The Dreaded Post Grad Question

I've met a ton of recent grads since moving to Rochester in 2010. More often than not, the conversations I've had with these new acquaintances start of with a question that's dreaded by many post grads: "so..... what do you do?"

I don't dread this question or judge the people who ask it. I completely understand that sometimes there are only so many things you can talk about with an acquaintance before things take a turn for the awkward. Being new to our jobs is a common bond between most post grads, so it's only natural that talk about them in social gatherings.

While I understand the time and place for filler questions like these, I just hate the way this one is phrased. What do you do? Well... I listen to a lot of music, teach piano for fun, enjoy trying out new restaurants, and love running outside when the temperatures warm enough.

But that's not the answer that society has prepped us for. "What do you do?" means, "what's your job?" While my job is definitely one thing I do over the course of the week, it's not all that I do, and doesn't define everything I am.

I've really tried to avoid asking this question lately, even in the most awkward of conservation lulls. Instead, I'll try ask a new acquaintance what brought them to Rochester. If they like their job, this gives them an in to talk about it. If they don't, they can direct the conservation towards other parts of their lives.

How do you feel about the "what do you do" question?

How Did You Get This Number

"How Did You Get This Number" By Sloane Crosley

I love Sloane Crosley. Her stories mimic my own life. Her books are collections of personal essays so my attention deprived self can get through them. And she also makes me miss New York like I never thought I would.

There are 3 reasons this book resonated so much with me.

The first is that Sloane told stories about being abroad, both alone and with friends. Last year I went to Turkey for a week by myself, and everyone told me I was crazy. My mother thought I was going to be kidnapped and raped. My friends were supportive but incredulous, often saying things like "You're my hero, I could never do that." And my roommates mother was convinced that it meant I was a terrorist.

Now, Sloane did not go to Turkey, she went to France, so maybe it is a little different, but I liked hearing about the faux pas she had and that travel is most entertaining when looking back on it.

The second is that Sloane devotes an entire chapter/essay to describing how out of place she feels when in the middle of nowhere Alaska. I, too, am a city girl through and through. Transplant a city girl into the Alaskan wilderness and there is no chance you won't have a good story.

The third and final reason this book will be a favorite forever, is that the last chapter almost perfectly explained how I felt during my last romantic ending. I know that sounds very mushy and hormone driven, but for some reason it makes me feel better to know someone else has experienced what I did. And had pretty much the same reactions.

Rating: 4.2/5 stars

Fashion Investments

I wrote a post about fashion investment pieces a few weeks ago on my other blog (yes, I have two, I'm crazy) and thought it was an issue that would pertain to many post grad fashion lovers as well. Check it out below!

I read a ton of fashion blogs. I admire all of the photography and editing that goes into the posts, and find that many of the girls have genuinely sweet and relatable writing styles. And of course, there's the fashion.  Mixing patterns, neutrals with pops of color, color blocking, belting, belting, belting! These are all trends that I've picked up on from reading blogs. I get behind these trends for the most part because they can be achieved on most budgets, but I'm still wary of one common phrase that seems to dominate the fashion world: "investment piece".

As a 23 year old girl making a modest salary, I can't imagine spending money on what many fashionistas would consider "investment pieces" at this point in my life. This doesn't mean I like to run around town in mismatched outfits. It just means that that I always take cost into serious consideration when making clothing purchases.

Take one of the most classically described "investment pieces": the pencil skirt. I see many girls that rationalize the purchase of pencil skirts as investment pieces. It's okay to drop over a hundred dollars on one piece of clothing because it will be worn forever....right?

If you've made room in your budget for this piece and know that you will be able to put away the same amount of money for savings, rent, food, student loans as you normally do monthly, then yes, I think it's totally fine to treat yourself to a versatile piece. But if you are already swimming in debt, paying bills month to month, and have parents that are still helping you with car payments and phone bills, I think it would be better to look for a piece that's equally versatile, but at a lower price point.

I know, I know. The quality just isn't the same! You will love the Jcrew skirt forever! But the truth of the matter is that we change sizes and change styles over time. We also live in a consumer culture that likes new things.

Once again, if you have the monetary means and budget to buy these pieces, go for it! If you have a smaller wardrobe made up of more expensive pieces that you budget for, that's fine. I think it's just important that we don't kid ourselves about our financial standing when it comes to fashion, especially those of us who are just starting out in the working world. The idea that this one extra piece of clothing will complete my closet just doesn't seem like a healthy way to view the role fashion should play in our lives. I think that our personal style should be used as a way to compliment who are as individuals, not complete us.

Instead of a "sky's the limit" attitude for an investment pieces like pencil skirts or black dresses, I would suggest setting a strict budget. Consider shopping at stores that fall a price point below the skirt you've been lusting after. Or even try thrift stores, consignment shops, or Ebay to see if you can snag a used version of the pricey skirt.

Will a less expensive or used skirt still be in great condition 10 years from now? Probably not. But I'm willing to bet that the item you blew your rent or student loan payment on will be shoved somewhere in the back of the closet, and you'll be on the hunt for new pieces that fit your 10 years from now lifestyle.

Alright, I'm stepping off my soapbox for now. I may not be a huge fan of the whole "investment" piece idea, but are you? Have you ever completely splurged on an item of clothing that was worth it? Tell me your stories!


One of my goals for 2012 was to give to charity at least once a month. Whether it be in the form of money, time, old clothes, or a walk, I need to be doing something for others. At my job I am often catering to the wealthy, or Corporate America. Both of which I have come to despise. It also causes me to put wealth in perspective.

I've talked about Charity walks before, I love doing them. But it is not the season to walk outside right now. Until it gets warm again I need to give back a different way. There are many in this world far worse off than us Post Grads. Those who did not have the opportunity to go to college, or even finish a basic education. We complain about doing laundry while others can't afford clothes. We eat less to fit into a dress while others scrounge for food.

One of my go-to charities is St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. I try to give to them at least twice a year. This type of donation is pretty cut-and dry, though. You choose how much to give, and they send you a receipt. Nothing very personalized about it.

One of the newer places I found was thanks to Erin at Analyfe. It is called Kiva. It is a microlending non-profit that assists people around the world in their efforts to get out of poverty. You can read about the potential borrowers and the endeavors they are working on in their countries. You can also read about their repayment history. When was the last time you lent someone $25, knew you'd get it back, and also knew they would be using it for good? This is what Kiva does.

Other charitable things I am looking into is Habitat for Humanity. I have wanted to volunteer for them for a long time. The issue is that there are very little builds going on in my area. Instead they have a store, called ReStore, that has building materials and home improvement supplies for 50-90% retail value. They ask for volunteers to run the store, take stock of the donations, etc. I may need to do this if a build opportunity does not come up soon.

How do you all give back to the community around you? Are there any really great things I am missing?

The World of Smart Phones

Despite the fact that my job requires me to be up to date on the latest online marketing and social media techniques, I am verrrrry slow when it comes to adopting the latest and greatest technology gadgets. I have a 4 year old dell computer that is anything but glamorous, but perfect for getting the basics done. I own an iPad only because my boss gave them out to my company as a Christmas gift last year. Otherwise, I would have never made the plunge to own a tablet. For years I never upgraded my flip cell phone because I just didn't see the point. I'm cheap when it comes to technology, so this weekend I did something very out of the ordinary: I bought an iPhone 4s.

Once again, I wouldn't have done this if I didn't get a great deal on the whole purchase. Since I'm on my family's plan still, it only cost an extra 30 dollars per month to add a Verizon data plan phone to our family package (much better than the 115 a month it would cost me to have the same amount of data and be on my own plan.)

I also got the phone at a discounted price since I ordered it through Best Buy. I highly suggest doing this if you're considering upgrading your phone! Best Buy stores are now compatible with most cell phone providers, and they really don't push the hard sell on you like I've felt in the past at Verizon stores.

Here are some observations from my first week as an Iphone user

1. I keep forgetting that it's an actual phone since it looks like a mini iPad. Every time it rings or I get a text I'm surprised.

2. Connectivity is addicting.

3. I enjoy having a robotic assistant. I thought I wouldn't ever use the Siri iPhone 4s feature, but I use it all the time!

4. I've been taking way more photos than usual. This is actually one of the major reasons why I wanted to update to a smart phone. The camera on the iPhone is the same quality as many point and shoot cameras I've had in the past, and its much easier to lug around than my very nice, but very large, Cannon DSLR.

5. I've been tweeting more. Once again... connectivity is addicting!

Post Grads Hate: Laundry

I have never been a fan of doing laundry. I actually own enough pairs of underwear to last me about 2 months so that I can go as long as possible without doing laundry. And that is just the clothes aspect of laundry. I have 2 distinct sets of sheets and comforters too, again to avoid doing laundry.

Reasons doing laundry is the bane of my existence:

  1. The laundry room is usually located in the basement. In order to get the dirty laundry to the washing machine it literally needs to go past other tenants in the building. It needs to be drug, lugged and carried while you hope no one needs to get past you on the stairwell.
  2. Most of the laundry machines only take quarters. And a lot of them. I don't know about you but I don't usually have $5 in quarters lying around.
  3. I've noticed there are usually 2 washers and dryers per building. These are supposed to accommodate anywhere from 6 to 25 apartments that each house at least 2 people. By my calculations that means you will always be either fighting for a machine or waiting impatiently for one to free up.
  4. The dryer never actually dries your stuff. Ever. Every time I do laundry I have to hang about half the load around my room to finish drying.
  5. Laundry isn't done after the clothes are dry. You still have to fold them, or hang them, or put them away in some sense.
Considering all of this, I avoid doing laundry like it's my job. My next apartment needs to have a washer and dryer unit in it so that maybe I can remedy this. It's one on a long list of requirements for my next apartment. This is also why I will not being doing laundry today.

Have a happy Sunday Post Grads!

One Step Behind


It's been tough getting back into the swing of things after spending a week at home for the holidays. I feel like I'm not managing my time well, and my life as a whole just feels a bit unorganized. I'm trying to make some positive changes in my life. I recently took on another piano student, and I just started my first book of 2012, The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin. I'm also trying to keep up a normal workout schedule and eat right to keep up with my 2012 resolution.

Even with all of these positive things, I still feel behind when it comes to daily activities. Every time I leave the house with hair that's still damp from the shower, I think about how I need to start waking up earlier. Every time I throw on a boring but safe combination of work clothes I think about how I should lay them out the night before. Every time I load groceries into my car and notice all of the random crap in my backseat, I think about how I'll vacuum and clean it out in the next few days. All of these things are such simple tasks, but I
can never bring myself to do them when the time comes. They never happen.

One blog that has been helping me shake this winter slump is called Smart Pretty and Awkward. It's geared towards women and I love reading the short advice in each daily post. The advice isn't preachy at all, just simple tips from the author on self improvement.

Do you ever have days (or weeks.. or months...) where you just feel a step behind everyone else? How do you get out of the funk?

Post Grads Love: Board Games

I think we have established that after graduation our energy levels and spending money both decrease drastically. What's a Post Grad to do?

There is really only one solution: reverting back to the activities you resented as a child.

When my mother would suggest playing a board game there was a collective groan let out by my sisters and me. over an hour having to converse with the family with nothing but a board and some cards between you? No thank you.

When my grandmother would suggest working on a puzzle, that same collective groan would escape our mouths. Spending time trying to make useless pieces fit together over and over even though you have already proven to yourself they don't fit? Yeah, awesome time.

I think the only thing missing was alcohol. That's why parents enjoyed board games and puzzles, they had wine and beer and vodka as they played!

So now, as Post Grads of legal drinking age, we can add the fun part to board games and have an inexpensive night in with friends. Of my favorites:

- Catch Phrase. You need at least 6 people but it is always a good time. Inside jokes encouraged.
- Monopoly. Classic. Betting is often involved in our games, and several references to the "official rules."
- Puzzles. Somehow the more you drink the more sense it makes. Until the next morning when you realize about 1/3 of the pieces actually fit together.

Now go Post Grads! Pop open the bottle of wine and have a cheap night in with your friends. Low key and inexpensive, exactly how we like it.

The Interview


A few weeks ago I wrote about amping up your cover letter to score an interview, but what happens when you land one? Here are a few post grad interview tips!

Dress appropriately- I know you're thinking, no duh, of course I'm not going to where ripped jeans and a tank top. But by appropriately I mean, dress for the job you are applying for. If you're interviewing at a graphic design or production company, you should still be modest, but you might want to include a bit of an artsy flair to your outfit.Someone applying for a job in a more traditional corporate environment would want to stick to a basic suit set.

Think about your five year plan ahead of time- "Where do you see yourself in five years?" Here's a hint, the answer should not be "as a professional singer in NYC" or "a stay at home mom". You don't want to give the impression that this job is just to hold you over a few months until you move or find something better. Companies value loyal employees and will often be wary of recent grads that are unsure of what they want.

Always ask questions-Think of questions ahead of time, and when all else fails, ask the interviewer how they got their start at the company. Never say that you have no questions at the end of an interview. Ever! To me, it gives the impression that you're uninterested in the company itself.

Do your research- Learn about the company! I guarantee that your interviewer will ask the question "why us?" Be prepared with an answer!

Follow Up- Send an email or place a phone call within 24 hours of the interview thanking your interviewer for their time. A little bit of politeness goes a long way.

What are your interview tips?

Is it the Weekend yet?

I am so sorry for my lack of posting. My computer screen will only work at 45 degrees or less, making typing stupendously difficult. It is sad because I have so much to tell you all!!

I made lemon bars I want to post the recipe for.

I want to tell you about how Post Grads love board games and puzzles.

My trip to Iceland is coming up quickly and there is so much to go over before it happens!

Tax season is also fast approaching and I feel like Post Grads would benefit from some tips.

Alas we must wait a bit longer, until I can see what I am typing. BUT, please stay tuned for all of the above. I am crafting each of those posts in my head during the day while on conference calls. Multi-tasking is my thing.

Sleeping 101

Sleep was on my mind for most of the day today. Why, you ask? Oh, well it just so happens that the dudes living a floor above me have formed a band that practices on Sunday nights at midnight! There is nothing quite like starting out a Monday morning to the tune of horrible guitar playing and drum set banging.

Sleep is important for everyone, but I think getting a true good night of sleep is an especially difficult thing for many post grads that are transitioning from college schedules to the 9-5 grind. In college, I took  naps (I miss them so), stayed up late writing papers, and stayed out late most weekend nights. These days, I'm exhausted, or already asleep, by about 10:30pm. Weekends included. Here are a few tips I've picked up throughout the year and half since I began working full time.

Poor diet has been proven to be one of the major triggers for sleepless nights. The worst part about this is that little sleep tricks our bodies into wanting more horrible food, which we then have no energy to burn off. This cycle can get out of control very quickly. So try and spin the cycle in reverse! Eat more fruits and vegetables, and try to stay away from heavily processed and fast foods. Healthy foods = better sleep = more energy.

Creating a relaxing space is another way to bring on the zZz's. Try out dark window shades or sleeping with a soft eye mask to create complete darkness. If you live in a city like me, the constant hum of traffic can either be soothing or completely irritating. I sometimes use a free Ipad app called Nature Sound that plays relaxing sounds to mask the sound of cars rushing by. It may be completely cheesy to listen to "Mountain Ambiance" noises, but it puts me right to sleep so I'll take it!

Another way I try to make the most of my precious sleeping hours is easing into them.  Taking baths has become a nighttime luxury for me. I go all out with fancy bath salts and exfoliation  scrubs. I also will YouTube meditation videos, or even just take an hour to read on the couch with my feet up and a cup of tea. Chamomile and Passion Fruit are two of my favorite teas to drink before bed.

What are your tips for an excellent night's sleep? Here's hoping mine isn't disrupted by the resident rock band tonight..

Staying Healthy in 2012

I've been trying to type out a New Year's Resolution/ goals post for the past hour and have been too distracted by my current pounding headache and runny nose. I have tons of goals for the coming year. I want to excel at work, improve my relationships, and take more risks. But I think I'd like to actually try and stick to one major resolution this year: be healthier.

Up until this fall, I was the type of girl that fed into the 100 calorie snack pack version of "healthy eating". I ate low calorie microwave dinners that were bursting with salt. I went to the gym and used only the elliptical machine, because the display showed that I burned more calories than I did while running. I suppressed my emotions so much that by the end of the year I felt like I had a stress ball resting inside my chest. For most of the year, I took only minimal care of my body and mind. While I succeeded in maintaining my weight, I didn't feel healthy.

This October, I watched as a family member dealt with health issues she couldn't control. I realized that I since I was lucky enough to have the luxury of fixing mine, I needed to take action. I got rid of the low cal snacks and started running. I introduced vitamins into my diet, and by December was feeling the healthiest I've felt in a while (aside from my current cold....) I've made progress, but I know I still have a long way to go. So this year, I am resolving to stay on track with my healthy lifestyle. I am going to to continue eating as many raw and whole foods as possible. I want to develop a recipe book for go-to healthy recipes that I can make after work. I want to find more workouts that I enjoy, and continue to tell myself that being slender doesn't necessarily equal healthy.

I am lucky enough to work at a company that provides health benefits and I also plan to use them more in 2012 than I have in the past year. I need to suck it up schedule a physical and a few other important exams that I've been putting off. Even though these appointments might be the last thing I want to do after work or on a weekend, I know they're important and I resolve to get everyone of them taken care of in the first few months of this new year.

While physical health is very important to me, I recognize that my mental health could be improved as well this year. I wrote a post a few weeks ago about how it's so hard for many post grads to just disconnect after the work day, and realized that I was basically describing myself. I need to develop a better way to manage stress. Whether it's taking up yoga to calm my nerves, finding the right herbal supplement, or even seeing a therapist, I need to do something.

I'm resolving to stay healthy this year. Who wants to join? :)

A Visit From the Goon Squad

A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

This is a great book for someone with ADD. Each chapter follows a different character so you aren't stuck with one point of view the whole time. Each character is somehow intertwined in the others' lives as well, making the book whole.

I love the style of writing Egan has in this book. She even has a chapter that is completely in powerpoint slides. The way each chapter is written differently definitely kept my attention.

The characters themselves also had a part in keeping me reading. The same character might pop up in different chapters, but I never expected it to be the way it was. The assistant to the Boss Man had a one night stand with the guy who ended up working with the daughter of the failed publicist who tried to improve the image of a genocidal maniac by taking photos of him with an American celebrity who was almost raped by a reporter at the end of his career and whose sister was the publicist hired by an aging drummer from a band that Boss Man discovered at the start of his career.

That was a mouthful. But it all came full circle and I applaud Egan for the very well thought out plot and character development.

4.99/5 stars

Goals for 2012

Happy New Year Post Grads!! I hope all of you are over your hangovers by now and starting to feel like a real person again. Now that we have made it through the horrid 2011, it is time to make our goals for 2012.

Now, I hate "new year's resolutions." It has the implication that we can only try to improve ourselves once a year. I would like to think that we can improve on ourselves whenever we feel the need. At the same time, though, I can see how a new year can inspire people to want to change.

I prefer making goals for the new year. I can add to the list continuously and update my goals as things change. And besides, no one references a "new year's resolution" between the months of March and October.

  1. Complete 1 short story or 3 chapters of my novel.
  2. Donate to charity once a month
  3. Read 30 books
  4. Take a writing class
  5. Give someone a chance who I normally wouldn't
  6. Be happy
What kinds of things do you all want to accomplish this year?