Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Day in the Life of Jean (That's Me)

I've subscribed to Marie Claire for years (they've got a good balance of well-written, interesting articles and your usual 'mindless' fashion mag fare -- ideal for plane trips), and this year my renewal notice came with an optional bonus subscription to Harper's Bazaar. I'd never really been a fan of theirs before as it's kind of too high-fashion and elitist for me to relate to, but I thought 'why pass up a free subscription offer' --score! And to Bazaar's credit, I've been fascinated by a recurring article that features a day in the life of a mover and shaker of the fashion industry such as the likes of Tom Ford and Michael Kors. A couple of generalized observations I've made based on the articles read thus far: creative geniuses and super-successful business magnates 1) don't sleep much, 2) are creatures of habit, and 3) lead surprisingly solitary, eccentric lifestyles. Are they successful because they're solitary? Are they solitary because they're successful? It's difficult to say. But what I do know is the monthly feature has kind of made me more appreciative of my relatively "normal" life -- not that I wouldn't like having my own in-house yoga session or massage therapist as many of the rich and famous seem to do. But if being sleep-deprived is a prerequisite to being a standout success in your field, then... call me middle-management material, because I still choose sleep :)

A lot of career advice blogs will tell you to spend time shadowing someone in your chosen career field to get an idea of what their day-to-day is like. I think this is great advice if you can manage to do it (some tips here). I didn't before I landed my current job, and I will admit that the work culture here is indeed different from what I'd imagined it would be like. So I'm here to give you the inside scoop,  in case you have ever been curious about what a typical day in the life of an engineering contract negotiator at a Tier-One public university looks like, as I'm sure you all have:

7:00 am - This is when I usually get out of bed, in order to get to work by 8. Ah, the perks of living in a small town with minimal rush-hour traffic. And of being low-maintenance. First thing I do is flip on the news. I usually check my email on my phone while I'm brushing my teeth: in case any urgent emails came in overnight or in the early morning hours, I like to know what I'm gonna be walking into.

8:00 am - Breakfast (usually something like waffles that I've packed from home, or a breakfast bar) at my desk while I read emails, and perform "work triage" - determine which items need to be prioritized to help me plan out my day. Some mornings, I have meetings with the various centers/work groups that I negotiate for. I actually prefer morning meetings because everyone's a little fresher and more enthusiastic versus in the p.m. Same goes for making phone calls.

11:45 am - I get to have lunch with my husband about 3 times a week now, since his office (he is a grad student at aforementioned university) is right down the street. Most other days I have various friends on my lunch schedule; yet another perk of living/working in a small town. Every now and then I will bring a frozen meal or fast-food back to my desk to eat while watching streaming tv episodes on my laptop. (There are a lot of shows I enjoy watching that I don't even know when they're actually on tv, since I usually only catch up with them online on the weekends). A lot of people around here seem to work through the lunch hour, or just catch a quick bite to eat -- I could never do this as I need to get out of the building for some fresh air/change of scenery, or else I'd burn out very quickly.  

1:00 pm - Back to work, and often more meetings. There are a lot of meetings around here due to so many policy updates, federal regulations, personnel changes, etc. that we have to stay abreast of. And then it's work-work-work, negotiate-negotiate-negotiate. This largely entails: reading and editing of contracts, ensuring policies and rules are being followed, conferring with the researchers about their needs/expectations, and then going back and forth with the sponsor (contracting party) to make sure everyone comes out of the agreement feeling like it's a win-win. I knew coming in that the job would require a lot of communication, time-management and organization skills; what I didn't know, and which a lot of seasoned corporate professionals will be able to tell you about, was to be prepared to deal with a lot of bureaucracy, inter-/intra-system politics that directly impact how you do your job, and everyone's favorite - paperwork. 

5:00 pm - Flee-- er, I mean leave-- the office. Head home to make dinner, or pick up dinner, or get freshened up for dinner out...admittedly, one of the more challenging things on my plate right now is trying to stay ahead of the game on what we're going to have for dinner!

7:30 pm - I try to work out every other day. Signed up for a fitness studio membership with friends which helps keep me accountable mostly because I don't want to be the first wimp to bail. We usually do Zumba, or sometimes I'll drop in on a Piloxing class if I'm feeling brave. On non-workout days, I'll pursue my other hobbies (photography, learning new languages, etc). Oh, and try to keep up with household chores which, let's face it, is an essentially unending battle against dirt and dust. I'm always amazed by how much trash is generated by two people - my husband and me - in a single week. This is even despite the fact that I am a dedicated recycler. Maybe if we get our own place someday I'll try to do cool things like using our food scraps as compost, but those things aren't really practical to our current living situation.

10:30 pm -  After getting cleaned up, will usually wind down with reruns on Nick at Nite or TV Land, or peruse the internet. Hubby has more refined tastes than I do and will usually read a smart, thought-provoking book before bed, and then I'll just ask him to summarize parts of it for me so that I don't have to read it myself :) And then it's lights out around 11:30 so we can get some good-quality shut-eye before doing it all again the next day!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Wear What When: Casual Fridays

"Casual Friday" varies greatly from company to company, so there are no hard and fast rules: 
  • As they say, "Dress for the position you'd like to have, not the one you currently have." If you've been on the job a while or are familiar with the corporate culture, you should be able to gauge your higher-ups' styles. If they dress to a certain level of professionalism, even on Fridays, then take your cue from them and do the same -- even if all of your peers show up to work in t-shirts and jeans. 
But, it does require a little balancing act on your end, because:
  • Don't overdress! Trying to make a good impression on your managers can backfire if they start to worry that you're gunning for their jobs. Also, you don't want to alienate your peers by appearing too uptight or snobbish. Try to echo your supervisors' dress standards, but stay true to your own tastes. And if even the Head Honcho wears jeans and cowboy boots to work on Fridays, then by golly throw on those ol' blues and give them pull-ons a good polishing. Casual Fridays are a chance to let more of your true nature and personal style shine through. 
TGIF
TGIF by jeanx623 featuring a herringbone blazer

Sometimes appropriate:
Jeans 
Conservative sandals
Mules or slides
Plain t-shirts

Never appropriate:
Flip-flops 
Sneakers
Sports apparel, slogans or logos
Athletic wear
Ripped or frayed jeans, or cut-offs

If ever in doubt, reference your employee orientation handbook, and just be sure not to stray too far from the everyday dress code at your workplace. 

:), 

Jean


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Sleep-in Beauty

I am a notoriously non-morning person. I will hit the snooze button on my alarm until the absolute-last-second before I have to get up, much to my husband's chagrin. On the average morning, I have calculated that I require a minimum 25 minutes of prep time to get ready and out the door. So, of course, I usually sleep in accordingly.

But then of course there are the mornings when I require a little more prepping and primping time, like the days when I've got meetings scheduled, or when I know I'll be going out for dinner straight after work. On those mornings, I owe much to the following beauty products which are specially designed to do double- or even triple-duty. They save me money by being more bang for my buck, and a ton of time (no more hunting down multiple products, etc.) Because we all know, every second (of beauty sleep) counts.




AM Routine




 1. Dr. Jart+ Premium Beauty Balm -- It's a tinted moisturizer, it's a sunscreen, it's a treatment serum -- no, it's all of the above! Provides light, tone-correcting coverage that can be worn alone or under makeup. Don't know how I ever got ready in the mornings before bb creams came about!
2. Studio Gear Inline Outline Pencil -- The ultimate multi-purpose beauty tool. A few ways to use it: line the inner rim of your eyes to make them appear brighter, highlight your browbone to make your eyes pop, and the little 'v' on your upper lip known as the Cupid's bow to make the lips appear fuller.
3. Aveeno Positively Ageless Daily Exfoliating Cleanser - Works well as a cleanser, and contains microbeads that provide gentle exfoliation. 
4. Clinique Quickliner for Eyes - This no-fuss eyeliner lives up to it's name. I love that no sharpening is required, and of course it's got that convenient smudge tool on the opposite end so you can smoke up your look for the evenings.
5. Aquolino Pink Sugar Hair Perfume -- I'll be the first to admit this ultra-sweet scent is not for everyone, but I find it really great for masking unpleasant odors that may have gotten in your hair (like smoke, or food smells) if you don't have time to shower; also has light conditioning ingredients that freshen your locks and add shine. 
6. Clarins Extra-Firming Body Cream - The price-tag on this is a bit hefty, but I love Clarins lotions because they moisturize well but don't feel greasy or smell too perfume-y. I use this all over, and even to help firm those pesky wrinkles that have started to make an appearance on my neck. Clarins does make a separate neck-firming cream that I like, but I think this one does the trick as well. 
7. NARS Multiple - Great cream-to-powder, multipurpose makeup - use on eyes, lips, cheeks, anywhere! - stick that comes in many gorgeous colors.
8. Clarins Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector - This has become an absolute must-have lip product for me. It is made with nourishing ingredients, and my lips have become noticeably softer and healthier with each use. All while providing a lovely sheer boost of color and delicious scent. 
9. Elizabeth Arden Lash Extending Treatment Mascara - Comparable to other department-store mascaras in terms of wear, but it's formulated with ingredients that "fortify, lengthen, define & revitalize lashes" I do feel like my lashes are fuller now than before I started using this, so call me a believer. 


:), 

Jean
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