How I Got a Promotion my First Month with a New Company

Like many millennials, I was stuck in an entry-level position making $35,000/year struggling to get by. I worked my ass off, had a master’s degree, and all my money went to paying for living expenses and paying off school debt. By 29, I knew I could never afford to get married, I couldn’t even dream of affording to have children, had never taken an actual vacation, and felt guilty for purchasing the occasional Starbucks beverage.

I know so many of you feel me right now. 

While I was working towards my master’s degree, I promised myself this crap would stop. I was GREAT at what I did, but couldn’t move up in my career due to every excuse under the sun.

  • I didn’t have a master’s degree
  • So-and-so has been with the company longer
  • Unfortunately the field isn’t lucrative
  • Budget cuts
  • No work experience outside of one field
  • Not enough experience in my field
  • The hiring manager hired their friend’s niece’s roommate’s sister
  • The company hired internally

So how did I get around these barriers?

I looked up to mentors and relied on their advice. I leaned on my professors, my supervisors, my previous supervisors, and older colleagues. I talked with everyone about how they got to where they were and asked for constructive feedback of how I could do the same. I actively sought out ways to improve my skills AND create strong, meaningful professional connections.

2. I choose a few companies I wanted to work for and focused in on them. Rather than wasting time throwing hundreds of random application to the wall in hopes one would stick, I figured out what I really wanted. For me, I decided to move to another city and focused on two main companies I wanted to work for. I learned as much as I could about the company, their culture, their mission and values, and the other people that worked there.

3. Then I stalked the crap out of people on LinkedIn. I randomly reached out to people at those companies and asked for their advice about how they do to where they were and if they had any advice for me. I ended up making some incredible friends and connecting with my current supervisor. I made sure people knew my name so when my application came across their office, the name would at least ring a bell.

4. I followed my applications with emails expressing interest. Whenever I applied to a position, I would look for the hiring manager (or senior manager in the department) and reach out to them. Almost every time I found their contact information on LinkedIn or on the company website. I would send them an email explaining that although I applied online, I wanted to personally express my interest. I also attached my cv and cover letter and thanked them for their time. Many times, I would send an email and soon after, I’d see they were checking out my LinkedIn profile.

5. I made my intentions known BEFORE accepting a position. When I was offered a position that was less than what I desired, I contacted the hiring manager and let them know that while I was grateful for the offer, I was also highly interested in professional development opportunities and growth. This was scary because they could have rescinded the offer, knowing the position wasn’t the best fit for me. However, having that transparent conversation made me the front runner for a promotion when the next position opened.

6. I worked my ass off. Knowing I was looking to move up quickly, I learned my job responsibilities as quickly as possible and then started volunteering to help in other ways. If I saw someone else who was falling behind, I would ask how I could help. Sometimes, I was given tasks as simple as data entry to help make their job easier. However, assisting with the other tasks gave me the talking points needed for my next interview.

7. I asked permission to apply for another position. I spoke with both my supervisor and the HR manager BEFORE I even put my application in for another position. I did not have to do this, but speaking with them first assured me I was qualified for the position and opened up the conversation about why I wanted to move up and how I was prepared for the extra responsibilities.

8. I treated the interview as if I didn’t know my boss. I was interviewed in my office, during work hours, 5 feet from my own desk. But, when I walked in, I treated the interview as if I was meeting my boss and colleague for the first time. I didn’t talk to much about what I currently do, but I highlighted how my skills could be used in the new position. I also followed up with a thank you email to the hiring committee.

9. I never talked about the position at work. I didn’t tell my coworkers I was interviewing, I didn’t talk about the position as if I was going to get it, and I didn’t treat my current position as if I was leaving it. I remained as professional as possible.

10. I communicated with my supervisor from both a hiring manager prospective and from an employee-supervisor prospective. During the interview, I told her I wanted the position. But, on our bi-weekly one-on-ones, I told her about my desire to grow and how I felt my current position wasn’t the best fit, and why. We talked about my professional growth so she could see my value in the new role and didn’t see me as money hungry.

In the past, I had gone into new positions and kept my mouth shut. I learned quickly that being a push over and saying “I understand” when turned down for promotions wasn’t getting me anywhere. I professionally voice my concerns in my new environment and took a completely different stand when it came to my career goals and how I would achieve them. When it comes to achieving any goals, you can’t just “wait your turn.” You have to KNOW what you want and go out there and grab it!

XO – J

 

If Only I Could Shave my Legs While Driving

As I have written in my past few blog posts, moving to a new city has been an exciting and difficult transition. One week in, I started a new job, bought a house, and started teaching group fitness at a local gym. One month in, I have made new friends, got a promotion at the new job, and can finally make my way around without relying on my GPS.

There are things I am growing to LOVE about the new city. I am originally from Buffalo, NY which houses the best food in the world. So I am quit to judge when it comes what constitutes as good food. Well, the food in Charleston is VERY different, but very good! I have grow to love okra, which I had never had until I moved here and still can’t believe I can eat fresh produce year-round.

The people here are incredibly nice! Everyone acknowledges you on the streets, in elevators, and in groceries stores. People will talk to you about anything and everything as if they’re an old friend, and people are always willing to jump in and help if you need it. It’s a very big cultural difference compared to NY where everyone makes a point to ignore most other living creatures.

The weather is GORGEOUS! It was dreadfully hot and humid in July and August, but the days that weren’t too hot were absolutely perfect. Being about to go outside without a jacket is a drastic change from the 57 degree weather I would see in August in Buffalo! I can wear different clothes, sandals, not worry about bringing extra layers for after sundown. However, I do have to make sure my legs are shaved daily, whereas in NY, I wouldn’t shave most months out of the year!

All round, I am loving the transition and my one major complaint is the traffic. I was so used to my quick 20-30 minute commute in little traffic. Now, I drive the same distance, but the commute takes about an hour to an hour and a half EACH WAY when you’re crawling at 5 MPH in traffic. Sitting in that traffic is just a waste of time for me and it’s a very difficult thing to get used to. I treasure my precious time after work. Now, if only I could shave my legs while driving and put that time to good use.

Yes. Growth is Uncomfortable.

My close family and friends know that I have gone on the absolute best adventures of my life when I was practically dragged into the car and to the airport kicking and screaming. The truth is, sometimes when you are doing something really incredible, it can be scary. That fear doesn’t always go away and sometimes you have to doing things while feeling afraid.

What social media doesn’t know (well, until now), is that I wake up every single day afraid. Will I chicken out and run home? Did I make the right choice? Will my boyfriend and I make it? Will my dog hate me for moving her? What if I am never happy in my career? How will I handle missing family events and watching my nephews grow up? All the unknown answers are what makes the journey terrifying.

But today, with the help of one of my best friends, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone a little further. Since moving away from home, I have tried to challenge myself each day. How did I do that today?

  1. I went to return items at Target and went grocery shopping without using my GPS. I was shockingly successful, by the way!
  2. I walked/jogged the Arthur Ravenel bridge after being on a fitness hiatus for a full month.
  3. I jogged the public bridge in my sports bra. Something I NEVER would have been caught doing in New York.
  4. I pushed myself to be active outside even though it was in the mid 90’s with a heat index over 100, and 85% humidity.
  5. I put my phone in my pocket, enjoyed the scenery, and felt grateful for having the opportunity to live in such a gorgeous place!
  6. I grew a little bit more into a better version of myself

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Yes. Growth is uncomfortable. 

I truly hate the heat. But, I am trying to embrace it. Every day I miss my dog and boyfriend so much it physically hurts and sometimes it’s hard to drag myself out of bed. I am living with my friend and her boyfriend and while I couldn’t have been more blessed for such wonderful people opening up their home to me, it’s uncomfortable not having my own stuff and my own space (and my own dog). But, I know I need to be here to challenge myself and so when I do move into my own house, I will appreciate it that much more.

I LOVE living in Charleston. But since I have moved, I have struggled more and cried more than people realize. It’s HARD. Very hard. But it’s the kind of hard that makes me grow into a better, stronger, more grateful person. It’s the hard of hard that makes me feel proud for how much I have been able to accomplish on my own. Stepping out of my comfort zone is not easy for me. But, now that I have learned how to do that, I am going to continue to challenge myself each and every day. One day, I hope to overcome the challenges and use this blog as the only remaining evidence of the uncomfortable feelings I faced each day to achieve my dreams.

XO – J

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7 Things I didn’t Expect when I Moved 850 Miles from Home

For 29 years, I lived in the same town. I spent my entire life in the same neighborhood and when I decided to move away from home, I knew it would be hard. I left my fun job, my family, my friends, my serious live-in, handsome boyfriend, the first house I bought, and my 8 year old dog who I adopted as a puppy. I knew I would miss just about everything about home and I knew I would feel lonely in a new city. I tried to prepare for that the best I could. However, in the first two weeks in my new city of Charleston, SC, the hardest parts of the transition weren’t necessarily the ones I expected and the most exciting parts weren’t the reasons I moved.

1. The most frustrating thing I have ever experienced is constantly being lost and trying to follow a GPS. I knew I would rely on my GPS a lot, but I didn’t think about how I have fallen into a routine over the past 29 years and now, I can’t even get a damn cup of coffee to help me through the morning commute. I have to GPS my way to a Starbucks, only to accidentally pass it and not be able to turn around because I am on a one-way street.

2. Suburban Crime is a Culture Shock. Where I grew up, we occasionally had the freak suburban crime, but for the most part, the really bad crime was confined to certain areas of the city. Here, you have murders two blocks about from half million dollar homes. That is a common theme throughout the city and the suburbs, which made house hunting an added challenge.

3. I don’t know where things are in the grocery store. As if finding the grocery stores and farmer’s markets haven’t been frustrating enough, I don’t know where a damn thing is! Grocery shopping becomes an all day affair when you have no idea how to find what you need. Luckily, the gorgeous Summerville, SC Aldi came to my rescue!

4. My fitness routine has gone down the drain. I imagined moving to Charleston and jogging outside year round, paddle boarding in the marsh, and driving up to NC to hike and bike. But, what I completely neglected to remember is that it’s freaking HOT in August and there is no way I can get a decent run in without collapsing from the heat index, I don’t have a gym (yet), I sold my kayak and have no idea where to get a paddle board, and my bike is thrown on top of my couch in my storage unit. It’ll take more than 2 weeks to get back into the grove.

5. Dating to find friends is harder than dating to find a boyfriend. Since I only have one friend in Charleston, I have been making an extra large effort to try and meet new people around the city. It’s EXHAUSTING. When dating to meet a man, I would type in my criteria online as if I was shopping for shoes, and my preferred selections came up on dating sites. With friends, I have forced myself to stay out too late, drinking too much beer, and conversing with people I didn’t even necessarily like in order to try and build up a social circle. I had 5 “dates” in two weeks and met some pretty amazing people and some people I don’t care to see again.

6. For everything I miss about NY, there is something to love about SC. From weather, to restaurants, to shops and boutiques. As soon as I start to miss something from home, I discover something else that is new and exciting that I can’t get in NY.

7. I don’t want to go back. I was venting to a new friend about some struggles I was facing and I was having a really hard time being away from my boyfriend and dog. He caught me off guard when he said “If you could go home tomorrow, would you?” My immediate response was “No.” Sitting on fun bar patio, listening to live music on a Saturday night, in 85 degree weather, I felt happy. Yes, I am sad, and frustrated, and sometimes even very depressed. But overall, I am happy with my decision to have moved. I am LOVING the warm weather, and I can’t wait to get into a routine and keep exploring!

XO J

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Cheektowaga? We’re from Kenmore!

No matter where I go in the world, I meet people from upstate, New York. Literally, I traveled throughout most of Scotland and England and in one trip, met three people from Buffalo. So it was only a matter of time on my journey down to Charleston, SC that I met people from my side of the Cheerios factory. My last blog post was written from the road. Right before we hit the flash floods in West Virginia and hunkered down for the night. We found a very nice hotel in Summersville, WV and crawled to the check-in desk around midnight. When we pulled in, we saw one other moving truck in the parking lot and decided we’d park our haul near theirs. Peach (aka my boyfriend, Patrick), parked the truck while I checked in. The woman asked to verify my address when suddenly, I realized… I was actually homeless and did not have a current address! But of course, I gave her the address of the house I own in New York. When I verified the town, I hear two woman behind me yell,

“Cheektowaga? We’re from Kenmore!” 

Turns out, the women were the owners of the other moving truck and they were on their way to Charlotte, NC. Like us, they were stuck in the storm and waiting it out. Until this point, I was tired, hangry, wet, scared, anxious, and wanted to turn around and go home. But these women reminded me that people just like me do things like this ALL the time! Plenty of people move all over the world that had the same upbringing as me. Guess what? Most of the do perfectly fine! At that point in the trip I knew the universe (or God, a higher being, insert your chosen word here) sent those women to remind me that while the trip is difficult, it’s an adventure that I need to embrace. I was reminded that home will always be there and I am not the only person turning my life upside down in pursuit of my dreams.

Two days later, the moving truck was returned, my stuff was in storage and Peach and I decided to embrace the Charleston brunch and shopping culture. We had an incredible brunch at Poogan’s Porch where I fell in love with the place not because of the biscuits and gravy, but because it’s named after a dead dog.

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Then we went to the Charleston City Market so Peach could get his sweet tea fix and we could embrace the artistic culture. We stopped by a stand with homemade jams and I decided to buy a few flavors that we do not typically see in New York. The cashier made pleasant conversation and when he asked where we were from, Peach explained that we moved to Charleston from Buffalo the day before. The gentleman immediately turned off his southern accent and said,

“Oh really?! I am from Elmira, NY!” 

Right then and there we had another small reminder that it’s okay to leave home, follow your dreams, and things may actually turn out okay.

When I thought about moving, I thought of what would be hard. I thought of all the things I would miss. Like, Peach, Misia, my family, Tim Hortons, Fall, Apple Cider, cool weather, Buffalo sports, Snow, and my family’s cottage. What I never expected was how hard everything else was going to be. Such as, constantly being lost and using a GPS, not knowing where things are in the grocery store, getting into bidding wars to try and buy a house, finding terrifying looking bugs and skinks in and around the house, having to find another route home from work because roads are flooded during high tide, and accepting the fact that I am probably just days about from my first “ya’ll.” The things I expected to be hard are hard, and the things I never thought about are harder. I have been to Charleston more times than I can count, but moving here has given me a whole new perspective. It’s comforting to run into people every few days who know where I am from and let me know that I will be okay.

XO J

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Why I left my Partner, House, and Family for a Mediocre Job

South Cheektowaga – A nice family neighborhood near Buffalo, NY. AKA, the only place I have ever known my entire life. Forty-eight years ago, my dad moved to the neighborhood as it was being built. He was the first class to enter Northwood Elementary school when it opened and once he graduated, he never left. His family home is where he raised our family and when I was 25, I bought my own house a few blocks over.

The house I bought was close to a dump. It has been built in 1968 and no one ever touched a damn thing. The walls were all mint green and pink, the living room had orange hardwood floors and a wall of mirrors, imitating a ballet studio. After 4 years, I put blood, sweat, and tears into making that house a cozy, modern home. In that house, I built a beautiful home with the love of my life and with our dog, we had become a family. I had everything I needed. I had a house I owned by myself, the man of my dreams, my whole family nearby, amazing life-long friends, a full-time job, a brand-new car, and the cutest Chocolate Lab in town.

But each day as I went through the same motions day-after-day, I felt like I had an itch I couldn’t scratch. I never lived outside of South Cheektowaga. I hadn’t traveled very much, and I saw friends who were effortlessly moving all over the world and filling social media with their adventures. So, in 2016, I hopped on a plane to Scotland… alone. I had never been abroad and I has absolutely no idea what to expect. I spent 2.5 weeks traveling the United Kingdom with a group of people who were all completing the same master’s degree program as me. In the U.K. I met three other people from Buffalo. What are the chances? I just kept thinking of how people just like me were picking up and moving all over the world as if they were simply just moving to the next town over.

After that experience, I traveled to four other states in just a few months following that life-changing trip. I had the itch to travel and see the world. Once I flew across seas, the U.S. seemed so small and I just wanted to hop in the car and see more of it. Once of the places I visited was Charleston, S.C. to see my grandparents. I had been there countless times over my life to visit them and it was definitely one of my favorite places. In my parent’s living room sits my favorite picture of me as a child where I was about 3 years old and dancing through a fountain in downtown Charleston. For whatever reason, I have always loved that city. As my boyfriend and I were walking to dinner with my dad, in downtown Charleston he said “This is definitely a place I could see myself living.” I was like… “OHHHH REALLLLY!?!?” Right then and there at Poogan’s Smokehouse, we made the decision to move.

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Over the next year, I finished my master’s degree, we spent countless hours searching for our “dream homes” online, and we both started applying to jobs. By spring of 2017, I was flying to Charleston for interviews and he was finishing school for the next part of his medical sales career. We both set out on a goal to take our perfect life in Buffalo and move it to sunny, warm, friendly Charleston. We talked about it every single day and dreamed of what life would be like there. My boyfriend grew up in the same town as me, but he has lived everywhere from New York, to Florida, to Washington. He was excited for the next adventure and I was anxiously anticipating my first.

Everything started falling into place just the way we dreamed of. In May 2017, I flew to Charleston for an interview. The same day, he was offered a job in the field he had be working hard to get into… in Buffalo. Well, that surly threw a snag in our plans. He accepted the offer and continued to pursue similar opportunities in Charleston. In July, 2017, I was offered a position in Charleston. The position wasn’t as lucrative as I would have liked, but it was at a well-known company in my dream city. Overall, it was a lateral career move but the long-term benefits were enticing. After an entire bottle of wine, tears, laughter, and over-thinking, he and I decided together that I would accept the position and go down to build our life.

I immediately sold my house (probably for too little since it went so fast!), booked a moving truck, and lined up a place to stay. I was blessed enough to have one of my best friends offer to take me in while I get settled. I learned a lot through making the decision. I learned that I over-think things way too much, when things are meant to work out, they do (and quickly), and I learned who is in my life to support me and be there for me no matter what. I discovered some people care about me more than I thought they did, I was called selfish for leaving without him, found faith and strength in my relationship, and realized leaving my 8-year-old dog was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. It’s been an emotional roller-coaster and I have cried every day for a month. I have people who support me, people who don’t understand why I am going, and people who are insanely curious about the logistics.

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            As I sit in the moving truck while Patrick drives through Pennsylvania, I feel confident in our decision. I feel confident that I have this opportunity to explore the world, try something new, learn a lot about my own strength, and build a life in Charleston for my family to come home to. I pray every day that he finds a job sooner, rather than later and that before I know it, I have him and my dog, Misia back in my bed at night. Actually, I hope to have a bed, since for now I am kind of living like a nomad! No one has to understand my decision to move or our decision to do long-distance while Patrick looks for a job in S.C. that is as fabulous as his job in N.Y. I know I have many more tears to cry and lonely, sleepless nights ahead of me. But soon, when I have a new beautiful home in Charleston with my handsome honey, our dog, and simple things like love and adventure, people will stop wondering why I did it and ask me how I did it. Wherever this life takes me, I am forever grateful that God gave me the strength to have faith in the journey.

XO J

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Fear of the Unknown: Battling Conflicting Feelings of Uncertainty

“The best way to become successful is to become fearless.”  – Janelle Osido

As our President would say… “WRONG!”

This is just my opinion, so take of it what you will, but I do not believe there is anyone who is truly fearless. As living creatures, our bodies use fear to protect us from danger. Fear can be anything from being hesitant to try a new food, getting weak in the knees standing on the edge of a cliff, and most commonly for me, a quiet sense of anxiety when I am unsure of what is going to happen next.

Fear is a normal reaction to things, both big and small, where our bodies say “Hey! Watch out! I just want to protect you!” So even when things are going really good such as: You got a promotion, just met the love of your life, you’re taking your dream vacation, you made a huge break in research, you’re becoming  a parent, etc. you might still feel a sense of anxiety…that anxiety is actually fear poking through trying to make sure you are protected.

So that is why I believe being “fearless” is bullshit. Well, at least the term “fearless” is. A common misconception of being fearless is that you’re not actually losing the feeling of fear. But instead, you choose to face fear, choose courage, thank your body for making you aware of the potential danger, and move forward with whatever you are doing. A better word for “fearless” might be brave. You don’t actually lose the natural feeling and sense of fear, but you become ready to face and ensure danger and show courage.

If you truly think you are fearless, you become incapable of being brave and courageous, right? You can’t be both fearless AND brave. So realizing that you are actively recognizing potential negative consequences of a situation and choosing to take a risk and move forward not only makes you brave but makes you cognitively aware of your decision. You use the senses of your body as well as your cognitive mind to rational make decision rather than doing it because “fuck fear! I’m fearless!”

Although that’s what we like to post on social media, in reality, that’s not actually how we came about the decision. If you decide to go sky diving or take a job on the other side of the world, it’s not because you’re “fearless,” but because you sensed that the decision can in some way have a negative consequence, such a failure, loneliness, or in skydiving’s case, death, and act courageous instead.

There is NO shame in admitting you felt scared and rationally made a decision. So instead of plastering Pinterest and Instagram with “FUCK FEAR!” quotes, how about we show the world the strong, brave, courageous people we really are.

xo – J

 

Blackened Tilapia Salad

Tilapia on a SALAD?! 
Hell, yeah! Tilapia is just one of those plain, nasty, fishes that I just don’t love. It’s not the most impressive fish on the menu, but it’s inexpensive, easy to cook, and goes well with whatever the hell you want to throw with it.

I created this salad when I was on a tight schedule (literally Aldi was closing in 15 minutes) and I did not feel like cooking. But it turned out to be amazing!

Ingredients:  

  • 4 Tilapia filets, wild caught if possible
  • 8 oz baby portobella mushrooms
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • 3 Tbsp raw organic honey
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes (halved)
  • 6 cups spring lettuce
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or slivered almonds
  • 4 Tbsp of your favorite lime vinaigrette

Cooking Directions:

  • Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet over medium high. Add the mushrooms and
  • season with a pinch of salt and pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes, until softened and starting to brown. Remove from pan and set aside to keep warm.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the honey and lime juice together.
  • Season the fish with salt and pepper, then brush both sides with the honey/lime glaze.
  • Cook the fish in the skillet, brushing the fish again with the remaining glaze.
  • Cook fish approximately 3-5 minutes on each side until it is cooked all the way through.
  • Divide the lettuce over 4 dinner plates. Top with the tomatoes, nuts, mushrooms, and arrange the fish on top. Lightly dash that delicious creation with your lime vinaigrette and serve immediately!

Comment below and let me know if you have a good fish salad recipe for the summer!