Starting things on your own time

I’m one of those people who loves to start things at “significant times“.

What’s a significant time? In my mind it’s the beginning of a week, month, or year – a literal time to start fresh. But really, it’s just an obvious way to put something off for a few more days. A productivity startegy with a built-in mechanism for procrastination. Who said I wasn’t brilliant?

In reality, there is no better time to start something than…? The moment you come up with the idea? That rainy day where there’s really nothing better to do (after you’ve finished watching all of the movies leading up to the Avengers)? Or… right… now?

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Stop waiting for the rain to pass – get out there and succeed!

So write your novel outside of November (national novel writing month)! Start applications before the deadline! Start a new fitness regiment the day you read about it! Start a new blog on a Thursday! Plan a healthy meal for the weekend rather than starting a diet on Monday! Don’t let motivation pass you by!

Elle

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Taking time to enjoy unemployment

I know what you’re thinking. Unemployment is not meant to be enjoyed.

But that can’t be right!

Here’s how I see it: unemployment is just a stage in my life. And life is not infinite. Dwelling on unemployment and living without taking time to enjoy yourself is like wishing your life away. You’ll regret wasting precious time that you’ll never get back.

That said, I honestly can’t understand the people who try to make me feel better by saying things like “Unemployment was the best time of my life” or “You’re so lucky to have so much free time.”. Gah… please stop talking before I lose my cool!

In reality, you can still enjoy life while you’re unemployed, though you’ll have to put vacations and other extravagances aside. You can still spend time with family and friends. You can always take nature walks, explore your city, go to the local swimming hole, and endless other uplifting activities in your hometown. There’s a great big world out there – don’t limit yourself to staring at your laptop screen all day!

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My weekend nature walk in beautiful Fredericton, New Brunswick.

 

What are your favourite activities to do on the cheap? 

Elle

Gogogo: stop holding yourself back!

I have a motto. It’s kind of ridiculous, but it inspires me to no end…

Gogogogogo!

Yea, it’s abrupt. It’s aggressive. And it’s always encourages me to keep moving forward and to jump at opportunities.

Sad-face only works for my kitty – figure out what you need to achieve your dreams

When I consider the fact that I am unemployed, or any other frustrating truth about my present situation, I realize that there is really only one thing I can do to make it better. And it’s pretty simple: by doing something! I can send another resume; call one more company; contact one new person to build upon my social network. The only thing that won’t work is holding myself back.

So gogogogogo! Accomplish your dreams by taking one step, no matter how seemingly insignificant, today!

Everyone has a saying that inspires them – what’s yours?

Elle

Speaking too soon: Don’t be Afraid to Follow-up

When I was in university I awoke one morning craving a cup of tea, but my tea mug was nowhere to be found. Then I saw it – full of potting soil on the window sill.

I confronted my roommate a few minutes later, asking “Why on earth would you plant something in my coffee mug?“. Her response: “I didn’t see your name on it.” I turned the cup to reveal my name engraved on the side – this was a coffee mug designed by my best friend as a gift.

All she could say was “Oh! My bad”.

We all have these moments. We speak too soon. We miss details. We perceive things from one side – and we end up sweating unnecessarily.

And it’s not just in our daily tasks that our perceptions get the best of us. Your job search can be negatively impacted by misperceptions as well.

Take follow-ups for example.

No one feels completely at ease when following up after a job interview or after sending in a job application. Most people, myself included, feel awkward, intimidated, and pushy. However, following-up is an important part of the application process. It lets the hiring manager know that you’re interested and gives you a chance to remind them of what a great applicant you are.

But here’s the reality – hiring managers don’t really put as much thought into reading/listening to your follow-up as you think. In fact, in the course of their day, your follow-up is minute, provided you write something professional and brief (perhaps another blog post to come…). It’s just a little reminder and thank-you, nothing more.

So stop sweating the little stuff! There’s no need to over-think and psych yourself out!! Let’s stop fearing the follow-up.

Perception is power: check out this photo of my kitty. Is she actually about to leap off the side of a ledge?

Nope! It’s all perception.

Do you sweat over following up after an interview? Have you had a good experience as a result of following up? As always, I’d love to hear from you!

Elle

Are You A Recent Grad Debating an Unpaid Internship?

After 4+ years of higher education, the last thing you want to do is take a job that offers you no money to pay down your forthcoming student loan payments!

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You don’t want to be making coffee all day – so make sure that you find the right internship!

However, unpaid internships are becoming more and more popular among companies from the music industry, advertising, and even in the environmental sector. Are these sources of work-related experience worth it?

In my opinion, it really comes down to two things: the individual’s situation and the time commitment. If you’re a recent graduate debating getting into the world of unpaid internships, you might try asking yourself the following questions:

  • Can you afford taking on unpaid employment? Are you able to make the financial sacrifices to stay afloat? Can you stay with your parents or other family members for the duration of your internship? Or will you have to plunge deeper into debt? Take some time to really consider how unpaid work will impact your financial status.
  • Have you done you research about the company? Do you know it’s aims and objectives? Who works there and what they do? Can you see yourself fitting in there? If you’re not interested in what the company has to offer, look for another opportunity that better suits you.
  • Are you passionate about the company and the experience? Does this opportunity have the potential to lead to others? Will you have the chance to develop new skills and network? Will it really enhance your resume/acquired skills? If not, then why on earth would you take it on in the first place?!
  • Will the time commitment allow you to pursue other opportunities? Can you take on a part-time job while interning? Is the time commitment too long/short? You want to make sure that the opportunity will provide you with skills, but isn’t just using recent grads as a cheap source of labour.
  • How much do you want this internship? Is this just a passing phase, or are you going to be excited to get up for work each morning? What do you want to take away from the experience, and how will you make this happen? If this internship is in your field, you want to be at your best every day in order to make a great impression!
I hope that these questions are a good starting point! Please feel free to add others in the comments.

Want more information about internships? Check out these articles!

Lifehack talks about making a list of things you’d like to learn from your internship – what do you want to learn?

This post on Twentieshacker talks about ways to rock an internship – or really any form of entry-level employment.

Forbes.com describes an internship as a “10-12 week job interview” – I really enjoyed their take on how to turn an internship into your job.

Are you an unpaid intern? Or have you experienced unpaid internships in the past? How have these experiences helped you?

Elle

7 Job Seeking Skills You Can Learn From Video Games

I adore video games.

I know what you’re thinking: How on earth can you relate video games to a job search? I believe that inspiration can be found just about anywhere, as long as you’re open to making the connections. And one of my favourite pass-times is certainly a source for inspiration.

I’ve been playing video games since I was four years old. This is one thing that has always made me stand out from my peers. Only recently have I learned that my years and years of video game knowledge has helped me to gain a few skills that set me apart.

So here goes, 7 job seeking skills that you can learn from video games:

1. Persistence. Have you ever tried to catch all of those Pokemon? Or run a profitable farm in Harvest Moon? Or reached 100% completion in a game? I have… and from these (virtual) experiences I have learned that persistence pays off. Don’t be afraid to keep sending out resumes, to contact potential employers, or to keep checking the job boards.

2. Networking. My all-time favourite DOS-game, God of Thunder, taught me that to speak to everyone that I meet. Talking to people in real life has similar benefits to those in your favourite RPG; you’ll forge new relationships, learn new things, and maybe even acquire something that you’ve long been looking for, like a contact or job interview. Don’t be afraid to letting your personality shine!

My favourite game as a 7 year-old-girl was God of Thunder… and it still is! (Image from NottFreki, click for source).

3. Problem solving. Remember all of those crazy-frustrating dungeons in the Legend of Zelda? Or maybe you’re more familiar with puzzles like Tetris or Bejeweled. At any rate, video games can help you hone the patience and resourcefulness needed to solve problems. Use these problem-solving skills to explore new opportunities such as industry-specific job sites, social networks like LinkedIn, or to research internships with companies that interest you.

4. Creativity. Have you tried Draw Something? Are you one of those people who thinks waaaaaayyyy outside the box to depict even simple concepts? Creativity is an excellent way to stand out in a sea of graduates. Use creativity to prepare for tough interview questions, to spice up your resume, or to designing a unique online portfolio.

This is the best example of an overly complicated Draw Something drawing – you can’t guess Pegasus without a full-blown Hercules sitting on his back! (I drew this…)

5. Take on tasks. In Harvest Moon (Tale of Two Towns), you’re able to take on requests in order to make a little money and to increase your friendship points with the residents of the two quarreling towns. Sound familiar? Taking on part-time or temporary employment in order to get your foot in the door is, in my opinion, a great way to get started in a career. Just make sure to do your best in order to build a reputation for excellent work!

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Looks like she’s checking out a job board to me! (From Harvest Moon: Tale of Two Towns)

6. Do your research.  You can’t predict every little detail about a game just by playing it. Sometimes it really pays off to do a little research beforehand in order to understand the main and secondary objectives. The same should apply in real life!  Researching a company before writing a cover letter or attending an interview will give you confidence and let your employer know that you are a serious candidate. It never hurts to be over-prepared, so make use of Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, and word of mouth to better understand who it is that you’re meeting. Never rely on instinct, do your research!

7. Relaxing and living in the moment. This is what video games are all about! When you focus all of your energy on your job search it’s easy to get worn out and frustrated. You don’t want to bring a negative attitude into a job interview! So relax, have some fun once in a while, and try to maintain a positive outlook. After-all, you only live once!

What else have I taken away from video games? Frighteningly quick bacteria-colony counting skills (I’m a biologist after-all), the importance of saving my work to avoid heart-break,  keen eye for minute details, and great computer skills. I bet you will have enhanced some skills after years of gaming too.

Are you a job seeker and a video game enthusiast? Do you have any skills to add to my list? I’d be pleased to hear what your thoughts on taking inspiration from video gaming!

Elle