Figuring out a new schedule
September 29, 2008, 12:27 pm
Filed under: Careers, Library Science, Money Basics

I started my new job last week and, so far, I’m very happy with it.

My health insurance starts the first of October and I’m lucky enough to have a great plan through the state since the university I’m working for is a public school. I’ve signed up online for my 403(b) account with Fidelity and all I have to do is turn in a few papers to HR when I go into work on Tuesday. After 5 years of working with the state, I will also be eligible for a pension plan in addition to the 403(b). I didn’t even know pensions were still offered now a days! The university also offers tuition waiver and tuition reimbursement programs so I could potentially get my masters for free. I’ll write more about this later, though. In addition to all my great benefits I’ll be getting, the people I work with are all really nice and laid back and it seems like the work I’ll be doing will be interesting.

I am now working Tuesday through Saturday 9am to 6pm which is a pretty big change from my past schedules. Sunday is the only full day that Jake and I will have off together so Sundays are going to be reserved for nice couple time. Mondays, I’ve decided, are going to be primarily for errands- the bank, the library, drug store shopping, doctors’ appointments. As a staff member, I can get a cheap membership to the university gyms and I would really like to start swimming again. I was thinking about going straight after work for about an hour Tuesday through Friday. That means I wouldn’t get home until after 7. I will most likely need to bring a post lunch snack to work to keep me from starving.

These past couple of days I feel like I haven’t gotten anything done since I get home later than I’m used to and I’m usually too tired to focus on anything that’s too involved. I think I need to make sure I get most of my to do list done on my days off so I don’t feel like I’m pushing things off and not accomplishing anything. I’ve also been meaning to clean the apartment for awhile now, but things keep coming up so I’m determined to do it today. Once my environment is tidier, I think I’ll feel calmer and more in control.

I just keep repeating to myself the saying that if you never change, you never grow. I think after a few adjustments and a new schedule in place, I’ll be happily growing in my new career.

On feeling stuck and moving forward
September 23, 2008, 9:05 am
Filed under: Careers, Grad School, Library Science

I am getting to the point where I feel that studying for the GRE has taken over my life and that I must take it soon so that I can just move on. I am on the last study book that I got from the library, so the end is indeed near for me. I’m sick of vocab flashcards that gain me too much attention in the breakroom. I miss reading books and idle time spent wastefully. A Monday morning in October is what I’m aiming for. Possibly the second Monday of the month. Maybe I should just go ahead and sign up for it so that I’ll get an extra kick of motivation. Hmm right now, I’m feeling too chicken to do that.

Tomorrow is my last day at the public library. I really am going to miss the vast majority of my coworkers and some of the regular patrons. I know that I’ll make new friends at my new job, but it’s hard to wander into the unknown when you’re leaving a comfortable, familiar place. I’m just keeping in the mind the fact that I need this new job- the benefits, the pay, the tuition reimbursement that would pay for my graduate degree. There are way too many positives to focus on the negative of leaving friendly faces.

Getting From College to Career
September 17, 2008, 4:43 pm
Filed under: 20something, Books, Careers

I actually read Getting From College to Career: 90 Things to Do Before You Join the Real World by Lindsey Pollak a few months ago, but haven’t found the time to write up a review of it until now. Oops. I guess better late than never is the motto for the day.

As a recent college graduate and a 20something with I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-my-life-itis, I really did enjoy this book. I wish I would have read it while I was in college, though, as many of the tips would have been more helpful then (like interning and visiting my school’s career services office- two things I didn’t do), but I still felt that many of the tips were definitely still applicable to me since Pollak makes it a point to tell her readers to start where ever are you in life and her tips largely follow that philosophy.

The book is divided into ten chapters that contain tips revolving around the same topic, such as being professional, finding your passions, networking, resume advice, and how to find job opportunities. Throughout the book, there are “Make This Work For You” sections that help you translate the advice into action. With her big sister like tone, Pollak isn’t just offering the reader pie in the sky dreams, she’s relating real things you can do to help determine what kind of job you’d like and how to obtain it.

Here are my favorite tips and advice that I found in Getting From College to Career by chapter:

Chapter 1: Get Started

-The worst mistake you can make in your career search is to do nothing
-Subscribe to a daily newspaper to keep up on current events (if nothing else, you’ll have a lot of material for small talk)

Chapter 2: Stop Being a Student and Start Being a Professional
-Change your voice mail message and email address to something more professional, as well as add a signature line with your contact information for all your outgoing emails
-Make business cards for yourself
-Clean up your internet image (i.e., delete your drunken pictures off of Facebook) and replace it with a more professional and involved one
-Subscribe to the newsletters of industries you’re interested in

Chapter 3: Figure Out What You Want and What You Don’t
-Look into job shadowing or finding a mentor to get up close and personal with a career

Chapter 4: Talk. Listen. Repeat. (I.E., Network)
-Network, network, network. With everyone.
-Set up informational interviews with contacts you’ve found through networking
-Become involved with your college as an alum
-Join associations that have to do with your career or potential career and go to their professional conferences
-Keep in touch with people- it’s very hard to network if you don’t.

Chapter 5: Gain Real World Experience
-Do what you have to do to gain experience: seek a leadership role, join clubs and organizations, intern, temp, volunteer, work part time, study abroad. Pollak is careful to point out that if you do work part time, choose a job that has something to do with a potential career choice. One thing I regret from my college years is not working at the school library when I had the chance to. Instead, I took on dead end retail jobs. If I would have had a job at the library throughout college, it wouldn’t have taken me so long to find a full time job in the library field because I would have already had the experience I needed.

Chapter 6: Give Yourself an Edge
-In a nutshell, spend your extra time challenging yourself (physically, mentally, and or socially) so that you can shine a little brighter in the eyes of a potential employer.

Chapter 7: Market Yourself on Paper
-Include an objective statement on your resume
-Quantify everything you can about your experiences

Chapter 8: Find Opportunities
-There are countless ways to find a job, so make sure you’re utilizing all your available resources- both the obvious and not so obvious ones.

Chapter 9: Overprepare for Interviews
-Research the company as much as possible beforehand
-Practice your answers
-Absolutely never be late
-Be nice to everyone you meet at the company or organization where you interview

Chapter 10: Before You Head of into the Real World
-Never lose your enthusiasm

Rainy day update
September 6, 2008, 4:40 pm
Filed under: Careers, Green, Uncategorized, Wedding

Tropical storm Hanna has been soaking Richmond since last night and it has recently gotten a bit windy here as well. I hope everyone has been safe and sound and continues to be while the storm passes through.

No big drug store or Kroger deals for me this week. Hopefully next week will be more enticing.

My job at the bookstore is now unstable. I am no longer officially on the schedule because they cannot afford to pay me to work as frequently as I was (which really wasn’t very frequent, usually about 2 or 3 days a week). The owner told me that I am still free to come in for 2 or 3 hours when I can in order to help them sell books online. They need to cut expenses in order to stay afloat and I guess I was first on the chopping block since I have another job to support myself with. I have wanted to quit working there for quite some time now because I don’t enjoy it there anymore and I feel my time is worth more than minimum wage, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. So I guess this can be considered an easy out.

Even though it wasn’t much, the extra money I got from working there definitely did help me out. I hope that I can will myself to go in at least once a week to help them so that I can get a few dollars, but I honestly don’t know if I will make myself go since I really don’t want to. I can probably make up for the money I’m losing by mystery shopping again and taking more online surveys and such, but there’s no doubt in my mind now that I really need this full time job I interviewed for recently. I lost my health insurance, the economy is crap, now it seems I’m losing my second job- if only desperation were an attractive quality employers looked for in potential employees.

I’ve been studying diligently for the GRE. I really hope to take it by the beginning of October. It looks like I’ll have more time on my hands now, so that goal seems more attainable. The verbal section is going smoothly, but the quantitative part is really making me sweat. Math wouldn’t be so difficult for me if I found it even remotely interesting.

Jake and I have decided on save the date cards and invitations. We are going to buy them from an invitation company that is dedicated to using earth friendly practices. I’ve been emailing back and forth with the owner about the design and I’m just loving her and her company to bits! I bought a vintage dress from an online store this past week. I’m not going to get too excited about it until it arrives and I can try it on. I haven’t told too many people about it because I’m waiting to see what it looks like on me. I’ve also been looking at vintage and earth friendly wedding bands. I found a band I like for myself, but Jake’s seems to be proving a bit more difficult, especially since we’re not sure of his exact ring size.

And so life is moving forward and dragging me along with it.

Coupons and new job opportunity?
August 12, 2008, 6:51 pm
Filed under: Careers, Coupons

I got a pamphlet in the mail today from Procter and Gamble with $31 worth of coupons in it! I don’t even remember applying for it, haha. I just filled out a survey for P&G for $74 worth of coupons, so it should be interesting to see how these two pamphlets differ. The link to the survey, so you can get a lot of free coupons too, is here.

Something my one friend said at my house warming got me thinking about my job search. I’ve been so focused on library jobs, that I had forgotten that there are other possibilities out there. I would really like to quit the bookstore since it only pays minimum wage and I really don’t enjoy working there anymore, but I’ve been unable to find another job to replace it. Well, if I at least have one job at a library (currently part time), I’ll be gaining the experience I need, so why not branch out with my second part time job? I am lifeguard certified, thanks to a college gym requirement, and have now begun my search for life guarding jobs. Lifeguards get paid well above minimum wage and seem like they are always in demand. The only thing I need to do is renew my CPR certification, but I just found out that most rescue squads offer CPR classes for free, so this should not be a difficult thing to do. Yay opportunities!

Job interview preparation
May 23, 2008, 6:53 pm
Filed under: Careers

Instead of letting myself freak out on my way to my job interview today, I forced myself to focus on preparing for the interview. I reviewed the following questions in my head:

-What are my strengths and weaknesses in relation to the job duties?
-What are some positive and negative things about my current/past jobs?
-Name exceptionally good experiences I’ve had with a customer, coworker, and boss.
-Name exceptionally bad experiences I’ve had with a customer, coworker, and boss.
-Come up with a way to spin the negatives into positives (“I’m not experienced with XYZ, but I’m a very quick learner,” etc).
-Think of at least two or three questions to ask about the job/organization.
-Think of a few key facts about myself I want to bring up during the interview to set myself apart from the other candidates.
-Remember everything you know about the organization.
-Recall your experiences and comfort level with computers, including programs you’re familiar with.

While you do want to make sure you know the above things, make sure you don’t rehearse them to death. You want to sound prepared, not robotic.

Two of the best pieces of advice I’ve come across for interview preparation are:
1. Learn as much as you can about the organization prior to the interview.
Interviewers like to ask the interviewees what they know about their organization in order to weed out candidates who aren’t serious about the job or who aren’t interested in their specific company. If you can impress them with your knowledge of the company, you’re one huge step closer to landing the offer. Even if they don’t wind up asking you questions about the organization, your research will give you a much better idea about whether you really want the job. 

2. Always send a thank you card to your interviewers as soon as you get home.
Make sure you get and remember everyone’s names who interviewed you as you’ll need them to address the thank you card. Even if you don’t think the interview went well, sending a card is a dying courtesy that many people no longer follow. You will create a positive, lasting impression that can help you stay memorable to your interviewers and give you that extra edge over the other candidates. Besides, who doesn’t like a nice, hand written note? No one.

All in all, I think my interview went well today. I was prepared for all of their questions and had a pleasurable report with all of the interviewers. Now the agonizing waiting game begins.

Good news
May 19, 2008, 9:06 pm
Filed under: About me, Careers, Coupons, Library Science, Travel

First, I wanted to mention that I came across another electronic coupon website since I last posted about such programs. Unilever has joined the ranks with MakingLifeBetter ecoupons. Be sure to sign up if you have a participating store near you and enjoy the extra savings!

Second, while stuck in traffic coming home from work today, I checked my voicemail and heard some wonderful news that made my day: one of the local high schools wants to interview me for a full time library assistant position I applied for! Squee! I’m going to call the woman back tomorrow and set up an interview for Friday.

Third, Jake’s dad called him up and offered to pay for us to come up and visit his family next month. We’ve been wanting to go up and see them, but were worried about how we were going to pay for it. Have I mentioned how wonderful Jake’s family is?

Fourth, I’ve received more than I ever thought I would from family and friends for graduation and I’m in the process of transferring it all to savings. I just love watching the balance go higher and higher as the weeks go by.

Fifth, my birthday is on Wednesday.