Change of Scenery

As some of you know, I am no longer at my job. As some of you also know, this is OK.

Perhaps the tone of my blog gave it away – there were definitely issues I had that I felt I couldn’t raise given the environment. Regardless, I am now moving on and dedicating myself, full time, to finding (or making) the next opportunity, something that will fit my career goals ¬†and fulfill my desire to do some global good.

This will also mean I get to spend lots more time working on My Orange Chair! (Almost to that 100th post!)

While I know you guys said you didn’t care much about the ‘job search’ stuff, I will feel compelled to talk a bit about it more because it feels a lot different than it did last time. I have a broader range of contacts, more work experience under my belt, and a better sense of what it is I’m after AND it doesn’t hurt that there seem to be a lot more positions opening up nearby (no more commuting! GAAH! that commute was awful). So be prepared for some posts on this process.

Happy Monday!


Rules for Commuting

I thought today, a day when I am free the long commute (thanks President’s Day), would be a great day to talk about commuting and its rules. Maybe this will seep into the internets and my fellow commuters will read it and pass it on in preparation for the rest of this week and the long months to come – no three day weekend until May ūüė¶

Oh commuting – how I loathe you. I hate the way you take so long and the way you sap my bank account (one month of just the commuter train costs $175.00, this does not include the metro fare).

I dislike how tourists want to commute with me – even though they could wait until I’m at work. They are loud and they are NOT actually quiet in the quiet car.

Also they don’t follow your well-known rules:

  1. ¬†Don’t talk on your cell phone the whole time. Or talk to other people at loud volumes. Most of us are sleeping, or reading, or trying not to cry because we hate our commutes so much.
  2. Don’t put your luggage on the seat next to you. I will ask you to move it and you will have to or the conductor will make you. Not cool.
  3. Walk on the left side of the escalator. This is well-known. It is international even and it is courteous!
  4. Don’t stop in the middle of the hallway in the train station to look at the train schedule – they are posted all over and you could stop in a less ‘in-the-way’ place.
  5. If you can avoid it, don’t bring children on the commute and don’t be offended when we scowl at you. Children tend not to be quiet – see rule number 1.
  6. If you are in DC (or probably anywhere) MOVE TO THE CENTER OF THE CAR. The metro-lady will say it multiple times but you can’t seem to hear it. Take out your ear buds if you have to, listen to her, and then follow her instruction.

I hate to sound bitter, even though I am, I am terribly bitter, but these are fundamental rules that would vastly improve my commute (that takes about 1.5 hours one way) and encourage me to write about WAY more interesting things than  commuting rules.

Leaving a Job (No…not me!)

I know, I know, I just started a new job! But I think it’s never too soon to be prepared for this career eventuality (for the absolute majority of people). I don’t plan to stay in this job forever and it’s becoming more common for young professionals to change jobs frequently – According to a recent study,¬†55% of college graduates only expect to stay at their first jobs for 1-3 years. This statistic doesn’t surprise me at all given that my generation seems to be focused on getting the most broad range of experiences ¬†possible (and the pay bumps that come from moving out instead of up)

But in the same way that applying to, interviewing for, and starting a new job is scary, so is leaving a job, especially if you’ve never done it before. Whether you’re thinking about changing your work up soon or not, these tips from Jessica Lawlor seem pretty useful –

1. Your immediate supervisor should always be the first to know. Out of respect, be sure to break the news to your immediate supervisor first, and preferably in person. Depending on the type of office environment you work in, you may need to request a meeting or simply ask if they have a moment to talk in private.

I’d recommend giving notice in the morning, to give your supervisor the chance to absorb the news and get the ball rolling on the resignation process. Also, have your resignation letter drafted and ready to submit.

2. Break the news to the rest of your colleagues in person, if possible. In person is always better. Avoid sharing the news of a new job in an email. You’ll find that most people will be happy and excited for you, and will appreciate the fact that you took the time to tell them personally.

3. Create a ‚Äúhow to be me‚ÄĚ document.¬†My first order of business once I gave two weeks notice was to create a master document of every single project I was working on, outlining point people, processes and deadlines. This document ended up being close to 10 pages long and extremely detailed, but it was worth spending the time; I wanted to offer a resource for whoever would take over my responsibilities. *I love this idea and have found my predecessors’ “how to be me” document VERY useful*¬†

4. Do what you can to make the transition as smooth as possible.¬†After creating the ‚Äúhow to be me‚ÄĚ document, I set up a meeting to review the document and allow my colleagues to ask questions and get clarification about all of my duties. I purposely scheduled the meeting mid-way through my final two weeks to ensure there was time to schedule a second transition meeting, if needed.

Additionally, if your supervisor is looking to fill your position quickly, do everything you can to help replace yourself. Spread the word on Twitter and LinkedIn, help review resumes, recommend people you think could be a good fit. After you leave the job, let your supervisor and colleagues know that you’re still happy to answer any lingering questions they may have about your responsibilities.

5. Show your gratitude.Buy a big box of thank you notes. And prepare to have your wrist hurt after handwriting multiple notes of appreciation for colleagues.

6. Keep in touch. This is perhaps the most difficult tip to follow, and one I’m still trying to figure out. We all know that staying in touch is key to creating a lasting connection and maintaining your network.

I have to admit, as a young professional in my first job, I wouldn’t know the first step to leaving a job. I would probably just run over to Big Sister and plead for advice which I know she would willingly give.¬†[also…wouldn’t it be great if I could link to Big Sister’s blog when I mention her!? Tell her so in the poll on the left sidebar].

As an intern I’ve taken many of these steps before – it’s always a good idea to hand-write thank you cards and to make efforts to keep in touch. I’ve found these to be key parts of maintaining my network…but I was never in danger of burning bridges at the time because I was just moving on at some agreed upon time.

After reading this advice though, I still have some questions:

  • As a young professional in your first job, how soon is too soon to leave?
  • If you have a lot of a lag time between this job and the next, when should you notify your current employer?
  • Are resignation letters fairly uniform?
  • How can you repair a network relationship that may be damaged by your leaving?

Any advice readers? Perhaps some words of wisdom from a resignation gone awry?

How Marketing Yourself May Not Translate Across Generations

In late December, Simply Hired had a good piece about marketing yourself to find a job or get ahead in your career. I appreciate their tips (shown below) and I think most of them should be readily implemented into anybody’s job search.

  • Develop a Unique Value Proposition¬†– A unique value proposition (UVP) is a clear picture of what you deliver to those around you and how it helps them. Be specific about your talents throughout your resume and online profiles if you want to stand out to those looking for your passion and strengths.
  • Have a Strong Brand Promise¬†– A brand promise is an expression of how a brand is different within a market. For example,¬†FedEx’s¬†brand promise is reliable shipping.¬†Avis’s¬†brand promise is that they try harder than their competitors. Make sure the aspects of your personality that set you a part are layered throughout your online presence.
  • Know the Persona¬†– When preparing for interviews or performance reviews, get to know the culture of organizations by what they say about themselves on social media and their website. Align your UVP with the interests of a company to demonstrate how well you fit with the culture.
  • Perform Competitive Research¬†– Research¬†LinkedIn¬†to find others in your area with similar interests and skills. Doing this helps you stand out even further because you’ll know what unique blend of skills and experience you bring to the table. Tip: work the name of the job title you want into your LinkedIn profile to appear above your industry colleagues in the search results of HR recruiters and industry head hunters.
  • Demonstrate Social Proof¬†– Social proof is demonstrating the value of your product or service by letting others do the talking for you. Recommendations on LinkedIn, the number of friends and followers you have on social networks, and how often they engage with or share your content are all ways to let the words of others speak more about you than you could ever do for yourself. Tip: The best way to get a recommendation is to recommend someone else. Leave sincere and genuine recommendations and your colleagues will be sure to reciprocate.
  • Personalize to Build Relationships¬†– Use social media to get to know your boss or your potential employer. Spend some time on their profiles to get a feel for their experience, their former employers and sometimes even their favorite books. Bringing these things up in an interview setting show that you‚Äôre interested in not only getting a job, but in the person you‚Äôre talking to as well.

I don’t have much commentary on the tips themselves – I love them and I know that I used many of them in my job search.¬†I think that branding, relationship building, and social proof are things that us millenials grasp pretty readily but is perhaps more difficult or out of the norm for baby boomers and gen x-ers. I’ve been intrigued lately by how generational gaps affect the job search, work culture, and getting ahead and I could see these tips being lost on someone who doesn’t function daily in the social media frame of youth culture.

For example, I have a family member right now who is of the baby boomer generation and looking for work. A full 9-5 job is less appealing to this person right now because they are a bit older and have worked in that model for a long time. But the thought of building a personal brand, using networks, and consulting while absolutely appealing, is also really scary – it’s something that the young folks do. My goal with this family member has been to stress the positive of this alternative work scenario 1) working from home 2) setting a schedule 3) setting fees 4) picking and choosing the work you want to do! It sounds like a dream to me but I can see the hurdles here too for someone who may not have thought of branding themselves in these ways.

All of the aforementioned tips are age-old with a contemporary twist. Using your networks and branding yourself isn’t a reinvention of the wheel. But the pathways and the technology have changed. So in keeping with my generational gaps questions, how do we help baby boomers search for work with modern eyes and get over the fear that comes with work freedom.



Being Interviewed

For the first time ever, I was informational interviewed, on the other end of the table, trying to spout wisdom and make connections. But I felt a little useless. Having just come out of graduate school and just found myself a job, I have a limited set of resources that I obviously hope to grow! And as much as I would LOVE to help connect someone else, my circles don’t reach that far (nationally, globally, cross generation-ally).

So this means that I mostly know youth who are still in internships, still looking for jobs, or are recently employed at entry level positions like me. One way to rectify this is by joining a group like the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN).

YNPN  promotes an efficient, viable, and inclusive nonprofit sector that supports the growth, learning, and development of young professionals. We engage and support future nonprofit and community leaders through professional development, networking and social opportunities designed for young people involved in the nonprofit community (YNPN).

YNPN has local chapters throughout the U.S. and you can find your local chapter here. I am a member of YNPNdc but I have to admit, I am not a particularly active member. That is mostly because of the whole, not living in DC thing, and partially because I have been lazy. But this interview experience made me realize I have the potential to be a better resource if I do some more networking myself and continue to put myself out there (like I said I would over here).

So I might not be the best person to informational interview YET¬†but if you’re looking for entry level positions in women’s health or global health in Baltimore, DC, or New York, I might be a decent resource!


Creating a Forum Between Youth and Supervisors

Yesterday I had a unique opportunity to have an extraordinarily candid conversation with my boss. We were returning from an event and had about an hour long drive ahead of us. We spoke briefly about our experiences with the organization and perceptions of office culture but we quickly stumbled on an interesting topic – generational differences regarding the hiring process and expectations.

I have talked before about the importance and challenges of advocating for yourself at work¬†and this was a key part of our discussion. As we started to compare the expectations youth have of work benefits, telecommuting options and salary, and the reality that has been my boss’ experiences we realized there were some extraordinarily large gaps!

My belief is that youth are sold a bill of goods that stresses the sole importance of higher education – to a certain extent we are taught that if you have the degree, you’ll have the job (please don’t take this as a knock on higher education, it’s just a statement about the importance of experience v. degrees). ¬†But the folks who are hiring us aren’t as impressed with the degree as we think they should be. Rather, they are looking for bountiful experience, something many youth have very little of (and little opportunity to get). So this creates the gap!¬†A 23-year old with a Master’s degree feels they are trained for certain tasks but are frustrated when they can’t get hired to do the work they really want to do because they don’t have years of experience in an office setting.

Interestingly, my boss was shocked by this, and said that she had no idea that this is what might be going on. And why would she? I am not familiar with a forum that allows youth and hiring managers to really talk about these issues. Maybe there is one and I don’t know about it, but if not, how do we have this conversation with the people in power that there’s a huge gap between each side’s expectations? ¬†What is the appropriate forum and how do we make it productive?

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Work/Blog Balance

When I accepted my current position I knew I wanted to continue blogging. My Orange Chair was such a great way for me to keep my hands busy during unemployment and expand my network. But blogging can be a full time job – in fact it is for tons of people. I have to admit that it’s been hard to find the balance between work, family, and blogging. My sister and I discussed starting a blog on the same day and I’ve given her crap from time to time for not following through on her end yet. But I get it now – it’s hard work, especially when you have a mission or are trying to talk about certain topics.

To expand my readership in the beginning, I reached out with force on other blogs, constantly commenting and searching for people who were talking about things I cared about. It’s not so easy to do that anymore; I’m still trying but I know I’m not as successful as I want to be.

I can’t imagine how successful bloggers maintain the rest of their lives. Or even how full time working moms do everything they do. It’s kind of awesome but also exhausting. I know we all juggle the important facets of our lives around while walking a tight rope and singing an aria so I’ll be your cheerleader and proponent of your vacations.

Questions for discussion:

How do you balance everything? Do you wish you had one (or five) less thing(s) on your plate? Do you think men and women experience the stressors of life balance similarly, differently?