goal-setting part 1: life lessons from long-distance relationships

Another benefit (or curse) of being the technologically savvy Gen Y is the increasingly commonplace long-distance relationship.  Even in college, many of us did it at some point or another.  I even knew a couple who would have long-distance date nights by watching movies together over video chat… *gag*… I know.  While this type of relationship is never easy, we must admit that the distance was – for the most part – manageable with the use of BBM and Skype.  It wasn’t forever.  If we went to the same school, we were reunited after the holiday/summer break.  And if we went to different schools, at least there was the hope of reuniting in the same city after graduation.

But what about those post-college long distance relationships?  Where is the light at the end of that tunnel?

For those who don’t know me, “Boy” and I have been together on and off since we were sophomores and have now been long distance for over a year.  While I was off trying to “save the world” with Canada World Youth, Boy was doing his own travelling playing semi-professional basketball in England and earning a Master’s degree.  It has been a definite improvement being back on the same continent, but we are still separated by this pesky little thing called the 49th Parallel and the US’ infuriatingly strict work & immigration laws.  Moreover, we have conveniently found ourselves on opposite coasts.  And let me tell you, the commute between Washington, D.C. and Vancouver is not exactly what I would consider “a breeze”.  Tickets costs approximately $650 roundtrip, and it takes anywhere between 8 to 11 hrs of travel time each way.

So how do we make it work?  Without a readily available end in sight, is all the hardship of being long-distance  worth it?  Are we building something together or are we just coasting?

“Boy” and I are quickly realizing that we need a plan.  A long-distance relationship without a foreseeable resolution is too daunting and doomed to fail.  But it’s scary to commit and work towards something as far as two or three years down the road.  We’re only 23 and 24!  Neither of us is ready to get married anytime soon, so we find it terrifying to plan so seriously for the future.

But we can’t get what we want from life without setting goals for ourselves and taking the steps to achieve them.  It’s intimidating to set long-term goals, but we need to remember that they’re not etched in stone.  Goals are innately flexible to accomodate for all the curve balls that life sends our way.  We will constantly be revisiting and rewriting our goals, but we need them to break life down into manageable portions.

So now I’m thinking that all of us, 20somethings, can benefit from applying a similar mindset to our quarter-life crises…  More to come on this idea next week!

Are any of you currently in a long-distance relationship?  Do you have an end in sight?  How do you make it work in the meantime?

new beginnings

I think I’ve finally figured out a direction for my blog.  You’ll be noticing some changes around these parts.  For one, it is now called “20something vs. world” and has a brand new About page.  I’m hoping to make my personal experiences and knowledge more readily accessible to the typical 20something.  I’d love to hear your thoughts, so be sure to check out my new About page.  I’ve even included a Reader’s Guide to help you guys navigate the evolution of my blog!

Second of all, I will now be doing my very best to stick to a weekly Monday posting schedule.  I’m broadcasting it here so that you guys can hold me accountable!  This week’s post is a bit of a cop-out, I know, but it’s because I’m working hard on an even bigger change to launch this new beginning.

… which brings me to my third announcement: I will soon be moving on over to a newly designed self-hosted blog!  I’ve been contemplating this for a while, but I think I’m ready to make this commitment to the blog.  I’m doing my research, but I’d love any tips or advice that you guys can offer.  Which web host are you guys using?

Stay tuned!

taking facebook stalking to the job hunt level

Since my acknowledgement of my current career truths, I’ve been feeling quite invigorated.  It’s scary as hell but oh so exciting to start with a blank slate again.  Going corporate is new to me, so I have no idea what my dream job title is nor what career track to hop onto.  I’m currently trusting my instincts and using my values to sift through the research I accumulate.

And let me tell you, as the Generation Y group, who grew up with social media injected into our veins, we’ve got some advantages on our side when it comes to the job hunt.  All those years of Facebook stalking are about to become extremely handy.  The two sidekicks that every job huntress needs: Glassdoor.com and LinkedIn.

1) Glassdoor.com:

This site is a cornucopia (Canadian Thanksgiving is just around the corner!) of employee-generated information on companies.  You can look up it’s overall ratings, pros & cons of working there, salaries, and even a glimpse into the interview process.  It’s a great way to get a deeper look into a company and its real work culture.  You can even organize the information by location (if it’s a big company with many offices) or by date (to see the most recent feedback).

I felt a lot more prepared going into my lululemon interview with this background information on what to expect and what the company is looking for.  I will definitely be using Glassdoor.com again before any future interviews.

2) LinkedIn:

I’m assuming that everyone reading this has heard of and/or is using LinkedIn.  If not, jump on that bandwagon ASAP!!  This is a must-use for job hunting.  I won’t bore you with the how-to’s of setting up your personal LinkedIn profile.  That information is well-covered by Linked Intelligence & Blue Sky Resumes among many, many others – put those years of paper researching to good use!

I will, however, talk about a great second step to find out more about a company and how you measure up to those already in positions that you’d like to apply to.  Not only can you use LinkedIn to connect to people in your networks, but you can also connect to companies that you are interested in.  Once you look them up, you can look at their past and present employees on LinkedIn, employment opportunities, and recent hires.

MOREOVER, you can even see if and how you are connected to employees through people in your network, your groups, or your schools.  Are you all with me?  Need I spell out the next step for you?  If appropriate, you can even ask someone you know to learn more about life at the company.

But please please please, remember your proper LinkedIn etiquette.  Just because electronic networking comes easier with a simple click of a button does not mean that real-life networking etiquette can be ignored.

Think about Facebook.  How comfortable were you when a friend of a friend that you’ve never met nor heard of friended you?  Or how about when people mention random details about your life or interests that they could have only known about through Facebook?  Yeah, creeeeeeeeeeepy!

Use Facebook stalking skills to your job hunting advantage but try not to advertise your stalking – aka what I’m doing right now.  Nothing will kill your job hunt faster!

Do you guys have any other must-use personal sidekicks in your job hunt?  Share with the rest of us via comments please!

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doing good for-profit ≠ selling out!

Of course, just as soon as you come to accept a certain reality, it changes.  Edit last entry – “my actual current status: unemployed, directionless soul whining to the world on my amateur blog.”  I found out that I am now the newest Educator at Lululemon – Park Royal!

lululemon manifesto

This is my first step towards the “conventional path”… which in actual fact is still unconventional.  Kinda?  Haha doesn’t make any sense?  Let me explain.

In walking away from the non-profit path, I’m now considering…… going CORPORATE.  [insert GASPS]  I know, words that I – nor anyone who knows me – would ever think I’d say.  But before you call me a sell-out, hear me out.

Part of my disillusionment with the non-profit industry stems from a frustration with the way it functions.  The public only wants to support charities that are managed well aka have low administrative overhead costs.  We want to make sure that our money is really helping the cause rather than lining the pockets of the middle men.  Hence, our obsession with Charity Navigator.

But guess who suffers for it?  That’s right, the idealistic, bleeding heart twentysomethings working ~60 hour work weeks only to bring home a measly $20,000-25,000 annual salary.  When we break that down, that does not equal much savings in the bank at the end of the day.  After 4 years of college – with many professors drilling it into my head that we needed to start saving money yesterday for our retirement – I find this quite concerning.  Why is it an accepted norm for people doing socially beneficial work to be earning close to poverty line incomes, not to mention the appalling lack of basic benefits (i.e. health insurance)?  *Note: I’m slightly exaggerating.  See below.  In the words of Penelope Trunk, “Being a non-profit is no excuse for treating people poorly.”  My options for a secure future should not have to depend on a trust fund or marrying rich!

Moreover, while I’m struggling with my faith in this industry, I can no longer drink the kool-aid.  I cannot accept the woefully low salary and the lifetime of worries that come with it.  And no, this does not make me a heartless moneymonger looking to live a life of excessive luxury.  I would simply like to be paid a competitive salary on par with my work, education, and skills despite my bleeding heart so that I may live comfortably and save for retirement (and of course, my future children’s educations).  Is that too much to ask for?

Frankly, this is a great time for an idealist like me to expand my horizons to the corporate world.  More than ever, companies are buying into the new “it” trend of social responsibility.  Our generation is all about making a difference, and companies are responding.  The corporate culture is evolving to attract job seekers, who value social responsibility, innovation, and community development.

I can’t believe that I’m just realizing this now, but Penelope Trunk is right: “It’s small minded to think you can only do good in a non-profit.”  And lululemon is a perfect example.  They’re definitely not your conventional conventional company.  I’m excited  :o)

Both of the quotes I used from Penelope Trunk are from her article, “We overestimate the gap between nonprofit and for-profit jobs.”  Be sure to check it out.

Do you have examples of doing good within the corporate culture?  I’d love to learn more.  Feel free to leave a comment!

*For 2011, the poverty line in the US was drawn at $10,890 for a single-person household.  –U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

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