a psa to recent graduates

This post is dedicated to all my friends experiencing quarter-life crises. I love you all, hence the tough love approach 🙂 

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I come to you today with a revolutionary message: it’s going to be okay. There you go- straightforward, no bull. And I mean it.

So you want to go to grad school. Guess what? There’s at least one school in the world that will accept you, even if your GPA was less than perfect.

So you want to quit your first job out of college because it sucks your soul. Do it. I’m sure at least one successful CEO quit their first job out of school. And I think at least one recruiter at one company will choose to overlook the fact that you stayed at a job for less than the ideal two year period. They’ve been there.

So you don’t know where to want to be in life. Guess what? I think a lot of 50 year olds feel the same way. Quarter-life and mid-life career switches happen pretty regularly; my mom found her calling around age 50.

Remember- just being part of the group I’m addressing means you’re in the minority in terms of education (in 2010, only 27.9% of adults age 25+ had a Bachelor’s degree or higher). Had an internship during college? That’s another minority group you’re part of- only 37.5% of 2010 grads had internship experience…and that’s not taking into account all the schools that didn’t report, which I assume would make the percentage lower.

I’m not advocating that you throw caution to the wind or that you take your life for granted. As recent graduates, we’re primed to take advantage of our education and take on the career world. That’s not to be taken lightly.

But I am suggesting that you acknowledge that this is a rocky time for most recent graduates and make peace with the fact that you don’t need to have it all figured out.

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a balanced post-grad life

I had a long gchat conversation with a college friend recently where we discussed the benefits and struggles of post-grad life {clearly I’ve been thinking about it a lot!}. We feel the same way about a lot of things as evidenced by this quote {which made me literally laugh out loud}:

In some ways, we feel like these early{ish} post-grad months should be filled with late nights, crazy stories, and a carefree spirit. In other ways, we feel like we need to buckle down, get serious about our jobs, and establish “healthy” habits, like going to bed at a decent hour.

I can see pros and cons of both extreme mindsets. This is an important time in terms of establishing ourselves and deciding our next steps- career-wise and otherwise- but it’s also a prime time to join a kickball league, chug a Bud Light, and lounge by the pool on a lazy Saturday.

I want to believe that these two aren’t mutually exclusive. I can be a career-driven recruiter, small business owner, and avid tweeter who can also shotgun beers with the guys (and girls!) at the beach. Right?!

Any other recent grads feel the same way? How have you worked to establish balance in your post-grad life? 

P.S. I told my friend a story and her response was “Why does this stuff always happen to you?!” I’ve decided to include more funny (and appropriate) stories on my blog because I always have random moments that crack me up!

To start: My sister was convinced that the lyrics of Turn Me On by Nicki Minaj were “Punch me!” instead of “Touch me!” I die laughing every time I hear it now. I just picture her excitedly exclaiming “Punch me!” HAHA!

She also thought the words to Starships (also by Nick Minaj) were “We’re flying in a motherf*cker” instead of “We’re higher than a motherf*cker.” Thank you for the nonstop laughter, SRR!

link roundup for the week

I laughed out loud when I read Yes and Yes’s (Yes’? Yeses?) tips on 5 Steps to Up Your Personal Dignity.

Speaking of Yes and Yes- anyone buying the Post College Survival Kit 2012 course and workbook? Apparently a lot of people relate to post-college struggles, because my 8 Reasons Post-Grad is Like Freshman Year post was one of my most popular!

I happened to stumble across an article on the importance of using anchor text in blogging {I had never even heard of it}. If you’re not familiar with the concept, check out this piece: What is Anchor Text and Why Is It Important?

Just got a new job? First of all, congrats!  Here’s how to Avoid Lifestyle Inflation When You Get a New Job.

To continue on the Instagram trend from last week, here’s some new Instagram Tricks and Tips!

If you’re moving or changing up your decor, here’s a really helpful tip that I used from LifeHacker: Using Toothpaste to Hang Pictures.

And speaking of decor…check out The Kitchn’s 5 Decorative Uses for Glass Jars in the Kitchen!

What links did you love this week {be it home decor, cooking, blogging, entrepreneurship, or otherwise}? 

P.S. I overheard a sixty year old man at Starbucks say the following- “I want to run for office. But I’d admit to everything. They’d ask me if I had sex with so-and-so and I’d be like ‘yeah! What a night!'” Hahaha!

8 reasons post-grad is like freshman year

I realized today that establishing a post-grad life is just like entering your freshman year of college. There are exciting opportunities and adventures to be had, but there are also intimidating challenges to overcome.

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1. Figuring out who your real friends are: you cast your net wide and hope that you’ll have close friends as soon as possible! For me, I never want to turn down an opportunity to meet a new friend, but eventually, I have to tighten my friend group.

2. Forming an extra-curricular life: in college, you have hundreds of extra-curriculars presented to you; there are fewer options during post-grad  but they do exist (goodbye GW Social Enterprise Forum and CBC, hello Change the Triangle and Triangle blog group)!

3. Adapting to a new schedule: freshman year, it was about the freedom to set your own schedule; now it’s about fitting back into a more standard 9am-5pm schedule.

4. Solidifying your eating habits: freshman year, it was figuring out how to eat healthy with only a GWorld and a mini fridge; now it’s about how to pack healthy lunches for full days at the office!

5. Moving into new living quarters: unless you lived at home during school or moved back home after graduation, you’re adapting to life in a new residence- hopefully your post-grad accommodations are a step above your freshman year digs though 🙂 Either way, both entail meeting neighbors, decorating, and remembering not to lock yourself out.

6. Proving yourself: freshman year you worried (or maybe you were too busy hanging out at Japone!) about keeping your GPA up; now you think about impressing your first “real” boss.

7. Wondering about the future: freshman year you pondered what life would be like as a senior (and you could enter the mysterious and mystical place called McFaddens); now you wonder what your next career move should be.

8. Trying to manage your finances: during freshman year, it was debating whether you could afford another Starbucks iced coffee; now it’s…debating whether you can afford another iced coffee. Haha!

And there you have it- 8 reasons why adapting to post-graduation life is just like freshman year!

Can you think of any other parallels between the two life transitions? 

found a great job? consider withdrawing your applications

I’ve had similar conversations with two friends recently. Both had full-time job offers from companies that they loved and in jobs that they wanted. But both were still waiting to hear from other companies, even though it was driving them crazy to have the unknown hanging over their heads.

My recommendation to them was this: unless you’re seriously considering accepting a new job offer, think about withdrawing your applications. This serves two purposes:

1) You can stop stressing and quit constantly thinking “What if I get the other job?” “What if it’s better?” “What if I’ll make more?”

2) You can salvage your relationship with the company- especially if you’d like to work there in the future! This saves them the time and energy of interviewing you, choosing you, and then having to go back to the drawing board to find another candidate. If I were an employer, I’d appreciate the person’s proactive and considerate action.

the past week: cherry blossoms, life plans, & amazing visits!

Oh my gosh, three whole days without blogging- this is unprecedented! 🙂

Recap of the past week:

  • Wine night with a friend…we had so much to catch up on that we wrote out a post-it note with a “to talk about” list!
  • Delivery, couch, and Bethenny Ever After night with a different friend
  • Several great runs throughout DC
  • Am officially writing a guest post for BGSKCollege
  • Found out on Wednesday at 4pm that I had an exam on Thursday at 9:35am. Whoops!
  • Elaborate home-cooked meal for a friend
  • Discovered The Cookery, a kitchen incubator in Durham, NC! Perhaps it will be the new home of GW Bites (soon to be NCSU Bites as well?) come fall.
  • Put my name on a waiting list for an apartment in Raleigh
  • Am in the process of launching Harmonized Living
  • Weekend with my sister and her friend [Cherry Blossoms, brunch at Luna in Dupont, roof time, MK&A movie night haha, GW regatta at the Waterfront, Nooshi for dinner]. It was great introducing my sister’s friend to the obligatory DC things, but I think we all enjoyed our chill lounging time the most!

After writing all of this, I realized that I never announced my final post-grad plans. I will officially (well, almost officially?) be moving to Raleigh to work virtually and pursue my ventures on the side.

looking for a job? cultivate your network

Entering the workforce in May? Looking for a beneficial internship? Cultivate your network! According to research, about 60% of jobs are filled through networking and informal contacts, not advertising or applications sent to “info@blank.com” addresses.

Asking friends, professors, and mentors for help with your job search allows you to call upon their expertise and connections in a meaningful, personal way. Here are a few tips for asking effectively:

  • Acknowledge that you are asking for their help because you trust their judgment and value their opinions (who wouldn’t be flattered?!)
  • Follow up!  Failing to follow up with someone who helped you can sour a relationship if they feel like they are being used.
  • Use discretion when asking individuals for their help; don’t ask for help from someone you wouldn’t be willing to help in return
  • Make it easy on them: send your resume & areas of interest. I even included a list of companies I was interested in and asked 1) if they knew anyone there and 2) if they knew of similar companies (see screenshot below for my email template!)
  • Use the “Get Introduced” feature on LinkedIn. I happened to know of a girl who worked at a company I wanted to join, so I searched for her on LinkedIn. I saw that we had a friend in common, so I asked him to connect us. Voila- instant connection!

All of this being said, don’t be afraid to take a shot in the dark. You never know unless you ask! When I was a freshmen, I saw a Washington Diplomat golf tournament flyer in an office. I called them and asked if they needed volunteers for the event. The man on the phone asked if I was looking to “rub elbows with ambassadors.” I laughingly admitted that I was. That man became my boss for the year that I interned at the newspaper; in fact, on May 6, I will be working my 4th consecutive golf tournament for them!

Addendum: check out BranchOut, an application that allows you to capitalize on your network of Facebook friend during your job search!

week recap & weekend to come

photo credit: tiny white daisies

Week in review:

  • Extended apartment lease until the end of June
  • Working full-time after graduation until the end of June
  • Night out at Saint Ex & Churchkey [love it!]
  • Dinner at Mandu [glad I went but probably wouldn’t go back]
  • TWO new website ideas! Excited to get these launched

To come:

  • Friend’s birthday dinner at Ping Pong Dim Sum in Chinatown
  • Rugby party in Adams Morgan
  • Shift Series [put on by Compass Partners]
  • Starting Arganica Farm Club membership; cooking with the ingredients we get in our produce box!
  • Seeing Lincoln Lawyer
  • Cafe-sitting and life-pondering with a friend
  • Planning my summer travels [hopefully booking tickets to Norway & Rwanda!!!]
  • Keeping fingers crossed for nicer and warmer weather!

Tip of the Week

For students: buying personal business cards (is that an oxymoron?!) is a small investment that could pay off big time. They make you stand out from the crowd of other not-as-prepared students during networking events, meetings, and random everyday run-ins.

Mine are simple: just a monogram, my name, my phone number, and my email address.

But a word of warning: don’t just throw your card around. I’ve had people shake my hand and hand me a business card. Unless we’ve had a meaningful conversation and I know that we can benefit each other mutually, chances are I’m not going to take your card and follow up with you.

Coincidentally (yeah, right haha), LivingSocial is offering $50 to use on Vistaprint.com for only $10! Get it here.

goodbye miami, hello raleigh

At the last minute, I decided to forgo my planned spring break trip to Miami and stay in DC. Although some people think I’m crazy for passing up my last college spring break ever, I think I made the right decision.

I came to North Carolina for a few days, which has been amazing [as always].

I’m back in DC now, where I’m going to put in extra work hours, have several meetings, and relax- enjoy my city without any (okay, many) time constraints. It may sound boring to some, but I am really looking forward to getting back in touch with what I love about DC without thinking about racing off to my next obligation.

North Carolina recap:

  • Sushi dinner & a beer at our favorite sports bar, Tobacco Road
  • A wild St. Patrick’s Day celebration, including the most redneck parade you could imagine and a benefit party for St. Baldrick’s
  • A morning in the park in 77 (yes, 77!) degree weather
  • Carolina/Duke game
  • Girls night (3 hour Bachelor finale, wine, and spaghetti- and yes, I’m embarrassed to admit this haha)

I get this recurring feeling when I’m with my sister in North Carolina. Everything we do- no matter how trivial- feels novel and fun. For example, cuddling in bed with the 3 girls (my sister and my “nieces,” her 2 dogs) in the morning makes me so happy. Driving to get our morning coffee at the local Starbucks feels fresh. Even running “boring” errands isn’t boring. It got me thinking about if I would have that feeling living here after school…