You're probably thinking: girl, you're 22. How can you have it all when you haven't even seen "it all"? The answer to that is: I don't have to.
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Sometimes changing our situation is beyond our control. It's unrealistic to up and quit in the middle of an internship, especially if you're getting paid or getting class credit. But what we can do is change our perspective.
I thought it best to share my 3 worst career fears so I can attempt to get over them and possibly get some help and feedback from my friends on here!
If you've made it into your position based upon merit and those long and hard hours of work, then wear what the hell you want.
Whether you're bad at deciding between Chipotle or Moe's or you're choosing between companies, here are some thing to keep in mind
OK. So that's technically two words, but you get my point. This is hands-down the single best piece of advice I've ever heard. I can't begin to express how much being intentional and deliberate has helped me in my career, my relationships, and my life. It's definitely on my list of major keys.
First, understand that this is a multi-faceted concept. You can't just say "I'm going to do this with intent" and expect things to change. It means making decisions every day, little ones, that will eventually push you to where you want to be.
So how can I be more intentional? Start with deciding on what it is that you want. This part can be really scary. Some of us have our entire life figured out, some of us don't even know where we're going to live next month. That's OK. If you don't know what you want, think about how you want to feel and what you want to achieve later on down the road, that should help.
Next: champion for yourself. This is a new-age work term that comes up a lot in career development, but it is so real. Put it this way, if you don't make it known exactly what it is that you want, how can you expect someone to help you? Life is not so much good luck as it is good positioning - making sure you're at the right place at the right time. When you do this around the right people everything else will start to align.
- Nobody knows you better than you. Sell yourself!
- When someone knows what you want they'll always be looking out!
So with everything that you do, I encourage you to be intentional. Then and only then will you be on the path to achieving your wildest dreams.
The career fair is exciting, nerve-wracking, stressful, and fun all at once. Who doesn't want free stress balls (hint: me)? This is your time to shine. Your time to collect branded pens, highlighters, selfie sticks, and all the swag you could ever dream of. Oh, and it's where you could land yourself an internship or even a job. I've attended plenty a career fair during my time at college, and they seemed to get easier to get through with every semester. I recently attended my first recruiting trip, and I've got a lot to share from "the other side" of the career fair booth.
- Be intentional: If you're looking for an internship, say so. If you're looking for full-time work, say so. What are you interested in? Most people would think "information technology internships" if they're an information technology major. But are you interested or do you have experience in project management? Networking? Web development? Information Security. Be intentional and specific even if you don't have a lot of experience. Companies appreciate that in candidates (so they know what to do with that resume of yours).
- If you don't have experience, be prepared to talk about why: This is your opportunity to explain your short resume, in person! Maybe you play a sport and have practice all summer, or maybe you take care of a sibling, can't afford internship housing, or work full-time to support yourself. There are a million reasons why, and if you don't tell recruiters, they're going to assume it's because you didn't take the initiative to gain out-of-the-classroom experience.
- Be confident without being aggressive: Often, recruiters can only forward resumes to the appropriate parties and that's really it. They don't have secrets to getting hired, and just assume everything they're sharing with you is everything they know. Be confident and forward about the application process without being pushy, and hope for the best!
- Know the companies you're approaching: If you're approaching a big name company at the career fair, it's almost expected that you know what they do. I wouldn't recommend going up to Google and asking them what they do as a company. Now asking a person what they do within the company is completely different. If someone pulls you aside, asks for your resume, and you aren't exactly familiar with the company, then it is perfectly okay.
- Pretty obvious, but prepare! Have a generic set of questions ready to ask recruiters.
- Do you have a formal internship programs?
- About how many interns do you host each year?
- Do you have rotational programs?
- What's the one reason you chose to work at this company over others?
- What unique opportunities and resources does this company offer?
- Do employees and interns receive training?
- Make connections before you apply! You never know who may be at the career fair; it might be your next boss or co-worker. Make sure they have a face to put to your name and apply after the career fair so they remember you. Make sure to add them on LinkedIn or follow-up if they share their contact with you.
In summary...to kill it at the career fair:
- Be intentional
- Be prepared to talk about your experience (or lack thereof)
- Be confident
- Know the companies you're approaching
- Make connections
What helped you kill it at the career fair?
I am absolutely in awe of women like Rih Rih who can do it all...in 6 inch stilettos. If you haven't seen the Work video by now, I highly recommend you take the 7 minutes and 34 seconds to do so. She has blessed us with not one but two videos! And lest not forget about Drake and his beautifully groomed facial hair...but that's for another post. I loved that the first video takes place in a dance hall. As a fellow Caribbean gyal I appreciate that Rihanna still celebrates her roots after 11 years in the industry. I got to thinking even harder about Rihanna's career and what has made her so untouchable for so long and I think she's on to something:
In the best way possible, Rihanna does not care about your opinion. She's so good at not caring that you'd think she was being paid not to care. From the fire-red asymmetrical bob (that everyone took a stab at and failed miserably) to wearing nighties on the red carpet, she rocks. Everything. Flawlessly. Rihanna's confidence is something we can definitely aspire to. She is comfortable in her own skin...no but seriously, go check her Instagram. She is set in her decisions and happy with the woman she's become, flaws and all. We should learn to do the same!
The confidence...it's killer.
I've seen two videos in the past week of Rihanna telling people her opinion. It's simply amazing how she does it. She can say something so bold and make it seem so right. Whether it was telling her live band they were screwing up her sound or explaining to J. Cole that his twists were indeed dreads, she did it with style and grace. When you've been on top for that long, you earn your voice. We must remember to speak our minds!
True to Herself:
This one makes me laugh because of the most recent example that comes to mind. 99% of people don't understand the Patois lyrics in Rih's newest single, Work. I absolutely love that she recorded an entire song in her style and accent and that it's become a smash hit! Being your most authentic self will always win. Whether it's on your Twitter on in the office, I can surely recommend staying true to you all of the time.
Now get ready for work, work, work, work, work.
Here's the video if you haven't seen it (or want to watch it for the 20th time):
"How do I break the cycle of having no experience in a given job field when I need experience to get more experience?" <--- One of life's greatest mysteries. This was something that frustrated me as an information technology student who wanted to experience different facets of the field before I graduated. In interviews I felt like I had to justify not having experience and basically beg for companies to consider me. Somehow I was able to garner some enriching experience and that helped me in getting the job I have today. I've had some friends ask me about how to get internships and full-time jobs in fields that they don't have any prior experience in and decided to write about it.
Whether you find yourself wanting to work in a different field than what you are currently studying or you can't get work experience in the field you've been planning to go into, I have some ways to skirt around that pesky "requirements" section of the job description and hopefully land the position. As with any of my advice, I make no guarantees, but with focus I think you can put a middle finger up to that impossible "5-8 years required experience with C#" for an entry-level job. Let's be real, trying to get experience in a field when you don't have any shouldn't be that hard.
All summed up:
- Write a cover letter.
- Reference your student organization leadership experience.
- Remember side hustles count as valid work experience.
- Use the tools at hand and showcase your personal brand and industry focus.
- Start low and build from there to get your foot in the door.
- Show off your transferable skills.
The reoccurring theme in all of this is showing that you care. If you really want to break into an industry you're going to have to go the extra mile. Get creative, get out of your comfort zone, and get the job!
For many of my friends, finals are creeping up, and most importantly...graduation. If you're graduating in May, you probably want to have a job offer or two to choose from by then. That means you need to think about what you want to do and who you want to do it for, like yesterday. First off: Don't fret! If you're reading this in December and even January, you're still on the right track.
The "concentrated job search" (as I preach to my friends) will get you through this trying time in 8 simple steps.
- The "List"
- List out your top 20 companies or organizations that you'd like to work for (I realize this sounds like a lot, but the more you have in mind, the better).
- Be ambitious with your list! Similar to our college search, we have reach, match, and safety companies.
- Have some variety in your list! Different industries, different cities, and different things to offer. It's all about you.
- The Search
- Use websites like Indeed, Monster, Career Builder, and Glassdoor to get started with your search.
- Don't be afraid of titles like "assistant" or even "intern"
- It's better to start at the bottom of your dream company than have the "perfect job" at somewhere you don't want to be, IMHO.
- Do look for titles with "entry level" in them. They are suited to folks just graduating college or people with minimal experience.
- Don't be scared of the "requirements". If you qualify for even 80% of the required skills or experience, I say go for it! The worst that happens is...nothing!
- Keep these job position links in an spreadsheet or doc for easy tracking <--- this is what I mean by a "concentrated" job search.
- Reach in your pockets then reach out!
- Empty your suit jacket pockets and purses, and reach out to those business card contacts! All those networking events happened for a reason...
- Before you start applying, double check to see if you have any possible references! Job referrals mean you may be more likely to get the job; some companies swear by referrals!
- Got a friend who's interned or works at a company you'd like to be at? Reach out! You never know how helpful they can be!
- Now is the time to ask for help.
- Spruce up that resume!
- I'm amazed at how many "final" resumes I see that are littered with typos and information that isn't up-to-date!
- Check it twice and have a friend check it too!
- I'm amazed at how many "final" resumes I see that are littered with typos and information that isn't up-to-date!
- Write cover letters
- I know we hate these, but if you want the job that badly, you'll write one. It means you took the time to express your desire to work for X Company.
- If you and someone else with the exact same education and experience as you apply for a job, but the other applicant attached the "optional" cover letter, who do you think is going to get the interview/the job?
- Finally, apply to the positions that are posted earliest FIRST, because you're closing in on an application cut-off
- Track your applications! I track where I've applied in a spreadsheet (that I may post here later, if you all want it!)
- Follow up. This isn't a part-time job, this is your career!
- Don't be afraid to reach out after applying if you feel like too much time has passed.
- See here for tips on nailing that interview.
- Follow up again!
- Get the offer? Come back here and tell me if you did below! If you didn't, try these steps again. Don't give up and reach out for help!
In all things, hustle.
If you're interested, I've compiled some tips to get you through interview season. I am not the university career center, so my job is not to remind you to dress for the job you want or to brush your teeth or to show up to the interview on time. These tips are for the advanced interviewee, looking to get a leg-up on competition. You may be interviewing for a part-time job next semester, or you may be applying for your first full-time position of your post-graduate career. Either way, these pointers will help you nail the interview and come out of there with confidence.
- If you don't have a connection, make one. A trick I always use: look up your interviewer on LinkedIn. Have they worked at a company you've also worked at? Do you have ties to their alma mater? Find a not-creepy way to bring that up during your interview, and watch their eyes light up. Whether they realize you've looked them up or not, that connection is something they'll remember about you.
- Research the company values, mission, and vision. That stuff isn't corny or made up, these are real pillars that companies use to guide their employees every year! Maybe the company you're interviewing with has a "user first" approach. Find a way to incorporate how you've exemplified that in past work experience during an interview Q & A. They'll know you did your research, and it can also help you find out if you're a good fit.
- If they ask if you have questions, NEVER, I repeat, NEVER say "Nope". Bad. Bad. Bad. Ask about follow up, ask about the weather, ask about anything. Just don't say "nothing".
- Ask the interviewer about themselves and their career at the company. This lets them know that career development is important to you and that you're genuinely personable. These are two important traits of a great employee.
- Remember it's not the answer that is so important, it's your thought process leading up to that point. If you're in a technical or difficult interview, share your thoughts on how you came to a certain answer; sometimes you get partial points for showing your work (yes, like calculus).
I am already so proud of you! Report back.
Forget the fact that Ms. Williams fell just short of that Grand Slam title, let us remember that she's one B.A.B (I'll let you guess) and that we revere her...forever. https://twitter.com/tatichin/status/609000149067497473
After her US Open win in 2013, I started to study Serena Williams. Y'all, she is so much more than a tennis player. She's successful, independent, influential, and real. If you want to be the Serena Williams of anything that you do, then you need to exhibit the following behaviors:
- Dedication: Be dedicated to your craft. Become obsessed with it. Eat, sleep, and breathe whatever you love to do (or get paid to do). This is one of the well-known contributing factor's to Serena's success.
- Be enterprising: See opportunities in everything. Capitalize on your talents. Diversify that portfolio. Did you know Serena is part-owner in the Miami Dolphins? Also, she's a certified nail tech..
- Be 100% you 100% of the time, even if that means not being "on" all the time. This is what I mean by that:
- Blaze those trails: Serena wore a black lycra cat suit to the US Open. She's also earned more prize money than any other female tennis player ever. Fearlessly pursue your dreams and don't be afraid of being the first - you may be paving the way for others like you.
- Be confident: Never question why you're "here". Just do what you can with what you have and enjoy the moment before it's gone.
I think she's well on her way...now follow suit.
Today marks the return of the college football season and another day at my awesome new job. The past few weeks could only be appropriately described as a whirlwind. I finished my internship August 5th, flew home to Atlanta on the 6th, was surprised with an incredible feature on my university's website on the 7th, and I graduated on the 8th. The 9th I began moving into my new apartment, I spent the next week furnishing (but mostly decorating) my new place, and caught up with my family. Monday the 17th marked my official start date with IBM, and I was flown up to Armonk, NY to get oriented with the company for a couple of days. The following week was spent in Boston at IBM Security Bootcamp, learning the ins and outs of our organization and respective business unit. Lately, I've been hearing words like "Lucky" and "Fortunate" being used to describe my current situation. Yes, I am lucky and fortunate to be employed after graduation, but there's a lot more to it. There are a few things I held on to during college that I will always keep with me. They're important at any stage of your career and of course they're scalable.
- I never settled: I still won't. Don't settle with one job or internship interview, don't settle for Cs when you could make Bs (or As), don't settle for relationships that don't benefit you, don't settle because you think you can't do better. 10 times out of 10 you probably can.
- I worked hard: it's a cliche, but it's true. I didn't slave every night over stats homework (maybe 1 or 2 nights) and I never really worked true overtime at my internships. I just made the most of the time I was given and took advantage of the opportunities presented to me. I always think ahead (sometimes to a fault) and I am a tad hard on myself. Remember you've earned your spot.
- Good people: This is where I am lucky and fortunate. I have a great circle of friends and family who hold me accountable - as I do them. They congratulate me when it's time and are quick to remind me there's more work to be done. They tell me things I don't want to hear and they lend me an ear when I need it.
I can't give advice on everything, I can only share insights from my experiences and hope they guide you in your journey. I could go on all day about what I did to get where I am and what I'm doing to get to where I'd like to be..but I'll stick with those 3 pillars for now. Work hard, don't settle, and surround yourself with good people and you should be well on your way to something great.
Salary negotiation doesn't have to be uncomfortable or difficult like we make it out to be. Thanks to it being the third millennium, most of these negotiations can be done via email or over the phone instead of across a scary conference room table like the negotiations of your worst nightmares. If you've nailed down your first job or internship offer, congratulations! You've made it through the hard part, now it's time to hammer out the details (see what I did there?). When I first thought about writing a post like this, I wanted to write it for young women entering their first job out of school. Salary negotiation is an increasingly hot topic for women, because we've been proven less likely to go after a higher salary. After some thought, I realized that the advice I have to offer is workable for anyone, so here it is. Sure you could google "tips for salary negotiation" with ease, but I'm offering up my advice after just recently going through this process. Industry experts, correspondents, and hiring managers have great insights to share, but I hope this provides you with a relatable perspective. Disclaimer: this post is targeted to those looking to negotiate an initial salary, not a raise. Whether you are young, old, transitioning careers, a man, woman, or anyone in between-- this advice is for the hard-working folks who just want to learn how to ask for the salary they deserve. Remember that the employer wants you and is often expecting you to negotiate! Now feel special.
Rather than giving you a step-by-step guide, because you're grown and you probably understand basic correspondence, I'm going to address common questions and concerns regarding salary negotiation. Here it goes!
I have no clue how much I should be making! HELP!
1) With websites like Glassdoor, you can search specific salaries by position and location. Real people use the website to submit their own salaries and job reviews, and plebes like us can use those salaries to make educated guesses and counter-offers.
2) Ask around. Chances are your childhood neighborhood mom is bragging to your own mom about how much her son is making in his new job. Be nosey. Be proactive. Ask your professors and any other trusted grown-up about these things. They know...
I received my first job offer with the salary included. How do I bring up negotiation?
A considerably appropriate, polite, and direct response to get you started (it's like grown up Mad Libs):
I am mostly set on accepting this position with [company] after learning more and some careful consideration. I am very grateful for the opportunity and also the [relocation/signing bonus/thing companies usually throw in], which is comparable to what other companies offer. I consider [career website] to be a reliable source for salary information and see that [your position] out of [city you'll be working in] are earning a base salary of [dollars] per year. Is it possible to negotiate a base salary closer to that, to be more consistent with what other [your position] with my experience are making?
This offer is painfully low. What do I do?
Consider what a job offer involves. What are the perks of the job? Do you get to travel? Is there free food and a gym at your office (that accounts for a huge part of monthly expenses)? What about free beer? What are the health benefits and incentive packages like? Is there an end-of-the-year bonus? If you are in a sales role, you are often working with commission and a lower base salary. All of these factors ultimately play into that number, so after being shocked, think about it. Then go from there.
Should I have an exact number in mind?
First, know that for different jobs there are different salaries you may be willing to accept. When coming back to the employer with a counter offer, have a range in mind instead of just a magic number. With the first counter offer, give them a high number, about $8-10k more than you would be willing to settle with. If you are at the point where you're giving a 2nd counter offer, ask for about $5k more than you are willing to settle with. If they offer you more than that "rock bottom" number, congratulations! You can breathe now.
Salary negotiation, especially for people with nearly zero experience can be tough. I'm speaking from my own experience, which was nerve-wracking but overall positive. What works for me may not work for you. Just listen to your gut and only do what you're comfortable with. Remember that no number is set in stone and you can always prove you're worth more with quarterly and annual evaluations in your workplace. Consider how much more you can earn over your career if you start with a higher salary! That's hundreds of thousands more dollars over the span of you career.
Go make that money, money, money - Usher
A lot of prep work was involved in my move to Seattle. I wanted to know what to wear, what to bring, where to eat, and how to act. I'm 2000 miles away from home for the summer, and I want to make the best of each day. It's been 3 weeks now and my transition to my temporary home is smooth as could be. Moving from the relatively small city that is Columbia (and momentarily Atlanta) to the major city that is Seattle was unavoidably overwhelming; I empathize with anyone who experiences that kind of move. Whether you're studying abroad, transferring schools, or living in a new city post-grad, these tips may come in handy for taking on your new city like a pro. 1. Say yes to everything! You'd be surprised where you end up when you just let go and say yes to spontaneity. Of course, I don't recommend doing anything that could get you into trouble ;-)
"There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven't yet met."
3. Yelp! is your best friend. My trick for going through Yelp! reviews is seeing which spots have the most reviews or pictures, but not necessarily the highest reviews.
4. Use Pinterest! Before you make the move (or the trip) and gather up some cool ideas of sights you want to see, restaurants you'd like to eat at, attractions, and things unique to the city.
5. Use a map! No paper map required, but help plan your day and avoid zig-zagging around town by seeing where things are.
6. Just go outside! Take a walk around the block and take in your surroundings.
And of course, I would be remiss not to include some resources for finding events and happenings in your new home :-)
So as a youngin with bright ideas and and way too much caffeine in your system you don't want to work for *the man. But I'll let you in on something I learned the hard way; don't work against him. So what to do? Work with him. This is not to say you should be besties with the man, get mani/pedis with the man, and do Sunday brunch with the man. I'm saying get on his good side (if that does indeed exist). If anything, I've learned we are little fish in a big pond, and it's exhausting trying to conquer the rich, powerful, and influential. I've learned you can't beat the system, so you may as well join it. Understanding the inner workings of the system can be to your advantage. Being an outsider won't get you anywhere. I'm not telling you to go undercover and run for City Council just to expose corruption with the privatizaion of municipal water, I'm telling you to genuinely join something in order to benefit the cause you're working for. In a past life, I hated the idea of working for a giant corporation full of layers of bureaucracy, but interning at a Fortune 500 company changed my opinion. I gained mentors, exclusive insights, and knowledge about how to get things done. I used to loathe the idea of working under men who I couldn't relate to, but now I understand how they make decisions and how I can partner with them to get what I want. A lot of my peers may not agree with this approach, and that is completely undestandable. Some people (especially Millenials) are traditional rebels who don't want anything to do with the man and wouldn't touch him with a ten foot pole. I get it. What has worked best for me is meeting people half way and slowly incorporating my ideals and contributing. Maybe being level-headed makes me boring, but I would rather it be this way. Let me be clear though: never, under any circumstances, compromise your beliefs. Compromise things, not beliefs. From grassroots-government partnerships, to sponsorships, panels, and coalitions, collaborations with the man can take you and your causes to places you've never been before. I leave you with this: make friends with the man, have coffee with the man, but if you alienate the man, there's definitely no way you're getting anything from him.
*The man is your crazy boss, the person who makes decisions that affect your life, the system. This does not represent all men.