Is a pajama-uniform a viable option for you?

We hear a lot about the joys of working from home. It’s supposed to be the way we work now. I love working from home; it’s how I make my own living. However, just because

However, just because it works for me, and it works well for others, doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. Working from home isn’t always a viable option.

Before you get hung up on the idea that working from home is the path to career happiness, here are some things to keep in mind:

Do you really want to be stuck in the house — alone — all day?

One of the biggest challenges facing many solopreneurs is isolation. If you’re a social person, it might not make sense to sit in a home office all day. If you enjoy working with others, and being on a team, there’s nothing wrong with having a more traditional job.

If you want to work for yourself, but dread the thought of no social interaction, compromise with the help of a co-working space. At least a couple times a week you can get out and work in an environment with others.

My social interaction comes from the causes I’m involved with. It gets me out of the house and helps me avoid the downward spiral into talking to myself.

Can you avoid distractions?

What else is going on at home? When I was married, it was a nightmare trying to get anything done on days when my then-husband was around. At first, I thought it would be fun for us both to be working from home, but it quickly became evident that the distractions were real.

Look around. Are you too tempted to watch TV or surf the Internet. When there’s no one to catch you, it can be hard to stay focused. Before you decide that you are perfect for the pajama-uniform lifestyle, take an honest look at yourself. Are you really going to stick to it when you have to?

Whether you are trying to start your own business, or whether you are just trying to convince your boss to let you telecommute twice a week, you need to make sure you can block out the distractions and do the things.

Do you have the right equipment?

Working from home requires the right equipment and access to the Internet. The great thing about freelancing is that the startup costs are really, really low. I just need a computer and Internet access. Depending on what you hope to accomplish by working from home, you need to make sure you have the right equipment.

If you can’t access work remotely, or if you can’t get the setup you need for a reliable work environment, it might not be a viable option for you right now.

Before you quit your real job

I hope never to have a real job again. But that doesn’t mean that you should just abandon your source of income to pursue the dream of working from home. Give the side hustle a try first. Do a little extra work at home in your spare time. Save up so that you have something to live on if you need it when you quit your job.

Leaving the traditional workforce to work from home as a solopreneur or entrepreneur takes planning and effort. I did it backward, leaving the workforce to get my graduate degree and then never going back to the 9-to-5. Instead, I started a business while living on my then-husband’s student loans. Not the smartest approach, although it worked for us at the time.

If you are in a job now, and you are supporting yourself, simply walking away without a safety net might not be an option. This doesn’t mean that you’ll never work from home or quit. But it does mean that you are probably better off making a plan first.

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Thought everyone left immaturity in grade school like you? No, some people are bullies even as “adults.” Overcome it.

You would think that by the time you’re a mature, successful adult, dealing with bullies is no longer a concern. Unfortunately, some people peak in high school and never really evolve beyond that mentality.

Adult bullying is an inevitability we all face at some point. You’re no longer worried about being pantsed in the cafeteria or facing ridicule for being the new kid in school. Now the bullying is much more subversive — you’re caught in the middle of petty power plays, fighting to earn credit for your own hard work, and perhaps even the subject of nasty rumors meant to defame your otherwise excellent reputation.

Anyone who’s ever dealt with a bully — whether in adolescence or adulthood — knows that simply taking the high road rarely results in justice. That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to stoop to a bully’s level to defeat them.

Here’s how to deal with an adult bully and keep your dignity intact.

Remain neutral. I’ve known a lot of bullies in my day. Fortunately, I’ve been able to avoid becoming their victims by playing the role of Switzerland.

Often, adult bullying begins with fake friendship. They lure you in with deep, personal conversations, make you feel comfortable, then use the information you share — presumably in confidence — against you when the opportune moment arises. One Wednesday you’re all wearing pink, the next, you’re tricking each other into getting fat off high-calorie nutrition bars.

The secret is to be a great listener, but never actually engage in bullying rhetoric. Let the bully tell you everything that’s got them peeved, but keep your own mouth shut. Smile. Nod. Walk away. Repeat.

Keep your cool. Bullies are fueled by the superiority they feel when putting others down. But if you don’t give them the satisfaction of that feeling, their powers fizzle pretty quickly.

Refrain from reacting emotionally when a bully makes a joke at your expense or belittles you in front of your peers. When in doubt, ignore them; it’s not only effective, but pretty damn funny when you pretend like the biggest asshole in the room doesn’t exist. Don’t believe me? Just try it.

And if you’re fortunate enough to be blessed with a sharp sense of humor, even better. Feel free to send a few quips their way. If you have others laughing back at them, they’ll be quick to move on in pursuit of a weaker target.

Don’t tattle. As much as your company probably tries to convince you otherwise, your HR department does not exist to protect you — it’s there to protect the company.

If you’re dealing with bullying in the workplace, any information you share with HR regarding personal issues with another employee will likely be relayed right back to the guilty party. And trust me, the last thing you need is a group meeting to “talk things out,” which will undoubtedly add fuel to the fire.

A very big HOWEVER: If the harassment is extreme enough to impact your performance or mental health, you should definitely not let it go. Rather, document your interactions and conversations (be sure to save all those salty emails) and build a case against your bully. Come prepared to present your claim of a hostile work environment — your HR representative will hopefully be quick to solve the problem (i.e. fire their ass).

Never compromise your values. I’m a firm believer that all shitty people are eventually forced to face their own shittiness. Never pretend to be less intelligent, committed, or compassionate in order to placate a bully.

At the end of the day, your reputation is everything. Don’t jeopardize yours because it seems easier than dealing with an adversary. It may take some time, but people will eventually see a bully for who they really are.

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No, “they” aren’t about to find you out.

Do you feel like a fraud? Is it sometimes hard for you to internalize your accomplishments? There’s a name for that feeling. It’s called Impostor Syndrome.

There are times that we all feel inadequate. However, you might be taking a step farther, and feeling like “they” are eventually going to “figure you out.” Perhaps you feel like, despite your accomplishments, you’re still faking everyone out. This feeling might be holding you back in life and in your career.

Today we look at some of the characteristics that might make you prone to Impostor Syndrome, as well as consider some ways that you can move beyond it.

Concepts

  • What is Impostor Syndrome, and who is likely to have it?
  • Ways Impostor Syndrome can affect your ability to succeed.
  • Does struggling with something make you an impostor?
  • Strategies for getting around Impostor Syndrome.
  • Problems with fluffy motivation techniques and many self-help products.
  • How to begin owning your inner awesome.

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Resources

Harvard Business ReviewPersonality traits associated with Impostor Syndrome
TelegraphProblems with self-help books
Model View CultureAn interesting look at the darker side of Impostor Syndrome

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An unpaid internship doesn’t have to be a total waste.

In recent years, controversy has surrounded unpaid internships for college students.

Many of us are told that an unpaid internship is the way to go, depending on chosen profession. You’re supposed to learn skills, make useful contacts, and generally prepare for the “real” world of work.

Unfortunately, not all internships are worth the trouble. Some of them end up being less of a stepping stone to your first job and more of a waste of valuable time and energy.

And to add insult to injury, many internships wind up costing you extra, since you still have to pay for the college credits you are earning for the internship.

This doesn’t mean that any internship is a bad idea. But it does mean you need to be careful about how you choose your internships.

Can you get a paid internship?

The best way to make sure your internship is worth it is to get paid.

Landing a paid internship can be tough, though. In many cases, a paid internship is dependent on your chosen major. If you major in humanities or social sciences, there is a good chance your internship will be gratis.

On the other hand, there are majors where it’s easier to find a paid internship. Budding accountants can usually find paid internships, as well as those going into STEM fields.

Consider you options. Sometimes, it makes sense to just get a summer job in a field somewhat related to your major. If it’s a choice between a job that you know will give you some experience and skills — plus pay you — and an internship that is dubious in its value and doesn’t pay you, the job might be the better choice.

Increase the value of an unpaid internships.

Sometimes you’re just stuck. It blows, but you might have to suck it up and take the unpaid internship. If this is your reality, here are a few things you can do to increase the value:

Focus on universal skills: Look for ways to learn from your internship and develop skills that can be universally useful. No one is going to hire you for your sick photocopying ability, but you can learn how to communicate with others and be a team player.

Also, look for other ways to learn skills while at your crappy unpaid internship. You can focus on leadership and problem solving while you are at your internship.

Ask for more responsibility: It doesn’t hurt to ask for more responsibility. If you feel like you can handle more, ask for more. And remember: the Deparment of Labor has actual criteria for whether or not your internship actually qualifies. This includes providing training that is educational, the benefit is for the intern, and the intern works under staff (not displacing workers). There are other requirements as well.

If you don’t feel like you are getting educational training and work trading for your benefit, ask for more responsibility and duties so that you can learn something.

Develop contacts: When I completed my unpaid internship, the most valuable thing I got were great contacts. My supervisors provided great letters of recommendation to me. I was also introduced to some great people who helped me with my career later on. That networking was very valuable to me. Even though I was able to work in my field and get some solid experience, it was building my career network that really helped me move to the next level.

Don’t get hung up on the internship.

You don’t have to get hung up on an internship, though. There are plenty of other good ways to develop skills and contacts and gain useful experience.

From working a summer job to focusing on your own business, there are other options. Carefully consider whether or not your internship will really be worth it. Don’t force it if you don’t see that there will be value.

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How do you balance earning a degree with starting your own business when both require massive time and effort?

Every week, we present Adulting.tv LIVE! on Blab. Subscribe and join us for the next event, and share your questions about or suggestions for future discussions!

Adulting.tv LIVE! welcomes special guest Eva Baker from Teens Got Cents and The Teenpreneur Conference. Eva and Miranda discuss Eva’s decision to scale back on school to ramp up her business.

How do you balance the time you need to spend on education and earning a degree with the desire to build your own business?

Watch the video above, or listen to just the audio by using the player below.

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Can you survive a nomadic lifestyle? You can live globally if you make some changes to your life.

Every week, we present Adulting.tv LIVE! on Blab. Subscribe and join us for the next event, and share your questions about or suggestions for future discussions!

Adulting.tv LIVE! welcomes special guest Hui-Chin Chen from Money Matters for Globetrotters and Pavlov Financial Planning. Hui-Chin, Miranda, and Harlan discuss the benefits and drawbacks of creating a lifestyle where you can and do work from anywhere in the world.

Is the nomadic life for you? What does it take to visit a variety of countries for extended periods of time?

Watch the video above, or listen to just the audio by using the player below.

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If you want to nail that next job interview, follow these 8 expert job interview tips.

Everything’s on the line when you go in for a job interview in person. You’re under pressure whether to earn money to keep food on your family’s table or to go as far as you can with your first job. The initial job interview for the position is your chance to make a great first impression and solidify your likelihood for employment.

Whether you get a call back for a second interview, you get offered the job on the spot, or your follow-up calls are ignored is somewhat up to you.

Prepare for the interview far in advance.

1. Be aware of the purpose of the interview from your perspective. You’re looking for a job. Companies are looking for employees. You’re not going to be a good match for every opportunity out there, and that goes both ways. The interview is a chance for you to find out if a company is right for you.

If you desperately need a job, you may be willing to accept an opportunity that isn’t a good fit. Interviews are successful when no one is desperate, and the pressure is off to accept an offer. You should use the opportunity as a chance to evaluate the company you may be spending years of your life with and the people you’ll interact with every day.

Go to the interview with the attitude that you’re not going to settle.

2. Approach your interview like an audition. Your meeting is a test of your communication skills. Practice like you would for an audition. Ask your successful friends to role-play the interview.

Go on interviews for jobs you don’t intend to accept. This isn’t a waste of time; it’s excellent practice for meeting people and communicating about yourself, even if the details will be different for every interview.

3. Learn everything you can about your role and the people interviewing you. Do your research. You should enter the interview with a wealth of knowledge about the company.

The focus of this knowledge depends on the type of job you’re seeking and the level at which you expect to be hired, but be ready to communicate about the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) you expect to encounter in your role.

4. Examine your public profile. Any company seriously considering a job candidate will do their own due diligence on you. Your reputation will need to survive a criminal background check as well as cursory social media investigation. This is where always maintaining a professional image online can help you.

The first step is controlling what you publish publicly online. Don’t be stupid by sharing with the world anything that you wouldn’t want seen in an article about you in the New York Times.

Next, you have to think about what your friends are posting about you. You have little control over what your friends do, and most reasonable employers recognize that social media isn’t necessarily a professional settings, but items shared by your friends can reflect poorly on you and your reputation.

Take care of this on the day of the interview.

Nail That Next Job Interview

5. Get sleep, arrive early, look the part. You should be at your best to make a positive first impression. Be relaxed and healthy, and a good night’s sleep before the interview can make a big difference.

Plan to arrive early for the interview. If you do arrive early, you will have a chance to look around and get comfortable with your surroundings. Planning to arrive early also gives you a buffer of time, and that will come in handy if a train or bus is running late or if there’s a traffic jam on the way to your appointment. Even when your lateness is due to something beyond your control, it reflects poorly on you.

Know ahead of time what you’re expected to wear while on the job, and choose an outfit a little nicer.

6. Project a positive attitude during the interview. For the purposes of the interview, you have a better chance of getting a job offer if your attitude matches what the hiring manager or your interviewer expects. There are a number of variables at play for these expectations, and there can be subtle or major differences based on sex.

Regardless of sex, confidence is the most appealing personality attribute during an interview. But confidence must be carefully controlled. Not everyone who is confident is doing a good job of presenting themselves, especially if that confidence is interpreted as superior or demeaning to others.

Express your confidence in a way that makes everyone in the room feel good about themselves.

Along with confidence, honesty and humility go far, especially when there’s a strong desire to prove yourself to be the best. You are human — be yourself.

7. Ask intelligent, relevant, and surprisingly bold questions. Inevitably, every interviewer provides the job applicant with an opportunity to ask questions. By this point in the interview, you’ve probably done a great job answering questions about your experience and expressing who you are while in the hot seat.

Have you sprinkled well thought-out questions as you go along? Doing so helps shift the focus around during the interview and allows you to find out more about the position and the company. Even still, it’s good to have a few questions in your back pocket for that one opportunity you know will come at the end of the interview. This isn’t the time to ask about vacation days or your 401(k) vesting schedule.

Assuming you’ve already asked all the relevant questions throughout the interview, the end is a good chance to show your bold side. Ask if the interviewer has any reservations or concerns about what you’ve said during the interview — or anything that might prevent the company from offering you the job. This does two things:

  • If the answer is no, you’re solidifying the interviewer’s interest in you by making them affirm it out loud.
  • If you did say something the interviewer didn’t like, you’ll get a chance to address the concern and clarify yourself. This can turn a “no” into a “yes.”

Don’t drop the ball after the interview.

8. Promptly follow-up with a thank you note. Some companies take longer to process applicants than others. The hiring process might be long. You don’t want to pester your potential manager, but you do want to make sure they are reminded of your interest.

A thank-you note within 24 hours of the interview, sent by email, is generally accepted to be a polite follow-up. Be sincere and thank your interviewer for the opportunity and their time. You may even want to use this as an opportunity to ask an additional question about the job, just to keep the communication going.

But don’t be alarmed if you don’t receive a reply. The lack of reply likely has nothing to do with you. There may be any number of other applicants, and the manager might be busy. You’ll hear from the company if and when they’re ready to move to the next stage of the hiring process.

Good luck with the interview. Regardless of the outcome, keep a positive attitude and don’t burn your bridges.

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Can you start a side gig? It’s not for everyone, but it could be a good solution for providing more freedom or money.

Every week, we present Adulting.tv LIVE! on Blab. Subscribe and join us for the next event, and share your questions about or suggestions for future discussions!

Adulting.tv LIVE! welcomes special guest Tom Drake from MapleMoney (formerly Canadian Finance Blog). Tom, Miranda, and Harlan discuss the benefits of starting a side gig and how to make side gigs successful.

Is it about the money? Can you turn any old hobby into a business?

Watch the video above, or listen to just the audio by using the player below.

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Congratulations on landing your first real job! Before you get caught up in your work, take some time to navigate your surroundings.

Now that you you’re successfully navigated the interview and hiring process, you get to take a big step forward in your career by starting it. Or, if your job isn’t exactly in your career path, at least you’re working.

Before long, all of your job’s roles and responsibilities will be clear, and you’ll start making your mark. You may get a little overwhelmed with your new environment, so take some time now to deal with some of the tasks that are essential at the start of your first real job. Ignore these tasks, and you will miss opportunities to set yourself up for long-term success. Don’t blow it.

1. Get a true sense of your take-home pay.

Surprise! Your paycheck is a lot smaller than you expect it to be. A $40,000 salary after federal, state, and local taxes might leave you with only $500 a week. For reals. Even less will end up in your pocket if you have an automatic enrollment in a retirement plan.

You may get some of the money withheld for taxes back when you file your tax return, but your net pay, what you take home, is what you should focus on right now, not your salary.

2. Figure out your new budget.

Now that you know how much income you really have to work with, write down your new budget. Start with the things you need, like your rent or mortgage payment, your food (groceries), and your transportation to and from your workplace. Set aside as much as possible for savings. You’ll need something set aside for emergencies. Then try to fit in some of the luxuries, like dining out, entertainment, vacations, and nicer clothing. If you can.

If you can’t, just hang on for now. You can’t have everything you want in life the moment you start your first real job.

Read this article to see how to make a budget based on priorities. Once you make the budget, track it, so you stay within its limits or realize that you need to change your assumptions about your spending.

3. Open bank accounts if you don’t have any.

It still surprises me how many newly-minted grown-ups don’t have bank accounts. When you get paychecks for working, not cash, you need to have at least one bank account, a checking (debit card) account. Don’t take your paychecks to check-cashing places or Walmart. They charge fees that add up quickly.

Instead, find a free checking account with free debit cards. You might want to check with whatever bank has a branch closest to you, and ask about free checking and free debit cards, but some communities don’t even have any bank branches.

It might be easier to just go online. Ally Bank and Capital One 360 are two of my favorite free online checking accounts.

Once you open your checking account, you can tell your supervisor or human resources department at work that you want to set up a direct deposit. Your paycheck will be sent directly to your bank, so you just use your debit card when you need to pay for anything or go to an ATM when you need cash.

4. Invest some of your income.

6 Life-Changing Tips When Starting Your First Job

If you don’t start investing right now, you will always be trying to catch up. First, make sure you’re enrolled in your company’s retirement plan, if the company offers one. If the company doesn’t offer a 401(k) plan, a 403(b) plan, or anything else, you’ll have to start investing on your own. Put money aside for a few months, and open a retirement account at Vanguard.

Choose a Roth IRA if you already have a plan at work, or a traditional IRA if you don’t. Invest in a broad index mutual fund, like the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSMX), for now. It’s a low-cost way to save for retirement, and keeping your costs low is the most important factor in building wealth over the long term.

5. Understand your benefits.

Your employer may offer some benefits, including health insurance, disability insurance, life insurance, free lunches, a weekly chair massage, or personalized humanoid robot butlers. You’ll only find out what you get by reading all the information you receive your first few days on the job.

If you have a choice, and you might for something like health insurance, review the information carefully and ask around for advice. It’s good to know what your health insurance options are, and what’s covered, in case you need to use them.

6. Learn about your company’s culture.

Getting ahead and succeeding in your job isn’t just about your job performance or doing all that is expected of you. You’ll also need to be able to fit in — without losing your individuality, of course. Spend lots of time with your coworkers. Observe how people behave and present themselves on the job and listen carefully to important discussions. Look for the clues, both subtle and obvious, that will lead you towards making a good impression. Much of this is based on mimicking the behavior of the more successful people at your level.

Use this time exploring the culture to work on your communication skills (ask questions!) and build relationships with people in your workplace.

The most important thing about getting started is not to expect to be treated like a superstar on your first day on the job. You’re a unique snowflake, that’s for sure, but so is everyone else. As the new girl or guy, you have to put in time and effort before you are able to reap the rewards of great benefits, a salary that reflects your worth, and personal freedom.

You’re not entitled to the best of what your employer (or life) has to offer just by showing up, but when you put in the hard work and prove yourself, success will find its way to you much easier. After some time.

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Find the right balance between staying open to opportunities and avoiding too much distraction from your goals.

One of the toughest things to do is to learn which things to say no to — and which to say yes to. It’s tempting to want to do all the things. However, chances are that you say yes to more than you should.

When you are bogged down by obligations, you reach the point where you need to say no, for your own sanity. Unfortunately, when you try to hard to do all the things, you might end up in a situation where you can’t say yes to the opportunities you really want.

In order to avoid becoming overcome by all you need to do, it’s important to understand what really matters to you. Narrow it down. Focus on the essentials, and then expand from there, only saying yes to the things that you really want to do. And if you need help figuring out what’s most important, create a life map.

Concepts

  • Why are we so inclined to say yes? Why do we want to do all the things?
  • Reasons that it’s sometimes a good idea to say no.
  • How to position yourself so you can take advantage of unexpected (and good!) opportunities.
  • Tips for balancing others’ needs with your own needs.
  • The reality of “busy-ness.” Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you are accomplishing anything.
  • How to identify the true essentials in your life so that you are more effective.

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Resources

American Psychological AssociationWhen and how graduate students should say no.
Mayo ClinicStress management: when to say no.
LifehackTo boost your potential, say yes.

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