Rising Pro

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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Rising Pro

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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Rising Pro

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 Pro

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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Rising Pro

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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Rising Pro

How to Write Better E-mails

Let’s talk about e-mail.

We’re always on it for work; constantly checking for incoming messages and quickly drafting responses.

E-mail is a wonderful thing. It allows us to connect and get information in a flash, making it easier to get work done. Because of this, most of us can’t live without it.

With so many messages flying around between people and devices, it’s easy to send a note with typos, e-mail the wrong person, or forget to include pleasantries, i.e. Hi Lindsay, Best Regards, Lindsay.

But consistently making mistakes can make you look unprofessional and chip away at your credibility. What client or colleague is going to take you seriously if every other message you send is riddled with errors? Poorly written e-mails can make people think you’re too busy to slow down and thoughtfully respond to them, which isn’t good for business.

I’m guilty of this. I’ve sent many e-mails with typos, that were addressed to the wrong person, or that didn’t include a salutation or signature. It happens, but it’s important not to make it a habit.

If you want people to take you seriously, you have to be thoughtful every time you respond to someone or send them a request. Here’s a quick checklist for writing a professional e-mail.

  • When you first reach out or respond to someone, always include a salutation and call the recipient by their preferred name.
  • Make sure you address what they are asking and also make your own inquires clear.
  • Don’t always jump right into business, ask the recipient how they are or wish them well.
  • If you say you’re attaching a document, don’t forget the attachment. When you type the word ‘attached’ in your e-mail, take that as your cue to insert your document.
  • Always re-read your message, checking for clarity, grammar, spelling and punctuation.
  • Don’t select your recipients until your e-mail is written so you don’t risk sending it before you’re ready. Then when you add them, double check to make sure you’re including the right people.
  • Always sign your name at the end, don’t let your signature or e-mail address identify you.

What are some other components of a professional e-mail?

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Three Places You Must be Professional

I love slipping into my sweats after a long day of work.

But just because I change my outfit when I leave the office doesn’t mean I shed my professionalism too.

Whether I’m grabbing drinks with colleagues after work, posting on social media or attending a professional event, I always keep it professional. This is a given for many, but for others, being a professional ends at happy hour (or sooner).

Sometimes it’s hard to know where the line is, so here are three key places outside work where you should always remain professional.

1. Company Happy Hours/Outings/Parties

I’ve seen and heard about people who get way too drunk at a company party, leading to inappropriate comments and/or antics that result in their coworkers thinking less of them, or worse.

Don’t be that person.

When you attend a company-sponsored event, have fun but know your limit and don’t forget about the professional relationships you have with your coworkers and superiors. Just because everyone is drinking, laughing and having a good time, doesn’t give you free rein to say whatever you want to whoever you want. Give yourself a drink limit, have a good time and don’t say or do anything you’re going to regret when you walk back into work.

2. Online

I’m still amazed by how many professionals post inappropriate or insensitive content on their social media platforms and somehow think it won’t affect their career. What you say and do online leaves a digital footprint behind, so every post is an opportunity to impress or disappoint a potential employer.

How do you know if what you’re posting is okay or not? I like to give myself the ‘mom test.’

I don’t post anything I wouldn’t want my mom to read or see. I know this might not work for everyone, but it has served as a great way for me to determine whether or not I should really be sharing something with the entire world, which may include potential business partners or future employers. Bottom line; keep your online persona as clean and classy as possible.

3. Professional Networking Events

When you attend a networking event outside your company, free of coworkers, it’s tempting to vent about your company or clients to total strangers. But ragging on your employer doesn’t make you look professional and you never know who you may be talking with. There’s always a chance they could be associated with your company, colleagues or clients.

Always speak highly of your organization (regardless of your true feelings), because it makes you look both trusted and professional.

Where else can you be professional?

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Rising Pro

Rising PROfile: Appstem CEO Robert Armstrong

Robert Armstrong isn’t afraid of a taking a risk. Appstem

Originally from Thousand Oaks, CA, Robert graduated from Chico State with a degree in Business Marketing in 2003. He got his first job in San Diego and then moved to San Francisco in 2005 to work at Oracle in applications sales. By 2009, he was looking for a new challenge and was met with an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.

In 2010, Robert took a huge risk and left his comfortable job to start a mobile design and development firm, Appstem, with his friend and co-founder Hart Woolery. With a keen eye on the growing app market, Robert and Hart quickly established two offices in each of their respective cities, Robert in San Francisco and Hart in San Diego. Five years later, Appstem is a thriving company with an impressive client roster and plans to expand in other locations.

Over the years, Robert has learned a lot about what it takes to run a successful startup and notes the difference between working at a company verses running one.

“You do a lot more and get exposure to a lot more. At big companies you have so many different departments, which enables you to focus on the specific task you were hired for. At really big companies (like Oracle) you even have specialists within each department. At a startup you don’t have that kind of support, but you get experience doing a ton of different things, which enables you to learn a lot. Personally, I like it a lot better.”

Although running a startup comes with an extremely busy schedule and working across multiple departments, he cites freedom as one of the biggest perks.

“You make can decisions that drive the company. You have the ability to hire the people around you that you want and create the company culture.”

Robert runs a lean team of mainly software engineers and spends most of his time monitoring active projects and managing the pipeline of upcoming projects.

“A large majority of the work we do at Appstem is designing and developing iOS and Android apps. Some of our clients include Tesla Motors, Kaiser Permanente, Genentech, Johnson & Johnson, Caesars Entertainment, Hearst Corporation and Lionsgate to name a few. We also work with a lot of startups, which is exciting, sometimes creating their very first product.”

With a growing list of impressive clients, Robert says Appstem is currently looking to hire more mobile app developers (contact him here if you’re interested).

Robert has accomplished a lot in a short amount of time and says he is constantly inspired by anyone who starts their own company.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty leaving a paying job in hopes you’ll be successful. I didn’t have a mentor, but was lucky to have a partner who’s extremely smart and level-headed.”

His advice to Rising Pros thinking about starting their own company is simple.

“Do it! The sooner you do it the easier it will be. Life will happen and if it’s something you’re interested in you’ll wish you gave it a try. It may work, it may not and that’s ok. My advice; be lean and mean, and protect your cash. I see a lot of people spending money on unnecessary things.”

Outside of running a successful startup, Robert enjoys being active; exercising, snowboarding and golfing whenever he can, and he also loves to travel and watch documentaries. As a young, ambitious CEO of a growing company, Robert shows us how taking risks can lead to success.

Learn more about Appstem and its offerings here, and connect with Robert on LinkedIn to pick his brain about starting your own company.

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