7 Ways to Get Ahead at Your First Job

Originally written for and published at Her Campus on Sept 21, 2015.


You’ve finally landed the job you spent months trying to find. Congratulations! Now that you’re settled in, finished with your training and starting to get a strong understanding of what the real world is all about, it’s time to find ways to stand out at the office.

Getting ahead doesn’t have to be a challenge, but it does require a little extra effort. Follow these tips and you’ll be moving up the career ladder in no time.

1. Volunteer to help out with projects outside of your responsibilities

Just because something isn’t in your job description doesn’t mean you can’t contribute ideas to different projects. Go out of your way to ask your supervisor or other coworkers if there is anything you can help out with. They will recognize your enthusiasm and appreciate the unique ideas and skill set you bring to the table. We aren’t suggesting you overload your plate with things you don’t have time for, but even the smallest contribution can go a long way. After all, helping others succeed will ultimately help your entire company succeed.

2. Review your work before submitting it

Though seemingly obvious, many people fall into the habit of thinking something is done when it isn’t. Remember in college (and high school) when your professors told you how important it was to proofread your papers? The same applies in the real world—it’s actually even more important than ever. Don’t hand in a project—or even send an email!—without reviewing it beforehand, as one small mistake can make you look foolish in the eyes of your supervisors.

3. Don’t underestimate the power of kindness

Some people view their job as a stressful place full of deadlines, endless to-do lists and grumpy coworkers. It doesn’t need to be this way! Having a positive outlook regarding your company and your position will not only benefit you, but others as well. Be sure to say hello, smile and be cheerful. Katie Hardesty, director of PR and special events at Cherry Hill Public Library, echoes the importance of this: “Work can be a stressful place, but it’s nice to be known as a person people like to be around. Who knows… that paired with your awesome skills and work ethic could be the key to your next promotion!”

4. Never turn down leadership opportunities

A leader is something you should always strive to be, especially in the workplace. When individuals recognize you as such, your career can grow exponentially. They’ll know you possess qualities of dedication, attention to detail and a natural ability to guide others. If someone asks you to take on a leadership role, even if it’s as simple as planning the holiday party, don’t pass it up.

5. Express passion and excitement for your work and your company

The old expression, ‘If you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life,’ is still true today. Being passionate about what you do helps make your job easier because you don’t see it as work or a chore. Even if you aren’t at your dream job (yet!), be sure to find a few aspects of your current role that you love and focus on them. If you demonstrate your passion for your job and company, your boss and coworkers will notice. Lisa Hoffmann, director of communications at Unite Here Health, believes that executives and bosses often find youth and excitement in the workplace to be invigorating and refreshing. “They will gravitate to you and spotlight you and your attitude because most leaders are looking for those who help create a positive work environment,” Hoffmann says.

6. Build relationships

Focus on building relationships with as many people in your office as possible, especially with your boss. If and when you end up leaving the company down the road, your coworkers, managers and executives can remain part of your network—and you never know when your paths may cross again or when you’ll need a recommendation. Shannon Smith, a marketing communications coordinator at Insulet Corporation, recommends having one-on-one meetings weekly or biweekly with your boss to not only check in on the status of your projects, but to have an opportunity to connect and learn more about him/her. Just remember to remain professional in all your inter-office relationships; you want to make an impression on your coworkers, but you want that impression to be a good one. Sure, you can be friendly and go out for happy hour with your coworkers, but save the drama and gossip for your girlfriends.

7. Listen and observe those around you

You’re new to your company and have a lot to learn, so take advantage by listening, observing, asking questions and learning from your coworkers, bosses and peers. “Even if you were a superstar student, you’re still brand new to your field,” says Cristin Farney, a public relations and advertising professor at Rowan University. “Think of your first job as the most important class you’ve ever taken and your first step towards the rest of you career.”

Your first job can be stressful, but if you follow these tips and strive to be your best, you’ll be an expert in your industry in no time.

Read the full article on Her Campus!

16 Books Every College Grad Should Read

Originally written for and published on Her Campus on July 6, 2015.


Adjusting to post-college life can be rough—you may be done with classes, homework and finals, but you’ve come to the realization that it’s no longer socially acceptable to wear sweatpants every day, make dinner in a microwave, and binge-watch Netflix every night—even if it was okay to do so just a few months ago. You’re not the only one! That’s why I’m directing you right to the pros. Here are 16 books every recent grad should read, by everyone from career experts to fellow post-collegiettes.

1. Welcome to the Real World by Lauren Berger

Welcome to the Real World, by Lauren Berger of InternQueen.com, is a must if you’re looking for or starting your first job. It’ll provide you with valuable information you’ll want to know before taking your first step into adulthood. Berger emphasizes the importance of taking risks and having a strong understanding of who you are and what you can bring to a company as a potential new employee. “It’s time to get comfortable getting uncomfortable,” she advises. This book will help you build a strong foundation—by the time you finish reading it, you’ll have a great understanding of what to expect from a full-time job.

2. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

A ton of schools host events where professors give talks they like to call their “Last Lecture.” For these lectures, professors discuss what matters most to them and share their wisdom as if it were truly their last lecture. Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer when he was asked to give his “last lecture.” However, Paush’s lecture wasn’t about dying—it was about living. It explores why it’s important to strive to overcome every challenge you face in life and how to seize every moment. Pausch’s The Last Lecture will help you see the world in a new light. His philosophies and life lessons emphasize the importance of striving to make the most out of your life, something that all college grads should aim to achieve.

3. The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan

Marina Keegan graduated magna cum laude from Yale University in May 2012. She was on the road to success. She wrote a play that was scheduled to be produced at the New York International Fringe Festival and had a job lined up at The New Yorker after graduation. Tragedy struck just five days after Keegan graduated when she died in a car crash. After her passing, her unforgettable essay for the Yale Daily News, “The Opposite of Loneliness,” went viral and received over 1.4 million hits. Regardless of her young age, Marina managed to leave behind a valuable piece of writing that captures the aspirations and abilities of our generation. This book is thought-provoking and will help you figure out what you aspire to be and how to harness your talent to make an impact on the world.

4. What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles

What Color Is Your Parachute? sold more than ten million copies—and we totally get why. This book provides you with up-to-date information, research and tips regarding the job market, how to write resumes and cover letters, effective networking tips, how to negotiate your salary and strategies you should follow to find those jobs people tell you don’t exist.

5. Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown

The back of the book states, “If you graduated from college but still feel like a student… if you wear a business suit to job interviews but pajamas to the grocery store… if you have your own apartment but no idea how to cook or clean… it’s OK. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Just because you don’t feel like an adult doesn’t mean you can’t act like one.” We don’t know about you, but this certainly seems to apply to the majority of graduettes! This funny book makes the scary “real world” seem totally conquerable. Whether you’re looking for simple recipes, networking advice or tips on how to be taken seriously at work, this book has your answers. It’s pretty much the handbook to have by your side as an aspiring grown-up entering the real world.

6. Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed

We all know how hard life can be sometimes, but what we sometimes overlook is how truly great it can be, too. Sugar—a once-anonymous online advice columnist—was everyone’s go-to person for advice. Tiny Beautiful Things is an aggregation of the best of Dear Sugar. This book teaches you lessons through a tough-love tone of voice. You’ll be laughing and gaining valuable insight on all the the challenges life can throw your way.

7. The First Apartment Book: Cool Design for Small Spaces by Kyle Schuneman

What’s scarier than moving into your very first apartment? How about moving into your first apartment before you can actually afford an apartment big enough to live in comfortably? Your first apartment lets you have full control of what you want to do with your space, but it can be a little tricky to decorate. Luckily, Kyle Schuneman, a decorating prodigy, understands that a non-existent income and plain, white walls don’t have to stand in your way. He provides excellent examples of ways to take a small space and turn it into a cozy place you’re proud to call home.

8. Lean In for Graduates by Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of Facebook. She uses this book to share her knowledge on how to avoid common obstacles and advance your career. An excellent read for women who have recently graduated, Lean In teaches how to strive toward your aspirations and career goals. When the book first came out in 2013, it became a phenomenon for empowering women. This book’s combination of inspiration and advice is what makes it such a powerful tool for young women.

9. Graduates in Wonderland: The International Misadventures of Two (Almost) Adults by Jessica Pan and Rachel Kapelke-Dale

These two women—best friends since the moment they met during their freshman year at Brown University—made a promise to keep in touch after graduation through emails full of all the juicy details of their post-college adventures. One moves to Beijing while the other heads to New York. Both girls spend the next few years battling their way through adulthood and composing emails to another regarding all their exciting tales. This book is an easy, fun read that you will not want to put down. The emails between the two authors are exciting to read and recent graduates will find themselves able to relate to the authors’ stories and experiences in ways that are happy, sad, funny and exhilarating.

10. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

Just because you’ve graduated doesn’t mean you should stop learning. And who better to help you learn than Stephen King himself? He is a true storyteller and uses this book to share his expertise and his story on how his writing got to be where it is now. Gia Gallone, a recent graduate from Rowan University with a love for writing, believes this book is a great tool to help anyone looking to strengthen his or her writing. “Stephen King is an amazing writer. If you’re looking for a book to read that will help you enhance your writing abilities, definitely check out this book,” she recommends.

12. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell believes success is a combination of opportunity and time spent on a task. He is a believer in the 10,000-hour rule: that it takes approximately 10,000 hours to master anything. In his book, Outliers: The Story of Success, Gladwell takes you on a journey through the world of “outliers”—the best and the brightest, the famous and successful. He focuses on what makes these people different. He believes we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from. This book is a great eye-opener, filled with stories and lessons weaved together into one valuable, interesting book.

13. Put Your Dream to the Test by John C. Maxwell

“What’s the difference between a dreamer and someone who achieves a dream?” Dr. John Maxwell believes you will find the answer to this question after answering ten questions. This book provides you with a step-by-step plan to identify, follow, and eventually reach your dream. This is a perfect book to read after graduating when your dreams and possibilities are endless!

14. Life After College: The Complete Guide to Getting What You Want by Jenny Blake

Life After College serves as a guide written specifically for recent grads and young professionals. Jenny Blake, popular blogger and life coach, uses a combination of anecdotes, insight and inspirational quotes to help readers focus on the big picture of many different aspects of life: work, money, home, friends & family, organization, dating & relationships, health, fun, relaxation and personal growth. This read will leave you feeling confident, inspired and ready to take action toward building the life you want. You’ll be embarking on your big post-college journey in no time with this manual by your side.

15. How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

Remember when we mentioned it’s no longer acceptable to make dinner in your microwave? Well, with that being said, now is a great time to invest in a handful of cookbooks. Pinterest is a great tool to use for finding recipes, but having cookbooks at home will help you improve your cooking abilities even further. Bittman has a whole series of How to Cook Everything books with over 4,000 recipes, ranging from holiday recipes, easy weekend recipes, vegetarian recipes and quick and simple recipes. Check them out!

16. The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke by Suze Orman

Last, but certainly not least, every graduette needs to manage her finances… or lack thereof. You know all those money-related topics we all try our best to avoid thinking about: credit card debt, student loans, credit scores and insurance? Well, get ready to face it head-on. The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke is a great guide to read when you don’t know where to begin when it comes to budgeting, personal finances and every other not-so-popular money topic.


Spend some time this summer reading these books and you’ll be a real-world pro in no time! We promise.


Read the full article on Her Campus!

Why It’s Okay to Not Have a Job After Graduation

Originally written for and published on Her Campus on May 6, 2015.


You know the feeling: That nerve-racking moment when you realize graduation is slowly creeping up and you can’t seem to get a call back from any of the companies you’ve applied to. All of your friends are constantly talking about interviews and offers they’ve received, your extended family keeps nagging you regarding what you’re doing after graduation, and no matter how many jobs you apply to, you can’t even land an interview.

While professors, friends and family may make you feel pressured to have a job lined up right after you graduate, there are many ways you can take something perceived as negative and turn it into something positive.

1. Take time to unwind

For starters, take a moment to stop and breathe. Even better, go look at yourself in the mirror and give yourself a compliment. Next, make a list of all the things you’d rather do than sit at a desk in a stuffy office in the middle of July.

Having “me” time is essential to every woman, especially after an undoubtedly busy college career. If you don’t have a job after graduation, take this time to relax and focus on you. Yes, it might be a little disheartening knowing you aren’t employed, but it could also be your last summer to have fun with your friends and family before you have to work a 9-to-5 job, five days a week, for the rest of your life. Start checking things off of your bucket list, and be sure to take risks and enjoy yourself. Maybe treat yourself to a spa day; a mani/pedi or massage may help relieve the stress that built up during your job search. You could also go on vacation. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive; take a drive with a few friends or family members to a beach nearby for a few days or visit a place you’ve always wanted to see. Also, appreciate the fact that you won’t be setting your alarm for 6 a.m. every morning… yet. That, alone, seems like a vacation to us!

2. Set goals

Just because you aren’t working a full-time job by June doesn’t mean you have to give up! Keep looking, but don’t feel bad if you don’t hear back right away.

Try setting a more realistic goal for yourself. Maybe you want to be employed by September, or even January. Strive to reach your goals, because let’s face it, nothing feels better than meeting a deadline!

Next, try following up with a few companies you truly have your eye on, or go on LinkedIn and see if any of your connections might know someone from the company. Finding a job through your existing network makes the search a lot easier. So reach out to your network, and then reach out to their network!

3. Take on new opportunities

While waiting for a good job opportunity to come your way, you could take an internship position to help expand your skill set, even if it’s unpaid. This will bring you one step closer to your dream job. Diana DiNapoli, a 2014 university graduate, decided to take on an internship when she didn’t immediately land a full-time job at the end of her time in college. “As frustrated as was I when I didn’t land a full-time job after graduation, I decided to work as an intern. This allowed me to add another experience to my resume and gave me an edge when I went on interviews,” she says. “In my interview for my current job, it showed how dedicated I was to the field by sacrificing my ‘last’ summer and using it to build my resume. I didn’t have to tell my current company how dedicated I was; my resume spoke for itself. Currently, I work full time at a company I love and I firmly believe my summer internship helped me get there.” Even if your dream job is in NYC and you live miles away, you can always apply for a remote internship. Such an opportunity will allow you to gain the skills you need, while also being extremely flexible.

Though not necessarily a part of your original plan, it’s nevertheless important to be willing to start at the bottom and work your way up. If you’re a PR major, for example, your first position doesn’t need to be as an account coordinator at a PR firm. You could get a job as an administrative assistant just to get your foot in the door. Then, once you’re there, do your best to go above and beyond what is expected of you. Your supervisor will notice, and you’ll start rising up that ladder.

Finally, be open to any job prospects that may come your way. Rowan University Professor Cristin Farney recommends saying yes to all opportunities and to keep your mind open in order to get your supervisor to notice you. “Don’t be afraid to try new things, professionally or personally,” she says. “It is the only way you’ll grow.”

4. Learn something new

Most importantly, keep learning, no matter what. Even if you aren’t working, keep your brain busy by taking an online course in something that you’ve always wanted to learn more about, whether it’s directly related to your career path or not. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to build a website or improve your cooking skills. Well, now is the time!

Just remember, you have the rest of your life to work. This isn’t to say you should push off working until you’re 40 years old, but remember, being unemployed in your twenties is totally okay.


Read the full article on Her Campus!

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