Adjust

In under a week I will be living in a new city in a new state.  This has me thinking, how will I adjust to my new surroundings?  As I metioned in an early post, I don’t plan to immediately make changes to my personality to fit in.  I will, however, need to adapt to my new way of life.  For example I will no longer have a vehicle at my disposal whenver I need it.  I will have to use a combination of walking, biking and public transport to get around.

As I have been thinking about it I ran a quick search and found a short post from somebody who has done it.  He emphasizes trying new things and allowing yourself some time to adjust.  I like the post because it is a real-world example and simplifies problems with relocation.

I’ve got to keep it really short today…it’s finals week!!!

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Finding Your Place

When I began job hunting back in the fall I started by thinking about where I may want to live.  I enjoy the outdoors and thought a bigger city would offer me more opportunities so I used that as a starting point.  I first looked to the West; Colorado, Washington and Oregon.  I also looked inside of Minnesota at the job market in the Twin Cities.  Weighing the pros and cons of each location became very time consuming, and once I decided on a few places to focus my search things got even more interesting.  Searching for a specific career in a place you’ve never been can be difficult.  For this reason, I turned to outside sources and came across a few interesting pieces.  My favorite of which is fairly recent and is titled “Best Cities For New College Grads” by Susan Adams of Forbes.  It’s a very quick read and gives some information on top ranked cities.  Another fun list is “America’s Best Cities For Young Professionals” by Morgan Brennan, also of Forbes.  Another quick read with pictures and extra info on each of the locales.  I’m just lucky enough to be moving to one of the cities mentioned in both lists!

Boston is where I'll be calling home very shortly.

Finding your place doesn’t only refer to a physical location, but also to your role within the organization for which you work.  I thought an article on USNews.com called “10 Tips for New Grads Entering the Workforce” by Alison Green was a good place to start.  The list gives 10 simple tips on how to succeed in a new career.

Finally, a blog I recently came across entitled “Gen Y Girl” has lots of interesting and informative posts that encompass all aspects of entering the workforce.  I’m sure any 20-something, college student or recent grad will find it very helpful.  Give it a try!

I know there are tons of resources out there so I thought I’d share a few quick, fun articles for you to look at as well as supporting another blogger.  All for now, cheers.

Computer

I just ordered a new computer that will play a huge role in my daily life.  This was a huge decision for me because it will be my personal computer as well as my work machine, so it had to be right.  I had some options, as my budget was somewhere between $1000 – $1250, but in that price range there are so many good machines to choose from.  I am a novice when it comes to computer shopping, although I am lucky enough to have a knowledgeable older brother and a friend who owns a computer repair shop.  Each of them were a big help in my search.

I first consulted with them to decide what brand of laptop I would be needing and we came up with a short list of: Apple, HP and Asus.  All three of these manufacturers are known for their quality products.  Next, I went to each manufacturers site, as well as Best Buy and Newegg to do some comparison shopping.  The “compare” feature on the 3rd party retailers’ sites was awesome to have!  After deciding that Asus didn’t have quite what I needed in my price range, I then narrowed it down to two: 13.3″ Macbook Pro or 15.6″ HP Envy.

My final choice came down to the fact that I found the features I wanted for a better price by going with HP.  At the same price point or $1200 the HP offered way more bang for my buck so it made the choice quite easy.  This was made possible by a coupon code I found by searching online for HP coupons.  I was able to save 30% thanks to Mean Coupons.

My advice to you when computer shopping (and what do I know) is to talk to a friend or two with a high level of knowledge about computers.  Then narrow down your options based on budget, and do some serious deal hunting.  I was able to get an $1800 computer (with the same specs as a $2000 Macbook) for $1200.

Apartment Hunting

I’ll be focusing on some basic tips when preparing to move in the next few days/weeks, so I though I’d start with the most basic of needs: housing.  When moving a long distance (like me) this becomes more complicated, so here are some things to think about when apartment/house hunting.  Keep in mind that these tips are renters!

1) Research – Do your homework on the city or area you’ll be moving to.  This includes basic things like: general knowledge of the neighborhood(s), public transportation options, safety (crime rates), housing prices, etc.  Once you have an idea of what the area is like you can make a more informed decision on your housing.

2) Connections – Think about any connections you may have to the area.  Ask yourself some questions: Do you know anybody who lives there?  Do you know somebody who knows somebody that lives there?  Have any of your friends gone to college there?  You can almost always find a connection of some sort, and if it doesn’t result in a housing opportunity it can at least give you a knowledgable contact.

3) Budget – Come up with a price range which you’re comfortable in.  I’ve had to do some serious thinking on this one, and have decided that it is worth a little more to be within walking distance to work.  Decide what is most important for you – space, location, amenities, neighborhood – and then adjust your budget to see if its plausible.  I’ve found that spending about 1/4 – 1/3 of your monthly income should be your maximum.

4) Search – When searching long distance, things can get complicated, that’s why #1 is so important.  Once you have established the location you desire start searching.  Obviously searching online is your only real resource, so start scouring Craigslist, rental sites, realty sites, property management sites, and university off-campus housing sites for places to live.  I really enjoy using craigslist because it allows you to set a bugdet, search in specific areas and designate the number of bedrooms you’re looking for.

5) Basic needs – As I said above, research things like transportation, building amenities, nearby grocery stores, shopping, dining, and whatever else is important to you.  These kinds of things will factor into every day of your life so make sure you are within comfortable distance to your basic needs.  This is especially important for me, as I will be traveling on foot, by bike, and on public transport at all times.

6) Keep down the costs – Rent won’t be our only expense so think of ways to keep the cost down.  Consider living with a roommate(s) in order to bring down the costs of rent and utilities.

7) Sublease – When making a move there are no guarantees that you will like where you end up, or that you’ll want/need to stay.  For this reason, look into subleasing an apartment/house, or a room in one.  This allows you to sign up for a short period of time in order to feel out your situation.  Much less of a committment financially.

There are so many more things to consider, but these are major thinking points for someone who is planning to relocate.  Hope these are helpful and good luck!

Friends, Family, and Traveling

Although the title may lead you to believe that this post if about leaving your friends and family behind when you travel that is not the case.  In fact, I encourage everyone to travel with friends or family members if they get a chance.  This post is more about your friends and family helping you make your travel dreams come true.

As you know I have been going on and on about my upcoming trip to Boston, MA.  This trip was only made possible by one of my good friends who lives in the area.  We have been friends for years and he moved to the East Coast about 6 years ago.  Since then, we have been discussing the fact that I should come to visit at some point.  Between our hectic college schedules and limited funds we couldn’t seem to make it happen until now.  He has settled into his career, and I have finally learned how to save a bit of money – although not enough money for a hotel in Boston for a week.  He has been generous enough to allow my girlfriend and I to stay with him in his apartment for the week we are there.  This makes the entire trip affordable and will undoubtedly make it more enjoyable.  Free lodging and quality time with an old friend can make spring break enjoyable anywhere you go!

Another prime example is a potential trip I have coming up.  I have an uncle who does a fair amount of traveling for work.  Of course, his expenses are paid by the company he works for, and because he oftens spends weeks abroad at a time the company has a rental apartment for him in his usual destinations.  One of these places is Singapore.  This has provided me with an opportunity to experience an entirely new culture if I’m willing to spend some cash.  Singapore is a place with an incredible history and diversity which intrigues me deeply.  My plane ticket could be completely covered by my uncle’s seemingly endless frequent flyer miles (extremely generous offer from him) and I would have a place to stay.  I would only need to pay for my food and general living expenses while I am there.  I see no reason to pass up this opportunity so stay tuned for further developments.

Singapore is a blend of traditional and modern from many different cultural heritages.

I present these little snippets above to encourage fellow budget-minded travelers to talk to friends and family about dropping in on them for a few days.  I’m not recommending that you ring them up and say you’re coming to crash on their couch next week, but a simple e-mail mentioning that you’d like to see their city/state/area might bring an offer.  More than likely they will be glad to have you, and you will have a satisfying and budget friendly vacation.

Hopefully this can help some of you to explore new ideas as to how you travel.  And hopefully those ideas will turn into incredible new experiences!

At Home Fitness

I’m sure everybody reading this has seen plenty of articles/blogs about exercising at home.  I’ve decided to write a quick post showing a few of my favorite exercises using my very simple equipment.  You don’t need a fancy home gym; you only need a small area of open floor space, a sturdy laundry basket, and a couple dumbbells (optional).

There is an endless amount of exercises you can do at home so feel free to experiment.  Just Google “exercises at home” or something similar and you will see what I am talking about.  I took a few pictures of myself while exercising today to better illustrate a few of my favorite at home exercises.

To start, grab your laundry basket/chair/couch and do some simple step-ups.  Step onto the platform with one leg and bring the other up toward your chest.  Step back down onto the ground and repeat.  I won’t tell you how many repetitions to do because that is a based on personal preference, but I do about 3 sets of 15-20.

A simple step-up.

Lunges are another great at home work out for the lower body.  Simply step forward with one leg and lower your self toward the floor.  Push back up once your knee is almost touching the floor.  Do the same with the other leg.  Again, I do about 3 sets of 20 reps (10 each leg).

Lunges can be done with or without dumbbells.

Next, I’ll show a few upper body workouts.  I like to begin with dumbbell chest press.  Again I utilize my laundry basket for this exercise.  Grab a dumbbell in each hand and lie down with your back on the basket and your feet on the ground, then lower the dumbbells until your elbows are at about 90 degrees, or a little further, and press them back up.  I do about 3 sets of 10-15, depending on the weight being used.

Using the laundry basket again for dumbbell chest press.

Next, stay in the same place and switch to a dumbbell fly.  This requires that you lower the dumbbells out to your sides, and pull them back up to center.  Again, 3 sets of 10-15 for me depending on weight.

Dumbbell chest fly.

Finally, I use a laundry basket/chair/couch/bed to do some triceps dips.  Place your hands on the edge of a solid surface and outstretch your legs.  Lower your body down until your elbows are at about 90 degrees and press yourself back up.  I prefer to do about 3 or 4 sets of 25-30.

Using the laundry basket for dips.

There are so many more exercises you can do, but I just wanted to illustrate some of my favorites.  As I said, you only need the simplest of equipment to work out at home.  I also included dumbbell curls, dumbbell shrugs, body weight squats, and ab exercises to finish off a short workout today.

Changes

At this point in my life I am only months, even weeks away from some very big changes.  In 10 weeks time I will be wrapping up my final, finals – ever (unless I go to grad school but that is for another post.)  The following day I will be walking across the stage and receiving my degree acknowledging that I did indeed complete undergraduate school.  But before any of this happens I am anticipating some big developments.

As I have mentioned before I am expecting to hear back from two potential employers shortly, both of which would require me to relocate if I secure a position.  One relocation would keep me within the state by bringing me to the Twin Cities while the other would send me well out-of-state.  An opportunity with either company would be very exciting for me as would the relocation process – and I can’t forget about getting a real income!  I don’t want to elaborate too much on either prospect as I tend to then get my hopes up and get ahead of myself – there is always the possibility that neither will work out, but I try not to be too pessimistic.  What I will do however, is offer a few words of wisdom (?) for those of you in similar circumstances. 

First, and foremost, embrace the change!  I know I am ready to!  This is as exciting as it gets, it’s a time to start your own life.  Of course, responsibilities increase exponentially, but that is part of life.

Don’t be afraid to move far away.  Getting out of your comfort zone and experience a new lifestyle can help you find out who you really are.  Also, being away from your friends and family can release from any underlying pressure to conform to a certain lifestyle.  And if you think you’ll miss your friends and family, don’t worry, with e-mail, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, phone calls, text messages, and the like you can be just as connected as you were back home.

No matter what anybody says, people are people everywhere you go.  They may have different cultural norms, traditions, and mannerisms, but they regular people too.  You can – and will – make new friends anywhere you choose to go.  This might be the best part of moving away, meeting new people is fun!

This is about all I have on this subject at the moment, but my blogging will pick up once I know where I’ll be moving after graduation.  Anybody have any more tips/advice for somebody nearing graduation and/or a big move?

 

Interview Season

Now that we are nearing spring hiring for college graduates will start to pick up.  This means if you sent out your resume some time this winter, you may be getting an e-mail or a call soon.  I know I recently got an e-mail from a company I applied with in December, and I have an upcoming phone interview for a position.  For this reason, I am writing a quick post with some interview tips.

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Monday Without School

As a student there is nothing better than a weekday free from classes.  Today is one of those days.  The whirlwind weekend is now behind me and I look forward to the next.

This Saturday was incredibly busy for me.  As you know from past posts, I raced in a 24 km nordic ski race.  I ended up placing well within the top half of the race and in a time much quicker than anticipated.  I was happy with my race and glad to spend some quality time on the old boards.  I went home after the race for some rest before heading to a concert in the evening.  The concert was a really good time, but after that my energy supply was entirely zapped.

Sunday was very relaxing.  I spent most of my day in front of a TV, scanning channels for something intriguing.  I always seem to end up on the Travel Channel or something closely related.  It was nice to have a day to just relax.

Although there is no school today, it is back to the grind.  I am back to work today, and have multiple assignments due during the week.  I am trying my best to stay ahead of the game in the homework department this semester.  In the past, I have allowed myself to procrastinate assignments until the day or night before they come due.  This semester I am putting forth much more of an effort to complete assignments early.  Doing so has made my life much less stressful and much more enjoyable.  When I have free time (besides yesterday) I try to put in at least a little bit of work on a given assignment.  By doing this I have made long assignments seem much shorter.  I encourage any student, at any level, to attempt this method; I think you’ll really thank yourself.

Next Step: A Real Job

For most people in a similar situation to mine, the thought of graduation seldom leaves their mind.  The leap from college student to productive member of the domestic workforce looms.  So, how does one go about entering the workforce in times of economic downturn?  How are you suppose to secure a job with such high competition?  And why do ‘entry-level’ positions now require 2-3 years of experience; oximoron much?

I have been dealing with the seemingly endless barriers for some time now, but seem to have found a few prospects.  Although jobsites like Indeed and Simply Hired can be helpful resources, they can also be a hassle to deal with.  While weeding through posting after posting on job search sites, I found few that were of interest to me.  And of those few, I found the I am only qualified for one or two.  After a couple of months I have sent out about 15 copies of my resume, with minimal response.  This is the reality of online job searching in this day and age.  My suggestion to avoiding wasting too much of your time: contact your friends and family.

Personal connections, such as friends and family, are incredible resources when job hunting.  Not only may they have connections, but they are also eager to help.  Having some sort of connection or referral for a position can put you a step above the rest.  So go ahead, contact your friends and family members in the professional world and see what comes of it.  More than likely, they will be glad to help – at least if you have friends and family as great as mine!

To be clear, I have not secured a position of any type yet, but I am now on a path to a successful job search thanks to some of my close friends!