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Coming up next month is a big-to-me event: I’ll be turning 30! I went back and forth with myself about whether or not I would write a post about this big birthday milestone, but why not? I’ve talked to some people that said they dreaded turning 30 and others who celebrated it. I identify with the latter group; I’m so ready to be out of my 20s. I think because by the time I turned 28 and then 29, I felt like I was moving forward in different ways than I was in my 20s. I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers, but I’m really getting to know myself and what I like, don’t like, what my dreams are, and how I can work to achieve them. Someone recently told me that she believes a person really gets to know and understand themselves in their 30s, and I’m already starting to feel some of that.

I’ve always been pretty shy and quiet but within the past few years I’ve slowly been gaining more self-confidence and a sense of authority on some things. I don’t feel uncomfortable speaking up at my job anymore; I’ll have been here for 3 years in August (I can’t believe it!), so I feel that I have the right to speak from at least a little bit of experience! I’ve also been making new friends through work and through my other friends. I have a few close friends from growing up, high school, and college that I treasure, and I’m able to make friends with whole new and different groups of people. Not that I couldn’t do that in my early 20s, but I feel as though I’m cultivating deeper, longer lasting friendships now.

One of the biggest differences I’ve noticed recently is that I’m completely comfortable with how I spend my time. Maybe one night I come home after work and want to do nothing–that’s okay! I can sit in my sweatpants, eat dinner, and stare at mindless TV all night if I want. Or, what if on Saturday I want to run around doing errands, hanging out with friends, and more from the minute I wake up until the minute I go to sleep? That’s okay too! I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything or trying to be someone I’m not. That feeling, probably more than any other, is so liberating: I’m becoming me.

I’m excited for what’s ahead and I can’t wait to start this next decade with all of you, dear readers!

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I was incredibly busy last week! I apologize to everyone and I promise that I did not forget you all :). Though it’s been hectic, it’s been a good kind of hectic–I’m busy at work and I’m also busy in my personal life. I love feeling that I am working for all of the good things that are coming my way.

Recently, I had a conversation with a coworker about office attire. My office technically requires business casual dress, but it’s not exactly that since we rarely, if ever, meet with clients. Certainly, no one in the office looks sloppy but many people I work with wear nice jeans rather than suits or dress pants. As an employee of a company who has a non-specific dress code, how do you make sure you look neat, presentable, and professional at work every day? Below are my personal tips for navigating this sometimes touchy subject:

  1. My company participates in “casual Friday,” so I try to not wear jeans during the rest of the week. If I do end up wearing jeans on a day other than Friday, I make sure they are clean, neat, and that I’m also wearing a nice shirt and shoes. I want to make sure I’m comfortable but also professional.
  2. I pay attention to what my manager, and my manager’s manager, wear each day. I try to follow the lead of those who are higher up in the company than I am. Sure, some of these people meet with clients regularly and dress the part, but I always make sure that I wouldn’t be embarrassed by my outfit if I were to stand next to my manager in an elevator.
  3. I try not to wear too much jewelry or makeup. I love both jewelry and makeup, so this can be difficult, but I save my more colorful pieces for the weekend. Instead of wearing several “loud” pieces at once, I’ll wear only one at work.

These are not hard and fast rules and I am not a Human Resources professional! They are just some of my own personal guidelines for dressing for work. One thing I always keep in mind that seems to work for me in general is: I never want to give HR a reason to have to talk to me about what I’m wearing. When in doubt, I don’t wear it!

What about you–does your company have a specific dress code?

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Recently, my company decided to let us work from home one day per week. Before, we had 12 work from home days to use for the year, but that didn’t feel like quite enough (especially in the winter with all the bad weather!). When the email was sent out, everybody was audibly excited. I can’t describe how much easier this makes my life and how grateful I am to my company for taking its employees concerns and requests seriously.

I’m not at all thinking about looking for a new job, but this new policy cements my desire to stay at this company even more. I know I’ve talked before about the importance of feeling appreciated at work, and my company truly makes me feel that way. I think it’s so important for office morale to not only ask for your employees’ opinions, but to really listen to them. For example, at the start of my first two performance review discussions with my manager, I remember him asking how I was doing and if I was happy at this company and in my job. That meant so much to me and I’m so thankful that I have a manager like that.

I know it’s easy for me to say because I’m happy in my current role, but if you feel unhappy, dissatisfied, or underappreciated in your career or are just itching for something new–don’t hesitate! I’m glad I didn’t hesitate almost 3 years ago when I took this job. A successful career is all about taking risks (or at least, that’s what I hear from those who actually have an established career!) and I’m inclined to follow that advice because I know more people who are happy in their careers than who aren’t.

What about all our readers out there? Do you have any stories about a risk you took in your career and how it worked out for you?

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Recently, there has been a lot of talk at my company about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that was passed in the EU and goes into effect on May 25th of this year. It affects any business that has customers in the EU and our company definitely qualifies. Basically, what this means for me is that I have to be a lot more thoughtful about the information that I send and receive every day, whether I keep it or not, and for how long. When I first heard about GDPR I freaked out a little bit because a company can be fined a lot of money if they are not in compliance, and there is even talk of “random auditing,” to be sure employees are in compliance. After reading into it, attending departmental meetings, and reevaluating my own business practices, I realized that it’s really not that big of a deal at all.

I deal with personal information every day because I’m an editor: I receive PDF proofs from authors and I have their contact information. No, this information doesn’t include their credit card or financial information, but I do have access to their names, email addresses, work institutions, etc. I’ve never really thought about all of that as “personal information” before because, technically, it’s publicly available once it’s published (or at least available to those who subscribe to this particular publication). I’ve started thinking in a new way about how I communicate and with whom, and how I organize and store the information I receive from authors.

On one hand, this has made me much more organized: I have set up “retention policies” in my Outlook that will hold on to certain emails for a specific length of time, then will automatically delete them. I’ve also adopted a policy similar to the one I use when I clean out my closet: “Have I looked at this in the past 6 months? A year?” If the answer is no–it’s out. On the other, it’s made me more aware of people’s information and how I use it on a day to day basis. Is the way I’m using it secure (ie, should I email this as an attachment or can I send it via a secure ftp or something like Hightail?) or am I compromising this data?

The specifics can be downright complicated, but I think the spirit of the law is a good one! Is anyone else dealing with something like this in their workplace?

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