Career Advice, Education, Resumes and Job Hunting, School

Two Questions to Ask at Every Job Interview

Today I’m giving away one of my juiciest secrets.

As I mentioned before, I had seven interviews last week. I think they all went pretty well, but sometimes, let’s be honest, it’s hard to tell. To prepare for all of this work, I really dove into research on how to perfect an interview. The more questions you can anticipate, the more prepared you’ll appear to an employer.

But what happens when the employer flips it on you and asks you if you have questions? What then?

To me, this is the part that can make or break you. While not having questions makes you look unprepared, having bland questions can steer the conversation to the job and away from you. If a potential employer gives you the opportunity to take control, make sure you do it in a way that benefits you.

Man and Woman Near Table

After some research, I found two questions that I thought would be effective. After trying them, I’m now sure that these questions are a surefire way to get an interviewer interested. I received enough “that’s a good question!” and “I’ve never gotten that question before!” answers that these questions will forever be in my interview toolbox.

Alright, I’ve built it up enough, let’s talk questions.

If I were to get the job, how would I know that I’ve succeeded?

I can’t take credit for this one. This came from the YouTube channel Charisma on Command. I’m a big fan of them anyway, so when I saw that they did an interview tips video, I clicked right away. I’ve included it here in case you wanted to watch it yourself.

Basically Charlie argues that this question does two things. First, it forces the employer to imagine you in the position. It sets up a connection in their head of you at the job. Second, it shows you’re really interested in doing a good job once you’re there.

After this, anything your interviewer says should either set you up for a story about why you’d fit the job or be an opportunity for you to explain that that’s something you’re looking for in a job. No matter what, your response to the interview should be another opportunity for you to bolster your credentials and show you’re a good fit. Let’s look at some potential ways the interviewer could respond and what you could say back:

Interviewer AnswerExample Response
You’d know you were successful if everyone likes you.I’m excited to know that I’d be working at a place where everyone gets along well. That’s something I’m looking for in an employer.
You’d know you were successful if you completed a project by *insert timeframe*.I like to hear that I’d get the opportunity to work on projects. I find that I work well under pressure. For example, when I was a student I . . .
You’d know you were successful if you were receiving good feedback from those above you.That’s something I am looking for at a job. I recognize that with only x years of experience, I am still learning. I like to know how I can be a better employee by receiving feedback.
You’d know you were successful if you were scheduled for more hours.At my last job, I was a dependable employee. Not only was I never late for a shift, I was able to work my way up to be given responsibility to do . . .

No matter what, you should be able to spin something positive to what they say.

I also think it comes off more natural to add a timeframe here. For example, I’m interviewing for summer positions so I asked: “If I were to get the job at your company, how would I know by the end of the summer that I’ve succeeded?” By quantifying it, you create something more concrete for the employer to measure.

Is there anything about either my application or interview today that makes you think I may not be a good fit for the position?

This one came from Abbey. I can’t take credit here either. I often followed it up with a more lighthearted: “Anything I could reassure you on?” to keep it light.

Two Woman in Black Sits on Chair Near Table

Because here’s the truth, if you have any insecurities about your application, they may come out here. But it gives you the chance to spin it in your favor.

For example, maybe you think your grades are a little low, but your plan is to just ignore it and hope the interviewer does too. Instead, you can find out directly if it’s actually a deal breaker. It shows confidence when you ask this question. If the employer follows up with “Well, you’re grades are a little lower than the people we normally hire,” you can now reassure them that you are more than your grades.

Depending on your levels of self-awareness, you can prepare an answer to this question. Look at your application and look for places that might not be the best and get ready to explain them. For the grades issue, maybe you could say that you were working part-time and weren’t able to give 100% to your classes. Then you get an opportunity to spin it and say “But if I were to work for you, you’d get 100% of me.”

This is a fantastic question because it also shows your interest in making sure you’re able to appropriately get the job done. It also shows that you’re willing to face problems head-on.

Don’t fear this question. It’s powerful.

Anyway, I know this is a bit different from my other content, so please let me know if you enjoyed this I’m more than happy to provide more interviewing tips if this was useful!

Also, if you have any interview tips or stories, I’d love to hear them! Let’s talk in the comments down below!

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Weekend Updates

Weekend Update (January 16, 2021)

Another week down – and it’s been a very busy one. I was definitely focused on work and prepping for the start of the spring semester.

Projects:

I had seven interviews this week. You read that right: seven. It was exciting, exhausting, and extremely overwhelming. I am so grateful for the opportunities. Out of respect for the firms I interviewed with and for my current employer, that’s about as much as I’ll say. But I am in good spirits. I survived and at some of the interviews, I think I thrived.

That being said, I do think I learned a lot about interviewing, especially interviewing online. I may be writing some posts about the things I learned next week. Stay tuned for some tips!

Honestly, I became more disorganized this week just prepping for these interviews. Oops. There’s always next week

…right?

Unfortunately, I’m still on the exact same page of The Picture of Dorian Gray as I was last week. But that’s not to say I haven’t thought about this project. I had a realization that most of the books on my list are from Western cultures. I think this is based on the fact that I live in a Western culture and these are the books I’ve heard about my entire life. But I recognize my worldview is limited. I’m thinking about expanding this list to include classics from different regions of the world, but I’m not sure where to start on finding these resources. My goal for next week is to find out more and learn about ways I can improve this list. But if you’re reading this and you know any non-Western classics, or other books that aren’t on my list please comment down below!

More on this soon.

I know this project was considered abandoned last week, but I’m bringing it back. I’ve been doing research into how to improve my blogging and I fully intend to share these insights with you all. Can’t wait to talk about this more!

Start-Ups:

I officially animated my balloon letters! It was a ton of work, but it looks seamless. Since then, I haven’t done much more, but I think I’ll be spending the weekend working away on this now that I’m interview-free (for now)!

Miscellaneous:

I think I’m bringing a new project in this week. I’m hesitant to do too much of a reveal now because I tend to spread myself too thin, but I may have a surprising announcement this week?

That’s all I got. While I’m sorry to end on a cliffhanger, I love a good mystery! What do you think I’m up to? What sort of projects would you like to see in the future? Let me know in the comments down below!

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Personalized Birthday Videos

So I Tried Basic Animation

Yeah, you heard me. I tried animating. Send help.

In humble pursuits of my Happy Birthday project, I knew it would come to this. I really did. But nothing could prepare me for the amount of work it took to just do a real little bit.

Last time we spoke, I had made my beautiful balloon letters. I wanted to make the balloon letters inflate, float, and pop as the music continues. I didn’t realize what a mess this would create.

Layers on Layers

I tried first to animate each word. My main reason for doing this was that editing is done in layers. Layers are exactly what they sound like: each object lays on top of the other. More layers tends to get a little messier as it’s harder to manage and Premiere can get a little angry at you. So I created the words in Photoshop to only have four layers at a time (happy, birthday, to, you).

Once I finished, I tried to make them float like balloons. But since the entire word moved together, it looked really clunky. Definitely not like how a balloon moves. And that was the moment I knew I needed to animate each letter one-by-one. So I quickly went from a manageable amount of layers, to a not-so-manageable amount.

Each of these letters I made pop up to look like they were inflated. I did this by starting a letter at 0 size, increasing the size over a few frames. I made a cartoony pop by making it get a little too big and then dropping down the size to where I wanted it.

To make the letters float: I randomly changed the vertical height and also added a little rotation.

All in all, it turned out like this:

I’m pretty happy with it – as someone with very minimal experience editing, I’m realizing that it is possible to learn how to edit.

But it’s not entirely smooth sailing – I’m struggling a bit with how to make the balloons pop. I’m probably going to have to rethink the motion. Maybe instead they’ll deflate or something, I don’t know.

Personalizing Each Name

I want each of these videos to have a person’s name. But seeing as how much work it is to animate each balloon letter, that’s just not feasible. I’m trying to come up with a cute way to have each person’s name show up without giving me editing hell. Some considerations right now are: writing the person’s name in clouds (there’ll be a sky in the background of the balloons), an airplane banner, a name in fireworks, etc.

I have no idea where to go with that, but it’s probably the next step after making a sky background. As usual, to be continued.

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Weekend Updates

Weekend Update (January 9, 2021)

As I was thinking about ways I could share more about my productivity here, I realized that I often make really minor strides on my goals – so minor I don’t think they warrant an entire post. But these minor updates turn into the entire project over time. So I was thinking I could do a weekly update to share my news on the weekends.

Without further ado, here’s what I’ve gotten done this week:

Projects:

I just got back my grades for last semester. My GPA was exactly the same as the last semester I got grades (Fall 2020). Honestly, given that everything was entirely online and I really didn’t embrace every class – not mentioning names but it rhymes with Shomonstitutional Law – I was just happy to pass and be done with it.

But on the upside, I’ve been getting interviews left and right, this week alone I have 6, possibly 7 interviews. It’s overwhelming, but very exciting. I don’t want to reveal too much here since things are constantly subject to change, but it will be a very busy Zoom week.

I’ve really been embracing this one on my winter break. I live alone in a three-bedroom home and when my life is busy, my home gets messy. Seeing as last semester was the busiest time of my life, my house certainly reflected it. Winter break has led me to some much needed organizing. More on this soon.

This week, I began The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I have read the book before but it was in high school. It seems particularly relevant at this time in my life. One of my family members has been in critical condition and the fragility of life is something this book touches on. Oh, I also binge-watched all of Love Island last week, so vanity is another theme that’s been on my mind. All in all, this book couldn’t be more fitting to my current circumstances and I hope I can get deeper with it than when I was an angsty teen.

Start-Ups:

Since my last post, I haven’t done much other than try to start animating the balloon letters. It’s not going that well. My animations are looking really unnatural so I’m going to have to go back to the drawing board.

That’s all for this week. While I don’t have a concrete goal for next week, I’m hoping I have new updates on everything. What do you plan to get done this week? Let me know in the comments down below!

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Personalized Birthday Videos

Spicing Up Your Typography

In humble pursuits of my birthday video business idea, I may have gone a little overboard.

You see, I started trying to make my own personal rendition of happy birthday and it wasn’t going well. While I’ve shared my music production skills (some may call them attempts), in the past, I just couldn’t find my mojo. Every instrument I tried sounded wrong to my ear.

Let There Be Video

In an effort to save the day, I switched over to making the video. Here’s what I know I want in each video:

  • The person’s name
  • Lyrics on-screen (for our hard-of-hearing friends!)
  • Some animations

And that’s as far as I got.

After a little brainstorming I came up with the idea to have the lyrics on balloons or frosted on cakes. Since “Happy Birthday” is a 10-second song and I’ll probably be playing it twice anyway, why not both? So today I tried doing both.

The Importance of Typography

Before I go any further, I want to briefly mention how important font choice and typography is. Since this is my entire birthday video, it’s especially important to nail in this video since it’ll be the only thing people see. But even on our blogs it’s important. We can convey feeling and honestly, a sense of competency. Personally, I take blogs with nice graphics and fonts more seriously than ones with mismatching ones.

But on most WordPress plans, there isn’t really much of an option with fonts. The next best thing without emptying your wallet is to focusing on graphics within posts. I’ll do my best to provide as much information as I can below so you can implement any strategies you see fit to your future graphic design pursuits.

The Balloon Text

It may go without saying, but this morning I had no idea how to make text look like a balloon. Shocking, I know.

So I spent a few minutes perusing the internet to find a handy tutorial and lo and behold, YouTube had exactly what I needed. Here’s a link if you’re interested:

While I am no stranger to Photoshop, this tutorial was a doozy. I’m not kidding, it was probably about 200 steps. Thankfully, the guy that narrates it took it nice and slow and was very easy to follow. After beveling and embossing until my fingers bled, I managed to obtain a pretty similar result:

Not bad if I do say so myself. For my reproduction, I used the public domain font Fulbo Tano which produced a nice balloon shape.

The only downside to this effect was that it wasn’t really a font. While in the video the narrator explains how you can get the text to read other things, my Photoshop had enough of me and was throwing a bit of a tantrum. In efforts not to anger the Adobe gods, I just created PNGs of the alphabet. So to “type” anything, I have to copy letter-by-letter. Maybe I’ll try and fix this later, but I am so over it for now.

The Frosting Text

Riding my highs of my last beautiful plastic-y creation, I turned to make a frosting text. Again, I found a handy tutorial, though this one was an article. Look at how cute it is!

Final product image
From https://design.tutsplus.com (tutorial linked here)

Loving the piped work, I set my sights on sugary glory only to fall flat on my face. I have followed each step and it stamps on instead of paints? As of my last attempt, I’m stuck with something that looks like it lost a gingerbread contest:

I’m giving up for today, but in the back of my mind part of me is hopeful I can also master the ambitious no-video tutorial.

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Personalized Birthday Videos

Celebrating Good Times with My First Start-Up!

In returning to my blog, one thing I wanted to focus on was exploring business ideas. So while my usual content was focused on only projects – projects that grow skills, not wallets – I decided to dive a little deeper in my return with a side hustle.

In picking something to do, I wanted to pick something that was a little intensive from the get go, but after, completely hands-off. I have some time during winter break to kill after all, so I thought I could make good use of my time.

My only criteria in picking a business idea was that I wanted it to be cheap. Like very cheap. I’m not about to commit to some serious cash when I’m not willing to commit to heavy amounts of time.

So of course that led me to a pretty obvious starting point: a business that can grow entirely online. After recently having edited a video myself (I mentioned this briefly in my last post), I thought I could do some videos.

Now I don’t have a camera. I don’t want to throw my face out to the internet arbitrarily either. So I was left a little stumped.

That’s when it hit me.

The Birth of an Idea

My birthday was just a few days ago. All last month while contemplating how life could go on now that I was inexcusably an adult at 24, I did think about how unfortunate it was that there could be no celebration, even if I had wanted one. This was also while my cousin-in-law was collecting videos to send to my cousin who was deployed this Christmas.

Then I realized I could use my newfound editing videos for good.

I thought it would be nice to spread a little joy by making personalized birthday videos. I’ll admit, this isn’t exactly a new concept. My family and I used to send around Epic Happy Birthday Videos to one another before and let me just tell you, they are awesome. Allow me to introduce you to one:

Pretty great, right? Now these guys seemed to just disappear. They made videos for every name they could come up with and just watched the views roll in.

Understandably, this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I thought I could fill the void with a more general birthday video. The song “Happy Birthday” is not copyrighted and can be used in videos royalty-free. Several channels have done the same thing I have, but I believe I can do it as well, if not better, than the ones I’ve seen. Besides, it’ll be a fun little experiment to see if I can break into a market.

Progress and Future Planning

As of right now, I’ve come up with a name. I’ve also created a website for it, but am still in the process of acquiring the domain, hence the reason I’m keeping the name secret for now. Once the website is running on it’s domain, I’ll share it.

I’ve begun to create my own music. I’ve shared a little before about my music production past, so I thought I’d create the audio just to have complete control over the entire video. Again, since “Happy Birthday” is not copyrighted, I can recreate the melody without worrying about legal repercussions. Hopefully the song can be finished soon.

From there, I’ll record vocals which definitely has me nervous. I am by no means a singer, but since I’ll be making videos for each and every name I can think of, I’m going to have to be the one to sing each name. I’m hoping my audio engineering can help me autotune my way to partial glory. We’ll see. This will certainly be the most difficult part.

After, I’ll create a template video which I’ll share with you all. Once I have the template, I can just add names in one-by-one and crank out videos at a rapid speed. I think I’ll have to test out different marketing strategies to see what I can get to stick. To be honest, I haven’t really gotten there in my head yet.

That’s where I’m at for now. I wanted to announce this last week, but well, it was my birthday. It felt a little weird to talk about birthdays on my birthday, so I saved this gem for ya. I’m glad to be back and I’m really excited about what may be ahead.

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Uncategorized

Where I’ve Been and What Comes Next

Hello all! I hope everyone has had a safe, healthy, and prosperous holiday season!

I’ve recently come off of the most brutal semester of my life and adjusting back to myself has been a huge challenge. I’ve been falling victim to Newton’s First Law; I can’t seem to sit still. Since exams ended, I’ve completed a few projects. I put together a gift for my extended family – my uncle’s drunken retelling of A Christmas Story. For my mother’s Christmas present, I also organized all of my family’s photos into gorgeous photo albums (not sponsored, just wanted you to see the beauty!).

Now that my holiday season has slowed down, though I still have my birthday and New Year’s, I feel like I am finally able to fully sit down. It’s the first time in almost 10 months where I don’t have a single damn thing on my to-do list. What’s a girl to do?

While throughout my semester, I desperately wanted to return to my blog, I just physically couldn’t. I had papers and assignments left, right, and center. I’ve been so busy that my last post was about how busy I was.

But I couldn’t forget you.

I grabbed a journal and carried it around with me everywhere to jot ideas of where I wanted to take this blog. I was in the midst of a transition from project-based content to entrepreneurship-based content at the start of the semester and once classes got well underway, I knew I couldn’t navigate that transition to the ability I wanted and maintain my coursework. But a girl could dream. And that’s exactly what I did. I thought through every aspect of my return and what was next for me.

Lately, I’ve been having a really deep feeling that I’m ready to step out of my comfort zone and go after something risky. I’ve always played it safe. I’ve been careful about what I post online, probably more careful than necessary. As a result, it’s stopped me from making the content I really truly want to make. But some energy in me has shifted and I think I feel new opportunities coming.

So join me on the next phase of this journey, wherever it goes, as we sail to wherever I’m supposed to go. As I try whatever entrepreneurial ideas I want. As I pave a new future for myself where I’m not scared. As I try and be a better and more complete person.

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Organization, Productivity, Time Management

How to Survive a Busy Week

Can I tell you a secret? Recently over a 10-day period, I had 46 deadlines, assignments, and meetings. This included 3 papers (including 1 group paper), 37 job applications, checking and correcting over 200 legal citations, work deadlines, and school deadlines. On top of that, my car broke down.

While I’m normally pretty good at managing high levels of stress, I really struggled. I had to employ new stress-mitigation techniques just to survive. Along the way I realized that my productivity wasn’t at all optimized. I thought that today I could share with you some of the things I learned.

So, go ahead and take a breather. Give yourself 5 minutes out of your hectic day and ask yourself if you employ these techniques, and what about your productivity could be optimized.

The To-Do List and Calendar

These are non-negotiables to help manage your life efficiently. When you’ve got tasks in all different directions, you need to know exactly what’s on your plate and what’s coming next.

As for myself, I’m kind of the queen on the to-do list. I make lists everywhere. Sometimes it’s a sheet of paper, a notebook, in my phone, or on Trello. Since I make so many lists, a few may or may not get finished – but when you have a week of non-stop deadlines, that list becomes your best friend.

With every list, I recommend that you add the deadline of the task. This can help you prioritize your list and keep you moving on your next deadline.

Change Your Routine

This is going to sound a little crazy, but when you have a busy week, you’re not exactly yourself. When it gets so busy, you almost have to go on auto-pilot. Don’t be afraid to change your routine during this time to accommodate for everything you need to get done.

If you don’t work out, strongly consider adding a little bit of movement, like a morning walk. This can help clear your head and get you focused for the day.

I really warn against changing your sleep schedule. Late nights aren’t efficient and let’s be honest, they suck. For me, late nights are almost a guaranteed mental breakdown and I avoid them at all costs. If you really need more hours in your day, try waking up earlier. You’d be surprised at how efficient you can be before the rest of the world wakes up.

Breaking It Up Into Smaller Tasks

This is what helps me survive massive deadlines. Your focus during a busy week should be to keep your mental state pretty solid. Giving yourself mini-breaks is the most effective way, at least for me, to get things done.

For example, if I have a paper to write, I might tell myself that once I make it to the end of this page, I can check my phone or watch a YouTube video. Since I only have a small task, I’ll power through it knowing that I have a reward waiting for me.

You can take breaks as often as you need, but I don’t recommend taking many breaks longer than an hour. I get it, sometimes you need it, but really, only like one or two hour-long breaks a day. You need to stay productive during your busy week.

Good Takeout

I get it. During a busy week, you’re not really thinking about self-care. If you cook, you’re probably not cooking as much when you’re busy. That’s okay. This week you can get takeout.

I strongly recommend that your takeout be somewhat healthy. Eating something not so great for you can often leave you feeling sluggish and sleepy. You’re not going to get much work done after a meal that slows you down.

On the other hand, getting something that’s a little healthier keeps your body moving. My mother was such an angel this last week and made me some home-cooked frozen meals. To have a veggie soup in the midst of Hurricane Jacqueline was so comforting. It was quite literally a taste of home. It grounded me and kept me moving.

Turn Off Your Phone

If you can’t think of a good reason to have it on. Turn it off. Period.

One Hour of You Time

I know most of these tips have been focused on moving forward, but one thing I really suggest is taking one hour a day just for yourself. I like that time right before bed. If I want to lay down and stare at the TV, I can. If I want to go for walk, I go for one.

Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean that you have to give 100% at every moment of every day. Relax a little and your body and mind will thank you.

Follow the Momentum

At the tail-end of a busy week, I take the weekend off. However, this time when I took my weekend off, my body felt like it should be doing something. Harness this energy with smaller tasks like dishes or checking your email. Don’t go into anything crazy, but if Newton’s First Law applies to you, capitalize on it.

That’s all that I’ve got for you today! I’d love to hear how you survive busy weeks – I know I’m still learning when it comes to managing your time efficiently! Let me know down in the comments what I got right and what I still need to learn!

And, in the spirit of moving forward, stay productive!

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Entrepreneurship, Finance, Motivation

Rich Dad, Poor Dad – Is the Book as Life-Changing as People Claim?

Robert Kiyosaki’s 1997 bestseller Rich Dad, Poor Dad seems to be a cult-classic in the world of financial literacy. As I was learning the basics of finance, this book popped up everywhere. Every blog, YouTube video, and Google search kept pulling up Rich Dad, Poor Dad.

So I conceded and bought the book. (It’s only $6.69 on Amazon!) In the spirit of the book reviews I’ve done on this blog previously of classic book, I thought I’d review this one as well. Turns out, I think these recommendations were warranted. Was it life-changing? Yes… but

Kiyosaki explains his basic financial principles in short stories. As a child, he grew up with a PhD-educated government-employee father who made just enough money to survive. He spent quite a bit of time at his best friend’s house where his father was a dropout-with-financial-intuition business owner. He juxtaposes their advice to show what we all can learn about financial literacy.

Before I continue, Kiyosaki poses this us versus them sort of mentality when it comes describing the “rich” and the “poor.” While I know these terms are for shock factor, they’re most certainly stereotypes. What he really means when he says “poor” is “a person who isn’t good with their finances” and when he says “rich” is “a person who is good with their finances.” Okay, now that’s out of the way, let’s get into the meat and potatoes.

Kiyosaki divides his book up into lessons which are useful in getting you to think critically about your financial position. He focuses on basic principles like accumulating more assets than liabilities and learning to look for financial opportunities. He sprinkles in anecdotes (that may or may not be true) to make the book read like a story.

Love him or hate him, Kiyosaki is a good storyteller. He weaves the words of the rich dad with the poor dad to create a cohesive narrative that learning to have your money work for you, rather than working for someone else is the key to amassing riches.

And quite frankly, he’s not wrong. If you’re capable of it (and most of us are), accumulating wealth is learning to have your dollars be your employees. However, is there any real advice for how to start that? Not really.

This book is nothing short of a gateway drug. It’s not meant to teach you how to get rich, it’s meant to teach you to be money-minded. As long as you keep your notepad at the door, this book can be life-changing.

Have any of you read this book before? And for those that haven’t would you pick it up?

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Entrepreneurship, Start-Ups

My Entrepreneurship History

In the spirit of switching my blog over to new content, I suppose I should with begin with explaining why I’m so interested in entrepreneurship and finance.

It was only a few years ago when I was introduced to the idea that I could create my own career. As a good student, I grew up under the assumption that I would get good grades, get a good job, and climb the company ladder. The only problem? I didn’t want to do it at all.

The First Idea

During my second year of undergrad, I was studying chemical engineering. I knew I didn’t want to be an engineer, but I was getting my degree so I could go to law school. I told myself I’d change my major if I could come up with a better idea. I never did.

One day, for my Thermodynamics II class, we had to go to an oil and energy event. It was a panel with a few speakers from the oil industry talking about their careers. Since it was mandatory, I went alone, sat in the very back, and didn’t speak to anyone. I didn’t want to be there, I had lost my entire evening on this event that I wasn’t even interested in.

Event, Auditorium, Conference, International Conference

While they we talking, it became crystal clear: I didn’t want to do this. The audience seemed engaged with these speakers, enamored by the way these three were changing the world. I saw them as what they were: people who were overworked. In a fit of frustration, I turned the page in the notebook I was taking notes in and drew a line right down the middle. On the left side, I made a list of the classes I had taken that I enjoyed and on the right, I made a list of my hobbies.

Desperate, I stared at the words I had scribbled down and tried to connect the dots. I was so focused on coming up with an idea of how to escape the rat race. I felt certain it was the only way out of the reality I had set up for myself. After thinking and thinking, I came up with my first idea.

It was a foreign language learning program. I’ll spare you the details, but it had me firing on all cylinders. Alongside my chemical engineering, I studied international studies. I was passionate about different cultures and languages. As an engineer, I loved algorithms. Putting the two together made sense. For months, I carried around a separate notebook where I planned out the idea.

Meeting the Sharks (and the Bait)

Having my idea just felt like a little secret that I was carrying around. I fantasized about the code on the backend and sketched logos in my spare time. I became obsessed.

A few months later, a friend that I had told my idea to came up to me with a strange proposition. She was working for an economics professor and they were doing a shark tank event for start-ups to get funding from investors in the city. She asked if I wanted to help out. Of course, I agreed.

As a volunteer at this event, I was in the room with the sharks timing people as they pitched. I heard bad pitches about good businesses and good pitches about bad businesses. I watched the sharks tear some people apart and some praise and give offers. I have never learned so much in an afternoon. I was caught under the spell of entrepreneurship. I wanted to learn everything I could.

Work, Office, Team, Company, Internet, Business

Inserting Myself in Places I Didn’t Belong

After the shark tank event, I felt my passion in my bones. I didn’t have money (or the ability to code a website), so all I could do was make lessons for the foreign language program. I kept working, but I knew something would have to change to get it off the ground. I got my opportunity, but not exactly in the way I had imagined.

Over the holidays, I went home to visit some old friends. While catching up, one of my friends mentioned a mutual friend of ours who had a start-up. Something about a phone app. Something about social media. Amidst my slightly tipsy evening, I focused all my energy in getting more information about the status of his company.

I called him the next day and asked him if I could help out. He immediately said yes. All of a sudden, I had a start-up I could be a part of. He told me that if I helped him with his idea, he’d help me with mine. And just like that, I was in business.

Paper, Business, Finance, Document, Office, Analysis

This was during the final semester of my senior year. My law school applications had already been sent in – school didn’t matter now. I shifted all of my energy to launching his app. The app had already been made, so it was all-hands-on-deck to get this thing to the public. I met with local bars, came up with a crazy marketing strategy, brought a few friends with a few targeted skills to help, and things were looking great. My house had become the unofficial HQ. Some days, I was working more than eight hours.

With the help of the team I had put together, we had opportunities networking with some pretty serious and established people. I was getting to know that economics professor who did the shark tank events (I brought on the friend who worked for him). We found ourselves building a reputation as people who had marketing intuition.

However, the longer I worked on this business, the more I started to realize that something wasn’t right. There were investors behind the scenes. Every time I asked about them, I didn’t get much information. A few months later, I discovered that they owned most of the company and had some strong opinions about things.

Without getting into it all, I had to leave the business. I was able to spare my relationships with my friends, but I walked away with such a gift. I now had actual experience working on a start-up.

Weaseling My Way In Further

I landed a job with the economics professor, largely due in part to my friend. I had two roles with him: to plan events on campus with investors and to consult start-ups that he had invested in at his firm.

Office, Business, Colleagues, Meeting, Computers

I won’t get into the details since these are real companies and real investors. But I was able to now see the other side of the business: what a start-up looks like to an investor. I only worked with him for a few months – law school had just begun and I was crumbling under the workload. However, these positions indicated that there was a spot for me in this community if I wanted it.

My Path Forward

If you’ve been here since the early days of my blog, you know what happened next. I started this blog. I wanted something I could call my own and wasn’t intertwined with personal relationships. Something where I had all of the control.

Now here we are.

I’m excited for this journey forward. I look forward to writing about entrepreneurship and finance and learning more myself. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for being a part of that experience.

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