I'm obsessed with Cosmopolitan mag, go crazy for tapas & love solitary walks with my headphones blaring!
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I’ve been a fan of the girls for a long time now. I entered their scholarship for the Blogcademy London last year but some other lucky bugger got the place so of course I grabbed at the chance to meet them and pick their brains! Although it wasn’t a whole weekend of fun (like the normal Blogcademy), the group that was there was a lot smaller so we still had enough time individually with the girls to get all of our questions answered.
The location was only a 20 minute drive away from where I live so I didn’t have to travel as far as some of the others but once I was there it felt like a completely different place. The location was gorgeous – huge grounds on the outside with with an intimate, antiquated feel on the inside. Arriving was a bit daunting because I didn’t know anyone (and shy is my default setting) but I soon realised that I was surrounded by people I had a lot in common with and settled right in!
As well as meeting some really lovely people that day I’m really thankful I got to go because it put me right back on track with my blog. When I started 21 Views and Up I wanted it to be about my experiences at work, since I had just started my first full time job, and I wanted to share those experiences of moving from a student to an employee with others going through the same thing. When I got into it I fell so head over heels in love with the blogging world that I let myself get carried away and my own blog ended up arse over tit. I lost sight of why I started in the first place.
However, a week after the seminar and I made the decision to delete nearly half of my blog posts, whittle my pages down from 4 to 2 and I re-wrote my ‘about’ section and my Twitter handle. My site became a physical representation of the de-cluttering I had done in my mind and I couldn’t be happier. My site may have a long way to go aesthetically but my mind is right where it needs to be and its all thanks to the headmistresses!
Hopefully I’ll be able to attend a full Blogcademy weekend soon but until then I have the notes, memories and wisdom from that afternoon seminar to keep me in the right direction!
Who, or what, has inspired you lately?
Starting your first job is one of the most amazing/rewarding/fun experiences to go through but its also the least talked about. There is a lot of information out there about how to start a NEW job or how to change careers, but almost nothing on starting your first office job and what to expect. I’ve learned a few things over my time in the office and here is one of the most important things I’ve taken with me; there is a fine line between enthusiastic and over-eager and YOU MUST NOT CROSS IT.
The first six months in any job is crucial, not only because its usually the probation period but also because this is when the first and lasting impressions are made. For those of us that have never been in an office environment before it can be pretty daunting and hard to navigate socially. When I landed my first full time gig I was over-the-moon ecstatically happy/proud/relieved that I spent a lot of time preparing for it. I made myself ready for the job, the tasks, the work-load, I was (painfully) prepared for the journey I was about to embark on. The only thing I didn’t account for was the office itself… But, how could I prepare for something I had never experienced before? How was I to know back then that offices are a cultural phenomenon where no two are the same and nobody is the same person once they step into them? Its not like people openly tell you these things!
By the time I realised how out of my depth I was I had taken to stifling my anxiety with enthusiasm in what seemed like an attempt to challenge the limits of my embarrassment. Please learn from my mistakes, no manager wants an employee that they can’t reign in. You need to be flexible, adaptable… you need to be the unassuming mini-van of employees. You’re not flashy or noisy, you’re practical, handy and good value for money. You’re an investment. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you should be a Ferrari, that’s for the older guys. When a newbie tries to be a Ferrari, even if they’re proactive, creative and basically the best employee ever with the potential to take over the world, all you do is alienate everybody, ooze entitlement and prove that you’re not taking anything seriously. By starting as a Ferrari you eventually become a bull-dozer and nothing is left untouched.
If you want to make a good impression without becoming a bull-dozer, here are five little tips that can go a long way:
In a meeting, choose when you are going to contribute carefully. 3-5 contributions in a one our meeting is fine and of course you can ask as many questions as you like. Remember you’re new so you don’t know the back story in these meetings – its ok to be more of an observer than contributor so that you can gauge the people in the meeting as well as the topic. However, do make sure you are always engaged with the speakers and take notes.
Don’t be too loud or bantery, even in your lunch break. Always be slightly reserved until you are fully immersed into your colleagues working routine and know them all well. They will warm to you more if you don’t act over-familiar with them. If you have time to spare feel free to ask your colleagues if you can help them with anything, but don’t mention specifics. If you ask to help them with a particular task you might be taking away a task they enjoy doing, or they might think you have an ulterior motive.
Pitching new ways to improve or streamline a job or process is a positive step, but make sure it is conveyed in a positive way too. If you think something can be done better than it is currently being done, make sure your manager or colleagues don’t think you are criticising their routine, this can be easily misconstrued within the first six months. The key is to demonstrate to your manager/colleagues that you are competent at your current tasks and are working efficiently before pitching a change in your already new work-load. You must prove competency first, THEN show creativity. If your manager knows that you are doing a good job with your work they will be more open to your suggestions.
If you have new ideas that you want to mention to your manager, set up a meeting. Your manager is likely very busy and doesn’t need you to pop in every time an idea strikes you or when its convenient for you. Schedule in time to pitch the idea so that you can prepare properly and answer any questions your manager may have. Also, don’t pitch more than 2 or 3 new ideas at a time as your manager may find this overwhelming, if it is within the first six months then your manager is still getting to know you and you need to allow for this.
Remember, you’re a mini-van. You are there for your manager’s comfort and convenience so help where you can but don’t try and do so much that you become a Ferrari, leave the flashy stuff for the guys that have already paid their dues and done their days as mini-vans.
If you’ve made the mistake of being a Ferrari and don’t know what to do next, here are some ways you can redeem yourself:
Only take on new tasks if you are approached first. By now your colleagues/manager know that you are willing to help out, so let them come to you. That way you can still be helpful without being a hindrance.
Make sure you spend more time perfecting old/current tasks before working on your own new projects. That way your manager will see that your priority is the business and not your own development.
Allow your manager to see your competency in their own time by working hard and keeping your head down. Good work is appreciated more when it is not paraded.
If a moment appears, tell your manager that you are aware of your behaviour and that you are working to change it. You could say something like,
I just wanted to let you know that I am aware that I may have come on a little strong in this new role and I don’t want that to alter your perception of me. I am excited to be working with you and my enthusiasm got the best of me but I am ready to work hard and get my head down’.
I wish I has known these things when I first started my job, office environments are tricky mistresses and navigating them takes a while to learn.
When I realised that I was scaring my manager I plucked up the courage to talk to him in a meeting and explain that I knew I was coming on strong and that all I wanted was to do a good job. He totally understood that I had good intentions and we wiped the slate clean. I got to redeem myself and it started a dialogue about where my wants and needs met the businesses wants and needs. Everybody wins!
I hope this gives you some indication of how to conduct yourself in an office if you’ve never tackled one before! Just remember, be a mini-van!
Has this helped you? Do you have any tips for first time employees?
Here is my round-up of 21 memories that made 2012 for me. It was really hard to narrow it down to just 21 things!!
Olly Murs at the Brighton Centre.
Watch the Throne at the O2.
Wireless Festival – my first ever festival!
My first camping festival for a hen do at V Fest!
Meeting Dorothy Koomson.
My first and Last Summer Ball at Uni.
Graduating from the University of Kent.
Girly holiday in Lanzerote
My first horse racing experience at New Market.
My first full time job.
My 21st birthday!
Starting this blog!
My best friend’s wedding.
Dying my hair blonde!
Entering the Blogcademy scholarship.
My sister moving out.
I know I’ve told you a-gazillion times already but I got to spend my NYE with six of the most amazing girls I know ever, and I got to do it in sin city itself – Las Vegas!
The trip was really an amazing way to end 2012/kick off 2013 as we partied in the Venetian’s Tao nightclub with a performance by J Cole! We were having so much fun dancing our socks off that at midnight we forgot to go out to the strip and see the fireworks – its supposed to be a once in a lifetime experience and I can imagine that Vegas really puts on a show, but to be honest I can’t imagine a better way to spend NYE than rocking out with my besties and being so into it that the rest of the world gets completely blocked out!
When I look back I always think about the little giggles that we had from dropping my knife in a plant pot to my friend falling flat on her face trying to get into a taxi. I’ll never forget watching her hat fly off her head in slow motion while the rest of her body found the floor!
I really believe that occasions are less about where you are or what you see and more about who you’re with and what you do. I know that even if it wasn’t NYE and we weren’t in Vegas we would have had just as much fun because it’s the people that make the occasion, not the occasion itself. I know that the little giggles that occurred would have happened anywhere we were because we’re all that crazy/stupid/clumsy and that’s why we’ve stayed close for nearly 10 years now.
I absolutely adore my friends. They can keep me sane and secure whilst simultaneously making me into a goofy, giggling crack-pot who makes strangers stare in public. They have given me some of the fondest memories I have and they have set 2013 apart already. They are simply the best and this post is for them (even though I haven’t had the guts to tell them about this blog yet!).
How did you start 2013?
This is a roundup of my December in 21 pieces. This month will involve some January antics too because I count NYE as part of the holidays!
Can you sum up your month in 21 pieces?
This is part of the Christmas display at the Bellagio, Las Vegas
The first thing I was SUPPOSED to do in December but couldn’t…
This happened, which prevented me from doing the above
I treated myself to a new gadget
Got back into this band
Went on another work night out and made sure I behaved myself!
It was my dad’s birthday this month too – we like to call it birthmas
ALL of my friends came home for uni! That was a big one for me
I found out that I have an underactive thyroid, and so immediately got this book!
This always makes me feel Christmassy, is that normal?
I went to see a pantomime, Aladdin didn’t disappoint!
Bought lots of pressies and in return got spoilt rotten
Christmas day felt just like old times, before my sister moved out. One of these each that were devoured before breakfast!
Then of course… I went here!!!! Pictures are to come and yes I can’t wait to go back!
I spent NYE in Tao, the Venetian and this artist performed – he blew my mind
This band is my favourite of all time now that I have been lucky enough to see them play live in their home town. Only band I’ve ever seen that sound better live than on their album. Amazing.
My friends and I also went here, which to our surprise was covered in snow!
We went to see a show too. These guys, they crack me up!
When we flew out we had a connection in this airport and I had to stop myself from running into that amazing city and migrating!
I’ve decided that travelling is the game for me and so I’m looking into this programme to help me achieve my dreams.
So, a little while ago I told you all how I was going to be more adventurous and engage with the world, starting with a Charity Sleigh Pull – remember? Well, heres what happened.
P.S. I took this pic in the Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas! More on this to come!
Thursday 29th November started with me looking forward to going to the sleigh pull, despite having to be up at 3AM to get there, it was something new and challenging and I was ready to take it on. But as the countdown to the weekend wound down, another opportunity presented itself and I couldn’t pass it up. That day I was asked to attend a black tie event with work, but the event itself was the night before the sleigh pull and I knew it would be difficult to make both. At first I did try and say no, it would be my first black tie event and I was nervous that I wouldn’t know what to wear let alone what to do once I was there! Still, my colleagues convinced me to go to the event citing the benefits of networking and so I optimistically started planning how I could attend that and the sleigh pull.
I left work early to get everything ready for the pull before I left for the black tie event so that I could practically wake up and walk out the door the next morning. I also had to get myself ready for the black tie event which included finding shoes, a bag and making myself presentable – a herculean task! In hindsight I probably worried too much, I still wasn’t ready when the taxi picked me up, but it was my first ever event!
The beginning of the night went really well, I introduced myself and made polite conversation, but as the night went on I started turning to my drink to rescue me from awkward conversations and before long I was absolutely trollied.
Here I am in this posh London hotel with two directors from my company and I can’t even hold myself up. I literally don’t remember anything after dinner. The only flashbacks I get are of me being sick in the toilets. That’s right, my body physically rejected the entire evening. Thankfully my colleagues were really good about the whole thing telling me they were all just as drunk and reassured me that it happens to everyone. We’ve had a good laugh about it since. However, the whole reason I got conned into going was to network and all I managed to accomplish was a hangover. Adding insult to injury I also slept through my alarm for the sleigh pull and completely missed it. I believe some would call this an EPIC FAIL.
Picture this: I’m passed out completely comatose in bed, its 3AM, my alarm is going off and its woken the entire house but me. Mum, dad and sister are at my bedside trying to wake me and trying to turn off my alarm. They only managed the latter.
I woke up at 8AM the next morning in a blind panic before I realised there was nothing I could do but apologise to the sleigh team and rehydrate. I still feel so guilty that I missed it, I really wanted to support the charity in a more physical manner that just donations, but in the end it was the best I could do.
I have learned a BIG lesson from this whole escapade though: alcohol is the devil and even the best of us can be taken down. I’m joking. I actually did learn some very important things,
1) Face your fears – even if the black tie event didn’t go the way I wanted I still went and got over my fear of formal work events which will serve me well if the opportunity ever comes again. Also, instead of shying away from the problem with the sleigh team I went there the next day to apologise in person and face them all which is much better than avoiding the situation.
2) Know your limits – I now know how much alcohol I can handle and how much is acceptable to drink for work occasions. I also know for future reference that if I have two events that coincide and I know I’ll struggle to attend both, I should pick one to commit to and excuse myself from the other event in advance so that I don’t disappoint anyone, including myself.
3) Nothing is ever as bad as you think – I thought I would never live down my bad behaviour and thought my days at work were numbered, but truly EVERYONE HAS BEEN THERE and if you can learn to laugh at yourself it will make the ridicule/ ‘banter’ so much easier to take. Also, after facing the sleigh team the next day I realised that no one was angry with me because I hadn’t made it, they were glad that I had made the effort to come and see/support them anyway.
Eventually everyone else will forget about what happened that weekend but I’ll always remember those lessons. Have you ever had a lesson in disguise?
I do not appreciate baths. This may sound trivial, and maybe it is, but I think they are an out-dated concept. They used to be a means to an end, power showers weren’t always an option, but they are still being falsely-advertised the world over as ‘relaxing’ when they are far from it and I am here to bust the myth with 5 reasons why they are not.
Photo credit to Simon.com.
1/ Running a bath takes agggeeessssssss.
You’ve had a long, hard, often monotonous day at work and you decide to come home and break the day up with a well-deserved, relaxing bath because you’ve been conned into the belief that it will be soothing and calm. However, before you can get to the soothing and calm centre of your bath you have to wait 20 minutes for the bath to fill. You have to let the tap run before it starts filling to make sure that the water is hot, you have to constantly tend to the water to make sure the temperature isn’t scoldingly hot or bitterly cold. None of these things are relaxing or soothing.
2/ The water never stays warm.
So, you’ve waited all that time and your bath is adequately filled and is the perfect temperature. You climb in and ready yourself for the soothing and calm to wash over you, just as you start to feel your muscles relax you notice and distinct drop in temperature. That’s right, the time it takes you to relax is so long that the water has already gone cold. You are now stuck in luke-warm water for the duration of your bath, and you have to stay in there for at least half an hour because otherwise you’ve spent more time running the bath than you have in it! Again, not relaxing or soothing.
3/ There isn’t enough room.
The age old problem of space. Unless you have money to burn buying a bath the size of the room you put it in, you have to resort to a bath that any average sized person finds small. I’m 5ft 5in and my bath is too small for me to lie in comfortably. I have resigned myself to the fact that the only parts of my body that stay in the water are my shins, the rest of me bobs above the water line slightly wet and cold. This is annoying for two reasons, the obvious being that my shins being underwater doesn’t keep the rest of me warm. The second being that my shins are the only part of my body that doesn’t benefit from the water because they’re constantly exposed to the elements and therefore less sensitive than the rest of me. So they’re not relaxing and neither is the rest of me.
4/ You’re cleaning yourself in your own filth.
I probably should have opened with this one. It’s the main reason I hate baths. Remember that episode of Friends?
Monica: Oh, baths are so relaxing!
Chandler: Really? What do you do? You just sit in there stewing in your own filth.
5/ If you have hair that falls below your ears, washing it will be a challenge.
I have very long, very thick hair, usually this is a pro but when trying to wash it in a bath it becomes a con. Being in a bath makes it easier for you to get shampoo in your eyes because even when you tip your head back the water still spills over your face. The whole process of tipping your head back is uncomfortable and in some cases painful. Its not easy! Then you realise that you’re rinsing your hair with water that’s riddled with shampoo, conditioner and filth from your hair and from your body. Its disgusting and definitely NOT AT ALL relaxing.
That’s why I’m a shower girl! Its easy, convenient and more hygenic! Don’t you agree?
I really really REALLY want to go to the Blogcademy in London this January with Kat, Shauna, and Gala. They’re offering ONE scholarship to anyone who can dazzle them with why they deserve it. So, here is my entry for the scholarship… I tried to upload it directly onto here but its being a bit difficult so please click here to watch the story of Dorothy and the Wizard(s) of blOgZ!
I hope you enjoy!