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tati chin

The Single Best Piece of Advice I've Ever Heard

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The Single Best Piece of Advice I've Ever Heard

Be intentional.

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.

Remember

    • 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.

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Knowledge is Meant to Be Shared

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Knowledge is Meant to Be Shared

This past weekend, I traveled back to my alma mater, the University of South Carolina, to attend the 2nd annual CHICKS Conference (see: this and this).

This year, I got to present on a very relevant, important, and cryptic topic: breaking into the tech industry if you're not technical.

Making sure people, especially young women, understand what's out there for them is half the battle. Making sure they feel prepared and confident to pursue these opportunities is another part. Making sure we hold organizations accountable is another. The concept of hybrid jobs is fairly new so I was excited to shed some light on some lucrative career paths for young college women. Check out the deck below and this great report to learn some more.

In giving my session I found myself learning more than teaching. I got to have meaningful exchanges with a small group of women and learn about their aspirations and challenges. I love giving talks like this one because they almost always open up a more candid conversation where we can de-compress and share in a safe space.

The most beautiful thing about my experience at this year's conference was how much I learned attending other people's sessions. You never stop learning. You're never an expert. There's always something you can take on. Knowledge is meant to be shared and it must be.

If you liked this presentation and need help on next steps then give me a shout!

"Empowered women empower women."

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I Need To Relax (And You Probably Do Too)

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I Need To Relax (And You Probably Do Too)

I always tell myself "I need to relax and this is going to be the weekend". But if you're anything like me, your mind runs 100mph and that weekend never comes. I travel a lot, I eat great food, and meet awesome people, but 99% of the time when I'm having fun I'm anything but "relaxed". I'm worried about emails that need replies, wash that needs drying, and my utilities bill. I'm 21 years old as of today. I promise you nothing in my life is that pressing.

We live in a society where folks wear "busy" like a badge of honor. Shameless plug, but we touched on this recently in our Mindfulness Episode of the Dos Cocos Podcast, feel free to check it out. I don't want to be that person. I'm energized by being busy, but there's a point at which it's gotta stop. I'm fast paced but I don't think I'm too busy to stop and smell the roses and just slow down.

This short Jamaica trip has served as a catalyst for true relaxation. There's no better time to try and relax than the time you actually set aside to do just that. So how have I approached it? What am I doing to let go? What am I going to do?

  • Get lost in books
  • When an idea or thought pops in my head, I make a note and save it for later
  • Re-evaluate what makes me happy. Rid of the things that don't.
  • Think about my goals and prioritize for later.
  • Shut my mouth for once

We get wrapped up in busy, stressed, tired. We'd rather be that way than sit ourselves down and get to the root of our problems. I want to know myself, I want to know what causes me stress, and I want to get better at letting go. I know someone feels the way I do.

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One Weekend In: Charleston

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One Weekend In: Charleston

Sometime during the beginning of last week I was already itching to get back to some place warm. I blame Expedia and Airfarewatchdog emails for that. I tweeted about it, and roughly 5 minutes later, my best friend said "Let's go to Charleston!".  As soon as the weekend hit, my first stop was Columbia to scoop up my bestie and then we hit the road! Charleston was recently voted The Best City in America, and I never thought of it that way having been so many times. We often take for granted what is just up the road from us...like the best city in America.

This one weekend in Charleston was the most authentic experience I've had - and I've been many times! We stayed in a nice home near all the good stuff and it was during an off-peak weekend. I loved every second of it.

Where We Stayed:

We stayed at the Sasquatch Inn, an Airbnb that is conveniently located about half a mile from King Street. The house was straight out of HGTV, and everything was curated for their home. Find the sasquatches if you stay!

What We Ate:

Let me preface this by saying we ate...a lot. The first night we ate Italian on a whim at Indaco ($$$) a super fresh and authentic Italian restaurant on King Street. It was so authentic we pointed at the menu instead of even trying to pronounce the food. The cocktails were very good as well!

Hominy Grill ($$) - We ate here for brunch on Saturday. It's been recommended by friends and publications, so we gave it a shot. I recommend arriving early (like when they open) to get a good seat, although they have a lot of indoor and outdoor seating. The specials menu was very unique and they've got all the Southern classics, too!

Co ($) - For some thorough and fresh Asian fusion, I recommend Co. It's located on King Street near the best shops, and it's a quick, fresh bite if it's too early for dinner but you're feeling a bit peckish. They're super vegan and vegetarian friendly as well, which was great for traveling with a veg. As a connoisseur of all Asian cuisines, I give this spot a thumbs-up.

Cannon Green ($$$) - Dining here was an all-out experience. Cannon Green doubles as a giant event space for Charleston events, so  there were a lot of pretty spaces (and plates) to look at. We made a reservation on OpenTable to be sure we had something to eat before we shot back to Columbia, but I don't think a party of 2 would have trouble without one. Our server was very friendly and actually knew everything about the menu which makes a huge impact on a dining experience. Their dishes change and they source a lot of the menu from local farms! Everything on the menu was good til the last bite, but if you get anything, make sure it's a pitcher of grapefruit mimosas.

What We Did:

Magnolia Plantation - A beautiful and huge piece of property with a lot of history. If you use this Groupon you can get discounted general admission for two. It just so happened the weekend we visited that there were free tours of the former slaves' cabins and stories told by black historians. I suggest looking at the website before you go to see if they have anything special going on.

Now we would be remiss not to party on King Street. Also, drinks taste better on a roof top.

Sunday we got to visit and reflect at Emanuel AME Church. The whole area surrounding the church is now designated as a memorial site.

I loved Battery Park! Park your car. Walk around. Smell the sea and stroll past the houses. It's kind of cool to take a walk into the past.

I'll be back.

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The Mysterious Cover Letter: A Guide

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The Mysterious Cover Letter: A Guide

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Cover Letter 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:

  1. The fancy stuff
  2. Purpose Paragraph (super short)
    1. What position you're writing in reference to and why you're a good candidate
  3. First paragraph
    1. Hard skills
    2. Experience
    3. Education
  4. Second paragraph
    1. Soft Skills
    2. Excitement (!)
    3. Personal values and goals and how they align with the company's
  5. Paragraph where you tell them you're excited and looking forward to hearing back soon
  6. 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.

Three Excellent Cover Letter Examples from The Guardian

Cover Letter Guide from Purdue OWL

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!

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One Weekend In: Venice

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One Weekend In: Venice

I've visited a handful of countries, and Italy was the first where I didn't speak (much less understand) the language. This made my weekend a unique and unforgettable experience, and I'm looking forward to many more adventures like it. Venice is special; it being "The Floating City", the people have held on to their rich and unique culture for centuries. The cappuccino was hot, the food was rich, the art was timeless, and the people were warm. I only had one weekend in Venice, but I can guarantee it won't be my last. Although it's a pretty small group of islands I know there's more to discover....

Highlights:

  • Basilica di San Marco – St. Mark’s Basilica
    • Going inside of the Basilica is free. The view from the gold dome is 2 euro, well worth it.
  • Basilica Santi Giovanni e Paolo - Basilica of Saints John and Paul
    • Absolutely incredible. 25 doges are buried in this basilica, and the building is a giant masterpiece. Different than St. Mark's but just as grand.
  • Canal Grande - Grand Canal
    • The main canal (Venice is full of canals). Catch a gondole if you have money to burn!
  •  Rialto Bridge
    • Built over 800 years ago over the Grand Canal and still stands today
  • Museu Correr - Correr Museum
    • Well-preserved Venetian showcase of art, furniture, and culture
  • Peggy Guggenheim Collection
    • Peggy Guggenheim's collection of modern art, from Picasso to Pollock. 5 minute walk from the Academy.
  •  Gallerie dell'Accademia - Academy Galleries
    • A place to see Renaissance masterpieces. Warning: no selfies allowed (I'm not even kidding)
  •  Palazzo Ducale - Doge's Palace
    • The word 'palace' doesn't even do it justice. This is a compound: courts, ballrooms, prisons, and all.
  •  Piazza San Marco - Saint Mark's Square
    • Get here before 10AM and get pictures without the other tourists! Then have a cappuccino on the plaza and watch them be attacked by pigeons.

Tips:

  • Take cash out at ATMs and not the currency exchanges because they tack on a huge charge.
  • Consider using Airbnb instead of staying at a hotel. This way you can cook and be comfortable at a way better price.
  • If you're flying into Marco Polo, take the Alilaguna (public transportation) water bus. It is way cheaper than chartering your own taxi, unless you're trying to pull out all the stops.
  • GPS is difficult because the complex canal and island system. Cave in and buy a map. I'm convinced the locals don't know where they're going either.
  • Buy a museum pass that allows you admission to multiple museums or you'll end up spending an arm and a leg.
  • Graze instead of sitting down to eat. A lot of the restaurants in Venice have a 10-20% service charge (not including gratuity).

Ciao!

^I've been so excited to say that.

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Trying to Get Experience in a Field When You Don't Have Any

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Trying to Get Experience in a Field When You Don't Have Any

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"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.

 

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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!

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One Weekend In: London

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One Weekend In: London

You'd be surprised what you can pack into 48 hours.  As I travel more for work I anticipate more weekend trips, so I'm hoping to make posts like this a regular thing. 2 days in a city is never enough time but it's enough time to see the highlights and decide if it's worth returning. If you get the opportunity to have one weekend in London I hope you consider seeing some of the great things I did!

My London Favorites in no particular order:

  • London Bridge
  • Borrough Market
  • The Christmas Markets (once a year for a month!)
  • The National Portrait Gallery
  • The Tate Modern Museum
  • Chinatown
  • Oxford Street shopping

Tips:

  • Buy a day pass for the Tube (the underground train). You'll save a lot! I had to learn that the hard way buying one-time passes all day.
    • Have a good idea of what you want to see so you can plan your route accordingly
    • Take the L and wear tennis shoes. Doesn't mean they don't have to be cute! But leave the heels at home or you're gonna have a bad time.
    • Come on an empty stomach and snack all day instead of sitting down for meals. There's so much street food to be enjoyed!
    • Shop last! Who wants to carry shopping bags the entire day?
    • Experience of the historic overground train stations for yourself. Wow. Movies.
    • Some say London is the NYC of England, but I got a DC feel.

See the world!

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5 Tips For Furnishing Your First Apartment

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5 Tips For Furnishing Your First Apartment

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5 Tips Furnishing First Apartment There are Pinterest dreams, and then there’s reality. Moving into your first big girl apartment can be an exciting time because your space is a clean slate. It can also be stressful for the very same reason. My own space is a work in progress and I’m adding and removing things all the time. Here I have some tips for furnishing  your first apartment that will take the stress out of the process. I can’t guarantee your spot will be Pinterest perfect, but you can get pretty damn close: 1) Buy a few staple pieces and build your space around them. Before you add accents, make sure you cover the basics, like a bed, desk, couch, and dresser. In my own apartment I was really keen on having a white sofa, and now I’ve been able to accessorize it as I please with throw pillows and blankets.

2) Hand-me-downs are your friend. You're never too old for them! You wouldn’t believe how much money I’ve saved by accepting hand-me-downs from my mom and my aunt. Go digging in the basement, you’ll never know what you may find.

3) Do it yourself to save BIG coins! DIY replicas of designer furniture and accents are ALL OVER Pinterest. Also, buying furniture from Ikea is a smart move if you want to save money because you assemble the furniture on your own. Grab a friend, grab some wine, and get to work!

4) Lighting and mirrors. Lamps and mirrors are a cheap way to class up a space. I don’t think you can have too many. Also, perfect selfie opportunities...

5) A gallery wall. This past summer I made it a point to collect prints from my travels. Put them in cheap frames from Ikea and Michael’s and you’ll always have something pretty to look at! This is an easy way to make any house a home.

With graduation just around the corner for many, I recommend planning and saving up for your first place! Make a Pinterest board, grab inspiration, and remember it's never too early to start window shopping! Depending on demand, I may post more details in the future about my furniture and decor. Until then, feel free to shoot me a comment or question.

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9 Very Important Factors Besides Salary to Consider When Taking a Job

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9 Very Important Factors Besides Salary to Consider When Taking a Job

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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:

  1.  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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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...
  4. 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!).
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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?
  8. 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.
  9. 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!

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Are You My Mentor? 3 Easy Ways to Find a Mentor

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Are You My Mentor? 3 Easy Ways to Find a Mentor

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Mentorship is an amazing thing. Mentors keep you humble, inspired, motivated, and in-check all at once. Do you have a mentor? Is there someone in your life who you think may be your mentor? Before you text somebody, "are you my mentor?", use the questions below to figure it out:

  1. Do you talk to them as often as every week but not as often as every day?
  2. Does this person give you advice without telling you exactly what to do?
  3. Is this person in a position that you would one day like to find yourself in?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you may just have yourself a mentor. A mentor/mentee relationship can be informal or formal, and isn't a set of rules. I will say that a mentor/mentee relationship should be beneficial to both parties, whether it's through gaining career advice, having someone to talk to, networking opportunities, or receiving general guidance on anything.

If you answered no to any of the above questions, then that's OK; you're officially on the hunt! There are a few ways to find a mentor.

  1. At work: She might be the woman with the best pumps in the office or she might be the badass negotiator who you always hear great things about. Seek her out, set up some time to meet, ask questions, and have an easy-going conversation. If things click and you begin to meet regularly, then you have found yourself a mentor.
  2. Online: Glassbreakers is an amazing online tool for women to find mentors. For many of us in school or in industries that are short on women, it's not unusual to find a mentor online. Glassbreakers matches you with a mentor you can chat with (and eventually take it offline) based on industry, interests, and skills.
  3. Through a friend: This is probably the easiest way to find a mentor. Often, we have friends who have parents, bosses, colleagues, and friends who we look up to. There's nothing wrong with having a mentor who is your age/peer. Sometimes they're easier to approach and access and can give you more relevant advice if they've had similar experiences as you.

Whichever way you approach finding a mentor, I wish you the best in your endeavor!

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The 8-Step Concentrated Job Search

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The 8-Step Concentrated Job Search

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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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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?
  6. Apply!
    • 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.
  7. Interviews
    • See here for tips on nailing that interview.
    • Follow up again!
  8. 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!

hustle

In all things, hustle.

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How to Nail It This Interview Season

So you've got an interview this week? And you don't want to get caught looking clueless when an interviewer asks you something totally out of left field...

Don't panic, we've got tips. Also, they're conveniently in a bullet point list because I know y'all don't like to read.

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.

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Changing Your Major: Taking the Leap

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Changing Your Major: Taking the Leap

Most of the easily accessible advice regarding switching majors comes from official university blogs and news publications. Where's all the advice from people who've actually been through this tough process? I decided to draw from my personal experience and those of my friends. If you're considering changing your major, look no further. Let me preface this post by saying you are not alone in any uncertainty you may have about your chosen major. I took a brief Facebook poll:

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I was wowed by all of the responses! Below are successful student leaders, young professionals, and people who are well into their careers - and happy with their decisions. The responses keep coming, too!

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I changed my major during my first semester of school, after realizing that I was way more interested in politics as it pertains to my life, and not actually studying political science. I've played around on computers for my entire life, and I really enjoy gadgets, gizmos, and devices of all kinds. I was also interested in managing things: schedules, tasks, people, you name it. I wasn't so sure about computer science, so I asked around and landed in the Integrated Information Technology program. I've been happy ever since! Oh- and I'm graduating next month (early, not late - phewww)!

The process of changing majors is different for everyone. I'm not promising that it will be easy, but I do want to share as much information as I possibly can in order to help you streamline the process and make a good decision.

That gut feeling you have about changing your major isn't uncommon. How can we honestly expect our 18 year old selves to decide what it is that we want to do for the rest of our adult lives? It's not feasible. And to top it off, high school guidance counselors seem more concerned with getting you to a good school than getting you into the right career field for you.

Don't compare your journey to anyone else's.

In choosing a new major or adding another field of study, consider these things:

  • Screw career inventories and how anyone says you should spend your days for the next forty-something years. You know yourself better than anyone else. If online quizzes or outside actors are your primary influence for changing your major, then hold that thought.
  • It's OK to change your major for the sake of job security or a higher salary. After the recession hit, our parents (and us) became a little more concerned with us pursuing a career path with job security. If you're looking to get into a field that provides that, make sure it's something you at least see yourself being good at, and hold on to your passions. You can incorporate them later, trust me.
  • If you're switching majors to something you're more interested in, then follow your heart. After all, you'll probably pay more attention in class, thus resulting in better grades (and better chances of employment)! See what I did there?
  • The earlier the better. Don't waste precious semesters or scholarship money studying something you don't want to study. Don't put this off for fear of throwing off your education - now is the time!
  • Your major doesn't always dictate what you will go on to do. In choosing a major, make sure the courses will provide you with an abundance of knowledge to prepare you for internships and jobs while encouraging you to explore more on your own.
  • Holler! Call the department that you're looking to switch into. We overlook this, thinking they won't have much advice to give, but they do! I called multiple departments in my search for the perfect major, and the recruitment counselors were transparent and honest about what the programs entailed.

Best of luck!

 

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Salary Negotiation - By a Beginner for Other Beginners

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.

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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

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Why I'm Not a Good Fit and Why Companies Should Stop Looking for People Who Are

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Why I'm Not a Good Fit and Why Companies Should Stop Looking for People Who Are

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I consume a lot of text every day. Whether it's a thought piece on Medium or a short news brief on TechCrunch, you can count on a tab being open at all times. I also have a terrible habit of sending long reads to my reading list and never hearing about them again (anyone else guilty of this?). I've made it a habit to piggy back off of the pieces that inspire or upset me. I'm about to do that with this post, because my train of thought has led me somewhere interesting.  I've read a couple of concerning articles this week. One was a summary of recent diversity statistics at companies like Facebook and Google. The other was an op-ed piece on cultural fit at companies and what they really mean by the term "fit".

About me: I am an impatient but very hard worker. I ask a lot of questions, I speak quickly, I sometimes have difficulty paying attention in meetings or on the phone, but in the end, I do great work. I am strongly focused on outcomes and overarching goals, perhaps even to a fault. I ask "why?" very often, and I use humor to get myself through stressful periods at work. I pursued a technical major in college, but I'm not looking to be in an primarily technical position for the long-term. 

Question: How many times have you been asked, "What makes you a good fit here?"

I don't know about you, but when I hear that question I think of organizational values. It's been drilled into me by countless advisors and career center counselors.Organizational values can be things like: innovation, transparency, relationship building, fairness, being resourceful. We often refer to such values in studying for interviews, so our answer goes a little something like "I'm hard working, willing to learn, I fail fast, and I'm results-oriented". You would think this would be a great answer, and if hiring managers abided by the true definition of cultural fit, it would be one. But in their world, it [your answer] actually isn't.

Often we find, and recent studies show, that fit isn't about organizational values, but more about personality fit. Many times, interviewers aren't even aware that they're placing a lot of value on the chemistry you have with them in an interview. Don't get me wrong, I think it's important that we have some commonalities. You like working hard, so do I. You like being recognized for it, so do I. Maybe you like art museums and so do I. But these things shouldn't be deal breakers. If you ask me what my hobbies are and I don't enjoy golf, you shouldn't cross me off the list in your head because I won't be out of the office on Fridays at about the same time as you are. Hire or don't hire me because of my alignment with your company's values and not because of how I see the world or how I reach certain conclusions.

Call to action: Stop looking for candidates who "fit".

By searching high and low for candidates who seem to be younger versions of yourself, you are hiring clones. Even the greatest personalities don't need to exist in high quantities in one place. Yes, I'm suggesting you re-think everything about your hiring process, but my intentions are good. Think about it; choosing prospective employees who think and act like you can ultimately mean choosing people who look just like you and come from a similar background. Just in my internship experience this summer I've seen how someone's very different thought process, which was molded by a different background, has led us to better project outcomes. This isn't a myth or a buzzword; diversity has value. The company I'm with right now does an amazing job at hiring people of all backgrounds, and thus, we come up with innovative solutions to our problems every single day and are leading the industry with what we do.


Unlicensed doctor's orders? Define what fit means to you. Don't confuse it with chemistry. Be transparent about your organization's values and hiring processes. Come up with a quantitative system for evaluating fit during interviews. Make sure it's not the the most important factor. Hire great misfits. Do great work. Repeat.

The aforementioned concerning articles:

http://techcrunch.com/2015/06/25/pipeline-leads-to-a-hole-in-the-bucket/

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/31/opinion/sunday/guess-who-doesnt-fit-in-at-work.html?_r=0

Facebook's recent diversity report: https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2015/06/driving-diversity-at-facebook/

*I have come to a conclusion that there may be a correlation between hiring processes, organization values, cultural fit, and our lack of overall diversity in the workplace. I welcome healthy discussion and debate about this topic, as I've been known to accidentally skim over important considerations when writing emotional critiques of the industry. Comment below, please! I'd love to hear your thoughts.*

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Moving to a New City - What You Need to Know

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Moving to a New City - What You Need to Know

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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 ;-)

NewCityPost6 2. Talk to everyone you meet. This is including but not limited to: cashiers, servers, doormen, passers-by, and bartenders.

"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.

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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.

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5. Use a map! No paper map required, but help plan your day and avoid zig-zagging around town by seeing where things are.

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6. Just go outside! Take a walk around the block and take in your surroundings.

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And of course, I would be remiss not to include some resources for finding events and happenings in your new home :-)

 

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Rebel 2.0

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Rebel 2.0

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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.

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