Don’t Have a Cow: Managing Your Stress at Work.

Having a career is great, especially in these very troubled times (remember to vote!). But as we make our way up the corporate ladder, our responsibilities hit the top rung with our stress levels not far behind. For those of us new to the 8 to 5 (what I’ve discovered is often the 7:30 to 6:30) managing our stress can be a challenge. However, there are some easy tricks that may help us chill out and minimize stress at work. Here we go:

Take five minutes. No one understands the instant response mentality perpetuated by the email driven workplace more than me. But unless your job consists of preventing world annihilation by pressing a big red button before a nuclear missile hits, you CAN take a couple of minutes to relax.

Let things go. You’re not the only one stressed at work, so if a curt comment or careless act flies your way, don’t let it bother you. Distract yourself and think about something else. If you try hard enough to forget what was said, you will.

Take a lunch. As we all know, some days taking a lunch is a true luxury. But on the average day, when stepping out for an hour is a viable option, do it. Even 30 minutes away from the office, your inbox and the annoying coworker in the cube next door, can give you some much needed perspective and cut down your stress level.

Talk about it. If you’re stressed about something, finding a coworker or friend to confide in can help you recognize what exactly is bothering you, get it off your mind and get over it faster. Just remember, when the tables are turned, you should always return the favor.

Breathe. When we’re stressed, we often fail to breathe properly, which can cause us to feel physically constricted (on top of the emotional) and lead to headaches, which make it even harder to think. Remember to take full and deep breaths throughout your day to prevent your already high stress level from getting worse.

Still stressed out? Well, there’s always happy hour.

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September 23, 2008. Tags: , , , , . Career Advice, Life-in General. Leave a comment.

Money and Happiness: A “Little” Paycheck Perspective

If you’re one of the many people on earth whose relative happiness seems to revolve around the dollar amount on your paycheck, the reality of starting out your career in an entry level position may just have you running for a cliff.

You (and I) may think that money is the key to living a happy life, but according to many experts, a six figure salary may buy you a nicer car, but it won’t buy you true happiness.

According to the blog Personal Finance Advice When Money Can Buy Happiness is when the amount you make meets your basic life needs: shelter, food and clothing. When those needs are met, it shouldn’t matter whether you make $100, $1,000 or $100,000 more, you already have the freedom to be happy.

And I would have to agree. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as superficial as the next 22 year old post-college sorority girl. I too dream of driving a nice car, having a closet full of cute new clothes and possessing the cash to eat out every night with my friends. However, when it comes down to it, my long term happiness (and yours too) doesn’t hinge on having the kind of money that makes those things possible.

The bottom line, as I’ve found out in the last six weeks of my new job, is money doesn’t mean happiness. Money means responsibility. None of us want to spend our carefree youth working 12 plus hour days because we have so much to do at work to earn that $80,000 paycheck. So, what we twenty-somethings need is not a bigger paycheck but a massive attitude adjustment. We have our whole lives to work ourselves to the bone chasing the ever-growing cash carrot. Why not enjoy living within our means (at least for now).

Not convinced? Check these out:

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September 17, 2008. Tags: , , , , . Career Advice, Life-in General. Leave a comment.

Work-Life Balance? What the Hell is That?

When you start your career, there are going to be a lot of new terms thrown around that you might not have heard before. And if you’re like me, the phrase “work-life balance” will be one of them. For those of us lucky enough to work for an amazing organization that prioritizes this; your life and work at least have a chance of balancing.

However, no matter how hard the HR people at your office try to stress the importance of a balance between work and life, when you first start a new job, especially right out of college, maintaining this balance will be damn hard.

Not only are you probably working harder and longer than ever before, but you also have more responsibilities, and if your life is anything like mine your day starts long before the sun rises and ends long after it sets. This means that when you finally return home from your long work day and seemingly endless commute, you’re probably going to be so tired that spending time with family, socializing with friends or enjoying hobbies will be lower on your list than editing your coworkers’ collection of poetry about her cats.

In an effort to find a more even balance between my own work and life, I’ve embarked on a quest for advice. However, I got a little side tracked…thanks to youtube. Check these out.

Ok ok. They might not give you any tips for balancing your life and your work, but hey, you’re taking a break from work to watch them, right? That should count for something.

September 14, 2008. Tags: , , , , , . Career Advice, Life-in General. 4 comments.

New Job 101: When to Call in Sick to Work

Although it’s still summer, today’s deary and cold Oregon weather has reminded me that winter is just around the corner. As we all know, with winter comes free stuff (hello Christmas!), the red, amazingly festive Starbucks cups and cold and flu season.

Gone are the college days when, after a single cough and a little sniffle (or a big hangover), we decided to skip class and just go back to bed. Now that we’ve transitioned into the working world (what I like to call “adult life”), I think it’s important to know just when it’s ok to call in sick.

You should call in sick when you have…

…a high fever. This means over 101. Most of the time when your fever is this high it will come with a whole slew of not-so-fun symptoms that will make going to work suck anyway. If you’re fever is below 101 with mild symptoms, take a Tylenol and get to the office.

…pink eye. Not sure if you have pink eye? Then you don’t have pink eye. Trust me, you’ll know when you have it. If your eyes are itchy, red and puffy and your eyelashes are completely stuck together when you wake up in the morning, wash your hands, throw away your mascara and go to the doctor instead of work.

…a bad migraine or significant body pain. If you throw out your back, screw up your knee or have a really bad migraine, just call in sick. Neither intense pain nor mood-altering muscle relaxers allow you to be productive at work.

…a cough, congestion and sore throat. With a mild case of one or two of these, you’re probably ok to show up, but if you have a severe case of all three, you should think about taking it easy. Not only are you probably contagious, but you’re cough, sniffles and inability to verbally communicate because of your sore throat will annoy the hell out of everyone around you, so just stay home.

Still not sure if you’re sick enough for the day off? Check out these for more information and advice on how to tell if you’re too sick to work.

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August 20, 2008. Tags: , , , , . Career Advice, Life-in General. 1 comment.

A Skinny Salary and a Fatty Figure…How to Stay Fit at Your New Job.

Welcome to week three of my new job. In case you were curious, everything is going amazing, and I couldn’t be happier. However, there is a slight exception to my working bliss: I end up sitting for a majority of my day. What’s the big deal, you may be wondering? Well, for many people who are chained to their cubicle five days a week, sitting for eight hours a day can mean not only feeling unhealthy, but it can often lead to extra pounds.

So, in the hope of preventing the newby nine (the new job version of the freshmen fifteen), I have decided to find some helpful tips to help you (and me) stay healthy and active, even if our job keeps us flat on our ass.

Stock up on healthy snacks. Snacking on healthy food may help you resist a trip to the candy bowl in the clerks’ office. Bring a bag of raw almonds, sliced veggies, or some fruit salad. It’ll only take you five minutes to pack before work, but it might save you a couple of extra pounds in the long run.

Brown-bag it. Not only is this a good idea for your wallet, but it’s also a great idea for your waste line. Packing a lunch gives you more direct control over what you’re eating and prevents the possibility that you’ll grab that extra brownie at the deli.

Inquire about services. Many larger companies provide a corporate discount toward a gym membership. But sometimes companies fail to effectivly advertise the program to employees. Shoot an email to someone at HR (or walk to his cube) to ask what your company offers. If they don’t already provide such services, get some of your healthy-minded coworkers together and pitch the idea to your boss. It never hurts to ask.

Alter Your Commute. If you live within walking or biking distance of your work, take advantage! For those of us who must use motorized transportation, park as far from work as possible to get an extra five minutes of walking time or get off/on the bus a couple blocks from your destination. Walking five minutes here and there can really add up.

Move it. Walk to your coworkers cube instead of messaging or emailing, park a little farther away than usual and take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Head to the Water Fountain. Drinking water is good for your body (haven’t you seen the aquafina commercial with baseball manager Lou Pinella?). In addition, getting water when your bottle is empty (and the bathroom breaks that result) will get you up out of your chair and walking around.

Pop a Sphered Squat. Exercise balls can make great desk chairs. Clear it with your boss first, of course, but sitting on an exercise ball while at your desk can improve posture and make your muscles work double-time. Plus, they come in really fun colors.

Want more tips for staying healthy at work? Check these out:

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August 18, 2008. Tags: , , , , . Career Advice, Life-in General. 1 comment.

My Adult Life: Week One — The Seven Truths of Starting a New Job.

I’ve decided that contrary to conflicting opinions, real, adult life begins when a person starts at a real job – one at which you work five days a week (or more), where you’re at the absolute bottom (or maybe a just a head above it), and one that is generally remarked by those closest to you as a “career” (i.e., a job that you plan to do for longer than just until you find a better one). This is all very interesting to you, I’m sure, but if you’re wondering where this is going…

This week I started my new “real” job as an almost-bottom-of-the-totem-pole PR girl. And the experience of my first five days has led me to several truths about starting a new job. Although these hard won tips are based from situations in my PR life, I’m sure that they must apply to other industries as well. Here we go…

Number One: You might like the people you meet, but you wont love everyone. It seems like a no-brainer, but really, some people just wont be your favorite flavor. Try to be understanding and patient. Give them a chance, and they might just surprise you.

Number Two: Regardless of how much you sleep, you will be exhausted. (I’ve got my fingers crossed that this extreme fatigue dissipates soon).

Number Three: You might not be where you want to be, either positionally or locationally. So what if your cubicle is next to the men’s bathroom or in the basement next to the office supplies? Everyone starts out at the bottom – you wont be there forever!

Number Four: They want you to look busy. True, you should be asking for something to do if you’re without a task. But if on any given day, you’re boss or team is too busy to babysit you, you should at least look like your working. Researching the company and its competitors, reading your job manual or tracking media coverage with a Google Alert are great ways to keep yourself looking and being busy. Note: If you think I’m telling you to avoid actually working, let me clarify. You’re just starting out and will probably not be very busy at first. Instead of Facebook stalking your friends or standing around looking bored, do something productive.

Number Five: Being yourself may not be the best idea. That is, if being yourself means casually swearing like a drunk truck driver, winking and blowing kisses at every hot guy that walks by or ending all sentences with “fo’ shizzle, my nizzle”, you might want to tone yourself down a bit… at least until your second week.

Number Six: Everyone will know you’re the newby. Whether it’s your overly conservative or way-too-college casual wardrobe, your over-the-top friendly, caked-on smile or your child-lost-at-the-supermarket face, the people in your office will be able to tell you’re new from a dozen cubicles away.

Number Seven: You wont be new forever.

Is there a new job truth you’ve discovered? Let me know.

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August 9, 2008. Tags: , , , , . Career Advice, Life-in General, PR. Leave a comment.

Eight More Excuses for Why You Haven’t Found a Job Yet.

There seems to be a pattern emerging among many of my friends. Although they are all well-qualified, driven and actively seeking jobs, a majority of them are coming up empty handed. So, in honor of my flailing friends, here’s an article with some reasons why your job search may be taking longer than you (or your parents) would like.

Eight Reasons Why Your Job Search May Be Taking Longer Than It Should by Andrew Jensen from Associated Content outlines the top reasons you may be missing the employment mark.

One. Expectations are Unreasonable: If you feel like your job search has been taking too long, try adjusting your expectations for how you define “too long.” It could take you between six months and a year to land your dream job. So, be patient.

Two. Shooting Too High: You could be applying for jobs that your experience doesn’t yet fit. Be honest with yourself. Get others’ opinions on what jobs you should be applying for.

Three. Not Focused Enough: Focusing your job search on a single industry or a handful of companies works much better than blanketing your resume to a hundred companies across the internet.

Four. No Clarified Goals: Before you start looking for a job, you need to define what you’re looking for. If you know where you want to go, you’ll know where to start.

Five. Ineffective Search Methods: Are you only applying for jobs online? Are you mass distributing your resume without direct contacts in the companies? There are more effective methods. Use them.

Six. Resume Problems: Have a professional look over your resume to look for basic editing errors, gaps in experience or formatting issues. You’re resume is your first impression. Make it a good one.

Seven. Interviewing Problems: If you’re getting interviews but no offers, your interviewing skills are probably not up to par. Do some research or meet with a professional for one-on-one interview training. It’ll pay off.

Eight. Poor Use of Time: The more time you spend maintaining relationships, networking and job searching, the more effective your search will be, and the faster you’ll get that job.

Nine. Impending National Recession? Well, maybe.

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August 3, 2008. Tags: , , , . Career Advice, graduation, Life-in General. Leave a comment.

10 Mistakes All Interns Make, and So Can You!

Top 10 Goofs Interns Make from Business Week highlights the best ways to make your time as an intern utterly unsuccessful. Here you go.

1. The Entitlement Syndrome. Don’t write off your job as “just an internship” and start coming in late or taking two hour lunches. Think of your internship as a summer-long job interview.

2. No Flip-Flopping at the Office. Business casual doesn’t just mean casual. Attire expectations vary depending on location and company, but just be aware: it’s better to dress on the conservative side than expose too much, especially as an intern.

3. Forgetting to Unplug. Even if you don’t think that listening to your Ipod, talking on your cell phone or chatting on IM at work interferes with your responsibilities, your behavior might be interfering with how you’re being assessed as a professional. UPDATE: It depends on your industry, but many companies encourage their employees to use IM to communicate with colleagues at work. If you happened to IM your friends as well, just do it discretely and make sure it isn’t interfering with your work. Also, listening to your iPod may not be the end of the world if you’re finding it hard to concentrate amidst the constant office babble. Just check with your boss first. (update thanks to my coworker, Lexi).

4. Being a Wallflower. Good interpersonal skills are key. Socialize and make the most of company events to meet people and get advice.

5. Ducking the Extracurriculars. A lot of companies arrange informal events for employees to socialize. And while you might think that working through the party will make you look good, you may be missing the point.

6. Grunting About Grunt Work. You’re at the bottom, which means that no task is below you. Getting coffee, filing papers? Just smile and do it.

7. Missing the Big Picture. Don’t just stick to your team or department. Talk to as many people as possible so you get a better understanding of the entire company.

8. Failing to Ask Questions. You don’t know everything (or anything) about your new job and required tasks. Asking intelligent questions reflects your desire to learn.

9. Rejecting Criticism. Think of constructive criticism as a valuable opportunity to learn and improve your skills. Be open to hearing how you can do better.

10. Wasting Time. Being proactive is a huge part of being a successful intern. If you’re waiting to be told what to do, you’re not doing enough.

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July 29, 2008. Tags: , , , , , , . Career Advice. Leave a comment.

It’s not just busy work. It’s an internship.

Ask anyone. Summer internships are synonymous for three things: 1. little or no pay, 2. amazing amounts of busy work, 3. one of the best ways to get your foot in the industry door.

Whether you are currently in an internship position or looking to get one in the future, here are some tips to make your summer of stress and overwork worth while.

Tips to Make the Most of Summer Internships by Erin Chambers from the Career Journal of the Wall Street Journal online provides seven tips.

1. Be Early. for everything.

2. Get Real. Odds are your internship wont be the most amazing and perfect introduction to the work world. It’s an internship. Meet with your manager so you know the expectations and guidelines of the job.

3. Drink Coffee. Find out where the water cooler, break room or coffee spot is and go there. Building relationships is a huge part of your internship, so say hi and socialize a little.

4. Don’t Get Discouraged. Repeat: it’s an internship, so you’ll probably be doing stuff that real employees don’t want to do, like make photo copies. If you want, meet with your boss to ask for new projects. Whatever you do, don’t fret or complain.

5. Resist the Urge to Stand Out. Being reliable and consistent is enough to impress your boss. Make friends with the other interns. Don’t compete with them.

6. Take Notes. Keep a notebook of the things you’ve done. It’ll help you update your resume, and can also help your supervisor write your recommendation down the road.

7. Play Softball. Think carefully about turning down any offers to get involved. Whether it is the company softball team (even though you’re less coordinated than a drunk person), going along on a Starbucks run (grow up, no real adult hates coffee), or tagging along on a client meeting (to make copies and get your parking pass validated, duh) accept the offer. Your boss wants someone who rolls with the punches and keeps coming back for more.

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July 14, 2008. Tags: , , , , , , . Career Advice, Life-in General. 1 comment.

My First Real Job? I Think I Need To Sit Down.

So, as you may have read, I landed the job of my dreams. Although I couldn’t be more excited to enter the work force once my two-month, post-college hiatus ends, I find that whenever I think about beginning my job, wait, no, GASP, starting my career, I get a more than a little short of breath.

Luckily for me and anyone else experiencing a similar panic-attack‘s blog offers 9 Tips to a Smooth Start at a New Job.

Here we go:

1. Ask Questions. You just started your job. You don’t have all the answers. So, don’t be afraid to ask someone.

2. Take Notes. You’re going to be a little stressed out. Jot down seemingly simple things like how to operate the phone system or which login passwords to use.

3. Avoid Surfing. Don’t check your personal email or surf the net on company time. Having company materials around to study when you have a spare second can help you from being temped to Facebook stalk the guy you crushed on in business class.

4. Turn Off Your Cell Phone. We’re all attached at the hand to our cell phones, but getting fired for chatting on your phone at work may just mean you’ll instead be attached at the hand to a burger flipper. Think about it.

5. Complete Your Tasks. Doing your best work and staying on top of your responsibilities is key to impressing your boss and doing well at your new job.

6. Listen and Observe. Listen more than you talk, and you may learn something.

7. Be Positive. Enthusiasm goes a long way. Being friendly and eager to help when it comes to your coworkers will get you far.

8. Earn Respect. Everyone knows that you only have one chance to make a first impression, so prove your work ethic and give 110% all the time. Be humble about needing help and make sure to say thank you – your mom would be proud. Need more info? Check out my R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Find out what it really means for more tips on earning respect from coworkers.

9. Be a Team Player. Take time to work with your coworkers, if they need help. Don’t feel as if you’re in competition with your peers – you’ll get more work done working with, not against, your coworkers.

If you have any tips on starting a new job or common mistakes to avoid, let me know. I can use all the help I can get.

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July 10, 2008. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Career Advice. Leave a comment.

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