ASK ALEX: "I'm in a Job Rut".

 
“Does this filter make me look wise??”

“Does this filter make me look wise??”

It’s been tough for me to write lately. I feel like every time I put pen to paper, something angry comes out. With the state of our nation, it’s been difficult to care about much else these days than the atrocities that are taking place at the hand of our own government. It feels like everything I have to say comes back to the fear and heartbreak I feel for our country.

Last month, I asked you guys on Instagram what kind of advice you were in need of. I got a multitude of answers, ranging from how to find the best sunglasses for your face shape, to help with getting rid of toxic people from your life. I’ve sat down a few times to start writing my answers, but every time I got sidetracked and ended up on more of a tangent than a talk. But last week- something shifted. After the El Paso & Dayton shootings, and the round-up of undocumented immigrants in Mississippi which left a dozen children without their parents, I felt a burning helplessness to do something. And I realized the quickest way to do something was to start spreading kindness, compassion and empathy. And I know I can do so with my words. I also bought a stranger a cookie last week- only to find out they “don’t EAT COOKIES”!! So, here I am, back on my computer!!

So, without further ado, here’s my first article with “Ask Alex” or “Advice from Alex” or “Talking Out of Her Ass, it’s Alex!”- whatever we want to call it- I’m answering your questions!

 

“I’m in a job rut. I’ve been with my current employer for a few years, and I really hate my job and want to look elsewhere. How did you end up finding a job you like?”

 

If you would have asked me a few years ago (hell, even a few months ago) to dish out job advice, I would have laughed and then gotten in my 2001 Saturn Station and popped in a Jonas Brothers CD. SIMPLER TIMES! But I didn’t start out very strong in the job-scene (does anyone?). My first job, I diverted away from fashion, which I had gone to college for. I took a job that paid well-enough and gave me experience and I was grateful- but I was miserable. It wasn’t for me. And I remember in that time, everything felt so final. I felt like I had chosen my course and I let my job dictate my moods and my life. I never shut the job off, I came home every night riled up and angry.

Eventually, I left that job and got back into fashion, working for Linda Dresner. Out of college, I had pretty much stalked Linda, emailing and calling her store until she agreed to meet with me. At that time, she didn’t have any work for me. But I offered to come in and help with sales and whatever else she needed, and we formed a relationship. Three years later- she called me and I left my job to work with her. I worked with Linda for almost three years- and it was one of the greatest learning experiences of my life. Linda brought life back into my goals.

When we moved to Las Vegas, I was convinced I would never find a job in fashion here. I was applying for anything and everything, sitting in coffee shops almost everyday firing off my resume. After about 5 months of nothing, I took a seasonal job working in the Zappos Call Center. I had really wanted to work for Zappos, and I felt this could be a good foot in the door. The hours weren’t ideal, I sat 8 hours a day in a call center, fielding customer service calls. I surprisingly enjoyed it- but I think more-or-less I was just happy to be working again and talking to actual people, not just yelling wrong answers at Alex Trebeck.

Three weeks into the 8-week program, I got an email from Chloe Gosselin. I had actually applied for a job to work for her husband, when she came across my resume. She was also looking to hire someone for her business, and we met for coffee. I left the call center and starting working with Chloe two weeks later.

Here’s the thing- sometimes luck just has something to do with it. But it wasn’t without hard work. For five months, 4-5 days a week, I was actively applying for anything that sounded remotely interesting to me. I reached out to companies that didn’t even have job postings. This leads me to my best job-hunting practice:

You do not have to wait for a company to have an opening. Think of what you want to do. Is it marketing? Advertising? Tech? Research a company that you admire or are interested in and find someone who works in the related department-or, if it’s a super small company, reach out to the owner. Many times, I would just send a cold-email, ask if I could come in and meet with that person over coffee because I admired their company or wanted to learn more about it. You would be shocked with how generous people can be with their time. Don’t get me wrong- 8 times out of 10 I got no response. But the other two times, I made valuable connections and was on their radar if an opening did arise- that’s how I got the seasonal work with Zappos. I emailed a recruiter asking to have coffee and learn more about Zappos- a few weeks later, she emailed me about the Customer Service role. I immediately went to Whole Foods and bought a lunch box, I was back in business, baby!!

Never think that a job or task is beneath you. I can’t tell you how many women I’ve talked to, fresh out of college, who thinks they should be able to skip “entry-level”. It’s not what you see on Instagram. You have to work and be willing to do it all. Sometimes you take a new job and feel like you’re taking a small step back. But one step back, to ultimately take five forward? I was terrible at math in high school but sounds good to me!!

If you are currently in a job that sucks the soul out of you, you have to do everything you can to not bring it home with you. Leave work at work. I used to sit in my car for 15-minutes after a certain job I had, just to decompress and shake it off. I was letting the misery of the job take the joy out of the rest of my day, and I didn’t want to give it that power.

If you work with people who are intent on making you miserable, remember that flowers still grow among weeds. Or in simpler terms, don’t internalize the bullshit happening around you that stunts your growth. That was the hardest lesson for me to learn, and the hardest habit to kick.

In terms of applying for jobs- making my resume was truly the bane of my existence. I thought I had a killer resume- until I sent it to a few friends who kindly roasted it into oblivion. My experience was strong! But my resume might as well have been written in Comic Sans. It had a lot on there, but it said nothing. The best tip I ever received was that every sentence should have a result. So instead of:

“Responsible for all e-mail marketing initiatives”

It should be:

“Responsible for all e-mail marketing initiatives, leading to a 33% increase in active subscribers”.

And while we’re at it- delete your objective sentence. Delete it like your racist Uncle from Facebook. It takes up valuable property on your resume, and it tells the employer what they already know- that you want that job, CLEARLY!!!

It also helped me to buy a resume template off Etsy- it took the hard work out of designing my resume so I could focus on the content of it.

I think we’ve been fed a myth about the “Dream Job”- and we pressure ourselves to find it as fast as we can. We tell ourselves we’ll be happy when we have it. In those five months that I wasn’t working, I realized that I had associated my happiness with work, and the jobs I had. If my job sucked- I was miserable, even when I wasn’t there. I had gotten completely dependent on my job to dictate the other parts of life. I struggled to find things that could fill me with joy and purpose the way I had told myself a job should make me feel. In those five months, I had to learn that my happiness came from other outside factors. I had to focus on how to create a “Dream Life”, instead the illusive “Dream Job”. And it wasn’t this poetic, romanticized journey people sell- sorry but that’s only for people who don’t need MONEY!!! It was challenging and stressful as hell.

I’m not a job expert, I’m really fortunate to be in a position now where I enjoy going into work and feel respected and happy. What I want the takeaway to be is that while your job environment is extremely important to your well-being, it can’t be the sole factor of it. If you’re ready to be onto the next thing, start putting yourself out there, be willing to get a little uncomfortable. The amount of cringe-y emails I sent (I actually put “Hello, Is it Me You’re Looking For? as the subject of an application email. GOOD TIMES!) and unanswered calls discouraged me at times, but all it takes is one. Again- you might be in weeds, but you are a flower (one of those cool, Instagrammy ones) and growth requires action.

I Went to Paris and All I Got was 1000 French Beauty Products

Bonjour!!...From a café 2 blocks from my house, where I am pretending to still be in Paris. Armed with a double espresso and a pastry probably meant for two, I’m taking an inventory of all the beauty products I picked up while I was abroad. I was in Paris for work, having very little time to myself. So when I showed up at City Pharma at 8:30am, laminated list in-hand, with only an hour to get it all done, I was ready to rage.

City Pharma is essentially God’s gift to earth- or at least to tourists. It’s a large pharmacy stocked with all the best brands, at a fraction of what we would pay in the U.S.  When I arrive up 10 minutes before open, hopped up on caffeine and carbs, there was already a line forming. What I found when the doors open could only be described as beautiful, organized chaos. Caudalie, La Roche Posay, Klorane, rows and rows of all French beauty staples that are nearly impossible to get here at home. I saw multiple people combing through their own lists, strategizing what we could get through TSA.

I quickly filled a basket to the brim, high off the thrill of inexpensive prices of my favorite beauty, or just way too buzzed from the double espresso. I also found many new favorites-in-training, thanks to the advice of a few experts I enlisted from my Instagram. City Pharma was pretty overwhelming, so I wanted to share my finds today to ensure you don’t find yourself crying in the Caudalie aisle. Unless it’s tears of joy- then we’re on the same page here.

 

Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum

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A creamy, refreshing serum meant to help brighten skin and treat dark spots. I’ve found that Vitamin C serums have really helped with my acne scarring and overall skin-brightness. This one contains"viniferine", which is said to be even more effective than Vit C.  I apply in the morning after washing my face and it feels like what coffee feels like to my soul, but for my face. It’s the little luxuries, people!

*It is $79 here in the U.S....I paid the equivalent of $32 at City Pharma.

Caudalie Overnight Detox Oil

I bought this for the first time a few months ago, and have been using it religiously every night. After about a month, I noticed my skin was smoother, more even-toned, even a little redness around my nose had dulled. I wake up feeling dewy and plump, and possibly a little drowsy because I had to take a melatonin at 2am after spending all night thinking of how horses sit. ANYWAY- it’s the real deal, and about half the price in France. I stocked up.

*Paid $50 at Sephora originally, $27 at City Pharma. Caudalie is insanely less expensive in France, I highly recommend stocking up on this brand.

 

Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentrate

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This was the #1 suggestion from my Instagram outreach. It’s essentially in the makeup bag of every makeup artist, as this cream is praised as the perfect primer & moisturizer. I can now attest that this is true. I have been applying right before my makeup, and it creates a smooth, supple base for product. I really enjoy using it on its own too, after I shower and am just lounging around the house. It’s extremely hydrating and light, and suddenly gives me the urge to turn on French coffeehouse music and light a cigarette. Don’t worry mom, I WON’T!

Bioderma Hydrabio H20

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Duh. I use as a makeup remover and it gets every last bit of it off, leaving my face smooth and fresh feeling. Incredibly inexpensive, wonderfully luxurious. Like my feelings, my skin is extremely sensitive, so I use the one with the blue lid.

Klorane Dry Shampoo

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This is something I had bought in the States previously, but when I saw the significantly-less price tag in the Pharmacie ($10 here vs. $3, I grabbed a few bottles. You can’t go wrong here, it’s a great dry shampoo.

 

Klorane Smoothing & Relaxing Eye Patches

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I live for an eye patch moment. Waking up and throwing a pair on my tired, puffy eyes is very much near the top of my favorite hobbies list. Eye patches can be really expensive, considering you typically use them once. These cooled my tired, jet lag eyes at a very nice price ($10 for 7 sets).

Nuxe Dry Body Oil

This seemed to be on display everywhere and a friend had asked me to pick her up a bottle. I got one for myself and now I wish I had filled an entire suitcase with it. A silky, smooth, luxurious dry body oil that comes in a PUMP! No more messy-hands, spilling it all over the place. It smells like a fancy vacation and makes skin supple and glowy. Use any remainder on your hands on the ends of your hair. 

Hexomedine

When I got home from Paris, I had this weird red little bump under my chin. I applied this with a q-tip and by morning, it had almost disappeared completely. Touted as a staple for the French, it is an antiseptic for acne. If I have a stubborn zit, I’ll just put a little bit on and then hydrate the area. It’s extremely drying, so only use once a day if necessary!

*This product will be behind the counter, you’ll have to ask a pharmacist for it! Thanks Google Translate app!!!

*P.P.S- I think it’s rude to ask French people if they speak English. You are in their home, after all! Try “I’m sorry, I don’t speak French” first and see how they respond.

Homeoplasmine

Your chapped lips need this, trust me. Insanely hydrating and healing. I can’t remember fully because I was drunk with power at the time, but this may have to be asked for from behind the counter as well. Perfect for chapped lips, itchy or irritated skin!

Avène Thermal Spring Water

An absolute staple, the perfect skin-refresher. I stocked up on travel sizes for my purse, car and desk. I sweat a lot, okay?

Nuxe Reve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm

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Another recommendation from a friend, this applies like sheer butter on your lips. I keep it on my nightstand and put on a few coats right before bed. This + my pimple pads bedtime look probably gives Mike nightmares. The price of beauty, baby!!

Le Petit Marseillais (Bar Soaps)

 I picked up a few of these as gifts. They’re inexpensive, and the scents are luscious and fresh.

Above all, the thing that Paris taught me is that beauty really lies within. JUST KIDDING! I carefully curated this list through research and recommendation, I did enough sweaty laps around the pharmacy to definitely categorize it as exercise. Now with my face coated in vitamin C, freshly sprayed with mineral water, I’ll be getting back to my never-ending carb-fest. VIVE LA FRANCE!