Archive for January, 2008

Right about this time of year, life gets a bit crazy. School’s in full swing, Spring Break’s too far away, but summer’s close enough that you have to decide if you’ll take more classes, get a job, graduate, etc. Not to mention the fact that, if you live in a cold climate, the snow’s lost its charm and you miss the days when wearing two layers of clothing was enough.

Bottom line: Stress can get really high right now.

What to do? Well, I’ve got some ideas.

Get a massage. Read a book. Veg out on the couch and watch TV without thinking about all the papers you’re not writing. Your brain can’t function if it doesn’t have a little bit of rest.

Have fun
There’s a reason you loved recess when you were a kid and you love Facebooking when you should be studying. You can’t always be serious and concentrating. Everything in moderation. Play a friendly game of cards or football or Guitar Hero. It’ll feel good to laugh and will help you get some work done.

Manage your time
There’s a reason administrative assistants and executive assistants get paid so much: They simplify the daily lives of other people. It’s a lot easier to function when somebody else is taking care of things. Most of us don’t have that luxury, sadly. But if we take a cue from them and realize that certain tasks always need to be done, we can set aside time for those things. You (hopefully) do laundry and buy groceries every week, so get on a schedule. One less thing on your mind makes life easier.

Reassess your situation
Sometimes it helps to figure out if everything you’ve got going on in your life is necessary. Are you in seven organizations, holding down a job, interning, and trying to squeeze friends in there somewhere? Maybe that’s all doable for you; maybe it’s not. Just make sure you’re doing what you want.

These are pretty simple ideas, and none of them are groundbreaking, I know. But when you’re in the middle of a stressful time, it’s really easy to lose sight of what you need to be doing, both for school and for yourself.


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Jobs Couture

One of my friends is about to graduate and he’s beginning his first serious job search. He’s worked before but this is the first time he’s looking for a career as opposed to a paycheck to hold him over. Of all the issues he’s encountering, the one that’s causing him the most anxiety is the dress code.

What if he ends up with a job where he has to wear a suit every single day?
What if everybody wears khaki pants and polo shirts but he wants to wear bright colors?
What if everybody else looks like they’re ready to walk on a runway and he looks boring in his white shirt and navy tie?

These aren’t issues that a lot of people think about until they’re looking for a job – and even then some people don’t think about it until they’ve accepted an offer. And few schools spend a lot of time teaching students how to dress like professionals.

I thought it’d be fun to look at a variety of jobs that cover a lot of dress codes.

Advertising-Most jobs in advertising allow you to put your own artistic spin on a professional look–you are getting paid for your creativity, after all. In many cases a suit is required, but you can get pretty unconventional with ties and shirts–even the style of your suit. Plenty of agencies only require business casual clothing, which means you have way more freedom to dress as you choose.

Coach-Professional coaches experience a strange wardrobe dichotomy: They’re surrounded by sweaty players in dirty uniforms, but they’re expected to wear suits and ties on the sidelines and when traveling. When they’re away from the press, however, they can wear very casual clothes, ranging from sweats and tee shirts to chinos.

IT Specialist-At most offices — at least in every one I’ve worked in — the IT department is the one group of people able to wear jeans and tennis shoes regardless of the company’s dress code. The reason is that they almost exclusively work internally, never interacting with outside clients, so there’s no need to worry about dressing to impress. Also, they wouldn’t be very comfortable crawling around under desks to check PCs and wires in business suits. (And I think dressing comfortably is a small reward for dealing with the high number of silly questions they probably encounter.)

Law Enforcement-Most positions in law enforcement, such as police and correctional officers, require a standard uniform issued by the particular department. Some people hate the idea of wearing the same thing every day. However, it means never having to worry about what to wear, which saves you time and stress every morning.

Model-I can’t think of another profession where clothes mean as much as they do in modeling–yet on the job, models rarely have a say in what they put on. If you’re going down a runway or at a photo shoot, you wear what the designers, photographers, and stylists tell you. But when it’s clothing that costs as much as your annual salary, you probably won’t mind being told what to wear for a few hours.

Lawyer-Lawyers spend as much time choosing their wardrobe as advertising workers do, but for a different reason. Lawyers need to ensure they appear professional and business-oriented at all times. If they’re trial lawyers, they need to assess what message they’re sending to jurors and the press. It’s about demanding respect, not being the quirkiest dresser in the room.

TV Anchor-Although you rarely see them below their torsos, most TV anchors wear business suits. They have to be certain their clothes don’t distract viewers. A lot of patterns or bright colors don’t come across well on TV. A stylist usually helps them decide what to wear, but they do have some input.

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A new semester brings a wealth of questions: Am I ready to graduate? Do I like where I’m headed? Why did I schedule another 8 a.m. class?

Well, only you can answer those questions, but one thing that can answer the first two is an internship. Hopefully you’re hearing a lot about internships from your professors, advisers, parents, and friends. You might even be burned out on the term “internship.” But internships are a huge step toward becoming a professional.


  • Internships give you experience. I had friends in advertising and in architecture who quickly realized employers cared solely about their portfolios and experience. If you wait to look for experience until after you’ve graduated, you’re going to have some tough competition.
  • I’ve mentioned it before, but internships also let you realize if you’re on the right path. It’s not uncommon for students on the teaching path to be teaching assistants or even part-time teachers, only to realize it’s not what they want to do. Better to learn this now than later.
  • Interning allows you to learn how to be a professional. Many students have never held a job, or those who did worked part-time retail jobs or babysat. While these are excellent jobs that gave you great experience, you should also be familiar with the business world. If getting up for that morning class is hard for you or if you don’t own a single pair of dress shoes, now’s a good time to expose yourself to this culture. It doesn’t mean you’ll end up working in some stuffy office you hate, but you’ll be able to go on interviews confident that you can fit in anywhere you want.
  • Networking. Whether or not you end up with a job at the same place you intern, you’ll spend the next 10 or 15 weeks (or longer) meeting people in the field. When it comes time to look for a job, you have someone to go to for guidance, a recommendation, or even a job. You can’t make those connections inside a classroom.

As for that 8 a.m. class–only you know why you registered for it!

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Supposedly, as we get older, we’re supposed to worry less about having fun and focus more on being responsible adults. To a degree that’s true: You shouldn’t be doing keg stands on a Sunday night when you have class or work the next morning. Still, you don’t want to forget completely about fun.

A recent survey by Ritz on the importance of fun proves that people of all age still want to have fun. More importantly, people believe fun improves your quality of life – some even believe it extends your life by as much as 10 years.

Some of the other findings:

  • 84 percent of people would choose a fun person over a rich person to have as a spouse.
  • 79 percent say fun influences where they live
  • 77 percent of employed respondents say “the ability to have fun” matters when choosing a job.
  • 42 percent believe having fun at work is more important than making a lot of money

What does this mean?

If you’re on the hunt for a job, don’t feel bad about wondering how much fun you can have. Work is still work, but it’s not prison, so don’t feel like you’re not allowed a little levity on a daily basis.

Here are a few jobs you might find fun (depending on your likes and dislikes).

Actor/Actress – Of course you have the chance of being the next great member of Hollywood royalty. But even if you don’t, you get paid to pretend you’re somebody else and entertain people for a few hours.

Child Caretaker– Caring for children while their parents are at work or running errands is a rewarding and fun experience. Sure, children can be little bundles of stress now and then, but they’re also cute, inquisitive, and funny. You get to have all the fun that comes with having a child, except you get to hand them back to their parents and go home at the end of the day!

Tour guide – If you love the city you live in, there’s no better way to have fun than to show people what’s so great about it. You escort first-time visitors around, showing them the historic sites and also get to explain why you love it.

Proofreader/Editor – If you’re one of those people who’s a stickler for grammar and details, you’ll probably have fun proofreading and editing. It may sound a bit tedious, but I’ve known people who think it’s great because you get to read articles, interviews or books before anybody else does. And because you’re constantly reading these pieces, you gain knowledge about a little of everything, which will at least make you smarter. That’s actually pretty fun.

Public Relations – Whether you’re a spokesperson or marketing director, PR is filled with fun positions for outgoing, creative people. You get to put your imagination to work and interact with people on a daily basis.

Pet Groomer – For animal lovers, you can’t beat the chance to spend all day with animals that need grooming. You get to have one-on-one time with a variety of pets and make them look dapper for their owners.

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