Rising Pro

You Are What You Wear

What do you wear to work?

The answer is a little bit different for everyone.

Just looking around on your way to work, you can see dozens of different looks. Some professionals are suited up, others are upscale casual and some are rocking a T-shirt and jeans.

Even though some people are a little less polished than others in the workplace, they are usually just as smart, productive and successful, if not more, than their pencil-skirt, collared-shirt wearing counterparts.

But like it or not, what you wear at work can impact how others perceive you.

Who would you respect more?

I can still remember meeting one of my first managers who didn’t care what he wore.

Before we were introduced, I imagined meeting someone who was put together and wearing something that made others respect him, like a tailored jacket, a crisp button down shirt or some nice dress shoes. But I was met with something quite different.

He was wearing a sweatshirt, jeans and running shoes. I remember thinking; ‘How can I look up to someone who’s wearing a hoodie?’

Harsh, I know, but it really was my first thought.

As time went on, I came to respect him for his experience and management skills, but that initial meeting made a big impact on my perception of him.

Every time you walk out your door to go to work, think about the statement you’re making with your clothes and ask yourself if you’re ok with it.

My rule of thumb is this; if I’m not coming into contact with anyone outside of my organization, i.e. conducting a meeting, job interview or meeting a business contact for lunch or coffee, it’s alright to dress down for the day. Although I also like to dress professionally around my colleagues, they’re less likely to judge me on my outfit compared to a client or potential new hire.

Even though you may not care what others think about your work outfit, sometimes what they think can affect your career.

Do you think what you wear at work matters?

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Three Thoughts From Nathan Clapp

Nathan ClappThis past week, I had an e-mail exchange with Nathan Clapp, who is an art director at PJA Advertising and Marketing. Originally from Boston, Nathan moved to San Francisco in January 2015 after PJA, headquartered in Cambridge, offered him a job opportunity in its SF office.

Now seven months later, I decided to see how he’s doing and ask him a few questions for my ‘Three Thoughts‘ series, where I quickly connect with rising professionals and get their candid insights on career-related questions.

1. What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken in your career and did it work out?

The biggest risk in my short career has been moving [to San Francisco], of course.

I was feeling anxious for some sort of change in life for about a year or so before my move. I knew I wanted to do something bigger than I had before, so when I got an offer to work in San Francisco, I sort of just jumped on it. In hindsight, I don’t think I ever fully grasped how much of a change that it would actually be, but I think that’s honestly the best way to go into a situation like this. Moving here put me in an entirely new mindset. I’m no longer trying to plan my future so diligently, that never leads to anything good. You end up regretting all the things you’re not doing, instead of enjoying what you are.

But my big decision to move to San Francisco stems from a lot of smaller risks that all laddered up to get me here. The company I work for now [PJA] I actually left about a year ago. I was not getting paid enough in the Cambridge office, and when I got an offer for a better paying job in Boston, I decided to take it. It was only 3 months later that PJA came back to me and offered me this new job in San Francisco with a raise on top of that! It just goes to show how important it is to leave a company on a good note.

2. Would you still work if you had all the money in the world? 

I would definitely still work, and I’m not just saying that to sound humble. I would just be too bored otherwise. I think work is good for us, I think it’s stimulating and rewarding. You can definitely work too much, and of course not all jobs are as stimulating as others, but I think it’s good to work. If I had all the money in the world though, the question is, what would I want to work on?

3. What do you think is the best way to stand out at work?

Keep your cool as much as you can. I try to be someone who people feel is consistent. I have had people tell me how much they appreciate how I can deal with situations without getting heated up or lashing out at others. It makes people want to work with you more, and that’s definitely a good thing, in any field.

Interested in connecting with Nathan? Find him on LinkedIn.

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How to Leave a Job with Grace

I can’t believe it’s already been a week since my last day at MSLGROUP (If you haven’t heard, I’ve taken a job at Salesforce).

Making a career change is exciting and emotional. It’s also very easy to mentally ‘check out’ of your current job and put all your energy toward the prospect of a new one. But just because you’re moving on doesn’t mean you should slack off.

I will admit, as soon as I gave notice I starting feeling detached from my work. However, I made a conscious effort to make a graceful exit so I could keep my relationships and reputation intact.

To ensure you leave a positive, lasting impression on your company, here are a few simple ways you can leave a job with grace:

  • Develop solid handoff documents: Some companies require employees to develop handoff documents when they leave, other don’t. But regardless of what’s required, you should always develop them. Giving your colleagues a clear guide to what you’ve been working on and next steps will make them respect you even more and show them that you’re a true professional. Even if you don’t think your company or colleagues deserve a handoff document, don’t burn any bridges on the way out. Give them something to work from after you leave.
  • Send thank you notes: If you’ve worked somewhere for at least a few months, chances are you’ve probably had a boss or colleague you really admire or like working with. Make sure you tell them how much they mean to you in writing. Sending a personalized e-mail or letter to a manager or coworker is a great way to cement your existing relationships and share how much they mean to you and your career.
  • Always say goodbye: When your last day finally comes, don’t slink out of the office. Make an effort to say goodbye to your colleagues in person. If you’re remote, send out a mass e-mail and/or pick up the phone. Saying goodbye is a simple way to leave a good impression on your way out the door.

How else can you leave a job with grace?

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Goodbye MSLGROUP, Hello Salesforce

I have a big announcement.

After almost two years at MSLGROUP San Francisco, I’ve decided to take an amazing opportunity at Salesforce.

For those of you who don’t know, Salesforce is a global cloud computing company, headquartered in San Francisco. It’s best known for its customer relationship management (CRM) solution, which helps companies track and communicate with current and prospective customers. Salesforce has been recognized as the world’s most innovative company four years in a row by Forbes, and was named one of the “Best Places to Work” by FORTUNE. 

It’s an exciting change not only because it’s an awesome company, but also because I’m taking on a whole new type of role. I will be a keynote events manager, which means I will be on the team that plans and executes the keynote presentation at major Salesforce events, including Dreamforce. The job is fast-paced, requires a lot of travel and provides the opportunity to work with senior executives.

Some of you may be thinking, what about PR?

After a few years of soul searching, I’ve come to the realization that PR is not my true passion. Although I’ve learned a lot of great skills that I can take with me to any job, I have found that event management is what truly makes me happy.

My last day at MSLGROUP is Thursday, July 2.

Leaving MSL will be bittersweet; it’s an amazing company that goes out of its way to help its employees succeed, learn and have fun. I have learned so many invaluable lessons from some truly brilliant people and I will never forget my time there.

With that said, I’m happy to be moving on to a company that I’ve aspired to work at for years. After submitting dozens of applications without success, completing a full round of interviews but not being selected, and then interviewing again for this position, I’ve learned one important lesson; persistence pays off.

If you want something, don’t give up on it. Keep trying and don’t let setbacks discourage you. Believe me, it will pay off.

I would like to extend a special thank you to my friend, Kristen Boyen, who has worked at Salesforce for five years. She has been an amazing confidant and resource during my entire application process and I am forever grateful.

I appreciate all the support and well wishes I’ve received thus far, and I look forward to sharing my adventures at Salesforce with all of you.

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Three Must-Read Books for Summer

There’s nothing I love more than curling up after a long day at work and reading a non-fiction business book.

This may seem a little strange, but hear my out.

Reading business books in your free time may sound boring, but there are some great reads out there that have nothing to do with dragons, wizards, love affairs with billionaires or vampire romances. I’ve read dozens of them over the years and have found many to be entertaining, enlightening and an amazing career development tool.

Although many of us don’t like to think (or read) about work when we’re off the clock, there’s something satisfying about uncovering new ways to conduct business, advance and thrive in your career.

Summer is the perfect time to start a new book; why not read one that will benefit your career?

Recently, I’ve read three books I think are worthy of reading this summer. Each of them have challenged me to look at my idea of success, career and life in a whole new way.

1. Thrive: I absolutely love this book! Author Arianna Huffington makes a compelling case for the need to redefine success in today’s world, and candidly shares her own challenges with managing time, career priorities and raising two daughters. The book cites the latest groundbreaking research and scientific findings in the fields of psychology, sports, sleep, and physiology that show the profound and transformative effects of meditation, mindfulness, unplugging and giving. This book is a must read for men and women, and has totally changed how I think about success in career and life.

2. How to Win Friends and Influence People: I have been hearing about this book for years, so I finally decided to read it. It really has stood the test of time. Written by Dale Carnegie in 1936, the book has since been updated over the years to include more modern phrases and examples. There are so many ‘life hacks’ in this book for dealing with people and getting what you want, it’s uncanny. Filled with countless anecdotes, and formatted for quick-reference, it’s one of those books that will change your life.

3. Drive: This book really opened my eyes to what actually motivates people in business and life. Spoiler alert, it’s not money. Drawing from scientific research on human motivation, author Daniel Pink exposes what science knows about motivation, which challenges what companies do to motivate employees. He examines the three elements of true motivation—autonomy, mastery and purpose—and offers techniques for putting these into action. This book is a quick read and very helpful if you’re in management.

What other business books should we be reading this summer?

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Advice to New Grads on Finding a Dream Job

Last weekend, I attended my good friend Lorel Grande‘s graduation from Dominican University.

Lindsay_LorelAlthough she finished her Master of Science in counseling psychology back in December 2014, it was still fun to attend her special day and see her handed a diploma after years of hard work.

Although some graduation ceremonies are brutally long, they can also be nostalgic and inspiring. I found myself sharing stories about my own graduation and thinking about how I felt that day. It was a mix of achievement, happiness and fear of the unknown.

I wasn’t one of the lucky ones who found a job right out of college. But I was dead set on finding my dream job as fast as possible. I started my career as an office assistant at an organic pork ranch in Chico, CA. Not what you would call a dream job, but it allowed me to support myself while I looked for my ideal role.

Six months later, I landed a marketing position at a healthcare software company. After nearly three years, I wanted to see what else was out there and decided to make use of my degree in public relations. Now, one and a half years and two promotions later, I’ve grown as a professional and accomplished a lot, but I still don’t feel like I’ve found my true calling yet.

As I sat in the audience last weekend, listening to speeches filled with advice for the new grads, I starting thinking about what advice I would give them.

Looking back at my career over the past five years, it dawned on me. I would tell new grads, “Don’t worry if you don’t find your dream job right away.”

We all want to find our purpose and be in a job we love. But for many of us, that’s not a reality until later in our careers, when we’ve had many experiences and learned what makes us happy in the workplace. I’ve learned a lot from my non-dream jobs. They have all taught me so much and helped me realize what’s important to me and where my strengths lie.

If you find your dream job right out of school, you’re one of the lucky ones. If you’re still looking:

  • Take every job experience seriously and learn as much as you can.
  • Never stop looking and exploring your options.
  • Think about what kind of work is truly important to you.
  • Identify your biggest strengths and let them lead you to your calling.
  • Don’t put pressure on yourself. If you’re patient and persistent, it will happen.

Your career is a journey, enjoy the ride.

What advice would you give new grads?

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Letdowns Shouldn’t Keep You Down

Sometimes despite your best efforts, things don’t go your way.

This can be really discouraging and lead you to question yourself and your value.

Sometimes no matter how hard you work or how much you prepare, you still might not get what you want or what you deserve. Whether it’s not getting that promotion, an offer for your dream job or recognition at work, it’s hard not to take these kind of letdowns personally.

But don’t let setbacks shake you. You might not realize it in the moment, but sometimes a loss now makes room for an even bigger gain down the line.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t be upset when things don’t go your way, you should! Talk about it, reflect and learn from it; just don’t let it stop you.

After a big letdown, it’s up to you to decide what will happen next.

How do you handle letdowns?

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Three Thoughts from Claire Callahan

Claire HeadshotThis week, I exchanged a few e-mails with Claire Callahan, a program coordinator at The Philanthropy Workshop, a nonprofit that educates philanthropists on how to give more strategically to create purpose-driven, sustainable change. Her main responsibilities include member engagement, such as communications, marketing and programming, logistical coordination and program support.

As an aspiring lawyer turned nonprofit maven, Claire had some interesting insights to share for the ‘Three Thoughts’ series.

1. What is one big goal you hope to achieve within the next three years?

I’d say my biggest goal is to get into grad school after working two years at my current job. Right now my top picks are Georgetown, Berkeley, Stanford and (gulp!) Harvard for the programs I’m interested in most.

2. What is one thing you wish you knew when you first started out in your career?

If I have to pick just one, I’d say to not be too narrowly focused. Having a specialization is great and valued in the job market, but having tunnel vision is not. I was hellbent on becoming a lawyer through the standard, accepted path – pre-law degree, law firm experience, law school, then DOJ job. But I wasn’t happy or excited about the work I was doing. I sacrificed a work-life-balance to prove I could handle the rigor that a career in law demands, and to show myself that I was committed to seeing my inner eight year old’s plans through.

I couldn’t be happier I decided to broaden my focus and switch to a job working for a nonprofit. It has given me so much more inspiration and happiness than I’ve ever had before in a job. And I’ve been able to use the best skills I got from my legal experience to succeed in my new job.

3. What is your favorite way to relieve work-related stress?

A strong and sweaty Vinyasa yoga class!

Interested in learning more about Claire? Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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Rising PROfile: Carine Marshall

Carine Marshall loves plants.

So much so that she’s currently pursuing a Ph.D. in plant biology from University of California, Berkeley, where she also received a Bachelor in Science in genetics and plant biology in 2009.

After talking with Carine for just a few minutes, her passion for plants becomes apparent. Carine

For me, plants are the silent warriors of this planet. They feed, shelter and provide so much beauty to us. I discovered that I loved biology in high school. The more I learned, the more I realized it was the biology of plants that fascinated me most.

Carine has always let this passion guide her career decisions.

After receiving her undergraduate degree, she found a job in Los Angeles as the head biologist of Advanced Lab Group, a cooperative that designs the economical and sustainable production of algae biodiesel. During this time, Carine designed and outfitted the biology lab to research potential algae strains to use in biofuel production. However, it was not long before she decided to move on.

I quickly realized that plants, and not algae, were my true passion.

After leaving her first job, Carine used the next three years to travel, work, play and rediscover her passion for plants.

Carine traveled through Europe for three months with her then boyfriend, now husband. When she returned, Carine began working in a tissue culture lab of a flowering bulb company in her hometown of Santa Cruz, CA. One year later, she and her boyfriend moved to France for six months to work and live on her family’s small farm. During this time, she studied for the GREs in preparation for grad school.

In the fall of 2011, they moved back to the U.S. and worked a ski season in South Lake Tahoe, which had always been a dream of theirs. While in Tahoe, Carine was also busy applying to graduate schools and interviewing at universities across the country. By May 2012, she decided to return to Berkeley for graduate school.

Looking back over those three years, Carine said she learned three very important things:

1) I learned how to work in a business. Few people in academia have ventured into the “industry” and have thus never learned what it takes to work for a business.

2) Taking the time to experience life and enjoy yourself are as important a use of time as gaining work and professional experience. I’m so thankful I took the time to travel and enjoy myself before I went to graduate school.

3) I rediscovered my passion for learning and biology, which led to my decision to return to graduate school.

Now three years into the program, Carine is working toward completing her doctorate by 2017. One of the interesting things she’s currently studying is the circadian clock in plants. She’s discovering how plants sense temperature and light cues from the environment so that they can regulate their circadian clock and, in turn, their whole physiology. She is also teaching undergraduate students, a requirement of grad school, which she truly loves.

Teaching is absolutely one of my favorite things. Although it takes a lot of time, I find that it comes as naturally as walking to me. I am thankful for this because I know it is not the case for most people. Teaching intelligent and curious students about biology, a field I am so passionate about, is incredible. I can help them discover everything that inspired me when I was a student.

Carine’s current focus is to complete and publish unique scientific research in respected science journals. She is also applying to fellowships and attending industry conferences, as well as looking into learning new fields and skills, such as bioinformatics and computational biology.

Outside of graduate school, Carine also volunteers at elementary schools throughout Oakland, teaching kids about science experiments.

Upon graduating, Carine hopes to work for a biotech company to get some industry experience, but may eventually pursue her other passion for teaching and work at a community college, state school or liberal arts college.

Carine has achieved a lot since she graduated from college in 2009, and along the way, she has worked with a lot of inspiring mentors who have helped fuel her passion.

My boss at the flowering bulb company was a big inspiration to me–women in the science field are always an inspiration. I also am very inspired by my current advisor, who comes to lab everyday with unlimited curiosity and enthusiasm. He is a wonderful mentor and always respects my opinion and work.

As someone who has always pursued her true passions, Carine has some advice for other rising professionals.

Always have purpose to what you do, and do things for the right reason. Don’t go to graduate school because you don’t know what to do next. Don’t work in a company just for the money. Be passionate about what you do. You will always do better and inspire others if you are passionate too.

Although Carine is constantly busy, she always makes time to enjoy living the Bay Area. Namely, she loves to hike, eat, drink good beer, cook, read and watch the San Francisco Giants.

 Learn more about Carine and what she’s working on by listening to her KALX radio interview and reading her published work, ‘Circadian clock genes universally control key agricultural traits,’ in Molecular Plant[1].     

[1] Claire Bendix, Carine M. Marshall, Frank G. Harmon, Circadian clock genes universally control key agricultural traits. Molecular Plant. Available online 13 March 2015. ISSN 1674-2052; http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.molp.2015.03.003

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Do Things Differently

When I was growing up, I was always the tallest girl in my class.

It didn’t really bother me until I was in high school. All the boys I liked were too short, I constantly felt like I stuck out and most of the cute clothes my friends wore didn’t quite fit me. I remember feeling self-conscious and comparing myself to everyone else, which wasn’t good for my school work or my self-esteem.

Then one day when I was complaining about wanting to be more petite like my friends, my mom told me something I would never forget.

‘Don’t be like everyone else. Do things differently.’

This was the shock I needed to help me stop comparing myself to others and start thinking about what I had to offer.

Ever since then, I stand a little taller when I walk into a room (and wear heels whenever I can). I embrace who I am, concentrate on what I have to offer and refuse to follow someone else’s idea of success.

We’re always going to compare ourselves to others, it’s really hard not to. But when you do, it’s important to also remember that you don’t have to follow their lead.

Do things differently; define your own goals, potential, career and success. Stop looking over the fence and complaining about things you don’t have or haven’t achieved. That’s not your concern. Do things that make sense for you and your family.

There is always going to be competition and people who you think ‘have it all.’ Don’t let THEM define YOU.

Do things differently.

How do you do things differently?

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