Category: Gen Y

I’m 24 and Starting My First Job; Help!

Trying to forget the major crap hole my life feels like at the moment, I will admit, has been a daily process and I have been struggling about what I should post about this week. That is when it hit me. One way to forget my troubles is to delve myself into the troubles of others and hopefully give a few helpful tips to help someone else. So here I have another question, from one of my favorite sources XOJane:

The Question:
This might seem stupid, but I’m starting a new job, and I’m really anxious about general office policy. I’m going to be a staff accountant for a Midwestern hotel management company – and my second week will be out-of-town, staying in a hotel in a big Midwestern city, alone.
I was never given an official manual, like I have been at other positions – I’m expected to show up one day to do my HR paperwork, and then begin training the next day. I know it sound superficial, but most of my questions are just sort of basic office things that I actually don’t know:
-What is generally accepted business attire? I’m 24 and the new position is as an accountant. Does it vary between offices? Areas of the country? Or between types of accounting? What should I do if no one tells me???
-What should I expect for discussions of benefits and the like? Am I supposed to try to bargain for the best? How do I know what’s reasonable?
-What will I do for lunch? I know this sounds lame, but I live five minutes from the corporate office. I don’t want to go home and ignore everyone, but how do you get into a lunch group??
Help a girl out! Any advice you readers can give me is appreciated – including (and especially) advice on first week outfits and behavior. Help me start off professionally!

My Answer:
There probably is nothing that sucks quite as much as being the “New Kid on the Block” besides the feelings of excitement and adventure that I am sure are there some where. One also has to contend with the nerves and uncertainty that sometimes feel like they will overwhelm you and you will end up tripping on a piece of carpet in front of everyone and spilling your drink all over your new outfit and have to spend the rest of the day smelling like hot sticky sweetness and looking as though you can’t be trusted with an “adult” cup (I’m having a flashback i think) but don’t worry from my misery I’m sure you can find triumph and avoid some less than desirable situations.

First off, congrats on your grown-up job! Score one for you!

Alright enough of that on to your questions:

– My general rule of thumb (no matter where you are working) for your first week of work when it comes to attire; “Always go for a more formal look.” While I am sure that during the interview process (if it was in the office) you got the chance to see some of the other people you will be working with and what they were wearing, take a cue from them and just go more formal by one notch. So if everyone is in a relaxed business casual; go in wearing business casual by adding a blazer or a cardigan shell to your look. Continue along this vein until you get a real feel for the work place and what rules and aren’t acceptable for the dress code. Remember your new, your coworkers have been there longer and probably have some leeway as to what they can get away with but YOU just got the job so put in some more effort in the beginning. So that means no matter how nice your jeans are STAY AWAY and opt for mix-and-match separates that aren’t; too tight, too short, too revealing and derogatory (I shouldn’t have to add that last one but just in case) If you want them to take you seriously then dress accordingly.

– Now when it comes to the discussion of benefits normally that happens before you receive the offer when they talk to you about the salary being offered. So if there was a second interview that would have been the time to talk salary, PTO (Paid Time Off) etc. But since your next time in the office will be to do your paperwork you can assume that has already been set in stone and they will probably offer you the standard for the position. It seems that this will be an entry-level position for you so you really don’t have a leg to stand on thus there will be no negotiation. Come back in a year (probably more like 3-5) when you have some more experience with the company and something that only you can bring to the table and I am sure they will be willing to talk numbers with you then. Also expect to receive your employees “Handbook” when you go to fill out your paperwork, if not then ask if there is an orientation for new employees (I have worked at places where I didn’t have orientation until about 3 weeks on the job, so it happens.)

-Since you will only be at headquarters for one week before heading on the road, it is most important for you to try to break the ice with your co-workers as soon as possible. So don’t even THINK about going home for lunch! What more perfect time then when everyone is filling their bellies than to pick their brains on the latest goings-ons in the office? When you go in for paperwork, ask if you can take a walk around the office, if that isn’t appropriate (although I don’t really see why not but what do I know?) see if there is a communal lunch area or are people eating at their desks (note if there are a take-out menus hanging around if you go in the morning) or ASK HR where people normally go for lunch in the area. You never know your company might be one of the few that have a cafeteria where everyone goes to eat or they brown bag it for lunch and gather in common areas. Basically my point here is to not close yourself off from people and use the limited amount of time you have before going out of office to ask for opinions and tips from people who have already been the new kids.

We have all been where you are and will probably be there again so don’t freak over the small stuff and just breathe, it will all work out I promise. Don’t forget to check out my Tips from the CEO’s Office post to get some more helpful tips for surviving the work place.

Well then, until next time folks!
Sabrina

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Lesson learned; 5 yrs. later

It’s that time of year again, Graduation Season! As thousands upon thousands of students countdown to that day when they too will don their cap and gowns to walk across that absurdly long stage and take those first initial steps into “adult-hood” and all the opportunities to go out and concur the world; to make a difference and to be successful.

This May being my 5th anniversary from graduating from University.I can’t help but wonder if I was ever so innocently optimistic?

What have I learned since then? What would I tell those who are preparing to leave school and the realities they are bound to face?

1. Don’t rush into furthering your education (Graduate-level) right away: It is not that I don’t support more education, because really nothing can be further from the truth, the fact still stands that unless you are going to Med-school or Law school (which may not be such a smart move either) will only put in you in debt with no work prospects. There are tons of people with advance degrees who can’t find work in their prospective fields who are stuck working whatever job they can find just to keep there heads above water and a great majority of them are barely managing to even do that! So my advice is to put it off for a while and look into starting a career first because there are still some companies that offer tuition reimbursement and/or training that you would need to grow in your career.

Being social at the work place….

2. Learn Business Etiquette: Trust me on this, no matter what field you are in or what you are doing, learning how to appropriately communicate and interact with your co-workers and superiors (both written and spoken) is the Number #1 rule for succeeding in the work place. In Corporate America, even if you work for yourself, your not moving up that ladder unless people take you seriously and they LIKE you!

I can’t even begin to tell the amount of times I have had to tell co-workers (my age and some younger) that Yo’ is not a greeting, emails don’t begin with Hey and now is not the right time to have a loud ass discussion about that party you went too last night! (Don’t laugh! It happens!) There are tons of online resources that will teach you the basics of how to write emails, memos, minutes, slides etc. and they are all FREE! so there is no reason to not do your research and save your self some aggravation and start your career with your best foot forward.

Speaking of jobs…

3. If you managed to land a job realize that you are lucky to have one, no matter how much it sucks: I get it, you have just spent all of that money getting your degree and the last thing you imagined yourself doing was working at the supermarket, mall, movie theater etc. The moments when you hear “Where is the restroom?”, “Can you make that a Large?” or “I need you to order my lunch.” make your eyes roll and lead to drink away your misery.

But guess what? you have a job! Your making money and you are getting out of house! And trust me after spending almost five months unemployed I was all too happy to get that job working in retail for the holiday season and so should you be!

Making it Work…

4. Have a Plan A and figure out how to make your present situation work towards that plan: So your working the sucky job but have dreams of owning your own business/writing/acting etc. It is all about making where you are right now work for where you want to go. All those hours you spend sitting at your desk doing virtually nothing, start doing some research about what you would rather be doing, start writing that great novel in between calls or start a blog *wink-wink*. In retail and wanting to act: start playing with character development while your on the sales floor, change your accent, start quoting lines from your favorite movies at the register!

Not only does this make your day more interesting for you but allow yourself to work towards your Plan A and still make the money you need to survive.

5. There is no shame living within your means: Financial literacy is what your quality of life will be built on because there is nothing worse than worrying over money. It will affect your relationships, family planning, career, health etc. And is one of those things that is never too early to learn. If your lucky enough to have family that will continue to support you, take advantage of it! Even if that means living at home for a while, not buying rounds at the bar for all of your friends and getting those $300 shoes.

And if your friends try to laugh about you still living at home and being on a budget just let them know that when they start worrying about their credit card bills you will be laugh all the way to bank! And get you some like minded friends, on time, who are trying to something with themselves!

If you get the chance…

6. If you can swing it, Travel: While you are still young and free from significant commitments see the world, not only will you get the chance to learn more about others but you will definitely come back (if you decide to come back) knowing yourself a whole lot more.

There are tons of opportunities to go abroad and work/volunteer, like Teaching English in Asia or doing Eco work in the Andes and you will never regret the experience and the stories you will have for a lifetime. If you do decide to go, a word or two of caution; do research about the country you are looking to visit; not only touristy spots and night life but the political climate as well. Also just because your traveling/working abroad doesn’t mean you can ignore your financial commits back home (ie: Student Loans) make sure you work out a plan to continue making payments on those while you frolic over seas.

It is important to remember that there will be surprises, break-ups, let-downs, laughter, tears and tantrums along the way. But just take a deep breath and live in the moment you are in now!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Izx9ADLjgbM

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I am a Millennial; Un-Ashamed

During my daily on-line trolling I often come across thought provoking articles or topics, that then led my on a merry day-long quest for more information. Today, that article (featured on HuffPost) is Ira Wolfe’s Why Many Unemployed Workers Will Never Get Jobs and while Wolfe does bring up many good points on of some reasons the currently unemployed may remain so. It was his comments on their overwhelming feelings of entitlement that led me back to my own considerations on Generation Y.

And seeing as I tote this blog as being an accounting of The Un-Ashamed, Un-Afraid, and Un-Apologetic life, it seemed important that I write this post about Millennial shaming.

My first encounter with Millennial shaming happened a few years ago while having a casual dinner with some older friends (professionals in their early to mid 30’s). As we were dining on decadent sushi and Japanese fried chicken at Bozu (in Williamsburg, LOVE IT!) and the libations were flowing, conversation took a natural turn to work gossip and #workfails in the office, which happened to center around one particular intern. According to the friend; she had no idea what she was doing and always sure she was right, wouldn’t listen to anyone, lazy and full of herself!

Somehow this poor girl managed to single-handedly embody all, that we are told, is wrong with new graduates entering the workforce! And what was the response this was met with? “Oh well, she is a Millennial what can you expect?”

So if you will imagine, me (at the time I must have been 21 or 22) only a few years out of college myself listening to them talk about the evil that is a Millennial, like I was at some sort of rally for the 30+ professional

With just me alone there to represent the opposition!

I, as someone who has always prided themselves as being a conscientious and hard worker, never asked any one for anything, but went out with determination for everything I wanted, felt nothing but embarrassment and spent the remainder of the evening quietly in my corner, and when pressed for comments simply nodded my head in between bites of Tako-yaki. Needless to say I was more than glad when the night was over but never forgotten.

Since then, I cringe every time I encounter a piece on Millennials in media, I mean how many times do I have read that “Gen Y (Generation Me) is unprepared, difficult to manage, narcissistic, solipsistic and too filled with a sense of entitlement to ever be major contributors to the workforce? Is it just me or are they harping on this a little too much? All this talk is really starting to make me feel a certain way about myself, and not in a good way!

But why should we feel ashamed of who we are, when we are the by products of our circumstances?

The Economy sucks and there are no jobs! Fine, so we begin to make opportunities for ourselves through any avenue available to us (ie: YouTube)

The Environment is unstable! Alright, so we devise ways to promote sustainability in our food, recreation and transportation (but those bikers need to learn to stay in THEIR lane!)

You are Narcissistic and Entitled! You’re getting a little harsh there but- We (at least not ALL of us) are not sitting around demanding what we feel we are owed! As a generation, Gen Y, has spent more time and resources to causes that support those who have less (TOMs, GAP’s Red Line, FEED, etc.) What previous generation has not wanted more than there parents had? What parent, in that case, doesn’t want more for their children?

While these sort of generational gripping is not particular to the Millennial and everyone previous to us has had there turns (*cough-cough* Baby Boomers) None the less we are your future and I refuse to be shamed for it!

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Straight from CEO’s office: Getting Your Career Moving Forward

I will admit, normally I don’t watch very much TV. Some how during the course of the day, with all the running around I do I can’t really commit to very much time in front of the tube. That being said, one morning while I was lazing about in front of the door, trying to convince myself to leave the house for work. I happened to catch a solid fifteen minutes of a program highlighting female (African-American) executives and their tips for job success.

Now, despite these ladies working in “Corporate America” I believe that the heart of their message applies no matter what field you may work in or the color of your skin.

Here are their main points:

1. Get yourself a sponsor

2. Find a mentor

Now while these positions in your life may seem similar their roles and your relationship with them is vastly different.A Sponsor is the individual, within your organization, who is “investing” in your career and its growth. They will normally recognize your potential for more and they want to help you move forward. on the other hand a Mentor may not work in your org, or even in your field but understands who you are, what you’re about and has some advice as to how you may go about getting to where you want to be.

Characteristics to look for when choosing your Sponsor: The number one most important attribute for your Sponsor is that they are “at the table”, which means that they are apart of the discussion as to the goings on in your organization, they are a decision maker.These people will almost always be in Managerial/Directorial positions. You want to make sure that your sponsor is, in the know as to what new opportunities are presenting themselves around the office. Why, you ask? The reason is simple, and it is all about power. Power to influence projects and the teams that work on them as well the power to give you make your presence known within the organization.


Feeling stuck in your current position? You probably don’t have a sponsor (or a good one at least)

So when considering someone to approach to be your sponsor, ask yourself these questions;

1. Is he/she in a position to know about new opportunities and can they make me apart of them?

2. Will they actually help me?

Now that second question is always a tricky one and to be completely honest there is no sure fire way to tell who is actually willing to help and who is all talk. The important thing is to keep talking to people and keeping your work standard high. Because there is no rule saying you can only have one but whoever and however many you have, they will expect you to deliver on what they send your way. So just keep that in mind, it may be time to step your game up.

Characteristics when considering a Mentor: When considering someone to be your mentor it is all about the relationship you have with them. Your mentor is more of a guide than a vehicle in your career. Your mentor should be someone who you feel comfortable enough to have drinks with after work, ask them the questions you are too nervous to ask your peers/supervisors (was that really that inappropriate? I think I need to quit my job, what do you think?) I can’t stress enough that they know you and your goals and that you value their opinions.

Now while your Sponsor must be in your direct field, Mentors can be someone; from outside of the office or a different field but again it is all about finding someone who is a good fit for you and your situation. You don’t want to choose someone who has never had a job in an office when your goal is to a CFO in a Top 5 company?


NUH-UH! Try again!

Is this all it takes to being successful in your career? Of course not! But by correctly utilizing these tools can must certainly jump start your career!

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Starting with Me

I have always been a person with a plan in life, and at 12 or 13 what could possibly be simpler than to graduate from a good college, go into medicine, take a European tour, start working!; for oodles of money, meet “the one”, get married, buy a house, have kids and then in my later years retire and travel the world. Simple right? That is until life starts getting into the way and I can’t help wondering where it is that I went wrong where others had succeeded….

That was probably my first mistake. What was that mistake you ask? It all seemed perfectly reasonable to me. You say. Well allow me to enlighten you:

“Humans plan. God laughs.”

I did graduate from a good college? Yes, I did but never managed to enter the medicine field (much to my parents chagrin)nor did I ever manage to take that European tour (other than the few weeks I spent studying in Spain), make oodles of money working a great job and I still live at home with my Dad (love ya!) and I am still very much single. But that isn’t the problem.

It is in those weak moments (that make us all human) when I start getting the LinkedIn updates about classmates being promoted and Facebook is telling yet ANOTHER person is engaged/married/pregnant when I start to doubt myself and the choices that I made in my life that make me feel unworthy, incapable and essentially just… less.

But why should we (or I, maybe I am all alone on this one) feel any way but happy about others happiness? I will tell you why, it is because we have been living our lives in comparison to others.

Do you get a case of the giggles when your friend/frenemy gets dumped? or Do you secretly wish they would trip and fall on their face when you feel like you are being out-shined by their awesomeness? If yes, then you too may be suffering from a Life-by- comparison.

Sabrina wait, isn’t that just plan ole’ jealousy? To me? Yes and no while jealousy does exhibit the same emotional symptoms it is in the mental barring that all the difference is made. It is when we begin to doubt our own worth and purpose, due to someone else’s achievements/attributes.

Example: As previously mentioned, I have two older sisters, both of which are solidly into their careers and living pretty good lives; making good money and living it up, Me? I can’t for the life of me get it together, I can’t even begin to tell you; the number of projects I have started that have gone no where and the number of jobs that went no where, all just to wind up still at home and still broke and trying to “work it out”.

Does that mean I doing something wrong? Do I now need to re-evaluate my whole life? Do I punish them in little ways for my own perceived short comings? I want to, I will admit it. Especially when I just need to figure out how I am going to pay my cell and student loans this month and one of them tells me she is headed off to Europe on a mini tour in two weeks and if I can give her a ride to the airport?

While I could cry like Ann (but I have a REALLY ugly cry-face and it makes me swell) and I want more for myself and while I may still be working on figuring it out I just want the world to know:

And so it all comes back to me (and each and every one of us in our own lives). It is what I aim to accomplish through The Un-Life I want to reclaim all the possibilities of my future while discarding my insecurities of today.

“The only limits to the possibilities in your life tomorrow are the buts you use today.”-Les Brown

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Oh, that these days should be mine…

Recently (for the last few years, actually) I haven’t been able to get these words from my head. I have lived my life trailing behind two older sisters; watching them participate in take-your-daughter to work days, participating in candy stripe programs, getting employed with Bloomberg (at the height of his reign in DC)and I can’t help but feel like I keep getting the shit end of this here stick.

These days there isn’t much (traditional) work to be had out in the “real” world but there sure are bills to pay and expensive educations that has yet to appreciate. Sure, you can work the holiday season at the major retailers (that haven’t closed down yet) or take a job just for the moment to get you out of the house and keep you sane. But it hardly seems fair at the end of the day.

So what is a young millennial to do? As much as we read that employment is slowly on the upswing and the administration has funded the creation of thousands of jobs across the country what does that actually mean for the recent-grad/part-timer/entry-level worker, who is sending out 30-50 resumes a day?

Well let’s think about it this way. Here in the US college aged individuals graduate 3x a year (late spring, late summer, mid-winter usually) And let’s just say that each class that graduates is on average 2,000 students who are looking to enter the work force as entry-level/interns. Now, we will apply that to a just the public state and city schools here in NY (64-State and 23-City)
So that’s: 6,000 students (entering the work force per year) x 87 schools (just here in NY)

For a grand total of 522,000 NEW jobs needed to employ each person a year.

And let me just tell you. I have been out of school for 5 years! And I still haven’t seen the benefit of any of those government sponsored jobs! Those jobs that they say, are opening up; are not ones that the young work force are qualified for. But that doesn’t mean you couldn’t get your degree and your dream job within the same month. But it just doesn’t happen that way for many anymore. The majority of recent graduates (3-5 years) are working minimum wage; if not for free (interning).

So what do I say to my sister who complains that she hates her 90k (starting) a year job?
images (8)

Not that they (my sisters and just about anyone who is gainfully employed) are to blame, it is my own fault for being born last. It isn’t their fault that when I was ever finally old enough to participate in these programs they were all of a sudden discontinued due to; budget cuts, economic crises and political ambition. Nor can they be blamed that during interviews for entry-level positions that I am sitting next to people with 14 years working experience who are more than willing to take a pay cut while all I have is the theory learned in school.

Is it their fault? Nooooo

Do I still resent them? Yesssss

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