Survival: Post-Wedding, Post-Graduation

I’m used to racing along with multiple professional and personal projects in the works, juggling many super-fun balls in the air, while working hard to breathe once in a  while. The lull between graduation/wedding month and full time employment has been an interesting experiment.

Tool profiles:

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LinkedIn:

LinkedIn has been a great connecting tool this month, and I’ve had great success contacting alumni with interesting, relevant sounding work in the Twin Cities area. This has also led to becoming more involved in the Minneapolis creative community. Sending introductory emails linking to my profile has lent some credibility.

With a 100% response rate, I must be doing something right. My InMails always include:

  • An up-front ask. “I’d love to talk with you about your experiences in this company, as well as …”
  • How I found them. “I also graduated from this college and found your profile through the alumni page.”
  • My relevant background. “I recently graduated with my MBA and have relocated to the Twin Cities, and am interested in these fields which is what your experience is in, etc.”
  • My objective. “I am currently looking to build a network of mentors while searching for the next great professional opportunity.”

Lynda.com

Although school is out, there’s no reason to stop learning! (Especially while you still get free access to services!) I’m happiest when I’m learning, so taking a few classes on Lynda.com has been useful. The best courses are in programs or topics that I know virtually nothing about, so the slow pace works well.

Some tips for getting the most out of Lynda:

  • Close all other tabs when working on a Lynda course
  • Take copious notes. (I use Evernote)
  • Stop and start the video to try things out as they talk about them
  • Make an effort to use the exercise files

Part Time Work

Following graduation, my venture partner and I got an opportunity to work with a pre-launch start-up in San Francisco doing user experience strategy. It has been invaluable to continue working on an interesting, challenging project with a great team while stretching my user experience design skills. Regular meetings and tight deadlines, even at 13-17 hours a week, are enough to keep me feeling involved.

Making a part-time, remote, contract gig work:

  • Transparently track your hours
  • Check in with the client and team members regularly
  • Share files and progress when appropriate
  • Ask for what you want

Baking

How often do you have time to make pizza with homemade ricotta, homemade pizza dough, homemade buffalo tofu, and fresh sauce? In normal life, probably never. Taking advantage of the time I have to try baking experiments and make delicious food has been a joy. Each project ends with something to show/eat for it, even if not everything turns out perfectly.

Indispensable Interweb Tools: The Study Edition

More learning happens online than ever before, and the trend will continue. I use online tools a ton, as my program accommodates a commuter schedule and involves a ton of online meeting, research, posting, and content generation. These are the tools I’ve found the most helpful this year:

Evernote: This tool has been wonderful. All of your notes for all of your classes and books and anything else…in the same place. You can insert videos, images and audios into your notes, and the search function searches text inside images as well as in your actual notes. You can also access your documents online or offline at any time– on your iPad, phone, or computer. It’s free.

Pandora: Electronic for Studying Mix. Everything you wanted from your study playlist but didn’t have time to curate. Free with commercials.

Zoom: The group video service that doesn’t crash, and connects people quickly. You can invite people via Google Chat or email. Allows for screen sharing, and is far more reliable than anything else I’ve tried. And I’ve tried a lot of services. Unfortunately, the free version only allows for 45 minute meetings before you have to re-connect. The paid version isn’t too expensive though.

Google Docs: When working with groups, Google Docs is a fairly intuitive and easy way to work on documents at the same time. We can take notes, keep track of action items, brainstorm, and generate content during meetings with each team member seeing the same thing. It’s brilliant. I can’t imagine writing a team paper or sharing research without it. Free.

LinkedIn: This tool has been surprisingly useful for connecting with visiting speakers, professors, and classmates. People post useful news articles and groups may offer insight into various industries and trends. Free.

Twitter: Another surprise find– when researching trends or trying to find general consumer data points (to get started in the right direction, not to be taken as a representative sample) Many of my projects involve industries that I haven’t worked in, and it’s been extremely helpful to create lists of key industry players and follow their tweets. Also free.

YouTube: Cute Baby Animal Videos. There’s nothing that’s quite as relaxing, brainless, and uplifting as watching videos of cute baby animals.

Honorable Mentions: Asana and Mural.ly

What are your favorites?