Humble Beginnings

November 16, 2010 at 7:36 am | Posted in Career Moves | 5 Comments
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I ran into a former boss of mine the other day on the train. I know what you are thinking — this can’t be good, but it was.  We had left off on good terms, though the company was really saddened to see me go.  Anyways, I had been meaning to catch up with her, but alas life always seems to get away from us.  We caught up on our way to our respective destinations and she gave me great compliments and told me how much I was missed at my old company.  Sometimes, you have to move on from a place to see how much you were appreciated.  Sometimes, you work so hard and feel like you are spinning your wheels, then something or someone reminds you of how far you’ve come.

I had my first job at age 16, working at Dunkin Donuts with several other kids my age.  For 4 months, I served up donuts and coffee and dealt with disgruntled people looking for their caffeine fix, before returning to school for the fall of my junior year.  Working with peers was certainly a blast, but after that experience, I never wanted to work in food service again.  It is really tough work but I had at least grown a healthy respect for those who keep with it.

The rest of my high school employment consisted of childcare gigs, tutoring, and a real short stint in retail.  In college, I continued with childcare work, as well as working at a local gym and a tanning salon on summer breaks.  I also took on two unpaid internships for “real world” preparation.

When I think back on my resume, I do see serious growth.  It’s strange for me to look back at my humble beginnings as I’ve always been so focused on preparing to get ahead for tomorrow. Sometimes, I beat myself up about not moving faster, but the truth is, I am doing pretty damn good for a 27 year old, working through a recession with a damn good job at an appropriate level for my age and experience.  Just ten years ago, I was bagging donuts, now I’m writing, talking to reporters, bumping elbows with CEOs, and making change in kids’ lives and public perspective.  I’m going to continue to work hard to reach my goals but will always remember those who gave me a chance and taught me how to be good at what I do.

Escaping the Chaos

October 14, 2010 at 7:42 am | Posted in Career Moves | 1 Comment
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When I originally launched this blog, I thought I’d write a lot about my career.  Having started a new job just a month before starting this blog, it seemed a likely topic at the time.  After all, I was lucky enough to find a better job in this economy when I know so many people who are unemployed or unhappy with their current employment.  But as the weeks go by and I look at my list of ideas for blog posts in order to think about and plan out what I want to blog about for the following week, I find myself consistently skipping over the “career” section.

I think there are three reasons why I skip over this section.

  • Number 1: I have some good ideas, but the pieces of the puzzle are not yet in place for me to blog about.
  • Number 2: I am passionate about my job, but I want to be careful not to bore people with the details if they don’t know anything about my field of work.  I can spend a long time explaining what I do, and since part of my job is to translate jargon into every day language, I try to make it so that anyone can understand.  Somehow, I still don’t know if people do. Actually, I know for a fact they don’t and who can blame them? I know nothing about the financial industry or real estate, or the stock market, or cars. Why should my job be any harder to comprehend?
  • And now for the third reason, which I think is the real kicker.  I am currently doing so much at my job that when it comes to blogging, or time spent outside of work, I just need a break from it all.  In order for me to function at my highest level at work, I have to have something that is completely non-work-related to free my mind.

I think I have pretty good time management skills. I work well on deadline and on schedule and deliver high quality results.  I try to avoid working overtime other than sending a few emails, but there are nights I can’t sleep because I am thinking about work.  As you do well in a job, you get asked to do more and more, so I am balancing more and more, (and I still am delivering my blog posts consistently on the schedule I set up for myself.  To tell you how dedicated I am, I’m actually traveling on business while you are reading this).

A lot of my friends turn to me for career advice because I seem to have it together, and I want to share my trials, errors and successes with my readers, so sorry for the lack of career stories lately.  As soon as I am grounded, able to clear my mind, and have something really interesting to tell you, to hopefully inspire you, I will bring it.  Thanks for letting me escape the chaos with you all!

Ageism in the Workplace

June 22, 2010 at 7:53 am | Posted in Career Moves | 9 Comments
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Aren't we all just big kids anyway?

Being young with little to no experience may be beneficial when job hunting.  Even in a bad job market it seems to me that there are more openings for people with less experience than there are for people with lots of experience. But once a twenty something person is in the workplace, they are constantly reminded that they are young and inexperienced.

This was particularly obvious at my last job.  My boss always started sentences with, ‘you’re too young to know this…” Yes, I am aware that even five years into my career I am still considered a novice in many ways.   I actually graduated college early so I would have a leg up on the job market above my peers, and since then, I have busted my butt to get myself up the ladder, to be viewed as a respected professional in my field, and in many ways I am.  But somehow or another, I’m always reminded that I may be a young professional, but I have a long ways to go in the workplace to be seen as the seasoned professional I long to be.

When I read that AOL hired a 28-year-old Chief Marketing Officer, I was immediately impressed.  I don’t know the girl from Adam, but the fact that a reputable company gave such an important job to someone who is just a year older than me gave me hope. I imagine this girl to be a hard working, goal-oriented creative thinker who takes charge but also knows when to listen.  I imagine this girl to not be all too different from me.

In my field, younger workers are expected to be experts in social media.  Many of my older colleagues look to me for advice on social media projects.  What’s the new hot tool?  What’s your experience with Twitter?  Do you think we should have a Foursquare account? Luckily, I am pretty good at it, but there is just so much more I can do, but this seems to be the area that separates older workers from younger workers.

When I first thought up this idea for a post, I really wanted to rag on how put down I’ve been as one of the youngest in my office at my last job. But I’ve realized that ageism is a problem on both ends of the spectrum.  Companies are all supposed to be “equal opportunity” employers but so many of them focus on diversity in terms of race and sexual orientation, but what about age diversity?  The unemployment rate of older workers has never been higher and age discrimination lawsuits are climbing.

I’ve seen what this recession has done to families first hand, as my father lost his job at the very beginning of this recession and still, two and a half years later cannot find work.  He’s brilliant, kind, and an incredibly hard worker with ridiculous amounts of experience.  I actually model my work ethic off of his.  But his field is financial law, something I of course don’t understand at all other than that it’s a field that’s not hiring.  But he would do anything for a full time job, in any field that will hire him.

The work world is a dark, dirty and unfair place.  I wish we lived in a world where we were regarded not by our age group, but alas we are.  Every day you have to prove your value, show that you are more than a two-digit number with one-digit experience.  One day, when I’m in charge, I will look for employees who are dedicated, want to work, and are eager to learn, no matter their age.  I think we can learn a lot from people of all ages.

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