We select one blogger per month as ReadyForZero’s Blogger of the Month. Because our Better Know a Blogger series was enjoyed by a lot of readers, we decided to continue introducing you to some of our favorite bloggers and personal finance experts.
For the month of January our Blogger of the Month is Nicole Emerick, who created MsCareerGirl.com. She explains the mission of her site this way: “I hope Ms. Career Girl provides you with real stories you can relate to, the modern career advice you are seeking and a bit of entertainment along the way.” Below is our interview with Nicole:
Your blog has such great insights – particularly for women looking to get the most out of their careers. What made you decide to start the blog and has it been what you expected?
I’m glad you like Ms. Career Girl! I have worked very hard over the last 4 years to make sure the content is relevant, consistent and high quality. I started MsCareerGirl.com when I was 24 and, admitedly, a bit lost and unsure of my own career. I was working as a commercial banker at the time and (like many women would say about a typical x-boyfriend) I knew something wasn’t right yet it wasn’t totally wrong either. I needed a passion project outside of my day job to fulfill the creative side of my brain that loved to write and connect with other women. Ms. Career Girl helped me go from not wanting to get out of bed to waking up every day at 5am for a year to write before my day job and on the weekends. It gave me something to look forward to after work and it gave me a sense of purpose that I didn’t feel from my job. Four years later I can say that my blog ended up really changing my whole career and life but I didn’t know that would happen at the time.
Your About page mentions how you’ve “gone from Big Bank to Startup Bliss to Self Employed.” How have these different experiences shaped your views on careers and finances? And are there any key lessons you wish you could go back and tell your earlier self?
After having such a bizzare and unexpected career path since graduating in 2006, I think that the biggest mistake recent college grads can make is holding on too tightly to their college major. Yes, some people will absolutely love pursuing a career in the same field they majored in for the rest of their lives. Most others will not. It’s OK if you change directions and there’s nothing to feel guilty about!
Your twenties is most definitely a time of self-discovery. If you don’t like your career, it will put a dark cloud over the rest of your working life so you better figure out what you DO like- you have at least 40 more years of working ahead of you! If you know you hate something, it seems to be a dead-end or it doesn’t invigorate you I would encourage you to go with your gut. Don’t act irresponsibly or impulsively, but start taking actions to change your situation. This means reading books, meeting new people, volunteering, getting out of your comfort zone, starting a blog, taking people to coffee, going on interviews. It doesn’t mean up and quitting, it means putting yourself on a path of new opportunities and “career dating,” if you will.
What are some of the biggest mistakes people make as they try to navigate the working world and create a career for themselves?
I think too many young professionals act on what they think they are supposed to do or be like, not who they really are. Be yourself, speak up and trust that you’re better than you think you are.
Are there some common themes you have noticed in how people manage their finances (or don’t) while also managing their careers?
I think people who are unhappy at work often take it out on their credit card. They had a bad day so they “deserve” this dinner out. They hate their boss so they “need” this new purse. A great blog to read for more insight on this subject is Ramit Sethi’s “I will teach you to be rich.” It’s one of my favorite blogs ever.
Many of our readers are working to pay off debt. What advice would you give them?
Ugh, I have been through this and there’s no way around saying it SUCKS. Here are the musts:
1) STOP USING THE DAMN CREDIT CARD.
2) Cut them ALL up. Yes, I said all of them.
3) Get an accountability partner ASAP. Tell a friend or loved one that you have a problem and make sure he or she is on you if they see you in brand new shoes, an outfit or swiping for a fancy dinner or bar tab.
4) Break up with your old lifestyle and mourn. Let yourself feel poor. Cry and eat ice cream if you have to. You were living above your means, this is supposed to suck. You’ll feel better later, I promise.
5) Make sure you have an emergency fund. $500-$1000 in cash is a good start for now.
6) Transfer high balance cards to 0% cards if possible.
7) Automate your payments. Pay the same amount each month at the same time via your bank’s bill pay.
8) Figure out a way to make more money. Whether it’s a side job or a new job, you NEED to make more money if you want to get ahead. If you made enough you wouldn’t be in this situation in the first place, right?
How would you advise someone to balance being financially responsible with following their dreams?
This is a tough one. I started my own business after being laid off from a job. There were financial highs and financial lows. Ultimately I decided that it was financially irresponsible for me as someone who was about to get married to be following my “dream” of being self-employed.
The good news is that I realized that dream really wasn’t nearly as dreamy as I had imaged it to be. I ended up finding the best job of my life that allows me to do what I love without being chronically stressed out about money and running a business.
The point of my story is that all that glitters is not gold. Most people will learn this the hard way like I did. In my opinion there is no worse stress than being totally broke. Be financially responsible first and find a way to work your dream in second. A side hustle is a great way to fulfill your passion without being homeless.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us, Nicole. Keep up the great work!
If you liked this post, you might enjoy our previous Blogger of the Month profile here.