Thursday, February 24, 2011

Taking a Risk

by Social Media Working Girl

While it may seem that I have fallen off the face of the planet, rest assured that I am here and well! Things have been quite crazy in my life lately but I promise I haven't forgotten about you.

This week, I wanted to take the opportunity to discuss a topic that we've briefly touched on before. Last Wednesday I attended a luncheon and while sitting at the table, I got to chatting about social media and magazine publishing--two passions that, as you know, are very near and dear to my heart.

To my left side was a girl who has embraced social media completely--she's on Twitter and Facebook, and blogs regularly. The girl sitting to my right was the exact opposite. She's on LinkedIn purely for professional reasons. No blogging, no Facebook, no Twitter and--this one really shocked me--no texting.

The social media debate continued throughout lunch and ties very well into the ongoing topic of self-censorship.
  • Do you post personal and professional content through the same account?
  • How do you know what to post and what not to post?
  • Are you presenting yourself in the light in which you wish to be received?
In the various social media sessions that I have presented throughout my working girl career thus far, these are common questions I receive from the audience. And without fail, I always give the same answer.

Combining your personal and professional lives online is a risk you should take if (and only if) you understand the risk involved and are up to the challenge.

It's about merging the two into one--putting the face and personality with the professional life you have developed for yourself in the working world. And while a key piece of the puzzle is transparency, it's also important to remember that TMI (too much information) exists online just as IRL (in real life).

IRL, you wouldn't want to publicize or gloat about your crazy weekend antics in which you got so drunk that you had to call your parents to pick you up. IRL, you probably wouldn't call your boss to let him know that you are about to take a relaxing, hot bubble bath with your boyfriend.

So clearly, the same applies online. It's all about proceeding with discretion, making wise decisions about the personal online brand you create and knowing what qualifies as TMI.

Remember, not all social media outlets are for everyone. Just as the girl to the right of me at the luncheon has chosen not to jump on the social media bandwagon, it's perfectly okay to pick and choose the outlets you feel comfortable with.

As I said in my previous post on the topic... The most important thing to remember is that discretion and thoughtfulness are key to being a successful social media user.

(Image via)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The 1 Year Itch

by Lawyer Working Girl

I'm starting to get that itch. No, not the 7 year itch, as I am not currently in a relationship. I'm getting the itch to start cleaning out my closets and start throwing stuff away. I'm getting the itch to start saving boxes. I'm getting the itch to move! I shared with you guys in my first post that I'm a chronic mover. I feel that while I'm young, single and childless I should have many different experiences, including living in different cities and different states.

So how do I cure this itch? I guess the only reasonable answer is to move. However, that's not so easy anymore. When I worked as a contractor it was a lot easier, because I could do contract legal work just about anywhere. Now that I have a permanent job, I can't just pick up and move on a whim. So what are my options?

One thing I could do is start looking for a new job in the city of my choice. The only problem with that is that I don't want my next job to be a legal job. The one I'm at now is going to be my last legal job. I'm ready to dive into my passion full-time and I promised myself that I would stay with this employer until I'm ready to do that. While I'm not financially ready to work for myself yet, I would work for someone else doing something I love as long as it pays as well as my legal job. I'm not sure that I have as much experience in that area yet to command such a salary, so that leaves me with option number two.

My other option is to ask to be relocated to one of our offices in a different city. Luckily, my company is growing and opening new offices so transferring is a very real possibility. I know you're probably asking why I want to leave my current city. Well, my move to this city wasn't of my choosing really. As I explained previously, I was offered a good job here so I moved. It's a little slow for my liking, but it isn't bad. I just think that I really want to be in a larger city with a lot happening. I want to be with the movers and shakers (as I consider myself a mover and shaker on the rise). It's something that's weighing heavily on my mind.

Working Girls, have you ever had the desire to pick up and move? If so, how did you handle your job situation?


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Are You Using Your Degree?

By: Editing Working Girl

I am one of the lucky few to actually be using my college degree. But it wasn't always this way. I majored in Communications and minored in Literature/Writing and my first job out of college was as...a Medical Transcriptionist.

There were so many times that I was frustrated because I got that position not because I knew medical terminology, but because I could type fast (thanks Mavis Beacon!). Every month while I was paying off my ridiculously high University of California system student loans, I would find myself angry that my degree wasn't being utilized, that I wasn't prepared for the 'real world' and that my four years in college were a waste.

It looks like many women feel that way. In the U.K., is reporting that many women are seeing university as a waste of time, because the time spent working toward a degree outweighs the actual benefits. "Tuition fees and little chance of landing a good job make higher education an unattractive prospect for them, a study shows."

Luckily, the time spent at the job I hated motivated me to really try to find something that I loved. Not only have I put my experience as an Editorial Intern to use in my freelance writing, but I now do marketing for a software company, utilizing many things I studied in college such as skills I learned in my Writing for Digital Media course.

At the same time, I am actually thinking of enrolling into my alma mater's Extension Program to earn a certificate in copy editing since we didn't have Journalism classes and I feel I can use it to help further my freelance career. So though I am using my degree, I always feel continuing education is a viable option to not only brush up on my skills, but help learn specific skills that may not have been included in my degree program.

What about you Working Girls? Was your degree worth it? Would you ever go back to school?

Picking the Long Distance Route

by In Transition Working Girl

Happy week of love! Or, in my case, happy reminder that the one I love lives three hours away.

I am going to let you in a little more on my personal life. For three and a half years I have been in a serious committed relationship and feel he is the One for me. Right now, we are in a long distance relationship.

A little history, the first six months we were together, we were apart. But then his job brought him to the area in which I live so it worked out perfectly. For the last three years, we have pretty much been attached at the hip, enjoying our quite evenings in and weekends together.

About a year ago, I started feeling restless in my career and wanted a change. I went through several stages of thinking I knew what I wanted to do. At the end of the day, I realized to accomplish what I really wanted in my career, I would have to move, affecting us both. Being a planner by nature, moving was always "our" plan, but not for a few more years so I was to blame for this change.

My boyfriend played a super supportive role at first. But after a few months of talking about the possibility of me moving, he suddenly wasn't so supportive and our relationship took some hits. I found out he was confiding in others about his frustrations over me wanting to move. It all was difficult for me to deal with, especially while trying to make a career change. It all came to a head on the weekend I was offered the first of my two job offers. We had hours of long conversations and lots of crying trying to figure out what was best for us personally and professionally.

Throughout the conversation we pin-pointed many things, but it came down to one word we both wanted to avoid, resentment.

We are both young, motivated and focused on our careers. We both feel the need to excel and push our limits now but also selfishly wanted the other one to be right by our side. However, we realized that by not letting the other one fly, they would resent the other one later on and would have far worse implications on our relationship. And that was how we decided long distance was better for us in the short term. We did make a promise, as I am sure all couples do, but our relationship is first and if changes need to be made, they will.

We put a plan in place to be together. And, fingers crossed, by the end of the year, I will not only have my career, but my man back too.

How have you handled long distance relationships? Any tips for this Working Girl?

(Image via)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mid-Week Inspiration

For most of us, work is a job. Some days we like it, some days we love it and some days we wish we could be anywhere but there.

Whether it's your nine to five gig or what you do for fun on the side, sometimes we all need a little inspiration to keep us going.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled on Work Is Not A Job on Tumblr and their prints, which they post on Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook are a nice reminders to stay inspired by whatever it is you do. Here are a few of my favorites. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Show Me The Money

by Lawyer Working Girl

As most of you may remember, a few months ago I got a promotion. When I was in the boss's office being given the news all kinds of thoughts were running through my head, but mainly I was thinking "How much is he going to offer me??" When he told me, even though I was hoping for a little more, I didn't ask. There was something about the way he said it that made me think, "They are not budging from that number, so don't even ask." For weeks afterwards I kicked myself for not at least asking for more. After all, I will never know until I ask. Turns out though, that another (male) colleague who was promoted to my same position did ask and they flat out said no, so my intuition was right. They weren't budging. That made me feel a lot better.

Over this next year I plan to work hard so that when my next evaluation comes up I will have several reasons for why they should give me a decent raise. Next time, I'm quite certain that I won't hesitate to ask for what I think I'm least I hope. A Washington Post survey reported that women are 85% less likely to ask for a promotion than their male counterparts. In order to prepare myself and to build up my confidence to go in and ask for the raise I deserve, I think the best thing is to know exactly what goals the company has for me for the year and then exceed expectations and beat those goals. I think if I meet the goals they have set, then they have the upper hand and are more likely to deny my request for more than the standard raise. If I beat their expectations, I think I have the upper hand to say, "Look at what I did this year. I deserve more."

I'm not stranger to asking for more money. At the first firm I worked at after law school I also settled for the initial offer they gave me. Once I got in and had worked their for 9 months, I realized that I deserved more (and my bank account NEEDED more). So I sent an email to the partners stating that I wanted to meet with them regarding my salary. I wrote down a list of points as to why I deserved a raise, such as already assisting and mentoring some of the newer associates when they went to court (and I had only been at it 9 months), as well as covering my own cases and sometimes covering others cases too. I was honest with them, I just needed more money to be able to meet my expenses. At the end of the meeting, they said they would consider everything I said and get back to me soon. I thought that meant I would never hear anything about it, but surprise, surprise, about 2 days later, they sent me an email saying that they were giving me a raise. And the amount of the raise surprised me even more! It was more than I expected. I actually convinced them that I was worth them investing more money in me. I can't tell you how great that felt, and not just because I would have more money, but because it meant that they felt that they needed me and that they wanted to keep me happy. Three months later on my one year anniversary, I received another raise! I think that was a first in firm history -- getting two raises within the first year.

So now it makes me wonder, was it easier for me to go to my partners back then and ask for a raise because they were fellow Working Girls? Will I be as confident going to my current male boss with a demand for a raise? Working Girls, have you ever had to demand a raise from your boss? Did you find that it was easier to ask a boss of a particular sex? What tips do you have to offer other Working Girls who might be ready to ask for a raise?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I'll Cry If I Want to...

by In Transition Working Girl

This week has been trying and stressful; and there were several moments where I wanted to burst out crying in the office. Yes, I am going to admit it on Working Girl, I am an emotional person. There was even a point in the week when an old friend called to get an update and I just explained I couldn't talk work stuff because I was at work and I didn't want to have a break down. Let me just say this, moving and starting a new job has been beyond stressful.

This got me thinking though, how many of you have cried in the workplace? Seen a colleague cry? And how do you handle it?

Stress is my major point of weakness when it comes to wanting to burst out into tears. It may be long hours or a pending deadline that goes off track, but crying is a source of release for me. In the beginning of my Working Girl career, managing this kind of stress was so new to me that it lead to many crying sessions and more than I would care to admit. However over the last several years I have gotten better about managing this stress and have learned how awful it really is to cry in front of my colleagues and bosses. I makes me feel weak and less respected, so now I avoid it all costs.

For me, learning to manage my tears has come with time and I know there is still lots to learn when it comes to stress management. Here are several things that I do:
  • Take a short 5-10 min walk
  • Take a coffee or lunch break
  • Do something personal (check email or Facebook) to clear my mind off of work
  • Walk outside and make a phone call
  • Make a to do list to map out how I am going to get everything done
  • Take deep breaths
  • Turn on my iPod for a little bit
One thing I learned not to do unless I have a friend working with me that I trust, is to go crying to a colleague. If my tears are about to come when I am talking to someone, I quickly end the conversation and head for a private location.

Now reversing roles, what do you do if its someone else who is shedding tears? When this happens to me, my number one thought is get them out of sight of everyone else who might be able to see that they are crying. I usually suggest we get out of the office to continue to address what is going on. Then from there I make sure they know I am there for them and this session will be between us only. If its stress I try to unburden them and see what I can do to take a load from them, otherwise I just listen and try to be a good listener-and that's all.

What are some other tips and suggestions to manage your tears in the work place?