7 Changes as You Grow Up

While finalizing some plans out loud for a friend’s upcoming wedding to a co-worker this morning, discussing travel time, weather, etc., she mentioned that this was the second wedding I had mentioned within the last few months. I shrugged and said, “Guess I’m getting to that age.”

Ew. That age? Who am I? But it’s true, after college graduation and starting to become a real, functioning human being, I guess we really are starting to get to “that age.”

While that age might not be a set age, and can happen at different times for anyone, there are some things we start to notice as we grow up…

1. Weddings
Your friends start to get married. You soon realize you’re filling your calendar with more save-the-dates faster than you can roll your eyes. All of a sudden it’s like, wow, when did we get so old?

2. Careers
Suddenly, your friends who you thought only majored in Netflix and Tequila are starting to find their niche in the real world and landing jobs. And it’s exciting and scary and new, but at least you can relate to having similar schedules for once.

3. Happy Hours
Sure, you had them in college, but happy hours after a certain point seem to be filled with work colleagues and tend to be a lot classier than they were before you graduated. Age varies and… gulp, you actually kind of have fun without slamming down 16 tequila shots before that clock strikes 6 p.m.

4. Money
You start to realize that when you or your friends have plans, or want to take a trip, there’s no more “I can’t afford it” or “Maybe I’ll ask my parents to pay for me as a Christmas gift!” Everyone has their own income and making plans for a night or long weekend become easier than ever to say OK to.

5. Emails/Texting/Social Media
You email people more than you text. Or you call instead Facebook messaging. It’s a whole new world beyond emojis and “K.”

6. Clothes
You come to the realization that maybe, just maybe 54 crop tops and 26 booty-shorts is a little much, and that you don’t really have places to wear them to anymore anyway. You stop shopping for quantity and you start aiming for quality. “Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have.”

7. Friends
Like clothes, you’d rather have quality over quantity. You get rid of the ‘friends’ that you no longer see or feel a real connection with. You keep the ones who do. You make new ones – through work, organizations, etc. Some just plain drift away. You know you’re old when you can accept this – that some people will always be around and that some people just weren’t meant to, and that’s OK.

Overall, no matter what changes you start to notice and how old you get, you’re always you and you can still throw back seven margaritas before that happy hour ends and you can still do The Wop better than anyone on the dance floor at the next wedding you attend. Oh, and you still look good in those crop tops shoved in the back of your closet that you won’t admit you didn’t throw out with the rest. You’ll still have money issues and learn to balance it between friends and time. Emojis will always be fun, age 14 or 42, and a smilie face will just have to suffice for friendly work emails.

If you’ve reached that age, don’t worry, your dreams still have no barriers and your innocence remains.

“The best is yet to come.”

Follow These Leaders!

Hello everyone!

Two of my old classmates and friends have recently started two separate blogs for their Senior year independent study at Kutztown University. They are focusing on women’s and gender studies, specifically about women and gender in the media.

Their blog posts have been inspiring so far, and have touched on some really interesting topics such as social media, body image, celebrity scandals, self worth, and so. much. more.

Take a few minutes out of your day to check out their amazing work and leave some of your own insight, follow, and share their words with others!

Read Jocelyn’s Blog by Clicking Here.

Read Brittany’s Blog by Clicking Here.

The Best Places for Young Professionals to Shop (Females & Males!)

As a college grad, it can be hard to find a happy medium about where to shop now that crop tops (for girls) and muscle tees (for guys) aren’t appropriate for the professional scene, whichever you may be in.

I’ve done some looking and hunted down, what I personally think, are the best stores for us college grads to start shopping, without breaking the bank!

The Loft (F)
It’s a little pricey, but here’s why it’s worth it: The clothes, they last. They aren’t cheaply made and you’ll wear them forever. Also, this store comes with amazing benefits! They are constantly sending out deals and coupons. The other day, I spent $35 there for a dress, and today they sent me a $50 off coupon just for coming in. They are one brand you’ll want to make sure has your email address!!

New York & Company (F)
I used to think of NY&C as a hit or miss, but if you shop online, there are so many great options and they are always having sales! It doesn’t hurt to ever check here if you’re on the hunt for some great quality work clothes.

Gap (M/F)
I’m slightly, overly, maybe, possibly obsessed with Gap, not only for work clothes, but also more along the lines of comfy, day-to-day clothing that classifies you as an adult without making you look over 35 years-old like some shops. They don’t always have the greatest sales, but if you can hunt down a good sales rack or even an outlet shop, you’re bound to find something.

J.Crew (M/F)
I love J.Crew, and while their prices may be through the roof on occasion, they always have really good deals for guys!! J.Crew, for ladies, might not always be the best for everyday shopping, due to prices, but when you need something fabulous, you know where to head.

Ralph Lauren (M)
R.L. has clothes for women, too, but for the professional world purpose, and because most of you probably aren’t heading the country club to play polo any time soon, I’m going to keep this one strictly for the boys, and here’s why: While their robes, hats, and ties may be insanely over-priced, there are good deals here. Their dress shirts and pants are affordable and most importantly, they’re long-lasting and comfortable.

Kohl’s (M/F)
Kohl’s is one of the best places to shop for both men and women’s dress clothes. They offer different lines, brands, and tons of styles to choose from. For women, there’s Vera Wang, Lauren Conrad, ELLE, etc. For guys, there’s Harbor Bay, Dockers [insert dad jokes here], Haggar, and so many more! You won’t find this many good, affordable, choices in one place anywhere else

H&M (M/F)
I was hesitant to put this on the list because quite honestly, the clothes just aren’t great quality. But, I’ll admit that I have found a good pair of dress pants and a blazer or two from here and since they finally made ordering online accessible for the U.S. a couple months back, I guess they deserve a mention 🙂 With their cheap prices, there is a wide variety to choose from, making it worth a shot if you’re looking to grab a few things at once without spending a ton – just be careful because some things are more poorly made than others!

 

While I do occasionally stop in stores such as Forever21, Charlotte Russe, etc. etc. for a pair or leggings or tank top, I end up spending more money on replacing the clothes. Try to stay away from stores that cause you to end up practically stealing your money in the long run, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the check out.

 

Look good, feel good.

Happy shopping!

 

 

 

 

Where are some of your favorite places to shop for professional/casual clothes? Share below!

Why We Need to Stop Blaming College Universities For Crime

You can’t turn on the television without hearing another story about some college student from some university who has either died, been abducted, robbed, assaulted, roofied, etc.

And, of course, every school that this college student attends gets, let’s just say, a bad rep.

Parents start to worry about sending their kids to this school specifically, incoming students drop their admissions, and schools are left scurrying to give an explanation. When really, it’s not their fault to begin with.

Take it from me, someone who, while in college, had her apartment broken into (twice), was assaulted on the street, and robbed.

My roommate and I were walking home one night from the bars when two guys and two girls who were walking ahead of us decided they were looking for trouble. We were assaulted by all four, one who was carrying a concealed, stolen gun, and robbed. Luckily, they were caught and charged.

However, our university caught the backlash of the community and other parents. Our story was on the news and word spread like wildfire.

I read comments online from others about how we “shouldn’t have been out that late” and “the school needs to do something about the crime in the town.”

No. For one, it wasn’t our fault for staying out late and walking home from the bar, a block away from our apartment, in a pair, at 22 years of age. We could have been walking home from watching a movie at a friends house, or the library, and it still could have happened. And no, it wasn’t the school or the town’s fault. If anything, it’s thanks to them that we were okay and that these people, who didn’t even attend the school or live in the town, were brought to justice.

We were lucky, and I felt bad that our university had to take the rap for what had happened to us. Especially because I never once, in my entire four years attending school, felt unsafe. I was never, ever afraid and I was never uneasy about my safety – even after the assault and the break ins.

We just happened to be in the wrong place and the wrong time, and it could have happened to anyone, anywhere, at any university. In fact, they do. We see it happen every day and we read the stories online and we watch it being reported on the news. The point is, we need to stop blaming the universities as if they are responsible, because they’re simply not.

The best thing a university can do is to educate students on what to do, who to call, and reassure them that they are on the student’s side, no matter the situation, because college students will continue to find themselves in trouble all of the time; even in some of the safest places across America.

We didn’t blame the school or police for our lack of safety that night. The media did. The school and police never once blamed us for being legal seniors walking home at 2am. The community did. And because of that, the school and the police came off terrible to those tuning into the news that Sunday evening.

As a society, we need to stop accusing universities for the terrible things that happen on and off campus. If they could prevent it, they would. But unfortunately, we live in a world where bad people will always exist and bad things will always happen. And that’s not a single college university’s fault, it’s society’s.

College Grads vs. The Drinking Scene

I’ve had two people ask me to write about life after college and how to handle the bar scene, going back to homecomings, and/or appropriateness of what the hell to do for Halloween now that you’re not a college student.

And the truthful answer is, I have no idea.

I will say that because I moved about a half an hour away from my college university, I went back one bored Friday night to see some friends who are still there. And, quite honestly, it just felt weird. I felt out of place, even though no one else might have seen me that way, and while it was still a great time, I don’t think I’ll be back anytime soon.

But with Homecoming/Alum weekends, “party” holidays, and friends still in school, how can us college grads, jobless or not, find a balance to the drinking scene? What’s appropriate and what just isn’t anymore?

We can’t. There’s no right or wrong answer, at least not one that I have. So, here’s my opinion…

Do what you want. Just be smart about it.

If you want to drink until the sunrises, can afford it, and don’t have any real responsibility the next day, cheers to you! Have a tequila shot (or seven) for me!

If you can’t, that’s okay, too. Especially since I, and just about every other college grad I know, can’t handle a hangover like we used to. You had four years to be irresponsible, and I’m going to guess that you were, as were the rest of us. And well, it was fun.

Is there a point where we grow up? Sure. But, we’re still young. Most of us don’t have families or other pressing matters to consider, so why not go back to school for the occasional weekend night, or just out for drinks.

Go to homecoming and act like you never left – that’s the point. Dress up for Halloween and head to the bar with friends – almost every bar out there has Halloween costume bar-parties, specials, and contests (especially since it’s a Friday this year!!).

You graduated College. You didn’t turn 80.

It’s not wrong. It’s not anything, really. The point is, you’re a big kid now, and you (hopefully) have the ability to make smarter decisions than you used to on those Thirsty Thursdays before you had a big exam Friday morning. But if you work hard, you might as well play hard. The “best four years of our lives” might have come to and end, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the fun has, too.

Some Call It Luck. I Call It Hard Work.

I’m standing in the grocery store check-out line, work clothes on, hair in a tight bun, and my leather, three-year-old Michael Kors purse swung over my shoulder.

I was tapping my debit card on the counter, as the cashier was trying to fix her computer, and I may have been a little irritated due to a crazy work day and the eyes of the man in line behind me fixed on my back.

I knew it was coming when my eyes met his, before the words even left his mouth. Looking me up and down, focusing his glare on my MK bag, he says, “Wow, your parents must really spoil you.” My front teeth bit the tip of my tongue as he rolled his eyes.

It wasn’t playful, he wasn’t even remotely kidding, and I wasn’t happy. Spoiled ? Did this man know that I went out and bought myself this bag after working two crappy waitress jobs one summer when I was 19? Did he know I was dressed like this because I had just finished an entire work day followed by a two hour work event?

Yes, I was incredibly blessed and thankful to be born into and to grow up in an upper-middle class family. This was because I have two parents who worked their butts off to give me and my older brother everything we have. The most important thing they gave us? Their work ethic.

Yes, my parents put me through college. After I got a C my first semester Freshman year, my dad said, “I’m not paying for you to go to school to get bad grades. Work harder or you’ll come home.” So I graduated with a 3.7 GPA (damn biology).

Yes, my parents gave me my car and yes, my parents paid for my groceries while I was in college because they didn’t want me working while I was in school. Yes, I am forever thankful more than they know.

Lucky? Yes. But luck isn’t what got me to this point.

Every summer I worked one, if not two, sometimes three jobs over the course of those three short months to make my own money to have and to spend. I was twelve years old when I started my first job and when I was sixteen I would work a morning, an evening, and a late night shift. I never had to ask my parents for money to go out to eat or to the mall like my other friends did. I never turned down picking up another shift because I could afford not to.

Today, I work for a non-profit in an entry level position. One paycheck just barely covers my rent and bills for the month. The other goes towards my dog, my groceries, and I’m left with a little extra spending money (mostly spent on clothes because I inherited not only my work ethic from my parents but their shopping addiction, too.)

And guess what? I love it. I work as hard as I can for what I have, and I’m proud to call it mine. Not because it was handed to me, but because I worked for it.

My parents instilled in me that money isn’t important, but always doing your best was. When my older brother didn’t want to go to school, but instead start his own business – one that he’s been damn successful with – my parents weren’t heartbroken that he didn’t choose the traditional route, they were excited to see him want to work for it instead.

I complain about work Monday mornings. I complained about every paper I had to write in college. But I loved it, because every Monday and every goal reached is a little bit closer to the bigger picture, my picture. So to my friend in the grocery store, this isn’t what spoiled looks like and this isn’t luck. It’s effort, it’s hard work, and it’s mine.

The Do’s and Don’ts of LinkedIn (vs. Facebook: What’s the Difference?)

A good friend and fellow blogger came to me one day with inspiration: “I have the perfect blog idea for you… What you should and shouldn’t do on LinkedIn!” (You can check out her blog here)

I loved the idea from the moment she said it, and I knew I had to do something about all the college students and grads buzzing around asking if LinkedIn was really even necessary.

While I was trying to figure out what kind of post to write regarding LinkedIn, another good friend mentioned that he uses LinkedIn everyday for recruiting, and that people need to learn the difference between LinkedIn and Facebook – Lightbulb!

So, college students and grads, here it is. The difference between LI and FB.

First, let me start by saying that, yes, if you plan to do anything with your life, in any field, you should have a LinkedIn. Networking is the most important part of the real world, whether you’re an entrepreneur, a CEO, or a volunteer for a non-profit — LinkedIn is key.

If you don’t have a LinkedIn, you’ve probably heard others explain that, “LinkedIn is just like Facebook, but professional.” And you’ve probably wondered, what the hell does that mean?

While it’s true that LI and FB are similar social networking sites, there’s a big difference about what you should and should not be posting. Here are a few key elements that will take your LinkedIn from sloppy to successful:

Your Picture.
To start, make sure you do have a picture set to your profile. Whoever is looking at your profile might not necessarily know you personally, but they are looking at your LI for a reason – and they want to be able to put a face to the name. Your picture should be of you and only you. You should also be dressed professionally. I cannot even describe the types of pictures I’ve seen – guys in tees and basketball shorts, bathroom mirror selfies, and even girls in their bikinis on the beach. I wish I was making this stuff up. Sure, you can connect with friends/fellow classmates on LinkedIn, but for the most part, you’re going to have professional networks, recruiters, and possible employers/interviewers checking out your LinkedIn. To be taken seriously, you have to look the part.

Your Posts.
While there’s always a debate about what you should and should not be posting to the LI newsfeed, my advice is to just keep it simple and again, professional. Recently read a good article that wasn’t posted on TMZ or Buzzfeed? Awesome, give it a share to your LI! Others will love to see that you’re keeping up-to-date with relevant topics, and that they can even start a discussion with you about it. Find an inspiring or encouraging quote? Go ahead and post, everyone likes a little uplift in their work day. Do not post a status update about your dog, your crappy morning that lead to you being late, or your weekend at the bar with friends. Save that stuff for FB.

Your Professional Headline.
If you’re still in college, it’s okay for your headline to read, “Full-time student at COLLEGE NAME HERE” or “Receiving BA in MAJOR HERE at COLLEGE NAME HERE”. But, if you’re a college grad searching for that first job or if you’re currently in between jobs, your tagline should read “Freelance…. something”. After graduation and before my first job, my headline read, “Freelance writing and event planning”. Whatever your field/industry, turn it into something you could do without having a solid job – and try to keep it along the same lines as the types of jobs you’re applying for.

Your Experience (aka your past and present jobs).
You should be listing any jobs that are relevant to your career. This means internships, too. I tend to refrain from posting my eight years of waitress/bartending experience – but I’ve also heard employers say that they don’t mind seeing it – so that’s up to you. However, that burger joint you worked at in high school or that ice cream bar you so diligently served soft serve from, can probably be kept off the list. Unless you were a manager at one of these places, it’s better to keep your irrelevant jobs in the past.

Your Summary.
I’ve seen the most boring summaries before, where people just list their names and degrees or careers. Eh, that’s what the rest of your LI page is for. This is the space to be creative, show your stuff! Use quotes, exemplify what kind of person you are and why connections should keep scrolling down your page. Be unique! Here is a perfect example of one of my own LinkedIn connections’ summary:

“I like green eggs and ham! I like them Sam I Am!” -Dr. Seuss

Did you know the entire book of Green Eggs and Ham is about trying new things? The moral is to try new things; you might like them and find them successful. In marketing I have learned to try new tactics, because a lot of the time, they end in awesome results. If you have never tried creating a marketing message in a new way, try it! Use it once or twice and measure the response. Tweak it, hone it, improve upon it until its perfect: Try the green eggs and ham!

Yes, Dr. Suess may have some crazy rhymes and guys drawn in his books. However, if you look at the core of his thoughts and words, the man was brilliant. I think he can teach us some great lessons in regard to social media, marketing, and advertising.

She then continues to list her college education, her degree, her passion, and what sets her apart. You see that? Do that.

Grammar and Accuracy.

The same friend, mentioned in the intro, who uses LI for recruiting and headhunting, made a good point – your LI profile is basically a virtual resume. It’s important that your information be up-to-date, even if it’s as simple as a new organization you’ve joined, a new skill you’ve acquired, or a new responsibility in a position you’ve received. If it’s relevant to your professional world, it’s useful for your LI page. Also, make sure your spelling and grammar is on point! You don’t want to miss out on an amazing opportunity just because you weren’t careful in your word usage or spell check.

Utilize Your LinkedIn in Every Possible Way.
You should have at least 10 skills listed, if not more. Endorse others’ skills because 90% of the time, they’ll endorse you back. Write recommendations – not only are you helping fellow LinkedIn-ers, but you’re also showing your face on their page for others to see. List your organizations, write about your interests, and be sure to include a contact for others to reach you! Personally, I include “Find me on LinkedIn” at the top of my resume and at the bottom of my emails – this way professionals that I’m communicating with know that they can connect with me instantly, and more importantly, stay connected.

While business cards aren’t dead to the world yet, LinkedIn is sure to take over within the next couple of years. Every time I receive someone’s business card, I typically add them on LinkedIn right away, and then toss the card in the trash or in a cluttered desk drawer. I’m never going to go back and look through a pile of business cards to find a name and number; I’d much rather be able to put a face to the name, along with all their info, and have it all on one simple database. So, if you haven’t joined LinkedIn yet, do it now! And if you’re on LinkedIn and need to amp up your profile, get to work! LinkedIn is important and the sooner you’re connected, the sooner your can start creating relationships with those who may just help further your career!

Happy Networking,

C

Check out the author’s personal LinkedIn page here. If you have any questions, need help with your LinkedIn, or just want to share your own ideas, please email cswetsky@gmail.com.

The Four Boys I Met in College: Why It Never Worked Out

**Author’s Note: As someone who loves to write, one of my favorite quotes has always been, and will continue to be:

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.”

It took a lot of thought to finally sit down and write this specific blog post. But, I’ve decided should it help even just one guy see an ounce of light into a girl’s mind, or one girl to see she’s not alone, whatever her situation, then it’s worth it.**

Recently a good friend was encouraging me to write an article on why not to date a “frat boy” since there have been so many articles lately relating to “reasons to date a sorority girl”. I swear, it has nothing to do with our own bad experiences of dating frat boys — maybe.

While I’ve decided against writing this particular article, due to the fact that I don’t wish to put myself on the same, small-minded level as those writing articles about who and whom not to date, I would like to touch on the different kinds of guys I personally came across in college, and why it didn’t work.

The Nice Guy.
I’m not one of those girls who “let the good guy get away” or “didn’t know what she had when it was in front of her.” No. I knew the good guy was the good guy. I knew every word that left his mouth was the truth and that I never had to second guess anything he said or did, ever. It’s not because I was too blind to see – trust me, I saw. I desperately wanted to make it work. The problem is, I’ve always been fiercely independent, and while having a guy who is willing to do just about anything for you can seem nice, it just wasn’t in my case. Completely, totally, and utterly one of those, “it’s not you, it’s me” situations. It’s not because “there was no chase” or because I wanted something more unpredictable. The real problem was that the nice guy, knows he’s a nice guy, and he’s ready for you to be his nice girl. They want to settle, and while I’m not going out looking to dance on tables until it’s time to leave with the first guy I see, I’m also not ready to dedicate my life to someone when I’m still trying to figure out my own.
One thing I’d want the good guy to know: You did everything right, and while I might not have been the girl for you, someone is and you deserve her when you find her.

The Friend.
It was comfortable. You spend so much time with someone and create such a good friendship without the pressure of a relationship, it’s easy to start to see them as something more. And while for some people, it occasionally works, for the most part, it doesn’t. Because even though I could see myself being more than friends with him, I hit a wall every time, because we really were just friends. Settling for comfort is a mistake, and you usually just end up hurting each other.
One thing I’d want the friend to know: I’m glad you ended up with the girl you really should be with.

The Frat Boy.
If you’re a college girl, you will, or already have, fallen for the frat boy. It’s inevitable, don’t ask me why. My frat boy experience was different than others, however, because the frat boy turned out to be the love of my life. Well, maybe not my life, but at the time, that’s what it felt like. Three years. Three years of hell, happiness, torture, laughing, jealousy, denial, cheating, lying, loving, family, and just about whatever else you’d like to throw into the mix. We went through it all, and I don’t just mean typical couple stuff, I mean we literally went to hell and back – a few times. He hurt me, he altered my view of others, I lost my trust in him, I gained it back in people who cared for me more than he ever could. It took me too long to see that it was all wrong, even though it may have felt so right. But, if I could go back and change it, leave sooner, walk away after I met him that first night in that dark basement and never look back, I wouldn’t. Because the frat boy, who turned out to be much more than just that – good and bad – is the reason I can stand up and write so freely today. I lost my voice, my confidence, and myself in him, and me, myself and I got to pick up all the pieces. And the reason it didn’t work was simply because it wasn’t supposed to. Every girl needs to go through this, wether it’s for three days or three years, to know that she doesn’t have to settle for anything, ever. 
One thing I would tell the frat boy: I forgive you, and I hope you can learn to love someone like I used to imagine you loved me.

The Unattainable One.
I’ll start off with why it didn’t work: Because when I wanted more, he didn’t. And when he wanted more, I didn’t. It’s almost like the chase was too fun to give up and we knew it wouldn’t really work in the end regardless, so it was more fun to play the games than to let the other win. It’s not because he wasn’t a good guy, or because I didn’t like him, but in college, as long as you’re not hurting anyone else, sometimes it’s okay to have fun with someone. Go out on dates with them and dance at the bar without forcing a label on it. You’ll know these people when you meet them, because you’re not hurt when it’s over. We knew when to call it quits without getting too involved, and that was okay.
One thing I would tell the unattainable boy: I hope you continue to never take life to seriously, even when you do settle down with someone.

I’ll let your assumptions run wild with this one, readers. From my laptop to yours, goodnight,

C

The College Grad’s Guide to Transitioning: “Life’s Tough. So Are You.”

I recently asked you guys what you would like to read about as a college grad, and almost all of your answers have included something along the lines of getting out on your own, starting a professional life, and just plain adjusting.

While the transition from college to couch to corporate can seem tough, frustrating, and simply hard, there are a few things to remember while you and your diploma enter the real world.

If you’re still in the process of looking for your first job, that’s okay. It’s actually more than okay – even if it doesn’t feel like it. Now is the time to explore the options, make your connections, and learn to stand on your own two feet. You’ll easily apply to over 100 jobs before your first one comes along. But when it does, those hours of applying will be worth it. For those who are finding themselves in the first few days, weeks, or months of your new job, the switch can be just as hard, confusing, and questionable.

After five weeks in my new, “big girl” apartment, and four full weeks at my first job, the following is the best advice I can give you, from the bottom of my recent-college-grad-heart:

  • No one is going to hold your hand, and that’s a good thing. Sure, you may have lots of people who are willing to hold your hand, but it doesn’t mean that they will, and it certainly doesn’t mean that you should let them. Part of growing up and entering the real world is learning to fall down and only having yourself to pick you back up. Mistakes are good. They mean you’re trying. Having people to fall back on is always wonderful, but don’t get too used to it, because you can’t rely on them to be back there forever.
  • The only constant thing in this world is change. This is actually something one of my co-workers said to me last week, after seeing numerous people in our office leave to start a new chapter in their lives. Yet it applies to so much more. This point in our lives is all about change. We, as young professionals or even just as human beings, are constantly growing, changing, moving. It’s hard, and it might be scary, but have faith in the idea that everything you come across, every change you experience, is all part of the bigger picture. The sooner we realize that change is constant, the better we become at handling it, and the less it will surprise us when it occurs.
  • You will be alone. A lot. There are times you will feel so alone because you moved to a new town, you’re the newbie in the office and feel out of the loop, or maybe because it seems like everyone is moving forward while you feel unbearably stuck. As Dr. Seuss said, “I’m afraid that sometimes you’ll play lonely games, too. Games you can’t win ’cause you’ll play against you. All alone, whether you like it or not. Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.” What most people don’t realize is that alone isn’t always a bad thing. Having time to yourself, mentally or physically, is good for the soul. When you have time to think, without others around influencing how you think, you just might surprise yourself with how comfortable alone can feel.
  • Money isn’t important. You’re young, you see a world full of money and those who have it, and you figure, okay, I did what I was supposed to do. Bring on the fat paychecks. But quite honestly, the only jobs that are attainable for college grads in today’s economy, pay very little. And that’s okay. If you made all the money in the world at your first job, you would never be motivated to move forward. I work for a non-profit who does so much for the community. Do I get paid awesome money? No. Am I doing something I love for a company I believe in? Yes. And at this point in my life, I can’t think of anything more that I need. I don’t have a family to support, I don’t own a home, and I have enough money coming in to live comfortably. What else could I want? I know other college grads with entry level jobs who are getting paid the same, or even less, so there is never a reason to feel unlucky for what you have accomplished – no matter the pay.
  • Stay connected with people who influenced your past in a good way. I still email and visit with professors, mentors, and connections I’ve been lucky enough to have come across over the last few years. If they made a difference for you once, they’ll most likely do it again. Don’t ever wander too far from the people who were with you before you entered the real world. They want to watch you grow, but that doesn’t mean you should leave them behind.
  • Stop judging people around you before you know them. No, I’m not trying to lecture you on how to be a better person, but it’s a fact you have to grasp if you want to make it anywhere in this world. You just came from a place where all people do is judge: college. What it’s time to realize is that now, you are an adult, and while cattiness might have been necessary to survive growing up, you’ve just entered a world where judging others is only going to harm yourself. You will meet so many people in the first half hour of entering a new company or any other professional atmosphere you may find yourself in. It’s easy to look around and think the worst of people. I hate her outfit. This guy is so conceited. I’ll never be able to work with any of these people. Stop. Here’s the only thing you have to remember: In the professional world, you never know what people have to offer. You also will not get along with everyone you meet, but you will most likely have to work with them, so find a happy medium and stick to it. Judging is the first step to preventing yourself from growing: personally and professionally.

 

Your first job will more than likely not be your last. So if you hate it, too bad. Don’t give up just yet. It might have more to offer than you realize. Everything in life itself is an experience, and the same goes for your career. Every crappy little task you’re handed only means you’re getting past the hardest time in your profession: the beginning. If you’re still searching for that first job, don’t stop. Patience is key, and so is realizing that everything is not a competition. Every interview you are lucky enough to have is a learning experience, even if you don’t land the job. It’s all apart of the wonderful things that are ahead, so wherever you are, keep moving.

 

 

*Author’s Note: I’m growing, too. These are just a handful of things I’ve learned in my first few weeks in a new town and a new job. I’m still learning, just like you. The more I grasp, the more I’ll share. Keep checking back for updates! If you have any “real world” advice, I’d love to hear. Share your ideas, thoughts, and comments with me. Thank you for reading! -C

“If Walls Could Read”: An Open Letter to my College University

Dear Kutztown University,

You were new, exciting, and terrifying all at once. I was 17 years old when I woke up in my cozy house (where I had only resided since the day I was born) and looked into the bathroom mirror to wash my face before I began to cry. It was college move in day, and I couldn’t have been more scared.

I talked the whole car ride up, after saying goodbye to my high school boyfriend, who wouldn’t last much past the first month of you. It seemed easier to fill the air with insignificant babble than to say what I was actually feeling; that I was horrified of moving two hours away, which at the time felt like a lot, and that this was quite possibly just one big, giant mistake. 

After arriving to the dreaded, un-air-conditioned dorms, carrying box after box of useless crap up three flights of stairs and pretending that I was going to be okay, my parents left, leaving me officially out on my own for the first time in forever. I had no idea what your new, small town and the next four years would have in store for me, but I was suddenly the most excited I had ever been in my life.

I never listened when people told me how quickly you would come and go. My first love, you actually might have been. You gave me, the moody, unconvinced little girl that I was, hope for a career, a passion. I learned that it was okay to make new friends, it was okay to lose old ones, and the ones that mattered would always be around. I found out what it was like to live with four other girls at a time, and how outraged you could feel over an increasing pile of dishes. I came to realize how much a two hour call to home can really mean, even when it was just supposed to be a quick hello. I grasped the fact that it’s okay to live off of ramen, just don’t tell your Italian mother. I met new people, I tried new things, and I loved your campus classroom walls and the family-owned shops in town more than you know. You could sometimes feel like my own personal hell, but mostly you just felt like home. I can never put into words all that you gave me.

I fell in love in Bonner Hall, I fell out of that same love in 330 W. Main Street three years later. I met two girls I couldn’t stand freshman year. I managed to sneak into Shorty’s by the time I was a sophomore. I cried my eyes out hugging and singing with those same two girls, who easily became my best friends, on the same dance floor the night of graduation. I loved when I came to realize it was worth being involved in campus organizations and clubs for reasons beyond putting them on my resume. I got my first D before switching my major, which I still need to thank that professor for, as it was undoubtedly the best decision I ever made in my life.

I unsurprisingly made mistakes, amazed myself when I made right choices, and over time, I learned right from wrong. I learned it’s more important to sit with someone who’s alone at lunch or in the classroom than to miss out on making a new friend. I found personal dignity in realizing that one bad grade didn’t decide my future, as how one good grade would not do so either. I learned that life wasn’t always easy, or fair, but you would always point me in the direction I needed to go. 

When it came time to leave, I wouldn’t admit that I was just as terrified as I was on the day I moved in four years prior. I acted like I was over this point in my life, that I was ready to go and to move on. I told everyone I was glad it was over, but between you and me, I didn’t 100% believe my own words. As I write this, it’s almost exactly four years to the date that I moved in to that hot, brick building next to the dining hall, and only three short months since graduation. I’ll be the first one to admit that the same tears fell from my eyes on my very first move-in day as they did on my last move-out. The same feelings arose, and the same questions were asked, but indisputably, you were my most favorite life choice I had the pleasure of making. My first big adventure and my least favorite goodbye.

I know you’re just a cluster of buildings with fields and trees in between, with a small town just down the road, but to your students, you’re more. A perfect, wonderful little memory for me, a big, unknown world awaiting for new, scared incoming freshman, and a place past and present students will always adore to call home

I’ll see you at Homecoming,

C