Tuesday, December 28, 2010
I hope all of you Working Girls had a great holiday break. I had 5 wonderful days off from work (including the weekend) and I enjoyed every second of it. However, all day Monday all I could think of was, "I sure don't want to go back to work tomorrow" (but in the same breath, I did give thanks for having a job to go to). Do you guys do that too? Usually, it's Sunday evening when it hits me that the weekend is almost over. Since I was off Monday, I just knew that I would have the post-holiday blues this morning. Well, imagine my surprise when I walked into the office today and I was in a very cheerful mood. It's funny that I thought that having 5 days off would put me in a bad mood upon my return to work, when in actuality, it was the exact opposite.
This made me think about how much we work in the U.S. I think we work WAY too much and I think that more days off would do wonders for productivity and moral (I personally found myself a lot more productive today than I'd been the last couple of weeks). On average, Americans get 17 vacation days a year. 17. The French get the most vacations days a year, averaging about 37.5. Wow! At first I thought, "we should be given more vacation days." But then, I remembered always hearing how many people don't use all of their vacations days because they are too busy at work or because they feel like things will fall apart without them. (Let's be clear. This will never be an issue for me. I'm taking every day that they give me.) So, giving more vacation days doesn't really help if people aren't going to take them.
So, what's my solution, you ask? I say we should have 4 day work weeks. 4 days to work, 3 days to rest. Think about our current weekends. We get off Friday evenings and have that evening and night to rest and unwind. I tend to find that I'm exhausted when Friday comes and enjoy an evening at home. Saturday comes and you try to cram a lot in that one day (errands, cleaning, etc.), because it's the only true full weekend day that you have (Sunday night you have to get in bed at a decent hour for work the next day). When Sunday comes you're already thinking about work on Monday. Am I right or is this just me? I think the 3 day weekend would allow workers to truly rest, relax and stay mentally sharp for the work week. Working Girls, what do you think? And who do I talk to about implementing this idea?
Monday, December 27, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Just as Lawyer Working Girl posted about her New Year's resolutions here, I'd like to take the opportunity this week to share some of my wishes for 2011.
To be completely honest, I hope 2011 includes a lot of change for me--both personally and professionally.
Let's dive right in and start with the personal stuff.
I'm currently in a long-distance relationship. While my man is only a 3-hour drive away, this can certainly get in the way of living the life we want to live. A lot of our free time is spent driving to see one another or cramming a thousand things into a short period of time. I'm praying that something changes here... and soon.
Of course as a working girl who has a career, I have a few prerequisites that must be fulfilled in order for that long distance to shorten (aka, one of us moves to be with the other). Note: My man is currently in graduate school for the next 3+ years and thus, he won't be the one moving.
Which brings me to the next bit--professional change.
While I have been "mostly" happy with my current job, I would love the chance to further my horizons, explore my skills, challenge myself, have more opportunities for growth and learning, and most importantly--love what I do day in and day out.
Several years ago when I began this job I was ecstatic. I saw room for upward growth and the potential to truly challenge myself professionally was easy to see. But lately things have been, well, stagnant (to say the least) and--probably like most of you out there--I'm overworked, underpaid and completely undervalued.
All of this coupled with the fact that the love of my life lives 150+ miles away makes my life as a 20-something working girl pretty unhappy. So what do I hope for in 2011? Lots (and lots) of exciting new changes.
What are some of your hopes, wishes, dreams and goals for the New Year?
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
- Inner circle: those you already know
- Middle circle: the people those people know
- Outer circle: the people the middle people know
So when looking on LinkedIn they conveniently have a system that mirrors a network with letting you know who is your 1st connection (inner circle), 2nd connection (middle circle), and 3rd connection/everyone else (outer circle).
Now that you can see through the networking system on LinkedIn, its time show you how to virtually network.
- Search for someone you are looking for specifically or look at one of your 1st connection contacts who has contacts you are interested in meeting
- If you are doing a search for a person, notice what level of connection you are with the person. 1st, 2nd, or 3rd? If you are looking at a 1st connections page and connections, notice if the person you are looking at knows any additional contacts.
- Now on to the important part, on the right, there will be a "Get introduced to a connection" button. Click this and it will bring up the connections you have in common. Select a contact.
- Here is the important part, the introduction. There will be two sections for you to write in, one for the person you are hoping to meet and the other for the person you already know. Ask the person you already know if it would be okay if he/she introduced you. Once both sections are filled out with messages to both, it will email your contact asking for the introduction. All that person does is accept and then the email you wrote to the connection you are hoping to make will be sent to them. Easy as that!
Some of the other tips that this coach gave were to make sure your profile is at least 90% complete and be sure to add a summary. It won't look very good it its only half filled out!
I hope this helps some of you in your job serach as we get ready to enter the new year. Hope you all are having a Happy Holiday season!
In Transition Working Girl
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
I don't normally do New Year's Resolutions. I mean, let's be real. I figure that if I wasn't doing something on December 31, the calendar now saying January 1 isn't going to make me start doing it. You know what I mean? But I completely understand why people do them. It's not only a new day, but it's a new year! It's a fresh start! It's a great starting place to make necessary changes in your life. I just believe that you have to come to the conclusion within yourself that it's time to make those changes and not just say you're going to do it because it's January 1.
Well, with all of that being said, I know that there are some things that I need to commit myself to doing, so I'm starting now mentally preparing myself so that hopefully but January 1, I will be ready to implement these changes. So I guess, what I'm really saying is that I am doing some New Year's Resolutions this year. Go figure.
So, what are my resolutions? I will spare you any personal resolutions and go straight to career resolutions (after all, this is the Working Girl blog).
First, I plan to utilize my evenings and weekends a lot better so that I can work on my passion projects. In a previous post I shared with you all that I also blog outside of Working Girl and I am engaged in other social media. Blogging and social media have given me an outlet to pursue my passions. I don't intend to be somebody's employee for the rest of my life, so I need to dedicate myself to working on my passions so I can build my own empire (insert evil laughter...ha. Just kidding.) How am I going to do this? Well, if I want it to one day be my full-time job, then I must treat it like it is a job. I must set aside "work" hours in the evening and on weekends, specifically setting aside 1 hour each evening and 3 hours each day of the weekend where I focus on my passions. That means, shutting off the TV, putting down and phone, and carrying my laptop to my desk to work (not that kind of working, mostly watching TV stuff I do now).
The second one involves the bread and butter job. You know. The one keeping the lights on and a roof over my head. We have specific targets and goals given by the boss that we should aim for each year, but I want to set my own personal goals. This upcoming year I want to...(silence). Hmm. Well. I'm kind of at a loss for a resolution related to my job. There are some things that I want to do, but they aren't really resolutions (and I don't want to share those prematurely, but hopefully, I will be able to share them with you soon!). Honestly, I can't really think of any resolutions. There are things that I should probably do like cut down on personal stuff/Internet usage during work hours, but that's a HARD one to stick to. Ok, ok. I know. Resolutions aren't supposed to be easy. If they were, we'd already be doing them, right? Ok. That will be my resolution, and hopefully, I will truly stick to it.
I guess that's about it career-wise. Anything else I want to do is more personal, but I must say, that if I can do the personal things, I'm quite sure that I will be a better person in general, which will carry over into my work life.
Working Girls, do you do New Year's Resolutions, and if so, what are they?
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Kwanzaa to all you Working Girls and safe travels during the holidays!
Monday, December 20, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
When I was a senior in college, I sent my resume everywhere. The last thing I wanted was to graduate and be jobless--and the idea of living at home was not an option. Thankfully, I had some PR contacts from my interning days and was able to use them to network and connect with others in the industry. But my personal experience was much different than today's job search.
In fact, with the advent of so many exciting social media tools, there are a variety of resources available online to take advantage of and using these sites throughout your job search can help you tremendously along the way. Two sites that I find particularly helpful are LinkedIn and Twitter. And here's why.
We've all heard the spiel. LinkedIn is the "professional" social media outlet. Consider it your "online resume," if you will. And believe it or not, this is absolutely true.
By posting your resume on LinkedIn, prospective employers and contacts can search your qualifications, background, skill sets and knowledge base, and garner a basic understanding of who you are as a professional working woman. You can join discussion groups, network with professional associations and view job listings. It's a great resource for your career--before and after the job hunt.
In addition to LinkedIn group discussions, there are a number of chats that occur regularly on Twitter. These are hosted by various moderators and are open for anyone to join. By participating in these online chats, you begin to engage a niche audience that will quickly recognize who you are and become familiar with what it is you are looking for and interested in. Check out the many great Twitter chats available.
Additionally, by actively participating on Twitter by posting relevant and interesting content--via chats or simply by tweeting regularly--you will most likely gain a following of some sort. Continue the conversation further and use these followers as potential resources on your job search.
A couple notes...
Maintaining professionalism while also staying personal is what makes for an effective social media experience. Sure, these tools are entertaining and can oftentimes be an outlet from our working girl lives, but it's important to think carefully about how you market yourself.
What kind of personal brand are you creating? How do you want to be perceived? What do you want people to know (or not know) about you? Remember to be mindful of how you want to be heard.
Lastly, I advise you to embrace these tools on your job search. The career world and business arena as we know it have drastically changed. And this is only the beginning.
Have you used social media tools to land a job? What was your experience?
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
As this year starts to wind down, I have to take a moment to reflect on all of the great opportunities that have come my way career-wise this year. One of those, which is the biggest, is the promotion that I received a couple of months ago that I've already shared with you all. I believe that this promotion is really just the start of more great things to come with my company and I am excited about the possibilities. (Another truly awesome thing is receiving my first bonus with the company! WOOHOO!)
Another thing that happened for my company this year was our move to our new office space. For about a year and a half my company was in a smaller building and smaller office space. Then we began to hear talks about moving to a bigger office space, which was the first sign that the company was growing, and that got everyone excited. Now that we've been in our new space for a few months, I look back at our old space, and I'm telling you, it's like going from a Pinto to a Mercedes. Our new space is so much bigger and better than the old office and has new technology integrated in that helps us to stay connected to the outside world (hey, we spend a lot of time at the office) as well as connected with our colleagues in the various offices. I think the new office has even had an effect on everyone's disposition. After all, when you spend a majority of your day at a place, don't you want it to be nice and one that you enjoy?
That got me to thinking about the pros and cons of working in an office. I often think that I would LOVE to be able to work from home where I could stay in my pajamas and post up in front of the TV while I work (especially on COLD days like today). How great would it be to just walk to my kitchen for lunch rather than the breakroom to heat up the lunch that I brought or running out and spending money on food? Although that sounds nice, there are things that I would miss about working in an office.
I read this interview with the co-founder and President of a web application company, whose main issue with the modern office place is also high up in my "pros" column: that it is structured for interruptions. Well, what he calls interruptions, I refer to as the social aspect of working in an office. I love socializing with my colleagues. That's one of the things that makes going to work fun. And the camaraderie, which goes hand in hand with socializing. We build these relationships that are unique in that if we had not worked together, we probably never would have met and would ordinarily probably never be friends (and here I use the word loosely as I do not consider my "friendships" with all of my colleagues to be equal). Also, for some, but not for me, a pro of working in an office means "the office hookup." That's all I will say about that one.
Aside from those two things another pro of working in an office is that you have people to bounce ideas off of. I wonder how many multimillion dollar ideas came from two people sitting around brainstorming? Also, having to go to an office gives me set working hours. If I'm at home it seems that it would be a lot harder to separate time for work and time for personal. Another personal pro is that I get my daily exercise in by walking to the office and back home everyday. Maybe if I worked from home I would carve out gym time, but at least this way, I'm guaranteed to get in some form of exercise everyday.
So, aside from the con in the interview that I flipped into a pro, what are the other cons of working in an office? Ok, maybe he is right that there are a lot of interruptions throughout the day. And there are always meetings. Also, there are the colleagues whose personalities clash with yours, which is really only a problem if you have to work closely with them. There's also gas money/public transportation fare/parking fees involved with commuting to work.
I really can't think of anymore legitimate cons to working in an office. Now, that's not to say that if I were offered the option of working from home that I wouldn't take it, but I guess coming to an office really isn't that bad. So tell me, Working Girls, what are your pros and cons of working in your office?
Monday, December 13, 2010
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Thankfully ladies, I'm this close to taking time off and couldn't be more thrilled about spending it at the beach. Yep, that's right--bring on the sunny vacay complete with an endless supply of frothy beverages, beautiful sand, reading, lounging, sleeping in, staying up late, and lots and lots of fresh towels.
While I'm away, I fully intend on weaning myself away from technology. For those who know me, this is quite a feat. In fact, I always promise that travel is not the time to tweet, check e-mail, blog and surf the Web... but it never actually happens.
And I know I'm not the only working girl with this terrible problem. Why don't we take the time we need to relax? We are constantly working our little tails off without taking a step back and breathing.
So this time, I'm going to focus on me and my vacation. No phone, e-mail, blogging, tweeting, Foursquare-ing, etc. And although the holidays are about spending quality time with family and friends, we working girls also must concentrate on ourselves.
This holiday, I am making the promise to keep my promise. No technology. Just the beach and me.
What are you going to do to rewind and relax during the last few weeks of 2010?
Put yourself first. You deserve it.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Unfortunately, the sad reality for so many graduates is that there are no jobs available for them. This is frightening when you've just racked up thousands in student loan debt to attend law school. When I graduated from law school, I didn't yet know where I would be working. Luckily, just before I took the bar exam, I got word that I landed a clerkship. Whew! But I know several attorneys who graduated the same year as me who never landed full-time, permanent legal positions. And I'm talking, we are some years past graduation. Instead, several have gone on to pursue non-legal careers, while others have gone back to get Masters in other areas of study or are preparing to go back to school. I wonder if they wish they had skipped law school and gone to grad school instead. And underemployment is real for lawyers. No one enters law school thinking that they will graduate only to find themselves struggling to make ends meet. It makes people wonder, "Was going to law school the wise thing to do?"
Working Girls, how's the market in your industry? Do you find that there are just too many people in your industry vying for the same jobs? Have you had any experience with this in your industry?
Monday, December 6, 2010
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Think about the last time you booked a flight or looked into buying a gift for a friend. You probably wanted to do a little research or compare prices before making this kind of decision. And chances are--you turned to the Web for a little guidance.
But as we all know, being a working girl leaves little room for hours of Web browsing. We hardly have time to go to the grocery store, let alone make a cost comparison chart complete with graphs and statistics to help us make the "right" or "best" decision on which computer is the better deal.
There are a number of online sites that help make our lives easier, and as Internet users and working women, we depend on these tools to help us compare and contrast without the hassle of spending tons of time perusing the Internet.
Earlier today, Mashable featured an article about a brand new Web tool that claims to make our decision-making much easier.
FindtheBest.com is a comparison engine that helps users make faster and better-informed decisions when looking for products and services--no matter what the topic.
So instead of worrying about which cookie you should make for the holiday bake-off, which e-Reader gives you the most bang for your buck, or where you and the hubby should travel for a little New Year's getaway, consider using this site (or others like it) as a way to simplify and ease your decision-making stresses this holiday season.
Happy December, working girls!