10 Things I Learned from Starting a Blog and Writing 100 Blog Posts

Eat some cake! It’s time to celebrate!

Wow! We have come a long way haven’t we? Although I wanted to 100 things I learned from starting my blog- trust me that could easily be done- I decided to spare everyone the lengthy reading and narrowed it down to my most significant 10 learning points from this experience. Starting my blog was undoubtably one of the highlights of 2020 for me and I am so glad to have had the opportunity to share it with you all. I thought that this milestone was something to celebrate and I cannot wait for the next 100 articles. But for now, here is what I have learned.


1. The importance of starting and committing 

I had the idea of starting a blog for a while, yet it was a professional mentor of mine who encouraged me to create an online profile for prospective employers to look at. Yes, that is the reason that my blog has a resume and I decided that, even though I have a job now, it still might be interesting for people to know a little bit about my journey. In such a tough job market, I was motivated to do anything that would help me stand out as an applicant and widen my reach to employers. I created not one, but two websites in the process and posted a few articles about my life experiences and professional takeaways. Little did I know that I would become so incredibly passionate about writing and sharing that we would still be here 7 months later! And employed! The reality is, however, I could have kept thinking about starting a blog, had it not been for one night that I took the leap to purchase a domain, roll up my sleeves, and start building the site. There is something incredibly important in committing to an idea and starting, no matter how much you think you know. If the interest is there, just go for it. You have nothing to lose and so much invaluable knowledge to gain. 

2. Learning to continue regardless of readership or engagement 

Cora_II-removebg-previewWhen I started the blog, just having one reader meant so much to me, I would think to myself  “I can’t believe people are invested and engage in what I write!” It felt incredible. However, as time progresses, you naturally expect to see an increase in engagement, readers, followers, subscribers- whatever it may be. You begin to expect more, which can be crushing at times, especially when you have spent 5 hours on an article that you can read in 5 minutes, read by only 5 people. In summation, the process can become increasingly discouraging if you don’t see any progress. This taught me a couple of things. Firstly, to celebrate the little wins and sharing those milestones with others so that they can celebrate with you. I love to post on my Instagram about the interesting places that my readers are reading from- the best by far has been the Seychelles- or how many email subscribers the blog has reached. If you take the time to be grateful for every achievement- like this one!- it will make the process much more enjoyable and encouraging. Another takeaway for me was to reflect on why I was blogging in the first place. Although it started out with professional motives, it has become personally motivated, as I have come to learn how much I have a passion for writing, interviewing, sharing, making collages, and learning. If I remember that I am continuing on with my blog because of how much I love it, I am reminded that I do this for me, first and foremost, not for other’s approval or interest. If someone feels motivated or inspired by my writing, that is the cherry on top. 

3. A plethora of new skills

Ok, when I said you would learn a lot by trying something new, I wasn’t kidding. Here are a few skills that I have honed or learned for the first time in creating my baby- I mean blog. 

  1. Google Analytics and Google Search EnginePeony_52-removebg-preview
  2. Writing with style and voice 
  3. Social media marketing 
  4. Creating a newsletter
  5. Networking
  6. Researching the best website hosts and softwares
  7. Photo editing
  8. Branding
  9. Web design
  10. Phone interviewing
  11. Proofreading and grammar
  12. WordPress software
  13. Search engine optimization (SEO) 
  14. Collaborating with companies to form partnerships
  15. Creating formal deck presentations
  16. Succinct interview note-taking
  17. Crafting my personal elevator pitch 
  18. Coding 
  19. I am sure that I am missing a few here…

4. Human connection is central to my life

Without sounding too dramatic here, this blog has really saved my life. In late July, when I first started the blog, I was completely burnt out. I had spent everyday for two months applying for jobs and having networking calls. I was still mourning the loss of the last two months of my senior year and not being able to graduate on stage with my classmates. Most of all, I missed my friends and my professors. I missed my social job at the library, interacting with friends, acquaintances, and strangers everyday. I felt as though I had no purpose and no one to share my life with anymore. This blog changed that. I was able to motivate myself everyday to work on something that I could call my own and take ownership of. And, most importantly, I was able to interact with people again, from every walk of my life. On my blog, I have had the chance to feature friends that I have only just met, never even in person, to friends from my middle school and everyone in between. Whether it be phone interviews, through social media, or chatting online, it was such a pleasure to connect again in so many different ways. Sharing that on this platform has made it all the better.  

5. Discovering my personal brand and written voice

Starting the blog has allowed me to really reflect on who I see myself as and facilitated a lot of self-discovery. I began to ask myself a lot of questions like “what content would I find interesting? What interests me? What do I like to read about? What is my personal brand? How would I like to appear to others online?” I also began to think about my written voice and who I identified as, as a writer. This process is continually evolving, yet really made me consider, in every decision, how I am able to put my best foot forward and who I want to be.  

6. Pushing my boundaries of productivity, organization, curiosity, and creativity every day

Peony_47-removebg-previewWriting a blog post 3+ times a week has forced me to be incredibly organized in how I approach scheduling and writing my articles. This has led me to consider what days people engage with my posts the most, what my readers enjoy reading, and how I can consistently push the envelope in terms of content, whether it be in the writing style, photos, videos, music, and gifs that I incorporate into my articles. I am forced to constantly look for inspiration in everything and everyone that I meet. Every time that I begin to doubt my ability to come up with creative ideas for content, I look back on all of my articles and feel compelled to push forward no matter what. My friends have also been a support in helping to collaborate with me on articles to diversify the voices on the blog. I am forever grateful for everyone who has contributed in a big and small way!

7. Learning content strategy

In starting my blog, I learned how to constantly iterate and improve both my content, strategy, and processes. Here are some insights about my blog that I have gathered so far:

  1. Utilizing Google Analytics, Google Search Engine, and internal WordPress analytics, has helped me to decide what external platforms gain the most traffic to my site. Believe it or not, the majority of my readers come from LinkedIn! 
  2. Learning about search engine optimization has been incredibly beneficial to me. Over the past two months I have averaged 12% of my website views as coming from search engines. This month I am on track for even more web clicks!
  3. Looking at trends on when to post. Looks like Monday at 10:00 am is the most popular time for readers on my blog. 
  4. Looking at trends as to what content performs better than others, which, for my blog, tends to be business, entrepreneurship, and fashion related content. 
  5. I have also evaluated what social media posts work better than others. Trust me, photos of people always perform the best!

8. Learning should be a joy versus a task

Screen_Shot_2021-01-21_at_9.20.31_PM-removebg-previewIf you really love something, you are going to want to learn more about it and dive deeply into how to constantly improve and evolve. I find that this was a good learning experience that will help me for the future. If something feels like a chore, then it’s probably not a passion or intense interest. If you are someone who is looking to find a passion of your own, this is a good litmus test. 

9. Better understanding current and future industry landscapes 

Starting my blog and writing interesting content has forced me to be engaged in current trends, culture, news, and events. It has encouraged me to read more news, discover more insights, and speak with people that are industry experts to understand where the future is headed. Articles that have allowed me to take a deep dive into learning more about the complexity of our world have been some of my favorites, including this article on TikTok fame, this post about the future of modern luxury retail, and this piece on cryptocurrency banking. The world is a playground, so make sure to use the monkey bars!

10. I am capable of literally making something out of nothing

When the going gets tough, I just get tougher. I am able to create something of value out of the resources around me and that is pretty special. Just making lemonade out of lemons over here baby! Now you get out there too. 

 

What Learning to Code Taught Me

It’s not as easy as ABC or 123, but maybe 1010…

A few months ago, I had a phone call with a recruiter. It had taken me weeks to set this call up. It all began with a networking call, then an email reference to internal HR, then finally to the recruiter for the job that I was interested in. The job was as an Operations Analyst at a popular fashion retailer and I could not have been more excited. Despite my sticky palms, I hopped on the recruiting call, ready to discuss why I was most qualified for the position. After running through my resume with the recruiter, she mentioned that she was impressed with both my enthusiasm and experiences just coming out of college, however, the position required a working knowledge of SQL. At the time, I only had experience with R code, a coding language that I learned in my Quantitative Business Analytics courses. She said that this would not normally be a considerable problem, however there is a mandatory SQL test during the recruitment process that I would not be able to finish if I did not understand SQL. After thanking her for the call, I remember sitting in my room completely frustrated. I had just lost an incredible opportunity due to the fact that I did not have one simple skill. It was then and there that I knew I had to roll up my sleeves and take a crack at it. Challenge accepted.

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In simple terms, a coder is someone who writes specific instructions or a “program” for a computer to understand and process the submitted request in the form of a completed task. Different coding languages are used for different purposes and require a specific language for writing “instructions”. SQL is a particularly helpful language for managing data in a relational database management system, making it useful for data analytics roles. 

If you are a beginner, like myself, I recommend using Codecademy to get your feet wet! Codecademy is free to sign up and offers various different courses to learn coding languages, such as SQL, Python, R, and Java. After signing up for my SQL course on Codecademy, I decided to dive right into the first session. Each session is composed of a few parts, the main ones being lessons, informational articles, projects, and quizzes. I especially appreciated the variety in material the courses offer, which helps coders learn the language more than memorize it. I also really enjoyed the challenging projects within each session that tests your coding skills in a useful and practical manner. 

After earning my “Learn SQL” course with Codecademy this past November, I had a few takeaways that I thought were worth sharing. My first takeaway is that, although the phrase “learning to code” and other tech terminology may seem intimidating, coding can be learned by anyone no matter what skill level. If your ambition is there, there is no stopping what you can learn, especially given the incredible online resources at your disposal. If you put your mind to something you can just about teach yourself anything. Simply put, learning to code is just like learning a new language. It seems intimidating from the start, but the magic is in when you find out it really isn’t too complicated. You are just not versed in the conversation yet!

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Another noteworthy takeaway is that coding allows you to think in ways you never approached problems before. When you are in the process of learning to code, you are pushed to ask yourself difficult questions that may be frustrating in the beginning. Coding forces you to dive deeply into the “why” questions, which you must answer in order to write efficient and useful code. Learning to code orients your mind into breaking down complex issues into bit size pieces that you must understand in order to accomplish your goal. A life lesson almost more than a coding one. 

Lastly, learning to code helps you become more detail oriented in your thinking. When writing code, you must go through a step by step process of explaining to the computer what to do. But, once you get the basics down, it is just learning what more functions and short cuts are at your disposal. It is incredible learning about the possibilities of coding, organizing data, and the capabilities of modern technology. You just have to try it for yourself!

The future is only going to become more and more technologically integrated, making it worth understanding the fundamentals to fully appreciate the world’s sheer complexity. It is only when we uncover the basics that we begin to understand how far we have developed as a people, society, and world. Thank you internet. 

Ask Adam: Finding a Trusted Therapist and More (Part I)

Answering all of your pressing therapy questions in the comfort of your own home.

For Dr. Adam Brown, the path towards receiving a doctorate at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and becoming a consultant, professor, and licensed clinical social worker was anything but straight. 

When Adam graduated from Colby College with a degree in English, his goal was to become a professional working actor. With this in mind, Adam moved to New York City, Boston, and finally to Los Angeles in order to chase his dream. Shortly after arriving in LA, he also began performing stand-up comedy and eventually working as a comic. Approaching 30 years old, Adam began to reevaluate what he was striving for, imagining his future working in the industry. To Adam, it boiled down to becoming famous and acquiring the privileges of those with whom he rubbed shoulders. Thinking about it further, having known members of the rich and famous personally, Adam did not see them as any happier than he was. Adam realized that even if he did achieve the fame he was looking for, it would only make him more unhappy if he didn’t feel fulfilled internally. 

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Adam soon packed up and moved back in with his mother in Rhode Island, taking a job from his uncle who owned a construction company. In taking this job, Adam had access to health benefits which he used to pay for psychotherapy, hoping it would help him in figure out his next steps in life. To Adam’s surprise, the therapist recommended that he come more than once a week, his visits turning into regular occurrences 3 to 4 times a week. Adam cites his experience in therapy as being such a transformative time that it helped him to realize a lot about his priorities, perspective, and values. More than that, Adam saw himself as being interested in doing the work of his therapist. 

Adam felt compelled to go back to school, attending Smith College School for Social Work to get his Masters of Social Work (MSW), which has an outstanding reputation for training psychotherapists. After Smith SSW, Adam worked at a foster care agency, which had an opening for a clinician to work with kids as a psychotherapist. Through this experience, Adam worked with many children and adolescents that committed sexual offenses. Adam became troubled by the way in which the system treated the youth, as perpetrators more than victims, and found that he wanted to become part of the solution to the systematic problems that he saw.                                                   

With that in mind, Adam went to get his doctorate at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. Now, Adam is a professor of clinical social work at the Silberman School for Social Work Hunter College. He is a sexual abuse prevention researcher who focuses his research on youth and young adults who have committed acts of sexual harm. Adam also has clients that he sees regularly for general therapy. 

It is safe to say that Adam is the expert when it comes to social work, which is why I have enlisted him to answer some therapy questions on the blog. So, let’s jump right into it. 

How do you know that you need or should see a therapist?

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Everyone in some way could benefit from seeing a therapist, but some specifics include individuals that could need help getting some perspective, are stuck in a job or a relationship, it could be anything. Going to therapy is not going to solve your problem, but it will shorten the process- maybe even shave off some years if not months. It is all about getting you somewhere where you are already headed in terms of problem solving. A therapist does not give advice, they really help you ask yourself the good questions to enable self-discovery. 

What are things you look for in a good therapist? What makes a therapist a good one? 

Even though it’s hard, it is really important to take at least two to three sessions to decide how you feel about your therapist. A good therapist will encourage you to do that and shouldn’t make you feel that you are pressured into seeing them. Therapy is such a personal journey, if you are uncomfortable after the first session, it may be that the therapist is pushing you to confront the tough questions. It might be a good test to say to your therapist on your next visit “I almost didn’t come back because… XYZ reason” and see how your therapist reacts to this statement. If you feel ashamed, sad, uncomfortable, or don’t want to tell the truth to your therapist, that is a different story. Then, you should consider looking for another therapist. 

It is a therapist’s job to provide a “holding environment” for you, where even if life is uncomfortable you feel like you are in a safe place. 

What is the average duration of a relationship with a therapist?

It really depends on the presenting issues and on your readiness. If you come to a therapist with a very specific and identifiable issue or goal to address things might take a shorter time, like three months. It is more common for therapy to last a year or longer. Sometimes, many years. There is really no definitive way of knowing when you start. 

What is the best way to prepare for a therapy session?

To not prepare. You really need to go in and be ready to be yourself in a therapy session. When you first arrive, your therapist is going to say things like “how can I help you” or “what brings you here”, don’t over think what it is you are supposed to be doing there. If you have a specific goal in mind then that’s always great, but there is no need to “prep” necessarily. 

What are some resources you recommend for people that are looking to seek help?

If you have a very specific issue, a good place to start can, surprisingly, be Google. You can use your zip code to find support groups and specialists in your area of need oftentimes. Most of the therapists I know have a page on www.psychologytoday.com. I don’t have a page there now because I only work on a referral basis, but if I were going to accept more clients, I would. Another place to find a therapist is to ask a friend that has been in therapy. In some cases, your friend’s therapist could talk to you about what’s going on and act as a referral. 

If you are not ready for in person therapy, there is online texting therapy. 7cups.com, betterhelp.com, and talkspace.com are good ways for people to dip their toe in. You can pay one month at a time and see how it goes. 

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For resources, Brene Brown’s podcast “Unlocking Us” could also be a great resource. She talks about many things related to mental and behavioral health that most folks can relate to. Additionally, these are books I always recommend to those I work with:

“How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. This book provides really wonderful models for having difficult conversations and how to engage with people that are typically hard to engage.

“Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most” by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen, and Roger Fisher is also an incredible resource.


Stay tuned for next week when Adam answers more pressing questions on therapy, life, and navigating our world’s current challenges. 

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Lauren MacArthur on Being a Recruiter and Advice for Job Seekers

Equipping you with the tools to land a job during challenging circumstances.

If you are currently navigating the job space, this article is definitely for you. If you aren’t, make sure to share this post with someone who could benefit from the wisdom of an expert in the recruiting space. Landing a job isn’t easy in a stable environment, making securing a position in our current circumstances an exceptionally difficult feat. My 6 month long job search was one of the most challenging and emotionally draining periods of my life. It can be a battle everyday to wake up with motivation to continue networking, emailing, and applying for positions with hundreds, even thousands, of other applicants. If you are someone who is looking for a job yourself, don’t give up! You are strong, capable, and resilient. A position will come along and, with enough hard work, you will be the one to fill it. Keep going.


I have shared this with someone who needs it!


A daughter, pop culture junkie, friend, movie lover, and fiancé, Lauren MacArthur is many things on top of being an expert recruiter at Veeva Systems, a cloud-computing company focused on pharmaceutical and life sciences industry applications. 

Screen Shot 2020-12-07 at 2.23.47 PMLauren graduated from Muhlenberg College with a Major in English and Minor in French and Creative Writing. When looking for jobs right out of college, Lauren always thought that she would work in public relations or publishing. While looking for opportunities in these fields, however, a staffing agency that she was working with mentioned that she would be a great fit for recruitment. Lauren had no idea what the profession of a recruiter looked like beforehand, yet, once she began investigating a bit further realized that recruiting could be a good fit. Lauren is a people lover at her very core and an opportunity to connect people with opportunities to help their personal growth sounded like an incredible role. 

When interviewing a candidate, here are some things Lauren looks for:

  • A team player

  • Passion

  • Flexibility

  • Innovative mindset

  • Comfortable navigating ambiguity

  • In-depth knowledge of company overall  

  • Self-starter

If she is recruiting for a client facing role, Lauren looks for a strong communicator and the ability to engage well with others. While, if Lauren is looking for a data scientist or a software engineer, she looks for someone who has a strong understanding of specific technical skills. 

For each role that opens up at the company, Lauren meets with hiring managers to get an idea of what they are looking for, what the process looks like, and to ensure she moves through efficiently. Then, Lauren interviews the candidates that have applied. Common questions that she normally asks are (subject to the role): 

“What are you hoping for in your next role?”

“Tell me about a time where you had to work with someone difficult and how you navigated that?”

“Tell me about a time when you had to build a product from the ground up?”

Lauren tries to avoid using yes or no questions, making the questions more situational and open ended in order to get the most qualitative information from the candidate. 

Having been a recruiter for some time now, Lauren notes that she has seen it all, including candidates who forget what role they are interviewing for or what company she recruits for. To avoid awkward interactions with your recruiter, Lauren recommends doing your research when it comes to the company you are interviewing with, enough so that you can have a thorough conversation about it.

“It’s always the best when someone has a lot of questions or fills the full 30 minutes. It is also great to see when someone is truly passionate about their work, where before you can ask them about a certain situation, they tell you about it first. Just be your authentic self.”  

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One of the most challenging aspects of Lauren’s job the push and pull between being honest with candidates in helping them on their career journeys while also valuing the vision of the business and what works for each group. Additionally, Lauren finds that, at times, giving feedback to candidates can be tough, especially when she connects with someone within the recruiting process. Those rejection conversations can be difficult, but transparency is the most important for the candidate experience.

In terms of advice she has for individuals looking for a job right now, Lauren mentions that persistence is key as well as maintaining the connections that you have in your network. It is a long game, not a short one. Any connections that you can make now are going to be beneficial so that when a position does open up, you will be first on their mind, says Lauren. 

One of the most rewarding aspects of Lauren’s job is seeing everything come full circle, when she ends up working with the individuals that she screened for hiring. Veeva is a talent partner based company, which really looks for individuals whose values align with the company, making true fits difficult, but well worth it. Veeva looks for individuals who are not only qualified for the position based on their skillset, but who also align with the values and vision of the company. Engaging with and learning from others on a daily basis is what really makes her job enjoyable as well.

Lauren has seen recruiting change over the years drastically, given that there are so many more platforms, such as LinkedIn, Indeed, Cardea, out there for job seekers. There are a multitude of places that you can get your applicants from. Diversity is also more important than ever before, as there is a greater prioritization in creating a more inclusive and equitable process. 

What does the future of recruitment look like to Lauren?

Lauren sees more systems and automation being incorporated into the process.

“I think in the future there is going to be a day when a computer reads and processes almost all of the information for prospective employees, where applicant tracking systems can help evaluate role alignment. Also, we will be able to have more data and metrics to track performance, productivity, and further perfect our process to attract talent.”  

Additionally, Lauren mentions that talent marketing will continue to grow and expand, companies focusing on emphasizing their talent brand. Sourcing talent is great, but it’s always better to have job seekers coming to you to want to work at your company, Lauren cites. The prioritization of certain benefits has also become more popular, as people have started to care a lot more about work-life balance, benefits, culture, diversity, and resource groups, to name a few.

We live in an ever changing world that continues to require adaptation, resilience, and flexibility, qualities of every good employee. With a little bit of persistence and hope for the future, we will all make it through this challenging time. One day at a time! 

Rumeer Keshwani on Cryptocurrency and Celsius

The wonderful world of cryptocurrency, blockchain, banking, and more.

Rumeer Keshwani means business and not just any business… cryptocurrency business. Sounds intriguing doesn’t it? To explain a little bit about blockchain and a whole lot about cryptocurrency and its applications, I sat Rumeer down to give us all the details. 

earn_appRumeer currently works at Celsius as a Junior Accountant, a cryptocurrency fintech start-up that is consumer facing. Before graduating from college, Rumeer had his sights on working on the finance side of things at a venture capital (VC) firm with the goal of orienting himself towards tech start-ups, more specifically. However, the more people he spoke with, the more advice he got on working for an extraordinary start-up first, before getting fully involved with investing in them. With that in mind, Rumeer jumped at the opportunity to work at Celsius, which has just closed its $20M series A fundraise valued at $120M and possesses a promising future.

When I asked Rumeer to explain cryptocurrency like he was explaining it to a 5 year old, he described cryptocurrency as “basically, a way for people to exchange value on the Internet, the same way that money is an exchange of value. You can do this by using blockchain, in simple terms, a collection of nodes that exchange information.”

Rumeer went even further explaining that every currency issued by a government nowadays is fiat currency. These currencies are no longer backed by physical assists, rather they are backed by society’s faith in those governments. Communities adhere to certain rules and values that are currency specific. Due to economics the currency’s value will change. Cryptocurrency acts in the same way as regular currency in this regard. Another factor that contributes to its value is also the amount of people who transact and exchange the currency. This strengthens the blockchain ledger that the currency uses, making it increasingly appealing and trustworthy to potential users. 

Celsius is fundamentally different from banks, allowing users to earn rewards from cryptocurrencies transferred to their Celsius wallet. At Celsius, customers can collateralize their assets in order to access the value they have stored in their crypto assets, without actually selling the assets. You earn weekly compounding interest on keeping your cryptocurrency at the bank. At Celsius, you can earn up to 21% annually by keeping your money in a Celsius wallet. The reason why Celsius can offer such high reward rates is because it distributes 80% of its earnings to the community members who have crypto assets deposited in the bank, something that a bank would never do!

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One thing that Rumeer wishes more people knew about cryptocurrencies is that the use cases are so immense, especially in international communities that don’t have stable currencies, such as in Venezuela and Iran. “I wish people knew how much opportunity there is out there and those opportunities exist in front of us every day,” says Rumeer, who believes that skepticism on the value of cryptocurrencies and these currencies being complicated to explain, stands in the way of more consumer involvement. 

If you are willing to learn, the future of banking is up to you to invest in. 

The above references an opinion and is for information purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.

Shaina Shikoff on Being a Female Engineer

On her journey to becoming an engineer and working in a male-dominated industry.

Originally from outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Shaina Shikoff is currently a solutions consultant at Appian Corporation, living in Arlington, Virginia. Just a couple of years ago, Shaina graduated from the University of Virginia majoring in Systems and Information Engineering, however, she never expected that she would ultimately become an engineer. In high school, Shaina was always interested in a lot of different subjects, but avoided pigeonholing herself into one so early on. Nevertheless, in college she found that there were a lot of opportunities for women in the engineering field. Civil engineering she found rather technical, which led her to major in Systems and Information Engineering, a newer field that brings business, science, and engineering all together. Systems and Information Engineering is a field of engineering that focuses on the intersection of systems, which can range between business systems to mechanical systems and everything in between. In Systems and Information Engineering, you also learn how to design and manage systems most efficiently and how humans interact with systems, as well as some related coding and data analytics. 

Screen Shot 2020-11-23 at 2.04.57 PMIn college, Shaina found one introductory engineering class to be most compelling, where she learned about major engineering failures, such as the Challenger disaster, the collapse of Tacoma Narrows Bridge, and The Great Molasses Flood of 1919. Shaina saw this class as being a particularly interesting way to introduce the field of engineering and how engineering has used past experiences to improve upon itself. Outside of engineering, it was a class on Dracula that Shaina enjoyed the most.

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During her time at the University of Virginia, Shaina joined the Society of Women Engineers in order to develop a supportive network of women within the field of engineering. She also enjoyed building friendships with other engineers that could relate to her in a way that some of her friends within other majors couldn’t. One of the most valuable parts of being in the group, Shaina mentioned, was that she was able to seek the advice of women engineers that were older than her. 

In college, Shaina felt that she didn’t stand out as a female minority, because her major had a fair 60/40 ratio of men to women. However, when she entered the workforce, she began to see that across the field of engineering at her company, there were significantly more men. Nowadays, Shaina doesn’t find it shocking to be the only woman in the room, which comes along with a self-imposed pressure to prove her credibility and competence. Coupled with her young age and being the first hire within her division’s college program, Shaina has found client meetings and projects to be daunting at times, but rewarding nevertheless. 

Looking towards the future, Shaina sees more opportunities for women in technology and engineering than ever. Shaina admits that there are not a lot of women in engineering compared to men, by any means, but that women are definitely starting to be more valued and encouraged to join the field, especially as engineering grows and develops. “Women have a different way of thinking and diversity of thought is important, as a unique perspective is always valued,” Shaina mentions. 

Some advice Shaina has for a woman pursuing engineering?

Gear_love_heart_stock_illustration__Illustration_of_valentine_-_9341889-removebg-previewShaina advises that you should be willing to push yourself out of your comfort zone and work hard- maybe even harder than your male counterparts to prove yourself. “When you are out of college it is important to remember that everything isn’t going to be handed to you,” she emphasizes. Shaina also mentions that you should not feel held back by the stereotypes that surround you, “if you are passionate about it, then go for it.” Some other pieces of advice Shaina takes to heart are to try to get as many new experiences as possible in order to learn about what you like and don’t like early on in your career. Also she recommends developing a support system of women that you trust within your company, in order to bounce ideas off of or seek advice from. 

As the future of work changes tremendously in our COVID-19 world, I am hopeful that many would be inspired by Shaina’s story to enter the field and diversify engineering one woman at a time. 

Claudia Hu on being a Professional Pianist

Inside the world of a lifelong professional musician.

There is a saying that goes “consistency breeds perfection,” a saying that professional pianist Claudia Hu truly embodies in her work. Starting her piano career at just 6 years of age, Claudia has refined her craft of piano through thousands of hours of practice, which resulted in invitations to play in renowned music halls, such as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York City, as well as famous performance halls across The United States and Europe. Claudia recently graduated from Manhattan School of Music in May, majoring in Classical Piano Performance, and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Classical Piano Performance at her alma mater with her teacher Nina Svetlanova.

Growing up, Claudia’s passion for piano was more than a hobby. Despite winning competitions and being invited to play at recitals, for Claudia, it was never about winning, it was about doing something that she loved. Interestingly, Claudia always thought that she would become a doctor, like many members of her family, yet she knew that if she went the academic route, she would never be able to play at the same level again. When she decided to apply to the Manhattan School of Music, she had the chance to meet her interviewer, by chance, before her audition and they just so happened to “click”. This allowed Claudia to feel more comfortable in her final audition, which landed her a place at the college among some of the most talented musicians in the country. 

Claudia admits that the prospect of attending the Manhattan School of Music seemed a bit daunting to her, however, she was more excited than anything, having the chance to study alongside some wonderful musicians. In college, Claudia viewed herself as a small fish in a big pond, which she saw as a positive, considering she wanted to learn the most that she could around high performing individuals that have the same love as she does for music. 

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One of Claudia’s favorite classes that she took was a conducting class, explaining that she loves conducting and views conductors as being the most intelligent in terms of both music and music history as well as art and life. Claudia was also eager to understand the theory and technical aspects of what it means to conduct. Another class she found to be particularly interesting was Historical Recordings of Great Pianists, which consisted of listening to old piano recordings. Claudia especially enjoyed listening to piano from the Golden Age or mid 1900s, as those pianists would play pieces that are not part of the typical repertoire and diverged from what we hear today. 

Claudia mentioned that some of her most memorable piano experiences came out of her college recitals Sophomore and Senior year. These recitals were the first times that it was just Claudia playing, with everyone coming to watch her perform the music she has been playing for the past two years. Claudia also enjoys these recitals because they act as milestones for how much she has learned in addition to how she can improve for the future. 

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Her experience playing has not always been smooth sailing, however, having suffered a physical injury two years ago. Claudia mentioned that she wasn’t too familiar with the “right technique” as a pianist and, as a result, her arms and back got so tense that she physically couldn’t play piano because it was too painful. This moment led to Claudia asking herself a lot of existential questions about her life without piano. Luckily, Claudia was able to see a physical therapist to correct the tension in her shoulders and breathing exercises. Now, Claudia is a more relaxed player, which has had a tremendous effect on the sound of her music and what Claudia regards as an overall triumph. 

When asked what Claudia finds as the most important quality in a pianist, she responded that being a good pianist is more than just reading music and playing it, it’s about a mental state of mind and your whole characteristic as a person. To be an incredibly proficient musician, you must work on being calm and introspective, getting to know the background of the piece and life of the composer. “A lot of composers were inspired by their political states or the popular literary works of their time, that is reflected in their music. I try to think about that while I am playing. It is a lot of mental work as well as physical,” Claudia points out. 

What excites Claudia most about the future is observing the shift taking place within classical music. The big question that is being asked nowadays in the music world is: Why do we keep sticking with the classical repertoire? A question that Claudia is eager to hear the answer to. Claudia is equally as compelled by the fact that modern classical musicians don’t have to follow one route in order to be a recognized pianist. She notes “you can find a career outside of that and with social media it becomes easier to become recognized”. It is my hope that everyone has the chance to hear Claudia’s music, a transportive experience, where sincerity and thoughtfulness can be both heard and felt. 

Jeremie Cabling on Combatting the Struggles of Selling

Sale (/sāl/): the exchange of a commodity for money; the action of selling something (Part III)

If you can believe it, we have come to the last part of Jeremie’s three-part sales series! Through these past two weeks, we have learned what it takes to be a good salesperson, how to confidently write a cold email, how to persuade and pre-suade, and so much more. This week it’s all about combatting the struggles of selling, Jeremie giving some expert advice on how to navigate a few of the challenges that come along with sales- yes we saved the best for last. I hope you have enjoyed this series as much as I have and get to use some of these tactics in the real world. Just make sure not to use them on Jeremie, I have a feeling he’ll see right through them.


What are some of the ways you combat rejection during a sale?

Jeremie says, if your prospect rejects your proposition, it’s because you led them to that objection. Don’t push prospects to objections.

People have the primal urge to feel safe, secure, and in control. A pushy ask like “Do you have time to chat this week?” puts a person’s guard up and stops a sale dead in its tracks. An ask like “Is it a bad time to chat about X” gives the recipient a feeling of agency and power. It asks the same thing as the former question, but it asks in a way that empowers the recipient to respond.

Ask questions that uncover your customers’ wants. Then, dive deeper to understand how they want to feel. Only then you can pull them in by showing how your product/service is the way there.

If an objection does come up, the only 3 responses I use are:

  1. You’re right in feeling that way, [my prospect very similar to you] felt that too, what they found is [benefit]…
  2. That’s right, but [benefit]…
  3. I don’t know, but let’s regroup and I can get back to you on that…

How do you not get discouraged during the sales process?

“I do get discouraged,” says Jeremie (phew I thought it was just us). “If I’m not performing, I can only blame myself or my process. Discouragement is the natural reminder to step back, analyze and correct myself (my attitude) or my process.”

Sales is fun, Jeremie reminds us, but success in sales is almost essential for fulfillment in it. Discouragement is the cue that something needs to change to get better.

Jeremie, what is the best piece of advice you have received in terms of selling and sales?

Most mentors helped me with the technical parts of selling… best times to sell, how many times to follow up with a lead, etc.

Here are my 5 favorite tools of persuasion in relation to sales

1) Reciprocity: people feel compelled to return favors.

Take the initiative to treat others well -> get treated back exceptionally.

2) Cognitive Dissonance: people feel compelled to act in a way consistent with the image they want to project. Show their actions/inactions don’t project that desired image, but your solution is a way how.

3) Signaling: “We can’t help but assume the importance of a message is proportional to the cost of delivering it.”

-Rory Sutherland.

An email < a text < a tweet < a call < a handwritten letter < a personalized gift.

Make your customer feel like they matter by signaling that you put in effort to reach them.

4) Social Proof: Going back to the need to feel safe… People will go along with people that are similar to them.

5) Liking: All else equal people buy from who they like.

What is the biggest challenge you face in sales?

Time management is critical. Your job is entirely dependent on the interaction with other people — largely strangers. You have to balance your daily tasks to keep your sales pipeline full (prospecting, nurturing old leads, etc.) with calls that go longer than scheduled, people flaking your meeting, having to do miscellaneous work for your company, etc.

Some days you’ll feel like there’s not enough going on. Some days you’ll feel overwhelmed. You have to be comfortable with a level of uncertainty.

 
 

Jeremie Cabling on A Good Salesperson

Sale (/sāl/): the exchange of a commodity for money; the action of selling something (Part II)

If you thought you were ready for last week’s sales expertise, you are definitely not ready for this week’s write up on what makes a good salesperson. What makes Jeremie Cabling such an incredible salesperson to me is, not only his ability to sell, but his adept ability at explaining what good selling is and what it looks like. If you want to read more about sales, make sure to tune in next week for Part III of Jeremie’s series, where he explains one of the most critical hurdles that every good sales person must overcome, how to combat the struggles of selling.


What are some characteristics that make a good sales person?

When hiring another sales representative Jeremie is looking for:

Effective Speech: His test is to ask candidates to explain a concept they know well to a 5 year old. If they can explain something to a 5 year old, they can communicate clearly — critical in persuasion.

Good Listener: In a sales conversation you should be doing 80% of the listening and 20% of the talking. People love buying, but hate being sold to. They have to convince themselves that they led themselves to the decision to buy or not. You must know what to listen for. Your job is to ask questions that lead the customer to that decision.

High Integrity: Someone who sees deals as the way to help the customer and their team is someone who will do well in the role. Sales is competitive internally, but you’ll want someone who will help sharpen their coworkers.

What is a good sales opener?

The best sales opener is an introduction from a friend or authority figure. People buy from who they like and respect.

If you can’t get a warm intro, this formula is the most effective I’ve used to start a completely cold conversation over email (21% reply rate vs the ~1% industry average).

Accusation audit + A question that triggers cognitive dissonance + Personalized offer + Call to Value

In English:

Accusation Audit: Label someone with something that you are certain that they identify with. When you acknowledge someone’s emotions, it validates those feelings.

A question that triggers cognitive dissonance: Ask a question that implies that their action/inaction is the contrary to the identity that you just labeled them.

Personalized offer: An offer that shows you didn’t just email them out of the blue. Give them a reason why you reached out, even if it doesn’t make sense. People care about they why.

Call to value: Clear benefit to the customer of continuing the conversation

Here is an example:


Hi {first name} — You stood out as a thought leader in SaaS sales on LinkedIn.

Have you considered sending your best customers gifts? You and 11 other sales leaders in New York City have access to the pilot of my service for sending personalized gifts, automatically. Is it a bad time to try it for free on {company’s best customer]?


Cognitive dissonance is Jeremie’s second most powerful persuasive weapon in sales. This email is meant to make this person question a gap in their sales process, while keeping them in control of the conversation. They should feel safe, but curious. They can trust you to an extent because it seems like you emailed them with a purpose. It’s strictly emotional.

What advice do you have for someone interested in getting into sales?

To get into sales, don’t apply to sales jobs, Jeremie says. Look at companies that you like and start-ups that interest you.

  1. Even email or call your would-be manager, sharing some form of value.
  2. Write a unique cold email that you would use if you worked there and share it… Share a lead with them… Share a relevant article or book summary… Offer to do lead generation free…etc
  3. Put yourself in a position that attracts job offers. While selling my company’s software, I received 6 competing offers by my prospects’ companies because they liked the way I shared value with them. No resume. No interview. Just value shared.

You can’t sell something effectively if you don’t like it. Don’t waste your time, your could-be employers’, and their customers’.

 

Hugh Thompson on Becoming a Doctor during COVID-19

Hugh on answering the call to step into the field of medicine.

Entering into the field of medicine is a noble act, which only very few are cut out for. Hugh Thompson, however, is just one of those people that was born to practice medicine. Having grown up visiting and engaging with doctors, Hugh knew that he wanted to impact the world in the same way that medicine had impacted his life- for the better. Hugh’s story is not one without its challenges, but one that is inspiring because of its challenges. If you have ever considered becoming a medical professional, this article is definitely for you. If you are interested in the field of medicine and healthcare in America, this article is also for you. Hmm… if you have ever seen a doctor, this article is just for you.


Screen Shot 2020-10-27 at 3.16.32 PMHugh, tell us a little bit about yourself!

Hello everyone! First of all, I want to say that I am truly honored and humbled that you would ask me of all people to chat!

In terms of a little bit about me: I graduated from Wake Forest University in 2017. After graduating, I moved back home to central New Jersey for 3 years to build up my resume and save up a little bit of money before going to medical school. During those 3 years, I volunteered as an EMT in my hometown as well as worked as a scribe in the Saint Barnabas Emergency Department, ultimately becoming the ‘lead scribe’ for the final 2 years of my time there. I was offered an acceptance at New York Medical College in Westchester County, New York in the Spring of 2019 with a deferment – meaning that instead of starting in the fall, I would start in the fall of 2020. And here we are!

What made you decide to go to medical school?Screen Shot 2020-10-27 at 4.37.24 PM

I can’t say there was one of those “ah-hah” moments that made me decide to want to pursue a career in medicine. For as long as I can remember, having the opportunity to care for others has been something I have wanted to make my life about. I was born with a genetic condition that meant I was around medicine quite a bit as a child, and what child wants to be in hospitals or at doctors offices? One of the moments that has stuck with me that represented the power that medicine can have on an individual arose from one of those trips to the hospital. 

Preface: I am incredibly lucky to have parents who stopped at nothing in their pursuit of ensuring that I received care from world-class practitioners of all sorts, and for this I will forever be grateful. After a variety of hospital trips, tests and the like, my mother ultimately settled on following up with a physician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. We had only been there a couple of times and I was probably only in 5th or 6th grade when I was visited by another practitioner during my regular visit. I was- and still am- a huge baseball fan, and I must have had a copy of Sports Illustrated with me, because the practitioner noticed and told me that he couldn’t wait to see me playing third base for the Phillies when I got older.

Now, my condition has never been life threatening or even significantly debilitating, but it does ensure that playing sports at more than a recreational level is not really possible for me- and this is something that that practitioner would have known. Nonetheless, the fact that someone like that took the time to express interest in me and in doing so, communicate a genuine and profound kind of empathy was an incredible confidence boost as well as an eye opener for me. I am sure that the practitioner doesn’t realize the kind of impact such a small statement made, as there was no way for him to have known that the child he engaged in was at the time having self confidence issues. I am less sure whether that practitioner was consciously aware that his positivity and empathy made more of a difference in my care than any medicine could have. Either way, having had the time to reflect on my experiences as a patient including moments like these, I have come to realize that it is positivity, a smile, even just a shared interest with a patient that can change a persons day, week, or life. By definition, for a patient to be a patient, something likely has gone wrong and the patient has made the decision to entrust their vulnerability to said physician. This trust, this faith in the physician’s ability, this hope that is inextricably linked to the patient-provider relationship is a privilege, and personally I can think of no higher honor than having the opportunity to improve the lives of others through medicine. That is all just a long way of saying that being able to possibly impact someone in a similar manner as I was has been a dream of mine for quite a while. 

Has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted how you view medicine and the healthcare industry at all?

Screen Shot 2020-10-27 at 4.38.39 PMI was able to witness the work that emergency providers put in during the height of the pandemic in our area firsthand and it was truly inspiring. To watch providers of all ages, backgrounds, and beliefs band together to fight for our communities made me wish I was through medical school and able to fight with them. From my viewpoint, Saint Barnabas never reached the depths that many hospitals in New York City experienced, but we were pretty overrun and hard hit nonetheless. Single use masks were being rationed and reused several times over. The hospital was out of hospital beds, almost out of ventilators, and short on capable providers. A lot of the providers weren’t allowed to return to their homes while they were in the middle of the pandemic, at the risk of infecting their loved ones. And yet, everyone came to work day in and day out, ready to fight with and for every single patient that came through the doors. I can honestly say that being able to witness the compassion, resilience, and strength of the providers at Saint Barnabas Medical Center was one of the most inspiring ‘moments’ in all of my living memory. So while the pandemic has been saddening on many levels, it has reinforced my faith in and desire to be a part of the medical community.

Is there a lot of discussion in the classroom about the pandemic and, if so, what is the conversation about?

Honestly, there has not been quite as much discussion in our academic classes regarding the pandemic so far. However, I have no doubt that once I transition into our classes regarding disease processes, the SARS-CoV-2 virus will get plenty of airtime in our lectures. 

Laboratory_art_print_cimestry__laboratory__vintage_science__flower_print__wall_art__vintage_print_on-removebg-previewI will say that beyond the classroom, the pandemic has definitely been a significant talking point. The school itself seems to have made concerted efforts to address how the pandemic and all of its side effects (isolation, Zoom classes, etc.) has affected us as students. Specifically, my school has what is called the “Resiliency Curriculum Committee” which existed even before the pandemic as a means for training the medical students in healthy emotional and psychological choices. I obviously cannot speak to what the topics covered in prior years Resiliency Curriculum were, but the discussions during the small group sessions this year have had a distinct COVID-19 pandemic flavor, which I think is extremely important. The pandemic is the elephant in the room here: a year ago, it would have been absurd to think that students would be attending lectures given by professors sitting in their home offices. To that end, the fact that the school wants to address how this is affecting its students and try to guide students through such a stressful time is something I appreciate. 

What is one thing that you wish you knew before you committed to going to medical school?

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Hugh along with his co-workers

I can’t say there is a particular piece of advice that would have changed how I did things. The one thing I find myself wishing for was an advisor – none of my family are involved in medicine of any kind, so at times I did feel as if I was flying in the dark in terms of building my resume for medical school. I never knew what types of jobs to apply to, when to take what classes or tests, how to make myself a better applicant, etc. The pre-health advisory system at my undergraduate college was great – they were more than happy to provide specific answers to many of my bigger questions, but because they were dealing with literally hundreds of students, there was really no way to go to them with little questions or concerns. I ended up relying on the two or three of my friends that were also planning to go to medical school for guidance, and I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today without their patience and advice so I am lucky and grateful to have them around (shoutout Ryan and Mike!).

What excites you most about medicine in general?

Screen Shot 2020-10-27 at 4.40.18 PMHmm, thats a great question. At the risk of sounding like a nerd, I am super excited about a lot of the science behind medicine. It is truly amazing how ‘well designed’ and finely tuned the human body is. And then when things go wrong, the creativity that scientists and physicians have implemented in coming up with solutions and treatments is incredible. Being able to spend the rest of my life learning about all of this and implementing it to help patients is super exciting. 

That being said, the reason I wanted to go into medicine is for the people. I love people and their stories, and medicine provides a great way to simultaneously build relationships with a huge range of people, while also having the chance to positively impact the lives of those people. I don’t have any delusions of grandeur when it comes to being able to ‘fix’ everyone’s medical issues. I realize that often, physicians do not have the answers, can’t solve the problem, or have to be the bearer of bad news. But where I feel that physicians make an impact is in how they are able to handle these types of moments. I recently finished reading both Being Mortal by Atul Gawande and When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, and one of the sentiments that really stuck with me from those books was the importance of physicians in speaking candidly with their patients, no matter how uncomfortable it may be at the time. Being able to help guide patients through these tough moments is just one of the ways that I hope to be able to make an impact down the road, and it is these types of moments that I am excited to play a role in one day. Though admittedly, I could go on and on about everything I am excited about with regards to becoming a physician… 

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in going to medical school?

Don’t let anything stop you. If you know that you want to be a physician, you can become a physician. 

So many people get discouraged by the amount of work that the application process takes: the pre-requisite classes during undergraduate years, studying/taking the MCAT, school application essays or fees, or any of the other barriers. If you want it bad enough, none of that matters. Hard work and passion for the field of medicine are the single two most important factors in getting into medical school, because they will always help you overcome the barriers that are put in place. 

One last thing on this question: one of the best physicians I have had the pleasure of working with applied to medical school 3 times and had started podiatry school before he was ultimately accepted to medical school.