Tag Archives: Employment

Tips for Future Graduates

19 Mar

We are halfway through March already (seriously, how did that happen?) and it will be officially two months until my one year anniversary of graduating college. Two months before I graduated, I remember scouring the interwebs trying to find advice on how to lead my life in what I consider to be one of the scariest economies to be launched into after attending school for 18-some years of my life. The sad thing is that all of the advice I came across was pretty generic and unhelpful. If you are just entering college or if you are just about to graduate, here are some tips that I hope you will find helpful. Keep in mind that, just like me, your experience may definitely differ and you may find that my advice will not help you at all. That’s okay, though, because I’m sure you are eager to read my beautiful writing anyway.

If You Are Just Starting College

  • Internships – I can’t stress this enough! While at my company, I have heard my co-workers scoff at interviewees who only had school projects to discuss while applying for a position. Try to have at least two internships before you graduate, and make sure that they are ones that you can show off on a resume. A lot of internships are unpaid, but they will pay off in their own way when you’re looking for a job.
  • Party vs. Work –When I was a sophomore, Bill Rancic, the original winner of The Apprentice, gave a speech at my university. He said that he chose to gain work experience while many of his friends decided to get wasted every night. It was a personal choice, and it ended up benefiting him. You are at school to learn and to have fun, but at the end of the day having internships and part-time jobs will get you a full time job, not how many shots you can do in an hour.
  • Avoid Serious Relationships-This was the big mistake I made: staying in a terrible two-year relationship during two crucial years of my college life. School is stressful enough, and having a serious relationship on top of it just adds to more unnecessary drama. If you do decide to date, get rid of anyone who does not respect the time that you need to study, to be alone or to be with your other friends. Not worth it.
  • HTML and Photoshop Are Your Friends-Knowing HTML is what got me my job, and I never even took a formal class for it! No matter what line of work you are in, having a basic knowledge of HTML and a design program such as Adobe Photoshop will set you apart from your competitors. Try to take a class or teach yourself the basics of HTML through the W3 site.
  • Broaden Your Horizons-As cliche as it sounds, try to take at least one class outside your core that really interests you or sounds challenging. For me, it was a Charles Dickens class and three Japanese language classes. Taking interesting and unique classes sets you apart, and you can milk it for all it’s worth when you go on interviews later on. Employers love to hear about how you set yourself apart.
  • Greek Life is Bullshit-Been there, done that. Sororities and fraternities do not help you to get jobs and, unless you’re at a really big school, the responsibilities will bog you down. They aren’t as fun as they seem, and it’s kind of similar to the cheerleader/football player effect in high school: if you brag about it to a normal person, they’ll probably just laugh behind your back.

If You Are About to Graduate

  • Don’t Use Job Boards- Seriously, no one ever tells you this but job boards are the worst way to find jobs these days. Think about it: everyone and their mother (assuming she is unemployed) are out there trying to apply to these jobs, which only amps up the competition for you and creates total burnout for the employer. Instead, do the following:
  • LinkedIn For Job Searches: Create the most amazing, kick-ass LinkedIn profile that you possibly can. Add a professional picture, list all of your achievements and work experience using key phrases that are common in your industry and ask for ALL of the reccommendations that you can while on the site. LinkedIn profiles are just as, if not more, important than resumes nowadays. They should be taken pretty seriously. Once you have everything set up, use the company search to find local companies in your desired industry. Go on their sites and apply for jobs directly on there. It’s a bit exhausting, but it’s a great way to find jobs that aren’t on job boards. This method is how I found my job!
  • Be Patient– You can’t hurry love, and you can’t hurry the perfect job either. Finding a good job takes time, but that time is worth it! Be wary of companies that invite you in to interviews without a preliminary phone interview first, or companies that you cannot find much information on while searching the web. These sites are most likely scams and, yes, I think that almost every recent graduate has gone on at least one interview only to find out that it was a complete fraud. By the way, there’s nothing wrong with interrupting your interviewer if you do find yourself in a fraudulent situation–why sit around for the whole damn interview to be done with? Simply tell them that the position does not match your interests, and get the hell out of there.
  • Go On Every Interview- This is a pretty common point in any advice for recent graduates, but it still rings true: practice makes perfect. Go on any and all interviews that come your way, even if it’s not for a job you want. The better you get at doing interviews, the more ready you’ll be when the right one rolls along. Don’t forget to make a cheat sheet of all the most common interview questions (and your answers) and study that before every interview. If you’d like an example cheat sheet, message me and I’ll be happy to send one your way.
  • Get Used to Flying Solo- No one ever really warned me about what life in the “real world” was going to be like after graduation. We’ve spent our whole lives in school–a place where you are pretty much forced to make friends with the people around you simply because you see them every day. When you graduate, you’ll find that your friends may not be as close to you geographically as they used to be, and you may find that your social life seems a little boring compared to what it was in school. All of this is normal. Enjoy being on your own and learning to make new friends because, let me tell you, finding people to hang out with outside of school is a pretty daunting task for the recent graduate. We all go through it, though.
  • Watch Your Loans– Speaking from experience, I can safely say that you are very, very lucky if you end up paying your school loans off to a company who is nice enough to send you monthly reminders of your bill. Companies are pretty screwy these days so, right after you graduate, make sure to write down exactly what days your loans are due, verify that they haven’t been sold to other companies (this happened to me and I was never notified) and make regular payments in order to start building good credit for yourself.
  • Stay Positive- Last but not least, remember that college is a boot camp that has trained you for the real world. It was easy for me and a lot of my friends to become very negative about finding a job due to the economy, but try your best to remember that everyone is in the same boat. Focus on your achievements and always be alert–you never realize how many good opportunities you miss out on when you’re negative or depressed until much later (and by then it’s too late).

I hope that someone somewhere can find value in my tips! Feel free to contact me with any tips of your own or questions that you may have.

Retail Robot has packed up its parts…

27 Sep

In the midst of a terrible economy, I did the unthinkable: I managed to find an entry level marketing job that is with a good company. After going through fifteen interviews with about six different companies in August and wearing suits more times a week than even Diane Keaton does, let’s just say that I was exhausted, on the verge of tears and really fucking sick of talking about myself and where I want to be five years from now.

Seriously, if anyone should be protesting anything, they should be fighting against ever having companies ask that question in interviews. During one particular interview–an interview that I knew was going to lead nowhere but decided to use for “practice” anyway–I was particularly tempted to just go all out and say what I really would like to be doing five years from now:

“Well, ideally I’d like a stable income of some sort, a relationship with a  cute, sane guy (preferably with a Scottish accent, but I realize that’s just being picky), an apartment of my own and a cat.”

That’s it. Because, up until now, I’ve tried to stick to such harsh guidelines for myself that I feel like I’ve missed out. And, let’s face it–so much happens within a five year span. All I know is that I want a few simple things, and I could really care less about the rest.

Saturday was my last day in Retail Robot land, and I was able to do a lot of thinking while putting up the sales signs for the very last time. I realized that, as much as I like to say that I enjoy change and enjoy trying new things, I find myself being gridlocked by the allure of security. I think many people do: the boyfriend you’re afraid to leave just for the fear of being alone, the area you’ve grown up in that you’d like to leave but never really do, the job that you have been at for so long that you don’t even know how to be the new person again at a company, and it scares you so much that you just stay in one place. I realized that, at this point in my life, I have to accept that a lot of my security blankets have been pulled out from underneath me. I am no longer in school for the first time in my life, and I have had to quit a place that I’ve been working with for a long time. And even though it’s a bit scary, it’s also pretty exhilarating.

Security is comforting and, yes, it keeps us from being hurt. But being safe can lead to such a stagnant life. Since graduating, and since quitting my internship and my retail job, I’ve found myself slowly peeling away my security blanket and walking slowly through the world without that extra layer of protection on my shoulders. I know that there are a lot of changes and situations that I’m going to have to face throughout the coming year–some of which I am very hopeful about, and some of which I’m not so sure of. But you only live once!

I will certainly miss my co-workers. Before working at that store, I had never been around so many people who understood my way of thinking and my interests. I will miss discussing video games for eight hours with a certain co-worker, and I will miss pondering the meaning of  life and whether we are all in the Matrix with the forty year-old hippie dirtbiker co-worker. All in all, there was never a dull conversation at that store. But, in the end, I walked away from my one and only retail job with a smile in my face and a new-found sense of self in my soul.

I certainly would like to continue this blog with some new, non-retail material. Stay tuned!

Employees get just as crazy as their customers!

20 Jun

After almost two months of being a college grad, I must admit that life has become more enjoyable. After four years of intense studying, club joining, and sorority dropping out-ing, I finally have had the time to do whatever I want to without worrying about working through a balance sheet from hell (fuck you, accounting) or speed-walking across the library in order to snag a spot at the coveted table in the library that is hidden away among ancient micro-fiches and yellowing copies of The New York Times. Now, I am spending time doing things that I thoroughly enjoy, including learning how to juggle, feeding the homeless downtown every Friday and blasting Beirut while walking around my neighborhood. Heck, I even baked brownies at midnight yesterday after sweating my ass off in yoga just because I could!

Check out my balls, yo

While my personal life has become simple and enjoyable, Retail Robot land has increased in sheer craziness. Our store has been spitting out 20-30% off coupons left and right, and it seems like for each coupon corporate sends out, one more batshit crazy customer appears out of nowhere. The most enjoyable part about working in such a hectic environment is the fact that the employees, myself included, start to get a little loopy when things get too busy.

Last weekend, for example, I barely survived my eight hour shift. I came to work only to discover that the air conditioning in our store wasn’t working. Combined with the fact that I was dizzy from the antibiotics I was on (gotta love sinus infections!), I was sweating, trying to keep my balance which is hard enough for me to normally do and ringing up customers who seriously had the weirdest questions I’d ever heard. Luckily I was working with my favorite co-worker, and we basically lost it after a particularly old lady strolled up to the counter and…

Old Lady: How far can I take this cart?

Me: Oh, you can take it outside as long as you–

Co-worker: Twenty-five feet. You can only take it twenty-five feet.

Me: Yep, after that it–

In unison: EXPLODES.

As we gripped the counter in order to keep ourselves from rolling around the floor and crying with laughter, the old lady simply looked at us, stroked her fully-whiskered chin, and walked away. Yes, we were that loopy.

Other exciting highlights included a man walking around with what appeared to be either very short patterned shorts or just boxers, an entire family who walked into a window thinking that there was an automatic door there, and me doing the yearly employee satisfaction survey for my old store number without realizing it until a few days later.

In the midst of all the craziness, both from employees and customers, life seems a lot better lately. Heck, even the amount of shoplifted items seems to have gone down!

The only shoplifted thing I found this week. It was most likely hidden in between the fat folds of a larger customer. I know.. I'm mean.

After two weeks, I return to retail. Chaos ensues.

14 Mar

Oh crazy customers, how I missed you

In the past two weeks, I had a temporary vacation from the world of retail. And, while I did enjoy experiencing what not working during the weekend felt like, I also felt terribly bored. All I could really think about during my weekends was what I was missing. How could I live a week without the drama of crazy customers? How was I going to function without witnessing a shoplifter or getting yelled at by super rich women who get kicks out of using coupons even though they probably cut them up with kitchen shears from Williams-Sonoma? I realized that after working in retail for almost six years, I have been somewhat conditioned to expect a certain percentage of drama and craziness in my life. And without it, well, life just seems so boring.

Last weekend, I was finally called into work. As I walked into the store, I breathed a sigh of relief: employees were standing off to the side bitching out customers under their breath, my boss was walking around and emmiting the typical American Psycho aura that he always seems to give off, and customers were setting off security alarms. In the words of J.K. Rowling‘s oh-so-profound last sentence in the Harry Potter series, all was well.

For like ten minutes, at least.

After that, it was as if our store had been punished for letting me back in. In a matter of an hour, the paper in our digital photo kiosk ran out, two people were caught shoplifting (one of which was a particularly gutsy customer who power-walked out of our store with a gift bag full of items), there was a consistent line of at least six customers at any given minute, and as I was running to the back of the store to grab a can of tuna for an elderly customer, I was asked by two different people to let them into the restroom. After I came back to the register and dealt with the line of customers, I turned to my co-worker and said, “Jeez, why is it so busy?” He gave me a weird look and replied, “Um, it’s always busy on Sundays. Remember?”

It seems that I really had forgotten what working in the store was like. After having a wealthy customer throw money at me and then ask me if I had counted it correctly, I realized that customers weren’t as kind and kooky as I had remembered them to be. At the end of that Sunday, my forgetfulness also caused me to scan in the magazine credits and seal them up into the envelope without putting the shipping label on. After telling my co-worker that I needed to open up the sealed package in order to get the shipping label still in there, she began cutting it open. As I was ringing up a customer, I heard her laughing. Not only had I managed to seal up the envelope with the shipping label still inside, but I had also managed to put fifty sheets of price adjustments in the envelope as well. I wonder what the magazine company would have thought if they had received those in the mail! My co-worker then turned to the customer I was ringing up and said, “Better count your money when you get it back. She’s not all here tonight.” She then proceeded to run off, still laughing, to tell our shift supervisor. I was not taken seriously for the rest of the night.

All in all, being back at work after the two-week respite allowed me to sink my teeth back into the healthy dose of chaos and craziness that I had been missing–even if a portion of it was entirely my fault.

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