Friday, August 22, 2014

4 Myths About "Real-Life" Debunked

In case my lack of posts has been any indication, the post-collegiate life has been kicking my behind. This isn’t to say that I haven’t been keeping up and dealing a blow right back at it, but casual blogging hasn’t fit into my schedule quite as seamlessly as it used to. But, after just over two months of bringing home the bacon, I was finally inspired enough to write a new post: debunking after-school myths that I’ve thus far discovered to be abhorrently false.

1. You won’t get a job unless you have connections.
In my last semester of school, I reached out to “connections” I hadn’t spoken to since middle school, because that’s how you get a job, right? WRONG! Of all the calls I made, emails I sent, casual lunches I sat through and informal interviews I prepared for, the job I ended up with came to me through a random job site my mom happened to be on that day. Don’t keep yourself from applying for a job you want just because someone says you won’t get it.

2. You’ll actually have enough money to do the things you want.
Unless you’re a genius or just got access to your trust fund, you’re not going to be making as much money as you thought you were. Maybe if you save every month for a year, you can afford a vacation to your grandma’s house.

3. Going out during the week is over.
After leaving school, not only are you still allowed (and often encouraged) to go out during the week, but oftentimes, if you’re lucky, your company will also pay for said drinks. Whether it’s office parties, group happy hours, or just some after-work drinks, you won’t have to worry about mourning the loss of your collegiate drinking habits.

4. You finally have weekends to yourself.
Even though no homework is the best thing that’s happened to me since Santa Clause himself, taking it out of the equation definitely hasn’t freed up my weekends.

When you work from 9-6, you run out of time for things like grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments, or even just depositing that hard-earned paycheck. Weekends are for catching up on all the chores you have no time to do when you’re working all day.

Friday, May 2, 2014

7 Things Every "Adult" Should Buy

In exactly one month, I will have to be a real-life adult with real-life problems (just applied for my first credit card. What??). And, if you’re like me, you haven’t necessarily mastered the “mature adult” thing yet. Sure, you know there’s a difference between merlot and cabernet, but hell if you know what the difference actually is. And yeah, you know how to use a credit card, but have never actually paid a credit card bill. The way I see it, these things will come with age. But when it comes to being an adult, there are a few things every young woman should have:

1. Alcohol you can’t take in shot form
This could mean a mixer like triple sec to make yourself a classy cosmopolitan or a nice scotch you like to sip on. I’m not saying avoid the vodka and tequila altogether, but don’t let your adult apartment look like the inside of a frat house either.

2. More than one good pair of pants
I recently brought my favorite pair of jeans home from the tailor because, after wearing them 3-4 days per week, I’d rubbed a hole in the inseam. Invest in more than one pair of paints that are comfortable and, for bonus points, work appropriate.

3. A pet
I’m not saying go out and adopt a new puppy, but if you haven’t had practice taking care of someone or something other than yourself up until now, here’s your chance. Feel free to start small, like a fish (or, if you’re really a beginner, a cactus).

4. A respectable phone case
Ok, ok, I only gave up my Disney princess phone case last week, but come on, it’s cute! However, I’m not sure how comfortable I would feel putting that on the table during a meeting. Even if you just have a boring day case and a rockin’ post-work case, that’s fine. Just make sure you have something that looks relatively respectable for professional situations.

5. Furniture you didn’t assemble
This one is still on my to-do list…Ikea is just so cheap! But when it comes to a big kid apartment, it’d be nice to have a chair that doesn’t squeak or a couch I'm not afraid to sit on.

6. Framed art
Posters and tacked pictures are cute in a dorm room, but you’re an adult now. Buy a frame. You can get two for like five dollars at Kmart, so just do it! It will make any room look more mature and protect your pictures from getting torn or lost.

7. One newspaper subscription

You’re allowed to have more than one, but get at least one. Even if all you do is glance at it and occasionally read a story, science has shown that people read more thoroughly in hard-copy form than online, so stay informed and read a newspaper!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Strike a Pose? No, Thanks: Why I Don't Take (Many) Pictures

The last time you logged onto Facebook, what did you see? Was it a cute selfie of your best friend and her boyfriend? Maybe it was your roommate’s night out with her sister. And I bet you didn't care, did you? As much as I love to know what my friends are up to, most of the time all I think is, I DON’T CARE. Unfortunately, that’s just part of what social media is for. Sites like Facebook allow users to share their experiences with their friends in a convenient, virtual setting. But too much Facebook may be doing more harm than good. A study from the University of Michigan showed that frequent Facebook users were more emotionally troubled than those who used the site infrequently, and another study showed that the more people were on those types of sites, the more envious they became of their own friends. And what has proven to be the worst culprit on social media sites? Photos.

We’re certainly not the first generation to take photos. I’m sure most of your mothers had you squeeze in close with your brothers and sisters for a photo on Christmas morning or take a break from sun-tanning on your family vacation to “smile for the camera!” But I don’t think even our parents could have anticipated the mass amount of photos millennials insist on taking. My Facebook newsfeed has been constantly flooded with pics of some blurry color blob that my friend claims is Beyonce’s concert or a table of empty glasses that were once filled with booze which I guess are supposed to signify a “great night” but just looks like a “hot mess.” Let’s face it: people love to share their experiences. But in sharing, they are actually forgetting.
Recent research has shown that individuals who took pictures of something were less likely to remember it. Psychological scientist Linda Henkel found that when people took pictures of an object in a museum, they had more trouble recalling small details later on. “When people rely on technology to remember for them,” she said in an article for Psychological Science, “It can have a negative impact on how well they remember their experiences.” She says people who take pictures often rely on their camera to remember the event for them rather than being fully present.

While looking at a picture after the fact can actually help jog your memory of the event, be honest: how many of you actually go back through and look at pictures you took last year? You don’t. You post them for other people to see. And what’s worse is that this action can actually harm your personal relationships. A U.K. study reported that people who frequently posted photos to their social media accounts did more damage to their personal relationships. When you’re constantly posting photos, research has shown that your family, friends, and colleagues begin to feel alienated. The worst perpetrator? The selfie. While all photos had this distancing affect, selfies proved to be particularly damaging. So while you may think that your makeup is so cute this morning and you have to show the world, just remember that it may be doing more harm than good.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love taking the occasional picture. When you’ve spent hours getting done up for a formal event or met up with a friend you haven’t seen in ages, you want a photo to remember it by. Plus, my parents always appreciate feeling like they’re involved in my life by just scrolling through my newsfeed. But I’m wary of relying on photos to capture everyday experiences. They’ll worsen my memory, alienate my friends, and I’ll most likely never look at them again. That’s why I choose to put down the phone and enjoy the experience. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Incomplete Guide to Subway Etiquette

Now, you may read this title and think to yourself, why would someone write an incomplete guide to anything? Isn’t that a little bit of an oxymoron? Yes, but I’ll tell you why the title: undoubtedly, when I get on the subway again tomorrow morning, fighting with the other Stuyvesant Town residents for the handful of spots on the L train, I will run into a dozen or so people who are doing something to piss me off and wish I’d added it to my guide. Unfortunately, that’s life in NYC. People can always find one hundred ways to annoy you on public transportation. But if you follow this guide, you’ll be a little less annoying on your morning commute.

Recognize you’re not in more of a hurry than anyone else
I mention this pointer first because it is the one I fall victim to most frequently. I just want to push past everyone and scream, “I’m kind of in a hurry here!” But at 9am on a Monday morning, chances are good that I’m not the only one rushing to work. Be patient with the slow walkers and tourist gawkers. They all have somewhere to be and they’d like to be there sooner rather than later.

Stay in your “lane”
I understand that some people are slow. I resent you for it, but I understand your plight. However, if you’re going to meander your way down into the subway, please don’t do so in the middle of the stairs with a hand on both railings. Move to the right, the slow lane, and take up as little space as possible. I’ll hate you less for being slow if you’re not in my way.

Let people off before you get on
Look, I know that you don’t want to miss this train because God knows when the next one will come, but if you don’t let me off first, there won’t be any room for you. Before elbowing your way into that tiny space in the middle of the car, take a step to the side and let people out. It’ll be an easier process for everyone.

Share your seat
Bad                  --                    Good
There are many rules to the subway seats, but I’ll share with you the most important. First, and probably most obvious, always give your seat to pregnant women or the elderly. I know your feet are tired, but come on, have some decency. Secondly, if you get on a packed train and a seat magically opens up, leave it alone. The people who have been standing on that train long before you deserve to rest their feet for a second. And lastly, be cognizant of your belongings. If you have a clutch and someone comes on the train with bags literally hanging off of them, let them sit. But, if you’re the one with a plethora of bags, you still have to keep them to one seat. Put them on your lap, under your feet, on your head, for all I care. It doesn’t matter who you are, you get one seat. End of story.

Turn down/off your volume
I turn off the volume even when I play Candy Crush, so I really don’t want to hear you playing it. Even if you’re wearing headphones to listen to music or game sound, it still might be audible to everyone in your car, so just keep it down. Not everyone likes your tunes as much as you do, pal.

Consider a cab
I know, I know, cabs are expensive. Why spend $20 to get somewhere when $2.50 will do just fine? But there is nothing worse than trying to squeeze onto my train when I’m running late from work only to realize that someone’s oversize suitcase is taking up a space I could have had. I grumble at the tourists who slowly meander out of the open doors only to stop dead and consult their map to figure out what train to take next. If you’ve got the means, stop being so stingy. Just take a damn cab and get out of my way.

Don’t be so cranky
This, again, is a little piece of advice I think I could be a bit more cognizant of as well. I know that the seemingly endless morning subway voyage may feel like the worst part of your day, but that doesn’t mean you need to ruin everyone else’s day by pushing, shoving, cursing, or yelling. Just take a deep breath and realize that everyone else is hating this experience just as much as you are and we’re all trying to get from point A to point B.

Next time you ride the subway, consider these etiquette rules. Know of one I forgot? Mention it below! There are an infinite number of ways to piss people off on the subway, so try to avoid as many as you can.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How to Impress at a Job Interview

This past week was a big week in the life of Nicole Gartside: I attended my first real-life job interviews. I know, scary. But having interviewed for several intern positions throughout my short lifetime (and receiving the highest score for interview during my pageant days. Not that I’m bragging…), I felt totally prepared. It turns out that I wasn’t. It took me a few interviews and a lot of advice to get myself in the swing of things, but I now come to you with my advice for big kid job interviews.

Have good questions ready
I was always the kind of person who researched a company or publication before I interviewed there. However, because of my extensive research, I’d usually answered my own questions before even arriving. I was always proud to say no when companies asked if I had any questions for them. Turns out that’s a BAD IDEA. Companies want you to ask good questions, to be curious about the direction they’re going and to interview them as thoroughly as they’re interviewing you. Obviously you shouldn’t be asking a question you could find the answer to on their website, but think of some things you’re actually curious to know about their company.

Don’t get companies confused
If you’re like me, scrambling to find a job post-graduation and spending hours a day either applying or interviewing for jobs, it’s easy to get small details scrambled. For instance, while in Austin this past week, I interviewed with three companies that represented themselves as “tech marketing.” After hours researching the companies, the finer details started to blend together. Which one had a strong social media approach? Which one focused on “clean tech?” I had no idea. That’s why  made flash cards. The cards had the interviewer’s name, important details about the company, and the questions I wanted to ask. That way, I could do a quick review to make sure I had my head on straight before I walked into each interview.

Research the dress code
I’m very fond of my traditional interview outfit; fancy blouse, pencil skirt, high heels, and some fabulous accessories. But when I sent a picture to my mother, her response was, isn’t that too dressy? Too dressy?? How dare you! I’ve worn a variation of that same outfit to nearly every interview since high school and it has worked well so far. However, I grudgingly took the advice of my mom’s friends working in Austin and dressed down my outfit to a casual blouse, pants, and low heels (I couldn’t go all the way to the floor. I just couldn’t). And thank God I did. When I arrived to my interviews, nearly every interviewer was in jeans and some were in T-shirts. Had I gone with my original outfit, I would have looked absolutely out of place in the dressed-down atmosphere of Austin. When prepping for an interview, figure out what the office environment is like then take it up a notch. That’s how I like to show I’d fit in, but that I’m professional enough to take the “office look” to the next level, at least for the interview.

Tell a story
When meeting with a PR agent in Austin, he asked me what my story was. So I told him about my background, my jobs, etc. No, he said, what’s your story? Your story, he explained to me, is why you majored in what you did, how your experiences shaped you into a great employee, and why you are a better fit for a job than every other person they’re interviewing. Whatever your story is, be passionate and confident about it. Figure out why the path you’ve taken makes you unique and how companies can use that to their advantage. I’m still perfecting mine every day.

I hope my little words of wisdom from experience have helped. But most importantly, be confident in yourself! You deserve a job that makes you happy and you’ll get it with a little hard work and a great attitude.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Make a Mini-Vacation

I don’t know about you, but I’m over this cold weather. I’m ready to break out my sandals, a colorful maxi dress, and read a book out in the sun rather than sitting at my desk. But unfortunately, I cannot simply will the weather warmer. And, with my Spring Break turning into “Job Interview Season,” there’s not much free time to look forward to there either. That’s why I wanted to find a way to give myself a mini-vacation right at home. Try these tricks to get the stress-relief of time off during your hectic week:

Stop and smell the flowers 
Fresh flowers not only brighten up a room, but they have been scientifically proven to brighten your mood as well. Recent research shows that individuals who kept flowers in their rooms woke up feeling a little more perky and positive. So if you can’t actually stop and smell the flowers in a tropical location, get some of your own

Go out on a weeknight
Now I’m not saying to get wild on a Wednesday and miss work or class the next day, but don’t be afraid to go out to dinner with a friend or see a movie with a date sometime during the week. Having something to look forward to at the end of your workday rather than your workweek will make the prize more immediate and decrease the mid-week doldrums. You don’t have to confine the fun to the weekend.

Make your background blue 
I’m not ashamed to admit that currently, my background is a French bulldog lounging in a ring floatie in the pool. I chose it because it always makes me smile. But what I didn’t know was that the blue pool water in the picture could actually help me de-stress. Blue has been proven to be the most calming color and looking at blue images can have an immediately calming effect. Choose your ocean scene or a pretty blue flower for your background to let that imaginary vacation destination perk you up.

Treat yo’self

You would never diet or resist temptation on vacation, so cut yourself a break every once in a while. If you’re totally craving a Frappuccino, just get it. If carrying your briefcase every day is killing your back, get a massage. Obviously treating yourself every day makes the act no longer a treat, but every once in a while, let yourself indulge in something you really want.