes it can be, but nine times out of ten it isn’t, unfortunately. Most companies want more than just your resume; they want you to write a cover letter, basically just your resume in paragraph form with lots of embellishments and sucking up about why you’re the “right” candidate for the position.

 

This can be time consuming; trying to make all of your experiences and skills somehow fit the job description into a way you think the person reading it will see fit. It can be frustrating because an HR manager may just read your resume and already know you’re not qualified for the position and never take the time to read that well-written, thought out cover letter. Finally,  it can be tiring after you do it so many times. Luckily for similar positions, sometimes all you have to do is change a line or two and the company name and address. It’s the little things…

My complaint isn’t really so much about having to do this, because then I would be that person that thinks everything should just come easy to us and we shouldn’t have to put in the work to achieve success. That’s not it. My problem is that only a small number of firms ever even respond letting you know you successfully submitted your materials, while 90% of the time you never hear a peep.

Even that is not completely my problem. My number one complaint and frustration about job searching is when companies, especially ones you’re interested in, just decide to never reach out to you and let you know that you’re not fit for the position. And not getting an interview-Rude, rude, rude.

I understand companies look for very specific things like 70 years of experience and doctorates for what is allegedly an entry-level position, but come on! I am taking the time to make sure I sound competent and professional and more than interested when applying for a job and writing that cover letter, and I patiently wait for a response for weeks at a time for just some sort of communication on their end. The least you can do is send an automated, generic message along the lines of ‘Thank you for your interest in Company XYZ, however after reviewing your resume, we do not think you have enough experience for what we’re looking for right now. Please keep checking for other opening positions, and apply again later. Thank you again for your time.’

Seriously, is that too much to ask?

I can’t say this is true for all companies because there have been those rare occasions where I have gotten a response along those lines, so thank you to the 1% of companies in the Philadelphia area that have common courtesy.

More often than not, no news is bad news. So after a few weeks of silence I’m smart enough to know I’m not getting an interview, but I would rather just have that in writing than having that little ounce of hope I’ll open my email one morning to some good news.

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You were once in my position when you were fresh out of college, think about those times and how you would hate to be me and show me some mercy. Or take pity on me, whichever you prefer. Probably the latter.

I am fully aware that most companies get hundreds of applications and it can be time consuming, but the yes and no piles are usually very different in height if you know what I mean. So after sending the yes pile over to the next person in the hiring chain, have the decency to send that automated, generic email to the suckers who aren’t getting an interview. We would all appreciate it very much.

Sincerely,

Colle grads everywhere

P.S. Don’t write in your job posting descriptions that you want a candidate who is recently graduated with 5 + years of work experience in your related field, it’s just not ideal and a little naïve. Thanks.