Archive for the ‘Work’ category

Friend or coworker

May 30, 2011

I recently came across this blog post on whether your coworkers are just your coworkers or also your friends. It was actually published on my new company’s blog back in 2008. I found the article extremely interesting. I liked how the author personalized the topic by describing her relationship with her coworkers. Here’s an excerpt:

Being 24 years old, living in a city, and having come from a company full of 45 year old financial consultants I thought to myself ‘self, you are going to work with a bunch of cool 20 somethings and drink beers with them, and hang out, and be friends.’ Right, totally. So after a few months, I found myself enjoying this office, these 20 somethings, and the general fun that goes along with hanging out with your co-workers. The problem then becomes, are these people friends? Or are they coworkers?

She goes on to wonder if you can hang out with coworkers in a bar or restaurant (saying all the things friends say to one another in bars and restaurants), and then have a totally professional relationship with them while at work. I’ve sometimes grappled with this question. I like how the author went on to ask her CEO his opinion, and I like even more his response:

“…in your 20’s the people you work with can be very much part of your social network, you spend a ton of time together, usually share similar interests, and are forced in to close quarters. After 29, all bets are off – your life changes, you get married, have kids, then you spend less time worrying about making friends at work and more about managing the friendships you already have [or wondering why you have no friends].”

I really identify with these thoughts. For much of my 20s I spent lots of my free time with coworkers. I mean, it’s really easy to just head over to a bar or restaurant after work with your colleagues, especially if you work downtown. You all have a TON to talk about, as you spend so much time together every day. You can gossip about a coworker who’s not there, discuss your thoughts on a new work policy, or exchange opinions on the company’s evolution.

Now that I’m approaching 30, however, I find myself spending less time with coworkers and more time with friends I already have. Maybe that’s because I’m more settled than I was before (I’m engaged, don’t have plans to move, etc.), and have built a more balanced, multifaceted life.

To me it makes more sense to cultivate a wide variety of friendships than to largely hang out with coworkers. As you get older, you realize that friends are more than just who you are currently spending time with. They are the people you’ll continue to spend time with (or keep in touch with).

Often coworkers are just people you happen to be with at the moment, not people you’ll maintain relationships with after leaving the company. So your time is better spent figuring out who your friends are, in all realms of life, and spending time with those people.

My first BzzAgent review: about.me

May 23, 2011

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently started working as a copywriter for a social marketing company called BzzAgent. Also known as a word-of-mouth marketing company, BzzAgent enlists hundreds of thousands of “agents” to discuss brands and products (L’Oreal, Michelin, and Unilever are just a few of its clients).

The agents receive free products, free services, and discounts. I signed up to be an agent (also called a “BzzAgent”) to see what’s it’s all about (you can do so as well). After filling out some surveys, I was invited to the “about.me” campaign. About.me lets you put multiple online profiles (including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Flickr profiles) in one place.

I created an about.me page at about.me/christinelaubenstein. You decide which profiles and/or links you want to include on your page. I added my Twitter, WordPress, LinkedIn, Vimeo, YouTube, and Tumblr accounts (granting about.me access to my posts, updates, videos, etc.), but I declined to allow access to my Facebook info (including profile information, status updates, and friends’ photos).

For me, my Facebook page is a relatively private space I don’t want strangers to see. I did, however, opt to add a link to my Facebook page (in case someone wants to friend me). You can link to other pages if you’d like, or add other profiles (Blogger, Posterous, Flickr, TypePad, Formspring, Last.fm, Daily Booth, and Instagram).

You can also personalize your background, font colors, fonts, and biography. Other features include statistics about your accounts and about.me page, ideas for promoting your about.me page, and a place to add your favorite about.me pages. I haven’t yet used all these features, but I’ll still provide my initial thoughts about about.me:

  • It’s a neat idea. Unless you have your own website/blog, I don’t know of any service that lets you list such a wide variety of profiles (LinkedIn, for example, just has fields for three websites, your Twitter account, and your IM screen names). Not to mention the other services don’t let you see content from all your accounts.
  • I like how you can personalize your page.
  • It’s good from an SEO standpoint. You can use about.me to submit your about.me page to Bing, Google, and Yahoo. I did this about two weeks ago, and at least for Google my about.me page already appears on the second page of search results when my name is queried. So creating an about.me page can help push down negative links (if you have them, of course).
  • I’m not sure sure how much time I’ll devote to my page. I have a personal blog and professional website that already allow me to add my Tumblr, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. info. So if I have these sites I’ve already invested in, why do I need about.me? I guess I could use about.me to have all my content in one place. But at this point, I don’t see a huge benefit. Clicking on a link to access my content (at its source) takes one second.

This has been a great year

May 22, 2011

My fiance in our new apartment

One of my college roommates recently told me that 2011 has really been my year. I would say that’s correct, but also that the whole last year has been my year. Since turning 29 in June, I’ve moved in to an awesome apartment, gotten engaged, and become involved with copywriting– a field I truly enjoy. I have written copy for WordStream (a search marketing company) and FlipKey (a vacation rental property website), and last week I started a copywriting position with BzzAgent (a social marketing company). So far I love the new gig! I feel so lucky to have experienced such a great year, and am motivated to spread my good fortune in any way that I can.

I’m a lucky girl

January 31, 2011

Most days I work from home, but once a week I go into the office. The office is in between Boston’s Downtown Crossing and South Station T-stops. As I was leaving work the other day, I realized how lucky I am to have such a nice walk to the T-stop. Here are a few of the sights I pass by:

Bruegger’s discussion #985739

December 31, 2010

Yesterday morning I was in Bruegger’s. I couldn’t help but listen to the conversation two girls were having. I call them girls, but they probably were in their early 30s. Their discussion went something like this:

Girl 1: “My company is really into tracking metrics.”

Girl 2: “Oh my gosh, so is mine! What metrics do you track?”

Girl 1: “Well our number one metric is usage. But usage can be soooo hard to track! I mean, just because a customer has one of our tools running on his computer doesn’t mean he’s actually using it!”

Girl 2: “Totally. I totally see what you mean. We haven’t really come across that problem yet, but I hear you.”

Girl 1: “And have I told you yet about my thoughts on developers? I mean, we have to work with them, but it’s soooo difficult. I mean, it’s such a struggle, finding that perfect balance between pushing them to give you information and giving them their space. You don’t want to annoy them too much.”

Girl 2: “Wow, I really agree with that assessment.”

Girl 1: “And it can be so hard to get customer feedback. I try, and nothing happens. Our response rates are so low.”

Girl 2: “Same here!”

Girl 1: “And whenever we release a new product, we only call it the beta version for two months. We used to call it the beta version for longer, but we’d get so many calls from confused customers. They wouldn’t understand what beta meant.”

Girl 2: “Oh, we haven’t run into that problem yet. But we just might one day!”

The conversation continued with the one girl bringing up supposed work issues, and the other girl interjecting supportive statements. I found this dynamic amusing. Plus, I thought it was funny these girls were so loudly and passionately discussing the intricacies of their work lives when everyone else was stuffing bagels into their mouths, reading the newspaper, or conversing quietly.

Quitting your job without a new job lined up

December 8, 2010

I know several people who have recently quit their job without another one lined up. Some have saved up a lot of money, so they can afford this life change. Others have had it so much with their job they’re willing to suffer financially and even physically until they find a new one. That might mean buying cheaper groceries, losing health insurance, or ultimately moving in with a family member.

I think it’s really a slap in the face when one of your employees quits without another gig. It’s like the person disliked working for you so much that he’d rather have no source of income than one of your paychecks. Sometimes, though, it’s totally worth it to leave a company without any immediate work plans. If your job is so stressful or time-consuming you don’t have the motivation or opportunity to look for another job at the end of the day, then you’ll be stuck with this job forever.

If your job is so mindless or frustrating you are depressed each day you have to show up, then continuing with this job is probably not the best thing to do. It’s probably better to quit, improve your mental state, and figure out what you want to do next. You’ll have the time and proper disposition to identify your objective, apply for jobs or grad school, and do what else it takes to achieve your goal. (more…)

Writing about yourself

October 24, 2010


I started this blog about a year ago, around when I was leaving my job as a newspaper reporter. I think I realized I still wanted to write and exercise my web publishing skills. Well this blog hasn’t exactly been a huge success (I don’t update it every day, I’m not focused on one particular topic, and I only get about 30 page views per day), but I’m still going to keep it up. One thing it’s done is encourage me to talk about myself.

When you’re a traditional news reporter, you’re not supposed to inject any opinion or personal anecdotes into your work. Your job is to communicate what’s happening and that’s it. Well, I did this for five years (first as an intern reporter, then in journalism grad school, and then as a staff reporter).

This was a great experience; however, I feel like I lost some of my spunk. Someone would ask me how I was feeling, or what was new in my life, and I would give some generic answer. I’d say, for example, “Oh, work is good. I like my new apartment, and I’m excited for my upcoming trip to Philadelphia.” I wouldn’t really go beyond that; I think it was largely because of my job.

Not only was I unable to inject my thoughts into my work, but I also felt like my life wasn’t worth talking about. I mean, when you’re writing about newsworthy topics like murders and municipal lawsuits and local geniuses, your life seems pretty boring. You’re not much different than your common man, so why mention or analyze your mundane experiences?

Well, I haven’t become an advocate of talking about myself all the time. Obviously that isn’t what people want to hear. But since I stopped working as a reporter I’ve become more attune to my thoughts and expressing them when the appropriate opportunity presents itself. This blog has helped with that, and I think all this is a good thing.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com/photos/subcess/3723699858/sizes/m/in/photostream

Disability

June 10, 2010

Person in wheelchairI often think back on my time working with people with disabilities. For more than two years I was a “community supporter” for three adults sharing a home. Two of the adults had cerebral palsy, and one had Down’s syndrome.

On weekends I would spend 20 hours straight with these people. A few times I spent 48 hours straight with them. I’d get there, help them make dinner, and eat dinner with them. I’d do household chores with them, help them with their personal hygiene, and take them for outings.

I’d do my best to help them achieve their “goals.” Each one had specific goals written down on paper, like folding the laundry, cutting vegetables for meals, or meeting new people. At the end of the day I had to write down the ways that they achieved their goals. I think that helped the agency sponsoring these adults get government funding.

I still remember one of my first afternoons working at the home. I had come into work feeling pretty down. I think I was upset about a long distance relationship I was in. But as I was sitting on the porch with one of the women with cerebral palsy, I realized I didn’t have it so bad.

Here I was, with no health problems, upset about my life. And there she was, bound to a wheelchair with no hand use, exuding positivity. I remember she kept laughing as she babbled about her favorite doctor, and all the nice things the doctor had told her that morning. After spending an hour or so with this woman I realized that I was no longer sad. In fact, I was feeling very lucky and content.

That is one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned, and I try my best not to forget it.

I also learned to accept uncomfortable situations I can’t control. I would bring the woman I just mentioned to church every Saturday evening because that was something she wanted to do. Because it was an evening service with relatively few attendees, it was held in a small room in the church’s basement. (more…)

Jobs, jobs, jobs

June 4, 2010
receptionist

A receptionist

I’ve recently been thinking about all of the different jobs (paid) I’ve had in my life. There’s been quite a few. Here’s the list I could muster:

1. Babysitter (starting from age 12)

2. Library clerk (checked in and out books, shelved books, etc.)

3. Cutco (knives) saleswoman

4. Camp counselor

5. Medical insurance company filer

6. Mexican restaurant server

7. Bed and breakfast waitress

8. Bed and breakfast bedroom cleaner

9. French tutor

10. Reading tutor (for inner city children in Baltimore)

11. English teaching assistant (in France)

12. English tutor (for French people in my neighborhood in France)

13. Desk assistant (let people into a dorm, answered questions visitors had)

14. Homework helper

15. Community supporter (took care of people with disabilities for several years)

16. Staff news reporter (for three different newspapers)

17. Turkish restaurant waitress

18. Freelance news reporter (for five-plus different newspapers)

19. Freelance marketing copywriter

20. Law firm receptionist

21. Dog sitter

22. Website tweeker

23. House sitter

24. French translator

25. Election poll worker

I know there are more. I just can’t think of them at the moment.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com/photos/pepemichelle/3645213016/in/photostream

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Some pics from the North End of Boston

April 2, 2010

I was lucky to have spent some time in the North End this winter for one of my internships.

My walk from the Haymarket T-stop to Commercial Street was lovely. I headed down Hanover Street, one of the most colorful streets in the North End. Here are some pictures I recently took of the area:

Boston on a rainy day

Marshall Street

Boston on a sunny day

Marshall Street's stone road

Another view of Boston

Hanover Street

Birds on Hanover Street

Commercial Street sign

People reading near Cross Street

Intersection of Hanover and Cross streets

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