3 Reasons You Need To Stop Making Fun Of People’s Majors

With the Class of 2013 accepting their degrees and striding into today’s job-market, I’ve noticed a trend that is not only rude, but probably a waste of time: This trend is belittling what our peers chose to study in college. It’s important to remember that what you chose to study was a personal decision, and it should be respected as such, and just because one person may not end up with a job in the field of study they choose to pursue is no reason to mock them for it.

In a recent article by Buzzfeed, the validity of the private school education was openly mocked, displaying ‘uses’ for degrees that were not only degrading, but not in any way funny (My degree has not been used as a doorstop, window prop, or laptop coaster, I can assure you). What we need is to inspire students to pursue their dreams, most specifically the ones that inspired them to go to college in the first place. So without further ado, here are 3 compelling reasons you need to stop making fun of people’s majors:

  1. They might get hired before you do. In a 2009-2010 publication by Anthony P. Carnevale, Ban Cheah, and Jeff Strohl, it was estimated that recent graduates faced a 8.9% unemployment rate (mind you this was 2009-2010). However of these, the recent graduates of the Arts, Architecture, and Humanities faced the most difficult unemployment rates among their peers (9.4-13.9% unemployment rate). Similarly Yahoo took a closer look at the census materials used in the aforementioned article, and found that some of our favorite major fields of study to mock had the lowest unemployment rates: Agricultural Science ranked 3rd and Communications ranked 4th (surprise to no one, Health ranked 1st). Statistics aside, if someone you mocked gets hired and later you have to use them as a connection for a job, that could be rather awkward.
  2. There are more constructive things you could be doing. In the time it took you to look up an article mocking someone’s major study, you could have perused a Mashable job board, applied to a position on LinkedIn, searched for alumni/alumnae from your college to connect with, or even given your resume spa treatment. There are a plethora of places you can send off your resume (like a message in a bottle) but sometimes it can be tricky to get started. Before you send your friend pictures of your resume being used as…anything other than wall decoration…take a look into some great places to start, like this handy writeup from CareerBuilder.
  3. Your might not work a job in your major field either. When you begin your precarious job search (I say precarious because it can be scary), identifying your true passion and where you aspire to work can be just as difficult as when you were deciding on a major field of study (if not more so). While you may have had an undying love of architecture, or a passionate love of fine art…you may find yourself making a 180 degree departure from what you studying to pursue something similar or bearing no relation to what your read about in textbooks. You may find that your studio arts passion is enlivened by graphic design…or you may find yourself in love with the competitive nature of sales. You may even find that you want to go back and reinvent yourself and go headfirst into philanthropy or non-profit work. Whatever the case, spend your energy focusing on your career path, not nitpicking the lives of others.

Hope this helps, and good luck class of 2013!

A Word on Transparency and Professionalism

 

 

The word ‘transparency’ is thrown a lot in the social media world, a tantalizing buzzword meant to embrace authenticity, or put simply ‘realness’. In terms of brands, companies, and influential professionals, this means being accessible to others by what you share on your media platforms of choice. Put simply, transparency could be characterized as being truthful and genuine to the outside world, or appearing to have nothing to hide.

And transparency is a beautiful thing.

Until it isn’t.

In a 2013 report from Fox Business, it was estimated that Americans in particular spend approximately 16 minutes of every hour on a social media site (like Facebook, Twitter, etc.).  The more readily available social media has become, the faster we embrace it, spending more and more time sharing our lives with the outside world. And this is a great thing in principle, giving us an inside look into some of our favorite celebrities on their own terms separate from the invasive lens of the paparazzi. At a glance, social media enables even the most distant figures of our world accessibility like never before. For example, did you know you could tweet at the pope, the president, and Oprah with just the touch of a button?

There is a Downside

I’m not sure whether our ability to share has prompted us to share more, our defenses have been lowered by promises of confidentiality, or whether younger adopters of social media have less inhibitions, but transparency has shown a darker side to those we share the Internet with.  Where before, it was common for users to adopt a ‘if you wouldn’t want your mom to see it, don’t share it’ policy, many users now share images that could greatly negatively impact their future careers; drinking pictures from high school and/or college, explicit photos and video, and even viciously hateful remarks about others via Facebook, Twitter, and the newly adopted Snapchat apps.

About Snapchat…

You may or may not have heard of the app recently applauded as ‘the new instagram’, but if you are a parent, you probably should. The app’s primary function is to send and receive videos and photos, which self-destruct after 10 seconds. As you might imagine, like with the ‘confidentiality’ claims of Facebook, this isn’t entirely true; with the right smartphone, its possible to take a screenshot of a compromising image and publish it to another social media website, often with dire consequences.

Going Forward

If you choose to be transparent on social media, make sure you make smart decisions about what you post, where you post it, and what the implications might be. If you are seeking a job, or maintaining a professional presence, it may be wise to avoid posting compromising photos involving alcohol, illegal activities, or that portray you in a way that could be easily misconstrued. It’s also important to note that ‘protecting’ your tweets on Twitter, creating a ‘limited’ profile on Facebook, and even trusting in Snapchat’s ‘vanishing’ images will not prevent someone from finding images that could put you in a compromising position. The safest way to use social media is by always putting your best face forward and presenting content about yourself and others in the best light possible.

In fact, maybe even show your mom before you post it, because chances are she’ll eventually see it regardless of what privacy settings you have.

Hope this helps! 🙂

Sources:

http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2013/04/26/social-media-addiction-study/

http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/03/tech/mobile/snapchat

http://gawker.com/5967303/snapchat-sluts-shows-why-snapchat-isnt-the-consequence+free-sexting-app-wed-all-hoped-for

Leaps of Faith: The Best Advice I’ve Ever Received

The Feedback Loop

Recently, I had a fundamental moment of clarity. For months I have been driven to find ‘the job’: the one placement with the full-time title, the dream salary, and the security of knowing I would be ‘safe’ job-wise. After taking some time to think seriously how I had been approaching my job search I realized it felt like something was missing. Perhaps stuck on a feedback loop of ‘click Linkedin profile, check salary, submit resume, repeat’, my job search felt like it was becoming stagnant. After speaking with several people and asking for some solid career advice I realized my major mistake: I was too fixated on the position, and was ignoring the real factor that should have been influencing my decision, passion.

Position, Position, Position

In college, a lot of emphasis is put on ‘the job’: perfect your resume, wear the right clothes, don’t mess up your interview or you won’t land ‘the job’. Sure, wearing the perfect black pumps might help you stand out, but even the best patent leather should never outshine your passion to be a part of a company. A fundamental shift in ideology is often needed to see past the fine print and determine “Is this where I want to be”. Granted, in this economy there is more stress put on moving out, making rent, and surviving financially….if you are reading this, you are likely a recent grad, or know one who is feverishly rifling through Linkedin in a frenzied search for employment. At the core of every decision you make, you should be able to answer the question “Am I passionate about this?” If you can confidently say “Yes, I can’t imagine being anywhere else”, then taking a leap of faith on a competitive job listing might be exactly what you should be doing. Think less about your search as a quest for a position, and more as a quest for a place that fuels your passion.

Take a Leap, Keep Reaching

If at first you fall flat on your face, don’t get discouraged. Just because you can’t work for the company of your dreams today, doesn’t mean you should give up hope: follow them on social media, read the articles they post, and keep at it. If that means going out of your way to interact with them on Twitter in relevant insightful ways, do it. If you can prove you are passionate about what they do and want to be a part of it, you might just get that chance. And if your passion doesn’t catch their attention, don’t lose faith. When you are that passionate about what you do, you never know who might take notice.

I hope this has been helpful to anyone still looking!

2012 in review

I thought it would be fun to issue a little recap on how this blog fared in 2012.

2012 personally was one of the most amazing, crazy, and trying times for me: I graduated college, I started living in New York, and most of all I attempted to become an employed 20-something in a challenging job market. I started this blog initially because I wanted to keep a blog of my adventures, misadventures, and wisdom I’d picked up along the way. I started typing because when I graduated, like many college friends, everyone I knew was scattered around the place and starting new chapters in their lives and facing ‘the great unknown’ where your work was no longer given letter-grades, and you had to decide how to live your life without a syllabus. I figured, if I was starting a new chapter, why not start a book …or a blog?

Since its inception, this little blog has helped me expand my ideas, tackle tough topics, and even offer up tech advice on social media practices (I don’t remember that ever being on a syllabus in college). I’m having a blast, and I hope you are too. Without further ado, a nifty tidbit about this blog from 2012 (courtesy of the fabulous people at WordPress):

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 4,600 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 8 years to get that many views.

 

3 LinkedIn No-No’s

Hey guys! So for the weekend, I am going to share some helpful things you shouldn’t do on LinkedIn. I’ll keep it short and sweet:

  1. Don’t ask for a job. Seriously. If you are planning on connecting with an alum in a powerful position, they probably get emailed a lot about jobs, job offers, job opportunities, etc. Just don’t do it. Instead, ask them if they could give you some career advice, or maybe as if you could grab a coffee and gain some insight into life after college. Better yet, ask them about their career or their major.
  2. Don’t make your status unofficial. If you are a student, your status should be ‘student’. Not ‘philosophical goat-herder’, ‘bohemian’, and especially not ‘funemployed’. LinkedIn is for professionals, so keep it professional.
  3. Don’t post statuses you wouldn’t want you mom to see. This means no ‘Sh-ts’, ‘f-cks’, or ‘sh-tf-cks’; no exceptions. Post articles you like, articles you’ve written, or things you care about. Keep it classy.

Hope this helps! Happy job hunting!

Three Reasons You Should Consider Startups

Hello again! So many readers may have noticed that I am a cheerleader for startup companies, and love the culture surrounding them. Why? Well unlike more traditional spaces, startups have a very different kind of vibe. So what are some reasons you should consider working for a startup? Here are 3:

  1. Opportunity. Unlike more traditional settings, working for startups can facilitate more learning opportunities, by offering opportunities to learn through hands-on experience. Instead of being part of a larger corporate body, small startups offer a chance to get your feet wet by oftentimes engendering a more tight-knit community of like-minded individuals. While more classic internships sometimes rely on only learning one department’s procedure, startups often allow interns to experience different department’s procedures and gain more diverse experience.
  2. Diversity: Because startups are created by a wild variety of founders (young, old, corporate, post grad, etc.) no two startups are ever the same. Sometimes in more traditional companies, their culture can be lost in corporate policy, professional procedures, and a visible ‘stiffness’ in company culture. In many of the startups I have worked with, there is a clear culture to each startup, one which is influenced by an incredible teams from a plethora of backgrounds. This leads to an engaging and diverse ‘voice’ or ‘face’ of a company, which many others can relate to and interact with.
  3. Pace. Because startups are usually new and on the rise, the pace of a startup company can be very challenging and demanding for recent graduates. While some may find the quick pace of a startup too brisk, I’ve found personally that the faster the pace of a startup, the more quickly I am able to learn and expand my skill set.

Whether you decide to try out startup culture or not, I hope your job search is fruitful and fulfilling!

Resume Revisions

Hello again! Again, apologies for delayed postings (they will be back to normal soon I PROMISE!). So having spent most of my days analyzing my resume I’ve discovered three things that absolutely do NOT belong. As you may remember, I wrote previously about the necessary interview kit. A resume is a very crucial piece of this kit, and is often the only lasting impression a company will have. This is why your resume should be concise, clean, and expertly crafted…and shouldn’t have these three things:

  1. Interests/Hobbies. If you have a passion for music, art, design, etc. leave this for the interview. Often expression the things you are passionate about are best left for face-to-face interactions and much of the context of these interests is lost on a resume. It’s perfectly fine that you love EDM, rap, or classical piano…but its not going to compel anyone to hire you on paper.
  2. High School. Essentially, unless you have 0 work experience, are applying to college, or haven’t got much else going on  don’t include your high school. Most people aren’t going to care all that much that you went to a prep school, or that you were an AP student. Besides, your recruiter (if they are clever and genuinely interested) can find that on your LinkedIn.
  3. Your GPA. Now I say this gingerly, as this can become more useful in certain contexts. Now, if you have a 3.5 or higher, are applying to a heavily math/science based job, or are top of your class, listing your GPA might be in your favor. However, if your GPA is any lower than that, you are applying for an entry-level job, or you are applying to a field in which more heavily favors hands-on experience your GPA will be little more than decoration. If someone is still interested in your GPA, by all means tell them about it. Typically, however, your GPA is only necessary for college applications and graduate programs.

You may have noticed ‘your picture’ was not listed as a thing that should not be on your resume. The reason for this is, certain countries do require pictures on resumes are standard practice. In incidences where you are applying to jobs overseas, research whether or not your picture is needed. However, on American job listings, leave your picture for your LinkedIn profile, and keep it professional.

The Essential Interview Kit

When you’re hunting for that elusive job, you will need to pack quite the toolkit. Whether you’re toting a plastic folder, a flashy attaché case, or a hybrid of the two, you will need a ‘kit’ to navigate job fairs, interviews, and the occasional run-in with a recruiter on the street. Sure, you may know some of the things to bring in your kit, but do you have the full she-bang to knock ’em dead? Check this handy list I compiled based on what I have heard from friends/family/colleagues/bosses/etc.

Example leather folder/attaché. Image courtesy of High Veld Promotions

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What To Expect At A Job Fair (Part 2)

As mentioned previously, you can expect a lot from companies at job fairs. But what about other job-seekers? Essentially job fairs draw in all kinds of people: some that you would expect and some that you wouldn’t. Here are five (albeit exaggerated) types you might see prowling a startup job fair:

  1. The Ivy-Leager / Tailored Suit. These will jump out very fast at job fairs, and be prepared for them as they will seem massively intimidating. Whether its their immaculately tailored suit, their monogrammed attaché case, their engraved business card holder, or the fact that their university’s shield is stamped or even affixed to their leather file folder with a brass plate, these are some intimidating folks. In most situations, their experience at their top-tier schools have awarded them with a few advantages, one being having their university on their folder (which is always, always leather in my experience) and often having incredible speaking abilities. The one advantage over a tailored-suit is often the ego of the tailored-suit: if they are humble and mind-numbingly smart, you’re just going to have to try your darndest to impress the pants off the recruiter after they meet with one of these. However if a tailored suit with a big ego comes up and annoys the recruiter, you will have a chance to put your name on the map by being the most humble charming person they have met all day. Not sure what a tailored suit looks like? Think of Obama. That fancy and impressive, just unemployed.
  2. The Casual Friday. The casual friday is an easy spot at  startup job fairs: t-shirt and jeans, girly top and leggings, or even shorts and a polo shirt are all favorites of casual Fridays. Though they may look uncompetitive in their alarming laid-back get-up, one thing to consider as you wait behind them to talk to a recruiter is that they may have extensive startup experience already. Sometimes what you dress your resume in outweighs the clothes you toss on in the morning, and in the case of many casual Fridays, their resumes are about as spick-and-span professionally terrifying as they come: whether its top-of-the-class GPAs, extensive experience at a Google/Yahoo/Spotify etc, or the ability to code in every language thinkable, beware the ironic t-shirt. Not sure what I mean by a ‘casual friday’? Think any cast member of Big Bang Theory.
  3. The Well-Seasoned. The well-seasoned or ‘more mature’ applicant pool adopt qualities of the other groupings sometimes: there are well-seasoned casual Friday, well-seasoned tailored-suiters, and even stand alone seasoned veterans of the job fair. These individuals are often in the same suit they’ve had for years and can be the most well-spoken of the attendees mainly because they’ve been through hell and high water searching for jobs. Whether it’s a former finance guy looking to switch careers, a female business analyst looking to take her talents to a young startup, or just some cooky-but-awesome coder looking to learn new programming languages these are by not mean ‘old birds’ and should not be dismissed so easily.
  4. The Dad’s Suit / Mom’s Pumps. There is nothing wrong with wearing you dad’s suit or your mother’s pumps to a networking event. In some cases, it can come off as charming. However at job fairs what you will see from these individuals are poorly-fitted jackets, too-big father’s shoes, ‘been through hell’ pumps, and well-abused business attaché cases. It’s not so much that wearing your father’s suit or your mother’s seasoned shoes is such a bad thing, but keep in mind this will make you stick out in a crowd of tailored suits and business goblins.
  5. The Business Goblin. Now I use this term affectionately, as I have heard people proudly call themselves ‘business goblins’, and what this term refers to is the game-faced well suited individual that has managed to perfect the art of looking thoroughly professional while remaining approachable. Goblins dress in just enough suit to blend in with the professionals, and just enough sass to jump out at recruiters. For women, this might mean a tastefully placed professional watch or accent piece that isn’t super girly (but exudes feminine qualities). I envision Barbara Corcoran as the epitome of femmefab business goblin, and likewise the classic Don Draper as the male counterpart.