Three Things I Learned: Painting Pottery

I landed my first job at Feats of Clay, a paint-your-own-pottery place in my hometown when I was 15. Here are three things I learned:

1. Responsibility can be taken or given, regardless of whether or not you want to take or be given it. Let it give you perseverance.

Within three months, I had a key to the store. Soon after, I was not only counting the drawer and tracking our daily profit, but also dropping the deposit off at the bank. At 16, I often opened and closed the store alone and would run the store like a mullet: regular business up front and sometimes hectic, crazy toddler filled parties in the back. I typically didn’t mind running the store alone; on slow days, I would paint display pieces and empty out the kiln. I learned that autonomy and responsibility are incredibly gratifying things from a job. But I also learned how crushing it can be when you have too much responsibility and not enough leadership. There were times when the store would run out of small change. There were times when my boss said she had to run a quick errand and not come back for three hours. There were times when people would get impatient and pissily ask me how old are you again? Are you the only one here? I sometimes would go home and cry to my mom complaining I was too stressed…but then I would just wake up the next Saturday and open and work and close again. Nothing wrong with a little perseverance. I had that job, with a few raises, for almost four years.

2. There’s always room to teach yourself something new at any job. And it’s not a chore.

My typical responsibilities were helping customers, cleaning, running parties, and handling the cash register. But eventually I did window displays, planned and budgeted summer camps, and even created one or two advertisements for the local papers. I did this because I love creatively designing things: events, images, displays. I was able to explore my own talents and my own design aesthetic. I was 17, it was fun, and business jargon labels it as the highly sought after “initiative.”

3. It’s so easy to see how much better you can run things than your boss.

But if that’s the case, rather than complaining (ugh), do what you can to improve what you have responsibility over. Then request time to sit with your boss and offer up constructive feedback. We’re all humans and no one is perfect. Having the opportunity to step back from your work and criticize it isn’t an opportunity to bitch about your job – it’s an opportunity to help someone see the larger picture when they’re most likely totally consumed by the dirty details. Or in my case, maybe they don’t have the time (or don’t care) to see the bigger picture. I always wished I had stepped up and had more serious conversations about ways to improve that job.

BONUS: Coffee in large quantities is totally fine (probably).

Ah coffee. How I used to loathe thee and that strange bitter flavor. Then I became slightly less dim and started enjoying coffee ice cream in middle school. True genius status arrived once I started at Feats of Clay and I began to consume more coffee than a high school student should need. There’s something reassuring about being at work with coffee in hand. It’s like it gives you power. You know it’s supposed to kick start something, so then after you take those first few steps, all you need is to believe. That’s when you get your grind on (punny). Coffee + work = accomplishment. The only time I’ve ever found coffee to be a problem was when I was painting custom pieces…which were most often birthday or wedding gifts with lots of fine typography. Jittery hands were not the greatest thing. And yet me and my coworkers would fall to pieces laughing  over the fact that we were trying to paint something delicate while our hands were just shaking all over the place.

Photo of Meredith painting a ceramic mug.

Pro painting tip: always place your brush where you want the heaviest paint line first. Other pro tip: don’t shake.

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Super Summer Beer: Post-work Cocktail

After a nice, eight or nine hour day, it’s great to come home and have a casual, simple drink. My Super Summer Beer was inspired by three things:

  • bright, summer flavors (lemon)
  • rum that I got for free by mistake
  • a limited number of beers in the fridge (3) — time to make things last by creating mix drinks

Some people have qualms over mixing beer with liquor, and to that I say, “Dear boring individual, have you tried water?”

If you’re looking for a drink with subtle flavor to bum around with in the evening, give the following recipe a try:

Super Summer Beer
makes 2 drinks*

Fixin’s:

  • 1 pale ale (I used Rolling Rock)
  • 2 shots of your favorite pirate-approved rum (I used Captain Morgan)
  • 2-4 teaspoons of lemon juice (fresh would be better, but we can’t all live extravagantly)
  • 2 of your favorite cups

Mixin’s:

  1. Pour one shot of rum into each glass
  2. Pour half the bottle of beer into each glass
  3. squirt in 1-2 teaspoons of lemon juice into each glass; stir if you’re using fresh lemon juice
  4. Enjoy.

rum

sailor

lemon

burr!

*for those who count their drinks: 1/2 beer + 1 shot of rum = 1 1/2 drinks. Math’s great.

How to Enjoy Alumni Weekend…as a Student

For a link to the official schedule of all the UDel Alumni Weekend events, scroll to the bottom of the post.

I only know about Alumni Weekend for two reasons:

  1. I work at the UD Student Phone Program, part of the Office of Development, which works closely with Alumni Relations.
  2. The University of Delaware thinks that I am an alumni.

Or at least I can only assume, since they send me random alumni-related mailings and emails every once in a while.

UD Alumni Weekend 2013 Header

Alright, three reasons why I want to go to Alumni Weekend, which is May 31st – June 2nd:

  1. Free stuff and good deals.
  2. Networking opportunities.
  3. Blue Hen Pride.

Alright, so here’s a breakdown of how I’m going to address each of those things.

Free Stuff and Deals

$40, Mug Night Dela-bration: Live music, about 2,500 people partying on the Green, free mug, free t-shirt, and endless food and drinks. Also, how often do you get to chug beer on the Green (before a Public Safety guy shows up)?

Mug Night on the Green

If you think about it, just dinner, dessert, and three drinks would probably cost about $40. So I’m claiming this as a Great Deal.

$30, Dela-Brews 101: Even though the wordplay in the title is weak, this beer taste testing includes Dogfish Head Brewery, Twin Lakes, Iron Hill, 16 Mile, Stewart’s Brewing, Argilla, and 3rd Wave. So far. Plus extra prizes are up for grabs. Good Deal.

$5, Inside Scoop on UDairy Creamery: This is the only time of the year that UDairy Creamery opens its magical and mysterious doors to let worshipers like us come see how to make ice cream…straight from the UD cows themselves. Plus, free taste tests. Decent Deal.

$5, Greening Your Landscape: Before you start snoring, just know that you get a free native plant and materials about environmentally friendly landscaping practices. Decent Deal.

FREE, College Receptions (except for CEHD & AGNR, which are $5): My college, the College of Arts & Sciences, is offering free food and drinks, plus live music, to celebrate not only the college, but the study abroad programs here as well.

I would also like to stop by the Alfred Lerner College’s reception, though, since they’re offering cocktails, desserts, and coffee. They’re skipping dinner. They’re geniuses. Good Deal.

FREE, “Imaging Biology” talk by Roger Wagner, Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences: 3D glasses. Popcorn. I guess you’ll learn about imaging biological specimens, including 3D and modeling stuff. “Come learn and enjoy some fantastic images.” I’ll just repeat 3D glasses and popcorn. Good Deal.

Networking Opportunities

Uh, duh! The whole thing is a networking opportunity. However, since people are there to relax and relive glory days, reserve the eager beaver elevator pitches for these times:

UD Regional Alumni Club Volunteer Training: a bunch of alumni who are coming together to exchange ideas about leadership, events, and connecting alumni with one other.

Blue Hen CareerTube: people who want to be featured giving advice to us starry eyed students will be filming at the Career Services building on Saturday. I suggest dropping in and seeing who’s there.

Backyard Gardening: Grow Your Own Food, by the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources: So, I know a lot of people with gardens. A lot of them also have awesome jobs. Give back to your community by supporting the Food Bank of Delaware, and give back to yourself by stopping by and meeting up with other UD alumni. What better way to get a job than by bonding over weeding?

Career specific events: Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering Alumni Golf Outing, Tracking the Perfect Storm with the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, Healthcare Theatre Performance with the College of Health Sciences, Biological Sciences Showcase, the Buzz on Beekeeping and Honey with the College of Agriculture.

Plus, hello, those awesome College Receptions where they give out free stuff. Give away your own free stuff by bringing contact cards.

Blue Hen Pride

Cool events I want to attend because I’ve spent the last three years of my life here, have another year to go, and because I care about the future of this place. Group awwww. Somewhere, a baby blue hen was just born.

State of the University: part pomp and circumstance, part good stuff to know about the well-being of our school. President Harker will go over current and future projects, what cool stuff some recent graduates are doing, and how smart the incoming class is (I already hate any of them who got over a 2040 on the SATs. Go home. Just kidding. Welcome).

ISE Lab tours: Um, the Interdisciplinary Science & Engineering Lab’s construction has been keeping me awake in the mornings for months, so I think I deserve to see the inside before I graduate. Plus, I’m curious how much of it is lab versus classroom space, plus which students will be using the space.

UD Slideshow & Historic Walking Tour with Professor David Ames: Alright, our campus is gorgeous. It’s pretty much why I came here over Lehigh. I just want to know its history and the architectural history of our buildings, mmkay?

Memorial Hall -- image of when it was first built.

To look up the location and date and times for all of these things, since I have inconveniently not listed them, go here: The Schedule

That’s also where you go to register. After you register, you become a part of the creep list. The creep list is the list of all the alumni who have already registered, plus their @Twitter names so you can tweet at them. What up, more networking opportunities!

See you guys there!

The Semi-Colon Project: Mistreatment of the Self-Mistreated

If you haven’t seen any buzz about the Semicolon Project yet, then let me share the description of it from the Facebook page (since the tumblr page doesn’t even include any information in the about section):

April 16th, all who self harm, are suicidal, depressed, unhappy, have anxiety, has a broken heart, lost a loved one, draw a semicolon on your wrist. Semicolons represent a sentence the author chose not to end. You’re the author, the sentence is your life.

ImageImageImage

As someone who has personally and through friends dealt with mental health issues, a project like this immediately speaks to me. It’s a sensitive and personal topic, and a project like this could be used to empower and support those going through tough times.

However, here’s a quick excerpt from a tumblr post from someone else who, like me, felt as though something were off, particularly because of the grammar issues with this project:

The more we spoke the more suspicious I became of her motives for this blog/project. I came out, and asked her if she was using this blog for fame.

She said yes.

I’m only writing this to inform the people of tumblr of this fraud of rainisthenewsun’s project.

The author’s response:

This girl (justalska) is what I can call a attentionwhore. if I want to be tumblr famous with this blog, it’s just to help alot of people. If you have troll like them as I can call, ignore them, they are so not worth it. I love you all my lovely followers and hope you understant how the nature of this message is fake.

-semicolon project (a.k rainisthenewsun)

Mmk. My interpretation? This is someone who just wanted a lot of followers, but figured they’d do it in an “empowering way”. Unfortunately, when someone has an ulterior motive behind a project that could be so great for so many people, I feel cheated and disappointed.

Additionally, the person who created this project is disseminating incorrect grammar information, and as a grammar nerd, this also bothers me. A semicolon, according to Grammar Girl, is described here:

Semicolons separate things. Most commonly, they separate two main clauses that are closely related to each other but that could stand on their own as sentences if you wanted them to.

The true definition of a semicolon could have been applied in a better way. For example: The semicolon project wants to let everyone know that we are all able to stand on our own, but that we can choose to support each other. Whatever, I digress.

If you want to show your support for yourself or for your loved ones who are dealing with depression, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, or any other mental health issues, I highly encourage you to check out To Write Love On Her Arms, a non-profit movement that is

dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and invest directly into treatment and recovery.

ImageImageImage

Here’s my own wrist:

love written on my wrist

LinkedIn for Newbies: Yes, You Need One

Ah yes, LinkedIn. The social media for professionals. To start us off, here is a very favorite clip of mine from 30 Rock:

So Jack Donaghy may believe he’s above LinkedIn, but not everyone feels this way. I’m writing this post in response to Undercover Recruiter’s (@UndercoverRec) tweet that I retweeted:

https://twitter.com/UndercoverRec/status/319025280574423041

To not get hired because you’re not on LinkedIn would be awful because it’s actually an excellent resource that everyone, regardless of whether or not you are a job seeker, should be using.

Here are five tips that I would suggest when it comes to LinkedIn:

1. Have a complete and accurate profile with an appropriate picture.

Example of a profile picture.

Simple jewelry, clean hair, and just so happy to be here. Note that I’m not daging or showing off.

LinkedIn not only makes initial set up easy by allowing you to upload your current resume, but it actually is constantly encouraging you to update your profile and provide more details.

While you may only include two to three previous jobs on your current resume, your LinkedIn profile is an appropriate place to list literally any and all work experience that you’ve had. You never know what qualities someone else is looking for, even if you may believe it to be unrelated to a job you’re seeking.

While filling out your information, be consistent in your voice, have your page be free of typos and grammar errors, and use your summary section to present what you can contribute, not what your goals are!

2. Recommendations are important. Endorsements are more like likes on Facebook and Instagram or favorites on Twitter.

Endorse people within or out of your network genuinely. You should not be endorsing people for things you don’t know they’re successful at. However, endorsements are a nice way of flattering and gaining attention.

Recommendations are incredibly important. You may say that you are a forward thinker that drives results, but to have another person go out of their way to announce that to others gives you serious credibility. How do you get recommendations? If someone you work with has given you an accolade or complement, thank them immediately. If the conversation deems it appropriate, mention how great it would be if you were able to include that on your LinkedIn.

Another way to gain recommendations? Try giving one! If you work with someone who is truly amazing and has gone above and beyond in a project or career that you were directly involved with, recommend them.

3. Network with purpose, and know who you’re networking with!

Funny story: I requested to connect with my dad on LinkedIn when I was just starting out. I didn’t bother to change the generic message that says,

“I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

– Meredith Greer”.

I received a message back saying that he was refusing to connect with me because it looked like spam, and in the future to always cater my message to the person I’m reaching out to. At this point in time, I am still not connected with my dad on LinkedIn.

And, like the Undercover Recruiter article states, not knowing who you’re interacting with on LinkedIn is a huge mistake.

I connect with students I would say hi to.

I connect with professors whose classes I enjoyed and was successful in.

I connect with professionals who I’ve reached out to for classes, extracurricular, or internship purposes.

I connect with coworkers.

If there is someone on LinkedIn that you want to connect with, but you don’t know them personally, change that! Reach out to them in a message, on Twitter, via email, or call them up! Ask for a quick interview, ask for advice, mention something you have in common, or be completely honest and say that you admire their career path. Once you’ve gotten your (positive) response, connect on LinkedIn saying that you’d appreciate staying in touch professionally.

4. Join groups that are of interest to you and engage.

I am currently a part of PRSSA, PRSSA Delaware Chapter, Social Media Marketing, and three different University of Delaware networks. Like forums, I’ll follow along posts and get a feel for the conversations. Once I understand the dynamics of the group, I contribute either with meaningful comments or ask questions. Asking for advice from a network of hundreds of professionals in an industry is a good idea.

5. Creep.

I’m so serious. You guys thought Facebook stalking was fun? Well, here’s the work version. If I am even remotely interested in applying for a job, I immediately follow the company on LinkedIn and begin looking up contacts at the company. What could be better than finding out a recruiter had the same first job as you? Or even just being well informed before an interview can make all the difference between getting a position or getting rejected.

To cap everything off, feel free to follow me on twitter and check out this amazing and inspiring article filled with career advice from the founder of LinkedIn himself, Reid Hoffman.

Fear & Clothing: Two Main Reasons why Girls Don’t Longboard

My longboard

Why wouldn’t a girl longboard? As a newbie girl boarder, I have identified the two main reasons and found solutions for both.

  1. It’s pretty freaking scary: you are not strapped in; you may get hit by cars; coordination and balance are necessary.
  2. Clothing.

Clothing.

Seriously though. One of the main reasons that I often choose to walk instead of board is because of what I’m wearing. I enjoy wearing skirts, dresses, and cute shoes. Often times, these cute shoes were $15.00 on sale from H&M and literally have no sole (soul). This is an inconvenient thing when you’re boarding along Academy next to the new ISE lab and you’re about to go down that swoop and straight into oncoming traffic.

Foot braking should be one of the first things you master, and it should be possible with the shoes you’re wearing. Also, when choosing shoes to board in, you have to keep in mind the amount of traction those shoes will provide: traction is key to controlling your ride and maneuvering effectively.

So here’s the solution: get shoes that you could wear with any cute outfit you want, but can also ride in. I tend to wear my beat up boat shoes that I got when I was 13, but since the leather is stretching, I may need to invest in some new options.

2013-03-14 12.04.06burg_vans

Photo credits:Personal photograph, Vans photo from Zappos.com

Vans are pretty great because they have a flat waffle sole that increases the surface area that you can brake on. Don’t believe you can be cute/girly/cool/hot/chic while wearing your sneaks? Check out my Pinterest board here.

As for not wanting to wear skirts and dresses while boarding, I say, “Why not?” Seriously. I actually put on a dress and longboarded barefoot to an interview once. Barefoot isn’t the best decision, but dang it’s breezy, and a way better option than heels (although this can be accomplished, too, with practice!).

The key to boarding when wearing things that could, well, expose you, is to not go crazy with speed or tricks. A casual push on your board is not so different from taking a long stride while walking. Still worried? Just pull on some bike shorts underneath. Girls do that all the time while wearing dresses and skirts while biking. However, if you’re going to be getting cray and race or do tricks, just put on shorts…and knee pads, elbow pads, and a helmet.

Fear.

Fear of falling, fear of failing, fear of ridicule. First off, everyone falls. However, just be careful and go at your own pace. As for fear of failing or ridicule? I’m not good at longboarding. At all. And yet I have both guys and girls telling me all the time how bad ass it is that I board. One guy literally walked up to me and said, “I love you because you board,” and then just walked away. So trust me, once you get beyond your own inhibitions and just give it a shot, you’ll love it, and others will randomly compliment you! Win win situation.

Wanna give it a shot? Here’s how to get started: Ask a friend who skateboards, longboards, or snowboards to determine if you’re normal or goofy. They’ll know what to do. Then find a friend who you’re willing to hold hands with — no boarding experience required! Get on your board, hold your friends hands, and just start rolling around to get used to the balance. Practice a lil bit of turning, practice your pushes, and once you become faster than a snail, practice braking! And now you’re a pro.

Personal goal? To have half as much fun as these girls:

Photo credits in order of appearance: Personal photograph, Personal photograph, Vans photo from Zappos.com.

Hot, Delicious, & Vegetarian (Nope, not your Yoga Instructor)

Open Face Sandwich

I mean maybe your yoga instructor. Go for it.

Recently I’ve had to decide between buying food and buying textbooks, and since I usually slack off mid-semester (not early), I’ve been choosing books. Because of this, the refrigerator and pantry are looking a little slack. After scrounging around, I found some bread, a mostly scooped out avocado, the butt of a tomato, and some shredded Mexican cheese. Glory hallelujah. I ended up with this beauty:

Image

Get it all hot and bothered and you have:

toasty lil sandwich

Here’s the exact recipe:

Tomato & Avocado Open Face Sandwich

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 thin slices of tomato
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Mexican cheese
  • yellow mustard
  • bread

Squeeze some yellow mustard (or some other mustard) out onto your bread. Scoop your quarter of an avocado out onto the bread, and smoosh it all over using the back of your spoon. Lay your tomato slices down on top with care. Sprinkle your cheese on with love. Stick that sandwich in a toaster oven set at 300 degrees and play a game of Scramble with Friends. Don’t forget to shake on some pepper, and enjoy!

License to Kill: Unbeatable (According to Me)

N64 Goldeneye 007

Wish I could run from flames like that.

The first video game system we had in my household was the glorious Nintendo 64. I have fond memories of playing Golden Eye 007, so yes, I was a bad-ass little six year old girl. My favorite deathmatch setting was License to Kill, the mode where a single shot from any weapon would instantly kill the other players. It was great; I developed an awesome technique that I utilize not only in other video games, but in my personal and professional life as well.

I would always play with my brothers, both of whom are intelligent (don’t tell them) and older than me. Therefore, I developed this technique out of necessity:

  1. Get a gun. Any gun. This is License to Kill, so just grab whatever.
  2. Run to the biggest main room available in the game.
  3. Crouch down.
  4. Spin.
  5. Spontaneously shoot until you win or die.

While some of you might just roll your eyes or laugh or equate this to button mashing in Soul Caliber (more of the merits of that in another post), this was actually a very well thought out and practiced regimen that I used. I would run to the largest room because I knew my brothers would eventually run there, guaranteeing me kills. I would crouch down every single time because who expects to aim low when entering a giant room with a gun? I would spin and spontaneously shoot to defend myself on all sides and effectively kill anyone who came in from any door (thinking about this actually explains why our joysticks were always kinda loose). I knew it was effective because my brothers stopped wanting to play License to Kill with me because I was unstoppable (not because they were getting bored of just sniping me out).

Screenshot of Goldeneye 007 deathmatch

Look at those graphics! How was I allowed to play this?

I applied myself to this technique wholeheartedly, and the only other deathmatch I liked to play was The Man with the Golden Gun because I could essentially apply the same techniques as long as I got to the golden pistol first. I still do this with pretty much anything. I get extremely prepared, I get extremely excited, and then I get reckless and spontaneous and I tend to get great results. I’m almost positive it’s how I receive A’s in my computer science classes.

My suggestion to you? Dive into projects and work and relationships a little too deep and don’t come up for air until the last second, because it’s that dizzying light-headed-ness that tells you you’ve pushed yourself to your limits and done something amazing. Or it tells you that you’ve been staring at the TV for too long, and you should probably stop trying to beat your brothers in Golden Eye 007 deathmatches, and you should probably just go sort Pokemon cards or play with beanie babies.

Holographic Mew Pokemon Card

I remember being so excited to have this card…and then being so disappointed in it.