Invisible Disabilities, Diversity

Why Research Invisible Disabilities?

I remember talking to friends I had known for years and hinting or telling them about my depression, only to get the response, “But you’re so happy!”

I’ve been living with an invisible disability for what feels like a hundred years.  While living with an observable disability comes with massive burdens, invisible disabilities (IDs) present their own issues for sufferers.  IDs can be crippling for anyone trying to take part in normal society.

Earlier this year I had a sudden exit from a relationship and was struggling at my full-time job.  In a moment of boldness/weakness, I reached out to one of my safe women’s communities online to see if anyone else was feeling like I was.  That turned into informal interviews, which snowballed into more formal interviews.  That all resulted in a proposal to the Grace Hopper Celebration about Invisible Disabilities, women, and careers.  There were a lot of similarities, but the most glaring is that this is a tough topic to talk about and is often overlooked because often the symptoms are ‘invisible’.

Each story I receive reminds me that I’m not alone.  And every time I tell my own story, I heal just a little more and become stronger.

The goal of this project is to put a voice to the struggles of professional women with invisible disabilities.  Around 10% of the population suffers from them (https://www.disabled-world.com/disability/types/invisible/), meaning there are plenty of stories, plenty of data, and plenty of room for progress.  The more voices are heard about the subject, the closer we will become to a society that accommodates the real-life struggle of invisible disabilities.

Want to get stronger by adding your story to the research?  Even if you choose to remain anonymous, having your story added to the research will get us all that much closer to mass awareness and understanding.  Fill out the form below.

#InvisiblyDisabledLooksLike, #WomenInTech, #WomenInBusiness
 

Diversity, career

#ASK for your participation, ladies!

I recently left my 9-to-5 job and am picking up some research on #invisibledisability for #womenintech and #womeninbusiness that I starter earlier this year. Previously some wonderful woman participated in conversations about their life, work, and how the disability impacted them.

I am seeking women to participate in this survey: 

https://goo.gl/forms/S5eAL2cXXxgJPabt2

If you feel like you fit in with the research or are open to sharing it I would GREATLY appreciate it - looking to get 100 women to share their experiences by the end of the year!

Diversity, career

Panel on #Disability and #Success in the Workplace, Berkeley College NYC

**Start at minute 34**

I was honored to be a part of Berkeley College's "“Work Matters for All: Personal Stories of Disability and Professional Success” panel.  I, alongside three other wonderful individuals, were able to share our unique achievements and challenges, resources and support systems, and give advice for developing professional skills and pursuing dream-worthy career goals.

In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Berkeley College will host a special panel discussion in Manhattan, NY, on October 18, 2017, that spotlights individuals with learning, physical and mental health disabilities who succeed in a range of professional fields, including legal studies, journalism, human services, and workplace management.

Diversity, career, HR

#WomenColorTech at Microsoft

 Agenda and list of speakers for the evening. 

Agenda and list of speakers for the evening. 

Before: Pleasantly surprised at both the turnout and the makeup of the audience. This is the first diversity event dominated by a diverse group of attendees. Also the first diversity related event in which there seem to be more corporate than startup. 

During:

- "diversity is super profitable."
- No pomp and circumstance, getting right into the speakers and the meat of the event.
- First all black panel I've seen. Badass.
- Barabino: personal, professional, and STEM identity
- "You're going to be a great CTO. And you're going to be a great mom" - Minerva Tantoco (twitter

Overall: Very strong event around diversity and women of color in tech. Microsoft partnered with Startup52 brought together insightful and bold panelists and speakers who weren't afraid to give some real talk about problems, solutions, and how they've been affected as women in STEM industries. 


HR, career, jobs

Salary is more than just your Paycheck

There’s more to a salary than just a paycheck. Often perks and benefits are better than cash (and are generally tax-free).   Yes, the idea of another zero on the end of your salary is great, but company perks add great value to day-to-day life and ultimately lead to a huge difference in employee retention, productivity, and satisfaction.

One simple example everyone can relate to is lunch.  My estimated savings, because of employer provided catered lunch three days a week, really adds up in more ways than you’d think.

            $15 (daily lunch cost, not including meal & tax)
x              3 (days of the week)
            --------
            $45 (a week)

            $45 (a week)
x            48 (weeks of work)
            -------
            $2,160 (annual lunch cost)

            $2,160 (annual lunch cost)
+          $324 (15% tip for delivery)
            -------
            $2,484 estimated lunch cost

That’s a $2,484 (at minimum) tax-free addition to my salary!

The financial savings is great, but I also don’t have to buy as many groceries and deal with uneaten leftovers.  I no longer have to worry about planning lunches the night before or preparing something that morning; sleep is VERY important to me, so not having the “what do I make for lunch that’s tasty and healthy” on my mind all night is big relief.

Previous and current work in tech and human resources industries provides insights into the evolution of benefits companies offer.   Often perks are initially overlooked and don’t become part of the conversation until salary negotiations.  Talking about the full package—not just the salary—is something that both businesses and potential employees should discuss as part of the company culture earlier in the interview process.

Every company has their own take on what makes employees happy.  To retain the best talent in a changing and growing workforce means a continual and ongoing development of benefits.  I encourage both sides of the table to begin talking about the whole compensation package—salary, benefits, and perks—sooner can shed a lot of light on how a company treats its employees and how the culture is shaped.

Before and during your job search, think realistically about which perks and benefits would make a significant impact on your day-to-day (or year-to-year) work life!

TL:DR

Think about the bigger picture about how perks and benefits a company offers could impact your life rather than considering a new role based on salary alone.

Some fantastic perks and benefits might include:

  • in office kegs and other free alcohol
  • pet friendly offices
  • remote work
  • ergonomic furniture
  • couches and other non-desk work areas
  • sabbaticals
  • educational reimbursement
  • free food and snacks
  • and more!
  • Paid vacation time
  • flexible work schedule
  • pre-tax transit benefits
  • healthcare, dental, and vision, benefits
  • company swag
  • company events
  • gym memberships & discounts
  • cell phone reimbursement
  • paid paternity and maternity leave

 

jobs, life lessons, career

Hackathon Wisdom for a Non-Coder

In late April I volunteered for an all female hackathon--#SheHacksNYC**-- sponsored by Monarq at Trello's lofty offices in the Financial District, NYC.  Over 30 women had submitted project ideas, teams were created, and by Friday evening the women were grouped and talking shop.

I am a not a coder. I'm a trained painter, Stage Manager, and English teacher to small children. While I love and work in tech, my coding skills are limited to 8th grade HTML.

That weekend and these women have been inspiring.  I'm blown away with what they created and the lessons I'm bringing into my life.  Here are five key takeaways for a non-coder from a hackathon.

 Friday late night

Friday late night

CINCO*: You don't have to understand the tech to get the concepts.  I'm only beginning to learn about APIs, full stack, tech-speak, and new coding languages.  But each moment I realize that I don't have to understand the technology to get the ideas and concepts.  These women are passionate, idea-filled, and conscious that their audience isn't always a coder.  This hackathon considered the importance of all sides of a new product including coding, marketing, design, business development, and pitching to potential clients and investors.

CUATRO*: Everyone is interesting.  Everyone has a story to tell. I heard about new projects being working after the traditional 9-5 work hours.  I heard tales about leaving multi-decade professions to pursue passions. It's been a joy and a privilege to listen to these women. Their stories have inspired me to get off my butt to take further actions on my goals.

 Coffee orders on plates

Coffee orders on plates

TRES*: Simple gestures matter. I learned how and made many rounds of cappuccinos, lattes, and espressos this weekend. Beginning with the personal interaction of asking for orders and ending with a hot coffee delivery, my fellow barista extraordinaire Lydia and I fulfilled on caffeine promises. These women were unreasonably grateful not just the coffee but also the recognition of a need (the caffeine) and the follow-up ask.  Simple gestures matter.   Those gestures make a difference in that moment and moments add up fast.

 Teams working to finalize presentations on Sunday morning

Teams working to finalize presentations on Sunday morning

DOS*: I could be a coder. I could learn and start working with a new career path in mind. I could be a designer. I could pick up Adobe Creative Suite or balsamiq. With passion, I could do just about any damn thing I want. The diversity of "how I got here stories" provides a wealth of future possibilities for those who are truly listening. No ceilings. No limits. There is no stopping me (or you)!  How exciting is that?

UNO*: A group of women working together--even if on separate projects-- is a powerhouse of potential. This was my first female-only tech event (except for some exceptional male mentors). This experience has far exceeded my expectations. Women, when brought together in a challenge like a hackathon, are a force to be reckoned with.

*At the hackathon we found that counting down backward in Spanish tends to be an effective tool to gaining the others attention. 

** #SheHacksNYC is hosting their second all-female hackathon this October.  Please find more information at shehacksnyc.splashthat.com

 The teams working hard at Trello's office

The teams working hard at Trello's office

HR, internships

Do I Have to Pay Interns? (You Should.)

This is the fourth installment in a five part series about how to cultivate excellent interns.

Do I have to pay interns?

The payment of interns is an ongoing debate and a contested issue.  There are many types of internships, with different genres and sizes of companies with varying degrees of hands-on, real world experience.  The variance makes it difficult give a simple answer to this question.  Legally, the government states what determines whether the interns must be paid wages.

All companies should respond, “YES! Pay them! Interns are awesome!”  But that’s not always an option.  Are you a small company or a bootstrapping startup?  Are finances keeping the office on a tight budget yet there is much to be done, many hats to wear, a multitude of areas to learn in, and a busy but personable environment?

I’m biased on this topic. The programs I’ve developed and managed have been while working with startups.  Whether an internship is paid, unpaid, or stipend based, a program should include all of the following:

  • Hands on work that interests and stimulates the intern
  • An office space that’s not physically isolated
  • Integration of interns with team lunches, active participation in meetings to learn and observe, and encouragement to freely contribute ideas, thoughts, and suggestions
  • A relaxed environment where they feel comfortable talk to other employees
  • An effort to make sure interns feel valuable to the company while also finding worth in their experiences
  • End of program evaluations reviewing the outcomes of their work, the skills they demonstrated and strengthened, and how they enhanced the work of the organization

Does a company have to pay interns?  No.  Should a company pay interns?  Heck yes.  Anyone contributing to your company should be fairly compensated in some capacity.  With a well run internship program, Interns help to strengthen skills of current employees and add positively to company culture. 

The fifth installment of “5 Questions to Cultivate Excellent Interns” will outline how and what to look for in interns to ensure they’ll contribute to your company in a productive and engaging manner.

life lessons

How Toilet Training My Cat Made Me A Better Person

Originally posted on Buzzfeed

Life Lessons From Toilet Training A Cat

I live in a two-bedroom apartment in New York City where the bathroom window opens to an airshaft. I have a cat, Niko. Therefore, I had a litter box. The combination of the litter box and no fresh air was truly horrific. One day, my mother sent me a link to CitiKitty and said “Wouldn’t this be great for Niko!”

Well, anything was better than the status quo, so the training began. It was entertaining, frustrating, and involved a lot of vacuuming of excess litter during the training process, and the whole thing was a great learning experience for us both.

 Niko and his Toilet

Niko and his Toilet

Challenge Yourself to Make That “Smelly” Situation Better

Toilet training my cat was a result of necessity. My quiet literal “smelly situation” needed to end and I took action. A simple purchase click of the CitiKitty kit and there was hope for a better situation by challenging the cat, my New York life, and me.

Niko was quite open to the new litter contraption. For the 6 weeks where the litter tray resided on my toilet there was much cheering and positivity. The cat was succeeding! I was still cleaning clumps from a tray, but hey, it was all flushable contents!

By the end, Niko was toilet ready each and every time. I took initiative to make a smelly situation better and into one where everyone’s quality of life is better. It doesn’t get much more amazing in my crazy cat lady book!

Take Enjoyment Out of the Little Things in Life

Every time Niko pees or poops I have one or more reactions:

Giggle. Laugh. Point and Laugh. Or saying, “HEY LOOK AT MY CAT ON THE TOILET!”

It reminds me that each and every day awesome events are all around us. Toilet training Niko (and the comedic aftermath) has had a profound effect on my enjoyment of life with a ‘stop and smell the flowers’ mentality.

nikolikestokeepclean

Everyone Likes an Interesting Conversation Starter

Many don’t believe me that my cat uses the toilet (thank you, video function on my phone for allowing proof at all times), but boy is it a great conversation starter. There are volumes written about the best way to begin chatting with someone you don’t know. Niko has provided me a great intro to a conversation, it is important to find (or take action) to find yours!

jobs, career, internships

An Unexpectedly Empowering Conversation with an Intern.

Today I had an unexpectedly empowering conversation with an intern.

She, lets call her Jane, contacted me a week earlier over Eko messenger and said, “I don't feel like I’m a good fit here.”  When asked about specific concerns that could be addressed in that moment, she deferred, asking to wait to talk in person.  I made an active choice not to read anything into Jane’s comments and to wait (albeit anxiously) for our in-person meeting the following week.

Seated in a small private conference room, I inquired what was on her mind, asking Jane to be as forthright as possible.  She brought up issues of compensation, not feeling comfortable with the possibility of other interns being compensated differently, and the lack of communication between the interns themselves about the topic of compensation.

The discussion of these topics did not catch me off guard.  What was surprising is the fact that of all my interns Jane was the one to address the subject directly. Jane is very productive and an active member of our intern community but her interactions with our full time staff members and me had been minimal and timid.

 

Pride and openness were my initial reaction to her comments.

 

I told her that whether or not this conversatio­n ends with achieving her desired outcomes, it is extraordinarily important that she advocated on her own behalf.  I told her how proud I was of her candor and ability to approach me directly.  She nodded and verbalized understanding while I underscored the importance of this skill, especially as a female, a millennial, and a woman working in the tech industry, and that a conversation is a great place to start.

 

“I shouldn’t be guilty for asking for more money, should I?” she asked.

 

I responded with a resounding no, also acknowledging that when asking for a raise or promotion, it is important to support the “why” with reasoning (the Human Resources side of me went into coaching mode).  After reviewing her current compensation and her ideal compensation, we left the conversation as ‘to be continued’ pending a conversation with my managers.

After the meeting, I walked back to my desk feeling proud and excited on Jane’s behalf.  She was comfortable enough with me as her manager to ask for a conversation and to speak candidly.  Jane asked questions seeking information, not just answers.  Most importantly, she took her life and career into her own hands for the better.

I am part of Jane’s career path and have cultivated an environment where her success is possible.  This conversation is part of both Jane and my accomplishments, present and future.

Through one conversation, Jane inspired me to do more and to be better.  Through one conversation she empowered herself and her future.

jobs, career

5 Questions to Cultivate Excellent­­ Interns: Part 3

This is the third installment in a five part series of how to cultivate excellent interns.

What does it takes to find an intern who’s a good fit and is interested in your company?

 

Persistence

nevergiveup

You’ll post the identical job description in 10-20 places and realize a grammatical error needs to be fixed.  Or part of the description needs to be altered.  Make changes on all postings and know it won’t be the last time changes need to be made.

Much like life, many factors affect the applicant pool.  Big factors like paying job vs. (unpaid or stipend) internship, graduate or current student, location of internship, and accessibility of posting greatly affect your applications outcomes.  The best job ads, best interviewers, best company to work for doesn’t always mean that the best interns apply.  Excellent internship programs take time and persistence.

 

Humor

resume

There will be poor quality applications that provoke a “what were they thinking!?” response.  There will be unprepared interviewees who stumble through.  As the interviewer you smile politely (for your own sanity) and conduct a shorter interview.  Do not let an unqualified interviewee throw off your game.  Find clues from the application process that might improve the pre-interview candidate review in the future.

On the first day of an internship, often interns won’t have the right paperwork or will ask endless questions (that you’ve already answered).  Dumfounded looks, insecurity, and lack of awareness pepper those first weeks.  Remember, interns have a lot to learn.  Being armed with a sense of humor is the best way to diffuse various scenarios before they become more complicated situations.


Mistakes and Growth

mistakesandgrowth

As the company’s needs change so will the intern program.  Adapt job ads, modify the interview process, and evaluate placement of job ads.  Office changes like modification to seating arrangements or creating more meeting spaces for the interns can quickly show new productivity results.

Find the practices that work best for the company; don’t be afraid to change the program as frequently as needed.  The number of quality interns working for your company will increase as awareness of the program and company’s needs grow.

 

Interns bring passion, engaged interest, and fresh perspectives to any workplace.  Finding an intern who is a good fit for your company is a worthwhile mission.

The fourth installment of “5 Questions to Cultivate Excellent Interns” will focus on paid vs. unpaid internships.

career, jobs

5 Questions to Cultivate Excellent­­ Interns: Part 2

This is the second installment in a five part series on how to cultivate excellent interns.

How Do You Find an Intern?

Finding interns can be a daunting task.  Don’t have preconceived notions about where to advertise internship openings. Networking, contacting colleges, universities, and taking advantage of the social and digital space will begin the intern hiring process.

 

 Interns at Eko Communications networking and mingling with the WeWork staff at a launch event

Interns at Eko Communications networking and mingling with the WeWork staff at a launch event

Networking: Talk with friends, family, and colleagues about internships they’ve had or companies they’ve heard have great intern programs.  Contact individuals in charge of the intern programs.  Have a conversation about how they find excellent interns and continually develop a successful program. Work with an intern consulting company who specializes in finding interns and development of intern programs.  Check out intern-based meetups or ones targeted at HR professionals (even if you aren’t HR). Create lines of open communication with previous intern experts.

 

 Representing Eko Communications at NYU Wasserman Spring 2015 Advertising, PR & Communications Industry Expo.  I was giving away stickers of stickers that our interns have created

Representing Eko Communications at NYU Wasserman Spring 2015 Advertising, PR & Communications Industry Expo.  I was giving away stickers of stickers that our interns have created

Colleges and Universities: Hang catchy, colorful posters in high-traffic areas often used by students (think mailrooms and dining halls).  Post job ads online with college career centers.  Contact faculty and department chairs; they regularly interact and directly advocate on the behalf of their students.  Sign up to be an employer who recruits at internship and job fairs.  Ask to speak at student events and attends special campus events.  It is important not to limit the postings to one college or university.  Diversify the types, locations, and size of schools where internship ads are posted.

 

Social and Digital: Post ads online on internship websites like Internships.com, Freelanship.com, and other job board websites. Even craigslist can be a great place to advertise to pull in a more diverse set of applicants.  Tweet from your company (or personal) account, post on Facebook or company Facebook pages, and always write about openings on LinkedIn.  Be aware many digital sites have a fee associated with an internship job posting.

 

With the social connectedness of today’s society and job market, finding a multitude of interns isn’t difficult.  If struggling with getting applicants, readjust job descriptions and where they are posted. There are quality, motivated intern candidates everywhere!

The third installment of “5 Questions to Cultivate Excellent Interns” will outline what it takes to find interns who are a good fit for your company’s culture, mission, and objectives.

career, jobs

5 Questions to Cultivate Excellent Interns: Part 1

This is the first installment in a five part series of how to cultivate excellent interns

 Why Interns?

“Why do we want an intern program?” is the most important question to ask before developing one.  Defining how interns will help bring company success while simultaneously engaging them in new learning experiences will lead the way to an accomplished and successful program.

 

Company Benefits

Employees get a new challenge with the opportunity to directly mentor and have an important impact on growing minds.  Happy interns are advocates for your company and its mission.

 

Fresh Perspectives

freshperspectives

Interns bring new ideas, modern and updated perspectives on old and outdated routines.  This benefits employees by improving skills and awareness of new technologies and practices. Interns are often students or fresh out of college, they are filled with knowledge and ideas waiting to be put to use.

 

“Real World” Education

Giving back by providing a “real world” education is rewarding in a number of ways.  Allowing an intern a glimpse into the boardroom, cubical, or tech startup allows them to make better choices for themselves in the future.  Helping them to figure out an area of interest to pursue powerfully affects interns’ future and those in it.  Lessons about deadlines, networking, and hard work are invaluable for any direction they may choose.

 

New Hires

New Hires

Often overlooked but a very important aspect of internships is a chance to test-drive a new hire.  While this could seem selfish, the intern should also be trying out your company.  Interns are a great way to network with new groups of people, organizations, and colleges and universities.

 

Employee Training

Higher-level employees have a chance to manage and engage a new generation, which improves management skills.  Human Resources gets a chance to interview more, learning about the best ways to present the positions available, talk about culture, and gather more information about how the hire a new generation of employees.

 

Why interns?  In short, interns benefit employers of all sizes.  They help to bolster and augment skills of current employees.  With high expectations, internships create win-win situations for all parties involved.  If this all makes sense, the real question is, Why not interns?

arts, career, jobs

How A Broadway Musical Can Get You a Job!

Indulge my inner theater geek for a moment and (using headphones) listen to this show-opener song from the Tony award winning musical Avenue Q.  The themes in this song—and the musical in its entirety—express the thoughts and emotions of those graduating from High School, or college, or any other time they’ve felt lost or at an end of an era in their life.  The show and song begins with:

What do you do with a B.A. in English,
What is my life going to be?
Four years of college and plenty of knowledge,
Have earned me this useless degree.

I can't pay the bills yet,
'Cause I have no skills yet,
The world is a big scary place.

But somehow I can't shake,
The feeling I might make,
A difference,
To the human race.

 

The show Avenue Q, both in music and script, is light, bouncy, and humorous creating a conversation about important life challenges.  Like most literary works they can need translation to fully understand the “story behind the story.” The ideas and conversations, when “translated” apply to all areas of education.  So for this moment, this musical theater song is Shakespearian text interpreted from a HR perspective.

 

“What do you do with a B.A. in English,
What is my life going to be?”

“What is my life going to be?” Who will I be when I grow up?” Questions kids, high school students, and especially college graduates ask and continue to be asked throughout life.  Traditional educational standards ask you to define a major at 20 years old to determine a career path for a lifetime.  Graduates have the impression they’re already experts in their field and should continue down that path.

College graduates shouldn’t restrict themselves this way by letting ‘traditional education’ define a life or career path.  Straying from a defined plan can be daunting but use fear of the unknown to propel exploration of other interests and passions. What other areas were interesting in or after school?  Were you involved in the school newspaper? Maybe you created sets for the theater department.  Perhaps working in the local community made life more enjoyable?  Life’s potential is what you make it; look to interests and passions for clues to next steps for post-college life and career choices.

Start or continue figuring out “what your life is going to be” through your interests and passions; confront the fear that changing paths may bring.


“Four years of college and plenty of knowledge,
Have earned me this useless degree.”

Don’t despair! A Bachelors degree appears to have become the equivalent of what a high school diploma used to represent.  Still, new graduates always seem under qualified for all the interesting work opportunities.  Any degree or certification has elements that can be expanded upon once in the workforce.  Be proud of your educational accomplishments, wear them with pride, and find the best means to practice and hone your abilities.

Make your degree work for you!  Extract skills, conceptual ideas, research methods, and problem solving abilities that can be applied in a multidisciplinary context.

“I can't pay the bills yet,
'Cause I have no skills yet,”

There’s plenty one can do with a B.A. in English, or any other degree; the biggest challenge recent graduates face is how to identify, articulate, and practice transferrable skills gained while getting a degree in a specialized field.  How did working as a group leader for a final class assignment develop project management skills?  Where can one apply the lessons about the value of time, deadlines, and effective communication learned from writing for the school paper?  How can color theory skills best apply to websites, app design, and aid the user experience?  In what ways does a background in psychology lead to a better understanding of human interaction in a workplace?

From previous school and “real life” work, identify transferable skills and abilities you can apply to a variety of environments.

 

“The world is a big scary place.”

Yes, the world can be a big scary place.  In the workforce-job market-business world having the ability to network and process information is key.

There is potential for networking everywhere and in everyone.  Don’t know where to start?  Join meetups or groups with specific interests.  Meeting and connecting with new people becomes a simple social event; don’t worry if they aren’t in your current industry—everyone knows someone else who can help or is in your field of business.

The ability to process, rapidly digest, and understand information is important in any job.  In the Information Age we’re bombarded daily with data, commercials, people, webpages—information is seemingly constant and endless.

 

“The information age has brought the noise of the infinite to us in ways that seem deceptively manageable, but often add to the confusion of our daily lives.  Memory has both evolved and devolved simultaneously. Our ability to receive and assimilate a myriad of information on a constant basis has been enhanced through the Internet, smart phones, and other Wi-Fi connected devices.”

- Steven Pearson, Artist

 

Sorting, digesting, and understanding information is a skill often learned through research and writing papers and should be practiced in everyday personal and professional settings.  This skill allows one to better keep up with trends, current events, and be more knowledgeable in areas of expertise.

It’s important to take time to network for more opportunities and to sort and process an immense amount of information to take away key pieces that enhance skills and performance.

 

“But somehow I can't shake,
The feeling I might make,
A difference,
To the human race.”

Excellent.  Take passion, drive, energy, and channel it into tangible productivity. Maybe a decision didn't go your way or you didn't get that job offer; trace your steps back to what you originally wanted, regroup, and reassess to create a new game plan.

Be passionate, keep fueling the fire, and use that to pave your way.

 

This song and musical resonate with me as I work with the millennial generation.  Armed with a BA degree—a background in fine arts, theater management and Spanish language—I am uniquely prepared.   Figuring out how skills are transferrable to new settings is and continues to be the most difficult yet rewarding process.  As it turns out, a BA degree is a potential ticket to success and equipped with a willingness and excitement to follow your passions, to discover and put transferrable skills to great use in any field!

career

Ways to Impress on Your First Day as an Intern

9.         Be On Time & Prepared
Show up 10-15 minutes early.  There are a lot of factors that go into arriving early.  Attempt a dry run for the commute during similar office hours and the pre-commute routine is all set.

Arrive prepared with all supplies you might need for the first day or the duration of the internship; this may include a computer, notebook & pen, proper identification for any security issues, or paperwork for HR.  If you’re unsure of what to bring contact the person who hired you at least 3 days before the internship start date.

 

8.         Dress Professionally
Ask about dress code well before the start date. Plan to exceed dress code standards.  Aim to always be more professionally dressed than your boss or supervisor.  This doesn't mean one should buy a new wardrobe but is more about awareness of presentation.  While dress code isn’t always a big deal in some office cultures, it’s a great way to make a strong positive impression.  In addition, make sure all articles of clothing are appropriate; if this is a new work environment for you research what is appropriate to wear.



7.         Be Friendly
Make friends with the receptionist(s) or office manager(s).  These are the people who know everyone in the company; secretaries and office managers know employee’s habits, schedules, coffee preferences, and are good resources and friends to have.  Plus, it’s always nice to have someone to smile and chat to on your way in and out of the office.

 

6.         Ask Questions
If there is an orientation, have two or three questions prepared in advance and ready to ask; not all questions need to be asked in a public forum so be aware of which should be asked directly to a supervisor.  Asking questions will make supervisors more aware of your presence and distinguish you from other interns.  Most likely other interns will want similar questions answered and speaking up in a well informed and thought out manner will emphasize leadership capabilities.  This is especially important if you want to take on more responsibility or special projects during the internship.

 

5.         Make Yourself Known
If there is time, reach out to superiors who have already or can possibly have impact on your internship.  Find the person who hired you, whether your direct boss or HR, and thank them for this opportunity.  With sincerity, seek out the CEO or other C-Suite team members and briefly make note about your excitement and readiness to work for the company; this tends to work better in smaller, start up-like companies.

 

4.         Maintain Connections
Ask your supervisor for the names and titles of the top people in your company and in your department.  Find them and connect on LinkedIn with a note in the invitation about being the newest member of the intern team.  Take time to read their profiles, look at their accomplishments, and find connection possibilities to bring up in conversation; this will give you a better perspective on the company and what experiences they value in employees.

 

3.         Start Networking
Ask a potential mentor to lunch or coffee sometime during your first week.  Try to eat lunch with a different person once every week.  Build your network, better understand the different jobs within the company and cultivate a mentor.  Make sure when you ask someone to lunch or coffee you have a list of questions prepared beforehand.

 

2.         Set Goals
Make and update a list of goals for the internship.  As they are accomplished or changed adapt your list.  This becomes a great source of information for reflection, performance review, and resume building at the end of the program.

 

1.         Start & Stay Productive
Set yourself up for a productive internship.  This means smile, work diligently, be friendly, introduce yourself to people you don’t know, volunteer to help out even if it isn’t the most glamorous task, ask many questions and learn as much as possible.  Not sure of the best way to contribute to the company?  Ask your supervisor for a “sit down” meeting early on to discuss in detail ways to enhance your achievements and how to aid in the success of the company.  

5 Simple Steps to go from a Chatty to Effective Communicator

1.     Write a List or Outline of Topics to Discuss

Before an interview, meeting, chat with mentor or mentee, HR talks, or any type of business-related conversation it’s helpful to list or outline key topics to be discussed.  This helps build time management skills and keeps tangential ideas in your head.  For interviews this is an excellent means for both parties to make sure all topics are addressed.  Lists and outlines are great positive reminders of skills, stories, or practiced responses--like a response to important questions like: “What is your biggest weakness.  I always make a positive note about applicants who bring prepared notes and questions to an interview.  It shows that they’re serious about the position, organized, and have thought about the role and company beforehand.


2.     Cut Out the First Person Pronouns

In professional writing, cutting out first person pronouns can be difficult.  When writing application materials, such as cover letters, removing the majority of I’s and me’s helps sharpen sentences and diminish superfluous thoughts.  A story, accomplishment, or a topic with personal examples written with minimal first person language can still be discussed; generally first person pronouns aren’t needed to communicate thoughts.

While you want to sell your qualifications, don't forget to explain how you would add value to the company. If your cover letter is dominated with “I,” chances are you need to focus more of your content on the prospective employer.” 

- Career Builder

3.     Deep Breaths

A weakness of mine is the speed of my speech, which leads even the closest of peers to say, “Slow down!” Take the period at the end of a sentence more seriously, try to punctuate every sentence with a breath.  This is an excellent technique (even if you don’t speak at the speed of light) to help de-stress, maintain composure, and allows thoughts to catch up with what you are saying.  Before anything nerve-wracking take a couple deep breaths to increase a sense of calm.  When you’re steady and poised, it allows for personality, connection, and humor to come through. Having your brain and speech on the same page is vital to keep from rambling or saying too much. 


4.     Practice Beforehand

Practice key talking points in the mirror, to a friend, to your pet goldfish. Rehearsing is reassuring.  Having a checklist of topics, key words, and personal stories written out ahead of time will better embed them in your brain. This doesn’t mean memorize; memorizing will hinder rather than help.  When strictly trying to repeat answers word for word you’ll block any personality and sense of self that should come through.

 


5.     Record Yourself

With smartphones it’s easy to record video or audio; use this technology to your advantage and listen to how you speak.  Do you know how often you use “umm,” “like,” “well” or long pauses?  Are you guilty of saying “literally” or “essentially” without realizing it?  Once errors in speech patterns are recognized, you’ll begin to notice and be more cognizant of them.  As awareness of these oral slip-ups increases you’ll be able to better change speech patterns to remove them from your vocabulary.  Another great self-evaluation technique is to take a video recording of yourself while speaking or presenting.  It also helps to analyze personal body language an important topic that is not often discussed.

Lists, Bullet Points & the Rule of Three: Resume Tip of the Day

I see a lot of resumes every day.

Working in Human Resources, recruiting, and intern programs I receive an average of 15 resumes a day for various roles. Generally I enjoy reviewing resumes; the potential wealth of information about a person that one can can get from a resume is exciting! Maybe it's the HR bug, but the prospect of a new hire or intern creates a positive energy buzz for me (and hopefully my fellow Eko Communications coworkers)!

There I am, all jazzed up to review resumes when simple, basic errors elicit a groan in disbelief. Many resumes that come my way are in need of attention and some quick TLC, so today's topic is "Lists, Bullet Points, & the Rule of Three."

RULE OF THREE

According to our trusty friend Wikipedia:

The rule of three is a writing principle that suggests that things that come in threes are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things. The reader or audience of this form of text is also more likely to consume information if it is written in groups of threes.

I've always been a believer in odd numbers, but for resumes a minimum of three; it might be three bullet points, three skills, three programs used, etc. If you didn't do three things at a job or internship listed on your resume, then it probably shouldn't be on there in the first place.
 

badbullets

An example of a resume with bullet point issues.
Bullet point issues can be easily resolved.


VERBS & TENSES

Since we're on this topic, bullet points should start with verbs. Strong verbs. Powerful verbs. Call-to-action verbs! No verb should be repeated in any bullet point on your resume. Stuck? Lists like "185 Powerful Verbs That Will Make Your Resume Awesome" is a great resource. Still stuck? Click to or grab a thesaurus and branch out your vocabulary.

While wandering through verb-land make sure your tenses are correct. Simply, are you still at the position? Yes? Then all verbs should be in present tense. No? Then all verbs should be in the past tense.

FORMATTING

All bullet points should be aligned at the same indent, be the same size, and be the same font. Simple black bullets, while possibly more on the boring side, fit the bill just fine. Having more than two types or stages of bullet points is excessive, visually unappealing, and often difficult to process. Need more space? In Microsoft Word it is simple to move all of your indents back--it is not necessary to have them indented a half inch or more.

twobullets


(A bit of humor never hurt...)
Leaving one or two bullet points to fend for themselves is never a good idea!


Part of formatting is also making the bullet points consistent in structure and punctuation. If you use a period on one, use a period on all of them. If one starts with a capital letter, they all do. Consistency in formatting shows a level of detail that most employers request in their job ads.

This rule of three is a personal preference stemming from a freshmen english class at McDaniel College and my art background where odd numbers were the right choice and three is the best.

I would love to hear from the LinkedIn community about any bullet point preferences or pet peeves!