Anchors Aweigh

May 9, 2013 | 0 Comments | Seasonal Updates

I didn’t realize it would be a full semester before I wrote on this blog again when I wrote my last post, A Semester Away. Now, as I write a follow-up post (inspired, in part, by this wonderful blog post by Ashleigh Baker – Simple Stories [An Invitation to Old-Fashioned Blogging], which I found through a post on Beautiful Song), I am about to enter an entirely new season, and much has changed.

At the time of my previous post, I was 5 months away from graduating, nearly to the day. Now I’m only 9 days away. My orange tassel, honor cord, and cap and gown are all ready to go.

As I mentioned I might, I chose a “light” semester of 12 hours (that included a programming class, senior design project, thermodynamics, and electronic circuits 2). It’s gone well, I’ve learned a lot, enjoyed my classes, as usual, and am just a paper, program, and three finals away from the finish line.

A couple weeks after I mentioned job options I was considering, I chose to sign with Garmin as a Software Engineer in their Aviation department, which also means moving to Kansas City. I don’t start till July, allowing me to take time to graduate, move, get situated, and hopefully do some travel before settling into my new position. It’s still all going by very quickly. The past five months have zoomed by, taking me past multiple milestones, allowing me to travel to KC and TX, and filling my memory banks with places, people, and experiences I’ll remember for a long, long time.

I regret that I can’t be in two places and do two things at once, as I love my current job and colleagues as well. Our team has grown, and we’re working on important and exciting projects. Part of my task in this transition phase is to train the intern who will replace me, a job I take seriously, and enjoy. Both my former and current boss have been great to work for, and it has been a win-win situation I believe for all concerned. I’m blessed to share lunches and life with my colleagues, in addition to my work time, and they’ve thoughtfully planned a going-away party for me (yay!).

I’ve decided with the learning curve of a new job and the newness of living on my own and in a new place, I’ll not start a grad program this fall. I do hope to potentially start one next spring, however, in electrical or computer engineering…or possibly another related field (or an MBA). I’m still doing very occasional marketing and social media work for my blueberry farm client, and will probably be expanding my efforts for another related company of his once I finish up with school.

As I look ahead, I’m excited about getting involved in the tech/startup/IT/maker community of KC, embarking on new adventures as a young professional (already purchased my season tickets to the KC Symphony!), decorating my own place, and always, always continuing to learn and develop new and existing skills.

Thanks for reading…anchors aweigh!


A Semester Away

December 19, 2012 | 1 Comments | Uncategorized

With the end of the fall semester (which was a success in terms of both grades and learning), I’ve returned to full-time work, and also to the blogosphere. Next semester I will graduate with a degree in computer engineering and a minor in Spanish. I only need 10 hours to graduate, and while I love college, my remaining classes aren’t pud classes and there is plenty to do at work, so I might keep it a light semester and do 12 hours.

I’m still not sure whether I want to dive into graduate classes in the fall next year while working full-time, or wait a while longer before returning to school. I know I want to keep learning, whether in or out of college.

I’ve thought of this blog multiple times throughout the semester, when I discovered a unique restaurant or encountered object lesson examples in the real world of marketing and customer service…but I never made it around to blogging here. I’ve blogged some in other arenas though.

Over winter break, I’m really applying myself to studying textbooks in advance of the next semester, working on developing my programming and electronics skills, and generally trying to be productive and maximize the time, while still having fun. I’m learning a lot, and trying to document that process as I go too.

I met with a marketing client today about a project he’s interested in having me work on, but in general have been working primarily at my day job and not doing freelance work to speak of. I’m planning on wrapping up budget work for the year here shortly, to help with making taxes as straightforward as possible (and facilitate getting them done early into next year).

I have a job offer under consideration for after graduation, and will likely be offered a full-time position for the same timeframe at my current job in the near future as well. It’s a blessing to have options, and I’m trying to weigh lots of factors in various directions, and look at opportunities beyond the two right in front of me too. Decisions, decisions.

I don’t know that I’ll be posting business book reviews over the break much, as I’m more focused, as I said, on programming textbooks and such…but I do hope to post here more regularly. In the meantime, here’s one post for the count.


Freelancing 101

August 12, 2012 | 0 Comments | Uncategorized

I had the opportunity to share a bit on freelancing at the last TeamUp Careers Second Thursday career networking group and promised to post a follow-up today on my blog with a recap and some additional resources. If you’re here because of that event, thanks for dropping by! I’d love to hear in the comments whether you’re considering freelancing and if you have any questions.

First, I want to reemphasize that anyone has the opportunity to freelance. While commonly thought of as a form of work done by independent contractors in areas like graphic art design, social media, writing, marketing, etc., I consider freelancing to not be limited to these types of projects. The mindset of working for yourself on an individual project basis extends to other kinds of work, temporary or not, that may even be offline…cleaning, managing estate sales, etc.

If you’re looking for a more permanent career, freelancing is excellent because it can lead you to new connections, it provides an income stream that you can (hopefully) scale up or down depending on how busy you are, and it’s a way to fill up empty space in the timeline of your resume and develop your portfolio in the down times.

One of my favorite go-to resources for tech information is Mashable. A quick search reveals several relevant and extremely helpful articles:

Two of the sites that I mentioned at Second Thursday, which I have not personally used but have had recommended to me by others who have, are & It depends on the site, but typically these sites are funded by taking a percentage of the contractor’s revenues. They also offer screenshots for your client (so they know you’re working) and usually guarantee payment for you, the contractor. Another site that one of my favorite job-related websites, Corn on the Job, recommends is FlexJobs.

A caution is in order here because job sites and freelance sites alike can be prone to scams. People want your valuable personal information, and it’s important to watch out for job offers that look too good to be true, ask for information they don’t need to know, or request work on projects that appear illegal or sketchy (e.g., hiring you to harvest contact information from websites or artificially increase the “likes” on a Facebook Page).

While we’re talking legalities, it’s important to keep great records. You’ll want to keep records of any business expenses for tax purposes (keep in mind you may need to submit self-employment tax on a quarterly basis depending on your earnings), and invoice your clients in a professional manner (another thing the above sites are useful for). Writing up a contract or agreement of who is doing what is always advisable. You may want to create a draft template for quick and easy general projects.

I want to leave you again with two thoughts I mentioned at the meeting this week. First of all, don’t only think about what you want to do, are good at, or could do. Think about what you don’t want to do. Don’t forget that you can create a ripple effect and give other people work by contracting out what you don’t want to do. You can take on a larger project, and assuming that you have vetted your contractors and can trust them to uphold your brand’s standards, you don’t have to do every piece of the project yourself.

Finally, be prepared at the intersection of strategy and serendipity. Some of your jobs will come to you in the most unexpected ways, and if you’re prepared to take advantage of that, you’ll do well. Others will come only after considerable planning and implementation of wise strategies on a path to where you want to go. Both are a part of a successful freelancing business.

I wish you luck in all your endeavors and welcome any questions you may have about my freelancing experiences and what I’ve learned from them. That’s a wrap for this week!


July Jottings

July 29, 2012 | 0 Comments | Uncategorized

The past week has been fairly quiet on the freelance side of things, but plenty busy at my full-time job. I met for lunch mid-week with former colleagues and enjoyed a good chat, as usual. Both of them have some very interesting opportunities opening up in front of them (including internationally), and it’s exciting to see. The next day, I learned that the company they (and I) used to work with, Boxcar, was sold to Kwaga, based in Paris. Boxcar’s former CEO and founder, Jonathan George, will join the Kwaga board as an adviser. Interesting developments.

I mentioned in my last post that I’d added several new colleagues on LinkedIn, and speculated that they might update their profiles…and that’s exactly what happened. I think when you move from one job to another without going through the typical job search process, or maybe without a desire to flag that fact, it can be harder to remember to update when your position does change. I also briefly touched base with one of the contacts I made through an Entrepreneur Connection breakfast put together by my college last year.

I still have most of the same to-do’s on the school front that I did last week, but I hope to quickly make progress there. With all the time I spend on the computer at work, I’m trying to make sure I maintain balance and do things in other arenas of life where I’m not just glued to a screen. This week, that included things like attending a music theater production, taking a 9-10 mile bike ride, and visiting a friend to chat, play games, relax, and have dinner together. I really think all of those things are relevant to my business success and potential growth too.


Gearing Up for Fall

July 22, 2012 | 1 Comments | Uncategorized

Last week I had lunch with a friend/acquaintance in the social media/marketing industry. We chatted about current trends, exchanged tips, and caught up on current happenings. A couple days before that I talked with another acquaintance who’s looking to move from a current position to a new job in that arena, potentially with a nonprofit. And last night I talked with yet another woman who loves what I get to do (at my current full-time job) and some of the related process/optimization work connected with it.

I’m not looking for a job for myself right now, as I’m quite satisfied where I’m at, but with so many friends looking, I’ll be keeping my ears open for any open relevant positions to share. I added several new colleagues from my new position as connections on LinkedIn today, and wonder if that may trigger several of them to update their profiles a little bit. :)

I may be speaking at a workshop on branding yourself in August, and am also looking forward to the Smalltown 140 Conference, which I hope to attend for the 3rd time this year, as another networking source. This week I was added as an admin for a second Facebook page, run by a current client, so that’s also positive.

I still find I have a little time left over after my max of 40 hours at my new job sometimes. I’m still debating where to best put that (there are a lot of options, including college prep, room organization, client work, and more), but one of the things I love about social media is its ability to facilitate real-world connections.

People I’ve met online from around the country I’ve gotten to also meet in person because of the wonders of email, Facebook, and technology. Those same people I can also meet with for lunch in person, or call up for a more personal “how are you doing?” That’s exactly where I’m trying to take my use of of social these days. Consistent, even if that just means weekly, and aimed at establishing real relationships that carry back and forth between the online sphere and real life.

For the next week though, that “free” time will need to go towards preparing for fall classes, which start in just a month. I hope to finish figuring out which tech electives I’ll be taking, order my books, and jump through some other school-related hoops as well. The summer is flying by, but every week brings more progress, and it feels great to be documenting that here.


Effective Improvement

July 15, 2012 | 2 Comments | Uncategorized

In some areas, things are entirely new for me. For example, I have a new full-time job and no longer work at either Boxcar or Numana. (I need to take the time to update my resume, LinkedIn, and create a portfolio at some point!)

But in other areas, I’m finding that the best way to pick up new skills, learn new things, and generally grow is to build on already learned skills and information and connect the dots to increase my understanding and expertise.

This past week that has looked like picking up my DSLR camera a little more than usual and taking some photo tips from friends on positioning, the rule of thirds, and holding your breath when you snap a shot. Photography really is a skill I want to develop, to where I consistently take crisp photos that really capture emotions and expressions, and understand my settings reasonably well.

Another area I’ve made modifications and adjusted my habits is in blog-writing. With the advent of summer, I decided to make a more formal effort to blog once a week here, and this is my sixth week doing so on this blog. I’ve blogged even more frequently (daily for the most part) on a personal blog.

And finally, especially while I have more time before college starts back up, I’m taking the opportunity to network as I can…meet a friend in the social media industry for lunch, pass on information on social media for nonprofits workshop to another connection I was speaking with today, and invite a client to consider speaking at Smalltown 140 this fall.

The little adjustments are adding up, and I’m really pleased with how I see things coming together over time. I hope your summer is going equally well, and invite you to share in the comments about any small changes you’re making to shift your long-term habits in your business and overall life.


Summer Minuterie

July 8, 2012 | 0 Comments | Uncategorized

I just randomly flipped through my Oxford Foreign Words & Phrases reference book. The French word “minuterie” stood out to me, a noun related to the concept of clockwork or a timing mechanism, and meaning “(An electric light controlled by) a light switch incorporating a timing mechanism to turn it off automatically after a short time.”

Summer feels like that, for all the long days and evenings…because when you’re in college you know that one day will follow another for a short season and then one day the next day will not be like the other. Fall will arrive very soon, and with it a number of classes and a shift in work schedule to part-time work. That’s what I spent part of my Fourth of July holiday working on; figuring out which tech elective classes to take.

Those in industrial and manufacturing engineering would be most relevant to my current job, those in computer science very relevant to my degree and interests, those in electrical engineering would be where my friends are.

Naturally, I mapped out my options (including class sections for scheduling, prerequisite requirements, whether I was remotely interested) in a set of color-coded spreadsheets, a process not yet completed. But it felt like good progress to get as far as I did with the project. :)

I recently completed a couple scholarship applications as well. I’d be glad to be able to reduce the cost of my fall tuition in that way, especially since nearly all current earnings are directed primarily towards that expense.

This week promises to be full of work, meetings, and events, but I’m looking forward to it. In the meantime, my summer Sunday manual minuterie plans signal it’s almost time for sleep.


Milestones: New Half of the Year

July 2, 2012 | 0 Comments | Seasonal Updates

Milestones like New Year’s Day can seem arbitrary, but sometimes I find them helpful at the same time. They break up the routine and help you feel like you’re starting fresh. Now that we’re in July, half of the year is gone, and we’ve got just another 6 months to make the rest of the year count.

For me, that means another month and a half as a full-time intern, and then part-time work during my second-to-last semester of college before graduation.

It’s been interesting to see how opportunities have continued to open up even since obtaining my new position.

First I was invited to speak at another social media event, then told about another digital marketing position that might be open for me now or down the road if I wanted, and finally given yet another lead on the social media client front.

Ironically, having an 8-5 workweek and trying (for now at least) to keep it to that and not go into overtime, plus no longer feeling responsible to go job-hunt, means my evenings feel more free for such types of projects, which is great.

Blueberry season just wrapped up for this year, right about the time higher temperatures started forcing people back inside. And while I took a week off from posting for Numana (thanks to the gracious generosity of my social media colleague Jon), I plan to get back into crafting posts for that this week.

I had an enjoyable lunch with former colleagues, and was excited to hear of some of their recent accomplishments and the new opportunities opening up for them as well. I really like being so conveniently located for meetings with other people working in the area. Just this week I learned that a friend’s relative works in my same building.

And to wrap up, speaking of milestones, I did finally put up real pictures on Twitter and LinkedIn instead of my long-standing Washington landscape pic. I posted a blog comment today, and am hoping to be more engaged in that way too, even if it ends up being solely an evening activity for me. Have a great week!



TECT Aerospace: Engineering Solutions Intern

June 24, 2012 | 0 Comments | Seasonal Updates

This week will be my first full week in a position I just accepted at TECT Aerospace as an intern assisting the V.P. of Engineering Solutions with data collection, analysis, systems integration and optimization. I had my first day on Friday, and am looking forward to a rewarding challenge that will utilize skills from my growing background and interests in both business and engineering.

I had the opportunity to see one of our factories already in person, and we manufacture some important parts using interesting technology, which I’m excited to learn more about. It’s also a blessing that I will be able to work full-time over the summer and then work around my school schedule (I have one year left before I earn my bachelor’s degree in computer engineering) in the fall. Additionally, this job is even more conveniently located than the one I had before.

In terms of changes for my social media/marketing clients, really there are none at this point, other than being less available during business hours. For the types of industries and sizes of businesses I work with, prescheduled posts are a reasonable option (in moderation), and I can keep on top of emails and other client work in the evenings.

Finally, I’m looking into completing a practice electronics design project over the summer with a friend and the help, coaching, and resources of another friend. I have a senior design group project I’ll need to begin work on this fall for my degree, and I think I’d do well to practice and gain some of that experience beforehand so it goes smoother when it comes time for the real thing. Meanwhile, I keep learning and reading in several arenas, and am excited about where I’m headed.


Booking Progress

June 17, 2012 | 0 Comments | Uncategorized

I was thinking about the reading I’ve been doing lately (mentioned in my last post), and came up with the title of this post as a play on that and the verb form of the word “book” (to enter in a book or list; record; register).

This past week has involved a lot of moving and sorting (shifting bedroom/office space between two floors). I’ve also had time to pick blueberries (very relaxing to be away from technology for a little while and just enjoy time in the outdoors with sounds of nature around me), meet for lunch with former coworkers, attend an engineering job fair, meet a potential employer, and participate in a phone interview.

One of the things I’m excited about with my move to a new space is that I’m putting some of my not-very-frequently-used books in storage for a while and filling my remaining shelves with books I really want to read, want to loan out, or am in the middle of. Many of these books are listed in earlier blog posts here and were written in the last decade or two, and I think just having them handier will help me be that much more likely to pick them up to read a few pages here and there over time. Plus they look really nice lining my walls.

I’m in the process of sorting out the next week; I still have some minor moving/packing to do, and of course continued work on skill development, client projects, and the job-hunt. I’ll look forward to having more to report come next week – for now, I’m just sticking to a regular posting schedule even when there’s not a lot new to report on the business front.