Archive for ‘WOL: Words on Learning’

November 13, 2012

5 Life Lessons I Learned from Sharing an Office with a Recent College Grad

“I just graduated in May.” They’re the last words you want to hear upon learning your new business quarters consists of sharing Five Life lessons I learned from sharing an office with a recent college gradan office; especially when you consider yourself a well-respected mid-level professional years out of college. I thought “Is this what I’ve been reduced to?” Bumping heads with the clueless but quirky college grad eager to dive head first into the business world with no idea of how to do it wasn’t exactly in my life plan. But somehow, it was the situation I fell into and had no choice but to deal with. Much to my surprise I learned more than the newest flavor of beers and the latest dance craze to break out at frat parties. I learned a few life lessons as well. Here are six facts of life I managed to stumble upon while maintaining my sanity in office space shared with the recent grad.

1. Have a support system

I never knew how awesome it was to have a support system within the office. Whenever I was unsure of something, facing computer issues, etc. there was no need to bother the higher-ups. She was right there to offer some help if needed. And the same applied to her. We had each others back whether we were running late, made a slight mistake or just plain confused. It made the work environment so much more pleasurable and less stressful. It turns out having a support system in all facets of life including the professional world is much needed but much less appreciated by most.

2. Live a little

While sitting opposite of this young and fiery person, I had the pleasure of vicariously living through her. I heard stories of musings with homeless people, parties during homecoming and alumni weekend, and spontaneous but whimsical dates with her equally young and entertaining boyfriend. While I sat there in awe of every intriguing detail of her care free life I couldn’t help but feel a bit jealous that I couldn’t live a life as exciting and spontaneous as hers. After all, I was no longer a “recent” college graduate. I was a young woman well into the business world trying to make a name for herself. Then I realized she was in the process of building her name as well. Why should she be able to have a life while I slaved away for the sake of making a living and carrying myself as a professional? There was no reason why I couldn’t continue to live a life worth getting excited about while maintaining a professional edge. After all, I was still young and living in the moment is what life is all about.

3. Worry only about yourself

In an economy such as this you always hear about all the competition out there, how your career isn’t secure and a million people want your job. Well, sharing an office with a young and vibrant recent grad made me well aware of that job insecurity and competition. I was in awe of her quick mindedness and ability to teach herself tasks in a matter of minutes. And of course, sharing an office with her made my shortcomings even more apparent. It was like I was in high school all over again vying for the coveted seat at the popular table with all the cool girls who batted their eyelashes at the football players better than me. Then I remembered those girls in high school didn’t care and that bright eyed recent grad sitting across the desk didn’t care about me either. As long as I completed my work in a timely manner and exceeded expectation there was no problem. Competition will always be there, but the only competition that mattered at the moment was the one within myself. I could only be better than I was yesterday. There was no reason for me to try to beat out her.

4. Dress the part of you

I admit it. I was a little too afraid to be myself in fear of not fitting in to the cookie cutter mold of the professional world. So instead I was overly nervous about my big afro-like hair taking over the work space and toned down my personality when picking out my wardrobe. But every morning when I saw my carefree office mate roll into  work with her funky, artsy but office appropriate work attire I realized I was worried for nothing. Sure I couldn’t roll out of bed and head out in my pajamas anymore like the college days. But I still had the option to be me, and let me personality shine whether it be through my wardrobe, hairstyle or demeanor. As long as it was office appropriate I was in the clear.

5. Have a little sense of entitlement

For some reason, when leaving college, those young grads have this idea that the world is owed to them because they’re equipped with a new and freshly embossed degree. Never mind the other millions of people who also have a degree and more experience. A shiny new office space, with an amazing salary and two months paid vacation should just be handed to them because they’re equipped with newfound knowledge from an accredited institution. *You may roll your eyes here*   It seems as though they forget about working their way up and gaining experience. As annoying as this way of thinking is, (when being around it all the time it does get annoying) that sense of entitlement isn’t always a bad thing. You may be young. You may be less experienced, but that doesn’t mean you can forget about your worth. This poor economy has scared many people into settling for less. However, I had the pleasure of re-learning from my less-experienced office mate that the job climate does not take away from your knowledge and accomplishments. It does not diminish your value. Nor does it mean you hide all that makes you awesome. If anything, she reaffirmed the need to continue have big goals and an even bigger will to succeed and get what you deserve. Make your credentials known and expect to be recognized for it.

Who knew the beer pong champion, 5 star excuse maker, and expert drunk dialer could be so insightful…
What valuable life lessons have you taken from the office?
TERRIfic Quip: If you judge people you have no time to love them.
February 15, 2012

Getting Revenge on Citibank Student Loan Department

Like most young adults in America, I had to take out student loan debt from several private student loans from many lenders. Unfortunately, it has proven to be a hellish experience for me every step of the way. And it doesn’t seem to count for anything that I make ridiculously high payments on time every month with no assistance or cooperation from people at the company. Yet, I still get multiple phone calls a day demanding payment even when it’s a holiday, payments are processing, or a Sunday. However, tables are about to turn because it’s finally time that Citibank Student Loan professionals got a taste of their own medicine.

The Backstory

It’s tax time and despite several requests, I have yet to receive tax information from Citibank Student Loans. I’ve already received tax information from other student loan providers. So what’s taking Citibank so long? They told me that I was supposed to fill out a W-9F form and I didn’t. As a result, I was told I was being sent an official Citibank document stating the amount of interest paid in 2011. On February 2nd, I called to find out where it was because I hadn’t received anything. They told me that it was sent in January and I should be receiving it soon. On February 7th when I hadn’t received it, I called again only to be told I was misinformed and the document was only requested on February 2nd as opposed to actually sent. The representative also told me the document was mailed earlier in the  day and I would receive the document in a few days. Again, a few days went by and I still hadn’t received it so I called them back this morning (February 15th). I was told the document was just sent this morning and I won’t receive it for another 7 to 14 days. Obviously, it frustrates me since I’ve been told that it’s been sent for the past two weeks now. I’ve constantly been misinformed by several different people.

The Plan

It was time to take drastic measures so I simply explained to the person I understand I wouldn’t be receiving my tax information until the next 7 to 14 days. But they had to understand that I would be calling them twice everyday for the next 7 to 14 days since that’s the same way I get treated by Citibank Student Loan representatives. Of course, the representative said there is no need to do that as the document is already on the way to which I said the following: “I understand that, but Citibank doesn’t seem to care when I tell them that check is being processed and they have proof of it. They tell me that they need to keep calling until the payment is processed and cleared even thought it’s out of my hands at that point. So why should I care when you tell me that it’s on the way? I’ll have to keep calling until it has “cleared and in my possession” For your sake, you better hope this letter gets her in seven days as opposed to fourteen because I don’t have a problem calling twice everyday since it’s a toll-free number.”  I apologized for having to take it there but explained that Citibank doesn’t seem to understand the concept of reasoning.

Will it work?

Now some of  you may be wondering if my actions will actually prove the point I’m trying to make since several people in the department handle the calls so I won’t always be getting the same person. I thought about it, and hope the multiple records of my phone calls in addition to all the recorded conversations will make some impact on the way Citibank handles outgoing collection calls once they review these cases. I’m also debating making these phone calls to the Vice President of the Student Loan Department. Even though the student loan department of Citibank will be shutting down by the end of the year, I truly hope my small effort makes a difference and helps them realize what its like to be on the other end. Others may call my actions petty but I’ve tried to work with the company several times, cooperated with them and explained what they are doing to no avail.  So a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do. Three calls down and  24 to go. Wish me luck.

How do you deal with multiple calls from loan providers? Have you ever tried to give them a taste of their own medicine?

February 7, 2012

Former Harper’s Bazaar Intern Sues Hearst

Last week news broke that a former intern for the magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, is suing Hearst in the hopes to create a class action. According to the former intern, the parent company of Harper’s Bazaar, Hearst broke federal wage laws by refusing to pay her even though she often worked full-time during her internship from August 2011 to December 2011. She graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in strategic communications in 2010.

The lawsuit states, “Employers’ failure to compensate interns for their work, and the prevalence of the practice nationwide, curtails opportunities for employment, fosters class divisions between those who can afford to work for no wage and those who cannot, and indirectly contributes to rising unemployment.”

I have to say I agree with the charges. Is it really a coincidence that there are thousands of internship opportunities, but only a handful of entry-level jobs? It seems as though many organizations are taking advantage of the unpaid internship concept to get free labor that benefits the company. According to federal and state laws, an internship must only benefit the intern. Unfortunately, it seems as though the unpaid internship is now equivalent to the modern day internship minus the pay; especially in the above case where the former intern sometimes worked as much as 55 hours per week.

But does she have a case she can win?  Some say it may be difficult because she stayed for the full term of the internship. Also, from my own experience Hearst clearly spells out the terms of the internships, including no pay. On the other hand, just because she may have allowed the “treatment of an employee” to happen, doesn’t give Hearst the right to act on it. The law is the law.

However, this case now has industry professionals wondering about the future of internships. Even if she loses, some businesses may become fearful of offering unpaid internships, making it more difficult for young professionals to get hands on experience before entering the workforce. This lawsuit may result in a domino effect ultimately changing internship laws and guidelines. Only time will tell.

How do you feel about the case? Do you think the former intern is justified and has a shot at winning?

January 18, 2012

The Problem with Formal Higher Education…

It doesn’t guarantee success. Not in the least bit. But that doesn’t stop people from thinking it does. Yet, a formal higher education (i.e. college) is pushed on young adults so frequently. Why doesn’t it guarantee success? Because success means different things to everybody, it is impossible for one kind of educational institution to guarantee success for all individuals. And they most definitely shouldn’t be marketed that way. (Although, that’s what they seem to do.)

So how do we fix this? We need to recognize that college is not one-size-fits all even though some seem to think it is. Not everyone is destined to be the world’s best historian or the most charismatic social media consultant. And even if they are, a formal education is not always necessary to get there. In all honesty, colleges never really guaranteed every type of success. They created the illusion of guaranteed success in the form of a great job. However, the poor economy has showed us that a formal education can’t even guarantee us that. That’s why it’s important for society to let go of college as the only means to a dream and recognize the other options. Most importantly young adults need to define their version of success and determine if formal higher education is the best route to get there. After some analyzation they may realize there is a bigger and better option than college. Then again there might not be… Regardless, it’s worth exploring whether or not that flaw with formal higher education is ignorable or if you are better of taking your gamble with “success” elsewhere.

November 30, 2011

The Best Way to Pay Off Student Loan Debt

Credit: www. freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1803

I’m sure most are aware of the reports stating student loan debt will soon surpass $1 trillion dollars. Of course ,with that much debt distributed,  there are millions wondering how they are going to pay it off. Kelli Space, a Northeastern Alum, may have figured it out. Rather than wallow in her mistakes, Kelli brainstormed ways to pay down her $200,000 student loan debt as quickly as possible. Yes, she got a job. And she also started the website twohundredthou.com to tell her story and ask for donations to assist with the financial burden. It’s only fair considering she didn’t have a graduation party in 2009 where she would get monetary gifts… At least, that’s the way she’s spinning it.

As anyone can expect, she’s gotten loads of hate mail mixed in with words of praise. What do I think of this? I think I should have thought of it sooner! As many of you know, I too am burdened by student loan debt. Granted I don’t have as much as Kelli Space, but it’s certainly more than I would like. What better way is there to pay off debt than to combine your own employment efforts with the kindness of those assisting in creating a brighter future for young Americans like herself? I think it was a great idea for Kelli to take her debt troubles to the public. After all, people have no problem donating to those entering beauty pageants or someone’s new business venture. Why wouldn’t people want to help out a girl who got screwed over in her pursuit of a higher education and a brighter future? Yes, she should take responsibility for her actions and I believe she has.

Although I applaud her efforts, I don’t think I have the courage to do that. I am way too much of a private person to put my financial burdens in the public eye. I do have to admit that it is something I have thought of doing, prior to coming across her blog. Kelli beat me to the punch! After nearly two years, Kelli has raised almost $12,000 towards her student loan debt.

So what do you think about Kelli’s attempt to solicit donations from kinds strangers? Check out her website, http://www.twohundredthou.com to see for yourself!

November 19, 2011

The Worst Type of Debt to Have…

Photo Credit: renjith krishnan http://bit.ly/aNWBRV

… is student loan debt. Trust me. I speak from experience as well as millions of other young Americans cursed for doing it the “right way.” By the right way, I mean doing well in school, volunteering, attending college, make a future plan, avoiding pregnancy out of wedlock, living without a criminal record and doing what we can to build a brighter future for America when our time comes.

After doing all that, we got inundated with debt and no help with managing it. Hence the reason why I’m convinced that student loan debt is the worst possible kind of debt to have. Not convinced? Here are the top 5 reasons to support my claim.

1. Chances of consolidation are next to impossible

Unless you were able to convince the government to shower you with federal student loans, you are out of luck. Very few organizations offer private loan consolidation. Those that do seem unwilling to take a chance on lenders with a considerate amount of student loan debt and a meager income. Thanks a lot poor economy!

2. Interest rates are too high

Unfortunately, when the banks said variable interest rates meant they could increase, they weren’t kidding. Now tons of recent grads are dealing with a plethora of loans with nine percent interest rates. Lucky for the banks, now 80 percent of my monthly payment goes towards interest while the other 20 percent is applied to the balance.

3. Interest rate negotiation is non-existent

Even after making payments on time and being as accessible as possible, customer service reps with these lenders refuse to offer any glimmer of hope to lower interest rates. As a matter of fact, there’s a good chance interest rates will continue to climb and there isn’t anything we can do about it.

4. Payments are unmanageable

Thanks to the poor economy, most college grads aren’t able to get a decent paying job to pay off debt. Unfortunately, that means defaulting on loans and facing a poor credit score for some. And chances are your loan payments are $200+ thanks to the rising cost of college.

If only millions out there didn’t fall for the lies and dreams that student loan lenders and colleges sold to the public…

5. Bankruptcy is not an option

Thanks to the college educated in the 70’s who took advantage of the system, filing for bankruptcy or discharging any amount of student loans is not an option. In other words, you’re cursed for life.

Congratulations, you signed your life away to the devil!