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.
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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!
So you want to work from home? Or maybe just wondered what it's like? I didn't know I was going to be working from home until after I interviewed for my current position. I had no clue what that entailed, if I would have support, and if I would like it. All I knew is I told myself I never wanted to be restricted to the confines of a traditional office from 9-5, like I had done for the 3 previous summers. Going into my first job out of school working from home and traveling for projects was daunting, but I'm 7 months in and I think I've got it down. If you're interested in consulting, a lot of firms now have their consultants work from home when they aren't traveling (my arrangement). Friends and inquiring minds have asked me a lot of questions, so I wanted to write about what it's really like to work from home.
*Mind you, I am a single person with no kids and my experience working from home varies from those of others!*
What people think it's like:
- You can get away with not working at all
- You're alone
- There's no discipline/rules
- You don't get a lot of work
What it's really like:
- Sometimes you can find yourself working late hours because you don't have to commute and can't get away from the computer!
- There are colleagues, teammates, managers, and mentors all looking out for you who you talk to everyday!
- There is a clear expectation set about your availability and performance, although there is a certain flexibility associated with working from home
- I often work in my pajamas and from my couch
- I sit in just as many meetings, most of them just virtual
- Get a rhythm going and get comfortable with your working style and hours
- Go into the office (sometimes) if there is a local one available to you
- Make yourself visible to local coworkers
- Ask for help, guidance, and mentorship
- Take initiative in asking for more projects because if people can't see you they can't picture your workload!
- Work in the same place everyday, get really familiar with your local coffee shops!
- Skip hours of work. It will catch up to you.
- Work from home if you don't have good self-discipline (it's OK)
- Work too many hours. It's very possible to lose track of time.
If you're interested...
If you have other questions, feel free to shoot me an email!
Job interview season is upon us and it seems as though nobody knows how to write a cover letter. A lot of people don't quite get the purpose of a cover letter in the first place. We are usually taught how to write them in business communications, English, or some other freshman-year course, but by the time we need to write one, we've forgotten how to do so. Here I present you with the mysterious cover letter: a guide.
But Tati, do I need to write a cover letter?
No. Yes. Usually companies don't require you to submit a cover letter with your application. But think about it this way, if it came down to two candidates with the same experience and education and one had a cover letter and one didn't, who do you think would get called for an interview? Exactly. Now quit slackin' and make sh*t happen.
A cover letter is a nice way to let a company know that you care. It's also a great place to say everything you couldn't in those short answer boxes on the application. You know the ones with a 150-word limit? The yes or no questions? Here's your space to let it all out, clearly and concisely of course. Some might say a cover letter is a written ass-kissing, but if that's what (eventually) pays the bills, I'm alright churning out a few of them at once. Put it this way: you're only doing it this one time and hopefully not for a long time. You'll be happy you took the time.
Should I write one cover letter for every position I apply for and just change the company names and dates?
I say no. You can have a template or an outline for how each cover letter should flow, but no two cover letters should be worded the same. A cover letter is your opportunity to show a company how your experience, skills, and values align with their values and the skills required of the position. If no two positions are the same, then why should your cover letters be?
TBH, I don't even know where to start. That's OK. This is how I typically outline a cover letter:
- The fancy stuff
- Purpose Paragraph (super short)
- What position you're writing in reference to and why you're a good candidate
- First paragraph
- Hard skills
- Second paragraph
- Soft Skills
- Excitement (!)
- Personal values and goals and how they align with the company's
- Paragraph where you tell them you're excited and looking forward to hearing back soon
- More fancy stuff
Different people have varying opinions on how your cover letter should look, thus I put fancy stuff in for 1. and 6. I can definitely say it's important to open and close with the proper greeting and salutation. I have listed links for cover letter template examples.
Now let me be clear: the way you write your resume should reflect you. Yes it's formal and yes there's formatting but it's uniquely yours. Make sure you stand out and not get mixed in the pile. I'm not saying a well-written cover letter is a shoe-in for a job but I'm saying it doesn't hurt. If you make the decision to write one, make sure it's different for every position you apply for and don't half ass it!
Good luck! Let me know if you think your cover letter helped you snag the interview...and even the job!
To my friends with plenty of experience who find themselves filling out endless numbers of applications and receiving no call-backs: it might be time to audit yourself. There's nothing more frustrating than the feeling of not being taken seriously as a job candidate, as usually this comes with no explanation. Companies that don't call back for interviews or even after interviews aren't likely to give you any feedback on how to improve, so before you go further in that next application, there are some things to consider:
You don’t take yourself seriously
How do you carry yourself? This is a serious question. Do you walk with an air of confidence? Do you sit up straight? Do you feel confident? If you answered no to any of the above questions, get to work! Confidence in yourself reflects confidence in your ability to do your job. If you don't appear confident (notice I only said appear), then why would a company be happy to bring yo on board? Fake it until you make it, smile big and stand tall. That's half of the battle.
People say this over and over again, but it's because we clearly don't hear it enough. A professional brand image is a MAJOR key. Clearly, entering a field just out of college, it's going to be hard to have an established name in a given industry. But what are you known for? Think of three pillars that define your personal and professional brand and do the best you can to represent them on paper and in-person.
You don’t have #Goals
If you don't know what the hell you want to do with your life then what is a company supposed to do with you? I'm not just talking about what you want to achieve in your career, but in your lifetime! In an interview a hiring manager once asked me about my 1 and 5 year plans. I was speechless, I laughed, and I somehow thought of those on the fly. Don't be like Tati. Having a plan filled with attainable goals helps you get to where you want to go faster. So think long and hard about goals for yourself, and don't be afraid to share them with a potential employer when they ask. It shows that you've got some kind of plan going and that a career is an integral part of that.
You don't do your research
This last one is a simple task that can have a huge negative impact on your chances with an employer. Research. Before you speak to anyone in a potential company you need to understand what they do, who they do it for, why they do it, and how they get it done. Consider a company's "About Us" page to be your personal cheat sheet. What's their mission? Vision for the next 10 years? What are their core values? Most importantly, do all of these align with your personal perspective? A big consideration in hiring folks is how they "fit", so knowing and aligning with this important information about a company can complement your skills and experience. Not knowing what a company does can be the biggest insult to a hiring manager. It simply shows that you don't care...and thus they aren't taking you seriously.
So if you came to this post wondering why companies aren't taking you seriously, I hope you take away this much:
- Learn to take yourself seriously
- Have some goals
- Do your research
Good luck! I appreciate feedback of any kind in the comments!
This evening sitting in a sushi bar in Northern England I couldn't help but be thankful. I was grinning ear to ear, and while I'm sure it was creepy to the waitress, I was happy. Dinner tonight was the first opportunity I had since arriving to reflect on the first 4 months of my big girl job and and think about what great things are to come in 2016. Being able to sit here, eat delicious salmon, and blog after work is a perk for a traveling consultant, and to me, an important privilege. When we consider going to work for company we immediately think of salary as the end-all-be-all. In making the decision to take a new job, we have to consider a combination of factors:
- Insurance - This is probably the most important factor to consider when taking a job, no matter where your priorities lie. Here in the US, employers must offer insurance options, but making sure they're competitive in price and benefits is huge!
- Office amenities - If you're like most people, you're going to be spending 40 or more hours a week in this place. Is the coffee free? Will you be sitting in an office or a cube? Is there a gym, child care, or other free services that will save you time and money? Make sure to ask, and take a tour if possible.
- Discounts - Companies of all sizes have great discount programs they've created to incentivize employees. Saving money on gym memberships, travel, attractions, and merchandise really adds up. Make sure your company is helping you save those hard earned coins...
- Commute and Location - If you're living in a large metropolitan are you're likely not going to want to sit in 2.5 hours a day of traffic. It's a waste of gas and time. Make sure that commute is somewhat manageable from where you live, and if you don't want to commute, consider one of these companies (my company made #2 on this list!).
- Travel - For some, travel is a blessing, others a curse. If a job has travel time at 20%, consider that a little under a week per month. If you're looking forward to traveling (like me, yay) then make sure the company knows you're open to it and sign up for those frequent flyer miles and hotel points ASAP.
- Vacation and Leave - In a dream world, we get unlimited vacation, sick leave, and maternity/paternity leave. Depending upon the company, you can reap those benefits! Make sure your future workplace offers a fair share of vacation and other paid time off to its employees.
- Growth Opportunity - Today's most successful companies are led by Baby Boomers who are looking to retire in the near future. This large shift toward retirement means more room at the top for everyone else! Closely examine the opportunities for promotion (and education) at your future employer. Do they place value on continuing education and career development?
- Bonus Compensation - Depending on your position, a large portion of your income can come from annual or one-time bonuses. Consider a sign-on bonus or the opportunity for a sales/growth bonus as part of your income as well. You never know how big it could be! See here.
- Balance and Culture - Sometimes a high-paying job simply isn't worth it if it comes with too much stress and not enough time spent with the ones you love. Check anonymous online reviews about the work culture and see what kind of balance they offer for employees so there aren't any surprises on the first day.
Ultimately, and always, what's good for you isn't necessarily good for someone else. For you, living comfortably may be your biggest priority. For someone else, it may be getting to spend more time with their family and friends. No matter what you choose, take a more holistic approach to choosing a job and watch it blossom beautifully into a career. As always, best of luck!
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.
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.
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 :-)