Saturday, July 28, 2007

Career Tip - Work for Free

I am a subscriber to Keith Ferrazzi's e-newsletter. Ferrazzi is the author of "Never Eat Alone", a well-written, entertaining, and immensely helpful book in the networking arena...perhaps the best of its class.

In yesterday's e-newsletter, he wrote, "When you are unproven and starting a business or changing careers, working for free is an effective way of breaking in. By being generous and offering your time and expertise gratis, you will gain experience and the connections you're looking to create."

You can read more at his blog, but I wanted to comment on the ingenuity of this tip. It goes against conventional wisdom and it's a bit risky, but it is incredibly smart. What better way to break into the company/industry of your dreams than to offer your services and then outshine all competitors with your outstanding work ethic, your yet-to-be-proven talent, and your winning personality?

Ferrazzi notes that you shouldn't offer to work at a discount because this undervalues your skill. But, working for free is different. It's you giving to the community and taking in knowledge humbly from industry forerunners.

You may argue that this is an impossibility. After all, you have to pay the mortgage.

Realistically, however, the average job hunt takes 6 months. Wouldn't it be better to spend 6 months making connections and actually working in your chosen field than sending out resumes blindly online? Yes and yes. Your chances of landing a job are much higher and, even if you don't walk away with a job, you will walk away with new skills and new friends.

So, if you're in between jobs or a recent college graduate or looking for the job of your dreams, work for free.

Friday, July 27, 2007

More College Electives that Will Help Pave Your Way to Success

So, you've already taken all of my suggested electives and you still have room in your schedule for one or two more. You're probably wondering, "what other classes will assist me in landing job/internship/graduate school opportunities after graduation?"

Remember that relationships are essential to your career success. Thus, it is probably best to avoid lecture-style classes with hundreds of students and shoot for courses that are small and discussion-based. Ask around and get recommendations for the best professors and the smallest class sizes. Honors departments often specialize in offering classes like this.

I could make an argument for various specific courses that would probably benefit you (say, statistics, because you'll want the knowledge if you decide to go to grad school), but the "who" (the quality of professor) is much more important than the "what" (subject area).

Oh, and did you already add in another fitness class...come on! There's too many benefits (career and otherwise) to ignore exercise any longer.

(Picture by: Susan NYC)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Tools to Make Getting Involved in the Political Process Less Complicated

I like politics. I like learning about the issues, debating the big topics of the hour, and rooting for candidates that espouse my core beliefs. But I don't like how complicated the whole process is.

For example, it is embarrassingly overwhelming to find out (a) who my local representatives are and (b) where they (and other national politicians) stand on various issues.

Yesterday, I searched long and hard for a few places to go to de-complicate the whole thing. And I came across a few very helpful sites.

Exhibit A: For all you Southern Arizonans, you can log on to the Pima County Recorder's Office website, click on "Polling/Voter Info", enter your address, and find out your legislative district and your congressional district. Plus, the site will list any upcoming elections for your "zone."

Exhibit B: Go to Project Vote Smart, enter your 9-digit zip code, and you'll find a list of all your officials/representatives (with links to their websites). Nice and easy.

Exhibit C: Take the VoteMatch Quiz. Enter your opinion on various issues and your results will be compared to a group of your choosing (try 2008 presidential candidates for starters).

Monday, July 23, 2007

How to get Generation X/Y to Read the Newspaper

The facts speak: young people in the 18 to 34 age range don't read the newspaper very often, if at all. I am a testament to that statistic.

That said, I do want to stress that I am very interested in news and politics. I read (and sometimes comment on) the news online every day. I read Time, Newsweek, and Business Week (although I don't subscribe). I'm a "regular" on I just read Barack Obama's new book. I write to my local representatives.

But I don't subscribe to the newspaper. I already outlined my top three reasons why.

That's not the end of the conversation, however. The question of the hour is how to attract Gen X/Y readers. Like me.

Here's my take on a potential marketing strategy. I'm not sure it will work, but it's worth a shot:
1. Go to the employers of young, urban professionals. I think it's pretty much time to scrutinize the data and see that young people aren't going to fork over their dough for free news they can get online. That said, they will probably read it if it is offered. So, savvy newspapers should go to CEO's and Professional Development Directors...and get them to, in effect, "sponsor" subscriptions for their employees. Yes, that's right. Get the employers to buy papers for their workers. What's in it for them? Well, here's where the news team needs to be creative. There are the more subtle benefits - more knowledgeable, modern, worldly-wise contributors to the company. Or perhaps the company could have a "15 minutes with the news" time during the work day where employees read and/or share current new stories. Or...
2. Focus on local people, places, and events. For national news, we go to CNN and MSNBC.
3. Go shorter. Articles should be quick, digestible, easy-to-find, immediately relevant.
4. Figure out a way to make the paper free. That's not a joke. Most young people think, "why buy the news when I can get it online for free?"
5. Realize that Classifieds are a thing of the past (we go to craigslist for cars, jobs, clothes, you-name-it).

That's all for today. If you are a member of the 18 to 34 crowd (or somewhere in the vicinity), join the conversation. Do you subscribe to any newspapers? If not, what would make you change your mind?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Why Generation X/Y Doesn't Read the Newspaper

I just read two interesting posts on local blogs (Click on "My Tucson" and "Moms") about if and how the "18-to-30 year old segment" of the population obtains news. Both authors are, presumably, in their 40's or 50's with adult children of their own. Both observe that their own children rarely read the newspaper and are only mildly intrigued by other news sources (TV, online, radio, news magazines, etc.). Both wonder aloud, and rightly so, about the "future of our country."

I am 25. So I started thinking about (a) why I don't have a subscription to any of the local newspapers (and what would make me change my mind) and (b) where I obtain my news and if it is a sufficient/adequate enough source.

Contrary to the authors' assumptions, current events, politics, and news items are extremely important to me. I want to know the hot topics and the critical issues in my local and global community.

But I don't necessarily go to the newspaper to obtain that information. Here's why:
1. Newspapers cost money - and I can get my news for free on their corresponding website.
2. Newspapers don't offer any interactive components - I want to be able to post a comment, to respond, to send a link to someone.
3. Newspapers, by and large, are still geared to baby boomers.

I'll write more tomorrow on my thoughts about if newspapers can be saved and how they can pitch their campaign to the coveted Gen X/Y audience.

In the meantime, check out these articles:
* Newspapers Should Really Worry (Wired, 11-24-04)
* Young Adults Are Giving Newspapers Scant Notice (The New York Times, 7-16-07)
* A Bright Future for Newspapers (American Journalism Review, June/July 05)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Most Worthwhile College Courses

As mentioned in yesterday's post, the college major that you choose is really less important than everyone makes it out to be. The most important thing that a college degree tells a prospective employer is that you are hard-working and diligent enough to persevere, that you are humble enough to follow the rules, and that you are socially savvy enough to "work the system."

In light of this fact, I actually am in favor of a revolution in the way that universities structure their degree programs. I'm of the opinion that students should have more freedom and flexibility in the courses that they select.

Even if universities don't allow you to customize your entire degree program, most of them do offer you quite a few choices via a general education curriculum. And, of course, you also have electives.

So, which courses will give you a head start in your career and make you a more enticing job candidate? Here's my take:

1. Introduction to Business - Learn the basics of business.
2. P.E. Classes - Take as many as you can cram in your schedule: Yoga, Ballet, Running, Tennis, Golf, Soccer, Pilates, etc. Exercise is good for your mind and your body - and will help you look and feel good, which will, in turn, land you more job opportunities.
3. Psych 101 - Yes, taking psychology will help you understand people better. But, more importantly, Psych 101 will provide you with great conversation fodder.
4. Public Speaking, Speech Communication, or Acting - If you're scared of speaking in groups (whether large or small), now is the perfect opportunity to face your fears. Successful people know how to communicate. Period.
5. A good dose of English classes - Writing is an important skill for almost any job and English courses will force you to hone that skill. Plus, being well-read and bookish makes people think you are intelligent (and, of course, you do get more intelligent the more you read). Finally, you really should be able to recognize famous lines from Shakespeare, Frost, Dickinson, and the like.
6. Foreign Language - Don't forget that the business environment is becoming extremely global. It helps to be fluent in a foreign language. Added bonus: if you're fluent, it's likely that you'll have more job prospects and that you will be paid more money.

(Picture by: myyogaonline)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Why Choosing A College Major Shouldn't Be Stressful

When it comes to picking the right person for the job, yet another study confirms that it's best to pay more attention to "soft skills" (like team-building, communication, overall "likability") rather than technical skills.

These findings always remind me that, except in instances of very specialized fields (i.e. medicine, engineering, architecture, etc.), the college degree that you choose is not particularly important. Majoring in English or Psychology, Philosophy or Communication, Business or Political Science, Religion or Education - all might actually lead you to the same path.

In fact, choosing a major is not at all equivalent to choosing a career because your major might lead you to a long list of careers in completely unrelated fields.

So...choose something that fascinates you - and then work on improving your social network. Join campus organizations. Volunteer with a local shelter. Raise money for a charity fundraiser. Have coffee with your professor. Attend conferences about enhancing your communication skills. Host dinner parties.

In the end, it's who you now and how much they like you.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Are you LinkedIn?

There are a multitude of professional and social networking sites on the web. The most note-worthy sites in this genre include MySpace, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

As far as I can tell, MySpace is for tweens and teens and some straggling twenty-somethings. Facebook is for Generation Xers who are looking to connect with friends, acquaintances, coworkers, and perhaps future business partners. LinkedIn is for adults and is primarily used for business purposes.

I realize that my summary is probably extremely flawed and that my descriptions are much too broad. So, I'm curious. Are my descriptions accurate? Do you have an account with any or all of the aforementioned sites? If so, which one is your favorite and what benefits do you receive from being in the network?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What I'd Wear Wednesday

This post goes out with an extra big shout-out to Damselfly over at Growing A Life. Every Wednesday, she picks out a cute and stylish outfit or garment to feature - and calls it "What I'd Wear Wednesday." I think this is clever and fun so I'm going to mimic her idea just for today.

So, with no further adieu, here are my selections for today:

AG stretch flare jeans from Nordstrom $172.00
BP Melrose Pump in Turquoise from Nordstrom $32.90
Cotton Short Sleeve V-Neck from Ann Taylor $24.00

Ta-Da! The perfect outfit for a date with my husband.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tucson Tuesdays: Summer Reading Programs

What better time to lounge around in the air conditioning and read than the dog days of summer? Not only will you be acquiring new knowledge, strengthening your vocabulary, and thus becoming a more interesting will also be on the way to winning great prizes (if you are under 19) and signed up with your local library.

For kids
For teens
For adults

I have to admit that I'm only halfway thrilled about these programs...because of the prizes. It seems that the library could do a much better job at obtaining prizes for the program (think: gift cards to eegees, cold stone creamery, the mall, nice restaurants, etc. or ipods or pedometers or journals). Also - the adult program doesn't even offer prizes [Note to TPPL: Adults want prizes too!]

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Back from Flagstaff

We returned from a weekend getaway to Flagstaff this evening. It was a much-needed and intensely-enjoyed retreat. We hiked and talked and shopped downtown - and the guys went dirt biking in the cinders. And Kayla loved hanging out with the dogs and being in the great outdoors and trying to taste-test rocks (we came to the rescue).

As Joe put it, "a fun time was had by all."

We can't wait to go again.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Tim was in the Tucson Citizen yesterday as one of the 60 finalists for Tucson Business Edge's "40 under 40." Essentially, the award program showcases rising leaders in the Tucson metropolitan community who are under 40 years old.

I am so proud.

Tim is destined for great things. And I'm glad to be a part of his success.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tucson Tuesdays

If you haven't been to your local library lately, you might want to give your neighborhood one a second glance.

Even if you don't enjoy reading, there are lots of fantastic reasons to venture into the literary world:

A. Most libraries carry a wide selection of new-release and classic DVD's. As such, you can check out movies for free (instead of reaching into your wallet for $5 at Blockbuster).
B. Most libraries have a fantastic selection of audio books on CD. Perfect for road trips, long business commutes, and cleaning the house.
C. Most libraries have WI-FI access. Yes, you can bring your laptop and surf the Internet on a comfy chair.
D. All libraries have computers with Internet access available.
E. There are SO many activities that you would never think a library might workshops, DDR for teens, mom and baby yoga, etc.
F. Even if you don't love to read, it's a great idea to foster a love of reading in your kids. Take them to story hour or enroll them in the summer reading program.

Come on all you bookworms and book-avoiders - check out your local library. There's something for everyone.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Books I've Been Reading

I just read the following three books this past week:

  1. Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success by Penelope Trunk
  2. How to Become a Famous Writer Before You're Dead by Ariel Gore
  3. Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality by Donald Miller
P.S. I also signed up for an account with Shelfari (essentially, an online book club).

What have you been reading?

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Note to Self: Help Others - do it often and do it unexpectedly

Been thinking about helping others.

It's so easy to get caught up in "me" and forget about "we" - meaning family, friends, the larger local and global community.

I heard about an anonymous gentleman who walked into a bookstore and handed the clerk $20 and said, "use this to buy a few books for kids." Nice.

I love the random acts of kindness thing. Or, rather, the intentional acts of kindness thing.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Tucson Tuesdays

Henceforward, Tuesdays will be dedicated to the beautiful deserts of Southern Arizona. I will comment on the people, the politics, and the public happenings of this growing metropolis of 1,000,000 people that boasts endless sunshine, breathtaking sunsets, and big city amenities in a "small town" environment.

I'm going to start this ongoing series with a challenge for every Tucson resident. Whether you are a young professional, a retiree, a stay-at-home mom, a high school senior, or a baby boomer working in corporate America, I urge you to give to Tucson. We are all responsible for the present and the future of our "western paradise" - and thus we should all be doing something to help. That can, of course, mean by contributing dollars to noteworthy causes, but it also means investing your time and talents to make Southern Arizona a better place.

Over the next few months, I will highlight many opportunities for you to get involved. Here's one easy first step: sign up to be a "Community Voice" on the Tucson Regional Town Hall website. This is your chance to speak up about your wants, needs, and ideas for improving Tucson...

Monday, July 2, 2007


  • Ace the GRE/GMAT in preparation for graduate school
  • Get professional pictures taken
  • Have a website made (or learn how to create one)
  • Take lots of pictures with my digital camera
  • Be in top-notch shape before baby #2

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Let's Make a Deal - Negotiating Compensation Packages in 2007

I was serious about my offer in my last blog post - perhaps more serious than even I originally intended.

It's really a novel idea - compensation packages that consist of little or no actual hard cash. I do realize, of course, that this kind of arrangement would not be ideal long term. But I'm all for it for this year.

I would love to work in exchange for "growth" and "professional development" opportunities - graduate school tuition, organization and association memberships, travel and registration fees for various conferences, personal training sessions, etc.