Friday, July 31, 2009

Summer Job Files: Sitting on Babies

In honor of the summer, each week we take turns to recount a summer job we had back in the day. [Editor's Note: Back in the day refers to when we were in].

Two weeks ago, I told you all about my summer of overachievement. The summer when I worked not one, not two, but three jobs to support my drinking career in college. So in addition to being a camp counselor, hostessing at a restaurant, I also baby-sat.

The great thing about being a counselor was not only the camaraderie of hanging out with other counselors or being able to be outside all day, but also that you got to meet a lot of kids. These kids who are with you day after day begin to feel attached and then all of a sudden their parents are asking you to baby-sit. I got a lot of sweet, high-paying baby-sitting gigs out of my camp counselor days.

One of my favorite kids to baby-sit was by far a six-year old boy named Grant. Since the camp that I worked for (and Grant attended) only lasted until the first week of August, the two of us both had time to kill until we both went back to school. Grant's mother didn't work, but hired me anyway because Grant "loved" me and because she wanted "alone time" during the day to work out with her trainer, go shopping, etc. so for a good portion of August I baby-sat Grant while his brother attended a circus camp (and no, I'm not joking - I once had to pick him up and they were getting clown creepy).

And it was great for the most part. Grant's mother liked to keep him out of the house (probably so he could destroy less things), so she would often pile $100 into my open palms and tell me to take Grant to a movie (the first and last time I saw Spy Kids), go mini-golfing, or go paint pottery. We were hardly ever in his house.

I'm sure there as an ulterior motive to this, and later in the summer I think I figured out why. See, when Grant, who was quite rotund, was out of the house he had less opportunities to steal snacks from the cupboard. The only reason they even had fattening food like Oreos or pizza in the house was because Grant's older brother was stick thin and unlike Grant he barely ate at all. One night when I was asked to baby-sit, Grant found the hidden cupboard of snack foods in the house which I was explicitly told not to let him eat.

We had been watching a movie on TV and he had announced that he was going to the bathroom. 10 minutes pass and I realize I'm watching this children's movie all by my lonesome, so I go to look for Grant and find him in the kitchen on top of a counter smashing Oreos into his mouth like it's the end of the world. He spotted me and immediately booked it, running into the closest bathroom and locking himself inside with a sleeve full of Oreos and refused to come out until he had eaten every last one.

Grant wasn't my only baby-sitting escapade that summer - I also had the honor of baby-sitting for a little girl named Gabrielle, who was probably the most annoying little girl I had ever met. But money won me over and I ended up using my days off from Grant to baby-sit for Gabrielle. Since she wasn't allowed to watch TV (which is seriously the worst thing ever for baby-sitters - seriously, moms let them watch TV with us!), I would suggest we go for drives...and then I would do errands. Wow, I just realized how horrible this makes me sound. But in my defense, usually we'd end up at Target or CVS and we'd play in the toy aisle or we'd pick out outfits that we thought looked cute on her. Does that make me sound any less horrific?

My baby-sitting adventures were interesting that summer - I think I ended up baby-sitting for at least 4 families that I met through camp. Overall, it was a great way to make some extra cash, and I continued to baby-sit for multiple families while in college.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Working Girl Reads "The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl"

Once upon a time, a blog named Working Girl met an author/blogger/artist named Working Girl. They quickly realized that they were very similar in that they both liked to talk about their real experiences in the Working Girl trenches.

Unlike WG1 and WG2, Karen Burns (aka Working Girl), has a teensy bit more experience than we do and she wrote a book about all 59 (yes! 59!) of the jobs that she has had in her lifetime. For the past few weeks, WG1 and WG2 have been reading Karen Burns' new book "The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use". And we love it! Not only does she dispense her great words of wisdom, but she uses her real-life stories to do it. By separating her book into sections entitled "Clueless", "Confident" and "Carefree", Burns is able to relate to all Working Girls in any stage of their career (cause we've all been one of those 3 things at one point!).

Below is an interview we conducted with Karen Burns - and we hope you check out her blog and buy her book! Trust us - it's worth every penny!

WG: How did you decide to write this book? And how is it different from other career advice books?

The book was a friend’s idea, when she found out how many jobs I’d had. She was in publishing so I took her seriously. What’s different about The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl is that the advice is based on stuff that happened to me in my 59 jobs (yes, really 59). Each chapter—there are 59 and they are short—relates a story from one of my jobs and then gives career/life advice based on what happened in the story. It’s fast and easy. You can pick it up, open it anywhere, and start reading. Oh, and it’s illustrated with cartoons of “Working Girl” (that’s me).

WG: Out of the 59 jobs you've had, which was your all-time favorite and which was your most hated?

I really hated my “envelope sorting” job. It was so-o-o boring and the conditions were awful, super noisy and absolutely soul-deadening. My favorite job was in Paris (I lived & worked in Paris for 3 years—it’s in the book!). I worked freelance, mostly writing marketing materials in English for French companies. One of my regular clients, a design firm, would occasionally ask me to come along when they pitched business to potential clients. They wanted to look like an international firm so I was there to be introduced as “the American.” I got paid just for being American. It was kind of cool.

WG: What is the one thing you want people to take away from your reading your book?

That you will probably have to search for fulfilling work, for a great job—it won’t just fall in your lap. Maybe it will, but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t. And that making a mistake—in your career or in life—is not the end of the world. We are allowed to make mistakes. We need to make them! (I guess that’s two things.)

WG: We love the mission statement idea! Do you find that your mission statement stays or the same or changes often?

Your basic mission statement, in that it reflects your heart’s desire, will stay the same. However, the ways you devise to accomplish that heart’s desire may change.

WG: Of all your eternal truths, which is your favorite or the most important?

“It’s never too late to be the person you were meant to be.” It’s not original; I believe I read something like it in “Middlemarch.” But I think it’s very true.

WG: What advice would you give Working Girls during the current recession who are having a hard time finding a job?

Cast a wide net. Network like mad. Get creative. Stay positive. Don’t give up. Be a bright shining light. And remember that people have always survived hard times and you will, too.

WG: What advice can you give all the new (fresh out of college or HS) Working Girls out there?

Enjoy your life and your work. Especially, do a good job in whatever position you find yourself in, because all jobs are worth doing well and because doing a good job makes you a good person. And thus a happier person.

WG: How did you decide to jump ship and move abroad? What advice would you give WG's who want to take the same plunge?

It’s always good to line up a job before you go. If you can’t do this, and in any case, save up a lot of money first. Work at getting some contacts in your target country. Find out what the laws are for foreign workers in your target country. Think the whole project through; try to anticipate the “worst that could happen” and come up with a plan for what you would do if it did. Be prepared for things to not go exactly as planned, and brace yourself for some loneliness at first. It’s not easy to live in a foreign country, to be “a foreigner”—try not to be discouraged by this. Persist! Living abroad is tremendously fun and tremendously challenging. You grow. You get smarter. You become more…..sophisticated. I highly recommend it.

WG: Do you believed you have discovered your true path?

I always thought it was my “true path” to earn my living by writing and reading so, yes, I think so.

WG: We're stealing this one from our interview with Karen Burns on her blog! If you could not work a day more in your life, would you take the opportunity to do so?

No. I need something to do. I need a challenge, some project that absorbs me and feels worthwhile. Isn’t that why we’re alive?

Meeting Notes

Meeting Notes is a weekly feature. Here we will dish on tidbits, news, and important things we think Working Girls should know. So scroll down to hear what we think you should glean from this work week.

  • In the publishing world, advertising sales reps are usually offered monetary incentives to sell more ad pages. Incentives are almost never offered to marketing or editorial departments, let alone the assistants. Until now. At Conde Nast, the sales assistants are fighting to the assistant of the month award. The Prize: $500. [via Gawker]
  • So you're cool with being Facebook friends with your boss and coworkers but are you cool with them seeing everything on your profile? Corporette has a fantastic tutorial on setting your privacy settings for your coworkers.
  • Thinking about switching careers? Not sure where to start? NonSociety's Meghan interviews consultant Jeff Saperstein for some advice here. Tip #1: Get a mentor. Sounds like a no brainer but I'm sure more of us Working Girls could use a good mentor.
  • If you love Sex & The City and Lipstick Jungle the perfect webseries is in the works for you! MORE magazinea and Candace Bushnell have teamed up to create The Boardroom. If it's anything like Lipstick Jungle, I wont be watching. I was a Cashmere Mafia girl. [via Jezebel]

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cheap Date

Last night my boyfriend and I went out to dinner for New York City Restaurant Week. We thought this was the perfect occasion for a date night. What could be better than a relatively cheap dinner at an otherwise expensive restaurant?

An actual cheap date night. That's what could be better. Add a couple of drinks, tax and gratuity to the $35 per dinner price tag and you have a $100 night out. On a Monday! Outrageous. While we had a good time together and the food wasn't bad, we determined that at the end of the day it wasn't really worth it.

Living in major cities, most Working Girls (and Boys) are living paycheck to paycheck and trying their best to save a bit along the way. Especially these days. This Working Girl and said boyfriend are also planning on moving in together in a few months so we're all about saving. We've decided no more expensive dinners out, just cheap date nights. With the help of some friends and my Twitter follows, I've complied a list of cheap date night ideas.
  • Picnic in the Park - I've been hinting at this one for ages and I think I'm going to have plan my own damn picnic pretty soon. Most cities and towns have some great parks to take advantage of. Pack some homemade sandwiches, bring a blanket and some books or magazines and you're good to go. ericajpolleys also suggested (via Twitter) to look into what free shows your cities offer. Here in NYC there are concerts, movies and music all for free. Pack a Picnic and go!
  • Farmer's Market Dinner Date - Have a local farmer's market? If you're gonna have a dinner date you may as well cook it yourself and buy locally, right? (Don't forget your reusable grocery bag!) megan_wuske suggested riding bikes to the farmer's market and cooking dinner together. Eat it at home or make it a picnic! I would most definitely ride a bike to the farmer's market if I didn't think I'd get hit by a taxi on the way.
  • Bowling & Other Sports - hazel318 told me she loves bowling dates. In Manhattan bowling can be pricey. Good thing I have a Wii because I can "bowl" for free. Or "play tennis" for free. Or "box" for free. If you have a Wii, inviting friends over or another couple over for a dinner date would be super fun.
  • Movie Night - In the summer, see if your city or town has free outdoor movies. On rainy nights or winter nights Working Girl Two is a fan of renting movies from the library because they are free. If you're a frequent movie watching, sign up for Netflix. You can get movies delivered to your home and you can watch some movies instantly on your comptuer. It's amazing. TV Shows too! I've been watching The Tudors like it's my job for the past week and a half.
  • Comedy Club - A lot of comedy clubs require you to purchase a ticket and order a minium of two drinks (at least in New York). But in New York we also have the Upright Citizens Brigade which offers most of it's shows for just $5 a ticket. Now that's cheap.
  • I'm On a Boat - City boat tours can be expensive. kateamcconnell suggested the Staten Island Ferry in New York for a cheap date. Commuter ferries in your city can offer the same scenery as the expensive tourist ferries.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Antiquated Notions of Women in the Workplace

My feathers were officially flustered when I read in a Wall Street Journal article that last month, Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, stood up at a human resources conference to declare that, "There's no such thing as a work-life balance." He went on to say that there are work-life choices and that these choices have consequences and then explained that a woman's choice to have a family makes career advancement a near impossibility.

This kind of thinking makes me want to scream. As a young girl who grew up being taught that I can have it all, I want it all. And I know people who have had successful careers and raised a family. One being my mother.

Coming from an upper-middle class family in a affluent suburb of Chicago, having a working mother wasn't something I saw a lot growing up. Most of my friend's mothers stayed at home and raised their children, but I lived in a different household. My mother and father both worked and I know for a fact my mother loved what she did. She was a writer and editor and was lucky enough later on in her career (when me and my sister were in middle school) to be able to work from home or sometimes just part-time so she was around more, but she still managed to work for some very high profile companies and raise us. And no, I don't recall her ever really being absent. In my eyes she was a superwoman - someone who worked in an office, made my dinner, helped me with my homework, and planned charity events in her spare time. But I know she always made time for us first and foremost.

And while my mother was never a CEO, there are women out there today who are wonderful role models to us women who do want it all in life - including a corner office. Julie Menin wrote an article for the Huffington Post, citing strong women such as Liz Lange, who started a maternity clothing line while raising two children and fighting cervical cancer, and Campbell Brown who hosts a national cable news show while raising her children. And to use examples of working mothers in my own life: I've had two females bosses, one the CEO of a private company and the other the Editor-in-Chief of a magazine, both of whom had children and successful careers.

I agree with Welch in that yes, we have to make sacrifices to have both career and family. Maybe you will have to put your kids in day care, or maybe you will have to tele-commute one day a week to make it work. But it can be done! I disagree that it is something that we women can't have both. I do believe we can have it all.

So thank you to Welch for putting another roadblock in our way. Much appreciated. But really, it just makes me more motivated to prove him wrong. Sure it's a tricky balancing act, but it's something I am willing to try. (Don't worry Dad! I don't plan on cranking any kids out soon! I mean in the future...the verrrrry far future!).

Friday, July 24, 2009

Summer Job Files: Marketing Intern

In honor of the summer, each week we take turns to recount a summer job we had back in the day. [Editor's Note: Back in the day refers to when we were in].

I had a slight panic attack this evening when I realized I had to write a post about a summer job and thought that I didn't have any more summer jobs to write about. Alright, maybe not a panic attack but I didn't know what to write about until WG2 informed me that my summer marketing internship counted as a summer job. So, with WG2's approval, that's what I'll be writing about today. And next week.

I spent the spring of my junior year applying to every single editorial magazine internship that I could find. I had a phone interview here and an in-person interview there but nothing transpired. I had already sent my check to NYU for their summer housing program and needed a summer job desperately. My uncle was able to hook me up with an internship position at his financial company. Not exactly my dream job but it was a paid internship so at least I'd make some money.

Weeks earlier I had told the mother of the family I nannied for that I was looking for a job at a magazine. She had a friend who's sister worked for a women's magazine. She gave me the sister's contact information and told me to send my cover letter and resume because they were looking for marketing interns. "Marketing?! I didn't want to do that," I thought to myself. "That's what my Dad does and that's boring"

When I hadn't sent my resume or even reached out to the sister, I recieved a phone call from the mother pretty much yelling at me for not doing so. I was slightly shocked at first that she was scolding me for this but realized that she had reached out to someone on my behalf and was doing me a favor. It was rude of me not to take action. She called back later and apologized for acting like my mother but her first phone call was exactly what I needed. A little kick in the tush.

I immediately emailed my resume and soon had an interview lined up. I wore my my Andie Anderson interview outfit and was ready to find out why exactly a magazine needed a marketing intern anyway. What I learned was exciting and I really wanted the internship.

A few days later I recieved a phone call from my interviewer and found out that I got the internship. I was thrilled. But then I realized, I had to call my uncle and tell him I couldn't intern for his company because I was offered a internship that I found more intersting.

WG2 and I moved into our NYU dorm for the summer and spent our first weekend in Manhattan watching Grey's Anatomy DVD's and exploring Canal Street. Then it was time for my first day and I was given the scariest task a boss could ever give Working Girl One: Phone calls. Over 150 phone calls.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Women = Money

Looks like Paul Thompson over at was wrong about women in the workplace. Not that any of us ever thought he was right. Women aren't emotional, grudge-holding bitches. They are what companies need if they want to make money.

According to this Time article, Catalyst research group found that Fortune 500 companies with the most women in senior management had, by more than a third, a higher return on equities. Based on research from Cambridge University and the University of Pittsburgh, Time suggests that this is because of the management style of women. "Women manage more cautiously than men do," the article said. "They focus on the long term."

Another reason these companies may be doing so well, women are less competitive. This is a good thing, Time says:

"They're consensus builders, conciliators and collaborators, and they employ what is called a transformational leadership style - heavily engaged, motivational, extremely well suited for the emerging, less hierarchical workplace."

There are two things that really struck me about this article.

The first, apparently there is a looming talent shortage approaching. There will be a six million person gap between the number of college graduates and the number of workers, with college educations, needed to cover the jobs, the article stated. And these days women are receiving a greater share of college degrees. I had no idea there was a looming talent shortage. This may be a pleasant surprise for students who will graduate from college or grad school at the time and have been worried that there will not be jobs for them.
The second, women are changing the work environment to better suit their needs. The are focusing more on results instead of time spent at their desk. The article argues that this focus is a smart business strategy. Best Buy is called out for their ROWE system. ROWE stands for Results-Only Work Environment. Best Buy saw productivity increase up to 40%. I can imagine that in a lot of industries and workplaces, employees would be more productive if they could get to the office an hour or two later and stay later or leave when their work for the day is complete.

It'll be interesting to see how industries change as more and more women take leadership rolls at major companies. Will some women stick to the current work norms? Will others shake it up and let their employees work when they want? And will more women really mean more money?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Meeting Notes

Meeting Notes is a weekly feature. Here we will dish on tidbits, news, and important things we think Working Girls should know. So scroll down to hear what we think you should glean from this work week.

  • In a recent article, Patricia Gillette cites the character of Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz" as a female leader - someone who formulated a plan and overcame obstacles, but in the end she didn't ask for anything for herself. She goes on to argue that some say this represents the stereotypical female leader: team builder, encourages collaboration, and takes no credit or recognition for her hard work. Gillette argues that this lack of self-promotion is detriment to women especially in law firms.

  • A recent study conducted by Pamela Tolbert showed that men who make more money than their wives report significantly higher career satisifaction thatn men who earn about the same as their spouses. To which I can only say...still?

  • Forever 21 is launching a home and beauty line which is said to roll out in stores later this year. The cheap poor Working Girl in me is screaming yes, but my hopes is it won't be Claire's for grown-ups. Bring me Antrhopologie type stuff for cheap please!

  • Now this is the most adorable thing I have ever seen and makes me want an inter-office romance! (Kinda).

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Busy and Out of Touch

As a Working Girl, I often find it difficult to keep up with and stay in touch with my friends.

When I was younger, I moved a few times. I'm not talking the next town over, I'm talking halfway across the country. Twice. Since then, I've never been all that great in keeping touch. I've developed a pattern, after losing touch with many friends, of staying close with the people who are close by.

But lately, even with my friends who live in Manhattan, I feel like I'm losing touch. Sometimes I have no idea what's going on in their lives. We are all on different schedules and doing different things on the weekends. My local college friends and I are finally getting together for dinner this week.

With my friends who are further away, I always have good intentions. To-do lists and post-its crowd my dresser with notes: "call so-and-so" or "send friend a birthday card." I even go so far as to purchasing the card but it never gets mailed. You should see the box of cards I have.

Email doesn't make it any easier. After sitting at a computer all day at work, and sometimes all evening to work on this lovely little blog you're reading, the last thing I want to do is type up an email. I've tried taking time if I'm eating lunch at my desk for a few personal emails but I usually get distracted by an email popping up on my screen or a coworker popping up at my desk.

Sometimes I'm even this way with my family. I go far too long between phone calls to my granny and I could certainly call my mom and dad more often to check in.

I should mention that I'm not a phone person. Not at all.

Staying in touch is something at which I'd like to get better. Much better. How do you Working Girls keep in touch with friends and family? My first change: starting this weekend, I'm going to set aside some time on the weekends to make my (few) phone calls and send my emails. Instead of spending my Saturday morning perusing Facebook, I'll actually get in contact with people.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Honeymoon is Over

Things have changed drastically since my old boss quit and moved on to greener pastures, and I can't decide if I'm happy about it or not.

On paper everything sounds great. I had a sit down talk with my new boss, who I have heard horror stories about but has been nothing but kind to me, and she pretty much told me that she didn't need an assistant nor did she want one in the future. Which is when I began to panic because in addition to helping with special projects and running the events, I was an assistant to my old boss and without being an assistant, it seemed like my job would be axed.

Turns out I was wrong. My new boss told me that instead of getting rid of me, they wanted to have me start training to be a Project Manager. Under this new title, I would be working on projects internally such as the launch of our new consumer website and I would still get to manage the events we have throughout the year.

While this sounds picture perfect (aka I get a semi-promotion, possibly more money, a better title, etc.), I still can't help feeling a little weary about the whole thing. True, it's a great opportunity, but a little bit of me inside keeps saying, "Is this really what you want to do with your life?"

With events, it's like I've finally found something besides writing that I enjoy and am good at. And now with all this extra work I'm going to be doing managing projects and slotting emails and making collateral, I won't have nearly as much time to focus on what I really like about my job. I made this clear to my new boss - that events is what I love - and she responded that she had no intention of taking them away. I just worry about her expectations down the line and if this statement will remain true. These other projects will obviously take precedence over events because they need to get done.

I suppose what I'm really worrying about is not being happy anymore. For the past seven months, I've been really happy doing my job. I have liked planning the events, scouting locations, and picking themes. I really enjoyed working with my old boss. Things were going really well and then this little kink happened.

I'm worried that I'm going to start resent work - that I won't want to wake up in the mornings and that I'll start hating coming to work which is what started to happen to me in New York and I started to lose all motivation.

I guess what I'm starting to realize is that the honeymoon phase of liking my job in Chicago is coming to an end. I know I could start looking for a new job, but I haven't even been here a year yet, and I would really like to be able to have more events under my belt before I leave.

So the conclusion I've come to is that I'm going to try and stick it out until February when our largest event is, and in the meantime I have polished up my resume and if I ever start to feel like my job is moving in the wrong direction or events get taken away from me, then I can start looking around.

But until then, I'm going to see where this road takes me.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Summer Job Files: Hostess with the Mostess

In honor of the summer, each week we take turns to recount a summer job we had back in the day. [Editor's Note: Back in the day refers to when we were in].

The summer before my sophomore year of college I wasn't satisfied with having just one job. I already wrote about my days as a camp counselor, but what I failed to mention was that one of those summers I had not one, but three jobs. Yea, I was an overachiever (if by overachiever you mean I really needed money to buy alcohol and outfits to wear while drinking alcohol).

One of those 3 jobs was working as a hostess at the restaurant Mirabelle at Ravinia Festival. Quick background: Ravinia is an outdoor music pavilion that is only open during the summer and is super, super popular in Chicago. People trek out to the burbs to see acts here because not only can you sit on the lawn, eat a little picnic and listen to music, but Ravinia also gets sick music acts (like this year Carrie Underwood is coming!). In addition to the lawn seats, there is also an actual stage with stadium seating available, so people who come to actually view the musical acts usually want to go somewhere to have a sit down dinner and Mirabelle is usually where they end up (since at the time it was the only sit down restaurant in the park).

It was a perfect gig for me because I worked in the mornings at camp and then would go home, change into my uniform, and drive my ass to my next job. So ultimately I ended up working a 6 hour shift at camp, get a little break, and then work a 8 or 9 hour shift as a hostess.

I had great expectations for this job. I had always wanted to work in a restaurant - I think mainly because on TV it was always the job of some teenage character. So I thought I would be making lots of friends, possibly meeting a boy who I could have some summer fling with, and I got nada of that.

Most of the kids that worked at Mirabelle were a lot older than me - almost all the servers were over 21 so they could serve alcohol which means they were seniors in college or in grad school (some were even in law school or medical school), so they really didn't want to hang out with my 18-year-old self (and because I was underage I was rarely invited to parties or to hang out after work). I also didn't realize that in the food chain of restaurants, or at least the one I worked at, hostesses were pretty low on the totem pole. So I ended up being friends strictly with the other hostesses. But we really weren't that close, especially when I realized they were all brownosers because they wanted to be promoted to waitressing.

Also, I didn't realize being a hostess is hard work. Since we had a bigger outdoor seating area than indoor, when it rained people got wet. And then they complained. But on really busy nights we had no choice but to let them sit in the rain and deal with it. Most people had no qualms about screaming at me about where they sat. Not only do we have to deal with unruly customers, but when there aren't enough busboys, guess who gets to help out? And sometimes the other concession stands would need us step in and assist, which means that summer I also worked as an ice cream scooper, coffee maker, and helped hand out greasy food.

Customers also didn't mind screaming about their food, their waiter/waitress, or really about people they think are in charge. Us hostesses got the brunt of all the problems. We also got no tips, but sometimes they let us take leftover food from the buffet table home (yay?).

The really only up side to this job was that I got to listen to a lot of musical acts for free. During that summer, I saw the Beach Boys, Aretha Franklin, Norah Jones, and Tony Bennett (and others but I can't remember any).

Since then I've never worked in a restaurant again. Though I do really appreciate my servers now whenever I eat out!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Working Girl Wants

Recently as I have been trolling the Internet, I've come across quite a few things that as a Working Girl I covet (I have to admit I've had a recent bout of want, want, want and online shopping - eek no more!). Below are some of my favorite picks so if any of you have any extra cash lying around and want to buy me something let me know! (Just kidding...kinda). 

First off, I stumbled across these laptop sleeves and laptop bags/purses by Knomo and I am, to put it lightly, obsessed. They come in a slew of different colors and are super stylish. I feel like it's really hard to come across a Working Girl bag that is both cute and conventional and Knomo has succeeded in pulling off both. 

This next item I don't so much as covet as love, love, love. This desk from CB2 is actually my at home work (aka blogging) desk and I love it. It's small, but large enough to fit everything I need on it and it has a glass top, which you think would easily get dirty/smudged but it really doesn't. Very minimal cleaning required. 
I really want one of these for my house - it's a mail sorter from See Jane Work. I have been drooling over this ever since I moved into my own place. My parents were also really into sorting mail so I think it's a trait that I want to keep all my bills, coupons, etc. in one place and all organized. 
This Jadeite desk set is seriously screaming my name. Not to mention would look great on the desk I already own!
And just for shits and giggles - this little magnetic birdie would look oh so adorable on my desk at work. And it would definitely be a conversation starter. I love making (Working Girl) wish lists!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Meeting Notes

Meeting Notes is a weekly feature. Here we will dish on tidbits, news, and important things we think Working Girls should know. So scroll down to hear what we think you should glean from this work week.
  • Things not to do during your summer newspaper internship: Plagiarize. Colorado Springs Gazette intern, Hailey Mac Arthur, took passages from a New York Times article, used them in an article for the paper and was caught. [via Gawker]
  • Want to make some moolah? Become a pharmacist. They have highest median wage for all female workers. [Forbes via Jezebel]
  • The AP recently sent it's employee's guidelines for social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. It outlines several things including: managers cannot "friend" their employees on Facebook but employees may "friend" their bosses and they'd love it if employees could put links to AP stories on Twitter. [via Gawker]
  • Many of us Working Girls are cooking for one every night. Need some cooking inspiration? Check out What We Eat When We Eat Alone, a book that includes some interesting recipes for one. What do I eat when I eat alone? Mayonnaise Sandwiches (must be Hellman's). Told you it was interesting. [via Serious Eats]
  • We aren't the only Working Girls in town. Karen Burns is the ultimate Working Girl, she's had over 50 jobs! She had some questions for us and we happily answered. [via Karen Burns Working Girl]

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ships Passing in the Night

My boyfriend and I fight about two things: how messy I think he his and his work hours.

I work your typical 9am to 6pm schedule. He is a sports writer/editor for a newspaper and works from 2pm to 2am five days a week, days that change every week and include weekends. As someone with a conventional work schedule that doesn't change, his schedule frustrates me a great deal. He, however, accepts this as the nature of his industry.

I've mentioned his love for his job before and that he's wanted to be a sports journalist his whole life. He works, hard, long, odd-hours for unreasonable compensation and loves it.

He and I approach work in very different ways; I, while I love my job, work to live and he lives to work. Add that to his crazy, always changing schedule and you have one very frustrated girlfriend. I get annoyed when he isn't off on weekends and I want him to go to a party or I find myself alone with no one to hang out with. I get annoyed when he make plans with friends on a day he has off because that's time I'm losing with him (I know, I have to work on this one).

We also live in two different cities. He is only an hour and fifteen minutes outside of New York so it's not far enough to be considered long-distance but it's not close enough that I see him as often as I'd like. Again, frustrating. Eventually, likely later this year, we'll move in together. Here in the city (a huge give on his part). So we'll at least be sleeping in the same bed at night but could still go days without being awake together at the same time.

In my perfect world, we'd have similar work schedules. Schedules that didn't include nights or weekends. I could make plans with my friends without checking if it's his night off or we could take a weekend trip without using his vacation days. As much as I hope that will happen and happen soon, it doesn't look like it's in the cards.

My M.O. with this situation is to get upset, fight and then get over it only to get upset a few weeks or months later. A draining cycle for both him and I. So I'm wondering, how am I supposed to deal with this long-term? How do those of you who have significant others with opposing work schedules deal?

Monday, July 13, 2009

An Event Planner Who Doesn't Plan Her Own Parties

A little bit of housekeeping before I give my two cents about an event planner who doesn't plan her own parties (which I'm guessing you already figured out I was going to blog about given that is the title of this post - shocker). Anyway, last week, the other Working Girl Karen Burns interviewed me and WG1 for her blog. You should all check out our interview here and also check out Working Girl's new book "The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl". And one more thing - be sure to check back later because after we finish reading her book we plan on interviewing her as well (and let me tell you she has some GREAT advice!).

On to our regularly scheduled blogging...

This may be old news to some of you, but back in June NY Mag wrote an article about Vogue's new event planner, Sylvana Soto-Ward [pictured to the right]. It was just recently announced that she will be taking the place of former Vogue event planner Stephanie Wilson Wolkoff.

And some "naysayers" are apparently pissed off about this Soto-Ward being the new event planner since this means she'll be running the Met's annual gala next year (which Wolkoff has made beyond fabulous this past few years) and also because she used to be Vogue's accessories editor.

Here's the thing - I obviously can't judge whether her appointment to this position was a good move or not since I don't know her background (though it does seem weird that an accessories editor is now going to be an event planner) and I don't know Wolkoff's background compared to hers.

What I do feel like I can put my two cents about is the fact that an insider at Vogue is angry about Soto-Ward's promotion because she "didn't even plan her own engagement party". Which to I respond, 'whoa nelly'.

My main job at work is to plan our corporate events and I run two major ones in a year and during the rest of the year I manage special projects and help host other smaller corporate in-house events and parties. During my off time, I admit I do pretty much run the show in terms of other parties. I just love to plan - it's in my blood. So yes, in the past I have planned my own extravagant birthday parties, coordinated Spring Break trips, and I'm even planning my family's trip to Europe in August.

But I can whole-heartedly say that when (or rather if I suppose haha) I get married, I do not plan on planning my own engagement parties or even my own wedding. It's my special day people! I plan on not being stressed. Beacuse I'm an event planner and I know that events are stressful - especially when you're a perfectionist and watch Bridezillas. And the stress does not end until after the meeting/party is over and you sit back and go, "Wow, yes, it is over and it was amazing." And this potential future bride does not want to be stressed. So you bet your ass I will be hiring a wedding planner and not planning my own engagement or bachelorette parties.

So yes, maybe Soto-Ward shouldn't have been promoted, but just because she didn't plan her own engagement party doesn't mean she shouldn't be Vogue's new event planner.

Also, if Anna Wintour wanted to hire a team of peeps to plan my engagement party I would say, "Hell yes, Anna!".

[Photo Credit: NY Mag]

Friday, July 10, 2009

Summer Job Files: Summer '05

In honor of the summer, each week we take turns to recount a summer job we had back in the day. [Editor's Note: Back in the day refers to when we were in].

It was the summer of 2005. It was a summer WG2 and I will never forget. We had just finished our sophomore year of college and we were spending our summer living on campus and working as summer staff for our college admissions office.

We obtained jobs as tour guides early in the spring of freshman year. We thought we were awesome and that every perspective college student visiting our campus would think we were cool. How could they not? We had some pretty sick tour guide jackets!

When our plan to go to France for a month didn't happen ('cause we were totes broke) we decided to apply for summer staff jobs. As tour guides we were a shoe-in. Half the job description was giving summer tours. The other half: photo copies, data entry filing and sneaking to the basement to play cards.

The pay was $8.00 and we were put up in apartments on campus. There were six of us. Three girls and three boys. We lived across the hall from one another, just like Friends. We made family dinners, would drive (less than a mile across campus, pathetic) to work and go to the movies together.

While working as summer staff, WG2 and I became a dynamic duo, giving tours together, rather than separately like we were supposed to, when we were bored. We once gave a spectacular tour together and we dubbed it "The WG1 & WG2 Comedy Tour." The students and their parents thought we were hilarious (or at least laughed like they did). We tried to replicate the Comedy Tour but it was never the same.

Sometimes WG2 took naps under her desk and I would be on the lookout for our boss. But our bosses didn't do that much work in the summer. We had story time many a morning with one of them. The six of us piled into his office like grade schoolers and listen to tales of his colleges days, which were only a few years ahead of ours.

It was a rather carefree summer. Workwise, at least. Lifewise, well, I thought I was in love with one of the other summer staffers who was in love with our fourth, non-summer staff, roommate (you should see my journal from that summer) and WG2 had an interoffice summer romance. Drama!

There aren't many life or work lessons that one can learn from making photo copies or data entry but we had fun, made some money and are now in the tour guide hall of fame. Just kidding, there isn't one. But if there were, we'd totally be in it.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Working Girl Idol: Skinny Girl Bethenny Frankel

When we first met Bethenny Frankel on season one of Bravo's The Real Housewives of New York she was portrayed as the commitment-phobic 30-something runaway bride. As season one went on and then season two we learned several Bethenny-isms and that Bethenny Frankel is a hardcore Working Girl and therefore my latest Working Girl Idol.

Bethanny started her company BethennyBakes after attending The Natural Gourmet Institute for Health & Culinary Arts in New York. She's worked with a number of celebrities including Mariska Hargitay and the Hiltons.

So when she's not trying to understand the words that come out of Kelly Bensimon's mouth or gallivanting around the Hamptons with Jill Zarin, Bethanny is catering events, working with celebrities, running BethennyBakes, contributing to Health Magazine and writing diet and cookbooks. (And I complain about working 9am - 6pm, going home, watching TV and going to bed. sheesh!)

She recently released her first book 'Naturally Thin - Unleash Your Skinnygirl & Free Yourself from a Lifetime of Dieting' (which I still have to get my hands on) and is already working on a follow-up which will feature her signature Skinnygirl Cocktails. Yes, please!

Watching Bethenny on Real Housewives, you can see she has amazing energy. (Probably from eating so well!) It's inspiring to see a woman on a reality show who has found her passion, is working hard and is a dedicated Working Girl. She's created her own company from the ground up, branded and marketed herself and her company. If that's not great success, I don't know what is.

"There is nothing that I would not do for hard work," Bethenny says on her reel on her website. "I have such passion, such drive. I'm willing to jump in, I'm willing to make a fool of myself, I'm will to work till the end." The perfect attitude for a Working Girl!

[source, source]

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Meeting Notes

Meeting Notes is a weekly feature. Here we will dish on tidbits, news, and important things we think you Working Girls should know. So scroll down to hear what we think you should glean from this work week. 
  • This past week Starbucks introduced the new "mini Starbucks" card to give all us caffeine obsessed, coffee addicts a more convenient way to buy coffee. This card can easily be put on your keychain or placed on a belt (Starbucks's suggestion not mine - a belt? Really Starbucks?). 

  • A slew of ex employees of the (in my opinion) overpriced chain boutique Scoop are in the process of filing a suit against the company for not paying them over-time. These employees are claiming that the store would promote employees to manager and assistant manager positions even though they didn't perform managerial duties. According to NY Mag, this was done in order to pay them weekly wages instead of hourly wages thereby paying them less. 
  • One of our fave WG's (and reality TV B-lister) Rachel Zoe is going to be expanding her empire by launching a new daily newsletter entitled "The Zoe Report". She claims it's going to be "bananas". No joke, it really says that on her site.

  • I wish they had had CEO Camp when I was a kid! This video report from the Wall Street Journal gives us a good look at what teenage Girl Scouts are learning from this camp program offered to them where they get mentored by female CEO's who assist them in figuring out what they would like to do when they grow up. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Inbox Stress. Oy.

I receive a ridiculous amount of emails everyday. When I'm sitting at my desk all day and opening each email as it come in, it doesn't seem like much. When I'm sitting on the beach all the day and leave my Blackberry at the house, it's overwhelming.

I've never once ordered a single item from Bluefly. Do I really need daily emails from them? Do I need to be signed up for each and every newsletter NYMag publishes? Or Daily Candy? Or Food Network? When was the last time I printed a recipe (two weeks ago) and actually cooked it (um...)?

And that's just my personal email account. In addition to that, I have my work account, my Working Girl account and a super secret account. Yes, I have a super secret account. An account so secret that I forgot the password. Awesome.

The problem with me, my email accounts and all of the aforementioned emails is that nothing stresses me out more than having a number next to "Inbox." That number could be 3,434 or 3. It is so stressful to me. So every time an email pops up I have to open it.

Before I learned what archiving was I kept every single email. Talk about stressful. After over two years of working, I've finally developed a decent system for organizing my work emails. I still read them as soon as they come in but I do one of the following with each:

  1. Delete
  2. File
  3. Respond and File
  4. Keep in Inbox
The items in my inbox only remain there until I gather the information I need to respond. I typically try to accomplish this within a day or two.

Simple enough, right?

As simple as it is, it still took me nearly two hours to go through all my emails from vacation and I've yet to find a way to translate this to my personal accounts. I guess step one is to unsubscribe myself from all the newsletters I don't even read.

Monday, July 6, 2009

I'm a Big Loser

It seems I have entered myself into a new 'lose weight to build camaraderie with my co-workers' program. Maybe one or two of you readers remember my days competing in the Biggest Loser competition at my old job (memory jogger: whoever won got a week away at a spa). 

Those days were stupendous. I just remember being really motivated (because I had to be weighed in front of my teammates) and really trying to be healthy (because I wanted the spa trip so badly). Sadly, I did not win...or make it to the final four and therefore did not get to lounge around blissfully pool-side while getting my feet massaged.

My new company announced a few weeks ago that they would be hosting a similar competition with a few differences. There are no weigh-ins and everything is measured in "Life Points". Overall, it is way less competitive and barely anyone gets all up in my business about how many "Life Points" I have earned in a day.

Essentially, to win, you have to exercise or participate in some sort of physical activity and for however many minutes you did said exercise is how many points you get for the day. And exercise is quite a loose term because upon reading the rules online, I realized that if I vacuumed my apartment I could record 15 "Life Points" for the day. And all of this is recorded on an honor system.

At my old company, we taunted each other mercilessly and to stay in the game you had to lose weight or you were finito my friend. We played legitimately by the rules of the TV show. 

I have to admit, I do like the fact that I have a bigger chance of making it to the final rounds of this new competition since I do a fair share of walking to work everyday. And my team captain sends us out emails on a daily basis motivating us to do better and drink more water (because for every 8 glasses you drink a day you earn "Bonus Life Points"). 

But I can't help but wish this competition was a little more fierce to pump me up. I have like zero motivation to be active since they aren't telling us what the prize is yet and I'm scared it's going to be like a $25 Target gift card and a membership to our building's lame-o gym (which I wouldn't hate, but really motivate me with something great people!). 

So here is my plea. What are some things that motivate you to lose weight? And do any of you workout at work (like running around the building at lunch type of thing)? Because my team captain would love it if we power-walked everywhere and anywhere.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy Fourth of July!

We hope you WG's have the day off to celebrate the 4th of July early!

(This is the first time WG2 has had a day off for the 4th of July so she is ecstatic to be poolside today and WG1 is currently on the beach enjoying the Jersey sunshine with her fam.)

We love having days off to celebrate being American! Yay!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Summer Job Files: Camp Counselor

In honor of the summer, we have rolled out a new weekly feature. Each week we will take turns to recount a summer job we had back in the day. [Editor's Note: Back in the day refers to when we were in].

By far the best summer job I have ever had were those two summers I was a camp counselor at a sports day camp.

After being a librarian, I decided that my summer jobs would have a few requirements - which mainly included sun and people my age to work with. So the summer before I headed off to college, my friend May and I decided to get camp cousnelor jobs (it also made sense because at the time I thought I wanted to be a teacher - so to me camp counselor = future teacher).

We ended up both getting jobs at our own former sports camp that we had both attended as youngsters and had loved. I had attended when I was around 11 and kept going until I turned 13 and therefore got to particpate in games like Capture the Flag (which we played in a "forest" by a busy street and somehow always gave someone poison ivy), kickball, and dodgeball. In other words, this wasn't your traditional sports camp. The term "sports" was used loosely.

Since we were so mature and responsible (aka girls who couldn't deal with punk 13-year-old boys), we were placed on "baby duty" aka the five and six-year-olds who played absolutely no sports. And let me tell you - not playing sports with these munchkins all day was the best summer job ever.

Every day, the little ones would show up around 8AM and they'd play on the playground for an hour while the counselors all gathered around to talk about last night's shenanigans (aka going to T.G.I. Friday's and then DQ for dessert - I was such a rebel!). Then we'd play games with them like Red Rover, Duck Duck Goose, or a Hot Potato. We'd then retreat indoors for computer class where they would play cheesy computer games and the counselors would play Hangman on the chalkboard. Then we'd go outside for lunch, go back inside for art class, back outside for a snack, and then stay outdoors playing on the playground again and in the afternoon we'd usually play a rousing game of Capture the Flag where the counselors would get wayyyyyyyyy too into it.

There were a few things I particularly loved about this camp. First being the other counselors - we all became buddy-buddy by the end of summer to the point where one of them even took my sister to Prom. They were some of the best co-workers I have ever had.

I also got more excited than the kids for day trips. About 6 times over the summer we'd go off-site with the kids to play mini-golf, go to a water park, etc. And some of the best stories I have from camp are from these days (which would make me seem like I hate children so I will refrain from telling them).

And last but not least, my three favorite campers aka the triplets. The triplets were comprised of two little girls and a monster/devil child with extreme ADD who liked to make my life a living hell. So if we're being honest, I really only liked the two girls Kate & Belle and sometimes we'd call them the twins because their brother never even played or went near them all day. They were seriously the most precious little girls who liked to sit in your lap and play with your hair and they loved to be picked up and swung around (to preface, they were only four when they started at camp). And I most definitely played favorites with those two. They were just too cute!

My summers as a camp counselor came to end when I decided to stay at college my sophomore year to work as a tour guide. But I'll always remember those summers as some of the best times - playing with the kids, being in the sun, and generally having a grand ole time.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Summer Nights In Front of the TV

We all know that summer nights are meant for happy hours on verandas, decks, porches (really anywhere outside), playing in summer sport leagues, and generally enjoying the fact that it's not snowing or below 40 degrees. But sometimes you just can't drink one more Bud Light Lime or attend one more happy hour function or your liver will fail.

In the event that this occurs, I have put together a little list of TV shows that are debuting this summer that I think we should watch out for since they feature some strong Working Girl characters.

Sundays @ 10PM on HBO

Granted, the main character of this show is a male, but hear me out on this one. The show centers around how Ray (Thomas Jane), a man down on his luck, decides to earn extra cash by using his special gift aka his large penis (eek - just writing that makes me laugh - hi, I'm a 7-year-old). What intrigues me about this show is that he picks up a female pimp, Tonya, who is a poet also down on her luck. I think this show will not only be seriously interesting just because of the topic, but I can't wait to see if Tonya is gonna turn into a kick-ass WG (despite it not being the best of professions).

Blonde Charity Mafia
Tuesdays @ 9PM on The CW

This reality show is marketed to be The Hills but for the Washington DC socialites and follows the lives of the most influential 20-something girls on the social circuit. For me this seems to be a no-brainer (as in I can shut off my brain and watch). Plus since I, as a Working Girl, have recently begun networking by getting involved in charity boards and the like, hope this show is less about the drama and more about the events (I love picking up tips!). Yea, I'm sure I'll be disappointed but it's worth a try.

Tuesdays @ 9PM on TNT

Jada Pinkett Smith has scored one of TNT's complex female character shows (think: The Closer and Saving Grace). She plays Christina Hawthorne who is the Chief Nursing Officer heading up the nursing divison and widowed working mother to a teenager. I've heard bad reviews of this show so far and to be honest it sounds kinda boring, but I think it's worth checking out for the eye candy that is Michael Vartan who I have loved since Never Been Kissed.

Nurse Jackie
Mondays @ 10PM on Showtime

The reviews I've read of this show do not paint veteran nurse Jackie Peyton (Edie Falco) as a super strong Working Girl. I'm guessing taking too many pain meds and cheating on your hubby makes her a little less than perfect, but it is said that as a nurse she's kind and really cares about her patients. In other words, she cares about her work and the complexity of her character makes me want to order Showtime stat.