Ms. Career Girl http://www.mscareergirl.com For ambitious young women to style their lives. Fri, 04 Sep 2015 07:22:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 Commuting to Work? Bike Maintenance Tipshttp://www.mscareergirl.com/2015/08/31/commuting-to-work-bike-maintenance-tips/ http://www.mscareergirl.com/2015/08/31/commuting-to-work-bike-maintenance-tips/#comments Mon, 31 Aug 2015 10:41:33 +0000 http://www.mscareergirl.com/?p=24967 The post Commuting to Work? Bike Maintenance Tips appeared first on Ms. Career Girl.

If you’re thinking about taking the plunge and saddling up for a bicycle commute, you’re going to need to know how to keep it in good working order. Flat tyre on the highway? Good excuse for being late to work. Flat tyre on a cycle path – why couldn’t you repair it? Luckily Halfords  have put together a handy infographic on cycling to work and how to keep your bicycle in perfect working order. Check it out!

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The post Commuting to Work? Bike Maintenance Tips appeared first on Ms. Career Girl.

If you’re thinking about taking the plunge and saddling up for a bicycle commute, you’re going to need to know how to keep it in good working order. Flat tyre on the highway? Good excuse for being late to work. Flat tyre on a cycle path – why couldn’t you repair it? Luckily Halfords  have put together a handy infographic on cycling to work and how to keep your bicycle in perfect working order. Check it out!

Bike-Maintenance-Infographic-August-Amends

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A Stop at Staytion: An Interview with Chef Daniel Perezhttp://www.mscareergirl.com/2015/08/28/stop-staytion-interview-chef-daniel-perez/ http://www.mscareergirl.com/2015/08/28/stop-staytion-interview-chef-daniel-perez/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 11:00:58 +0000 http://www.mscareergirl.com/?p=24908 The post A Stop at Staytion: An Interview with Chef Daniel Perez appeared first on Ms. Career Girl.

As someone who regularly frequents the Chicago foodie scene and stays up-to-date on hot downtown locales, it is no wonder that Staytion, the newly renovated space at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel that opened in May 2015 made its way onto my radar. Unlike upscale hotels of our parents' generation that boasted quiet elegance, this new Renaissance spot aims to be a destination for travelers and locals alike by providing rich accommodations with hip details. The hotel has been outfitted by the Getty Design Group and has no shortage of art throughout. They also keep things fun with draws like […]

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As someone who regularly frequents the Chicago foodie scene and stays up-to-date on hot downtown locales, it is no wonder that Staytion, the newly renovated space at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel that opened in May 2015 made its way onto my radar.

Unlike upscale hotels of our parents' generation that boasted quiet elegance, this new Renaissance spot aims to be a destination for travelers and locals alike by providing rich accommodations with hip details. The hotel has been outfitted by the Getty Design Group and has no shortage of art throughout. They also keep things fun with draws like a DJ spinning in the lobby the entire weekend of Lollapalooza and a nightly punch ritual served every evening at 6:00 p.m. for guests.

Yes, those are all pencils.

Yes, those are all pencils.

This punch ritual is one of many details arranged by Chef Daniel Perez. Chef Perez hails from Moline, Illinois and completed the Culinary Arts program at Joliet Junior College. With many years in food and bev under his belt, Chef Perez has been an integral part of Marriott’s culinary family for close to two decades. He currently serves as the Executive Chef for the Renaissance Chicago Downtown and oversees operations at Great Street, the hotel’s upstairs restaurant that boasts incredible views of the city and a menu that pulls influence from across Chicago’s many neighborhoods, and Staytion Market & Bar, the lobby’s restaurant that allows for grab-and-go bakery items or a more relaxed meal.

As someone who rightfully boasts about his large garden at home in Lombard, Illinois, Chef Perez is attune to the produce that changes with each season and works to build his menu around what is available. “I have a huge garden at home,” shares Chef Perez. “Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, squashes, peppers, three or four kinds of tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, pretty much everything. Having a garden at my house, I know what’s in season and I can incorporate that here.”

Chef Perez describes Staytion’s menu as encompassing Chicago street food. He says, “We put in a twist, add something to it. We also try to use a lot of local ingredients. We’re really big on that. It’s sometimes tough to [always source local] at a hotel, but for us it’s part of the experience.” Kale is one of his favorite greens to work with (and one of mine, too!). He serves a Caesar salad upstairs at Great Street and a Chicago Chop Salad at Staytion, both incredible dishes that take classic fare and spice them up with this dark green.

Chef Perez in the Staytion kitchen.

Chef Perez in the Staytion kitchen.

Inspiration for Chef Perez crosses time and place. When I asked about his favorite food memory, he went all the way back to his childhood. “It was always helping my mom cook Thanksgiving Day dinner. It was just seeing everyone enjoying the food and what we put out. That’s what got me into the industry,” he says. The Chef loves to eat at mom and pop restaurants when he travels. He notes that there’s really no creativity in a big chain, and as someone who loves to eat local, it’s no wonder he likes to support local – wherever local is!

Chef Perez uses an abundance of locally sourced meats and produce in his dishes.

Chef Perez uses an abundance of locally sourced meats and produce in his dishes.

 

Chef Perez also shared that if he could have an opportunity to cook with any other professional chef it would be wizard of molecular gastronomy Grant Achatz. “I would pick his brain for days,” says the Chef. “I had the pleasure of eating at his restaurant a few years ago and it was an experience.”

Admittedly, I love to cook at home and am always looking for tips from the pros to bolster my repertoire. I asked the Chef for his t op five kitchen must haves.Chef Perez's Top 5 Kitchen Must Haves

  1. A food thermometer. It’s hard to be a great cook if you can’t control what’s happening in your oven! (Check out the Oxo Good Grips® Instant Read Digital Thermometer.)
  2. A blender or immersion blender. (I love the Cuisinart® 2-Speed Smart Stick® Hand Blender.)
  3. A pasta machine because nothing beats homemade pasta (just ask Chef Perez’s kids!). (This Atlas® Marcato Pasta Machine is tops.)
  4. A good stainless steel pan for searing. (You can’t go wrong with a 14” All-Clad®.)
  5. A good cast iron pan for getting that heat indoors. (This Lodge® 12” Classic Cast Iron Skillet won the Cooks Illustrated product test.)

What can you expect next from Chef Perez at this location? He’s already hard at work on a menu for a rooftop bar opening in Spring 2016. Positioned as a hotel that tries not to be too traditional, I can only imagine this new venture will have food and bev selections as wonderful as the other two offerings in the hotel.

As it appears the chill of fall is already setting in where I live, I can tell you I’m very much looking forward to ringing in the hints of next summer’s warmth with Chef Perez in the spring. In the meanwhile, I think it’s time to hit Staytion for a killer craft cocktail. Who’s with me?

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Three Step Process to Conquer Work Distractionshttp://www.mscareergirl.com/2015/08/27/three-step-process-conquer-work-distractions/ http://www.mscareergirl.com/2015/08/27/three-step-process-conquer-work-distractions/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.mscareergirl.com/?p=24865 The post Three Step Process to Conquer Work Distractions appeared first on Ms. Career Girl.

Do you ever leave work for the day and then wonder: what did I do today? That, my friend, is a huge sign that distraction might be reigning terror on your work life. Distractions tyrannical reign begins slowly. A minute here. A minute there. By the end of the day, hours of the work day are wasted. Hours you could not afford to lose. The lost time can lead the inability to perform your duties. The inability to meet basic job expectations can lead to stress that feeds into poor job performance, employee burn out, and poor physical and mental […]

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The post Three Step Process to Conquer Work Distractions appeared first on Ms. Career Girl.

Do you ever leave work for the day and then wonder: what did I do today? That, my friend, is a huge sign that distraction might be reigning terror on your work life. Distractions tyrannical reign begins slowly. A minute here. A minute there. By the end of the day, hours of the work day are wasted. Hours you could not afford to lose. The lost time can lead the inability to perform your duties. The inability to meet basic job expectations can lead to stress that feeds into poor job performance, employee burn out, and poor physical and mental health. Employees can decrease distractions that lead to stress with an easy three step process designed to decrease distractions.

The three step process presented below is derived from the extensive research conducted by Rutgers professor Dr. John R. Aiello. Dr. Aiellio has spent a large portion of his educational career studying work stress and performance monitoring. In “Control and Anticipation of Social Interruptions: Reduced Stress and Improved Task Performance,” Aiellio reveals that anticipation is imperative to decreasing the period you will need to recover from the interruption. Therefore, the three step process will focus on pro-actively dealing with distractions.

Step 1: Identification

Spend about ten minutes jotting down as many distractions that you encountered at work in the last week. Once you have the master list of distractions, monitor what distractions continue to remain a problem at the end of every day.

Example: Barbara seems to spend her days being pulled from her work for spontaneous meetings. Sometimes by the time she’s ready to dive into work again, management pulls her into another meeting.

Step 2: Analysis

Analyze how often the distractions happen. Here are a few questions to ask yourself about every distraction. The main point of the second step is to set a framework on how you can potentially deal with the issue.

  • How often does the distraction occur? Once a week? Every day? A few times a day?
  • Who instigates the distraction? A co-worker? You? A manager?
  • How much time do you lose every time you face the distraction?

Example: The spontaneous meetings happen at least two or three times a day and last for about an hour. It sometimes takes Barbara 15 minutes to get back into her work after the meeting. The meetings are arranged mostly by managers (but sometimes her co-workers pull her into them).

Step 3: Implementation of Defense

Once you have completed the analysis, take a few moments to craft a battle plan for the distractions you will face. Focus should be placed on strategizing how to anticipate interruptions to your workflow. Remember, Dr. Aiellio found that individuals who knew when the interruption would take place were able to jump back into work quicker and perform better, so you should focus on trying to schedule unavoidable distractions.

Example: Talk to managers about pre-planning when the meeting will be held each day. Ask co-workers to let you know in the morning if they would like to strategize that day.

Distractions can be mitigated through thoughtful analysis of the problem and implementation of a plan. If you still find yourself having problems focusing at work, don’t continually try to face-down the problem alone. Try to brainstorm ways to deal with the issue with your manager or your co-workers. The success of the team hinges on every individuals ability to perform, so they will help you strategize ways to increase your focus. It’s up to you to ensure you receive the help necessary to survive and thrive in the office.

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Office Frenemieshttp://www.mscareergirl.com/2015/08/27/office-frenemies/ http://www.mscareergirl.com/2015/08/27/office-frenemies/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 11:36:41 +0000 http://www.mscareergirl.com/?p=24718 The post Office Frenemies appeared first on Ms. Career Girl.

Remember in high school when you ate lunch everyday with your best friends: your old faithful confidants who would save a seat for you if you were late to class, defend you against the mean girls and the bullies, and even try out for the team with you even though they had no skills just to support your grand delusions of becoming a soccer star? Ah yes, blissful memories of innocent times. Fast forward a few years, what happened? High school is now the workplace. If you’re late, someone will just happen to mention it to the boss. Instead of […]

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The post Office Frenemies appeared first on Ms. Career Girl.

Remember in high school when you ate lunch everyday with your best friends: your old faithful confidants who would save a seat for you if you were late to class, defend you against the mean girls and the bullies, and even try out for the team with you even though they had no skills just to support your grand delusions of becoming a soccer star? Ah yes, blissful memories of innocent times.

Fast forward a few years, what happened? High school is now the workplace. If you’re late, someone will just happen to mention it to the boss. Instead of a couple of besties who have your back, you’re surrounded by the mean girls and the bullies. And no one is sacrificing a perfectly manicured fingernail to help you with anything, much less to help you become any type of star unless we’re talking about a fallen star. Then yes, they’ll stampede to be first in line for that. The craziest part? Now you have to eat lunch with them, and maybe even share office space. Yep. Welcome to a life with office frenemies.

Upon first glance, the office frenemy looks, walks and talks like a normal person. However, underneath it all, you know she is plotting your downfall. Don’t expect any seat-saving activities here, no, she’ll take your spot in the blink of an eye, because everyone knows you are the rising star and everyone wants to be you. If your pen goes missing, you will already know who took it. It’s the oldest sabotage trick in the book. She may smile when you walk into the room, but, was that a spontaneous eye-color change you just saw? From brown to a monstrous yellow?

 

It’s a good thing you’ve rehearsed your survival strategy. Let’s rehash:

  1. Do not make direct eye contact. Smile at her nose. That will make her feel insecure and weaken her resolve to get you fired.
  2. Don’t get too familiar. Just talk about the weather or the seasons. This is certain to not offend her, decreasing the chances she’ll go to the boss and complain.
  3. Text your real friends often, updating them on the meanies you got stuck working with. Laughing about it will put you in a good mood, plus she can’t chat to you if you’re obviously busy with your phone. And finally,
  4. Pack your things well in advance so that as soon as the bell rings, I mean, the clock strikes 5 p.m., you can blast out of there as fast as you ran on that soccer field so long ago.

Check, check, check, and check.

After more than a few encounters with these office frenemies, I had my survival strategy down to a science. I was invincible. I could smell an OF from a mile away. I could discern the special tap tap of her stilettos as she made her way to my office for another battle round. Even though we never actually had a battle, I have played the whole thing out in my mind many times before, just in case. I would NOT be ambushed. Nope, not me.

 

Oh no, is she coming to me? Well, she’s looking right at me. Groooan, she’s definitely coming to me, smiling with her yellow eyes. What now? She opens her mouth. Then this comes out “Hey girl, want to meet up with a few of us after work for a drink?” What. System overload. No immediate response for this. All defenses stand down. I take a deep breath. Smile sheepishly. Is that joy that I feel? I’m so happy I could cry. She’s so nice, I love her! So I muster up as much coolness as possible from every corner of my being and squeak “Sure, thank you.” OF responds, “Great”, smiles and walks away. Note to self, text real friends and tell them we need a new strategy, possible office friend found.

 

This experience completely changed my work-life. I realized that I was allowing a few bad experiences from my past to set the tone for everything to come. This made me distrustful and in many ways unproductive. I had excluded the possibility of making office allies and even of making a real office friend.

 

Let this be a lesson to all of us career girls. Although your main priority at work is to bring value to the company and to advance your professional life, always be open-minded with your co-workers and give yourself the chance to form a real relationship. The relationships which are limited to the office will be successful once you've established mutual trust and respect, making you more productive at work. As a bonus, you may end up forming a bond which extends beyond the office. Try it, let's break the office frenemy curse and become something much more valuable.

 

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Cheers to Office Frenemies becoming Friends

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Buying A Home in Your 20'shttp://www.mscareergirl.com/2015/08/26/buying-a-home-in-your-20s/ http://www.mscareergirl.com/2015/08/26/buying-a-home-in-your-20s/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 23:14:37 +0000 http://www.mscareergirl.com/?p=24891 The post Buying A Home in Your 20's appeared first on Ms. Career Girl.

The stigma that millennials are living in their parent’s basement has slowly been losing its substance.  More and more young home buyers are emerging and make up approximately 32 percent of the market.  Millennials may be young but they have seen the benefits that come from putting down roots and making a smart financial decision like buying a home.  Many financial advisors will try to talk you out of buying a home before you have crossed some sort of financial stability line, but don’t let them fool you into thinking that age has anything to do with it.  If you […]

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The post Buying A Home in Your 20's appeared first on Ms. Career Girl.

The stigma that millennials are living in their parent’s basement has slowly been losing its substance.  More and more young home buyers are emerging and make up approximately 32 percent of the market.  Millennials may be young but they have seen the benefits that come from putting down roots and making a smart financial decision like buying a home.  Many financial advisors will try to talk you out of buying a home before you have crossed some sort of financial stability line, but don’t let them fool you into thinking that age has anything to do with it.  If you are in your 20’s and are ready to buy a home don’t be afraid to take that path, just be aware of everything that comes with it.  

Budgeting

Before you get too excited about owning your own home you should really take a step back and make sure you are financially ready for that responsibility.  If you are married, single or living with someone you need to take into account all of your monetary value.  You want to live comfortably but remember that includes housing, transportation, other necessities as well as entertainment.  

A good rule of thumb to follow is 28 percent of your gross monthly income. That 28 percent should include things like your mortgage, property taxes, insurance and maintenance.   When you first come out of college with a job that leaves you with disposable income it can seem tempting to invest more into a home than 28 percent, especially if you bought a car at 15-20 percent, but don’t let those numbers trick you into thinking you have more than you do.  Budgeting will allow you to live well and save for the future. BusinessInsider.com created a great chart to help you visualize what you can afford and you can view that here.  

Mortgages

The amount of money that you qualify to borrow for mortgage mainly depends on four things: income, expenses, down payment and current mortgage rates. Also, keep in mind the budget that you have created for yourself.  Beyond that there are several different types of home loans, rates, payments, terms as well as other costs and fees.  Lenders take into account things like your credit history  Consider looking into an FHA loan that will allow a cosigner’s income to be allotted when calculating how much you can borrow.  Learn about the different types of mortgages and pay attention to the market so that you can find the best type of loan for your situation.

Finding the Right House

You probably have a dream house in mind but you might not be able to afford it in your 20’s.  However a lot of young people buy starter homes that they plan on staying in for three to five years to be able to break even on their mortgage.  They aren’t the most glamorous homes or in the greatest locations but you will find them in your price range.  

If you are ready to settle into a place for a while you may want to look for something a little more permanent.  New Aging is a way that you may be able to buy your retirement home now.  There are several young people who have invested their money into a home that they fully intend on retiring in.  It involves the community, the home itself and the vision you have for it to transform over the years considering age and disability.  When investing money into a house just take into account the time you intend on staying in it before you commit to anything.  

Utilities and Maintenance

One of the biggest arguments against young people becoming home owners is because there are a lot of responsibilities that come along with homes, namely utilities and maintenance costs.  When you rent you have the luxury of a landlord who has to take care of maintenance costs and problems every time something goes wrong but when you purchase a house for yourself you have to treat it like your baby.  When you are considering buying you need to take into account all of the maintenance costs that come along with home owning including but definitely not limited to: water, electric, waste management, upkeep, gas, lawn care and so much more.  These things are not impossible to take care of though, if your parents can do it then you have the ability too.  Just be prepared to put in the work and money.  

Amenities

Let’s be honest, one of the perks of owning your own home is having a space that is completely yours and that space isn’t complete without entertainment.  Coming home and relaxing to your favorite television show after a long day of work is one of the simple pleasures in this life.  Being able to share your family vacation or the new dog house you built on social media helps you stay connected with the people you care about.  Internet and television require an extra cost that should be factored into your monthly payment.  

I put this last because young people tend to put off the more important things for these amenities but they should be factored in last.  If you want a nice house, keep it nice by gardening and maintaining its value.  This house is your baby.  It needs attention and love to make it the home that you always dreamed to have.  Whether you’re buying a starter home or your home for retirement, you’ve made an amazing financial decision.  Welcome to adulthood.

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Top Career To-Dos for College Juniors and Seniorshttp://www.mscareergirl.com/2015/08/25/top-career-dos-college-juniors-seniors/ http://www.mscareergirl.com/2015/08/25/top-career-dos-college-juniors-seniors/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 11:00:36 +0000 http://www.mscareergirl.com/?p=24771 The post Top Career To-Dos for College Juniors and Seniors appeared first on Ms. Career Girl.

Heading back to campus as a junior or senior is exciting, but it also means it’s time to start preparing for your post-collegiate career. Here are a few simple things you can do this fall to help you land a job after graduation. Career Advice for College Juniors It’s never too early to start preparing for the professional world. Get a jump on post-graduate life now by following this advice. Explore your field. Research and study your potential career field. Browse industry-related news, get a feel for starting salaries, learn about companies that interest you, and start making a list […]

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Heading back to campus as a junior or senior is exciting, but it also means it’s time to start preparing for your post-collegiate career. Here are a few simple things you can do this fall to help you land a job after graduation.

Career Advice for College Juniors
It’s never too early to start preparing for the professional world. Get a jump on post-graduate life now by following this advice.

  • Explore your field.
    Research and study your potential career field. Browse industry-related news, get a feel for starting salaries, learn about companies that interest you, and start making a list of professional organizations you might want to join.
  • Boost your soft skills.
    A college degree and up-to-date technical skills aren’t all you need to land your first job. A study by Millennial Branding and Experience revealed that nine out of 10 companies surveyed are looking for new hires that demonstrate well-developed soft skills, such as good communication, a positive attitude, and a team-oriented outlook. But these are the same skills companies are having a hard time finding. Start fine-tuning your soft skills now, and by the time you walk across the stage you’ll have a competitive advantage that makes you stand out during an interview.
  • Visit your college career center.
    Your campus career center is an excellent resource. In addition to making you aware of job fairs, internships, and even potential job openings, the career center can also help you prepare for interviews, edit your resume, and tip you off to the best job search engines. Plus, forming a relationship with a career counselor now can kick-start your job search as a senior.
  • Get experience.
    If you haven’t started already, now is the time to gain real-world experience in your field. If you can’t get a job that’s career related, consider applying for an internship. A study conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers revealed that more than half of paid interns received full-time job offers from their employer in 2013.

Career Advice for College Seniors
Congratulations, senior! Here are a few tips to make the most out of your final year in school.

  • Rein in your social media.
    Your “LOL” Facebook posts won’t amuse potential employers, and they could squelch your chance of getting hired. A survey conducted by CareerBuilder found that more than half of employers that looked at candidates’ social media accounts discovered content that caused them to pass a candidate by. As you embark on your senior year, beef up your social media security settings, delete questionable posts, and consider using a social media monitoring app to alert you to dubious content you’re tagged in.
  • Make an employer wish list.
    This is the time to put together a list of companies you’d like to work for. Make note of current job openings and gather employment contact information so you’ll have it as graduation approaches. Periodically surf the Internet for company-related news and keep this information handy. It may be beneficial when you write your cover letter or during an interview.
  • Become a mentor.
    Mentoring underclassmen who share your career aspirations is a great way to sharpen your technical and soft skills, which may impress potential employers.
  • Get involved in a professional organization.
    Joining a professional organization helps you learn more about the industry and can be a stepping stone toward employment. You’ll rub shoulders with people who are working in your field, and you might have the chance to meet industry veterans who can lend valuable career advice. Many professional organizations offer discounts on student memberships.
  • Visit your school’s alumni office.
    In a matter of months you’ll transition from student to alumni status. So keep in close contact with your school’s career center, but also pay a visit to the alumni office and learn what benefits you’re entitled to as an alum.
  • Ask for references.
    Your senior year is the time to reach out to professors, coaches, employers, and others who can vouch for your skills, experience, and work ethic. Ask them if they feel comfortable providing you with a reference, and if they’re okay with you passing along their contact information to potential employers.

Whether you’re heading into your junior or your senior year, these tips can smooth the transition from college to the career world and help you prepare for an exciting future.

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Top Hobbies for Women Professionalshttp://www.mscareergirl.com/2015/08/24/top-hobbies-for-women-professionals/ http://www.mscareergirl.com/2015/08/24/top-hobbies-for-women-professionals/#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2015 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.mscareergirl.com/?p=24820 The post Top Hobbies for Women Professionals appeared first on Ms. Career Girl.

After a long day at work, it’s important to blow off steam in your spare time. If you’re doing that by binge watching “Orange Is the New Black” until you fall asleep, though, you probably could be spending your free time much more productively (not that OITNB isn’t amazing!). Think you don’t have time for a hobby? Think again. The benefits of learning a new skill or playing a sport when you have down time make picking up a hobby worthwhile. Studies show that brain energy spent on hobbies improves creativity and boosts self-confidence and can even improve your performance […]

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After a long day at work, it’s important to blow off steam in your spare time. If you’re doing that by binge watching “Orange Is the New Black” until you fall asleep, though, you probably could be spending your free time much more productively (not that OITNB isn’t amazing!).

Think you don’t have time for a hobby? Think again. The benefits of learning a new skill or playing a sport when you have down time make picking up a hobby worthwhile. Studies show that brain energy spent on hobbies improves creativity and boosts self-confidence and can even improve your performance when you get back to the office.

If you don’t already have a passion that you devote your weekends or free time to, don’t worry. Here’s a list of the top 10 hobbies for women, enjoyed by some seriously successful ladies, to inspire you:

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  1. Reading

Reading is a favorite hobby of many successful women, including America’s book club hostess-in-chief, Oprah Winfrey. Reading is a great hobby to take up because it requires no special skills or equipment. All you need is a library card or a Kindle in your purse, and you can read any time you have a free moment, whether that’s riding the subway or waiting for a doctor’s appointment. Reading can feel like a restful vacation to exotic lands, or you can dive into some non-fiction to improve your skillset.

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  1. Gardening

From actress Julia Roberts to lifestyle guru Martha Stewart, lots of working women have embraced the feel of dirt under their nails as they nurture flowers into bloom. Gardening gets you out in the fresh air and sunshine, and the process of helping young things grow is good for the soul. On top of that, if you plant some easy-to-grow lettuces, carrots and tomatoes, you’ll give your meals a healthy boost with some delicious summer salads.

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  1. Golfing

You don’t have to be a pro to enjoy a round of golf on the weekends — just ask former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. In addition to being great exercise (wean yourself off of the golf cart to up the cardio value), improving your golf game can be a valuable skill to have in your back pocket at work. You may never be called on to entertain a client on the links Mad Men-style, but having a swing that’s good enough for the charity event or office outing will serve you well at work.

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  1. Painting

Former presidents aren’t the only ones who like to paint in their spare time. Talk show host Rosie O’Donnell also picks up a brush to relax. Painting lets you explore your creative side, and the tactile sensation of spreading paint along a canvas can be quite soothing. If you’re not sure where to start, try one of those trendy “wine and paint” nights at your favorite local bistro to see if this is a good activity for you.

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  1. Running

While some sports require specialized equipment or steep admission fees, all you need for running is a pair of sneakers and the open road (First Lady Michelle Obama also needs the Secret Service, but thankfully you can skip that part). Running (and walking, if you need to build your stamina) gets your blood flowing, increases your endurance and improves your overall heart health — not bad for a hobby!

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  1. Stamp Collecting

Think stamp collecting is impossibly old-fashioned? Try telling that to tennis star Maria Sharapova. If you’re the kind of person who likes to collect things but don’t have room to house a large amount of stuff, collecting stamps could be just the hobby you’re looking for. Your entire collection can be neatly stored in scrapbooks or specialized folders, or you can artfully display your favorite designs.

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  1. Knitting

Is there an Oscar for knitting? Meryl Streep could probably lock that one up, too. The actress knits to relax between scenes, and even made part of her own costume for the movie “Doubt.” Knitting is a portable hobby, and once you get the hang of it, the rhythmic knit-one, purl-two pattern is like meditation in craft form. If you don’t live near your grandmother, try joining a knitting club to learn the basics.

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  1. Skiing

Supermodel Heidi Klum and singer Victoria Beckham are just two women who love to hit the slopes. If you live where January days are short and cold, you can fend off the winter blahs by getting outdoors. Skiing is fantastic exercise, too, so it’s definitely worth a try next winter.

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  1. Playing an Instrument

Do you catch yourself wishing you had listened to your mother when she begged you not to quit piano lessons? It’s never too late to learn a new instrument. Actress Willa Holland strums the ukulele. Halle Berry plays flute, and Jennifer Garner still has her high school saxophone. Learning to read music has all the brain benefits of learning a foreign language — with the added bonus of being able to entertain your friends at your next cocktail party.

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  1. Practicing Yoga

New media guru Arianna Huffington swears by the benefits of yoga, and it’s no wonder why. Yoga has been proven to reduce stress, increase flexibility and strength and even help manage chronic health conditions. Yoga is so popular that it’s a piece of cake to find a class near you, or you can try following along with a YouTube video at home.

No matter what hobby you choose, the important thing is that you find something you’re passionate about. After all, only work and no play makes Jill a dull girl!

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How #ILookLikeAnEngineer is Raising Awareness About Continued Sexism in STEMhttp://www.mscareergirl.com/2015/08/21/ilooklikeanengineer-raising-awareness-continued-sexism-stem/ http://www.mscareergirl.com/2015/08/21/ilooklikeanengineer-raising-awareness-continued-sexism-stem/#comments Fri, 21 Aug 2015 11:00:40 +0000 http://www.mscareergirl.com/?p=24786 The post How #ILookLikeAnEngineer is Raising Awareness About Continued Sexism in STEM appeared first on Ms. Career Girl.

If you’re active on social media, I’m sure you’ve seen the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer that took off on Twitter after an advertisement posted earlier this month in San Francisco by company OneLogin geared at all engineers and featuring female employee Isis Wenger as one of its models received some serious backlash. Ms. Wenger took to Medium with a poignant article calling on not just women to participate in her new #ILookLikeAnEngineer campaign. And, yes, it’s true, women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) are still scraping their way up the ranks and receiving sexist push-back while it happens – even […]

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The post How #ILookLikeAnEngineer is Raising Awareness About Continued Sexism in STEM appeared first on Ms. Career Girl.

If you’re active on social media, I’m sure you’ve seen the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer that took off on Twitter after an advertisement posted earlier this month in San Francisco by company OneLogin geared at all engineers and featuring female employee Isis Wenger as one of its models received some serious backlash. Ms. Wenger took to Medium with a poignant article calling on not just women to participate in her new #ILookLikeAnEngineer campaign.

Isis Wenger

And, yes, it’s true, women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) are still scraping their way up the ranks and receiving sexist push-back while it happens – even after major advancements over the centuries by women like Marie Curie, Rosalind Franklin, Valentina Tereshkova, and Frances Allen. I’m sure we can all think back to earlier this summer when Sir Tim Hunt commented, ““Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab. You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticize them, they cry.” This comment was met with a series of #DistractinglySexy posts from scientists across the globe (some of the best are gathered here), a campaign that has gained new momentum since Ms. Wenger’s advertisement debuted.

Look Like Campaign 2

The support from women to each other, STEM companies and institutions, and male counterparts who see the blatant disparity in these fields is heartening. People are banding together to support one another and share their stories. There has been an outpouring of support online. A site aggregating photos using the #ILookLikeAnEngineer hashtag has already collected close to 40,000 photographs – mostly of women – highlighting pride and showing diversity in the engineering field. Ms. Wenger herself has tweeted out a call for collaboration and is asking people looking to work together on this issue to email her at isis@ilooklikeanengineer.com.

Jaymini Mistry, a quality engineer in Nottingham, United Kingdom realizes that this support needs to take itself offline, too. She notes, "I personally find the best way to support women in STEM is to treat them how you would treat any male working in STEM. Actively approach women the same way you would approach men. If the way you would normally approach men at work might seem inappropriate for women, you should probably rethink your approach in general!"

Look Like Campaign 3

Look Like A Tesla

Beyond the incidents with Mr. Hunt and Ms. Wenger, sexism in STEM fields still seems to be a pervasive issue. Sarah Cueto, a fellow Ms. Career Girl columnist who holds a degree in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior from UC Davis and currently works in the biotech industry told me, "I think [this] cause is important. I think that sexism is latent in our society. I experience it at work, and it's so ingrained that people don't even KNOW they are doing it. I notice it on pretty much a daily basis."

It is up to us to continue the conversations that begin when these fires are sparked and to keep the energy moving by taking real steps to combat discrimination. It is easy for the flames on social media to burn bright and then extinguish almost faster than they began. Ms. Cueto says, "As far as what we can do to keep the momentum going...I think that it begins with our actions. We have to speak up. Call it as we see it and voice our feelings when we witness it happening to ourselves or others."

Social media has proven to be a strong platform for exposing latent sexism and other issues of discrimination. It is how we continue these movements offline that will allow for positive changes to be made and help us truly attain parity.

Do you have a story of being discriminated as a woman in STEM? How did you deal with that? Were any changes made in your workplace to prevent future incidents from happening? Tweet to us at @MsCareerGirl.

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3 Reasons Why Parental Control Apps Are Life Saviors For Working Momshttp://www.mscareergirl.com/2015/08/20/3-reasons-why-parental-control-apps-are-life-saviors-for-working-moms/ http://www.mscareergirl.com/2015/08/20/3-reasons-why-parental-control-apps-are-life-saviors-for-working-moms/#comments Fri, 21 Aug 2015 03:57:58 +0000 http://www.mscareergirl.com/?p=24805 The post 3 Reasons Why Parental Control Apps Are Life Saviors For Working Moms appeared first on Ms. Career Girl.

Often working moms find themselves struggling between work and keeping updated about their kids. Many mothers have to deal with the constant work pressure and the guilt of not being physically present for children all the time. You’re always in a rush to get ready yourself, send the kids off to school, make sure they get back home safe, or where they are what are they doing. So many worries circle your mind all day long. How would you feel if there was some way you could be updated about your kid’s activities while you’re busy at work? And not […]

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The post 3 Reasons Why Parental Control Apps Are Life Saviors For Working Moms appeared first on Ms. Career Girl.

Often working moms find themselves struggling between work and keeping updated about their kids. Many mothers have to deal with the constant work pressure and the guilt of not being physically present for children all the time. You’re always in a rush to get ready yourself, send the kids off to school, make sure they get back home safe, or where they are what are they doing. So many worries circle your mind all day long.

How would you feel if there was some way you could be updated about your kid’s activities while you’re busy at work? And not only their location but also their online activities! It’s time to be a tech-savvy mom and use parental control apps like, FamilyTime to do all this and much more. First of all, this app is not a spyware so you’re going to need your child’s consent on this.

A shout out to all the moms out there (working or not), don’t spy on your children. As tempting as it may sound, spying leads to no good. Not only do you live with the guilt of snooping on your children, but if your teen finds out (which they eventually will), they are going to feel hurt and mistrusted. Not to mention a huge fight on you, breaching their ‘privacy’. Even if they were doing something they aren’t supposed to, you’ll become the bad guy in no time. You don’t want that, no parent does! So, talk to your children about monitoring and explain to them that it is for their own good.

How can parental monitoring apps help?

There are a lot of apps out there, but let me tell you about the interesting features FamilyTime has to offer which can be a life savior for you:

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1. Geo-fencing:

This feature lets you create virtual Geo-fences around places you want to receive check-in and checkout alerts. You can Geo-fence their school, your home, your parents house, the notorious pub downtown, any address you want. Save yourself the trouble of calling/texting them on a busy day and be notified anytime, anywhere.

2. Blacklist Apps:

Teens these days use all sorts of messaging and dating apps, which may be dangerous for them or you simply don’t want them to use such ‘hooking up’ apps. But even after repeatedly talking to them about it, you just aren’t sure if they are listening to you. Well, it’s time to tell them who’s the boss! Simply view all the apps in their phone/tab and block any iffy ones with a single touch on the screen. Problem solved!

3. SOS Alerts:

This feature can be a real peace of mind for you. With just one touch your kids can send you SOS alerts in case of an emergency along with their detailed location. With this feature, you can have the peace of mind that you teens can always reach you if they are in trouble even when their mobile credit is null.

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You can also get the FamilyTime app from Google Play Store and iTunes.

Make parenting easy!

We can all agree that balancing between work and family can be really tough. Even if you’re a work at home mommy, you still want an effective and convenient way to stay in the loop with your teens 24/7. So give parental controls a try and see how they work for you. Happy motherhood!

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Increasing Education through Work – A Cost Effective Methodhttp://www.mscareergirl.com/2015/08/20/increasing-education-work-cost-effective-method/ http://www.mscareergirl.com/2015/08/20/increasing-education-work-cost-effective-method/#comments Thu, 20 Aug 2015 16:00:00 +0000 http://www.mscareergirl.com/?p=24690 The post Increasing Education through Work – A Cost Effective Method appeared first on Ms. Career Girl.

Education can be expensive. Nightmares of sinking twenty, thirty, forty thousand in debt has prevented thousands of American citizens from pursuing the education necessary to equip them with the skills and the knowledge to pursue their career dreams. Even more intimidating, professionals in highly technical fields will need to occasionally attend more expensive classes to keep up with the changes in their industry. There has to be a way to earn a degree or attend the occasional college class without digging into your own savings account. On April 6th, Starbucks announced that they were expanding their College Achievement Plan to […]

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The post Increasing Education through Work – A Cost Effective Method appeared first on Ms. Career Girl.

Education can be expensive. Nightmares of sinking twenty, thirty, forty thousand in debt has prevented thousands of American citizens from pursuing the education necessary to equip them with the skills and the knowledge to pursue their career dreams. Even more intimidating, professionals in highly technical fields will need to occasionally attend more expensive classes to keep up with the changes in their industry. There has to be a way to earn a degree or attend the occasional college class without digging into your own savings account.

On April 6th, Starbucks announced that they were expanding their College Achievement Plan to reimburse 100% of the tuition for their employees to pursue an undergraduate degree. In the wake of this announcement, I couldn’t help but wonder: what else is out there to help not only Americans who have never earned a bachelor degree, but also for those who have already earned their very expensive undergraduate diploma?

Now let’s delve into the fun and complicated world of business educational assistance benefits set up the IRS.

Education Assistance Programs

Dozens of local, state, national, and international have formal education assistance programs. These programs have written guidelines that detail how employees became eligible, what IRS approved education expenses they will reimburse, and how much the program can give to assist each employee. The programs are also required by law to benefit all eligible employees without any bias towards the employees that make more money or are related in some way to a shareholder of the company.

The expenses that a business can help their employees cover include:

  • tuition and fees for any type of educational program that they decide to cover (not including sports, games, or hobbies courses unless the program requires it)
  • books
  • supplies and equipment (not including supplies and equipment that you keep after the course)

Education Assistance Benefits

The benefits covered under this program fall under two categories: non-taxable and taxable. Businesses can provide up to $5,250 non-taxable education assistance every year. Due to the fact that it is non-taxable, the amount will not be reported on the end of the year W-2 form. If the educational assistance provided at your company is over $5,250, the amount over the maximum tax-free assistance allowed will be considered a part of the individual’s wage, must be reported on box 1 of the employee's W-2, and will be taxed at the end of the year in most cases--unless it can be considered a work-related education fringe benefit (more on that in a second).

Work-Related Education Fringe Benefit

Educational fringe benefits are expenses that can be deducted when you file your tax return as business-related. These expenses can either be the taxable benefit provided by an educational assistance program or an educational expenses acquired from working at a company that does not have a formal program. These expenses must meet the requirements set by the IRS for an educational fringe benefit.

First, the program must either:

  • Be required by your employer or the law to either keep your salary, status or job. The education must serve a real business purpose for the company.
  • Or, the education will help you improve or maintain the skills needed to do your job.

Second, the program cannot:

  • Be required to meet the minimum educational requirements of your current trade or business based on state or national laws and regulations, professional standards, or your employer.
    • (If you were hired before your employer raised the minimum requirements, you can count the program as a fringe benefit.)
    • (Teachers who meet the minimum requirements in one state, and then move can count the courses required in their new state as a fringe benefit.)
  • Or, the education cannot give you the credentials or the skills to enter a new trade or business.

If you’re educational expenses pass, the following expenses can be deducted: tuition, books, supplies, class fees, the cost of research, and some travel and transportation expenses.

Transportation expenses can be counted if you know you will be attending classes for one year or less. The moment you discover that the classes will take more than a year to complete, travel no longer becomes tax deductible at that point. Travel deductions include: transportation fares or gas, parking fees or tolls from driving a car.

Travel expenses allow you to deduct your meals (only 50%) and lodging if the travel is required by work related education. Travel expenses will only cover trips where you spend more than 50% of the time on the work related education. If you spend 60% of your time sightseeing, you would only be able to deduct 40% of the lodging and meal cost.

In order to claim the deductible, the individual must report an itemized list of educational expenses they want to claim on their tax return. You should:

  • Include the amount you want to deduct on line 21 of Schedule A (Form 1040) or line 7 of Schedule A (Form 1040 NR)
  • Complete Forms 2106 and 2106-EZ unless the reimbursements are included on your W-2 and you’re not claiming travel, transportation and meal expenses as a deductible.

Education can allow individuals learn the skills and knowledge to progress in their chosen fields. Unfortunately many individuals cannot afford to continually invest money in their education. Businesses offer an alternate option to potentially afford an education either through non-taxed tuition reimbursement programs or education fringe benefits.

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