portfolio finds


As I was packing up my apartment, I stumbled across the career portfolio I made during a junior year class. It was the making of this portfolio that spawned this business idea {I didn’t end up pursuing it but I still love the idea}.

Coincidentally, I designed the portfolio exactly two years ago today (March 23, 2010)! I browsed through the portfolio and saw some funny things.

Screenshot of my Twitter account

  • I had 111 followers on Twitter; I now have over 800
  • My most recent tweet on that day read “@ryanallis- I’m excited to read your blog- I’m from Durham and involved with social enterprise in DC!” I was so excited back then about the possibility of meeting Ryan; we’ve actually hung out since then {and he reads this blog sometimes- you out there Ryan?}. Funny how things come full circle
  • I had also tweeted about my amazing spring break in Puerto Rico; my friend just commented on a Facebook picture the other day to remind us how much fun we had

My LinkedIn account

  • I had 83 connections; now I have over 500
  • My current title then was “Analyst Intern at Social Enterprise Associates”

Hobbies

  • Pretty much reads like my current blog bio haha. Outdoor activities, playing board games, traveling, volunteering, and cooking, among others

Miscellaneous

  • I also came across two interesting op-eds on microfinance, which I still agree with!
  • I talked about Community Building Community and Alternative Breaks
  • I wrote a few of my ideas for post-grad: working within the field of social enterprise in DC or Raleigh {I actually mentioned Bull City Forward, which is a coworking space!}; spending a year abroad; or entering a MBA program. I didn’t do any of these per se, but I did end up starting a coworking space, which you could say is a social venture 🙂

So fun to look over! It reminded me of my 6 word memoir– fundamentally, I’m the same as I was two years ago, but I’ve evolved- both personally and  in terms of my Twitter following haha.

Photo credit

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not yet an expert

When I look around at different blogs and Twitter accounts, it seems like everyone is an expert at something.

I have a lot of interests that pull me in different directions. I love to cook but I’m not a trained chef like Jenna and I’m not dedicated enough to log my daily food intake like Kath.

I run a coworking space but I’m not as knowledgeable as Angel or the folks at Shareable.

I own a business with my sister but I don’t have as much experience in sister entrepreneurship as Katherine and Sophie or Sarah and Jenifer or Sabina and Lorraine or Kate and her sister.

I love social enterprise but I don’t stay quite as up-to-date on the field as Grant or Ryan.

I’m immersed in the recruiting field but I don’t understand the ins and outs like Amybeth or Laurie.

But you know what? That’s all okay. Because I’m 22 and I don’t need to be an expert in anything yet. But more importantly, I never need to be an expert in any one thing.

confessions of a recruiting coordinator, part ii

The eternal recruiting debates continue. For part i, click here.

“As your future _____, I will…”: Too presumptuous in my opinion.

Breastfeeding: Never appropriate. Never.

“Dear sir”: You never know who’s reading your resume. This feels very antiquated to me.

“Searching for a position with room for growth”: Who isn’t? This says to me “I’m just looking to climb the ladder and I won’t be happy in my entry position for long.”

Word vs PDF: PDFs are so easy to do! They will look the same no matter what kind of computer you view them on, so you don’t have to worry about misformatting. Why wouldn’t you do it?

Correct capitalization of your name: This shouldn’t even have to be discussed. First letter of first name, first letter of last name. Not Cristina roman or cristina Roman and definitely not CRISTINA ROMAN. Yes, it grabs my attention but not in the right way.

Here’s an interesting question that I posted on my Twitter: Do you think ability (or inability) to write a good cover letter and resume correlates with overall ability to perform the job? 

I’m torn- in some ways, I think a well-written cover letter and resume shows an understanding of proper grammar and spelling, which is critical in almost every industry and position. In addition, presenting well-written materials shows that you have taken the time to show that you care and are proactive enough to learn the proper way to structure these important documents. After all, it’s only a Google search away.

On the other hand, sometimes written skills are not essential for job performance. For example, a salesperson may be stellar at closing deals but may lack superb written skills. And, as one friend (and former prom date!) on Twitter pointed out: “resumes are tough and it is hard to determine what should be on there. Don’t think it has any relevancy.”

What do you think?!

*As always, the viewpoints expressed here represent my own thoughts and not those of my employer.

a retrospect: top + favorite posts from my blog

It’s interesting for me to look at which blog posts of mine get the most traffic vs which ones are my favorite. There is some overlap between the two.  Part of my mission with this post is to bring to light some of my poor neglected posts that I think deserve a spotlight! I put my favorites in bold and added a few others below.

Some of my top posts (in order):

Some of my other favorite posts:

Dear Starbucks…

I have to write a blog post about this because my sister is sick of hearing me talk about it (seriously, just ask her).

Dear Starbucks Corporate (Panera Corporate- please take note):

I love you. You know I do. But I have to bring this up because it’s really bothering me.

I co-own a business. It is legally set up as an LLC but I wholeheartedly believe that it contributes social value to the Raleigh community. There is no doubt it that provides economic value as well: through taxes, as well as the fact that it provides a place for small business owners to grow their businesses so that they, in turn, can provide value to the community.

You may wonder where I’m going with this seemingly obvious clarification.

Could we have been set up as a 501c3? Absolutely. Some coworking spaces are. We chose not to be. Not because we are profit-mongering bloodsuckers, but because it was the right decision for us. If we were a non-profit, would we have been paid a salary? Yes. Would our fundamental model have changed? Almost certainly not. We would still have charged the exact same fees-for-service in order to pay said salary in order to continue building our coworking space in order to continue adding social value to the community. 501c3 or not, they would have been the same fees because our expenses are the same.

So why can’t I hang a flyer on your community board?

If you stand by your decision to only support non-profits, help me clarify another issue I have. Upon seeking clarification of your flyer-hanging policy, I was told by one of your employees that I could only hang a flyer for something where there was no charge.

Wait a minute. Do I have to be a non-profit or do I have to be offering free products and services? These are not the same.

Yes, non-profits often offer things for free. But non-profits also often charge for their products and services. They have earned income streams. They charge fees-for-services. They sell tickets to galas, block parties, and fashion shows. VisionSpring sells eyeglasses. The SPCA sells items emblazoned with the SPCA logo.

And yes, businesses generally charge for things. But they also often offer free things. They offer happy hours, seminars, and workshops. The Raleigh Forum occasionally hosts free events, like our upcoming Design Mixer with AIGA.

I appreciate your willingness to support social causes (no sarcasm there). I really do. But as the lines between business and non-profit blur, I urge you to reconsider your policy. But most of all, I urge you to encourage your employees to understand the intricacies of tax designations before making flawed arguments.

Sincerely,

Cristina (The Girl Who Single-Handledly Keeps You In Business By Buying Soy Mistos)

</soapbox>

Do you have a different opinion or think MY argument is flawed? Let me know! I’m interested in other people’s thoughts on this issue (I’m looking at you, Matt, Sarah, Peter, and Elizabeth!).

Edited: my friend sent me this article, which details Starbucks’ commitment provide loans to small business owners. I thought it was very relevant to the discussion!

Edited: I submitted an edited version of this letter on the Starbucks website and got what may or may not be a form email promising to pass it on to corporate. I then posted it on My Starbucks Idea, which seems to be a pretty democratic way of suggesting changes to Starbucks. Feel free to thumbs up my post 🙂

Clearly I feel very inflamed about this issue, mostly because I see it as symbolic of the continuous divide between business and non-profit.

#passion

Awhile back, my friend turned to me pityingly and stated, “That’s cute, Cristina still thinks everyone gets to do what they want for a living.”

I’m not so naive that I believe everyone gets to have a job they love. I’ve been on enough service trips, traveled to enough developing countries, met enough struggling people, seen the economy crash enough that I know the facts. Some individuals may always be working away in a job that isn’t their dream.

But there are those of us who do have the power to choose, so why not choose passion, dedication, and a love of Mondays?

Recently, I listened to someone dread the start of the week and mourn the loss of the weekend. I chimed in- in retrospect, unintentionally obnoxiously- that I loved the weekend too. But I also love Mondays. “Basically,” I stated chipperly, “I love life.”

As I wrote this post, I wondered if it made me sound pretentious and elitist. Should I advocate finding your passion when so many out there aren’t in a position to? And I came to a conclusion: yes. And if your passion is empowering others to find theirs? Even better.

entrenched in the field

I realized recently how much I value individuals that don’t just work within a field; they are entrenched in a field. Sara Rose isn’t just a therapist for one child with autism; she is up to date on theories of what causes autism and possible solutions. Sarah isn’t just a Fulbright in Egypt addressing food issues; she constantly reads columns in the New York Times about food sustainability. Kathleen doesn’t just work for a women’s development organization in Rwanda; she is always posting fascinating articles about genocide reparations to her Facebook account. Daniela isn’t just interested in water issues; she can debate general Middle Eastern policies with the best of them. Grant doesn’t just work as an associate at Oglivy Earth; he is always at the epicenter of the social enterprise world.

As a constant self-improver, I seek to surround myself with inspiring individuals that I want to emulate. Along the same vein, I want to be a resource for coworking, cooking, social enterprise, career development, and recruiting. I want to be entrenched in these worlds instead of having the narrow mentality that my work should be my only concern.

When I sit down to screen resumes for four hours, I don’t think that the only important thing is getting through them. Instead, I think: how can I glean information from these 1000 resumes (yes, I recently read 1000 resumes for the same position) so that I can formulate hypotheses and theories to pass on to job seekers?

Within the recruiting realm, here’s one great example of a recruiter who applies his learnings to the larger field: Recruiting in 3D by Pete Radloff, my coworker.

**As always, these views represent my own, not the views of my employer. 

a day for my taste buds

On Friday night, a group of us went to ComedyWorx for the late night improv show. It was soo much fun and a great way to get out without doing the typical bar hopping night. We grabbed a super healthy dinner of fries and burgers at Mo Joes and then headed to the show and grabbed a few beers at the bar there. It was a super fun audience- when they asked for adjectives we heard “juicy,” “raunchy,” and “silly,” along with several less blog appropriate ones 🙂 Definitely our type of crowd haha.

Yesterday I went over to Durham to chat with the Compass Fellows mentors at Duke. It is a fun, inspiring group of five upperclassmen who will guide fifteen incoming freshmen in a social entrepreneurship fellowship over the next year.

It was awesome to be able to share what I learned as a founding mentor at GWU; I had a lot to share, both from my successes and my mistakes. I hope that hearing from me was beneficial for them! I also extended an invite to The Raleigh Forum to them and their fellows. I thought it would be useful to chat with me and my sister, since we just went through the entire process of starting a business- from generating an idea to forming an LLC to finding an accountant to opening the business (well, almost- September 1!)/

But one of the coolest parts of the day was our “taste tripping” party. Trust me, it sounds much more illicit than it is 🙂 You pop an mberry pill into your mouth, let it dissolve, and then sample an array of bitter and sour foods. It “magically” transforms the flavors to sweet and sugary! A lemon suddenly tastes like lemonade and you can bite into one without cringing. Gotta say though, radishes tasted like radishes and balsamic vinegar tasted like balsamic vinegar. But interestingly enough, a lemon dipped into soy sauce tastes oddly good.

But, as one blogger eloquently said, “Honestly, if Tabasco tastes like hot donut glaze, I think you may be tripping on something else.” Haha! Though we all (jokingly? not jokingly?) said we felt especially spacey afterwards! The blogger also said the following, which I agree with: “After much discussion, we seemed to agree that despite a few extreme flavor shifts, the Miracle Fruit tablets mainly took the bite/edge/stinkiness (all words used) out of most things, allowing you to taste more complexity in the flavors, or in some cases, just a slightly different flavor.”

So what did I do post-tripping? I went to Harris Teeter and picked up weird ingredients, duh! I grabbed Thai eggplants (very mini!), bitter melon, and sunflower chokes. Stay tuned for recipes!

the value of social value

Before college, I had a very primitive view of social good: non-profits promoted social good; corporations did not. As a Human Services, I became intrigued by the idea of social enterprise, which I saw as a potential “solution” (I use that term loosely) to the apparent disconnect between “good” (promoting social change) and “evil” (making money).

But I am also an advocate for a strict definition of social enterprise, so where does that leave businesses like The Raleigh Forum, our new coworking space? I wouldn’t characterize us as a social enterprise, but I certainly think we contribute social value to the community.

We provide a hub for collaboration and community. We provide a much-needed alternative to working from home or coffee shops. We stimulate the local economy by bringing 20+ individuals downtown. We will recycle, use reusable water bottles, and conserve electricity when possible. We will make an in-kind contribution (desk space + meeting space) to Change the Triangle.

We’re not ending poverty or curing any diseases. And yes, we’re an LLC. But we are actively empowering individuals and groups so that they can make their own mark on the community.

Which makes me wonder how valuable labels like “social value” are if they have the potential to lead to confusion, disagreement, and disillusionment.

Compass Fellowship Comes to Duke

PSA to individuals in the Triangle who are committed to the field of social entrepreneurship: Compass Fellows is coming to Duke! Help spread the word.

The Compass Fellowship, now in its second year of growth and supported by The Kenneth Cole Foundation, is seeking the most ambitious, passionate freshmen students in 12 campuses worldwide to learn how to be effective social entrepreneurs.

It’s an exciting process: almost 2,000 will apply, but, given 15 fellowship openings per campus, only the best 180 will be selected. Think of it as Survivor or Dancing With the Stars meets social entrepreneurship. It will be epic.

Once selected, Compass Fellows will join the incredible Compass Community, a growing global network of young, passionate, fun-loving, and like-minded social innovators. They will work alongside unreasonably committed peer Mentors on their campus and be granted numerous opportunities to interact with business leaders locally and nationally. Together, Compass Fellows and Mentors will form a tight-knit community of student leaders on their campus, actively seeking to change the world together.

The strength of the program really is this Compass Community, which will:

  • Connect Fellows with peer Mentors who will inspire them to think adventurously
  • Provide Fellows with resources to empower them live and work consciously
  • Demand that Fellows participate proactively, pushing them to start a social venture and learn by doing.

Through our peer-driven curriculum based on personal development and the philosophy that talented people learn best by doing, Fellows are inspired, pushed, and empowered to start their very own social venture during their freshmen year of college. Through our community, these freshmen will have access to countless resources and a tremendous network of social entrepreneurs and business leaders. They will develop friendships hands-on experience and  that will alter how they see and work in the world forever after.

To learn more about the Compass Fellowship and why we love what we do and you should, too, please visit: www.CompassFellows.org.

To apply visit: www.CompassFellows.org/apply


I was a Compass Mentor at George Washington University, and I saw firsthand how empowered and proactive the Fellows become. It’s an incredible fellowship that fosters social innovation, entrepreneurship, and empowered young students.