Thursday, October 28, 2010

What Are Your Strengths?

I was helping my best friend earlier this week as she prepared for her bi-yearly review. One of the questions on her questionnaire was, what are your strengths? She was struggling with what to write. I don’t blame her…that is such a tough question to answer without sounding like you are gloating so I shared with her this amazing little book called StrengthsFinder 2.0. Have any of you read this book?

I was lucky enough to stumble across this book about 4 years ago when I was interviewing for a position where it was required of all candidates. Initially I thought it was just another test, but as I read through the first few chapters, I realized how much validity it really had. The book talks about strengthening your strengths rather then trying to strengthen your weaknesses. It makes so much sense. There are 34 unique strengths, all of which are great!

It’s a short read. You take the test (code in the book), it gives you your top five strengths and then you get to read in detail about them. It was scary how spot on the test was for me! So now when I get asked this question, I am able to talk with confidence.

If you have time, I really recommend it!

Here are my top five strengths in no particular order:

Responsibility-People who are especially talented in the Responsibility theme take psychological ownership of what they say they will do. They are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty.

Discipline-People who are especially talented in the Discipline theme enjoy routine and structure. Their world is best described by the order they create.

Arranger-People who are especially talented in the Arranger theme can organize, but they also have a flexibility that complements this ability. They like to figure out how all of the pieces and resources can be arranged for maximum productivity.

Achiever-People who are especially talented in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.

Futuristic-People who are especially talented in the Futuristic theme are inspired by the future and what could be. They inspire others with their visions of the future.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Moving On Up

Very recently, I received a calendar appointment from my boss for a sit down meeting. Before I could accept it several thoughts went through my mind: Have they noticed my excessive Internet use? Are they down-sizing and I'm being laid off? Did I totally screw up some big project and cost the company millions?? I nervously hit "Accept" and mentally prepared myself for the meeting, which would take place just after my normal lunch time (but of course I was too nervous to eat). When the clock neared the appointed time, I made my way to his office. When I entered, I noticed that he was smiling so I knew it couldn't be too bad. In fact, his smile relaxed me and the first thing I said jokingly was, "I'm scared." He laughed and offered me a seat. He started talking about changes in the company and opportunity and my performance in the time that I've been there. I was trying to listen to him and at the same time listen to the thoughts in my head: WHERE IS HE GOING WITH THIS?? Then he said it: "We would like to offer you a promotion." YES!!

Since receiving the promotion I started thinking about the people in the company who have been my biggest cheerleaders. I wanted to be sure to thank them. Then I started thinking about one in particular whom I've worked with a lot. I knew that she probably had a big voice in the room when my name was brought up for promotion. So I sent her a message telling her thank you for any kind words that she may have said on my behalf (and if she didn't to disregard that message). It then occurred to me that she's the one person within the company that I want to be like. So I let her know. I told her that I consider her my mentor within the company and that there is a lot that I can learn from her (I have two mentors outside of the company as well). She was extremely honored and said that I made her day.

Why did I pick her as my mentor, you ask? Good question. Well, the very first time I met her I actually wasn't too sure about how we would get along. You see, she's a "take charge, I'm running things, and if you aren't on the same page as me, we're going to have problems" kind of Working Girl. At least that was my first impression of her. Now, looking back, I think she gave off that vibe because she was new to the company and wanted to make an impression on people. After a while, I realized that she actually isn't hard to work with at all and that's she's pretty easy going and willing to work with people. But the main thing I saw in her was how quickly she seemed to be climbing the corporate ladder. I want that to be me.

Since I told her she is my mentor, I've noticed that things have changed between us and that we are on the path to developing a great working relationship. She now takes me aside and shows me things that other colleagues haven't shown me. She wants to teach me everything she can, and believe me, I'm willing to learn. I want to move up the corporate ladder right behind her and I truly believe that she will do what she can to take me with her as she continues to move up within the company.

This article summarizes a study that found that mentoring for women does not seem to be effective. I think that having a mentor within the company can be a bit tricky, particularly if you work closely together. I don't want to get too comfortable with her and let some of my professionalism go out the window, but I do want to get to know her better. My fear would be disappointing my mentor, but one of my greatest hopes is that we can develop a friendship in addition to our working relationship (because she seems like a pretty cool Working Girl).

Working Girls, do you have a mentor within your company? Is your mentor a male or female? Is your mentor proactive in mentoring you? Are you proactive in staying connected to your mentor? Any tips to help me make the most of my new mentor/mentee relationship?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Editing Needed: Ads for Working Girls

The world of advertising is one of targeting consumers with images and wordplay. What are key phrases that will make people buy products? What images do we want to associate with our product?
I can't go to Thundercloud Subs in Austin without immediately hearing their jingle (if you haven't visited Austin and haven't heard it, be thankful) and definitely can't think of the Santa Barbara Zoo back in California without singing the whole song - yes, there is one ("..a wild adventure is waiting for you. We're as wild as it gets, the Santa Barbara Zoo")! Advertisers help us associate products or places with songs, images and phrases for this exact reason - so that we can easily identify and take time to think about them as a brand.
I usually don't think about advertising that much until a ridiculous infomercial comes on. Now that I truly identify myself as a Working Girl, there are plenty of those targeted at us that have been brought to my attention. Has anyone else seen ads for Working Girls and thought to themselves, "Why would they do that?!"
First up, we have 'Cami Secret', a "revolutionary product" apparently:

My issue with this ad is not the product itself (though I do think it is a bit silly since there is such a thing as Camis already to just wear under your shirt), it is the way the product is presented. The first image shown is a Working Girl whose boss is looking down her shirt. This automatically gives the impression that this product is important because it will help Working Girls be taken seriously at work, or that if you aren't being taken seriously this is the solution. I think if your boss or coworker is staring at your chest that obviously, there is a bigger problem than your shirt and a better solution that adding a Cami Secret to your wardrobe.
Next up, my personal favorite, the Summer's Eve ad, disguised as an editorial to help Working Girls ask for a raise:

Please divert your attention to the first, and apparently most important suggestion, to ask for a raise: "It should start with your usual routine ... including showering with Summer's Eve Feminine Wash or throwing a packet of Summer's Eve Feminine Cleansing Cloths into your bag for a quick freshness pick-me-up during the day." WHAT?! AOL News describes the problem with this ad the best way possible. "That's right, ladies. Forget all that you've achieved during your time at Acme, or wherever it is that you work. First and foremost, wash your lady bits." The article goes on to state how bloggers and Working Girls alike were offended by the ad, citing a correlation between being a woman and needing feminine care products to the way their ads play on possible insecurities (i.e. smell, appearance, cleanliness, etc.).
So what can be done? When will ads for Working Girls not make us out to simply be at the office for the visual pleasure of our male coworkers and career counterparts or make us think our 'feminine cleanliness' has anything to do with our success in our careers? Have you come across any ads that need editing?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Out of Network

I've always been uncomfortable with networking. This probably comes from my overall dislike for talking on the phone and the feeling that I'm usually bothering others. At this juncture, I really have no choice but to grow a pair and network.

Last week, In Transition Working Girl posted about her best kept secret - networking. She offered excellent advice for reaching out to the people in your network.

Like In Transition Working Girl, someone gave me the advice to start networking when I was in college - my dad. When I began looking for jobs in media and publishing at the end of my senior year of college, my dad sent me dozens and dozens of his contacts to reach out. First, he broke the ice for me and emailed these people, letting them know they would be hearing from me. Next, I had to follow-up. I emailed them all subject "Introduction to Working Girl One," a brief description of what I was looking for in terms of a job and asked if they had any advice, openings or time for an information interview. Several people got back to me and I learned a lot at the time. And that Working Girls, was the last time I really networked.

As I look for a new job, I'm finding I need to work on my networking. I have friends and old co-workers who are already looking out for me. They are checking in on my search, letting me know if anything is opening up at their companies, sending my resume to their HR contacts, etc. I didn't have to do much to enlist their help because they all offered it the moment they heard about my job loss.

While their help is great (I couldn't ask for better friends), I have to do more in this job market. I've got my list of contacts that In Transition Working Girl talked about but I'm stuck on the next step - reaching out to them. Here is why. If I call, am I bothering them, what should I say? If I email, how to do I explain my situation? Do they already know? I haven't spoken to them in months, should I feel bad about reaching out now that I need something? What exactly am I asking for - a job, advice, a recommendation?

I was often annoyed and didn't have the time when people reached out to me at my old job (definitely won't feel that way next time someone reaches out to me). So I guess I'll start with reaching out to the people I'm most comfortable with and figure out what I'm asking of them. Once I reach out, I'll definitely be using some of In Transition Working Girl's tips. Wish me luck!

Fallin' In Love

With morning temps dipping into the 40s combined with the fact that I actually turned on my heater for a few hours last week, it’s safe to say that fall has officially arrived. Forget April showers and summer beach trips and don’t even mention frigid winters marked with frosty windshields and treacherous ice patches, fall, by far, is my absolute favorite holiday ever!

The beauty of the changing foliage is absolutely breathtaking. From my perch near the mountains in northern Georgia, the world seems to explode from a blur of green to a spectacular patchwork of reds, oranges and browns. After such a stiflingly hot summer, we are finally able to enjoy the outdoors as opposed to suffering through it while making a run for the next air conditioned space. There seems to be a fall festival every other day with traditional favorites like hayrides through pumpkin patches, fried pies and corn mazes. Oh, and then there’s Halloween! Ok, I‘m giddy.

For working girls, however, fall also brings with it a new set of challenges and changes. The mornings are much cooler, which presents somewhat of a problem for me as both a working girl and a working mom. I never mastered that whole layering concept so I worry that my children will be cold in the morning if they aren’t in pants and jackets but hot in the afternoon if they are. Wardrobe for me can be tricky as well. In my office, its cold year ‘round (we run our little personal space heaters mid-summer), but now with the lower morning temps, it’s even colder, yet, it’s too early to break out the cowl necks and leggings because by the time I head out for lunch, its balmy and beautiful. My strategy involves blasting the heat in my car then throwing on my office cardigan when I get in.

The weather’s not the only thing changing right now either, so am I. I crave soups and casseroles, souffl├ęs and homemade baked goodies. I’m shifting from constant activity on the weekend to curling up with a book or the latest DVD release. The light hits my apartment differently, allowing more light to hit the patio and pour into the windows on that side of the building. While people in the thousands are starting to feel the initial stings of Seasonal Affective Disorder, I’m up an out on Saturday morning enjoying the crisp air.

In a few months, the crush of winter will be upon us, the winter holidays will be in full effect so I’m going to enjoy every second of my favorite season then sit back with a cup of cocoa and wait patiently until spring. How is the seasonal shift affecting you? Are you grieving for summer or celebrating with me? What are the changes and challenges that fall brings you?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Win a Trip to Wine Country? And New Computers? Um...Yes Please!

So as most of you might remember, I just got back from a hotel scouting business trip in Napa, CA. And I can't stop saying how amazing, peaceful, serene it was! So color me surprised when I found out that HP is currently hosting an amazing contest that gets you not only a technology makeover for your team at work but a trip to Napa for 6 people in your office! In short, amazing. So stop what you are doing rightthisverysecond and try to win this amazing prize.

To enter HP's Reboot With ROI contest, all you have to do is share a story about surprising returns on something you bought. The best user-submitted stories will be featured on HP's website and the grand prize winner will score a 5-day trip to wine country with 6 members from their team and get to do fun things like a hot air balloon ride, hit up the spa, and stay in a luxury suite at the Fairmont Mission Inn & Spa. Oh, and duh, you'll drink & eat some of the most amazing food and wine ever. And then when you get home from your amazing vacation from the office, you'll get new laptops and printers. Working Girl win for sure.

We also totally encourage you to share your ROI stories with us too in the comments section!

Note: As part of a paid promotion, they asked me to let you know about the contest and how you can enter.

Meeting Notes

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

Quick sidenote: Sorry Working Girls that this was posted late! I went to see Ingrid Michaelson last night after work with a coworker (see kinda work related!) and the concert was *squeal* so good, but I also didn't get home until 10PM and then I had to watch Modern Family and make Texas Toast cause I was obvs starving and Meeting Notes took a backseat. So without further adieu, here are your notes:
  • The Center for World-Life Policy revealed a study that 37% of office workers believe that sleeping with the boss can help you get ahead and 34% of women in executive positions say they know someone who has slept with their boss. [Jezebel]
  • According to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, men who earn significantly less than their female partners are far more likely to cheat on their partners whose income is more or less equal. Even more disturbing is men who are completely dependent on their partner's income were 5 times more likely to cheat. [Today Health]
  • The number of women making $100,000 or more per year is beginning to rise! The number of women pulling in six figures or more has risen 14% in the past 2 years, while the number of men has only grown 4%. [Jezebel]

Tough Times, Tough Measures

I know the economy has affected us all, gone are the days of shopping over lunch and manicure Fridays. Sigh. However, as a working girl on a budget, it’s an interesting balance to still look good and watch your pennies. This is a great article about all the things you shouldn’t save money on. Some of the things on the list made me laugh, but when I got to thinking about how the economy has affected my wallet, there are some things that I have sacrificed and others that I would rather skip a meal for then go without.

What are things you can’t live without? What are things you pass on as a working girl?

Here is my list…and yes, I am posting it here for you to see. Since I have been a working girl on a budget and most of these have become more of a lifestyle change for me, I had to really think about what I have changed since the market crashed…

Can’t Live Without

Hair Cut/Color-With two stories of botched cuts and bad highlights, I will sacrifice just about anything for a good cut/color. Last year I tried dying my hair back to my natural color so I could save money. The result was beyond awful…a few months later when I went back to highlight, even my boss commented on how happy I was.

Gym/Yoga Membership-For some, this probably is in the do without, but over the course of the last 9 months I have learned to appreciate the importance of fitness in the workplace. It keeps both my stress levels from work and my waist intact. Tip: One of my girlfriends was able to negotiate her gym membership way down. Have you?

Groceries-You may laugh at this, but it’s something I take very seriously. No more care free meal planning or trips to Whole Pay Check Foods. Now I make a point of spending a little more at the store to get the most out of my grocery budget with things that I like and will last me awhile.

Maybe…I Try to Practice Self Control

Clothes-This is a tough one. Every girl makes sacrifices, and in this economy, this one has taken a nose dive. I have learned to control my impulse purchases, and focus more on essentials.

Shoes-I love shoes, but have learned to spend a little more on nicer shoes that will go farther than lots of shoes that hurt my feet. Am I getting old?

Magazines- I love a good gossip magazine, but my subscriptions went out the door about two years ago. However, that being said, there are a few business related magazines, that my father and I share subscriptions on.

Out the Door

Dry Cleaning-I made the choice to start wearing less of my dry clean only clothes when the market turned. As a result I found cute stuff in the back of my closet that I can wash anytime.

Manicures/Pedicures- I still love get mani/pedi’s but, with some practice, I have become pretty good at painting my own nails.

Lunches Out-When the economy started crashing, this was the first to go. When I really sat down to look at my spending habits this was a major chunk. Now I pack yummy lunches and can’t wait for noon to roll around.

Starbucks Habit-This working girl loves a Grande Chai Latte, but same as lunches, this is a luxury I can do without. I was able to kick a bad habit and save money. I also love Good Earth Tea, a little milk and honey, and I am good to go.

Happy Hour-Happy hour with co-workers/friends is such a fun way of getting together, but also a huge waste of money. There is always that one co-worker who slides out the door without paying, leaving the rest of us to pick up the tab. Tip: One of my friends makes a point of hosting happy hour at her place as a way of saving money. She is one smart cookie.

Parking-Whether it’s for work or personal reasons, when I am out, I refuse to pay for parking. Even if I have to walk a mile. Plus walking the little extra to my destination helps me burn a few more calories.

My list could go on forever, but I think these are the essentials…what are yours?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

All The Single Ladies

It's time that I share with you all a big part of who I am. I think we've known each other long enough at this point, don't you think? You all know that I'm a Lawyer Working Girl, but what I haven't shared thus far is that I am a Single Lawyer Working Girl. Yes, Working Girls, I am Single. Now, I know you're probably thinking, "So what? So am I." Well, I feel like it's a big part of who I am because I've been single most of my Working Girl life and I've almost gotten to the point where I can't imagine it any other way.

Don't get me wrong. I do love men. While I do enjoy my singleness, I do desire the companionship of a man (in fact, I'm currently seeing one). But I think I've gotten so used to it just being me that I wonder "Would I like something or someone interrupting my groove?" I'm used to coming to a quiet home, my home, and having my space and my me time after a day at work that I wonder how I will handle having to share my home with someone else.

But then I think back to Sex And The City and I think, I hope, that I'm like Carrie. Do you remember the episode where she comes home and Aidan is full of questions about how her day went? And she finally tells him to give her time when she gets home before getting all in her face (Ok, she didn't say it exactly like that, but you know what I mean). Well, a few seconds after she walks in her room, sits on her bed, and gathers herself, she goes back in the living room, climbs in his lap, and asks him what he's doing. See, I already know that the Carrie in the first part of that scene will be me. I will need some time to breath and collect myself when I first get home from work. I'm hoping, and honestly I really think that I will be like the Carrie in the last part of that scene. The one who will eventually want to snuggle up to my man and who will be happy that he's there sharing my home, our home. I just think that I will need a bit of a time to get used to the idea.

Ok, so then once I get past that sharing my space thing, I start to think, "Is he going to expect me to cook after I've worked a 10 hour day?" It's just me and I rarely cook for myself when I get home after a long day at work, so I know I won't have the energy to cook for me plus one. Maybe I'll be lucky enough to get that man who will want to cook for me.

And THEN, I start to think, "Oh.Em.Gee. Kids." Will he want kids? Will I want kids? Will I be expected to work a 10 hour day and come home and cook for Me & He Plus Three? Who has that kind of energy? All I know is that when I come home now to my empty home after work, I am usually exhausted. Add a man, kids, and maybe a pet and I just don't know how I would do it all. I will no longer be able to come home, plop on my couch, doze off, eat a bowl of cereal for dinner, watch Real Housewives, and doze off again. I would have to come home, prepare a healthy dinner, help with homework, spend quality family time together, put kids to bed, deal with any household tasks (pay bills, create schedules, clean, etc), have some us time with my husband, and then have my me time. (Wow, I got tired just typing all of that.) How do you Working Girls with children, and particularly you Single Mother Working Girls, do it all?? And am I the only Single Working Girl who has thought about this? (Why I'm even thinking about any of this is beyond me. You would think I'm on the cusp of becoming a Married Working Girl. Not even close.)

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Effects of Advertising on Editorial

Before I started working for magazines, I never truly understood the way editorial and advertising works together.
I first came across the duo at my time interning for a local San Diego publication. It was a guide to San Diego and when advertisers bought ad space, they automatically got free editorial space. I understood the idea behind it, but at the same time started to wonder, "Just how do I know we are showcasing the best San Diego has to offer?" I was uneasy about simply plugging advertisers, but in that setting, I understood why it was and had to be done.
That experience shaped my whole view of the balance between advertising and editorial.
Now that I am the one in charge and make the call, I will admit, I don't automatically cater to our advertisers. This isn't to say I will automatically write them off because they are present in our ad spaces, but I make sure that they represent an event or company that truly has a place in our limited editorial space and stand for something I believe our readers should take special note of. I pay a lot more attention to the radio now, also, and when I hear them do a quick spot for a local eye doctor or fast food restaurant, I remember that they are getting paid every single time they mention that advertisers name. Then I remember to be thankful I don't have that same obligation.
Or do I?
The thing I am learning in my time as editor, is that advertising affects my job more than I originally thought. Though I am not obligated to write about our advertisers, I need to also remember that ad sales affect the page counts of the magazine. That in turn determines the number of editorial pieces that will fit. So do I write about advertisers to keep them with us and keep page counts up? Or do I keep writing in things I personally believe in?
As I stated, it isn't that I don't believe in our advertisers products or events, but it is safe to say that I don't want to be limited. I am lucky to have the ability to choose my own editorial content and push for topics I think our readers will appreciate. I am lucky to not have to "sell out" to the advertisers and simply write about them because they bought ad space.
It is a delicate balance. Advertising and editorial go hand in hand - but how far do we take it? Have any other Editing Working Girls dealt with this pair?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Two Years? Really? Already?

So I am super hungover and I had every intention of writing about my hangover on here (a day late might I add since I was drunk as a skunk yesterday watching the Bears game with coworkers), but then I looked on WG and realized that WG1 and I have kinda exhausted that topic. So instead I'm going to talk about my work anniversary.

Yea it's almost my two year anniversary at my current job. My how time flies! And I mean that. I still tell people that I just recently moved to Chicago from New York. Um, false. It's been almost two years and I literally can't believe it.

Moving here was a big deal for me. After college, I had my eyes set on New York City. WG1 and I had lived there during our summer before senior year and I was enamored. In my eyes, New York was where I belonged and nothing was gonna stop me from living there. Oh wait, yes there was. That little thing called money. So I ended up living in Hoboken (which I loved) with WG1 and working in NYC.

In theory, I should have been really happy. But I wasn't.

I didn't love my job or my company (loved my coworkers tho!). Our apartment was a cess pool of gross (windows fell in, the ceiling fell in, and it was just ew). And while I loved having my college friends around, I think at the time we were all very stuck in the college rut of working during the week, watching TV, and then partying so hard on the weekends that doing anything else seemed like a lot to ask.

I was in a rut. And I did the only thing that seemed like it might make me happy. Moved back to Chicago. And now I've been here two years.

Moving back to Chicago was a big risk. Sure, I had my family nearby and my high school friends. But coming back was like starting over. And I can honestly say now at my (almost) two-year anniversary that I'm really happy I did make the move.

For the most part, I really do like my job and I love that I've come to learn that events is where I least for now. I love being near my family and my HS friends, but I also love that I've met all sorts of new people including my coworkers (who I hang out with a lot!) and my new blogger friends. I love that I have more balance in my life and that I've joined clubs and read more books and see more movies. I love my new life.

I'm really happy I took the risk. And that it paid off in the end.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What's in a Name?

Hey, Working Girls. Question: What do you think about keeping or changing your last name when getting married?

Say you're like me, and didn't think twice about taking on your husband's last name. After reading this article about reasons why you should and why you shouldn't change your last name, all I can say is "poo poo" to all the reasons why not to.

So there's some paperwork, big deal, grow up. Secondly, I think I got married young enough that I didn't have any notable professional achievements under my name that I was worried about "losing in translation." Credit rating? OK, this is my future husband, if I'm worried about how he'll affect my credit rating, maybe I should be worried about several other things too before saying "I do." And the divorce thing, c'mon, is that REALLY a reason why I shouldn't change my last name? In the grand scheme of things that is a divorce, is that really going to be the thing I'm most worried about? I don't know, it's like saying to your potential employer, why don't I fill out my exit interview survey now, to get it over with, you know, just in case, because filling out that thing will be such a big, huge headache to have to worry about if/when that day should come.

Also, I admit, I wasn't in love with my last name (but purely because of aesthetic reasons, nothing more - don't feel bad, Daddy) and I really, really liked my husband's last name, so I was more than happy to make it my own on our wedding day.

What do you girls think? I can totally understand if you had established your career under your birth name and you felt it was the real you and a new name would confuse important clients and you wouldn't feel like yourself anymore, etc. but I'm still curious as to why so many women want to keep their name so badly. To me, it seems more of a headache to have different last names with all the explaining that comes with it.

I have a friend who is a model, she's been modeling since she was a child. When she was getting ready to marry her now husband, she strongly considered keeping her last name because that was who she was, that was who her clients knew her as, and she had really established herself as a professional model as well as an actress under her birth name. (OK, so for actors/actresses, movie people, artists and writers/authors, it makes a lot more sense to keep a last name, but for regular joes like you and me, is it really that necessary?) Anyway, she decided in the end to take her husband's last name, and the way she explained it to me, it didn't hurt her career at all. In fact, if anything, people perked their ears up a little more wondering who this new person was. Her husband's last name was a fabulous one and just so effortlessly flowed off the tounge with her first name, so in a way, it was like she was able to totally reinvent herself as this new fabulous person with her new married name.

Anyway, just thinking aloud. I hope I haven't offended anyone. I'm eager to hear your thoughts about this subject!

Friday, October 15, 2010

So, Now What?

When everyday consists of eat, sleep, work, it's fun to dream about what would do if you had all the time in the world and could do that you loved.

Three weeks ago, my position at my company was eliminated and now I have all the time in the world. Prior to this big change, I was beginning to think about what I wanted to do next. I'd looked into wedding planning courses, reached out to local event planners and started applying for jobs, even had a few interviews. Through all of that, I kept asking myself, what do I really want to do?

Did I like what I was doing? Yes, but I was very unhappy. My unhappiness made me question whether or not I liked managing events and whether or not I was even good at it. I think I had this feeling because I knew this change was coming, by "knew" I mean "had a very strong feeling," and something just felt different every day at work for a few weeks.

Now that I have all this time, I'm thinking more and more about what I love to do. Do I want to start my own small event company one day? Do I want to focus on Working Girl and finally implement all the ideas WG2 and I have discussed for the last couple of years? Do I want to move to another city?

I love planning events and I'm ready to work on events for a new company.

I also love blogging and working on Working Girl. But that isn't paying any bills.

But while I'm taking the time to figure this all out, I'm applying for every event related position in New York that I can find. It's hard to feel like you have a ton of time and freedom when you've gotten your last paycheck and you're biting your nails waiting to see how many taxes will be taken out of your severance.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

My Best Kept Secret

What is your best kept secret?

Well, mine is networking. At least it has been to date. This secret has landed me all three of my jobs . I am sure hoping it works its magic again, cross your fingers. I have found in the past that my network is working for me even when I am not in transition. It really amazes me.

At some point in college, someone told me I should start networking. Little did I know then, that was probably the best advice anyone ever gave me. While no one ever told me the proper networking etiquette, I have figured out what works well for me. For me, I think networking with contacts in one-on-one meetings has been the most successful versus true networking events. I am on the shorter side. So I feel that, combined with being a young working woman, I tend to get lost at these sorts of events even if I am screaming at the top of my lungs. What has been your experience?

When I began networking my senior year of college, it all started with my family and one question, “do you have people you think I should talk with as I start my job search?”. I was shocked with their response as they eagerly handed over their friends and colleagues contact information. Right away I started calling these people to set up informational interviews. Once I met with them, they soon were handing over their contacts too and the chain continued. My network was born.

Six years later as I find myself in transition, the first thing I did was export all my contacts from Outlook, sorted by location based on where I want to live and began setting up meetings again to reconnect and network. Just last week, during a networking phone call, this person suggested that I look through their LinkedIn profile, find connections that I was interested in and they would make an introduction. It was online networking at its finest. It blew me away.

Here is my “how to” guide on networking when in transition. All networking tips are good ones and what may work for me might not for others so please share in the comments section what works for you.

  • Start by creating a list of your current contacts (Outlook, Friends, Family)
  • Identify a region you want to live in, focus on those contacts first
  • Start calling those people and let them know you want to get together for lunch or coffee*
  • Research as much as you can about the person and company
  • Look on their company careers page to see of they are hiring so you can inquire when you meet
  • Follow up a day or so before, to confirm the meeting
  • Prepare four to five questions you want to ask in the meeting
  • Wear a business suit, even if you know the person you are meeting with wears jeans EVERYDAY
  • In the meeting, be sure to ask the golden question “Do you have others you think I should connect with?”
  • Let the meeting be more conversational, rather than stiff and rigid
  • After the meeting send a thank you note to both the person who introduced your contact and the person you met with
  • If they recommend you someone to follow up with or connect with, do so right way and then let them know the status of those next meetings

*I have made a rule to always call and never email when starting conversations with people. I think it shows motivation to pick up the phone and they hear that you are serious about getting together. It’s also a lot harder to say no over the phone too than in an email.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Passion and Procrastination

Can I be honest with you all? I mean, really honest? Yeah? Ok, good. Sometimes I ask myself, "If I had it to do all over again, would I still go to law school?" My answer: "I don't know." Yes, it's cool to be able to tell people, "I'm a Lawyer Working Girl", but when it boils down to it, do I really, I mean REALLY, enjoy what I do? Would I do what I do even if I wasn't getting paid for it? If I could choose any career and it would be mine, would I choose the legal field? I can answer all three of those questions without hesitation: "No."

I mean, don't get me wrong, in this economy, I am extremely grateful to be employed. I understand that there are many lawyers out there who are unemployed and who would jump at the chance to step into my shoes, sit behind my desk, do my work, and collect my paycheck. I know this. While I don't necessarily enjoy what I do, I won't complain. Now, I do realize that in my previous post I said that I enjoy the work I do. Yeah....about that. I think I spoke too soon. I really do like most of the people I work with, but I think enjoy was the wrong word to describe how I feel about what I do. Maybe I should have said like? No, that's still not quite right. Tolerate. Yeah, I think that's it. Tolerate. I don't hate it, but I don't enjoy it. I'm somewhere right in the middle.

So when did I realize that I don't enjoy my 9 to 5? When I got a chance to totally immerse myself into my passion. When I talk to people about my passion, I've been told that they can see in my face and hear in my voice how passionate I am about it. When I'm talking about my passion and working on my passion, I feel like I'm 100% in my element. My true personality--fun, sociable, excited, happy--comes out. When I'm at work, sitting at my desk, not so much.

So what is my passion, you ask? Well, I'm doing it right now as I talk to you all. And no, I don't mean watching Jeopardy is my passion. I mean, what I'm actually doing. Right. Now. Blogging! Not just blogging about anything, but blogging about my real life and blogging about the other things that I'm passionate about. Sigh. It brings me to my happy place. So each day after I punch the clock at work, I come home and work on my passion, and one day, I hope to make a full-time career of it.

Wait. Did I say I work on it every day after work? Ok, I may have stretched the truth on that a little bit. Everyday after work, I have good intentions to work on my passion. As I walk out of the office I plan in my head what I want to work on that evening. Unfortunately, what I plan in my head doesn't always happen. Too often I come home, turn on the TV, eat dinner, pick up a book, check my email, send a few tweets, update my Facebook status, have full conversations via text message, and fall asleep before I get any work done on my passion projects. Sometimes, I think that everything I want to accomplish just seems so big that I just keep putting off doing any work on it at all, but because I eventually want to turn my passion into profit, I realize that I must stop procrastinating. I recently read an article about how to conquer procrastination and learned that I must set a series of deadlines for myself rather than just look at the project as a whole.

It's funny, because I never really considered myself as a procrastinator. At work, everything has a deadline. That's just the nature of the industry in which I work. Clients, opposing counsel, and judges are not going to accept any excuses about why I missed a deadline. So from 9 to 5, I have no problem getting my work done on time. I don't know why it took me reading that article to realize that that's what I've already been doing at work and that that's exactly what I should be doing when I'm working in the evenings and on weekends on my passion projects. So, I'm going to pull out my pen and notebook and start breaking my projects up into smaller tasks and set deadlines for myself...just as soon as Flipping Out goes off...or maybe tomorrow.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Should you edit your in-office behavior?

I work in an office everyday, though it is not for my editorial position. Being a pre-25-year-old female, people often seem surprised when they learn I also hold a position as an editor. There is always room to wonder if part of this reaction comes from my young age or my California-girl appearance (a la Clueless). Part of me feels even more proud of all that I have accomplished as a 20-something due to the possibility of this being the cause of surprise.
As Working Girls, we know that office stereotypes are always possibility, no matter what we wear, how we act or what position we hold. That statement really could hold true for everyone. So how do you determine how to present yourself at work?
According to, to stay on top at the office as a Working Girl, maybe a little flirting is in order?
This article is very interesting. You can never quite gauge where the writer is coming from, with the editorial tactic of leaving the conclusion to the reader in full swing. It starts off with outside quotes stating that flirting at work may be necessary, travels into the realm of it being wrong and finally heads into the discussion of the process of flirting being inevitable. It is that last point that interested me the most.
That final paragraph includes a quote from Denise Frost that says, "In that age range, if you're an attractive female and smile at a male colleague you are automatically assumed to be making a pass at them or alluding to the same." The point is, does it matter if workplace flirting is right or wrong, if it is assumed by the other party?
It was in my Cultures of Glamour class in college (that was somehow considered a class fit for the Literature Department) when I first learned about "the gaze." The idea was it didn't matter how women portrayed themselves in old European black-and-white films, it only mattered how they were perceived by the men watching them (or something like that).
Ultimately, though, us Working Girls need not despair (or flirt our way to the top). You are in control of you, and believe it or not, your actions can shape the thoughts of others. Yes, I may be young, but I do my best to not come off that way (at least, unless we are discussing things as my first concert to which I must confess *NSYNC or my love of teen novels). If you dress professionally, come prepared to meetings and maybe even need to act a bit older than you really are (because lord knows no one thinks Agnes the bookkeeper is winking at them because she wants to smooch behind the copier), you can avoid the inevitable "flirty Working Girl" stereotype.
Maybe now is the time we all treat our workplace behavior like a manuscript. You will find places you may want to edit and some parts of the narrative will flow perfectly. Either way, eventually, it will tell the story of a Working Girl who succeeded.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Table for One

I like to think I'm a pretty independent woman - a woman that can do a lot of stuff on her own. I live alone. I go to movies alone a lot. I show up at parties alone. But, I do have one hang up and that is eating alone.

Last week I was in Napa Valley doing some site visits for an upcoming incentive trip my company is putting together for their top sales employees (I know, hard life I lead). In addition to the four hotels we were scouting, I also had a list of wineries to go view and some restaurants as well since we do a lot of off-site parties during this trip. Since the events department at my company is a lonely group of one (aka just me), I was doing this trip solo.

Looking at hotels and wineries was easy peasy because it's a totally professional part of my job and doing it alone is actually preferable. I can ask the questions I want and schmooze with the sales managers. The restaurants were a whole different story. I only had two to look at that could accommodate a party of our size so I figured I would just go to dinner at the two restaurants and consider that my site visit.

Easier said than done. When I got to Yountville, I was all set to eat dinner at Bistro Jeanty. After my last site visit, I wandered over to the restaurant and walked right past it and went into a local deli and bought a sandwich to bring back to my room to eat in front of the TV.

I have no idea why eating alone has struck such a big nerve with me. Like I said, I do a lot of things on my own and none of those present an issue. But when it comes to sitting down at a nice restaurant and eating dinner by myself, I just can't do it.

The next day I was going to drive into downtown Napa and check out another restaurant but wimped out at the last minute when I saw an In 'N Out and decided to eat there instead. Because for some odd reason I can eat by myself at fast food restaurants but diners or really any restaurant with a waiter presents a problem.

I guess it just boils down to me being embarrassed by the fact that I'm eating alone or fearing that people around me are judging me for the fact that I'm by myself at a restaurant. But with my corporate travel increasing a lot this past year, I really need to get over this fear. And fast.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Working Girl in Transition

I am a lot of things.

I am in my late 20’s. I am a marketing major. I am an accounting minor. I am a yogi. I am daughter/only child. I am a girlfriend. I am a dog mom. I am an achiever. I am a neat freak. I am always on time. I am an ice cream lover. And the list goes on…two of the most important things right now in my life are that: I am a working girl and I am in transition. There is so much to tell, but let me start with these for now…

My mother died when I was young, leaving my father to raise me. Because of the unique situation we were in, he played many roles in my upbringing. He has played father, mother, teacher, best friend, listener, motivator and my personal favorite, hero. My father didn’t run for the door. In fact, he slammed the door hard, locked it and made sure that he was going to be there for me no matter what. My father not only won kudos for being a hands-on single parent, but he is very successful within his profession as well. I strongly value his advice in my own career. I am sure I will share some of his words of wisdom from time to time.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a small mountain town where you leave your front door unlocked. We lived in this town a majority of my 18 years growing up. I graduated from a small private high school where four years of high school I played every sport imaginable. My father was of the belief that sports instilled many values such as work ethic, integrity, teamwork and discipline. Many of which still play an important role in my life today.

My story really starts when I left for college. I thought I was leaving home to move to the big bad city. I have since been reminded that there are no big cities in the state where I attended college. I became the typical freshman, spending more time perfecting my social life than perfecting my grades. By the time my first quarter was over and I returned home for the holidays my entire summer savings was hanging in my closet, right where Carrie Bradshaw would have liked it.

Spring of sophomore year I fell in love with my business classes and declared marketing as my major. Looking back on it now, are you ever really sure what you want to do with your life at 19? I have no regrets about the major I chose, but because it’s so broad, it left me wondering “What do I really want to do with my life”.

I spent summers interning within various marketing related companies: a marketing research firm, PR firm and in-house marketing at a private country club. By senior year, I still was asking myself that same question, so I devised a plan. I decided that I would spend my last spring break in a city of my choosing, conducting 30ish informational interviews in a variety of industries from companies small to large. I am certain my peers thought I had gone nutty since they were all off enjoying one final hurrah. When I returned to college for the final ten weeks of school, I set a goal for myself of becoming an Account Executive in an agency setting.

Four days prior to graduation, I was offered my first job as a marketing coordinator. It only took me a little over a year to be promoted to an Account Executive thus achieving a goal that I thought would take a lot longer. However, about a year after my promotion, I started my first “in transition” experience, realizing the importance of being close to my father (who had since relocated to another state) and began to put my wheels in motion. I felt very lucky because within a month or two of really looking, I landed a position in an industry that I felt I could have a long career in. And then the economy crashed.

I struggled for two years in this industry before realizing it was time to get out. I was once again in transition and started utilizing my network to make my next move. Just as luck would have it, I met up with one of my very closest friends who has just starting working for a company* where they were launching a new project and needed marketing support. I was quickly offered the position and it seemed like a perfect fit/dream job. I have been at this position for about two years now, but last spring began to experience the need for a new challenge and this last summer began my latest in transition as a working girl.

My purpose for wanting to be a part of this blog is to be able to share with you a point in my life where I feel my career is a tipping point. I am not the best writer in the world, but I do know that I have experiences to share that are similar to all of you. In this economy and job market, we are all in transition all the time, there are things we need to be doing constantly to be getting ahead even when we feel our own job is secure.

Please feel free to email me at any time at I would love to hear from others who are in transition! Thank for reading and I look forward to taking this journey with you.

*I still work at this company right now and since I am in transition feel it’s important for myself to keep this in disguise. I do have lots of great stories. As soon as am no longer in transition, I will share more about the position I currently hold. Thank you for understanding!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Introducing Lawyer Working Girl

When did I know that I wanted to be a Lawyer Working Girl? Somewhere between realizing Organic Chemistry sucked and admitting to myself that I hated my major, Accounting. You see, my original plan was to become an orthopedic surgeon. I majored in Accounting at the insistence of my doctor who said, "Every doctor should have a business background." No longer wanting to be a doctor, I turned to my love of law and politics. So I took the LSAT, wrote a personal statement, and applied to eight law schools. I was accepted into seven, waitlisted at one, and offered a scholarship by more than half of the schools. Being a smart Not Yet Working Girl, I went to the law school offering the full scholarship.

Since graduating from law school, I've lived in 5 different cities. Yes, 5. So I guess you can also call me Pick Up and Go Working Girl. While I don't like the physical aspect of moving (packing, hiring movers, watching them not handle my precious possessions with care), I LOVE change and moving to a new city. So where am I now and how did I get here? Well, I'm currently living in the South. After graduating from law school, I accepted a clerkship on the East Coast and later worked for two different litigation firms there. In the beginning I found going to court and arguing in (and sometimes out of) court on behalf of my clients exciting, but that excitement quickly faded. On top of that I had a boss with a serious anger management problem--everything made him angry, including me (and in my defense 99%, ok 98% of the time, it wasn't my fault which meant that he was always in my office offering up an apology). One day I realized that I had had enough. I was losing sleep, not eating, and just overall stressed out because of my boss and that says a lot because I'm a pretty laid back, stress free kind of Working Girl. So I typed up my letter of resignation on my work computer, handed it to him, and told him it was effective immediately. WOW! Yes, I quit my job with no backup plan, but it sure felt good.

Enter the recession. Finding another permanent job wasn't so easy, and looking back, I realize it was for the best that I didn't find a permanent job right away, because I likely would have ended up in another miserable situation. Instead, I began doing legal work on a contractual basis for the next year before I decided it was time for a change. I began applying for jobs in other cities outside of the traditional legal jobs and before long landed a job. So I packed up and moved to another city. YAY! A new start. Well, lo and behold, I hated that job as well, and a couple of months later I was back doing contract legal work. Eventually, I began doing contract work in yet another city for the company that is now my current employer. One year later and I'm still here. Can you believe it? (Ok, I know you're just meeting me, but I get a feeling that you've figured out my M.O.) Although my current career path doesn't offer the excitement of the courtroom, I do enjoy the legal work that I do and like the people I work with.

So that's how I ended up where I am now. It's been an interesting past few years, but I feel that career-wise, things are getting a lot smoother and heading in the right direction. I'm lucky to have gotten in with my company in its early stages, because I see a lot of growth in the future for the company and a lot of opportunity for me. I want to take you guys along for the ride in my Working Girl life and I hope that you all can relate to my stories or that you're at least entertained. As a long time Working Girl follower, I sincerely hope that you all get to know me (without really getting to know me, ha ha) and come to look forward to my posts in much the same way as I did and still do look forward to hearing from our original Working Girls.

I want to hear from all you Working Girls out there (and feel free to drop me a line at, especially those of you working in the legal field (is there anyone who needs to vent more than us?). And who knows where this Working Girl could end up next. Maybe in a city near you.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Editing Working Girl

It all started with a piece of fiction.

'Never Been Kissed' (that teen cult classic starring Drew Barrymore as an undercover journalist turned high school student, I really hope you know the one) came out in 1999. I was in 7th grade. Back then I wore uniforms to school, watched the boys play sports during break and started planning my last year of junior high and eventual rise to high school cheeleader (a goal which was accomplished, by the way). Also? That was the year I started editing my friends' papers because Ms. Josie Gellar indirectly helped me learn that yes, people can actually have a career telling others their grammar is wrong.

Her character was a copy editor for the Chicago Sun-Times. Her character helped me discover my desire to be an Editing Working Girl.

Throughout my high school years I continued marking my friends' papers with red pen and for some reason could not get an "A" on a paper in Senior Honors English (yes, I'm still bitter). I went on to a UC and started out my college career as a Literature/Writing major with a minor in Communication. This little plan changed when I realized my major required me to take Literature in a Foreign Language. I did what any respectable girl who tried both Latin and Greek to no avail would do - I flip-flopped my major and minor and bypassed the whole thing. I took the standard Fiction, Non-Fiction and Poetry classes and even got to spend time on Writing for Digital Media and Media Writing. I realized that writing was something that is really subjective and grades are kind of a moot point but I respected the critiques of my professors and even some of my peers. I formed friendships and fell in love with the possibilities words presented and knew that sadly, my studies wouldn't be enough.

As one of the few Communication and Literature/Writing students not planning to go on for an MFA in Fiction, I knew I would have to start putting my degree to use before I even received it. So besides my job shelving at the University library, I took on an editorial internship at a local publication which was a guide to the city. I was there for over a year and did the beginner's grunt work of fact checking: I got to call each and every client and make sure we had correctly printed their hours, phone number and address and any other relevant information we had included. I moved up to becoming the Publisher's Assistant and was in charge of babysitting the sales team who didn't like filling out their required paperwork. I didn't get to write and wasn't needed to edit, so I quit.

I then became Editorial Intern for a national magazine. I got to transcribe radio interviews, actually copy edit pieces for the Senior Copy Editor and
got to sit in on editorial meetings. I was in love with what I was doing. At the same time I was spending a few hours a week as Intern at a local literary agency learning how not to write as I sent out rejection letters and learning how to edit as I was assigned to edit a 350-page manuscript. I was so excited that I read through the manuscript three times.

Then, I had to graduate. I stopped all of my internships, packed up my Jetta and moved half-way across the country hoping to move somewhere where the unemployment rate wasn't 12% (sorry California). I wound up in Texas with no job, no friends and a degree that I thought was worthless. To be honest, it may have been without those internships.

One day during one of my many sessions perusing for writing opportunities and cursing my internships for doing me no good, I saw it: the national magazine I had interned for was looking for someone for the editorial staff in Texas. I applied and really it shouldn't have been as easy as it was for me to get the job but lucky for me I made a good impression in my time there.

Today is my edit deadline for my 9th issue.

Sometimes when I am at home working on things for my issue or assigning freelance assignments, I can't believe I get paid to do what I love. I keep 2 copies of every monthly issue on my bookcase at home and still get a bit giddy seeing my name in print.

I am looking forward to sharing my editing journey with all of you as I tackle and finish my editorial for each month and would love to hear from other Editing Working Girls out there! My e-mail is editingworkinggirl (at) gmail (dot) com - let's share our love of writing and grammar (my boyfriend will thank you).

New Month, New Me!

First I'd like to apologize for not posting in about a month. With the recent cancer diagnosis of my dear friend I have been trying to be as supportive to her as possible and it keeps me away from the computer (which sometimes can be a good thing once in a while). So anyway I will make my update short and sweet, so you can finally relax knowing that I am alive and well!

1. In honor of October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I thought I'd share this story.. My friend is doing very well, thank you all for your supportive comments and notes and inspirational stories. I got my hair cut the other day and they were doing an interesting fundraiser called Hair for Hope. You donate $10 and get a free pink hair extension. Since I am not working right now, that story is next, I decided to go for it. If I could post a picture, or knew how to blur out my face, I would be happy to share it. Anyway, I thought this was a cute and different way to show support for those affected by the disease. It is also a great conversation starter--trust me. Check it out here. Also, just a suggestion, if you know any young/teenage girls, show this to them. It may inspire the next great trend in fundraising.

2. I left my job at the preschool where I was teaching/directing. It was a wonderful school and I loved loved loved the children and other teachers, but I got an opportunity of a lifetime and couldn't turn it hear more about it, read on!

3. I am moving on Tuesday to New Zealand where I will live and teach for 3 months. I know, seems crazy, but trying to find a teaching job in a public school right now is just not for me! I researched volunteer projects and found one that was flexible with time (I didn't want to be away that long) and involved something I love (teaching young underprivileged children in a foreign country) So although some may think I am running away from the difficult job-searching that has been my life, it is just a change I need right now that will hopefully give me a more positive attitude about working (and life) when I return

4. I solemnly swear to try to post as often as possible when I am away. I will keep your updated on my whereabouts, stories about my job, and traveling tips!

Thank you all for understanding why I have been out of touch and I apologize and look forward to sharing my new adventures with you!