28 April, 2009

6 Ways to Spend "Free Time" this Summer, without Spending Much

Free time. A phrase that has always eluded me. Here are some things you could be doing this summer if you have more of it than me (not an extensive list, or a "this-is-how-to-get-a-job" list, either). These suggestions either cost very little or potentially earn a profit if played right...

  1. Teach yourself a new language, or sharpen your skills in one you've already started learning. I'd continue Italian or refresh my French. You could get used books or audio CDs cheap at a local bookstore, especially a University bookstore. Then load them into your iPod or stuff in your duffel bag for the beach. It will make you feel good AND help you when you're ready to re-enter the job market. Depending on your skill level, you could even market yourself as a tutor to local middle school and high school kids in your area. Sharpen your skills while bringing in the bucks - score!
  2. Travel abroad for cheap by couchsurfing, as my dear friend Maggie did recently. This is where you stay for free on a couch, floor, or random space in a local home. Blogger Nomadic Matt offers some helpful criteria on finding a worthy couchsurfing host and avoiding psycho-killer types. Or go through a program like "Por Vous Paris" which has a low fee and cheap rates to stay in an apartment with a French family. And while you're not taking up space in your parent's house, they could rent out your old space. Maybe host a foreign exchange student themselves, and then bail you out when you underestimated the exchange rate.
  3. Volunteer with a local non-profit or do a *gasp* unpaid internship. Ask if they'll offer a stipend for food and travel expenses in exchange for your time. There are a ton of interesting non-profits that would not only offer you practical work experience, but a sense of accomplishment and mentors to learn from (hate to say "networking opportunities" anymore). When doing a research report this semester on art galleries in Philadelphia, I learned that many opportunities are unpublished or not well publicized. If there's an organization you want to work for, get in touch with them directly and see what they're offering. Ditch the ol' Monster.com and see what's really hiding out there in the shadows.
  4. Babysitting never gets old. As an older babysitter, you can take care of older kids and do fun things with them like go to the amusement park, the local pool, or a fun museum. They will appreciate a day out of the house and you will have fun like a kid again. Also try dog-walking or some other small business that doesn't require a fancy résumé, just a little interpersonal communication skill.
  5. Create something. Make little tschotschkes and sell them on Etsy. Make canvas bags like my sister to sell to University students who can no longer afford Vera Bradley bags. Refinish an old side table that you found on the street corner to hold all the junk you're creating. Do something for the sake of manual labor.
  6. Sell something. Sell your old textbooks on eBay. Sell old clothing to the Buffalo Exchange, or the Salvation Army. Clean out your closets and that basement and garage, too. You never know what you might find. Have a yard sale. You'll be the most popular person on the block for a day and the worst that can happen is you get some fresh air and rub elbows with neighbors you never knew you had because you're all too busy social networking and Tweeting that you didn't know you lived next door to each other.

As a final note, I have also found that things come up in unexpected places and when you least expect it. So if you've sent out 50-100 resumes already, give it some time to brew. When the fall rolls around and hiring freezes are lifted (we hope) and after you've had an enjoyable, productive summer, you may just get a call from that dream job - or at least one offering a payroll. And by that point, you will have many more interesting things to talk about in your interview than just, "Well, I'm graduating, and I really need a job." Desperation is never attractive.

So what are your summer plans?

27 April, 2009

Unemployed? Quite frankly, I'm JEALOUS!

Because no one's going to blame you for being a "slacker" now.

So I know this may sound weird. I'm the all-around "career woman" with ambition and motivation and all that. I'm totally grateful that I have found myself in a financially secure (as secure as anyone can be, I suppose) position this year and for the upcoming summer, and I worked darned hard to get here. I know there are plenty of other people who have also been working hard all their lives and now find themselves in an unfortunate circumstance. Believe me - a lot of them are my friends, peers, family members, so I understand. I will help anyone to the extent that I am able in finding an internship (see previous post), offering tips for a phone interview, or suggesting follow-up tactics.

However, at this time in our nation you can get away with not having a job or, for that matter a career path. No one can blame you and there are so many interesting and off-beat opportunities bubbling up that I wonder whether I shouldn't be a bit jealous.

For example, the ability to travel cheaply makes month-long European adventures a plausible reality for my soon-to-be-post-grad peers. For some who are continuing school, a restaurant or sales job may be in the making. As much as I despised the restaurant industry while I was in it, few can argue that a summer gig which leaves plenty of room for days at the beach and nights at the bar leaves little to be desired. Finally, I am now thinking back to years ago when I was a summer camp counselor, and before that a summer camp kid. Entering the professional arena, I may never have another chance to roast marshmallows around a campfire while signing "Kumbaya" with guitar accompaniment, or listen to my kiddies sing an a capella rendition of "How Great Thou Art."

Crossroads Camp Counselors-In-Training, Summer 2003

Point being, if you're "jobless" and lacking in direction, you're not only not alone but you'd better realize your fortune. Since there are so many others in your situation right now, no one's going to blame you anymore for not having your career plans worked out 6 months before you graduate.

Stay tuned: if you need more ideas about productive uses of your newly-discovered free time, you'll enjoy my next post.

24 April, 2009

Conference Mailing Lists as a Job-searching Opportunity

Do you give your e-mail out at networking events and conferences?

In the fall semester, one of my marketing professors here at Temple paid out of pocket for a bunch of us American Marketing Association (AMA) students to go to a great conference in New York City. The conference was organized by the Advertising Women of New York (AWNY) and took place at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Chelsea (downtown Manhattan). Here we are at the conference:

AWNY Conference Photo

I got on AWNY's mailing list and last week received an e-mail about an internship opportunity for the summer 2009. Mind you, I haven't received one e-mail from them up until now, and I don't need an internship myself but I was excited to pass this along.

UPDATE: I was going to post the internship description here but Lynn Zalokar, AWNY's Membership Manager has asked me to take it down, since she has already received a number of resumes and only has one spot left.

Lesson learned: you never know when an opportunity may arise and you have to be quick to snatch it up. This can be really frustrating, especially when it seems like all the doors are slamming in your face. Stay positive and keep APPLYING YOURSELF through these tough times. I'm going to make my next entry more inspirational. In the meantime I'd like to know, what creative job-search strategies are you using?

09 April, 2009

Throwing an Awesome Bachelorette Party, among other things.

Just in case you were wondering, "What have you been up to lately?"

Note: If you need help planning YOUR bachelorette party in the tri-state area, please get in touch by e-mail!

Beauties at the table

Tiff's face is being consumed by my centerpiece, Erika is trying to peek at what she's writing, and Sharon cracks up in the middle of my original "Beauty Name Game" before the bachelorette outing in Philly.

I haven't posted in about two weeks which is a while considering my recent activities which are giving me lots of material to write about. Planning and implementing a girl's night out before Crystal's wedding, then of course Crystal's wedding, working tirelessly on an RSVP page for the IBA's annual dinner, and a reunion with one of my Theta sisters in Philly and a sweet new discovery of Sabrina's Cafe on Callowhill Street (I'm probably the last to know, cause this place was packed). Not to mention class and work work, and even a few creative pursuits around the house.

Oh, and the discovery that my life calling is definitely in the event planning industry.

So there's my 50-second update. More specific entries will follow at some point, but for now back to my current calling... bed!

Update: started a blog for event planning. Just playing around with a different personality online is fun, but I'm not doing anything serious for now. You can check it out at SheebaStar.wordpress.com, and maybe one day I'll post on there about how I got my new nickname ;-)

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