Finishing Well

It’s been somewhat of a pattern in my life to tire of projects before they’re finished.  This was first evidenced by the mountain of unfinished stories I have in notebooks under my childhood bed.  I would get a great idea, start writing, and then run out of ideas and peter off, until my next great idea.  This bell curve of interest bleeds over into other areas of my life, too.  When I’m at the beginning or middle of a project, I’m ready to do hard work.  I know what it will take to get to the end, and I’m prepared for that.  I am able to focus on work and get things done.  But when I get close to end, I start to get antsy.  I just want the thing to be over already.  I start rushing, or even half-assing work, sometimes at the expense of quality.  I get so close to being done that I lose interest.  I do this with papers, group projects, and even job interviews.

I attribute this tendency to my impatience.  I don’t know why I’m an impatient person.  I think part of it is that I like to be productive.  When I’m in the middle of a project, I can see things taking shape.  I can spend a few hours working and have something to show for it.  The bulk of the work is done in the middle of projects, and I like that.  I like seeing the results of my actions.  I even like editing — the big editing that comes after the word-vomit stage.  But when projects start to come to an end, a lot of the work to be done is just tweaking, perfecting.  And I know this is important, sometimes more important than the production of the project.  But to me, it feels less productive than sheer content creation because there is less to show when I’m done.  The words or results are already there; I’m just changing them to look or sound better.  It feels like busy work.

My mom noticed this about me early on.  At the end of a school year, or at the final level of a competition, I would lose interest in my work and start complaining about how I just wanted to be done.  And she would remind me to finish well.  “I know you’re tired of this,” she’d acknowledge, “but you need to finish well.  You’re almost done, and you need to keep doing your best until the end.”

Those words came to mind this week as I was going from class to class.  At this point in my life, I’ve been in school for 17 years.  I enjoy learning, but I am so tired of sitting in class.  I cannot describe how pointless it feels at this stage.  I am now what most people would call an adult, and I’m ready to live the adult life.  I’m ready to officially have my own home that is not a college apartment.  I’m ready to spend my days working for pay (and learning on the job!) rather than paying to learn.  I’m ready to be financially independent; I’m ready to make decisions; I’m ready to contribute to society in a way I haven’t been able to yet.

But like it or not, I still have 5 weeks till graduation.  I know it’ll go by fast, but it’s felt slow.  I still have two group projects and a capstone paper to finish, not to mention finals in my other two classes.  I still have meetings to go to.  I still have events to work.  As ready as I am to just be done, it’s not going to go any faster because I’m sitting here wishing it will.

That’s why I’m going to try to take “finish well” as my motto for the rest of the semester.  If I can remember that, I’ll be able to enjoy these last 5 weeks instead of wishing them away.

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How to Survive an Interview (or Audition)

I’ve worked random part-time jobs since I was about 16.  While not every singe job I’ve had required an interview, and while a lot of those interviews were more formalities, I’ve been through a few.  In high school, I also did a lot of flute auditions, which kind of count as a musical interview — the judges are assessing your skills and qualifications, just like they do in interviews, and the nervousness beforehand feels about the same.  So although I’m not an expert, here are some of the things I do to 1) survive and 2) do my best in interviews.

  1. Tips from my flute teacher: eat well beforehand.  This sounds like the opposite of what you’d want to do — nervousness makes some people nauseous, so why would we want to eat?  For auditions, my teacher told me that eating tricks your brain into thinking it’s not in “danger.”  If your stomach is full, your brain says, you must be in a non-threatening environment, because no living thing eats when they are in danger.  Choosing what you eat helps, too — turkey and bananas both have tryptophan, which just makes us fall asleep after Thanksgiving, but calms our bodies down before auditions and interviews.
  2. penguin
    If you visualize, you can avoid this

    Visualize yourself in the interview or audition.  This does work a bit better for auditions, because you usually know what you’ll be expected to play, but it can be modified for interviews as well.  Before auditions, when I was practicing, my flute teacher told me to close my eyes and imagine myself walking into the audition room.  I would visualize how I was going to stand, how much I would breathe, and then would imagine playing each and every scale.  Don’t just think about the audition, she said, imagine every single finger position and every movement that your body will be making.  It’s a way of being in the environment without actually being there, and it helps to alleviate fear of the unknown.  For interviews, you can imagine yourself going in and saying hi, and then sitting down and taking a deep breath before you answer a question.  You can imagine how you will explain your skills and experience, and then imagine giving a strong handshake before walking out.  It feels a little weird at first, but it really has helped me in the past.  If you’ve done something before, it’s not as scary, so this is a good way to practice for an interview or audition.

  3. Be prepared.  When I apply for a job, I try to always looks around the company’s website a bit to get a feel for the company, products, and culture.  If I get an interview request, I go back to the job listing and match responsibilities and skills to relevant experience on my resume.  I try to come up with specific anecdotes to illustrate those skills.  Then I go back to the company’s website for two reasons: 1) to re-familiarize myself with the company and the department I am interviewing for (if possible), and 2) to learn more about the company so I can come up with intelligent questions to ask during the interview.
  4. flawsAnswer questions genuinely and honestly.  We all know that when asked about our weaknesses, we’re supposed to say that we are perfectionists and pay too much attention to detail.  But unless that truly is your weakness, I think it’s cliche.  Interviewers would rather hear about the real you, so be honest.  When I’m asked that question, I typically answer that I avoid tasks I know I’m not good at.  I’ve noticed that about myself and jobs.  However, I do mention that since I know that about myself, I try to be intentional about learning and practicing in weak areas, and knowing when to ask for help.  Knowing your weaknesses and having a plan to correct them should impress employers.  And while some people have told me that it’s better to have a “strong” weakness — ie, one that can be spun into a strength — when I’ve gone that route, I’ve ended up sounding fake.  So for me, being honest is better, and if that is the thing that loses me a job, so be it.
  5. Waiter-pun
    A great interview — but did he get the job??

    Don’t get too excited after a good interview (but don’t beat yourself up, either).  Not to sound pessimistic, but I learned this from experience.  Back in the fall, I had an interview for a manager trainee position.  I went to the interview, and felt it went really well.  I had specific examples to back up my skills and qualifications, the interviewer was friendly, and the job sounded great.  I even had more than one intelligent questions to ask about the job.  I was sure I’d get chosen for the second interview, so I told a bunch of people about it and got really excited.  And guess what?  I didn’t get the second interview.  It was quite disappointing.  I don’t know why I didn’t pass that stage — it could’ve been that there were other, much more qualified candidates, or it could’ve been that my interview didn’t go as well as I thought.  Either way, I chose (for once!) to look on the bright side — doing that interview was excellent practice, and I learned a lot from it.  So while I didn’t get the job, it was definitely still worth the time.

  6. Know that you’re not going to nail every interview.  You’re just not.  Sometimes, you’re off your game, sometimes the interviewer is in a bad mood, and sometimes you’re just not a good fit for the job.  It’s okay.  Interviews are a part of life, and you’re not going to “win” all of them.
  7. Finally, no matter how the interview went, you should celebrate that it’s over.  Interviews and auditions are stressful.  If it went great, that’s awesome!  Congratulate yourself with an ice cream cone or something.  If it went terrible, that sucks, and a wine and movie night is definitely warranted.  Even if you don’t get the job, you got through the interview (or audition), and that in itself is something worth celebrating.

 

Big Decisions

I’m two months away from graduating from college.  (With two degrees.  I’m proud of myself, but also kind of wondering why the crap I did that to myself.  But it’s too late now, so.)  If you’ve been reading this blog recently, you know I’ve been looking for jobs and trying to plan for the real world, for my next steps.  And y’all — it’s kind of hard.

I know I am not the first person to grow up and leave home.  And honestly, I do feel very well-prepared (as prepared as I can be at this point, anyway).  I know I don’t know everything there is to being an adult, but I feel like I can handle what will come my way next.

The thing is, I don’t know what that is.

My degrees will be in Marketing and Spanish, so (obviously) I’d like to find a job where I can use one or both of those.  I’ve been applying to jobs and internships since last summer, and still have gotten nowhere.  I have a Plan A, and a Plan B, and a half-baked Plan C.  I have long-term goals I know I can achieve, and I know it’ll take some doing to get there.  I’d just really like to know which one I will be starting on in two months, you know?

I’m at the point in life where I’m starting to have to make big decisions.  I’ve made biggish decision before, like deciding where to go to college, what to major in, and whether or not to move off campus.  I’ve decided not to go grad school, even though I considered it.  I’ve decided what I want to pursue long-term.  Those are all big decisions.

But now, I’m starting to make decisions I can’t turn back from.  The boyfriend and I are starting to plan for engagement and marriage.  We’re planning which city to move to, and how much we want to save up for a down payment on a house, and which big expenses we’ll need to make in the next three to five years.  I’m making decisions that will completely rule out other options, which I’ve never really done before.

I’m not really nervous, per se.  I know a lot of people my age who are terrified of graduating, because they have no idea about the future.  But I do have an idea, and I am not afraid I won’t be able to make a living or anything like that.  I know I’ll be able to move out of my parents’ house, and I know I’ll be able to find some kind of employment, even if it’s not necessarily my first choice.  The thing with me is I know I’m about to be independent, and I’m really making my own decisions.  And I know that some of the decisions I make may not be what others want for me.

That shouldn’t be a big deal.  After all, it’s my life, right?  But like any child, I do want to please my parents, and I want them to be on board with all my decisions.  I know they are with my job plans.  But the boyfriend and I are planning on moving in together after graduation, mostly to save money.  And neither of our parents are thrilled with that idea.

I’m the oldest kid in my family.  It’s up to me to kind of draw lines.  The thing is, I’m not sure where to draw this one, and I don’t know if my parents are, either.  On one hand, we both know that it is my life, and I am going to make the decisions that I feel are best.  But on the other, I do want them on board.  Even if it’s reluctantly.  But the decision is pretty much already made — the boyfriend turned down the housing he was offered through his internship so that we could move in together, and neither of us can really afford our own apartment by ourselves.  So now we just have to hope our parents will go along with it.

It’s been weird this semester to see our lives start to fall into place.  We both knew that this would be happening, but it’s an odd feeling to actually be searching for apartments and making real plans.  It’s nice and exciting, as I knew it would be.  I wasn’t counting on feeling a little nervous, too.  But I’d be a robot if I wasn’t.  As nerve-wracking as it is, I can’t wait for these 1.75 months to fly by so I can dive into whatever happens next.

Why Do Students Cheat?

When I was getting ready to start college in 2012 and 2013, warnings against cheating were everywhere.  College search sites, scholarship databases, and universities themselves were yelling about how not okay cheating is.  “There are consequences to cheating!” they said.  “Cheating will get you nowhere in life!”  I was warned that there would be cheating all around me, and given tips on how to avoid the peer pressure, and on how to study so I wouldn’t need to cheat in the first place.

But until I actually saw it, I had no idea how much cheating goes on in universities.  I was like, yeah, I’m sure people cheat.  But not any of the people I know.  Most people are too smart to think that’s a good idea.  I would never hang out with anyone who cheats.

But you know what?  I do.  I could name at least a dozen people off the top of my head that I know for a fact have blatantly cheated on exams.  And I’m not just talking about using the textbooks for a take-at-home, online test.  I’m talking about people having test banks and emailing them to each other and actually pulling them up on their phones during class and looking at them while they take the test.  This is the kind of cheating that gets people expelled, and it happens literally every day.

Honestly, it boggles my mind.  But I can understand why people do it.  Here are my theories:

  1. University students are so focused on “success” that their priorities change.  College educations make us more marketable, and raise our societal value so that we can get jobs.  Jobs are important.  But the way we become valuable is by having a true education.  So really, the underlying, basic point of college is to learn.  Makes sense, right?  But learning doesn’t necessarily mean good grades, and grades are the thing that most students focus on.  We get so obsessed with getting good grades that we forget that we are supposed to be learning in the process.  (I know multiple people that freak out if they get anything less than an A, even on assignments that are worth 1% or less of their final grade.)  College becomes something to get through, rather than something to shape us.
  2. Many students are simply not prepared for college work.  One of my friends pointed this out to me when we discussed this issue: both she and I went through college prep programs in high school.  We both had been writing papers, including long research papers, since middle school.  We were both encouraged to challenge ourselves, and so we learned good study habits as well as the subjects we studied.  We were both well-prepared for college, and we were both still challenged enough by our college classes that we had to take a step back and re-learn how to study, or adjust our habits in order to adapt.  So if it was hard for us, how much harder must it be for students who were in a bad school district, or who had teachers who didn’t challenge them, or whose classes in high school were easy enough that they didn’t have to study?
  3. Students, just maybe, really are lazy.  In one of my senior capstone classes this year (I’m in three total — gross, right?), I was baffled to hear people complaining that the work was too hard just two weeks into the semester.  At that point, we hadn’t even started our project, and were turning in practice assignments meant to prepare us for the real one.  The assignments weren’t complicated or long, and the professor (unlike others in that major) was good at explaining how to do each one.  People were just pissed that they had to turn in one a week.  It was like they didn’t take into account that the course was a senior capstone course, designed to give as much real-world experience as possible without actually throwing us into it.  Honestly, I still can’t understand this one.  I want things to be easy as much as the next person, but that’s not how the world works.

Before I started college, I thought everyone who cheats must be dumb.  But I know plenty of incredibly bright people who cheat on a regular basis.  Some of them, I think, are bored by college, or are frustrated by professors, or just don’t think they have time to learn between classes and jobs and family.  I can’t speak for everyone.  But I can speak for me.  I’ll be honest — I’ve been offered test banks, and I’ve been very tempted to say yes.  But in the end I couldn’t do it (not because I’m better than anyone else, because Lord knows I have my share of flaws).  I don’t have a 4.0 GPA, and I’ve been in some classes I was elated to get a C in.  But because I didn’t take those test banks, when I walk across that stage in May, I’ll be able to say truthfully that I earned every single grade I’ve gotten, all on my own.  That’ll feel a lot better than looking at a list of As.

 

How I Own My Shared Apartment

I honestly don’t know if you can tell from my blog, but I am not the biggest fan of being around people.  As you can see from these (actually quite accurate) results from a Facebook personality test, I’m not the friendliest person you will ever meet in real life.  I’m not warm, I’m not gregarious, and I’m only friendly when I make a conscious effort.

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That said, it makes sense that having roommates is not my favorite thing.  I will admit that I have been blessed in the roommate department — I’ve had a total of 5 throughout the years, and none of them have been crazy partiers, or always had tons of people over, or were so absolutely loud that it woke me up at night.  I know roommates can be SO MUCH worse than that, and I’m really thankful to actually be friends with 2 of mine.  However, I’m the type of person that even if I have the greatest roommates ever, I still cannot wait until I make enough money to have an apartment that’s all my own.  I just really like having an entire apartment to myself.

Because of that, moving into an apartment was an adjustment.  When my freshman roommate and I moved into an on-campus apartment our sophomore year, I was excited.  It was the first time I had my own room, and it was great to have a kitchen.  But unlike my roommate, I wasn’t that excited about decorating or anything like that.  For one, decorating is expensive.  But mostly, I knew the apartment would be temporary, and I didn’t see the point in investing in it.  I put up a few photos in my bedroom, and that was all the decorating I did.

That first apartment was also the first time I had to take care of spaces other than my room.  At home, I shared a room with my sister growing up.  Our parents made us clean it every now and then, and we were required to clean our shared hall bathroom every week.  But those were always chores I hated, and didn’t want to do.  Moving into an apartment changed that.  Suddenly, the rooms were mine, and it reflected on me when they weren’t nice and clean.  It was me and my roommate who had to deal with messes, so we were more careful not to make them in the first place.

I moved out of the on-campus apartment halfway through junior year, because I finally realized how much more expensive it was compared to off-campus ones.  I moved in with two girls, one of whom I knew fairly well.  Moving in there was a bit of a different dynamic.  While my previous roommate and I had decided together to move out of the dorms, and had planned together which furniture each of us would get, when I moved again it was into an already-established apartment.  Of course, I did feel welcome, but I mostly stuck to my room because it was the only space that was all mine.  My roommates were much more gregarious than I (not hard to be, given the graph above), and had friends over to hang in the living room frequently.  That was fine, of course; it was their apartment as well, and their friends were nice.  But being the way I am, I didn’t hang out in the living room because there might be people I didn’t know coming in at any time.

Another thing about me: I am a bit of neat freak.  Since I’ve had a room of my own, I love it most when everything is clean and organized.  I work and relax best with a clean desk and clean floors, and love to see my laundry basket empty.  I also hate a messy kitchen.  I’m not above leaving dishes in the sink, but I am above not wiping down the counter after preparing food on it.  Also, cleaning is one of the things that makes me happy — honestly.  Dusting is the only cleaning chore I don’t like, and that’s because I don’t like having to move all the stuff that sits on surfaces.  But when I vacuum, or mop, or wipe counters, it makes me feel like I’m being productive and like I can accomplish anything.  (Also, cleaning is seriously a great workout.)

I used to get annoyed when my roommates didn’t clean.  It felt like they didn’t care about their spaces, and almost like they didn’t care how I felt when I came into the apartment to see a huge mess in the kitchen or hair all over the bathroom sink.  But I’ve gotten over that.  For one, I’ve realized that not everyone notices grossness.  Take my boyfriend, for example — it’s not that he doesn’t care than his bathroom is kind of yucky, it’s that he legitimately does not notice until I point it out.  (I’ve accepted that when we move in together, I’ll be the one cleaning.)  And for two, I’ve realized that cleaning makes me feel more at home.  I definitely feel simultaneously relaxed and energized in a clean apartment.  But more than that, cleaning an apartment allows me to claim it as my own.  I take responsibility for it, and in doing so claim it as my space that I’m proud to be in — and have others in.

I admit I am counting down the days to graduation, not only because I’m excited, but also because I’m ready to move into my own apartment.  But for now, I’m content to live where I do, and I’m thankful that I’ve figured out a way to make places my own wherever I am.

 

What I’ve Learned From Working in IT

As a freshman, I received a university scholarship that requires me to volunteer 75 hours each semester to the university.  A lot of students get similar scholarships, and thus it seems like half the university is staffed by students.  At the beginning of every year, we all have to go pick up our volunteer assignments and report for duty.  Most of us monitor computer labs or do basic clerical work.  Many “jobs” involve sitting at a desk and doing homework.  But not mine.  I got stuck in an IT office.

When I started working for Bill (name changed), I was declared as a basic business student.  To this day, I have no idea how they decided to put me in Bill’s office.  Bill is the head of all technology in his building, which happens to house one entire college of our university.  This means he buys, installs, maintains, and tracks every single piece of hardware and software for every single teacher and classroom in the entire college.  He’s the one teachers call when they can’t get their email to work, and he’s the one who implements new systems with heads of technology for other colleges.  He does a ton, and when I started, all of it was over my head.

When I started as a brand-new freshman, I was the first girl and the first business major that had been assigned to his office in years.  All his other student workers were guys majoring in computer science, computer engineering, business information technology, or mechanical or electrical engineering.  They all had an interest in how things work and a propensity for fixing.  And then there was me.

I had no idea what I was doing.  As student workers, we were responsible for documenting complaints and problems and then going out to fix them.  We also had to update and deliver “mobile labs” — huge carts full of 40 laptops each that professors could request for classes.  They weigh more than I do, I’m pretty sure.  I managed to push them around when I needed to, though, and I was good at documenting.  Often I would document calls that other students went out on — they could do the work, but didn’t want to document it, so I made myself useful that way.  But I spent the majority of freshman year following Bill around as he went to fix stuff that we students couldn’t handle.  I met a lot of professors that way, which was really helpful when I started having them for classes.

Gradually, I learned.  I kind of figured out how networks function.  I learned several ways to wipe a hard drive.  I figured out how to explain things I didn’t fully grasp to professors (who often didn’t fully grasp them, either).  I learned to be polite and sympathize when I couldn’t fix something, because I knew how frustrating it was when technology didn’t work.  I learned to work with people I didn’t particularly like.  Mostly, I learned to listen, because I learned that people don’t always communicate the way I want them to.

Disagreeing respectfully with a superior was a big thing to learn.  Bill is very conservative, and though he says he dislikes discussing politics, what he really dislikes is when people disagree.  He has a habit of taking a break and coming into the student side of the office to discuss current events or politics.  Usually, I just nod my head and listen, because (as I discussed some in my last post) I don’t like discussing controversial issues, especially with someone whose views are so different from mine.  But occasionally I do speak up.  Take this morning, for instance.  Bill was reading something about a Title VI document, and got hung up on the words “English is not the official or native language” (or something along those lines).  He started making comments about how English is the official language here in the U.S., and it irks him when concessions have to be made for non-English speakers.  He said he doesn’t think it’s fair for taxpayers to have to pay for everything to be written in more than one language.

Being a Spanish major, I couldn’t let that one go by.  I mentioned that we have a lot of taxpayers in this country whose first language isn’t English.  This was one of those times I wish I knew exact stats, but I don’t.  I tried to talk about how many Spanish-speaking citizens we have here (stressing the legal part, because I know how Bill feels about undocumented immigrants).  Bill did listen to me.  I didn’t expect him to agree or change his mind.  But by speaking up I at least attempted to stand up for my beliefs and worldview.  And though I know Bill doesn’t agree, I think demonstrating a different viewpoint does gain me some respect in his eyes.  He likes people who can think for themselves.  (And it reminds him not to put his foot in his mouth.)

Now, in my last semester here, Bill has gotten a lot more student workers and had to expand his office.  Having more of us means that there are fewer calls to go out on.  Not to mention the fact that the university really amped up its overall help desk, which reduced our workload a ton.  This was nice, because now professors and students can call the help desk for mundane tasks like resetting email passwords, and we can focus on bigger issues like smart boards that don’t work.  The problem for me, though, is that I was good at the mundane tasks.  I have enough computer knowledge that I can figure out which settings to change and which problems I can rule out.  But while I can fix relatively simple problems (and gain good rapport with professors in the process), I can’t fix the big ones.  When a projector malfunctions in the middle of a class and I’m the only one in the office, I leave professors feeling frustrated rather than thankful.  It doesn’t reflect well on me or the university.

But I’m going to leave this job on my resume, because it shows a lot of things.  For one, this job has taught me to work effectively with a team.  It’s heightened my communication skills.  And it’s allowed me to better understand what the crap people are talking about when they tell me to map to a certain drive or boot a machine to the BIOS menu.  It shows that while I may not have a natural affinity for technology, I can learn.  I’ve been very frustrated these past four years, because it takes up a lot of time and is difficult.  But ultimately, I’m thankful I got stuck here, because it has helped shaped me into who I am today.  It’ll be a sweet goodbye when I leave.  But there will be a tiny bit of bitter in there, too.

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Our super-official password generator (not — it’s actually to scare new students)

 

The College Student’s Guide to Gift Giving

I have to admit I can be a bit of a Scrooge.  Christmas is not really my favorite, and it mostly has to do with the fact that as a student, I don’t have a lot of extra money to spend.  I’m at the point where I actually have pretty good gift ideas for my family and friends, and I really do enjoy gift shopping, but it’s really more stressful than it’s worth because do I get my brother a nice-ish tool I know he wants, or do I buy a full tank of gas instead of perpetually adding $5 at a time? 

Resultado de imagen para funny christmas meme

Since one of my fall semester goals was to not add unnecessary stress, I’ve tried to bring that over into the holidays.  Here’s what I’ve been doing to that end so far.

  1. Only get gifts for the most important people.  For me, that means my immediate family and my boyfriend, and that’s it.  In the past, I’ve done gift exchanges with friends, and that’s just too much.  My roommate and I agreed the other day that it’s much more fun to give random “I’m thinking of you” gifts throughout the year than to give Christmas gifts that feel more obligatory than thoughtful.  Plus, that way I can choose to give a gift when I have a little extra cash, and not when I’m also buying stuff for a bunch of other people.
  2. Think of ideas ahead of time.  I know it’s a little late for this, but I do try to start thinking about ideas in November or October.  I usually make notes on my phone if someone mentions something they’d like to have that I know I could afford.
  3. Shop smart by buying early, when you have money, and also watch for sales.  Again, I know it’s a little late now.  Make a note, self!
  4. Used is good news.  (That rhymes!)  This year, I killed a few birds with one stone by getting bookstore credit for old textbooks at a used bookstore, then turning around and using my credit to pick up several gifts.  Secondhand shops take more digging than regular retail, but there are always hidden gems!
  5. Team up.  My siblings are in the same boat that I am financially, and I don’t think there’s ever been a year that I haven’t bought a joint gift with one of them.  It’s much nicer for my parents to receive a better gift from two or three of us than three kind of lame ones.
  6. Gift cards seem lame, but actually they’re great.  Personally, I love gift cards.  Easier to buy, but way less tacky than cash.  I’d rather get, say, a Starbucks gift card than a necklace I’ll wear once or twice.  Gift cards still show that you know the person and what they would like, and they’re especially great when given with a heartfelt note.
  7. Get crafty, but be smart about it.  I go the crafty route every few years when I find a really good idea.  But you have to be careful with this one.  Craft supplies can get expensive, and it’s usually a good idea to test it first to make sure it will hold up (hello, failed Sharpie mugs).  Also, if you go the craft route, it’s a good idea to make sure you have enough time to put it together, even if it’s simple.  Confession: I’ve made Christmas crafts for friends in the parking lot of Dollar General because I was running late and forgot I needed glue.  Don’t be me.

Senior Year + Fall 2016 Goals

I really enjoyed having a goal list this summer, so I’ve decided to do the same for this fall, when it will matter even more.  I’ve got a lot going on this semester, but I am confident that I can handle it with a positive spirit.

Goals for Employment

  1. Apply for entry-level jobs in marketing.  From the research I’ve already done, I know that at first I will probably have to settle for a job I know I won’t have a career at.  My goal here is to find a job that will give me enough experience to be able to either advance internally or externally in 3-5 years.
  2. Utilize university resources.  This means going to career fairs and using the career readiness offices here.  I have even thought about seeing if there are any kind of aptitude tests that I can take to help me narrow down and/or discover job ideas I may not have thought of.

Goals for Extracurriculars

  1. Video Production Team: work at least one game per sport.  Both my boyfriend and I were hired to work on our university’s athletics video production team.  I don’t know if this goal will be possible given my schedule, but I would like to be an asset to the team and work at least one game of every sport we cover.
  2. COB Ambassadors: work one event a month.  The COB Ambassadors help out with and organize College of Business events.  Since I will only be on the team for a year, I want to give and get as much out of this program as possible.
  3. COB Ambassadors: project manage one project before graduation.  Managing a COB project would be great for my experience and my resume.

Goals for Daily Life

  1. Don’t add unnecessary stress.  I sometimes tend to worry about things that don’t really matter.  Just as one example, I get road rage when walking to class.  I’m a fast walker, and getting stuck behind someone who isn’t makes me really mad.  But I am reminding myself that I have enough important things to worry about.  The goal here is not to stress over things that don’t matter — if it’s not my responsibility and/or I can’t do anything about it, I shouldn’t be thinking about it.  Little things should not be bringing down my mood.
  2. Cut back on buying coffee.  I have a (roughly) $200ish budget per month for personal expenses, but I need to be more intentional about the way I spend my money.  I know how to make my own cold brew and iced coffee, and going out for coffee once a month is more than enough of a treat.
  3. Make time for friends.  This is my senior year, and I need to make sure I spend time with people I may not be seeing as often soon.
  4. Make time for myself.  I’m a happier person when I can spend a few hours reading or blogging on my own terms, so this needs to be something of a priority.

Most of these goals are loose.  Especially for the extracurricular goals, I know my classes may get so crazy that I may not be able to do all that I want to do.  (After all, I have group projects in 5/6 of my classes.)  However, the main takeaway/overall goal here is to get the most out of my last year here at school.  The end is in sight, and I want to end on a high note.  It feels easier for me to be busy this year because I know it will all end in the spring, and then there will be no going back.  Instead, there will be a whole other set of challenges and worries and problems, but I don’t have to worry about them yet.  So here’s my final goal:

  1. Enjoy senior year.

I refuse to spend my last year at college stressing out about everything.  I will take my life as it comes and solve problems as they arise and really try not to worry about any of them, because in the end all I can do is all I can do.

Summer Goals: Final Update

It’s the first day of the fall semester, which does not mean summer is over, because that doesn’t end till the end of September and I refuse to give up one day of summer.  But it does mean my summer break is over, and that means it’s time for the third and final update of my summer goals.

1.  Be positive!!  You know, I made it.  It had its ups and downs, but so does every season in life.  I wasn’t ridiculously positive, but I wasn’t ridiculously negative, either.  I am definitely trying going to continue this one into the fall, too.  I can be very judgmental and negative going to class and walking around campus, but I am reminding myself to only worry about the things that absolutely matter.  Is that girl asking too many questions in class?  She’s trying to learn.  Is that guy laughing too loud?  Maybe he’s nervous.  If they’re not hurting you or messing up your life, you don’t need to worry about it.  Plus, how negative can you be when this was the view for your last week of break?

This is summertime

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2.  Plan meals for the week and cook at least 4 times a week.  This goal died because I ended up going back home for the remainder of the summer.  But my mom and I did put together 10 freezer crock pot meals apiece last weekend, so I’m considering that a win.

3.  Research job options.  I did this quite a bit while I was at school this summer.  I do think I have some concrete ideas now.  I still need to go look into specifics and narrow down my options, but I definitely gave myself a good start.

4.  Do sewing projects.  I sewed nothing.  I didn’t bring my sewing machine with me when I went home, so alas, this was not to be.

5.  Read Spanish.  This was touch and go.  I got about 1/3 of the way into Caminando el Amazonas, but then dropped it.  I think movies may be the way to go here.

6.  Go hiking.  I ended strong on this one, going on a light hike last weekend with the boyfriend and my family.  And he and I even hiked a little at the beach, even though we were melting after a mile on a paved trail.

7.  Go home.  Well, I went home for two months.  Check.

8.  Look into selling erasable calendars.  Never did go price anything.  Will keep in back of mind as side project.

9.  Make a savings plan and budget.  I realized I can’t really make a savings plan until I have a steady income, so that will have to wait.  But I did a rough budget for this next semester, so this was kind of accomplished.

10.  Blog a little.  Check!  I’m hoping to be able to keep up more of a schedule this year, but with 18 credit hours, we’ll see how that goes.

11.  Exercise at least 4 times a week/every other day.  Started off good, then trailed off.  Luckily walking around campus all day is good exercise. 

Overall, I think I did fairly well on about half.  I really like having a set of goals for one season; it makes them doable and not so daunting.  Plus, doing updates every so often kind of helped me keep on track.  Whether or not I make a list of goals for this fall, this was a really good way to keep myself on track this summer.

A Pink 21st

A few days ago, I turned 21 — the last of my group of friends to do so.  I stopped being super excited about birthdays a few years ago — I think that’s just part of getting older — but I was excited about this one.  I’m definitely not one to go out and get wasted, but I was pretty pumped to be able to buy a drink or two.  I appreciate alcohol like I appreciate coffee: I really enjoy learning the differences between what goes into different drinks and how they are made.  I appreciate the artistry.

This was the first birthday I’ve ever celebrated away from home.  I had to come back to my university for one of my last exams of the summer, and I decided to stay since classes are starting soon.  It was a little weird being away from my family, but my mom called while I was still in bed and sang Happy Birthday to me, which made me happy.  She also wanted to make sure I would be at my apartment, since she knew these would be arriving soon:

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How cute are these?

I had actually started out my birthday by cleaning my apartment, since I hadn’t been there in a month.  Really I was just killing time until the boyfriend arrived.  I hadn’t seen him in about a month, so having him come up was a really great present!  He’d had a canvas made for me of one of my favorite photos of his:

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He has a lot of talent even though he only really became interested in photography about a year ago.  How gorgeous is that photo?  I’m very excited to hang up that canvas.  And it also made me happy that it was in keeping with the pink theme.

Neither of us had any food at our places, so we went grocery shopping together and of course ended up buying a little alcohol.  Neither of us has tried very much alcohol, and he was interested in giving Mike’s Hard Lemonade a go.  We decided on the strawberry lemonade flavor, and then I wanted to look at the wine, since it’s still relatively new in grocery stores.  Different types of wine interest me, and most of it (at the grocery store, at least) is pretty cheap, which is awesome for students like us!  One of my friends had let me try Yellowtail Moscato before, and I noticed there was a rosé version.  I’ve been interested in trying rosé, mostly because it’s pretty, so of course we had to buy a bottle.  It wasn’t at all planned, but look at all that pink!

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Messy table, cute alcohol

Then he took me to our favorite local Mexican restaurant for dinner.  It was low-key and perfect and lovely.

Back at home that night we tried the hard lemonade.  The verdict was that it was okay.  Out of the few things we’ve both tried, it was neither of our favorites.  It was a little bit too sweet for me, and I don’t think he liked the aftertaste very much.  But it was definitely drinkable.

The next day, we grilled burgers for dinner.  Using ranch packets in burgers and other things has become somewhat of a dinner signature for us, and we wanted to use the little grill my parents had gotten me this summer.  I have a little deck off my bedroom, so we set up the grill and sat outside while the burgers cooked.  While we waited, we tried the pink moscato.  I loved it.  Drinking wine makes me feel classy, and I really enjoyed the taste and how pretty it was in the glass.  I’m no wine connoisseur, but I do know what I like.  The boyfriend wasn’t as crazy about it as I was, but he still had about half a glass.

To top off the pinkness of my birthday, my roommate had very sweetly surprised me with a four-pack of Seagram’s Jamaican Me Happy, which is a really pretty light pink.  She bought it without knowing what we had bought the day before, and I was almost more excited about it being pink than I was about the alcohol.  I forgot to take a picture, and we haven’t tried it yet, but it’s a mix of lemon, strawberry, watermelon, and guava, and it sounds delicious.

All in all, it was the most perfect way I could’ve spent my birthday.  I’m very excited to continue learning about and trying different types of alcohol.  More than that, though, this year will be the year I (hopefully) graduate college and begin a big-girl job.  I’m a little anxious about my class load this year, but I am so ready to move on to different things and become more officially independent.  Cheers to my 21st year!

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