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    • Getting There: Howard Jean Speaks Part I
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    • Getting There: Tavaghn “Montsterr” Monts Speaks Part II
      Getting There is a series featuring interviews from Generation Y young people who are breaking stereotypes and not only working hard to achieve their own definition of success but working to improve the lives of others around them. Among other professions Tavaghn “Montster” Monts is Vice President of My Life Keys where he works as a Motivator […]
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Posts Tagged ‘professional’

Guest Post: Hey, Gen Y, Are You Afraid To Network?

Posted by Chanelle Schneider on May 7, 2010

I’m a Gen Y job seeker. Unemployment data tells me I’m not the only one. A recent Pew study shows that 37% of 18-29 year olds are out of work! But the career and networking events I go to tell a different story.

Networking, networking, networking. We’ve all heard endless times how it’s the best way to get a job.

So I get out there. I go to mixers, seminars, and job search support groups. And no matter the venue, I notice one thing in common among all these events.  With the exception of events targeted to young professionals, I’m often the youngest person in the room.

I know I can’t be the only twenty-something out of work in my area. So where is everyone?

I admit the first time I went to one of those events, it was intimidating. Like attracts like. I’m immediately drawn to others who are young like me, assuming that our common age will give us other interests in common. How can people from a different generation understand me and my job search?

Being the only Gen Y in a situation makes me stand out and that’s OK.

My confidence and conversation skills have skyrocketed during this job-search process. I don’t have time to worry, “Will they like me? What do I have to say?” Instead, I walk up to strangers 10, 20, or even 30 years older than myself and say, “Hi, I’m Danielle. How are you?”

That’s the thing about a crappy economy. It puts Gen Y, Gen X, Boomers, and everyone in between on equal footing. There’s no hierarchy of age. It’s all about knowledge and contacts.

Just because I’m young doesn’t mean that I haven’t gathered a large database of contacts that I’d be willing to share. And just because someone is older doesn’t mean they don’t have their finger on the pulse of my generation.

Sometimes there’s more value in talking to people who aren’t like you.  Expanding your circle to include people with different careers, of different ages and backgrounds, can yield unexpected results. Some of the older workers I’ve met now serve as mentors for my job-search journey.

Danielle Bullen

If my presence at career events has done anything to reduce the negative stereotype that Gen Y workers expect everything to be handed to them, then I’m grateful.  It takes hard work to find a new job.  I know I’m not the only person my age willing to put in the effort expanding our networks.  So, I ask again: Where is everyone?

Danielle Bullen is a marketing professional and writer from the greater Philadelphia area. You can read her writing, connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter @daniellewriter.

Posted in Advice, Guest Posts | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

What You Can Learn From Working In Retail

Posted by Chanelle Schneider on November 13, 2009

At the pay desk

Retail – It’s a thankless industry. Between the elitist customers who look down on you for being a lowly salesperson and the family that does the same, you can begin to feel like you’re wasting your time in a position that has no potential to help you in your professional life. Well, you’re wrong. If you’ve been trying your best to get a so-called real job but feel that all you can get is retail, consider yourself lucky because you are now privy to the best on-the-job training for which you will not have to pay.

Your time spent on the floor of your retail store will give you countless hours of access to sensitivity, anger management, and customer service training while, also, developing your social skills, exposing you to deductive reasoning, working with a team, and developing your confidence. If you think these attributes are not important to your professional life, then re-read the skills and requirements that employers are looking for in their job ads.

You will begin to notice that people have a tendency to repeat certain actions. Take notice of these patterns because they can offer much insight. What follows is a list of some behaviors that you should take with you into your professional and personal life.

Read the fine print
When something is on sale, most companies list all of the exclusions in their marketing. This is the same for companies outside of the retail industry. Read through paperwork. Ensure you have full knowledge of what you are entering into. Don’t sign something without this knowledge.

Ask proper questions
Sometimes you can’t answer something for yourself, and you need help. It is perfectly acceptable to ask someone who is more knowledgeable about the subject for assistance. However, they cannot read your mind. “You know what I mean” will not always work. It is best to be clear on what you need so that the other person can adequately and efficiently serve your needs. Give the person clues to help them understand what you need.

Help yourself first
When was the last time you walked into a store that had no marketing, no price labels, and no item descriptions? Not recently, I would bet. How often do you bypass the marketing, price labels, and item descriptions to ask someone what’s on sale, how much something is, or what something is, though? In retail as in life, signs and labels are around to help you help yourself. People are much more willing to help you find a solution to your problem when it appears as though you have taken the initiative to educate yourself on the matter from the outset without expecting that you are entitled to receive the answers from someone else.

Double Check
You were taught this lesson in school. People make mistakes, but agreeing to their mistake will cost you in the end. After you have helped yourself, asked the proper questions, and read the fine print, ensure that all of the facts and figures are correct before signing your name.

Just because it’s on the front table doesn’t mean it’s for you
The first thing that you see is not always the solution to your problem. If you’re allergic to wool, would you buy a sweater without checking the fabric label? In the professional world it is necessary to dig deeper. Guarantee that you have fulfilled your needs before walking away.

Posted in Advice | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Doing Everything Right But Still Not Getting Hired?

Posted by Chanelle Schneider on September 1, 2009

What advice do you have for new grads in PR/journ/marketing/comm?

What advice do you have for new grads in PR/journ/marketing/comm?

I find so much information about what GenY is not doing right in regards to the interview process, but I know plenty of people who don’t show up to interviews in a bath robe; they have their resumes reviewed by experts; and, they ask what they are told are really great questions; but, they still don’t get hired. I wondered if there is still something that we’re doing wrong.

On August 17, 2009 I was participating in a hashchat called #journchat on Twitter. Towards the end of the discussion the professionals on the chat responded to this question from the host, @journchat: “Q8 What advice do you have for new grads in PR/journ/marketing/comm? Doesn’t have to be social media specific. #journchat” I re-tweeted what @katcalbes said, and, after speaking a few more times, I asked if she would mind offering more advice.

Kat Calbes is a PR strategist and branding counselor based in Los Angeles. What follows is her advice for interviewees on other statements or behaviors that can result in a poor interview.

In general, telling an interviewer that you are a “people person” because you’re an outgoing social butterfly doesn’t mean you should be in PR.  Here are other “no-no” behaviors and statements that can jeopardize one’s potential for landing a job:

Dropping the L-word too many times. This is a personal favorite of mine because I learned this lesson through one of my mentors early in my career. Plenty of young (and not-so-young) professionals wander through life using the “L-word” a bit too much.  It’s distracting. It’s unprofessional. And frankly, I want my company to be represented by someone who can clearly articulate their thoughts.  For example, We represented this “like” one company that “like” offered this “like” product that “like” does X, Y and “like” Z.  It was “like” the best campaign that I “like” ever got to work on and “like” I would work there in “like” a heartbeat.

Showing up to an interview without a portfolio or writing samples. We want to know if you can actually write (not just talk talk talk!). In PR and marketing, writing is one of the most basic, yet most important, tools for success. Writing means both internal and external documents – from press releases and byline articles to internal newsletters and basic memos to your bosses or clients.

Telling the interviewer you don’t really read the news. As PR pros, we need to be alert and on top of current events and trends in order to leverage our company/clients for timely media coverage or promotional opportunities. Make sure to follow the news, read industry-related blogs and pay attention to what is being covered in the media landscape. Hearing an entry-level candidate say, “Oh, I get my news from reading People, InStyle, etc.” is not what you want to hear (unless the position is for entertainment PR, which would then of course be relevant).

Don’t say “Oh, I don’t have any questions, you answered them all already.” It’s important to ask intelligent questions that show your genuine interest in the company. Even if the interviewer has covered every nook and cranny, always have questions handy. Write them down on a notebook (I’ve seen this and totally support it!). If the conversation truly covered every topic under the sun about the job or company, ask questions about the interviewer.  It’s just as important to know more about your future supervisor as it is for them to get to know you. “How did you get started in this company? What have you learned so far in your position?  What do you enjoy the most about your job?  What is your management style? Can you tell me a little about the department or team that I’d be working with?”

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Posted in Advice | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Don’t Treat Me like A College Dropout #2

Posted by Chanelle Schneider on August 18, 2009

college dropout

“The college dropout”. Unless you’re Kanye West or Bill Gates, having this label attributed to you garners only negative attention. To be a college dropout is to be a wasted resource. “It’s a shame to see all that potential go to waste” is what most people say (behind the backs of the people to which they are referring). We hear you, though. You don’t have to say it to our faces because it shows in your eyes. Your body language expresses your contempt for us. It’s a good thing some of us don’t pay attention to your misguided attempts at encouragement, or else we may never get past the pain and onto success.

What follows is an interview conducted with Stephanie Danforth, who is the editor of Venus Diva Magazine. A strong believer in thinking outside of the box, Stephanie is passionately pursuing her dreams in accordance with her reality. She is working with her circumstances towards a path of even greater success.

Did you feel expectations from family, friends or society to succeed in college? If so, what impact did this pressure have on you?

Definitely, coming from a family full of college grads with Masters and PHd’s, being successful in college was the only route to go.  Success as it relates to school started early on for me.  My father was an English professor at a local college.  My grandmother was an Administrative head at an elementary school, and my uncles were all teachers, so to not succeed in college was unheard of.  I didn’t feel pressure to succeed.  I thrive in pressure situations.  It gets my blood boiling. The pressure of success didn’t have as much of an affect on me as the fact that I didn’t graduate.  It’s not like I felt so much pressure that I couldn’t handle it.

How do friends and family treat you because you don’t have a college degree?

I’m not treated any differently by friends, but, at times, I feel like my brothers treat me a little differently. They treat me as if I am not as educated as they are, or don’t understand the struggles of a black college student. Hello, I went to college for over four years, and I don’t have a degree; if anyone understands the struggles, it’s me.  My mom constantly tells me how I need to go back to school but when I think about the jobs that me and my brothers have had, it’s easy to view me as the most successful of the three.  So, my question to them is often, “What did having a degree get you, since I’m making more than you?” Men can be competitive at times, so, sometimes, I have to go there with them.

How do you feel about yourself?

At times I am disappointed in myself not because I didn’t graduate, but because I let it bother me that I didn’t graduate.  I’m proud of everything that I’ve accomplished and believe that everything happens for a reason, but sometimes I think not having a degree messes with my confidence.

Why did you leave school without a degree?

Why did I leave school?  The first time I was put on short term suspension for grades and the second time, financial wouldn’t give me any more money.  I guess the first time I left, I was gone too long and my loan defaulted.  I think.  I really don’t remember the details; all I know was that I ran out of money.

Do you plan to return to get a degree? If so, what is preventing you from returning in the immediate future?

I would like to, but once you start working and having a family, it’s easier said than done.  Right now I have an application in at University of Phoenix; so, as soon as they call me for the job, I will enroll.  When I ran out of aid, I promised myself and my mom that I was going to get my degree, and get someone to pay for it.  If I could afford it, I would, but I can’t; so, U of P, here I come.

What is the biggest myth equated with dropouts that you would like to dispel?

That we are incapable of working in corporate America.  There is nothing that anyone does that cannot be taught. Having a degree does not make you that much smarter.  People seldom go into a career path where their degree can be useful. In my eyes, asking for a person with a degree is nothing more than trying to weed out what’s considered good from bad.

Many people have had to leave school for reasons other than the stereotypical “college just isn’t for me” attitude; and, many would like to return to get their degree, but existing roadblocks make it difficult. Support education reform to enable the passionate people to more efficiently achieve their dreams.

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Posted in Advice, Under-qualified | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Don’t Treat Me like A College Dropout

Posted by Chanelle Schneider on August 15, 2009

college dropout“The college dropout”. Unless you’re Kanye West or Bill Gates, having this label attributed to you garners only negative attention. To be a college dropout is to be a wasted resource. “It’s a shame to see all that potential go to waste” is what most people say (behind the backs of the people to which they are referring). We hear you, though. You don’t have to say it to our faces because it shows in your eyes. Your body language expresses your contempt for us. It’s a good thing some of us don’t pay attention to your misguided attempts at encouragement, or else we may never get past the pain and onto success.

What follows is an interview conducted with Sommer Johnson, who founded Gemini Magazine, is achieving her goals and doing it all with passion. She is encouraging people to “join us in the revolution to open minds one cover, one article, one beautiful, sophisticated, professional curvy woman at a time.”

  1. Did you feel expectations from family, friends or society to succeed in college? If so, what impact did this pressure have on you?
    My parents always used to say, “If you are going to stay here after you graduate (from high school) you have two choices: college or a full time job.” It never bothered me or put pressure on me because I love learning & I love school.  What did bother me was the fact that I don’t think my parents understood my major. They wanted me to major in something like business or accounting or HR Management instead of English.  I’m sure most English majors feel frustrated like I did when fielding questions like: “So what are you going to do with an English Degree…teach?” My parents just wanted me to have a degree in something that could help me 10 years from age 18; and, to them that was business or accounting or HR Management.
  2. How do friends and family treat you because you don’t have a college degree?
    Only a few people in my family have an actual college degree.  Most of my family, if not all of them, doesn’t really care.
  3. How do you feel about yourself?
    Honestly, sometimes I feel stupid. Sometimes I over hear grown women talking about their college experience and I’m saddened by it because my experience was limited.  Sometimes I am grateful for being able to start my family early. By the time I am 43 my kids will be away at college and my husband and I can dance naked in the kitchen. Lol.
  4. Why did you leave school without a degree?
    The first time around I was lazy. I was also boy crazy and I didn’t feel like I fit in.  The second time around I was working full time, mothering 2 kids under the age of 4, and being a wife.  The 3rd time around I ended up getting a 65 on my exam paper in English (go figure), which gave me a C, which meant I had to repeat the class, which meant my financial aid was yanked (I had to get B’s or better to keep it).  Being laid off with a mortgage, two kids, a husband, and old cars made it hard to go back.  I will one day…
  5. Do you plan to return to get a degree? If so, what is preventing you from returning in the immediate future?
    Money. I would go back right now if I could afford it. Perhaps when Gemini blows up I can go back and not think about what bills I have to pay.
  6. What is the biggest myth equated with dropouts that you would like to dispel?
    That we are inexperienced.  I see tons of jobs in the accounting and admin assistant positions looking for just any kind of degree.  I’ve worked in accounting for 10 years and I grew up watching my mother be the Executive Assistant to Sanyo VP’s, small business owners, and so on. But none of that seems to matter. It’s all about what we look like on paper.  I realize from owning my own business that just because you didn’t make it through school that doesn’t mean you don’t have what it takes to make it. I feel like education is an array of things.  It’s the crappy first job you had; the stupid boyfriend/girlfriend you broke up with (or who broke up with you); it’s the half finished college degree and birth of your first born. Your life is your education, but you have to add to it to make it greater.  For some, that means getting a degree.  For others it means spending hours in Barnes & Noble or online reading up on this or that.  With my eyes on the future and my heart in God’s hands, my life is looking pretty good – degree on the wall or not 🙂

Many people have had to leave school for reasons other than the stereotypical “college just isn’t for me” attitude; and, many would like to return to get their degree, but existing roadblocks make it difficult. Support education reform to enable the passionate people to more efficiently achieve their dreams.

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