Tag Archives: career

Long time no write!

Hello ‘world.’

It’s been so long since I last wrote, I forgot my log-in password and had to have it emailed to me.

But, considering what I’ve been up to these last few months – I think you’ll understand.

Since we last spoke, I….

–          Got married

–          Honeymooned in Paris

–          Started a new job

….all within less than two weeks.

I’ll try to catch you up a little bit, but those giant life changes are each getting their own blog posts later next week, starting of course with the wedding of my dreams.

On September 20, all of our closest friends and family gathered in Baltimore, Md. to watch Mike and I say, “I do.” Everything about our wedding day was perfect – from the gorgeous weather (not a cloud in the sky!) to the moment we saw each other for the first time that day as I walked down the aisle (I still get chills thinking about it) to dancing the night away with the people we love most. Honestly – it was everything I had ever dreamed of and more – so expect a 2,000 word blog post on that, full of pictures, sometime early next week.

Photo credit: Nelson Pun

Photo credit: Nelson Pun

The morning after the wedding, we woke up at 7 a.m. after a brief 3 hour nap to quick throw everything into bags, get a quick shower and hop the shuttle to BWI to catch our flight to Paris for our honeymoon. I got a steal on our flights, which is probably explained by the ridiculous number of layovers… from Baltimore to Boston, from Boston to Iceland and finally from Iceland to Paris. We didn’t arrive until 6 am Sunday and of course, my bag got lost along the way, but we didn’t let it deter us. This was my third time to Paris and it was by far the most magical trip of the three – I mean, does it get any more romantic than curling up on a blanket underneath the Eiffel Tower for six hours, feeding your new husband chocolate and throwing back bottle after bottle of champagne? More on that later.

La joie de vivre!

La joie de vivre!

We got back from our honeymoon late Sunday night, and thank god we took off that Monday because we were both incredibly jet lagged and had a monstrous amount of wedding crap to clean up. The next day I started my new job as the Special Events Coordinator at The HSUS (yep – same organization, different role!) and got thrown right into the deep end as we have our biggest event coming up in just three short weeks! It’s been a whirlwind since I started but I really love it so far. I was incredibly nervous if I was making the right move career-wise by going after this job, but I think I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. The leap of faith has proven to be worth it. Again – more on that next week.

The big day is almost here!

The big day is almost here!

I’ve missed blogging so much these past few months, but I have so many wonderful stories that I can’t wait to share with you all.

Until next time!

Today is my six-month workiversary, and looking back, I’m really proud of how far I’ve come.

I was honored to be given the opportunity to guest blog for one of my mentors and fellow Temple Owl, Jason Mollica, about my experiences and lessons learned this past half year.

Before you pack up and spend the next few hours in traffic for the holiday commute, I’d love for you to give this post a read and share your thoughts!

Thanks again Jason!

One Guy's Journey

[Jas’ note: I’m thrilled to welcome Niki Ianni, a fellow Temple University alum, to the blog with a great and timely post.]

Six months ago to the day, I put on my new Macy’s clearance rack suit, smoothed my hair, double-checked my briefcase for all the basics and took a deep breath as I walked confidently into the next phase of my life – the start of my post-graduate career.

The all-nighter study sessions, thousands of draft edits and hundreds of internship hours… everything I worked for in the past four years had finally paid off. While getting here had not been an easy feat, full of dozens of applications, gallons of coffee and the occasional mental breakdown…with hard work and determination, I secured my dream job working as a public relations specialist at the largest animal protection organization in the country.

For those who are preparing to…

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the friday five: five perks of post-grad life

Is it just me, or did this week fly by? Although – you won’t hear any complaints coming from me after the last few weeks have felt like they’ve each been twenty days long.

It’s been a pretty good week too, I must say. Mike and I have been keeping up on our promise to spend more quality time together and enjoyed a great date night at Olazzo, full of martinis and arancini. Wednesday I went out for drinks with a few of my colleagues and we had a great night letting loose and not obsessive-compulsively checking our emails. And tomorrow – my mom, dad and younger brother are all coming down to spend the weekend in DC with Mike and I. It will be the first time my parents have been to visit since they moved me in and it will be my brother’s first trip to see me down here ever.

I’m going to keep up with my “Friday Five” trend and will continue to mix it up after last week’s inspiration.

This Friday – I bring you the “Five Perks of Post-Grad Life.” We hear enough about the pitfalls (no more Thirsty Thursdays, no more sleeping in after morning class was canceled, crushing student loan debt, no more being the “big kid on campus”) – so instead I thought I’d share some of the awesome things about life after graduation. I guess I should preface this by saying it only really applies if you have a job…. so…

  • You actually have money for the first time in years. And by money, I mean you have enough to feed yourself something other than ramen and can shop at Target instead of Forever 21. In college, I was living off of the few bucks I earned at my part-time job and the small excess change I’d get back from my student loans. I drank boxed wine, wore clothes that fell apart at the seams and lived off of boxed pasta. While I’m by no means swimming in the dough (the whole student loan, upcoming wedding thing makes that difficult) – I can afford to occasionally buy myself a 2nd shelf French wine, or a new $20 cardigan from Target, even go out to a nice-ish restaurant every now and then – all while paying my bills on my own. Oh and that whole 401k thing is pretty sweet too.

  • For the most part – you work normal hours and have more freedom with your time. In PR – every day certainly isn’t 9 to 5, but at the same time, I’m definitely not staying up until 3 in the morning to finish a paper and cram for an exam….which has done wonders for the bags that were always camping out under my eyes. It’s pretty awesome being able to go out after work to happy hour, or go see a movie and not have to worry about memorizing a stack of a hundred notecards full of dates and facts I’ll never need to know again.

  • Your friends move all over the country for their new jobs, so you automatically have an excuse to take vacations. While not being able to see your friends every day kind of sucks, it makes for a great reason to take a few days off of work and go visit. Your time becomes much more valuable with them while you also get the added perk of exploring places you may have never been before without having to worry about paying for an overpriced hotel.

  • Sometimes your job comes with awesome perks. I work in an office where people can bring in their dogs – so it’s pretty cool to de-stress by walking over to a colleague’s cubicle to give Fido a big belly rub. Sometimes, I’m able to work from home, in the comfort of my fuzzy pajamas. Or – my personal favorite, I occasionally get to attend pretty cool events or seminars to learn more about my craft and industry. While work may be pretty tough sometimes, there are definitely bonuses that make all of that hard work worth it.

  • It’s now acceptable to start drinking as early as 9 a.m. Late night ragers are a thing of your college days past – now it’s all about bottomless mimosas at brunch over eggs benedict with your new fancy post-grad friends. I may not partake in crazy house parties or stay at the bars until closing hours (I’ve always been a bit of an old fart at heart anyways), but there’s nothing that gets me more jazzed than waking up on Sunday morning and throwing on my fake pearls to go sip OJ & champagne while discussing the latest New York Times articles and political debates.

So yes… there are plenty of reasons why post-grad life sucks. I know my stomach goes into knots every time I get an email from my alma matter telling me that study abroad deadlines are approaching or letting me know about the awesome tailgate planned for that weekend. We’ve been in school for the past 14 years… so adjusting will certainly take some time.

If all else fails – just go buy one of those bottles of 2nd shelf faux fancy French wine I was talking about. And read this.

Happy weekend everyone!

is there such a thing as a “healthy perfectionist?”

I am a self-confessed perfectionist. I know I’m not alone in this – in fact most of my best friends are Type-A personalities with a little dose of neurosis.

I get worked up when pictures don’t hang perfectly straight. I read and reread things a million times over to make sure punctuation, grammar and spelling are flawless (that’s probably why I work in media relations). I will throw an entire craft project away if there’s a paint smear or a glue dribble. I will have a panic attack if I’m not at least five minutes early to a meeting and if I leave dinner in the oven for just a few too many minutes by accident I will consider the entire thing ruined.

Annoying isn’t it?

Not that I don’t usually push Mike’s buttons with my OCD tendencies – but last night I was extra neurotic and went on a cleaning spree at 11 o’clock at night. You know, when most people are turning in for the night to be well-rested for work the next day.

I started scrubbing the kitchen floor, cleaning the windows, vacuuming (my neighbors REALLY hate me now), dusting, redecorating, etc. You get the idea.

I spent the next hour cleaning myself into a frenzy and by the time I laid in bed, pleased with my tidy surroundings – my brain began short-circuiting about things I wanted to get done at work today, things I needed to do to prepare for my family’s visit this weekend, ways to be more productive, ways to be more effective… I began mentally writing ten different to-do lists simultaneously and before I knew it, my alarm clock went off and I realized I had barely slept at all.

Instead, I had spent the entire night thinking of ways to be the perfect employee, ways to be the perfect professional, ways to create the perfect career path, how to plan the perfect weekend with my family,  perfect ideas for the wedding.

I think aiming for perfection is both admirable and naive. You aim higher than most, set impressive goals, work incredibly hard – all to get the job done right (well…perfect).

But it’s important to draw a clear line between achieving personal excellence and becoming obsessive-neurotic to the point where we sabotage our own efforts.

I found a great post about this on Life Hack with a list of 8 ways to be healthy perfectionists at work (and even life in general). Here are some of my favorites:

  • Draw a line. We have the 80/20 rule (see #6 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity) where 80% of output can be achieved in 20% of time spent. We can spend all our time getting the 100% in, or we can draw the line where we get majority of the output, and start on a new project. Obsessing over details is draining and tedious, and doesn’t help us accomplish much.
  • Be conscious of trade-offs. When we spend time and energy on something, we deny ourselves from spending the same time and energy on something else. There are tons of things we can do, and we need to be aware of the trade-offs involved, so we can better draw a line (#1).
  • Be okay with making mistakes. Part of the reason why we obsess over our work is because we want it to be mistake-free. However, trying to achieve 100% perfection is highly ineffective. If we’re busy perfecting this thing, we can’t get to other important things. Realize that making mistakes is a trade off we have to embrace. The more we open ourselves to making mistakes, the faster we can get down to learning from them, and the quicker we can grow.
  • Realize our concerns usually amount to nothing. It’s good to plan and prepare, but there comes a time when we should let things roll and deal with problems as they crop up. Being overly preemptive makes us live in an imaginary future vs. in the present. Adopt a “roll with the punches” attitude.

I end with this –

“Some of us (perfectionists, especially) fuss so much over making the ‘right’ choice, but in life, all that’s really needed is to make any’ good’ choice, believe in it, go through with it, and accept the consequences.”
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once an owl, always an owl

My Temple University rally towel is now hanging on the outside of my cubicle, adding to the collection of Temple memorabilia I have on display at work. My face is sunburnt and my voice a little more hoarse after spending Saturday cheering with my two best friends and fellow Owls at my first homecoming game as an alumni.

Mike and I loaded in to the car bright and early Saturday morning in order to enjoy some of the tailgating activities before the game started. I haven’t been to Philly since June, so my excitement was hardly containable as we drove up Broad Street and I saw the sea of cherry and white around us, as students, alumni and parents made their way towards the stadium.

After getting (temporarily) tatted up and fitted out in Temple gear by the girls, I found my parents and walked around Lot K with them, making our way from table to table as my parents gushed about how excited they were to have two Owls in the family. My mom and I got our faces painted together with the “Temple T” before splitting up to find our seats.

For the next few hours, Alex, Lauren and I remembered what it was to be a Temple student. As the different montages aired on the big screen, with pictures from graduation to students both past and present, tears began to sting my eyes. Every fiber of my being ached to be a Temple student again. To go back to the days of being with my “family” – spending our days in PRSSA and PRowl meetings, enjoying crepes on Liacouras Walk, and curling up on Alex’s couch in Temple Towers as we tackled capstone and devoured pounds of pasta.

I think what saddened us the most was knowing things will never really be the same. And to be honest, it still scares me. There are times I feel I have flown the nest too soon and miss the comfort of “knowing everything” and “being known.” At Temple, students looked up to us and respected us. Our professors hailed us. We aced classes and ran organizations with ease. We are now miles away from our comfort zones and the process of making a name for ourselves has started all over again.

While I have no doubt in my mind that each of us will go on to accomplish great things, both personally and professionally, I will always remember where it all began.

We are self made. We are Philly made. We are Temple made.

our mistakes don’t define us

I can’t believe it’s been almost four months since I started my first job out of college and how so much has changed in such a short period of time. In these past four months I have learned more about my industry and about myself, and I have made more mistakes than I thought humanly possible (or would like to admit).

To back up and put things in perspective – Mike and I visited DC for a spontaneous, let’s get out-of-here, weekend trip in March. We always joked about moving here and starting a new life for ourselves but it had never been anything more than talk. There was something about that trip. Everything just felt different. As we sat on a park bench in the National Mall sculpture garden, sharing an ice cream cone and enjoying the first signs of spring, I looked up at him and said, “why not?”

He must have been thinking the same, because his immediate response was, “we can.”

And we did. It wasn’t easy… as nothing worth it ever is. Trying to coordinate the search for two jobs and a new apartment all while three states away and finishing up my senior year in college made for its fair share of headaches and mental breakdowns, for which I still owe a great deal of gratitude to my friends and family for talking me off the ledge several times. But it all became worth it the moment I heard the words, “We’d like to offer you the job.”

So the day after my graduation, we packed up our lives into a 14’ UHaul and began our new chapter. I kissed my mom and dad goodbye, chowed down on some pizza and began the arduous task of assembling way too many pieces of IKEA furniture.

I started my job a week after my move and for the first week struggled with the idea of my new role. I was sitting through benefits trainings, submitting my insurance paperwork, attending meetings with my assigned campaigns and spending hours working on releases, media lists and follow-up pitch calls. I was overwhelmed and I was terrified. People with decades more experience than I had were looking at me to direct their PR strategies. Reporters from all over the world were calling me, asking questions I didn’t have the answers to.

Four months later, I’ve helped secure great coverage and generate unique story ideas for my campaigns by trusting my instincts and having confidence in my creativity. I have been fortunate to have stories placed in some of the largest outlets in the U.S. including the Washington Post and the LA Times. I’ve arranged press conferences and successfully landed editorial board meetings. I’ve accomplished things I never thought I’d be able to at such a young age, and I’m incredibly proud of myself.

With that, I have also made some painful mistakes. Mistakes that made me feel incompetent, incapable and quite frankly – just plain stupid. I’ve sent out a press release with a typo or two in it, and despite it going through several rounds of edits, the blame still ultimately falls on me. I called a reporter on the west coast at 6 AM (whoops… there’s a thing called time zones Niki, haven’t you heard of them) because I was eager to return her call from the night before to land the story and forgot to stop and think 1. It’s way too early over there and 2. It might be her personal number (oh yeah – it was. I called a reporter’s cell phone at 6 am and woke her up). I have sent things out before they should have gone out, blasting off a release to 700+ reporters when it should have been held for another 20 minutes due to an embargo.

After each mistake, I felt like a failure. I was beyond embarrassed. I wanted to bury my head between my legs and hide in my cave of shame (that’s what I call it… no judging). But I couldn’t – because I had work to do. And I didn’t have time to sulk (I’d give myself a 5 – 10 minute rebound period to get my act together and figure out how to fix it).

That release with a typo? I’d send out a correction. The reporter I woke up at the crack of dawn? I wrote her a sincere apology email and got a response back, telling me how much she appreciated my note (I was able to fix it and get the story put together in the end). The embargoed release? I called the reporter we promised to hold off for and explained the situation – he appreciated the notice and wrote a stellar story, still breaking the major announcement.

It is not our mistakes that define us; rather it is how we deal with them.

While at those moments it may have felt like the end of the world (and my professional career) I am grateful for each and every one of them. Those mistakes have made me  a better professional because I refuse to make the same mistakes twice.

I have grown immensely as a result of each mistake I have made and I am proud of every scar each mistake has left. You can’t become a seasoned professional or a better person without gaining a few battle wounds along the way.

a note to the anti-special crusaders

I’ve been seeing a trend develop lately…one that’s gained a flurry of articles, blogs and talk show topics.

I’ll call it the, “I’m Average Movement.”

My generation gets a lot of flak, from not only our elders, but from our own peers as well. We’re told that we’re self-entitled. Or that we’re lazy with no real drive. But most often of all, we’re told we think we’re special, when we’re not.

I don’t know about you – but I think I’m special. In fact, I think most people are. I’m not talking about the “everything should be handed down to me on a silver platter” kind-of-special, but rather the intrinsic self-worth of knowing you’re not ordinary. That you’re inherently unique and nobody else in the world is like you.

I’m very lucky to have the parents I have. Growing up, I was always encouraged to be whatever I dreamed I could be. Over the years, I have gone through my phases, like every other child. From astronaut and ballerina, to archaeologist and veterinarian – my parents gave me the encouragement and support I needed every step of the way. They told me I was special, and they also told me that dreams don’t come easy – they come with a lot of hard work and due diligence.

It was with their help that I was able to take risks, make mistakes and fall. I’d try something and realize it wasn’t the right fit and then move on to accomplishing my next big dream. I knew there were things about me that made me different from everyone else…things that made me special that would allow me to find my niche and blossom.

Webster’s defines special as:

spe·cial [spesh-uhl]

adjective

1. of a distinct or particular kind or character: a special kind of key.

2. being a particular one; particular, individual, or certain: You’d better call the special number.

3. pertaining or peculiar to a particular person, thing, instance, etc.; distinctive; unique: the special features of a plan.

4. having a specific or particular function, purpose, etc.: a special messenger.

5. distinguished or different from what is ordinary or usual: a special occasion; to fix something special.

With so many variations and understandings of one word, it’s hard to imagine how each and every person isn’t some kind of special. I’m not condoning the whole, “let’s give every kid a trophy, even if they lost” trend – but I am saying that each person should feel they are capable of achieving their own personal idea of greatness and should not ever settle for being mediocre.

Just as special comes in many forms and packages, so does greatness. You don’t need to be a Nobel Prize winner or the next president of the United States. My dad always says to us that his greatest accomplishment was having three kids with the courage to pursue their dreams.

Whether your idea of personal greatness is raising a family in a small suburban town in Pennsylvania like my dad, or traveling to central Africa to educate impoverished children like a friend of mine did, or finding a career where you can advocate on behalf of animals around the world like I was fortunate enough to – I am a firm believer that we are the creators of our own destiny and fully believe that with hard work and a never-accept-defeat attitude – we can make our dreams a reality if our dreams are based in reality.

So I’m choosing to ignore the anti-special crusaders who have accepted defeat by choosing mediocrity.

I am a certain-kind of special. And so are you.