Category Archives: The Young Professional

The Credit-Free Summer

At the beginning of the summer, I made a promise to myself to not use my credit cards for the next three months. Yes, the joke is on me. However, I’ve limited my use and figured out how to better budget for the lifestyle I want.

I only have two credit cards but it’s amazing how quickly each swipe adds up. I was casually using my card all of the time, not realizing how much I was spending. Now that moving out is becoming a real possibility, this summer was the opportune time to start the proper savings plan.

So for the last couple of weeks, while it’s been somewhat challenging, I’ve figured a couple of tricks that have helped increased my savings and not my spending.

dollar sign

  • I made an actual budget spreadsheet that was divided into categories like transportation, fitness, food, etc.  Then I decided on a set amount for each of those categories as well as an amount to put into my savings at each pay check. I suggest using automatic online banking so the money is pulled right as you get paid. If you don’t see all the money, it feels like it wasn’t there!
  • I’ve tried to limit eating out to once a week especially in New York City. When lunch is ten dollars a day, it quickly adds up. It’s more economical to buy food in bulk or head to your local farmer’s market and make meals at home.
  • Gas continues to climb so be strategic about where you’re driving. Carpool if you can and have adult sleepovers if it’s more convenient! Your wallet will thank you.
  • When you do get a credit card, find one that has a rewards program. My American Express card has a great program specifically if you use your card for gas or at department stores. Some programs will let you use these rewards dollars towards your bill or you can purchase something from their rewards store. Usually, there’s a lot to choose from.
  • I leave at least one of the credit cards home every day. See no evil, can’t use the evil, it’s as simple as that.
  • You are allowed to SPLURGE, you’ve earned it! Just be smart about when and what you’re spending your money on. Also, websites like Groupon and Living Social typically have great deals on more expensive items or experiences like massages or fitness classes.

While it hasn’t been the easiest to limit my credit card use, it has certainly been worth it! The summer isn’t even over yet and my savings has increased. Feel free to share any other budget tips with my in the comments section!

 

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Professional F.O.M.O

FOMO

F.O.M.O or fear of missing out is something we’ve all experienced. Personal F.O.M.O gives you that annoying little pang of pity. Oh my friends are at Coachella and I’m not. Boo hoo! But professional F.O.M.O leaves you feeling anxious, frustrated and confused. The consequences are much more far-reaching when you feel like you’re missing out on your career.

First, let me state that I love my current job. The projects I work on challenge me daily, I work with some of the best people around and I’m doing work that helps people. I don’t want to leave my job, I just don’t know if I want to stay forever. Fear. Of. Missing. Out.

The plan all through college was to enter the public relations industry upon graduation. It felt (and looked on paper) that I did everything right. But the road took me elsewhere and for that, I’m beyond grateful. Still even with a great job that includes traveling, I still feel like I’m missing out. I look at my two best friends as well as pretty much everyone I graduated with and wonder about all of the what if’s. Such a short time ago, I had everything figured out. Now I have no clue where to go from here.

Admitting my professional F.O.M.O isn’t easy. I don’t want to sound ungrateful for my current job nor do I want to sound like I’m complaining. Life is good and I’m certainly developing a wealth of transferable skills. But someone please tell me how I build media contacts when I do not work with the media?

What also contributes to my F.O.M.O condition is my inherit need to plan. It’s just in my blood: the color-coding, making plans, setting goals, knowing what’s next. But right now, I have no idea what the future holds and am desperately trying to become comfortable with that.

I’m trying to manage this F.O.M.O by recognizing it’s normal not to know exactly what you want. I’ve also written professional goals to achieve at my current job. As far as keeping my public relations edge, I utilize Feedly to compile a great list of PR blogs and publications to check on my commute home. I’m also trying to network through social media to possibly set up informational interviews. Hopefully, all of this will help keep my F.O.M.O at bay!

Throughout this F.O.M.O journey, one thing is evident: comparing yourself to others will just drive you crazy. Everyone’s path is different and unique to them; it doesn’t make one way right and the other wrong. I need to figure out what I want and how to get there without worrying about what my friends are doing.

Have you experience professional F.O.M.O? How did you cope? Please please please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Our Obsession with 20-Somethings

Everywhere you look on social media, there are articles about the 20-somethings. From Thought Catalog to Elite Daily, there are lists of fun activities to do in your twenties and others filled with thought-provoking lists of goals to never give up on during your twenties. I, along with every other 20-something, retweets, prints and highlights these articles. My question is why?

twentiesYour twenties is the decade where you do the most soul-searching. Typically, you’re just starting your career, haven’t found that special someone yet and certainly do not have kids. The responsibility of adulthoood is overwhelming and you’re barely breathing some days. How could you ever be responsible for another life?! But that’s how I see my twenties; it doesn’t mean the rest of the world does or should view it like me.

The millennial generation, myself included, is obsessed with defining the 20-something. We read, post and beg for a definition, a plan for each of us to follow. I don’t know if it’s insecurity or uncertainty but there is something there. For me, I am unsure of the future, what exactly I want and how it’s all going to play out. I read these articles across every social media forum searching for the exact answer on how to proceed confidently into the future.

Well guess what? No one, no article or Twitter account can provide me with the right way to take my journey. Sure, reading them is harmless enough as long as you don’t define your life by them. It is perfectlylife ahead fine to be 30, single with a kick-ass career. In the same breath, it’s great to be 24, married and wanting nothing more than to raise babies. Bottom line: It’s your life, own it and make choices based on your happiness, no one else’s.

The 20-somethings are an interesting group whose perspectives are constantly evolving. We have a lot to say about the world and our place in it. So if you’re a 20-something, own your twenties in whichever way you want. If you’re not, have a conversation with one and share your knowledge with them. They will appreciate it!

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Every January like clockwork, my mother and I kick off our weight loss, eating right campaign. We set goals, pack our lunches and track our progress. We’ve been doing this forever as our battle with weight loss has been a lifelong journey. This year, however, something felt different.

zumbaAs I planned out my healthy living 2014 campaign, I wanted to find exercise classes that worked different muscles and were convenient. If I went home after work, the probability was high that I’d be on the couch and not working out. Enter Zumba class, held Mondays and Saturdays, right by the train station. I started in mid-January and am fully obsessed. I had taken Zumba in the past but this class was different, probably thanks to my super energetic instructor Maria. I leave class each week feeling energized, happy and healthy.

Our Zumba class is held in a room that has a giant mirror on the front wall. It’s great to watch the instructor in the mirror, but class after class, I hide behind the pole to avoid seeing myself. I could not bear to see all of me jiggle in the mirror. When jumping and dancing around, it’s very clear where ALL of my problem areas are. I literally cringed for the first couple of weeks. Then I saw the Aerie “Real” campaign.

Aerie, the sister clothing company to American Eagle Outfitters, launched their “Real” campaign for the

One ad that is part of the #AerieReal campaign

One ad that is part of the #AerieReal campaign

spring collection of underwear and bras. The campaign highlights real women, without makeup or Photoshop touch-ups. Their slogan reads “Because the real you is sexy.” I saw this campaign and thought they have a point there. The following Saturday at Zumba, I wore a see-through razor back tank that read “Fun, Free, Fearless.” It was big deal for me, to wear something so transparent that did not cover me up.

Like many women I know, body imagine and self-confidence is a HUGE issue for me. Most days, I don’t feel insecure or worry about my body. I used to work out, at the gym or in a class and feel SO self-conscious in my spandex and tank top. Going to Zumba has taken me out of my comfort zone and helped me to see there’s no need to be self-conscious. I am working out, bettering myself, making myself stronger. There’s no need to compare myself to the Barbie-like instructor at the front of the room. While I still don’t stare at myself in the mirror, I’m learning to care a little less about what jiggles.

The Biggest Loser winner Rachel. Healthy or sickly?

The Biggest Loser winner Rachel. Healthy or sickly?

As a society, we typically focus on being skinny, not healthy. Take the season 15 Biggest Loser winner, Rachel. Yes, she lost a bunch of weight, but now she almost looks sickly, not healthy. Yet, she won the competition and is praised for that. We need to shift popular thinking like Aerie did. Women are beautiful at all ages and sizes. That message needs to be consistently reinforced in our younger generations of girls and to all women. We need to face the mirror and be happy with what we see.

Christina Aguilera’s powerful ballad below reminds all of us that we are beautiful. In case no one else tells you today, you are a beautiful, strong woman!

Taking the Good with the Bad

go afterAs a professional, gaining feedback from your supervisors and colleagues is extremely important. Regardless of your career path or level in the organization, learning your observed strengths and weaknesses is essential to improving, building your personal brand and moving your career forward.

For young professionals who are just starting out, feedback discussions and mentoring is even more important. When you’re just starting out, you’re aren’t as self-aware as more seasoned professionals. That being said, it can be difficult at times to hear some of the more constructive feedback. I’m no expert but here are my tips on handling and getting the most out of your feedback conversations.

1. Go in with an open mind: Every time your supervisor wants to talk to you doesn’t mean you are in trouble. Be grateful he or she is taking the time out of their day(s) to give you some comments about your performance. Not every manager is willing to do that.

2. Be receptive and responsive: Don’t go mute during the conversation. Share your thoughts respectively and ask for specific instances when they observe whatever type of behavior you’re discussing. Try their approaches and solutions before claiming they won’t work. Taking notes also helps so that you have something to reference in the future.

3. Raise your hand: If you aren’t getting feedback from your supervisors, don’t be afraid to ask for it.motivation You also shouldn’t receive it once in a while. You and your manager should have a consistent schedule for these types of conversations. This also allows for proactive coaching so that you (and your supervisor) aren’t just reacting to things that already happened. Instead, you both are planning for situations you might encounter in the future.

The only way to turn your weaknesses into strengths is by understanding your areas of improvement. Coaches, mentors and supervisors are great resources to help you identify these areas. It is your career, you need to own it and only you can improve your performance.

Do you have regular feedback conversations with your manager or mentor? How have you learned to handle constructive criticism?

Beating the Summer Blues

Tomorrow is the first of August and I haven’t been to the beach yet. My normally sparkling tan is practically non-existent. Laying out in the sunshine during the summer is one of my favorite pastimes. Yet, it has rarely happened this summer. Why? Because this is the first summer I’ve worked full-time.

summertimeWhile I’ve had part-time summer jobs since I was thirteen, this is the first summer I’ve worked full-time (also known as my first summer as an adult). I will not complain about trading my bathing suit for a blazer since many are without jobs. However, it can be annoying to see others around my age hitting the beach or going for a mid-day swim while I’m in my cubicle.

As young professionals, working during the summer is something we have to accept and become comfortable with. Or else we will absolutely lose it! After reflecting on summer 2013 so far, here are some tips I came up with for combating the summer blues.

1. Fun is not just for the summer: Sure, there are a lot more enjoyable activities to do outside during the summer. But the opportunity for fun presents itself during all seasons. Try not to focus so much on the time of year but rather what activities are available for you and your friends to try out.

2. Take time off: I repeat: Schedule some time off during the summer! Maybe you can’t afford an actual vacation. That’s not an excuse to work all the time. Plan a stay-cation and go bast in the sunshine. No matter how busy summers are at work, I promise you can work with your supervisor to get some time off. You won’t feel like you’re missing out and you’ll come back to work recharged.

3. Take a walk: Yesterday after I picked up my lunch, I took a quick walk around the block. It was suchbeach a beautiful day that I couldn’t resist. I was away from my desk for 15 minutes and I can guarantee no one missed me. I took advantage of the perfect summer day and felt better when I returned to work.

4. Use time wisely: As tired as you might be on the weekends, don’t waste away on your couch in the air conditioning. Get outside and get moving! Plan day trips with family and friends. Try something new that you never thought of before (hello 5K!). Don’t mope around complaining about “missing summer” when you’re sleeping away the free time you do have.

While summer is nearing its end, I have a bunch of fun things planned in August, including time off! How do you survive summer at work? Is it actually harder than the other seasons? Share your thoughts!

Motivation Mondays: Knowing Your Limits

This holiday weekend, I headed down to Philadelphia for the Wawa Welcome America Festival. This week-long extravaganza offers free events to people in and around the city. I was super excited to spend my 4th of July weekend celebrating and helping my friend (who works on the festival) put on successful events throughout the week.

A group of us who attended Temple together rolled up our sleeves to help our friend this weekend. It’s safe to say everyone involved is exhausted and is struggling at work today. However, I also think each of us learned a lot this weekend about working large-scale events and balancing our newly found careers with our personal lives.

I’ve talked about work-life balance before because I’ve experienced the struggle firsthand. This weekend, I watched one of my best friends go through the same struggle, without any balance at all. You saw how passionate she was about succeeding, about having successful event after successful event. I also saw what went on afterwards: an exhausted 23 year-old who didn’t know what day of the week it was. Was it worth it? Absolutely.

It’s true, at times, we must drop everything and put our job first. I can sympathize as I too have worked long hours on little sleep to make sure my events were successful. Anyone who has their career as a top priority knows this feeling. As young professionals just starting out, most of us feel like we have to prove ourselves. The majority of us are still at our first job, trying to show our supervisors, co-workers, parents and friends that we are more than capable. But, at a certain point, we have to know our limits.

As young professionals, we find it hard to say no because it shows weaknesses; it shows we can’t handle it all. Here’s a hint everyone: not a single person can handle everything all the time. We must learn to advocate for ourselves and tell our supervisors or co-workers or even family members when we’ve hit our breaking point. If we don’t share with those around us what is going on internally, then how could they know we’re hit our max?

The next time you have too much on your plate, make sure to speak up and ask for help. Everyone has their personally defined limits that should be shared with others. Also, make sure you aren’t trying to control others and set their limits for them. I am so proud of my friend and all she accomplished this weekend and am so glad I was there to experience it with her.

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