Category Archives: Grown-up Stuff

The Heartbleed Bug takes over your internets!

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Mashable Article: The Heartbleed Hit List: The Passwords You Need to Change Right Now

Another craze has hit the web, and this time it looks bad for users of a LOT of common websites. The Hearbleed bug is the newest cyberthreat, or so says news outlets like the BBC (my go-to even for US news). This new cyber-threat has resulted in a breach of security of many major websites, resulting in news outlets to recommend a mass change in passwords. Check out the above article to see if any website account you have has been affected (most likely that’s a yes).

My advice: If you’re like me and don’t change your passwords that often (I do really like having them memorized…), then it’s probably about time you change your passwords anyway. As daunting and tedious as it sounds, spend a couple of hours going through all your accounts and making new passwords. I understand that it’ll take a long time, I did it this morning. What did I get out of it? Other than a major headache (or possibly my first migraine?) and a bunch of websites that I can’t remember my password to, I now am content to know that (at least for today.. probably) my secure accounts will remain secure.

Don’t know how to make a secure password? Google it. Or just click here: Tips for creating a strong password– Microsoft.com

If you’re like me and want to have a little more information about this cyber heart-breaker, check out these BBC* articles about the Heartbleed Bug:

Heartbleed Bug: What you need to know

Heartbleed Bug creates confusion on the internet

*I shamelessly promote using the BBC as your new source, even in the US. It’s got great international news that covers worldwide, and is a very reliable, fairly unbiased and well-written source. Here’s there homepage, check it out.

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Playing House

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It’s been a while since I’ve done a serious “Life Lessons” post frankly because I couldn’t think of anything to add. Sure, I’ve been keeping myself busy with little projects here and there, but I don’t want every post on this blog to be about a new cooking adventure, my writing, or the craft projects I’ve been doing. This started out as a blog to talk about advice and my own learning about how to “be an adult”, and I want to make sure it stays true to that topic.

To tie up some loose ends:

  1. No I did not meet my March writing goal. I didn’t even get halfway there. I’m having some existential issues with books two and three and also rethinking my editing of book 1, so I got sidetracked from the writing part. I signed up for Camp Nano this month, so we’ll see if I can meet my 30k word goal.
  2. I have been busy with projects. Cooking is the main one; I recently prided myself on making jello shots in clementine skins, jalapeno poppers, cheese sticks, and a veggie pizza that actually holds together. In the crafts department, I made a towel robe out of oversized towels for my boyfriend, but after sizing it to him I need to go back and cut it WAY down (apparently when I don’t see him I think he’s a giant…). ** I’ll post some photos in another blog**
  3. I am currently house/pet sitting for my parents while they are out-of-town. Which is the inspiration for this blog.

The Grown-Up Test aka House-sitting.

So my parents are off in Europe for two weeks to do the second part of the Camino de Santiago. They walked the first part last year and will do the last part next year. So, while they are gone, I essentially am the caretaker of the house; care for the cats, make sure the house doesn’t get destroyed by the cats, do all the cooking, cleaning, and maintenance, and in general keep things going like normal. Here are some things I’ve been learning in the past week or so:

  1. Going to the grocery store is actually fun. I can honestly say that I usually HATE grocery shopping. It’s always crowded, the prices are always more than I want to pay, I always forget to buy something, and I always feel slightly judged by the cashier for buying beer (plus the inevitable “you can’t be old enough for this, can you?” before I pull out my ID, and then the awkward “well, you’ll always look young for your age” comment). It’s just an ordeal. But after you’ve been stuck alone in the house for a few days with only your cats to talk to (I do realize how lame that sounds), going ANYWHERE with people is fun. And to get the ingredients for the recipe you’ve been wanting to try for days? Amazing.
  2. Just because you’re at home with nothing to do doesn’t mean you do nothing. So I kind of blew off my own advice for a few days. I had just gotten back from a vacation with my boyfriend when my parents left, and all I felt like doing was sleeping and watching TV. But after a couple of days watching TV and not changing out of my PJs, I realized how lazy I was being. And it wasn’t just my conscience scolding me for being a bum, I felt terrible. I was always tired, but I didn’t sleep well at night. I felt like I was gaining weight. My brain felt fuzzy, and no matter how bored I felt I couldn’t get myself to do something productive like read a book or write. No matter how cool it may seem of be able to sit around watching TV all day in your PJs, eating junk food, etc…. it’s not. I stopped that pretty fast and set a loose schedule for my days.
  3. Time flies when you’re doing things. So before, when I was just watching TV and doing nothing productive, it seemed like the day took forever to go by. It was one crappy daytime TV show after another, and it was boring. But once I started to actually do things with my day, the time went by faster. Morning breakfast, exercise and shower took until almost eleven. After lunch I either read, work on a puzzle, or work on some craft/cooking project. Before I knew it, it was dark. Then it’s dinner and then  I can allow myself to veg out by the TV for a few hours before bed.
  4. Animals are a HUGE responsibility. This is really something I already knew, but wanted to emphasize it even more. Our pets are like family, and we make sure they’re taken care of. But it’s constant hard work. I know a lot of people who adopted pets before realizing how much of a responsibility they were, and the pets don’t get the proper care because of it. Honestly, I’d recommend waiting until at least after you graduate college and have a job to consider a pet. They need food, water, toys, and care products that take a lot of money. They need constant attention (even cats) and love. If you’re not ready to dedicate your time, money and attention to them, don’t adopt them. I love my cats, but my mom is really the one that cares for them usually. And when my parents left, I was shocked at how much attention the cats needed– the first few days they kept me up at night because I didn’t play with them enough to tire them out (that and they were worried about why my parents had left them). I love the cats, but they are a lot of work. (Also, it makes me sympathetic for mothers everywhere. I find myself constantly yelling “Don’t scratch that!”, “Don’t eat that!”, “Stop fighting with your sister!”)
  5. Being safe doesn’t mean being crazy. Being alone in a big house at night is never very fun. Besides the cats being noisy and annoying when I tried to sleep, I was constantly worried about the house. My parents moved into the house last summer, so it’s still pretty new to me and I’m learning all the normal bumps and creaks of the house at night. I’d get myself worked up over some little noise that was probably a cat, and go downstairs with all the lights on to recheck the door locks and the alarm. Yes it’s important to check the locks before going to bed and make sure the alarm is on. But every little noise is not someone breaking in, just relax and go to sleep.
  6. Screening your calls makes life a lot easier. So I do this already on my cell phone. If I’m not expecting a call and I don’t know the number, I don’t answer. If it’s important, they will leave a message. I have been doing this at the house while I’ve been here alone, and out of the 2-3 calls a day we’ve gotten, only 1 (total) has bothered to leave a message. Obviously the others were telemarketers and not worth my time on the phone.

Now obviously this experience hasn’t given me insight into everything that I’ll have to do and worry about as an adult. There are bills and taxes and those pesky jobs… but I have learned that if I decide one day to become a stay-at-home wife/mom, I can not only manage it, but have fun doing it. I love cooking for my boyfriend (he stayed over the weekend so I cooked him pizza and jalapeno poppers) and I can manage my days to be productive. It’s all about self-discipline, structure, and the drive to have an adventure everyday whether with a new craft, a new recipe, or just continuing a project.

Traveling: To Go or Not to Go

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If you’re getting close to graduation, you’ve probably heard people talk about taking trips to Europe or taking a year to backpack around the world. I know when I first heard that people ACTUALLY did that, I was flabbergasted. And it wasn’t surprise that people wanted to go abroad or take a year off to ‘find themselves’, I was more shocked at HOW CAN YOU AFFORD TO TRAVEL FOR SO LONG WITHOUT A PAYCHECK???? Because I’m frugal and I hate watching my bank account diminish with each credit card payment, the idea of traveling and spending so much money scared me to death!

Thanks to UltimosLibros for the image.

However, once I was given a ‘job’ offer with the Peace Corps and realized that I’d be living pretty much without personal expenses for two years, that savings cushion seemed to look a bit more tempting. I wanted to do something special with my boyfriend, a kind of ‘Thank you for letting me leave you for 2 years’ thing. I mentioned earlier that we had thought about going to Europe. He’d never been, I wanted to go back, etc. Well, traveling to Europe is a bit hard without a passport. I had to turn mine in to get a new PC specific one, so going outside the US was nixed.

Limited to staying within the US, my boyfriend and I decided on New York; he’d been once, I’ve never been. Once we finalized our decision about New York, I realized that we were planning VERY close to the birth of my nephew, so I modified our plans a bit: I’d fly up to stay a week with my sister, her husband and my new nephew, my boyfriend would fly up to meet me, then the two of us would take Amtrak to New York, stay there for a few days and then fly home. It definitely complicated arrangements a bit– we had to buy two one-way flights instead of one round trip, and we had to add in the expense of Amtrak. But all in all, not too bad.

Thanks to http://www.fitnessshowrooms.com/ for the image.

But here’s where it get’s hard: actually booking things. I hate booking things. I had to do it while I was in England, and it’s one of those grown-up things that is just time-consuming and annoying. I mean, who wants to spend time and hassle figuring out the best way to spend money? Not me. But I have to be a grown-up now; mommy and daddy can’t book my flight or tell me which hotel to stay at.

After doing all this, here’s what I learned:

(Rule #1) DO YOUR RESEARCH.

Check out this post on Y Travel Blog for more on how to plan longer trips.

Just like with everything else, I will spend hours if not days researching before I buy anything. Especially with travel arrangements, it always seems like you can find something better, something cheaper. But then, cheaper doesn’t always mean better and then you’re back at square one! It took my boyfriend and I about 2 weeks to finally make our final decisions. Granted, we made most of the decisions in the few days we were actually together  (he lives at school still and I live at my parents house 45 minutes away). But it still involved a lot of research and number crunching on my part.

If you’re wanting to travel, pretty much my favorite site to search flights is Kayak.com. It’s fast, it’s simple, and seems to be reliable. I like being able to easily change dates or airports, and it keeps each change saved under a new tab so you can compare quickly and without hassle. I haven’t used it for anything else (hotels, car rental, etc.), but I’m sure it works well.

Thanks to A Hopeful Traveler for the image!

Another amazing site I like to use is hostelworld.com. Especially if you’re a student or recent grad and want to travel cheap, this is the place to look for hotels, hostels, B&Bs, apartment rentals, and campsites. I used it when I was traveling in England and found an AMAZING hostel in Edinburgh. I’m using it now to find hotels in New York (my boyfriend doesn’t like the idea of a hostel). The site is reliable for booking and very easy to use!

A word of warning on booking your hotel though: make sure you check out the area you’re booking in to see what kind of transportation is available, what the area is like, etc. We almost booked a B&B in Newark, but were warned that Newark isn’t a great city to be in. While I’m sure the B&B there is excellent, we decided we’d rather pay the extra money to be in New York City close to the metro, and also know we’re in a safe area (as safe as any part of New York is at least).

Finally, you can’t plan a trip without knowing things you’re going to do. And for my boyfriend and I, that means planning out FOOD. We’re foodies; we love watching the travel channel and food network, anything like Man vs. Food or Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives is amazing. So we made sure to check out our options! Two great sites for this: TV Food Maps and Nomadic Matt.

(Rule #2) BOOK EARLY, BOOK CAREFULLY. Once you’ve got your trip all planned out, you’re probably getting ready to book. I like to have all my researched prices laid out on an excel template so I know what I should be paying, it helps calm the cheap-o in my brain a little. Be ready to book well in advance, but keep your eyes open for price changes; especially with airfare, prices will fluctuate pretty regularly, and will change depending on day of the week.

Here’s a tip to a cheaper flight: book a flight for a Tuesday-Thursday. They’re significantly cheaper than the rest of the week.

Your research should have found the cheapest options for you. For my boyfriend and I, flights actually turned out to be overall cheaper doing one-way tickets. We have to add in the price of Amtrak, but even with that it comes out to almost the same price as a round-trip airfare would have been.

Now, here’s where the BOOK CAREFULLY comes in. Buying plane tickets was easy. Find the airfare, hit purchase, fill in some info about yourself, and your done. Hundred dollars spent. Easy-peasy. Buying Amtrak, not so easy. Technically it should be just as easy; the process is similar, you even fill in less information. BUT, that’s if their website is working.

Unfortunately, it was my job to buy the Amtrak tickets (my boyfriend bought the plane tickets from New York, so it was only fair), and even more unfortunately I happened to try to buy  them while Amtrak was having a miniature crisis on Monday. As far as I can tell, for poor Amtrak it was the day that NOTHING went right. The snowstorm caused train delays and cancellations. The website crashed, which meant the phone lines were swarmed, and all their potential and current customers were angry. I tried to purchase tickets and kept having problems getting through the website, which should have been a warning to me to stop and try again the next day. But I was impatient. Finally I got to the payment page and was able to enter all my payment information and click “purchase”, only to receive a website error. I was worried. Did they have my payment info? Did the tickets get reserved? Would they bill me? I stressed all day, sent an email to them, checked my credit card account, checked the Amtrak twitter, tried to call (gave up on the 110 minute wait), and finally gave it up for the day. They hadn’t billed my card hours later, and I still hadn’t received a confirmation or a reply to my email. Who knew what was going on? Next day (today) I still hadn’t received anything from them and my card still wasn’t billed, so I felt a little more confident and a little more annoyed. Honestly, this seemed like too much of a hassle. If my boyfriend didn’t get motion sick, I could have bought two Megabus tickets for $9 total (check them out, they’re cheap, reliable, and did I mention cheap??)! I sent another email to Amtrak, which also went unanswered. I tried to call, and was given a 49 minute wait so I hung up. I finally was able to contact Amtrak through twitter, and they answered that without a confirmation there is no reservation. That’s all I needed. So I booked the train (again) and this time I received a confirmation, and my credit card did get billed. What an ordeal! I’m thankful to Amtrak’s Twitter people, but frustrated with their other forms of customer service failing. I know that they’re busy, but I gave them a whole day to answer an email! Now don’t take this as me telling you not to buy Amtrak. They seem like a great service, though a bit pricey. I will reserve judgement until I ride the train, but don’t expect to be displeased. If you’re willing to pay the money and don’t need to bother with customer service, give them a try!

(Rule #3) KNOW WHY YOU WANT TO TRAVEL. I’ve read the advice books that say everyone should travel in between graduation and settling into a job. I’ve gotten so much advice from friends and family to ‘just go’! Well, it’s not that easy. And if you feel the same way, then don’t go! If you want to step right into working, do it. If you don’t think it’s the right time for YOU to go out and spend hundreds or thousands of dollars and weeks or months traveling, don’t do it. Yes, it’s a great time for you to travel because you’ll never again have as much free time or as little responsibility. But will you enjoy it as much if you’re constantly worried about running your bank account dry?

The way I see it, the decision comes down to what you value. If you travel now you’ll have the time to see whatever you want and be gone as long as you want. But, you may have to sleep in train stations or in a 12-person dorm in a crappy hostel, and you may have to eat at fast food restaurants or out of vending machines, all to save money. If you travel after you’ve been working and saving up money your time may be limited to a week or two, but you’ll be able to stay at a nicer hotel and actually get some sleep, you’ll be able to eat out at nice local restaurants and participate in more activities without worrying about draining your bank account to zero. So weigh your options and make a decision. This is your life, don’t listen to wayward advice if it’s not right for you!

Good luck in your decision or planning, now I’ve got a hotel booking to figure out!

Job Search Update: More appointments, more paperwork

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Just a quick update today. I had to go in to my doctor’s office to pick up some of my paperwork and to get a TB test done. I’ll have to go back in two-three days to get it read and get the rest of my paperwork. The fun part (and by that I mean really, really not fun) wasn’t the actual office visit, it was having to scan and upload my paperwork to the online portal. I swear, I scanned about 30 pieces of paper into 6 or 7 different PDF files, then had to upload each into the portal. It took forever.

Anyway, my paperwork is still not done. In addition to my third visit to the doctor later this week, I have to wait for my gynecologist visit late in march to complete a section on the physical exam paperwork and to fill out another section of the paperwork. I’ve decided I’ll need to see the eye doctor just to get my glasses information paperwork completed, hopefully that won’t take an actual appointment and I can just walk in and get it filled out…

So no real point to this post other than to keep everyone updated on what I’m doing for my acceptance into the Peace Corps. Most jobs will have significantly more relaxed requirements, but if you’re at all interested in the Peace Corps, this is a good place to learn about everything that goes into accepting an invitation.

Caveat Job Seeker: Company Scams

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I’ve emphasized before that internet searches and online job hunting websites are a great source of open positions. But, as we all should know by now, not everything you see on the internet is as good as it may seem. The biggest problem at this point for me has been finding “Entry Level” jobs that turn out to not be as they were advertised.

Thanks to Reddit user rp416 for the image.

(Rule #1) BE CAREFUL. When searching online for jobs, be VERY wary of any position that advertises itself as “ENTRY LEVEL” or “MARKETING DEVELOPMENT”, etc. These companies typically advertise with flashy, eye-catching position titles, upper-case lettering, lots of exclamation points, or emphasis on marketing, management, and business development. Once you click on the link, the job description will give you some vague description of what the company does. They’ll try to draw you in with promises of fast movement to management, full training, and great company culture. But look carefully. Is it advertising for one position, or for a general idea of a job? Does it actually have a description of daily duties, or just give vague goals? These companies like to draw in a high volume of people with flashy, too-good-to-be-true opportunities. If you can’t believe your luck at finding such a perfect place, it’s probably not legit.

(Rule #2) DO YOUR RESEARCH. Not all of the companies offering a great job with upward mobility is sketchy. That’s why it’s really important to do your research. Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and other online job search websites have reviews that you can read for most companies. You should also check out the company’s website. If neither of these sources look good, think again about applying. In addition to those previously mentioned resources, do a basic Google search. If the company is sketchy, most likely someone will have mentioned it online somewhere. Another great resource is a blog I found, “Entry Level Job Scams”, which details companies that do this, complete with names and tactics. Check this out if you’re worried about job scams.

(Rule#3) BE SMART. If the job looks too good to be true, it probably is. If the emails you receive are from a Gmail or Yahoo, etc. account and not a company account, the place is a bit sketchy. Don’t throw out a good company because they fit one of these descriptions, but use caution and think through your decision to apply.

I called this “company scams” in the title of this blog for a reason. These companies don’t necessarily scam you– they just aren’t fully honest with their position advertisement and draw you in pretty deep before they reveal what the position actually is.

My experience with these companies is from last fall. I was in full job app. mode, and found what looked like something I was perfect for on LinkedIn. It was a marketing development position with a company that said they developed marketing strategies for a big-name cable provider. It was less than a day after I applied that I got a phone call asking to meet for an interview. I was so excited, and couldn’t wait to interview. The first interview was great. The office looked nicely put together, the interviewer was nice, but I felt like there was something a bit off– the interview only lasted about 15 minutes, and the questions were all personality-based, and when I asked about the day-to-day duties, the interviewer was a bit evasive and very vague. Still, I was naive and wanted to get an offer, so when I was invited to a second interview, I agreed.

It was the second interview that made me realize what I had gotten myself into. I arrived at the office, which was full of people walking around and talking, completely different from my previous time there when it was quiet and empty. I was taken back to an office, and paired up with a current employee who would be leading my interview for the day. I still wasn’t aware of what to expect, and was even more confused when the interviewer and another employee led me back outside to the parking lot, told me to follow them in my car, and then prepared to leave. I followed them for about half an hour, until we finally stopped at a Wal-Mart. We went in and sat at an attached cafe, where the interviewer asked me more in-depth questions. I finally learned what my job would be at that point– sitting at a table set-up in Wal-Mart, selling cable subscriptions. This was the “marketing development” job I had applied to? I stayed for the interview and to watch the two employees for a few minutes, then they sent me home and told me I’d hear back later.

You can’t imagine how angry I was at this point. I was mad at the company for lying to me about the job, I was mad at myself for falling for it, and felt taken advantage of. But to be honest now, my biggest problem was that I was naive and hadn’t spent a sufficient amount of time researching the company. So if you’re just starting your search, don’t be like I was. Keep your head and do your research. Know that not everything you see on these job search sites is accurate, especially if it seems too good to be true.

Job Search Update: Load on the paperwork!

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I thought getting a job would be the hardest part. But I was very, very wrong. After accepting my invitation with the Peace Corps, I was suddenly flooded with emails sending me PDFs to read, links to portals I had to access, and files upon files of paperwork to complete. So far I’ve had to print out about 20 pages from my Medical Portal, spent hours doing virtual paperwork on my New Volunteer Portal, and several documents I’ve had to complete and send in.

Thanks to A Day in Our Shoes for the image.

The Peace Corps is… very thorough. To complete the medical forms that are mandatory for departure rely on you seeing a dentist, a primary care doctor, a gynecologist (for women) and possibly an eye doctor (I’m still trying to figure out if I actually need to do that). I was lucky with the dentist; while it usually takes months to get an appointment with the dentist, I already had a dentist appointment scheduled since the summer and was able to keep that. I was also able to schedule a physical with a new doctor (since before I’d used my university doctor) for the week after I called. The biggest problem was getting a gynecologist appointment. When I called and asked for a specific doctor, the receptionist told me October was her earliest opening and “would that work?”… no. No that won’t work because I’ll be in Belize. I was finally able to get an appointment with another doctor in the same office, but her earliest was in March. Guess I get to wait until last minute, yay.

Anyway, I went to my dentist appointment on Monday, and of course the paperwork required new x-rays. The machine wasn’t working right, and finally after 2 different attempts, they told me that they’d get the print to work later. The dentist also didn’t have time to fill out all my paperwork (understandable– it was like 10 pages long), and they told me they’d give me a call when they had everything put together. Kind of an ordeal.

Then yesterday I went to my new doctor for the physical. I felt a bit guilty when I walked into the room and told the nurse about all the paperwork; she looked a bit overwhelmed with the 15+ pages I handed her. It took a while to go through the paperwork with the nurse, and then with the doctor. But finally we figured out everything that had to get done; one immunization shot (and a TB shot next week), and a LOT of blood work. I have to say, the blood draw was probably the most entertaining part of the visit. The technician doing it kept looking at me as she went through the paperwork, saying “I hope you have good veins”… well I hope so too! She very carefully selected the vein she wanted, and then twice asked if I needed to lay down while she did it. I didn’t understand why she was so cautious until she pulled out all the collection vials– I had to fill 7 tubes! After sticking me with the needle she starting drawing blood, and at least 3 or 4 times asked if I was feeling ok and if my arm hurt. Finally she filled the last vial and removed the needle, telling me that I broke the record for most vials filled. I was amazed myself that I didn’t feel dizzy or anything. I had to make an appointment for next week to get my paperwork done, get the results of my blood work, and get my TB test done. Then I’ll have to go back to get the TB test read. A lot of work to be done…

Luckily the medical paperwork seems to be the most detailed and complicated. I already completed everything I had to do for my passport/ visa obligations, I submitted two documents to my Application Portal that reworked my resume and detailed my thoughts and plans for work in Belize, and I submitted an official transcript. I’ve *finally* accessed my New Volunteer Portal (after days of trying, using two computers and three we browsers, and not being able to load the portal) and done all the activities and forms (I had to switch browsers to submit the form– if you’re doing this, don’t use Chrome). I’m still working on reading through all the PDFs and figuring out what else I have to get done.  It’s a lot of work, but it will be worth it later!

So here’s the lesson I’ve learned from this experience and I hope to pass along to you: don’t relax once you get the offer. The interviews are hard, but you’ve got to be on your game to get through all the technicalities of getting all the legal stuff done. It’s not fun, it’s not easy, and it might be expensive to get all the medical stuff completed. But in the end, it’s always worth it.

Network, Network, Network

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One thing that I didn’t wrap my head around as being very valuable is networking. You hear it all the time: THIS meeting is great for networking, THAT organization provides great connections to the business world! I just never took it seriously that I would need something other than my amazing resume and charming smile to get a job. Now that I’m out looking for things, I’ve realized that you may do great with just your resume, cover letter, and a great personality. But how you’ll do even better, and get that job faster, is by knowing people.

(Rule #1) MAKE FRIENDS AND KEEP THEM. This doesn’t mean to brown-nose your 200 person lecture professor. It means that once you get into more advanced classes, with smaller group sizes and more intimate discussion-based courses, make sure to make a good impression on your professors. Especially if you’re interested in their work, keep tabs with them, maybe volunteer to do some research help, and they can not only give you amazing recommendations for jobs, but they can hand off your resume to someone who can get you an interview. It’s the very same with previous employers; even if you don’t want to pursue a career in the field (think, summer swim coaching), having a glowing recommendation from a previous employer or having them pass your resume on to an acquaintance in the field you ARE looking into is a big step up.

Recommendations are so important, I can’t stress that enough. So keep your professional relationships close, you can use them later!

(Rule #2) TALK TO YOUR PARENTS. Seriously, they know what they’re doing. They’ve been in this position before. Even if you’re not at all interested in what they do for a living, they were recent graduates looking for jobs once too, and they can give you advice. Have them look over your resume and cover letter, have them help you with your LinkedIn profile, have them give you pointers on career paths and salaries and all that big scary grown up stuff that none of us have any idea about.

In addition to the knowledge that your parents can impart to you, they can also be a great source of connections. Face it, your parents are always going to be biased in your favor. They know a lot of people, have met and kept up with a lot of successful businessmen and start-ups, and they can pass your resume along to them. Case-in-point, my dad is fairly high up in his company, and he knows a lot of people in the nuclear industry. While there are no positions available in his company, he knows that nuclear plants are desperate to hire engineers. So I got my boyfriends resume to him, and he was able to pass it along. And that might just get my boyfriend an interview.

(Rule#3) BRANCH OUT. Don’t be afraid to mention to friends, friends-of-friends, distant relations, and acquaintances that you’re looking for a job. Who knows who they all know, and what opportunities they can make available to you. For example, one of my previous interviews was a job that wasn’t posted online. The only way my resume even got into the right hands was because my boyfriend mentioned to a family friend that I was looking for jobs. They talked about my qualifications, I sent her my resume, I had a phone interview with her, and then I was booked for an in-person interview with her employer. I didn’t get the job, but I had a great interview and got to know about an awesome non-profit that I’ll be applying to when I get back from the Peace Corps (if I still live in the same city), and got great interview experience and confidence. And all of that was because my boyfriend mentioned I was looking for a job to someone at a party.

Another example: My boyfriend’s mom works for a HUGE international company. He applied to them and then had his mom send his resume to their engineering department. Within a few days he got a phone call from a recruiter, and after a short phone interview, set him up with an in-person interview with a daughter company in Texas. While he didn’t get that job, it was amazing to see how quickly things moved all because of his one connection. The recruiter is still working to find him a spot at the company, and the longer he keeps in communication with her, the better.

Thanks to http://www.ece.cmu.edu/~sld/ for the image.

Everybody knows somebody. And the more you advertise yourself, the more likely you’re going to get connections to those who can help you out.

Job Search Update: Job Acquired… kind of.

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You may have noticed that it has been a few days since I’ve posted anything here. Remember that Peace Corps phone call I was getting on Thursday? Well, I got it. And then a few hours later, I got an email with an invitation to be a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV). Exciting! But also terrifying.

I took a long weekend (Friday-Sunday) to figure out if I was going to accept the invitation. It’s a huge decision, made even more complicated because of the place I am in my relationship with my boyfriend. If I do this, it’s 27 months away; I’ll be in a strange country, with no guaranteed phone or internet service, and only have roughly 6.5 weeks of time off. It’s a lot to think about. But after looking through all the documents and spending the weekend discussing everything with my SO, we decided that there was no reason for me not to go (other than it’ll suck to be apart for so long). I submitted my acceptance of the invitation this morning.

This doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop posting on this blog. I’m still planning on continuing my projects and doing job searches up until I leave (I won’t do any applications probably, but can at least look and see what’s available. Additionally, I still have several planned blogs still to write.

While accepting my invitation is a huge step in the process to becoming a PCV, it doesn’t mean that I am definitely for-sure-100% going. I have a LOT of documentation and assignments to complete before I go, so most of my “Updates” will be about that. Also, I will concentrate future blogs on what I will be doing while waiting for my departure to Belize. This will include preparations, what I learn about the country and what I’ll be doing, and (hopefully) a trip to Europe in May with my SO.

If you haven’t seen my travel blog, mytinytravels, I originally created it to document my study abroad trip to England in 2011. Take a look at it, and keep it in your tabs; I will be updating it and using it for a blog of my PC service!