Mentorship is a not-so-secret elixir to success, but how do you approach it? How do you even find a mentor? Then, once you do, what's the next step? There are so many questions that come with engaging mentorship strategically to push one's career forward. Here are some key tips to extract the most from your relationship with your mentor.
Identify your main industry of interest
You will likely have all kinds of mentors, but it's important to find at least one in your industry of interest. If you're in the corporate law sector but all of your mentors are artists, how can they share information with you about how to move up the ladder? Certainly, they won't be able to share from experience. Ask around. Also, networking events are great for meeting more seasoned professionals in your industry.
Seek out more than one mentor
Now that you've found at least one mentor in your industry of interest, seek out peripheral mentorships. If you'll have to do a lot of public speaking in your career, seek out a mentor who has lots of experience with that, regardless of what industry they work in.
Come with clear objectives
If your mentor is someone you're not already familiar with, that first meeting might be awkward, especially if you're not clear about your objectives for mentorship. Write down at least 10 things you want to get out of the mentorship and 10 things you hope to share with your mentor during your time together. Those notes will give you plenty to reference and help keep the conversation flowing.
Remember that the relationship should be reciprocal
As much as you should be learning from your mentor, your mentor should also be learning from you! Consistently ask yourself what value you can add to the mentorship through what you're learning and experiencing on your professional journey. Don't be afraid to share that knowledge with your mentor and ask them about their current interests.
Share micro-achievements, too!
You don't have to limit your shared achievements to the big ones. A mentor wants to know that they are adding the kind of value to your life that you set out in your objectives at the beginning. If they've offered you small feedback on your soft skills and you've converted on that feedback successfully, share it! Talk about how much better your interpersonal relationships are because you took their advice and the positive effects it's having on your performance at work.
Take mental notes about what you enjoy
Think ahead about what kind of mentor you eventually want to be for someone else and take mental notes about how awesome your mentor is for you. Why is your mentorship so meaningful, and what keeps you engaged? If your mentorship isn't going as well as you'd hoped, in what regard is the onus on your mentor? What do you wish they'd have done to make things better? This will be incredibly useful as you pass it on.
Be honest about challenges
Many times in professional mentorship situations, we feel like we have to limit the challenges we share to professional ones. Your mentor is a person, too. If your boyfriend just dumped you or your grandmother just died or your best friend moved across the country, it's okay to share personal struggles — especially because we all know that those struggles can affect our professional success. You don't have to share every single thing, but a mentor can be a great and impartial party to talk to about personal challenges.
Remain considerate and show gratitude
Your mentor has a life. They might have a spouse, kids, certainly they have responsibilities outside of giving you advice. Be sure to always consider the value of their time by showing up on time to meetings and being prepared at all times. If they're introducing you to important people in their network, represent them well (because you are a reflection of their mentorship at that point). Thank them often for what they bring to your life.
What value have mentors brought to your life? Sound off in the comments!
Want more content like this? Sign up for our daily...
A little over a year ago I (very begrudgingly) moved home in order to begin the post-graduate chapter of my life. Depressed and disillusioned, I sat and stared at the same punk rock band-covered walls I decorated at 14, sure that I actually knew less at that very moment than I did when I slapped that Fall Out Boy poster up there nearly a decade ago. After countless sleepless nights of confusion, regret and ultimately anger, I came to the sad, yet very real conclusion that after 22 years of living I had no absolute idea of what the actual hell I was doing.
I had done an award-winning job the past few years pretending like I had everything figured out, and that adulthood couldn’t be nearly as draining and difficult as everyone had made it out to be. After seriously considering getting my PhD in BS-ing myself and every poor unsuspecting soul who asked me what my plans for the future looked like, I strapped on my big girl pants and tear-stained college sweatshirt and picked my life up from post-grad struggle day care.
Though finally employed and making a risky attempt at adulting, at 23 I'm still very much trying to figure out how this whole “being a grown up” thing works. Although I’m still undoubtedly fumbling around (young adult novel and popsicle in hand) here is what I understand (at least so far). Listen closely and take this with you:
Take your time
You just survived 16 non-stop years of education. From eating glue to gaining the freshmen 15, from crayon masterpieces to 50-page theses, you've miraculously made it to this point, and that is undoubtedly something to celebrate. If anything, you deserve a hot date for one with some Netflix and an economy-sized bottle of Pinot Grigio. Use this intermediate period as a way to catch up on some much needed personal time.
Treat yo self
Just because you have yet to put your degree to use doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put an “f” in front of unemployment. Use some of that generous stash of grad money to take a mini trip with friends or reward yourself with a gift you always wanted but couldn’t quite afford (and probably won’t be able to in your new adult life). There’s absolutely no harm in enjoying one last summer before real world growing pains settle in, if you can.
Get ya head in the game
The hard truth lies in the fact that looking for a job is, in fact, a full-time job. Amongst the fun and carefree moments, this is also a critical point to be thinking about who you want to be, what exactly it is you want to do and where you want to do it. You worked your ass off day in and day out for four long years — don’t just pick a job to pick it or because the salary happens to look extra shiny. Pick something worthwhile, a career you’re going to love just as much in 30 years as you did on your first day.
You’re going to have to do bad until you can do better
It might actually be anatomically impossible for someone to work their dream job right out of college. Student loans and various other debts are a grim reality, and they’re certainly not going anywhere. Just because you have to work at a local restaurant or bar or pick up as many babysitting shifts as you can get your hands on doesn't mean that the past four years were a complete waste. You have the rest of your life to build a career; there’s no time stamp on dreams, hopes and aspirations never expire.
Stop the comparisons
Our generation’s biggest issue lies within the accessibility and constancy in which we compare ourselves to others. Consumption of social media gives us immediate access to billions of lives within the click of a button. What we fail to realize is what we see via Facebook statuses and Instagram posts is a carefully constructed positively perfect outlook on a person’s existence. Behind the likes and the filters there are struggles just as burdensome as our own. Put down the phone, close the computer, and remind yourself that it even takes the Earth a whole year to orbit around the sun; just because it’s currently raining on your parade does not mean that the sunshine isn’t right around the corner.
Help your fellow struggling pseudo-adults out by sharing these blessings via Facebook.
Want more advice like this? Sign up for our daily newsletter and never miss a...
When you’re going through a hard time, people often say “don’t worry, things will get better,” or “everything will fall into place.” But what if you’ve been waiting and things aren't getting any better??
I ask this question after several months of being unemployed. Last spring, I graduated from a prestigious university with a degree I worked my a** off to get, with lifelong stress caused by overly intense extracurriculars, pain I can’t seem to escape, friends I’d kill for – and no idea what I was doing next. Without knowing where to go or what to do, I continued working at the part-time job I’d acquired during my senior year. But I hated this job, and I hated everything about my life because of it. I hit a transition point where I could stay where I was and hate the world, or I could quit my job, move home and try to achieve my dreams. Even though I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I knew I couldn’t stay there. So, I quit.
I’m absolutely certain that quitting my job was the right decision. However, I had not realized how destructive unemployment would be on my psyche. When you’re told for four consecutive years that your career is everything, you can’t help but feel worthless when you aren’t working. The more I applied for jobs I didn’t get, the more I felt like I was falling. I was falling and falling with the ground nowhere in sight.
Months later, I often still feel crappy. When I interviewed last week for a job I can only describe as a role sent from the angels above, I was so nervous I could barely form coherent sentences. I’d started temping that same week (I gotta pay those student loans somehow) and didn’t have the time to obsess over everything I wanted to say. I finished that interview feeling like sh*t. I was devastated. That same day, Donald Trump swept the New York State primary after stirring up trouble at a rally in my town (Buffalo, NY) the night before. I felt hopeless, both for myself and for society.
These are the times when people say things will get better. I try to believe them. But hearing that often make me feel worse. I’ve spent almost a year feeling terrible – if things are supposed to get better, I’d love to know when. When I’m at my wits end, I remind myself of the suggestions I give to friends who are struggling. None of that “don’t worry” bulls*t – only the things I’ve read or seen that actually help me when I’m most upset.
If you’re feeling your worst, make an appointment with your therapist. Traditional therapy hasn’t done much for me in the past, but it does wonderful things for those who love their therapists. Plus, there’s more than traditional therapy: art therapy, yoga, meditation, music, dance and theatre can be amazing forms of therapy.
I can't tell you how many times I’ve read that exercise is the best for combating anxiety and depression. It’s often the last thing I want to do, but it almost always makes me feel better.
Make changes, big or small
Sometimes you just need a change, even if it’s small. I never make my bed, for example. Last week, I started making my bed every morning. I felt so much better knowing I could come home and snuggle in a clean and cozy bed.
Crying is a way to release frustrations and pain. Take a moment, a whole day if you can, to cry, mourn, think and reflect. Recovery doesn’t happen overnight, but acknowledging your devastation by allowing yourself to feel is important.
If you’re an over-analyzer (like me), there’s no sense in trying to convince yourself to not over-analyze. You need to allow the obsessing to happen. Otherwise, you won’t be able to move on. Give yourself a limited amount of time to analyze every little detail of the thing you’re upset about. Type it out, write in your journal or make an audio recording. Do something to get those thoughts off your mind so you can leave them behind.
Talk to someone you love and trust who gets what you’re going through
I prefer not to talk about my struggles, particularly because well-meaning friends and family will give unwanted advice. But I will talk to certain people when I’m upset if I know they’ll get it. It’s nice to get things off your chest.
Find a hug and a laugh
We actually don’t get a whole lot of human touch when you think about it. We work during the day, go home, eat dinner and go to bed. Then we wake up and do it all again. Unless you’re blessed to have a partner or family close by, you aren’t getting to interact intimately with someone you care about. Getting a hug from and/or laughing with someone you love can do wonders for making you feel good.
Break your routine
Never been rock climbing? Do it! Have something on your bucket list you’ve always wanted to do? Schedule time to do it this week. Breaking out of your routine can help with breaking out of a negative mindset.
If all else fails, fake it till you make it
I know, it sounds awful. I’m sure you’re thinking “What is this crazy girl talking about? That doesn’t work!” But I must say, the morning after I was feeling extremely low last week, I had to go to my temp job and pretend to be in good spirits. By the end of the day, I actually felt a little better. Perhaps it was the distraction, perhaps it was all the smiling I did to look pleasant. Either way, it worked, and it’s worth giving a try.
Remember, you are a smart, capable, accomplished human being who’s having a hard time. You are not worthless, you are wonderful. And you are not alone. Try your best to keep going, even when things seem grim. It will be worth it.
On Saturday, May 21st, we’re hosting our inaugural conference about how creativity and technology are changing our daily lives, from our hobbies to our work. Will you be joining us? Tickets here.
READ NEXT: Generation WOKE: How Millennials Have Changed the Social...
As a recruiter, I know how tedious applying to job after job after job can be. After entering all of your contact information, education, work history and other details into a an applicant tracking system, you will probably be asked to upload a resume and a cover letter. And like most people, you will probably submit your resume and bypass the cover letter. Cover letters take too much work and no one really cares about them, right?
I know how tempting it is to skip over writing a cover letter, but in most cases you shouldn’t. Whether you realize it or not, the cover letter is an extremely valuable asset to your overall job application. They tell me more about you than your resume and they can get your foot into a door you otherwise would not be invited to enter. If you're debating whether or not to submit a cover letter for any reason, here are some things to keep in mind:
1. At the bare minimum, submitting a cover says you can follow directions
I have read enough applications to conclude there are plenty of folks who think cover letters don’t matter. But when an application or job announcement specifically requires a cover letter for consideration, it is in your best interest to submit one. If you can’t demonstrate the simple ability to read and follow directions as an applicant, chances are high that a supervisor or manager will not trust you to follow directions and do the job right.
2. Cover letters also demonstrate your potential before you get the job
Whether it’s asked for in an application or not, your cover letter functions as a writing sample that demonstrates your ability to deliver on the basic skills needed to be successful in your next role. Additionally, you will make a stronger impression on a recruiter or hiring manager when you submit a cover letter without being prompted by application instructions. A well-written cover letter demonstrates several soft skills, including your ability to communicate, get to the point and pay attention to details. These are skills your next manager is sure to want in their next hire.
3. Lastly, cover letters show passion
If a resume demonstrates what you’ve done over your career, your cover letter is the why. Whether you’re applying to be a teacher, an accountant or a content strategist, the cover letter is the ideal opportunity to demonstrate your passion for the work that you do. When your passion for and commitment to your work shines through, it makes a better impression on whoever is reading, especially if you don’t meet some of the requirements of the position.
Sending a strong cover letter with your resume and job application demonstrates initiative, promise and drive. If you still need to be convinced, keep in mind that if you provide more information in your application package, a recruiter or hiring manager will have more to make a decision with. The more information they have, the better your chances are.
If you think about skipping over the cover letter in your next job application, don’t. The thing you could be skipping over is your next great job opportunity.
William is a proud Janet Jackson fan and the sole recruiter for a global campaigning and advocacy organization based in Washington, DC. In his spare time, he is a freelance resume & cover letter writer. Follow him at @williamrecruits for tips, tricks, jobs opportunities, or just to say hello.
READ NEXT: 10 Professionals who will inspire you to work your dream...
Searching for a new job? Look no further than Jopwell, a diversity hiring and recruiting platform that wants to help Black, Hispanic, and Native American candidates find the perfect job or internship for their skill sets. Launched in 2014 by Porter Braswell and Ryan Williams, Jopwell has recently raised $3.25 million in seed funding from Magic Johnson Enterprises, Andreessen Horowitz and other venture capitalist firms.
We spoke with Braswell, Williams and Mr. Magic Johnson himself about what makes Jopwell different from LinkedIn, challenges in the tech industry and advice for job seekers.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing companies in terms of creating successful diversity initiatives?
Porter Braswell (Jopwell CEO & Co-founder) and Ryan Williams (Jopwell President & Co-founder): What we noticed about the recruitment process was that companies relied heavily on their current minority employees and interns to draw on their networks and bring other underrepresented talent into the company, which is really ineffective.
Magic Johnson: Diversity is a commitment. It just doesn’t happen in an organization overnight. And for larger companies, it can be difficult to stay true to that commitment across divisions, teams and departments, if it isn’t a corporate mentality, enforced from the top, with tools to support goals.
PB and RW: The three biggest barriers to increasing diversity at companies are a limited pipeline to find and identify candidates, a lack of resources for diversity-driven recruitment, and inadequate marketing of available positions.
MJ: That’s why I’m investing in Jopwell. They’ve built a digital pipeline that companies can use to realize their diversity commitment faster and more effectively.
Magic, what was it about Jopwell’s platform that convinced you to invest?
MJ: I’ve helped major corporations with their diversity challenges for over 30 years. Investing in Jopwell fits into my mission – to support, empower and strengthen under-served communities. It gives people the tools they need to become successful. I’m excited to support the founders, Porter and Ryan, and believe in their vision.
How can we get more minorities interested in the tech industry?
MJ: The interest is there. But the industry has to support diversity in the workplace to be able to take advantage. An authentic sense of diversity and inclusion helps you attract, recruit, hire and keep the best and brightest talent.
To this point, the under-representation of black and Hispanic communities in tech has been disappointing. But I’m encouraged by the awareness and dialogue that’s happening. More importantly, I’m encouraged by the creation of companies by diverse founders, like Jopwell and Walker and Company, and seeing startups hire Chief Diversity Officers and publicly stating diversity goals.
Jopwell is different from sites like LinkedIn and Indeed in that it asks very specific questions of its users- everything from what you like to do in your free time to a personal statement that’s displayed on your profile page. How do these details affect the strength of a candidate in the eyes of a recruiter?
PB and RW: Your profile does more than just showcase your resume- it allows you to tell your story and differentiate yourself to a potential employer. We’ve found that the more detailed a profile is, the more successful the user is in attracting company interest.
Remember – employers always want to know who you are. Jopwell profiles are a powerful tool in that they give employers a complete and holistic look at each candidate, which ultimately creates more opportunities for users.
The companies Jopwell matches users with are very high profile – you place candidates at companies like MasterCard and BuzzFeed. What makes a company “Jopwell approved” and how do you decide on your partners?
PB and RW: We only work with companies that are truly committed to building a more inclusive workforce over the long-term. These are organizations that understand the value of diversity within and for their business and want authentic relationships with underrepresented minority communities. So, if you’re a Jopwell user, you can be confident the employers you connect with know the value you bring to the table.
What advice can you offer someone looking for a new job?
PB and RW: Go to jopwell.com and sign up for free. We’ll connect you with the world’s top companies to help you find a job you’ll love. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest in diversity recruitment and hiring.
READ NEXT: Meet the 11 Heads of Diversity Changing the Face of Tech
*Magic Johnson's interview originally appeared on...
Is your work space messy and cluttered? Does your desk have so much stuff on it that there’s barely space for you to write? Do you find yourself pushing stuff out of the way just so you have enough space to sit down? A cluttered space makes for a cluttered mind, and my own desk was so disorganized that it was causing me anxiety. I cleaned the clutter using these hacks and found that my desk is not only a more efficient workspace, but it’s more fun to use. Try these tips and tricks for a workspace that’s organized, efficient and fun!
Sterilite drawers are great for organizing important documents.
You can get them for relatively cheap on Amazon (about $40 for a set of 3), and they work wonders for organizing the papers that cause clutter. Your documents will be easy to find and you can even line the inside with contact paper, washi tape or scrapbook paper to make the drawers more fun!
Add fresh cut flowers or a small plant for a pop of color.
No need for any expensive bouquets or glass vases. I bought a bouquet of flowers for a couple of bucks at the grocery store, cut them short and placed them in a recycled bottle. Not only will they make your workspace less drab, you’ll feel like a cool hipster for using a recycled bottle instead of a vase.
Line up mementos neatly along the far edges of your desk.
Almost everyone wants to display their photos and keepsakes to personalize their workspace, but you don’t want your mementos to leave you with little space to work. Lining your mementos neatly along the edges of your work area will allow you to admire them without hogging the desk space.
Use your favorite mug, even if it’s just for water.
My favorite mugs and glasses always make me feel a little happier, even if I’m having a terrible day. Using your favorite mug will give you a little something to look forward to every time you sit down to work.
Light a scented candle to boost your calm.
Not everyone can do this depending on where they work, but if you can, lighting a candle can really adjust your mood. Choose soothing scents like lavender, chamomile, white tea or green tea.
Make your space cozy.
Fold your favorite sweater or blanket over the back of your chair so that when you get chilly from wintery weather or the frigid, office air conditioning in the summer, you can throw on something cozy and stay focused through the cold.
Keep snacks nearby “because you’re not you when you’re hungry.”
You won’t be nearly as productive if you’re hungry or have to get up to get food, especially if you just got started on a project. Keep non-refrigerated snacks such as nuts, peanut butter and crackers or an apple in or near your desk for those peckish moments.
Utilize your desk drawers.
I’m not sure if other people do this, but often instead of really cleaning and organizing my desk, I throw all the papers and junk from the top of my desk into the drawers. This ends up being a problem because I didn’t actually clean, I just moved the mess elsewhere and can’t find anything later on. Utilize your desk drawers by organizing the drawers themselves using small cardboard boxes or a kitchen utensil holder (pick a cheap one from the dollar store) and labeling where everything belongs.
Clear the clutter from your desktop.
Do you really need all those post-its from last month? Are all the papers in those piles important, relevant and necessary? The answer is: probably not. Sort through everything — put the important documents away, recycle the junk and shred the rest. Do one big haul, and make sure to sort your documents weekly so the top of your desk remains clutter-free.
Keep water within reach.
You gotta stay hydrated! Keeping a water pitcher on your desk will help ensure you get the minimum eight glasses of water per day you need. You might have to stop working for more bathroom breaks, but what’s the harm in a few extra breaks in exchange for being healthy and hydrated?
Move non-work stuff away from your workspace.
Something that makes a work space look messy is all the extra stuff accumulating on the sides and underneath the desk, especially if you don’t actually need it for work. Find a place for non-work-related items away from your desk — you can even bring a storage bin into the office to create a designated place for those items.
Put your cell phone away if you don’t need it for your work.
This one’s tough because so many jobs heavily rely on smartphones. Phones often interrupt and slow productivity. So, if you can, try turning your phone to do-not-disturb and placing it in your desk during the work day.
Hang simple wall art or inspiring quotes.
A nice piece of art can make a big difference, and quotes can help keep you motivated throughout the day and remind you of your goals. Nothing too fancy — you don’t want your walls to distract you. Try making your own wall art or purchase inexpensive pieces from places such as Marshalls and HomeGoods.
Use mason jars for anything and everything.
They’re great for holding pens and pencils, organizing small items such as paper clips and knickknacks — you can even use them as a vase for your fresh-cut flowers. Not only can you get them for cheap at craft or dollar stores, you can liven them up by painting them, tinting them or making a full-blown organizer!
Be sure to have great lighting.
Nothing is worse than trying to get work done in a dark, dank space. Plus, bright lights help keep you awake, which is important for those days when you catch a bad case of the Itis. Pinterest has tons of cool ideas for lighting up your desk just right.
Place a good book on your desk.
It looks great, especially if it complements the color scheme of your desk, and you can read it to get a short, much-needed break from your computer screen.
Clean and re-organize often.
Clean up papers, throw out old post-its and make sure desk drawers are neat at the end of each week to keep your space efficient. Change out your wall art or add new inspirational quotes every few months to help you stay motivated. Lastly, be sure to wipe down your space with Clorox or Lysol wipes at least once a week — because who knows what germs could be lingering, especially during flu season.
Maintaining a fun and efficient workspace is definitely an investment. But once you’ve done it, you’ll be so happy you did. A little TLC and your workspace can go from disaster:
...to downright delightful!
Check out Blavity’s Pinterest for more DIY tips.
Love these tips for staying organized or know some I missed? Let us know by sharing on Facebook or commenting below!
READ NEXT: 10 Professionals who will inspire you to work your dream...
There are a lot of things I dread doing: waking up early, shaving my legs, running. But nothing causes me as much anxiety as applying for jobs. And so, as you can imagine, I'm not thrilled to be spending my nights sifting through job boards or the career pages of dream organizations while editing my resume.
I guess when I really think about it, it's not applying for a job that I don't like or even interviewing. I actually love to talk about myself and my accomplishments. It's the negative thoughts that enter my mind before I hit "submit" to apply. It's natural to second-guess yourself and your ability to fulfill the job description, but most of the time I'm not worried about my skill set.
I'm worried about my race.
I get angry thinking about all the white faces with less experience than me that are submitting their resumes for the same position without a care. Maybe they know the hiring manager, or maybe they've got a friend at the company. Either way, the bigger issue here is this:
As a black applicant, there are a number of things that I have to worry about that white applicants don't:
I wonder if someone else will look like me in the office
Some businesses have a team page where you can see everyone that works there, bright-eyed with smiling faces. It's usually accompanied by some type of quote or link to their social pages. I use this to my advantage, doing some serious digging to find out how they really feel about the company and if it'll be a good fit for me.
2. I worry about microaggressions
No, you can't touch my hair. Yes, my real name is Brittany. And, no, I'm not "really well spoken for a black girl," I'm just really well spoken.
3. I wonder if black lives matter to the company and how my views will be received
It's not that I expect a company to have social channels that proclaim #BlackLivesMatter, and there isn't anything wrong with a little disagreement, but I shouldn't have to wonder if the company is going to allow blatantly racist comments to be shared throughout the office.
4. I wonder if my hairstyle will be accepted
This one seems silly but past examples have proven that blacks have lost their jobs because of the way their hair grows out of their scalp or for refusing to change their hair.
5. I wonder if I'll be hired based on skill and personality or to fill a quota
While in college, and even in my first job out of school, I knew that if I wasn't asked any other question from my white counterparts I'd be asked something along the lines of "what qualifies you to work here?" No matter how many times I was asked this question it still caught me by surprise. After all, I'd already been hired, so why do I have to run through my resume again for you? It wasn't until I gave an elevator pitch to coworkers that I was accepted as someone with talent and not just the diversity hire of the month.
Sometimes, I feel like the problem is me. Maybe I’m being too picky or expecting too much out of my first few years of my career. But at the same time, I can’t help but feel like the first few years are crucial. Don't get me wrong, I'm not plagued with fear of applying to predominately white businesses because of the things I listed above. But sometimes I just get sick of always having to be twice as good to get half as much or, in some cases, not even a call...
You’ve done all the work, graduated from the program and polished your resume. Now it’s time to land the job that will catapult you to success. Our mainstream culture loves to tell us that we will rise based on our own merit, but the story behind the scenes is that successful people make their way up the ranks using more than their skills and preparation; they chose the right mentors to help them to the next stage. Mentorship is especially critical to those of us who are black and/or first-generation Americans. We often come from families that don’t have experience in the fields that we’re working in, so their advice, no matter how well-intentioned, might not be enough to get us to where we need to go.
Effective mentoring gives you insight into your strengths and the places where you can grow. Mentoring can also blossom into sponsorship where your mentor gives you access to a job opportunity. To reap the benefits of mentoring, you have to move beyond getting advice from well-intentioned family to making deliberate choices about who gives you advice on your career. Here are the questions you need to ask before you choose a mentor:
Has this person achieved what I hope to achieve?
Your second cousin who you only see on Thanksgiving might have tons to say about what you should do in your career, but if they don’t have knowledge of your industry, then you shouldn’t put too much weight on their advice. Reach out to people in your organization or people you admire who are a few steps ahead of you career-wise. They might seem intimidating, but most people are flattered when they hear that you’re interested in them as a potential mentor.
Does this person share my values?
Once you’ve identified a few potential mentors, observe how they act professionally. Are they ruthless workaholics? Do they show compassion to their co-workers? Choosing a mentor who matches your values will ensure that you can take their advice without making spiritual and philosophical compromises.
Are they invested in my success?
If you answered “yes” to the first two questions, it’s time to reach out to your potential mentor and invite them to a brief meeting. Tell them about yourself, your goals and why you’ve chosen them as a potential mentor. Pay close attention to how they respond during this meeting. Do they believe in your potential and are they willing to help you get to where you’d like to be?
Once you’ve found a good mentor, treat them well. Be sure to thank them for their time with you and, at the very least, pay for their coffee. Nurture this relationship well and you’ll reap the benefits for years to come.
Marsha Philitas is a leadership coach for ambitious women. Her private coaching program, Be Extraordinary, helps emerging leaders to gain the confidence and skills needed to lead in their industries....
It's Friday and I’m getting ready to kick back and watch my favorite show, Curb Your Enthusiasm. I’m just settling into my Chick-fil-A when I get a call from my uncle asking for help updating his resume. I cringe at the thought of redoing a resume, thinking I'd much rather do something less challenging like win an Olympic medal or run for President, but Uncle Chip is my favorite so I reluctantly agree. After all, how hard can updating a resume and creating a LinkedIn profile be for a Virginia Commonwealth University grad anyway?
I spent two hours tediously updating Uncle Chip’s resume and creating a LinkedIn profile while my Chic-fil-A got cold and I missed critical pieces of Larry David chastising everyone. After sending the resume out to a number of job sources within hours, the dreaded, "thanks but no thanks" emails started rolling in. But why? I’m well-educated in crafting resumes, but what if this wasn't a person reading this resume but a machine. After this minor set-back, my uncle called me and said, "Vernon, I know if I can get in the door somehow and they could see my passion, drive, and skills instead of my resume, I could get these jobs." Now this was one of those light bulb moments like those in the movies and Clinchr was born.
That night I began to create mock-ups of an application that would allow candidates to create an elevator pitch video to sell themselves to potential job recruiters while also showcasing their skills, passions and interests. We wanted to allow users to show off their creativity and well-honed social networking skills to clinch the career of their dreams. I literally did this in one night but I knew we needed more to make this beneficial for not only candidates but recruiters as well. Clinchr could balance the scales and be the first network that truly supports the goals of recruiters and millennials. I pitched it to my co-founder, Phil, the next day and he recommended we create a repository feature to allow recruiters to create job banks and directly recruit users by viewing skills and videos all in one place. Once a candidate accepted the invite from one of these "talent warehouses," their phone number is displayed to make a personal connection.
We took this idea and ran with it, putting all of our money and annual bonuses into the application, even my money for the Adidas Yeezy's I desperately wanted. We completed development six months later. This is the part where we ask ourselves if our resumes are really doing the trick. Maybe your resume is buried in a stack of candidates who look strikingly similar on paper despite their vast range of creative abilities, passions and interests. Maybe your resume is being filtered out by machine screening because it doesn’t match enough database keywords. Hey, maybe your resume really does suck. Clinchr aims to change the mindset of recruiters and connect candidates with dream jobs by protesting the resume with profiles that put people first.
Oh, and we set Uncle Chip up with a Clinchr profile and he got a job.
Vernon Howard is the CEO and co-founder of the innovative recruiting start-up Clinchr. Originally from Rochester, NY he now lives and works in Washington, D.C. He graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in Computer Information Systems and a mathematics minor. He's obsessively into fashion and cars, and his favorite word is “MEH." Twitter: @vernon___ , @_CLINCHR , @reversesuplex Instagram:...
You did it! You’ve landed that first job out of college. A consistent salary, benefits and a (hopefully) exciting work culture await you. Now you want to make sure that you show off your best qualities that landed you the job in the first place. Here are a few tips to help you ensure that your first job is one of your best.
Come in early, stay late
This rule is tried and true. Although you certainly shouldn’t be giving up your livelihood by staying unreasonably late, there’s no harm in coming a few minutes early and not rushing out of the door as soon as the clock hits 6 p.m. When you put in extra effort and make it known that you’re open to spending a few extra minutes to ensure that the task at hand is done, your boss will notice it and appreciate it.
Directors appreciate it when you take out the time and are confident enough to raise your voice in an effort to make sure the assignment is done correctly instead of doing a half-done job. Sometimes one question leads to another, giving you an opportunity to learn something else about the job that you might not have known before.
Build a relationship with your boss
Don’t be afraid to get to know your boss. Many of my own internships prior to my current full-time job were easier to get because I had — and still have — such great relationships with many of my former bosses and supervisors. Some have even turned into mentors and are always available to answer any questions I have or to give me advice on a future endeavor.
If you’re in a social job environment, such as a startup, make conversation with your coworkers. You don’t have to be lifelong pals with everyone in the office, but bonding over shared interests helps the positive office environment grow and can lead to some important career relationships.
Look for opportunity/different tasks
When you finish an assignment, that doesn't mean it's time to aimlessly scroll through your social media accounts. During one of my former job experiences, I watched a new hire get fired pretty quickly. One of the main reasons? Instead of helping fellow supervisors with pending tasks during the day, he spent his time trying to figure out where everyone was going after work. Our workforce is competitive. Everyone is hustling and working on multiple projects to get ahead in life. Instead of being the person looking for the nearest taco joint, be the one that not only completes your work with precision and professionalism but always helps colleagues and superiors to get the job done.
How do you stand out at work? Share...
If you've traveled abroad recently or have been dreaming of traveling abroad, you know the urge to pick up and move can be overwhelming. Instead of just planning an excursion for your PTO, you find yourself looking at residences in your prospective country of choice or Googling to learn more about the day-to-day life there. Whether it's a change that comes sooner or later, here are the five stages of knowing when it's time to move abroad.
1. You're getting frustrated with American life
You loathe the way our society overworks and if you hear another person claim that Chipotle has the best tacos on earth you’re going to scream. You know that there’s a world that’s much bigger that our materialistic, restaurant-chain-dependent country and you’re aching to see it.
2. You Google photos at work/scan Instagram every 10 minutes
Going through Travel Noire’s Instagram for the 15th time today? Trying to find new Flickr accounts that document the wonders of West Africa or Central America? Sounds like you should be booking a ticket and packing your camera right now.
3. Secretly budgeting for what “could be”
Do you find yourself turning down nights out with friends because you know you should be saving for, well, something? Are you suddenly skipping that latte from your favorite coffee shop because you know that the $5 you’d spend on the overly-sweet drink could get you a pretty fancy dinner in Indonesia? What “could be” will turn into “what will be” a lot faster than you think.
4. Searching for programs abroad instead of some store’s newest fall collection
Instead of searching for your ideal look for the season, you’re looking for programs abroad in your field abroad. Marketing? IT? Education? You had no idea that it is possible to build your career somewhere else outside of your hometown or the Tri-state area. Big cities like Chicago, D.C., and New York are amazing, but you know that they will always be here, and this opportunity to pick up and move might not.
5. Turning in that resignation letter
You did it. You quit that unfulfilling job. Maybe you have something lined up and maybe you don’t. What you do have is a sense of pride, power and confidence in the future. You know that nothing is certain and that you might have to jump through a lot of hoops to get to that dream destination, but, like anyone who’s a true Wanderluster at heart, you know every bit of the journey will be worth it. ...
Fresh out of college, my move to New York City landed me face-flat on the concrete. According to the city’s fellow newcomers, I had two options:
1) Work two or three minimum-wage jobs and pay an unspeakable amount for half a bedroom an eternity’s commute from said jobs.
Despite being the most educated generation, employment opportunities for Millennials are bleak at best. The Millennial unemployment rate sits at 15.2 percent. For black Millennials such as myself, it's even worse: 22.6 percent.
Weighing my options, I left for Louisiana. It's cheaper and doesn’t snow, but the market was still far from promising: 29 percent of New Orleans lives in poverty. Only 59 percent of working-age black women and 53 percent of working-age black men are employed. A third of households earn less than $20,000 annually, including 44 percent of black residents.
Maha: 0, Job Hunt: 1
Prerequisites for moving back to New Orleans, my hometown and where I attended college, included a source of income and some savings, so I found myself stranded over an hour’s drive away where my family was displaced after Hurricane Katrina. My family isn't unique in this respect, and neither am I — 25 percent of Millennials move home due to financial hardship, compared with 10 percent of Generation X, and a large percentage of the city’s pre-storm black population remains scattered across the country, unable to return.
I got one call back from a retail store a 40-minute commute away. I was promised $7.25 an hour. I knew I shouldn’t be shocked: 4 in 10 minimum wage workers are college graduates. I was also promised 40 hours a week —I got 28.
I lasted six miserable weeks.
Maha: 0, Job Hunt: 2
I hated that store anyway. "I can spend more time job-hunting now," I told myself until the unexpected medical bills came.
A temp agency hired me. I worked only a couple assignments before the calls become so infrequent that I was basically unemployed again.
Maha: 0, Job Hunt: 3
I then declared it official — no employer remotely related to my degree wants to hire me. I opened myself up to anything available. What do clothing shops, dollar stores, attended parking lots, grocery chains, medical offices, banks and the zoo all have in common? They don’t want me either.
But AmeriCorps New Orleans hired me. My monthly stipend divided by hours worked was minimum wage, if I rounded up. I lived in the part of the city most underserved by public transportation, so despite the site placement’s relative proximity to my house, getting to work was a struggle. Then the bus routes changed and it became nearly impossible.
I complained to my cousin, a barista without a degree. She out-earned me by a couple dollars an hour but said I’m lucky because at least I have consistent hours and networking possibilities. She's barely holding onto her apartment, and she’s not alone. About 60 percent of New Orleans residents rent and steady price increases have lead to 54 percent of renters paying unaffordable amounts.
Millennial unemployment discussions typically focus on college graduates saddled with nightmare-ish student debt, overlooking those without degrees who also suffer in a scarce, competitive market with ever-rising qualification requirements. Had it been a different decade, my cousin’s high school diploma could have meant something more.
The “job hunt,” better known as the “fight for survival and peace of mind,” felt inescapable. In New Orleans, whether the contestants be black with higher education (like myself) or black without (like my cousin), this game is cruel to all of us.
All of Us: 0, Job Hunt: 4
I started job-hunting five months before my ten-month contract ended. I convinced myself it would be better with post-college work experience. My supervisor was impressed with my work and insisted that, with enough determination, I would find something.
I scanned job listings daily. Low-paying tourism jobs made up the city’s largest employment sector. Its wages averaged $10/hr, but with inconsistent schedules, pay was less predictable. After passing those posts, I was left with few choices.
1. Part-time... Master’s preferred.
2. Full-time. Bachelor’s, fluency in Spanish, 3+ years experience required…$9/hr.
3. Low-level position, sh*t pay, no chance for advancement… five rounds of 'Hunger Games'-esqe interview process participation required.
I got several interviews, but no offers. My supervisor was prying again. I swallowed back all the Millennial employment statistics I'd ever spit. I felt stuffed. I wanted to vomit. I wondered if I was just doing it all wrong and had been my own worst enemy all along.
While writing yet another cover letter, I scanned the employer’s website and read a mission statement about improving New Orleans. From the staff page, faces of white transplants smiled at me, just like almost every other employer’s website I’d combed, and just like the staff of my current placement at the time. I recalled what a higher-up here said: "We want diversity and we want to hire local, but we find few that are qualified or the right fit for our team."
All of Us: 0, Job Hunt: 5
If I had to name every graduate I know who stayed local and found decent-paying, full-time positions in their degree field, it'd be a short list. Nationally, only 51 percent of college graduates work in their field of study, while only 48 percent of graduates under age 25 work jobs that require a degree at all. African Americans have the highest underemployment rate at 42.6 percent.
My cousin’s hours were cut. Her dad offered her rent-free living with him in Houston. She wanted to stay in New Orleans, but she left anyway.
I hope she comes back. She hopes so, too.
All of Us: 0, Job Hunt: 6
"Maybe this is a sign to further my education," I thought. I eased myself into believing that a Master’s degree would greatly increase my chances.
Or greatly increase your debt, a voice says. I tell my mind to hush.
I met with a program director and asked if recent graduates had found employment locally. She paused to arrange her words.
“Well, a lot wanted to leave. Of those who stayed, the ones willing to move elsewhere in-state were able to find jobs eventually.”
I asked again, “What about locally?”
She paused again. The only sound in the office was the faint death wail from my wildest dream of stable employment. “It might take a longer time, but eventually something comes up.”
I press for explanation. She slowly squeezed out that New Orleans is a small city and can only provide a limited number of jobs — even fewer that pay a living wage. Add to the mix a yearly shipment of transplants with visions of art, edge and culture—renewal—and you have a recipe for high local un- and underemployment.
My suspicions are proven correct, but my shoulders slump under the weight of defeat.
I applied, pretending economic conditions would improve in two years and I would be able to pay off my soon-to-be-doubled student debt. I almost convinced myself the stakes wouldn't be twice as high.
All of Us: 0, Job Hunt: 7
Our AmeriCorps terms are ending. Only one of my co-workers found a job — it pays $20,000 annually. Some plan to return to school. The rest shrug when questioned.
My now-former supervisor took me out to lunch. She asked and I updated her on my job hunt. She told me I was right about stable employment being scarce. She recalled a local black man she dated months ago. He had a degree in biology but worked in food service, then construction. She didn’t understand why at the time and faulted him for it.
I can’t decide if it feels good to be right.
Levees surely did break during Hurricane Katrina 10 years ago, and amidst the floodwaters came “rebuilders” who didn’t leave once the water dried. Gentrification is a nationwide problem, but locally, it is a way to push out the “undesirables” left over after the storm. Public housing closed. Transplants arrived to “rebuild” the city into something foreign, blaming all the problems of crime and poverty on the inherently wrong, unique culture of New Orleans — especially black New Orleans. With so many employers being transplants themselves or, if local, still aligned with the purge, discrimination in hiring is inevitable; black, local hires would, as put previously, “not be a right fit for the team.”
All of Us: 0
For more content like this, sign up for our weekly newsletter below.
[mc4wp_form] femme sexy sous vetement ...