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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Keeping track of accomplishments at work

Something that I've always found useful at my year-end review is compiling a list or a portfolio of projects I've completed. I recently read on a career blog from U.S. News that the #2 bullet on how to set yourself up for a promotion is to demonstrate your value to the company. If you don't show all the hard work that you've done, there's no one else that is going to do it for you.

I like to print copies of presentations that I've helped create and present as well as other projects or duties that show my achievements throughout the year. Although it's hard to keep track of each and every project, at least keep a running list of large and important projects that way at the end of the year you can talk about them.

I got this idea from an interview that I had for a summer internship because I was asked to submit a portfolio of my work. I quickly bought a black binder, created an appendix and printed out about 5 different class projects that I completed in college. The person I was interviewing with was extremely impressed and from that point on, I continued to do this on an yearly basis at my current job. Not only is it useful at review time but it is a great reference guide throughout the year of what projects were successful and which ones were not.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Top 11 "must-haves" for 2011

As stores start to bring in Spring clothes and new trends, I have started my own personal list of 2011 must haves. Although stores like H&M, Forever21 and other similar chains can have good staples for office clothes or "disposable" club attire, I think that it is a better long-term investment to be able to buy quality pieces that will last longer than a few months (even if you have to, gulp, spend more money up front!) However, this is just a list of suggestions and obviously it would be a lot of money to purchase all of these items. Take a peek and let me know if there's anything else you think could be added?

A boyfriend jacket - perfect for a night out with friends or at the office with black pants or casual jeans.

A LBD - a little black dress. I have quite a few and I always think that they are great because you can do some much with them.

A bubble umbrella - these are absolutely necessary for rain and wind. They not only protect your entire upper body but also make walking in crowds a piece of cake.

A colorful scarf - every girl's got to have one. Silk scarves can be a great accessory for a dull office suit or can serve as a hair wrap for the summer with a pair of awesome sunglasses.

A pair of designer glasses - Not saying you have to drop hundreds of dollars but let's face it, higher quality glasses not only look better but last longer and you can change the lenses if you ever scratch or wear them out.

A Brooks Brothers wrinkle-free shirt - OMG these things are amazing. I know they are expensive but if you think you spend about $25-30 per H&M shirt, you can buy one of these and save yourself having to toss the others. All you have to do is stick it in the dryer and it comes out perfectly pressed.

A playful or chunky necklace
- J.Crew has some wonderful necklaces and bracelets and when they are on sale they are definitely affordable.

A pair of black leather boots - preferably ones that can be used for multiple occasions. I have a pair that fold over for a more casual look or can be wore up when going out at night.

A trench - Burberry would be nice...but I've seen some really nice trenches from Zara, Club Monaco, Banana Republic or even H&M.

Something vintage - whether it is your grandmother's ring, a piece of vintage clothing or even a bag you gotta have a throw back. Last year, I went to this amazing private clothing sale and bought a silk jacket that was made from a vintage skirt. It is gorgeous.

Something hand-made - always a conversation starter. I make my own jewelry and have an obsession with rhinestoning but if you don't feel creative enough to try something like that there are other options. Etsy has really taken off but even stopping at a craft fair or flea market can be exciting because there's always something unique or hand-made.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

30 habits to break by 30 from LearnVest #26

After recently reading about Alexa von Tobel's site
, I decided to check it out. The site offers tons of different sections to explore: bootcamp programs, living frugally or a money tune up area to name a few.

There is an amazing feature "budget for your life" where you can input all your expenses, your salary and taxes and come out with a budget in this great little pie chart. You can truly understand and visualize where your money is going and it even has little red flags if there is an indication of a problem for example: you aren't saving enough etc. Also, I stumbled upon a quick list of items under an article titled "30 habits to break by 30" which had some great pointers.

#26 was particularly interesting because it stated Ignoring your FSA. If you are lucky enough to work for an employer who offers a Flexible Spending Account, take a long look at your out-of-pocket medical expenses and see if you can't lower your costs by using pretax dollars to fund qualified FSA expenses (which can include doctor visits, prescription co-pays, braces & glasses).

This is something that I really need to look into and understand better because I can't help but feel like each time I get a prescription filled or go to the doctor that I'm getting robbed! I have tried to record doctor visits and amount spent on medical expenses but I must admit that I have fallen behind and I think moving forward I have to be more on top of it. Next week at work I will make sure to log-into my account and try to better understand the options. Overall, LearnVest really has some relevant articles and the concept of empowering young women financially is something I love!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Top 25 Oddball Interview Questions from GlassDoor

Today I got an e-mail from GlassDoor which highlighted 25 Oddball interview questions. I always find these types of questions amusing. I'm curious to know what types of answers the interviewers actually receive. I certainly would not be able to answer math-related questions on the fly without a pen, paper and time to think. Logic questions are interesting too because I always think there's a catch. For example the famous question "Why are manhole covers round?" which certainly doesn't have one right answer. I originally thought the logical answer is because it is the only shape that doesn't fall into the hole but after doing a bit of research there are other shapes that meet that criteria and there are tons of other answers.

When preparing for an interview it is easy to prepare yourself for the anticipated questions but just as important to be able to think on your feet. Essentially your reputation and abilities are being tested and screened throughout the entire process. The last thing you want to happen is leave a bad impression by not being able to respond to a question. It doesn't make sense to "prepare" for unpredictable or oddball questions but you should be able to react quickly and at the very least try to create an interesting or memorable conversation!

The funniest answer on the site was when Google had asked "How many basketball[s] can you fit in this room?" and a person responded "Google it." This could be taken as a joke but since it was Google I think it would have made an interesting conversation to then discuss how people who grew up with Google use that term on a regular basis and heavily rely on the site for knowledge and answers. Then some people actually did the math assuming the volume of the room, the basketball and how many times the ball might fit. Then someone said 2 because that would fit nicely and that there is no right answer. Overall, I found reading the answers extremely interesting and insightful. I could only imagine people's responses in a real interview!