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Back when I worked as a recruiter, I noticed certain patterns that held people back in their careers—and I fell into them myself, too. Now, as I coach business owners, I still see a lot of the same negative patterns appear again and again.

 

Here are the three most common career myths that I’ve seen hold people back. Don’t be one of them. Read these myths, internalize them, and then bust through them.

 

Myth #1: If You Build It, They Will Come

 

Many people have a real Field of Dreams-type mentality when it comes to their careers, money, and more. They think putting their heads down and getting the job done will get them just about anything they want to achieve in life.

 

In reality, creating a career that is fulfilling, well-paid (whatever that means to you), and has upward mobility takes more than hard work. It requires you to constantly seek attention and ask for stuff.

 

Ask for the raise, ask for the sale, ask for the promotion, and ask for the opportunity. None of these things falls into people’s laps, and even if it seems like they do, it’s likely because they’ve put in a lot of work beforehand and have been asking for a while.

 

I didn’t get to where I am in my career because it just happened that way. I’ve put in the work and consistently asked for things like more money.

 

Myth #2: Other People Have All The Answers (Because I Don’t Know Anything)

 

I’m a big proponent of things like mentorship, coaching, and asking experts for help. However, this comes with a caveat—you can’t get stuck there.

 

Often, people keep looking to others for answers because they don’t have confidence in themselves. So, they research stuff to death, keep wasting money on training they don’t actually need, and stall any forward movement in their careers.

 

This comes from a deep-rooted fear of not being good enough, and it stops people in their tracks in the form of perfectionism and procrastination. Remember, you got to where you are for a reason. Trust yourself to keep moving forward.

 

I’ve definitely made the mistake of not trusting myself enough in the past. As such, I’ve wasted money on coaches who told me answers I knew all along. I eventually put a self-imposed ban on buying books and trainings so I could focus on taking action.

 

Myth #3: You Have To Play By The Rules

 

Playing by the rules to get ahead may be the most detrimental myth of all because it keeps people from using their full potential.

 

Let me be clear: By breaking the rules, I don’t mean breaking the law or doing something unethical. I mean not being taken for a sucker or thinking you have to do things a certain way because someone told you to.

 

For example, I could have easily not even tried to build my own business as a financial expert because I have no formal training in finance—but I didn’t let that stop me. Now, I make more money than I did at my last job and have more career opportunity than ever.

 

Breaking the rules may also look like not giving up easily when people tell you something can’t be done. Stop taking no for answer and watch how your career blossoms.

 

Have any of these career myths sidetracked you as well? How did you overcome them? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share your tips in the comments. 

A few years ago, I walked out of a supermarket and, out of curiosity, grabbed the local newspaper to look at its job listings. I was a few weeks away from graduating college, and my start-up had not generated cash. I needed a job to make ends meet.

 

One job captured my attention: a sales position for a Hispanic newspaper, which happened to be the newspaper I was reading! Fate, right? I quickly realized that wasn’t the case—and that I’d gone about searching for a job the entirely wrong way.

 

If you’re graduating this month (or simply looking for a new job), avoid making the same mistakes that I did.

 

Waiting Until The Last Minute

 

As I finished my master’s in entrepreneurship, I was so caught up in making my start-up generate revenue that I lost sight of the real world. I did not look at job postings, call up old friends for references, or even bother to freshen up my résumé.

 

Because I waited until the last minute, job opportunities were not abundant. I had to take what was available, which was a salesman position for a newspaper. If you haven’t started your job search yet, what are you waiting for? The sooner you get going, the better off you’ll be. 

 

Accepting Before Asking

 

After a successful job interview and presentation of my sales skills, the newspaper offered me the job. I would start the Monday after my graduation. I was so excited simply to have a job that I forgot to ask about a couple important things: benefits and pay.

 

After accepting the job, I found out I wouldn’t get any benefits except for biweekly pay of $500 plus 10% commission on sales. The first month, I made no commission. In the second month, I closed almost $10,000 in sales—which equaled just an extra $100 in pay. By the third month, I found a new job with better pay and benefits.

 

Forgetting About Fit

 

The newspaper company was small and had great people, but I did not fit in with them. I was a fresh, new professional—an outsider with college degrees. I couldn’t relate to these much older individuals at different points in their lives.

 

The company also did not fit my goals professionally. I wanted to work in a place with room for growth and benefits. If I had done my research, I might have realized the newspaper offered neither. It’s not like the company and the individuals there were bad, but growth and fun were on my agenda and not on theirs.

 

Before seeking a job, do your homework and assure a place fits you. Desperate times make for desperate measures, and sometimes we give into those. But if a job doesn’t feel right, do not take it because you may waste their time and yours.

 

Have you made mistakes when searching for a job? What lessons did you learn from them? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to post them in the comments.

It’s that time of year: summer job and internship interview season. The pressure is on to dazzle your possible future boss with glowing facts about yourself. But is that all it takes to get the job? No!

 

I may be only 21 years old, but because I’m paying for college myself, I’ve had a lot of jobs. And that means I’ve been through a lot of job interviews—and unfortunately, made my share of mistakes along the way.

 

I knew some best practices, like dressing my best and avoiding poor body language, as I’m sure you do too. But here are three mistakes I didn’t know about until someone showed me the right things to do. Read up, and let me be that person for you!

 

1. Not Knowing Anything About The Job

 

The first time I applied to an internship, I was a sophomore in high school. I didn't know much about the company besides a few facts a friend told me. When the interviewer asked, “Why do you want to work for us?” I didn’t really have an answer. It was NOT a good look and extremely awkward.

 

Making money was my motive, but I wasn’t going to say that—and it’s definitely not want companies want to hear. Look, it doesn't matter where you apply, always research the establishment. That way, when you hear “What made you interested in _____?” you’re equipped with a good answer.

 

For those applying to internships, I hope you are doing something you are genuinely interested in and want to learn about the place before interviewing. But even if you aren’t, show some initiative and dedication and study up! Treat the interview like an important exam, and give it your all.

 

2. Not Bringing A Hard-Copy Résumé

 

With this one, some may be like, “Why, I already applied? They have my résumé.” Yes, but taking it a step further will really demonstrate your professionalism. In most interviews, you don’t get much time to tell the interviewer how great you are. So, you need to do little things to show it too, like bringing in a hard-copy résumé (put it in a folder for extra “wow” factor).

 

My first boss taught me this little trick. I had applied to be an administrative assistant at my school, and she told me it looks much better when you come in with something to hand the employer (like your résumé). In a handful of my interviews, the companies have been very impressed with this and commented how most people, especially around my age, don’t do that.

 

3. Not Asking Any Questions

 

At the end of the interview, there is always that time where they ask, “Do you have any questions for me/us?” Don’t say no. I used to do that, then one employer responded, “Really? You don't have anything you’d like to know about us?”

 

He said it jokingly, but in that moment, I really wished that I had something to say. Now, I always make sure to come prepared with two or three questions for the employer. I usually ask what an average day may look like or what the interviewer’s favorite part about their job is.


Those are the job interview mistakes I no longer make. What about you? What are some other common interview mistakes you’ve run into? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share them below!

As millennials, it is our dream to work for ourselves and have no boss. For many of us, that means becoming “entrepreneurs.” Media outlets have made this profession famous over the last decade—and made it sound easy to achieve success.

 

It’s not.

 

Even if you have a graduate degree in entrepreneurship (as I do), that does not guarantee success. I’ve been involved in numerous failed ventures, and I’ve learned lessons along the way. One of them is that a side hustle is not entrepreneurship. A side hustle requires your physical presence, and entrepreneurship does not. Think about it like this: An amateur basketball player in the park can side hustle by playing a few pick-up games for money. A professional basketball player earns money whether he is playing or sitting out.

 

If you want to live that millennial dream and move from side hustle to full-on business, be sure you prepare yourself accordingly. It requires a lot more than quitting your day job. Here are a few tips to help you succeed.

 

Understand What Entrepreneurship Is

 

A few weeks ago, a high school friend I hadn’t talked to recently messaged me about an “entrepreneurship” opportunity. At first, I was suspicious, and after hearing more about the opportunity, I realized it was the typical Ponzi scheme: I make lots of money just by getting others involved.

 

That is not entrepreneurship. True entrepreneurship is putting a value on a product or service in the marketplace where there was no value before and building a system that functions with a team in place. Being an entrepreneur, you have to continue to innovate your product and expand beyond one location.

 

Entrepreneurship is extremely hard, and very few people succeed at it. It takes a lot of time and effort. If someone presents you with an “easy’ way to make money, they are lying.

 

Test The Market

 

The gig economy is a great way for individuals to earn money on the side. In addition to supplementing your income, these side hustles can help you start building a business. The first step? Testing the market to see if there is a need for your services.

 

With one of my ventures, I attempted numerous partnerships, video productions, social media posts, and marketing efforts. I did this all while I working full time. It was hard balancing both because I had to give my best effort at work and the same energy at my start-up.

 

What made it even harder was that I eventually had to realize that the market was not interested in my venture. There are times when you have to pick and choose your battles, and my venture was just not the battle I wanted to fight anymore.

 

Keep Your Full-Time Job

 

Being your own boss takes work—which means you should likely let someone else be your boss for a while. I would not suggest quitting your day job and going at your entrepreneurship venture full time unless you have a year’s worth of living expenses saved up.

 

Remember: nothing is guaranteed. There are no promises of mass riches with any venture. You have to feel comfortable with that if you’re going to move from a nice side hustle to being a full-on entrepreneur.

 

Have you undertaken an entrepreneurial venture? What lessons did you learn from it? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to post them in the comments.

I started writing for Salt as an intern back in June 2013. I had just finished my film and television bachelor’s degree at Boston University and was a couple months away from moving to NYC for my career dreams.

 

Writing for this community helped me process my decision to move—as well as a number of other financial decisions I’ve made. I thank Salt for that help, and for the many tips, shared experiences, online friendships, and ability to express my financial woes and curiosities that this community provided.

This will be my final post for Salt. In celebration of the occasion, I wanted to share the top three things I’ve learned from my time here:

1. Stay Money Savvy


When I first started with Salt, it was all about being #moneysavvy. As an intern at American Student Assistance (the organization that powers Salt), I got to see firsthand how they wanted Salt to teach young adults about their financial landscape during and after college.

 

The idea that I could be on top of my financial independence in my early 20s intrigued me. With time, it evolved into something much more. This is a community. It has tools; it provides a space for discussions. But all in all, it’s a place to come back to for answers about my financial stability (which is always a good thing to want to have).

 

I plan to remain #moneysavvy for the rest of my life.

 

2. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

If there’s something I’ve explored a lot with Salt, it’s the power of networking. It’s gotten me a lot of job opportunities, and it has also taught me a lot about myself. Namely, I should never be afraid to ask for help. Neither should you.

 

Look for scholarships. Ask for advice. Start a discussion. These are some of the ways you can easily find help, right here with Salt. Whatever your goal is, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone, whether it’s here or via email or phone call. Reaching out gets more things done than sitting down and pondering a solution by your lonesome. Embrace it.

 

3. Set Goals For Yourself

 

Motivation is a huge part of success, and it starts with having goals for yourself. Writing and sharing my experiences with the Salt Community has always made me take a moment and reflect on what motivates me. What goals I have set for myself. And even though this is my last time writing this type of post, I don’t expect to stop writing.


I plan on finding a space to share my adventures as a freelance writer/producer in NYC. I plan on continuing this tendency to reflect, and explore myself and my goals, out loud–on paper or website. And I’m just glad to have been a part of this amazing community from it’s beginnings and can’t wait to see what’s coming in the future.

I’ll see you in the comments section. Sign up or log in with your Salt account to join me there!


A month ago, I finished an 8-month contract as an associate story producer for a TV show. I was in between jobs. Nothing new for a freelancer.

 

After a few interviews, I got an offer to work on another show, but the start date was a month away. That meant 4 weeks until I started working, and then another week before seeing a paycheck. That’s a lot of time without any income. Bills constantly come due, and they need to get paid. So, I had to get back to my side hustle: babysitting.

 

Babysitting offers good money and is relatively easy. But my last experience with it was almost a year ago. It's been awhile since I've spent hours hanging out with 9 year olds. I need to get back “in”—and really get my "nanny" suit back on. To maintain a side hustle, you have to stay on top of it and keep proving your value. Otherwise, it’s easy for people to move on to someone else. Here are a few ways I do this:

Get Recommendations

 

Reaching out to former clients is a good way to know what’s changed in your side hustle industry—and get potential leads on new gigs. I like to make sure I reach out to my contacts so they are ready to give me a recommendation if need be. It’s also nice to catch up with former clients and see what they are up to. I definitely enjoy hearing all the crazy stories of the kids I used to nanny.

 

Learn New Trends

 

Make sure you are up to date with what’s new in your side hustle industry. If you have to learn new technology, start looking up tutorials. Whether it’s bartending and you have to learn new cocktails, or making sure you know what cartoons are appropriate for the kids you nanny, it’s always good to know what’s new before it catches you by surprise in an interview. In my case, I just talk to my nephews who are in the age range of the kids I babysit. They keep me updated.

Be Ready For Interviews And Meetings


When looking for quick cash, interviews or meetings come up fast. It’s always good to have some outfit or style prepared for any unexpected interviews. You also need to make sure your portfolio or résumé is updated with the latest and greatest. I like to make sure I not only look appropriate for the kids I babysit but also comfortable, and I tend to update my portfolio every month.

How do you keep your side hustle alive? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to let us know in the comments.

The idea of networking makes a lot of people cringe. While I personally love it, I mentor and coach plenty of people who don’t.

 

Most recently, one of blogging mentees from my co-working space was telling me how she knows she needs to network but doesn’t feel comfortable doing it. She recently quit her job to pursue her business full time, and she’s feeling confused about what she could possibly offer at a networking event.

 

I decided to take her to an event I was invited to and show her how she can get over her fear of networking. Here’s what we did:

 

Realize You Know More Than You Think You Do

 

One of the reasons people hate networking is because they feel inadequate—especially if they are going through some sort of transition, like being in between jobs or just starting a business.

 

One of my mentors taught me the best antidote to this particular problem. First, you need to realize you probably know more than you think you do. Second, you really only need to be one step ahead of someone else to be considered knowledgeable in your field.

 

Chances are you’ll be one step ahead of someone in some way when attending these events. In our case, we went to an art event as bloggers. We’re one step ahead in terms of knowing about how to successfully market our craft.

 

Go To Learn, Not To Get Something

 

My mentee ended up having a great time at this event because she shifted her perception from one of “getting” to one of “learning.”

 

Once I helped her see that sometimes you go to events just to learn and expand your mind, she was able to take the pressure off of herself and meet some cool people. In fact, she ended up meeting other people who were in transition just like her, and it made her feel so much better.

 

Go To Events Outside Your Wheelhouse

 

I go to art events all the time. I’m a creative at heart so I feel at home there, and it also helps that I’m knowledgeable in an area where many creatives feel like they struggle: business and finance.

 

Because of this, I’m a hit at these events. No one negatively judges me because they are too busy being fascinated by what I do for a living. I’m different than most of the participants at this event, and they love it.

 

The same thing happened to my mentee. As soon as people found out she wrote about food, they started talking her ear off and asking about restaurants. She was a hit, too!

 

Have you gotten over a fear or networking? What helped you overcome it? Log in or sign up with your Salt account to Let us know in the comments.

An “underearner” is someone who earns less than they are capable of. It’s estimated that one in three workers is an underearner, and most of them are women (though plenty of men are affected too).

 

I’ve previously mentioned how one of my biggest career mistakes has been not asking for more money. I’ve gotten better at this, but I still struggle at times to break these bad financial habits. It’s why I consider myself a recovering underearner.

 

Here are some of the signs that you may be an underearner as well—and what you can do to start your recovery.

 

You Worry About Overworking Yourself

 

According to Barbara Stanny’s book Secrets of Six-Figure Women, underearners typically believe it will take an insane amount of work to earn what they want. I believe it.

 

Have you ever said to yourself, “I don’t want to put in the amount of work it will take to earn $X”? As someone who has said exactly that, I believe underearners become accustomed to working hard for very little. So, we naturally assume that earning more means we’ll burn ourselves out.

 

I’m coming around to the idea that this isn’t necessarily true. I could always charge more money or find ways to scale my business so that I don’t have to work as hard. This actually brings me to my second point.

 

You Constantly Undervalue Yourself

 

Underearners constantly undervalue themselves, their abilities, and their time. This looks like not asking for fair compensation. It could also look like not asking for compensation at all.

 

I know I’ve done this, and it’s still something I’m working to overcome. In fact, I only recently started asking for compensation for speaking gigs—and turning down the ones that don’t pay.

 

You Don’t Ask For Help

 

A very common sign that you may be an underearner is if you refuse to ask for help. This could look like not delegating, not asking team members for help, or not hiring people to help you.

 

Again, this is something I struggle with. The good news is I’ve gotten better about asking for help. I recently hired contractors to help me with certain aspects of my business. The underearner in me is terrified and uncomfortable, but the high earner in me knew this is a necessity to reaching my financial goals.

 

Do you see yourself in any of these signs? Have you overcome underearning? Log in or sign up with your Salt account to let us know in the comments below.

I’ve worked at three different companies at this point in my career, and each had a different method of evaluating its people. One even changed its process for performance reviews before I had a chance to get through my first cycle!

 

We just wrapped up performance reviews for the first half of the year at my current employer, Facebook, so the topic is yet again fresh in my mind.

 

Regardless of what type of environment you work in, I’ve found it helpful to keep the following three things in mind before going into a performance review.

 

1. Understand The Process In Detail

 

As I said above, every company will likely have a different review process. You need to make sure that you understand yours in complete and total detail so you adequately prepare for it.

 

For example, when I worked at an ad agency called SapientNitro, the company shifted to a performance review process driven entirely by anecdotal feedback. Ratings, or really any quantitative benchmarks at all, were totally removed from the process.

 

Knowing this, I made sure I identified people who would be strong advocates for my work months before the cycle began. That prevented me from having to chase down folks for feedback at the last minute.

 

Make sure you ask your manager or HR rep how performance is evaluated at your company early on in your tenure, and study up on the intricacies of the system. Depending on your type of job, your review process may be rigidly fixed

 

2. Set Realistic Expectations

 

I remember how naïve I was during my first performance review. I thought I had gone into my first company guns-a-blazing, having built the company blog and editorial presence from the ground up. Imagine how shocked I was when I was told that I was “meeting all expectations,” but not exceeding any.

 

And despite what seemed like a pretty average review, I still got a 10% raise. Go figure.

 

At SapientNitro, I did coast-to-coast travel for a year to manage a large-scale website implementation, and got a kick-*** review. I didn’t get promoted, and my raise only kept up with inflation.

 

Point being: Often, there’s not much rhyme or reason to the results of a performance review in private-sector companies. That’s because so much of it depends on factors you can’t control, like what others on your team have done, how your company performs overall, and fluctuations in the market. You’re never guaranteed a good review, and you’re also never guaranteed to see significant compensation because of a good review.

 

Try not to get your hopes too high about performance reviews. Some will have a significant impact on your comp or position, but I’d say those are rarer. Better to be surprised when they do happen rather than disappointed when they don’t!

 

3. Celebrate Successes, Learn From Failures

 

I’d argue that even the most scathing performance review has a silver lining buried in it somewhere. I’ve talked about purposefully seeking out critical feedback before, and that’s because listening to it inevitably makes you better at what you do—so long as you’re open to changing.

 

If you see critical feedback as a gift rather than a curse, and remember to celebrate your praise, then there’s technically no such thing as a “bad” performance review anymore!

 

Any other tips for handling performance reviews? Log in or sign up with your Salt account to let me know in the comments!


 

[LR1]Good for you! Not sure I see a tie-in to this point, though, unless you want to add something about compensation here.

Because I run a blog and podcast where I speak a lot about the gig economy and making money on your own terms, I get a lot of emails from people who are sick of their day jobs and want to quit to do their own thing.

 

I understand the frustration because I’ve been there. As a creative, one of the most difficult things I had to do was stay at a day job until I was ready to quit to blog full time. However, this is not an excuse to be ungrateful—or underperform at work.

 

The reality is you should thank your lucky stars for your day job. Here’s why.

 

Your Bills Are Paid

 

I’m fortunate enough to have a support system where I’ve never really had to go without—even when I went 6 months without a job in 2010. I can only imagine what people who don’t have that luxury must go through when they don’t have a job.

 

I know plenty of people who have truly struggled as a result of not being able to find a job. They’ve suffered from panic attacks and worried about basic necessities—like putting a roof over their heads. If your job has helped you avoid such concerns, be thankful for it.

 

Your Job Is Your Primary Investor

 

For those of you who hate your jobs because you’d rather focus on some sort of creative endeavor you’ve got going on the side, I’ve got some news for you. Your job is your primary investor. Because of it, you have money to invest into your side business.

 

The paycheck from my last day job paid for my professional coaching certification, a web designer, and a business coach—all things I wouldn’t have been able to start my business without.

 

You’re Learning Necessary Skills

 

I often joke that my last job was the equivalent of getting my MBA.

 

My last job taught me the administrative side of running a business. It was also my first introduction to sales. These are skills I use every day in my own business.

 

Why are you grateful for your day job? Log in or sign up to share in the comments below! Take a look around. You’ve probably learned a thing or two thanks to your job, and it merits recognition.

Growing up, I had several part-time jobs. Some were more memorable than others were (like the two summers I worked in a rope factory … but that’s a story for another day).

 

I learned valuable lessons about work, life, and money from each. However, the money lessons learned from my first “real job,” a part-time gig as a busboy while I was in high school, have always stuck with me.

 

For anyone planning to begin college next fall, and looking to maximize savings beforehand, below are some priceless lessons learned from my first (and last) venture into the restaurant industry.

 

1. Hard Work Pays—Literally

 

If you’ve never worked in the restaurant industry, let me break down the “busboy” job: clear tables, clean tables, set tables, repeat.

 

I ran around all night, and it paid off. Since the waitstaff tipped us busboys based on how much they made, odds are the more tables they sat, the better the payout would be.

 

Of course, efficiency was tied closely to accuracy. Nobody wants to eat food at a dirty table, just like working hard and quick is useless unless done correctly. Another lesson learned.

 

2. Cash Goes Quick

 

On average, I would walk out with $60 cash after a day’s work.

 

I’m the type of person who spends cash quicker than credit. If I have money in my pocket, it tends to leave my pocket at an accelerated rate.

 

At first, I saw little savings from this job. I needed a plan. I decided that after each shift, I would take all the one-dollar bills (a majority of my cash) and set them aside in an envelope. Once I reached what I felt was a significant amount, I would deposit it into my savings account.

 

Before I knew it, my savings account was growing, reflected nicely in my savings passbook. (Things were simpler when I was younger.)

 

3. Flexibility Can Lead To Financial Benefits

 

I got a call one day that the restaurant needed someone to wash dishes. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I said yes anyway.

 

After a quick “education” on the process, I jumped right in. The job was fast paced, dirty, and only a little harmful (note: frying pans with no heat protection handle are really hot).

 

Since it was last minute, I was paid, in cash, after the shift ended. For not knowing what I was getting myself into, but being flexible and jumping at the “opportunity,” I walked away a little richer—and with a deeper respect for an unappreciated aspect of the restaurant industry.

 

What about everyone else? Any great lessons learned from your first (or early) jobs? Log in or sign up to share in the comments!

Recently, I was offered a new opportunity.

Out of the blue, someone contacted me on Twitter saying they’d seen my work elsewhere and would be interested in hiring me to do some work for them. I was intrigued, but caught off guard for sure.

After exchanging a few emails, the opportunity seemed a little more clear. I’d be paid for some part-time freelance work over the next few months. That being said, I was still agreeing to give my time and effort away to someone I’d never met, heard of, or seen before.

I had a few questions and concerns. Here’s how I vetted my new employer, sight unseen:

1. Performed Background Research

I’d never heard of the person or company I was being contacted by, so I did what any young, ambitious millennial would do: I headed to Google. A few searches, a scouring of their website, a quick check of LinkedIn and social media, and everything seemed up to snuff.

I took my social media search a bit further by performing an online audit. Plenty of online tools will scan through a social user’s followers to determine how many are genuine. I plugged in the Twitter account that reached out to me and got back a 96% approval rating.

2. Agreed Upon Terms And Conditions

Obviously getting paid by a stranger calls some other issues into question. He offered direct deposit or a check in the mail. For most opportunities, direct deposit makes life so much easy. For a guy I’ve emailed twice in my life? I chose to go with the check. In the end, it’s 2017 and my banking app allows mobile check deposits, causing as much headache as filling out the direct deposit forms would.

Even better, this new employer took things a step further. He suggested on his own that while I’d be paid monthly, he’d send a check after my first contribution as a show of good faith. It was such a reassuring gesture, it almost scared me into thinking it was too good to be true and he was up to something. Three days later, a check arrived and now sits in my back account. People are still pretty nice, even on the internet.

3. Keep Ongoing Contact

Now that I’m past the “show of good faith payment,” I’m regularly working for this employer, which is great. We email about assignments on a regular basis, never allowing either of us to avoid contact or what the kids these days call “ghosting.”

He could have paid me the upfront check and then squeezed me for a month of free work, but I’m much less concerned about that given our level of collaboration. We’ve both proven ourselves to be true to our word and reliable in the short time we’ve been connected. In the end, I’m happy I’ve found a little extra income, and I’m going to put forth my best effort to keep that source available to me.

 

Have you worked freelance or been asked to work for someone you’ve never met? How have you handled that situation? Log in or sign up to share with us!

When I was in college, I barely had enough money to pay for my rent and food. But I did not let my lack of financial resources stop me from starting my own business.

 

Don’t waste your undergraduate years partying. Instead, utilize your time to start a business because there is no better experience—and no better time to do so. Here’s why.

 

1. You Have Energy, Not Money

 

If you’re like me, you probably don’t have a lot of money while you’re in college—but you do have a ton of energy. I had the energy to learn about entrepreneurship, meet with entrepreneurs, and stay up late to learn what it takes to start a business.

 

I used my energy to promote creativity instead of focusing on my lack of finances. This taught me to be more resourceful as well. For instance, I leveraged resources with a fellow student. For a video for my startup, I once rented a professional camera from an undergraduate student instead of getting a more expensive rental from a company or buying my own. Renting the equipment helped me determine whether my startup was worth the risk.

 

2. You Can Fail

 

I failed in starting businesses when I was a graduate student, but I still got a lot from the experience. I gained new contacts, opportunities, and lessons that a textbook could not teach me. Since I was younger, these failures didn’t hurt me as much, and I was able to utilize what I’d learned to quickly move onto my next idea. If you fail in college you have time to pick yourself up and learn from your mistakes. In the workplace, you can lose your job.

 

3. You Feel Real-World Pressure

 

At one point, I competed in a business plan competition. Leading up to the day, I could not sleep. I was nervous, and I kept sweating every detail of my presentation. The competition judges were serious entrepreneurs who had no mercy.

 

I cannot recall a time when I woke up the middle of the night worried about a class like I was worried about this competition. The pressure from experiences like these far outweighed any experience I had a student—and better prepared me for what life post-college would be like, giving me a leg up on other young entrepreneurs.

 

Are you looking to start your own business? What questions do you have? Log in or sign up to ask them in the comments.

One thing that I learned early in life was that networking is a crucial part of landing great opportunities and getting jobs. However, “networking” can seem so abstractespecially for a college underclassman. Does it mean always dressing professionally with a résumé at hand? Does it mean making a lasting impression on someone?

 

Below are a few examples of networking experiences I’ve already encountered, and what I’ve done to take advantage of them:

 

1. Talk About Your Strengths

 

I have learned that sometimes sharing a bit of information about yourself can make you memorable. I'm not saying to boast, but when you are in a social/professional setting, it is good to talk about what you can do.

 

I remember my sophomore year of high school, my teacher got tutors to help us with our college essays. My tutor was impressed with my work, and I ended up sharing with him how much I loved to write. Fast forward to while I was in college, and he contacted me with an opportunity to write for the company he was employed by.

 

2. Show Interest With Professors

 

You would be surprised at the number of professors who wished more of their students would come and talk to them, whether it be during office hours or outside of that. Make yourself known, especially if the professor is one in your line of interest.

 

My freshman year on campus, I made it a point to get to know my biology professor. He eventually knew me by name, and toward the end of the semester, he asked if I would take the upper level bio class with him for the upcoming semester and apply to the marine biology internship for the summer. While I’m no longer a bio major, you can see that by simply talking to my professor and showing an interest, I could have had opportunities to expand my horizons.

 

3. Take Initiative

 

Being a student who is financially independent, I have had to work closely with both financial aid and the dean's office to make sure I am straight every semester. I took it upon myself to also ask these people in high positions what opportunities they had in terms of jobs.

 

I had made a lasting impression on them already, so when I started asking about jobs, they were prepared to not only inform me of open positions but vouch for me too. That is how I landed my summer internship position as a financial aid helpline operator. If you put yourself out there, you can bet that you will find something worth your while.

 

5. Never Stop Networking

 

Even after you have gotten the job, internship, or position, networking does not stop. Even when you think your bosses are not watching, you must continue to put your best foot forward because if you want to get a higher position some day, you need to show that you have always been an exemplary worker.

 

I work for the Student Activities front desk at my university. I make it a point everyday to go above and beyond by doing what's assigned and then asking other staff members if they need help with anything. I have four bosses, and one of them noticed that I am the only student at the front who can help the scheduling coordinator with her work and has been talking to me about a managerial position. It's still in the works, but my hard work is being rewardedand this is how you climb up the ladder at the workplace.

 

As you can see, networking does not always have to be so black and white. Sometimes it can be making a lasting impression, sometimes you have to go out of your way to ask around about jobs, but whatever way it is, just make sure you always put your best foot forward.


Though I am still young and learning, these tactics are what have worked for me. Other college students, what have been your best networking experiences? Log in or sign up to share in the comments!

It’s often easy to forget that while you may have co-workers or a supervisor who really cares about you, your career is really a one-person canoe. When push comes to shove, only you truly have the motivation or the means to drive things forward. This is particularly apparent during a self-evaluation.

 

I started a new job about 8 months ago, and I’m starting my evaluation and review process now. My previous job involved some reflection, but nothing as formal as the human resources department at my new job has set up. Navigating this new process can be tricky, but with actual incentives hanging on the outcome, I know nailing will be really important. Here’s are three ways I’m handling it.

 

1. Toot Your Own Horn

 

No one likes to brag about themselves, but there is no better time to do so than during a self-evaluation. It can feel awkward to be boastful, but in an evaluation, the key is to do just that: evaluate. That means being honest and direct about your work during the time period being reviewed.

 

Considering the hours and hours spent at work, and the hundreds of projects and tasks you’ve touched, it should be evident where you added value. In my evaluation, I’m in a particularly advantageous situation because I took over a newly created role. My direct contributions are clear, compared to where our organization was before my arrival.

 

2. Compare To Goals

 

Only a few months into the job, I was asked to set goals for the future. By setting attainable, measurable, and specific goals, my job in the evaluation process is that much easier. Being able to pinpoint pieces of my goals that I’ve accomplished is a key way to demonstrate my value . I will use my goals as a template for my evaluation. For example, in showing how I helped my department grow our social media presence, I can demonstrate that we've extended into new social platforms and increased our metrics across all the other platforms.

 

3. Be Honest And Realistic

 

Without a doubt, no one wants to write an evaluation that leaves a sour taste in their supervisor’s mouth. Underselling your work could do that, but overinflating your achievements definitely will. Avoid vague talk of success or grandiose language in attempts to make yourself sound so special.

 

As I mentioned, I’m in a new position, but any attempt to make my sound like some sort of grand innovator or newfound miracle-worker is only going to elicit an eye roll or scoff. These three tips all tie together. Be confident about successes, based on goals, in a realistic manner.

 

Have you done a self-evaluation recently? Log in or sign up to share your tips with us!