Networking Can Happen Everywhere

Author: Michelle Ioannou, Career Advice

Networking is a pretty common term in the world of career advice and the job hunt. It can even be a word that intimidates people. How can I network? How do I grow my network? What is networking and how do I do it?

Well, millennials, networking can happen with anyone, anywhere. There’s no set rules or locations where it has to happen. Think about it — you meet people everywhere, don’t you? Well, meeting people is exactly how you grow your network.

Yes, that’s it. Meet someone new. Strike up a conversation. Ask them what they do, and 90% of the time they’ll ask you what you do as well. You never know what connections this new person may have or what influence this person him or herself may have. A simple hello can go a long way, whether it’s online or offline.

Of course, networking does happen in professional settings. But, it doesn’t always have to.

Social Media
Interact with people on social media! We’ve already discussed how Twitter can get you freelance gigs, and well, how do you think that happens? Because of networking. Interact with people on social media — start conversations, ask them what they do, share relevant articles. Show off your knowledge on a particular subject and have people take notice. There are so many different people from so many different backgrounds in so many different industries on social — and they can all be reached on one platform. How amazing is that? Use it to your advantage.

Morning routines 
Do you stop at the same coffee shop every morning? Same bagel shop? Take the same train or bus every day? You’re bound to see familiar faces. Don’t just shrug them off and be bitter that you have to go to work — smile and say hello. They’re probably off to work as well, and probably not the happiest about it, either. Ask them where they’re headed or what they do. Who knows, maybe they’re off to a place where you want to be.

Dating apps
Think about it, when someone strikes up a conversation with you on a dating app or website, isn’t one of the first things asked “so, what do you do?” Tell them what you do. If it’s not in your bio, put it in your bio. Who knows, even if there’s nothing there romantically, maybe something professionally can unfold. I know you’re probably laughing right now at the thought, but you truly never know.

If you’re stuck on an airplane, train, or bus next to someone you don’t know, strike up a conversation. No, of course don’t wake them up or disturb them if they immediately sit down and put their headphones in or go to sleep. But, if they don’t, talk to them. Ask them why they’re going to wherever you’re going to. Ask them what they do. Traveling, especially long distances, can be a great opportunity to add someone new to your network.

Time Management Tips and Tricks

Adulting, Author: Michelle Ioannou

But how am I supposed to work full-time, work on my side hustle, spend time with family, date, and have a social life?

It seems impossible, I know. But that’s why as we get older, time management is more and more important.

I hate to break it to ya, but we’re not as young as we used to be. Our bodies and minds can no longer function as well as they once did at 3 a.m. when we were up writing that 10-page paper. Things usually need to be done now when it’s still light out.

But, there are only so many hours in a day. I know that, too. And that’s why time management is critical.

Make lists
Write everything down. Write down what you want to get accomplished for the day or the week. I promise you that you’ll get a sense of satisfaction upon completing a task and crossing it out. Having everything that you need to do written in one place will allow you to visualize everything, see what you still need to do, and take pride in all that you have already gotten done.

You get countless calendar invites at work for meetings and conference calls, don’t you? Why not mimic that in other aspects of your life? Buy an agenda, and write everything down in it. Or utilize the calendar in your phone. You’ll see what you need to do, and what time you’re free to do it.

Do things when you have spare time
Some of you probably laughed at reading “spare time” but even just five minutes of downtime can result in emails getting answered or a blog post being drafted. Take advantage of unexpected free time. If you have the time to get work done, why not? Of course, this is not to imply that you should stop having “me” time — we all know the importance of self-care. This is for when you finish a task early, something gets cancelled, etc; take advantage. It’s all about having and finding your balance.

Have a buddy
Sometimes, we’re just better at staying on track with things when we have a friend checking in on us. Ask a friend to be your buddy. Tell them your plans and goals for the week, and have them check in as frequently as you want — whether that be midday everyday to see what progress you’ve made so far, or at the end of every other day.

Utilize your phone reminders
“Shoot, I forgot I needed to get that done.” We’ve all said it. And unfortunately, sometimes writing it down isn’t enough. But now, our phones are here to help. Set reminders or alarms in your phone to go off at the time you were planning on doing something. Yes, you can still “snooze” the alarm, but at least you’ll be reminded of what you need to get done.

When You Need to Get Out of Your Own Head

Adulting, Author: Michelle Ioannou

Bad things happen. And unfortunately, sometimes they consume us more than we want them to.

It’s so easy to get lost in our own heads. To go into this downward spiral where whatever happened becomes all we can think about. Whether it’s just being broken up with, getting into an argument with a friend, not getting the work promotion you wanted… bad things will happen in our lives, and will continue to happen as we grow older.

Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to shrug it off like we used to be able to do. Things affect us differently as we grow older. The big things consume us. And sometimes, it feels like there’s no escape from them. Just when you start to think that you got it out of your head, whatever it is just comes right back.

It’s hard, it is. It’s hard to get things out of your head that are truly bothering you. But, it’s not healthy to focus on the bad and the hurt. It’s much easier said than done, I know, but let’s be proactive about getting these thoughts out of your head.

Submerge yourself in work 
Distraction is key, right? Of course, we all need time to wallow and get what’s bothering us out, but we cannot let it be our sole focus all day, every day. Using work as a distraction allows you to submerge yourself into something that will require your brain’s full attention. Plus, assuming you work outside of your home, being around other people won’t give you as many opportunities to have time to sit and go over everything that has happened.

Talk to someone
Of course, talking to the person who contributed to whatever’s going on in your head is a great help. But, it’s not always possible, and not always healthy. Reach out to a friend. Tell them what’s going on in your head. Having someone listen to you and your thoughts helps get things out, and shows you that you’re not going crazy, and you’re not alone. If you don’t feel comfortable reaching out to a friend, or feel like you need to speak with someone with more of a professional background, go do that. Schedule an appointment with a therapist. Talking to someone about the situation, and what’s going on inside your head, is important.

Get outside
Be active — whether this is in the form of going outside for a run, taking a walk throughout your neighborhood, or planning dinners and happy hours with your friends. Staying home alone will allow your mind to just keep going back to said issue. However, if you’re out and about doing things and keeping busy, your mind will be too focused on whatever situation you’re in the midst of to think about anything else.

Write about it
Get it out of your head and onto a piece of paper. Don’t just leave your thoughts to rattle along in your head — they need an outlet to escape. And then, for ultimate cleansing, feel free to crumple the piece of paper and throw it away, or maybe toss it into a nice fire pit.

Read a book
A book is always a great way to forget about reality, especially when your mind is racing with thoughts you genuinely can’t focus on. Get lost in a book of your choice. Leave your own story for a bit and join this character’s story instead. Your brain will be too into what’s going to happen next in the book, there won’t be time for it to think about all of the “what ifs” and “how did I end up here” of your story.

Focus on the good
I can guarantee that even if it feels like there’s nothing good in your life right now, you can most definitely find something to make you smile for a few seconds. Even if it’s as small as having ice cream that day, that’s something to be grateful for, and something to switch your attention to. It’s so easy to get lost in whatever it is that’s hurting you; make a conscious effort to try and divert your mind.

My Religion Saved Me

Author: Michelle Ioannou, Real Life Stories

I am a millennial, I’m religious, and I’m not ashamed of this. Why? Because in a way, my religion saved me.

My father passed away from Multiple Sclerosis when I was just three months into my freshman year of college. I was away from home, surrounded by people I had just met, and grieving. Sounds like the perfect mix for someone to cope by getting into drugs or alcohol, right?

But I didn’t. Because of my religion.

Now you may be laughing to yourself, I know. “Oh, she’s super religious and a goody goody of course she didn’t go down a dark path.” I wish I could say that that’s true, but unfortunately I’d be lying.

I was angry that God took my father away from me. I was hurt. Why me? Why did this happen to me? I already had a difficult childhood, why couldn’t college be my time? All of that, and more, were running to my head.

But, there were some things I just couldn’t deny. And that’s where God comes in.

The weekend before my father passed away, I came home from college to spend time with him. Little did I know it was the last weekend I’d ever see him. And the last day I ever saw him, was on my nameday.

For those of you who aren’t Orthodox Christians like I am, we have namedays where our patron saint is celebrated. These are quite the big, and holy, celebrations in our religion.

Do I think it’s a coincidence that the last day I saw my father was on my nameday? No. I don’t. I think that my patron saint, Archangel Michael, was there with me; guiding me, and giving me strength. He didn’t want me to be alone, and God chose this day to show me I had an angel looking after me.

Now, I know many of you are probably thinking I’m out of my mind. That it was just a coincidence. Just wait…

My father passed away on November 13th, which is when my church celebrates another saint, St. John Chrysostom.

What’s the big deal? That’s my brother’s patron saint.

So, to recap for you, the last day I ever saw my father was on my nameday. And the day my father passed away was on my brother’s nameday.

Still think it’s a coincidence? No, it’s not. It’s the work of God.

God wanted to show a glimmer of hope in the midst of all this pain. He wanted to show my brother and I that we could handle this, and get through it; that He had bigger plans for my father and He needed him. By choosing my nameday and my brother’s nameday to be two significant days, God was showing us that He’s taking care of the two of us, and my father as well.

And knowing all this, saved me. My belief in all of this, saved me.

It’s the reason I didn’t turn down that easily accessible path. It’s the reason I made it through tough times, and I still make it through the tough times. It’s the reason I’m not ashamed of my religion, and I’m not ashamed to talk about it.

My religion saved me, and it continues to save me.

What I Wish I Knew When I Graduated College

Adulting, Author: Michelle Ioannou

There I was, a glimmer-eyed college graduate excited about the world before her…

JK who am I kidding, I was petrified. I loved college, and I didn’t want to leave.

I guess it hasn’t been that bad since I left. I am beyond grateful for my job, I continue to utilize my vacation days, and I even have a couple of side hustles.

But, that doesn’t change the fact that I had no clue what was next when I got my diploma in my hand. And if you’re a recent college grad who also doesn’t know what’s next, well, that’s normal. Here are some things I wish I knew then though, and hopefully it helps you too.

You don’t need to have your life planned at 22 
I was such a different person at 22 years old than I am now in my later 20s. You think differently, you act differently and you have such a different perspective on life. Plus, as much as we want to have control over this thing called life, we don’t. We’re here for the ride, folks, and to see where life takes us.

Take advantage of (appropriate) opportunities in your path
Don’t think that anything is below you. You never know what the experience will teach you, or who you may meet while doing it. Everything can be a resume or cover letter enhancer, if you word it right. You’re still young, there’s plenty of time to change careers or move on to something else if this opportunity doesn’t work out.

Utilize your social media 
And no, I don’t mean this in terms of using it to keep in touch with your college friends. Use it to network. Engage in conversations with people in your field. Look for great opportunities you can act on. Show off your knowledge on a specific subject. And, of course, college graduation is a perfect time to untag yourself and delete all of those pictures from a frat party.

It’s okay to take time off
You may feel pressured to, but you don’t have to go right into working 9-5. Take the summer off. Travel. Go to the beach. Lounge around the house. You just worked your butt off to get a degree — you deserve it.

You will get rejected
And it’ll suck. The job hunt in general sucks. You’ll ask yourself why all your friends are getting jobs, but you’re not. This is all normal. We all get rejected. It just means that the job wasn’t meant to be, cliche but true. Remember, a career doesn’t define you.

You will miss college, and that’s okay
But at the same time, you’ll see which friendships are meant to last; who you’ll still see after being out of college for four years. But, instead of being wasted together at 3a.m.,  you’re now drunk at 6p.m. at Happy Hour… and that’s okay.