Being Productive When You Are Sick

It can come out of nowhere. One minute you’re reaching the height of your potential at school or work, and the next minute you’re feeling like you need to be 3 feet deep under a pile of blankets running a cold so bad you’re questioning where you went wrong!

But, as a hardworking, high-achieving individual, you know that you can’t let a roadblock like sickness get in the way of reaching your goals. Or as a parent, you can’t afford to take sick days!

How can you continue to be productive when you’re feeling under the weather? Here’s some strategies:

  1. Take care of yourself first

Whatever is going on in your life, you need to take the right steps in taking care of your health first. Whether it’s visiting a doctor’s office, a pharmacy, or reaching out to your parents, it’s important to make sure you’re doing what’s necessary to recover 100%.

If you’re like me, the doctor’s office is reserved as a last resort. For the money conscious individual or if your insurance isn’t the best in the world, the price of a doctor’s visit plus any added prescriptions can really add up as unexpected costs in a budget.

Tip: Visit your local pharmacy and ask the pharmacist for their opinion on anything that would help you without the need for a prescription.

Whenever I feel ill, I visit the pharmacy in my local grocery store and tell them how I’m feeling and ask them if there’s anything available to purchase that would help relieve my symptoms.

Doing this can save you time and money by not visiting a medical doctor. However, please note that you may require more attention or something a bit stronger than what you can get without a prescription, so don’t be afraid to call your local clinic or doctor’s office if what you’re going through gets worse or if the pharmacist also suggests it. This goes doubly if you think you may be contagious.

Take care of yourself first before trying to tackle your other commitments.

2. Prioritize your commitments to determine which ones you can accomplish

Determine how you’re feeling. If you’re not feeling all that bad, you could still continue working on your commitments and be productive throughout the day. However, if you’re feeling like you can’t get out of bed and the world is on the verge of ending, it can feel so much harder to be productive.

Prioritize your commitments for the day and see what you can accomplish in your current state.

From our previous point above, your number one commitment when you’re feeling under the weather should be to take care of yourself. From there, you should have things in an order of importance or things that have to get done.

Once you figure out what’s important, determine what you’re able to do, take steps to do those things, and you’ll be on your way to productivity!

3. Notify school or work

Some things on your list may require giving a notice to someone. When you give your school or work notice that you’re not feeling well, you put yourself in a position where you can prevent work buildup and stress. The right people will know you’re under the weather and they will most likely not want you to come in if you’re sick or contagious.

If you feel that you’re contagious based on your current state and symptoms, it would be best to avoid any commitments that require interacting with others. Visit your local doctor’s office and take the right steps towards recovery.

From a school angle, if your teachers or professors are responsive, you can get the material that you’ll miss from not being in class from them. You’ll be able to keep up with the rest of the class and not have the extra stress to worry about when you return.

On the work side, letting your boss know you won’t be in with advance notice gives them an opportunity to find ways to pick up the slack, if necessary. It also shows you communicate well if anything comes up.

One thing to note is that some schools and workplaces require a doctor’s note if you’re going to be out. Without it, you may miss out on the opportunity to complete any makeup work at a later date. Or you may receive a no call, no show from your work, which is something that can be avoided.

4. Enlist the help of friends and family

When you’re not feeling well, who better to help you in your time of need than your friends and family? Reach out to those people who can help you with tasks that need completing.

If you know anyone from your classes, ask them to send you their notes and any updates so you don’t fall behind.

Having someone take even the smallest items off your list of things to do can make a world of difference in your level of stress. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you could really use it.

This holds true for parenting as well! As much as parenting requires us to be superheros, when we’re not at 100%, it can be difficult to get through the day. If you have help available, utilize it!

Summary

It can be the worst feeling in the world when you’re not feeling well, and you still have a mountain of tasks to get done! To help yourself be more productive during these times, we talked about the following strategies:

  1. Take care of yourself first
  2. Prioritize your commitments to determine which ones you can accomplish
  3. Notify school or work
  4. Enlist the help of friends and family

Make sure you put yourself on the right path to feeling better, and notify others that would be affected by you being ill. This can save you from added stress down the road.

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How To Secure A Job Before Graduation

Securing a job before graduating college can feel like being on top of the world! It’s an amazing feeling knowing that you have a new career waiting for you when you graduate. You don’t have to stress about job searching and interviewing on top of making sure you pass your classes. But how do you actually land a job before graduating from college?

In the summer before the last year of my computer science B.S. program, I was offered a full-time software developer position for a major company in the finance industry. They offered a great starting salary, benefits, and a sign-on bonus! Here’s how I got the offer.

  1. Network, network, network!

Networking is incredibly important when you’re searching for jobs. It can be the difference maker that takes you from applying to 100 different jobs online with no callback to not having to apply to a job because you know someone who works for a company you’re interested in, and they can connect you with someone in the hiring department.

Every opportunity I had to meet with representatives from different companies I treated as a chance to show my value to them. When you’re networking with companies, there’s a few key things you want to demonstrate:

  • You’re personable
  • You’re interested in the company
  • You’re eager to learn and develop
  • You have experiences in what they’re looking for

Give them a reason to remember you by expressing your interest in them, and showcase some of the experiences you have up to that point. A lot of companies look for leadership experiences through clubs and other extracurricular activities.

In the computer science field, many companies wanted to see that I had an interest in programming outside of the classroom. They would want to see any code that I’ve written and what languages I was comfortable with.

When I was networking with the company I’m currently with, I connected with an alumni from my school. They would reach out to the school a few times a year and gauge the interest of students wanting to participate in activities sponsored by the company. And you better believe I took part in every single one!

Tip: Don’t underestimate the power of alumni networks! Reach out to alumni from your school to see if they would be able to connect you to the right people. LinkedIn is a great resource.

2. Cast a wide net

It’s important to be open to different career possibilities. You don’t want to bottle neck yourself so much where you’re only interested in one role with one company. Although ambitious and admirable, to put yourself in the best position to be successful in your job hunt, you should be open to the many possibilities related to your degree.

Cast a wide net when you’re applying for positions with different companies. Take a chance on a company you may not have thought about interviewing with. The more opportunities you take in reaching out to companies and expressing interest in them, the better chance you’ll have at landing an interview that leads to a job, or even better, getting to choose between multiple job offers.

3. Follow up with your connections

After you’ve networked and expressed interest in a company, and you received their contact information, always make sure to follow up with them. Representatives go to many different colleges, so you want to keep the memory of meeting you fresh on their minds while they’re deciding who to push to their hiring teams.

Within the first few days of meeting with someone from a company you’re interested in, send them an email expressing appreciation and excitement for opportunities with the company. Mention something specific from the meeting, and be sincere. Here’s an example of what a follow up could look like the following:

Hello Jan,

It was great connecting with you this past week at Tennessee State! I am excited to learn more about the opportunities the company has for future graduates, and I hope you’ll keep me in consideration for any upcoming openings. I believe I would be a amazing fit based on our conversation about the company and the things I am looking for in a career! I loved the career training that the company has!

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Tom

Making sure you follow up with the companies you network with can go a long way in getting opportunities to interview with them and securing a job.

4. Secure an internship with the company

Securing an internship with a company is a fantastic way to land a job before graduation. Many companies make an effort to hire from their internship pool.

My company, for example, hires over 50% of all new hires for the year from the intern pool. On top of that, most of the interns who satisfactorily complete their tasks, demonstrate a willingness to learn, and fit well with the company receive a job offer at the end of the internship.

Those are some pretty good odds. So, if you can secure an internship, you’ll be one step closer to landing a job before graduation!

If you’re interested in how to obtain an internship, read this article on how I received multiple internship offers as a computer science major, How I Got Multiple Internship Offers While In School. There are many strategies in that article to help you get the internship that leads to your career!

5. Continually find ways to show interest in the company

When a company has shown interest in you through networking events, follow ups, and interviews, be sure to continue to show interest in them. Here are a few ways you can show a company you’re interested in them:

  • Attend and participate in the events they have at your school
  • Wear their swag around campus
  • Keep the networking connections strong through email
  • Continue to work on the skills they’re looking for in a new hire

When a company is going through their hiring process, they’re more likely to give you consideration for a job if they know you’re interested, and you check off the boxes they’re looking for in a candidate.

Continue to participate in company sponsored events, maintain connections with the company, and work on the skills that they highlight as important for new hires to possess, and you should be a solid candidate for them to want to hire.

Summary

Securing a job before graduating is a great way to set the tone for the beginning of a wonderful career. Over the course of the article we dove into 5 strategies for landing a job while in school:

  1. Network, network, network!
  2. Cast a wide net
  3. Follow up with your connections
  4. Secure an internship with the company
  5. Continually find ways to show interest in the company

Even if you’ve already graduated college, these tips can still be incredibly useful in your job search. And don’t get discouraged if the job hunt hasn’t produced your dream job yet! Stay positive, and be open to the possibilities that come your way.

How’s your job search going? Reach out!

If you enjoyed reading the article, and you feel it’s been helpful, make sure to like, subscribe, and share the article.

Your likes, shares, and subscriptions help me fulfill my goal of empowering change and instilling confidence in your education & career goals!

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4 Clues That Your Current Job May Not Be Right For You

Life is too short to spend time working in a job that you’re not passionate about. However, an overwhelmingly high number of reports suggests that many people who work are unhappy with their jobs in one way or another. Are you in the majority? If so, your current career may not be right for you! Here’s how you can tell.

  1. You’re not happy in your current role

Everyone has the occasional bad day at work. It happens. But, if you find yourself dreading the workday on a consistent basis to the point where you don’t want to be at work more often than you do, you may not be in the right job.

It’s important to take some time to figure out why you’re not happy with your job. Are the issues you come up with something that you have some control over?

If the issues are not in your control, how long do you think you can deal with them until something has to give? Think about the long-term picture here.

Also, take a look at your work environment. How is everyone else feeling about their jobs? Do they look unhappy as well? If you work with others who feel the same way, there may be a bigger issue that needs to be addressed by the higher ups. Having a whole team unhappy does not create a good work culture.

2. You feel unfulfilled

If your job leaves you feeling unfulfilled in what you’re doing with your life, you may not be in the right job.

I worked for a tobacco company one year while I was finishing up school for my second bachelor’s degree. As someone who grew up with asthma, I couldn’t get on board with their mission and their purpose.

I had absolutely no sense of fulfillment working there, and I definitely didn’t feel like I was making a positive impact on the world. On the flip side, there were many people who worked there that felt fulfilled to be helping distribute a product that they enjoyed using.

When you feel like you’re making an impact in the work you do, it can give you a great feeling of accomplishment and pride. It’s all a matter of making sure you know who you are and what gives you that sense of fulfillment. When you finally get that feeling of fulfillment in the job you do, it’s something you don’t want to lose.

3. You don’t feel appreciated

When you feel like you do a great job at work, and you put in a lot of effort because you care, it is the worst feeling to not receive any appreciation for it. You’re helping the company you work for be successful, but you don’t get the recognition you deserve. It can hurt your morale and drive to continue to do well.

Maybe you got overlooked for a promotion or raise. Maybe it’s happened on more than one occasion. If you don’t feel appreciated at work, it’s hard to be committed to doing your best.

If you’re not feeling appreciated at work, try bringing it up with your boss. It’s okay to be direct and highlight all the great work you’ve been doing. There’s a chance that they’ve been busy to the point that they haven’t noticed or it hasn’t been brought to their attention.

However, they may not give you the response you were expecting. The company may not be giving raises at that time, there may not be available positions to be promoted to, or it’s not in their management style to acknowledge great work.

If you’re feeling unappreciated at work, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to change, you may not be in the right job.

4. You browse available job openings

On your down time you may find yourself browsing open jobs in your area. Sometimes the grass is 100% greener on the other side. You owe it to yourself to entertain the idea of what another job would look like for you. Take your job browsing a couple steps further.

Find opportunities to interview with other companies. The stakes would be a lower because you already have a job, so the stress levels shouldn’t be as high as if you didn’t have a job to begin with.

Look out for the things that would make you happy, fulfilled, and appreciated at the job, and ask questions about the things that have you looking at other jobs in the first place.

Ask to take a tour of where the new job is. Use this opportunity to gauge the mood of the room. Do people seem happy to be there? Ask if you could meet with someone who works there to get some inside information that you may not have gotten during the interview. These are all great ways to get yourself into a job that fits you best.

Summary

Many working individuals are not happy in their current jobs. It can be for a variety of reasons, but if you find yourself in the following situations for an extended period of time, your job may not be the right fit for you:

  1. You’re not happy in your current role
  2. You feel unfulfilled
  3. You don’t feel appreciated
  4. You browse available job openings

You should be in a job where you’re happy, fulfilled, appreciated, and you’re excited to be there. You owe it to yourself to find the job that’s right for you.

Are you in a job you don’t like? Or, do you have a job you love? I’d love to hear from you!

If you enjoyed reading the article, and you feel it’s been helpful, make sure to like, subscribe, and share the article.

Your likes, shares, and subscriptions help me fulfill my goal of empowering change and instilling confidence in your education & career goals!

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5 Key Strategies To Prevent Burnout

Burnout is a term used to describe someone that is feeling tired and mentally exhausted resulting from a buildup of stress. This can come from several different areas in your life, such as school, work, and parenting.

It is a serious problem that affects many people around the world, and it’s important to take action steps to limit the buildup of stress leading to burnout.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out my article, What Is Burnout And How To Identify It At Work Before It’s Too Late, it goes into detail on the process of burning out and what signs to look out for.

If you feel like you’re on your way to burning out from your commitments, there are strategies available that can help prevent it. Here are 5 strategies that you can use to help you avoid burnout.

  1. Locate the source of the stress buildup

It’s important to find what stressors are in your life and where they are coming from. Like any problem you face in life, it’s easier to deal with the stress when you know what’s causing it. For this to work, it’s important to be as specific as possible about what the stress is and where the source of the stress can be found. Without knowing these two things, it’s difficult to address the problem.

As an example, let’s look at the two statements below:

  • “Work is stressing me out, and I don’t think I can take it much longer.”
  • “The added responsibilities on top of my regular duties at work without added support is becoming difficult to manage. Work was fine until my boss asked if I could take on a new project. It’s becoming difficult to stay motivated because I don’t see an end to the extra work I’ve received.”

The more specific and honest with yourself you can be, the more effective you’ll be at addressing the issues to prevent burnout. Once you’re able to identify the source of your stress, you can take steps to address it.

2. Identify your support system and utilize them

Your support system is anyone you can turn to that will listen when you have a problem, and they will help you in addressing the problem. Having a strong support system will give you a safe place to share the stress in your life, and if they’re close to you, they can provide guidance that would best suit you.

It’s important to note that when a person goes down the path to burnout, one of the steps that they could go through is withdrawal from social interaction. If you’re feeling this way, it’s important to seek out your support system.

If you’re not the kind of person that likes to share personal information, such as the things that are causing you stress, your support system can also provide a way to change your environment or engage in social activities. It can be just as beneficial to be doing something you enjoy with others, such as game nights or eating out.

3. Take time for yourself

Not only is it important to have a support system available, but having personal time for the things you enjoy is also important in minimizing the effects of stress leading to burnout.

When work, school, or life gets stressful, and you feel the effects of the stress for any length of time, it’s important to take a step back and dedicate some time for yourself.

The time doesn’t have to be long, but during this time, you should do something you enjoy, such as a hobby or working out.

The reason you want to take time out for yourself is that your brain releases different signals depending on what you’re doing. If you’re constantly stressing about something, then your body is constantly sending the same signals, and over time this can lead to serious health problems, which includes, but is not limited to, burning out.

When you’re doing something you enjoy, your brain releases different signals that enable you to feel happy, relaxed, and overall in a good place. So, when you get back to your commitment, you’ll be in a better position to continue working.

4. Prioritize the important things

There’s a saying:

  • “The straw that broke the camel’s back.”

This can be in reference to a small or minor issue being the final thing that causes a big reaction. As an example, let’s say one day I had a terrible experience starting from the time I woke up. I missed my alarm, sat in traffic to get to work, forgot to eat breakfast, missed a meeting, and I forgot to grab my wallet, so I couldn’t get lunch either.

As I’m sitting at my desk with all of these problems built up inside me, a coworker walks over and asks how my lunch was. Although they meant no harm in the question, it upset me so much that I walk out of the office and go home. With that last action, I miss the rest of my meetings, and I’m responsible for explaining to my boss where I was the next day.

In my example, what my coworker said was meaningful enough to me that I left my other commitments unfinished to go home. However, it shouldn’t have had such an impact that I neglected my other priorities as a response.

It’s important to prioritize the important things in your life so that you can see where your time and energy should be spent. Your priorities should include some form of the following:

  • Work/school success
  • self-care
  • friends/family

It can be in any order that you feel and as specific as necessary, but it’s important to note that a lot of things that can be stressful, you wouldn’t necessarily find on your list. These would be the straws that we want to avoid stressing over in our lives. In my example, what a coworker said, that wasn’t even rude or offensive, was not something that I should have prioritized as important.

When you’re able to prioritize what’s important in your life, you have a clear picture of where your time and energy should be spent, and you’re better able to keep the straws from becoming the reason for your burnout.

5. Find meaning in what you’re doing

I cannot stress this one enough. When you’re feeling down about your work or school, it is important to find meaning in what you’re doing, and keep it at the forefront of your mind. You had your reasons for starting whatever it is that’s causing you stress, but you have to continue to see the value in what you’re doing.

Whether it’s finishing the semester strong so you’re one step closer to graduating, or many people being dependent on successful completion of your project at work, what you’re doing has value. It’s meaningful. You may have to remind yourself every once in a while, just in case you forget.

Without having the value behind what you’re doing, you start to lose the motivation or drive to continue doing it. You may even start developing negative feelings towards it. By staying aware of the meaning behind what you’re doing, you’re better able to keep the motivation for doing it alive.

Even in the most difficult of situations, you can find something meaningful to hold onto so that you can continue forward.

Conclusion

Many people around the world have experienced or will experience burnout in their lives. It’s important to find ways to keep from going down that path for your overall well-being. In this article, we looked at 5 key strategies for helping to prevent burnout:

  1. Locate the source of the stress buildup
  2. Identify your support system and utilize them
  3. Take time for yourself
  4. Prioritize the important things
  5. Find meaning in what you’re doing

Although any one of these strategies can help as an aid against burnout, using a few or all of the strategies together can have a better effect and a higher success rate.

What things do you do to fight against burnout? Let me know!

And, as always, if you enjoyed reading the article, and you feel it’s been helpful, make sure to like, subscribe, share, and be on the lookout for more ways to feel empowered and confident in your career and education goals!

Networking As An Introvert

If dogs were all I needed to network with, I would be set. With their warm coats, lovable demeanor, and innate understanding of humans, it’s easy for me to run up to any dog I see while I’m out on the town and greet them as if I’ve known them all my life.

Unfortunately, that’s not how life works. In order to develop your inner circle, your professional contacts, as well as get ahead in your career, networking with others is a crucial, constant task to accomplish in your daily life.

As an introvert, it takes getting out of my comfort zone every time I try to get to know someone else. Whenever I see an opportunity to connect with someone, my palms start to sweat, my heart races, and my mouth gets dry. It never fails.

If you experience any of the things I just described, or something similar, it’s okay! You are not alone in this. The ability to network, like other skills, is something that can be developed. Here are some things you can do to improve your networking skills.

  1. Be aware of nonverbal communication

Whenever I get caught in my own thoughts, it’s so easy for me to forget my body language. Be aware of your nonverbal communication! People gather information about others in such a quick manner, and most of that information comes from nonverbal cues.

The way I address my nonverbal communication is to be actively aware of the message I am sending. Some questions I’ll ask myself would be:

  • What am I saying with my facial expressions?
  • Am I slouching?
  • Am I crossing my arms?

Addressing these questions will help with your nonverbal communication.

As an example, If I am new to a job, I’ll make sure to have a smile on my face, position myself so that I am not slouching (such as in a chair or standing) as well as not crossing my arms.

If I’m not paying attention to my facial expressions, sometimes I can come across as being not very approachable. This can hinder my networking opportunities, so I make time to be aware of the message I am sending in this way.

Slouching usually sends a message of not being interested in what’s going on, so watch out for it!

The reason you don’t want to cross your arms while networking is that it creates a perceived barrier between you and the person you’re talking to. We don’t want barriers when networking! It’s important to show that you’re open to communicating with others.

2. Look for the right moments to engage in a conversation

This is a huge networking problem for me. Imagine you’re joining a group mid conversation. The discussion interests you, and you want to contribute. Or, the conversation doesn’t interest you, but if you don’t contribute, then you’ll feel like the quiet person of the group who doesn’t add to the conversation.

In either case, finding the right time to jump into the conversation can be tricky as an introvert. For me, I always sit on the border of wanting to wait until an opening comes up, but also not wanting to miss out on giving my input. I’ve missed out on so many conversations in my life because I waited until it was too late.

Especially in a group setting where there’s obvious extroverts excited to share, how do you engage in the conversation?

  • Look out for side conversations

If you’re the kind of person that shutters when thinking about speaking up in a group conversation, look out for smaller side conversations within the group you’re with.

When you hear someone speaking up, but not quite loud enough that it gets picked up by the whole group, try to make eye contact with the person and build on what they were saying. The eye contact part is important here because it creates a connection between you and the other person to start talking. Throw in a smile and genuine interest, and you’re on your way to building your network!

On the flip side, it’s okay if you share your input out loud, and the whole group doesn’t hear it. It’s practice, and you’re actively working on networking! There’s a strong chance that someone will hear and engage in a side conversation with you.

  • Use a person’s name before sharing

This can be helpful if someone is taking control of the conversation. If you have something to add, say the person’s name and make eye contact with them before you talk. This can give you the space to contribute to the conversation.

3. Use your skills to your advantage

I haven’t always been very good at small talk. However, I’ve been a stellar listener for as long as I can remember. When networking, I always make it a point to remember something specific about the person I’m talking to, and I’ll try to incorporate it into a conversation we have later on.

A while back, a coworker and I were talking about vacation. He was telling me about his plans for his vacation. I made sure to ask questions to show I was interested, and it allowed him to talk in the conversation more than me, which is usually where I’m most comfortable.

Flash forward to when he returned from his vacation, and I made it a point to ask about it. I brought up specifics to show I was listening before, and he was happy to share. Now, we talk about things we want to do on our vacations all the time!

If talking is not your strong point, don’t worry! You have many other strengths that you can lean on when networking with others. Think about your skill set, and try to incorporate it into conversations with others. Skills like empathy, team work, positive attitude, trust, and creativity are just a few examples of skills you can use.

3. Preparation is key!

Like many things in life, preparation is a big component to networking success for introverts. If I didn’t prepare a few questions or have a goal in mind for when I was networking, I would stumble with my words, feel awkward, and not make a good impression.

Practice what you want to say in networking situations. Have questions ready in your head. Doing this will allow the conversation to take off, and you can guide the conversation based on the responses. Having that buffer of questions in your head ready to go can go a long way in developing your networking skills.

4. Send a follow up email

This is important in a work setting. If you successfully network with someone, and you get their contact information, send a follow up email thanking them for their time. Say something specific about the meeting and keep the line of communication open between the two of you. This can go a way in maintaining the connection for the next time you meet with them.

5. Be true to yourself

As an introvert, it’s exhausting to be the center of attention and talk for any extended period of time. I need a decompress day just to recover. This holds especially true for when I try to be someone else to build my network.

Conversations are so much easier when there’s things in common between the people talking, isn’t it? If you’re trying to network with someone, it can be so easy to jump on the first thing the reveal they’re interested in or like to talk about. If you do not share the same interest, it’s important to refrain from expressing interest in it as well.

For example, if your boss says to you that his favorite hobby is watching baseball games, but you have no interest in baseball, you wouldn’t want to tell him that baseball is your favorite sport and you’ve been playing it since you were a child.

Instead, having a follow up question ready for this situation would put you in a better position to build the relationship for the long term. Some follow up questions to something that doesn’t quite interest you would be:

  • I’m not very familiar with that. What would be some important things to know?
  • What’s your favorite thing about it?
  • How long have you been involved with it?

Having a follow up question ready will enable you to keep the conversation going, and it allows the person you’re with to talk about something they’re interested in.

Tip: It’s easier to talk about something you’re interested in as opposed to something you’re not. This holds true to the people you’re talking with as well.

You do not have to share all the same interests as the people you’re networking with, but chances are you have more in common than you think.

In being true to yourself, when you’re talking with others, you can casually add your interests into conversations to see if they have the same interests.

For example, if someone asks you what you did last weekend, that would be a perfect and low risk time to share an interest you have. If you went to a concert or festival you enjoyed, or even played video games, you can put that alongside other things such as relaxing or running errands.

If the other person shares a similar interest, they’ll keep the conversation going. If not, it’s okay! You’re being true to yourself, and you’re working on your networking skills.

Summary

Networking as an introvert can induce a lot of stress and cause anxiety. In this blog post we hit on 5 keys for introverts when working on your networking skills

  1. Be aware of nonverbal communication
  2. Look for the right moments to engage in a conversation
  3. Preparation is key
  4. Send a follow up email
  5. Be true to yourself

Working on these 5 things will put you well on your way to growing your network.

If you enjoyed reading the article, and you feel like it’s been helpful, make sure to like, subscribe, share, and be on the lookout for more ways to feel empowered and confident in your career and education goals!

Thinking About Changing Careers? Here’s Why I Did It

So you’ve built the foundation for a solid career. 40 more years and you can retire happily, right? If only that were true. Have you ever had that feeling in the back of your mind that there might be something better out there that you’d rather spend the majority of your working life doing as opposed to the career you’re currently in? If not, congratulations! You’re one of the lucky ones. If so, however, there may be signs in your working life that are pointing you down another path.

I noticed some of these signs while in my teaching career. After recognizing the signs, weighing my options, and taking a good, long look at what career path I wanted to take, I made the decision to switch careers.

Just the thought of uprooting something consistent and familiar like your career in favor of something else can be extremely scary. Not only do you have to start over career wise, but there’s no guarantee that you would end up in the career you’re seeking in the first place. This all crossed my mind as I contemplated putting aside my Vanderbilt education for something that I felt would check more boxes off in my career goals. I spent most of my school year trying to talk myself out of throwing away my current career for something else, but these recurring signs kept coming up.

  1. I wasn’t happy in my career

My last year of teaching was at my dream school, one of the top high schools in the city and state. I absolutely loved my students when I was teaching. Their success was my number one priority because their success equated to my success. However, when the kids weren’t around, I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t happy with where my career was and where it could lead. With all the paperwork, long hours, and things outside of my control, I could not see myself having a fulfilling career teaching. I didn’t like how out of 120 students, a single student having a bad day could cause me to have a bad day as well. I put so much of myself into my work, but at the end of the day, I was counting how many more days until the weekend or the next holiday.

If you’re not happy with your career, it’s important to identify the specifics of why you aren’t happy. Are these things within your control to adjust? If so, would changing them change the way you view the outlook for your career? Although I had certain parts of my teaching career that I found meaningful, it wasn’t enough to where I felt like I could be happy doing this type of work until retirement. Even the thought of being promoted did nothing for my feelings towards the work I was doing.

2. I was burned-out

This one is common among teachers and other high stress and long hour professions. On any given week, I was putting in 60 – 75 hours a week into my work. This included the regular school day, planning lessons, grading papers, coaching sports, tutoring, and meeting with administrators and parents. Whenever I felt tired of the work I was doing, I would refer to the one quote that says if you love the work you do, you never work a day in your life. And then I would realize that although I had a passion for education, I was burned out. In order to push back against this feeling, I would list the reasons why I am doing what I am doing, find time for myself, and reset.

These strategies worked for me throughout the school year, but it also helped me discover that there are other careers out there where I can love doing the work and not get the feeling of needing to take a day off just to get away from the work for a day or play catch up.

Again, it’s common to get the feeling of being exhausted and overworked sometimes. Whenever you start to feel this way, there’s a few things I mentioned that would be helpful to do. First, it helps to remind yourself why you’re working hard. In my case, I was working hard to help my students be successful. I was also working to make a case for a future promotion. Second, take a time out to do something for you that would help you feel refreshed. Some things I did included spending time outside, enjoying a nice drink from my local coffee shop, and getting a good scoop of ice cream from my favorite ice cream shop. These time out activities don’t have to be time consuming, but it should be something you enjoy doing. Finally, reset in the work you were doing. Once you get back into the work, it should feel like a second wind for you so that you can complete your tasks.

3. Another field interested me

I get asked a lot how I went from education to software development. During open periods where I normally spent planning or grading papers, I often found myself going into other teachers’ classrooms to observe, gain new insights, spend time with my students, and provide support. It was one of my favorite things to do as it often helped establish bonds with my students.

One class I particularly enjoyed sitting in was the computer science class. It was so fascinating to me, more so than the chemistry topics I was teaching. And, the careers stemming from a background in computer science were in high demand. Sitting in these classes sparked my interest in the field, and I began doing research to see how I could begin a career in the computer science field.

If you’re unhappy with the field you’re in and something else sparks an interest, you owe it to yourself to research the new field. Some basic questions to help you in researching would be the following:

  1. What is it about this new field that interests you, and how is it different from your current field?
  2. Picture yourself in a specific career within this new field. What is different from where you currently are in your career to how you’re picturing yourself? What would be the same?
  3. What would be the pros and cons for pursuing this new career versus staying in your current career?
  4. How are the job prospects in this new field and opportunities for advancement?
  5. What would be the time commitment for pursuing this new career?

If you can answer these questions and all signs point towards starting a new career, it may be time to consider taking the leap of faith and switch careers.

Conclusion

It wasn’t easy making the choice to switch careers. Some signs that let me know that it was a good decision to make were:

  • I wasn’t happy in my career
  • I was burned-out
  • Another field interested me

In the end, I know I made the right decision, and I hope my experiences here will be helpful if you’re considering making a change in careers.

Are you considering a new career? If so, what signs led you to thinking about pursuing a new career? Comment and send me an email. I would love to hear from you.

If you enjoyed reading the article, and you feel like it’s been helpful, make sure to like, subscribe, share, and be on the lookout for more ways to feel empowered and confident in your career and education goals!