While we both enjoy our jobs, working behind a desk creating flowcharts, analyzing the applicability of federal regulations, and hashing out the details of a technical systems implementation sometimes does not get our creative juices flowing. One of the reasons why we started PennyandDash.com in the first place is because we craved an outlet for creativity, especially one that we can share with the world in an effort to connect with others that have similar interests and passions as we do. It's been such a fun hobby for us because creating lookbooks and new posts keeps our minds open and wandering, so we are constantly finding inspiration everywhere we go, even when we're working!
Our corporate careers are now a whopping 9-months old, and though we are still very new to the scene, we have learned a thing or two when it comes to stereotypes of the business world. Contrary to popular belief, corporate life isn't always cut and dry, and if you meet the right people, ask the right questions, and volunteer for the right tasks,
you can always sprinkle some creativity into your day.
Aside from performing well on day-to-day tasks, many companies encourage their employees to participate in internal initiatives either during working or after hours. Think of this as something similar to the extracurricular activities you were part of back during your high school or college days. You probably joined a variety of different clubs, ran for executive board positions, and maybe even played a sport or two with the hopes that colleges and companies would find you to be a well-rounded candidate. Well, ladies and gentleman, we are here to report that this definitely does not end once you get that college acceptance or job offer, and taking part in the working world equivalent of extracurricular activities is at a different level and quicker pace than what you were used to in school. However, through the added stress and extra layer of complexity added to daily work life, you may very well discover other passions you may have, and can use this opportunity to show off talents to your co-workers that you may not be able to in your everyday work!
Mel: Within the first month of working at my current company, the business management team reached out to our rotational program director and asked if there were any analysts interested in planning events for the department. I jumped and quickly volunteered since I knew it would not only be a great opportunity to meet new people, but also gave me an excuse to get away from my desk and clear my brain from my daily tasks a few hours a week. I, along with the rest of the analysts in my year, formed what is now called the "Social Committee", and every few months we plan and host team building events to increase morale on the floor. From bringing ideas to the table for the upcoming events, to picking out decorations for our floor parties and creating fliers for advertising, my involvement in the Social Committee has definitely been rewarding in more ways then one!
If you find yourself unable to participate in certain groups due to your everyday workload, don't worry about having to be extremely active in extracurriculars.. If you have a hectic work load and cannot commit to a scheduled meetings, you can always choose to participate in events that occur on a one-time basis! Back in October, I had one pretty hectic and stressful work week, so I took that Friday to get out of the office and volunteered with New York Cares to help beautify and paint a local recreation center. Many companies will allocate at least 1 day a year for employees to take the work day to give back to the community instead of heading to the office, allowing you to take a step back and decompress from the daily stresses of your job while giving back to the community too. Win- Win!
Jess: When I first joined the company I currently work for, I was fortunate to have started with many other consultants who had also just graduated college and had that same eager attitude and blank slate that I did. As the weeks flew by and I took the time to regularly catch up with my new friends, it was incredibly interesting to hear about what everyone was currently involved in aside from their main client work. From being members of the Professional Womens' Network and Supply Chain Learning and Development team to participating in weekly volunteering events and intramural sports leagues, it seemed like everyone was using their time at the firm to focus on a variety of different interests.
When it came to my profile of extracurriculars, I focused less on what would translate well on paper and more on what I saw as involvement that would teach me something valuable and still be enjoyable at the same time. The opportunity to write for my program's monthly newsletter came one Friday afternoon in the office when a friend of a friend started passionately talking about the pivot table chart he created for the December newsletter and insisted that I open the email immediately to give him some feedback on his work. A few weeks later, and after a couple of name drops to the newsletter president, I was on the committee to write monthly articles that would be seen by hundreds of my peers. There definitely are guidelines when it comes to what I can submit, but it's extremely fun for me to take time out of my day to create graphics, do external research, and interview other employees to get the information I need to complete an article. If I also have an interest in writing about a certain topic, the team is always open to suggestions and is totally supportive. I've had so much practice blogging for P&D that writing, even on a corporate level, wasn't too daunting of a transition, and the best part is that it meshes my work and personal passions perfectly.
I am also an active member for one of my firm's cultural networks and co-lead an initiative within my main client team that helps to foster high performing teams. I always look forward to helping plan events and taking time during the day to have meetings with my co-workers, who I now consider to be good friends, given how much time we have spent together working toward a shared vision.
Throughout the past couple of months, I have been amazed and inspired by my peers who uphold themselves to such high standards when it comes to killing it at work. It's definitely a delicate balancing act when it comes to being well-rounded for year-end reviews, but being selective with what you commit to and putting in your best work for a few things rather than being half-in in a long portfolio of extracurriculars, is the best way to go. You'll add some extra spice to your work life and even build that network along the way too!
Fun Fact: We both were able to leave work a bit early on a Friday afternoon and decided to meet up in Soho to
1) Check out the murals at First Street Green Art Park and
2) Get some $1 happy hour oysters at the Mermaid Inn in East Village!
As always, thank you so much for reading, and we hope this post gets you inspired to take on extracurriculars at work or to pursue personal projects that allow you to channel your energy into. Feeling inspired and finding motivation is so important, so don't stop until you find what keeps you going!
Mel: Top - Banana Republic (similar), Skirt - Zara (similar), Shoes - Vince Camuto
Jess: Dress - The Limited (Similar styles: Calvin Klein, Vince Camuto, Calvin Klein), Shoes- Nine West