How I plan my Cherry Blossom Festival Trip Using Twitter

8 Apr cherry blossom

Yesterday, I headed to Washington DC for the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival. The trip was postponed from last week because of the cold weather. I was updated about the blossom thanks to Twitter! Apart from the official Cherry Blossom DC’s Twitter account, lots of people in DC share pictures on Twitter to keep the rest of the country posted about the blossom! Big thanks to all!

Although the blossom didn’t quite reach their peak time yet, I still enjoyed my first trip to DC! The city is clean, and more spacious.  After parking the car at the intersection of North Carolina Ave and Pennsylvania ave, we made our first stop at the U.S. Capital Hill.

US capital hill

Walking further, we reached the Washington Monument. Thanks my friend for the good picture!

washington monument

The weather is a bit chilly but we still decided to take a break sitting in front of the Monument. Obviously, lots of people shared the same thought! And a pillow fight was going on!

photo (2)

For lunch, we went to Fish & Market, it is indeed “Fish & Market”, where you can buy all sorts of fresh sea food: fish, crabs, oysters, etc. You can also eat cooked sea food there.

photo (5)

 

Oh, remember why I’m visiting DC? The cherry blossom! Because of the weather, the cherry blossom was delayed but still delivered. Go to DC next weekend, the cherry blossom is still worth the trip.

cherry blossom

 

New to Networking? Start by Connecting with Your Alumni

4 Apr

Anyone who wants to succeed in the business world would not underestimate the importance of networking. However, some questions seem to weigh us down: where do I seek out networking opportunities? Which events should I go to? What should I talk about at networking events to make a good impression? The list goes on and on. We are scared even before we start.

As a young professional myself nine months into my job, my answer to all the questions is:

Start networking by connecting with your alumni.

Two reasons why I think it’s beneficial and effective to connect with your alumni first:

Easier to connect. It’s easier to talk and connect with the alumni, because you’ve already shared something in common – you went to the same school and maybe have taken a class with the same professor!

Alumni are more willing to help you out. Chances are alumni are more willing to help you. When I was job hunting last year, I emailed a couple of people to set up informational interviews. Almost every alumnus that I reached out to responded and agreed to talk to me, while few other people emailed me back.  Alumni network is a great way to help you build up your network and identify like-minded individuals.

Fortunately, as a proud graduate from the communication program from Villanova University,  I would often receive invitations to attend networking events organized by Villanova Communication Alumni Network (VCAN).

The VCAN is an exciting alumni program designed to connect VU graduates working in all areas of communication, including advertising, radio, TV, film, graphic arts, journalism, marketing, media, academia, public relations, and more, with other alumni.

On April 2, I went to VCAN’s Spring Networking Reception in Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse in Philly. Our professors from the communication graduate programs also made appearances.  Noticeably, the NBC10 News Anchor, Keith Jones ’07, came to the event and talked about his journey from Villanova Communication to the anchor desk in one of the top media markets in the US. The night was marked by good company and great conversations.

Apart from the wonderful events made possible by VCAN, Villanova graduates can also take advantage of NovaNetwork - a platform exclusive to VU alumni to find your college friends and make new connections with the Nova Network. You can communicate and interact with other alumni on-line, real-time.

Go to your school’s career center websites where you most likely will find alumni events. Attend them and start networking your way up the corporate ladder!

How do you start your networking? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments! 

Live with a Purpose Bigger than Yourself

26 Mar

The book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” have been a best-selling book in business for many years. Even before I came to the US, its Chinese translated copy has been selling well in China. However, I am never a big fan of books with titles like “7 habits of xxx”, “3 golden rules…”, “5 ways to achieve…”, etc. I feel like they all offer quick-fixed approaches without tapping into the essence behind problems. Well, I am wrong for assuming that, at least for this book.

The author, Stephen Covey, firmly advocates principles centered life versus character oriented life. I stand by the seven habits, or principles he put forward, especially the first three. Let’s review them together.

Habit 1: Be Proactive

Take initiative. Work on things in your circle of influence, not circle of concerns. Make small commitments and keep them. As we make commitments and keep our promises, we gradually develop a stronger sense of self-control that gives us more courage to accept more responsibility.

Rings true. Sometimes you complain: you feel powerless, you feel like you can’t do anything to change. This might be the case since you focus too much attention and energy on “circles of concerns” – things you are worried about but can do very little to alter. For instance, you are about to graduate but the economy is not doing well and unemployment rate is high. You can barely do much to improve the economic situation of the country, but you can do everything you can to improve your own skill sets and make yourself competitive in the job market.

Spend more time and energy on “circles of influence” – things you can make an impact on.

Habit 2: Begin with the end in Mind

This is my biggest take-away from this book: be goal-oriented. It resonates with lots of books I read or even movies that I watched. For example, the movie “The Secret” tells us how imaging achieving your goal in your mind will assist you reaching your goal more quickly.

The author argues that everyone should write a personal statement – a higher purpose to live for: what you would like to achieve in your life, in family, in your career, relationship, with friends, etc. In other words, how would you like other people to remember you at the end of the day. We should live our lives with a purpose. Something to look up to when you are confused. An effective goal concentrates on the results rather the activities. Many of us are troubled and concerned about trivia in life. However, if you constantly review your personal statement, you are less likely to be concerned with unimportant things, because you know it won’t harm much on your way to your goal.

Habit 3: Put First Things First

This one is about prioritization in time management.

Let’s start with a question: What one thing could you do in your personal and professional life that, if you did on a regular basis, would make a tremendous positive difference in your life? We will come back to this question later.

Things in our daily life are categorized in the following areas: urgent and important; not urgent and important, not important and urgent, and not important and not urgent.

Most of time, I spent way too much time on things that are urgent and important/urgent and not important. I was driven by how urgent a matter is. I become problem-minded.  However, it is argued, and I absolutely agree, that the heart of effective personal management should be things that are not urgent but important: building relationships, writing a personal statement, long-range planning, exercising, preventive maintenance, preparation.

For me, exercising, practicing writing, and networking are definitely two important things that I need to focus on. They are important but not urgent. However, in the long run, they will contribute tremendously to my personal and professional life.Fortunately, I have started exercising regularly, writing my personal statement, planning my blog strategy and looking for more networking events.

Habit 4 Think Win/Win

I endorse the definition of maturity as defined in this book:

Maturity is the balance between courage and consideration. Maturity is “the ability to express one’s own feelings and convictions balanced with consideration for the thoughts and feelings of others.”

Habit 5 Seek first to understand, then to be understood

Habit 6, Synergize

Habit 7 Sharpen the saw

杜拉拉升职记读书笔记

31 Jan

上个星期把《杜拉拉2》看完了。这还是一年多以前从国内带过来的,本以为自己早看完了,结果翻了两页之后发现一点印象都没有,就硬着头皮重看了一遍。工作之后感触更深,怕一转身忘了,就写个笔记供以后参考。

书中教了很多实用的职场知识,让人受益匪浅。

“可有可无的人,随时可能被替代”

这也就是所谓的irreplaceable。在公司运作中起到关键作用,你不在了很多公司事务运行不了,才能体现你的价值。

日常工作中常见的带人的通病

  • 阶段培训目标不明确,想到什么就教什么。
  • 一下教的太多或者太难,导致新人无法快速消化过多的信息。
  • 传递信息不分主次和先后,缺乏系统,急需掌握的信息没有好好讲,而不急需的信息却塞了很多,让新人产生不必要的压力和疲劳

虽然我现在还不到带人的阶段,但这些小tips记住了,以后肯定能用上。

谈话模板

  • 团队目前面临的主要问题是什么?主要需求是什么?
  • 你有什么解决方案?你本人能做些什么来改变现状?
  • 团队的优势在哪里?以往有哪些好的做法建议延续?
  • 就你的职位而言,你的强项是什么?你希望得到的发展的是什么?
  • 我能为你们提供哪些支持?

老板要的是表决心

业务能力的四个等级

  • 一级:就是被评估者刚入门,处在学习阶段,需要他们带领才能完成任务
  • 二级,就是主管只需给予常规关注,被评估者基本能完成本职任务
  • 三级,就是被评估者不但能独立完成任务,还能教别人,是其组内的标杆队员
  • 四级就是被评估者不但能教别人,而且,他把经验形成了书面化的,自成体系的东西,可以现成地加以推广和运用,因此堪称”楷模“,他的水平不仅在组内而且在整个大区都是拔尖的,这样的人,说明他已经ready for the next level了.

开会的原则

  • 开场白说清会议的目的
  • 主持人提出流程建议
  • 在讨论过程中,主持人需要不断地去澄清并确认各方的观点
  • 当大家意见僵持不下,或者众说纷坛的时候,主持人要推动各方达成协议。
  • 最后,主持人要做出总结,主要是一个smart的解决方案。

一个销售的品质:

  • 首先要有准确判断目标客户的能力
  • 有发现客户需求的能力
  • 要有为客户增值的能力
  • 有要求生意的能力
  • 要是一个team player
  • 要有很好的学习能力

Start Your First Job out of College?

25 Oct

I’ve been in my first job for almost four months (three days to go!). It’s most natural to sweat a bit over the transition from a student to a full-time employee, even though I don’t work on Wall Street like the girl Alex does in the book Bond Girl.

This transition hasn’t been super challenging but it’s not easy either. Learning from articles on how to make smooth transition into the workforce, in addition to my personal experience in the past four months, the following points are worth considering for new college graduates who first embark on their career path:

1. Understanding the culture, the people and the rules

As Jonnelle Marte indicated in her article in the Wall Street Journal, young professionals need to realize it’s not only about you any more. Instead, as a newcomer to a company, you should observe your boss, the colleagues, and the customers: what is their way of communication? what is their work style? Are they very hands-on or do they expect you to prioritize work and work on your own deadlines? Teamwork is what we are talking about here.

2. Time Constraint

Students’ days are relatively less structured than working professionals, who are expected to arrive, take lunch break and leave at a certain time. Even though you are allotted vocation time, don’t expect to enjoy the kind of flexibility that you have as a student. Chances may be that you will have to report to duty even during holidays.

Of course, after 9-5 job, you are more than encouraged to pursue your own interest to unwind: read a book, listen to music, or work out.

My college roommate, who is working in Hong Kong right now, warned me that it might be easy to gain weight once you start to work. And that is true! Now, I work out for an hour every day in the gym. It not only keeps me fit but also reduces all the stress from work and personal life. Provided that the weather is good, I will go for a long run on weekends. You will enjoy the fresh air as well as the beautiful fall foliage.

3. Don’t forget about your friends!

TGIF! Thank god it’s the weekend! Do you feel like all you want to do is to lie down and catch up on the TV series or movies you don’t have time for during weekdays? But wait! Don’t you have friends that you haven’t met since graduation? Or the place you have always been wanting to go? Then, pack and head out! I think at least you should use one day of the weekend to catch up with friends, go out and have some fun! Especially for me, an international student whose families are not in the US, I find hanging out with friends an essential part of my life. Dining out, watching a movie, exploring some local events, there are tons of things that you can do!

How about making new friends? Many have complained that it was getting difficult to make new friends as you start to work. But, it’s always possible! The key is…? Being Genuinely Interested in Other People.

In the E book “Welcome to the real world: Advice for graduates, job seekers and all other human beings“provided by Life Without Pants, Doug Shaw says “One of the things which help me in my life and career is to be genuinely interested in other people. That sense of genuine interest in others has taken me to some fantastic places and it’s much more fun than trying to be interesting in yourself!”

This is actually harder than it sounds. Often times people are pretty self-centered and forgot there is a whole new world besides the world they live in.

So, what helps you transition from a student to a working professional more smoothly? Share your thoughts in the comment!

I’m a girl. Review on “Bond Girl”

15 Oct

It took me about three weeks to finish Bond Girl, written by Erin Duffy. Instead of reading the book (on kindle or paperback version), I downloaded the book from audible.com, and listened to it on my way to and from work. It turned out to be a great audio book. Highly recommend it!

I was introduced to this book through Jessica Lawlor‘s rave review. Bond Girl is one of the few books that I came across so far which narrates the story from a twenty year old perspective.

Alex, whose father works on Wall Street, has long been aspiring to work on the Street like her father does. And she made it. After graduating from college, she was hired by one of the most prestigious investment banks. However, she has no idea what she has signed up for. She didn’t get a desk to sit until six months into the job. She has to gett to the office at 6:15pm in the morning every day. She is called a “Girlie”. She has to pick up lunch for everyone at her desk. She has to deal with sexual harassment from one of the biggest clients of the firm. And she tries to balance work and dating.

Why I like Bond Girl?

Several reasons account for why I enjoy the book. First off, the book presents itself to me at the right moment in my life. Like Alex, I just started my very first job. Throughout the book, I can certainly relate to her struggle in making the transition from a student into the real world. Second, the book empowered me with the notion that it’s good to be a girl and we possess the power to achieve our goals. No matter how many obstacles Alex has encountered during her first year on Wall Street working in a male-dominated workplace, she NEVER budged. Sometimes, I feel it’s powerless to be a girl, blame myself for being too emotional, and wish I were a boy. However, after reading this book and watching this inspiring TED talk Embrace Your Inner Girl“, it dawned on me that I should be proud to be a girl. Yes, we are sensitive and caring and we can be as powerful and strong as any man in the world.

If you are twenty-something and have just entered the workforce, Bond Girl would be a good read for you.

Why did I pursue a Master’s Degree?

10 Oct

Opening up Google Reader this morning and a new post from Brazen Careerist caught my attention: Why a Master’s Degree is More than an Escape from a Crappy Job Market?  The author details several reasons why this might be a good time to go back to the ivory tower:

  • If you are looking for a job, going to grad school can help you fill the gap while expanding your professional network.
  • A Master’s degree allows you to better brand yourself
  • If you are thinking about switching areas of expertise, grad school is definitely a must to help you establish credibility in a new industry.

Last night, I helped a friend from China to proofread her personal statement for applying graduate school. The essay question reads: what are your short-term and long-term goals? Why do you think our program will help you achieve those goals? What do you expect to get out of the program?

These are the most common questions you find yourself faced with when preparing a graduate school application, and indeed they are essential to think about before you invest money and two years of your life (in some cases more than that) in grad school.

Then I started to think:

why did I go to grad school in the first place?

What did I expect out of it two years ago when I put in my application? What were my goals?

And most importantly: Did I fulfill my goals?

Fortunately, the answer to the third question is  YES.

  • As an international student from China, a Master’s degree in the US is a stepping stone if one would like to work here. I am not saying that it is impossible to work in the US without a degree from an accredited American university. I have friends who graduated from college and started working for American companies which have local offices in Beijing or Hong Kong. Then through some training programs, they were transferred to the US office. However, most foreign students would pursue an advanced degree before they land a good job in the US.
  • If you would like to pursue a career in other areas which is different from what you’ve learned in college, a MA degree is a good two-year time to make that transition.And that was exactly what I did. I was trained to be a journalist back in undergrad, but after some internship experience with the top news agencies in China, I decided that was not where my passion lay. In my junior year in college, I did an internship with Weber Shandwick, the top PR firm not only in China but worldwide. The two-month internship opened a new door for me. I found myself a better fit to work in PR/marketing industry. How can I enter the PR/marketing industry? If I wanted to, I could have worked for Weber Shandwick right upon graduation. The drawback would be working long, long hours with little salaries. What else can I do? How about getting a degree in PR/marketing and then work in the US where the most advanced ideas of PR/marketing originated? That was exactly what I did.

May, 2010 Graduating from Beijing Foreign Studies University with a BA in International Journalism and Communication

  • Another reason why I choose to get a MA in the US rather than China? It is because I’ve been learning English for about 10 years and it is a pity if I never get to live in a English-speaking country in my life. Studying abroad is a great way to make friends, accumulate into the culture and further improve English.

In the hindsight, I made the right choice two years ago. With a full assistantship, I made it through the two years in Villanova University, graduating with a MA in Communication. One month after graduation, I was lucky to find a job in Marketing.

Three years ago, in October of 2009, I was still preparing my applications for grad school, not sure if I will be accepted into the programs. Well, three years later, here I am: graduating from Villanova and doing a job that I like. Life will come together somehow. I’ll have it figured out.

How about you? What make you go for an advanced degree? Or what prevent you from doing that? Feel free to share your opinions in the comments:)

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