Archive for November, 2007

5 Surprises About Moving to the Big City

Thursday, November 29th, 2007
Most young people (myself included) have a very glamorous image of moving to the big city after graduation. I can only assume that this is sparked by various television shows (Sex and the City, anyone?). So many (myself included) move to one of those big cities to see what they might find. And I mut admit, it has been fantastic so far. I can't see myself anywhere else at the start of my career. But there are definitely disadvantages. Here are a few things that caught me a bit off guard when about my new city life. 1. Transportation. I love not having a car. I feel good about taking public transportation, and it ultimately saves me money. No car payment, insurance, maintenance or repair - just one easy unlimited pass for $75 a month. But sometimes it's so inconvenient - waiting in the cold for the train or bus, standing the whole way in huge crowds, not being able to drive to pick up larger items (we wanted a Christmas tree this year, but there's no practical way to get one). 2. Noise. This wasn't entirely unexpected, but it is really noisy sometimes. Of course I live in Wrigleyville, so I may have had it a little worse than others during Cubs season. 3. Everything Takes Longer. It's a big city, which means there's a lot of ground to cover. If I have a few errands, they could take up an entire evening as I hop from one location to the next to find what I need. I had to go to three separate stores tonight to find everything on my shopping list. No Super Walmart here. 4. It's expensive! Again, maybe not quite so unexpected - but you do get used to paying a higher price for just about everything. I didn't realize how much I had adapted to this until I went back to Michigan and I was commenting on how inexpensive everything was. Do Not Use the Laundry Room. Police Order!pepper spray for my key chain, and I have had some uncomfortable moments. Just the other night I was walking about two blocks from a restaurant to the subway and a man started following me (looking for money), and he wouldn't leave me alone until I went down to the subway. Today, I carried my laundry to the apartment laundry room, only to find this note on the door.

Starting Your Career in the Trenches: 5 Highs & 5 Lows

Sunday, November 25th, 2007
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I was just listening to an episode of my old college podcast, Path to Adland, where I interviewed Allen Adamson, managing directer of the branding agency Landor in New York City and Author of Brand Simple (which I just realized I never returned to MSU after reading). It's interesting listening back a year later, now that I have a bit more perspective on what he referred to as "starting in the trenches" when I asked about the first six months to one year on the job. Call it what you will, he's right to a certain extent—I have somewhat started in the trenches, and there have been highs and lows in my first five months on the job.

The Lows

1. Post grad internship. I never expected to start my career in a post grad internship, but decided it was the best way to get started at a large agency. I felt like I was taking a huge risk by moving to Chicago and signing a lease without the guarantee of a full time job. Even though I felt confident with my ability to prove myself in the position and lead it into a full time job, there was a certain level of stress and insecurity. 2. Settling in. It's a bit daunting walking into a new work environment and figuring out where the professional line falls with coworkers—most new graduates are taught to go in with a very straight-forward business professional attitude. Every company is going to be different here, but I was fortunate enough to take part in a few work outings that gave me the chance to get to know everyone in a more casual setting. It also takes some time to get used to a less flexible schedule and working every day. 3. Money. This is a competitive career field, one that isn't exactly known for fabulous entry-level pay. It was hard not to compare myself to friends who were starting out in other careers fields, some making 50% more than I am, but I'm learning that I can't compare apples to oranges. 4. I have a lot to learn. Sometimes I just have to figure things out, which can be challenging and frustrating. Sometimes I make mistakes. 5. I'm still proving myself. Like Allen Adamson said in his interview, you don't jump right in and start making important decisions. I'm not about to have an important meeting with a client by myself, and my ideas and decisions, however brilliant I may think they are, still have to go through others.

Highs

1. It's for real. The projects I do aren't for grades anymore—they're for real. It's satisfying to do work that goes on to become something. 2. Significantly less homework! In general, when I leave work, I leave my work behind. 3. Money. I'm not exactly rolling in the cash, and I'm still watching my spending, but I am making substantially more than I did as a college student—and I'm nowhere near eating ramen noodles for every meal. I'm even able to put some money into my 401K and explore hobbies around the city, like taking my first dance class in 11 years. 4. I'm learning. I'm learning every day, and every new experience makes me better prepared for the next. 5. The little things. Sometimes it's the little things that make work fun, like the e-mails letting us know that there's free food waiting for us in the kitchen, joining the office softball team, outings, friendships, travel, or taking part in community events.

Why am I doing this?

Monday, November 12th, 2007
Last year when I was still a student at Michigan State, I started a sort of experiment. After going to New York City for the AWNY Conference (Advertising Women of New York) and gathering loads of great interviews, I started publishing them to a podcast that I called "Path to Adland." It was a great opportunity for me to pick the minds of all sorts of interesting people working in a business I wanted to get into, and I liked the idea of getting that advice out to other students who couldn't make the trip to talk with these people themselves. As it turned out, people actually started listening. Now that I've crossed into the (ahem) "real" world myself, I've got a bit of advice to give too...some things no one ever thought to tell me - like what it was like to move to a new city (and state and time zone), leaving my friends, family and boyfriend behind. Or what it's like to move to the (expensive) city fresh out of college, having just spent a good chunk of money on a "this is my last chance at freedom, I better go to Europe while I still can" trip. I still consider myself to be a bit of a transitional adult (note: I still have a futon in my living room), and I'm still learning A LOT every day, but I know there are plenty of people out there with good advice to give us all. So I think I'll seek them out and pick their brains.