Hannah Becker is a Millennial Career and Lifestyle Blogger living on a working ranch outside of Kansas City. My aim is Empowering Millennial professionals to turn their career and lifestyle dreams into reality.
Few things say “summer” like a visit to a blueberry farm.
It’s been a family tradition since our first year of marriage. Once a year, my husband and I pack the sunscreen and picking pails, and head out to a local u-pick blueberry farm. It’s so fun – just the two of us picking (and occasionally, eating) blueberries, talking about our summer plans and enjoying a beautiful day in the fresh air.
Throughout our marriage, we’ve visited u-pick farms in the following states: Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. We try to honor our family traditions whenever Uncle Sam sends us as it’s a good way to provide some stability in the not-very-stable military lifestyle.
Plus, visiting local farms is a great way to experience local culture and explore the unique agriculture products our new communities have to offer.
This year, we’re in the sunny state of Florida – home to a number of u-pick farms offering just about any type of produce you can imagine. I’m serious, Florida agriculture has it all – blueberries, grapefruit, limes, peaches, oranges, strawberries, tomatoes, plus many more!
It’s u-pick haven.
Blueberry Farm Fun in the Florida Panhandle
For our first Florida u-pick experience, we drove up from the coast to a little farm outside of Milton, Florida called Blue Basket Farms. It was so cute!
They have a ton of blueberry bushes and charge just $2/lb. The picking area is well-maintained (great for photos!), and there’s ample parking.
Blue Basket Farms provides visitors with buckets that strap on you for easy picking…pretty sure this is the latest in u-pick fashion.
My husband and I embarked on berry therapy…er…blueberry picking for almost an hour. Our picking experience was cut short by an epic afternoon thunderstorm – an early summer Florida phenomenon that we’ve learned to expect.
All total, we picked 10 lbs of blueberries, which comes out to roughly 28 cups or 14 blueberry pies.
Blueberry mission accomplished.
Blueberries and Summer Memories
With 10 lbs of blueberries in hand, I had some cooking to do!
Growing up, my favorite dessert was my grandmother’s homemade blueberry pie. I remember picking blueberries with her during the summer months just outside of Jackson, Mississippi. We used to go out in the early morning and pick berries while the grass was still wet with dew. She’d make all sorts of goodies with our buckets of blueberries – blueberry pound cake, blueberry jam, and blueberry muffins, and my all-time favorite – blueberry pie.
After graduating high school, I moved back to Mississippi to attend college and help care for my grandmother who was dealing with the debilitating effects of dementia. My freshman year of college was spent juggling 18 hours of school, my job as a waitress, and being a caregiver for my grandmother. It was a really, really stressful time, as the realities of Alzheimer’s wreaking havoc on my grandmother’s once-sharp mind affected everyone around her.
I started waking up panicked in the middle of the night, afraid that my grandmother had wondered outside and not known where she was. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s is not yet a curable disease, so my grandmother’s prognosis was simply “will get worse”. She couldn’t remember much about the past – sometimes, she couldn’t even remember my name – and she was beginning to be pretty limited in her ability to follow day-to-day activities, but the one thing she and I could still do was bake blueberry pies together.
So that’s what we did. We baked pies, and as we baked, her short-term memory would return, and I would have my grandmother back, if only for a few minutes.
My Grandmother’s Blueberry Pie Recipe
My grandmother’s blueberry pie recipe is incredibly easy to make (you don’t have to have any baking experience!) and tastes so good!
Here’s my grandmother’s blueberry pie recipe:
2 cups blueberries
3 Tablespoon flour
1 cup sugar
2 eggs slightly beaten
½ stick melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 unbaked pie crust
Spoon blueberries into unbaked pie crust. Bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes.
Mix together the remaining ingredients. Pour over blueberries in pie crust. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.
That’s it! Simple, huh?
Making New Memories at the U-Pick Farm
I just love summertime, especially when it involves blueberries!
From reminiscing about summer with my grandmother to making new memories with my husband, a visit to the blueberry farm is always a great way to start the new season.
If you’re looking for a blueberry u-pick farm in your area, check out the Pick Your Own website. They maintain a great directory of u-pick farms in all fifty states – just plug in your location, and get the listing of u-pick options in your area!
Do you ever have those moments in life where you pause for a minute and think, “How in the heck did I get here?”
Walking into the Federal Reserve Bank for a Women and Minorities in STEM Conference, I had one of those moments.
There I was, discussing diversity in STEM with technology professionals from all across the globe. My voice was heard. My ideas were deemed valuable. My expertise was acknowledged.
How had I gone from living in a moldy apartment in rural Mississippi to owning my own tech-based company, teaching college computer science, and researching the economic impact of tech development for a dissertation?
Answer: STEM education.
My STEM Story of Empowerment
I grew up with very limited access to formal education, having been removed from the public school system in the 6th grade and homeschooled which meant lots of religious readings, cultivating “life skills” through farm work, and referring to cooking supper “science class”.
Consequently, I found myself incredibly behind on all things STEM-related when I tried to continue my education by attending college. I had never been inside a science lab, I had no idea what Calculus was, and I had never taken notes before. I felt extremely out of place and was extremely behind on all things related to formal education.
What is a cell?
During my first science class, I raised my hand and asked the professor what a cell was.
I really had no idea.
My classmates laughed for what seemed like an eternity.
The instructor ignored my question (think he thought I was joking) and continued with his mitochondrial presentation.
Math and science struggles
Throughout my first three years of undergrad, I struggled immensely. I thought I was dumb and incapable of learning like my peers.
Every “F” that I received on math and science exams just seemed to provide additional evidence supporting the fundamentalist ideology that I’d grown up with in a religious community: “A woman’s place was in the home – not in the workplace”.
My college peers were so far ahead of me, and the not-so-patient graduate assistants assigned to provide me tutoring seemed irritated by my immense gaps in science and math education. For a long time, my STEM education seemed like an uphill battle that I was continually losing.
My STEM breakthrough
Fast forward a few years, through a lot of remedial coursework, endless tutoring hours, and repeated scholastic failures, to when I could finally claim the economically empowering opportunities a STEM education offers:
I graduated college with a science degree, successfully completing all pre-med requirements.
I graduated from a top-ranked business school where I excelled in my graduate-level economics and finance classes.
I taught business and technology at multiple universities, taught myself how to program computers, and founded a marketing agency that provides tech-based communication services.
While my STEM journey required closing a number of primary education gaps and overcoming sexist teachings of fundamentalism, it changed my life for the better. The economic empowerment STEM-related opportunities provided allowed me to make choices – about my life and my profession – something that many women living in patriarchal-driven cultures are unable to do.
How STEM Education Impacts Our Economic Strength
But it’s not just my life STEM education has the power to change – it’s a proven catalyst for economic strength both on an individual and national level.
Our world is changing. Technological innovation is rapidly changing the way we work and the type of human capital our industries require.
Consider the following workplace projections:
An Oxford study projects that 47 percent of current jobs in developed nations will be replaced by automation as early as 2034.
According to the World Economic Forum, 65 percent of children entering elementary school today will work in jobs that don’t even exist yet.
In the United States, 80 percent of fastest growing occupations require STEM skills, which are skills the vast majority of American workers do not currently have.
47% of current jobs in developed nations will be replaced by automation as early as 2034. Click To Tweet
Despite overwhelming economic evidence of the necessity of prioritized STEM education, the United States is ranked incredibly low (24th and 38th) in comparison to other nations. As a nation, we are essentially setting our population up for yet another economic disaster by failing to provide the much-needed STEM education that’s required for economic survival.
Yes, technology (or “robots”, if you talk to my conspiracy-theorist neighbor) will be taking a number of our current jobs; however, STEM education equips professionals to evolve alongside innovation, realize tech-assisted potential, and create new jobs.
By 2020, there will be more than 1 million tech jobs in the United States that are predicted to go unfilled, thanks to lack of qualified talent. Other estimates predict the number of tech position vacancies to be closer to 2.4 million. These are jobs that could feed families, build communities, and enhance our economic standing, but they won’t because we – as a nation – have refused to see the writing on the wall and adequately invest in STEM education.
By 2020, there will be more than 1 million tech jobs in the United States that are predicted to go unfilled, thanks to lack of qualified talent. Click To Tweet Why We Need Women in STEM Careers
STEM careers provide particular benefit to female professionals, a sector of our labor pool that continues to experience pay inequality and gender-based discrimination within the workplace. The benefits of working in STEM, such as a smaller gender-based pay gap, rapidly increasing demand, and opportunities for flexible work environments provide the opportunity for economic empowerment of all who enter; however, it remains a very male-dominated sector of our society.
A European study tracked STEM interest in students throughout their education, and initially found near-equal interest in both male and female students. However, female students were observed to lose interest in STEM education starting at age 11, a discouraging trend that continues throughout even higher education.
According to Million Women Mentors, only 12 out of 100 female college students graduate with a STEM degree, and only three are still working in STEM within three years. Despite the incredible economic opportunity STEM career provide, we are consistently failing to recruit and retain much-needed talent into this sector – a phenomenon that may very well come to detriment of our entire society as our world continues to become more and more dependent on STEM-related skills.
How We Can Promote Gender Parity in STEM
There are a number of reasons noted as to why women are not more prevalent within the STEM sector.
Here are a few of the more frequently cited causes:
Exclusion experienced in a male-dominated industry
Unable to advance career due to gender-based discrimination
Lack of mentoring and sponsorship
Believe they are unable to learn the skills necessary
While there’s most likely not a one-size-fits-all answer to why American women do not (yet) make up fifty percent of the STEM workforce, there’s a number of things today’s business and education leaders can do to promote consideration of STEM careers.
Here are three ways we can encourage women to explore STEM opportunities:
Supporting mentoring programs like Million Women Mentors, who’ve provided free mentorship to over 2 million girls and women interested in STEM.
Recognizing female professionals in your community with the objective of introducing girls and women to STEM-based opportunities.
Dispelling sexist myths within our society that claim erroneous gender-based differences in intelligence and STEM skill capabilities.
The Future of Women in STEM
Without my STEM education and the many inspiring professionals that volunteered to mentor me along my professional journey, I’ve no doubt that I’d still be stuck in a cycle of gender-based oppression in the poverty-stricken South. STEM education changed my life, and it can do the same for others.
Diversity in STEM isn’t just the job of Human Resources or Computer Science professors – it’s a responsibility we all share as we collectively move farther into the Information Age.
Let’s not let archaic, misogynist beliefs prevent our beautifully diverse and incredibly talented population from pursuing success within the world of STEM. Together, we can empower the next generation to reach their STEM-related goals and realize greater economic stability within our communities.
Sure, I can read about famous entrepreneurs and spend hours studying their infamous startup’s methods, however, it’s a whole different experience to see their pioneering journey unfold on the big screen.
clear your Friday night schedule, make some popcorn, and reserve your “spot” on the couch with the Snuggie, ‘cause we have an entrepreneur movie line-up just for you!
Here’s a listing of 13 must-see movies for entrepreneurs:
Joy is the story of a single mom, Joy Mangano (played by Jennifer Lawrence) that overcame insurmountable odds to turn the Miracle Mop into a household name. Corrupt business partners, discouraging family members, running out of money, and overcoming personal challenges are just a few of the true to life events the movie portrays as Joy desperately attempts to turn her dreams into a reality. It’s a super inspirational movie certain to give you the entrepreneurial “push” to get over the business doldrums.
Plenty of good entrepreneurial lessons in this movie; the biggest takeaway is how important the art of perseverance is. Joy refuses to accept defeat – even when defeat seems inevitable – and triumphs over failure after failure to build her Home Shopping Network empire.
JOY | Official Trailer [HD] | 20th Century FOX - YouTube
Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck), a young executive at a shipping and manufacturing conglomerate, is on the fast track to the top until the Great Recession hits. His company goes through a few rounds of layoffs, so Bobby and accomplished colleagues Phil (Chris Cooper) and Gene (Tommy Lee Jones) find themselves on the unemployment line. As the effects of their (seemingly) professional pursuits come to a screeching halt, the three men redefine their lives as they struggle to survive in a hostile post-career landscape.
A personal favorite, my takeaway from this inspirational movie is how adaptability is essential for sustainable career success.
Corporate life didn’t turn out like you’d planned ( join the club)? Well, this is the movie for YOU!
Based on the true story of Chris Gardner, this Will Smith movies is one of the most heartwarming and motivational films of all times. Despite losing everything – his house, his wife, and all of his money – Chris refuses to allow tragic circumstances to define his life (or his career). Putting forth insane effort to pursue his dreams of becoming a stockbroker, and overcoming insurmountable odds, Chris’ story inspires viewers to embrace passion and sacrifice as part of success.
“Don’t ever let someone tell you, you can’t do something. Not even me. You got a dream, you got to protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they want to tell you you can’t do it. You want something, go get it. Period. All right?” – Chris Gardner
Starring Anne Hathaway and Robert DeNiro, this comedy tells the story of a recent retiree who’s so bored with retirement that he starts working as an intern at an e-commerce startup. While both Hathaway and DeNiro’s characters have very different experiences and philosophies (hello: generation gap), the two make for quite the dream team when the company undergoes big changes. By bringing their unique sets of strengths to the table, Hathaway and DeNiro are able to execute exceptionally strong decisions and enrich each other’s lives in a manner beyond the bottom-line.
This movie really drove home some seriously inspirational messages surrounding age, integrity, team value, and healthy perspectives on work. Great message for those encountering challenges in a multi-generational workplace or struggling to build a business from scratch.
My favorite quote from the movie, “You’re never wrong to do the right thing.” (DeNiro).
The Intern Official Trailer #1 (2015) - Anne Hathaway, Robert De Niro Movie HD - YouTube
The protagonist, Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise), had it all: a great career, lots of friends and a beautiful fiancé. One day, however, he has an epiphany: Sports agents shouldn’t just be looking at the just money, but how to take care of their clients. Following his heart, Maguire pens a heartfelt company-wide memo that promptly gets him fired. Jerry loses everything – including his dignity – and embarks on a one-man journey to blaze a new trail.
An inspirational story of loyalty, principle, and success, Jerry Maguire will empower you to take a stand from what you believe in and redefine success for yourself. Plus, it’s a gushy love story for the rom-com lovers…business partners and soul mates = hard to beat.
Who doesn’t love Vince Vaughn? Well if you’re a fellow VV fan, Unfinished Business is the movie for you.
Tired of playing second-fiddle to his obnoxious boss, businessman Dan Trunkman (Vince Vaughn) quits and forms his own competing mineral sales firm. He takes a retiring associate (Tom Wilkinson) and a not-so-experience sales applicant (Dave Franco) with him, and together the threesome form quite the motley crew.
After a year and a half of struggle (aka coffee shop “offices”, not enough money to meet payroll, etc.), a promising deal comes in sight — then promptly folds, thanks to Dan’s ex-boss. Determined to save the deal, Dan and company fly to Germany, where a series of outrageous + super inspirational obstacles awaits.
If you love underdog stories as much as I do, Unfinished Business will be your pick!
Unfinished Business Official Trailer #1 (2015) - Vince Vaughn, Dave Franco Movie HD - YouTube
“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.” – Jordan Belfort
This controversial movie might not have won Leonardo Di Caprio (playing Jordan Belfort) an Academy Award, but it sure can teach you valuable lessons about success, fame, fortune, greed and pretty much everything else. Although the majority of the actions Belfort took were highly illegal and immoral, the way he accomplished them were pretty darn inspiring.
In this “larger-than-life” (but insanely true) rags to riches story, of Wall Street investor Jordan Belfort follows the ambitious entrepreneur’s life through an untimely market crash, subsequent layoff, to the founding of his garage-band style investment form that grows into the international firm, Stratton Oakmont.
The Wolf of Wall Street Official Trailer - YouTube
Orson Welles’ 1941 masterpiece is a true cinematic classic.
The film revolves around the life of a fictitious Charles Foster Kane, a newspaper tycoon loosely based on William Randolph Hearst and his quest for fortune and power. Journalist to media tycoon to politician, Kane’s life runs the full gamut of unlikely possibilities. He overcomes many odds and truly embodies the definition of a “self-made” man American culture tends to adore.
Despite his professional accomplishment, Kane dies an empty man, surrounded by his material possessions, but no loved ones. His dying words are “Rosebud” – a reference the reporter Jerry Thompson spends the entirety of the movie trying to figure out.
In the end, Kane may have come to understand what’s really important in life (and it wasn’t money).
I love, love, love this movie. Maybe it’s because I’m still seething from having my home foreclosed on. Maybe it’s because I’m still frustrated with the lack of mortgage availability for self-employed population (subprime, anyone?). Either way, it’s a fantastic film.
Based on Michael Lewis’s book chronicling the subprime-mortgage crisis, this comedic drama follows four men who predicted the bursting of the credit and housing bubble. Yes – four men who saw something the entire international economic community did not – the mortgage bubble bursting, and they made money on it.
If you’re a millennial who’s still reeling from the effects of the Great Recession on your, um, everything from unemployment to mortgage accessibility, this movie will help provide some answers to your “Why?” and “How?” questions.
The Big Short Official Trailer #1 (2015) - Brad Pitt, Christian Bale Drama Movie HD - YouTube
This Leonardo DiCaprio film depicts the early years of director and aviator Howard Hughes’ career from the late 1920’s to mid 40’s. Full of spit and vinegar, extreme self-confidence and a fat inheritance, Hughes’ didn’t let anything stop him from becoming exactly who he wanted to be. Ageism and power of individuality are two of the “life lesson” themes throughout the movie.
I also appreciated how the movie doesn’t shy away from the private struggles that can happen beneath the surface of even the most glamorous entrepreneurs. One of the most inspirational parts of the film was when Hughes pulls himself out of a deep psychological struggle and successfully defends his dealings in front of a Congressional committee.
Determined to the end, Hughes stood by his entrepreneurial pursuits, evident by the quote, “If the Hercules does not fly, I will leave America and never come back again, and I mean it.”
The Aviator (2004) Official Trailer #1 - Leonardo DiCaprio - YouTube
Anytime I get frustrated with the stresses of running my own business, I’ll plug in Horrible Bosses. It’s a ROLF film that truly puts the “stability” of employment in a new light.
Nick (Jason Bateman), Dale (Charlie Day) and Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) are workers who would like nothing better than to grind their oppressive, from hell bosses into the dirt. Quitting their jobs is not an option, so — fueled by alcohol and dubious advice from a not-so-criminal criminal (Jamie Foxx) — the men devise a complex and seemingly foolproof plan to permanently rid themselves of their horrible bosses.
But things don’t go as planned…
Even if you’re not watching for entrepreneurial inspiration, there are so many scenes that are just too funny. In case one Horrible Bosses isn’t enough for ya, they came out with a sequel.
Horrible Bosses - Trailer (HD 1080p) - The Reel Place - YouTube
“I had come this close to making an impact on the world. And now the only thing I was going to make an impact on was the sidewalk.” – Eddie Morra
Maybe it’s the writer in me, but I love Limitless…
This thrilling film about a struggling writer, Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) will teach you something about taking shortcuts, quick fixes and the easy path to success. Eddie is sure he has no future as he is faced with unemployment and his girlfriend’s rejection. However, that all changes when an old friend gives him a mysterious pill that allows him to access 100% of his brain abilities. Stoked on the untested drug, Eddie rises to the top of the financial world, but terrible side-effects and a dwindling supply threatens to collapse his house of cards.
Does he succumb or overcome?
Bradley Cooper always wins…and this movie is (seemingly) no exception. A great watch for anyone facing career challenges and an ethical dilemma.
Forrest Gump is hands down, my favorite movie of all time.
The story of Forrest Gump (starring Tom Hanks), puts a unique spin on everything in life – from love and success to war and failure – it’ll make you reframe culturally accepted truisms in an enlightened light.
A self-described “simple man” with good intentions, who accidentally becomes phenomenally successful from living his life the best way he knows how, Forest becomes an international success in just about everything by being open to opportunities. He wins college football championships, is awarded military medals, becomes a professional ping-pong player, runs across the country like twice, builds a huge shrimping company in honor of his fallen comrade, and inspires people all across the country.
Overcoming odds, maintaining an optimistic outlook, always treating others with respect, and prioritizing what really matters in life – people – will have you wishing Forrest Gump really was living down in momma’s house in Alabama.
Forrest Gump TRAILER - YouTube
What’s your favorite entrepreneur movie?Share your business movie favs in the comments below!
Last weekend, my husband and I spent a relaxing two days in Navarre Beach.
Known for its sugar sand beaches, camera-friendly sealife, and quaint mom and pop shops, Navarre Beach is one of Florida’s best-kept secrets. I stumbled on it by happenstance earlier this year during my family’s genealogical adventure through the Florida Panhandle. I’ve been hooked ever since.
If you’re in need of a relaxing weekend getaway and love the beach, consider Navarre Beach.
It’s fun, not too crowded, and pretty commercial-free. The people are nice, the beaches are beautiful, and the food is amazing. What else could you ask for?
In case you’re planning a fun weekend getaway, here are my travel notes from Navarre Beach:Home Away from Home in Navarre Beach
There aren’t many hotel chains on Navarre Beach – just a few condos and lots of super cute beach homes. My husband and I reserved an adorable Airbnb within walking distance of the beach and felt right at home.
A wannabe foodie (I just eat a lot and take pictures of my food…that’s about as far as the foodie-thing goes), food is always a hopeful highlight of my trips, and Navarre Beach’s food did not disappoint.
Open from noon to 4 PM Tuesday through Saturday, the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center is an educational hub offering multiple interactive exhibits for all ages.
My favorite “attraction” was Sweet Pea – a six-year-old green sea turtle that had a rough start in life. Sweet Pea lost her left front flipper in a fishing accident and damaged her left hind flipper and rear carapace (shell) via shark bite. Following multiple surgeries and extensive rehab, Sweet Pea was relocated to the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center where she helps educate visitors about sea life conservation. If you go to Navarre Beach, you’re going to want to stop in to see Sweet Pea.
New to beach life, I found the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center’s exhibits on pollution, invasive species, and artificial reefs incredibly informative. I knew Navarre Beach was home to lots of lots of unique wildlife and sealife; however, I was unaware of the delicate balance its creatures maintain.
Gulf Islands National Seashore
The Gulf Islands National Seashore is one of the most beautiful beaches in the continental United States. Protected from commercial development, the Gulf Islands National Seashore is home to a variety of protected species, near-crystal clear water, and miles and miles of incredibly beautiful (and desolate) seashore.
If being the only person on the beach freaks you out (or you feel more comfortable swimming with lifeguards, or need access to bathroom facilities, etc.), plan on driving out to the Gulf Islands National Seashore’s Opal Beach – it’s beautiful. They do charge an entrance fee, but again, it’s beautiful.
If spending more than a few hours in the Gulf Islands National Seashore, you may want to drive west – towards Pensacola Beach – to explore its historic forts. Click here to learn more about our trip to Fort Pickens.
Panhandle Butterfly House
Once sufficiently sunburned from long walks on the beach, we ventured across the Navarre bridge to the Panhandle Butterfly House.
Open from May to August, the Panhandle Butterfly House is home to a variety of different types of butterflies. They have a unique indoor exhibit with 300 types of butterflies, and an interesting outdoor garden that’s home to butterflies in all stages of development – from cocoon to mature adult. Really interesting!
A post shared by Hannah Becker (@motivatedgeny) on Jun 3, 2018 at 11:22am PDT
Navarre Beach’s Public Beach Access
Navarre Beach offers multiple public beach access points with restrooms, showers, and lifeguards east of the iconic Navarre Pier (which is also open to the public – you’re going to want to walk out on it). The second public access area is wheelchair accessible thanks to the recent installation of a wheelchair walkway down to the seashore.
Fun Navarre Beach Fact: Jaws 2 was filmed here.
But you’re not scared of sharks, right?
I am. Every fin I saw – and thanks to the active dolphin population in Navarre Beach, I saw a lot – resulted in an instinctive cautionary outburst: “SHARK!!!”
A fellow shark-fearing beachgoer showed me this video footage of a hammerhead shark visiting Navarre Beach back in 2014:
Hammerhead Shark at the Navarre pier/beach - GET OUT OF THE WATER - YouTube
That totally killed by beach vibe for the day.
Since arriving in Florida, I’ve only seen one shark close to shore, and it was only about three to four feet in length. I’m still swimming in the ocean, and watching for sharks…always watching for sharks.
And no longer watching YouTube videos of shark sightings near my favorite beaches. I also tossed my DVD copy of Jaws. I’d prefer to just enjoy the water without my mind playing tricks on me.
The water in Navarre Beach is just amazing – it’s so clear! I loved watching the fish and rays swim past our little beach settlement. So peaceful.
Next time, I’ll come prepared with a snorkel and swim out to the Navarre Beach Marine Sanctuary and Artificial Reef. It’s home to all types of seal life – octopuses, sea turtles, large schools of fish – and it’s all free. You just have to swim out there.
Relaxing in Navarre Beach
Sometimes, a quiet weekend getaway is all you need to recharge.
After a stressful move, new job, and postwar medical journey, my family was in big need of a few days of chillaxing by the seashore. I’m learning – through multiple periods of burnout – that the key to sustainability is frequent breaks!
Discretely located between Destin and Pensacola, Navarre Beach is a great weekend destination without the overwhelming summer crowds. I can’t wait to plan our next trip to Navarre Beach. I see kayaking the Blackwater River, sushi at the Slippery Mermaid, and a visit to the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station in our future!
Have you ever been to Navarre Beach, Florida?Share your Navarre Beach travel tips in the comment below!
Three years ago, I shared my not-so-inspiring post-graduate military spouse tale with the world, well, the LinkedIn world.
All the stuff you’re not supposed to talk about – like how many rejection letters you’ve received and discriminatory statements hiring managers made during interviews – I talked about.
All the horrible self-deprecating feelings that build with each we-went-with-another-candidate form email that fills your inbox of discouragement and leaves you to question if you do have any value as a professional – I talked about.
And then, I went on to discuss a few of the messed-up reasons why military spouses in the masses face widespread under- and unemployment while their loved ones fight for the freedom and security of the civilians who keep passing over their resumes on the basis of military-affiliation.
I got a few not-so-nice emails from professionals in the nonmilitary community that called me “entitled”, “dependent”, and “whiny”.
I received some concerned phone calls from my military spouse friends, warning me that posting the uncomfortable details of a job interview and hundreds of rejection letters wasn’t exactly the best way to go about launching my career.
But then, the tides turned. My military spouse unemployment rant was republished by a military publication, I was interviewed for a military spouse feature, and asked to contribute to several widely-read media outlets on the topic of military spouse career matters.
I started receiving emails from other military spouses who’d experienced the same thing – endless and endless and endless unemployment. And that response to my 2015 LinkedIn post continues even into today, as I regularly receive email after email from military spouses saying, “Help! I’m a Military Spouse job seeker that’s not getting hired – what do I do?”
I figured after the three-hundredth-something email response I sent, it may be time to put these military spouse job seeker resources into a blog post.
If you’re a military spouse job seeker that’s currently experiencing a professional version of Failure to Launch, here are a few tips and resources to help you develop the career of your dreams:
Acknowledge that military spouse discrimination exists and it makes no economic sense.
This was my military spouse job seeker ah-ha moment – acknowledging that discrimination exists and it makes no economic sense.
For years, I thought all the job rejection indicated that something was wrong with me, that I was an idiot/failure/totally-not-valuable to society; but when I realized that it wasn’t just me (all my fellow spouses were facing the same thing) and that it was a pretty systemic problem (heard stories from all over the nation, in a number of industries), I realized that something much bigger than the professionally-crafted resume I’d spent over a thousand dollars on having developed was at play.
Key message: The employment discrimination military spouses face doesn’t make any economic sense for any of the parties involved.
First off, military spouse under and unemployment costs the United States economy upwards of $1 billion a year. That’s a TON of money that could be contributed to our local communities, national infrastructure, businesses and organizations where we ALL (military and non-military) would benefit, but it doesn’t, because…well…a number of American companies continue to condone discriminatory hiring practices against military spouses.
Secondly, military spouses make amazing employees! On average, they are more educated than their civilian counterparts, they are typically incredibly well-traveled with a collective appreciation of diverse cultures, and thanks to the insane tempo of wartime military service, military spouses are incredibly adaptable – a skill that’s incessantly valuable in today’s always changing, tech-saturated business climate. Discriminatory organizations are seriously missing out on some amazing talent.
Employment discrimination American military spouses face is a widespread problem, that is fueled by something beyond economic factors.
This is usually the part of the email where I interject in all caps: TAKE A DEEP BREATH – IT’S NOT YOU!
Network within military community groups.
All job seekers know that networking is a big, big, big deal when it comes to landing a decent job. Receiving a network or in-company referral greatly enhances a job candidate’s chances of being hired.
Additionally, a large portion of available positions are not posted on traditional job listing platforms; instead, organizations rely on word of mouth within existing employees networks to find qualified candidates. This type of “heard it through the grapevine” recruiting strategy can present some very real challenges to a military spouse that most likely has been removed from their original community and thrown into the rather unaccommodating world of Uncle Sam.
As a military spouse job seeker, I struggled to leverage my oh-so-tiny postgrad network and failed to see much return on my traditional networking strategies (you know the type – young professionals organizations, industry conferences, professional memberships). While such strategies worked wonders for my civilian colleagues, the moment “military-anything” came up, I was left in the dust as a not-worth-our-time, not-so-up-and-coming professional.
A military spouse friend of mine recommended joining a military spouse career Facebook group. He said it would be a great place to find out about open positions with military-friendly companies and could help connect me with other MBA graduates exploring creative professional opportunities. While I wasn’t a big Facebooker (pretty sure that’s an Urban Dictionary word) at the time, I took the bait, joined the group, and have been hooked ever since.
Here are a few of my all-time favorite military spouse career-related social media groups:
Seriously, you need to join a few – it’ll make your professional journey so much easier!
Think out of the traditional career track box.
We’ve already established that military spouse unemployment is a very real problem (military spouse unemployment rates are FOUR TIMES the national average), and with all very real problems (especially those not based on rational, economic drivers) it’s not likely to be fixed overnight.
While that sucks, it does give us a place to start from – a crossroads – that most military spouse job seekers find themselves at fairly early on their this-is-for-the-birds job search: the opportunity to consider an out of box career path.
I’m not saying you have to switch industries, change professions, or give up on all your pre-military professional dreams; instead, I’m encouraging you to consider engineering a very individualized career path that may look quite different than that of your civilian counterparts.
Two career hacks I see military spouses successfully pulling off in large numbers are remote working opportunities and self-employment.
I did both (rather begrudgingly at first) and it actually worked.
Here’s my two cents worth on these two out of the box options:Remote Work Opportunities
Finding remote work is easier now that ever. Three websites I recommend for connecting with pre-vetted remote employment opportunities are FlexJobs , MadSkills (military-affiliated company), and Werk.
If you’re not too sure how remote working opportunities would jive with your working style, check out this roundup of my past posts chronicling my own work from home (or, hospital waiting room, coffee shop, new duty station…pretty much wherever) journey:
If the work from home option doesn’t mesh with you, consider looking into coworking space in your area. It’s surprisingly affordable, and often offers many workplace amenities for the busy on-the-go professional.
Entrepreneurship is all the 21st-century buzz, both in military circles and the civilian world. For several years, starting one’s own business was presented as the one-size-fits-all solution for transitioning veterans and military spouses. The general gist of the pro-entrepreneurship movement was: 1) jobs aren’t out there (Great Recession), 2) military-affiliated entrepreneurs can start businesses that will provide jobs for them and other members of the military community (win-win), and 3) we’ll all get great Shark Tank deals and live happily ever after.
Not exactly what (always) happens.
Entrepreneurship is stressful (military families are already experiencing record-setting stress levels with much credit due to the longest war in American history), its’ super unpredictable (cash flow interruptions can be a killer and are not entirely under your control), and failure happens (an event that can incredibly detrimental if you don’t have an adequate safety net – something most single income military families are not financially able to secure off government pay). Combining new business development with a longterm postwar medical journey like my family was forced to do, can be insanely stressful and is far from ideal.
Today, I’m grateful for the opportunities entrepreneurship has provided me; however, it’s been one heck of a journey with lots of ups and downs.
There are a number of business-related educational resources available for military spouse entrepreneurs – like IVMF and Patriot Bootcamp – that I recommended exploring before committing to an entrepreneurial undertaking. Additionally, eMentor and Veterati offer free mentoring services to military spouses seeking advice about starting their own company. Also, the Milspo Project offers a TON of supportive resources for aspiring entrepreneurs, plus, you can connect with other entrepreneurially-inclined military spouses. If you’re interested in starting your own business, be sure to check out these military entrepreneur resources.
Military Spouse Job Seeker’s Next Steps
Developing a career while supporting your family as a military spouse has its challenges; however, there are a number of military-affiliated resources available to help you find your professional happy place.
Unfortunately, military spouse under- and unemployment rates continue to hover around a staggering 90 percent, with employed military spouses earning 38 percent less than their civilian counterparts. As a military spouse job seeker, finding a market value compensating job can darn near feel like Mission Impossible. It’s frustrating, sometimes demoralizing, and can add mountains of stress onto a military family’s already super-stressed lives.
The problem of military spouse employment discrimination is widespread, and there seems to be no easy nor immediate solution. While some elected officials have taken this project under their wing (a million thank-yous to Senator Tim Kaine who’s sponsored the Military Spouse Employment Act), the vast majority fail to recognize the military spouse employment crisis that remains at hand. It is only through continued advocacy efforts that our military community will realize any effective change.
If you are a military spouse that’s encountered service-specific employment challenge or discrimination, I encourage you to share your story and strive to empower other military spouses with the tools they need to connect with or develop professional opportunities. I’ve no doubt that together, we will drive much-needed change.
Are you a military spouse job seeker?Share your career development tips in the comments below!
Strategies for creating a more productive workday are a dime a dozen.
Wake up 22 minutes earlier!
Multi-task brushing your teeth while in the shower!
Check your email first thing!
Don’t check your email until the end of the day!
Dictate email into your phone during your commute!
And the list goes on and on.
As an always-on-the-go professional, I rarely found many of these workday hacks actually helpful (or even realistically applicable). So I explored how adjusting different things in both my personal and professional life impacted my work productivity, and discovered a few quick tweaks that seemed to make some difference.
While my workplace productivity tips are certainly not an end-all, they have helped me feel less overwhelmed and experience more workplace satisfaction without feeling tired all the time. I believe in the power of customized-approaches to just about any type of performance enhancing strategy, so while all of these tips may not resonate with you, perhaps they’ll spark an idea that you can use to consistently reach your productivity goals.
Here are ten tips for a more productive workday:Shorten Your To-Do Lists
Like many busy professionals, I tend to overestimate how much time there is during a day and I always add more tasks to my lists than are humanly possible to complete. It’s frustrating to see all those unfinished items just sitting there at the bottom of my to-do list at (what’s supposed to be) the end of the day.
Solution: I switched my list-making pad from a legal pad to a sticky notepad. There’s only so much stuff I can write on one sticky notepad, and its limited space helps me keep my overly ambitious to-do lists in check.
Schedule Breaks (and actually take them!)
You do not need to sit at a desk, staring at a computer screen all day!
Schedule regular breaks (think: every 45 minutes) and actually take them. Get up, leave your desk, walk around, go outside, get some sun. Do anything besides look at another computer screen (your phone screen included). Give both your eyes and your mind a break from the steady stream of work-related stuff with a five to fifteen-minute stretch.
Exercise Every Day
I’ve always looked at working out as something I had to do in addition to working, which meant I didn’t look forward to it. Eventually, I realized that working out before work boosted my mood and actually improved my workday productivity.
Figure out some kind of exercise that you sort of enjoy and make a point to prioritize it every day. I run three times a week and do yoga + walk the other two. Sometimes it’s just for 20-minutes – my optimal cardio time for re-energizing my mind and tapping to my creative side. Listen to your body and come up with a daily exercise plan that works for you.
Check-in With Yourself Regularly
Developing more self-awareness can be a great way to ensure workday productivity.
Do you hate your work or do you just hate this client?
Is this the wrong career for you, or do you have the wrong manager for your working style?
Is it the job that’s driving you up the way, or the two-hour round-trip commute it requires that’s crunching your style?
Sometimes, specific stresses can spiral into a much bigger deal if we’re unaware as to why we’re feeling the way we are, and big deal stresses are productivity killers. Checking in with yourself on a regular basis through internal dialogue or journaling can be a great way to maintain a balanced perspective and maximal productivity.
Invest in Your Creative Side
This one’s really tough for me, but it seems to make a real difference.
Finding a way to invest in your creative side on a regular basis is a great way to boost your productivity in a sustainable way. Even if your job doesn’t require creativity in large amounts, channeling your inner creative on a regular basis can help provide you with both a stress outlet and a source of inspiration.
Learn to play an instrument, try your hand at watercolors, build your own app – whatever floats your very unique creative boat. Cultivating your creative side is a great way to manage work-related stress and free up your psyche.
Establish Tech Boundaries
Technology makes some things in our lives easier; however, when left unchecked, it can be really, really destructive. Figuring out how to implement usage boundaries or rules regarding tech in your own life (both professional and personal) can be a great way to prevent burnout and disillusion.
Get two cell phones (one for work, and one from personal), schedule a no-internet day on a regular basis, and monitor how much time you’re spending online for non-work related activities during the work week (we see you cyberslackers out there!).
Eat, Sleep, and Call Your Momma
You can’t run on an empty tank. It’s up to you to take care of yourself – eat well, sleep enough, and call your momma on a regular basis.
If you don’t have a mom or bestie to chat with, make sure you prioritize some type of daily “check-in” with someone that has your best interest at heart. The caring people we surround ourselves with are often the best canaries for signaling possible burnout in our own lives, even before we know what’s happening.
Bottomline: Take care of yourself, even when you don’t feel like it.
Learn Something New
While it may seem kind of counterproductive to add something else to do to your already-overloaded to-do list, setting aside time to learn something new each day is a great way to stay energized and inspired.
Sign-up for free, self-paced online courses and work on them for 15–minutes a day. While you won’t set any records for course completion, it’s a great way to expand your skill set.
Read or listen to something that’s outside your wheelhouse. This could be a book by someone you wouldn’t normally read, an article about an industry you don’t work in, or a Ted Talk or podcast about something you’ve never heard of before.
Don’t Let Lack of Organization be a Stressor
Lack of organization can be a total productivity killer (not going to show you a picture of my desk right now…between the business, blogging, teaching, and going to school, it’s a hot mess).
I tend to be a pretty messy person, leaving something from whatever I was working on just about everywhere (all end tables in our house have some sort of legal pad or book stack sitting on them right now), and staying neat and organized as I work just doesn’t happen (tidiness = creative process killer).
Instead, I schedule 30 minutes on Friday right after my last lecture for the week to clean up my workspace(s). Stuff that I’ll need next week gets organized, and brainstorm scribble gets tossed. This way, I can let my creativity flow when working, and still maintain a relatively organized office that won’t be a productivity-dampening stressor.
Give Back Daily
Of all the workday productivity hacks, this one’s my absolute favorite. It’s not something I’ve seen mentioned a lot when it comes to workplace productivity; however, it’s been a great source of renewed energy for me within my own professional journey.
Giving back daily – even in relatively small ways – can be a great way to maintain balance within yourself while making our communities better places.
I know what you’re thinking…I don’t have time to volunteer!…but giving back doesn’t have to involve hours of your time. It can be a simple as taking a few minutes each morning to promote a community fundraiser on social media or keeping a half dozen food gift cards in your wallet to give out to homeless on your daily commute. These small acts of generosity can do great things for all parties involved.
Recently, I became made aware of the immense unemployment crisis within the veteran caregiver community. Family members of disabled veterans face widespread discrimination when it comes to employment, plus, they are often limited to virtual working opportunities which historically don’t pay the best and offer limited mobility. It’s a really raw deal – unsupported veteran caregivers take care of our wounded warriors while our society refuses to prioritize reasonably accommodating work opportunities for them to feed their family.
So, I started setting aside 20 minutes in the morning to network on behalf of the job-seeking veteran caregivers in my community. Sometimes, this involves sending out a few emails to hiring managers I know with these caregivers’ resumes attached. Other times, it involves jumping on the phone with professionals in my network, requesting their help in finding work opportunities for these selfless members of our military community. It’s an act that costs me nothing but my time, and when my networking efforts help these hidden heroes land a job, I’m beyond rewarded through continued inspiration.
While finding some way to give back every day may not typically be included in the how-to-make-your-work-day-more-productive conversation, it certainly helps boost my work-related moral which provides new energy that helps sustain my professional efforts through all the not-so-glam parts of my work.
I’m a millennial that absolutely loves to travel so catching up on the latest millennial travel trends is one of my favorite non-academic, sitting-here-on Saturday-morning, chai latte in hand, let’s prepare-for-Thursday-night’s-Trivia research projects.
I know I travel really differently than my predecessors, but I wasn’t sure as to just how differently I approach travel when compared to Baby Boomers until I read through the latest millennial travel trends.
As a millennial traveler, I don’t buy timeshares, I avoid popular holiday destinations, and will take backpacking a remote trail in a beautiful National Park over an all-inclusive resort any day.
Enter: my penny-pinching millennial travel strategy.
Turns out, I’m not the only millennial traveler who’s exploring our exciting world on a shoestring budget.
After reading through the latest millennial travel reports, I realized that many of my nontraditional traveling strategies were shared among my fellow twenty and thirty-something adventurers, so I put together a tl;dr summary of millennial travel trend highlights.
Here are eight interesting millennial travel trends:Millennials travel more than other generations.
Millennials now travel more than Gen X and Baby Boomers. Even when traveling means delaying other purchases, such as a new car or designer clothes, millennials are willing to cut their expenses to afford their next travel adventure. Millennial travelers currently average 2.6 trips per person each year, with that number being even higher for millennials with children.
Between my work travel and recreation travel (destination races, camping, kayaking, etc.), my millennial family travels an average of twice a month. We typically stay within driving distance, or use military transport (typically at no cost) for these bi-monthly trips and limit our non-essential trip expenditures to minimize traveling effects on our budget.
The majority of Millennials view traveling as a necessity.
While previous generations viewed traveling as a luxury, millennials tend to view traveling as a necessity. Trips are an opportunity to expand your education while benefiting your health. For many millennials, traveling is an opportunity for self-discovery, allowing them to assess their current path and make changes as needed. For others, travel is a way to channel their physical fitness efforts, through long hikes or bike rides.
As a millennial traveler, I would prefer to take six day or weekend trips than a two-week long resort stay. The more frequent little trips help me to maintain balance in my work and unplug from our always-on digital world. For my family, travel has become a part of our way of life. Instead of saving up for one big trip, we work hard to find creative ways (like Space A travel) to make multiple adventures happen.
Millennial travelers are going off the beaten path.
Adventure travel is a big, big deal to millennial travelers. Instead of sticking to the traditional summer vacay itinerary, millennial travelers tend to explore off the beaten path destinations that offer unique experiences. According to a STA Travel study, the top international destinations for adventure-seeking millennials include New Zealand, Italy, Thailand, Portugal, Costa Rica and Peru.
Most of my family’s most enjoyable trips have been to places you probably haven’t heard of, like Lindsborg, Kansas, the Wisconsin Dells, Pawhuska, Oklahoma, and Navarre, Florida. While these destinations may not rank up there with the top vacation scenes, their community charm and outdoor recreation made for a really fun and budget-friendly time.
It’s not all international adventures – Millennials love road trips.
Millennials currently spend $1,943 each year on travel, while older Americans spend more than $2,600 a year. Millennial travelers prioritize taking multiple trips versus just one big trip, so they tend to conserve their resources and pinch pennies during their trips. They may shop for last minute deals, stay in alternative housing (renting a room, hostels, camping, etc.), and even split road trip fuel expense with a few friends.
Millennial travelers look online for travel inspiration.
Okay, this millennial travel trend probably didn’t surprise you…
87 percent of Millennials look to Facebook for travel inspiration, with additional Gen Y users exploring Instagram, Pinterest and other social media apps for travel options.
As a millennial traveler, I’ve gotten to where almost all of my travel ideas come from other bloggers and influencers posting online about their travel experiences. While I occasionally look to tourism websites, I haven’t planned a trip via tourist-affiliated organization in years. I trust travel bloggers and my social connections wayyyyy more than a CVB. as I view their information much more authentic.
Millennials are all about experiences over things. According to a survey by STA Travel, a few of the top millennial travel attractions include mountaineering, sailing, island hopping, music festivals, food tours, and wildlife excursions. While activity-based travel has typically been associated with the under 40 crowd, millennials consistently show an increasing preference for the let’s-go-do-things travel experience.
A couple of my favorite travel experiences include hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park, kayaking in the Ozarks, skiing in South Dakota, exploring the Appalachian Trail, and sailing in the Gulf of Mexico. While our travel accommodations were typically sparse for these trips, we made a number of lasting memories, learned about ourselves, and still reminisce about the experience.
Most millennials share their travel experiences online via social media.
Millennial travelers love sharing their travel experiences with their online communities through social media. Posting, snapping, and streaming are just a few ways millennials share their adventures with others – inspiring other members of their generation to pack their bags and hit the open road in quest of adventure.
And it’s not just the big-time travel bloggers sharing their trip recaps – a staggering 97 percent of millennials will post travel highlights online. This type of social media travel coverage makes social savvy millennials a goldmine for marketers working in the travel industry – sponsored travel content, anyone?
The Future of Millennial Travel
Millennial travelers are projected to have more of an impact on the travel and tourism industry than any other group – a projection that isn’t surprising, given millennials consistent disruption of other established industries and their sheer size as the largest generation in American history (one that’s still growing, thanks to immigration).
As millennials continue to grow their families through children, their emphasis on travel is projected to grow even more, with family-friendly destinations topping the list of millennial travel spots. Additionally, adventure experiences, urban destinations, and online travel planning are expected to continue to grow in importance as millennial travel preferences continue to dominate the world of tourism.
Reflecting on my family’s very-millennial travel habits, I’m excited to see more travel innovations (like my favorite travel apps!) and adventure-focused experiences emerge onto the tourism scene. Travel has always been a big part of my adult life, and even though it often requires some budget gymnastics and foregoing luxury (base model RV’s aren’t exactly known for traveler’s amenities), I’m pretty sure travel will remain a top priority.
Do you have any tips for the budget-conscious millennial traveler?Share your travel tips in the comments below!
We order the latest gadgets through pre-logged in retail apps.
We willingly participate in surveys and other data collection techniques without full knowledge of how it’s being used.
As digital natives, we have evolved into a society that’s comfortable with our information being everywhere online. We exchange our anonymity for finger-tips convenience and think very little of the consequence. Many of us – myself included – have already had our identity compromised in multiple data leaks.
What used to never happen – identity theft-, happens all the time, and we just deal with it.
While some of the more malicious cyber attacks occur at a network level – outside the security scope of our favorite mobile device – there are steps internet users can take to help keep them safe online. Basic cybersecurity principles don’t require super-honed tech skills to implement. Everyone can work to keep their identity safe while using the world wide web.
Here are three cybersecurity basics to help keep you safe online:Think About Your Social Media Activity
Social media can be a great platform to connect with others, share information, and explore your community; however, it can also be a great place to for people with malintent to glean personal information that can be used for harm.
Keep your account’s privacy settings in mind. Default social media privacy settings aren’t good enough. You’re going to want to customize just how much non-connections can view on your profile on all platforms. A good rule of thumb is to set privacy settings as high as they can go.
Geotag and live stream judiciously. While it’s easy to get caught up in an exciting moment, be careful geotagging yourself or your loved ones, especially in real time posts. Your location is privileged information that can put you (and your property back home) in a vulnerable position. Wait till you’re back home to post location-specific stuff.
Be wary of communication from people you don’t know. Catfishing isn’t just something that happens on Dr. Phil. It can happen to anyone. A good rule of thumb is to be wary of communication from people you don’t know or haven’t heard from in a while. Verify the source before divulging any personal information. Requests for money should always be flagged as suspicious.
Consider how the information you share could be used to compromise your identity. You know how Facebook has that fun “family member” feature, that lets you identify your relatives? Do you know how many times you’ve used “Mother’s Maiden Name” as a security question on a financial login? Yeah…not good. The information we divulge online – our email, phone number, family tree, workplace location, college alma mater, etc. can make for an easy mark for a criminal-minded cybersleuth. Be careful about posting personal information online, especially on a social media platform.
Protect Your Computing Devices
All the internet-connected devices we use – our laptop, mobile phone, tablet – are vulnerable to a cyberattack from outside forces. While there are TONS of different types of attacks cybercriminals can use to hack your devices, there are a few steps we can take to ward against the more common intrusions.
Here are four ways you can protect your computing devices:
Keep the firewall turned “on”.
Firewalls can be a great level of protection for all your devices, when they are turned ON. They help keep a would-be leak contained, harbored away from valuable, information-risk areas. In many cases, firewalls are one of the first lines of defense when it comes to cybersecurity. Bottomline: You want to make sure your firewall is up and running. Not sure if yours is? Here’s some helpful links to check your firewall status: click here if using Windows 7 or 8.1, click here if using Windows 10, or click here if using a Mac OS X device.
Antivirus and Antispyware are worth the money.
Confession: I used to not buy antivirus software. It just seemed like a waste on money….I mean, how often does your computer get hacked? Now I know, that without effective antivirus and antispyware on board, your computer can get hacked a LOT. And the cost of replacing the device or even getting it cleaned far outweighs the cost of some antivirus subscription. Good protection will include both antivirus and antispyware. There are TONS out there. McAfee and Symantec Norton are my two go-to’s.
Don’t forget to protect ALL your devices.
Just because your laptop is protected, doesn’t mean your phone is. How many of us have a phone that connects to our email, social media, or cloud? Yeah…all of us. Mobile devices can offer vulnerable access to would-be-hackers looking for a way into your online data. Keep your mobile device secure – PASSWORD PROTECTED – and be conscious of what you store via phone. If your phone doesn’t offer biometrics, add a strong passcode – eight characters or more. Don’t use the PIN number or swipe pattern option…they are way too easy to hack should your phone get stolen.
Manage Passwords Responsibly
Just because something requires password-access doesn’t mean it’s protected. Cybercriminals have access to a variety of tools, from keystroke loggers to password cracking software, that can easily provide access to your go-to passcode.
Here are a few tips for making sure the passwords you are using are actually protective:
Don’t use just one password for everything. We all know this one, but how many of us actually do it?
Use a passphrase instead of a password, meaning, use a phrase with more than 20 characters. Example: KittyChocolate#67Fi$hGaspy!
When selecting a password, always use a mix of numbers, lower and uppercase letters, and other special characters.
Consider using a password manager. These programs create strong and unique passwords for each login, but only require that you remember one password. Lastpass (Windows and Mac) and RoboForm (Windows only) are two of the more popular password manager applications.
If you keep a hardcopy of your passwords written down, be sure that you do not leave them in plain sight. Instead, keep them under lock and key, somewhere secure and away from the prying eyes of coworkers, customers, and other possible-cyber-snoopers.
How safe are you online?
In the Information Age, our data is incredibly valuable – be it to a political propaganda machine like Cambridge Analytica, or to the money-motivated hackers behind the Equifax breach. But just because our data is valuable, doesn’t mean that it also has to be vulnerable.
Consider your social media security, install protective software on ALL your devices, and manage your passwords responsibly to improve your chances of staying safe online. As an online user, it’s important that you stay up to date on cybersecurity trends and find an effective online safety strategy that works for you.
It’s what every millennial dreams of–graduating college (and possibly some graduate or professional school) with mountains of student debt, only to discover their initial professional path led them right into a dead end.
No one wants to hit their 20s or 30s, after investing the better part of their young adulthood hitting the books, downing a less-than-healthy amount of Ramen noodles, and working two or three side jobs for a degree (or degrees) that fail to launch a worthwhile career.
I’ve been there, and it totally sucks. It feels like a crossroads, where both options lead to a major cliff.
Do I want to stick out a career path that I absolutely hate as it literally saps my soul in hopes that it’ll eventually get better?
Is it foolish to try to change my career path after I’ve already invested a lot of time and money into it?
Can I manage a complete career change at this stage in my life? And how do I know if my career about-face will be any better?
Realizing you’re in the wrong profession or position and feeling stuck in an industry that you no longer see a future in can be really scary, really stressful, and (surprise!) a really, really good place to make a strategic career change.
“Wow – I can’t see you doing any type of other work…”
Reality is that ten years ago, my career path couldn’t have been any further from the world of marketing. If you’d told me then, what I’d be doing for a living now, I would have laughed and asked if you were sober. Marketing was that far from my mind (I probably didn’t know what it was).
But, the Great Recession happened. The realities of war ripped through my family like a Category Five hurricane. What I had previously thought was the perfect career for me turned into one of my biggest nightmares. I knew I had to make a career change but had no idea how.
In case you’re feeling or experiencing something similar, here are three tips to help you navigate a successful career change:Forget Sunk Costs When Considering a Career Change
In business school, we drilled this thing called sunk cost theory.
What’s sunk cost?
It’s a foundational principle in this super cool study called behavioral economics (if I make another career change, I’m heading over to behavior econ – it’s amazing).
Basically, sunk costs are expenses that have already been incurred and can’t be recovered; thus, they shouldn’t have any influence on logical decisions.
Thoroughly confused? Here’s my favorite sunk cost theory example:
Say you buy a movie ticket for $9.25 (sunk cost).
Halfway through the movie, you go from falling asleep from sheer boredom to fending off nausea waves courtesy of the all-too-graphic alien guts that keep spilling all over the big screen. You can think of a hundred things you’d rather do than sit through the remaining 55 excruciating minutes of this movie, but you aren’t sure what you should do.
Do you let your sunk cost—an investment that once spent cannot get back—of $9.25 keep you glued to your seat, or do you say “to h*ll with sunk costs!”, walk out of the movie, and go do something more fun and less sickening?
Turns out, successful people (as defined by earnings) say “to h*ll” with sunk costs (aka: they walk out of the movie), and do not let sunk costs influence their future course.
Less successful people watch the movie they hate because they “want to get their money’s worth”. This is sunk cost fallacy – letting irrelevant past expenses drive your decisions – and it’s not a good way to approach your career path.
How do sunk costs manifest in career change decisions?
Just because you spent $120k on an undergraduate degree in Biology, doesn’t mean you’ve got to stay in science even when it doesn’t make you happy – you can make a career change!
According to rational decision theory, what you’ve already spent (sunk cost) should not play into what you’re going to do today and tomorrow; however, chances are, if you’ve considered making a big career change, sunk costs have tried to rear their ugly head and keep you stuck in an unproductive position.
Analyze Your Skill Sets Before Making a Career Change
When considering a big career change, it’s important to analyze ALL your skill sets – not just the ones you use in your current position. Most professionals are so much more than their often-limited job description. They all possess a variety of strengths and interests that help make up their unique professional repertoire.
Needing help to think beyond the constraints of your current career? Consider exploring personality tests like Myers Briggs or the Big Five to learn more about how your personality influences your natural strengths and skills.
Next step is to really flush out your past pursuits, identifying skill sets that enjoy employing in the workplace or would like to develop further.
Maybe the 36 hours of graduate level coursework you took in Medieval Literature won’t directly translate into hard skills you can launch a career change off of, but think out of the box here:
What about those mad research skills you developed, combing through one ancient manuscript after another?
And the writing skills you so expertly honed while crafting an eighty page thesis on the work of Geoffrey Chaucer?
These skills are applicable. These skills are marketable. These skills can apply to a variety of exciting career opportunities and can help you make a successful career change.
It can also help to inventory your skill set through a different lens, getting outside input regarding what you’re good at. Ask your friends, ask your colleagues, ask your mentors. Don’t be afraid to explore your many skills from a variety of angles.
Get Serious About Networking When Making a Career Change
Making a rather drastic career change hit me hard in the network department.
A few of my previous employers, classmates, and professors were particularly disparaging about my professional shift, voicing their so-not-encouraging thoughts about my career change in multiple ways.
One professor I’d really admired refused to write a letter of reference for me, saying that he found my career change to be “wasteful, irresponsible, and just plain stupid”.
That one hurt. It also marked the moment that I realized I was going to have to get really serious about building a new network – one that would support me in my new professional endeavors.
While there’s no one size fits all approach to networking, developing a will-work-for-you networking strategy is key for pulling off a successful career change. You’re going to need connections within your new industry and organization. These relationships can help you navigate your new work world with much less headwind.
Research industry organizations and join a few. Connect with industry leaders on LinkedIn. Attend industry events and exchange business cards. Reach out to inspiring industry innovators and offer to buy them lunch. Over time, you’ll be able to develop a strategic network that can assist with your new professional pursuits.
Does the idea of networking make you cringe (it’s okay, I’m right there with ya!)? Check out Confession: I Hate Networking for some network development strategies that you can do from the comfort of your own home!
Maybe your industry is becoming yet another casualty of automation.
Maybe you’ve learned more about yourself through your career journey to-date, and you’re ready to implement that enhanced self-awareness into your promising future.
That’s totally okay. Most of life is just a trial and error of sorts. We try things, some work out, and others don’t; then we try new things. Our careers are no different (unless you have a crystal ball…then things are totally different).
So, the career path you naively picked at a young age didn’t turn out as expected.
That’s okay. You’re going to be okay. You can make a career change and find work that you enjoy.
Have you ever made a big career change?Share your career change tips in the comments below!
I have a very love-hate relationship with running.
We’ve been duking it out for a long time – ever since I was eleven – and have stuck together through tendon tears, post-race pukes, and even a lightning strike (that was not fun).
For years, running has provided me a hobby, a community, and a way to invest in my health. I go to races, meet new people through running groups like Team RWB, and enjoy the effects logging miles has on my cardio capability.
While I don’t always enjoy running (you caught that part about the lightning strike, right?), it’s evolved into an integral part of my day-to-day life. Sometimes, I run so I won’t feel guilty about eating my beloved Italian-sourced carbs; other times, I run because it’s one of the only times I can totally check out and take a break from my very tech-filled work world.
Running provides me an opportunity to take care of me – my physical health and my mental wellbeing.
If you run in running circles, you hear a lot of stuff about running. Some of it’s true, and some of its total BS.
Here are a few of the craziest running myths I’ve heard:
Running requires some special talent or genetic gifting.
Running is only for naturally skinny people.
Running can make women infertile (WTF?).
When I started running, I had no idea what I was doing. One of my elementary school teachers hosted a quarter mile race on the school’s track during the PE hour. I ran it in my glitter jellies (any other millennials remember those amazing, yet so-not-for-running shoes?) and beat all the boys in my class. It felt amazing (minus the bleeding feet).
In the years that followed, I embraced the world of running with a rather trial and error kind of mentality, as I attempted to channel my inner gazelle and develop into a healthy amateur athlete.
Running helped me develop the confidence, endurance, and strength to win in many areas in life – from the racing world to the higher education to the workplace.
Here are three tips for beginning runners interested in going the distance:Invest in Good Shoes – Regularly
A good, stable pair of running shoes are essential for your running career. Don’t buy the cheapest pair, or simply pull those old tennis shoes out from the back of your closet – invest in some real running shoes that can support your steps for hundreds of miles. While everyone’s foot structure is different, consider going to a sporting goods store and having your stride assessed by experienced staff. A good running shoe will feel supportive, and not leave you with any aches or blisters.
Shoes are kind of like tires – they lose their “tread” and must be replaced regularly. A good rule of thumb is to replace your shoes after 300 to 500 miles (for a runner averaging three miles a week, this comes out to replacing shoes about every six months). Don’t wait until your shoes are threadbare, or feel about as lifeless as an old banana peel to purchase new ones. Injuries sustained when running on bad shoes can take months to heal – take it from someone that knows: it’s just not worth it.
It’s Not (Always) a Race
Starting out, no one’s as fast as they want to be. While much of running is focused on racing events (What’s your PR?), it’s important for beginning runners to recognize that the only person they are really in competition with is themselves. Don’t get discouraged when the first few times you sprint out the back door, a half mile run leaves you winded. Focus your training and conditioning strategy on where you are, not all the others runners that pass you on the trail.
I’m more of a sprinter than a distance runner (you’ll want to read up on fast vs. slow twitch muscle fibers if unaware of this distinction), so 5K’s are a lot more my jam than full marathons. Many of my running colleagues struggle with speed and find it easy to score some serious distance. While genetics do have some influence on what your body’s natural preference is, focused training can prepare you for either – just don’t expect results overnight.
Treat Yourself Like the Athlete You Are
Every spring, I spot a handful of newbie runners on the trail struggling to reach any of their distance or time goals due to poor conditioning. They try to go too far, too fast and end up burning out real quick.
There’s more to running than just popping in your earbuds and making a few laps around the block; you’ve got to diligently prepare and maintain your body like an athlete’s. This means adequate water and food intake, scheduled rest days, quality warm ups and cool downs, and making sure you get enough sleep.
Running has a wonderful regulatory effect for many (hello fellow insomniacs); however, it’s common for beginning runners to pick up running without recognizing the lifestyle changes that may be required for long-term success (aka no fasting diets followed by half-marathons). Consider getting some sort of nutrition counsel during the first few weeks of your running career, be sure to schedule adequate time for quality workouts followed by walks or stretching, and don’t neglect sleep.
Are you a runner?
Share your running tips in the comments below!