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

*

Did you find this post helpful? Give it a share, like, or leave feedback below!

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

NEED HELP WITH YOUR RESUME?

Hey Soon-To-Be-College-Grads (and maybe even recent college grads),

In the past few weeks, I’ve had quite a few friends come to me and ask for help with formatting their resume, or even just how the heck to put one together…

Since graduations are right around the corner, and senior seminar classes are demanding to see your resumes, I’ve decided to dedicate some time to helping those struggling to nail their resume!

If you would like me to aide in your formatting, check for errors, or just give some all-around resume advice, send them my way!

I know how frustrating they can be, so guess what? It’s FREE! All you have to do is send what you have done so far to:

cswetsky@gmail.com

and I’ll do my absolute best to help you in the areas that you’re having problems in 🙂

Please include in your emails if your resume is needed for a class or a real-life job interview (or both!), what you’re having trouble with, and any special requests/important information!

________________________________________________________________

[PS. I wish I had time to do your entire resume for you, but unfortunately, I have a full-time job, a puppy who likes to go for walks, and a terrible Netflix addiction, so please only send resumes that are somewhat-completed. Thank you!]

________________________________________________________________

Reviews from students/grads helped in the past:

“Super helpful and relayed useful information that will definitely help me format resumes in the future.”

“I don’t think I would have even gotten an interview if it wasn’t for the help I received!”

“More helpful than any professor, advisor, or career development center!”

Why Our Generation Will Change the World (If Only We Realize We Can)

Stop Instagram-ing your dinner. Stop pinning pins on Pinterest of mindless DIY crafts that you’ll never actually do yourself. Stop watching Netflix for hours on end. Stop acting like your exercise schedule and food prep matters. Stop sub-tweeting at your ex’s new girlfriend.

Just stop.

Look around. Do you see what’s happening? This “free nation”, this “under one God”, this “one for all” is falling apart before us. Everything you’re used to; the solid ground you grew up on, your freedom of speech, your kids and your kid’s kids and their kids lives are changing.

Wake up.

Stop thinking it doesn’t exist. It does. It’s happening and just because it isn’t happening to you doesn’t mean it’s not real. It doesn’t mean that your Instagram and Pinterest and Facebook and Netflix can distract you forever.

I’m guilty of all of the above. The social media. The ignorance. The that will never effect me and my privileged throne I sit on. I’ve used the hashtags and fought with the opposing sides on Facebook statuses and listened to people talk politics while groaning and rolling my eyes and thinking, who cares. I get it. I’ve been there. It’s fun to pretend like we know what we’re talking about and why we’re talking about it because we heard people we admire say it or read it on our favorite celebrities’ tweet. But do we really know what’s going on? Do we really, truly get it?

WHY don’t we care? Why are we ignoring what’s happening to our people? Because, yes, in fact, they are OUR people. Our American brothers. Our fellow human beings and our respectable individuals. We’re supposed to be one. And yet, divided we stand.

Why?

Because we’re uneducated. We’re blinded. We were raised in an era where we just. don’t care.

Or maybe we just don’t know how to change it. Maybe the power to change our world, our lives, is right at our fingertips.

Maybe?

Definitely.

Our generation is so advanced that we could make the difference. We’re so lucky because we have the instant connection to the news, as misleading and confusing as it can sometimes be. We have a direct outlet to share our opinions, to speak up and stand up and say something.

We have something that our parents, our grandparents, their parents and so forth could have never even dreamt about when they faced times like this. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. It doesn’t have to be distracting. It doesn’t have to be meaningless. It’s the way we’re going to change the world.

But how?

Because when something happens, a riot breaks out, someone dies, a court decision is made, we know about it instantly. We can talk and connect and communicate and listen to each other.

But that’s just it. We have to listen.

No matter your side, your political views, your religion, your race. It doesn’t matter. But you, as an individual with the freedom of speech and advancement of technology, you have the most to give. You are not Mike Brown and you are not Darren Wilson. You are not a Democrat or Republican. You are not Christian or Muslim or Jewish or Buddhist. You are not black or white. You are a person in a sea of others who are just. like. you.

Educate yourself. On stories and situations. On the legal system. On the government. Google, people, I know you know how to use it. Read, read and read some more. Read statistics, read opinion articles, if you’re a Democrat, read a Republican’s words and vice versa. Engage. Think. Speak. Ask questions.

We don’t have to fight. We don’t have to kill each other. We don’t have to disagree. What we do have to do is talk. Consider other sides. Imagine what your life would be if you lived in Ferguson or NYC right now.

Just because it isn’t you doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. You are everything that’s happening to every other person in this country. And everything that’s happening to them is happening to you. 

Just because you’re white or black doesn’t give you the right to blame people who don’t have the same skin color as you. You can’t group together people because they’re all black. You can’t group together people because they’re all white. Or because they’re all cops. Or because they speak a certain way or live in a certain place. That’s called generalization and the last person to think like that was Hitler.

You’re not Hitler… Are you? It’d be pretty crazy if Hitler was reading my blog. Hey, Hitler, if you’re reading this – We’re not you. No one wants to be you.

Right? Because Hitler was totally not cool. He was wrong. We grew up learning over and over, each year in history class, about how terrible people can be and we sat there and we wondered how could people treat other people like that? We can’t imagine living in a world like that, right? But we are. Right now. So stand up. Speak up. Tell the world you’re FED UP. Because you should be. And if you’re not, for the sake of this supposed wonderful country we stand for, wake up.

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

To My College Professors

When you’re in college, professors may seem like constant enemies who all get together in a secret cult and plan to assign all major work one the same day.

But, in reality, and once you graduate, it’s easier to see that our college professors were more like saints who put up with us, who pushed us, who wanted us to succeed.

Five classes per eight semesters equals out to about 35 professors throughout one’s college career (banking on the fact that you probably had the same professor more than once).

I loved my professors, even when I hated them. They always had something to teach me. And more importantly, they put up with me – with all of us. My favorite aspect about my college professors was the fact that no two were ever the same. Each one brought something different to the table and varied when it came to the experience that came with them.

To my college professors:

The one who undoubtedly fought with me over every topic, whether or not I was correct. You taught me to raise my voice, to stand by my opinions, and to never let go of an idea that I truly believed in. You also taught me it was  OK to be wrong, and to find new paths in my mistakes.

The one who pushed me; beyond what I thought were my limits. When I didn’t think I was good enough, or when I thought I couldn’t do something, you showed me that no idea was ever too small. That if I wanted something, I could reach it no matter how far it seemed.

The one who believed in me. Who made me find passion beyond the books. Who made me eager to learn because you were eager to teach. Who made sure I was involved in things I would have missed out on because I wasn’t looking that way.

The one who really, really disliked me, and constantly let me know it. You showed me the true ability of proving someone wrong because I knew I could. You taught me how to push myself through tears and bad grades and the feeling of giving up. You made me realize what I did and didn’t want in a major. Even though you were never in my corner, you made me a better student, even if it wasn’t your intention.

The one who broadened my horizons. Who opened new doors. The one who made me realize that first impressions are not always correct. That I could enjoy a topic I thought I cared nothing about. The one who brought a classroom to life.

The one who became much more than a professor, but rather a mentor, and more importantly, a friend. The one I could show up to your office 10 minutes before your next class started because I needed to rant about school, or my stress level, or how the cafe had run out of espresso that morning and I didn’t think I would make it. Even through the semesters I wasn’t taking a class with you – you listened, you understood, and trust me when I say you made all the difference.

And all of the ones in between. You made a difference for me over those four years. Whether it was making my life easier when you could or making my tolerance to coffee stronger, who are the reason I am where I am today, because you made me believe I could – in one way or another.

To my college professors, thank you.

To My College Roommates: Thank You

“Your college friends become kind of like your family. You eat together, you take naps together, fight, laugh, cry, and do absolutely everything together until you can’t remember how you ever lived your life without them in the first place.”

My college roommates were wonderful. And frustrating. And occasionally my bitchy-voices of reason. It’s important to thank them for being there along the way…

Thank you for getting me home safely. On the nights I took an extra tequila shot (or three) when you weren’t looking, or when that boy looked 10x more attractive with my beer-goggles on, or when I wanted to take a quick sit on the middle of the side walk when the cop was approaching, you always knew when to take my ass home. Thank you.

Thank you for listening to me complain. When I had a big test, or the guy in my life was being a jerk, or when I just needed to yell, or cry, or cuddle in your bed and distract you because life was just too unbearable at the moment to be around anyone else.

Thank you for letting me order Chinese food and consume more lomein than any human being would ever like to admit to stuffing her face with. When the dishes were dirty and the fridge was empty, some of the best nights were ordering take-out and sitting around the living room, wine in hand and gossip on repeat.

Thank you for listening to me practice my speech and presentations until you could repeat the words back to me and knew them better than I did. I owe the majority of my college grades to you for keeping me sane during those late nights and library trips.

Thank you for hating people just because I hated people. That was always fun.

Thank you for allowing me to be the obsessive compulsive, organized freak that I am, and insisting on cleaning up the mess you weren’t done making.

Thank you for loving me at my worst.

Thank you for getting into big fights with me. For yelling, for saying things we didn’t mean. Thank you for knowing that it meant nothing at all, and that we would be fine within a few hours, a day at most, and for never leaving my side, no matter how mad we would get sometimes.

Thank you for forcing me to study when I didn’t want to. And for forcing me to go out when I had studied too much. For telling me I’d do better next time after a bad grade, and for taking me out for drinks when I did well. You kept my social and my school life in balance when I forgot how to.

Thank you for your closets and the clothes you allowed me to “borrow” for longer than intended. Thank you for keeping tampons, razors, and body wash on deck and allowing me to steal them when necessary.

Thank you for lying on the ground with me, staring at nothing, talking about everything. For sitting outside on the porch until the sun rose, discussing things that didn’t matter with the people who mattered most.

Thank you for letting me watch my dumb shows that you couldn’t stand, or for picking out a Pixar movie and sitting through it without complaint during roomie movie nights. You rock.

Thank you for allowing me to date someone(s) you knew I shouldn’t because you knew it was something I had to figure out on my own. Thank you for not judging, for keeping my deepest and darkest secrets, and for never letting me forget my own worth.

Thank you for wiping away my tears and making me laugh. Thank you for making me laugh so hard that I cried.

Thank you for not completely freaking out the day I brought a dog home, and for allowing him to be such a big part of your life because he was such a big part of mine. Thank you for walking him when I had a late class, and puppy-sitting when I was away, and feeding him when I had too many glasses of wine. Thank you for treating him like yours, even when he chewed your glasses or shoes.

Thank you for knowing and remembering every little detail I mentioned. About school, about family, about life. You always followed up, checked in, and had the best advice to offer.

Thank you for putting up with me, and my moods, and the nights I felt like singing at the top of my lungs in the shower. Thank you for also not possessing a fire-arm because there’s times I don’t know how you didn’t kill me.

Thank you for doing totally weird and bizarre things with me, and being just as odd as I was at times. For sitting in our cap and gowns a month before graduation taking tequila shots at our kitchen table while looking at pictures from Freshman year. For agreeing to do really crazy things at parties with me because we knew the importance of only being young once. For dancing and singing around the house with me in our pajamas. For taste-testing the disgusting food I would try and half-ass attempt from Pinterest. For lugging kegs into our apartment. For face masks. For waking up and getting out of bed for 3am diner trips when I couldn’t sleep. For Halloween costumes and St. Patty’s Day shenanigans. For letting me be the best me, no matter how stupid we looked.

And most importantly, thank you for your honesty, your loyalty, and your friendship. For telling me that I looked horrible in that outfit, or that I was about to make a terrible choice. For sticking by me when I wanted to start a fight in the bar, even if I was wrong. For yelling at the people who made me sad and for not yelling at me when I let people make me sad. For constantly and consistently being the best part of my college career.

For being the sisters I never had, thank you.

Emily, Nicole, Jenna, Daniella, Abby, Stephanie, and Kelly: From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

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.

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