My Third Act

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Career, Career Change, Education, Mary, Uncategorized, Wellness

by Mary Yoke ~

It’s hard not to ponder the strange path my life has taken. Both personally and professionally, I’ve had so many unexpected twists and turns. Career-wise, I’ve definitely had what can be divided into at least three acts — something I would have never imagined in my 20s, 40s or even in my 50s. And who knows? Maybe there are more acts to come. Life, for me, has been so unpredictable.

In my 20s, I thought I had it all mapped out. I was certain I was destined to be a famous opera singer. Every indication led directly to that conclusion.

I earned a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in voice performance, won every vocal contest I entered, and won two large cash prizes at the culmination of the San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program in 1978.

Me singing Mimi in La Boheme at an outside performance in San Francisco, 1978.
Singing Mimi in La Boheme at an outside performance in San Francisco, 1978.

Famous impressarios, conductors, voice teachers and opera coaches all were convinced I had a magnificent career ahead of me. I lived — diva-like — for music and art. This was Act One, and, like any act in a theatrical play, it came to an end — and an unfortunate end at that.

Suddenly, in my late 20s, I was beset with unexplained hoarseness. I tried everything: a month of complete vocal silence; 100 shots in my back to see if I had allergies; and a tonsillectomy, which was followed a year later with an adenoidectomy. I changed voice teachers and voice coaches; I moved to different climates. I studied the Alexander Technique. When experts said it must be psychosomatic, I entered therapy. All to no avail.

During the subsequent and devastating entr’acte, I unhappily supported myself with a number of different jobs: waitress, bartender, line cook, pastry chef, legal aide, bookkeeper, receptionist in a large car dealership, salesperson in music and clothing stores, and as a church organist.

Eventually, I chanced into the world of fitness. And so the Second Act began.

Luckily, after teaching group exercise for a couple of years (back then, we called it aerobics), I met an influential person who recommended I return to school for a Master’s degree in exercise physiology, which I achieved in 1988.

Fitness has been good to me. Not only were jobs available, but I was able fairly easily to juggle the demands of new motherhood and maintain a flexible and accommodating work schedule. Plus, a great side benefit of a career in fitness is that staying in shape is actually part of the job.

I worked first in cardiac rehab and as a physical therapist assistant, then in corporate fitness, and then in commercial fitness, all the while teaching one academic class per semester as an adjunct professor.

In 1986 I became involved with a major international fitness certifying organization, and for 30 years this company has provided me with amazing opportunities for teaching, writing, and traveling around the world to present a wide variety of fitness workshops and certifications.

I’ve also presented at hundreds of conferences and have made several online videos on a Hollywood sound stage. I’ve been so very fortunate and I’m tremendously grateful to all those who’ve helped me and inspired me. The fitness world is full of people who motivate others for a living — they’re an enthusiastic and passionate bunch!

The bizarre thing is, I never could have predicted this entire career back in my 20s. Who’d have thought I’d become a fitness presenter, educator and writer? This was SO not on my radar during Act One!

Teaching at Indiana University.
Teaching at Indiana University.

And now, surprise!, I’m in Act Three. My fitness credentials helped me land a Visiting Lecturer position in kinesiology at Indiana University. I entered academia full-time and found that I loved it.

After decades of cobbling together a full-time income from multiple fitness jobs, I’ve now decided it’s good to stay more-or-less in one place and have some job security. I’ve found that I love developing longer-term relationships with students over the course of several semesters. I am inspired by my students, other faculty, and partners within the community. I love the vitality of a college town, the vibrant action on campus, the idealism and questing of students, and the golden bubble of learning, which is the academic world.

I have a strong sense that this is where I now belong. When the Visiting Lecturer position ended, I found I was finally at a point in my life where a PhD could become a reality, and so I’ve moved into health behavior research and will receive my doctorate by the end of 2016.

I hope to stay in academia, do research, inspire students, collaborate with inspiring colleagues, and continue with my writing and presenting. I am filled with purpose and feel as if I’m on fire!

Seriously, every single day is exciting and amazing for me. I’m being challenged in new ways I couldn’t have imagined ten years ago. Even though I’m at the age where some of my friends are already retiring, I feel as if I’m just getting started on a new and amazing path.

Retirement for me? No way! I have zero interest in retirement — I feel as if I’m good to go for another 20 or even 30 years. There’s so much I want to learn and accomplish.

I guess the reason I felt compelled to write this post is that I am continually surprised at my own career path (and don’t get me started on all the personal life changes I’ve experienced) and I’d like to put forward the idea that this is possible for others.

I’ve come to believe that, in fact, we can have multiple careers within one lifetime. Perhaps this can be an important way to stay vital, energetic, curious and productive. If you’re floundering in uncertainty or in a dead-end job, take heart that life can hold something better for you that may be beyond imagining.

In my own case, I can assure you that my unorthodox and unexpected journey has nevertheless caused me to thrive in ways I could have never foreseen. Who knows what lies ahead?

by Mary Yoke | email | facebook | linkedin

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I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends … I Thrive With A Little Help From My Friends …

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Career, Happiness, Kelly

by Kelly Bush ~

In 1967 The Beatles sang about friends who tell you when you sing out of tune, stick by you even when you’re off-key and who will continue to listen to your song despite the dubious quality of your performance. It’s a cheery, happy ditty with a contagious tune but it’s also sage advice. We thrive with a little help from our friends — not just in life — but also in our work.

I know some would say it’s not the best idea to mix business and friends. And I can appreciate that there are risks. I’ve been burned with this myself. Once, when I introduced a social acquaintance to a professional contact, she made a fool of herself, and I was embarrassed to learn about it later. But that isn’t really what I’m talking about when I think of integrating friends into one’s career. Our friends can be one of our best professional resources simply by being in our lives and by being themselves.

Over the decade+ since I earned my undergraduate degree, I have watched my friends grow into incredibly talented professionals. Some of us went back to graduate school. Some are now Managers or Directors, some are now Creatives, some are Career-Changers … and all of them are people that if I step back and consider from a professional standpoint, are amazingly talented. If these weren’t my friends and I met them now as clients or colleagues, I would be wowed. And since they ARE my friends, I have the opportunity to study the successes of these incredible people from an excellent vantage point.

That’s right. I’m saying that I look at what my friends are doing and let it influence me. Sounds crazy, right? I know. BUT hear me out.

Meeting Discussion Communication Brainstorming Concept
Moving from my twenties to my thirties, I came to know myself better. Which has meant that the friendships that lasted, or the new ones I formed, were more and more in line with my values. These are friendships that run DEEP. These are people whom I admire and trust. “Friends” almost seems an inadequate label for some of these special people. They are integral to my success and comprise a major portion of my happiness.

Given that I value and admire these good friends, I cannot help but notice and celebrate their successes. When a girlfriend of mine recently advocated for herself in an annual review and subsequently received a fantastic promotion and raise that she absolutely deserved, I was ECSTATIC. I was also seriously impressed. She knows her worth and insists it be acknowledged.

Another friend left a stable role at a major corporation to take a chance on a small organization run by people he respects. He subsequently found himself with new professional freedoms and opportunities that have reinvigorated his career. And you better believe, I took note!

A third friend took a title and pay cut to join an organization that offered stability and the benefits her family needed. Watching her find satisfaction in a different way reminded me powerfully that needs can change and that flexibility is a critical component of career success.

And it isn’t just from the successes that I learn. Seeing friends’ professional struggles from up close can be enlightening too. Listening to a dear friend talk about the impact it had on her to be in a job where she was not given the tools she needed to succeed made me think about how important it was for me to address this in my own job.

Listening to another girlfriend express frustration that her employer would give her a pay increase only when she got an offer somewhere else – subsequently making it clear to her that they knew what she was worth and hadn’t been honoring that – was eye-opening.

Sometimes in hearing friends talk about a challenge they are facing, I realize that the same challenge has previously or is currently presenting itself to me. Or through their search for a solution, friends come up with options I had not considered. And it all happens because two friends were chatting about life.

Looking then, for inspiration for our careers, to those people in our lives whom we respect and admire as friends makes perfect sense. My close friends are people whom I trust, value and enjoy. My own career benefits from their role in my life. Because I get by with a little help from my friends. I thrive with a little help from my friends.

by Kelly Bush | LinkedIn

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How To Keep Learning When No One Is There To Fail You

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Career, Learning, Success, Tibet

Learning is important. It’s why we spend 12 or more years of our lives in classrooms. It’s why we go into debt to get that college degree. It’s why we re-enter debt to get another degree, and so on and so forth.

Since school got out, ahem, I mean since I um, graduated (it’s still weird saying that), I have found myself having the same conversation over and over with a few of my close friends. We reminisce about our alma mater, the memories still fresh in our heads, and then we sort of take pause and ask ourselves, “Uh, did we learn anything during all that? Why did we just devote the last four years of our lives to a little piece of paper that says ‘Yay! You did it. Now get a job.’”

I’ve mulled over these questions off and on since mid-way through my freshman year. There were moments when I was close to cashing in my chips, throwing in the towel and giving up on college. I’d tell myself it wasn’t for me, I wasn’t cut out for it, it’s not worth it. Plenty of people had dropped out and made it just fine. I began to idolize the dropouts.

But then I would have moments of clarity, briefly, where the stars would align and I would think, “Okay, yeah, this sort of makes sense. I know some of these words my professor is using.”


Those moments of clarity usually happened during, or in proximity to something I enjoyed — possibly a class I liked (those were few and far between) or a pastime I really dug.

The conclusions my friends and I have slowly drawn, the reason we did all that stuff the past four years — the chaotic study habits, the attempt at a social life, a sport, girlfriends, boyfriends, school — the reason we pulled all nighters, blew off class, took class really seriously, stayed out too late, woke up too early — well it taught us how to think, and it taught us how to learn. It let us explore the world through a journey inward, as well as a journey outward. We found out what we liked and we found out what we didn’t like. We strove for (and sometimes stumbled upon) success just as we occasionally fell into failure.

You might be thinking, hey pal, I’ve heard this bit before. “College is about learning how to think and learning how to learn, yada yada yada.” But it’s true. I myself was a nonbeliever for a very long time. Heck, there were nights I was one beer away from dropping out (sorry Mom). But now in hindsight, it all served a greater purpose. Every little piece of it. I didn’t realize it at the time (none of us ever does), but it all happened just the way it was supposed to.

But now here’s the kicker. A lot of us are done with school. We’ve got this tremendous and priceless education under our belts that’s just begging to be built upon. Some of us are already working and not even entertaining the thought of ever again stepping foot into a classroom. Ever. Again.

And then there are some of us who have maybe thought about it, or have already made the plans to go back and get some more learning in.

The folks who fall into the latter group are the ones who are going to keep climbing and climbing. That’s not to say that the people in the first group are doomed to plateau as an Assistant to the Regional Manager; no not at all. But the people in the second group have declared that they are not done learning, and they will slowly start to leave everyone else behind — that is unless everyone else takes on the mindset: “I’m not done learning.”

 

modern clean workspace showing online news website
That’s the biggie. How are you going to keep acquiring knowledge now that you don’t necessarily have to?

There’s a great quote from a bullet journal that I write in every day. It goes like this, “If you’re not moving forward, you’re most likely moving backwards. There is no standing still in life.”

The first time I read that, it scared the hell out of me. And it also excited me. I thought, “How can I better myself every single day?” How can we all better ourselves every single day?

How can we all better ourselves every single day?

I’m not saying we all have to go back to school and grab our PhDs to get the most out of life. For some that is the right path. For others, not so much.

I am saying that we all must continue to learn. We must continue to stay interested and find things that stimulate us. We must dig in wholeheartedly to what lies before us and always maintain a curious, inquisitive outlook that drives us to seek what lies around the bend. We must not get comfortable, but rather always question what we don’t understand, and always seek the truth in what we find.

Forever want more for your mind, and in turn for your life — and find the ways to get it.

Read the news every morning, midday and evening. Subscribe to podcasts and play them on the commute. Grab a book and get through a few pages every day while you eat lunch. Pursue fresh experiences. Break out of your routine. Don’t make the excuse that you don’t have time to learn. We live in a world where information and media is thrown around so readily, that to say you can’t find something to listen to or read is absurd.

Be a student of the world. Keep learning every single day.

To help you get started, here are a few of my favorite pieces of media right now. I listen to a lot of podcasts because I spend a good amount of time commuting every week. I read the news periodically throughout the day — usually first thing in the morning, at lunch and then at the end of the day. I haven’t had a whole lot of time to delve into many good books lately, but I’m working on Thinking, Fast and Slow an exploration of the two systems that drive humans’ thoughts and actions. Good stuff.

Newspaper, The Media, Historic World Event.

Anyway, here’s my current personal favorites in no particular order:

MAGAZINES/NEWSPAPERS (online and print)

Vice (vice.com/en_us)

Millennials’ answer to “the man” and his old, dusty newspapers, magazines and broadcasts. I’m pretty sure this used to be taken as a joke, but it’s gained a lot of traction as of late. I used to spend hours and hours freshman year pouring over Vice documentaries, now they are a legit news agency. Sort of. “Arts, cultures and news topics.”

Fast Company (fastcompany.com)
I read it every day. Sort of a touchy-feely collection of creativity. This publication has turned me on to some of the biggest trends and revolutions going on right now. Heck it’s how I discovered Warby Parker when they were just getting started.

New York Times (nytimes.com/)

Wall Street Journal (wsj.com)

Pro tip 1: Read your local newspaper. Those things are still relevant. I once got an internship/summer job out of the classifieds. Seriously.

Pro tip 2: There are loads of news aggregating apps out there now, and recent versions of iOS have one standard. If you are ever in a hurry, or just want to quickly and easily browse a variety of sources, flip through an aggregator.


PODCASTS

Story Corps. (storycorps.org/)
“The podcast that makes you cry.” Not kidding. They gather stories from all over the country, told by plain ol’ American citizens. A delightful, heartwarming look into the lives of ordinary folk.

Radio Lab (http://www.radiolab.org/)
Long-form feature stories. Topics include: literally everything. The production is fantastic, and even the shows that aren’t that good are still pretty darn good. Definitely worth a listen.

Fresh Air (npr.org/programs/fresh-air/)
A NPR staple. “Probing questions, revelatory interviews and unusual insights.” If you aren’t already tuning in, you need to.

All Songs Considered (npr.org/sections/allsongs/)
You don’t have to be a music buff to enjoy this show. I use it to find new tracks and fresh artists. The hosts know music. I mean they KNOW music. And their tastes span the entire spectrum—from Kanye to Icelandic Grunge Metal (which I’m not completely sure is a thing). Get off the top 40 and put some pizzazz into your ears.

Now … go learn, and THRIVE.

 


 

by Tibet Spencer | LinkedIn

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The Ten New Resume Rules You Need To Know Now

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Career, Career Change, Maria, Resume, Success

In the quest for attention, to provoke discussion or maybe because he or she hopes it’s the case, every now and again some innocuous troll will declare, “The resume is dead!!” Well yes, the old-fashioned, boring and bland version that itemized your professional past indeed has been bumped off. However, the resume that tells your story, accentuates your value and highlights your personal brand is alive and kicking open the doors of opportunity.

Long gone are the days of the traditional, 12-point, serif-fonted, duty-driven confessionaries that featured generic, me-centric Objectives Statements; painful minutia about past employers; less than stellar GPAs; and contact information for three pre-ordained references. Thankfully, the dawn of a new resume day has arrived, and it’s about to be your new best friend.

Here are the 10 new rules you need to know for a cutting-edge resume that will help you stand out from the hoards of fellow applicants, showcase your specific strengths, and land a lot more interviews so you can snag the job you really want. And it will help you thrive.

Rule 1: Your Resume Needs To Be Your BFF.

bff
Today’s resume is your best friend forever because it likes you a lot! That means it doesn’t talk about anything that showcases or even hints at your shortcomings. Instead, it’s a powerful marketing tool that explains why YOU are THE perfect person for the job of your dreams. Or at least the job you are applying for at that moment. The resume for the job you apply for a half hour later might look a little different.


Rule 2: Know Your Audience.

tattooed-businessman
If you are in a creative and edgy field such as public relations, arts management or fashion, your resume needs to look clean and modern with plenty of white space, an eye-catching but not gimmicky design, and with an accent of color, and a few tasteful social media icons or other graphics. If you’re an accountant or academic, the more standard look is probably still the more palatable. Do your research so you understand the culture of the field and of the specific workplace before your finalize and submit your resume.


Rule 3: You Must Tailor It, Always.

tailor
As I hinted in Rule 1, you can and must tailor each resume to the specific opportunity. That doesn’t mean every section is a do-over, but it does mean you can control exactly which information, skills, strengths and accomplishments you most want to highlight for the precise skills, values and experience sought in the actual description of the position for which you’re applying. Align away.

Rule 4: Liven Up Your Contact Information.

edit&enliven
In this section include your name, cell, professional-sounding email address, LinkedIn profile link, and any other pertinent social media links and your personal website, if you have one. Make the email and links live. Include your city and state if you like; no street address please; stalkers and identity thieves took the fun out of that.


Rule 5: Power Up Your Personal Statement.

personal
Say a terse goodbye to the “To gain a job in my field” Objective Statement and say a warm hello to the Personal (Branding) Statement. This is a power-packed sentence or two that conveys your particular value, strengths and personal brand. To help you write this, pretend a hiring manager has only what you write here to go by — what specific strengths, skills, personal values and value to the organization will you bring that are unique to you? Be sure you review this statement for each job you apply to, and tweak as needed.

Rule 6: Call Out Your Strengths.

strengths
Feature your top 8-12 skills that best match the position to which you are applying (and which you generally enjoy doing). If it makes sense to organize them in categories such as Leadership Skills, Soft Skills, Software Skills, etc., then do so. You’ll seem some people include that lovely self-rating skills bar chart; why proactively admit you’re not amazing at something?


Rule 7: Make Your Experience Relatable.

Experience
Your Experience section should highlight relevant jobs (and internships if you’re a college student or recent grad), your title, and your key measurable, accomplishments at each. If a position doesn’t seem pertinent to the job you are applying for, look at the transferable skills you were able to develop that may be incredibly useful to your desired line of work. Your potential new bosses want to see how what you have done in the past will help you help them now and into the future.

Rule 8: Place Your Education Strategically.

education
Unless your academic experience was extraordinary and very fresh, for most fields* this section need not be near the top of your resume as it has been in the past. You no doubt studied your butt off for at least four years, but this info can wait until we hear about your strengths, and perhaps even before your relevant experience. Do not list your GPA unless it is outstanding. Do not list your graduation years unless really recent, if at all. *If you know that success in your line of work is heavily dependent on certain all cap letters proudly trailing your name, you may wish to keep this info near the top.

Rule 9: Showcase Your Awards/Publications/Civic Engagement.

awards
Here’s a section where you really can be creative in terms of title, structure and content. Depending on what fits you best, this is sort of a catch-all for any awards, publications, civic engagement or clubs with which you are involved. If there are a lot of each, break them into the appropriate categories. For organizations and clubs, absolutely include your contributions and accomplishments so it doesn’t seem like you just sat in meetings like a lump.

Rule 10. Keep It Reel Real.

reel
Always remember to tell the truth, never exaggerate, and check and recheck spelling, spacing, grammar, consistency and punctuation until you no longer can see straight (or better yet, have a skilled proofreader do that for you!).

The bottom line is that your resume should serve as a marketing tool, calling out your special talents, experiences and qualities and highlighting what’s so very special about you and why you are the person this organization needs to add value and solve their problems.

Today’s resume has new rules, and by making them work to your very best advantage, they will help you thrive. You’re in charge, and you’re about to shine.

For more tips or assistance creating your new, very much alive, vibrant and powerful resume, visit my coaching site, coachthrive.us.

by Maria Katrien Heslin | website | email | Twitter | LinkedIn

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The Better Of Two Goods

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Career, Communication, Experience, Internship, Interview, Job, Nonprofit, Olivia, Public Relations, Success

It was the last semester of my college career, and I found myself in an interesting predicament. I had to decide, quickly, between two dream jobs. But first, let’s back up and figure out how I got to that point.

I started my college career wanting to be a sports broadcaster. I had an extensive background in theater, was an avid sports fan and a great writer. I even created a sports broadcasting club in my high school, the Future Broadcaster’s Initiative, or FBI for short (yes, that was intentional).

After spending the first two years of college getting my feet wet at internships with USA Track & Field and Run-Fast in London, England, I realized the sports life was not for me. My realization of this came after talking with several women in the field who told me, “You give up your weekends, holidays, family, friends and basically life. But I promise it’s all worth it!”

Or not.

I am a relationship-focused person. I learned at an early age that relationships are some of our most valuable assets in life, and I wasn’t about to ruin those just to cover some sweaty guys who chase a ball around a field.

So, I changed my course of action my junior year. Instead of a journalism degree with a specialization in sports and broadcasting, I picked up a specialization in public relations. This switch, amazingly, didn’t force me to graduate any later than I had planned, and I actually could have graduated a semester early if I wanted. But I didn’t, and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

By the spring semester of my senior year, I had all but one of my required courses completed, and I was free to take a number of electives that greatly enhanced my skill sets and made me a more competent public relations practitioner.

With only three months left in school, I needed a job. I decided to stay in Bloomington for two reasons. The first is because my boyfriend of two and half years was graduating with a degree in biology, and he decided to stay in Bloomington and take a gap year before grad school and work in a lab on campus. The second is because I love Bloomington as a town and had absolutely no desire to move to a huge city where all of the PR agency jobs are. I’m a country girl, remember? I like clean air and nature.

Me and my boyfriend Seth.
Me and my boyfriend Seth.

So, I began my job search using LinkedIn and a number of other websites, which actually worked surprisingly well. I applied to approximately 10 jobs, heard back a solid no from about five of them, interviewed with three, never heard back from one*, and politely declined another interview because the company’s Glassdoor ratings were absolutely abysmal.**

My first interview went okay, but I definitely didn’t leave feeling super confident about it, and I never heard back from the company. My second and third interviews were much better, which led me to my predicament.

One job was with Centerstone working on a grant. I’ll honestly admit that the night before the interview, I was looking over the job description again and turned to my boyfriend and told him I had made a terrible mistake and didn’t think I was right for the job because it didn’t sound like anything I wanted to do. In retrospect this is really funny. But I’ll save that whole story for another blog post.

The interview turned out to be fantastic, it was just the job description that was bad, and I was told I would hear back in about a week. I interviewed on a Friday and was called back on Tuesday with an offer.

Which was great, except it also wasn’t.

You see, I had interviewed with another nonprofit organization on Monday that I knew would be a great opportunity, but I was still waiting to hear back from them. I asked the guy at Centerstone for a week to think about things, and then panicked and emailed my Career Success in PR professor, Maria Heslin, for advice on what to do. I was still waiting to hear back from the other organization, and didn’t expect an answer for a few days.

To make a long story short, the other organization finally emailed me on Thursday asking for a second interview, but by then I had made up my mind thanks to my handy pros and cons list. I decided to work for Centerstone on the Community Capacity for Prevention and Education (CCPE) Grant, because the only con I could come up with was that I may not have a window in my office. Obviously, as the picture below points out, I was so very wrong.

: I have four full length windows in my office! Just look at all that natural light!
I have four full length windows in my office! Just look at all that natural light!

In a situation where there was no wrong choice, I know I made the better one for me personally because I absolutely love coming to work. Every single day.

My first day of work photo I took for my mom.
My first day of work photo I took for my mom.

* If you are a hiring manager, at least have the decency to email those you interview and tell them if you want them or not. It’s the polite thing to do. Also, kudos to Cook and Oliver Winery for doing that already.

** If you’re a hiring manager and not checking your company’s Glassdoor rating, you’re making a huge mistake, because people take those reviews seriously.

 

by Olivia Humphreys | oliviahumphreys4@gmail.com | LinkedIn | @ohumphreys4

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To The Recent College Grad Or Rising Senior: Go Get Some Skin In The Game!

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Advertising, Communication, Experience, Internship, Interview, Job, Public Relations, Skills, Tibet

Nothing, and I mean absolutely no-thing, can prepare you for what happens after college.

If you have your act at least somewhat together (which kudos to you, friend — you can stop reading now) hopefully you have some sort of income lined up for your post grad situation. If you REALLY have your act together, then you’ve scored that stellar first job or internship and you are charging hard right out of the blocks, and you can also stop reading this post right here (major kudos).

But if perchance you’re like most of us, which I’m thinking you are because you haven’t stopped reading, you probably don’t have that dream position lined up. Heck you might not have any employment lined up at all.

Well I’m here to tell you it’s going to be okay. Take a deep breath and recite after me, “I’m 20-something years old and I have a college degree—I’m going to be okay.” There. Feel better?

So if that worked, great. You also can stop reading here.

Ah so you’re still with me. Okay, I can tell you are going to need a little more convincing.

I want to talk about a little thing that I believe holds far more value and potential than any paycheck will offer you, and right now you are at the perfect time in your life to dive head first into this great thing called, wait for it, experience.

That last little word carries a lot of baggage. It comes in all shapes and sizes, big and small, bad and good.

It peaks its head out of your suitcase as it rolls up the conveyor belt into the belly of a 747 heading to Australia while you board a plane to Ireland, forced to spend the next two weeks of your Eurotrip wearing the same two T-shirts and few pair of undies you stuffed in your carry-on.

And oh does experience show itself in that post-grad job the first time you speak up in a staff meeting and immediately insert your own foot directly into your mouth. Yeah, that’s experience alright.

But experience isn’t just fumbling around and making mistakes waiting for the smoke to clear and then proclaiming, “Ah! I’ve learned something.”

No, it’s a little more complex than that. Experience is this wonderful little thing that allows you to take chances and risks while investing in yourself. It allows you to validate what might seem to others like a foolhardy decision, but to you it is a step toward fulfilling your dreams and accomplishing your goals.

Experience is ever changing — that’s what makes it so glorious. It’s not confined or restricted by any set parameters, but rather delicately tied together by a single, bonding, golden thread. Good or bad, grand or modest, that thread — the commonality of all experience — is the notion that it holds value only if you choose to extract the marrow from it, find the benefit or lesson learned, and then tuck it away in your memory bank so that later you can recall it and put it to work. In plain speak: learning from experience is about your perspective, and every situation has a silver lining if you look hard enough.

Take for instance my own circumstances. I decided I wanted to work for a specific ad agency in Indianapolis, so I worked furiously to prepare myself for the interview and hopefully for the offer.

The interviews came and went and I felt that I did well. After the final round I parted ways on good terms, reassured that I had made a solid final impression.

A week or so passed, and the agency got in touch with me.

They regretted to inform me that they had filled the position. I didn’t have enough experience.

But they had another offer for me. They had an internship opening up for the summer, and they thought I would be a perfect candidate for the role.

Well, at first I was pretty put off. In my eyes I was the perfect candidate for the full-time position for which I applied. Plus an internship meant I would be paid hourly, which wouldn’t be enough to pay rent on an apartment in Indy. I would have to commute two hours every day in my old beat up Jeep Wrangler.

My first thought was there’s no way I could say yes to that offer. There had to be other jobs out there for me.

I took a day and thought about it.

I came to the conclusion that hey, this agency is willing to take a chance on me and give me the opportunity not only to prove myself, but also to gain priceless experience in the process. Plus I had wanted so badly to work at this agency, to say no to any offer would be ludicrous at this point.

So I said yes.

Within the week I traded my Wrangler — which just so happened to be my dream car — for a Prius, and began to prepare myself mentally for the early morning drives, long days of work and late evening commutes home.

I am just over four weeks into my 10-week internship, and to tell you the truth, I couldn’t be happier. Every day is something new — whether it’s a fresh podcast on the drive up in the morning or a new task at work — nothing is ever stagnant.

Of course there are limits to what you can say yes to and what you must turn down, but I offer you this: those limits are not as restrictive as you might think. There is always a way to get what you want, and trust me, the experiences will be worth it.

by Tibet Spencer | tibetspencer14@gmail.com

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