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Guard those precious LinkedIn connections! My take on the scathing emails from Kelly Blazek.

Cleveland job seekers and recent graduates have spent the day discussing the terribly rude and self-centered email that Kelly Blazek, head of the Cleveland Job Bank, sent to an innocent and, from what I read, hardworking young professional and job seeker.

As a recent college graduate and a former job seeker myself, I feel it’s important to discuss Kelly’s response to the individual who requested her help because I fear her attitude is indicative of how many C-level professionals from other generations view  my generation. In particular, I’d like to discuss her “I love the sense of entitlement in your generation” comment.

First of all, what ambitious and educated person doesn’t have a sense of entitlement? After all, we were all told when we were little that if we studied hard and got into a good university, we could live a comfortable life and support ourselves. Keyword here? Support ourselves. Instead, upon graduation, we entered a world where the economy was bad, jobs were hard to come by and student loan debt was larger than ever before. Despite this, we worked unpaid internships, did volunteer work and tried to better ourselves in hopes of standing out from the many job applicants out there.

So, why wouldn’t we feel kind of entitled to at least have a job that could help us support ourselves? Is that asking too much?

job_hunt

Here’s another interesting thing to keep in mind: in order to get a large majority of jobs in this country, you have to get some kind of education. Even many blue collar jobs require some kind of vocational school or training of some sort, and we pay for this education in hopes of getting reimbursed in the form of employment. Not everyone is cut out for higher education, however, and that’s totally okay. Our brains are not all the same, and that’s okay. Making individuals pay for school just so they can get a low paying job, only to beat down their confidence and increase their debts, is not okay. It’s something I really hope to see changed in the future.

I’m sure Blazek had good intentions when she started the Job Bank. Perhaps she recognized the fact that we all don’t come from a circle of coveted connections that can easily let us obtain any job. I’m certainly not one of these people. My parents, both extremely hard workers and very smart individuals, felt terrible when I called them one day, only to explain that I asked my college advisor for advice on how to find a job after graduating, and received the response “The economy is bad. Use your family’s connections.” The Job Bank helped people who didn’t have those connections find jobs, and that’s great. I personally frown upon letting a less qualified candidate get a job over a better qualified candidate only because he or she had a good connection. Sadly, that’s the way things work, and there’s not much we can do about it.

Blazek’s response, however, didn’t help. To beat down a well-qualified young professional who is most likely already low in confidence from job hunting does not instill the hope that recent graduates need.  To refuse access to her LinkedIn connections is childish and, most importantly, sad. I’m sure those connections don’t even want to be connected with her anymore.

Kelly, here’s my advice, and it’s something I’m sure you learned back in preschool: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it. Give us a white lie maybe… tell us that it’s becoming easier and easier for penniless graduates to get jobs, tell us that our talents will shine above the rest, tell us that Cleveland is a wonderful place to work and that its high-tier professionals are ready to welcome us all with open arms. If you can’t do that, or if you at least can’t decline someone politely, I’d suggest it’s time your bank closed.

 

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Move Away from the Cubicle! Why Working Out Is Great for Your Job

yoga at pyramid of Giza

 

From my junior year in high school until six months out of college, I worked in retail. I’ll never forget how I felt the first week on the job: my legs and back were sore from standing up so long, my glutes hurt from bending down and getting up again to restock the shelves, and I found myself constantly drinking water due to the humidity in the stock room. I felt exhausted and completely out of shape, and I was convinced I would never get used to doing my job.

Speed up to 2011 — I had just graduated from college and had landed my first “big girl” job. “Yeah, I get to sit down at this one,” I remember boasting to my retail co-workers. When the time came to set up my cubicle and bask in the luxuriousness of sitting down all day, however, I felt… lazy. I found myself itching to move around because I was so used to it. After a few months, I realized my body was less toned and I had even gained weight. I discovered what I had at my retail job, although painful at first, was actually really good for my body and well-being.

A few months ago, I decided to sign up for a membership at a gym about ten minutes away from work. My decision was based on two things: I wanted to stay healthy, and I also really wanted a way to move around on the days I was sitting down at my desk all day. After two months of going to the gym at least three times a week on my lunch breaks, I can confidently say it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in a while. So, without further ado, 

Why Working Out is Great for Your Job

  • It gets you out of the office. It’s important to step away from your work environment and give your senses something new to experience. 
  • It refreshes your mind. Yes, sweating on the treadmill isn’t exactly the most relaxing way to spend a lunch break, but it puts your brain back on track. Boosting your endorphins, moving your body and gulping down a lot of water afterwards (so many people forget to drink water during the day!) can give the jolt you need to come back to work and really be productive. 
  • It is great ‘me’ time. Answering your phone, responding to emails and staring at a computer screen all day is not about you — it’s about doing your job right. And while that’s important, doing something for yourself is, too. I find that on some machines, such as the stationary bikes, I can actually double my ‘me’ time by multi-tasking: I’ll place my Nook in front of me and read a few pages of the book I’m reading while on the machine.
  • It saves you money. Before I joined the gym, I’d spend my lunch breaks going out to eat or trying on clothes that I didn’t really need. Yes, gym memberships aren’t cheap, but spending money on things you don’t need isn’t cheap either! Now that I spend my lunch break at the gym, I am forced to pack a lunch and only do my basic errands after work, and it’s really made an improvement on my finances. A lot of companies will reimburse or partially pay for gym memberships, too… make sure to ask your employer before you get a membership!
  • It manages your stress and helps you stay healthy. It’s obvious but true: working out is a natural stress reducer and can help you live longer and stay healthier. Take an hour to remove yourself from the stress in your personal life or job: get on a machine, sweat out those toxins and focus on your breathing instead of the crazy chatter in your head. You’ll be amazed at how you feel when you return to your desk. 

 

 

 

 

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Are We Too Buried in Technology?

Xunantunich, Belize
I climbed that monstrosity behind me!

It’s been a dream of mine to see as many of the Mayan ruins as possible. In August, that dream came to fruition when I visited the ruins at Xunantunich, Belize. Being around structures that were so carefully built that they withstood the test of time was amazing. In the forests nearby, you could hear the screech of wild monkeys and you could see birds of every color in the trees. The energy of Xunantunich was both peaceful and mysterious.

I’ll admit that I, like almost everyone in our tour group, immediately pulled out my phone to take pictures. Sadly, I missed a good majority of what our guide was saying because I was so focused on snapping photos to upload to Facebook when I got back home. In the distance, a young man in our group had not one, not two, but at least four different professional cameras he was taking pictures with. Watching him scroll through his images on the bus later confirmed that he was doing this more as a hobby than a profession.

As person who works in marketing, it is definitely a good thing to be in the know when it comes to social media and technology in general. There is no way that I can avoid it. At time same time, I wonder — how much are we truly missing because we are staring at screens?

Buried in technology

It’s odd… our world is more about “sharing” than any other time in history. We want to share our pictures, our friends, our experiences, our game scores, our thoughts, our complaints… but most of this sharing is self-centered. We do it because we feel that we need to keep up with everyone else. Now, it seems like we live in a society that shares more yet is also more self-absorbed.

Don’t get me wrong; I love technology. I love the fact that I’m able to talk to friends in different countries so easily. I feel that, overall, my generation and generations to come are more accepting of other cultures and ways of life because we have so much interaction and information at our fingertips. I just think that we all need a little reminder that sometimes, we can leave technology out.

How can you make sure that you’re not too buried in technology?

  • Whether it’s once a day or once a week, give yourself a “time out” hour. Turn off the phone, hide the laptop and tablet, and focus on what is around you.
  • Use social media as a reward for doing work instead of a distraction that interrupts your work day.
  • Go to an event where you would typically reach for your phone as a barrier — except don’t bring your phone. This could be social gatherings where you do not know many people (networking events, for example), work meetings, eating alone while traveling for business or even family gatherings. Learn to embrace any insecurities and get to know the people around you.
  • Instead of instant messaging a friend that you may not have talked to in a while, give them a call instead. Listen to their voice… hear their emotions… make your connection more personal.
  • Challenge yourself. Tempted to use your GPS to find out where your next destination is? Thinking about using Wikipedia to do some research? Do it old school instead: use a map, read a book or use more traditional avenues to find your answer. You’ll be surprised how much more you remember/learn when you don’t have a computer doing it for you!
  • Remember what’s important. This is your life — everything going on before you will never, ever occur in that same exact way ever again. There’s beauty in that, and so many of us don’t notice that beauty anymore. See, touch and hear the world in front of you. Leave your phone behind on your next trip and make memories that will last longer than a photo album. Take your children away from their computers and TVs and go on a walk. Whatever you do, do it in a way where 100% of you is present.