Confession: I Can’t Do It All


I know. You’re shocked.

SHOCKED.

This realization makes me feel crummy, and weak like a cop-out but the fact is, I’m not that 18 year old that can take 17 credits/semester, work two jobs, commute and manage to get on the Dean’s List. My brain isn’t wired like that anymore. I really thought I could do it.

Two classes. Piece of cake.

Sure, if I leave my business behind.

Right now, at this point in my life, I’m bursting at the seams with ideas for my business, and once I’m done with client work for the day, I have to dive into school work, which leaves me no time at all for writing. Because my brain is tired and I can’t focus like I used to be able to.

It makes me feel weak because there are people out there who are raising kids, going to school AND working. There are college students starting businesses that are thriving. I thought I could do it too but it drives me nuts when I sign into my class discussion and have to regurgitate shit.

I’m over that.

I’m in my 8th year of undergrad. God, it pains me to even write that.

This isn’t to say that I don’t want to learn. I have so much passion for ALL THE THINGS and I love reading non-fiction and nerding out in my free time. Put it in the form of a required discussion and all passion flies out the window.

I’ve never really been the person to stick around and have mind-numbing conversations in class. When I was a senior in high school, I spent most of my time volunteering in administrative offices while my teachers still marked me down as ‘Present’ in class because senioritis had taken over my classmates and I had no patience for stupidity.

I’m not being challenged. At all. I took a grad level class in my second year at GW and was bored because it wasn’t challenging enough. I’m not saying I’m smart. I’m not, at all. I fake it.

I just don’t have patience for small talk. I don’t have patience for beating around the bush.

So, where’s all this going?

Right now, I’m going to finish out the next four weeks in my classes, faking it as best as I can.

Then I’m going to take a break and pour my everything into my business. Because that’s where I am in my life.

I have a list of things I want to do but they require concentration and devotion.

I can’t do it all. Maybe, one day down the line, I’ll be able to go back to being a full-time student, giving it my all.

Because that’s how I do things. I give it my all and lately, I don’t have enough of me to give to two full-time passions.

For now, school will have to take a backseat. By school, I mean the classroom and the grades.

Because I’ll never stop educating myself. 

Kudos to the superstars out there who can do it all.

Oh hey, don’t forget about the giveaway

Put Your Best (Online) Face Forward

Announcement: Ad spots are still available for April. Don’t forget that you’ll also be giving to charity at the same time! Full details here.

When a company looks into the ‘online you’, is what they will find appropriate?

Whether you’re currently on the job hunt, or you may be in the future, your presence across social media platforms & blogs will come under scrutiny.

Are you putting your best face forward or is your online presence hurting your chances of being hired?

You have a stellar resume, letters of recommendation & your interview outfit is sharp. One look at your Facebook profile and all of that can become irrelevant.

You will be representing your company and they want to make sure you represent them well. Here are a few tips for putting your best ‘online’ face forward:

Be consistent. You are your own brand. Make sure that your image is consistent across social networks. Your LinkedIn is inherently professional but if your Facebook is a complete 180 from that image, employers will take that into consideration.

Be aware of your online footprint. Everything you put online will remain there and it will be found. Always keep in mind that even pictures you delete from your Facebook can still be found. Think twice about putting up that picture of you at the frat party. Would you want your future boss to see it?

Keep the profanity to a minimum. (Or don’t curse at all if you can). There is nothing impressive about cursing and just like you wouldn’t just drop the ‘F-bomb’ in front of your boss at work, you shouldn’t be dropping it all over your social network. Especially your Twitter feed. Your 140-characters shouldn’t be ridden with profanity. You certainly don’t want to accidentally drop the ‘F-bomb’ on your company’s Twitter feed.

Be aware of how your friends contribute to your presence. If your friends are consistently writing about how awesome it was ‘getting trashed’ on your wall, you might want to tweak your wall settings on your Facebook. When cleaning up your profile, be sure to also clean up what your friends put on there, including tagged pictures. Don’t be hesitant to untag and ask your friends to take down pictures of you from their profile as well.

Mashable has some great tips on how to clean up your Facebook.

Don’t trash-talk your previous employees. In addition to being completely unnecessary, this is very unprofessional. You shouldn’t be doing this off-line or online because it actually shines a bad light on you. The person you may be talking to could refrain from even giving you a referral because of the way you talk about your previous employees. You also never know when you might run into a previous coworker again. The rule here is simple: Don’t.

Google yourself. In order to put your best face forward, you have to be completely aware of how others see you.

What will your boss or potential employer find out about you when they hit ‘Search’? So, are you putting your best ‘online’ face forward? What other tips do you have for those active across social media?

No More Failing – Or Expectations

It’s easy to skate through life when you really want to and when the competitive edge is taken away for you in high school, why should you take the harder routes?

The Washington Post reports that West Potomac High School is taking ‘F’ off its grade books and replacing it with an ‘I’ for incomplete.  According to the article, ‘[t]he change in educational philosophy is intended to encourage students to continue working toward mastery of material rather than accepting a failing grade and moving on.’

Of course, instead of improving the quality of education and getting the kids ready for the real world, let’s continue to coddle them even more by giving them extensions on their grades.

This is a bad idea.

The purpose of high school is to prepare you for the challenges of the real world. If a kid expects that he will always get an extension and he just can’t fail, that’s an unrealistic expectation for the rest of his life.  The competitiveness of high school is so the kids who worked for it are able to continue their education in college.

This new system, in my opinion, is something that will continue to separate those who have always worked hard for their grades and giving those who don’t put in the effort even more opportunity to skate by and graduate.

In college, you do have the opportunity to get an Incomplete with a year long extension to complete the work. This is only in extraordinary circumstances that you have to prove to your professor.  More often than not, unless the circumstances are obviously beyond your control, the professor will say “Sorry, try again.”

Because that’s how the real world works.

You don’t get constant opportunities to finish your work.  When you are given a task, you are expected to complete it on time. If you don’t?

You’re out. NEXT.

Life is a competition. There will always be people out there who are just as qualified as you, if not more, doing the same thing that you do. If you expect to skate through life, you will be sorely disappointed.

West Potomac High School, you want the kids to learn the material? Teach it to them in the proper manner.  Make sure that your teachers are qualified to properly tutor students when they have questions instead of throwing them into the readings without explanation.

Don’t give your students a way to cheat the system, and essentially, cheat themselves.

What do you guys think about this?  Is this a good idea?

I would love to hear from parents’ take on this particular issue.

[Jobs] The Ritual

It’s a ritual.

First, check e-mail for any replies from the previous inquiries. Check voicemail, just in case your phone is malfunctioning and you actually have 5 instead of 0. Curse yourself for getting your hopes up.  Get back on the computer and click on the first bookmarked site.

Scroll down until you see a link you’ve already clicked on and move forward from there.  Click on every listing. Read through. Twice. Check out the company to get as many details as you can.

Move your mouse over to the document that is always open on your computer to customize it for every listing. Details are important. Re-read the cover letter 3 times before saving it.  Switch over to your browser & click on your e-mail. Do a search in your sent messages to make sure you haven’t applied to this one before. (Sometimes, they re-list).

“Compose message”

Compose, attach, sign, send.

Rinse, lather, repeat 3 times a day.

Then go socialize at a networking event with the hopes of meeting someone who can at least give you a lead, or simply emphatize.

Job hunting is a full-time job. I did it for a full year while I was at a job that I hated.  It’s painfully frustrating, and in this economy, sometimes impossible to cope with on a daily basis when the e-mails you send seem to disappear without reaching the recipient.

A couple of weeks ago, while stressing about money, I thought I would get back to my ritual.  Maybe I was wrong about this whole freelancing/school/interning deal. I wasn’t built for not working full-time. It’s all I know how to do so I went back to my ritual.

There were tons of jobs out there. I clicked on a link for an executive assistant position and went to work on my cover letter. A sinking feeling took over me and I had a small anxiety attack.  The idea of going back to a life where I had a 9-5 that I hated simply because it paid wasn’t something I could accept.

Then I got mad at myself for being selfish. Who was I to scoff at a 9-5 when there are people out there performing the same ritual?

And then I remembered I do have a full-time job: To take the chance I’ve been given and make the most of it.

I started on this path knowing it would be difficult.

I haven’t forgotten what it’s like to not get out of bed in the morning to go to a job I loathed.

I just have a new ritual.

DC Job Sources:

Craig’s List

Media Bistro

Journalism Jobs

DC Public Affairs & Communications Jobs

Washington Post


PQ the Intern

I don’t know what it’s like to not have a full-time job with benefits, expenses and everything in between.

When I was in high school, it was all about studying and taking up extra-curriculars so I could get a scholarship or else I couldn’t go to college.

Once I graduated high school, it was all about getting the experience and paying bills because I just didn’t know how to stop. I wanted to keep going forward but I never thought about doing an internship.

It seemed like a waste of time. I needed to get my degree, get the experience and keep moving.

As I got older, the term ‘intern’ became a distant thing for me, especially once I started working full-time. I needed the benefits and the job security. I had to make car payments, insurance payments, tuition payments and of course, credit card bills.

Once I moved out on my own, that was it. There was no way I was going back so unless I won the lottery, there was absolutely no way I could do an internship.

Then I started editing resumes, and started talking to people who are younger than me who are doing internships. A weird envy came over me. It sounded like an amazing experience, a lot of fun and a great learning opportunity. I was over the classroom and became all about hands-on learning.

When I was let go of my job, I still couldn’t think about internships. I needed to get another full-time job and pay the bills. Yet I would come across internship listings and something in me would stir.

Finally, I changed my game plan.  After talking with the Boy (Since we pay rent together), and weighing my options, I decided I would do an internship and get a part-time job, gain more freelance clients and make this work.

So I came across a listing that sounded too good to be true. “This is too good to be true,” I told him.

“Go for it. You have nothing to lose.”

So I did. I wrote up a kick-ass cover letter and sent it on, not expecting to hear anything. Within a couple hours, I got a phone call.

During that phone call, I was told that I was at the top of her list, and out of 300 applicants, I really stood out. Tuesday, I went into meet with her to find out that she had a family emergency so I met with her assistant. Yesterday, I got an email saying she wanted me to come in to meet the other intern and get basic training.

Tomorrow?

I might be going over to her house so I can ride in the limo with her to CNN so we can chat before the taping.

That is just the tip of the iceberg.

Unpaid internship with amazing experience? Yes please.

So I am now an intern.

No, I won’t be wearing suits and wearing security badges like the Hill interns but that’s not what I was looking for anyway. I know what I want to be doing and I know that this will be the best 3 months of my life.

I also know that I couldn’t have done it without the support of my amazing boyfriend and my amazing friends.

So let the adventure begin!

What was your best internship experience?

Your worst?

If you could be an intern right now, where would you want to work and why?

*****

Have you checked out Project Postcard? Who doesn’t love postcards? I know you do so go here now!

www.pqprojectpostcard.com

Grabbing Life By The Balls

I’m afraid of making ‘To-Do’ lists because I get overwhelmed just looking at them…but if I don’t, then important things slip through the cracks. (Like making a new layout for my Numbah 2, which I will make tonight, I promise. Loveyoumeanit.)

We’ve already established that I am an overachiever but I thrive under pressure. (Or so I pretend)

Sometimes I need help getting away from my own head and getting back to basics, like a heart-to-heart with my roommate/C-Pants, to remember the people who love me unconditionally and how being in my own head can hurt me, as well as them.

Sometimes, I need a little push to get my ass to the gym, even though I’m scared, and I feel like I’m so out of shape it’s going to be awful and I’ll be disappointed. Then a 40 minute cardio session followed by the crazy ab machine after stretches bring me back to reality and remind me how much working out helps me, instead of hurting me.

Sometimes, I need to grab life by the balls and keep trying, even if I fail the first…second…or fourth times. And the pay-off? I get my first freelance writing gig as the DC 20Something Relationships Examiner. Oh yeah, that’s me. Go over there and sub to my RSS feed, won’t you?

Sometimes, after feeling like a failure and feeling like things won’t ever get back to normal, I need to make a decision, even if it scares me, and go back to school full-time. That decision should also involve going after my new dream, however challenging it may be. Sometimes, I need to push myself to become the best I can be by taking Journalism classes and even if the syllabus for that class alone (forget about the other 4 classes I’m taking this semester) makes me cry, I need to buckle down and get shit done.

Sometimes, I need to open up my heart, even if it’s been broken time and time again…so that I can find my soul mate. Sometimes, I need to let myself be loved, even if I’m damaged goods. Sometimes, I need to stand my ground, even if others judge my relationship. Sometimes, I need to let love be.

Sometimes…just sometimes…I need to stand behind my convictions and grab life by the balls.

Welcome to my insanity.

Full-time job.
Full-time school.
Full-time relationship.
Full-time writing (with a part-time freelance gig)
Part-time TV obsession.
Full-time fitness.
Full-time life.

*My social life might suffer for a few months but I guess that’s the price I pay for my dreams.
*I finally bought my domain name: www.dcprincessq.com. This means nothing to you, except for the fact that I am a dork.
*I love you guys, to the moon, and I just need you to bear with me as I adjust to my new insanity…don’t feel neglected if you don’t hear from me or there are no fly-by comments on your blogs. I’m still reading.
*I do have a FormSpring.me and during my insanity, I’ll need a distraction so ask me questions there, will ya?
*I am still taking requests for blog moving (Blogger to WP, free WP to self-hosted WP) and blog redesigns, so just email me & stuff.

Also, if you are in the area, be here Wed. night. Do it. (Thanks to Rachel Smiles for the info)

Did you miss it? If you did, don’t forget to sub to my new Examiner column, about relationships and such…and feel free to give me suggestions on topics. Since I’m gonna need them, for sure.

Also, if anyone gets a chance, can we please have a global agreement to add 5 more hours to the day? Yes? A girl’s gotta sleep sometime.

Correcting A Wrong Turn

“Why aren’t you getting a journalism degree?”

It’s amazing how often I’ve been asked this question in the last 2 years. Why aren’t I? Because when I applied to college, I didn’t believe in myself as a writer. I was headed in the direction of becoming a lawyer so International Relations seemed to be the way to go. Besides, being a journalism major takes dedication. Who was I to think I could do a program as vigorous as that?

Then I remembered how hard I worked to get into college and how much harder I worked to get on the Dean’s list when I was working two jobs…Before I screwed up my life and lost my scholarship of course.

But becoming a journalism major? Maybe for grad school.

Maybe not.

I am a couple of semesters away from finishing up my B.A. The way GW scheduling works, there is no way I can do that in a reasonable amount of time while working full time. I sure as hell don’t plan on quitting my job to write full time just yet. (I’ve been tempted, believe me).

Writing is my passion and as I’ve seen in the last couple of years, I’m pretty decent at it.It would be foolish of me to completely throw away all of my hard work for an IR/PoliSci degree so the next step is to apply to another university that has a good program for both PoliSci and Journalism and double major.

It’s probably a little crazy because hey, GW IS SUCH A GREAT SCHOOL! But you know what?

At this point in my life, when I am 6 months away from turning 25 years old…I need a B.A. simply to move onto the next step in my life, which is a Master’s Degree, which will probably be in Journalism. I’m holding myself back from a better career for what? A diploma with a school’s name on it that is supposed to open doors for me?

Please. I open my own doors. Hell…I kick them down.

I need to get my B.A. so I can move forward. I’ve been running in place for the past 3 years and that…stops now.

I probably won’t be some amazing journalist but I do have a plan to write full time and have my own company in the next 5 years.

I plan on sticking to that plan.

Does it scare the hell out of me to get out of my comfort zone and possibly completely FAIL at something that everyone thinks I should be doing? Sure. But guess what? I stepped out of a lot of comfort zones over the last year and when you get past the fear…

It is always worth the experience.

Have you corrected a wrong turn in your life? What about stepping out of your comfort zone to take a chance? How’d that work out for you? Could you offer any advice on good journalism programs in the DC Metro area?

*********

Remember that you can vote for me EVERYDAY…Help me get in the top 20 for a shot dream job! If you want to support me by putting the button on your page, you can get the code when you vote for me. Remember to use the hashtag #berrakthevote on Twitter whenever you mention this!

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Good Mood Gig from SAM-e

I Never Give Up!

This is what I would yell every time we played board games.

“NOPE! I NEVER GIVE UP!”

It’s not surprising that I’m an Aries…stubborn, and passionate…never giving up! Sometimes…this is a problem.

Other times…it’s the only way to keep my life going. I made two decisions today about my life…about my career and my degree.

Things have been frustrating…REALLY frustrating in the last few years…Not having finished undergrad, the job pool is even smaller for me because most companies require some sort of degree. I haven’t wanted to give up…OK…that’s a lie…there were a couple of times I wanted to say “Forget it” and drop out of school completely…but that’s not me.

I never give up!

So I made a decision today…It’s not about GW anymore…it’s not about the school…It’s about the degree and I don’t want my classes to go to waste…So here’s my decision: I’m going to look into programs at other universities and transfer to the program that makes the most sense.

I never give up but damn it if I’m going to waste my time and money, letting opportunities pass me by.

My career? It’s no secret that I’ve been looking for a job because I’ve been frustrated at work. I was unhappy but I was also going through a rough time in my life. I lost my focus and my job is what suffered. It’s true that I honestly want a different career…and I have a 5 year plan. That doesn’t mean I give up on this job right now just because it got hard. It’s a good job at a good company so for the past month, I’ve been hauling ass and focusing on work.

I never give up.

Right now, *this* is my job…and I don’t do half-assed jobs. I’m going to focus on work, take initiatives and in the meantime, build up my freelance business. I want to be a writer and a full time freelancer but guess what? That’s a 5 year plan. Right now, *this* is my job…so I’m not giving up on it.

Unless of course…a bad-ass social media job comes along.

As hard as it is…I’m not running away…and I sure as hell am not giving up.

Getting stuck in a rut isn’t an excuse to give up. It’s a push to find a reason to make the situation work, own it and make yourself stand out for YOU.

Take pride in my work & never give up. That’s the only way I know how to live…even if I lose my way once in a while.

“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.” — Marie Curie


What is something you didn’t give up on…even if it took you a long time to achieve it? What is something you WISH you didn’t give up on? Is there a goal you didn’t go after that you regret now? Could you achieve it today?

Woes of Financial Aid

Every year, it’s the same. Fill out forms, follow up with Financial Aid, curse them out under my breath, re-fill out the forms and hope that the financial aid will go through…

Since I lost my scholarship, I’ve been going to school based on how much I can afford to pay, what classes are being offered and whether or not I can work the classes around my work schedule…so my dealings with GW Financial Aid have become scarce but even more of a pain…but I’ve been patient. I know to follow through, make sure I had in all of my paperwork and get on their asses till it gets processed.

This year, something was different. I turned in my paperwork on time for the Spring semester and waited a week for it to be processed as ‘received’…Imagine my surprise when I called to follow up and I was directed to a call center.

“Your files are in the DC office.”
“But I dialed the DC number.”
“We are not in DC”

So I went down to the office to find out that they lost all of my paperwork. ALL OF IT. Have you filled out any financial aid paperwork? Do you know what a pain it is? Lesson: Always make copies. ALWAYS. Stash them everywhere. Preferably in a fireproof box.

So I re-submit my paperwork and repeat. This time, I find out that they have switched to a new imaging system where they scan in all the paperwork…and they are missing only SOME of my paperwork. Basically, I submit everything completely and they screw up and do selective scanning.

At this point, it’s around May…the semester is almost over and GW Banner is still telling me that my requirements are ‘incomplete’.

“Call us back in a week…We’re still scanning in paperwork from April.”

“Call us back in a week. We just started on May.”

So I called on Monday because GW Banner was still screaming “INCOMPLETE”.

“Well, we don’t have your paperwork. Is this for 2009-2010?”
“No..this is for Spring 2009…And I submitted my paperwork back in January and they’ve been lost 2 times by your office.”
“I’m sorry but I don’t see…Let me transfer you to an account manager.”
(Wtf is this, Macy’s Customer Service?)
*cheesy hold music that I’ve come to loathe*
“This is Linda, Can I help you?”
“Yes, I was just transferred to you. Were you given information about my issue?”
“No, just your GW Student ID. Let me take a look. We seem to be missing paperwork.”
*NO, REALLY?*
“Yes, because my paperwork was lost by your office and I had to resubmit so my loan hasn’t been processed.”
“Well, it’s actually past the deadline for you to qualify for a loan for the Spring semester…”
*blink blink breathe*
“That may be but I submitted everything on time. I can’t get penalized because your office screwed up.”
“I’m just not seeing…Wait, let me check something out.”
*tap tap tap*
“Oh. Well. There they are.”
“Were they in a wrong semester?”
“Yes…all your paperwork was scanned in for 2009-2010.”
“Even though the forms say 2008-2009 on them.”
“Yes. Well. Wow. That is definitely our mistake.”
*blink blink breathe*
“So, what do I need to do now to get the paperwork processed properly.”
“Well, as far as a loan goes, I can’t do anything for you…”
*BREAAAAAAATHE because she seems like a nice lady and I don’t want to scream at her*
“…I think I’m just going to have to give you a grant.”
“And how much would the grant cover?” *Now, I’m thinking 2…maybe 3 grand*
“Well…you owe us $7415.98…The grant would cover $7400…and you’d just have to pay the $15.98.”
“I’m sorry…how much?”
“$7400. Since this was definitely our screw up, there is no way we can penalize you.”
“Wow, thank you so much. ”
“Of course…I’m sorry that you had to deal with so much pain. I’m sure it’s been frustrating.”
“To say the least…I really appreciate all your help Linda…When can I expect the grant to go through?”
“By the end of the week.”
“Thank you AGAIN.”

I checked my account and there it was…within in the hour…Beautiful number of $7400…

A special thanks to Linda for being so helpful, incredibly patient and understanding. If it wasn’t for her, I might’ve had to burn down their pretty new offices…(No, not really but in my head)

See…what GW Financial Aid needs to realize is that instead of screwing up and paying their employees to spend hours on the phone with complaining students, they should get their act together.

Now, if they want to keep screwing up and continue to give me a free ride until I graduate…I won’t complain.

They already own the soul of my first-born. They’ll be using my blood as ink on my diploma…

But I will get that diploma if it’s the last thing I do.


Alright…bring it…We’ve all had our share of Financial Aid and form frustrations…Share your stories!