Things I Learned From My Worst Date Ever

Author: Maria Pappas, The Dating Game

Three years later, I still remember the worst date that I ever went on. I know, what a way to start a blog post about dating, right?

At this point, I don’t remember all of the nitty gritty details. But I do remember the generally awkward conversation, and being upset after it was over.

(I also remember that I ate a really great burger… still think about it sometimes).

But instead of letting myself wallow, I tried to learn some lessons from it so that I could look back with laughter instead of regret. I think it worked, so now I’ll share what I learned in the hopes that you can avoid making the same mistakes.

It’s harder than you think when one’s in college and one’s not
My date and I were in totally different places in life: I was in undergrad and he was in his first year of working postgrad. My schedule was varied, but it usually consisted of waking up at 10 for my 10:30 class, with lots of socializing time during the day. His consisted of waking up at 6 to get on a train from a different state to get to work in the city by 9. So no, I didn’t fully understand when he told me that he had a long day.

Sometimes, being in different places in life isn’t a big deal. But this time, it drew a divide between us. I should have thought about that before I sat down across a table from someone that I had almost nothing in common with.

If you’re not a drinker, don’t go to a bar. If you have to wake up at 5a.m. the next day, don’t go to a movie that starts at 11p.m. It sounds simple, but sometimes we will ignore ourselves or our intuition in the hopes of making a love connection.

Don’t settle for vagueness. Make solid plans
Our plan consisted of “I’ll meet you in *this area* when I get off of work.” AKA, I walked around semi aimlessly waiting for him, and then we walked around semi aimlessly together, looking for a place that wasn’t too crowded. And, if you’ve never done it, just know that roaming around an area you don’t know well with someone you don’t know well is usually awkward. If it’s not, maybe consider putting a ring on it?

If we’d had a plan, it would have started the date off on a better note. Not a frustrated “fine, let’s eat here.”

Now, I’m a generally old-fashioned girl who would appreciate if a guy planned the date, but if someone’s not committing, either: a) make the plans yourself or b) drop it. Anyone above the age of, I don’t know, 16, should be able to choose a time and a place to meet.

Don’t take things too personally
THIS IS THE BIGGIE. Like I said earlier, totally different places in life. So, yes, I thought that the work that I was doing as an RA was ~*groundbreaking*~ and I got upset when he poked fun at that. I was taking myself way too seriously.

Don’t set high expectations
For me, taking things too personally was a result of expectations I had made. But when you’re going on a first date, especially when you barely know each other, your expectations shouldn’t be too high. Obviously, have expectations, and don’t stand for being walked all over, but maybe don’t expect someone who will take care of your cat when you’re out of town. Or whatever people in relationships do.

But as my friends reminded me after the date, the whole thing just… wasn’t that serious.

They were there to remind me that there are worse things in life than a bad date. So I’m sharing that reminder with all of you.

How Showcasing Your Volunteer Experience on LinkedIn Helps Your Job Search

Author: Brett Pucino, Career Advice

Let me ask you a question: do you use the Volunteer Experience box on LinkedIn? If you have volunteer experience, then I hope the answer is yes. I’m not saying it will be a difference-maker in getting you a job — you still need a solid core profile as well. What I am saying is that a good recruiter can tell a lot from that experience.

Showcasing your Volunteer Experience shows you’re altruistic
Volunteer work differs from work-work in one glaringly obvious way: volunteers aren’t paid. In today’s time-obsessed world, you’re a good person if you donate your time to a worthy cause. How does being a good person matter to your job search?

It shows you’re a good culture fit. Today’s business world is seeing a shift toward socially-conscious capitalism. Consumers, especially millennial consumers, demand brands to be environmentally and socially responsible. In order for brands to achieve the goal of such a reputation, they need good people from the bottom up. Not to mention your volunteer experience makes your more attractive to B-Corps and nonprofits.

Showcasing your Volunteer Experience can show off soft skills
This point piggy-backs on the previous — it’s pretty much impossible by looking at a person’s resume to tell if that person cares about anything other than themselves. You can’t tell if the candidate has interpersonal skills like compassion and a desire to help others. You can’t tell if the person is good at working with others.

Your volunteer experience shows off these interpersonal skills with concrete evidence. It can also show off other hard skills depending on your position. For example, being President of your fraternity or sorority chapter in college shows that you have leadership skills.

Your volunteer experience also shows you believe in something bigger than yourself. This is important when it comes to culture fit. A recruiter who sees this experience in a candidate is more likely to deduce that the candidate will be an employee who will fall in line with the company’s overall mission.


Showcasing your Volunteer Experience attracts networking opportunities
In my mission statement I outline my five drives, and one of them is embodied by this quote: “Your Network is Your Net Worth.”

I believe people should always pursue opportunities to grow their respective networks, which, in my opinion, is one of the greatest benefits of volunteering. It is emotionally rewarding in that you grow your network through the people you help, and it is professionally rewarding in the contacts you make with those you volunteer with.

Listing your volunteer experience on your LinkedIn profile provides an instant common ground with anyone who browses your profile and believes in the same cause. Even better, it can lead to meaningful connections with people who have also volunteered with the same organization. All of these could potentially lead to a job opportunity someday…you never know.

Final Thoughts
Like I said in the intro, I’m not hyping up volunteer experience to be the secret sauce of a successful job search (if you’re looking for that, then I have a book for you). All I’m saying is that if you have this experience, you absolutely should be highlighting it on your LinkedIn profile. Just because you weren’t paid, doesn’t mean the experience has no value.

The New Grad’s Guide to LinkedIn, Part 2: Using the Secondary Sections to Showcase Your Career Brand

Author: Brett Pucino, Career Advice

Take a second to think about this scenario. Someone asks you, “What makes up a LinkedIn profile?” What are the first things that come to mind?

You probably thought about the top box, summary, experience, education and skills sections. I covered how to build these sections of your LinkedIn profile in Part 1, which you can check out here if you haven’t already.

We’re now going to cover how to use those secondary LinkedIn sections that most tend to forget. Not all of these may apply to you. Your goal is to pick which ones work best for YOU, and then use this advice accordingly to make those sections stand out.

Volunteer Experience
Of all the secondary sections, this one is applicable to the greatest amount of people. There’s a good chance you had to volunteer at least once during your high school or college career.

If you were involved in Greek life or an honors society during college, then there’s a good chance you did lots of volunteer work. Treat each volunteer role you’ve held the same as you would a job in your experience section. You may not have been paid, but you did accomplish some things and acquire some skills.

In Part 1, I had you use a mind map to figure out your duties, accomplishments and skills acquired for each job you’ve held. Now I want you to do the same thing for each volunteer role.

LinkedIn Publisher
As a writer, LinkedIn Publisher is highly valuable, so I am a little biased when I say this section is huge when it comes to differentiating yourself from your competition in the job market.

One reason is that it shows off your written communication skills. This LiveCareer article states that the average corporate employee spends two hours per day performing tasks which involve writing. Think about how important email communication has become for businesses. If you can showcase well-written blog posts on Publisher, then hiring managers will assume you can put together a professional email.

Using LinkedIn Publisher is also a great way to showcase thought leadership. Typically, industry experts come to mind when one thinks of thought leadership. I believe that an industry expert is one type of thought leader. Another type of thought leader is the aspiring industry expert. Someone like you: a recent graduate with an insatiable curiosity towards his or her industry.

The courses section is a relatively new addition by LinkedIn. You can add each course you’ve completed toward your degree and add the school’s course number for verification. You can also add a description for each course to highlight the skills you’ve acquired. This section can be useful for those who are light on work experience. Check your course catalog to find course numbers and a description that will highlight the skills taught in the course.

In this section you can highlight industry certifications that you earn throughout your career. While this aspect of the certification section may not be useful to recent graduates, you can make use of this section through taking courses on Coursera.

For those that don’t know, Coursera is an online learning platform through which you can take courses from real universities at a fraction of the cost. The best part of Coursera is that you earn a certificate for courses and specializations that you complete and you can showcase these certifications on Linkedin with the click of a button.

Do you have a skill you need to learn in order to make yourself more marketable to employers? If so, I highly suggest browsing Coursera’s catalog.

This final section is for the writers out there. The publications section allows you to list your digital publications with a link and description.

On my Linkedin profile, I link to all of my posts for and, the blogs of Chelsea Krost and Justine Santaniello respectively. These two young women are power players in the millennial space, which is why I regularly contribute to their blogs. My clout instantly goes up when those viewing my LinkedIn profile recognize their names. If you enjoy writing, then you can utilize guest blogging to build up the publications section of your Linkedin profile.

Are you ready to level up your Linkedin presence? If you answered yes, then Tweet me @BPucino and let’s get the conversation started!