Monthly Archives: June 2013

June Goal Updates

This month has been the complete opposite of May! One day it was June first and the next the month was half over! Come on, summer, hang around a bit longer…

Be More Organized

Lately, I’ve been letting things slide. I’m in the middle of working on a ton of crafts for the upcoming Birthday Season and there are paints and brushes and half-finished things everywhere. Also, there’s a growing pile of dirty laundry in my bathroom. It should be in the hamper. But at the end of the day, I’m just so tired that I want to crawl into bed and do nothing more. I need to take ten minutes before bedtime and just use that time to straighten up a bit.

Also, I need to clean out my closet again. I went a little overboard during my shopping trip earlier this month and it’s getting to the point where it’s hard to move things around in there. In my current apartment, I’m blessed with closest space and I’ve come to the realization that I’m screwed when I move somewhere else. My first year at Grad School State, I had this huge apartment all to myself but I only brought what could fit in my car. I wound up spending the year buying things to fill the space…only to move to a much smaller apartment the following year. I think I’m doing that but with clothes.

I have a real fear of being a hoarder later in life because I have such a hard time parting with things. Like, seriously, I’m just one traumatic event from winding up on TLC. In my mind, the more I force myself to clean and part ways with junk, the easier it will become.

Read More

I know that when it rains, people say that it’s the perfect time to cuddle up with a good book. It doesn’t work that way for me. When it rains, I want to cuddle up with Netflix. And it rained A LOT this month. It didn’t help that season four of Arrested Development was released Memorial Day weekend…I had a lot of TV watching to do!

The thing is, I’d much rather read outside! If I’m inside, I could be playing video games, watching TLC, or maybe even cleaning my apartment. Outside, there’s only so many times I can refresh Instagram. I bought a Nook a few years ago for the sole purpose of reading outside, but unfortunately it broke. I do have an iPad with a Nook app, but with the glossy screen it is kind of difficult to read outside.

The books that I have been reading (unfortunately haven’t finished any yet) have been a lot of the novels I loved when I was in middle school. Basically, I raided my own book collection at my parents’ house. Also, The Baby Sitters Club TV show is now on Netflix. I never saw the show as a kid, but I was OBSESSED with the books. I’ll save that for my next rainy day!

Schedule More Me Time

At some point I realized that I had a lot of time off stored up. I guess it’s because I haven’t taken a major vacation – just a few days here and there. PDFM U has a “if you don’t use it, you lose it” policy about vacation time, so I decided to take some time off when my friends came to visit for the Lilly sale.

I also want to take some time off before RA training starts. Once the RAs arrive, we go all day every day until after move in. It’s rough. My friends from Undergrad U have been trying to plan a trip (see below) and some of my friends that I’ve made here have talked about doing a long weekend at the beach.

Keep In Touch

Just like I don’t like reading indoors, I don’t like talking on the phone indoors. My mom used to yell at me growing up for pacing around the house while talking on the phone. Apparently my walking drove her crazy. Why couldn’t I sit still and talk on the phone? It was a good day for both of us when my dad brought home a cordless phone that I could use in the backyard. Anywho! On the days it hasn’t been raining, I’ve been heading outside to chat with my friends while walking around the block. I figure it kills two birds with one stone – exercise and communication.

As I mentioned earlier, my friends are attempting to plan a vacation for next month. Normally, the girls do the bulk of the planning and the guys just show up, but for some reason this year the guys decided to take control. That’s cool…except the weekend we blocked off is two weeks away and we don’t even have a location. Oof. I’m sure they’ll pull it off…and I’m really excited for it. Even if it means we’re just hanging in somebody’s basement for the weekend.

I recently went to visit one of my friends from Grad School State who accepted a new position and will be heading out west this weekend. We arranged to have brunch at a little place in between the cities we currently live in and then did some shopping. I’m sad to see her go, but super excited for the next chapter in her life!

Be a Grown Up

I wrote a whole post earlier this month on the idea of feeling like a grown up and how I usually associated it with negative things. Just the other day I remembered another time I felt like a grown up. My second year at Undergrad U, my friends and I held a cook out. People brought different dishes and we had appetizers and stuff on the grill and desserts. It felt like all the cook outs I had been to with my family growing up. There was definitely drinking at this cookout, but I don’t remember anybody getting wasted or playing any drinking games. It was a classy affair.

Earlier this month I went to another cook out. There were drinking games at this one, which was fine by me. I’m starting to realize you just have to re-frame what’s “fun” as a grown up. I look forward to putting events with friends on the calendar, even if they aren’t “parties”.

And in the more boring aspect of grown up life, I’m still paying off those student loans. I’m constantly looking for “better” ways to pay them back. Author, wouldn’t that just be paying more?  Well, yes, but that’s not what I meant. I’m paying much more than my minimum payment and it’s about as much as I can pay per month without resorting to eating ramen noodles for every meal. BUT I am researching things about consolidation and which loans I should try to pay back first. I know absolutely nothing about student loans. I just signed away! Maybe high schools should offer a “College Prep” class that teaches you about financial aid and loans and all that jazz.

I’m also still afraid of the dentist. Next month I tell myself, next month.

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Sitting On The Other Side Of The Table

You may have noticed that at some point during the spring semester, I stopped updating so frequently. Heck, even for the bit of summer we’ve had so far, my updates have been rather…sporadic. Author, I thought your job barely required a pulse in the summer! You’ve let me down! Well, for starters, my job requires more than just a pulse for the summer months…PDFM U is NOT one of those ten month gigs. Also, since I’m not brand new here, I’ve taken on some pretty large projects and the time to get serious on them is NOW while the students aren’t here. But most importantly, we’ve had some vacancies in the department the past few months, so I’ve been picking up additional responsibilities.

Due to these vacancies, I’ve gotten to see the other side of the process that I went through just last year. While I was excited for new co-workers, the process was not as fun as I had thought it would be. It was also rather lengthy, so now I realize why it took schools so long to get back to me!

The first thing that happens is that a job description has to be created. We were lucky in that these positions have existed here for quite awhile, so the approval process wasn’t that long. If it had been a new position or if we had made major changes, the description (and position itself) would have needed to go through a longer approval process. Part of that is making sure that we have the money for the position. Your position actually costs the institution more than just your salary – you’ve got benefits too – health insurance, retirement, and at PDFM U, we get a meal plan. (I wish everything I just said made me feel better about how little we get paid in Student Affairs…but…it doesn’t.)

The job description then gets posted. It has to be open for X amount of days. On many sites, you will be told to apply by a certain date. When I was job searching, I missed this deadline by HOURS and they would not accept it. Ouch. I believe our postings were up for two months. And here’s the thing, during the time we really don’t look through the materials. So, if you’ve submitted your stuff the day after a posting went up, you might not hear anything other than the standard “we’ve received your materials” email for WEEKS.

After the position had been up for awhile, we had to figure out who was going to help with interviews. We knew we were going to have phone interviews and on campus interviews and wanted to make sure that the departments we worked closely with also had a say in who we were going to hire. After coming up with this extensive list AND figuring out who was going to be a apart of which interviews, we had to find a time that we were all free. As I mentioned before, the past month or so has been very busy, so you could imagine we had a difficult time getting everybody together. Finally, we nailed down some dates and times to pick who we were going to do phone interviews with, when we were going to do phone interviews, and when we were going to do on campus interviews.

In my office, we each reviewed resumes on our own. There were a LOT of them. Some people were overqualified (one person had been a director of his department for FIFTEEN YEARS). Others were under-qualified (including one person who had just finished his first year of college). The hard part is, with the amount of resumes we had, it was impossible to read every single word on every single one. This is why everybody stresses that your resume needs to be good! It’s so important to go through the job description and see what points you should speak to. If we say that a major part of the job description is Z and you don’t mention Z at all, your resume is going to get shoved in the “Do Not Call” pile. Another note on resumes – at first glance it should be visually appealing. I’m not saying you need to be a design major, but simple layout choices can make a resume MUCH easier to read.

Next came the phone interviews…this was my least favorite thing about interviewing for jobs and I definitely did not like being on the other side of it. Seriously, NOBODY likes phone interviews, but with people from all over the country applying for jobs, it’s necessary. Some tips if you are the interviewee? Write down everybody’s name! We were really impressed with the people who remembered our names. Also, if you are using a cell phone, make sure you are in an area that has good service!!

It took us awhile to get to the on campus phase. A lot of the people that were supposed to take part in on campus interviews had vacations planned. I was super excited for on campus interviews!! It is much easier to get a feel for someone in person than over the phone. What are some things that you should expect? You will have multiple interviews that day, some with small groups, others one-on-one. For example, your future co-workers might interview you has a group, but your future supervisor might interview you one-on-one. You will most likely be given a tour of campus. If you are applying for a live-on position, you SHOULD be shown an apartment, however, it might not be the apartment you wind up being assigned to! Some parts of the day will be much more casual than other parts. Everybody tends to freak out about on campus interviews, but I don’t think they’re that bad. Be warned – it is a LONG day.

After we finished all the on campus interviews, we had to meet again as a group to decide who we wanted to hire. By this time, it was nearly three weeks since our first candidate had come to campus! When we made our decisions, I was definitely excited – only to find out that we still had to do background checks and reference checks and notify the person and give them X days to respond. And then they still wouldn’t be here! If someone is currently in another position, they have to give notice first!

While the process was not as fun as I was hoping it would be, I am super excited for the new people to get here in August…if only they could come sooner! Also, seeing the process from the other side gave me a good understanding of WHY things took so long. So, lovely readers, if you are job searching and wondering why you still haven’t heard back, there’s a good chance that somebody who is supposed to be interviewing you decided to go to Cabo instead. But seriously. You’re not the only person being considered and it does take time to sort through all of the information we receive. Hang in there!

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Unpaid Internships: Post Grad Edition

Lately there’s been a lot in the news about the legality of unpaid internships. Many of the articles (and their comments) focus on college students that are required to do internships as part of their degree requirements. I was required to do an internship as part of my degree and my academic department had very strict rules as to what would count. They couldn’t be “coffee and copies” internships. Our supervisor had to be willing to sit down and have one-on-one meetings with us. While my classmates and I weren’t paid, several of us were compensated with meals during working hours or small stipends to cover traveling expenses.

A lot of colleges want their students to do internships. It gives them “real world” work experience. Companies like it because they essentially get to work with someone for a bit of time and train them now and if they like the person, they can hire them in a year or two when they graduate. Some companies are a little greedy and see it as free labor. Maybe more academic programs need to have restrictions for internships like mine did just to protect the students.

But that’s not what I’m hear to talk about today. You know what the good thing about doing an internship while you are in college is? YOU ARE IN COLLEGE. You don’t have to pay back your loans yet, you’re probably still under your parents’ insurance plans, and if you play your cards right and get an internship in the same city that your school is in, you might still get to take advantage of the cushy college lifestyle – dorm rooms and dining halls. Unfortunately, too many industries are now expecting that recent graduates take unpaid (or barely paid) internship positions.

I have a friend, let’s call her Elizabeth, that majored in Art History. Real smart girl, really knew her stuff. I had to take just the basic art history course and wanted to bash my head against my desk throughout each three hour lecture. Not Elizabeth. She was fascinated. While we were in school, she did an internship at a local, but well-known, museum. She had phenomenal grades and I’m sure if Undergrad U published a class rank, she would have been the top of the class. At the end of senior year, Elizabeth started applying for museum jobs. Now, she was well aware that entry level museum jobs were not the most well-paying, but she liked what she was doing, so she didn’t worry about it (sound familiar, student affairs folk?!). Time after time, Elizabeth was turned down. From her internship at the local museum, she had some connections and found out through the grapevine that she was a great candidate and well-liked, but just didn’t have enough experience. She asked her former supervisor and several professors how she could get enough experience to qualify for an ENTRY-LEVEL position and they all told her that she would probably have to do an internship or two AFTER graduation.

Plenty of students in the more creative fields probably hear the same thing every year. I know plenty of people who have gone out there and done it – worked for free for a year or so and then landed some awesome job. How did they support themselves? They didn’t. Their parents gave them money for rent and they worked some small part time job to get some cash for other expenses. Or maybe they were close enough to a large city with a booming industry that they just lived with their parents or other relatives! The point is, it’s hard to be an unpaid intern after graduation if you don’t have the support of others – and I’m not talking emotional support. I’m talking about money. Who’s going to pay your rent or your phone bill? What about when student loan bills start rolling in six months after graduation? The world doesn’t get put on hold because you need to do an internship before you can get a job.

Unfortunately Elizabeth did not have that sort of support. Her parents passed away during her freshman year of college. Elizabeth needed money for rent and other bills. She needed a job that provided benefits – something that a part time job wouldn’t do. She took a full time office assistant position which made finding an internship really hard – many required her to work more hours than she was able to with her full time job. Elizabeth stuck it out for quite a bit, living in the expensive New York City area, hoping to get an internship at one of the many museums in the area, but never got one. She eventually returned to our college town, as the cost of living is MUCH more manageable there.

I’m sure there are tons of people out there reading this post…okay reading articles SIMILAR to this post that are wondering why Elizabeth and many other students would choose to major in something that isn’t guaranteed to lead to a lucrative career path. Clearly Elizabeth knew that she wasn’t going to have financial support after graduation, why go for something that would require an internship? My question is (and this goes beyond the creative industries) when did entry level positions become…well…non-entry level positions? Elizabeth played her cards right – she got good grades, she did an internship in college to gain experience – but at the end of the day it wasn’t enough experience. All of the museums were looking for people that had work experience after graduation. How can these new graduates get work experience when nobody will hire them because they don’t have work experience? It’s something I see happening to a lot of my friends.

More and more lawsuits are being brought against larger companies due to their use of unpaid interns. The Labor Department has guidelines for what can be “intern” work and what needs to be paid work, but I don’t think too many companies are paying attention to those – until now. I am hoping that since these stories are getting pretty widespread coverage, the culture around unpaid internships will change, making it easier for new graduates to get started in their careers.

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TBT – Disclosing WHAT?!

I landed my first full time job when I was just eighteen. It was only for the summer, but still, I thought I was pretty cool…until the night before my first day when I remembered that I DO NOT eat like a normal human being. I have all sorts of health issues that make the “traditional” three meals a day life impractical. Suddenly, the simple idea of only being able to eat one large meal in the middle of the day at a cafeteria became this giant obstacle. But, I decided to suck it up and even thought that I would be able to “train” my body.

The first day, I  didn’t eat breakfast. Why? I can’t. If I put ANYTHING into my body in the morning, I get sick within an hour. But Author, breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Surely there must be something you can eat! Nope, sorry, I know my body better than you do. I seriously cannot eat anything. So on that very first day, I shoved a granola bar in my bag and ate it during a bathroom break around 10:30. After that, I was STARVING and barely made it to my lunch break. Okay, so clearly THAT wasn’t going to work.

The second day, I decided to make myself the blandest breakfast ever. I had one scrambled egg (no milk, no cheese) and a piece of toast (no butter) with a glass of water. I ate about twenty minutes before I left my apartment. Everything seemed fine…until I got to work. I wasn’t even able to log into my computer before I ran to the bathroom. Fifteen minutes later, I slunk back to my desk, only to have to return to the bathroom ten minutes after that. My boss came to check on me and I told her I wasn’t feeling well, so she sent me home. MY SECOND DAY.

The third day, I decided to pack some snacks and ask my boss to make some accommodations for me (and my digestive tract). Awhile back I posted about disclosing disability-related issues. I don’t know if it was just because this was the first time I was telling somebody that wasn’t a relative or friend or because it was a “bathroom” issue, but I was so embarrassed to have to ask my boss for an accommodation!

I went to work and went to my boss’ office when she arrived. The first thing she did was ask if I was feeling better. Why yes actually, about an hour or two after you sent me home, I was able to leave the confines of my bathroom, much to my roommate’s joy. Thanks for asking! (Note – I did not actually say that.) I explained the reason that I had gotten sick at work was because I had eaten before coming in. “Oh, did you eat something that didn’t agree with you?” No, I just ate. Period. That’s all it takes. I explained that if I ate early in the morning, I get really sick to my stomach but I can’t wait until my lunch break to eat. The only options were for me to either wake up at  4 am so by the time 7:30 rolls around, my stomach feels like accepting gifts of bagels and juice OR for me to be able to bring something and eat at my desk while working. As I was explaining this, I went into crazy girl babble mode and swore to never bring anything that smelled or could make a mess. My boss looked at me like I had eight heads (because I had all my crazy out there) and then said that would be fine. End of conversation.

For the rest of the summer, I brought both my breakfast AND lunch to work. I ate breakfast at my desk around 10:30. It usually consisted of a bagel or some fruit. This made it much easier to wait for lunch and I was happier and more productive person now that I wasn’t starving or dying.

Recently I’ve been watching the show Pramface on Hulu. It’s a British sitcom about teen parents. In one episode, the young mom gets a job at an office and has to sit at the front desk. Since she JUST had her baby, she needed to go pump at some point during the day, but was afraid to do so because she had not told her supervisor that she was a mom and didn’t want to be caught. It turns into a funny, although totally embarrassing situation, but she becomes MUCH closer with her supervisor after her supervisor finds out that she is a young mother.

What does that have to do with anything? It brings me to the main point of this post. If you need something, don’t be afraid to ask! Most people are nice and accommodating and will understand simple requests due to some sort of life circumstance.

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Jobs With Benefits

Way back in the day, before everybody and their grandmother owned an iPhone, I was an assistant manager at a certain mall clothing store that sells overpriced jeans and t-shirts with the store name scrawled all across the front. I was working over thirty hours a week, I made more than minimum wage (barely), I had a key to the store, AND I got to take HALF HOUR lunch breaks. I thought I was living the life. I WAS SO COOL. Of course, I didn’t have enough money to pay rent, so I lived on my friends’ couches and all of my student loan lenders agreed that my income was so pitiful that they made my minimum payment $0. (True story, the government STILL thinks I don’t make enough money to pay my loans.) 

So what didn’t come with my awesome job? Benefits. I didn’t have health insurance or paid time off. If I ever told my manager that I needed a certain afternoon or evening off (you know, to take my GREs or something) she gave me the whole day off. At first I thought she was being nice, but then I realized that meant I was getting less hours. If I called out sick, my manager would just sigh and say something along the lines of “Well, I don’t know what we’re going to do without you. I guess I will just work the night shift too” which made me feel guilty and the next thing you know, I’d be at work folding t-shirts while hallucinating due to my fever. That’s not okay.

Luckily, most professional jobs come with some sort of benefits package. These differ from job to job and industry to industry. The specifics won’t be posted in the help wanted add, I know during all my on campus interviews, I met with a representative from HR that was able to tell me what my benefits would include.

So what are some of the benefits of jobs with benefits?

Paid Time Off

Paid time off, commonly called PTO, can include vacation time, sick time, holidays, and personal days. All workplaces handle these things differently. At some places, you have to “earn” your PTO, so you get X amount of days or hours each pay period. At other places, your vacation time may start with the calendar or fiscal year and you get the lump sum all at once. Some companies make employees wait a certain amount of time before they can use any PTO.

Depending on where you work, you might have to work certain holidays. If you’re not salaried, you may get overtime for this (jealous!). If you are, your supervisor might give you a different day off. PDFM U has a holiday calendar. I love going through it and writing DAY OFF all over my calendar. We also have a “floating holiday” that is usually tacked on somewhere to give us a four day weekend. This usually happens in the summer when students aren’t around.

Insurance

There are more types of insurances out there than I was aware of…medical, dental, vision, life, etc. Some of these your workplace might provide to you free of charge, others you might have to pay into. On top of that, you might get one level of insurance for free but have to pay to get a higher level of coverage or to cover any family members.

Some of my friends are still covered under their parents’ health insurance plans. Others that are married have chosen to use their spouse’s plan. If one of those statements applies to you, you might not need to get health (or some other) type of insurance through your workplace.

I know a lot of people my age tend to think insurance is “stupid” and that they could use the money for something else, but trust me, it’s not! Getting into a minor accident could cost you thousands of dollars if you have to make a trip to the ER and don’t have insurance. Ambulance rides alone can cost over $500. If you’re the sort of person that is worried about paying into your work plan for MAYBE $20 a pay period, you are definitely the sort of person that does not want to be hit with an unexpected medical bill.

Retirement

I literally know nothing about retirement plans. Health insurance…yeah, I’ve been to a doctor, I get that. But I haven’t retired yet. It’s not even something I’ve started thinking of. When I first started working at PDFM U and had to fill out the paperwork, I had to select the five year period that I thought I might retired during. UMM WHAT? I think I selected 2055 – 2060. That’s a long way off! I got even more confused when the HR rep started telling me about the different options. Nope. Just take my money and put it somewhere so I can have it again when I’m old.

Some companies have a company matching policy in place where if you contribute up to $X to your retirement fund, they will match it. Take advantage of this. Free money. I read somewhere that you should save 10% of your income in your 30s, 15% in your 40s, and 20% in your 50s and beyond. Well, I’m going to start NOW. I figure by the time I’m eligible for social security, it will no longer exist.

Student Affairs Specific

There are some added perks if you work at a college or university. If I wanted to take a class, I could free of charge. If I had a spouse or dependents, they could take a class (or go to college) here for free as well! Some schools have different policies, like discounted tuition, or you have to be working a certain amount of years before you, your spouse, or kids are eligible. Still, that’s a major discount. I know a lot of people working here with hourly tuition (cafeteria workers, custodians) have taken advantage of it so they could move higher up the chain in their departments.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a “live on” professional, meaning that as part of my job, I have to live on campus. It has it’s advantages and disadvantages, but the nice part is that I didn’t have to worry about finding an apartment on short notice and I don’t have to pay rent.

While colleges might not be known for their fine cuisine, we get discounted meal plans which means I don’t have to worry about how much money I’m spending at lunch. Some schools give their employees free meal plans ranging from a certain amount per month to unlimited. One thing to be cautious about – if your department is giving you an unlimited meal plan, they might be expecting that you eat a lot of meals in the dining hall with students. I’m not sure if that’s something I could get behind.

When you’re getting your first professional job, you’ll probably have a lot of questions about the different benefits packages available. Don’t be afraid to ask! At every school I visited, the HR departments were more than helpful with explaining everything to me. Even as an employee, I sometimes have questions about my insurance coverage that they are more than willing to explain. I’m sure that as I get older, my retirement package is something I’ll have more interest in and once I have kids, I’ll care a bit more about that free tuition.

Changing Policy

No matter where you work, there will be something that you disagree with. While not everything can be changed, as an employee there are some changes that you can push for! As a live-in professional, you might have to follow more rules that a person that doesn’t live on a college campus. Maybe you want to be able to paint your apartment or have someone live with you. Are there things you disagree with at your work place? Have you thought about changing the policy?

It’s hard to make changes right away. Certain things are completely okay to ask about, for example, having a partner or child live with you. If you have been hired as a live-in professional, you do need to know if these important people (that you probably are living with at the moment) can come with you to your new place. You will either be told yes or no. You might be the first person to ever ask that question and they might change or create a policy right then! Other things you might need to wait on. It’s hard to make big changes when you’re the new kid and don’t fully understand how your new work place works.

A good place to start is by asking questions. Why is the currently policy in place? One of the schools I interviewed at had a ban on pets in professional staff apartments. Why? Well, back when pets were allowed, one staff member had a LOT of cats and when she moved out, the entire apartment needed to be GUTTED because of the cat urine smell. Unfortunately, like a lot of policies our students must follow, one bad egg ruined it for the rest of us. When was the policy last updated? The current policy in place might be outdated! What your colleagues think of the policies in place? You might want your cat or dog to be able to live with you, but your other co-workers don’t have pets so while they’re not exactly pushing for a change, they might be supportive of you.

At your workplace, how do you go about changing the policy? Depending on the policy, it might be something you need to do with HR or it might be something that just stays in your department. What do other updated policies look like? Are you able to write it or would a legal team have to?

One of the most important things when changing a policy is having support from co-workers and supervisors. Depending on the policy itself or the school you work at, changing a policy can be a big deal. You might not be able to do it alone. If you are a newer employee, it is much easier to get things done if you have the support of those who have been around longer and have more connections at your institution.

While it’s not the easiest thing in the world, you can change a policy, even as an entry level employee. The important thing is to ask and to understand that it can take some time. Have you changed or implemented a policy at your campus? What’s a policy that you would like to change or implement?

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Home Sweet Home

In the middle of finals week, I realized that for the first time in nearly ten years, I was going to be living in the same apartment for more than one year. I hadn’t really thought about it, but once things got real busy with move out, I noticed something was off. Oh, that’s right, I wasn’t incredibly stressed about my own move.

I absolutely hate everything about moving. I hate packing. I always think I have less crap than I do. I hate cleaning. Once everything is all packed away, you see all the dust left behind. And when you arrive in your new place, you have to clean. I hate dealing with the fridge. There’s always that debate about throwing things out and buying them at your new place or putting all your ketchup/salad dressings/condiments in a cooler and bringing them along. I hate dealing with the first shopping trip at the new place. There’s always so much to buy. Ugh.

The worst is that for the most part I always knew that I was going to be in my various apartments for a year (or less) so I would tell myself not to decorate, not to bring too much, not to make it homey. And of course I never listened to myself. In fact, this might have been the slowest I’ve ever unpacked an apartment…I still have yet to hang anything on the walls in two rooms!

As much as I hate moving, I feel like the yearly moves prevented me from winding up on Hoarders. When you’re moving at least once a year, you can’t take piles and piles of junk with you. While I feel like I’ve done a decent job at keeping my apartment clean, once I realized I wasn’t moving, I started to get anxious about it. Months and months ago (seriously, during the winter) I cleaned out my closet and made a pile to donate to Goodwill. That pile is still sitting in my bedroom. Oops.

So what crazy thing did I decide to do next? Oh, you know, just rearrange the whole apartment. By myself. I realized I was in trouble after I had emptied my desk and shelves and then realized everything was too heavy to move by myself. While my original intent was to make my apartment not look like a Hoarders episode, I accidentally did just that and now need to wait until someone can assist me in moving this heavy furniture.

Besides all the furniture moving, I have a few other ideas for decorating my apartment. Since I’m going to be here for awhile and all. I have a few pictures up, but my walls still feel pretty bare. I would LOVE to do something big to go behind my bed. Another thing I want to do is get a rug for my bedroom. While I don’t exactly have the funds to do any of these things at the moment, maybe I’ll get myself more settled in and decorate!

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My Adventure at the Lilly Pulitzer Warehouse Sale

In case you have been living under a rock (or are male), this past weekend was the Lilly Pulitzer Warehouse Sale. What the heck does that mean? Lilly Pulitzer is a clothing brand that makes MOSTLY women’s clothing, but a few men’s items exist (ties, bathing suits). They have shops in various shopping malls (although none near me) and also will sell some items in other stores. Twice a year, the company holds a warehouse sale in southeastern Pennsylvania, near their corporate headquarters. When PDFM U hired me last year, I realized that I lived “close enough” that attending one of these sales was only borderline insane. I don’t think I was fully prepared for the experience. My bank account probably agrees.

This year, several of my friends planned a visit for the weekend of the sale so we could all go together. In the days before their arrival, I found myself prepping them for it as if I was their coach. I was telling them what they should wear and how they should shop…I wish somebody had recorded those phone calls! (Oh wait, the government probably was listening…hope you enjoyed that lesson, Mr. Agent!)

So, last Saturday, my friends and I packed into my car and set off on a day-long adventure. A few weeks ago, Lilly Pulitzer announced that they were only having one sale this year…normally they have one in June and one in December. I was excited, hoping that there would be an even larger selection, but also nervous that it would be crazy crowded. I was wrong. On both counts. While the parking lot was definitely more crowded than it was last summer, because the inside room is so LARGE, I didn’t really notice an excessive amount of people. All of the merchandise I saw this time was from the Spring 2013 line, which was cool because it was so new, but slightly disappointing because there seemed to be the exact same dresses everywhere you looked. Also, we didn’t arrive until early afternoon, so there was definitely LESS merchandise than there had been earlier in the week. One of my friends saw a lady at the checkout with a cute tote bag…turns out that lady grabbed the last one! At the end of the day, we all had fun and got a few things each. Definitely a good experience!

And now…some tips for if you ever decide to attend the Lilly sale (or any other similar, crazy event).

What to Wear

Plan your outfit in advance. I saw some ladies decked out in their finest Lilly. There is a time and place for that and the sale is NOT it! You want to be comfortable at this event. Additionally, you will want to be trying on a lot of clothing, so wear something that is easy to take off/put on. There are no individual changing rooms! A portion of the room is curtained off and you get changed locker room style (complete with some old person who thinks that parading around naked is okay). That being said, make sure the underwear you are wearing has more coverage – unless having 50 strangers see you in a thong is your sort of thing. Changing is not permitted on the sales floor but according to this post from someone who went Thursday, it happened anyway.

Set a Budget

If you walk into this without a budget, it is very easy to get carried away. Maybe you are looking for a specific dress. Maybe you set an item or dollar limit. STICK TO IT, even if it means taking someone with you that will force you to do so (Hi Mom!). Most of the dresses were $99. Skirts, shirts, and accessories were cheaper.

Know What You Want

Last summer, I bought some dresses and some skirts. The dresses were a bit fancier – I wore one to a friend’s wedding later that year. I figured I would wear the skirts to work with shirts I already owned. Except. I never did. I have a skirt in my drawer that I’m pretty sure I’ve NEVER worn. Why? Lilly Pulitzer is known for her bright, colorful prints. It’s hard to match a shirt to that sometimes! This time, I decided to get more casual dresses, that way the only thing I needed to worry about matching them with was a sweater for the office.

How to Shop

When you walk in, you’re given a HUGE pink bag (try to get a non-mesh one). All of the clothes are organized by what they are and by size. Dresses, skirts, fancy shirts, and pants were all hanging. Sweaters, t-shirts, and scarves were in boxes. Go to your size and if you like something or THINK you might like something, shove it in your bag. By the time you go to the fitting room, you will look like a very pink Santa Claus. Also, make sure you shop the racks that are one size up and one size down from your size.

Try it On

After you’ve looked everywhere or after your bag is so heavy you can’t carry it, head over to the fitting room! You will be told a number as you walk in. This number corresponds to a chair which is your try on space. I put my big pink bag on the floor in front of my chair and used my chair for my “keep” or “try again” pile. I put the things I did not want on the floor behind me. Employees frequently come by and collect the items you don’t want so they can go back on the floor. Because it’s so easy to get carried away at the sale, I tried items on and made a snap judgement. Things were almost always a definite yes or no. Some things DID wind up in the maybe category – only because I thought I might want to try it in a different size. At the end of your fitting room trip, your bag should be much lighter.

Back to the Racks

I always double check my size racks just because some item may have been in the fitting room or being prepped to come back to the floor my first time around. I don’t spend too much time the second time around…just a quick glance. This worked out to my advantage at this sale! There was a dress I really wanted but I could only find it in a size too small. When I went back, it was there!

Checking Out

Once you are done, you can head to the checkout line. Go straight to the check out line. Do not look left, do not look right. You will only find more things you want. You can pay by cash or card. They will give you a coupon to use at their King of Prussia store, which is about twenty minutes away. Your choice on if you want to go or not…but they have current stuff as well as sale stuff, so all bets are off for your budget if you set foot in there!

 

Like I said earlier, my friends and I definitely had a good time! While going to more than one of these a year might be a bit much, I am interested to know what other brands do something like this? Any that you know of?

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How SHOULD I Feel?

There are certain things that I’ve always associated with being grown up. Some I’ve gotten to experience, like going to a bar for drinks and living in an apartment. There are other things I haven’t experiences, like applying for a mortgage. But for some reason, when I’m out and about and doing all the fun “grown up” things, I never feel like a “grown up”.

I had a not-so-pleasant experience this past weekend (that I will elaborate more on down below) that made me actually say “I feel like a grown up.” This is only the second time in my life that has happened, aside from times I’ve said it because I’ve been forced to wear a suit. I can remember the first time I felt like a grown up. It was almost seven years ago to the day. I even wrote about it in my old journal (in the days before I publicly broadcasted my thoughts and feelings). After I got home, I knew I was going to write about this experience and I knew I wanted to find that old journal entry. Something about the two days had seemed so similar, even though they were opposite events – a baby shower and a funeral. This isn’t the first time I’ve gone back and read an old journal entry. But I was absolutely astounded at how seventeen-year-old-me seemed to be able to verbalize things in a way I don’t think I can anymore.

Is this what it’s like to be an adult? To suddenly look around and realize how detached you are from everyone and everything? To be sitting at the grown up table talking about grown up things?

I wrote that nearly seven years ago, but it perfectly describes how I felt this past weekend. One of my friends from high school passed away last week. I hadn’t been in touch with him recently. The last time I remembered hearing from him was my birthday. He wished me a happy birthday. That was it. I didn’t take the time to ask what he was doing or what he had been up to. And even if I had, who’s to say he would have responded? But that’s not the point. There are plenty of people in my group of friends that I haven’t really kept in touch with. In fact, a large chunk of us went to Undergrad U and I was even roommates with one, but I haven’t even been in touch with those people since UU. There are a few I’m still close with, so over the weekend we carpooled to the funeral home together to do something we all probably thought we wouldn’t be doing until we were well past fifty.

Just a side note on funeral homes – they are terrible places. All of them look like they were decorated by grandmothers. I know they’re supposed to look like a home and be comforting…but they’re not. They just contribute to the awkward feeling, like you’re the guest at a house you’ve never been in before. Stop it, funeral home directors. Get rid of the flower-y wall paper and the embroidered pillows. 

Everybody that I used to sit with at lunch and during football games and in finished basements was there. Nobody looked drastically different. Sure, there were some different hair styles or weight changes here and there, but there were no jaw-dropping transformations. If we were anywhere else, I swear I would have thought I had gone back in time. Everybody was dressed up, dressed even nicer than the sort of clothes we used to wear on “dress up” days in high school. People were introducing each other to their husbands and wives. They were making small talk about their new homes, their new jobs, their babies on the way. Everybody was the same but the things we were talking about were completely different. They were grown up. I didn’t know these people anymore. I even heard things I had never heard before from the friends I was still in touch with. I guess I never really asked my friend’s what exactly their jobs entailed. We all sounded so grown up.

It’s rather depressing that I associate feeling “grown up” only with negative things. Paying bills? Grown up. Attending a friend’s funeral? Grown up. I think it’s something society does as a whole. With the exception of small children that don’t yet understand the concept of responsibility, nobody wants to grow up. We make growing up sound so terrible. A friend recently complained of this, not because he had funerals to attend or bills to pay, but because he was finally finished with college classes. Other friends and family kept telling him how terrible it was out there in the “real world” and he was sick of hearing it. He was looking forward to becoming a contributing member of society.

Why don’t we believe that adults can have any fun? I’m going on a vacation with all my friends…it’s to Disney, but it’s something I would have never been able to do as a teenager! (Well, at least not unchaperoned…) Yeah, there are some shitty things about being a grown up, but there are plenty of shitty things about being a kid or a teenager and, yes, even a college student.

I’m hoping that the next time I feel like a grown up, it’s for some happy event, like…oh I don’t know. Sipping martinis at some fancy rooftop party.

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So You’re In Grad School: June

If you’re about to start your first year…

Slow down, sailor! Enjoy your last remaining days of freedom. Come back next month and I’ll have some stuff for you.

If you’ve just finished your first year…

Congratulations on finishing your first year! Hopefully you are getting settled in at whatever internship you have for the summer. As in previous months, it’s time to think about the upcoming year. Many programs require that you take a comprehensive exam or complete some sort of major project (or both!) during your second year. The timing and due dates for these vary from program to program. You might take your exam during or right after the first semester. Other schools wait until spring. The same goes with any reports or projects. I was one of the unlucky souls that had to do both. I didn’t know much about the report I was going to have to do, but I did know about the exam and decided to take advantage of NOT having classes to start getting my materials together and studying.

Some things you want to ask yourself right now might be: What materials will you need? Do any notes need to be rewritten or copied from a classmate? Which textbooks do you need? Do you only need certain sections? Is there any way to condense any of your notes? What material will you need to focus on the most? How often will you be able to study once the semester starts?

Since I didn’t know much about the project, I focused on preparing for the exam. I knew when it was and what material it covered. The first thing I did was to create a folder for each class. In it, I made a checklist. I wanted all old exams, chapter outlines, and notes from each class in the folder before I began going through everything. It took me a few days to sort through everything and put it in some sort of order, but I did it! (I also got to throw things away that I no longer needed…that felt good!) Once I did that, I made a very broad “study” outline. I wanted to use the summer to narrow the materials down and make a final outline for each class. I also wanted to prioritize my classes…there were some classes that I did not remember the material from at all and I had taken them less than a year before! Before the summer ended, I also wanted to make a study schedule for the semester so I would be prepared for my exam at the end. It sounds like a lot of work, but it’s much better to be over-prepared than to be panicking mid-semester!

If you’ve just finished your second year…

Some of you may have job offers already. Some of you may be working already! Keep on reading, I only direct posts specifically at grad students once a month.

Some of you don’t have job offers yet. That’s okay! Keep looking! Like I mentioned last month, things will open up as other people take jobs elsewhere. That’s definitely happening in my office. The fiscal year started on June 1st, so some departments are JUST beginning their candidate searches.

Not everybody that I graduated with got jobs right away. In fact, some people just got their first professional jobs this year even though we graduated last year. What did they do in the meantime? A lot found temporary student affairs positions so at least they were in the field. One of my friends stayed at the same institution and worked as a temp in MANY different departments…eventually they hired him! Others have left the profession. They are still working in some sort of helping profession…we have a few high school counselors among our group! Basically, we’re all a bunch of people who chose to do something because it made us happy…if you chose student affairs for the money, I’m not sure what rock you’ve been living under the past two years. Now that school’s over, do what makes you happy, even if that means working at some hip coffee shop while job searching. I won’t judge you for it, but your mother most likely will. Just kidding!!

 

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