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My friend Kelly Montgomery and I met as journalism and writing tutors at the Jaqua Center, a tutoring center at the University of Oregon for student athletes.

She is a very gifted writer (as you will see) and is someone who I admire as her commitment to write and get a paycheck for it is unshakable.

That’s saying something in 2012. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Lucky you, she’s guest posting today!


My name is Kelly Montgomery and I offer these words of advice with only a couple years of post-grad life under my belt, so take them with a grain of salt. Luckily for me, those two years have been valuable and I’ve learned a few things along the way. I haven’t achieved all my life or career goals yet, but I’m on my way little by little and that’s the most important part.

I graduated from the University of Oregon (where I met the lovely Kristina) in 2010 with a degree in Magazine Journalism and now work as the Lifestyle & Entertainment Editor at Trapit, a tech-startup discovery engine.

Small goals will help you and keep you sane: Those first few months after graduation can be terrifying if you don’t already have a job offer on the table. As even-keel as my personality generally is, I distinctly remember a breakdown or two in that time period where I thought I might never move out of my parents’ house or make enough money to have a savings account. What helped me out of that rut was setting goals that I could achieve. Don’t try to be an all-star right out of the gate and give up if things aren’t going your way. I set a goal to get a full-time job so that I could move out on my own and pay my own expenses. The job I got was a front desk position at first, but it satisfied that goal and at the time, that was enough. Small goals one after the other will help you get where you want to go. One giant goal will likely just give you a giant stress headache.

The word “yes” will be your best friend for a while: There will be a time in your career when you will have to say no to projects and requests. For most 22 year-olds, now is not that time. Within reason, say yes to anything you can take on in your job that will give you experience. Pay may seem like the most important thing when you aren’t earning very much, but it’s your experience that will land you that higher-paying opportunity at a place you enjoy working. That front desk job that I started with turned into a front desk/writing job because I was willing and eager to take on the extra work for the sake of experience. I didn’t rake in lots of money by doing that, but the wealth of experience I ended up with helped me land an even better job. Many recent-grads would have turned their noses up at that front desk position, but because I took it I was able to achieve my short-term goal of living on my own and add a lot of valuable writing experience to my resume.

Think outside of the “dream job” box: Having a “dream job” in mind when you graduate is great. It can give you a sense of direction and something to reach for long-term. Missing out on great opportunities because they don’t fit those exact specifications isn’t so great. Keep an open mind as to what will be valuable experience and what kind of jobs could make you happy. I grew up wanting to be a magazine editor at a place like Lucky magazine, and I have always had that “dream job” in the back of my head somewhere. But that didn’t stop me from testing out print design in college, becoming a competent consumer tech writer at that front desk job, or veering into online media territory that doesn’t fit in the parameters of a magazine. The job I have now as Lifestyle & Entertainment Editor at Trapit is much different than what my traditional journalism education taught me, but I like to think that it is sort of the tech-startup version of a magazine editor’s job, and I love it.

Be ok with where you are: This advice harkens back to the idea of having small goals. We all have a picture in our heads of what our life should be like down the road. There’s nothing wrong with having all of that in mind, but don’t get down on yourself because you haven’t saved up the down payment for a house by age 24. Be ok living in an apartment with ugly carpet and no dishwasher because you’re saving money for more important things. You can scrimp on some of these things because you’re young, and you don’t have to have everything right away. You don’t need a new car or a beautiful home yet. Those things can wait. And that’s ok. Put that money in a savings account for later, or use some of it to travel and explore. You can worry about a house and a family and multiple insurance payments later. Remember to measure your success by short-term goals, like whether you have saved emergency living expenses for three months, paid off your college credit cards, or come up with a helpful idea at work, instead of measuring yourself against the long-term ideal in your head. It’s ok to be young and poor and working your butt off. Have faith that the rest will come, but not all in one fell swoop.

Come eager and excited to any opportunity: My last words of advice have to do with being generally personable. Some people think that if you are amazing at your job, you don’t have to be nice to people. I wholeheartedly disagree. Even if you are working a job that doesn’t fit into your career-plan, make the most of it and be kind to the people around you. Be excited about what you can offer and the experience you can gain. Be eager to do a good job and contribute your own talents. You never know what connections might lead you to a great opportunity further down the line. Besides, it’s nice to have friends from old jobs even after you’ve moved on to something new. The world isn’t perfect, but I like to think that being kind to those around you on your rise to success will come back to help you in one way or another. I’m pretty sure that life is easier when you have mostly friends and no enemies to stand in your way.

One final note that both Kristina and I agree on – it’s always better to be overdressed than under dressed, especially at a job interview.

You can find Kelly on Pinterest, Twitter and Trapit.