Communicating Professionally

Competitive UO Senior Planner

Why 20 Somethings Are Hired November 19, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jen J. Ashley @ 11:34 pm
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Many companies like to hire and gobble up college graduates. When I ask employers why the answer is always the same “They’re young, have so much energy, and our passionate!” It wasn’t until a couple years into the workforce that this started speaking to me on a entirely different level.


Yes, we are young. With youth brings a lack of inexperience. When applying for jobs we all thought that was a disadvantage – and it is, but not to all companies. Some companies love that we 20 somethings do not know anything because they can fill our minds with whatever they want! If this is sounding all negative, I do not mean it to be. We need these companies to take a chance on us and give us that magical substance of ‘experience.’ More often than not though I think we are being fooled. Youth means we are not well versed at reading between the lines of a job posting or asking the right questions in an interview. To some companies, youth means they can sucker you into cold-calling for two years because you didn’t understand the position initially and you need it to pay the bills. Youth doesn’t always mean naive though. For the company I work with it means ‘unattached.’ I can up and move around the country at the drop of a hat because I have no real attachments to a location. I lucked out with the right kind of ‘youth’ minded company!


Energy – Well we all know that comes from the all-nighters we gladly went through to pass the class/great night out. 


Passionate. This one is harder for me. I feel that we are not a generation of deeply-passionate people. Don’t get me wrong! There are many people who are 20 something who are changing the world and care greatly about global warming or animal cruelty. However, I think most of us lack conviction for something. We like the idea of dedicating ourselves to a cause, we just don’t know what idea that is. And it is only recently that I realized what they mean by passionate. We passionately want to care! We want to throw ourselves into our work at this age. We want those late nights, gruesome business trips, and last-minute presentations. We want them because we want to have a cause, even if it is just making sure the client’s ridiculous requests are met. 


There are many reasons to hire a recent graduate. We are young, energetic and have a deep sense of passion. Companies out there can see the potential in us (and thank goodness for that). But, there are still some who want to absorb up all our positive attributes and spit us out. Be smart when applying for jobs and know that even if you are young, you still bring a great deal to the table. 


I Have a Big Girl Job! (Do they know I don’t feel like an adult yet?) September 13, 2013


We all have a moment of realizing that we are officially an adult. I think mine came on my first day with my IT consulting firm filling out my paperwork. When my boss wasn’t around I would be searching things on my phone like ‘health insurance premium’ or calling my Dad and asking ‘What’s a Roth?’ Somewhere between putting a beneficiary on my life insurance policy and planning how much I should put aside for retirement from each paycheck, I realized I was in over my head. Why couldn’t they ask me things that I actually learned in school like the symbolism in Odysseus or the Econ formulas I wrote on the back of flashcards and memorized? I felt like I was drowning  while everyone gazed at me calmly saying ‘Yeah, that’s how it is. You’re an adult now.’

I have since grown up a little bit. I have spoken to a financial adviser (emailed the company accountant), and began to get used to the daily rituals of bills, grocery shopping, and oh yeah going to work. My job itself is challenging and rewarding. I think most people out of college can adjust to jobs in their careers easily. It is the rest of the stuff that confuses us. For instance; What can I talk to my boss about? If he/she invites me to happy hour, do I go? The answer is yes. I don’t care how old I get or how much money is in my bank account somebody offers me a free drink I pounce on that. However, there is a formula to this. You drink exactly HALF of what your boss is drinking. This is important, You never want to get drunk in front of your boss, ever. But it is important to connect with coworkers in a social setting.

In my limited experience in the working world I have seen many recent college graduates. What is the biggest failure? Dress attire. Not joking. For whatever reason, many of us 20 somethings can’t observe the proper work attire and apply to wardrobe. Yes, you need to brush your hair. No, sweatshirts are not acceptable – even on a Friday. I know we are all broke after college. But it is highly important to buy the cheapest thing you can that can pass for work appropriate. For guys that is simple, black pants and a button up. Girls, we have it more difficult. A couple general rules to follow for us: If you can’t walk into a church with that outfit, don’t wear it to work. (You would be amazed how few people follow this rule.) When in doubt, go conservative. Bright colors are great, just stick to one per outfit. Most importantly don’t look like you are going to an 8:00 am class. yes, I know you are there at that time but wake up early and put some mascara on!

One of the biggest lessons I learned right away was yes, they know you are young and new. They do not expect you to know everything. Actually, don’t even try to pretend you will seem arrogant and just make people not like you. Asking questions is great – just try to ask them in one sitting and try to answer them yourself first. Even though you may not know what you are doing be enthusiastic about that task. As just previously stated you are new. You are probably not going to receive the best assignments. That’s OK! Enjoy the ones you have because there are probably about 15 other recent graduates who didn’t receive this job that would gladly take those mundane tasks from you.


What College Teaches You March 12, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jen J. Ashley @ 4:56 am


Not everything you learn in school is completely necessary for real life. Will knowing the year the telephone was invented open any doors for me? No. Does knowing the proper order for classifying living organisms change the course of my life? Not likely. Here is what I have picked up in school that I know will help me afterwards.

1. How to deal with terrible people in group projects

No matter what your major is there will always be some form of a group project to make or break you. Being in the J school I have them every term. For the most part I have survived. But, there is always the project that kills your soul. Whether it be someone not pulling their weight of someone else completely taking charge and bombarding you with emails about assignments that are due weeks away. College has taught me to deal multiple different types of personalities in group settings.

2. How to stay up all hours of the night to accomplish a task

Not that this is necessarily a good thing but it is important nonetheless. Sometimes stuff needs to get done the night before. It may not be the smartest thing in the world but having the practice and discipline to do this is a skill that will surpass college.

3. Memorizing facts to sound intelligent (or to take a test)

Most of the information I have acquired in my classes will never be used in my career. I may casually drop it into a conversation to sound clever or to prove a point but other than that the factoids will just be taking up space in my brain. However, if someone brings up the symbolism in The Odyssey I can hold up my end of the discussion.

4. Holding your liquor for happy hour

I was once told that I should treat happy hour like it is a part of my job. It is the place where you can connect your personality with your coworkers. The people who get ahead in life are the ones who are relatable and happy hour is a great way to show off yours. As long as you are not an intoxicated mess that is.

5. How to meet strangers

This is also called networking, but in college that isn’t what we call it. When you are at a party full of strangers you have to get over the awkward ‘I don’t know you’ point to have a great time. Same with networking professionally: find something you connect on, be sincere and go with it

6. Weekends start on Thursdays

This is obviously true in college. This was proven in the real world to me with my internship this summer. The corporate office was practically empty and the ones who were there weren’t really ‘there’.

7. What you put into something is what you get out

This is a lesson I will take with me for the rest of my life. Whether it be with your school work, sorority, relationships or hobbies; the amount of time, energy and love you invest is how much you will receive back.


Technology: Does it foster or hinder relationships? January 30, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jen J. Ashley @ 3:21 am


Technology is fascinating the way it is constantly evolving. What is even more fascinating is how we adapt our lives around it. So much so that it has changed the dynamics of relationships.


In many ways it has been a blessing. Couples can be separated by thousands of miles and still have face to face conversations everyday via Skype. We can easily learn about big events like engagements or pregnancies from people in all sectors of our lives. Facebook allows me to see my cousin’s children in Maryland. With relationship statuses, news feeds and tagged photos it makes it more difficult for someone to cheat on you without finding out. Plus, technology lets you stalk people legally. (Or as I refer to it ‘research’.) But, there is a dark side to all these gadgets.


Because of the ease of communication that technology has provided, we expect a lot of it. Since texting is effortless we become upset if a guy has not texted all day. You can tell your significant other that you were staying in but the next day pictures of you are tagged taking shots with your cute ‘friend’ from Biology class. People can become jealous for the most random of reasons such as ‘liking’ a girl’s picture. With iPhones providing the World Wide Web at your fingertips constantly it can get in the way of alone time. Instead of focusing on your significant other you have everyone on the Internet competing for your attention.


Many of fights have started because of something to do with technology. Whether it is not texting or a Facebook comment, it can lead to a potential end in a relationship. However, many relationships would have never started without the help of technology. Does it foster or hinder relationships? I guess that is an individual decision for us all.



Women and Weddings December 31, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jen J. Ashley @ 3:42 am

What is it about weddings that women love so dearly? Is it because we imagine ourselves as the bride, the center of attention? Partially, yes. But what I think it really is a real-life fairytale we can actually obtain.

Growing up us girls dream of being a princess. Whether we played with dolls or mud pies, we all wanted our prince charming to take us away to live happily ever after. As we grow older the dream of perfection fades gradually but the one thing we hold onto is the wedding. It is a day that we plan for months or years down to the last detail. We try our hardest to make everything perfect down to the smallest features in the centerpieces. Many women spare no expense for their ‘special day’ because for most of us, our wedding is the closest thing to a fairytale we will ever have.

Take Cinderella, the story that relates most to a wedding. She works hard all day long, underappreciated just wanting to go to the ball. Her Fairy Godmother appears and transforms her rags into the gown of her dreams. She walks into the dance and all eyes are on her. She bewitches the prince to fall in love with her and until the clock strikes midnight, her evening is perfect. Deep down, that is what all girls attempt, Cinderella’s enchanting evening.

Life is not fair or perfect. Happily ever after may not be achievable for all. However, every woman deserves to feel like a beautiful princess on her wedding day. Even if that means becoming neurotic with the flower placements or spending too much on a dress, we all deserve a fairytale at least once in our life.


(25) The Personal Website November 30, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jen J. Ashley @ 9:53 pm

Well here it is, my personal website.


This was not as easy as I thought it would be. I experimented around with multiple different hosting sites until I found the one that suited me. The assignment was to have an about me section, a resume, a place to hold some portfolio items and a link back to my fabulous blog. I am  not one with an eye for design but I was surprised at how much effort I put into making this look the way I wanted it to. I guess when it literally has your name plastered on it brings on a whole new level of commitment. I hope this sets me apart from other candidates in a way that communicates how I would like to be seen, a talented young professional. I welcome any and all feedback on my site. Thank you and happy viewing!


(24) Keep Your Love Letters: Little Else Matters

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jen J. Ashley @ 2:32 am

Everyone that has been in a failed relationship has a ritual to what happens with the leftover remnants of that life.  Some give all the presents and pictures back to the giver, others tuck everything safely into a designated box to be hidden from sight and some (like myself) get rid of it all. Whether it be burning pictures, or donating old sweatshirts, I just want the reminders gone. As I grow older there is one thing I decided to never part with again, love letters.

Love letters are becoming more and more like the spotted owl, beautiful and extinct.  Sure, we get sweet texts and nice emails, but the physical token of your significant other’s feelings spread out for someone to read is an almost an unbearable reminder of broken love. Some of the letters have been read so often that they are memorized. No matter how many times you memorize the words you will never train yourself to not feel the gut-wrenching, raw emotional pain of the past. Love letters are the doorways to a previous time. It shows what was going on in life at the moment and how you full heartedly believed love would concur all. It is an unbearable pain that most of us can’t forget. These letters show generosity. It illustrates how you have been adored and that person took the time out of their life to write it down so you would always know. This unbridled emotion is excruciating later down the road. That is why I must keep them. Not for torture, but as a reminder of how I once felt so deeply about someone.

When I look back to my first heartbreak, I was distraught. I couldn’t eat, sleep, function, I felt broken. I was 16 and had no reservations about loving him. I did not think how my future could be with him, what kind of father he would be, and would he be able to provide a happy life with me. No, I loved recklessly with all I had. Once I got over the trauma and healed, I healed with cracks in my heart. I loved again yes, but it was different. The more my heart broke the less I felt the damage. I adapted and did not love uncontrolled like my first time ever again. I know as I grow older this sad truth of survival will only become more true. That’s why I have to keep my love letters. They are proof of the dying emotions that I once had. Nothing I ever write for the rest of my life will be as true as my past love letters.

As I close the book on another relationship, I do so knowing I will never love the way I did again. Not because I won’t find another, but because I will have more emotional walls built up inside me not allowing me to get to the part of my heart that is tender from loss. It is important to keep the reminders of this passion because discarding them makes them lost forever. As bad as the pain is, I rather feel that then nothing at all.