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New York Cares Day wrap-up!

20 Oct

The volunteer day at 318K in Brooklyn was a great success. After some setbacks navigating the subway at 8 a.m. on a Saturday, we arrived at the school in time for delicious bagels, juice and coffee before getting to work!

Our site captain, Nina, did an excellent job keeping everything organized and all the projects on track. The school administration was very friendly and extremely thankful for all the work done that day.

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We painted several murals to be hung around the school.

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Group photo (use your imagination)!

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Focusing on the mural details.

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Reorganizing and de-cluttering a giant supply closet!

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Painting a book room…

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Trying not to miss any spots!

In all, 88,000 students (!!!) arrived to schools all over the five boroughs on Monday to see beautiful improvements to their learning environments.

If you’re interested in signing up to be a volunteer through New York Cares, here is a list of projects. There is no set commitment, and that’s one of the many reasons this organization is so great — it works around busy New Yorkers’ schedules and allows them to pitch in wherever and whenever their time allows. I have done everything from cleanup to soup kitchens to tutoring through New York Cares, and it has all been great! All they require to get started is to attend a quick orientation. Go for it!

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The definitive guide to not freaking out if you get fired

8 Oct

If you’ve uprooted your life and are living paycheck to paycheck to fulfill your dream of calling New York City home, it goes without saying that your job is central to keeping you here. But what if it goes away? Do you have a plan?

Do yourself a favor and take yourself through this series of questions:

• Ex-nay on the self-pity and panic. Losing self-control uses energy you should be investing in finding a new job. While everyone else is losing time wallowing, you’ll be proactively on to the next thing. Hey, it’s not cancer. You will be OK.

• Save money. If you don’t have an emergency stash, I will not sugar coat this for you: Be very afraid. Start one. Yesterday.

• Make a list of everyone who could bail you out if you lose your job. Contact these people NOW, just to check in. Think about who has  connections, and who could get you informational interviews or offer freelance/contract work.

• Talk to anyone who’s ever been fired. Chances are, they are better off now than they were. Many of the people I know who have been fired like their jobs and circumstances better now than they did the day before they got fired.

• Remember past employers. What skills would allow you to have income again right away? Did you work at a diner in college? At a retail chain that has stores in the city? Do you know how to bartend? If you have no savings to fall back on, kiss your vanity goodbye and get any job you can while you keep looking.

Speaking of can….If you get canned:

• Listen to what’s being said regarding your severance pay, benefits, etc. Remove yourself emotionally, if only for those five minutes, to hear them out, because this is important stuff.
• Do not show anger, and try not to cry. (See: “You assholes! How can you do this to me? I have bills to pay!”) Despite what you may believe, nobody owes you a job, and that’s a fact.
• Don’t burn a bridge. Assuming they want to, the people firing you today may be able to hire you back someday soon. If you are still interested in having a career at this company, let that be known. It shows your professionalism and forward-thinking…ness.

In conclusion, I hope none of you gets fired. But if you do, PLEASE remember that IT WILL BE OK. You are young, probably not a homeowner, probably not a parent yet and your best days are ahead of you. Don’t wait until the day you get the boot to make preparations for what comes next. You owe it to yourself!

Homesick?

6 Oct

You’re all pretty freaking smart from what I can tell, so what I’m about to say may be plain as day to you. Sometimes, however, it helps to hear again that which you already know — especially when you’re sad, and disoriented about what’s true.

I moved here in winter. Admittedly, winter months in NYC feel lonelier. Clearly, even a big town like New York can feel lonely. Maybe lonelier than the small ones. So much water, not a drop to drink.

The psychological effects of loneliness are many. What happens is, you not only don’t have friends, but you also start to think you might just be too unremarkable to regain them. You’re feeling like you’ve somehow failed at your new challenge. Already.

I wish someone had told me this the summer after I graduated college, when I moved to an isolated town and started a new job — working nights, no less. My only friend was TiVo. Seriously. For like a year. The only outgoing or incoming calls were from my parents. I cried a lot — and I was poor as a mouse.

So what do I wish I’d done then that I did when I moved to New York?

• I stuck my neck out. Talked more. Was chattier. Risked saying something inane for saying something at all.

• Asked a TON of questions of the people I met and their own new-to-New-York stories. They all had ’em — plus, everyone’s favorite conversation is themselves. (This is pretty much the only thing you need to remember, ever.)

• Stopped relying on work to meet people. Joined clubs, volunteered, just left the house for the hell of it every once in a while. In NYC, the meetup groups, speed dating events and opportunities to get involved are endless.

• Read How to Win Friends and Influence People. No joke — it’s very, very good.

• Expected to make new friends everywhere. I met one of my closest friends in line for a concert, and I met the first guy I dated at an apartment showing. On occasion, I asked a girl for her phone number. Seriously. But not like that. Just a, “You seem really cool. Could we get a coffee sometime?” It works if you’re not weird.

Anyone else have some proactive, loneliness-curing tips?