Graduate School

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Master’s in Public Administration graduation. George Mason. May 2015.

Whether you’re towards the end of your undergraduate degree or a few years into your first job, the possibility of graduate school may have come up in your future plans. When I was in college, I knew I wanted to go to law school or graduate school. I studied for both the LSAT and GRE and researched grad programs that would match what my career goals were.

Many people will tell you that getting your master’s degree right after undergrad is not the right time. There is no such thing as the “right time.” You should decide when you are financially prepared and ready to dive back into school work.

A friend, DG, told me “I didn’t feel burned out at the end of undergrad, and I knew it was something I wanted to do. Why put it off? I’m not tied down by a mortgage, kids, etc. 20s is when you have the most time to be able to invest in yourself.” Here is some advice for applying, surviving, and job searching during grad school:

Getting Into Grad School

What type of degree do you want? In undergrad, I studied Government & International Politics and Conflict Analysis & Resolution but I wanted a master’s degree in a different subject. I researched what types of graduate degrees people had in the field of work I wanted to be in. Check out LinkedIn, look at company profiles, and network with people in your desired job field to see what type of advanced degrees they have. I talked to a lot of my undergrad professors about what master’s and PhD programs they went into.

When choosing a degree, know your options. I asked a friend, OF, what he wish he knew before grad school and he said, “I went to grad school without any plans or ideas of what I wanted to do after so I ended up getting a general MBA instead of a concentration.” OF mentioned that he wish they did more research on concentrations.

-What college(s) do you want to apply to? When considering a grad school you need to look at: -Types of degrees offered -Financial aid/grants/scholarships -Part time v full time programs -Online class offerings -Structure of the class scheduling -Internships -Availability of paid teaching assistant/research assistant jobs -Ability to keep your full time job while attending grad school I chose my college because of the availability of internships in the Washington DC area while paying in state tuition in Virginia. Only a few colleges in Virginia had my master’s degree program so that helped narrow down my search. My master’s program had 100 students in my cohort, so class sizes were small and the professors knew everyone’s name.

Some programs allow you to have a full time job while others do not, a fellow MPA classmate, Michael, mentioned “I wish I knew to apply to full time jobs and that doing both a full time job and grad school is totally doable.” Having a job when you go to school in a more costly area helps so ask your program director if this is possible.

Surviving

What is the workload? In undergrad I took 15-18 (full time) credit hours a semester and in grad school I took nine (full time). I thought nine credits would be half the work but I was in for a reality check. Grad school was 3-4x the work even though I only went to class three times a week. My first week of grad school I had to read over 200 pages before class started and had a paper due the first day of one of my classes. I had to learn how to readjust my study habits, stick to a stricter schedule, and prioritize my time. In undergrad I usually crammed for tests, wrote papers the morning before they were due, and pulled off a lot of As. This was not the case in grad school…an A was much, much harder to get because the professors expect a lot more out of you.

My friend MC gave some advice and she said, “The importance of time management is to make sure you take enough time for yourself so you don’t burn out so early on, especially if you’re also working full time.” Don’t forget to balance life, work, and school. In the long run this will help you develop critical life skills when you start your career.

Job Search

-What type of job do you want after going to grad school? Grad school programs offer plenty of job fairs throughout the academic year. If you are in a two year program, start searching for jobs during your first semester. If time allows, get an internship or part time job in the field of work you are interested in. USAJOBS is a wonderful website for finding internships, called Pathways, for college students and offer you a job once you graduate.

Talk to your career advisers at your school and network…network…network! The majority of my classmates in grad school were working full time jobs in nonprofits, county government, and federal agencies. Make connections because you never know when a job opening might arise at the perfect time!

If you have any questions regarding grad school, drop me a line 🙂

-KC

New Friends in Adulthood

Making new friends when I was growing up was routine for me. I lived in neighborhoods composed of military families that were constantly moving in and out. The person that was your best friend for a couple of years would move and you eventually found another best friend. During the days of dial up Internet, there was no forms of communication like social media or Skype. We also didn’t have phones with free calls or texting and had to share a land line phone with everyone living in your house. It was nearly impossible to maintain these friendships.
Over the years I’ve rekindled and made many new friendships thanks to social media. My best friends from home, Gabrielle, and I went through our yearbooks and found our former classmates through Facebook. It was exiting to see where everyone moved to, went to college, and what their adult lives were like. Social media made everything so convenient.
I’ve stayed in touch with friends from elementary school, former teachers, distant family members in other countries, and even made friends through my makeup Instagram blog. Little did I know staying in touch would be one of my biggest strengths when I left home.
One of my biggest fears after college was maintaining friendships and meeting new people. It was easy as a kid because it was a way of life. As I made my way through high school and college I finally had a close knit group of friends in one place. Once I made my first big move, I had to put in more effort into communication and finding time to balance my responsibilities.

After graduating and getting my first job, I was worried about making new friends. Are people in their 20s and 30s still open to meeting new people? Was it possible to be close to someone you’ve only known in your adult life? Thankfully all of this is true.

I’ve made some of the most meaningful friendships as a result of being more open to others and putting a lot of effort into staying in touch.

Let’s start with my friend Krista. We lived in the same building in college our freshman year in 2009 but our friendship bloomed in the summer of 2016 when she wrote about her boyfriend’s deployment in her blog. That same summer, my Mom left for her year long deployment as well. We started talking about our similar situations, wrote letters and cards back and forth, and next thing you know she becomes one of my closest friends! She’s my go-to person for any and all types of life advice. When I need a nonjudgmental and supportive ear, she’s always there for me. People say “I understand what you’re going through”  but she really understands. From my awkward dates to my quirky diets I follow for health reasons, I have a friend who can give me a clear perspective and opinion on things. Krista will send me voice notes and texts even when she’s super busy just to cheer me up. She’s very empowering and shows strength through optimism (you will feel really inspired when you read her blog )I am forever thankful to know such a caring, thoughtful, and constantly positive friend.
Next is my friend Christina. We met through a mutual friend from my college and instantly clicked. Our friend kept saying “You two have to meet each other” for months on end. After spending my summer in Georgia, I moved back to Richmond for a few short period of time. In that couple of months I spent in Richmond, we instantly became friends. It felt like I reconnected with a friend from my past because we opened up about personal stuff so quickly which usually does not happen to me. She’s one of the people I talk to everyday. She’s open minded, reassuring, and reminds me that I am loved by my friends and family. We always joke that despite being an ESTJ and INFP, dating the complete opposite types of guys, and coming from different upbringings that opposites really make perfect friends. She’s one of the few people I would drive hours to see, meet for lunch, change my mind and actually stay, panic and go look for an outfit, and go out that night with. I do nothing on a whim and she helped me get past that. I am thankful to have someone who doesn’t judge me even when I’m in denial of my life choices and to help me out of my comfort zone.
Lastly, my friends I met at Fort Lee. I met some of the most hard working and dedicated group of people. We all came from so many different walks of life yet I made some of the closest friendships. I know if I go out of my way for one of them, they would do the same for me. They’ve seen me at my highest and lowest points of my life and I am thankful they are still there for me.
Through these friendships I learned that the number of years you know someone doesn’t strengthen your bond, it’s those valuable contributions to your friendship that makes it strong. Don’t feel bad for being closer to someone you met in your 20s compared to someone you met as a child. We change as we grow up and new friendships will not replace the old ones.
-KC

Pulling Myself Back Together

I am back on my blog after a three-month break. Earlier this year I had a lot of family and friends reach out to me because of the unhappy tone of my social media posts about my personal life. I was allowing people and situations take control of my happiness. I lost sight of my goals, dreams, and more lost interest in the things that made me happy like working out, travelling, and blogging.

One night I was browsing through photos on my phone and came across a photo of a quote that read “This too shall pass.”

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At that moment, it hit me. I will not be feeling down forever. Later that night I wrote down three things I wanted to work on:

Stop letting people make me feel anxious over things I cannot control
I was allowing other people’s opinions about me shape how I saw myself. I kept asking:
“Am I good enough?”
“Am I worth it?”
“Am I pretty enough?”
“Am I a good person?”

I counteracted those thoughts with writing down:
“You are here for a reason.”
“You are worth it.”
“You are beautiful.”
“You are a good friend.”

Sometimes I felt like there were no valid reasons to feel anxiety. Never feel like your emotions are invalid and remember to give yourself time to reflect and refocus. You have the right to feel upset and angry but always remember that those feelings are temporary and happiness is always around the corner.

-Stop giving attention to toxic people
I was emotionally draining myself by giving my time to toxic people who were not appreciative of my time or my companionship. I was spreading myself thin to please people who did nothing to contribute to my well-being. My biggest weakness was hanging onto friendships that no longer made me happy. I allowed people make me feel bad about myself and spent time with people that left me feeling unloved. Now I focus on my positive relationships and remember who really cares about me.

-Focus on what makes me happy and write down what I’m thankful for
I had a lot of thoughts about moving back home and going back into my comfort zone of my friends, family, and familiar places until a friend called me and said, “You have an amazing job! I would not leave that place if I were you.” My friends asked if they could visit NYC with me and see where I lived. I began thinking of everything I did not have just two years ago: a stable job, an apartment of my own, my dream car, and the time to travel, coach rowing, and do volunteer work. I became thankful for my journey from a full time grad student with part time jobs to where I am now.

I could not have made all these changes without the constant support of my family, friends, and more importantly my rediscovery of my faith. Through praying, meditating, and learning how to control what makes me emotional I am slowly moving in the right direction. Just remember that when you are feeling like nothing is going right, just remind yourself “this too shall pass.” Everyday I wear a bracelet from MantraBand that says that as a daily reminder that everything is temporary.

-KC

I tried it…I paid for Tinder Plus and Bumble Boost.

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Bumble

I have a love/hate relationship for “dating” apps. I used to think they were a joke when they first came out when I was in college. Who needed to meet someone online when you were living on campus with 6,000 students in the Washington D.C. area? I met people easily being on a sports team, having friends in Greek life, and being super involved in college. Then I left that all behind including my college relationship and I was living in a brand new city two hours away.

My friends enabled me to download Tinder/OK Cupid/Coffee Meets Bagel/etc. They even swiped for me because I was so jaded about the whole idea of using those apps in the first place.

Fast forward to a year later.

Me: “I just bought Tinder Plus.”

Friend: “You’re joking right. You actually paid for Tinder”

You are probably thinking the exact same thing. Why would you pay for extra features on an app? The answer is simple…I was curious about the hype. One of my mottoes in life is “Don’t knock it until you try it.” I tried both Tinder Plus and Bumble Boost. Both have some fun features that come with the paid version.

Tinder Plus

Passport: This is the top reason why I decided to get Tinder Plus. You can set your location to anywhere in the world. I travel a lot for work for weeks at a time. Once I find out where I’m heading to next, I change my location and do a little recon. I first used this feature when I found out I was spending my summer in Augusta, Georgia. I didn’t know anyone there so it was a fun way to find some people to hang out with before I arrived.

Rewind: Ever see that cute guy or gal and you accidentally swiped left after swiping left for the last twenty people? You can rewind and go back to that person’s profile for a double take and swipe right.

Boost: You can make your profile go to the top of the queue. Your profile will get increased exposure and you’ll get a notification saying your profile is being seen by up to 10x the amount of people since your profile is showing up first. A boost lasts 30 minutes. You get one free boost a month.

Other features include hiding ads, extra “super likes”, unlimited swipes, hiding your age, and hiding your distance. I usually hide my distance when I change my location in Passport so I don’t confuse people.

Bumble Boost

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-The BeeLine: Between Tinder and Bumble’s paid features, this is my FAVORITE feature between both. I rarely swipe on Bumble anymore because the BeeLine shows you a list of people that already swiped right on you! Instant confidence boost right? The first time I used it, I had over 50 people who already swiped right on me and all I had to do was instantly match whoever I thought was interesting. Once you swipe that person back, it becomes an instant match.

Rematch: We’re all busy. Sometimes 24 hours in a day will go by in a blink of an eye. On Bumble, a match will expire in 24 hours if you don’t drop a line. Sometimes I’ll match with someone at night, and next thing you know it’s already 7:30PM the day. Now you can rematch all those expired matches.

Extend Time: Free users can only extend time for a match once a day. When you have Bumble Boost, you have unlimited times to extend a match. Feeling nervous about crafting the perfect opening line? Extend your match before it expires. I’ve never used this feature but some people have used it on me. It will send you a notification saying that the other person didn’t want to let you go! Again, confidence points am I right?

Have you tried Tinder Plus or Bumble Boost? Let me know what your experiences are!

 

Guest Post: The Hard Truths from a Reformed Roommate.

Chances are, if you attended a four-year institution and/or are a young professional establishing yourself in the real world, you have probably had a roommate. Either by happenstance, financial need, or mandatory placement, you were sharing a living space with a person less known than any third degree-separated friend; some even lucky enough to share a space with close friends. This was the ultimate test of friendship, and can either make or break relationships.

We can begin our review starting at the other night. I was sitting in bed, wide awake with the yammering, sorority girl laughs and chatter by my third roommate—my actual roommate’s girlfriend. With respect to details, this is his first time living on his own. I have been more than charitable in trying to help him live independently- how to properly clean, deal with the corporate lifestyle he got thrust into, write a check; even showing him how to cook – further, offering him some of my cooking to take with him to work or have for dinner (his cuisine is only microwavable meals and cereal—he’s 23).

I have even gone so far as to give him a slight discount on rent. Why? Because when I was transient and without a place to go, trying to figure things out, then later establishing myself, people helped me- and I was blessed to have a good group of friends that did so. (First piece of advice, folks- pay it forward).

Living with this man-child has been a true test of one’s forbearance:

  • Dish piles are left in the sink- not the dishwasher.
  • Spoiled food and unorganized clutter take up the fridge space.
  • No cleaning is done- not even offering to help me clean nor to contribute to buying cleaning supplies or necessities (paper products, toilet paper, Lysol, dish detergent etc).
  • I have become privy to his sexual escapades. Apparently this was the first time and to her “it was just natural” …I use quotes because they talk about this- on speaker phone, for all to hear, in GREAT detail- until all hours of the morning.
  • On weekends, I sometimes wake up to the entire kitchen trashed- including the use of my Waterford crystal glasses, given as a most generous gift- as if a ghostly fraternity had pledge weekend here.
  • Trash piles up and, despite valet trash service, he will text and ask when I am taking it out. Apparently, placing the bin outside for valet service to pick up at is a difficult- indeed, arduous- task. And the recycling? Despite having a recycling bin on the patio, it is left next to said trash bin- on the kitchen floor.

At the very least, he is paying his bills on time- which is all you can ask at minimum, I guess; the only tradeoff was coming home after working all day to playing Mom.

Now we have the third “roommate” who is just annoying as a he is- and is on the cusp of starting to use our laundry and basic utilities regularly. To clarify, if this is an emergency situation- I would have zero problem. Heck, when my Dad visits for a weekend during trips (an event given with a week’s notice), he does some laundry if need be.

So as I lay in bed, my ire drawing ever higher as it is now 2:30 am and I have to be up at 5 to get to the gym, have a solid breakfast and timely commute before rolling in to work at ten to 9, I reach over, grab my phone, and begin a text.

“I HAVE TO BE UP AT 5. KEEP IT THE HELL DOWN! “ is one thought that comes to mind, but that’s rude.

“Hey- can you please keep it down,” would suffice, but no emphasis on the blatant disregard for courtesy.

“I have to be up at 5 and am trying to sleep. If she could be please quiet down I would appreciate it.” Ah, there it is. Tact truly is a lost art.

Right before I hit send, I stop. I delete the whole thing.

You’re probably thinking “he just did all this bitching and finally gets to send the text message and doesn’t?! What a wimp!”

Her Fran Drescher laughs were drowned out as I lay gob smacked by the loud epiphany that opened the floodgates of memories and guilt – I was once that roommate.

Almost 4 years ago, I was living with two of my close friends, and one person that I had known from campus. I slacked off in my cleaning duties and left dishes piled up after cooking. Falling victim to the dangerous hookup culture, I would have wayward strangers over for relations that resulted in inconveniencing my roommates/friends at whatever hours of the night or morning. Our other roommate fumigated the lower level of the townhouse with marijuana, he even tried to sublet his room out, in blatant disregard of the lease. We had another roommate that would bring unnecessary drama and rude guests- of which I was guilty of also, at times- and would leave greasy, grimy food and materials out all over the counter.

At one point, I discovered that it is was quietly celebrated that I would be out of town; to be totally honest, I was not upset nor did I blame anyone other than me. In fact, I would have celebrated it too- because I do now when the manchild is away every other weekend.

It was no way to live, no way to treat friends, no way to act.

I have learned to forgive myself and atone by amending my life and ways. By the grace of God, I reconnected with one of the old roommates and closest of friends. With wounds healed and a bond resealed, we simply look back on this period- it could even be considered an era- and laugh.

Friends, until you’re really making bank and advancing yourself, you must accept the truth that the cost of independence sometimes comes with caveats at its inception. I can guarantee you, at some point, this newfound sense of freedom intersects with having a roommate. Recognize that two (or more) people occupy one living space. Be courteous, be kind, and be honest. Keep the drama outside; chances are, that person has something going on in their life and does not need your garbage flowing into their lot. Don’t feel bad sitting down and writing out a list of chores and dividing duties. Stay conscientious about utility usage and noise. Don’t feel bad about laying down the law with the lease either.

When in doubt, the Golden Rule is the sterling standard of human interaction action: treat others the way you want to be treated. We all fall short of this- what matters is how we rectify past actions, commit to ourselves to be better than we were, and exercise mercy abundantly- but also stand your ground (politely) if it becomes overbearing.

Communication, as DJ Khaled would advise, is a “major key” to enjoying your youthful independence and living peacefully with others.

-AMP

You’re Not a Choice.

That person that won’t text you back after you double/triple text and are left on “Read”

That person you keep sending Snapchats to but will only open and not reply…yet view your “stories”…

That person you keep asking to go on an actual date with but keeps bailing?

The person that keeps making date plans with you but never text you the day of.

That emotionally unavailable person yet claims they’re looking for relationship when you come across their Tinder/Bumble

That emotionally unavailable person that says they aren’t ready for a relationship but weeks later shows that they’re “in a relationship” on Facebook

That emotionally unavailable person that keeps you holding onto a piece of string hoping that your situation will turn into a relationship.

That person you keep trying to make plans with but they’re always “busy” but can post 100 second Snapchat stories with their friends and other possible love interests…

That person who is cheating on their girlfriend or boyfriend yet strings you along as a side piece.

That person who doesn’t know that you know they have a girlfriend/boyfriend but keeps lying to you and saying that they’re single.

That person that blames distance for your relationship falling apart.

That person that hates your friends or tries to keep you from seeing them.

That person that treats you like you’re just another one of his or her many choices.

That person that makes you feel bad for developing feelings for them.

That person that makes you feel crazy for being “too much” or “too emotional.”

That person that forces you to change your appearance by losing weight or your attire.

That person that makes you feel uncomfortable with your personal choices.

That person you do couple-y type activities with yet they leave you in the gray area.

That person that doesn’t show you respect.

That person that won’t give the same amount of effort you give.

That person who does not want to make you a priority.

STOP. LET. THEM. GO.

You owe it to yourself to treat yourself better. It’s called self-respect. You can’t control others but you can control how others make you feel. Don’t ever let someone think you are flawed for being a human being.

You’re beautiful. You’re intelligent. You are loved. You have a purpose in the world.

Stop finding validation in other people. You have to love yourself first. Your friends and family love you.

Be good to yourself. Treat yourself. Do what makes you happy.

-KC

Political Post: Dear millennial, you are entitled to nothing

Dear Millennial,

You are entitled to nothing. Yes, I just said that. All I hear about is how millennials can’t afford homes, can’t buy cars, and can’t save any money. There are people out there making tens of thousands of dollars less than you that are married with a couple of kids, own a home, have two cars, and are paying their bills on time…and they even live in the same city or county as you.

I even have single friends who have bought homes, cars, pay off their student loans, have money to put away in their retirement, and still go on vacation.

Do you have to live in the most expensive zip code in your city where you are living paycheck to paycheck just to pay your rent because it’s where all the cool kids hang out at the cool bars?

OR

Could you live in a home with an affordable payment out in the suburbs, drive about 30 minutes to the metro, and add a little time to your commute in the morning?

Why are we constantly waiting on our bailout? You hated when the big banks got bailed out but you deserve one too because you’re behind on student loan payments?

“We want free school!”

“We deserve good jobs but don’t have the work experience…”

My favorite economics professor back in college said, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.”

Say it with me…there is no such thing as a free lunch!

If you want something, work for it. Take that job after college that may not be your dream job just to gain experience in something. Just because you didn’t get the job you wanted at your dream company or government agency doesn’t mean that you have to give up. Don’t be ashamed of taking two or three jobs! It means you are a responsible person and you want to live comfortably for yourself or your family.

Once upon a time, I was a “give me everything” millennial. I thought I deserved everything in the world because I had a college degree and a resume where I stretched out all my skills to fit the requirements on a job application. Debating in your international security class every Monday and writing 25 page papers on Benghazi does not count as work experience.

When I was a senior in college I applied to the CIA and I was deservingly denied. I thought everything I studied in my government and international classes and my conflict analysis and resolution classes went to waste…and I told myself I DESERVED that job. Nope…I didn’t. I’m sure some person with numerous years of actual work experience beat me out for every position I applied for. I thought job offers were going to be sent to my email everyday simply because I had a college degree. That is not reality…thus why the beauty of “recent graduate” jobs were created. They were created for you and me with minimal work experience so we could add real skills to our resumes later down the road. I picked a job that had nothing to do with my college degree and it has given me more than I could have dreamed of. I wish I could have told myself that it was going to be okay that I didn’t get what I wanted.

I took a job that pays less than the private sector because of its benefits, I pay my rent and bills, and I still have money for things I like to do. It’s all about give and take. You don’t need Starbucks everyday and you don’t need to go shopping every weekend. Understand what it’s like to live below your means even if you can afford it just to get a sense of how you spend your money.

I’m paying student loans off like most of you are. I don’t complain because I know that a college degree is needed to get a job these days. Do I cry when Sallie Mae comes knocking on my door? Nope. It’s all about what I have to sacrifice to be successful later on in life. I had the opportunity to go to college for free. When I was in high school I was offered a four-year Army ROTC scholarship that even included books and a monthly stipend. I dropped that full scholarship during my freshman year. I am definitely feeling the consequences of my actions, but instead of blaming the system, I blame myself. If you want an affordable or free college education: go to community college for a few years, apply for scholarships, go to the college that offered you the most money (even if it wasn’t your first choice), do a work-study program, do really well at a sport or play an obscure sport (rowing!), and for the not so faint at heart…apply to a service academy, do ROTC, or enlist in the military for a few years and go to college later.

I don’t want my taxpayer money paying for your college because you majored in underwater basket weaving and can’t get a good job or because you want to blow your money on living in Clarendon instead of living out in the suburbs of Fairfax county where you could have afforded much more. I majored in what some might call a useless liberal arts degree because it wasn’t a STEM degree but I made it work. When I first started working I had a very average salary and I thought I couldn’t make it. Then I looked over at my coworkers making the exact same pay with house payments and four mouths to feed. Some of my coworkers were single parents or single income households with a family, and they made that paycheck work! It’s all about perspective.

All of you claim to be so “woke.” Well, while you hide in your “safe spaces” because your neighbor owns a gun…there are children in Syria hiding from bombs. Are you in fear of you life living in the free world? You probably aren’t. You’re living in middle to upper middle class suburbia with your “first world problems” because the Whole Foods down the road ran out of organic quinoa and your obscure craft beer.

That’s such an insult to people living in the third world countries where their number one concern in life is finding shelter, food, and water…and where people can’t afford to go to school. Please spend time in a third world country and come back to me. You will realize that everything you take for granted and complain about is so menial compared to others. My modest middle class family is made up of immigrants who NEVER took a handout. I watched my parents work hard for everything we had. I will never shame them by reversing what they taught me about hard work and working my way up.

Take your safe spaces, free college rants, and “I deserve everything” attitudes away. You’re an adult now. Your younger siblings, cousins, and your [future] children are going to look at how we broke our society for the sake of political correctness and participation trophies.

-KC