Don’t Forget These Little Things During the Job Interview 

I love working with people and having social jobs. I thrive in it. However, interviews make my insides turn inside out to the point of being completely exhausted once the interview is over. How does one love working with people yet completely struggle with interviews? Although I interview people in my current job and enjoy doing it, I hate when I’m the one being interviewed and the spotlight is on me. I understand that I’m always being evaluated on my performance at any current job but during that time I’m focused on meeting the needs of the others rather than myself, and that’s why I struggle in interviews. Fortunaely, each interview is a practice round and there is always something to learn whether or not you got the offer. So take a deep breath and don’t forget these little things for a successful interview:

1. “Why are you the best candide for this position?”

Aka, “What makes you better than everyone else?” If you can’t answer this question, then you won’t be able to stand out very well. Personally, I hate this question. I struggle with it. Perhaps it’s insecurity, but I immediately want to compare myself to the other interviewers; however it’s rare to know who the other interviewers are. But not knowing anything about the other interviewers is also a bonus because to answer this question you need to understand who you are completely. You need to understand your accomplishments, skills, and abilities. In other words, you need to know who is your best self. A good way to look at this question from a different perspective is to ask yourself, “What makes me unique from the eveyone else in this world?” What makes you, you? And once you answer that question, don’t forget to include how and why your answer fits into the job position you are applying for. 

2. Confidence is literally the key

I once made the mistake of mentioning that I wanted to find out if the industry I was applying for was right for my when I was making a career change. I quickly realized that was not the smartest thing to say. It made me sound unsure or flakey. Visualize yourself working in that industry before the interview and be sure to tell your interviewer that know for sure that you want to dive into their industry and explain why. Telling the interviewer that you are unsure and “testing it out” is a red flag to employers. They want to hire people who they know will stay for the long run. So be confident when explaining why you want to dive into that new industry or position.

3. Anything can happen in an interview, so be prepared.

Once I completed an interview only to unexpectedly be introduced to someone higher up. I was being interviewed all over again. I left feeling like a failure because I did not prepare for multiple interviews.  All of the questions I originally wanted to ask had already been asked. I was stuck between asking the same questions I asked with the first interviewer and feeling unoriginal or asking nothing at all. By the end of the interview, I came up with only one new question. Lesson learned: come to each interview as if you were at the final interview with potential to get the job offer that day. I came to my interview with my research and questions that only affected the person and department I knew I was interviewing with. Instead, I should have came to the interview with the research and questions for the company entirely, including questions for those higher up the chain. The day after that embarrassing interview, I researched a little bit more and gathered more questions. When I wrote my thank-you letter, email, or call, I included my new questions and insights while reiterating my interest in the company. 

4. Look foward to the next steps.

This may be obvious, but sometimes I forget this step when I am super nervous. Before leaving an interview, ask the interviewer what the next steps are without asking if you got the job. I once realized as I was walking out that I forgot to ask this important question. As much as I wanted to turn around and find the interveiwer again to ask, I felt like it would look unprofessional. If you find yourself making this mistake, ask about the next steps in your thank-you letter, email, or phone call. 

5. Everybody loves to hear their name.

 I’ll be honest, I’m bad at remembering names. I focus more on how the person is feeling and their needs more than taking a mental note about their name. It’s something I understand I need to work on if I want to excel in anything – with customers, guests, networking, etc. A name gives a person an identity. Hearing their makes people feel humanized. If you find yourself forgetting the interviewer’s name when you are following up, make Google your best friend try looking up your interviewer either through LinkedIn or the company website. I’ve even gone so far to use facebook to find my interviewer’s name. The more you know about your interviewer, the easier it is to look them up. It’s bonus points if you score their business card during the interview. 

6. Your current job is important too, even if it’s less relevant to the position you are applying for. 

Hiring managers wants to know what skills you are currently developing. I went from customer service to a human resources only to realize I wanted to be back in sales. When I interviewed for a customer service position, I talked a lot about my old job in customer service and rarely talked about my current job in human resources. It wasn’t until the hiring manager said, “You’ve told me a lot about this position, but you have yet to tell me about what you are doing now,” that I realized that I made the mistake. Even if your old job is a better fit for the position you are interviewing for, don’t neglect your current position. Talk about how your skills from your older posistion allowed you to succeed in your current position, and how your skills from both positions have grown together to fit into the current position you are interviewing for. Hiring managers want to see growth.

In the end, take each interview as a learning opportunity and don’t take rejection personally. Afterall, it’s the hiring manager who know their team best.

Thoughts?? Tips?? Any advice, tips, and tricks is always helpful. 

The Pessimistic Side of Optimism

I’m a pretty optimistic person. Actually, I’m very optimitic. In middle school, the kids on the school bus would spend every day asking me to not smile. I always played along, trying not to smile, but we all would end up laughing. During my high school cross-country races, my coach would yell, “Stop smiling!” as I ran past him. In college, my manager told me it was my smile and positive energy that brought our customers back. Smiling doesn’t always mean I’m optimistic, but it really does affect how I think. I focus so much on the good things, and it makes me happy.

Optimism is a healthy and valued skill to have. It lowers the risk of depression and is very encouraging to others as well as the self. It gets me out of bed every morning. However, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. Sometimes being overly optimistic has it’s downfalls. Therefore, I wrote a pessimistic list about the downfalls of optimism… at least in my experience. 

1. I have a skewed sense of time. 

One down side to optimism is truly believing you have more time than you actually have. “I have two hours to spare?? Why don’t I workout, paint a picture, and then deep clean the apartment?” After the hour is up, only one thing got accomplished. “I can finish this 20 page essay in an 12 hours, ” I say as I frantically type. Which leades to my next two points:

2. I am always late.

However, I’m only late by a few minutes. This is due to me believing I can do things faster than possible. “Yeah, I can pick out an outfit, put on makeup, do my hair, pack a lunch, and take out my dog in 10 minutes,” I often tell myself after pressing snooze four times.

3. I overschedule.

“Three parties in one day? Plus, I work that morning? I really don’t want to miss out on one so I might as well do it all! Oh, and I have a paper to write tonight.” Again, I fall victim to doing more than time has allowed me to do. Because of this, usually the things at the end of the list are never completed that day. 

4. I say yes to everyone.

Well, almost everyone, as I have learn to set boundaries for myself. Whenever someone I value asks a favor from me, my optimism kicks in and I truly believe I can do what they are asking me to do, even if I don’t quite have the skills, knowledge, or time to compete it. I turn into a people pleaser which often leaves me at risk to being used. This is related to the next point:

5. I take on more than I can handle.

Because I believe I can do so much, I usually find myself doing too much. Even if I’m incapable or I don’t have the time, I’ll do it if someone asks. I literally set myself up for failure. This is dangerous because I end up feeling stressed and overwhelmed.

6. It’s more difficult to leave a rough situation. 

I focus too much on the bright side. “Shitty relationship? But focus on all of the good of that person!” “Depressing career? Looks at the experience it’s giving me!” Again, I leave myself vulnerable to depressing situations that I could have easily avoided if I focused a little more on the overwhelmingly bad and didn’t overshine the little good that it brought.

Although it gets me behind sometimes, optimism really is the one thing that gets me up every day. And when I’m in a bad situation, or my life is getting out of control and feels like it’s falling apart, my optimism allows me to continue to make a plan and keep setting goals to get to where I want to be in the end. 

It’s also a learning experience. I hope to not be a little late to every event forever. Each negative experience allows me to adjust and improve myself a little bit each and every day. And that’s the great part about it. 

How to Make the Most of Your Commute (When You’re the Driver)

Someone once told me, “If you are able to reduce something by at least one minute, imagine how much extra time you’d gain in one year.” 

I often hear and read that time managaement is the key for a productive and healthy life. I used to spend my days frustrated over the long commute that was required for my job. “I could be doing so much more with my time if the car drove itself!” I frequently thought. However, I was flawed in my thinking. I was wasting my time not by commuting, but by only commuting. Don’t worry, my hands are always on the wheel and my eyes are always in the road. 

 For those who commute on a regular basis, here are some ways to ensure you are getting the most out of your commute time.

1. Learn something new.

Find an audiobook, or podcast, whatever gets your mind thinking. For example, Ted Talks is great for when my mind is curious and I can’t focus on just one topic. Audiobooks have recently became my new favorite as I have challenged myself to see how many books I can finish in one year just by commuting.

2. Record your thoughts to write down later.

Sometimes I have a really good idea while driving only to forget about it once I get to my destination. When this happens, I set my phone on record and talk about my ideas out loud so that I have notes to look back on later. There are also some dictation apps out there as well. 

3. Get lost in your favorite songs.

Sometimes my brain is dead after a long day and the idea of a book or podcast sounds like information overload. To recharge, playing my favorite songs helps me refresh for the remainder of the day.

4. Use the last 10 minutes to pump you up. 

I like to workout once I get home but sometimes the commute makes me feel a little fatigued. To pump myself back up, I use the last ten minutes of my drive playing my workout playlist while visualizing my work out and the results I could possibly get. I also use the playlist and visualization technique before arriving to a big day of work. It’s crazy how much music helps.

5. Reflect.

Sometimes life moves so fast that I need to slow down and reflect on where I’m headed and why. Driving is great, especially if you are alone, to take the time to think about all that’s going on in your life.

6. Explore a new route.

If you have the time or if traffic is really bad, find a new route to reach your destination. Doing this has allowed me to see some picture-perfect moments that I otherwise would have never seen. For example,  once saw an air balloon take off in the sunrise. And another time I saw lightenig strike over downtown. Unfortunately I was driving so I couldn’t take a photo. It also imrpoved the visual map in head, allowing me to understand the area better. It’s definitely useful when traffic is holding you up.

5. Find a radio station that makes you laugh.

This one may be tough to find, but there are some entertaining radio shows out there. I have never been a fan of the radio until one morning I stumbled across a radio host who caught my attention. At first, I thought his comedy was stupid, but soon after I found myself laughing out loud. This comedic radio show makes me laugh out loud every single morning and it’s perfect for turning my grouchy morning mood into a series of laughter before I begin my day. 

“If you are able to reduce something by at least one minute, imagine how much extra time you’d gain in one year.” 

I wasn’t able to change my commute time, but I was able to change how I commute. Now, I’m capable of finishing about a dozen books in a year or motivate myself in different ways that isn’t required to do outside of the car. What do you do to save time? How do you pass time during your commute?

Running: A life metaphor. 

“Why run??”


To reduce anxiety.

To forget about the unnecessary stress. 

To clean out my mind so that it’s too tired to focus on the little things and to focus on the big picture instead.

Because, similar to life, sometimes you choose your route and other times the route is chosen for you.

Because it’s your decision to take the more difficult route or to continue on the easy route. 

Because exploring a new trail can lead you to endless possibilities.  

Because life is full of hills.

Sometimes life is muddy.

Sometime the rain pours.

You can choose to push through it or to give up trying. 

Because nothing upsets me more than knowing that I let myself give up rather than push to the end. 

It’s a reminder that it’s you against yourself. 

It’s not about making sure you are better than the person next to you, but rather that you better than your best self. 

Because to keep going and going well, you have to take care of your body. 

You’ll begin to habitually want the healthier option. 

To not only get physically stronger, but to also be mentally stronger.

To prove myself wrong.

To prove to myself that I am capable of going the extra mile.

To know I can push myself to the limits and be okay.

To make it. 

To, in the end, say “I did it.”

The Beauty of Retail, Sales, and Customer Service

In my experience, a customer service or retail role has constantly gotten a bad rep from my peers. When I was 19, I expressed my interest in customer service and retail to my family and friends since I had never worked in that sector before. I was curious and wiling to discover what it’s like working in a this industry. But I constantly got the same negative feedback: “No you don’t. You’ll regret it once your in it.” Why did others assume this? Was it because I was shy growing up? Was it because they have never seen me working primarly with people before? Is it because they hated their own experience working in customer service and was using their experience to assume what mine would similar? Is it because it doesn’t get the best pay? Or because it’s hard to move up and form a solid career with it (as some have told me)? Whatever their reason, I ignored it and pursued it anyway. Besides, who knew me better than I knew myself?

Right as I turned 20, I began my first retail job as a sales associate. Instantly, I was hooked. I passed the two rounds of interviews, including a group interview, and felt very fortunate that the hiring manager chose to hire me although I had no previous retail or customer service experience at all. In all honesty, I thought there was no way I was getting the offer even though I connected well with the hiring manager because the other girls had years of experience on me. Today, I can’t thank my previous manager enough for giving me this experience and a chance to prove that I actually do work really well with people afterall. And I truly enjoy it.  

Now that I’m not working retail anymore, I really can’t help but miss it. I even dream about it sometimes. Although I don’t want to be working retail when I turn thirty, I recognize the skills and many learning opportunities it provides, despite it’s low pay. Here’s what I learned working in retail and sales and why I loved it so much:

1. The Spontaneity 

You never knew what the day was going to look like or what customers you’ll run into, even if you had a general idea. Along with that, you never knew what project you’ll be assigned that day. Will I be creating a wine-inspired display or a spa display? Will I be creating an autumn themed clothing feature? The options were limitless. I also enjoyed hopping around between different positions in one shift. From managing deposits in the cash office to selling jewelry behind the counter, I never knew where I’d be in the 30 minutes. With every new customer and experience there was always something new to learn. Every shift was a fresh start and it always kept me interested. 

2. The Busier, The Better

No lie, holiday season was my favorite time of the year along with the other busy  days of the year. Meanwhile, the slow days killed my motivation and had me feeling apathetic. Thankfully, I was working in a small college town home to a big university so the community was always having some sort event that made the store busy. The more I had to manage, balance, and prioritize, the better I performed. 

I need to create this feature with all of the product we have in the back. Oh, a customer has question. Now the fitting room is calling me for assistance through my radio while a customer is explaining to me what they need. I quickly and genuinely help the customer and then rush to the fitting room to empty a rack. Now the jewelry counter needs backup and I’m suppose to cover a cashier’s break in 10 minutes. My manager is pushing for another rewards card sale. I can’t forget about that feature I’m working on! Oh, and we close in few hours so we should be thinking about recovering the store soon.”

There’s something about succesfully running around in between tasks that put me on a high. Plus, busy means business. 

3. The Team Environment

As an entire store, we had goals to make, and we couldn’t do it alone. As much as I enjoyed bouncing around helping every department and customer we had, I also loved that all of these things couldn’t be accomplished without a team. Clear communication on the radio and there was always someone there to have your back if you were completely swamped or are stuck helping a customer for quite some time. I enjoyed our beginning-of-day and end-of- days meetings because it put everyone on the same page and allowed everyone to share their share ideas and experiences. Teamwork brings everyone together to understand and work towards the organization’s goals. I find that working alone in a single department makes it easy to forget the broader picture.

4. You Dress To Impress

I love shopping and I love fashion although I don’t really do much of anything with it besides shop for myself and pin outfits on Pinterest. I also love having a job that requires you to dress professional but stylish. In college, I noticed that my more productive days were when I dressed up a little more. I was more confident; therefore I was more focused while studying and more involved in class discussions. Dressing up gives me the confidence that I hope to help other women find. Often, women (usually the older ones who were looking to keep up with the younger trends) complimented my attire and asked me to help them put together a similar outfit. I learned that your dress is very important because if the customers like what you are wearing and it matches the company and brand you work for, then they tend to trust your opinion, making it easier to sell. Plus, people take you more seriously.

5. The Competition 

Although I hate to nag people, getting that sale or charity donation was quite exciting. I loved the environment of creating goals (unless they were assigned), being coached by your managers on how to make that sale, and having a friendly, open competition among your coworkers throughout the day. It was quite rewarding to tell the team through our radios that you just made the sale. Plus, everyone liked it when you made a sale too. The managers would be a little relieved that we were one step closer to making the day’s quota and the team was relieved that a little less pressure would be placed on them.

6. There Is Room For Creativity

For a visual person, retail is always keeping me interested. With new product coming into the store every day, there is always something new to look at. The colors and product are everchanging with the season. Making a themed display with all that was available in the back of the store, helping a customer find a piece or furniture or decor that matches the house they described, or creating better ways to make a sale kept my mind engaged. 

7. The Customer Mystery

This is absolutely my most favorite part about working in retail: finding out what the customer wants to buy when the customer doesn’t even know what they want to buy in the first place. It’s helping that woman pick out an outfit when she doesn’t have clue what clothes she enjoys wearing. It’s helping that college girl find the appropiate attire for her big interview coming up. It’s helping that boyfriend find the pefect piece of jewerly for his new girlfriend that he really cares about:

“What does she like?”

“I don’t know.” 

“What kind of jewerly does she normally wear?” 

“I don’t know?” 

“Have you notice any necklaces or rings that she wears?” 

“Hmm… Not really.”

“What do you imagine will look good on her? These pieces of jewerly are pretty popular over here.”

The person suddenly becomes puzzle and it is your job to make sure they leave the store satisfied with the product they bought. I absolutely love taking a lost “I don’t know” customer and having them leave the store excited and confident about the product they bought. It’s a mystery I love to solve. 

8. The People

It’s the managers who want you to succeed and provide you the resources to so do. It’s the coworkers who become your best friends because you spend all day together and learn how each other works. It’s the customers who really just need a stranger to talk to. It’s making a difference in a stranger’s day, even if it’s small. It trusting your manager’s guidance. It’s helping your co-workers grow. It’s the people who work with every day that make the job worth it. 

Just a check mark away: using lists to keep motivation.

I am addicted to checking off lists. Yes, you read that right. I find strange satisfaction in crossing off lists. I use lists for everything, from grocery shopping to blogging ideas to achieving my biggest goals. Although the little short-term lists are important, I’m going to share my experience using the big ones, the ones that take a couple of years to complete because I believe those are the most important ones to keep.

To achieve my biggest life goals, I’ve created three different types of lists:

The first list, the big magical guy, lists out all of my wildest dreams and wishes that I want to pursue in my life. This list contains anything I dream of doing and who I envision being. It’s motivated by the question, “If you were reaching the end of your days, what would you want to look back and remember? What stories would you want to tell?” It’s also inspired by the ever-famous question, “What would you want your tombstone to say?”  My imagination loves this list because it gets to run wild. I dream of going to Africa one day, to advance in my dream career, and to stay fit and toned to name a few. Of course, as time goes on and life changes, so does the list.

My next list asks, “What are you doing this week to get there?” Here, I list all of the things that are possible to accomplish this week to get one small (sometimes big) step closer to crossing something off that big magical list. For things like getting fit and toned, I would write, “Work out at least twice this week.” For bigger wishes, like traveling to Africa or finding my dream career, the steps are minor, such as, “Research this industry,” or “contact this person,” or “apply to this job/volunteer.”

At the end of the week, I make a new list. This list is my accomplishment lists. Everything I have completed in my weekly “what are you doing to get there” list get placed in my weekly accomplishment list. This list is very important because I can see how I am making progress every week and it’s quite rewarding to look at.

The one frustrating part about keeping these lists is that the lists never end. As I keep checking things off, more things get added on. I’ll never feel that satisfaction of completely finishing everything so that I can spend countless hours by the pool sipping on a margarita with no obligations. But that’s also the beauty of it. Because life always gives you a new hurdle to jump, nothing is ever complete. There is always something to improve and perfect.

So in honor of lists, I’m going to list out how keeping these lists can be quite beneficial.

1. Visual organization.

For a person like me who gets disorganized and overwhelmed easily, keeping these lists helps me organize and prioritize my thoughts and responsibilities. Sometimes I have no idea what it is I’m thinking, so I list out every thought that comes to mind until I look it over and reach a conclusion. Other times, I feel that I have so much to do that I begin to feel overwhelmed. Listing out everything that needs to be done helps me prioritize my tasks. I’m pretty visual, so seeing my thoughts physically helps me understand my next steps.

2. Accountability.

I tend to think more than I do and plan more than I achieve. Eventually I got tired of feeling slow or stable and I wanted to be sure that I was consistently moving forward. By adding weekly deadlines, I’m able to physically see that if I don’t finish at least one thing this week, then my list will only be much bigger next week, because as I mentioned earlier, as things get checked off, more is always added.

3. It’s a game.

Tracking my weekly accomplishments is like a game in that each week gives out a score. Say I accomplished 7 things on my list last week. This week I want to beat my high score and accomplish 8 tasks. Of course, beating my accomplishment “high score” not always realistic due to time. Some tasks take more time than others. But it’s fun to look at the numbers and to try to beat my most productive week.

4. It’s reassuring.

I’m human. And because of that, my self esteem is low sometimes. I feel lazy, unmotivated, or might have even had a bad day. On days when I’m down, it helps to look at all I have done in the week, or even in the past. Then I’m reassured that I’m really not that lazy piece of shit I have been feeling like and telling myself that I am all day. I also found that I get anxious when I haven’t touched or even glanced at my lists for a few days. I begin to feel lost and overwhelmed about where I’m at because I allowed this tiny structure to disappear. But once I take a look at my list, I realize that I’m really not that unstable and I can see the direction I am headed with my life.

Those are just a few reasons why checking off lists has became a weird satisfaction of mine. Maybe I’m addicted, or maybe I’m motivated. Whatever it is, it’s helping me get one step closer to where I want to be each week.

 

 

Shoutout to Trello for keeping me organized!

Why Renewing My Birth Control in 2017 Felt So Liberating

I hate birth control. But I also understand the many benefits that come with it. I’ve been taking the birth control pill for the past four years, and let me tell you, I was terrible at remembering to take it. Four years and I kept constantly forgetting. I’ve never been one to stick with a routine. I woke up and went to bed at a different time every day, either really early or really late. My school schedule changed every three months depending on what classes were available, and my work schedule was completely random every week. Taking a single pill at the exact hour every day was a constant fail. I lost track of time too often. Who knew where’d I be at in that hour, or even in the next hour. College was such an adventure.

I’ll admit that I could have been much better at routine, watched the clock a little more, and kept myself a little more organized. My friends told me over and over again to switch to a birth control method that wasn’t the pill, like the one that goes in your arm. But after living a life that somehow never needed surgery or even an IV, I’ve been quite afraid of needles. So I stuck with the pill, no matter how annoying it was.

In January, I was reaching the end of my birth control pill supply. My birth control originally came from my college campus’s health center, but now that I’ve graduated and living in a new city, I had to find a new doctor. After a day of research, I picked the right one. I walked out of her office and into the wintery sunshine feeling overjoyed, relieved, and accomplished…  I felt liberated.

Here’s why:

1. I had quit the birth control pill.

My pill days were over! Woohoo! But I also walked out of that office with a more effective and longer lasting birth control method. The birth control that was inserted inside my arm was an upgrade. And boy, don’t upgrades feel nice?

2. Goodbye every day stress!

I never realized how much stress I carried with that pill until it was gone. No longer do I have to spend every single day thinking and worrying about it. It’s one less thought, stress, and nagging tone that lives in my head that would be forever gone. Now more time for positive thinking is available. It’s healthier for my mental state.

3. I conquered a fear.

I have a big fear of needles. Or so I thought. I realized a few days before my appointment that I was never really scared of the needles; I was scared of fainting. In middle school, I fainted when my ears were pierced. Ever since, I’ve been scared fainting which has repeatedly happened a few times throughout my life, including at my job and in school. When I shared to my boyfriend that I realized I was more scared of fainting during or after the process than I was scared of the needle, he lovingly reassured me that I was at a doctors office and if something were to happen, I’d be surrounded by all of the right resources and people. So I did it. And I did it courageously. I told myself it was now or never and I walked out of that office with another fear conquered.

4. I took control.

Conquering that fear showed me that I had more control of my life than I ever let myself have. Fear hold us back. It controls us. Finally saying to my brain, “You know what? I don’t care how nervous you are. I’m going to jump because I know it’s the best thing to do,” gives me opportunity. I left that office thinking how much more I could be doing if I never let fear get into my way.

The other side to this is that I was thankful. I’m thankful to be living in a country that currently lets me control what I do with my body. I’m thankful for living in a country that makes birth control and research accessible. I’m thankful to be with a man who doesn’t control or sway me to do certain things with my body. And I’m thankful that I have the freedom to choose as women… which leads my to my last point:

5. Trump

Now, I don’t want to spin this article and have it end on political note, but getting a longer lasting birth control method was also slightly influenced by Trump’s presidency. I’ll avoid getting into debate and politics, but I must simply say, it felt good to be a part of that statistic of women who got a longer birth control method just in case it became more difficult to access. It was as if it was a little protest. Although small, I’m glad to be doing something I believe in.

Who knew birth control could be so exciting??