How to Spice Up the Office Working Environment

Associate Banker, New York, NY
General Manager, Washington, DC
Portfolio Management Analyst, Chicago, IL
Marketing Manager, San Francisco, CA
Economic Intern, New York, NY

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The office doesn’t have to be the drab, depressing place it’s often made out to be. First of all, it’s full of the characters that make our lives interesting, dramatic, happy, and stressful day to day. And while you sorta kinda have to focus on the work while you’re there, this doesn’t mean that the company you serve has to suck all the joy out of life. Here are a few ways to put some kick in your Monday through Friday!

Join the Office Extracurriculars

Say your office is part of a softball league or has a bowling club. Right on! Go get involved and recruit others to join in on the fun. And if your office doesn’t partake in these awesome activities, organize them yourself or with a group of coworkers. Your office extracurricular activities are what you make of them, and sadly, many company softball teams lose steam in the second inning. Sure, it’ll take time and effort, but if you feed into the positive energy of these pastimes, you’ll get far more joy out of them.

Go Out to Lunch

No, “going to lunch” with an office buddy doesn’t mean taking your soggy PB&J and “fun size” bag of Doritos to the break room. Get out and explore the neighborhood. Gather a group of friends and try out the new restaurant on the corner. Get your mind off of work and really enjoy your break to its fullest. This will break up your workday and give you that second wind you need to get through the afternoon. And if you’re trying to save money, fine – grab that soggy PB&J and chips and take it down to the park. If you step outside the office for a little while you’ll have a much more positive attitude going into the second half of your day, and chances are you’ll be much more productive at work.

Mix Food and Work

Here we go – another tip centered on food. But it’s true that we derive a lot of satisfaction out of eating. So incorporate it into your workday! Suggest a potluck once a quarter, and ruthlessly hold everyone to it. Assign a different person to bring in baked goods each Friday. Put someone on hot chocolate duty during the winter months. No one will be able to peg work as “dull” if you make it a point to engage all the senses!

It’s important to be happy at work. After all, this is where you spend most of the daylight hours. So don’t discount the value that a little office cheer can add to your life. Always make the most out of your days!

See ya later,
The Doostang Team

Staying Motivated throughout the Job Search

Analyst, New York, NY
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We all have those days when it’s difficult to stay motivated.  And if you’re looking for a job – a task that can drag on for weeks and weeks with no end in sight – it may become even more difficult to maintain your enthusiasm and stay positive as time goes by.  Obviously, getting discouraged is the last thing anyone wants while trying to get things moving and land the perfect position.  So here are a few tips to help keep you motivated:

Reward Yourself

While the ultimate reward is that great job you’ll eventually snag, it’s important to treat yourself along the way.  There are dozens of ways you can go about this.  Perhaps you reward a great week of job hunting with a Friday night movie or happy hour with friends.  If you need more encouragement along the way, unwinding with a favorite TV show or a bowl of ice cream can help get you through a long day of job applications.  Or maybe you’re the type of person who needs little incentives throughout the day, such as a quick stroll through the park or a flip through your favorite magazine.  It’s imperative to give yourself something to look forward to, if only to clear your head from all of the time and energy you spend looking for a job.  But also try to truly position these indulgences as rewards – things you can enjoy if you reach the goals you have set for yourself.  It’s great to go party with the guys at 5pm, but if you do it every single day regardless of whether or not you have been productive, it is less likely to be a huge motivator.

Find an Accountability Partner

When it comes to getting things done, it can be easy to blow your responsibilities off and procrastinate for a bit, but far more difficult to let someone else down.  So find someone you can trust – a person that you know will hold you to your work – and check in to update them on your progress.  Doing this also keeps things in perspective for you, and it forces you to take a look at your actual progress.  Sometimes it’s helpful to choose an accountability partner who is trying to achieve a goal of their own – a fellow job seeker, perhaps – so that you can build off of each others’ momentum and support each other.

Create a Working Environment Conducive to Your Work Style

Since you’re likely going to be sitting in one place for an extended period of time while you’re looking for a job, try to create a working environment that is conducive to work.  For some people, this means removing all distractions.  For others, it means creating a friendly space full of personal touches.  Some individuals may need to select one space and stick to it, so that they can train their minds to go into “work mode” whenever they enter this space.  Others may need to vary their setting in order to avoid becoming too antsy.  The best, most productive working environment is different for everyone, so figure out your style and play to your strengths.

Staying motivated is difficult – just don’t get disheartened when you’re not feeling completely jazzed about the job search.  It’s perfectly fine – and actually advisable – to take breaks every now and then. And while inspiration itself can be difficult, working on ways to inspire yourself is something that’s much easier to manage!

Until next time,

The Doostang Team

Doostang News November 22: What Are You Thankful For? Finding the Silver Lining in an Unsatisfactory Job or Unemployment

Credit Research Associate, New York, NY
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It’s that time of the year when we take pause to reflect on all that we are grateful for in our lives – our health, families, good friends, homes… Even if there are things that aren’t going perfectly at the moment, we can take comfort in what we do have, and determine a course of action in order to obtain the things we want. Perhaps now is a good time to do the same for our professional lives, pinpointing where we are and where we want to be. Here are some points to consider, whether you have a job that you are unhappy with, or are currently unemployed and job searching.

What is working for you?

Broadly speaking, what are you grateful for in your current position? All negatives aside, what is it that keeps you showing up at the office each morning? Do you get paid well to do something you’re good at? Do you enjoy the people around you? Is this a necessary stepping-stone to where you envision yourself in the future? There must be something positive you can draw on, and understanding what that is will help you determine what is important to you in a job.

If you don’t have a job, think about the last time you did, or about a situation where you had a big project that you were working on. What worked for you and what didn’t? What environment was most conducive to success, and who were the key players that you were able to best collaborate with? Once you start putting together a list of the things that are most important to you in a job and a job setting, you’ll be closer to determining your ideal career.

What are you learning?

Even if finding something that you can be grateful for in your job is a huge stretch, at least you can be grateful for the fact that you are learning something. Perhaps you’re honing skills or gathering knowledge that you can take with you to your next position. Or maybe this simply means that you are learning how to better put up with people that you can’t stand to be around, or strengthening your will by clocking into a position that you abhor day in and day out. Even if you’re unhappy with where you are, there is always a way in which you are improving who you are as a professional or as an individual – or both.

If you’re frustrated with your job search, be grateful for the tenacity it takes to get up each day and hunt for your next opportunity. Perhaps you’re meeting new and interesting people in your efforts to network, or learning about opportunities you never knew existed, and hence getting a better grasp on what sort of position you’d like to pursue. What are you learning about yourself, as you work to hold yourself accountable each and every day?

Working at a job that you are unhappy with, or feeling unhappy about your current lack of a job, can be a trying experience. But be thankful for your ability to rise to the challenge and keep moving forward, despite apparent lack of morale – indeed, it takes a considerable amount of morale to commit yourself to anything. If you’re dissatisfied, figure out why, and what needs to change. If you feel stuck, experiment and determine what works and what doesn’t. Even the best opportunities will be rife with roadblocks, and your ability to handle these will really determine where you’re capable of going.

Thankfully yours,

The Doostang Team

Doostang News September 20: Personal Skills Crucial to the Working World

Trading Assistant, Chicago, IL
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Being successful in a work environment takes more than just the right job-specific skills and attitude towards the job.  There are also personal skills that you must develop in order to effectively handle the position and the people you work with.  These are skills that don’t come easily to many people at first, but something that everyone should keep in mind and polish up when necessary:

Public Speaking

According to some studies, the number one fear held by individuals is public speaking – it even beats out death!  Speaking in front of a room full of people is one of those things that even the most confident person can have difficulty with.  And so, even if you are a self-assured, charismatic person by nature, your charm and confidence may not translate easily into situations where you need to address your boss or coworkers in meetings or presentations.  If you don’t have much experience with public speaking, try taking a class, and if that’s too much, practice in front of friends or even in front of the mirror.  The more comfortable you become with getting up and listening to your own voice, the better you’ll be able to convey information to the people you work with – and win people over onto your side.

Diplomacy

Dealing with people in the workplace isn’t always easy, but it’s important to always do so with tact.  Losing your temper or making snide remarks are never good ways to approach situations, so its important that you learn to communicate with people diplomatically, whether this be someone that works for, above, or with you.  If you tend to get worked up over stressful situations, take a breather before you speak to your coworkers.  It’s important to treat everyone in a rational way and give them the respect they deserve.

Humility

There are a lot of egos circulating in any one office, and so in order to maintain a peaceful working environment, it’s important to keep yours in check.  This is especially true if you are just starting out at a company.  Fulfill the role that you were brought on to do – even if you sometimes don’t like it – and don’t expect everything to be handed to you.  No one gets to come in and take charge right away.  There are certain tasks that need to be done, and if they are given to you, it’s important to finish them out gracefully.

They don’t teach you everything in school, and certain skills don’t even come with experience unless you make it a point to practice them.  Bear in mind these important personal skills while you’re at work, and they should take you far.

Until next time,

The Doostang Team