career

How to Enjoy Work

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Photo from Unsplash by Lauren Mancke

I think it's important to find work that you enjoy, even if it doesn't pay as much as you like. Obviously it's important to earn enough to live independently and have enough, but studies have shown that there's a certain income that once you exceed it, your emotional happiness doesn't get any better.

Personally I've found that you need to enjoy work and like who you're working for. I've had jobs where I disliked my supervisor. I disagreed with how they treated and managed their employees, and not just me. I also disagreed ethically with them and felt that while not breaking the rules, they were bending them.

As a result, I disliked them and working with them. It made it hard to go to work each day and a relief to go home each night. I was living for the weekend or the time when I could quit.

The Wall Street Journal wrote an article about how Americans don't value flextime at work enough. I read it and completely agreed with it. The jobs I've loved have been the ones where I've felt valued, had a good company culture, had respect, and where I've been able to work from home or switch my hours around to accomplish the same amount of work, just in different hours.

My skills can be done from anywhere with a computer and internet so it can be frustrating when forced to work from an office within office hours all the time. When I had the flu and no sick-time, I wanted to work from home, but it was work at the office or don't work at all. So I worked from the office.

Flex-time and an enjoyable work environment are more important to me than a higher salary. I'd thought up until recently that it's okay to hate your job, it's a job. You just need to do it and do it well and you can do what you want after work and on the weekends. But that's not a great way to live. It makes you dread work, which is a large chunk of your life.

And it's important to have some passion for what you're doing. I haven't found my passion I don't think-unless it's blogging or hiking. I've worked in some pretty boring industries but loved it because I loved what I was doing and who I was working with. So while passion can make a difference, it hasn't yet for me. I haven't had a job I was passionate about, hopefully I'll find one at some point, but for now, I'm going for happy and content.

So as I look for jobs in the future, I'm going to look for ones with a good environment and with flexible work hours. Hopefully I'll be able to find something that is enjoyable and fits those criteria.

Do you have any advice for to finding a good place to work?

Dealing with a Long Commute

Northwest Pearls: Dealing with a Long Commute Before this year, I had never taken the bus. But when I got an internship that's fifty miles from home, I started to take the bus. Who wants to put 100 miles on their car everyday?

Between my front door and my desk it was about a two hour commute. On a good day it's as little as an hour and forty minutes. On a bad day it could be three hours. (Once it was three hours and ten minutes one way.)

Needless to say, I did a ton of reading.

I kept my phone and Kindle charged so that I could use them on the bus. I went to bed early so I could wake up at 4am to catch an early bus so I could leave work early and get home at a decent hour. It was quite the adjustment. I spend four hours of my day, five days per week, commuting.

Once I got used to my new way of life, it wasn't so bad. I would get home, eat, work-out, shower, and get a thing or two done before bed. Then repeat the next day.

I can't complain about my commute too much though. Some people have been doing it for years. But my Kindle has been a lifesaver since I started. Sadly the Kindle I have had since high-school graduation broke. So, after a little mourning because I liked it so much, I ordered a new one.

It's nice but I don't like it as much. I wish they had page-turning buttons on it like my old one. I don't like the touchscreen for a few reasons, one being that if I rest the Kindle on me while I'm rummaging through my bag on the bus, the pages may turn.

But enough about the Kindle.

Dealing with a long commute is tough, and I no longer have any pity for anyone whose commute in an hour or less. (One of my coworkers once complained that it took 20 minutes to get to work. Then he asked me about my commute.) But liking my internship paid a huge role in my commute. While it's not fun to spend 20 hours a week commuting, at least I liked my work and who I was working with. That made a huge difference.

And hey, if you're dealing with a long commute, just try to focus on the happy things, read a lot, bring your chargers with you, and try to get some rest. And while it may be bad at first, I can say that I got used to my commute pretty fast. Yes, I was happy when it ended, but I didn't hate it like I had at the beginning.

Do you have any advice for a long commute?

Advice for Applying for Jobs

Northwest Pearls: Advice for Applying for Jobs I've been applying for jobs lately and it can be stressful and discouraging. But hey, at least we have computers and the internet. We don't (usually) have to fill things out by hand and mail them in! Here's a few bits of advice I have for you:

  • Keep a spreadsheet of where you've applied to, what position, the link to the posting, if you've applied, the date you applied, and if you've heard back. It helps to keep everything organized and it's nice to see what places you've applied to
  • Reward yourself for applying. Have a cup of tea or a piece of candy
  • Look daily or almost every day at new postings on job boards
  • Keep everything updated
  • Network
  • Do informational interviews. Get to meet people and maybe get some introductions to others in your field
  • Don't give up. We can do this!

Can you think of any advice to add?

Tips for Working From Home

Northwest Pearls: Working From Home

*Source

I've been fortunate this past week and a half to be able to work from home. It saves me a long commute and I get to sleep in a few hours. But working from home has its own annoyances; here are a few tips if you do, or are going to, work from home. Side note: these also apply to homework.

  • Keep your personal cell phone off and away. You (probably) don't look at it at work, so why have it within reach at home?
  • Shut the door to the room you're in. It keeps people and sound out (to an extent.)
  • Have a schedule. Set an alarm. Get up. Just because you're working at home, doesn't mean you should wake up at ten.
  • Tell your family to leave you alone. Seriously.
  • Use a program like Cold Turkey to keep you off of anything that can distract you.
  •  Eat meals away from your computer. This applies to both being at work and home. It allows for a change of scenery and position and it's not good for you to eat lunch at your desk.
  • When you're done, put work away and out of sight. That way you can relax.

Are there any tips you've found help you for working at home?

10 Tips for the Entry Level Job

Internship/Entry Level Job Tips:

  1. Don't have chipped nail polish.
  2. Don't have short skirts/dresses, even with tights under.
  3. Don't have low necklines/odd cutouts.
  4. Don't wear too much perfume.
  5. Don't have your cell phone out at your desk. Or at least don't sit around texting/surfing unless it's a break, or it's an emergency.
  6. Clean up after yourself.
  7. Wear comfortable shoes. If you need to, wear shoes to commute in and then change shoes once you've arrived.
  8. Keep a to-do list.
  9. Write down things you need to so you don't forget your instructions. This is the details of the to-do list.
  10. Ask questions/clarify your instructions. The only way you'll learn is if you ask questions.

These may not be the most important tips, or the most helpful, but they're good things to remember.

I Changed My Major the First Day of College

The first day of classes in my junior year, my second year of college, and my first year at a four-year University, I changed my major. I had done one year of Community college because I didn't know what to study, and it was cheaper than a four-year school. During that year, while I saved money, I didn't figure out what I wanted to do, but it allowed me to take more prerequisites, so that by the time I got to a four-year school, I was mostly taking classes in my major.

I wanted a good job, but all of the careers that guaranteed a job and higher income right out of college, didn't seem interesting to me.

So I settled on being an elementary teacher. I knew that the pay left something huge to be desired, but I would be able to find a job. That was my declared major for my junior year.

About twenty minutes into the first day of class (it was a elementary teaching class), while the teacher was still going over the syllabus, I decided to switch my major. I sat through the whole hour and a half class so as not to be rude, and while I sat there, I brainstormed what other major I could study. I settled on Communications because it sounded interesting, and I had a friend doing it and he liked it.

So as soon as class ended, I called my mom, told her, called my advisor, left a message with her, then went straight to the registrar's office. I am one of the few people who switch their major the first day of classes. So we switched my classes around, made a schedule that was more general/communication oriented, and took out all of the teaching classes. My advisor (who was a transfer advisor and not focused on only students of her department) got back to me, and I told her that I was a Communications major.

My reasoning was that Communications was something interesting to me, and that I could change my major again. People changed their major lots of times. I never did. I stayed with it and I loved it.

And while part of me still wishes I had dome computer science or engineering, I think that it's important to like what you study/do. I could never convince myself to study something for the money. Though I do wish I had desired to do something that paid well/had lots of job openings, I probably made the right choice. Besides, it's not very productive to go against God's plan, and with how bad I tried to get myself to major in something like materials engineering or electrical engineering but still couldn't, I was probably meant to be a Communication major.

So my advice to you, is to study something that you can see yourself doing for the next forty-fifty years.

Portfolio, Writing Samples, and Resume

As I've been looking for a job or an internship for after college, I've  learned  how many employers desire writing samples and portfolios as well as a resume. Because I was a communication major, we didn't focus a ton on having a portfolio (not as much as design majors), but in my design class, I found myself wishing that we had done more design projects for my future portfolio. Now that I have to actually have a portfolio, instead of a list of things I would put in one, I find myself thinking about emailing professors and mentioning that little fact to them. (Sorry future students, I promise you'll be thankful in the long run.) So my advice to you is to take some of your work, preferable design and writing samples, and get it all together for a portfolio. See what you got great grades on or you are proud of and put it into a folder on your computer labeled "portfolio." That way, when you need it, you've got it.

Same with a resume, get it all updated and perfect BEFORE you need it. It is so nice to just have to submit the resume and not have to spend time stressing over it before it is due.

Do all of this before hand, and you'll be thankful you did.

Now I've got an email to write to former professors :)

Broke But Without Responsibilities

There is a bright side to not having a job. You have less responsibilities. Currently I don't have a job or rent. My only expenses are personal things, gas, insurance, my car loan, and my student loans. I can pick up whenever and go do whatever. Granted, I'm limited by money, but what I've been telling myself, to an extent, has been: "You're 20, have no job, and everyone else is broke too. What difference does it matter if you're almost broke or completely broke?"

I told this to someone at the airport, we never exchanged names, and he said:

“You’re going to be broke for most of your life.”

-Computer Scientist I met at the airport

While that's disappointing to hear, the important thing is that for most of your life, you will have responsibilities, you may already have them. But if you're lucky, or unlucky, enough to not have them, you can just pick up and travel. You don't have to worry about taking time off or finding a pet sitter. So that's pretty great.

I've gotten to travel this summer and while I am still looking for jobs for the fall, I'm able to take time and plan road trips and do fun things that I know won't be as easy to pull off once I've started my career. Friends mention future trips to me for their breaks, and by then I'm planning on having a full-time job. I may not be able to do those sorts of things.

So there is a benefit to not having responsibilities. Think of it as a mini-vacation.

Disclaimer: Before you get mad, I realize that there is also a pretty big benefit to having a job and responsibilities. I'm just looking for the silver lining. You may not want to, or be able to, have the same motto. Heaven knows that I would like a job and I'm not shirking away from responsibilities, I'm just taking some time off (Cut me some slack, I graduated college at 20.) So if you don't have those responsibilities, try to take advantage of a little gap after college where it's acceptable to take time off (if you can.) Most people are aware that you won't be able to do that very soon. And if you don't want to or can't, then I hope your find a job or whatever will be the best for you.