Tag Archives: being a real grown-up

Adventures in Networking, Pt. 2! Exclamation Point!

26 Apr

After a couple long chats with my parents, there is a new life plan: to focus on finding a local job, save enough money for a move up north, then I can live in a big city in a swanky apartment with all my friends like they do on How I Met Your Mother.  You can’t have charming, uproarious shenanigans in New York with your best pals if you can’t afford to relocate.  Hello real life, my name is Sarah, it’s a pleasure to finally meet you.

The dream.

I can handle this development.  All I have to do is network and make connections and yadda yadda blah blah. Except who the hell do I know in Lakeland, FL?! My parents moved here from New York when I was in college, and I spent my summers away.  So yes, I’m totally friendless, but I’m not out to make friends.  I’m out to get a job.  I need to work my professional network, which means I have to target my dad’s connections and my alumni brethren.

I love HIMYM, so you better believe I spent my weekend networking.  I wanna live the dream, man.

I found an alum in Tampa (a 4o minute commute from me) who currently practices law.  Throughout college, I was convinced I was heading to law school.  I took a couple practice LSAT questions, and got all of them wrong.  I also found out that I would be saddled with 30 years of debt, and as a public interest lawyer, my yearly salary would be less than a construction worker’s. I figured that I was too dim-witted to get into law school, and if I did miraculously manage it (does University of Phoenix give away law degrees?), I would develop an intense hatred and jealousy of construction workers everywhere.  Also, I’d probably be eating Vienna sausages for dinner every night, due to my noble pursuit of legislative reform.

This was the future I had envisioned after six practice questions and a quick Google search.  In other words, I gave up on my dream before I even tried, and before I had talked to a real live, breathing lawyer who could shed some light on his occupation.  I figured reaching out to this alum would be a good way to get some questions resolved, and maaaybe finagle my way into a legal assistant position.  Are Vienna sausages yummy?  Are construction workers good people?  Would University of Phoenix turn me down?  I needed answers.

It didn’t totally go as I had hoped, although it was still a helpful, informative interview.  What’s more, it taught me how to properly conduct networking interviews in the future.  Lookit, I made a chart for you describing my experience and the wins and fails of networking. I had one other networking adventure this weekend at Universal Studios, but I’ll save that for some other time.  Are you titillated with anticipation?  Fabulous.

What I Did Do (Huzzah!) What I Didn’t Do (Booooo)
  • Be friendly! The five networking emails I sent before were very matter-of-fact and to the point.  This one had an exclamation point!  This connotates that you are a nice, outgoing person and aren’t just using them for personal gain(even though you absolutely are)!  The  naive enthusiasm that this punctuation symbolizes is endearing and people will be inclined to help you! Also, make a light joke if you feel comfortable, but don’t overdo it! Exclamation point!!!
  • Have a list of prepared questions ready before the interview Don’t wing it, otherwise you’ll look like an unprofessional asshole who is wasting a non-asshole’s time.  I was glad I did, because I was a bit nervous talking to someone who charges his time by the minute, and was thus very efficient in his responses.
  • Be gracious. Thank them!  The follow-up email is integral in making a good impression, and shows that yous be a classy fellow.
  • Taken total control of the interview from the start I realized that the people you’re contacting are just as clueless about networking as you are. We just assume that real grown-ups know how this works, and so they’ll guide us through the bizarre process, like our college advisors did, but that is E-RRON-EOUS.  It’s entirely up to you to get the results you want from this connection.
  • Made sure my contact knew who the hell I was We exchanged a couple emails before I called him, but I never sent him my resume, which would have effectively told him about myself.  On the phone, I pretty much said, “I LIKE LAW LMAO!” Mid-convo, he stopped and said, “Can I ask what you majored in?” Yes you can, sir.  Incompetency and humiliation.
  • Not babbled! ‘Nuff said.
  • Grown a pair–asked the questions that I want ed to ask When push came to shove, I couldn’t ask the one fairly innocuous question that would’ve maybe led to a job offer.  “What’s a good introduction to the legal profession for someone who’s on the fence about it?”  Totally harmless, but I still couldn’t do it.  As a result, I hung up with the lawyer and immediately wailed to a friend about my dissatisfaction with the interview.
  • Take

  • total control of the interview from the start. I realized that the people you’re contacting are just as clueless about it as you are. We just assume that real grown-ups know how this works, and so they’ll guide us through this bizarre process, like our college advisors did, but this is E-RRON-EOUS!  It’s entirely up to you to get the results you want from this connection.
  • Make sure your contact knows who the hell you are. We exchanged a couple emails before I called him, but I never sent him my resume, which would have effectively told him about myself.  On the phone, I pretty much said, “I LIKE LAW LMAO!” Mid-convo, he stopped and said, “Can I ask what you majored in?” Yes you can, sir.  Incompetency and humiliation.
  • Don’t babble! ‘Nuff said.
  • Grow a pair-ask all the questions you want. When push came to shove, I couldn’t ask the one fairly innocuous question that would maybe lead to a job offer.

Put down the Cheetos, and put on some pants: How to get out of a rut

23 Mar

Freedom.

No matter how big or small they are, having commitments gives “liberal artists” a sense of meaning and accomplishment.  At college, we’re busy with work, papers, clubs, etc.  That all mattered to us, and in turn made us matter to others.  As graduation loomed, we reacted with glee as we contemplated a future free of all-nighters at the library and late shifts in the student union.  “Oh squeee! No more! ZOMG yaaaaaay!”  we thought while we had a dance party to the 32 second chorus of George Michael’s Freedom (yes, just the chorus, because I suspect the rest of the song is about his homosexuality and NOT freedom).

Without those occasionally pesky obligations we’re used to, the steady routine that you probably donned real, non-stretchy pants for every morning gets cast into a nebulous galaxy of cheetos and Hulu.com.  However satiating it may be, this holds a rather sobering experience; for 14 years of our academic lives, we’ve been accountable to others or else faced the repercussions.  Now, no one cares if we continue to messily munch and watch online tv except Chester Cheetah and the ad execs at Hulu.   Sad face, seriously.

To put it bluntly, how do you make your life matter again?  Or will you forever be watching Arrested Development online until you die from cheese dust inhalation?

HARK! THERE IS A SOLUTION: hold yourself accountable.  Only you can get yourself out a rut, so it’s time to act like grown-up and implement habits that will also carry over into your career.  Start by putting on some friggin’ pants, and not the kind with a drawstring.  Looking the part of someone who’s got their shit together will allow you to grab life by its testicles, hard. Begin each day with at least one goal you’re going to accomplish, and then do it.  These tasks don’t have to come anywhere near the level of commitments we had in school, but on the flipside, don’t make it an obligation to watch 3 hours of tv.  Tell yourself you’re going to read a new book, go to the gym, reorganize your closet, apply to a job, volunteer at the nursing home, literally ANYTHING.

By giving yourself goals and then adhering to them, you’re not only regaining that sense of meaning and routine, you’ll become an asset in the office.  You’ll know how to work towards the company mission, and what employer wouldn’t love that?