Career Advice

Below, find some of our recent career advice stories. Have a question for Kat? Check out the Contact page.

Over-the-Knee Boots at the Office?

otk boots for workWhile doing our round-up of knee-high boots, I was struck by how things have changed in such a short time — when I first started this blog, knee-high boots were still pretty scandalous, and over-the-knee boots (or OTK boots) were completely, totally risqué.  Cut to today, and they’re EVERYWHERE — flat versions, high-heeled versions, on most best seller lists, with rave reviews from everyone from 20-somethings to 60-somethings.  I know Jean at ExtraPetite has talked about wearing her 5050s for the commute, but I thought it might be interesting to have a poll: are over the knee boots so omnipresent that you can wear them to work? (Pictured: Screenshot of the Stuart Weitzman 5050 from Zappos, where they’re $635; they’re also at Nordstrom for the same. Here are a few under-$200 alternatives.)

As always, you have to know the specifics of YOUR office.  But because a poll can be fun, I thought we’d have this in two flavors: one poll for folks working in conservative offices, and one folks for the women in business casual offices.  Just for ease of discussion, let’s define a “conservative office” as one where, on any given day, 30% or more of your coworkers are in suits.

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Don’t Be Shy When Changing Careers (and 5 Other Career Changing Tips)

magazine to lawyerDisclosure:  In today’s sponsored post, State Farm Insurance asked me to talk about my first career change — magazine editor to lawyer — and some of the people who helped me along the way.

I was at a recent alumni networking event, and everyone older than 30 heartily encouraged the students and new graduates to reach out to alums. An email that mentions a shared connection opens a lot of doors. Generally, people are happy to give advice. Cast a wide net — particularly don’t be shy about reaching out when you’re looking to enter a new career or change careers entirely. All of this advice rings true with my own experience in networking when you’re junior, and changing careers — not once, but twice now. I’ve written about my career change from media lawyer to fashion blogger, but I’ve never talked about the first big career change I made: from magazine writer to lawyer.

It’s fun to think back on what drove the change…

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Should You Buy a Holiday Gift for Your Boss?

gifts for boss 2Should you get presents for your boss? If so, what gifts should you get? Reader A wonders:

I’ve been with my company for less than a year, and it’s also my first corporate job. I work in a very small team, consisting of my two bosses and myself. As holiday season is almost upon us, I was wondering if you had any guidelines for what (if anything) is appropriate to give as a small gift for two supervisors who have been very generous with their time and expertise while I’ve been learning the ropes. Any suggestions welcome!

Hmmn. Hmmmn. We’ve talked about gifts for associates who refer you new business, hostess gifts for a dinner party at your boss’s house, and gifts for your secretary, but this is a new one, and I’m curious to hear what readers say. For my $.02: I would be verrrry careful about giving gifts to a boss because I think it’s unnecessary, and it’s easy to offend. A too-personal gift (like towels or something) may create the impression that you don’t know the difference between family and the office. On the other hand, a too-impersonal gift (a random gift that reads “this is my go-to gift when I don’t know what to get,” like a bottle of wine or a box of fruit) simultaneously smacks of “why even bother” along with “wait, does she think we were supposed to get her something?” A gift that’s too small (like a $25 gift card) is both cheap and insulting (as in, you think your boss needs a $25 gift card) — but a gift that’s too generous raises the problematic interpretation of, “she isn’t working for the money.”

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What to Do When Your Boss Tells You to Smile

bitchfaceThere has been a LOT in the news lately about “bitchface” (when your resting face looks slightly angry/bitchy). A lot of women have poked fun at the problem, such as the Smile, Bitch! Training Camp or this great cartoon, but the policing of women’s facial expressions is also starting (finally!) to be more understood as a form of harassment — often on the street, as in one of the catcalls men feel entitled to make to women. But reader F has a different problem: her coworkers and superiors are the ones telling her to smile. Here’s her question:

I’m hoping you or the Corporette community could give me some advice. I am a recent university graduate who’s accepted a public sector position. I have my own office but we keep our doors open, and anyone who walks by can see my face as I work. A number of my coworkers and superiors have stopped while walking by to tell me that I look “too serious” or “angry” while I’m working. I do furrow my eyebrows when I concentrate, and often am reading very tiny print, which makes me squint a bit.

It seems silly to put mental energy into holding my face into a more pleasing expression while I work, but the comments are getting on my nerves and I’m unsure if there is any ‘talk.’ I haven’t found a good response to the comments yet. Do you have any ideas of something appropriately light-hearted I could reply that wouldn’t be rude if said to a superior?

MAN. Welcome to the club, Reader F! I also “suffer” from resting bitchface, and I can’t wait to hear what the readers say here. A few thoughts for you: [Read more…]

CRMs, Business Development Trackers, and Other Organizing Fun

How to Keep Track of Business Development Efforts | Corporette How can you track business development efforts, beyond traditional CRM (customer relationship management) software programs?  We’ve talked about how to build a book of business, but not how to organize those attempts.  Here’s reader EJ’s question:

I have accepted a new job that will involve less billable hours and more business development. I would like to keep track of new contacts made (even if it does not translate into business immediately) and business development generally (lunches attended/seminars/conferences) so that come my review, I can show my efforts and, hopefully, the tangible benefits. Can Corporette readers recommend any specific type of app/software to keep track of this kind of work and the results? Obviously, I will record all of my time in the usually way but I was hoping to use some sort of software/app to collect the data and the results. Any suggestions would be helpful.

Great question, and congrats to EJ on the new job!  I can suggest a few things here, but I’m curious to hear what readers say…

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Tales from the Wallet: Financially Preparing for Grad School

financially preparing for grad schoolWe had a great discussion a few weeks ago about wedding finances, and now it’s time for the next post in our Money Milestone series:  grad school. We’ve talked about how to adjust your new student budget once you get to grad school, how to pay off student loans, how to juggle grad school and a full time job, and even whether you should get an MBA — but not this. Some of the best tips came from folks on the Corporette FB page and some of my personal FB friends, so a huge thank you to everyone! (Check out U.S. News & World Report’s Paying for Graduate School Guide for some additional advice.) (Pictured: J.Crew Factory Magic Wallet, $14.50.)

Before Grad School

  • Live like a student before you go. Keep your expenses down while you’re saving up — and create a new budget. This helps you save more, and also prevents culture shock once you have to dial back your lifestyle when you get to grad school.
  • Manage what you’ve already borrowed. Form a strategy to pay down your existing debt. In some cases you may even want to postpone applying to grad school until you have more of a handle on your finances and achieve a higher credit score (which can earn you lower interest rates). Consider deferring your undergraduate loans if it makes sense for your financial situation.
  • Make sure you know the numbers. In a recent post, Above the Law mentioned a new, “brutally honest” student loan calculator that shows you your future monthly payments in comparison to your expected salary after earning the degree.
  • See if your current employer offers tuition reimbursement. It may be slow going but you can pay for a grad school degree through this method alone!
  • Set up a 529 plan for yourself. While you’re saving, you get a deduction on your state taxes, and you can then use that account to pay for your grad school expenses. If you have money left over in the plan, you can roll it over into your kids’ plans. (Rules vary widely by state.) Resist the urge to raid your 401(k) for tuition costs.

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