Career Advice

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

How to Turn a Bad Day Around

how to turn a bad day aroundLadies, how do you turn a bad day around?  What do you do to reinvigorate yourself, put the day in perspective, and ultimately move on? Do you have any tricks for “saving” a lousy day, or for letting go of the day once you’ve finished it? We’ve talked about ways to relax, laughter as medicine, and general after-work routines (as well as how to get your groove back in general), but not this.

For my $.02 — without sounding too much like the self-help section of the bookstore — I think gratitude is an amazing thing. (I am grateful for gratitude!) No matter what my mood is on the day itself, I find if I focus on three things I’m grateful for as I’m falling asleep, I get to sleep easier, sleep better, and wake up in a better mood. A few other ideas for shaking off a bad day:

  • Dance party! Shake it off, shake it off.
  • Have one drink with a friend and talk about other things, like how his or her life is going.  (I find that on a bad day, drinking more and obsessing over whatever went wrong just leaves me with a bigger black cloud over my head, so I don’t recommend drinking to excess or rehashing your bad day in detail — sleep on it one night, at least!)
  • Seek beauty.  Go for a walk and appreciate the skyline, the clouds, the trees — whatever is around you that you find beautiful.  If you can get out of work early enough to go to an art museum, you can do that. Along these lines, adult coloring books may also be helpful.
  • Focus on sensory input.  Go shopping, not to buy (necessarily) but to touch the different fabrics.  If stores are closed by the time you get out of work, try making cookies or bread or something you can knead with your hands.  (Or, steal a trick from the kiddos, and make your own playdough — odds are good you have everything you need in your pantry, and you avoid the temptation to eat the results.) Make some tea that smells amazing, and sit with the smell.
  • Laugh.  It’s one of my favorite ways to clear my head of a bad day.
  • Sleep.  Do whatever you have to to get a good night’s sleep.  If you have problems falling asleep, try the 4, 7, 8 technique, or challenge yourself to name five things that start with B in your bedroom.

Ladies, how do you turn around a bad day?

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Five Grammar Rules You Absolutely, Seriously Have to Know

Grammar RulesIf you want to be taken seriously as a professional, good grammar matters! Particularly for lawyers, where you get major points for knowing your Bluebook and local style conventions, there can be some serious grammar nerds around — and they will judge you if you use “none” as a plural or confuse further and farther. Even those of us not working with grammar nerds need to get at least SOME grammar rules straight, though! This is my list of the five grammar rules you must know if you want to be taken seriously:

  1. Your/You’re
  2. They’re/Their/There
  3. Its/It’s — and other general apostrophe problems.
  4. Proper use of commas. This a huge topic, but it’s one worth knowing well because so many things can go wrong with commas. Whether it’s an error like “eats, shoots & leaves” or an error like “I’m coming to eat Grandfather,” they drive me batty. This Grammarly page looks like a good overview.
  5. Word choice — specifically as it applies to your industry. This is a pretty open ended suggestion, but in some ways it matters the most! For example, you wouldn’t want to work with a First Amendment lawyer who used “slander” and “libel” interchangeably… or a wedding planner who misspelled “stationery.” You should be absolutely sure you understand the meaning and proper usage of any words you use often at work, as well as any terms of art.

Ladies, what does your list of “must know” grammar rules include? Which grammar mistakes bug you the most? (Here’s our last discussion on grammar annoyances.)  

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Planning Your Career for Babies

Planning Your Career for BabiesWe’ve talked about how to financially plan for babies recently-ish, but we haven’t discussed other broad aspects of planning for babies since 2010, when I was pregnant with my first but hadn’t yet announced it here. (Ah, although we did have a nice discussion about when to get pregnant, which I’d forgotten about.) So what does planning your career for babies look like? I just got this related question from Reader K:

I am a 33 yo associate attorney at a small firm. I was pregnant with my first and then had a miscarriage in October. It was going to be perfect timing work-wise — due at the end of April. So here I am, possibly ready to try again. I have a big trial in a case that’s solely my case in February 2017. I doubt it will settle. Is it irresponsible of me to just try for a baby again regardless of timing? Work is very important but I also feel timing babies around work may be a fool’s errand.

I’m curious to hear what other readers have to say, but of course I have some thoughts. As a mother of two kids under 5, my advice to those of you trying to plan your career around eventually having a baby: Don’t. Some notes:

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How to Get on a Board

How to Get on a Board | CorporetteJoining a nonprofit board allows you to lend a hand for a good cause, build your professional network, develop your skills, and even advance your career. But what is the best way to get on a board — and how should you evaluate board membership opportunities to determine whether a particular organization is the right one for you?

We’ve previously talked about making friends and networkingstrategic volunteering, joining professional organizations, and charitable giving, but we haven’t talked about how to get on a board.

During conversations about board membership in our comment sections, two Corporette readers explained how rewarding they found their experiences:

The year-long process of putting myself out there [to join a board], figuring out what I care about, what my skills are, what organizations are doing good work… it was so valuable. It was great to push myself like that, and I think it will have huge benefits for me down the road, both in terms of career and personal growth. —Reader S

Lawyers (we’ve had a few since I’ve been on the board) are always welcome. It has been a great experience. … You might reach out to friends / contacts / coworkers whose volunteer work sounds interesting to you and explain you’re looking to become involved in X field, and ask if they know of any upcoming opportunities or have any suggestions for people to contact. —Reader A

If you’d like to get on a board, here are a few tips:

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5 Things to Always Bring to Interviews

what to wear to office holiday party bring to interviewsWhat should you bring to interviews? We’ve rounded up stylish interview totes in the past with a few suggestions for what to pack them with, but I don’t think we’ve ever talked about our explicit list of the 5 things you cannot forget to bring…

  1. Your paper resume.  If there are any new accomplishments since you started corresponding with the company, make sure you give it to everyone with whom you interview — it’s a great excuse to bring up your new accomplishments.  Even if there is nothing new, bring it and offer it to everyone you interview; it makes you look prepared and like an open book. Keep your resume in…
  2. Folder.  If you’re handing out your resume it shouldn’t be folded or crinkled at all.
  3. & 4. A pen and notepad.  You never know what the interviewer is going to throw at you — he or she may want to rattle off a list of job duties, or projects/subjects you’ll need up to speed immediately, etc.  They may mention a great book that you don’t want to forget.  Instead of reaching for your phone — which can be misinterpreted as “time for me to check my emails/text messages/Instagram,” grab a notepad instead.  You’ll also get bonus points for looking prepared.
  1. Walkable shoes.  Especially during an interview, you never, ever want it to appear that your fashion choices limit your mobility or actions.  If you can’t keep up walking down the hallway with someone… or you need to change your shoes to walk two blocks to a restaurant for lunch with an interviewer… or you’re in such pain that you need to kick your shoes off under a conference table… you lose points with all of that. (Check out our guide to comfortable heels if you’re on the hunt for a good pair for interviews.)

Ladies, what do you always bring with you to interviews?  Would you change anything on the list?  How do you handle writing samples and other accomplishments (i.e., do you bring a brag book or the like?) 

Psst: we’ve talked in the past about how to keep your resume updated, and what to wear on interviews.  

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How to Learn a New Language

Learn a New LanguageMaybe one of your new year’s resolutions is to learn a new language, or to re-learn a language you took in school but can’t speak anymore. We’ve listed the three main options for language learning below, but we’d love to hear your specific suggestions in the comments! Have you learned a new language just for fun, or to further your career? What are your best tips, ladies?

  1. Traditional language programs (e.g., Rosetta Stone): You can choose from 25 languages to learn with Rosetta Stone, including Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, and more. Check out a free demo here (after picking a language). You can see the prices here; for example, right now a one-year online subscription is $199, while a two-year subscription is $209, and an instant download of Levels 1-5 is $209. (It looks like these are temporary discounts, by the way.) According to Rosetta Stone’s FAQ page, “It will take about 40-50 hours to complete the content in each level.” Here’s a review from The Economist from a few years ago and one from PC Mag.
    Others: Pimsleur, Fluenz, Speed Learning Languages, Babbel 
  2. Free language tools (e.g., Duolingo): With Duolingo you can choose from 15 languages, including French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, and surprisingly, Esperanto. This video (autoplay YouTube) explains that the program — which is free, with no ads — teaches you to read, write, listen, and speak through “bite-size skills that look like games.” You can use Duolingo on your computer or get the app, which has versions for iPhone, Android, and Windows phones. The company also offers online language certification for $20. Here’s a PC Mag review and an Economist review.
    Others: Foreign Service Institute public domain language courses, Internet Polyglot
  3. Online tutors/language partners: Many, many options exist in this category, including Verbalplanet ($22 for 45 minutes), Livemocha (free), Verbling (varies; teachers set their own prices), Live Lingua ($9.99/hour and up), LingQ ($0-39/month), and Lang-8 (free). Here are some tips on finding and using an online tutor.

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