Why Working for a Small Non-Profit Out of College Was My Best Decision Yet

When I first graduated college, I spent a month or two non-stop searching for jobs, interviewing and feeling just plain distraught over the fact that (in my mind) I was never going to find a job.

As I sit down to write this, it’s hard to believe that my college graduation was one year ago. And while it took two months for me to finally get that “you’ve got the job” phone call, it eventually did happen.

And the funny thing is, I didn’t really want that job. It was for a mediocre size company, in the middle of No-Wheres-Ville, PA. It was far from my home, my friends, my family. I didn’t know anyone in the area. It didn’t pay great. I was excited, and then not really all that excited at the same time. I told them I needed some time to think about it.

A few days later, I decided I couldn’t wait around for something else to fall into my lap, and that this job might very well be the only one I was going to get at the time in as a young professional in a wildly-competetive job market, and I accepted the position. I was ready to give up my Netflix addiction and start my career.

I moved to the new, minuscule area a few weeks later and started my first “big-girl” job in a tiny health care non-profit where I would stay for the next nine months before landing a job that was more ‘up my alley’; closer to my friends/family, better pay and more opportunity for professional growth.

And although I wasn’t thrilled at first for my job with the non-profit, I couldn’t be more pleased that I chose the road (less traveled? Here’s to looking at you, Robert Frost) I did. Working for a small (in size and budget) company opened my eyes to the back-ends of everything that makes an organization tick. I gained more experience in those nine months than had I ever waited around to take some other, entry-level position.

And here’s why:

Because my department contained all of three employees. You heard me — THREE! Which meant a ton of responsibility fell on my shoulders. I was able to explore, voice my opinions and work closely with my team to make things happen. I was a part of every in and out of every move we made.

Because I got to know everyone. I knew every employee in every department; including each volunteer we had. When I had a problem and needed IT’s help, I would sit in their office and watch how they ran the back-ends of the company. I had the opportunity to work with nurses and doctors, learning what was done on their end — outside of the office — helping me to better understand my job. I worked closely with accounting and billing and watched how every number of every budget was broken down. I assisted human resources and witnessed what went on behind closed doors. I could sit down with the CEO, face-to-face, and discuss projects, events and employee relations. I was able to work with each and every manager, no matter the department, and learn how each of them played a role in operating the organization. These are things I might never have the chance to do in any job ever again; but at least I know, when I’m (now) one of 19,000 employees, the types of things that are going on elsewhere in other parts of the company — and that, in itself, is forever invaluable.

Because I was given more tasks than my job description noted. And while, at times, that felt unfair and frustrating, it was really a blessing in disguise. I ran around like a chicken with my head chopped off more times than not and thinking, “This isn’t my job,” or “I’m not getting paid enough to do this,” when — in reality — I was gaining more than I could see. Looking back, I’m grateful for those experiences. I wore a lot of hats and I’m happy that I was given those responsibilities for the sake of learning to accomplish something regardless of whether or not it was my job, and in doing so, gaining more knowledge than I would have if I was just given my assignments. Every day was something different, and it caused me to become adaptable to a lot of different work environments.

Because when faced with difficulties, I had to pick up the pieces. There weren’t a whole lot of people to count on. As I mentioned before, there were three of us in one department. When sh*t hit the fan, I had to think on my feet to relieve the problem. Because there weren’t other people to run to for help, I relied on myself to fix the problems. I couldn’t give up, because, sometimes, I was the only person I could count on.

Because it made me learn to work with people I didn’t like. With a small group of working (mostly) women, you could sometimes feel the tension floating around the office. There was gossip, and fights and a lot of secrecy; and though these are things you might come to find in any work place, when you’re working with a smaller group of people, it tends to make it harder to respect them or find an outlet. I learned to not involve myself in anything besides my work because of the small territory we all shared — later helping me to understand and respect those in a larger organization.

Because I learned how to budget. I knew people who were making more than I was, and I knew people who were making less. I was well-off in the sense that I could afford my rent, bills, food, dog and social life. But, after taxes, it wasn’t the world’s best paycheck. Yet, I made it work. I learned how to budget my life (for the first time ever, mind you) from the smaller paychecks I received, which made it that might easier to become a “saver” once the larger paychecks started to come around.

Overall, working for the small, non-profit right out of college was the best decision I could have made. I learned a lot about myself in those nine months; professionally and personally. I gained experience, I gained professionalism and I gained a sense of self. It was like being thrown into a pool for the first time ever and learning how to swim and, though it was a tough nine months, I’m thrilled that it landed me where I am today: a place I don’t think I’d be had I not chosen to work for that small non-profit.

It’s hard to believe that, at one time, it didn’t sound so great.

– C

You Didn’t Get The Job: What To Do Next

As a young professional and/or recent college grad, you may find yourself in a slew of interview after interview, with little to no results. It can be unsatisfying, frustrating, and mostly, discouraging.

BUT, says the recent college grad, don’t fret. There are steps you can take after you don’t land the job that can better serve you and your interview experiences in the future — and eventually, land you that dream job.

When you don’t get the job, take time to follow the steps below, and then take yourself out for a margarita, because, well damn, you deserve it!

The College Grad’s Guide (to not FREAKING OUT) When You Don’t Get The Job:

  1. Thank them for their time and consideration.
    Landing an interview alone is a pretty big deal, especially if you’re a recent college grad or young professional. Be considerate of the time the interviewer(s) took to spend with you, asking you questions and learning about who you are, even if it didn’t work out for you in the end. An employer will appreciate a quick thank you.
  2. Let them know that you enjoyed meeting them and to please keep you in mind.
    While you’re writing your thank you, be sure to include that it was a pleasure meeting them, and that if they have any openings in the near future, to please keep your name and resume in mind. It happens all the time – You don’t get the job you wanted but in three months you’re getting a call for another position within the same company. You’re not always denied because you weren’t capable, you just might not have been capable for THAT specific job. Remind the employer to keep you in mind – you never know what might come out of it.
  3. Take what they said about why you didn’t get the job into consideration.
    And if they didn’t tell you, it’s OK to ask (in addition to that ‘thank you’ you’re sending). You might not always get a response, but most of the time you will. After thanking them, ask them if they could send you a quick list of some of the reasons they felt that you were not applicable for the position – or things you could work on for next time. Take everything they say into consideration, even if you do not agree. You might not have realized you were doing something in the interview that they did; and that’s something you’ll want to know for the future.
  4. After taking what they said into consideration, make note of what you can do better next time.
    Sit down and say, OK, this is what they didn’t like, and this is what I can do to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Whether it was being late or being unprepared for certain questions, there’s always going to be ways to improve — and it’s better to know them ahead of time.
  5. Review/Write down and review the questions you were asked.
    Try to make a mental note during the interview of the questions they’re asking – especially if you’ve never heard them before. Come home, and write them down. Try to remember what your answers were, and think about how you can elaborate on them more next time around. Chances are, you’re going to hear them again in another interview or two, so once you’ve prepared, you’ll ace it every time! This is truly a benefit of going on interviews and not landing the job: experience!
  6. Talk about the interview with a mentor/professor/parent.
    Sit down with someone you respect professionally and describe the interview to them; the setting, the questions/answers, the atmosphere, the vibe. They may be able to pick up on something that you didn’t. It’s easier to be an outsider looking in to identify the rough spots. Sometimes an interviewer is a ‘dud’ – making it hard for you to answer questions or feel that you are able to answer appropriately, or maybe you were in a bright-lit room and it was hard for you to concentrate on the interview. Ask them their opinions and what they think could be done if you’re ever in a similar situation again.
  7. Don’t yell about the company (or interview/er) online/social media.
    Recently a soon-to-be-college-grad blasted a company’s name all over social media when she didn’t get the job; claiming that it was because of the way she was dressed. Under no circumstances should you ever post about a company online, whether you include their name or not. Everything you post is public, even if you don’t think anyone but your friends can see it. Even if the company you’re talking about doesn’t see the post, that doesn’t mean another company considering you for a position won’t either. They won’t see you as a loyal or respectable candidate, and you could blow your chances even before you land another interview.
  8. Take it as an experience and move on.
    Be grateful for all of the interviews you go on. Each one will help you to realize what kinds of jobs you do and do not want to take, how many various questions can be asked and what you can work on for next time. They also have the ability to make you realize that an interview can go on for five minutes, or two hours, and ways to interact with different types of employers. Every interview you go on is beneficial to your career in the long run. So even if you didn’t get the job, nothing about an interview should ever be considered a failure.
  9. Don’t dwell.
    It’s easy to become distraught, especially when it seems like you may never find that perfect job. Don’t dwell on interviews and think about all that went wrong – think about all that could come from it. You’re becoming better and better and more and more prepared with each and every interview, so never overthink or regret something you said in one interview for too long. Pick yourself up and move on to the next one.
  10. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
    Here’s the important thing to remember: You’re still learning. And any interviewer who reads over your resume and invites you in for a meeting knows that. They don’t expect you to blow it out of the water – and even when you do rock it, that doesn’t mean you got the job; and that can be frustrating. Don’t forget that you’re not any less of a person or professional because you didn’t get this one job.

Cheers to you 🙂

 

-C

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Contact The College Grad:
Email – cswetsky@gmail.com
Twitter – @caraswetsky

The College Grad Guide to Looking the Part: “Bro” Addition

“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”

We have it instilled in us from the time we go off to pre-school, “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover.” Unfortunately, in the real world, an interviewer, recruiter, and employer can judge your look as soon as you walk through the door.

It’s probably easier for girls than guys to make the transition into what’s appropriate and what’s not. Besides, we’ve only been reading fashion magazines since the time we were 12. We pay attention to what our moms, older sisters, and quite frankly, every woman we pass on the street is wearing and how they’re acting. What looks good and what doesn’t: We’ve got it down. We’re pros.

But for most guys, the switch from “college bro” to “meeting with the CEO” can be tough. Your clothes, your shoes, your hair: It all says a lot about the type of person you are. More importantly, the kind of employee you will be. If you dress sloppy, you’ll be categorized as someone who is a sloppy worker. It may not always seem fair, but it’s time to make necessary changes.

If you’re a recent college grad “bro”, or if you’ll be one soon, follow these tips to looking the part while still maintaining your manliness and personality in the process:

The College Grad’s Guide: “Bro” Addition:

1. Keep your hair trimmed and clean cut. It’s not to say that you have to totally conform to one hair style or another, but try to make it to the barber every few weeks or so. At the very least, run a comb through it in the morning, wouldya?

2. Think about the way you speak. Do you use words like “man”, “dude”, and “killa”? It’s time to listen to yourself in everyday conversations. The way you speak with your roommates and friends will greatly affect the way you speak to co-workers. Amp up your speech by cutting out inappropriate words and start thinking about the way you sound to others.

3. You become most like the people you surround yourself by – choose wisely. The people in your life greatly affect the person you will become. It’s time to cut ties with the people who are only interested in drinking from morning to night regardless of what they have to accomplish the next day. And, unfortunately, these might be some of your best friends. Making this change doesn’t have to mean saying goodbye to your bros forever. Just take a step back and think about how much their influence has on you – good and bad.

4. Create friendships with people older than you. Chances are, you’re one of the youngest people in your office. This is a blessing, not a curse. Grab lunch or after-work drinks with some of your older co-workers. Associating yourself with those who are higher up and have more experience can only further your own self – professionally and personally.

5. Go shopping. Even if you have to “drag” your girlfriend, mom, sister, or best girl friend with you. Tell them it’s a day at the mall for you and that they are there to help you with your wardrobe. This won’t take much convincing so set a date and prepare your wallet because it’s time to shop for quality clothes, shoes, ties, etc. — Look good, feel good.

And guys, remember the best college grad guide rule of all:
Work hard – play hard 😉 

– C

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.”

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!

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 Moving Back Home

I recently asked readers for inspiration on a topic that they would want to read about as a college student/grad. One response was, “ways to accept living with your parents after college.”

If you’re a college grad, you’ve probably already adapted to sweatpants, netflix, and endless nagging of the ‘rents. The most important thing to remember during this, what seems like hell, time of your life is that you are not alone.

45% of recent college graduates live at home following graduation.

That’s almost half of all college graduates! You’re extremely lucky these days to have a job ready and waiting, as well as having the money to up and leave. And ‘lucky’ might not even be the best word to describe it. As a college grad who has been sitting on her couch for the last two months, living off of graduation gift money and home-cooked meals, finally receiving a job and signing a lease for my own apartment is all of a sudden not looking all that glamourous – who knew independence would cost so much!

There are ways to survive this, hm, what should we call it? Depression seems a bit dramatic, but it’s sure a good description of what leaving the best four years of your life behind just to move back in with mom and dad feels like.

The college grad’s guide to moving back home:

1. Accept it.
Okay, so, as great as running away sounded when you were a kid, it kind of seems even better now, if that’s even possible. But, just like that time at age six when you packed your bag and set off on your bike, you’d probably only make it a couple of blocks before you realize going home to eat your vegetables might just be easier. The best, and first, thing you can do when moving back home, is embrace it. Look at the bright side: free groceries, free roof over your head, free cable/internet, free air conditioning, free laundry, free, free, and oh yeah, free. The four letter word that could make any heart skip a beat is one you’ll miss when you eventually move out. Not to mention, you also probably have someone doing your free laundry, cooking your free food, and making your free bed. Hm, I already made you realize living at home might not be so awful, huh?

2. Get a job.
Yeah, I know, you’re sitting at your computer sending out twenty copies of your resume a day and you’re busy re-writing your cover letter so it’s bullshitted just enough for that one job, right? Pick up a side job until you get the real job so that 1. you’re saving up for when it’s time to haul ass out of here and 2. you’re not constantly home all day listening to mom and dad. Waitressing, babysitting, work at a day-camp, bookstore, ice cream parlor, lifeguard, whatever! There are tons of jobs that, even if you feel much more qualified with that college degree, can make you money, keep you busy, and most importantly, keep you out of the house! Pajama pants and Netflix can only get you so far my friend, and even if applying to career jobs feels like a full time job in itself, sadly it’s not.

3. Spend time with your friends now, before it’s too late.
Seeing my friends was always one of my favorite parts of going home during the holidays, and just because you’ve officially moved home shouldn’t make it any less special. Soon enough, all of you will have nine to five jobs and will be too tired to even look at each other on the weekends. Spend time with your friends while you still can! Because soon enough you’ll have to schedule days off way in advance for a long weekend away with them!

4. Travel.
You don’t have to go crazy, here. Most people can’t afford a huge trip to another country after graduation (but if you can, go for it!!). But, it’s still nice to have the time to take a road trip with friends or family and see some new places in nearby states! There’s tons of neat places to see that you don’t even know about, so go and check them out while you still can.

5. Don’t dwell on the fact that you’re done school.
It’s easy to look around and feel like tons of people are starting school or will be moving back at the end of August. It’s also easy to start looking into grad school. Here’s the thing, if you don’t have to go back to school, you shouldn’t. It seems like a good idea because ‘you’re not ready to be done’ or ‘you don’t know what you’re going to do with your life’, but in reality, it’s a big waste of money – and time. College grads seem to think of it as an easy way out to put off being a real adult for at least a couple more years. Wait until you have a job that will pay for you to go back to school! Trust me, once midterms and finals roll back around for all your friends still in school, you’ll remember why you’re so thrilled that you never have to write a 25-page research paper again.

6. Look into applying for summer internships.
College graduates tend to look at internships as beneath them, but they can be a really great start! It’s hard to get a job right away, since every one seems like so much experience is needed! You need experience to get hired, but you need to get hired for experience? Ugh, it’s never-ending. But – if you look into internships, paid or unpaid, while living at home, they can be a doorway to a job! Most college graduates who stick out a summer internship end up working for that company. And again, it’s a great way to get out of the house while transitioning into the working world.

7. Remember that your parents are just as much not used to you being home as you are.
Try not to fight with your parents. I know, it’s easier said than done. Parents can be overbearing, nosey, and just plain annoying at times. This time in both of your lives is just as hard on them as you feel it is on you. Hell, those four years went by quicker for them than they did for you. And just because they missed you like crazy, doesn’t mean they didn’t enjoy the peace and quiet (If your mom is Italian like mine is, she’ll never admit it, but I know it’s true!). Here’s the thing, you are now deemed as an adult, whether you like it or not, and it truthfully means you should start acting like one, even if you are living back at home and mommy is putting your clothes away for you. The better you treat your parents, the better they will treat you, and the more likely they are to leave you alone! Just remember, one day you won’t be living at home anymore and even if you can’t wait, you will miss it and you will miss them, so enjoy it while it lasts.

8. Realize that you are not alone (excuse the repetition).
It seems really scary. And maybe two or three of your college or high school buddies have landed themselves jobs and maybe even already moved into their own places. Those two friends can feel like everyone and can make you feel more than discouraged. But if you look beyond those few, you realize most college grads are in your shoes, too. It’s a scary time, it’s a big change, and it feels like it may never end. Just remember that if you keep trying, eventually everything else will fall into place for you, too. This is not the end (even if it feels like it), it is just the beginning.

I promise you, if you could see what I owe for just my first month’s apartment rent (including security deposit, application fee, holding deposit, cable/internet, and utilities) on my entry-level paying job, you won’t be begging to leave home just yet either. After seeing what it costs, I would definitely live at home if I had landed a job that wasn’t out of state. Still, I also know what it feels like to want to hop on that bike and never look back. So, take the good with the bad, take the free meals with the twenty-one questions at the dinner table, and just breathe. Before you know it, this will just be another past time in your life and you won’t be able to believe how quickly it passed.

– C

What are some of your own tips to survive moving home after college? Comment below!

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Ten Interview Questions to be Prepared For & How to Answer Them

As a recent college graduate who has gone on her fair share of interviews (may that phone ring any day now) I’ve be asked tons of various interview questions, from the most common and typical, to the unexpected and bizarre. Here’s a a list you should be ready to answer on your next encounter while job hunting, I’ve certainly heard them all.

1. If you could be an animal, what would you be and why?
Hm, you may be thinking you accidentally applied for a job at a zoo, but don’t be mistaken, this is a common interview question. The interviewer is looking for you to show off your traits, but trying to trick you into being thrown off (sneaky bastards). Don’t panic. Think of an animal, it’s traits and personality, and which one best suits you. I personally tend to answer with dog: personable, energetic, and loyal. But maybe something along the lines of horse: graceful, calm, and friendly, fits you best. Take time to explore the options, the possibilities are endless and it’s an awesome chance for you to impress your interviewer!

2. If you were a day of the week, which one would you be?
Make sure you have an explanation for this. Again, as the animal question conquers overcoming the fear of broadening your personality, the day of the week question brings your temperament and character into the spotlight. Are you relaxed like Sunday, busy like Monday, or rushed like Thursday? Take time to think about what each day means to you, why, and how you appear because of it. Again, don’t be thrown off by questions like this that have an overall simple meaning to your interviewer.

3. If you could be any children’s book, what would you be and why?
There are endless possibilities here to show your stuff, too. Again, your answer needs to have a solid follow-up. Are you the Little Train That Could, because you struggled in finding your passion, but really strive now? Or maybe you’re Winnie the Pooh because you always seem to find a life lesson in everything. Please don’t answer with, “…because I loved when my mom/dad read it to me as a kid!” Corny, unoriginal, and just plain boring.

4. Why should we hire you?
This is the most important question you will be asked during your entire interview. Your answer could set you apart from other candidates and seal the deal that you are the right one for the job. DO NOT, I repeat, do not, make this question about YOU, or how great YOU are and how this job is the next step for YOU. Trust me, your interviewer is not asking you this because they care about YOU. They are asking you this because they want to know how YOU can benefit THEM. Your answer needs to have quality – and it doesn’t even have to be long. This employer solely wants to know what about you makes this position the right one for your shoes, and how these skills and capabilities are going to further their company, not how it’s going to further your own career.

5. What’s your biggest weakness?
This question is a trick, and trust me when I say your interviewer doesn’t want to hear about how you tend to get in drunken fights at the local bar on Saturdays or that you failed college algebra twice. This is a chance for you to take a “weakness” of yours and turn it into a positive. Something along the lines of, “I’m a really organized person and when things aren’t systematic or regulated I tend to take time to make sure that they are.” or, “I work really well under pressure and I enjoy time management, so if there’s not a set deadline, I tend to set them for myself to make sure everything is done in an orderly fashion and is always on time.” Hello, these are not really weaknesses – and that’s the point! You’re the perfect candidate, you don’t have a weakness, duh.

6. Describe (name of company here) to me as if I was just hearing about it for the first time.
Always, always, always do your research on a company before you head to your interview. Read their mission/vision statement, know the CEO’s name, and most definitely spend a great deal of time on the ‘About Us’ page. If you can’t describe the company back to your interviewer, you will come off as unprepared and uninterested in the position, company, and even industry itself. You should also ALWAYS be prepared to answer questions along the lines of, “If you were hired tomorrow, what would you change to help this company?”, “What is our motto?”, “Do you know what social networks we are listed on?”, “Do you know any of our competitors?”, and so on and so on – the list is really endless here, and they could quite possibly ask you nothing at all about the company, but you always want to be ready if they do. Did I say always?

7. What are some of your hobbies?
Your interviewer wants to know that you have some sort of life besides work, even though you made it seem like work is all you think about – right? Go for hobbies that make you seem cultured. Don’t give bland, boring, typical answers such as, ‘hanging out with my friends’ or ‘going shopping’. I’m snoring and so is your interviewer. You like to cook and try new recipes, you enjoy going hiking on a sunny weekend afternoon, you love curling up with a good book, how about playing soccer/softball/flag football with that new pick-up team! Oh, you don’t? Well, you better start, because these are things you can talk about with your interviewer – sort of a break from all the toughie questions – and maybe they can even relate to a few. Hey, your interviewer loves trying new recipes – how about that?! And please, don’t lie, they almost always follow up with questions about one or two of your hobbies, and you don’t want to start sounding like a dope now, especially because this is one of the easiest questions to encounter on an interview. (Blogger side note: Maybe it’s just me and my sneaky-[busi]ness, but I like to search for my interviewer on Twitter or FB, especially if they’re younger, and try to find something they’re interested in or been tweeting about lately! Nothing like coincidentally relating to the same thing, huh?)

8. What was the last book you read for fun?
This question is almost always followed up by, “Who was it by?” or “What was it about?” So again, I beg of you, please don’t lie. If your last book was 50 Shades of Grey or Harry Potter or something ungodly such as Twilight, please, please, please have a different book in mind. Your interviewer doesn’t want to hear about Christian Grey and Anna’s first, ehem, ‘date’; believe me on this one. Also, never answer that you haven’t read a book recently, or even since you were last assigned one in school. At the very least, have the title of a book and a short synopsis of it in mind. (Blogger side note: If you haven’t picked up a book recently, do so – if not for the interview, than for yourself.)

9. When can you start? and, Are you willing to re-locate/travel?
IMMEDIATELY and YES. There are no other answers to this question – ever – even if the answer is ‘not until after the 4th of never’ and ‘no, I’m happy where I’m located currently.’ Say it with me, immediately and yes! Now, repeat it to yourself. If your answer is anything else, you are guaranteed to throw the interview from the second the words leave your mouth. You at least want the chance to be offered the job before you turn it down because of location. If you should be asked these questions, you know no other words besides, what? Right, immediately and yes!

10. If I were to call your first listed reference, what would they say about you?
This can be kind-of a toughie. You don’t want to come off cocky, but you also don’t want to appear weak. Here’s the thing to remember, your references are your references for a reason, and that reason is: because they will say good things! Your interviewer knows that just as much as you do, they just want to know that you can live up to the hype. Go for something simple here and stick to valuable personality traits and relatable skills such as, “She/He would probably say that I’m a hard worker and very goal oriented.” Just make sure that these aren’t traits about yourself that you’ve repeatedly said throughout the interview in similar questions about describing yourself, and definitely don’t be arrogant or coincided. It’s alright to act a little shy and modest here, but also have an answer that relates to why this person is your reference.

The list could go on forever. I’ve been through interviews where I’ve been asked five questions, and I’ve been through interviews where I’ve been asked thirty. It all depends on the company and the interviewer – but remember, it’s better to be overly prepared than under. Always be ready to answer at least five words that best describe you, a challenge you’ve faced and overcome (best if it applies to the field/job you’re going for), where do you see yourself in 3/5/10 years, etc.

The best thing you can do in an interview is be YOU! It’s been said that an interviewer knows in the first three minutes of an interview if they would like to hire the candidate or not. Appear happy, friendly, and approachable, but not overly-excited (you’ll seem fake!). Do not be nervous, do not have chipped nails (girls!), dress professionally, have a firm handshake, and bring a copy of your resume. The most important part of an interview is to talk. Turn the interview into a conversation. If your interviewer is planning to talk to you for an hour, and has thirty questions to get through, by the time that hour is up, you want them to have only asked you half – because you’ve been so prepared and you clearly know what you’re talking about!

I wish all of you job-hunters the best of luck, even though you don’t need it 🙂

– C

Have you ever been asked an odd or unexpected question during an interview? How’d you handle it? Have your own tricks to answering questions during an interview? Share in the comments below!

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College was the pre-game to life. Hello world, this is me.

Hello world. I am a recent college graduate from the tiny, perfect, occasionally hell-like, Kutztown University. Forty courses, one internship, experimental all-nighters with Adderal, involvment with two campus organizations, a whole lot of tequila, endless papers, and a ton of memories later, here I am. I hold a diploma – well, will hold a diploma as soon as they decide to mail me mine… – that reads “BA Communication Studies” and a whole bunch of other crap w/a president or a staff member’s copied signature. I still think I should have minored in napping.

Is it just me, or did those four years go by a little too quickly? Don’t get me wrong – I was more than ready to leave. But now what? I’m back at home with my new roomies, mom and dad, applying to numerous jobs a day with a resume that may or may not be correctly formatted (because apparently there’s twenty-six different ways of writing one) and a cover letter that constantly has to be edited to fit this job description which I am probably not viewed as applicable for because you need two years of experience in just gaining experience. Ugh. Remind me again why we always desired to grow up so quickly. If this is adulthood, I’m going to need more margaritas.

I have faith that my experience and hours of work over the past four years will eventually land me with a job. You should, too, so don’t panic. But over the past couple weeks of my new-found “adulthood”, I’ve come to realize a few things…

1. Finish the damn application. Even if it cuts into an hour and a half of your Netflix addiction. Maybe the company just wants to see who is willing to finish the entire application, because they’re probably the candidates worth an interview. No one ever said that applying to job postings was going to be easy – but in the end, it’s (supposed to) be worth it.

2. Networks are important, but never a guarantee. Sure, you’ve spent the last half of a decade making connections. But just because your dad’s, co-worker’s, brother works at some company you’ve never heard of, and maybe even gets your resume to the top of the pile, doesn’t mean you have the job. Keep in mind that if you’re lucky enough to get an interview due to a connection of a connection, you better be prepared because to this interviewer, you’re just another entry-level, college graduate.

3. Keep building your resume. Just because you’re done school does not qualify you as experienced. A company doesn’t want to hire someone who sat on the couch following their graduation date. Take initiative. Start freelancing, blogging, researching – whatever. A diploma is not an excuse to call it quits until an opportunity arises (which also does not happen by magic, go figure.)

4. Do not envy your peers who are seemingly “doing better” than you. Trust me, I know the feeling of seeing “Congratulate so-and-so on their new job” on your LinkedIn timeline. You’re thinking, ‘oh, please, I’m more qualified than her/him!‘ And so you may be. But hey, green was never your color and your professors prepared you that it is a dog eat dog world out here. There is no reason to feel discouraged. If anything, be happy for those surrounding you and know that this, too, means there’s a fighting chance for you! Your time will come; just be patient and keep working your ass off doing what you’re good at.

5. Don’t stress. Don’t panic. Don’t spend too much time treading the water just to forget how much you’ve always loved to swim. Take every job application and every interview with a grain of salt, a slice of lime, and a shot of tequila (afterwards, of course). You are no where near as lost as you think you are. Your opportunity will come. Visit new places, learn a new hobby, dream big. Do all the things you’ve always wanted to do because now is your chance to do so. Twenty-something is not nearly as old as we like to think it is. You were lucky enough to walk away from four years (maybe five) of college with at least some of your sanity still intact, so don’t blow it now – no matter how many people ask you the terrifying question, “What are you going to do, now?” Tell them that you? You are on your way.

 

Happy job hunting,

– C