Archive | March, 2014

Self-Employment for Gen Y

31 Mar

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So I’ve been thinking a lot about self-employment lately. Because naturally, as a creative writer, that’s what us crazy people tend to do. Actually, it seems that a lot of young professionals are pursuing self-employment these days…since…well…there aren’t many jobs out there. Rather than crying in our rooms about how terrible and unfair the world is, many millennials are taking it upon themselves to create their own jobs. Freelancing at its finest. And you know what? Tons of them are successful! So in today’s guest post, Patricia lets us know why self-employment is kind of awesome, and walks us through a few options that you may want to consider. Enjoy!

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#entitled #narcissistic #self-obsessed #unemployed. Millennials, young people born between the early 1980s and early 2000s, are often seen as slackers. Millennials (also known as Generation Y) communicate with hashtags and take selfies. They want to turn dreams and passions into flashy jobs that can afford them the latest Apple gadgets and trips around the world. Gen Y is, perhaps unfairly, condemned for its “me attitude,” lack of preparedness and commitment to the workforce and unrealistic expectations of life gains.

Gen Y isn’t the demise of our society, though. Twenty-somethings are also applauded for open-mindedness, forward thinking and self-expression. Along with liberal views, new perspectives and cultural confidence, the kids of Gen Y are future leaders who just need outlets for their creative talents and opportunities for professional establishment. A millennial can shut down his or her generation’s harsh judgments while earning a living.

The Beauty of Self-Employment

LinkedIn Talent Blog contributor Lydia Abbott empathizes with Gen Y, since she herself is a millennial. Obviously pro-millennial, Abbott shares the characteristics and desires of a Gen Y individual, collected from the LinkedIn Talent Connect’s Q&A: “Millennials: How to Attract, Hire, & Retain Today’s Workforce.” Work-life balance and flexibility attract millennials. They’ve adopted the “work hard, play hard” mantra and have a hard time sacrificing a fulfilling personal life for an advancing career

A freelance career offers independence and flexibility, a professionally kinder word to describe freedom from a tight schedule and stifling office location. Sara Sutton, CEO of professional job service FlexJobs, told Forbes.com that the shift to freelancing is exciting. Young people can fit work into their lives, rather than try to find time for life outside of work. Freelancing also offers collaboration, diversification and career ownership, as well as self-appointed opportunities to make a difference and foster an entrepreneurial spirit.

Freelancers and independent workers account for 16 million people in the workforce, and that number is predicted to increase to 65 to 70 million workers within the decade, estimates freelance recruiting firm MBO Partners. It’s predicted more than half of all employees will work independently as freelancers or consultants by 2020. For a motivated millennial with an appetite for a balanced and flexible career, the following freelancing opportunities can match that Gen Y lifestyle.

Here are some options…

Writer

Gen Y enjoys its self-expression, from hipster looks to blogging. Writing provides Gen Y creatives with opportunities to establish an online persona, independent voice and meaningful conversations. Huffington Post contributor David Hochman recommends freelancers “think like an investor” and diversify. Hochman’s writing projects range from a blogging gig, corporate writing assignments, print magazine profiles, and a personal essay.

Gaming Developer

Video gaming masterminds can now earn a profit turning a hobby into a profession. Freelancing network oDesk connects game design specialists and designers with clients. Gaming gurus can post a profile that markets game design skills, including game development and testing, iOS development, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, 3D modeling, and 2D/3D animation. Gaming platform iWin also develops, publishes and distributes games with its Developer First Program. iWin games can be downloaded to PCs and even published on Facebook.

Event Planner

Professional event planners can outsource their services for community fundraisers and philanthropic events. Millennials who have a hand in work with a greater purpose feel energized. Millennials want to help drive change and make an impact, which ultimately provides intrinsic self-reward and recognition. Freelance event consulting for a nonprofit organization can provide a sense of advocacy and goodwill.

Social Media

Millennials suffer from smartphone addiction and habitual need for connection. A self-employed social media coordinator or community manager experiences work autonomy and social engagement. A social media professional will be responsible for managing and updating social media platforms, according to Forbes.com. They’ll create online marketing campaigns, implement social strategies and publish content.

Any others that we’re missing??

Patricia Wood is a freelance writer in Phoenix, Arizona. She enjoys blogging about millennials, social media and non-profits. She’s working on her master’s degree from Arizona State University.

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The 5 Most Valuable Lessons Grad School Taught Me

17 Mar

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I honestly can’t believe it. 43 days till I’m done with school… forever!!! There are no words to express how absolutely elated I am. No words at all.  

For the past two years, I’ve been working full time while pursuing my Master in Public Administration degree.

I’ve written paper after paper after paper…

I’ve had more group projects than really necessary…

And I’ve also been sleep-deprived (Dear God I so look forward to getting more sleep.)

So now that this chapter in my life is coming to a close, I thought I’d get drunk and celebrate  reflect on the most important things I’ve learned in Grad School. Because I really have learned a lot.

Not just about my field of study, but about life in general and about my future in the workplace.

And in writing this, I’m really really happy. I’m happy because I DO feel that I’ve learned things.

Two years and way too much money later, it really has been worth it.

1. It’s the quality of your work, not the quantity.

I’ll honestly never understand why some students feel the need to write 20 page papers when the professor asks for 5. I mean, come on… really? 15 extra pages?? Do you have nothing else to do? Some people really think that by writing more pages, they’ll get a better grade. It’s kind of funny actually. Some people think to themselves, “I have no idea what to write this paper about, but if I hand in a really big stack of paper, and write 10 extra pages, I’ll probably get a better grade than someone who hands in 5.” Well…um…it doesn’t work that way.

In both grad school and in the workplace, your teachers and your bosses are more often concerned with the quality of your work rather than the quantity. It’s all about efficiency, people… producing great quality work in the least amount of time. So you can be the student who spends 15 hours on a paper and turns in 15 pages, and yes, gets an A. Or, you could be the student who spends 3 hours on a paper, turns in 5 pages, and ALSO gets an A.

At the end of the day,  who’s more efficient?

It’s no secret that companies want efficient employees. It’s no secret that employers want great-quality work. So if you can find a way to be efficient with your time while still producing great quality, I’d say you’re pretty set in terms of life after college.

2. Importance of time management.

I don’t care if you have the world’s best memory…Nor do I care if you can memorize a whole deck of cards in under a minute. If you don’t have a calendar/planner/phone reminder system, you will fail miserably as an adult.

Like, big time.

Like I mentioned before, these past two years I’ve juggled work, school, my slowly-becoming-non-existent social life, a relationship, a house, crossfit, this blog, and my family.

Miraculously, I’ve managed to keep some of my sanity.

When you get to grown-up status, you realize just how crazy and hectic life becomes.Like, there’s really no time for anything. While in grad school, I’d go to work, then go to school, and by the time I got home, you know what I wanted to do? NOTHING!! Absolutely nothing!

I’ve been living a life of pure exhaustion.

But I’ve certainly found that having a planner helps organize my brain, because without it, I’d have zero idea about what I have to do.

So regardless of how crazy things get, make time-management a priority. It’s super important. Because as you get older, there’s a lot more to your life. More responsibilities, more to remember, more to accomplish. 

But I’m absolutely positive that if you organize yourself you can somehow become a fully-functioning member of society. Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

3. Corporate America is very bad at implementing best practices.

This lesson makes me very sad. This lesson also makes me want to punch a giant hole in the wall and the only reason I don’t punch a giant hole in the wall is because I don’t have money to fix it if I did.

But anyway, this lesson that I’ve learned makes me extremely mad. Because I go to school and I read these massive books that are more often than not, quite boring. And then I write paper after paper after paper. And then somehow, throughout that process, I learn things. Through my Public Administration degree, I’ve learned about…you guessed it! Administration! Administration, and leadership, and organizational behavior. I’ve learned about HR practices and what it takes to run a company in the most ethical way possible.

I’ve learned and I’ve studied extensively about what the workplace SHOULD LOOK LIKE.

And then through my work experience, I’ve seen what it REALLY LOOKS LIKE.

Total opposites most of the time.

There’s so much dishonesty in the workplace and there’s a lot of poor leadership. That’s the reality. And it’s hard to deal with in a sense because knowing what I know, there are days when I just want to slap people and say, “Hellooooo?!?!?! What are you doing?!?!?! This is NOT how you’re supposed to do things! That’s not what I learned in my HR class!”

But I don’t slap people at work because that’s also one of the things I learned. You don’t slap people if you want to keep your job.

So what does that mean for us? What does that mean for us recent college grads? It means that we have a lot of work to do. It means that we’re going to see things that we don’t like in the workplace. And really, it’s up to us to do something about it.

Maybe we’re not in the position at this point in our careers to make a huge difference, but one day, when we can make decisions, we’ll need to make the right ones. Because, maybe naively, I still believe that the workplace can be a much better place if we fight for it.

4. People will surprise you.

When you’re in a class that requires you to complete a group project, you spend approximately 5 minutes praying that your group members are smart. So that’s what I did a few months ago and well, my prayer was not answered.

One of my teammates, let’s call her Ashley, had zero interest in the class we were taking. Why do I say that? Well, we had a quiz a few weeks into class and our professor allowed us to use a note card as a “cheat sheet” to write down stuff so we wouldn’t forget.

She was filling out her note card 3 minutes before the quiz.

Let’s see… she also rarely attended class. Then, the day of our group presentation, while our whole group showed up 15 minutes before class…she was late. We almost had to start without her. So obviously, my impression of Ashley was that she was the worst group member ever and that she wasn’t very smart.

A few weeks after our group presentation, we were doing another group project where our goal was to build the tallest structure using marshmallows and spaghetti… one of those team-building, hands-on kind of projects. And as time was almost up, my group had no idea what to do to get the marshmallow to stay at the top of the structure without knocking it down. Point is… Ashley had an idea. And you know what I did with her idea? I didn’t listen to it.

Not a single bit.

Because I had completely written this girl off as my incompetent teammate who shows up late and doesn’t study. So we obviously failed, we didn’t have the tallest structure. And when our professor briefed us on how we could have done better, that same idea Ashley had…that’s what he told us we should have done.

People will surprise you. Good ideas come from anywhere. So you need to be open to listening to them.

5.  Importance of a strong support system.

I’ve had serious panic attacks in the past. Like, I-can’t-breathe-I’m-never-going-to-finish-this-paper-but-it’s-my-own-fault-because-I-procrastinated- panic attacks. They’re not fun. There have been days when I’ve gone to work on 2.5-3 hours of sleep and I look and feel like a  zombie. It’s just like being drunk. Only I’m not drunk because I wasn’t able to go out and drink because I was finishing an assignment.

There have been days when I’ve felt like just quitting half-way. “So what if I’m only 9 credits away from graduation? I’m totally over this.”

And I definitely would have, if I didn’t have such a strong support system in my life.

I have an amazing family that has encouraged me my whole life really, but especially these past two years.  

My boyfriend, who I live with and love like crazy, has endured my mood swings, calmed me down during my panic attacks, and has reminded me that I’m not allowed to stop.

Must. Keep. Going.

So in 43 days when I graduate, I’m going to wear some weird dress/robe thing and I’m going to be handed by diploma, and I’m going to look out into the audience and I’m going to see my family and my boyfriend. And I’m going to feel so eternally grateful to have them in my life. Because without them, I know for a fact that I would have given up. I know that I wouldn’t have made it this far.

Because life in general is just way too crazy and too much for any one person to deal with alone.

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Your Cubicle Doesn’t Have to Be Ugly

3 Mar

So today I’m not writing anything fancy.

Nope.

Nothing soul-crushingly deep.

I just wanna talk about something that’s been on my mind for a while now.

So here it goes…

Your cubicle doesn’t have to be ugly.

Not a teeny tiny bit.

It doesn’t have to be dark and gray and dreary.

And you know what else? It doesn’t have to look like a prison.

Instead, it can be fun.

It can be vibrant and uplifting.

It can be a reflection of your super-awesome personality if you want it to.

There’s been a lot of research lately about office design and productivity.

More and more I’m coming across articles that discuss office design and how it affects our mood.

So I guess I kind of think it’s important.

Probably because we spend more time in our office space than we do at home (sadly).

And I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time making sure that my home is comfy.

I spend a lot of time making sure that my home makes me feel good.

We buy things and re-position objects that we probably don’t even need and we do these things because it’s part of making our environment a positive one.

Our cubicle…our office space…it’s our second home.

So if it’s killing your mood and makes you feel awful, it’s probably time you do something about that.

I recently started making a few changes to my little lonely cubicle. Now it’s kind of cool.

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First of all, anyone who knows me knows that I’m a quote fanatic, so I’ve got some awesome motivational posters that keep me somewhat sane when I’m having a really crappy day.

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Then I’ve got these super cute items from UrbanGirl.Com. I don’t know what to tell you… My Jonathan Adler Block Calendar and LoLo Stanley Case… sure, they’re not essential, but they bring so much color to my desk and they just make me feel happy.

*Sidenote: The elephant, even though it’s pink, was bought because I’m a huge Alabama Football fan, so everytime I look at it I get excited for the season to start again.

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Then I’ve got my shrine to all the important people in my life. Sorry mom and dad, I need to get a picture of you guys too! (Don’t hate me.) But anyway, it just makes me happy to know that outside of work, I’ve got so many positive relationships in my life, and THAT- on its own- gives me even more of a reason to want to work hard. Even though I’m working and I may not enjoy every second of every day, I’m working so that I can have the resources to make more memories with these people. (Because you know, you can’t go out and do awesome super-fun things if you’re totally poor.)

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And then, finally, I’ve got my vacation corner. This picture of me and my man-friend was taken in Gettysburg, PA. We went up there a while back and it was such an incredible experience. Right under it sits my Panama City Beach snow globe. Again, we’ve vacationed there together and we’ve loved every minute of it. So my vacation corner reminds me that the world’s a lot bigger than my cubicle, and it reminds me to try to experience as much of it as possible.

Now it’s your turn! What do you love about your office space, and if the answer is NOTHING, then what are you gunna do to fix that?

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