My Job Tips for Millennials in the Workforce

workforce

Hey everyone! Thanks for checking out the seventh and final post in my How to Create a Wellness Lifestyle series. Today, we’re going to be talking about career wellness, which I’m surprisingly passionate about! Since one’s job is such a cultural focus in the United States, I hate to see people miserable at work or unable to break into the field that they’re passionate about. I’ve only been working for four years now, but I feel like I’ve had a wide variety of experiences that have taught me valuable lessons. So for all of you fresh to the workforce, here are my favorite tips:

 

Internships get your foot in the door to difficult industries.

Let me be clear- I think that not getting paid to work is the absolute worst. But the truth is that it’s part of our current American work culture, so we can’t ignore it. There are so many recent college grads who are willing to to work an unpaid internship to get experience that you likely can’t afford to stand up against the injustice. Lots of industries are highly competitive, so you probably won’t get a paid job in them unless you’ve had internships beforehand. Every industry I’ve been previously interested in is an example of this- interior design, study abroad, and event planning.

As a sophomore in college, I got a summer internship with the famous interior designer Phoebe Howard. She’s all over magazines across the US, so do you think I would be able to get a paid, entry level position without her testing me out through an internship first? Hell no! It’s the same with event planning. I only got a paid job where I was able to create $150,000 events for multinational corporations, because I’d helped (unpaid) with a bazillion events in college. Oh, you want a paid job in study abroad without an internship? Not gonna happen. I worked in study abroad planning with UGA and Harvard, and even then it’s hard to find paying jobs in the industry. There’s just so much competition in many industries!

Do some unpaid work in your industry where you live now, and save up some money. Then, when you have enough moolah to get you through a season in NYC or Boston or SF, find a really prestigious internship with a company you admire. If you perform well and get recommendations, you’ll have an awesome paid job in your dream industry in no time!

 

Don’t be afraid to ask for the position you want- even if it’s not posted or doesn’t exist yet.

I’d like to tell you a surprising fact. Out of the variety of jobs that I’ve had in college and after graduation, not a single one of them was listed as an open position on the company website or on any other job search engine. I didn’t find any of them using this common method, and I’ve never applied to a job through a website. Truth be told, I never formally applied to any of them at all! Here’s my method using the event planning industry as the example:

  • I research online to find all of the event planning related businesses in the area and make a list. If you’re living in a city it should be a big list of about 40-60 companies.
  • Check out each of their websites and read all of their information to see if it feels like a nice place to work and to see if they have a reputable portfolio of events. If the website looks like it’s from the 1990’s, I say “no” right away- they obviously have no respect for their business image.
  • Once I’ve narrowed it down to the companies that I would be interested in talking to (usually 15-20 businesses in a city), I craft up an email to introduce myself to them and show my interest. In it, I briefly discuss why I’m interested in their company, my past work background, and what I could do for them. The body should be concise and broken into topical paragraphs- my email was 167 words.
  • I finish off by saying something like, “If you have any job opportunities available, I would love to become part of your team. My resume is attached. Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.”
  • You can find the contact email for each business on their website- you just might have to search a bit. Sometimes it’s on the “about” page, or sometimes it’s on the “contact” page. If there isn’t an email to send job inquiries, I always go for the boss’s email. Use the contact form on a website only as a last resort.
  • Do not send a group email! Remember to personalize it for each company and business owner you’re sending it to. You’re definitely not going to get the job if you send an email addressing the wrong event planning company!
  • Proofread, attach a nice resume, and send! Good luck! 😀
  • You should hear back from the businesses within the next week if they have any open positions. Set up an interview from there. The most recent time I tried this method I got 5 responses saying that they had an open position. I ended up working for the company that I liked best out of the whole group!

Using this method of cold emailing companies give you an edge. When you apply through a job search engine or an open posting that the company put on their website, literally hundreds of people apply. You’d have to fight your way through a talented crowd. You have a much better chance of getting a job when it’s not being advertised. Like I said, that’s how I’ve gotten all of my jobs! Email away!

 

Always stand up for yourself (respectfully) in difficult work situations.

Bosses and coworkers don’t respect people that they can walk all over. This is hard to learn, but always true. Do you want to be the person who gets used and abused at work? I don’t! I can understand why people would be afraid of confronting others. We’re worried that we’ll get yelled at and make an enemy, or that we could even get fired. From my experience, as long as your stand up for yourself in a polite way, you’ll be fine.

I’m not going to say where I was working, but I will tell you that my bosses were absolutely crazy. They were judgmental and full of attitude, insulting and yelling at people in the office all day. It was a very fast paced job, but I work well under pressure. Anyway, I was given an event project to finish in 4 full days- I would have to work quickly, but I’d have the time to double check all of the budgeting so that it’s perfect for the client. On the morning of Day 2, my boss tells me that I need to have the project done in only 6 hours now, just because she wants me to work on a different project later in the day. As you could imagine, I’m frantic because that’s an impossible deadline. I do finish in time, but it’s not near the quality that I like my event proposals to have. My boss checks it over and starts badgering me about all of the tiny mistakes in it. My face is starting to boil. She finally says, “What is this? Are you stupid?” And I reply very sternly, “No, I am not stupid. If you’d allowed me the proper time required of a project this size, you know there wouldn’t be any of those mistakes. You set me up for failure.”

She apologized and didn’t say much the rest of the day- like she was embarrassed. But after that, she treated me with much more kindness and respect. I later learned from other employees who’d been there longer than me that she preys on people who show themselves to be weak. Apparently, she made one woman cry everyday until she quit. I could have just taken all the blame and said to her, “I’m sorry for the mistakes ma’am… I’ll be better next time.” But the fact that I stood up to her unfairness is what made her respect and like me. She actually loved me after that day- I soon asked for a raise and to be able to work from home most days, and she said “yes” to both requests! Don’t be afraid to stand up to injustice in the office. Your boss may be surprised that you took a stand, but that shock almost always turns into respect.

Tip: If you want a raise or some other major improvement in your job, you have to have confidence. If they refuse to give you what you want, you need to be prepared to give your two weeks notice. If you stay there, why would they ever give you a raise? You just showed that you’d stay without one! Your power is now gone.

 

If the job doesn’t feel right for your soul, change it.

Everyone has their own worldview, and in mine, I believe that we don’t have to suffer unnecessarily in our careers. If you hate your job, please save up some money, figure out your new plan, and then quit. I’m tired of people in the US saying that they have to stay in their terrible, soul-sucking job in order to support their family (or other excuse). That’s almost always a cop-out. There are single mothers all across the US right now getting a college degree in their passion subject while also working and raising a child. You think you have less time than them?! No, you don’t. You just don’t want to reach your dreams as much. They are working so hard because they want to make their goals and passions a priority.

So question yourself- if you’re feeling blocked to go towards your dream career, what is the real reason? Are you afraid to fail? Worried it will be too challenging? Scared of what people will say about you? Upset that you’ll have to change your lifestyle? Be honest with yourself about what’s stopping you. It will be hard, but it’ll be worth it. Make your job happiness a priority. And if there isn’t a job that suits your passions, create a new one for yourself!

 

There you have it- a little tough love for all of us Millennials. The truth is, I want everyone to feel satisfied with their lives and careers. I believe it’s entirely possible and hope that you’re gutsy enough to believe that too. So get out there and make a happy life for yourself. It’s all in your hands! Do you have any career advice or job experiences that you’d like to share? What is your dream job? Please share in the comments. We’d love to know! 🙂

Enjoy the rest of your week,

xo Caylee

 

Are YOU the One Holding Yourself Back?

limiting beliefs surf graphic

I’m not the type of person who’d be good at playing ukulele and covering my favorite songs. I’m not a sporty, adrenaline chasing girl who’d be into surfing. I’m not a New Age, woo-woo seeker who’d enjoy doing yoga and meditation. I’m not… I’m not… I’m not…

How many amazing opportunities and potential talents have you passed over or talked yourself out of because you believe you’re not a certain type of person? The above hobbies – playing ukulele, surfing, and doing yoga – are all things that I never thought I’d love to do, or even be good at doing!

Last year, I showed Stefan a bucket list of things I wanted to achieve before the age of 30, and one of my goals was learning to play the ukulele. Part of me actually wanted to learn. I didn’t know how to play any instruments, and I felt like I was missing out on this giant part of human existence by not creating music. But the other part of me thought, “If I haven’t learned how to play the ukulele or guitar before my age of 24, then obviously it’s not in my life path. I’m too old to learn something so complicated. I’m clearly not an instrument playing type, or I would’ve done it already- maybe I’m just more of a singer.”

False. If it was up to me and my stubborn brain, I never would’ve gotten to learn what turned out to be one of the loves of my life. Thankfully, Stefan saved me from a sad, music-less fate by buying me a beautiful baritone ukulele for Christmas. But it sat alone in the corner of my room for over a month before a disappointed Stefan asked if I was ever going to use it. I’d been feeling guilty seeing it there everyday, untouched, but I was honestly too scared to even try strumming it once. I was terrified to confirm my suspicions that I, in fact, was not a music playing type. Then all of my ukulele dreams would be dashed forever.

Stefan picked up the ukulele and showed me where to place my fingers on the strings. He then demonstrated some easy chords. The fateful moment came when it was time for me to try- and I SUCKED. It was hard, and I didn’t like the feeling of being new and bad at something. So there Josefina, my ukulele, sat in the corner for another couple of weeks before I summoned up the courage to try playing her one last time before giving up. This time, I did it my way. When I saw the movie “Her” a few months prior, I decided that if I only learned to play one song, it would be The Moon Song by Karen O. So sitting alone with my ukulele, I slowly learned the chords to The Moon Song and then added the words to sing along with my strumming. Once Stefan got home from work a few hours later, he was flabbergasted that I’d learned how to play and sing an entire song by myself.

I suddenly felt exhilarated that I was a music playing type of girl! I could recreate new versions of any song on the planet with my own beat and strumming style and voice. Amazing! Over the next few months, I practiced every single day and learned how to play at least 50 different songs on my ukulele while singing simultaneously. It turned into a time of total mental and emotional absorption for me. It was my meditation. It was my release. It was my joy. Tears came to my eyes as I sang Hurt by Johnny Cash, and I laughed as I covered We Can’t Stop by Miley Cyrus. In just a couple months time, I became the type of girl who played music and was confident in her abilities. The previous way that I viewed myself was totally shattered, and it opened up a whole new realm of possibilities for me. I never would’ve believed it if you told me that a year ago.

So, to get to my point, how are you holding yourself back? This entire post was inspired by a great quote that I found this weekend:

“It’s not what you are that holds you back, it’s what you think you’re not.” – Denis Waitley

Think about all of the limiting beliefs that you hold about your personality and your life. What positive experiences, jobs, and hobbies are you stopping yourself from trying because you think you’re not a certain type of person?

I thought I wasn’t a musician, but after giving it a real shot, I feel like I’m a natural at playing ukulele. I was absolutely terrified to try surfing in Costa Rica and didn’t feel like I was athletic enough to be good at it, but I popped up on the board on my very first wave. I’ve shocked myself time and time again by realizing that I’m not the diluted version of a person that I stifle into a tiny box inside my mind. I am so much more. I am whoever and whatever I want to be. And so are you!

Who says you can’t be the type to hike the Pacific Crest Trail? To own your own business? To learn how to sail? To make your own movie? To be a great parent? To create your own vegetable garden? To get toned and healthy? Sometimes you are the one stopping yourself! I hope that you choose to challenge yourself into being the person of your wildest dreams. Surprise yourself, and show that you can be more than you ever thought possible. You don’t ever have to keep being a certain type of personality, unless you decide to be the type who kicks ass and steamrolls your goals. In which case, go for it! 🙂

Thanks for reading, and please share your thoughts in the comments below. What type of person do you wish you could be but think you’re not? What’s really stopping you?

Have a beautiful Monday,

xo Caylee

Tweet this: “It’s not what you are that holds you back, it’s what you think you’re not.” – Denis Waitley via @Cayleepugh

When Your Family Doesn’t Support Your Dreams

AUTHENTICSELF

What do you feel is the appropriate reaction when your loved ones don’t support what you’d like to do with your life? I would confidently say: I love you, but this isn’t about you. This is about what’s best for me, and only I can know that answer. If you believe I don’t know what’s best for me, you’re wrong. You’re thinking about what you would do if you were me. But you’re not me. So, I love you, but if you’re not coming with me on this journey, then please move out of my way. I’m turning into the most badass version of my authentic self possible, and I need supporters with me, not downers and haters. So are you with me or against me? *drops mic*

Let me start off by saying that I personally feel like I’m the Queen of Familial Disappointment. The family member that I’m always trying to impress is also the person who I oppose most often. I see this as a common thread throughout the lives of my friends- they care about their family’s opinion more than anything, but they’re also tired of trying to be the people that their families wish them to be. Do you see how problematic this is to our happiness? I’ve noticed that the most common way family members demonstrate their lack of support is through pressuring, manipulation, and most of all- giving unwanted advice that we should stop pursuing our dream. Though these acts aren’t necessarily dubious, they can certainly influence us away from the goals of our authentic self.

My dad wanted me to attend his favorite Florida university, but I wouldn’t consider it for a second. Didn’t even apply there. He wanted me to get a business degree and work in a high-paying, office environment. Then, once I got enough corporate experience, he thought it would be great if I started working at his business, just in time for his retirement. Of course, you can guess where this story goes. I tried to get a degree in absolutely everything besides business- broadcast journalism, interior design, and finally, cultural anthropology. I studied anthropology because I completely loved it and felt passionately about it. I did it for me. Since graduating, I’ve taken on a multitude of interesting jobs and heard all of my dad’s advice, but I usually choose to listen to my personal intuition instead. Brazenly following my heart has led me to where I am today, and I’ve been more consistently happy this year than I’ve ever been in my whole life. Without a doubt, I can say that listening to my own intuition instead of other people’s opinions has been the wisest decision.

Now, this is not to say that your family members aren’t wise and knowledgeable. My dad has made many great decisions in his life and has built a business that I truly admire, but there’s one important fact missing: he is not me, and I don’t want to be him. I want you to consider this simple question for a second:

Would you love to have the life of your parents? Or sister, grandpa, uncle, etc.

If your answer is “yes,” then you probably should listen to their advice. They know exactly how they got to where they’re at, and they’ll surely be happy to tell you all of their stories about how to live the same lifestyle. But if your answer is “no,” then please stop following their advice! Your parents aren’t experts about any life other than the one they chose to live.

For example, before getting engaged, would you ask someone who has cheated and been divorced four times already how to make a marriage last forever? Or if you wanted to create your own tech start-up company, would you get your business advice from someone who’s worked only in nursing for thirty-five years? No, of course not! These people don’t have experience in your realm of interest. So why would you follow everything your parents say if you want to live a life that’s very different from the one they have?!

It’s tough love time, because I don’t want anyone influencing you to live their dream. Own your own damn life. Stand up for yourself and what you want. Show your family love and respect, but you must show yourself love and respect too. If what you want out of life is different from what your family or friends want, then giving in to them and living their version of happiness is a crime against the soul. Here are my five basic tips for moments that your family tries to steer you away from your dreams:

1. When people are giving unsolicited advice on what you should be doing with your life, just listen with respect and kindness.

2. Contemplate if they have true expertise in the area of your dreams. If so, consider taking their advice. Even if it’s not what you want to hear, is what they’re saying valid? Listen to what your intuition is saying in response, and go towards that.

3. If they don’t have expertise in the area of your goals, contemplate if the advice that they’re giving is still useful or relevant. If so, take it. If not, just say, “I appreciate hearing your thoughts,” and move on.

4. Do what’s best for you, and live your own damn life! Be gutsy! We’re getting too old to follow what our family says without a second thought about if it’s really best for what we want. Going against what your loved ones think takes crazy courage, but it will be so worth it!

5. Even if you’re not being emotionally supported by your family at the beginning stages of going against them, I’ve found that they usually come around. Once your loved ones see how happy and passionate you are about your choices, they’ll understand it was the right decision for you to make. So forget about their support at the beginning, and be your own shining light. Remind yourself everyday what a brave, kickass woman you are for following your heart!

So have you ever felt unsupported by your friends or family? What did you do in response to their backlash? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

I hope you have a beautiful, brave day,

xo Caylee