Here’s to 2014

I’m a big believer in goals. Big goals. Little goals. I just can’t accept average. I take this obsession with lists and goal setting very seriously during the new year. I try to set a theme for each month.

January is fitness. Jason and I are jumping on the bandwagon. We’ve agreed to go to the gym on Tuesdays and Thursdays for one hour.

The focus in February is going to be the people I care about. We live so close to my grandparents that its a shame we don’t see them more often. Jason and I have agreed we should try to meet them for dinner on weekends we don’t drive back to St. Louis. I also want to remember to focus on Jason this month. It’s easy to get into a groove of living together without taking moments to enjoy it.

March is going to be all about Spring Cleaning. I’m going to dedicate one hour to organization each Sunday. This keeps it manageable, and I can probably get all the closets done.

In April I’ll focus on money. It’s time to update that Excel sheet and look at my long term monetary goals. My car is going to be paid off very soon, but I still have student loans and a wedding to pay for. Hopefully we can use our tax returns to pay some things off.

May will shift to the home. It’s a perfect month to stain the deck, fix the trim and touch up paint. A homebody deserves a pretty home.

June will celebrate the great outdoors. There will be kayaking, camping and yard work. This month the goal is about getting out and having fun because being more fun is sort of an admirable goal, right?

Career is the focal point in July. Front Page Digital will have officially made it through its first year, and what a better time to look forward? In July I will spend a little extra energy setting up the sales team for success – extra ads prepared, extra specs ready and maybe even attend a couple extra Chamber events.

As swim suit season wraps up in August I’ll focus on health. I’ll even take that trip to the eye doctor and the dentist. I will also spend this month eating one veggie with every meal (even breakfast) and eating nuts or fruit as snacks instead of Goldfish.

September will forever be the start of the school year for me. I aim to read at least one classic book.

October is when things really start to get busy. Everywhere. My goal for October is to destress, so I can really focus. I will attend at least one weekly yoga class and do something for me, like a pedicure or a haircut.

November will one day be our anniversary month, and in true 50′s house wife fashion, I need to cook. This month I will prepare one new recipe a week in order to learn some new ones.

December is the month for one last goal, and this one is a lofty one. I want to learn to parallel park. This will hands down be the hardest goal to achieve.

How an ex-writer made me reevaluate my life

A few months ago I was perusing Facebook when I noticed a little post about The Riveter.

The Riveter is a fantastic journalistic endeavor to create a space for long-form female journalism. In case you’ve already tuned out because you’re tired of hearing about workplace equality, here are some statistics I found on a Poynter article interviewing co-founders Kaylen Ralph and Joanna Demkiewicz.

In 2012:

  • Harper’s had 76 bylines by men and 17 by women.
  • The Atlantic had 176 bylines by men and 47 by women.
  • The New Yorker had 445 bylines by men and 160 by women.

The obvious importance of this work aside, I did some self-evaluating. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy with my life as it is. I purchased a home last September, and said yes to a proposal this August. I enjoy the  job I have coordinating the digital agency Central Missouri Newspapers launched in April and working with the marketing staff to increase our digital revenue. I spend my evenings cooking dinner and watching our dogs play — it’s all very standard suburban life stuff.

The problem?

I wasn’t that little girl dreaming of a normal suburban life. I didn’t have a dream wedding (although I do now) or picture-perfect house planned out. I had a dream career and societal goals.

Seeing someone I had worked with and hopefully helped mentor at The Maneater in college threw me off cruise control and forced me to look at myself. Where am I going? What are my goals? Am I happy with who I’ve become?

I often joke that I sold out to become a marketer instead of a journalist like I had hoped. Truth be told, I wanted to be a magazine editor. I wanted to edit those long-form pieces that study society. I love nearly every aspect of the media world – the creativity, the deadlines, the stress, the task-juggling and content creation – all of it. I would consider myself a skilled writer, but that’s not what makes a journalist great. Curiosity makes a journalist great. An English major can write, but only someone with a true thirst for knowledge can hack it in journalism. Truth be told, great marketers aren’t that different than great journalists.

A journalist will study humans and create an exposé. They will dictate an event or aspect of society into our history books. They will study people, and show them to the world.

A marketer will study humans and apply it to business. Marketers are watching how people react to everything in hopes that it will give them a clue into what makes them buy anything. A good marketer knows to ask why one product was chosen over another and what gets a customer back in the store.

I know that the skill that sets me apart is always asking why and always challenging the status quo. I’ve never been happy to settle, and I’ve always been inclined to search for answers.

Am I happy with who I’ve become? Yes, but I can do better.

Pepperjack: the puppy files

Jack's first bath

Jack’s first bath

Jason and I have recently added a new member to our family – Jack. He was named to go well with our other dog, Pepper.

Aside from terrorizing our brand new house via potty breaks, teething and general playfulness, he’s pretty great. I’m still getting used to playing sweep-faster-than-Jack-can-catch-you and I’ve shamelessly learned that one squirt from the Swiffer WetJet is enough to make him bark ferociously at, but not bite the mop.

On the bright side, he makes Jason really happy, so it’s one of our first big compromises since living together.

 

Bark Off

Jack fearlessly tries to tell Pepper whose boss.

 

Portfolio update: news design

A not-so-secret secret about what I went to school for: becoming a magazine editor.

To be more specific, I wanted to do magazine or news production, meaning design the pages. What sort of 17-year-old chooses this as a career? One that falls in love with being the yearbook editor. Every year of elementary and middle school, my K-12 made us write down life goals and careers we would be interested in.

All of mine said ‘writer’ and ‘photographer.’ Coincidence? Probably not.

In the game of life my only useful skills include a penchant for reading people and cooking. As far as resumes and careers go, being able to decorate cupcakes or whip up a scratch breakfast leaves me with a pretty limited field. While my ability to read people would probably make me the perfect HR director, I think it’s also useful for a journalist. But really, I have no mechanical or manual labor skill sets. I’m the sort of secretary that cringes when asked to change the ink — I will undoubtedly screw it up. I blame my tool & dye maker father who spoiled me by fixing everything. (Only partially kidding about that last part).

Back to the original point. I’m creative. I have a way with words and an eye for design.

Recently I was piping cupcakes with a friend in art school. She looked at me and said, “I think you’re the more creative one of the two of us.”

Tell me these don’t look delicious.

I tried to get into account planning. I really did. I love psychology and find consumer behavior fascinating. However, because I was always one of the few students in the account-side classes that could design, I was always elected to be the designer. One day during a career-fair sit down at the Fleishman-Hillard table the woman looked at my portfolio and said, “There’s a reason you’re always getting put in these positions. You have something, and I think you should pursue it.”

This discussion took place during my final semester, and there wasn’t a whole lot of time to pursue a career I had written off in 2009 because I was terrified I would never find work. This was probably the most valuable lesson I learned in college. Don’t sell out because you won’t be good at something you don’t love.

“There’s a reason you’re always getting put in these positions. You have something, and I think you should pursue it.”

Now, I’m trying to delve deeper into my skill sets by designing everything. I’m putting creative recipes on my Pinterest, taking cake pop classes and pulling pages from interior design magazines for my idea board. I’m even looking at patterns and fabrics for clothes — I’m a huge fan of the vintage look.

Maybe I won’t have a career designing news print that I can get into for the rest of my life, but at least I’m learning to poor my passion for design into other parts of my life.

Even my camera has been getting some use. I think they would look perfect on canvas in my green-accented dream living room.

These photos came from a date at the park

Also, thanks to @kellyolejnik for the old Forum PDFs.

My pledge to the workplace

A recent article from Huffington Post, ‘Survey Says: Are Millennial Employees Flakes?’  discusses how most workers, millennials included, think of millennials as flakes.

I don’t know if I believe my generation is less inclined to take on responsibility — so many of my peers in college had issues giving up control in group projects. Are these the same people that don’t want more responsibility?

As someone whose generation is labeled as entitled and somewhat lazy, I’d like to make a pledge to my current and future employers.

  • I will not use my phone on your time
  • I will never be a ‘yes’ (wo)man because I believe in my opinion
  • I will always contribute fully to meetings
  • As much as I love creative work, I realize clerical duties are a necessary evil that I will do without complaint
  • Someone has to do menial work like scanning for an hour, and as the entry level person, I understand it’s me
  • I will come early and leave late, four out of five days, provided you don’t get upset on those days when I leave on time
  • I will be appreciative to have a job in this economy

If any employers are reading this, what more would you like to see on this list?

What a ‘trophy kid’ really wants from the workplace

After reading the 2008 article, The ‘Trophy Kids’ Go to Work by WSJ, I always get a little bit discouraged by the lack of enthusiasm of companies to hire millennials. I’ve saved this article and read over it every few months while I was in college in order to keep myself in check.

Unfortunately, there’s little I can do to make the Baby Boomer generation trust me over the thousands of other new college graduates. Judging by the fact I think I should be trusted over many of my peers, I obviously have the sense of entitlement our generation is so infamous for.

In our defense, we do work that hard. I have few friends for which everything came easily.

I started working at McDonalds when I was 16 and stayed there until the location I worked at closed down when I was 20. I held a second (and sometimes third) job every semester, and although my resume will say I worked in nearly five positions at the college newspaper, I stayed on the editorial staff and merely switched sections – not companies. Other semesters I was lucky enough to score a teaching assistant job with flexible hours, but since it’s more of a Fall class, it looks like I quit every spring for some unknown reason.

Why am I outlining my work schedule? Because I think it’s fair for the Baby Boomer generation to understand how far the millennials will really go to succeed. I was willing to work 40+ hours per week in addition to being a full time student because that’s what was required of me to graduate college without tens-of-thousands of dollars in debt. There are more like me being labeled as ‘entitled’ because after four years of sleeping five hours a night, we’d like a work-life balance.

Post-graduation, I moved back in with my parents, and for the first time, I’m actually living the way students are believed to in college. I go out on Tuesday if I want to and hit the gym after work because I have less responsibilities now. I’m not purely freeloading off my parents — I’m still paying bills and purchasing my own food much like I would if they were roommates and not parents, but the luxury of living rent-free is huge. Not only that, but my job requires much less responsibility than any of my old ones.

At McDonalds, I was as manager. I had actual responsibilities and wanted to do well for my team. At the paper, I was an editor for half of my college career. People depended on me and I was on-call to any writers or other editors 24-7. If a story fell through or a writer upset a source, I was there to fix it. As a teaching assistant, again, the hours were quite flexible, but I was on-call at all times to help students calling/texting/emailing their questions. I LOVED IT.

I loved being a busy-body that everyone depended on. I am 21, and I own a Blackberry, not an iPhone. I love being required to think, being at the top of the ‘call list’ and being responsible enough to help others.

Now, I’m barely more than a secretary paying-my-dues as everyone over 35 calls it, but isn’t that what I did in college? Isn’t that why I held management positions and took lower paying jobs that would be more relevant to my career than just working at McDonalds for 40 hours a week?

That free internship I worked wasn’t paying-my-dues? What about the paid internship? It seems to me that the older generation doesn’t count those internships as paying my dues because I didn’t hate them. Sure, I worked for low or no pay and made sure the arrive early and stay late, but to the Baby Boomers, paying your dues doesn’t come until you hate your job.

Is that really what it’s all about? It’s not the first job or the hardest that’s paying dues. It’s the one you can’t wait to get away from?

I want to enjoy going to work. For four years I went home (at midnight or later) with a sense of accomplishment. I hit the sack knowing I did something worthwhile. Now, post-graduation, I fly out the door as soon as I can and do anything but think about the work day because frankly, it’s nothing I’m proud of.

Katie Moritz, Managing Editor, and myself at our staff Christmas party.

Here’s what I want from employers. Call me spoiled. You’ve read this far because you want to know.

  • Flexible work hours: Really though, don’t you think the morning commute would be much nicer if everyone’s schedule was more flexible? Say, come in between 7 and 9 a.m. – whatever fits your routine better. Also, the option to work four 10-hour days instead of eight 8-hour days would be fantastic.
  • Benefits and 401K: I don’t need everything under the sun, but healthcare and a retirement plan would be great.
  • Livable wages: I don’t expect to make $60,000 my first year out of college, but $30,000 seems fair.
  • Responsibility: If you want a secretary you micromanage, hire one that’s less expensive. Also, I’m not looking for fast-track to CEO, just something I can be proud of when I leave.
  • Independence: I’m excited to learn. I really, really am, but please allow me to learn a little on my own. I can handle it if you don’t watch my every move waiting for me to mess up.
  • Feedback: This seems counterintuitive to independence, but I do want to know what you do and don’t like about my performance. My skin is thicker than you’ll give it credit for, and it’s great to know where I stand with my performance.
  • Vacation: I’m not looking for much, but a week or two after working for a year would be nice. Part of my charm is my love for travel, and I can’t do that without a vacation.
  • Productive atmosphere: Nobody want to walk on eggshells at work. I’d like to be able to disagree with the creative team or editorial board without hurting feelings, but I believe too much groupthink is negative.
  • Lunch: If we’re busy, I don’t mind taking half an hour or postponing lunch, but an hour most of the time would be great.

On using cell phones and social media at work. It’s rude. I’m not going to do this on your time. Lunch is different. So is the rare occasion when a loved one is in the hospital and I’d like to be on high-alert. Regularly, I want to enjoy my job and really throw myself into it — without my personal life getting in the way.