My Top Five Pieces of Career Advice For Your Twenties

When entering college, I received the following advice:

Use your Freshman year to join every possible organization you might be interested in. Then commit to only a few for the rest of college. That way, you can hold leadership positions by junior/senior year and have something for your resume.

Awesome, awesome, awesome advice, which served me very well. And now as I’m in my 29th year, nearing 30, I’m starting to reflect on the professional advice and lessons I’ve learned so far. And I’m realizing this:

Your twenties are the “freshman year” of your career. Do what you need to do to figure out which direction you want to go in. 

I say this because I’ve just accepted a job offer – what will be my 5th job since graduating college. I know it sounds like a lot of jobs in 5 1/2 years, but it makes total sense when you look at my resume. Promise. My whole career has been in Higher Education Development (aka fundraising for universities), but I had no idea what I wanted to do when I graduated, so the first job I landed in was a little luck, and a little fate. Now, I love the field. To sum it up quickly for you:

Institution number one:

  • 1 year and 5 months as an Administrative Assistant
  • 1 year and 9 months as a Program Coordinator
  • 1 year and 9 months as an Associate Director

Institution number two:

  • 1 year and 7 months as an Associate Director
  • About to embark on a new position as an actual DIRECTOR, which means I will be a boss for the first time as I work to build a program from the ground up. Very excited about this opportunity!!

As you can see, a slow but steady climb, NOT jumping institutions, but working my way up at one place, allowing me to learn a lot about my field. And along the way, I have also learned a lot about professionalism, bosses, strategy, and how to get ahead. Slow and steady, my friends! Slow. And. Steady.

So while I have very little authority to dole out a ton of advice, I’m just going to hit a few highlights that have served me well…

  1. Make your boss look good. I hated this advice the first time I heard it. I was way above that. But I learned how very true it is. I have been able to advance at a high rate, because my bosses have been my mentors, and when opportunities came along, they not only encouraged me but where often the ones to tell me an opening was around the corner. You work to make them look good. They work to make their bosses look good. It means you are doing your job well. I promise, this will serve you well in the end.
  2. Negotiate for a better salary every time you get a job offer. Especially us women. I’m not really a feminist, but it’s proven that there is a gender gap in wages (male engineers at Google make 20% more!). If you ask for even just a little bit more each time you start a new position, it only gives you more leverage for the next one. Asking for more money can be uncomfortable for some people, so be prepared to say why you are asking for more: you have a masters, you have to move, you are losing other perks by changing jobs, you have more experience than they asked for. Whatever it is, just be ready to tell them why you deserve it! They are prepared to offer more if they have to – I promise. And these days, it’s almost impossible to get a raise, so it’s best to negotiate during a job offer.
  3. Get a Masters Degree – but only if you want to. Don’t do it just because you feel like you should. I don’t know if you know this, but grad school is a lot of freaking work. Not only do you have to want a masters, but you have to be really really excited about whatever you choose to study. Or you will definitely fail.
  4. Don’t let them see you smile until Thanksgiving. Okay, I’ve really only heard this one for teachers, but it kind of applies to us non-educators, as well. I’m about to become a boss, so I’m thinking A LOT about how to go about it, and how to get started on the right foot. I’ve had bosses across the spectrum, but the biggest issue I’ve had with a few of them is coming in with one attitude, and then doing a 180 after a few weeks or months on the job. Better to come into your job being super professional, not overly jokey or silly or anything until you’ve really settled in. Take your time getting to know your fellow employees, just as you would getting to know ANYone you meet in your life.
  5. Avoid engaging in office drama and gossip. Obviously. And I admit, this is tough for me sometimes. But you might work for them someday. Or they might work for you. Plus it’s just mean, and as someone who has been on both sides of it, I highly recommend staying away.

Okay so that’s all I’ve got for now. I’ve you’ve read this far, congrats! You deserve a prize. Go get an extra coffee.

 

A Sweet Trip to Sarasota

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Y’all know I travel for work. Sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s boring, sometimes it’s stressful. But hands down, THE biggest perk is occassionally being able to see friends or family I wouldn’t otherwise get to see. I tied a Dallas trip to a bachelorette weekend for Katharine. An Atlanta trip to a fun weekend with the one and only Katy. A few Chicago trips with weekends either in Chicago with my hubby, or in Milwaukee with my parentals. San Fran = Christen. NYC = Kimmy + a solid handful of college pals. You get my drift.

Florida, which is now a huge part of my territory, does not house many (any?) of my buddies from high school or college. I do, however, have one very sweet uncle in Sarasota. So when I was there for a work trip last week, he picked me up bright and early for breakfast and beautiful drive out and around the bay area. I admit, I didn’t take many pictures at all. But we did visit a low-key fishing pier, right around sunrise. A nice add-on to  my work visit!

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Some People Get To Travel For Work

Have you seen those commercials? The ones that are like “Some people have to travel for work – other people GET to travel for work.” Well, they are advertising for Courtyard Marriotts, which happens to be my work travel hotel of choice, and has been for quite a while. I know it seems kind of random, but let me tell you about my love for the good old Courtyards.

(Here is the commercial if you care.)

Obviously, loyalty = rewards. But I could stay at any Marriott and reap the same rewards. The thing about Courtyards is that they are all laid out the same (they all have a courtyard – duh – and a fitness center and a super casual lobby restaurant area with delicious breakfast and dinner options. They have snacks for sale 24/7. They have balconies. And every room has a sofa and coffee table and tons of space.

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This all probably sounds silly, I know, but I don’t always appreciate these things until I am forced to stay in a different hotel and realize that not everyone has this. Seriously, I feel like I’m in a house at these places. The lobbies are like big living rooms. Here’s a view as I write this blog:

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That’s the lobby. Where I am sitting on a couch in a corner nook with a remote control, watching the crossfit games on ESPN.

And last night I watched TV on my computer in the courtyard while drinking wine.

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Really, as much as traveling for work does get SUPER OLD, it’s really nice to know what to expect at the end of a long day. And I find a lot of comfort in the routine of the Courtyard Marriott.

Are you loyal to a chain or a hotel? Tell me why!

wrong place, wrong time, walletless {gbd part two}

When traveling for work, I typically fly into the airport, rent a car, and spend 2-3 days driving around the city, going from meeting to meeting. We have an extensive database for tracking office addresses, as well as other useful information. Typically, while setting up an appointment, I confirm that the office address I have on file is correct. Sometimes, I don’t.

Recently, on a trip to Dallas, I made two huge faux pas. I left my hotel around 8:15, and arrived at my destination at 8:35 – plenty early for my 9:00 meeting. To kill some time, I sat down in the lobby and pulled up my email correspondence with the man I was about to meet, just to be sure I didn’t need to remember anything in particular about our conversation.

While doing this, it dawned on me that my wallet was not in my bag. I had managed to leave it at the hotel, but luckily I would have time after this meeting to swing back and pick it up. No problem, since 99% of offices I visit validate your parking tickets anyway (and in fact, I had been to a meeting in this building before, so I knew for a fact they validated).

After a few minutes of reading my email, I noticed something that made my heart sink like a stone. Right there, in the email he sent me weeks ago, I saw it: a different business address than the one I had. I couldn’t believe it! My phone said it was 8:50. Thankfully, the correct address was just a couple blocks away…but I didn’t have any money to get out of the parking structure.

I gathered my things and got to my car in no time flat, pulled up to the parking attendant, and put on the saddest face I could manage without actually crying. I explained my “situation” and how I was going to be late and how I was SO SO SORRY and how I would call him with my credit card information if it helped. He told me if I had been there less than 10 minutes it would have been free, but I’d been there for about 16, so it was $1.60. I repeated my groveling – so sorry, very late, no money, SO SORRY – and with a look in his eye that said “you suck,” he opened the gate. I thanked him profusely as I ran away…well, drove away…to my meeting.

…which I was on time for, while my alumnus was 15 minutes late.

Thanks for reading part 2 of The Good, The Bad, and The Delayed.

The good, the bad, and the delayed {GBD Part One}

My dad has told me (more than once) that I should journal about my travels. Considering that 95% of my time on the road is spent actually working, reading, or sleeping, I don’t really feel like it is worth journaling about…especially considering that my journaling efforts usually last about two days.

But I DO like to blog, so it dawned on me…maybe I should blog about the quirks…the 5% of my travel that is abnormal, unusual, or downright uncomfortable. Also, my dad really loves Clint Eastwood. And so, I give you…The Good, The Bad, and The Delayed.

I started jotting a few notes, and realized I have a handful of stories to share from the past few months, so I couldn’t just write a single blog post. Rather, I’ll share a few anecdotes here and there with you. Let’s start with New Jersey. It was this week. It was rough.

I tend to have 8-10 meetings on any given trip (3 days, 2 nights). This might sound like a lot, but considering they are typically 30 minutes each, it could be worse. And normally, I am able to schedule one meeting for every three to four people I contact. Well, New Jersey was not normal. I was able to schedule six meetings. Six. Out of a possible fifty people. That’s a pretty crummy ratio. 0.12 to be exact.

That said, I was not overly picky about my meetings. I took what I could get, and they were all over the state. My less-than-36-hour trip would mostly be spent driving from one meeting to the next. On this map, I have drawn my route.

I also need you to know that I am extremely optimistic when setting my schedule – I assume that if google maps says I can do something in 1 hour 9 minutes, I can do it in 1 hour 3 minutes. It never happens. Ever. But I still believe. So I scheduled my last meeting for 3:00 in a town that is 1 hour 9 minutes from Newark Airport. I scheduled my flight for 6:00. What I didn’t know (but learned when I arrived) was that the rental car company I selected was about a 15 minute shuttle ride from the terminal. Well, let me rephrase…there is a shuttle train that connects the terminals and the parking areas, and the shuttle to my rental car place picked me up at one of those parking areas. So I was TWO shuttles away form my car.

I digress. A perfect scenario was: leave meeting at 3:30. Arrive at car place at 4:40. Get to airport by 5:00. Get to flight by 6:00 departure. Meanwhile, I also found out (thanks to the fact that my loving boyfriend tracks my travels) that my flight was twenty minutes delayed. Hooray! But like I said, I don’t have the best track record when it comes to doing things according to google time. Here is how it really went down:

2:55 Arrive at meeting EARLY!

3:19 Leave meeting EARLY! GPS says I will be there by 4:30. PERFECT!

4:24 Take the wrong exit, leading me into traffic h-e-double-hockey-sticks on the Jersey turnpike. THE JERSEY TURNPIKE. Because, why not. I almost get hit like, a gazillion times. But I don’t actually get hit, so I play it cool while calming my nerves with a granola bar (judge me).

4:31 GPS says I’ll arrive at 4:41.

4:41 GPS says I’ll arrive at 4:51. I hate GPS.

4:59 ARRIVAL.

5:01 Get on the shuttle to the shuttle.

5:07 Arrive at the second shuttle.

5:07:37 Change from heels to flats. Shove heels into bag.

5:09 Get on second shuttle.

5:17 Get in the security line.

5:23 Go all George-Clooney-from-Up-In-The-Air in record time: laptop, coat, shoes, briefcase, suitcase, BLAM! You’ve been Clooney-ed.

5:31 Exit security line after impatiently waiting for slow polks.

5:37 Arrive at gate like a rockstar, completely nonchalant.

And so I give you Part One of The Good, The Bad, and The Delayed. I hope you enjoy.

adjustment

After only two trips, I am starting to already feel a bit more comfortable with traveling to unfamiliar places, and have even established a mental list of things I must remember for the future. These include: travel with bandaids, don’t forget your heels, and study a map before depending on GPS.

And maybe it’s an old college habit, but I certainly enjoy doing work while sitting on a bed instead of at a desk or table. Maybe it makes me a bit less productive, but man is it comfy! Nothing quite beats settling in for the night, surrounded by everything you need.

Are you a work-traveler? What are some tips of the trade?

Good Morning, Dallas

This morning marks the first time I’ve ever woken up in Dallas.

It’s also the first day of fall. Happy Fall!!!

I’ve got a Ford Fusion and a GPS, and I’m about to adventure all over the place for 48 hours for a whole bunch of meetings. In between, I hope to explore just a little bit and see what all the fuss is about. So if you know and love Dallas, TELL ME! What do you love? Where do you go?

Happy Adventuring!