Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sell Yourself

As an unofficial part 2 to Desiree's post, let's continue the conversation about networking:

"Your network is your net worth"

While at the GW Monthly Networking Event, I was once again reminded of the value of networking. While it is honestly not my favorite thing to do, I have certainly learned to appreciate the value of forming relationships that can undoubtedly help you progress further than if trying to do it alone.

Here are a few tips that I've learned so far:

-Be prepared- You definitely want to have an abundant supply of business cards, flyers, brochures and whatever else can not only vividly represent you and/or your business but also leave a lasting impression on your new contacts. It is always better to have more than to run out prematurely. (VistaPrint offer great deals on business cards and other promotional items.)
*Attention job seekers: Giving someone your resume may not be appropriate in all situations, but having personal business cards with your contact information (and even a brief objective) is a GREAT investment.

-Be passionate- Passion is contagious, and it will boost your confidence. Even if they don't remember all of the details you share, they will certainly remember your energy and the feeling you left them with.

-Smile- Some networking situations can be aggressive and somewhat intimidating. However, simply smiling will invite others to approach you. It will also contribute to your confidence in approaching others as well. Plus, it will leave a good impression :-)

-Always seize the opportunity- any and every situation can be seen as a networking opportunity. There is always an opportunity to meet a new person, who could potentially hold something of value to you. Be willing to strike up conversation and find common ground in nontraditional settings (i.e. the airport, elevator, nail salon, etc.).

-Follow up!- it may be hard to remember every single person you meet. Following up with new contacts within 24 hours of meeting them is a great way to make sure they remember YOU and to take that connection a step further.

NetParty, The Phenomenal Women Group and Girlfriends Get-Together are known for hosting great networking events, and I recommend making it to one of their next events.

The first step is to go out there and sell yourself!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Professional Development: Joining Membership Organizations

So you finally got the job or accepted into the academic program of your dreams! It was hard work along the way but you have finally achieved one of your goals. Well, don't think that the hard work is over. You have to show your employers or professors why they chose you to fulfill the mission of the company or education program. After all, they could positively impact your working/academic life.

During your interview or candidacy review, you submitted a plethora of supporting materials that exemplified why you were best for the job. You must show on a continuous basis why you are a fantastic hire/candidate. At work, you could work longer hours, take the initiative where warranted, work efficiently and productively across silos, show mastery in your craft or offer ideas for growth. Sometimes, it’s just as simple as doing all that they ask of you and beyond. In an academic environment, you could express interest in your professors’ work and look for opportunities to work closely with them.

All the aforementioned ideas are great but sometimes you need a little help from outside development groups and/or associations. Professional member organizations are great extra curricular activities because they offer members outlets to:
  • Cultivate leadership skills
  • Acquire news skills by working on various committees, events and programs
  • Apply existing and new skills that boost marketability in the workplace
  • Build network of mentors and like-minded individuals
  • Host workshops demonstrating work in career field
  • Conduct seminars with industry professionals
  • Unearth job opportunities through selective recruitment processes. Many employers work solely or in conjunction with membership associations and groups.
  • Stay abreast of industry breakthroughs, trends and research
There are professional member associations for your career field—for example American Marketing Association, Public Relations Society of America, National Association of Black Journalist, etc. Likewise, there are academic groups—for example, National Student Nurses Association, National Association of Student Personnel Administration, Society of Human Resource Management, etc. Speak with your professors, supervisors and colleagues to find out what associations they belong to or groups they feel you should join. Search LinkedIn.com and other online professional networking sites for associations or groups in your field.

I would challenge you to consider how you want to grow as a professional or as an academic student and search for associations or groups that fit your needs and offers you opportunities to develop personally and professionally. Joining associations or groups can be expensive but the benefits outweigh the expense; look at it as an investment in your future. Many join associations because it looks good on a resume-- and it does -- but the real take-away is knowledge, contacts, expanded networks, new skill sets and a healthier outlook on life and the workplace.

Desiree Frieson, 24, a marketing & PR coordinator at Odyssey Networks, is a member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, American Marketing Association (AMA) and the New York Chapter of the AMA.

You can read more of Desiree's thoughts on books, movies, television series, social media and much more on her blog Desi's Random Thoughts:
"I have a lot of thoughts and ideas fluttering around in my head and this blog serves as my release!"

Friday, October 23, 2009

Queens Restaurant Week

First stop, Balu Café in Astoria. Balu transforms casual dining with a cute and swanky environment. I immediately fell in love with the white lounge seating, and the waterfall cascading over plasma and electric fireplace only added to the chic ambiance.

From the prefixed Restaurant Week menu, I chose (I was more than pleased with each choice):

-the lobster cake with chipotle aioli and green beans in balsamic vinaigrette-which had a nice crisp shell, and the chipotle aioli gave it an extra punch of flavor

-steak forestiere-grilled hanger with mushroom and burgundy sauce roasted potato cake and asparagus- all I have to say is “succulent.” I even ate the asparagus, which I usually don’t eat.

-and chocolate pudding-which was so rich, and the fresh strawberry was definitely a bonus

I will certainly be back for weekend brunch. I’m already torn between the baked French toast and the chocolate filled pancakes. However, I’m already anticipating the mimosas.

Next stop, Cavo Mediterranean Restaurant.

Talk about step out of your comfort zone. Cavo was my first experience with Mediterranean cuisine (that I can recall). However, after stepping into this beautiful restaurant, we were convinced that our experience could only get better. The high ceiling and multi level layout create a breathtaking but welcoming space, which is graced by the natural light pouring in. With the option of the outdoor garden, Cavo is certainly fit for any special occasion. I cannot forget to mention the friendly hostess, caring owners Tommy (our very own Jason Statham, as Tracey referred to him) and Jessie who greeted our table and checked on us and our lovely waiter Nick, all who contributed to our pleasant time at Cavo. Although we didn’t witness it firsthand, I can only imagine how the live music adds to the ambiance.

We started off with the flowered zucchini, which was fried and filled with a zucchini paste. Even though I don’t consider myself a fan of zucchini I enjoyed the appetizer.

I was immediately intrigued by the squid ink linguine. Despite a bit of apprehension, I went for it and enjoyed it. Linguine made black with squid ink served with scallops and capers is certainly something I had never even heard of before but would definitely eat again.

Taking Tommy’s advice, my partner in crime, Abby, ordered the striped bass with pasta and pesto so that we could get a taste of both items we were curious about. Definitely delicious! The fish was slightly crisp on the outside but well flavored and juicy on the inside, and the pesto added its unmistakable flavor to the dish.

Tracey was also pleased with her baby chicken dish (which was later referred to as "chicken fantasy"), which was served with tri-colored cauliflower and mock mashed potatoes that tickled her fancy.

Because I can never resist dessert, I went with the molten cake, which wasn’t unlike others I’ve had but yummy nonetheless.

Compliments to the chef!

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Unfair Fight: Hit with the Reality of an Unhealthy Relationship

To further promote Domestic Violence Awareness, let's take a look at Robin Givens' book Grace Will Lead Me Home.

We all know Robin Givens as the beautiful actress who has appeared on The Cosby Show, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, in Boomerang, and the Off-Broadway production of The Vagina Monologues, just to name a few, but in her book Grace Will Lead Me Home, we are introduced to a young and naïve Robin Givens who falls victim to an abusive marriage to boxing champ Mike Tyson.

Givens guides us through her family tree and reveals the curse of domestic abuse that trickled down through the generations, from her grandmother and mother’s battle to her very own fight. Retelling stories that must have passed from generation to generation, Givens vividly depicts events that occurred before she was even born. She recounts her foremothers’ strength for leaving their abusive lovers with admiration and utter respect. As we are introduced to young Robin, amidst the nostalgic childhood memories she recreates with stories of her family, we witness the recurring cycle of an unfulfilling relationship with a father and the false fulfillment of a dysfunctional relationship.

Givens describes her early days with Michael (as she calls him) with the blissful innocence they shared as a young couple; But the tale quickly turns to terror. With the first blow, your heart stops with shock, and with every blow thereafter, your heart sinks as you imagine the heavyweight champion fighting an unfair fight with his petite and unsuspecting opponent. With each page, you feel anxious and dread for what is to come but you also feel a growing discomfort at the familiarity of her deep-seated desire to just enjoy what you know is not completely right. As she walks us through the roller coaster of her relationship, she elegantly constructs the story to convey the competing danger and innocence of each moment she and Michael spent together.

The moments get progressively worse to the point where she goes numb, and we lose Robin, and it is as if someone else is writing the story for her. Through her story, Givens allows us an outside perspective that one cannot see when lost in the situation. We can see, from a spectator’s perspective, how foolish thoughts and choices can be when clouded by the bliss.

We are witness to Givens reliving some of her lowest points in her life, but we also witness her beautiful restoration, in which she finds her spirit strengthened. While it may be difficult to read at times, Robin Givens shares a victory that will undoubtedly help another young woman conquer an abusive relationship.

Domestic abuse remains a very serious issue, and it is important that we educate ourselves on the matter and prevent it in any way we can. According to helpguide.org domestic abuse “occurs when one person in an intimate relationship or marriage tries to dominate and control the other person [sometimes using] fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down and gain complete power over you.”

Be aware of the warning signs.

Bottom line: I’m not implying that all unhappy situations will result in domestic abuse, but if you are unhappy, you need to reevaluate the relationship. Trust your gut.

There are ample resources for information and support:

helpguide.org; endabuse.org; National Domestic Violence Hotline (800.799.7233)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Confidence in the Real World

For most kids, especially in the developmental years, our parents are our greatest supporters; they tell us to chase after our dreams and become whatever we want to be. They are our greatest confidence boosters. However, once we reach certain academic levels and professional heights, we find ourselves constantly challenging ourselves and our self-worth. Low confidence is a major obstacle we must all overcome at some point in our lives. Boosting confidence is not an easy task, and we all cope with this differently. It’s the results that matters the most—incredible confidence to face challenges and keep rising to new heights.

For me, rising to new heights was getting a great job once I graduated from Wesley College in 2007. It is no secret that most college graduates have a hard time finding jobs in the field in which they received their degree. One reason for this trend is that millions of students graduate every year and compete in the same job market that holds few entry level positions. Only the lucky few are granted their dream jobs, while others have to take smaller irrelevant jobs while they wait for something to open up. I was one of the lucky few to find a job within 5 weeks of graduating (and currently employed with the company) with great pay. However, during those 5 weeks I was a nervous wreck and I started to doubt my talents, skills and worth.

I went on countless interviews and was only called back for a second interview twice. I started to doubt all that I learned in college and lost my confidence. I started to think I would never be good as a Media Arts professional or I would never be able to accomplish success like so many other professionals. Some of the job interviewers told me I was under qualified for the position and I needed more experience and I kept saying to myself, “How am I going to get experience if no one will hire me?” Colleges don’t prepare students for rejection, or the ones that do, aren’t doing such a great job.

Though the colleges didn’t prepare me for failure and rejection, I had a great support system of friends and family that helped me realize it is okay to be rejected and fail sometimes. They taught me to take all the negative energy and turn it into something positive. I understood what they were telling me but I was still jobless. Eventually I was hired by Odyssey Networks and some of my confidence was restored. I got the job as a Marketing & Public Relations assistant at a faith-based non-profit media production company. I became part of a team of seasoned professionals hailing from the broadcast industry. Once I learned about the background of the management team, I was once again intimidated and my confidence took a nosedive. I felt intimidated because I didn’t know at the time if I was capable of living up to their standards. I questioned whether I could perform the work without fail. I also worried if I could keep up with their pace and if they chose the right employee for their team.

Once again my support system saved my confidence by teaching me I can never be anyone else but myself and I can only achieve what I want to and be successful at it. They also taught me that the journey would not be easy but I have to be convinced of my worth. My supporters reinforced the idea that trying to live the life of others would only set me back; I needed to find my own identity and capitalize on that to be just as successful.

Today, I still face many obstacles in making myself a marketable employee and constantly proving I am the right person for the job. I am proud and confident to say I achieved a lot in the last 2 years and those around me see it too. For those people who don’t have a strong support system, it is vital to seek to build one. Be open to sincerely connecting with people not merely for a one-way exchange. You may meet truly amazing people along the way that will support and strengthen you on your journey.

You can read more of Desiree's thoughts on books, movies, television series, social media and much more on her blog Desi's Random Thoughts: http://www.desireefrieson.com/
"I have a lot of thoughts and ideas fluttering around in my head and this blog serves as my release!"

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Announcing...The Anniversary Issue!

I am bursting with excitement to share the Anniversary Issue of Her Journey Magazine!

In This Issue

We’ll take you to:

*Trinidad and Tobago

*Costa Rica


Also visit us at:



Tuesday, October 6, 2009

October 5-15: Queens Restaurant Week

Cue music: "It's the most wonderful time of the year..."

Yesterday began Queens Restaurant Week! Having experienced Long Island Restaurant Week, I am almost drooling with excitement to take a stab at some of the Queens restaurants.

From October 5-15, you too can experience a 3-course meal for ONLY $25! You don't want to miss it!

I will definitely be sharing my experiences...STAY TUNED! :-)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

In the Spring 2009 issue of Her Journey we touched on the issue of domestic violence with the help and wisdom of Sil Lai Abrams, a survivor of domestic violence turned woman empowerment coach. Recent events in the media have shown us that domestic violence is certainly an issue that hits closer to home. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Her Journey has accepted it as part of our responsibility to support this movement.

Domestic abuse is an issue that gets sympathy but remains insignificant until it affects you personally. However, as distant as it may seem, it is important to protect yourself and those around you from it before it has the opportunity to get too close for comfort.

First, knowing exactly how to define domestic abuse can diminish common misconceptions and better prepare you to identify it before falling victim to it.

According to helpguide.org domestic abuse “occurs when one person in an intimate relationship or marriage tries to dominate and control the other person [sometimes using] fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down and gain complete power over you.”


  1. It’s not domestic abuse if he doesn’t hit you.

Abuse comes in many forms, including verbal (name calling), emotional and sexual, all warning signs of what could eventually become physical.

  1. It is only domestic abuse if you are married.

Abusive behavior in any intimate relationship, boyfriend/girlfriend, same-sex, etc., is domestic abuse and should not be tolerated. Domestic abuse can even occur after a relationship has ended.

  1. Only women can be victims of domestic abuse.

Although it is more common and severe for female victims, men, too, can be victims of domestic abuse.

Okay, now we know exactly what it is, but how serious is it?

The National Domestic Violence Hotline website shares several startling statistics:

  • According to CDC Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey 2005, 1 in 4 women in the U.S. are victims of domestic abuse at some point in their lives
  • 1 out of 3 women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime.[1]

What struck an even deeper nerve was finding out that:

  • Liz Claiborne Inc. Teen Relationship Abuse Survey 2006 reported that 14% of teens said they would do almost anything to keep a boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • 20% of those who have been in a serious relationship have been hit, slapped, or pushed by a boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • 1 in 5 female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner. Abused girls are significantly more likely to get involved in other risky behaviors. They are 4 to 6 times more likely to get pregnant and 8 to 9 times more likely to have tried to commit suicide.[2]

These statistics could make your heart stop:

  • According to the CDC Adverse Health Conditions and Health Risk Behaviors Associated with Intimate Partner Violence - United States 2005, each year, IPV results in an estimated 1,200 deaths and 2 million injuries among women and nearly 600,000 injuries among men.

An abusive relationship can be a very difficult situation to escape, which is why it is terribly important to prevent it from onset.

  • The simplest rule: if you are unhappy in a relationship, it is not for you. (I’m not implying that all unhappy situations will result in domestic abuse, but if you are unhappy, you need to reevaluate the relationship.
  • Be aware of the warning signs:
    • What kind of relationship did he witness? Many abusers witnessed domestic abuse among their own parents.
    • How does he handle anger? Men are naturally more aggressive than women, but it is important that he know how to handle that anger properly.
    • Persistence and disregard for what you say may seem like insignificant details in the beginning but are signs of someone who will do what they have to to get what they want.

Don’t making excuses for him:

  • “He loves me. He just has a bad temper.” “It’s not his fault. His dad was abusive.” “He needs me. He’s hurting.” His pain is not your problem to mend, especially if he’s hurting you/not at the cost of your own well-being.
  • “He’ll hurt me if I try to leave” But he’ll hurt you if you stay, repeatedly. It may be difficult and intimidating to leave but you can find support that is greater than him.
  • He promised it won’t happen again.” I would only advise considering giving him a second (and only a second, not third) chance after professional help.
  • According to Allstate Foundation National Poll on Domestic Violence 2004, 3 out of 4 (74%) respondents personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence.
  • 1 in 3 teens report knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, slapped, choked or physically hurt by his/her partner.[3]

If your friend is in an unhealthy situation, you need to snap her out of her blissful fantasy and encourage her to find her own strength to leave.

The relief of leaving the situation will be a victorious feeling like no other, but I do advise seeking professional assistance to help you to love yourself, your friends, loved ones and another again. Now I’m not telling you to write the next Diary of a Mad Black Woman or reenact Jennifer Lopez’s character in Enough, but I strongly encourage self-defense to keep yourself protected.

Read other stories of victory: Juanita Bynum, Robin Givens

There are ample resources for information and support:

helpguide.org; endabuse.org; National Domestic Violence Hotline (800.799.7233)

For the entire month of October, Jewish Women International blog will be sharing stories of those who have survived and overcome domestic abuse.