Career Column

Your career is probably one of the most important aspect of your life. It helps define who you are, who you want to be, and what you’d like to be remembered for. As a young professional who has worked at two companies and dealt with two different corporate personalities, I try to impart my perspectives on the working climate today.


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Let’s save ourselves from costly ‘help’ like this


Beware of yet another start-up that’s out to take advantage of the self-employed and part-time workers trying to make a living from several jobs.

Even is a new company launching later this year that promises to help smooth out the erratic income of those of us who don’t have a single, steady employer.

They posit themselves as insurance on your checks: Give them your money, and they’ll pay you a weekly salary out of it.

If your income isn’t up to snuff that week, they say they give you an interest free loan.

If all systems are go, your extra money is saved for the next time a check is late or your shifts are cut.

The big problem: Even charges $5 per week to hold onto your money for you. That’s $20 per month and $240 per year. In exchange, they give you zero interest in your savings.

What a terrible idea.

Look, I understand the frustration when your incoming is coming from a dozen different sources. I’ve been self-employed for 10 years, and sometimes checks are late.

But there’s a very easy way to even things out yourself.
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The Ultimate Layoff Survival Plan: How smart financial decisions now and later can help you through

Most people don’t expect to be laid off, but for anyone who’s been through it (raising my hand!), it often comes when you’d least expect it.

For me, it came on a Monday morning in the form of a sticky note from my immediate supervisor that said to meet her in the hallway.

I knew right away that she was giving me a heads up about the “meeting” I would be called into later that day. These so-called meetings had been happening a lot at my company, but I just assumed after working there for 15 years that I was safe.

Take it from me – I was wrong, and your job is not safe either.

Sure, there aren’t 2009 levels of layoffs going on right now, but for industries still feeling the economic sting, you may find yourself saying, “that cubicle wasn’t empty yesterday, was it?” or “what happened to Jane from accounting?”

As much as we try to be prepared in case of a rainy day, when that day does come, it’s easy to slip into panic mode, and start making rash financial decisions like borrowing from your 401(k) or maxing out your credit cards.

Lucky for me, my layoff was the push I needed to take my side freelance business to the next level. In other words, I had a backup plan ready to go.

In order to keep your financial future secure in the event of unexpected unemployment, you need to have a game plan.

Here’s what you should do if you’re laid off -– and what you should do now, while you’re still working -to be as prepared as possible for an unexpected pink slip.
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New law mandates in-state tuition for vets studying at all public colleges starting next year


Good news for U.S. vets: starting next year, you’ll qualify for in-state tuition at any public school, no matter where you live.

This perk was part of the $16.3 billion Veterans Administration reform bill that President Obama signed into law last Thursday.

Thirty states already offer in-state tuition to all veterans. But this will extend the discount to the remaining 20 states, including California.

At the University of California, for example, in-state tuition and fees are right at $13,200 a year. For non-California residents, it’s more than $36,000.

So the new law could save a Berkeley or UCLA-bound vet $22,800 a year – which is not small change.
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Where to find the highest pay, lowest cost of living


We often hear people say things like, “I’d be able to save more, if I lived in a cheaper city.”

But a lower cost of living usually means lower paying jobs, too.

So here’s the question you should be asking yourself: Which cities have the best balance of high pay and low cost of living?

National Public Radio recently put out a really cool interactive chart that answers that question.

It lets you see how far the typical paycheck really goes in 365 U.S. cities.
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Blindly chasing any and every job isn’t a smart way to launch your career…Here’s how to do better

I think we can all agree that time = money. But, when it comes to job hunting, that may not be the only equation worth considering.

I’m in my mid-twenties, and since graduating college, I have always been told to apply for jobs, as many as I can, even those that seem far out of my league. I think this is advice that permeates an entire generation. We can “have it all.” That is a great notion and I fully support the idea of challenging oneself and pushing the boundaries of our respective comfort zones.

But, many people like me (a full-time freelance journalist) wind up spending massive amounts of time applying for jobs we will never get under the misconception that we can land that dream job if we just keep trying. Some of us will! But most won’t.

Fortunately, I think there are ways to job hunt that need not waste our precious time. (Of course this advice is not applicable to everyone — recent grads, and others, from all walks of life, often just need to find something to keep them afloat.)

If you have a little wiggle room though, you should be looking hard for jobs you could realistically perform and wantto do.
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Work from home? 5 free ways to beat the stir crazy

Stir crazy cat is stir crazyMake no mistake, I love working from home. The freedom and flexibility are awesome.

Maybe that’s why so many people are doing it. According to a 2012 U.S. Census report, 13.4 million Americans work from home, up 41 percent since 1999.

But there are days that I find myself having conversations with my cats while I’m still in my coffee-stained pajamas at noon. I could stand to have less of those days.
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4 real ways to make money when your career stalls

Could professional snuggling be for you?The time between school and “adulthood” can be full of ambivalence and regrets for career gadabouts, but it need not be entirely unfunded.

For lots of people, the time after college is all about “personal exploration” (should they have the luxury). This is the time to finally make the exodus to Burning Man or to spend your days repeatedly hurling your paint-drenched body at the canvases blanketing your apartment walls.

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Are women really paid only 77 cents for each dollar men are paid?

Do women really earn 77 cents on the dollar compared to men?It’s fairly common to hear that women are only paid 77 cents for each dollar that men earn. While this number comes from the Census Bureau and is based on solid data, it’s important to understand that it doesn’t account for factors such as education and experience.

Indeed, when you start digging into the data a little bit, you find that there are a number of causes that influence the pay gap between men and women. And, while it’s definitely there, it might not be as big — or quite as sinister — as we think.


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