Tag Archives: career advice

Dealing with Workplace Bullying

“Oh, so that’s why you were hired.”

That phrase was said to me within the first month of starting a new job a while back, and, no, the person behind this quote was not referring to my experience, skill or personality. This person was attacking my physical appearance as the sole reason of me being hired. Of course being newly employed, I awkwardly laughed it off without knowing what else to do, but I will never forget that quote or the intentions behind it as it was probably one of the most insulting things to say to anyone … especially to a young woman new in the ‘real-world.’

Questions of ‘Was I acting ditzy? Did I do something that led her to react so catty or rude?’ In the end, I realized it was her way of attacking me in an attempt to knock me over, an attempt to belittle me. The majority of my past and present colleagues do not act in such a derogatory demeanor, but there were some who did as well as tales about from others in completely different fields and companies. No one is perfect, and not everyone will like everyone they meet in his or her lives, but what was said to me is considered workplace bullying.

My goal of this blog post is to encourage women not to attack one another in the workplace. Times are hard, but when aren’t they? With men still making more than women who are equally qualified in most sectors of the workforce, is it not expected that women are not only intimidated but even terrified of other equally qualified women working beside them with new ideas, angles and backgrounds?

According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research: “Women are almost half of the workforce. They are the equal, if not main, breadwinner in four out of 10 families. They receive more college and graduate degrees than men. Yet, on average, women continue to earn considerably less than men. In 2013, female full-time workers made only 78 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 22 percent. Women, on average, earn less than men in virtually every single occupation for which there is sufficient earnings data for both men and women to calculate an earnings ratio.

Mean Girls at Work: How to Stay Professional When Things Get Personal book.
Image from Mean Girls at Work: How to Stay Professional When Things Get by Katherine Crowley.

After looking at the statistics, you see that women make 22 percent less than men on every dollar earned. Most men tend to be in higher management roles, so you have full-time women working under male managers, while more than likely making less than fellow male colleagues doing similar tasks. These women are constantly trying to prove themselves with or without consciously knowing it in the sense of being damn good at their jobs. Of course the same can be said to non-management males. Because of this, women may see other women as competitors in productivity, or maybe just as easy targets to belittle them so they no longer pose an uncontrollable threat.

According to a study by the Workplace Bullying Institute, “77 percent of currently bullied targets are bullied by perpetrators of the same gender, i.e., man-on-man and woman-on-woman.” Female bullies, though less in number than male bullies, make up 31 percent of the workforce, but they target other women in 68 percent of cases. So, of the female bullies out there in the workforce, they are after other women. Why is this?

Regardless of the reasons, be it competition, insecurity, or being easier targets than men, I take my quote from Ms. Norbury in the movie “Mean Girls”: “…but you all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it ok for guys to call you sluts and whores.” Not that this is the specific situation at hand, but it does get at what I’m playing at. Working together instead of against one another in a professional and respectful environment may help females gain ground in the workforce versus the other way, which is to take down other women’s self-esteem and energy.

If you are ever in the situation where a fellow coworker says that you were hired because of the way you look or your age and is attempting to imply that you are too dumb to work with them, remember you are not alone in this scenario. Be stern, and professionally tell them that what they said will not be accepted and is immature. If they keep it up, take it to higher management, and if it still continues, go for legal advice. Don’t just laugh awkwardly like I did! If I had said something right then and there, perhaps my experience would’ve been a more positive one, instead of one that suffocated my desire to do what I love. But as time moves on, so does the hurt feelings. Experience and the notion of not letting anyone walk over you fills the once-confused and grey void.

A Tribute to Job Seekers

A tribute to those who are searching for jobs: here are some tips and experiences I've picked up along the way while searching for past jobs.

Indeed, SimplyHired, LinkedIn. Job seekers are very familiar with these sites and use them endlessly in hopes of catching an interview, and, if things work out, grab the ultimate prize … a job!

But is applying to every open position that remotely fits your skill-set the right? Is applying to infinite jobs online worthwhile? Or are you just wasting yours and the hiring person’s time and energy (while also causing you fits of panic)?

From my experiences, I say (brace yourself for this wonderfully cliched phrase): It depends.

It depends on what area you are looking for, and what level of experience you are at (entry-level vs. mid-level). The majority of the time, probability will be against you as you blindly apply to every available position on Earth, throwing out 10 to 20 applications a day hoping to catch just one reply. What are your chances? More than likely hundreds, heck, maybe even thousands of others are applying to that same position with your same mindset.

So what is a job seeker to do in this day and age?

  1. Remove the Blindfold and Research
  2. Applying to companies that you’ve never heard of, or don’t connect with (or even known) their missions, isn’t very strategic. Let’s say that you did land a job at a company you could care less about, would you be happy after some time has passed? If you apply to be, let’s say, a social media manager for a high-end fashion company whereas you never stepped foot in any designer store or despise anything and everything clothing-related, what are your chances of being satisfied? (I’m sure there are many out there who would be more than satisfied, as I am merely speaking out of contrasting interests). If you narrow down areas that you would love to work in, or are already experienced in, then that will help out your job search IMMENSELY.

    I am experienced in the science communications realm where I absolutely love science and all that it stands for in terms of benefiting the world and humanity, though I am no expert in calculus or physics, I still think the process and results are exciting and relevant. Working at the U.S. EPA for two and a half years, I learned much about research and the science world, and I discovered that my passion lies in the environment, nature, technology, and anything science-related. After pinpointing those areas of interest, I started to narrow my search down to science-related positions in North Carolina. Lo’ and behold, I started receiving more interview requests and found that I was way more comfortable in those interviews. Why? Because I love communicating science and am experienced in it!

  3. Network. Network. Network!
  4. I cannot stress this word enough. You have a much higher chance of leveling up in your application process of a company if you know someone who works there, has worked there, or have a connection who knows someone there. Networking, especially to entry-level seekers, sounds terrifying. ‘How can I compare to those who have been in the field for years or even decades? Why should they care about knowing or talking to me?’

    Here in lies the rub. Every person has or knows something that another person may not know. You have some form of expertise in some area or experience that a person out there would love to know about, maybe even without knowing it themselves! Once you start to share your knowledge and opinions with others, then you can start talking about career goals, how you could work or volunteer with them, or help them network with people you know. I was 23-years-old when I first truly started to network, and I was nervous…but confident. I figured, I will promote what I do at my current job, explain why I believe communicating what I do in progressive forms of media (e.g. videography, online) is important, and hear what they have to say in return and how I can service them. Basically, introduce yourself, listen to them, and find a common topic to talk about. From there, you can get into the details of networking, companies, skills, etc. Sell yourself!

    Pass out your business card like candy! People will research you especially if they were interested in what you said or represented. You not only make great connections (some strong, some weak), but you also learn from and meet great, professional and motivated individuals in return!

    Resource: How to Network Like a Pro. (Business Insider)

  5. Become Digital
  6. Since I am a digital journalist, I have an online portfolio that I update and keep organized as often as possible and a blog (what you are reading), a LinkedIn profile, Twitter, and a Google+ page. My personal accounts are locked away, private and are there to keep up with friends and family. My public accounts are as professional as absolutely possible with a hint of my personal brand or representation of where I currently work or volunteer.

    If you have an online site–be it an online portfolio (if needed, which doesn’t hurt!), an online blog or a social networking site (I recommend LinkedIn)–then it shows that you are motivated, keep up with the times, and confident in your work. There are great sites out there that are free, or cost a minuscule amount to get started. I use WordPress hosting through GoDaddy and bought a template for my site, and I helped a few other people get started with their personal websites, as well. From there, you can use analytic tools (Google Analytics, or WordPress’ analytical tool/apps) to see which pages are most popular, which have the highest bounce rate, etc., where you can improve your site based off of such data.

I could give more advice and tips on how to improve your job searching skills and how to represent yourself to a potential employer or network connection, but these three are very important to master. Needless to say, I am writing these tips from my own experiences and from many articles, other blogs and studies I’ve read online.

By following these tips and actions above, I recently landed a new position at a company that I already love (their mission, and what they represent) and will be doing what I love to do. I also saw an increase in interview requests leading up to my current opportunity because of my change in how I searched for positions.

It pays off in the end, but there are two things you must NEVER lose on your journey in job searching: Patience and Confidence.

Never lose these very important traits. You are an awesome person to get where you are in life, and you will always face bumps. If you are currently in a bump, just know, as my mother always said during my bumps, ‘it’s always darkest before the dawn.’

Don’t give up! Learn from experiences and go from there! Please feel free to comment or email any questions or comments you may have.

Better than a Paycheck: Why Volunteering and Giving is Worth it!

My experience with volunteering is relatively new in my life. It has given me much pleasure not only working with different kinds of people and organizations, but also using my journalism skills to help out awesome causes and spread their mission around. Many people asked me if I get paid or get anything out of it, and I always smile a bit and say of course there’s no pay, but I DO get something out of it: the experience, and the joyful feeling of completing a project or heightening the organization’s vision.

If you haven’t notice, I am a stress-loving, fast-paced and energetic individual who has a reputation for taking on as many projects and tasks as is physically and mentally possible. I learned more about multi-tasking and the glory of email communication as well as how passionate each organization is with their goals! In turn, in makes you passionate for their goals and see it as a just cause to help out.

Here is a list of my volunteer experiences that are ongoing:

Citiwide Vocational Center

Citiwide Vocational Center logo designed by Katie Corder in 2013.
Citiwide Vocational Center was the first volunteer experience I did using my journalism skills. So many people asked me how I got involved, and, to spread the word, I got involved with Volunteer Match. Citiwide was in need of a massive website clean-up and social media management. What’s nifty about volunteering for Citiwide is that they are located in Washington, D.C., and I am located in the Raleigh area, so I had to rely on email and phone communication with the founder. Citiwide Vocational Center offers computer training (hardware and software), GED completion, and other training related to career prep for technical jobs; it prepares residents for the computer workforce by offering them classes, skills and other educational opportunities.

My actions involved creating a new logo and name change, cleaning up a TON of HTML and CSS code on their WordPress site, organizing links and content, and revamping their social media accounts. I plan on continuing to volunteer for this amazing group whenever they ask for my services and hope to meet them face-to-face whenever I make it up to the D.C. area!

Health 2.0 NC Triangle

Health 2.0 NC RTP logo.Health 2.0 NC Triangle is my most recent and growing volunteer experience. I became involved with this chapter of Health 2.0 by attending a Sapient networking event in Morrisville, NC. I met Brent Anthony at the event, and he explained his idea of starting a Health 2.0 chapter in the RTP area. What place in North Carolina would be better than the Triangle for such an organization? It was a brilliant plan, and it continues to grow by attracting healthcare professionals, medical doctors, health data analysts, health communicators, students and anyone else interested in health, health IT news and ideas.

Since becoming part of the CORE group of Health 2.0 NC Triangle, I witnessed the group growing from four people to well over 200! My role involved reaching out to the community using social media—mainly Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook and Google+, yet no website is available yet for our chapter (it’s in the works though!) As of now, I assist in communicating events, news and other topics on social media as well as photograph and live Tweet at events. We had our introductory event, “Blazing the Trail,” as the ‘launch’ of our organization, and it had a shocking turnout of over 110 people! As the group grows along with the upcoming website, I expect to play a more central role in helping this group take off in the fast-paced RTP health community!

All-N’ Together Services

All-N' Together Services logoAll-N’ Together Services was my first non-profit that I became involved with after college. With this organization, I helped lead donation drives for new and used school supplies for low-income, rural N.C. public school students. I’ve been working with them for over a year now and love to collect and buy school supplies knowing they’re going to such an amazing cause. North Carolina’s public schools were recently ranked the lowest in the country for public education, and because of this, students, families and educators need any help they can get more than ever! I learned, and continue to learn, how to motivate and lead people to donate and spread the word, which is great leadership, outreach, and non-profit experience.

Whenever I give donations to the main organizers of this non-profit, I feel an enormous feeling of warmth; however, I always find myself thinking: “I could’ve done more … I could’ve collected more supplies or reached out to more people!” But I tell myself afterwards—every little bit helps. I plan on helping them out once or twice a year for as long as I am able to, which reminds me since you are so lucky to be reading this post … if you are living anywhere in N.C. and would love to donate your used or new school supplies or backpacks PLEASE contact this amazing organization for more information. Any support would be much appreciated!

That about sums up my current volunteering experiences! I donate food as well as clothes to various organizations and groups whenever I get a chance and am looking into volunteering for Habitat-for-Humanity for the first time (I’ve always be curious about it). It just shows that you don’t need a 9–5 job to use your journalistic or communication skills as you can also learn and gain experience with non-profits. There was a study that found that helping out others and volunteering emits greater happiness within you than other things in life ,like materialism or money, and I am not only a believer of that, but am now living it.

Thanks for your interest! 🙂