women

Marriage: One Year In

By: Chevonne R.C. Nash

In a few short weeks, my husband and I will celebrate one year of marriage. (Yay, us!) You would think by now we’d have a well-rehearsed answer for the often asked: “so, how’s married life?” question. It seems like such a simple question, but there’s never really a simple answer. We typically just respond: “it’s good,” with a shrug and a smile and get on about the business of ordering appetizers.

Similar to when someone asks, “how are you?” It’s almost considered impolite to give details on how you’re actually doing. People don’t want to hear about your paper cut or that really good hair day you’re having. So, “I’m fine” suffices.

However, since I have this platform, I figured it’s an opportunity to expound upon “it’s good” and share seven things I’ve learned in my first year of marriage. The good, the bad and, sometimes the ugly:

1. Nobody knows what they’re doing the first year.

Anybody who tells you different is not to be trusted. Nobody knows how to be married until they’ve had practice being married. My husband and I did pre-marital counseling and read books to give us tools and tips to help us get off to a strong start. But I’m a new wife, he’s a new husband and we’re figuring things out as we go. Mistakes will be made along the way, but you learn from them and keep moving forward together.

2. Life will get in the way if you let it.

Between work, social obligations, hobbies, friends, family, social media, and candy crush requests, it’s easy to let your schedule get overrun. Keep quality time with your spouse a priority. Spend time together on purpose. Little things make a big difference.

3. Not all advice is good advice.

Be very discerning of whose counsel you take. As a newlywed, you’ll get advice from lots of different people. Most of them mean well, but advice is very subjective. Consider the source and whether or not their advice makes sense for your marriage.

4. Grab your pom-poms: you’re now somebody’s permanent cheering section.

It’s very important to be a booster for your spouse. Applaud their efforts, support their dreams and cheer them up when they are feeling down. One of my favorite pictures of my husband and me at our wedding was one we took in the photo booth holding signs – mine said “team groom” and his said “team bride.” That holds true. We are each other’s number one fans. (Corny, but true. Stop rolling your eyes.)

5. You are the teacher and the student.

You learn SO MUCH about yourself when you’re married. What gets on your nerves and what irks you somehow become very clear. Lol. But you also grow and learn compromise, patience and teamwork. You also become the teacher. Just as you learn about yourself from having a spouse, your spouse is learning about him/herself from being married to you.

6. “You” is now “Us.”

This is not to say you lose your identity or individuality. Always keep that! However, you now have to consider another person for just about every decision. Seemingly minute things, like what time you’ll be home from work, what you’re eating for dinner or what groceries you bring home from the store, will in one way or another affect someone else. Not to mention you can barely go anywhere alone anymore without hearing “where’s your husband/wife?”

7. Don’t Call Tyrone.

Conflict happens in a marriage. Sometimes minor, other times major. If you and your spouse are having an argument, I beg of you, be very careful of who you chose to air your grievances with. Make sure it’s someone who knows and loves your spouse. Don’t go complaining to Tyrone, who didn’t really like your spouse anyway, because this just gives him more reason not to (and he’s probably telling somebody else your business). Then, once you and your spouse have kissed and made up, Tyrone is still not over it and over there side-eying your spouse at the next dinner party. Guard your spouse, even during times of conflict. (Unless it’s abusive. Then, by all means, tell somebody.)

Year one has been great and I look forward to what we learn over the next year and beyond. Check back with me in 50 years or so. By then I should know what I’m doing.

For more from Chevonne R.C. Nash, please visit http://www.chevnash.com/

Job Searching for the Gainfully Employed

By: Melissa Iris Michael

Let’s face it, no one likes applying for jobs; it’s intimidating, labor-intensive, and tends to draw on our deepest insecurities- so obviously we only throw ourselves into the competitive fighting pits when we have to. But that’s also why the best time to look for jobs is when you don’t have to, while you're gainfully employed.

Of course people don’t always have that luxury, unemployment can rear its ugly head at anytime and catch you off guard. Or you may find yourself in the other camp; you love your job so much, you couldn’t think about doing anything else. If you happen to be somewhere in the middle of this employment spectrum, then this post is for you.

Job searching is like peeing

When you have to pee you don’t usually wait until the last minute if you can help it, as soon as you have the urge, you start making your way to the bathroom, because once you wait until you really have to go then you may wind up in a desperate situation.

In my professional life, I’ve applied for jobs under two general circumstances-- I was unemployed or I was incredibly unhappy with my job. This is the job equivalent of running to the bathroom when you really have to go. This time around I thought, why do a daunting task under dire circumstances, why not start fishing now for when I’m hungry later?

Fishing for jobs is a win-win situation

I have a decent paying job in the public service. Over the past two years I incrementally worked my way up the ladder to a respectable management position but about six months ago decided to start looking to see what else was out there, just to scope it out.

I quickly discovered what we all pretty much know- you have to apply for a lot of jobs just to hear back from a handful, and those handfuls can take a really long-time to follow up with you (even after you grand-slam your interview out of the park!) To my surprise my currently-employed-safety-net really helped take the edge off. I had some great interviews where it took weeks or months to hear back but instead of obsessively checking my inbox and over-analyzing my interview answers, I was cool, calm and collected.

To date I have not yet accepted another position (I’ve had some close calls and some offers I declined) but throwing myself into the competitive fighting pit led me to believe this is a win-win situation no matter how it plays out:

At Worst

  • I’ve increased resiliency against petty office politics in my current job.
  • I’ve sharpened critical writing, communication and negotiation skills.
  • I’ve increased confidence knowing I am a competitive candidate.
  • I’ve expanded my professional network.

At Best

  • I will be offered a job that truly resonates with what I’m looking for.

Knowledge is power

Knowing what your professional possibilities are automatically puts in you a place of power. Let’s face it, no one likes applying for jobs, but why do a daunting task during a dire situation, if you can help it, do it during relatively blue skies, so you can stay on top of your game and remain in the drivers seat.

Top 5 Life Lessons from Taylor Swift's 1989 Album

You might think it strange to take life lessons from a country-turned pop star, but just think about it: Taylor Swift has won several Grammy Awards, sold millions of albums, made most women jealous of her powerful girl posse, and even seems to have finally found lasting love with DJ Calvin Harris. Who wouldn’t want to be a little more like Taylor Swift?

Luckily, since Taylor is a singer-songwriter who isn’t afraid to put her personal life into her lyrics, it’s not hard to mine Taylor’s songs for gems of wisdom you can use to get through life. Here are five songs from Taylor’s hit album ‘1989’ with a message for all of us:

Shake it Off

The ultimate in “Go your own way” girl power, ‘Shake it Off’ tells you that no matter how other people treat you, you can still choose to live your life the way you want and not let their words or criticism bring you down. Sure, the haters are gonna hate, but the next time you hear the office gossip circle back to you, just make like Taylor and shake it off!

Style

Swift has undergone an amazing style metamorphosis from prairie-chic to bona fide fashion trendsetter in the last couple of years, and here you can listen to a few of her secrets. Don’t have that perfect vampy shade of red lipstick in your bag for whenever you need a power kick? Head to the cosmetics department and buy it!

Clean

Taylor’s had a wild ride with some of her previous relationships, and ‘Clean’ is about learning to put the past in the past and let things that aren’t healthy for you go. Still in the dumps about a failed relationship? Still find your thoughts wandering to what ‘might have been’? Turn this song up on the stereo and remind yourself that your best days are yet to come, and the past should stay in the past where it belongs.

Welcome to New York

For a girl from tiny Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, moving to a luxury apartment in New York must have been quite a change. But Taylor quickly took NYC by storm with her fabulous outfits and lust for city life. This song is all about not being afraid to take risks and explore, and it’s a good message for any girl, wherever she lives.

Blank Space

This playful track reminds us that Swift doesn’t just work hard, she plays hard, too. Don’t take yourself so seriously that you forget to stop in the moment and just have fun – whether you’re young or old, there’s always room for adventure and lust for life!

Mentors and Negotiators

By: Molly M. Goldwasser, Ed.D.

Manager of Institutional Assessment and Accreditation

Duke University

Peer-reviewed journals and popular media sources alike continue to publish articles about the gender-based wage gap. The U.S. Census Bureau statistic is well known: Women make, on average, 77 cents on the dollar than men make. Why does this gap persist and what can we do about it?

One contributing factor that perpetuates the wage gap is the negotiation gap. Women are significantly less likely to negotiate employment offers than their male counterparts. According to a study published in the Harvard Business Review, only 7% of recent female MBA graduates attempted to negotiate job offers, compared to 57% of their male classmates. Similar research suggests that women who do regularly negotiate accrue over $1 million in additional lifetime earnings than those who don’t. Recent studies indicate men are four times more likely to initiate [salary] negotiations and, when negotiating, they ask for more than do their female counterparts.

Recognizing the well-documented reasons why women often fail to negotiate – after having been guilty of a few myself – I continue to seek resources to mitigate my fear of negotiating. The best resource I have found to date: female mentors. Due in no small part to my mentors, I have been able to embrace my role in correcting these negotiation-failure trends early in my career. I’d like to share the following story with you as an example of how you, too, can empower and support your fellow female professionals.

I was staffing an alternative spring break trip with colleagues when I received a verbal offer for a new position. The initial salary offer was significantly less than what I was expecting. I felt deflated and I didn’t know what my next step should be. I explained the situation to one of my colleagues and mentors on this trip. For the next several hours on the bus, not to mention several hours for each subsequent day on the trip, my mentor dedicated her thoughts and attention to my job situation.

We started by role playing possible conversations with the hiring manager. It was valuable for me to practice responding to “no.” We made a list of elements of a total compensation package that I could negotiate to supplement the salary. My mentor wrote my desired total compensation at the top of a sheet of paper and we listed possible line items to negotiate in order to reach this target number. She continued to add to the list throughout the course of the week.

One takeaway my mentor made explicitly clear was that it was my duty to negotiate not only for me and my own family’s financial well-being but also for future generations of women. “If you were the hiring manager’s daughter,” she posed, “what do you think he would be telling you to do?”

I felt more confident as I negotiated my contract upon my return to campus. I learned better questions to ask and better ways to frame conversations. I am still nervous about negotiating, but I recognize that asking is one way I can crack the glass ceiling. I realize that it is my responsibility to “pay it forward” to simulate contract negotiations with my students.

Study after study continues to document that women earn less than equally qualified men and we are also less likely to negotiate on our own behalves. We need to empower women to negotiate in order to chip away at the wage gap. To do so, we need to create personal mentor networks. Each of us should have mentors and each of us should strive to be a mentor.

The Memo's Top 10 Summer Reads

1) Girl Boss by Sophia Amoruso

2) Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

3) Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office by Lois P. Frankel

4) The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

5) The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

6) Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell Jr.

7) The Andy Cohen Diaries by Andy Cohen

8) Women Who Don't Wait in Line by Reshma Saujani

9) The Juice Solution by Erin Quon and Briana Stockton

10) The Artisan Soul by Erwin McManus