Change is Upon Me

take chances In life you are always going to have change, there are always going to be things evolving for better or for worse.  To me, it is all about how you adapt to the changes that can define you.

Over the last three weeks, my job has been changing as we have gone through some organizational structure changes.  This happens frequently so I should have expected it; however, it happened so quickly that it was a high stress environment for about two weeks, all leading up to heading off to Seattle for #BISeattle16.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about the changes that were happening and I felt so out of control despite the fact that I had the privilege of really choosing where my next “assignment” was.  Most people do not have that luxury so I felt grateful that I did.  Unfortunately with everything that was going on, it felt that every life choice I had made up until that point was in question.  Did I make the right decision joining M&T, did they believe in me, did they support me, should I stay in Buffalo, should I continue to rent or buy a house in this city?  Well….all of these questions did not help my sleep and I ended up losing so much sleep that I ended up with a major head cold.

Well last Thursday I started my role and you know what, I am going to make the best of it.  I am excited about the opportunity to learn a brand new area of the bank.  You can’t be a good manager or become an Executive without having diverse experiences, without having had to deal with adversity, and being able to relate to your employees as they go through changes.

be who you areWhatever role I am ever thrown into, it is not in my nature to quit or give up.  I will always throw myself fully into it and do my best to learn as much as I can about it. Definitely stay tuned for how I am rolling with the punches, my new team, my new boss, and my career learning.  Anyone who has followed me throughout my career knows that I am all about the learning opportunities in any situation.

The Other Side of the Table

new rolesSince completing the MDP program, I have gotten to partake in several things that have put me on the other side of the table and I am sure as I go throughout my career there are a lot of things that will continue to turn the tables. It is exciting and I have come to realize that something that I once thought was so big when I was in the MDP’s shoes just last year – is something not so scary from the other side. I decided this blog would be a three part series surrounding my latest table flippings: Recruiting, Interviewing, and leading an MDP Project.

Since I completed the program in June, it has been an interesting ride and I am doing things I didn’t think I would be doing for at least a few more years, especially when it comes to interviewing and leading an MDP project; however, I think that is the beauty of M&T, the opportunities that are just around the corner will always surprise you.

Things I thought were so nerve racking when I was on the other side of the table seem so small now.  I guess it makes sense, I am now in the place where I hold the cards but honestly, I don’t feel that way because M&T has been so good to me.  I think about it when it comes to all three areas I want to talk about as I am trying to be a mentor, leader, and responsible M&T Employee for ultimately making our next generation (that is so weird to say since right now the people I am interviewing for MDP are only 2 years younger than I am).

So over, the next few weeks I will be posting a weekly post, starting from the beginning with recruiting, then interviewing, and finally leading up to my MDP project.  It is an exciting time in my career and I am excited to share it with you all.

The Face-to-Face

I read a stat the other day from First Data that stated, 41st of millennials prefer to communicate at work electronically rather than “face to face”.”  This is a fact for me and I know it is true for many of my peers.  But not for the reasons you think and over the last few weeks this has become more and more apparent to me along with the importance of overcoming this stat when the time calls for it. Face to face

It is not that we are lazy or just because we have grown up digital it is that often times it takes too long in the work world to get in front of someone’s face.  Millenials are a generation of efficiency and getting to the point. We have grown up in a world where answers are just a google away; they don’t take months to get on someone’s calendar. I have seen it over the last couple of months in my new position people from all over the bank coming together in a collaborative way and solving problems that over the phone “because it’s easier” would take months to solve.  The challenge is that not everyone makes the time or feels that they will get value out of sitting in a room with a bunch of people.

Millenials have grown up being able to text all of our friends; although it is important to note, not all of us had texting from an early age as the kids do now, I still remember when my parents had Palm Pilots for work and I would play tetris on them.  I also remember my first cellphone was a TracFone that cost half a minute per text (we have sure come a long way).  Not all of us grew up with iMessage and smartphones.  I am still using my first “smartphone”, hopefully for only a few more weeks since the new 6s has come out and my 4s is on end of life.

I am a millennial and I would rather have a conversation with a person face-to-face at work but it is because I want to gauge their expression and reaction to what we are talking about. But I don’t want to wait month’s to have a conversation either.  For something small, it is easier to just sent a text, message, or email to someone than to wait to get on a calendar.

Face-to-face communication is not dead, if anything it is more important than ever as the millennial generation progresses through their careers.  Don’t create more tools that encourage non-in-person conversations but create more tools pulling people together (virtual or in person), more things get done with this technology, this is when progress happens, not over the phone.  Millenials may struggle with face-to-face conversations sometimes but we need to learn that there is a time and a place for quick and convenient and there is a time for meeting and talking.  It is just making the most out of the meeting that is the most crucial piece to getting anyone to actually come to a meeting, especially a millenial!

MDP Graduation

It’sgraduation hard to think that just last week was MDP graduation.  It was the last time that all of us would be together as one group, as MDPs.  It seems funny that less than a year ago, the 40 of us in the green group and the other 40 in the gold group did not know each other.  At this time last year we were all thinking about enjoying the last few weeks of the summer before our real world journey began.

Graduation week was fun with happy hour events, a boat cruise, a capstone project, final thoughts, and a conversation with Mark Czarnecki, the President of M&T and the COO.  Now, I know what you must be thinking when I say graduation and no there were no cap and gown or diplomas; however we did receive our 1 year anniversary gifts and a class picture which we had taken the first week.

Most people aren’t as lucky as I was to be able to learn about a great company, make instant friends because of a common experience being in the program, and have a true hands on experience on the job that never once felt like an internship which often times programs can.  If I had to go back and do it over, I would do it again in a heart beat.  I am one of the lucky ones of my friends from college, who love what they do.  Who enjoy going to work every day and has found something I am passionate about.  So I encourage you to consider M&T’s MDP program or another development program if you feel that it is right for you.  Never take a job because someone else says its good or someone tells you to do it. Take a job because it scares you, take a job because it makes you nervous, often times those are the best experiences.  But hey, I have only been in the working world for a year so what do I know.M&T Plaza

With MDP now over and for those of you who have followed this blog over the course of my first year in the real world, you must be thinking what next? Well, I will work as a Business and Planning Analyst in the Innovation Center of Excellence.  It is an exciting time for banking and don’t worry my blogging doesn’t stop just because the program is over.  No way!  I am in the real world to stay and this is just the beginning of my journey in Corporate America. I have ambition and big dreams which I intend to make a reality.

Excited to Return to the Game

Nichols logoWell it has been about 7 months since the conclusion of my basketball playing career but I am excited to announce that I will be the assistant JV girl’s basketball coach at Nichols in Buffalo.  Nichols is a private co-ed school right around the corner from my house which will be convenient through the always questionable weather of the winter period.

I am very fortunate that I have been able to continue playing the sport I love through pick-up games with the work crew and now will be able to work with younger girls to help foster their passion for the game I love.  I never want to be that coach that takes away the passion or makes their team hate the game the whole season. It has happened to me in the past and my goal as a coach will be to never let that happen.  There were times based simply on my coaching staff that I wanted to walk away from the game I love but thankfully I didn’t because I never would have been able to have some of the amazing coaches I had over the course of my playing career or play with the teammates I got to share the court with.

Coaching and MentoringI also recognize how lucky I am that I have chosen to work for a company that truly believes in work-life balance because otherwise this would not be possible.  I am so grateful to M&T to be so flexible to allow me to grow in my professional corporate career and also in my coaching career.  It may mean long days but that will not stop me from enjoying every minute of it.

The JV level though I only played during my 8th grade year is one that allows for girls to start forming their skills.  It is where girls are on the verge of playing because they love the game, I do not know if you can have a true passion for the game until you have played that first longer season (JV) but there are always exceptions.  The girls are also very young and impressionable and I think at that level it is about being a role model who has walked through their shoes.

I am very excited to start on November 10th and work with the head JV coach throughout the season.

Nichols School Athletics

Cortese Auto Fraud

ford fusion hybridAs a recent college graduate with my MBA I made my first major purchase as an adult…a car! I was extremely excited to make this purchase but as everyone knows buying a car can be tricky, scary, exciting, exhilarating and many other words.

It was also sad because it meant that I was getting rid of my college car, my 2008 Ford Fusion. During the last four years Pearl (my car’s name) has gotten me through my college experience, has taken me over 30,000 miles, gone on a East Coast road trip with my best friend and gotten a few bumps along the way.  The car had been my high school graduation present from my mom though I had paid a portion of it because my mom wanted me to feel responsible for it.  Looking back on it, I think that was a great way for a parent to teach their child responsibility for such a big purchase.

So I did my research about the types of car I wanted to get, I had had a few months to think about it but knew in the end I wanted a Ford Fusion again but this time I wanted a Hybrid.  I had reached out to a few dealerships online because I wanted to test the waters and I wasn’t sure if I wanted a 2013 used or 2014 new.  Cortese Auto returned my email though I had to delay going into the dealership a few times because of finals, graduation and vacation.  I stated in my initial email that I wanted to be able to look at 2013 and 2014 cars.  Cortese received a 2013 with less than 9000 miles on it in early May.  I will say the person who handled all my initial emails, Jill, was great.

do not buy from themAnyway, I went in Monday, June 9th to test drive, look at and ask questions.  I went alone because I felt that it was my decision and no one else’s. Sadly I should have taken my mom with me as she has much more experience buying cars.  When I sat in the chair the salesperson who will remain nameless was very nice but threw a lot of options at me very quickly.  I am a fast learner; however, when my questions were redirected with another question and told “let me look that up for you in a second” and then would conveniently forget and I would ask again and he would do the same thing.  Don’t get me wrong, he was extremely pleasant but is it all an act?

One of the extras I did end up buying was a package that would provide lifetime rust protection and paint protection.  Living in Upstate New York and relocating to Western New York in the next month we get a lot of snow and there is a lot of salt on the road.  These things will cause rust and did on my old car.  With this being my first major investment, I wanted to make sure that I could protect it – this was something I think was money well spent.  We will see when I go to trade the car in if it is still worth it.  When I left the shop I felt good and was told that it would be ready by Wednesday.

rust proof for new carsTuesday came and just as I got back from the gym I had a message on my phone that said I could come by and finalize everything and pick up the car at 3pm.  I was excited a little anxious but mostly looking forward to the new car. When I arrived at Cortese Ford I thought everything would be all set and done which was what I had been led to believe the day before.  That included the Ziebart package I was about to purchase  But to my surprise when I arrived they said I would have to return to the shop later that week to get the work done which would take about half a day.  RED FLAG….I was not happy.  Then I asked if they had figured out if I could have the yearly work done in Buffalo at a Ziebart location, he hadn’t been able reach them he said but would try again.  I also wanted to know if my car qualified for lifetime warranty or just 10 years….sadly he never answered that question and had to send a follow-up email.  The response was that the lifetime warranty was my “I’m sorry” present for what happened the next day.

When I went into the financial person’s room…I should have done more preparation about this part and the questions they were going to ask me.  I had no preparation about what to say with extended warranties and what it meant with my already existing warranty.  In my head I didn’t understand when everything on my car was under warranty why I would need an extended warranty already?  car warrantiesBut being a first time car buyer….who for the first time in my life didn’t do their research in this area, wasn’t sure.  So I asked the guy what was different than my current warranty, why would I need an extended warranty when I had one already and could I purchase this at a later date.  The guy scooted around all of those questions and I was over-whelmed and didn’t realize that he didn’t really answer the questions.  So stupidly, I bought the extended warranty which bumped my month payments up quite a few dollars considering I could have waited the year and ten months that is still on my warranty.  Thank you jerk….I really appreciate being taken advantage of.

When I brought the car back the next day, I took it in around 12.  I was told that it was between a 5-6 hour job so my car would be ready by 6 at the latest.  Cortese provided a shuttle to and from the shop but the shuttle would stop at 5.  My sales rep guaranteed that he would find me a way to get me car if it was after the shuttle hours.  So the hours ticked by I cleaned up my apartment sorted through some things and did some odd chores.  By the time 6pm rolled around I was getting antsy.  I knew that Ziebart closed at 6 so my car should have been done by that point.  I tried calling my rep’s desk and cell phone to no answer, Ziebart didn’t pick up (why would they, they were closed for the day) and then I tried the dealership and was transferred to my sales rep’s desk phone where I had to leave a voicemail.  By that time it was almost 620 and I had no clue where my car was and could not get an answer out of anyone.  Then Ziebart called me to let me know my car would be ready in 10 minutes and I could come pick it up…well that would be nice if I had a car.  I told the woman on the phone that she had my only ride on their property and she was really nice about it but let me know that their shuttle driver had just left for the day but she was going to contact my Cortese and see what they could do.  She called back less than five minutes later and told me she had spoken to my sales rep (funny he hadn’t called me back) and that they were going to try and figure out a way to get me my car.

That was the last I heard from anyone about my car until after 8pm.  My sales rep finally called me and said “it was out of his control” and he was very angry with Ziebart but he was responsible and was talking to his manager how to make it up to me.  First rule of customer service always outright take responsibility don’t point the finger.  My sales rep also told me he was still looking for a ride to get me.  Typically I would walk since it was only 1.7 miles but it was pouring rain and by that point it was after 8pm.  The guy finally called me back after 845 to let me know that he had found me a ride and that I would have to drive my ride back to the dealership after he dropped my car off…..wait what?

Now I could not take it out on Chris who dropped my car off.  He was great and said that my sales rep was steaming mad about the situation back at the office but at that point I was pissed at the whole process.  What bothered me even more was that he told me that he had clients who get the Ziebart full package and it is done in the time it takes for them to go across the street and see a movie at the dollar theatre.  That just made me even more ticked and annoyed.  So after over 9 hours of not having my car….I finally had my car back, that does not even seem possible about why they would need the car so long!

Follow-up the terrible buying experience with the terrible paperwork experience that followed with my loan.  Cortese’s workers mis-placed my loan paperwork or did not file it properly with the bank so for about a month, the bank had no record of loan and I could not make a payment and I was worried that it would get processed without my knowledge.  When I tried to email Cortese, my emails went unanswered.

Finally when I did get the paperwork processed with the bank, I was ready to refinance my loan at a lower rate with M&T Bank but it was about 2 months later and I still had not received my title.  Now, I understand that the title is not the dealership’s fault and is the DMVs task; however, Cortese told me that the title was going to come to their dealership and then they could send it to my new address because I was moving before it would come.  Thankfully I received a package at my old address because my title arrived at my old apartment and it is a document that cannot be forwarded – this was without word from Cortese.

Another problem: the title had no lien on it.  When I showed M&T the title as I was apply for the loan, they were extremely confused and said that I had a right to consult the dealership about not owing them money. I was not ready to not make payments on a vehicle I had signed a contract for, I was not willing to commit auto fraud.  I am also not one for confrontation so I just called Cortese to tell them how much time I had spent correcting their mistakes hoping they would try to make me happy.  The manager blamed other people for the mistakes that happened, said my emails were never received and offered me no way to make it up to me.  I was in shock that they offered me nothing.  That sealed the deal – this post was going to go live!

I wish companies realized the Lifetime Value of a Customer.  My sales rep tried to explain that they believe in the lifetime customer and want customers to return for future car purchases and encourage their friends and family to come to them for their car purchases.  I mean if Cortese was smart they would have realized that if you give customers the absolute best deal, lay everything out up front you are going to have more people talking about their business around town, sharing online about them, building up their search engine traffic which will lead to more new business and more repeat business.

If customers value the service that they receive and the time the sales reps take – they will return – it is a simple fact of life.  However, I really liked the service team who had done work on my previous car and sadly learned that the sales people can’t back it up.  The lifetime value of an auto customer who buys their first car at 22 when you think about it could be limitless because if they talk about the great service, care and people at the dealership their friends and family are more likely to check it out.  And a 22 year old will most likely own anywhere from 7-12 cars in their lifetime plus their future family member’s cars and as they become more established buy more and more expensive cars.  Their value to that dealership just increased especially when you add in body shop repairs or regular service appoints.  There are so many trusting people out there, I don’t like to barter, I am not a big gambler and I like what I like and am willing to pay the price to get it….which made me an easy target for the dealership…congratulations, you won one car off me and lost my lifetime business in both service and sales (after I get my 2 free oil changes and tire rotations).

In the end, I will not be buying another car from Cortese Auto in Rochester again.  They took advantage of me being a first time car buyer who was alone and was female…they lived up to the stereotypes of car salesmen and sadly I lived up to being the stereotypical female auto buyer.  I really do like the service team at Cortese, they have been awesome with my car troubles in the past and I have no complaints about them.  But the sales team I found ruined the dealership for me.  I hope Ford knows you are a poor reflection on their company.

So Here Are My Tips for Buying a Car…Ladies:

  1. Bring someone with you that is not invested in the purchase or who has been through the car buying process before.
  2. Don’t be afraid to walk, dealerships are looking out for #1 first.  They want to make as much money off of you as possible.
  3. You do not need to buy an extended warranty up front.  Save yourself the initial payments until the warranty on the car is about to expire.
  4. Understand what questions they are going to ask you because they try to throw a lot at you at once to try and confuse you, frazzle you and make you make impulsive decisions.
  5. Know what you want going in.  Know the options that are available to you if you are buying a new car.
  6. Look around the dealership lot in the evening with out a dealer.  This helps you get a feel of what you want and like without someone breathing down your neck.
  7. Don’t fall in love with a car until you have been dealing with the dealership for a couple of days, I was too anxious.

I hope that others can learn from my experiences.  I am typically not one to rant about a bad business but this was my experience with a “dirty” dealership who continued the stereotype for car salesmen.

***Update: After the printing of this post, the GM for Cortese Ford reached out to me to try and apologize for the situation.  He was very kind and explained that this was not how they do typical business and how the average consumers experience with Cortese goes.  Unfortunately I had to see the poor end of the process with things seemingly going wrong at every phase.  It was nice to see that my blog had an impact and that they did notice that there was a very disgruntled customer out there.  I appreciated his apology as he did not try to make excuses for his team but tried to make it up to me, at least a little, in whatever ways he could.

High School Can End

Cortland High School Over the last month I have had time to look back on what happened over my school experience.  I have been able to actually relax for the first time in 4 years, go on vacation (blog post to come) and to go home to spend time with my family and friends.  Spending time at home allowed me to realize how lucky I was to grow up in the town I did.  Cortland may be small and definitely has gone down hill since my experience going through the school system; however, it was the sense of community that formed my experience.  I love my neighborhood and I will be sad when the day comes in the next few weeks when my mom calls me to let me know the house has officially sold.

Senior PictureBut getting to spend time with my high school friends allowed me to reflect on how different my college experience was vs. my high school time.  Because of my busy schedule with basketball and school and co-oping in the summer, I wasn’t able to go home for more than a few days at a time during the four years so I hadn’t seen my friends more than a handful of times.  I realized how much I had missed them but I also realized that there were people in my town that hadn’t grown up since leaving high school…to put it simply, a lot of things were the same as if it were four years ago, only this time, I was different, along with a handful of others.  I am sure it is the same in a lot of other small towns but for me the only experience I have to go on is my own.

Catching up over drinks with some of the girls, I realized that my high school experience wasn’t as unique as I had thought in the sense that when I felt excluded, I wasn’t the only one.  High school was not my favorite time, I had my friends but I got used and walked all over just because I wanted to fit in.  High school is filled with “mean girls” or “popular people” that feel that they are better than others.  Sadly a lot of them don’t realize that they are the stereotypical mean person.  Now, I am not saying my school was like the movie, Mean Girls but I think every high school has their similarities.

I am very fortunate to have been able to go to a school like RIT because of its diverse nature, everyones willingness to except virtually everyone and how “real” most people are.  I think in high school everyone is trying so desperately to fit in and find their way or define who they are, they tend to just go with the crowd.

athlete quotesNow I am sure there are some that might read this and go, “what the hell is she talking about” because I appeared to have a really good high school experience and was friends with the “popular” people and don’t get me wrong, I did but it wasn’t my favorite time but I know I did not have it the worst, my situation could have been so much worse and I am sorry for those who were mistreated or victimized in high school by bullies, either mentally or physically.   I was never a victim of physical violence; however, I definitely had my fair share of mind games played on me.  Looking back on it, I think that high school was the way it was for me because I knew I had so much more in my future that was outside of this town so I just let it be and didn’t fight for something better.  By the end of my senior year I was sick of being taken advantage of, coming in second place for plans with people and ready for a change and ready to make my mark on the world at RIT and beyond.

friendsSo for those of you reading this, that felt like me in high school, the girl that didn’t want to go out and drink, who would rather watch a movie with her mom than be out trying to sneak into a bar, read a book on the weekend instead of hanging out at the mall, who put everything she could into getting better on the court for her team, or set a goal and did everything in her power to accomplished it, this post is for you.  Life is so much better when you are true to yourself, when you believe in yourself and know that you can accomplish anything you set your mind too.  Know that the mean girls in high school will probably still be stuck in high school (figuratively) in four years and know that if you allow yourself to get out of your town, you will be embraced for who you are.

I haven’t changed much since high school, though some would (and have) said I have changed.  But for those who believe I have changed, I have changed for the better.  I no longer allow people to walk all over me, I have grown up and believe in myself and try and better myself.  When I have a problem with someone I don’t spread gossip I confront that person nor do spread gossip that was shared with me.  However, in my opinion I am not far from that girl who choose to be home with her mom and sister watching a movie over sneaking into a bar. I would rather have a chill night with friends and some drinks than get hammered at a club.  I would still rather not waste hours at the mall and I continuously challenge myself in new ways mentally and athletically (though no longer for a team) and strive to reach every goal I set.

So to that girl in high school, who was just like me…I promise, life is so much better when you choose the way you want to live.

California girls


Relocation Planning

As I have just over three weeks before I start my new job, Brian and I have been searching for a new apartment.  My company provides great relocation assistance; however, I am a plan a head person and like to know things in advance I began working on the house hunting search.  I worked on reaching out to different apartments and then Brian would go and look at them after work since I couldn’t make the trip.

new apartment

But what surprised me the most was finding our apartment with a website I never expected to use – CraigsList.  We searched around on the site looking for the features we hoped to have.   Having been “spoiled” at Park Point the last few years with a washer and dryer in-unit, electricity, water, heat, cable and internet included, a gym and pool to use; as well as, maintenance and security available when needed.

Brian was actually the one to come across this apartment and immediately sent it to me to look at.  I loved it!  It was a newly built townhouse that had been lived in by another couple for less than a year.  The landlord had bought the lot next to his home and built this home for his mother to come live near him and when those plans fell through he turned it into an income property.

kitchenBrian and I got very lucky.  So far Brian is the only one to see but I am pleased to say we have signed a lease that will begin on July 11th, 2014, just 3 days before my start date.  It is going to be a hectic couple of days moving in, going to see Jason Aldean in concert at Darien and starting work but I am excited because who would want to be living a dull life.

The apartment is perfect! Two bed, two bath, in-unit washer and dryer, fully updated high-end kitchen, walk-in closets, security system and two car garage! So here is to not having to ever brush off my car in the morning on the way to work! The apartment also comes with snow removal, landscaping and water included which is really convenient and nice.  We have the perks that come with living in an apartment building but have the benefits of living in a neighborhood.  I am really excited to be able to go running in the morning through the near-by park.

Changes are quickly approaching and I am excited to experience them all.


The Thing I Never Thought I Would Say

Following my collegiate basketball career, I pondered how I would stay in shape without the daily practices, “optional” workouts, pickup games, weight-training, pre-season and post-season workouts and summer training.  It was really the only workout life I had known.  I had always been training for something and at the end of the season it was a weird feeling to not have another season to train for and knowing I was never going to be tested again.

It has been 2 months since the end of the season and I have learned to adapt to a different pace because as my life changes and different things fill my time I need to accept the fact that any workout, no matter how long counts.  In season we would train for hours, be on the court for two hours a day or just play pickup because we could.   But in the real world, with everything life has to offer you don’t need to train for hours on end to stay healthy. Even a half an hour workout is better than nothing.

runningBut lately I have started picking up a new habit, one I never saw coming.  Something my friends and family would never have believed if I had said it before.  I am becoming a runner.  I used to despise running.  The thought of even doing a mile made me cringe.  But what I have learned that with not having someone breathing down my neck, counting down the seconds before I have to run it again, there is something peaceful about working out for yourself.  I love waking up and starting my day with a workout.  The sense of accomplishment before your day has really started is awesome.

Now I am no marathon runner….yet…but I am enjoying running further each week.  I have found something that allows me to forget about the stress of the world and just be alone with my thoughts.  Running to a playlist of country music allows me to get lost in the stories of others for a little while.  My next goal will be to build up my mileage to run a half-marathon in under two-hours which is about a 9 minute mile on average.  Who knows, maybe someday I will work my way up to a full-marathon.

YES, I want to run a half marathon – you heard it here, I have set my next goal and something to work for.  I am planning on signing up for one at the end of August in Buffalo in the next few weeks.

starting is the challengeToday I ran 4.38 miles which is a really nice loop.  That was the distance that I had a goal for on the day and in my head that was as much as my body was going to do.  Building my mileage slowly will allow me to prevent injuries.  I also have to build up my mental strength.  I do not think physically the distance would be as bad; however, for me mentally finding the strength to keep going is going to be the challenge.  My head tends to be my own worst enemy but I know if I work on it that I can build up the ability to run the distance without my brain shutting me down.  I have already seen a difference in my mental capacity because a 2 mile run is now a short run for me and a year ago I would never have said that!

I love the freedom that running allows.  The challenge and the ability to see how far you have gone.  There is something to be said about the fact that you are always moving forward in a run.

I am not following a program now but doing what feels comfortable to me and making sure that I am pushing myself farther each week.  I am pushing my speed on my mile and a half and making sure that I add in the strength training each week; as well as cross-training on bikes and ellipticals.

I think after college has wrapped up, graduation has happened and I go on my CRUISE (yes, thanks to the boyfriend) I will start a 12 week program to officially train my body for the half-marathon.  I think that will help me stay on track and make sure I build up my mileage in the right way.

Life after collegiate athletics is definitely different but if you are a true athlete, athletics and competition will never fully leave you.  The thrill of the challenge will always be with you – it is just a little different in stye.

The Art of the Job Search

job searchingOver the last few months, I have been applying, researching, interviewing and following-up with full-time jobs.  I would like to say that I am an expert in this area by now but I do not believe that you can be an expert on every company and every recruitment strategy possible.  However, I have developed a list of tips that go along with the job search process.  They are as followed:

  • Read the Job Descriptions.
    • Understanding the job you are applying for is crucial.
    • Most students will read the title of a job and think it applies to them; however, the actual description may be something that you are not qualified to apply for.
    • Most people spend 20 seconds or less reading a job description and the recruiters will see right through you (often times).
    • Know the job you want and if you are going to spend a short amount of time on reading the description; at least know the keywords you are looking for and make sure that your skills and experience meet the qualifications for the most part.
  • Research the Company Culture
    • You never want to apply for a job at a company you do not want to work for.
    • When doing your research you want to look up the company’s values, what they are known for and if it is available what current projects they are working on, if they have a high-turnover rate etc.
    • It can be best if it is possible to talk to someone who is currently at the company if you have the opportunity.
  • Stay Organized
    • When I started out my job search I was not as organized as I am now.  I began just applying for jobs without really keeping track of where I was applying, what I was applying to and what the exact descriptions of the positions were.  I would like to think I have the brain capacity to remember all of my jobs but what I forgot was that I would have school, work and basketball to be thinking about as well
    • After a few applications and one interview getting crossed with which job I had applied too, I began documenting what positions I was applying too.
    • I now have a Google Docs Folder that has several folders in it.  I have a cover letter folder, a job description folder and then a single excel document with the company name, job title and date I applied to the company, just so if I do have an interview, I am prepared and know what I should be talking about and prepared to address my skills that are directly applicable to the job.
    • Getting to this level of organization was extremely necessary especially when everything really got going in my life this year.
    • Now when someone calls to schedule something I have no problem pulling up the job description and quickly reviewing it or knowing what questions they may ask me.

    Job searches can be stressful but helping yourself out by staying as organized as possible can give you the freedom to relax a little bit about joining the real world or finding your place in it.