All Articles Tagged "career advice"
I’ll admit that I kind of loathe hearing the word regret. In some ways, it feels like a stain on your life you’re unable to remove. While I have mistakes I’ve made along the way, I’d like to think they helped shape me into the person I am today.
At least this is what I tell myself that makes me feel better.
One question I often get asked is whether or not I regret my college degree. Now that might sound odd to some, but it is a serious question when you consider a little over 27 percent of those employed work in a field that uses their college major. If you stop and think about how much that wonderful degree set you back financially, it might make you scratch your head. I don’t want to be one of those people who are so frustrated with life that they actually try to sell their college degree on eBay.
So what degree, pray tell, do I have? Before you roll your eyes, it’s not theater — though I don’t have an issue with anyone who wants to study up on the arts. My bachelor’s is in art history.
Go ahead and gag.
Honestly, I love what I studied and don’t regret my decision. Growing up, I had no idea what I wanted to do — even when I entered college. Eventually I found my path leading down interior design but loathed the thought of studying architecture (it’s really beautiful to study but comes with too much physics and other stuff). Once I transferred back home to the University of Maryland, I found myself circling around the art history building and learning more about the classes. Now writing long papers and doing research might not be your thing, but for the two years I spent all up and through that department, I was in heaven. I guess this is one of the reasons I don’t regret getting my degree.
Do I use my art history degree in my professional endeavors? Nope. It’s one of those degrees that’s not commonly applied like others. I’ve had my fair share of Debbie Downers who called me stupid for getting a “bourgeoisie degree,” but at the end of the day you have to decide what works for you. The point I’m trying to make is that there are in fact college degrees that are more employable than others, but that doesn’t mean you’ll land employment. Heck, becoming a lawyer is one of the “golden opportunities” most of us heard growing up, and those with law degrees find themselves in the unemployment line — now more than ever.
Nothing in life is foolproof — including a college degree.
For whatever reason you might decide down the road to pursue a new passion that conflicts with your college major, and that’s OK. Sometimes it will require you going back to school, while other times you might be able to use your current experiences to get you where you need to go. Yes, I do have an art history degree, but I was able to find my passion and voice in the world of writing that led to wonderful freelance opportunities. I just recently inked a full-time position on the editorial team of a top parenting website…and that’s with an art history degree.
Sure you can’t decide to become a surgeon without having the proper credentials and education, but it’s not always like that with every job. The best thing you can do is be thankful for what you have and make it work to the best of your ability.
Do you regret your college degree?
I know what you’re probably thinking: Life is too short not to make it rain from time to time. You can do what you want, but as for myself, I can’t take money that’s not mine.
I know, I know, life isn’t fair and us common folks are often the ones to have to pay for all the craziness. Yes, it’s true much of the wealthy do fatten their wallets from our hard labor, but I’m not talking about that (we can save that for another day). I’m talking about the company that employs you overpaying you by accident. Would you keep the money and play dumb if they eventually found out, or fess up immediately?
I found myself in this very situation a few days ago when a company I used to write for paid me more than the invoice I sent them. You know how you find yourself doing a happy dance at the thought of getting paid? Well imagine that times a few extra levels as I was surprised to see thousands more in my account.
“Is this a going away bonus?” I asked myself. Side note: I was offered full-time employment with one of the companies I freelance for that would make writing for said “generous” company a no-no.
Seeing as I checked my email in the wee hours of the morning (having a two-month-old to nurse will do that to ya), I had to wipe the sleep from my eyes to make sure my mind wasn’t playing tricks on me. It wasn’t. There in my bank account was a hefty direct deposit that made me want to dig out my pimp hat, queue up The O’Jays song “For the Love of Money” and strut in my pajamas.
Then, reality set in.
“You know you didn’t earn this,” my inner angel told myself. It’s true, I did work hard but didn’t write enough to command all of that extra cash I was seeing in my bank account. “It’s their fault, who’s gonna know?” asked the little devil on my shoulder.
In life, you have two choices: Do the right thing or make the wrong decision. I chose to do the right thing.
No matter how awesome the extra money would’ve been, it wouldn’t be honest or professional of me to keep. Plus, can you imagine how damaging the blow-back would be to my business relationship with the company — assuming I ever wanted to come back? There’s a pretty good chance the person who made the error is going to get spoken to (maybe even fired for their mistake), but the last thing I need is a corporation coming for me because I kept money that wasn’t mine. And so I feel confident that speaking up and giving the money back was the right decision. Do you agree?
Have you ever been in this situation? If so, what did you do, and what was the outcome?
Do you want a spatula to help pry that egg off your face?
Folks better learn quick that foolish behavior comes to light and won’t be tolerated in the world of business. Just ask Donald Trump as he, once again, is making headlines for all the wrong reasons. The presidential hopeful was nothing short of entertaining during the GOP presidential debate, but it’s what the Don posted on his social media that has folks buzzing.
Now let me save you the trouble of scrolling through all the retweets this man decided to send past the midnight hour.
He called debate moderator and FOX News commentator Megyn Kelly a bimbo.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2015
In case you’re wondering why Trump came for Megyn (I understand if you had better things to do with your time than watch these Republican candidates go back and forth), she asked The Celebrity Apprentice creator why he has referred to women he doesn’t like as “disgusting animals,” “slobs” and “fat pigs.” His response? “Only Rosie O’Donnell.”
Now I understand wanting to step out from the crowd — and even saying things for shock value — but this has got to stop. At a certain point, you will get called on your BS. People who were once in your corner will be forced to distance themselves from you. While the GOP presidential debate brought in huge numbers for FOX News, some believe Trump lost steam with his sexist comments.
Sooner or later, your lack of professionalism will catch up with you. Have you ever been witness to karma coming back on someone in the workplace?
I can recall this nasty co-worker who was so vile, you had to question whether or not she slept with the boss to get the job. The least social around the office, whenever she did say something, it typically was nothing nice. In fact, she had no problem putting people in their place and giving her two cents where it wasn’t needed. You know how people tell you to stay away from controversial topics like race and religion in the workplace? Yeah, she didn’t really get that memo. I will never forget one argument she had with a colleague about how unfair it was for him to constantly take breaks to pray (he was Muslim) when she wanted to smoke a cigarette.
As you would expect, quite a few people had issues with her behavior and reported her. There were even some who took it upon themselves to challenge her and it didn’t end well. One thing I learned from that experience is to not to stoop to someone’s level. Even if they look like the boss’ pet, sooner or later, they’re gonna get what’s coming to them.
Not only did this woman get fired, but she was practically humiliated when it happened. I guess our manager at the time got tired of hearing the same old stuff before he sent her on her way. “And don’t you think about collecting unemployment!” he shouted. “You’re a** deserves no assistance.” Side note: Guess who took her place? The Muslim she complained about. Smoke on that.
One thing I constantly try to remind myself is the importance of maintaining my professionalism. After all, no one else represents my personal brand but me. Yes, people’s comments can piss me off, but it’s ultimately up to me to do my best and not retaliate…at least not in the public eye (kidding). There really is no point in going toe-to-toe with someone who clearly has lost their mind.
Sometimes it’s best to sit back, relax and enjoy the drama.
What’s the point of working on your resume, getting a stylish outfit and heading off to a job interview if you aren’t going to get the position? You might think this is a silly question but folks can get in their feelings after so many rejections. That’s why hearing “you’re hired” is music to your ears.
Now that you have a fresh job offer on the table, you’re probably thinking about how you’re going to quit your job. Will you give the finger, leave quietly, or do backflips to the front door? Hopefully you wait to do any of the above, lest an unexpected situation arise: The position you thought you were getting is no longer available.
Say what now?
Companies have been known to do this. Whether they unexpectedly run out of funding to make room for you, or work things out with the person they tried to replace, a rescinded job offer is an extremely painful blow. Even if you signed an employment contract, most businesses will treat you as an employee at will — and still have the power to boot you when they feel like it. While there might be little you can do to salvage your position, here are some tips that might help to provide clarity on your next course of action.
Ask why. Now is the time to ask questions, but make sure you do so in a professional manner. There’s nothing wrong with trying to figure out what went wrong. Did they run out of money? Are they taking a turn in a different direction? Were you not the candidate they wanted? Hopefully you’ll get a response, as companies aren’t exactly obligated to give the tea.
Think hard about job discrimination. There’s a big difference between being black and not getting a job, and taking a virtual job interview, getting hired and having the position rescinded because they saw your LinkedIn picture. Or maybe you were pregnant and no one noticed until right before your official start date. Yes, it’s hard to prove job discrimination, but is still an option to consider — if you truly feel that’s what happened and aren’t just in your feelings. The U.S. Department of Labor has the rundown on Equal Employment Opportunity laws that protect you from job discrimination. Read up to see if any situations apply to you.
Ask for a refund. Just because this business said no thanks to your skills doesn’t mean they’re off the hook for any expenses you had to cough up in order to get the position. Kindly remind them how much you paid (and they approved) for you to relocate to take the job, as well as any other related expenses. If they want to act like they don’t understand your English, lawyer up. In addition to approved expenses that were paid, those who were promised a signing bonus for taking the position also need to inquire about the funds.
Ask for assistance. If you were supposed to be employed with this company and things fell through, see if they’re willing to allow you to collect unemployment benefits. After all, it’s the least they can do considering they dropped this bomb in your lap. If that doesn’t work, inquire about a possible severance package — even if it’s only for a week or two (e.g. paid vacation). You won’t know your options until you open your mouth.
Consider waiting. This can be good news depending on how you look at things. If a company’s reason for not immediately hiring you is because of budget, see if they’re willing to give you the job in a few months. Sure this isn’t the most ideal situation, but if it means you get the job, you might want to think about it.
Rely on your funds. Can you see why emergency savings and other streams of cash are important? You never know when you’ll find yourself trying to endure difficult times. Until you find another position, do your best to hold yourself over and pay bills.
Inquire about your previous job. Ain’t nothing wrong with checking in with your last employer. One can only hope you knew the do’s and don’ts to quitting a job — and actually did the right thing. This might make it easier to get your old position.
Learn for next time. Now that you know how the game is played, help protect yourself from future burns. It’s important to get the stipulations of you taking a job in writing once an offer is on the table. You want to include things like reimbursement should things take a turn for the worst.
Has something like this ever happened to you? If so, what did you do?
Ah, it’s the million dollar question that isn’t as straightforward as you’d think.
One of the perks of living in a modern world is the ever-changing technology that makes things like telecommuting a reality. Because of this, the traditional 9-5 gig has received a much needed revamp that helps make things more flexible. With so many opportunities now at our fingertips, you have to wonder if it’s even worth it to work for just one company.
Many choose to indulge in the world of freelancing, and for good reason. For starters, it helps pad your wallet. In certain cases, you might earn more as a contractor or freelancer because you technically aren’t an employee of the company. Freelancing jobs are also on the rise, with an estimated 1 in 3 Americans calling it their full-time gig.
Unlike a traditional job, you have certain perks or freedoms with freelancing. Sure you need to check in with an employee or boss of the company that’s in contract with you, but you don’t have to worry about things like taking time off as much as someone on regular payroll. The hours that you work can also be more flexible as you can burn the midnight oil or get a few things done over the weekend should you want to take a day to yourself during regular business hours.
As you can see, there are tons of benefits with non-traditional work, but that doesn’t mean it’s best for everyone.
Many professionals work as staff employees for stability and company benefits — like medical insurance and a 401K. You have access to paid time off that removes the need to work like a dog so you can earn coins while away. There’s also no need to try and keep up with so many gigs in order to create the income you want. And let’s not forget that pesky self-employment tax no one ever wants to pay.
What about company layoffs you ask? Yes you can get laid off, anyone can, but at least as a regular employee you can potentially collect unemployment benefits — something that’s not afforded to a freelancer.
I’ve been freelancing steadily for a few years now and use the money I earn to help fund my own endeavors. It also happens to be a pleasant outlet to express myself on different platforms which I otherwise would not be able to do working for one company. But no matter how much I enjoy freelancing, there’s always that little voice in my head that makes me question whether or not I should take a staff position. My answer in the past has always been no out of fear I would be the last one in and first one out the door should a company need to downsize. Then I remind myself of all the folks I know — including myself when I first started — that hopped between gigs to make ends meet. There’s no guarantee you’ll have work or stay employed as a freelancer. As with any job, it’s a risk you have to take.
Now that I have kids (two children under two), I’ve been thinking more about my end game. Sure freelancing is great now, but will it be lucrative in say five years, or a decade? Will I still enjoy the same fruits of my labor down the road, or will I need to start over? There are some professionals I know who’ve seen decades of success in a freelancing capacity, while others use it as a stepping stone to land a nice position at a company that would’ve taken more time to obtain if they didn’t have working experience.
I guess the choice is up to you.
Are you for freelancing or being a staff employee?
I’m all for standing up for yourself in the workplace, as it often is a battleground. If you don’t say anything, people will either run over you — or forget you’re even there. It’s quite annoying to be seen and not heard. On the flip side of things, too much of a sound-off can be counterproductive.
Maybe it’s the Virgo in me or how I was raised, but I always feel the need to prove a point. My point. It’s not that I’m trying to be combative, but sometimes I don’t feel like people get the point I want to make. Then there are occasions when I feel certain behavior is intentional and directed towards me in a negative way — which, of course, puts me on the defense faster than Kanye West at an awards ceremony. However, I learned the importance of shutting up real quick after a buddy of mine at work got fired.
Several years back, I worked in an office environment that had tons of personalities and characters, to say the least. Thankfully I met a colleague who has become a close friend of mine over the years. She was fierce, determined and had no problem letting folks know when they stepped out of line. By the way, she wasn’t the boss.
No matter how big or small the misunderstanding was, homegirl always let you know how she felt — including the manager. While it was funny to sit back and watch her handle business, deep inside, I knew she was making a ballsy choice. Needless to say, she was shown the door after a few “professional altercations.”
So what does this mean? You can’t stand up for yourself in the workplace without the fear of being fired? Yes and no.
There’s a pretty big difference between sticking up for yourself and stroking your ego. If you always find yourself in the middle of office drama that involves you and your mouth, it’s probably a good idea to start questioning if the arguments you’re having are even worth it. A pretty good sign of maturity is a person’s ability to let things roll off of their back. Does this mean you’ve automatically become a doormat for others to step on when they please? No. By holding your tongue, you let those jokers around your office know you won’t stoop to their level and their antics aren’t noticed. Nothing can piss someone off quite like being ignored.
In the same breath, it’s just as important to not become a pest just because you need to feel right. Those who are constantly correcting someone’s emails due to grammatical errors and who are quick to say “I told you so” probably aren’t going to be first pick at the corporate kickball game — let alone for a promotion. In fact, it can get downright annoying to the point of a boss saying “Thanks, but no thanks” to your contributions. This is why it’s so necessary to pick and choose your battles. There will be some things you need to “sacrifice” in order to see the bigger picture.
How do you handle the need to be right? Can you chill from time to time, or do you find it necessary to constantly argue your point?
As much as you might love the idea of bonding with your fellow co-workers, there are some with no chill that make this a very difficult endeavor. Some people know how to push buttons and do everything in their power to get you to react.
A workplace doesn’t have to be a site for socializing (after all, you do need to work) but it shouldn’t turn into a battleground where everyone is constantly trying to knock out their colleagues either. Healthy competition is good but not full-blown feuds. I don’t know about you, but when it comes to my gig, I’m all about the coin. Who the heck wants to entertain foolishness that could cost you a promotion — or worse your job — down the road? Ain’t nobody got time for that!
It always amazes me how many people allow others to affect their happiness on the job. Yes there will be times when you can’t dodge shade bullets or need to grit your teeth while working with someone you can’t stand. That, my friend, is the game of life. Does it mean you need to fire shots and come up with your own diss record? Learn from Meek Mill and keep that mouth shut. All jokes aside, workplace feuds are extremely unproductive and a waste of time. If you happen to find yourself at the forefront of “colleague beef” here are some do’s and don’ts to getting out of the situation with your professionalism in tact.
DO take the high road. I know, I know, this is boring. Who wants to act like an adult when you can take a cue from one of the characters in Mean Girls? Regardless of how people treat you, it’s important to maintain professional behavior at all times. You never know who’s peeping the situation from a distance.
DON’T take it to social media. As funny as the beef is between Drake and Meek Mill (those memes though!), that type of behavior on social media will get you fired. Stay off Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and any other platform if you’re only going to use it to tear down your co-worker.
DO prepare for battle. This doesn’t mean you need to figure out how to make weapons out of office supplies, but focus your mind on positive thoughts. If you already know the day is going to be long because of craziness, start it off with an inspirational word or read.
DON’T include others. The last thing you need is for someone to say you and a group of your colleagues ganged up on them. It’s one thing to ask trusted eyes around you to peep what’s going on, but a completely different story to build up a mini army.
DO look for ways to break the tension. There’s nothing wrong with trying to call a truce. It might be hard to let go of your feelings — or your pride for that matter — but if it helps, by all means. This is super important if you’ve been at war with the same person for several years. Just let it go please.
DON’T flip out! Consider it career suicide if you have a dramatic episode, or worse, get physical with the person you can’t stand. No one, I repeat no one is ever that important for you to sacrifice your everything you worked to achieve. Go to the bathroom to catch your breath, scream in your car, or telecommute (if possible) for a few days. Do anything except show unprofessional behavior.
DO involve management if necessary. Sometimes things get so bad that you need to call in the big dogs. Speak with your manager about anyone who can’t keep things professional. Even if it’s considered snitching, there’s a bottom line here. The last thing you need is for someone to try and sabotage your work and do other crazy stuff because no one put them in check.
Why oh why must people test patience on a daily basis? Can we not simply work together without unnecessary attitudes and egos? Sadly, the average job environment will never be free of drama, but that doesn’t mean you can’t rise above it to the best of your ability.
If only you didn’t have to deal with folks on a power trip.
There’s nothing wrong with flexing or puffing out your chest a little because you got a promotion. But that doesn’t give you or anyone else for that matter the right to turn your place of business into a sweatshop because you can’t be kind to others. All of us at some point have been witness to or a victim of — depending on how you look at things — a professional who couldn’t see beyond their own reflection, or in this case, resume. These are the folks who make life during business hours harder than needed because they simply feel like it.
My experiences with bosses who couldn’t handle authority weren’t pleasant but they were eye-opening. For starters, they reiterated something I already knew: Not everyone is management material. I don’t care how many years you’ve put into the game, creating a toxic workplace that belittles the contributions of others just isn’t good for business. Sure no one needs to hold your hand — or even go out of their way to make you feel special — but at the very least, there needs to be a mutual respect. After all, you were hired under the assumption you could do the job.
Whether you’re new to a gig or dealing with the same old mess, here are some pointers on dealing with a boss on a power trip.
Assess the individual. Believe it or not, some people are just really grouchy or super anal. Before you go off the deep end, ask yourself whether or not the person’s micromanaging ways are part of their personality? If so, try not to take things too personal.
Pick and choose your battles. As much as you want to defend yourself, not everything needs to be a drawn out discussion — especially when dealing with a boss like this. Decide what’s worth mentioning and what you can let roll off your shoulders.
Rethink your approach. Don’t like the response you get? Try rephrasing your questions or how you approach your boss. Why give someone who’s already a loaded gun the ammo to act crazy?
Speak with your colleagues. Maybe you aren’t the only victim; that could mean strength in numbers. Talk to your co-workers about the manager in question. You all might decide a sit down is necessary.
Confront, but don’t get crazy. There’s nothing wrong with asking someone to change how they approach or address you, but make sure you’re respectful in doing so. Hopefully they’ll learn from the error of their ways.
Take it up the chain. Should you feel things are entirely way too unbearable, feel free to talk to your manager’s boss. Just know that opens a whole new can of worms, so be prepared for a possible blow back.
You really need to be careful when it comes to your workplace entourage. There is such a thing as guilty by association. Sometimes “the homies” can’t continue with you on your journey if you want to be seen in a certain light. Then again, many of us make the mistake of trusting professionals in our lives that prove to be everything except about their business.
Donald Trump has once again made headlines for a pretty bonehead move — not that he needs to dig himself a bigger grave in that category. He recently admitted a desire to put a particular woman in his cabinet should he be elected. Noting her intellect and ability to shrug off nonsense, the Trumpster actually thinks that, wait for it, Sarah Palin would be great. Gasp. Now this is the same Sarah Palin who wanted foreign policy cred because she could see Russia from her backyard, thought we should “stand with our North Korea allies” and couldn’t name a publication she reads for information.
In the words of Antoine Dodson, “You are so dumb.”
I definitely understand the importance of rolling with people you generally like, but sometimes they don’t make the best members for your inner circle. This doesn’t mean you have to cease all communication with them. Just think twice about the brand you desire to build and all the necessary pieces to make it work.
Think back to your days in high school and the times you had to work on a group project. Did you automatically pick your besties, even if they weren’t known for their academic aptitude? Halfway through the assignment — and more than likely staying up late to do all the work — you probably felt your choice wasn’t the best for your grade. Now you of course could’ve chosen to carry these people by doing their work for them, but what good would that have done you — or them for that matter if they went to college?
It doesn’t make sense.
There’s nothing wrong with trying to attach yourself to people who are driven to succeed and put in the work to make their dreams a reality. In fact, it needs more thought than just the brush off as it can cost you greatly on your job. This is one of the biggest reasons why you should step outside of your comfort zone and meet new colleagues. You never know who is sitting near you that has the knowledge or a skill set you need for an upcoming project. Diversifying your work group can also show managers you have a willingness to team up with other people that could lead to a future promotion.
I’ve had to make cuts in both my personal and professional life when it came to the people around me and the person I wanted to be. As great as it is to have longtime friends and associates, at some point, you need to determine who builds you up and tears you down. Just because something worked in the past doesn’t automatically mean it will be great for your future.
Welcome to our Mommy Mogul column where we cover issues of importance for moms who are launching a new business, working a side gig, or managing work life and home life. Is there a topic you’d like us to address? Send your thoughts to editors@ . And, as always, take to the comments with your feedback.
Most who pursue running a small business typically have one goal in common: To provide for their family. It might sound simple but can be the difference between calling it quits and pushing yourself a little more in efforts to see the results you want. As good as your intentions might be, it’s only right to ask yourself whether or not your endeavors will negatively impact your household.
Someone asked me this question recently to which my first response (in my head) was “Duh!” Do people honestly think self-employed folks — especially those of us with kids — take off with a cockamamie get-rich-quick scheme and not think about our families?
While it did stir up a nice laugh, I had to stop and give it some thought. Do I really have things in place should my endeavors take a turn for the worse? Honestly speaking, every professional needs to have a few lifelines, or at the very least, a backup plan, if your goals turn into a nightmare. You never know what curve ball life will throw at you and how it can affect your finances. This is one of the biggest reasons why we all need to pad our emergency savings. Heck, an additional savings to pad the emergency savings isn’t a bad idea either.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Every day that I work for myself, I know there’s a risk things go south. When you have no safety net, there are certain realities you’re faced with that can make you go crazy (if you allow them). Thankfully things have been very steady these last few years and getting better and better with time. That doesn’t mean I don’t try my hardest to plan for the “what if” in efforts to keep both myself and my household afloat until I’m able to readjust.
In addition to savings, I’m always looking for the next opportunity and finding ways to connect with people who can possibly open doors to new projects. LinkedIn has quickly become my “it” social media platform as you can learn so much from the information people list. If you don’t have your stuff together on LinkedIn, you really need to get with the program. It’s one of the best ways to introduce yourself to other business owners and executives without too much hassle. I also get an occasional email from Indeed.com on job opportunities in my field in the event I need to pay my bills. Even if you’re good right now (it’s awesome if you are!), it doesn’t hurt to scroll through job requirements you can use to gauge whether or not your current skill set is on par.
It’s hard to really plan for negative events that might occur — and who the heck wants to think about them? Regardless, having some course of action to help supplement your income and other resources your family might need is important. Do you know what to do if your income falls below your monthly average? How would you handle a business deal that went awry? Before it gets to the point of selling everything you own, do your best to set up financial buffers so you and yours can remain strong.