Archive | November 2011

A day of thanks

This Thanksgiving, it’s hard not to miss my family up in Columbus. This is my first major holiday with my parents and sister thousands of miles away and me living “on my own”. I’m missing the family traditions of watching parades, dinner, family games and chatting with my extended family into the night with cups of steaming coffee.

It’s so easy to focus on the bad, and completely overlook the good – and the great.

I am working at Walt Disney World and participating in an incredible opportunity. I have food on my table, a place to call home, a job, friends and family in Ohio … and a new family in Florida.

It’s so easy in today’s world to focus on the bad and the negative. I don’t have the newest clothes, I don’t make the most money, I’m stressed about the future, I’m figuring out my post-grad life, I’m away from my immediate family.

And how do you deal with this stress and remember your blessings? You take a step back and look at the big picture – that’s right, in today’s world where you’re expected to check your phone and email constantly, I’m taking a step back and looking at everything…

..and boy, am I blessed.

I’m blessed that I have a family that loves me and supports me from thousands of miles away, friends that love me, and a new Orlando family that supports me from right across the street. I am blessed to have my health, including the ability to walk around the parks, explore and interact, a luxury that not all hold. I’m blessed to have heat (or AC depending on Orlando’s mood) that allows me to live comfortably. I’m blessed to have food when I’m hungry, and the ability to splurge on silly things like Starbucks and ice-cream when I’m out with friends.

This Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday I vow to focus on the positive, and this fabulous adventure I experience everyday. I am learning who I am as a person, what are my true values, who are my rocks of strength and my closest friends, and what direction I want to head in life.

Blessings come in all shapes and sizes – and it’s important to remember them all. The greatest blessings don’t come in shopping bag (which is hard for me to remember) but memories and happiness.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and are excitedly preparing for the Christmas and holiday season. Stay tuned for posts about Christmas at Disney, shopping on a budget and my first Christmas out of Ohio.

Let’s keep it professional

“Did you hear what happened last weekend?”

Seems like I can’t enter a room without hearing that sentence or the end of some juicy story, usually about another classmate/co-worker/friend/acquaintance. People bond over drama, and in my opinion, everyone feels a little more righteous sharing information about someone else.

Keep it out of the workplace. Period.

No one is perfect, I’ll be the first to admit that upfront. People have bad days at work, things going on with the family or friends, relationships beginning or ending and stressful lives. However, what is said at work about your personal life can tarnish your professional reputation and appearance.

Specifically, sometimes your leaders don’t want to hear about what you did this past weekend, how crazy your Saturday night turned out or who is the new couple at work. It’s what our generation has heard since the beginning of Facebook, nothing is safe in the world of social media. If you are going to post pictures of your crazy weekend on Facebook, make sure you aren’t friends with your managers and other leaders. Why give anyone a reason to distrust your professionalism?

The job market is competitive – and remains tough once you enter a company. As a young professional you don’t want anyone to connect your name with a bad (or unprofessional) story. When your superiors are talking about employees they would like to see move forward with their careers, could the stories you’ve told during lunch make an impact? Keep distance between work and play.

My situation is slightly different because of the high-volume of young professionals and college students I work with during my program, but this lesson is easily transferred to other work environments. Talking about how hung-over/exhausted you are because of going-out last night isn’t the way to show leaders you want more responsibilities.

I’m not preaching that once your graduate college all “fun” extracurricular activities need to stop, they just need to stay separated from your professional life.

You never know who is listening as you chat about last night, the previous weekend or share the most recent gossip about another co-worker. You cannot unring a bell. Be mindful of how you present in your workplace, because in the end, your reputation may speak louder than your actions.

Grown up classes, please?

Mortgages, health insurance, 401(K)s, house payments, saving and retirement. All normal “adult” things in life. I’ve heard about them through out my high-school and college education, and now as a post-grad I would like to say one thing – I understand VERY little.

The secret is out! If you came up to me and started discussing benefit packages and 401(K)s I wouldn’t be able to contribute to the conversation.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the core basics, but I don’t understand the topics to the full extent. Worse part, it’s starting to matter. I’m reaching the point in life where I am preparing to remove myself from my parents’ insurance and cell phone plan, begin paying for all of my car insurance and establish my credit.

I’ll be the first to admit it, I am extremely blessed with such incredible support from my parents. There allowed me to graduate college without debt and encouraged me to follow my dreams of participating in the Walt Disney World College Program. They pay for 1/2 my insurance and my cell phone (which, I would like to say I am the only 22-year-old without a smart phone) and help me with my finances. The only thing I paid for in college and now in Orlando is gas, groceries, 1/2 of my insurance, miscellaneous bills and fun spending money.

Great. So I am the girl trying to leave the nest with a college education, my polished resume (thanks to seminars and advisors), my life goals and determination.

Where do you learn the rest?! Where in life do you finally look in the mirror and tell yourself that it’s time to cut all the cords from your parents?

This summer I made the 1st step, I acquired my own credit card. Look out world, I’m working on obtaining that perfect three digit number. However, the process wasn’t easy. It reminded me of my freshman year of college: how to you obtain credit if you have no credit? The banks know when you’re on your on your parents’ plan that it isn’t really you paying the bills … and I have never bought a  car and have no loans. So after a meeting with my bank to explain that I did in fact have an income, and a quick review of both mine AND my parents’ relationships with the bank, I became the proud owner of my own credit card.

Again, trying to cut the ties with my parents and become a “grown up”, but needing their help all along the way.

So when am I old enough to know the secret handshake for the grown-up club?  I want to know about investing in the stock market, having a good lawyer, an appropriate APR and buying my first house. How do you learn these things? Is it by trial-and-error? Because in this economy, financial mistakes can become very costly. I’ve heard you should start saving for  retirement in your early 20s, but how exactly do you begin?

I know how to budget a small income on silly and some-what needed things – but how do you cross the bridge of obtaining a salaried job and budgeting for house-payments, cell phone bills, groceries and everything else?

In high-school I thought I knew it all and it college I thought I was learning it all – now barely dipping my toe into adult-hood, I know I still have so, so much more to learn.

Thanks for reading! I would love all  thoughts and opinions.