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Archive for the ‘Gen Y’ Category

Hard Work Pays Off…Right?

March 15, 2010 8 comments

Have you ever felt like you are working for nothing? Not literally (ok sometimes literally…), but do you ever just feel like you are doing everything you know how to do and still can’t manage to get where you want to go?

There is a phrase I live by: Don’t complain about your situation in life if you’re not willing to work to change it. It is usually pretty easy to apply this to all aspects of my life and recently I’ve been thinking a lot about it.

Those of you who know me personally know that I have had a few complaints lately regarding my current life situation. I’m not particularly happy with where I’m at right now, so I’ve been working to change that. The biggest transition I want to make is my work situation, and I want to do this for a few reasons:

  1. While I work for an association I’m passionate about, my skill sets aren’t being utilized as much as I would like. I know I have many talents and I want to share them with the next organization I work for.
  2. I would love to move to NYC soon. I am open to staying in KC for a little while longer, but in the next few years, I see myself in NYC.
  3. I’m worth more than I make. I don’t think I’m worth $100K/yr or anything, but I know I’m at least worth a salary that allows me to move out of my parent’s house and still be able to save money every month. (That’s right folks, my options are live with the ‘rents or have no savings account. And don’t even get me started with my 401K, or lack thereof.)

So what am I doing to make this happen? Well I’m heeding my own advice and building a strong personal brand for myself (hence this fancy little blog you’re reading), I’m meeting some awesome new people both in the Midwest and on the East Coast who I think will be wonderful assets in terms of networking opportunities and friendship and I’m looking for jobs in KC and NYC and hoping to make the right connections with people who can help me get a foot in the door.

I go to work from 8-5 every day then come home and sit in front of my computer all night long trying to do something, anything that will help me get to where I want to be.  Tweet chats, webinars, blog posts, e-mails, WordPress & website creation/upkeep. The list just seems to get longer every day. The strange thing is that I love all of it, (don’t believe me? Check out my new theme song) but sometimes I feel like it must not be enough because I still don’t have the job I know I deserve, and I’m writing this from my bed, in my room, at my parent’s house…

So while I sit here feeling sorry for myself, (don’t worry, this will pass…I just need a moment) I realize that the good news is that I know that I’m doing the right things and I know that change doesn’t happen overnight. I also know that my hard work will pay off eventually, so I’m not going to give up.

I think this is something all entry-level professionals experience at some point.  But as long as you can honestly say that you are working hard to accomplish your goals whether that means getting a job, a promotion, a raise or an apartment far away from your parent’s house, that’s all we can ask of ourselves, right?

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Dear Boomers: Please Retire. Love, Gen Y

March 11, 2010 13 comments

 I came across this interesting  blog post the other day: 15 Reasons College Students Need to Invest in Their Careers. It got me thinking a lot about the plight of the entry-level professional. All of the statistics that J.T. O’Donnell talks about are really interesting, but the most fascinating one to me is this:

70M+. The number of Baby Boomers (people in their 50s-60’s) in America who are ‘retirement-ready, but under-funded’ and thus will stay in the job market, holding back the entry of new grads to the workplace.”

The reason I find this noteworthy isn’t because I think it’s terribly shocking. It’s no secret that this recession has hit Boomers really hard. Their 401ks, which they have contributed to their entire working lives, are much lower than they had hoped they would be – no thanks to the stock market – thus forcing them to remain in the workforce beyond normal expectations.

The challenge this presents to the next generation of professionals is that with fewer people exiting the workforce, there are fewer positions opening up. The repercussions of which are seen in another statistic presented in J.T.’s post:

“25 years old. The average age before a college grad can finally afford to move out of their parent’s house and live on their own. (They are called Boomerang Kids and K.I.P.P.E.R.S – Kids In Parents Pockets Eating Retirement Savings.)”

Okay, let’s recap: recent grads are not finding jobs because their parents generation is retiring later in life but part of the reason the Boomers are retiring later is because they’ve lost part of their retirement savings and are still supporting their out of work kids… Sounds a bit cyclical, eh?

So what’s an economically unstable society to do? I certainly don’t know. I’m not an economist, nor can I predict the upcoming trends in employment. What I do know is that this is a VERY frustrating time for Millennials. It’s not easy swallowing your pride and moving back in with mom and dad, especially when you can’t, for the life of you, find a job.

Here are my words of encouragement, Gen Y: You’re not alone and the good news is that this won’t last forever. In the meantime, don’t give up the job search, no matter how disheartening it becomes, and take steps to improve your resume, even if it means working for free for a while because your situation can only improve from there, right?

And for the love of Pete, don’t blame your joblessness on your parents! (At least not while they’re still providing the food and shelter…)

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Catch 22 of The Entry-Level Job Search

February 15, 2010 15 comments

When I was fresh out of college and in the throes of my first real job search, I quickly learned of the catch 22 of the entry-level job hunt: most employers won’t hire you unless you have “relevant experience” but in order to get said experience, you need someone to hire you. Now I had several internships throughout college, but none of them were especially relevant to the type of job I was looking for.

I suppose I was lucky when I got hired after graduation. My boss ultimately hired me for my sense of humor (true story) and my experiences as a leader in my sorority. But I can’t help but wonder: what if she didn’t take a chance on me? Do all employers feel like they are “taking a chance” on a recent college grad? And if that’s true, what can college students or graduates do to make sure they are getting the experience employers are looking for?

I came up with a list of things that I wish I had done to make myself a more viable job candidate right out of college:

1. Apply For Relevant Internships

The best internships will really challenge you and allow you to gain experience that will be applicable to your job search once you graduate. I know it sounds like a no-brainer, but the internships I chose were the ones that paid more or seemed more fun than ones that may have given me more learning opportunities. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up when I was in college (still don’t) so it was more difficult for me to do this, but if you know what you want to do, I recommend you get all the experience you can in that industry.

2. Volunteer

There are so many non-profits looking for people to help in an administrative capacity. Do you want to gain writing skills? Volunteer to write copy for a non-profit’s website or promotional materials. Interested business administration or finance? Help with the book-keeping. Interested in event planning or PR? Help them plan events and/or gain publicity for the events.

This kind of skills-based volunteering is mutually beneficial for obvious reasons, but what’s in it for you is relevant experience, a resume builder, expanding your personal/professional network and maybe even a professional recommendation. For more information on skills-based volunteering, check out SmartVolunteer.org.

3. Join a Networking Group

By networking with professionals in your community, you greatly increase your chances of connecting with someone who might be interested in hiring you. But even if the CEO of the company you want to work for isn’t involved in your group, the chances that someone you meet could help you secure a job or at least give you a recommendation is very high. Having a personal connection with a company is terribly important anymore. Just think of how many resumes a company will see for any given position and ask yourself, “How will I stand out?” By connecting with someone who can help you out, you are already at an advantage over other applicants.

4. Start a blog

Blogging is a great way to showcase what you know about a certain subject. It gives you an opportunity to comment on current events and do some research about trends in the industry you are interested in. Employers will be impressed to see your passion and knowledge.

If nothing else, each of these is a wonderful resume builder and will provide you with additional hands-on skills that can put you ahead of the competition when it comes to the job search.

I should also mention that you don’t have to be a young employee to do any of these things. They are also great tips for someone who is looking to transition their career or just spruce up their resume a bit!

What have you done to stand out as an entry-level employee? Have any of these things helped you gain a competitive edge as you venture into the terrifying world of the gainfully employed?

Reverse Ageism

February 7, 2010 3 comments

We all know ageism is a sensitive subject in the workplace. When people get a little older, they sometimes get treated differently because they are viewed as out of touch or even incapable of performing their job functions the same way they used to. But it’s not just older generations who are getting discriminated against…It’s happening to the youngest generation of people in the office as well.

Entry-level employees are typically in their early twenties, and fresh out of college. Right now, that makes them proud members of Generation Y. Before I go on I would like to go ahead and get some of the stereotypes attached to our generation out of the way:

  1. We are entitled. We feel like we are getting shafted if our fist job offer doesn’t come with a corner office and a huge signing bonus.
  2. We need you to tell us how amazing we are. We grew up getting a trophy for winning first place as well as for coming in last. We got an “A” for effort so we need positive reinforcement regardless of what we produce.
  3. We are lazy and disloyal. We want to work 8:01-4:59 every day. Not a second more. We demand that our social life not be interrupted by our jobs. After all, it’s just a job, not a career, because we plan on finding another one in a few years anyway!

With this list in mind, it is easy for people to dismiss our generation both as employees and as coworkers. These stereotypes, which may or may not be true for some people, often prevent people from seeing the enormous value we can bring to the companies we work for. I know that I’ve experienced this firsthand and I have a feeling I’m not alone…

So what does reverse ageism look like? Well that is probably different for everyone, but for me it typically involves being the catch-all for everything technology related yet being overlooked when it comes to other aspects of my job. You see, another stereotype of our generation is that we know a lot about technology…and that one is pretty universally true. We grew up with computers, iPods, text messaging and the internet. We don’t use the instruction manuals on our new electronics. We turn them on and teach ourselves. So when our employer switches our e-mail system to Outlook, or purchases a new web-based database to track customers, we adapt. And quicker than our older coworkers, it seems.

Because of this uncanny ability to learn new technologies, we are often taken advantage of. We are the first (and sometimes only) people to learn how to do something so we are forever the “experts” on the subject. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to help. I will even teach someone how to do something if they are willing to learn. What I won’t do is their job for them every time they need to utilize this new technology but don’t know how. All too often our generation is expected to do this because we are the resident “technology gurus,” but when it comes to other areas of expertise, we are dismissed as young, naïve, or inexperienced.

You know something else our generation is known for? Multi-tasking. We can write a report for our boss, text our friend about happy hour and read a blog post about utilizing social media to help the company we work for improve their online presence all at the same time. The information that we are all bombarded with every day is sometimes overwhelming for older generations, but we’re used to it and we are able to absorb a lot of it.

What this means for our employers is that we are willing to learn a lot to get ahead. Our consumption of information did not stop in college and it isn’t likely to slow down anytime soon. We want to contribute and be an integral part of an organization but for this to happen, we must first be taken seriously.

So all we ask for is a little bit of credit every now and then! While we are doing everyone else’s jobs as they come to grasps with new technology, we are also learning everything we can about being successful professionals. We are using our technology savvy to connect with people across the world who can teach us more about being the best we can be. Please look past all the negative stereotypes of our generation because if you do, and allow us to become contributing members of your team, most of us won’t disappoint …In fact, you may even be a little impressed with what we bring to the table!

Have you experienced any reverse ageism in your workplace? If so, what does it look like for you?