When WG1 and I decided to start this bi-weekly Q&A sesh we figured that we would split the questions and write the post together. But things happen and WG1 is still stuck at the office and dealing with a Project Manager from hell so I'm going to answer some of the questions you asked us last week and we will follow up with the other answers in our next feature. Our apologies if your question doesn't get answered. If you need advice ASAP, you can always e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Without further adieu, here are my non-expert opinions and answers to your burning questions.
Elizabeth asked: The drama queen of my office recently decided that we should be BFF. She's a nice person and all, but I have enough friends and not much time, thank you very much. Well, I recently found out that she's been helping herself to the snacks I have stashed in my desk when I'm not in the office. I immediately got a set of keys to all my drawers and cabinets, so at least that problem is solved. But we haven't spoken since this incident several weeks ago. Have either of you experienced a similar invasion of privacy, or unwelcomed friendship advances?
WG2 answered: Welcome to my life Elizabeth! In some of my most recent posts I've been telling you all about the New Kid. He is the definition of "that guy". Whenever I'm engaged in a conversation with a co-worker, he has to put in his two cents. He invites himself to lunch with me and my work friends. And he has tried unsuccessfully to get the two of us to have inside jokes together. I can tell you now that if he even attempted to eat my food I would probably bite him (and subsequently be fired).
My best advice in this sticky situation is to play the "I'm busy" card. I mean, it's a great excuse because well, you're at work! Duh! Of course you're busy. When the New Kid engages me in a conversation that makes me want to slap him I just interject with a, "Hey, if I don' finish this Excel sheet by two today The Boss will kill me". This approach has worked pretty well with me so far.
As for the snacks issue, my approach has always to tackle these matters with honesty but in a way that is not entirely confrontational and could affect your friendship (should you decide someday that this drama queen could be your new bff). Letting someone know your quirks and oddities is a great way to make them stop doing the things that irritate you. Saying, "Hey, I know this is really bizarre but I have hated sharing my food since I was in diapers, and I know it's weird and so not co-worker friendly but to avoid the wrath of the preschooler in me you should keep your hands out of my drawers." (That's what she said).
howitstarts asks: Do you have any recommendations for finding a job in a different city? I know WG2 is going through this right now and I'd love some tips because I'm having a hard time knowing where to look. I'm an assistant right now and would probably be looking at doing more assistant/office worker type stuff.
WG2 answers: I am indeed trying to find a job in a different city and let me tell you it is not easy. My greatest piece of advice is perseverance and patience. Every day after work, I go home and search and search for any jobs in marketing, publishing, or editing and apply for them. I stalk CareerBuilder.com, Monster.com, Craig's List, Simply Hired, Indeed, MediaBistro, ed2010, and SoloGig. I would say I apply for at least 20 jobs a day, maybe less if it's a slow day.
Also, when I send out my resume or an e-mail I like to preface in my opening paragraph that while I am currently living in NYC, that I am in the process of moving to Chicago. They don't need to know details right away. So even if you aren't moving at this very minute, employers might be more inclined to call you for an interview if they know you aren't looking for relocation money and that a move is on the horizon (because employers want people to start ASAP most of the time).
If you are specifically looking for an assistant job, it might be a good idea to look into joining a few temp agencies. A lot of agencies do a temp-to-hire position which technically means that you are working for the temp agency who then loans you out to a company for a trail period. Then if you like the company and the company likes you back, they can offer you a job and salary after a certain amount of months. This is a good solution if you are looking to move immediately and need something more short-term while you search for the job of your dreams.
Kerry asks: What lessons or skills did you learn in college that helped you most in the workplace?
WG2 answers: It's funny that this was one of our questions because WG1 and I were just having a conversation a few weeks ago about what our favorite classes were in college. And like the nerd I am, I listed my top 5 and WG1 laughed in my face (except this was an online convo so really she just did typed "haha, you're a nerd" and we moved on).
Anyway, I would have to say that the best set of skills I learned in college would be my management skills. While in college, I worked on the school newspaper where I also had the honor of being the News Editor my senior year. At this position I had little lackies that I had the fun task of directing these minions (and I wish I could put quotes around all these management words because it wasn't as severely structured as this sounds). Anyway, being the "boss" in a way and learning how to give direction and encouragement was difficult but I think it was something I gleaned from that whole experience.
This past summer, I was given my first real intern. Real in the sense that she was completely under my guidance and instruction. When it was time for my intern to go back to college in August, the VP of Marketing gave me the biggest compliment when she said that she saw growth in our intern when she was under my wing. That even though this girl and I were practically the same age, I still acted like her boss while still managing to be her friend. I realized that I had picked up that skill because of my role on our college newspaper so I will always be thankful to that college experience for helping me grow as a student and eventually as an employee.
Tatum asks: Heard back from Chicago yet? Dying to know the outcome of your trip!
WG2 answers: Updates, updates, updates. Well, first of all I have to announce that I did not get the job in the suburbs that I was dying to get. I got an e-mail from them this week thanking me for flying out, but they had decided to keep interviewing and wished me a "long career". Yea, I thought that was odd too. I have since gotten over it. I mean, it would have been a great job but the location wasn't perfect and it wasn't exactly what I wanted to be doing with my life so my search continues.
Some other opportunities have recently popped up so hopefully one of those will work because I would love to be back in Chicago in time for the holidays. But I also have other plans worked out if this whole Chicago idea needs to be put on the back burner. With the economy the way it is, it might not be the best time to be scuttling from job to job. So we will see where these opportunities take me. Only time will tell. Wow, that paragraph is so full of ambiguity!
Again, thank you to everyone for your questions and look out for WG1's answers which will come in the next few weeks!