Sunday, April 10, 2016

Getting Real

So two summers ago I thought I knew what I wanted to do with my life.  I was totally content with my company, totally pleased with my career track, and totally excited to have gotten into NYU to get my MBA.  My company was excited at the prospect as well: they were often telling me about the big plans they had for me to transition into sales and become an account manager, as well as how interested they were in developing me and my career.

Then reality came, and here I am preparing to start my business school applications for full time MBA programs starting Fall 2017.  Round 1 applications are due in September for the most part, and I really wanted to get an early start on this.

I went ahead and crushed the GMAT in March, and then realized that wasn't even close to the toughest part of the application process.  Business schools firmly believe in a person being able to explain how an MBA (and ONLY an MBA) can help them advance their career to their specific goals.  I've never really been one for specific goals, so I've kind of stagnated at this point, much as my career has beyond the basic get-it-started mode.  It seems like these should be serious and well thought out and well reasoned, but how can I know if they're right?  So comes the next step...

Well, I know I want to be successful but that's not specific enough.  I know I want to be highly respected but that's not a goal.  How can I possibly strongly convey something I myself feel unsure about at best?

It's been a time for self reflection, for sure.  I've started reading a ton about career paths and attending admissions events for schools I'm considering and listening to how other people parlayed their specific education and previous work experiences into fabulous and fulfilling careers.  I've meditated on what exactly it is I'm passionate about, and how I could make that a part of my work.

I've come to the conclusion that what I am most passionate about is helping people.  I feel like I have had a unique set of experiences and I really struggled through a number of hardships and difficulties, and I want to be able to pass that along to others, so that they may learn from my mistakes.

In reading the profiles of incoming students to the schools I'm applying to I've realized that I am up against some very serious competition.  There are sons of CEOs and daughters of artists and people who have had both the money and the opportunity to spend significant time abroad helping others in third world countries, while I worried about how I would pay off my student loan debt within the next 20 years.

Last year I met someone who asked me which countries I've been to and told me he found it to be a good measure of how "intelligent and cultured someone [is]".  I pointed out that travel is very expensive and definitely a major privilege.  He told me that I could have just gone abroad to volunteer, but even then - that's missed opportunity time that I could have been working, could have been finishing my degree.  It's something that bothered me then and I remained self conscious about now.

How can I compete with people who have had all these fabulous experiences when my most transformative experience was spending a year of my life in bed and not functioning?

Not surprisingly, it's a tough question.  As much as I'd love to start a non-profit and dedicate my time to helping kids struggling with depression or losing a parent or a particularly painful and unexpected divorce, I'd really prefer to have my own shit together first, and getting rid of the anxiety of worrying about loans and finances is a major aspect of that.

Then I thought about Marissa Mayer, and how she was so lauded for being a female CEO of a major tech company, and could inspire so many girls into pursuing fields that are traditionally male dominated.  With my extensive technical experience in an "old tech" field (i.e. the unsexy kind), I could maybe offer that same kind of inspiration to people who need it.  You don't have to have had your shit figured out from when you were 12 on, getting into Harvard and Princeton and then just completing the marathon from there.  You can start late and sprint to catch up, and have developed some important and invaluable skills others may not have yet along the way.

Or at least, I hope you can.  Because I want to.  And then I want to tell other people they can too.

If someone asked you right now to spell out your career goals, both short- and long-term, would you know what to say? What would they be?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Long Time, No See

Well, it's certainly been quite a while.  A lot has happened over the past little while even though most things are the same, and I hope I'll be able to get back into the habit of writing on here regularly!  I've signed up to take the GMAT on March 4 so I have studying for that to procrastinate, on top of the usual work.  This should be a good catalyst.

At the risk of sounding teen angst-y, and because I had jury duty today so I'm not wearing anything worth taking pictures of, I thought I'd make this post about:

Really, you're not.  Instagram and YouTube and the like have made everyone into budding celebrities, but those given the platform only use it to gain more fame and not to do anything meaningful.  Not saying I'm doing anything meaningful, but given the opportunity I'd like to think I would.  If you're making a video about makeup, show the fucking makeup.  Don't chat for 5 minutes beforehand about what you're going to show and how you'll show it and what people should do if they have questions or comments.  I didn't click your link for "random babbling".  I know you are super quirky and cute but I just want a swatch, for the love of God.

It was a common theme on House, MD and has become a common theme in my life as well.  From bosses and your employers making you promises they don't intend on keeping, to boys making you lofty promises just before changing their minds, to Adidas telling me if I download the app and go on at the right time I'll get to reserve some Yeezy 350s (spoiler alert: that failed).  While you take the words people say to heart because that's all you have to go on, remember that they have no obligation to actually keep up their end of the bargain.  Of course, a good person would want to be true to their word and do right by other people but remember that people will just do what they want or what is easiest for them above all.

After promises from work about sending me to grad school, they finally came up with an official policy of $3000 a semester, $12000 lifetime, vested over 5 years.  They might as well have just sent me an email saying "fuck you".  It's not like a $12000 scholarship, you're signing a contract to stay with them for 5 years or have to pay them back.  Now in a company with lots of upward mobility, I think this would be great.  It's stingy for sure, especially compared to other companies, but it's fine.  At mine, though, there's really not many places for me to move up.  We just got a new manager, and I certainly won't be taking his throne any time soon.  It's agreeing to keep working for them without the raise generally associated with a higher degree, and I don't want to do that.

As for the boy, well, we'll get there.  Actually, I hope we won't because I hope this helps keep me from thinking about all the promises he made me and didn't keep, the love he had for me that seemed to disappear overnight, and all those other things that haunt my mind when I'm trying to sleep at night.  I hope I won't waste any more of my time with wondering why he changed so suddenly, and what was wrong with me that caused it.

It feels good to buy things.  When I'm feeling down about myself I like to buy clothes or makeup and then imagine how nice I'll look when they finally arrive, when I can finally contour like a Kardashian.  But that never works out because it's such a temporary fix: once you get the items, you still hate yourself and still don't feel any better, no matter how amazing you look in that crop top (and really, you do).  Just make sure you're doing it for the right reasons - otherwise you'll dislike yourself even more when you see the dwindling numbers in your bank account.

Okay this one you need.  It's a game changer.

When people are stressed or unsatisfied with their own lives, they often feel the need to put down others.  To the guy who told me I wasn't going to get into Harvard Business School, fuck off - you're balding.  To the guy who told me I would have to change the way I speak to be taken seriously - fuck off, you're balding too and were asked to resign from your C-suite position and haven't found another one yet in almost a year.  To the guy who told me I was wasting my time when I sent him my GMAT practice test scores because he was upset they were (much) better than his - I know you wear shoe lifts, I've seen them, and I Googled the brand of shoes you wear to find that those are heightening shoes as well, so I'm taller and have better scores.

Using someone (or even anyone) to help fill the void in your life will never work.  You can't rely on someone to be there all the time, and you can't force a connection with someone when it isn't there just because you don't want to be alone.  When you find a real connection, the kind that's physical and emotional, the kind that lets you talk to someone every day without having to resort to "So how was your day?" every time, and lets you just lay on the couch together all day doing nothing and still having the time of your lives, hang on to it.  Please, please hang on to it.

If you're thinking you're next should be your last, you're drunk already.  Go home.  You don't need to prove your worth by outdrinking every man in the bar - I know you can and will be sending you congratulations from afar.  Take solace in that, and let that be enough.  Plus, you are always too open with your emotions when you're drunk and sometimes it wouldn't hurt to show a little goddamn restraint.

Am I missing anything?  What have you learned over the past year and a half?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

It's Not You, It's Me

Really though.

Has George Costanza ruined this totally valid reason for us all?  Of all the absurd things he did, this might have been one of the few that actually made sense.  Sometimes it really is important to be able to figure out your shit on your own time, without having to worry about someone else as well.

I am obsessively considerate of others and it's a problem.  I never know if I make decisions because its what I want or what I know someone else wants, but I'm hoping to figure it out.

In the meantime, it feels super shallow to post about shopping so, yeah.  I need a margarita and a day working from home.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Now, Time to Shop for Interview Clothes

In my email yesterday, among the random junk emails I get constantly about houses (even though I'm not even actively shopping for one anymore, I'm way too lazy to hit unsubscribe on all of them), was one that almost didn't get my attention.

Well, at least it will give me an excuse to buy some more business clothes that are way too fancy for my office!

The downside is that my anxiety is now even worse than when I was just waiting to hear back - now I'm just waiting for a day to be grilled, desperately wondering what they are going to ask me and how best to prepare and what my biggest weakness is (ugh) and what was a time I overcame adversity at work (UGH) and what was a time I had to take leadership of a project due to a difficult coworker (UGH).

Time to pull out all those interview tips I got senior year of college.  Maybe at least this time, having more life experience, I'll have some better answers.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Tale of Two Jackets

Last winter, I was in love with this Burberry Brit winter coat that was a wool trench with leather sleeves.  It was absolutely gorgeous and honestly trying to find pics of it would break my heart but it was called the Yarrowfield Trench.

I got it for Christmas, to my surprise, and wore the hell out of it.  Not even a full month later, I went to hang it up after a night out and noticed a huge split in the leather, not on the seam, straight from the shoulder to the elbow.  I won't be dramatic here but it was pretty tragic.  Nordstrom gave us our money back and I picked a plain navy wool trench without an ounce of leather on it to replace it.

I have been wary of these jackets ever since.  I've seen them around but fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, etc.

The I saw one come up on eBay.  It was a brand new Vince linen asymmetrical leather sleeve jacket and I loved it, especially at the price.  I bid on it expecting to have lowballed it too much and was surprised the next morning when I saw I won.  I had immediate pangs of regret - here I was making the same mistake again and on top of that it's not even a trend anymore.

But boy is it nice.  The leather is super supple, much smoother than the leather on my Vince paper leather jacket, and much more substantial feeling.  I like the asymmetrical zip because it looks great closed and open.  As long as it didn't rip, I was happy.

A few weeks later, my mom and I were going to meet at the Bloomingdale's Outlet and she was picking out things for me to try on before I got there after work.  When I arrived she had an armful of St. John items (now you can see where my sense of old lady style comes from), one of them being a black jacket with leather sleeves.  

I already have one!  I have a million black jackets too!

She asked me to just try it on just to see.

Long story short,

You can see how that "just try it on!" worked out.

So here I am with two jackets I love that are so similar that it's absurd I own both.  What's a girl to do?  Sell?  Return?  I just love them both and I think they offer a different look but I realize that to most people the difference is negligible.

For now, at least, I can admire them.

I was going to turn this into a deep metaphor for my picking a graduate program but you know what, not today.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Affiliate Links Kinda (Mostly) Suck

Every morning, you get into work, you sit down at your desk, sip your coffee while your computer turns on, and go on to check your favorite blog.  What is she wearing today? you wonder, excitedly.  Wow I would never have thought to put that chambray with those neon accessories and Rockstuds.  Awesome!

The one thing she's wearing that you can afford, a tank top from J. Crew, is listed below the picture.  You click, hoping that wearing the same thing as her will make you suddenly as fashionable at she is.

You arrive (in a new window) at the J. Crew home page.  

Well that wasn't very helpful. 

No, no it wasn't.

Three days later you get an email that it's the last day for 40% off sale items at J. Crew and even though you know they're going to start literally the same exact sale tomorrow, you check it out to hoard some basics.  You can never have enough Vintage Tanks, truly.

You spend the mandatory $150 to get free shipping, adding socks and cute notepads to give you that last $10 you need.  You just did all that work by yourself - looking through page upon page of sale items, dealing with getting excited that your favorite sweater is there only to find it's only available in XXS and XL, seeing that they have smalls and mediums in your other favorite sweater but clicking to find it's only in that weird jade green that looks awful on you.  You worked for it, no one else did!

But somehow, that blogger still gets a commission.

She didn't even do anything except link you to the website, which surely you could have done on your own (I hope) but still, she gets a commission because you have cookies enabled and you clicked her link at some point in the last week.

I am only bothered by the principle of this: someone gets paid for work they didn't actually do.  You aren't losing any money so it's not a big deal, but why should someone else get money for the searching you did?

Certainly I can't propose that shoppers (particularly bargain hunters) get a commission off everything they buy because they're the ones doing the hard work of searching through racks and online clearance sections, but it would seem to make more sense at the very least.

I tried doing these affiliate links a while ago because I thought the cool kids did it so I should too.  What I found: 
  1. It's significantly easier to just put a link to what I'm talking about on my own without having the generate the affiliate link
  2. You're generating more money for the company you use than you are for yourself (which is generally 5 cents per click and commission if someone buys the thing, but they rarely do)
  3. It's stupid.
A main issue I had is that I would never recommend someone buy something full price, yet there I was limited to linking to sites that are affiliates of my affiliate that are more expensive than the same product is elsewhere.

It makes me wonder how other bloggers do it - do they buy clothes so frequently that they can successfully link to everything they're wearing and have it be available online?  I'm wearing some cute ass Lafayette 148 pants today and I'd love for you guys to buy them for as little as I did (eBay duh) but they're 2 years old and naturally don't exist online anymore.  

Oh, oh, another complaint: you can't hover!!!  I hate when they say "shirt here pants here", essentially forcing you to click if you want to know what they're wearing, and then when you hover over it to try and get one up on them the link just says or or whatever else and offers no information whatsoever.  Not a fan.

I do have to give it to them for the amount of work they put into their blogs though.  I am discovering that it's incredibly difficult to get pictures of your outfit where you don't look like a slob every day when you have an actual job to go to and when you get home your pants are all wrinkled because you sat at a desk typing all day rather than frollicking in a meadow and picking up flowers from the corner store so you can take a picture of them in your Celine bag.

No shade.