Been Writing for Years? You Still Have A Lot to Learn

Many of you already know my writing history.

Awful poetry at the age of 5.

A part-time gig at a weekly newspaper at the age of 19.

Writing sex toy reviews by the age of 22.

And now, at the age of 31, I’ve created content for online magazines, alternative newspapers, both regional and national print magazines, and a slew of blogs.

Not too shabby.

What I’ve always wanted, however, is to write a book. A book that garners interest from traditional publishers, and that eventually ends up on the shelf at Barnes & Noble or McNally Jackson or the Trident Bookstore/Cafe.

Up until recently, however, I didn’t do a damn thing about it. [Read more…]

Why It’s Totally Cool If My Kids Skip College

I have a B.A. in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College, despite myself.

I mean, there was never a question I would go to college. After all, it never occurred to me that any other path was available.

But I started out studying journalism at the College of New Jersey. I became disenchanted and discouraged by my choice of major. I fell into a depression after both the death of my grandmother and the end of an abusive relationship. I dropped out of college with the certainty that I didn’t need it to be a writer.

Which was true, but I wasn’t sure how to go about making money. I ended up in a crappy retail job, at which I lasted for two months. Is this all I’m capable of without a degree? I asked myself, horrified. It wasn’t, but I didn’t know that. I ended up at Emerson.

After graduating, I was lucky enough to get a job within two months (though not in my field). I was miserable there, and felt relief when I was laid off after six months. A year later, I had my feet planted firmly within the publishing industry. Finally. I was content… for awhile. But I soon realized I had no interest in working my way up the corporate ladder. I wanted to create. I wanted to be my own boss.

And so I made my circuitous way to the here and now, where I’m a happy, and pretty well-balanced, business owner. I’m lucky enough to be one of the few people out there who has ended up making money in the field they studied in college. But I could have gotten here quicker. I could have gotten here without incurring debt. I just didn’t know. [Read more…]

Forget Grad School. Is Your B.A. Worth It?

I’ve commented on a lot of blog posts arguing the benefits of grad school versus real world experience. I’ve blogged about how I feel the best way to learn is by doing. But forget about grad school. Was getting your undergraduate degree a waste of time, too?

A fellow YEC member — Donna Fenn — recently shared info on the 20 Under 20 Thiel Fellowship. Basically, those chosen for the fellowship have each been given $100,000 to drop out of college and pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.¬†In addition to the moolah, fellows will be provided with mentorship from the Foundation’s network of entrepreneurs, in addition to other resources.

I was intrigued by this story because, while I felt college was beneficial in helping me develop as a person, I didn’t feel as if it prepared me all that much for professional life.

What do I wish I’d learned in college?

[Read more…]

How To Be The Best Damn Intern I Ever Hired

I was recently asked to guest post over at YouTern‘s Savvy Intern blog, partially because I’ve done three internships myself, and partially because I’m the intern coordinator at YourTango. Why yes. I am a huge proponent of interns… whether or not you’re still in college!

Here’s an excerpt of my guest post:

Forget my degree. My resume. Even my (pretty darn awesome) cover letters.

My three internships are what got me where I am today.

[Read more…]

I Skipped SXSW. Am I An Idiot?

So apparently, just about everyone in my Twitter feed was at South by Southwest (SXSW) this past week, a conference (and seemingly non-stop party) that somehow brings together “music, independent films, and emerging technologies.” It’s that last that is of greatest interest to me and, as the web developers, bloggers, content producers, and new media entrepreneurs in my feed live-tweeted talks and workshops, party-hopped, and networked, I started to feel that I was totally missing out.

[Read more…]

6 Ways To Find Your Next Mentor

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Back in January, Betsy Lerner — brilliant author of The Forest for the Trees — wrote up a quick post in which she remembered two of her early mentors. And then, a week ago, Holly Hoffman brought up the topic again. All this mentor-talk got me thinking back on my own favorites, and how important they’ve been to my career success.

I myself have never had one single, larger-than-life figure playing the part of mentor (talk about pressure). Rather, I’ve approached mentorship in much the same way career expert Marci Alboher does: as an ever-shifting collection of people I surround myself with…people I feel I can learn from, no matter what stage they’re at in their career. I highly recommend this approach.

Why do you need a mentor? Because you shouldn’t be working in a vacuum, stumbling along your career path without outside inspiration or guidance. Why do you need multiple mentors?¬†Because it’s silly to rely on a single person, when an entire community can provide much better support, and a greater diversity of insight and advice.

So where can you find this army of advisers?

[Read more…]

InternInc: LinkedIn for the Student Set

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I have to admit. I usually mark most of the press releases that pop up in my inbox as spam. After all, I’m of the mind that these typically untargeted e-mails are just as insidious as the random penile enhancement e-mails my spam folder actually catches.

But then I received an e-mail about InternInc — a new social networking site that touts itself as “Facebook meets LinkedIn for students, employers and universities” — and I was intrigued. I’ve always thought that internships were invaluable for gaining experience, making connections, and trying out new industries commitment-free, and a social networking site that connected students with established internship programs sounded, well, genius.

[Read more…]

Telecommuting to Class

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For several years now, I have believed that office environments are breeding grounds for time suckage, that commuting creates wasted hours, and that telecommuting is the most efficient way to get shit done.

So why is it that I’ve been so reluctant to switch from the in-person, traditional classroom to online learning?

[Read more…]

Coffee Break: Home Ec for Entrepreneurs

coffee break

Earlier this week, Jezebel had this interesting post, in which the writers tried to recall what bits of knowledge they had actually retained from early-childhood home ec classes.

They went on to ponder what sort of knowledge they would have actually benefited from.

[Read more…]

Unpaid Internships: Something White People Like!

My buddy Christina recently sent me a link to Stuff White People Like in response to my most recent post.

Despite being a comprehensive blog-catalog of things I actually do like, I’ve never read the blog. Shame on me! Because they just-as-recently posted about Unpaid Internships.

They totally reveal the utter ridiculousness of the internship concept but, truth be told, everything I wrote previously is still true. It’s one messed up world we live in, that’s for sure.