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What if You Don’t Love What You Do?

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Have you ever had that realization that you hate your profession?

Go on…What if You Don’t Love What You Do?

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A Day In The Life of a New Professional

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What can you expect from post-grad life? A friend of mine asked me this just a few days ago. He’ll be graduating in just a few weeks, and I can’t blame him for being curious.

I asked myself this question one year ago, right before I completed my own undergrad. Since then, my life has changed dramatically, and I am anxious to give some words of encouragement to anyone who is about to embark on the post-grad adventure.

That said, I had a hard time answering my friend’s question, so I decided to use my favorite writing tool of all time: storytelling.

This article is a chronicle of a typical day for me, Jon Negroni, and hopefully it will shed some light on the type of lifestyle you can expect from career life. There is a lot in the post about work, of course, but I also shared some of the more personal, albeit trivial, details of what exactly a day looks like for me.

[I wrote this last night] Today was Monday. The 22nd of April in 2013.

I woke up at 7am, completely cold thanks to this year’s oddly frigid April. Like any other day, I immediately went to my desk and made my daily to-do list and prayed to God that I would complete everything I had to do.

Because I don’t have to go to work until 10am, I had three hours to prepare for the day, so I read two chapters of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest and went on my morning run. As always, I opted to do my morning run in silence in order to gather my thoughts for the day and get my mind going.

I walked my dog and grabbed The Wall Street Journal from my doorstep. I then made my breakfast and morning coffee while reading the paper. This part of the day is essential so that I can grasp the current events I can use and share later in the day.

Once I skimmed through the news, I checked my Facebook, Twitter, and some stats for jonnegroni.com

This is easily my favorite part of the day, as it usually consists of me browsing my social media channels stretched out on the couch with my dog comfortably beside me.

While getting ready for work, I turned the radio to NPR and caught some news on the Boston Bomber story. It got pretty depressing, so I eventually turned on Spotify and listened to folk music for the rest of the morning.

Though I don’t have to come in until 10am, I mostly aim to arrive  about a half an hour early so that I can start the morning at a steady pace. The drive to work is only a few minutes, so I listened to “Time With You” by Marc Robillard, which is what I listen to on my way to work every single day. I like routines as you’ve probably gathered by now.

I am the social media and Google AdWords manager for a faith-based nonprofit, so I divide my day into two major sections of work. I give my mornings and early afternoon to social media and the rest to AdWords.

I began the day by writing all of our new stats on my dry erase board, which shows off our likes, reach, and followers for each of our social media channels, which includes two Facebook pages and two Twitter feeds.

After I checked over all of our notifications, mentions, retweets and favorites, I began posting our first round of stories.

The first few posts were based on content delivered to me at 8am, so it didn’t take long for me to get to the next stage of my typical day: gluttony. I scoured the internet for content to share and publish for our brand, using Google Alerts and Talkwalker. At any given time I’ll have up to about 1,000 articles and news stories to read through and disseminate.

I also sifted through my email while doing this. I went the whole weekend without marking my emails, so I ended up having 181 unread emails to deal with. I didn’t find anything particularly important except for a few articles I read  and shared online.

By 11am, I had almost all of the day’s posts for Facebook and Twitter completed and scheduled, so I moved on to social media engagement.

Our website prompts you to create a profile, so I greet our new members every day and invite them to connect with us on social media. Since we had a weekend full of new members, it took me longer than normal to get through the list.

Next, I went over our notifications again and measured impressions for all of our posts over the weekend. I’ve been experimenting a lot with new types of stories we share, so I’ve been spending plenty of time watching our posts closely to see what works and what doesn’t.

Before I went to lunch at 12:30, I brought up the blog post I wrote Sunday night and did one last proofread. Once it was published and shared, I finally went home for lunch, though I checked my WordPress app for likes and shares almost the entire time.

Before I ate lunch, I went on another run, but this time using a Sony Walkman I received for free as a Klout.com perk. The music player is ideal for running since there are no wires, and they’re great for doing a run when I’m in a hurry. I ran for 10 minutes (so I wouldn’t sweat) and then came back inside to eat leftovers from the night before.

I headed back to work to finish the social media half of my day. Using Talkwalker again, I scoured the internet for keywords based on our brand to see who was talking about us and why. I found some articles people shared via Twitter and then made a startling discovery:  Some of our content had been plagiarized.

You see, we write landing pages that are designed to help people with various problems such as suicide, depression, and mental health (that’s where my Google AdWords work comes in). One of our most popular pages is a large list full of simple tips on improving mental health.

Thanks to Talkwalker (which I’m doing a review on later this week), I discovered that the content of this page had been copied and posted on another brand’s Facebook page (I won’t divulge their name) without attributing our organization to the author.

I let my boss know about this and then communicated with the admin of the page in order to get the post properly credited. All in a day’s work for your local social media manager.

By 2:30, I was ready to spend the last four hours of my workday on Google AdWords.

Unlike social media, a lot of this work is a little more tedious and involves numbers and data, although today I wrote copy for ads we are preparing in regards to a child sponsorship project. I  also did keyword research for our search ads.

We use Google AdWords to drive people to our landing pages, which are about tough topics like marital issues, mental illnesses, and more. I create ads for these pages, add tons of keywords, and then measure our clicks, impressions, and conversions  for each of these pages in order to properly allocate our AdWords budget as effectively as possible.

There’s not much more to it than that. I like this part of my day because it allows my mind to sort of empty. I’ll listen to podcasts, classical music, and NPR to keep myself entertained. Today I listened to a few Freakonomics podcasts.

I finished the day’s work about an hour early, so I began to cool down and read blogs and articles that I could use for the next day before I eventually went home.

I changed into casual clothes and went to get groceries for the week. I went home and cooked to 90s music, ignoring my dog’s pleas for attention. Once I finished dinner and cleaned the kitchen, it was already sunset, so I set out to walk to a coffee shop just a few blocks away from where I live.

On my walk, I listened to “Rhapsody in Blue” by Gershwin, which was pretty much the most beautiful part of my day, as I observed the shifting sky to beautiful music.

I ran into a couple of friends at the coffee shop, including an old friend I hadn’t seen in a while and managed to catch up with. I got my beverage and read a few more chapters of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest before walking back home to “Meditation” by Thais, which was fantastic.

As soon as I got home, I changed into workout clothes and went to play tennis with one of my close friends for a couple of hours. Unfortunately, she completely bested me, but I still managed to have a great time.

I went home, cleaned up, and then worked on my book that I plan to have completed sometime this decade (sarcasm).

And then I wrote this article. Once I’ve finished, I plan on reading a few another chapter or two and getting some much-needed rest.

So there you have it. A typical day in the life of a new professional. I like to think that every single person has days exactly like this, but that is unfortunately ridiculous.

Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you seem like a real person. You can also subscribe to this blog by clicking the “follow” button in the top-left corner.

Don’t forget to check out THE JON REPORT every day, updated at 8am for a list of today’s main headlines as selected by my editorial team (me) 

5 Things You Must Do After College

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Being a post-grad is one of the most exciting, yet trying, periods of time you will face as your education finally reaches its climax. I’m writing this in February, then, as a way to hopefully help get people thinking about this now, rather than later.

This is the time to prove yourself. Really, your 20’s are all about proving yourself. This is it! Your first step into the so-called real world you’ve heard so much about.

It’s only been 1 year since I began my post-grad journey, so I’ve compiled a list of things that will hopefully benefit you once you’ve finally finished your undergrad.

Keep in mind that some of these tips are more or less applicable depending on what you actually studied in school, with communications being my experience for writing this.

1. Learn How to Budget

Yes, you may already know how this works and have been doing a fine job through school. This tip isn’t for you. This is for the post-grads who didn’t work much during school and had their parents handle their finances.

It’s time to get it together. Learn how to do your taxes. Learn how to save money. Watch your parents do it. Figure out what you need to make and how much you can spend before you make other big decisions, like where you’re going to live and what kind of job you’re going to apply for.

It amazes me when people don’t know how much money they want to negotiate for a salary. How do you even have grounds for what salary is “necessary” when you have no idea how much money it will take for you to survive? Think about this now so you can be ready.

2. Plan for your Student Loans

Most of us have plenty of loans to pay for once we’re done with school, and this is something you absolutely cannot go into unplanned. You don’t have much time after school ends before the bills start coming in, so plan ahead. Find out how much you’re going to have to pay and apply for different payment plans if you need to early, so you don’t end up paying way more than you can afford.

3. Stay Busy

In other words, do part-time work. This may mean putting other things on hold, such as relationships and social activities. Why? This is a time of rough transition, and you need to be prepared for anything. As a new professional, you are the most susceptible employee to unexpected layoffs and pay-cuts.

Be prepared. Part-time work, especially related to your profession, helps supplement income and develop even more skills that you will need as your career advances. I highly recommend online tutoring. It’s flexible, pays pretty well, and is a great way to keep your mind active when you’re tempted to zone out on the weekend.

4. Avoid Commitments

I say this with a heavy heart, especially since many people I know get married and have kids shortly after college. That’s fine for them, but I don’t recommend it. This is mostly because you have no idea where your profession is going to take you, and making lifelong commitments with someone who may not align with your career creates intense problems.

Plus, most people just aren’t ready for that level of commitment during this time of transition. I highly recommend that you take a year or more to get settled into your new lifestyle and worry about family life later, when you are more ready for it. You will avoid a lot of problems if you do.

5. Develop a TON of Experience

This is especially important for those of you going for grad school. Education is a great asset to your resume, but don’t rely on it too much. Other people just as educated as you are applying for that same job down the road, only they probably have experience along with their education.

If you wait too long to develop experience through internships or part-time work related to your career, that makes your resume extremely unattractive to employers. This obviously doesn’t apply to every field of study, but it is mostly relevant for people in communications.

The bottom-line is: don’t get lazy or complacent. Once you’re done with school, plan for your future and be prepared for anything. Don’t pigeonhole yourself into one thing, because you might get stuck with it for the rest of your life. Experiment. Have fun. Get your life off to a great start. Prove yourself.

Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you seem like a real person. You can also subscribe to this blog by clicking the “follow” button in the top-left corner.

Don’t forget to check out THE JON REPORT every day, updated at 8am for a list of today’s main headlines as selected by my editorial team (me) 

Don’t Waste Your 20’s

Image Courtesy of housecallmd.com

I had a conversation with a good friend yesterday about how to fully optimize our 20’s. It’s really fascinating just how crucial this decade is, for it really does shape the rest of your adult life.

The issue in question was that he had absolutely no interest in the profession he had chosen, and had just one year left to finish school, but he is putting it off because he doesn’t want to commit to something he has no interest in and be stuck in a career that pigeonholes him.

I hear this a lot from friends and colleagues. The idea of settling in a career you may have chosen when you were 19 terrifies people because they now know the reality of what that career will look like.

That said, here is the advice I gave him, and maybe this will help you if you are worried about the same thing.

Your career is not set in stone. 

The truth is that most people who graduate with a degree in something like psychology, biology, philosophy, etc. end up doing something completely unrelated to their field by the time they graduate. Is this ideal? No, but it can lend comfort to people who feel it is too late to start over.

It’s not too late to start over. 

Even if you don’t have the resources financially, there are plenty of efficient ways to go back to school in your 20’s part time and get a degree in something you prefer. The key is to go ahead and finish getting the degree you’ve already worked for. That way, you can hopefully find a job in your 20’s that will support you as you fine-tune what exactly it is that interests you.

Have patience.

Sometimes we over-think how our lives will turn out, and this can cause panic. Keep in mind that almost every career starts you at the bottom, and you’ll probably hate it at first. If you’re patient and work your way to the top, however, you will most likely find yourself enjoying your career because it is something you’re good at.

If you’re skilled at something and have the education, it is far wiser to stick it out with that career until you have the resources to change gears and try something you believe will make you happier. Until then, hobbies and side projects are the best ways to keep you going.

Your 20’s should be a time of exploration and adventure, and it’s your time to prove yourself. Just make sure that you are growing throughout.

Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you seem like a real person.

Don’t forget to check out THE JON REPORT every day, updated at 8am for a list of today’s main headlines as selected by my editorial team (me) 

New Professionals: Know Your Greatest Asset

NSAC Ad Competition 2012

Being thrust into the “real world” of entry-level careers and highly competitive internships requires more than just a good CV and connections. It requires something more tangible than a work ethic, more effective than a bachelor’s degree, and more lasting than a good recommendation.

Yes, those things are essential, but they aren’t nearly as crucial as your greatest asset: your peers. Going it alone is basically career suicide for the new professional. I’ve seen it firsthand.

Since I graduated, I’ve been fortunate enough to have other new professionals as friends (the above picture is me with a few of them), constantly giving me a rubric to measure myself against. It’s cold, but life really is a competition. Evaluating the success of your peers and pushing yourself to achieve your own goals is how you really progress after college.

Take my word for it. The millennial generation has to be the laziest one yet. It’s not just that we don’t work as hard, we know that we’re not working as hard as we can. I hope we see that change soon, and I’ve personally found that nothing humbles you into pushing your life forward more than watching your friends succeed.

I was a wreck during my first job. I had no idea what I was doing and frequently had to receive counsel from my friends. I remember late-night phone calls about my fear of talking to high-level journalists at magazines like Forbes and HBR. My peers got me through that.

Later, when I had to cement what type of industry I would commit it, it was the success of my friends that motivated me to strive for more. While I have my own ambitions, it was still useful to see just how capable my friends and I are. If they can do it, I can do it.

Don’t go it alone. Don’t measure yourself against your shadow. Creating lasting relationships with your peers and constantly watch what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. That’s how the new professional can find real success.

Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you seem like a real person.

Don’t forget to check out THE JON REPORT every day, updated at 8am for a list of today’s main headlines as selected by my editorial team (me) 

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