3 Ways To Survive Your First Job After College

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When I was about to graduate college and searching for full time employment, a lot of people said to me, “Don’t snatch up the first job that comes your way!”.

I repeated these words over and over in my head and told myself, promised myself, that I would follow this advice.

But after I filled out a couple applications, talked my way through some phone interviews and was offered a job at a hotel a few weeks later, it was as if I had never heard that advice in the first place.

You see, after making nearly nothing at all in college, I jumped at the first job I was offered because it sounded like a million dollar deal at the time! Mind you, my starting salary wasn’t much, but for a fresh-outta-college gal like myself, it was enough to reel me in.

My start date was a week and a half after graduation and although I wished I had more of a summer break before I started working, I was ready to make some money. Donned in my new work clothes with my lunch box in hand, I headed out the door to sit in traffic alongside thousands of other working adults.

It didn’t take me long to realize what a big fat mistake I had made.

And I don’t say that because I didn’t want to work or that I was a lazy college grad.

Have you ever had a job that you knew you just weren’t cut out for? This was the exact thought that entered my mind after two short weeks at my new job.

Every day I dreaded going in and I practically sprinted out the door when my shift was over. I dealt with grumpy guests during my 10+ hour days which only added to my misery. Thankfully, I was transferred to another hotel once the summer came to a close, and my situation drastically improved.

But the good thing about going through tough times is that you come out on the other side having learned something. And maybe that something learned can help out someone else in the long run. Although I was very unhappy at my first job after college, I learned a few ways to cope with my less than idyllic situation that I hope you can put to use if you ever find yourself in similar shoes.

1. Find a mentor(s)
My parents were and are my best mentors. They didn’t let me take the easy way out by quitting my job, but they did help me see the good side of things. For example, they kept reminding me that I was able to save up money so that Daniel and I would have a nice little cushion once we got married. And my mom would always tell me, “At least you know now what you don’t want to do, which is just as important as figuring out what you do want to do!”. Keep this in mind when you are searching for a new job and steer clear of positions that are similar to the one you are trying to get out of.

Figuring out what you don’t want to do is just as important as figuring out what you do want to do. Keep this in mind when you are searching for a new job and steer clear of positions that are similar to the one you are trying to get out of.

Along with my parents, a few supervisors at the hotel I was transferred to after the summer took me under their wing. They made it fun to come to work, they taught me new things every day, and they listened to me when I needed to rant. Sometimes all it takes to feel valued and appreciated at your job is for someone to listen to what you have to say.

Sometimes all it takes to feel valued and appreciated at your job is for someone to listen to what you have to say.

2. Be a positivity sponge 
Most days at my job, the only thing that kept me going was listening to the Christian radio station, K-Love, during my morning and afternoon commutes. If it weren’t for those songs pouring out encouragement through the speakers and lifting my spirits before and after work, I wouldn’t have had the mental strength to go in each day. We can’t control what will happen to us at work, but we can control what we fill our minds with outside of it.

We can’t control what will happen to us at work, but we can control what we fill our minds with outside of it.

2. Have an end date in mind 
I knew I didn’t want to be at this job for much longer, but I didn’t want to quit either. The only way I could keep going was to dangle a carrot in front my nose. I told myself, “Just make it through the summer”. So I did. Then I told myself, “Just make it until the end of the year”. So I did that too. And around this time, Daniel told me that he had been offered a job back in Knoxville. With his new job lined up and our wedding right around the corner, I knew I only had 2-3 months left at my job. I was ecstatic! Finally, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. With an end date in sight, my outlook completely shifted.

Now, I don’t encourage you to up and quit your job without seriously thinking it through and consulting with your family and mentors first, but the truth of the matter is, if you aren’t happy at your job, nothing is going to change if you don’t have a plan in place to improve your situation. Whether that’s applying for five new jobs every week or making a deal with yourself to only stay put at your current job for one year and then move on, having an end date in mind with a plan to meet it will keep you motivated and determined to reach your goal.

If you aren’t happy at your job, nothing is going to change if you don’t have a plan in place to improve your situation.

With guidance from your mentors, staying focused on the positive, and reminding yourself that this season of life won’t last forever, I am confident that you will not only survive your first job after college, but that you will set yourself up for success for your next job as well!

The Company You Keep

It’s hard to think that just a few weeks ago I was line dancing at sunset on the beach with two of the greatest friends I’ve ever had just days after we all graduated from the University of Tennessee. This week I’m working full time in the hustle and bustle of Nashville and I can’t help but reminisce on the simpler times of that last-minute beach trip of ours.

The day before we drove 8 hours down to Panama City Beach in Florida, we had no idea where we were going to stay or what we were going to do–something that I was completely not used to, being the big planner that I am. But everything went surprisingly smooth and we kept commenting on how easy the trip had been even though we hadn’t planned anything before we left!

We hunted for crabs and screamed when they fought back with their tiny pinchers, inhaled countless scoops of homemade ice cream, snorkeled around the jettys at St. Andrews State Park, took a ferry over to Shell Island and caught starfish, fed a crazy raccoon on the beach, marveled at hermit crabs who tried to escape us by burying themselves beneath the sand, snuck onto the back porch and dipped our toes into the pool of an uninhabited beachfront mansion, watched dolphins and ate home cooked meals from our balcony, made Southern Momma and Spongebob jokes while crashing into the waves, sang along to the same CD for the entire trip with our favorite country crooners, drove along Front Beach Road searching for the perfect seafood joint to get our shrimp fix, bought tacky matching shirts to wear on our way back home and made a pit stop in Alabama to take pictures with a giant peanut.

But even if our trip hadn’t gone quite as smooth as it had or if we hadn’t been able to do half of the things we got to do, the experience would have been more than worth it because of the company that was kept.

In the words of the Waters sisters, “You never forget who you go to the beach with”.

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Mom & Makers & Market Square

Everything good begins with a donut. Or four.

That’s what mom and I will keep telling ourselves in order to justify scarfing down those warm, doughy circles one after another.

When mom comes to town, you know we are going to eat good, and eat good we did! We savored our last “Girl’s Weekend” in Knoxville with good food, long talks, a movie, hanging out by the pool, touring gardens, enjoying live music downtown and sunsets from the Sunsphere!

First stop was Makers Donuts. This place is basically a donut museum where the pastry Picassos of the world come to create their masterpieces except their canvases are donuts and their art is edible. Sounds like my kind of museum.

Next on our list was the Dogwood Arts Festival. Many wealthy people who live in Knoxville participate in this festival by prepping their gardens throughout the year and then opening them up to the public each weekend in April.

After touring several gardens, we made our way downtown to the Rossini Festival and enjoyed some live music and pizza at Dazzo’s.

After dinner, we went up to the Sunsphere observation deck to catch the sunset and peer out over this great city I’ve called home for the past four years.

Remember to spend time with your loved ones and have fun while doing it. Show them the ropes of your city and experience something together that neither of you have done before.

And always be good to your momma.

Sunny AZ Is The Place For Me

A week of hiking in the sunny Arizona desert was exactly what I wanted to do for my last spring break trip, and having my best friend with me only made it that much more fun!

A HUGE thank you goes out to my aunt and uncle who let us stay with them for the duration of our trip and also to my aunt for taking us hiking all around the area. We hiked six different mountains, buttes and bluffs and over 20 miles. We also got to tag along to a Cubs game and visit Hayley’s horse that she had sold to a lady who lives only minutes from my aunt and uncle.

Day 1: Mom and Grandma drove Hayley and I out to the airport around noon so that we could get to our gate early. Our plane was scheduled to leave at 2:30 and arrive in Arizona three hours later. This was my first time flying without my parents and Hayley’s second time flying in general. The flight went by quick and the next thing we knew, we were landing in sunny Phoenix. We picked up our luggage and then my aunt and uncle picked us up and we were off to Portillo’s, a Chicago-based restaurant that served up a delicious slice of chocolate cake.

Later, Hayley and I got settled and then went to the hot tub for an hour or so.


Day 2: Hayley and I ate breakfast on the balcony overlooking the pool and then went to the grocery store to get our lunch and snack supplies for the week. We came back to the condo and lay in the sun and swam a bit. After lunch on the balcony, we went to the Cubs versus Oakland As game at Hohokam Field, just a short walk from the condo. Later, we went to Nello’s for pizza and then drove up South Mountain to see the sunset!


Day 3: After breakfast, Aunt Dorothy, Hayley and I made our way to the Lost Dutchman State Park in the Tonto National Forest to hike in the Superstition Mountains. We decided to hike the Siphon Draw trail to the Flatiron.

We got to hike up the scenic mountain base, scattered with bright yellow blooms, saguaros and other cacti before coming to a steep uphill climb. We were climbing on our hands and knees and some parts of the trail got our adrenaline pumping. We got to our destination, a spot 4,300 feet up on the mountain, but the official Flatiron was another good two hour hike, so we decided to save it for another day since we were watching our time. Overall, this hike was a fun challenge and beauty was found all around. Easily my new favorite! The Smokies are special all on their own, but I have never hiked in anything like the Arizona desert before, so it was a treat for both Hayley and me.

Day 4: We explored Papago Park on this day. First, we hit up Hole-in-the-Rock and then made our way over to some other bigger buttes. We hiked about a mile back to get to the base of a big butte and had a steep uphill climb for the last quarter mile to reach our lookout point that overlooks Phoenix. To get to the lookout point, we had to scramble along a narrow ridge on the butte, which gave us butterflies if we looked anywhere other than straight down at the rock we were climbing! But we have discovered that parts of the trail always look worse than they actually are and we made it safely to the top.

Day 5: We took a trip out to Usery Park in the Usery Mountain range in search of wild horses. We had heard that they could be seen around a small campground where the Salt River and the Verde River converge. We followed wild horse trails up to Coon Bluff and found lots of horse poop, but no horses.

We left Usery Park to head back to the Superstition Mountains to hike a trail called “Hieroglyphics Trail” to Gold Canyon. However, we learned that ‘hieroglyphics’ is the wrong term for these Indian drawings. They are rightly called the Hohokam petroglyphs and are over 600 years old! This trail was four miles total and wound back to the basin of a mountain where we came to a dry waterfall and a small pool, which were very dry from the lack of rain. We saw several rocks with the petroglyphs drawn on them. Some looked like mountain goats, centipedes and birds.

After we saw the petroglyphs, we went to see the new owner of Hayley’s horse whom she hadn’t seen in almost five years! She knew that the lady who bought her horse lived in Arizona, but it just so happened that she lived about 40 minutes away from my aunt and uncle’s condo! Hayley and Immi were reunited and we even got in a quick ride.


Day 6: This was probably the busiest day we had since we had arrived. We wanted to do it big our last day, so we decided to hike two shorter, but steeper hikes. Squaw Peak was first and then we hit up Camelback Mountain.

Squaw Peak was a never-ending steep climb to the top and the huge steps we had to hurdle up didn’t make it any easier. Every time we thought we had reached the top, we rounded a bend and saw that our actual destination was still a challenging hike away. We finally reached the top and were rewarded by the view.

After lunch, we headed over to Camelback Mountain and planned to hike the head of the Camel to the top of its hump. This was probably my favorite hike of the entire trip. At first, I was tired from already hiking Squaw Peak and after eating lunch and relaxing in the sun for a bit, so I wasn’t super excited about the immediate and constant incline that lay ahead. However, once we hit the first hand rail section of the trail where you have to pull yourself up by the rail or climb on all fours up a huge slick rock, I was hooked. The majority of the hike included scrambling over big boulders, which we enjoyed much more than the manmade trail of Squaw Peak.

After our full day of hiking, we headed to the Sugar Bowl in Scottsdale to reward ourselves with some ice cream!

Day 7: Our last day, we walked to the corner grocery store and grabbed a couple of donuts, which were only 75 cents each! I could have eaten one of every kind, but I went with the buttercream filled and the coconut cream pie filled. After breakfast, we hung around the pool for a couple of hours before we had to leave for the airport. The cool water soothed my sunburnt shoulders from the previous day of hiking.


Another adventure-packed spring break in the books and we’ve got the tan lines to prove it!

Round Three in D.C.

This past week I had the opportunity to go on a trip to Washington D.C. with my college to network with UT College of Communication and Information alumni and talk about future jobs opportunities.

This was my third time visiting  D.C. and I always leave the city loving it more than the time before.

The first day was our day to explore the city and do what we wanted, as the rest of the trip would be on a tight schedule. We went to the Holocaust Museum, walked around the city and rented bikes that we rode around the National Mall.

The weather was beautiful and it made for a leisurely afternoon.



Monday, we met with several alums who talked to us about their career journeys and gave us advice on life after graduation.




Also on Monday, we went to the Newseum and got to see a section of the Berlin Wall.

    

Tuesday, we toured the U.S. Capital and that night we had dinner at a cute little Irish pub.

I’m blessed to have been chosen to go on this trip and it certainly ended my senior year as a College of Communication and Information student on a high note! Another trip completed and one step closer to graduation!