Tag Archives: Career Advice

Pay It Forward

If there is one thing I think every young adult needs, it’s a mentor.  Someone to influence, guide and support you. Someone to be your cheerleader during the times you need it most. I am lucky enough to say I’ve had a few mentors thus far on this crazy journey of mine. All of them unique and wonderful in their own way.

Most of these mentors have been people helping me on my professional path, but they’ve all become really good friends of mine. They are people I trust and people I can really talk to. They’re people that care about me. Truly care. Each and every one of them has my best interest at heart. That’s pretty awesome, actually.

There were so many times during my year of unemployment where I felt completely hopeless. Whenever I was getting to the point of wanting to give up all together, there was one person in particular who just seemed to sense it and would reach out to give me that extra bit of confidence. His enthusiasm and belief in me was exactly what I needed. In the end, it was actually what helped me land the job I have now.

When I need advice, when I need a sounding board or when I just need to vent, I have a handful of people I can call on at a moment’s notice. That’s a really incredible thing to be able to say, and I am so appreciative and grateful of their kindness.

As important as it is to have a mentor, it’s just as important to make the effort to be a mentor. I watch so many people who have worked their way up the corporate latter and at the risk of sounding cliché, have completely forgotten where they came from. When does that happen? At what point do you start to forget?

I will always make the time for the college student who wants to sit down for an informational interview. I will make the time to grab coffee with the new associate or coordinator. I will make the effort to help give some kid just out of school encouragement and assurance because I’ll remember that time in your life is scary. Extremely scary.

I’m going to be a nice person. I’m going to show the fresh, bright-eyed, eager young adult that you can be smart and successful and great at what you do, but still be a decent, kind human being. I AM NOT GOING TO FORGET WHAT IT WAS LIKE.

Find a mentor. Be a mentor. Make the extra effort. Build the relationships. Keep paying it all forward.

“A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because
someone else thought they could.”  – Unknown

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The Shoe That Fit

An idea I always had for this blog was to every once in a while ask someone to write about their post-college experience. My reason being I think it’s important for us to share our stories and let people our age know we’re not the only ones having these thoughts, emotions, fears, experiences, etc.

I am so excited to have Stephanie Marchese be my first guest blogger! She found Va Bene and reached out to me (which I am so grateful for!), making me realize she’d be a perfect person to write about her journey after graduation.

I hope you get as much from her story as I do. Here’s a little background info on Stephanie before you get started:

Stephanie Marchese of Totowa, New Jersey received her Bachelor of Arts degree from The University of Massachusetts in Amherst on May 15, 2010. Stephanie graduated with academic distinction from the school of Social and Behavioral Sciences with a degree in Political Science and Italian. She considers herself a political junkie, a frequent flyer, a die-hard Patriots fan, a wine connoisseur and a Disney aficionado. When she was five she wanted to be a NYC Rockette. She is most proud of her time spent abroad in Italy, her contributions to the UMass Dance Team, volunteering on Obama’s campaign and her master’s degree in Italian literature. Stephanie is a legislative policy analyst for the New Jersey Hospital Association which is a not-for-profit trade organization committed to helping NJ hospitals and health systems provide quality, accessible and affordable care to their communities.

And now, her story:

To me, the very thought of life after graduation was inconceivable. My life in Amherst morphed into a repetitious cycle of homework, exams, dance team practices and being a normal twenty-something-year-old kid trying to figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up. As May approached I began to feel uneasy about solidifying an answer. Wanna know the truth? I didn’t know. For the first time in my life I didn’t have a plan. This was life after graduation.

The unknown can be exciting for some, but for an obsessive compulsive control freak like myself, it was as horrifying as losing my daily planner. One evening in May, I sat quiet on my parents’ deck with my college photo album in hand. I perused each page much like a yearbook, remembering the last four years of my life. I loved college because there was always an end goal in sight. I knew where I was headed and I got there. The faces in the pictures reminded me of a time not too long ago. A time when waking up at noon and eating dessert before dinner were completely acceptable. As I sat there in the shadows of the sunset, I wondered what would be next. Graduation seemed like forever ago and the job search was not looking promising. I looked to the horizon and thought, “here we go.”

And so started my life post-graduation. My friends dispersed all over the country. Some remained on the east coast while others moved west calling San Francisco and Denver home. I started feeling lonely and sad, even empty. This was an entirely new concept I had to grapple with. I was a planner! In the months that followed I drove myself crazy trying to find a job. I sent out dozens upon dozens of resumes. I even tried my hand at odd jobs to pass the time. I like to describe that period of my life as the time I traded in jobs as frequently as I changed my shoes. I was crazed in finding the perfect job, the perfect ending. So much so, that I was forcing the shoe to fit. This Cinderella just had to wait her turn.

And so I waited. I calmed down. I stopped worrying. I eventually realized that breaking myself down wasn’t worth it. Letting life come to me would be the better option. So I traded in my daycare team t-shirt for a pair of shades and a UMass tee and got to living my life. That summer I sat longer in the sun, read a couple of books, ate well, learned how to cook and spent time with my friends, family and boyfriend. Before I knew it, the summer I had been dreading turned into the summer I wished wouldn’t end.

Skipping ahead, that fall I found myself at Rutgers University pursuing a master’s degree in Italian. As part of my new “living for Stephanie” plan I decided to study a subject I was most passionate about. I began to get busy—the  kind of busy that keeps you on your toes. I was happy again. Little did I know this was just the beginning.

 On a cool October night, my boyfriend sent me a job post from the internet. He urged me to apply, but I wasn’t convinced. The post was a month old and I didn’t even have a cover letter written. He pressed me until I sent my resume. I didn’t have any expectations. In fact, I didn’t even think they would call, but they did. Monday I was asked to interview, Friday I was offered the job. The shoe finally fit!

I like to think if I could go back in time I would have some great advice for my newly graduated self. I like to think I’d tell that young girl to follow the roads of life. I’d tell her that no one person has it all figured out. I would explain the importance of living a life completely unabridged, stressing how truly liberating it felt to NOT have all the answers.

So young people on the heels of your college graduation I offer you this…

Graduating college? Well, you can expect to go through a variety of changes and emotions over the next few months. Don’t worry though. Part of learning in your 20s is done through making mistakes. Trust you’ll make plenty of ‘em. Now is your time to learn, to find yourself, to figure out what you are all about. Don’t waste time worrying about the “what-ifs.” What and if are two simple words, but putting them together can drive a person crazy. Live freely, openly, spiritually, happily. Love unconditionally and remember to laugh at your misfortunes. Trust me, the best years of your life don’t end after graduation, they are just beginning.

Stephanie, I can’t thank you enough for this post!

If anyone else would like to share their story, please shoot me an email. Would love to hear about the path you’ve taken!

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Urban Meyer

Speaking of work/life balance…

Private World Of Urban Meyer: Exclusive home videos of the ex-UF coach – NCAA Football – SI.com

…never in a million years did I think I’d be sharing something from Sports Illustrated.

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Balance?

I’ve been at my new job for a little over a month now, and needless to say, it is taking some time to adjust. Aside from getting used to my actual role, I’d say the thing I am struggling with most is finding the work/life balance.

Is there such a thing? Does it actually exist?

As my good friend, Kelsey, pointed out to me – I am someone who is all out being balanced. I was that person in college who left the bar early or knew when to not go at all because I had a paper to write or an exam to study for. I was also the person who made sure I got the sleep I needed close to every night because I knew I wouldn’t be able to function without it the next day. Sounds really responsible, right? (And maybe a little annoying?) Well, I guess you could say that, but a lot of it was just my way of staying in control or in balance. Without the balance I would just get overwhelmed.

I am someone who wants to make time for everything. Whether it be family, friends, boyfriend, work, exercise, hobbies, blogging, me-time, sleep, etc. I try to keep up with all of these things and usually I do a great job juggling them, but this new career move has definitely thrown me off-kilter. At the moment, it is my number one priority and it is all-consuming. It’s where I spend the majority of my day, it’s what I think about when I get home at night and it’s what I’m trying to get caught up with and prepared for on the weekend.

I know that I just started and I have so much I’m trying to learn and catch up on. As someone recently said to me, “You’re trying to drink water out of a fire hose.” I realize that this time will eventually pass and I’ll finally begin to feel comfortable, but in the meantime, how do I gain some of the balance back?

My name is Christina Hubbard and I am a control freak/perfectionist. The first step is admitting you have a problem and I fully own it. I want to be good at what I do and I think that’s why I’m freaking out. I’m spending so much energy trying to master this position and keep up with everything else, which just isn’t going to happen all at once. I need to get some perspective and I need to give myself some time to figure this all out. I think I need to stop being so hard on myself.

I am more than my job. Life is about so much more than your work, no matter how much you may love what you do. Will I get to the point where I’ll be able to leave work at work? Will I find the balance? All I know is that I’m going to give it a damn good try.

What about you? How have you found the work/life balance? I’m open to any and all suggestions!

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Best Birthday Present Ever

In the past week my life has changed pretty drastically. Drum roll, please…I finally got a grown-up job! Finally! I got the official offer on Friday afternoon right before I left for Oxnard. Talk about the best birthday present EVER! I’m still finding it a little hard to believe. I have so many emotions about the whole thing—excitement, relief, fear, disbelief, a little anxiety. I cried when I told my mom. I just couldn’t believe that after all this time, it finally happened. And the crazy thing is that it’s in a field I’m totally into and it’s a company I love. I guess good things do happen to those who wait.

What’s insane about the whole thing is that in 13 months I haven’t received one job offer and then I received two from two great companies on the same day. If that isn’t a sign, I don’t know what is. I really was ready to move on.

This past year has been such a learning experience. I’ve been taught so much about patience, persistence and acceptance. You have to have faith in yourself at all times. And you have to have faith that all things will work out and that you’re where you’re supposed to be in the present moment. It may have taken me a long time, but the last couple interviews I went on were the first ones where I really felt like I was finally being one hundred percent myself. I finally relaxed and got the hang of it. It got to the point where I felt like I had nothing to lose.

Try. Always try and always work hard. This is true for all things in your life, including your job, your relationships, your friendships—everything. Things aren’t just going to be handed to you or fall into your lap. You have to stay determined, always.

You can’t always get what you want exactly when you want it. Life isn’t always going to pan out the way you think it’s going to. I think that’s hard to accept, especially in this instant gratification society we’re brought up in. However, you learn the most when you don’t get your way. I look at all the things that I’ve done over the past year, including this blog, and I don’t know if I would have ever done them if I had gotten the awesome job right away. On Friday, it was almost like someone was saying, “Alright, Christina, you’ve gotten the lesson here, so it’s time to move forward.”

23 was a year that helped shaped so much of my character. In so many ways it humbled me, and I truly believe I will always be a better person for it. I know the lessons aren’t over. More are definitely to come and I’ll have to tackle them as well, but I feel like this was the first real big one I had to face as an adult.

I’m usually so bummed about turning another year older, but I’m really stoked about 24. This new job is going to be kind of life changing. It means new schedule, new people, new car, new apartment, new beginnings. And aside from all that, I’ve got a pretty incredible life going here. It was a little rough when I initially moved back to California, but this past weekend showed me that I’ve got a great group of friends here, I have an awesome family and I’ve got friends who are geographically far away, but who are willing to make the effort with me. Life is good. And I can’t wait to see what this next year brings.

“…nobody’s journey is seamless or smooth. We all stumble. We all have setbacks. If things go wrong, you hit a dead end—as you will—it’s just life’s way of saying time to change course. So, ask every failure—this is what I do with every failure, every crisis, every difficult time—I say, what is this here to teach me? And as soon as you get the lesson, you get to move on. If you really get the lesson, you pass and you don’t have to repeat the class. If you don’t get the lesson, it shows up wearing another pair of pants—or skirt—to give you some remedial work.” –Oprah Winfrey

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A Monster Named Failure

Today I began a new adventure along my career path. I have to tell you that as excited as I was about it, I was also super nervous. It wasn’t even something I should have been freaking out about, but of course I start having all this self-doubt whenever I start something I’ve never tried before. No matter how confident I am, whenever I begin a job, I have this fear of not being good at it. I don’t know where this anxiety about failure comes from…I know I’m somewhat of an intelligent person, but all of the sudden I’m worried that everyone is going to realize Christina isn’t really that smart. I know it’s absolutely ridiculous, but acknowledging that still doesn’t stop me from panicking.

Perhaps it’s because I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I want to be great at everything I do. This is actually a horrible quality because people with this trait don’t normally like to take risks and generally stick to what they’re good at, which is simply BORING. Push beyond your comfort zone. You’ll never know all the things you’re capable of excelling at until you actually try them. The key word there is try.

I ended today feeling energized about life and the potential career options that lie ahead. I haven’t felt that way in a long time and it really was uplifting. It all goes back to taking chances. Make sure you grab a hold and take advantage of all opportunities that may come your way. The “what-if’s” and regrets are the real monsters we should be afraid of.

“If you’re not scared shitless by your new job, you haven’t reached high enough.” –Leslee Dart

“If you’re never scared, embarrassed or hurt, it means you never take any chances.” –Julia Sorel

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The Interview

“We would like you to come in for an interview.” It’s amazing how this one sentence can evoke so many conflicting emotions. My heart starts to race because I’m ecstatic that I was chosen for the next step in the hiring process, but at the same time I’m terrified because I was chosen for the next step in the hiring process.

Interviewing is just pretty awful in general. You willingly go into it knowing you are going to be judged and critiqued. It’s competitive, nerve-wracking and you have to dress up. Really, it’s masochistic.

The dressing up is, by far, one of the most irritating aspects of the interview. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about getting dressed up, but having to put on a suit and heels to head into an anxiety-filled situation is only making matters worse. I just pray my interview is on a cooler day, so I’m not dying of heat, and I can only hope there isn’t too much walking so that my feet aren’t killing me. And one of my favorite moments is when you walk into an office and everyone else is in jeans. That always makes me feel even more at ease. If you can get away with it, I recommend wearing something professional, but comfortable and ladies, opt for nice flats. It’s incredible how much less stressed out I get in a pair of flats.

I always tend to dread the preparation or “homework” as well. Looking up all you can on the company website, studying the job description and thinking up intelligent questions to ask your potential future employer is never really enjoyable. And I usually end up spending way more time on this than I ever should. My advice is to have a good grasp on the company and some basic knowledge, but you don’t need to spend time studying for it like you would for your finals. I feel like I always go into student mode when I start researching and almost always way overdue it.

The morning of an interview I try to stay as calm as possible, but this almost never works. I try to always give myself enough time and to schedule the interview around times when there won’t be too much traffic (which is never if you live in LA) because running late isn’t going to do anything favorable for my emotional state. Always leave room for the chance of getting lost (which I can almost always count on).

It sounds cliché, but once you get there, the best thing to do is relax and be yourself. I once had someone tell me to please just take a deep breath because I was making him nervous just looking at me. The calmer you are, the better you’ll be able to think and the better your answers will sound. Even if the interview goes horrifically, you’ll never have to see that person again, so stop stressing. It’s maybe an hour or two of your life. Remind yourself that this is a really great thing that you were even asked to come in and speak with them. You obviously already have a lot of the qualities the employer is looking for.

The interviews that I feel I’ve done the best at are the ones where I am the most comfortable and honest. They’re the ones where I go in with the least amount of rehearsed answers. The ones where I can be my confident self. I think this has to do with how passionate I am about the job. When I was doing a lot of my soul-searching and trying to figure out what direction I wanted to head in on my career path this was actually a really helpful exercise. I was able to talk sincerely and self-assuredly about the jobs I was excited about, which made me realize I was heading down the right path.

Speaking of my confident self, I have this great little tendency of always thinking the interview has gone really well. But here I am, almost a year later, still looking for the dream job, so apparently they haven’t all gone as well as I have thought…Nothing like good self-esteem. I guess I should get credit for being positive?

The next fun part in the processing is waiting to hear from the company. I either never hear back from them, have gotten called back in for second interviews weeks later or I receive a rejection letter months down the road. Personally, I think this is SO tacky. If I ever have my own company, this is one of the first things I will be on top of. People deserve some sort of response, whether they got the job or not. A simple email takes two minutes. Come on, people! And if you are waiting for that call or email, please try not to think about it too much. Just move on and keep searching as soon as the interview is over. Actually, as soon as the interview is over go eat some chocolate ice cream, then continue the job hunt. Try not to be upset because you really are no better or worse off than you were before the interview.

If you do hear from the company and you get the job then that’s fantastic! Congrats! However, if you get the rejection letter or never hear from them, try not to beat yourself up. You just weren’t a good match and that’s okay. It makes me feel a little better to think that things happen for a reason and the right job will come along at some point.

DON’T GET DISCOURAGED!  Keep going, keep searching, keep applying. Take risks. Go on all the interviews you can. Just look at it like it’s practicing. The more you go on, the better you get and the better prepared you’ll be to rock the interview for the company that loves you just as much as you love them. (And if anything, the most awful interviews you go on make for great stories). It WILL happen, or at least that’s what I keep telling myself. 🙂 Until then, I’ll continue having mornings like today where I leave the house full of anxiety because  I put on my suit pants and convince myself I’ve shrunk an inch because they’re dragging on the floor, even with my heels on. Lovely. Thank God for the five-inch heels I’ve got in the back of my closet (which will make me cry out in pain as I walk down the driveway to my car).

“The brick walls that are in our way are there for a reason. They’re not there to keep us out, but to see how much we want it.” -Randy Pausch

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