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Career Advice

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

How to Break the Ice With Coworkers — Even While Traveling

travel-conversationHow do you break the ice with coworkers and make conversation, particularly while traveling together? Travel with coworkers can be awkward for exactly this reason — and hopefully our tips can help. We’ve talked about party-appropriate conversation topics, as well as how to steer a conversation away from sports or the like, but not in a while. Here’s the question from Reader B:

I read your post on travelling with co-workers, great notes. I am new to corporate travel and have a hard time keeping and making conversation. Some of my travels are one on one and others are with a small group. Do you have any tips, topics, etc., to discuss while on business trips with co-workers, especially when they are one on one?

Hmmmn — what should you talk about with coworkers? Readers were recently discussing this recently (I’m maybe remembering this conversation about adjusting to non-BigLaw, non-NYC life) and I agree — talk about anything! The best things (IMHO) are to find shared hobbies, ask about plans for the weekend, or even ask if they’re reading/watching anything good these days. I am not personally into sports (I even have a shirt that says “Hooray sports, do the thing, win the points!”) but if YOU feel like talking about sports, you can always float the conversation and see if your coworker wants to talk about sports as well. (Either way, check out Sports Ketchup, which bills itself as “The weekly newsletter of what you need to know to win a sports conversation in under 3 minutes per week.)

There are, of course, a few caveats:

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#FirstSevenJobs: What Were Yours?

firstsevenjobsThere’s a meme going around about your #firstsevenjobs — so I thought it might be a fun thing to discuss. (A lot of celebrities and business leaders have answered, including Sheryl Sandberg, Buzz Aldrin, Stephen Colbert, and more.)  My own answers kind of highlight my upper middle class youth, I guess — there aren’t many paid jobs in there! Still, it’s nice to look back on them and remember…

Ladies, what were your first seven jobs? What can you learn by looking back at them? (I included “unpaid internships where I had a boss” in my list — these days a similar position would have to be paid!)

1. (Paid) Lifeguard / Swimming Instructor, age 15-19

I loved swimming when I was a kid, and took pretty much any swimming class they had to offer.  Synchronized swimming, lifeguarding, sure! Right after I finished my lifeguarding class they were opening a new pool in my hometown and had signs up everywhere to apply to be a lifeguard — so I applied.  I did the interview in my JV tennis uniform (an early WTH moment in interview attire, I’m sure) and started work a month or two before I turned 16.  My memory may be a bit wonky here, but — in my memory we had problems getting the chlorine mix quite right, and from time to time would have to clear the pool and open the pool deck doors to let fresh air in.  Because it was winter, the cold, crisp Ohio air would mix with the warm, humid air of the natatorium, and create an instant fog — some of my best memories from that time period are climbing up on a lifeguard stand and feeling like I was sitting on top of clouds.

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9 to 5: The Movie Discussion

9-to-5-corporetteWelcome to our first movie discussion here on the blog — as noted a few weeks ago, I thought it might be fun for us to review a few movies about working women through the years that you may or may not have seen.  Today we’ll be discussing the 1980 movie 9 to 5.   Our next discussion will be of Working Girl, on November 1 — it’s available for streaming on Netflix, from your local library, and on Amazon. (Here’s a link to the trailer, and to the Rotten Tomatoes page, where it has an 84% fresh rating.) 

So let’s discuss the movie 9 to 5!

(Warning if you haven’t seen it — spoilers ahead!)

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How to Buy a Blazer to Keep at the Office

how-to-wear-a-blazer-as-a-separateLadies, what are your best tips for buying a blazer to keep at the office, or otherwise to look for in a blazer you’re buying to wear as a separate? (Does anyone have success with wearing suiting blazers as separates?) I often suggest to readers that they keep a blazer in their office to grab and go if you get an invitation to a meeting at the last minute or otherwise need to look (or feel) Very Professional. As another plus, it can also be a way to stay warm (whether with chilly air conditioning or a cold day), and — depending on the needs of the situation and the blazer you have — I might even grab a blazer with pockets if I were going somewhere and just wanted the use of the pockets.* But how do you know which blazer to keep at your office? We haven’t talked about wearing a blazer as a separate in years, so I thought we’d discuss. (Pictured.) Some of my top tips for buying a blazer to keep at the office include:

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6 Things to Have on Hand When You’re Sick at Work

6 Things to Have on Hand When You're Sick at WorkWe all know we shouldn’t go to work when we’re sick. But whether you’re a presidential candidate or have a more typical career, most of us do it anyway. (Note: Here I’m referring to the average Corporette reader with full-time benefits; the millions of Americans without paid sick leave don’t have much choice about whether to stay home and rest.) Maybe you have a conference or special event to attend, a big scheduled presentation to give, or a meeting to lead, and you just can’t avoid being sick at work. We haven’t talked about tips for going to work while ill in quite a while, so we thought it was time to revisit. (Disclaimer: Of course, please don’t take this post as medical advice.)

In the past we’ve also talked about shaking hands when you’re sick, what to do when you think you’re coming down with a cold and ways to get over a coldhow to deal with many medical appointments, and how to explain an embarrassing illness.

First of all, here’s some information from an actual doctor on determining whether you’re too sick for the office. But if you need to go in no matter what, here are six things that can help you handle being sick at work (besides the age-old advice our mothers have given us since we were kids):

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How to Tell Your Boss You’re Not Her Personal Assistant / Chauffeur

boss-treats-me-like-a-personal-assistantHow do you tell your boss you’re not her personal assistant / chauffeur / secretary — when you are instead a junior associate? Is there a way to have that conversation without burning your bridges? Reader S has a great question:

How do you professionally handle being treated like your supervisor’s secretary or admin–when you are not? I am a junior associate, and the partner that I typically work for frequently asks me to do things like get lunch, make copies, drive her to far away meetings, etc. (Note: the male associate I work with is NEVER asked to do these things). I know that as a junior associate I need to be willing to go the extra mile, but when is enough enough? And how do I let her know without sounding lazy?

Oooof, I’m sorry to hear that, Reader S. (Pictured.) I think you’re probably right that she’s treating you unfairly as a woman — still, as a general caveat, I will note at the outset that there’s a chance that some of this stuff may actually be part of your job, or may be a miscommunication. For example, maybe you heard “make copies,” suggesting to you that you stand over the copier for hours — when really she meant “have copies made,” as in, take the binder to the Duplicating department, fill out the order sheet, and check the 12 binders that come back to you for accuracy and completeness (or supervise the paralegal who does that).  As any lawyer will tell you, legal work is not glamorous and sometimes feels like it has as much to do with formatting as it does actual law. STILL, with that caveat out of the way, it does sound like you’re getting the raw end of the deal.  Here are my best tips to stop your boss from treating you like a personal assistant — but I can’t wait to hear what advice the readers have for you.

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