Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Travel Tuesday: Vienna for beginners, Part 2

Last week in "Vienna for Beginners," we began a tour of the heart of Vienna in three streets and three squares, going from Karlsplatz down Kärtnerstrasse to Stephansplatz. This is the heart of Vienna--the most central section, with historical landmarks leading up and down the shopping streets from the Stephansdom Cathedral to the Hofburg Quartier, the former home of the emperors.

Last time, we left off the tour at Stephansplatz, seen above. You've got the Haas Haus on the left and Stephansdom straight ahead. Now, if you have Kärtnerstrasse at your back, take a left onto Graben to continue on our journey!

One of the first things you'll see as you start down Graben is a big, weird statue. Ignore that for the time being, because on your left is an H&M. This is the only H&M I've ever been in that has chandeliers and wood paneling inside. See below.

Now, how fancy does that look? Unbelievable. It used to be an upscale men's suit store, but then it went out of business. H&M moved in, but it kept the beautiful decor. There's even a grand staircase inside.Totally worth looking inside, even if you don't need a pair of sunglasses for 5 euros.

And now there's no avoiding the enormous statue in the middle of the all-pedestrian street. It's the Pestsäule (German for "Plague Column"--clearly marketing was not a high priority back in 17th century...), and it commemorates the end of the plague in Vienna. It looks like a big, crazy, imposing mess.

Apparently, the figures in the statue tell the story of the plague and of Vienna's redemption, but I'm not necessarily buying it. I need an art historian or something to stand next to me and explain it all to me. Anyway... just past the statue on your right is a church. It doesn't look that impressive, but do not be fooled by its humble exterior. The inside is amazing.

Everything is covered in gold, and there are two complete skeletons encrusted in jewels with swords and scabbards and everything!!! They were early martyrs, and they're kept in glass coffins on either side of the altar. AMAZING!!! I can't believe how cool it was.

You can barely see the details in this picture, but take my word for it: amazingness. This church was also erected to commemorate the end of the plague, but several centuries earlier. Different plagues, different times, same imperial impulse: build something big and then God won't be mad and punish us all with the plague. And hey--no plague now! It must have worked.

At the end of the street, you'll be looking straight at a building with a big Julius Meinl sign on it--this is an incredible gourmet grocery store, cafe, and restaurant complex. If you go to the second floor, you can sit by the cafe windows and look out over the Graben and watch the people walk by for hours. It's a little pricey, but you only need to buy a cup of coffee to be able to sit there for as long as you want.

If you turn left at Meinl, you'll be heading down our last street--Kohlmarkt. We have one street and two squares left, so stick with us until next week when we finish the tour of the heart of Vienna's inner city!

Kate Wiseman is an expat and a travel blogger.
You can find her blog at www.transatlanticsketches.com.
You can email her at kate@transatlanticsketches.com.
Care packages and frequent flyer miles always welcome.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Motivational Monday: Take Your Job Search Offline

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about using temporary staffing agencies to get a job. This week, I want to briefly tell you some other ways to snag a job. Now, let me stress again that looking for a job is your job. While you have no job, your only job is to look for a job. So take your job very seriously, your job depends on it.

When I'm helping my clients with their job search, I strongly encourage them to do more than submit to job posts they find online. I ask them to take their search offline and network. So here are three ways to network and take your search offline.

1.) Vol
Nonprofit organizations are always looking for good and talented people to help them out with design, w
riting brochures, marketing, event planning, organizing, etc. Why are they a great place to network? Because each nonprofit has an executive board made up of presidents, vice presidents and other executives of companies. They chose to be on that board so you can be sure that they actually care about the organization. That means when an event is happening, they are most likely going to be there to participate. This is a stellar way for you to get yourself in front of people, working side by side and demonstrating your talents and ability to work hard. Volunteering is a also a great way to practice your current skills, build new ones, and help out a cause you believe in. Volunteermatch.org is a great place to start to find opportunities in your area!

2.) Professional Organizations

No matter what industry you are interested in, there is an organizing body that meets regularly. Join these organizations and attend their events. This is a stellar opportunity to meet people in your industry, keep up-to-date on new trends, and pick up a mentor.

3.) Networking Events

These are normally reserved for business people, but don't let that stop you from attending. You can find a host of groups in your area by visiting Meetup.com. There are groups that meet about every and anything. It doesn't have to be at a formal business event where you network. You can network with people who share a common interest with you whether it's salsa dance, food or French.

Yes, you can do the social media thing and connect with people all over the world but you got to get from behind the computer and meet the people you can, offline. Meeting face-to-face will always build a stronger connection.

Happy Hunting!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Vienna for beginners: a tour of 3 streets and 3 squares

Vienna, Austria is one of the great cities of the world.

I'm going to go ahead and make that bold claim without feeling bad about it. You know why? Vienna in the spring is a glorious place. The parks are green and flowers bloom. Cafes put tables outside, and people sit for hours. Free city bikes magically appear on street corners.

One of the things I've learned in my six months in Vienna is that the more time you spend here, the more things there are to see.

If you’re just visiting for a few days, though, you’ve got to start somewhere. Which is why I’m taking you on a tour of just 3 streets and 3 squares—that way you’ll see the highlights of the very core of the city.

Part One: Kärtner Straße to Stephanplatz.

Hello, Opera. This is the sight of many operas as well as the famous Opera Ball, the most prestigious social event of the year in Vienna. In recent years, a Viennese shopping mall tycoon, Richard Lugner, has made a habit of inviting a celebrity to the ball. This year, it was supposed to be Lindsay Lohan, but then she went shopping and missed her plane. (Oops) On a more serious note, the Opera House was completed in 1869, was damaged by a bomb in 1945, and was renovated and reopened in 1955. You can find news and tickets here. If you don't buy tickets before your trip, though, walk along the right side of the building to see if they are live-streaming the opera taking place inside.

Can you believe this? The day I took this photo it was pretty cold and dreary, but on nice days, the whole place is packed.

As you continue across the street and onto Kärtner Straße, the first thing you'll see on the left is the Sacher Hotel, birthplace of the Viennese Sacher Torte.

Gift shop mania. Apparently they'll send a Sacher Torte anywhere in the world for you, and it will stay good for up to three weeks unopened. Is this even possible?!

If you have any interest at all in trying Sacher Torte, this is the place to do it. Expensive, but classic--definitely worth trying if you're willing to indulge on some serious chocolate cake.

Kärtner Straße is a major shopping street. Lots of clothing stores, lots of cafes, lots of gift shops for the tourists (resist! these stores are tacky!).

One thing you can go down a side street to see is Loos' American Bar. Loos was an architect with a very distinct aesthetic, and he designed this bar with an American exterior.
I've never had a drink there because I think it would be crazy expensive, but it's cool looking.
At the end of the street, you’ll find yourself at Stephansplatz. This is the very center of the city and the home of Stephansdom, a cathedral that is one of the main symbols of the city. It was originally built in the 13th century, but major additions were made in the 14th and 15th centuries and later. It’s huge, and entrance is free.

Check out the tiled roof. It’s hard to see in a picture, but in person, it’s amazing. There are almost 250,000 tiles making the pattern you see there as well as the two-headed eagle that is the symbol of Austria. You can see it if you walk down a side street, though.

Across the square from Stephansdom is the Haas House, home to the upscale Do & Co Hotel. Look at the glass--you can see the reflection of Stephansdom in it! You can visit the Onyx Bar to get an unparalleled view directly on the cathedral. If you’re going on a weekend night, you’ll probably need a reservation, so call ahead. You can find out more here.

My sister and I went on her last night in Vienna, and it was the perfect way to close her trip—a really special place and view out at the heart of the city.

The tour will continue next week as we head from Stephansplatz down Graben and towards the Hofburg Imperial Quarters!

Kate Wiseman is an American expat currently living in Vienna, Austria. You can read more about her adventures at her blog, transatlantic sketches, or you can just show up in Vienna and talk to her yourself. Both are welcome.

Practicing the 8th Agreement - Learn What's Essential

Today, I'll be continuing the series "The 10 Agreements for Living the Life you Truly Desire." I invite you to participate in the conversation as we explore the power of living a well lived life.

I came up with the "10 Agreements for Living the Life you Truly Desire" to help myself and other women identify those areas that would give us the direction we need to live our lives with fulfillment, purpose and joy.

•Agreement # 1: I agree to help others in their quest to live the life they truly desire.
•Agreement # 2: I agree to discover how to develop myself to the fullest extent.
•Agreement #3: I agree to remember that there is no perfection, only process.
•Agreement #4: I agree to take life serious enough to remember to laugh with the good times and some of the sad ones.
•Agreement #5: I agree to stop self judging behavior and replace it with self assessment.
•Agreement #6 - I agree to share my gifts and talents with everyone I meet.
•Agreement #7 - I agree to not make apologies for or bad mouth who I am, how I'm created, or how I think.

Agreement #8 - I agree to admit to what I don't know and learn it only if necessary.

This agreement is all about making peace with what you do know and what you don't know and not folding to live up to other people's intellectual standards. In our busy and fast paced world and with nifty friend the internet at our fingertips it's possible for us to take in an awful lot of information. But as we all know, to much of anything can put us into overload and have our brains sparking and sputtering like a faulty electrical wire ready to explode. We don't have to succumb to the pressure of becoming a know-it-all.

I've really been putting this agreement into practice. I'm a college professor, so I of course believe in learning, but I don't believe you should learn something just because it will make you look more important or gain you cache in a given circle. I love history, and a few years ago I was being very heavily persuaded by members of my academic circle to pursue a doctorial degree in History. I succumbed, but didn't last long because my heart wasn't in it. I was going against Agreement #8 so I quit.

The other day I was on Twitter having a conversation with one of my fellow twitterer's and she asked me if it was silly of her to ask me about how to get a domain name to link to a blog. I replied that of course it wasn't silly, especially since she's interested in setting up a blog and having her own domain name. We went on to have a pretty robust conversation where I shared what I do know about blogging and setting things up. Now I'm no expert on setting up blogs (I leave that to my friend Jamila the EcommerceDiva!), but I have learned enough to make my life easier and so I was able to pass that info on to my fellow twitterer. For me, this is a good example of only learning something if it's necessary.

Also, in my role as a professor I've learned to not be afraid to admit to my students that I don't know something. It's a very liberating mind set. One time I told my class that I didn't know the answer to a question, but that I'd research it and get back to them, which I did. A student from that class shared with me how surprised she was that I actually said I didn't know and then actually found the answer and brought it back to the class. She said most teachers would have faked it and pretended like they knew the answer.

Agreement #8 speaks to our integrity. I encourage you to become an advocate of only learning what's essential, freeing up our minds to be available for our highest creativity to thrive. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Remember, time is short. Do your happy dance. Enjoy life!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Social Network Your Way to a Job

We often use Facebook and Twitter to update our statuses about random facts, jokes, hilarious videos, tips, inspirational quotes or as a platform to rant and rave about all the wrongdoings or mishaps in our lives. The latter part of that is not so great—even though we’ve all done this a few times or more—but social media platforms are great ways to stay in touch, get connected, discuss current events, products, brands…and find jobs!

Tip # 1: Did you know that companies are now looking into the social depth—which is the number of friends, followers or connections on various social platforms-- of a job candidate on their social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn? Be aware that some do and others just check to see what you are talking about (don’t forget to update your privacy settings) aka cyber-stalking. They are using this information to see how many people one can reach through their networks and ultimately, help promote their products and services.

Over the last few months, I have seen jobs posted on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other online communities outside of job boards. Hiring managers for the most part are not posting these listings; it’s our friends who may know of a job opening in their company or they are leaving a position and want to let their closest friends and family know.

Tip # 2: For the hiring managers that do post positions, why don’t you contact that person and build a relationship via Twitter and/or LinkedIn—not Facebook as it is too personal. If you don’t qualify for the posted position, help them spread the word and offer to send resumes of qualified candidates. Make this relationship a two way street; and who knows what the outcome of the relationship will be?

Tip # 3: Are you looking to work for a particular company? Keep up-to-date on potential jobs by following that company or organization on Twitter, “like” the community page on Facebook and other social networks they belong to.

Job boards are decent tools to find a job but if you can strike up a relationship with a hiring manager at one of your target companies, stay connected via social networks and other online communities and just pay attention to what your friends/trusted sources post, you may become the hunted rather than the hunter.

How have you used social media to look for a job?

Photo courtesy of CapitalWorkForce.org.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

From Temporary Employee to Permanent Staff

So the partying is all done and now the job hunt is on. Stellar!

According to the Department of Labor Statistics, unemployed people spend about 18 minutes a day looking for a job. Crazy isn't it? What are they probably doing? My bet is that they are going on Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com and other large job search sites, finding a couple of jobs to apply to, sending out resumes and then calling that a job search. It's better than doing nothing I guess. But you're serious about your job search and know you will find the job you want because you understand that looking for a job is now your job. So while others are logging on to Facebook to play Farmville, Sorority Life and Mafia Wars, you are still searching. And, although looking online and doing all those social media things are a great way to network, I would like you to remove yourself from the computer and get out there and meet people, face-to-face. Here is one way you can do that.

Do you know about temporary staffing agencies?
I find that almost all of my clients have never heard about them before. So, let me just tell all of you at the same time.

During the course of a year, employees have emergencies in their lives, get pregnant, have extended leaves of absence and so on. The work still needs to be done so companies turn to staffing agencies to help fill the gap. You could be assigned to a company for a day, weeks, or longer. There are also some opportunities to work somewhere temporarily and it lead to a permanent position.

When I first graduated from college, this is the way I survived. This is a great way to get some experience and to get some money in your pocket at the same time. And there are staffing agencies that specialize in all sorts of industries such as creative (for the designers, writers, editors), accountants, engineers, etc. You tend to get paid more when you work with a specialized agency than when you work with a general agency doing reorganizing and filing of patient files, answering phones at a winery or photocopying pharmaceutical medical recipes. (Yes, these are actual jobs I have done.) The agency is paid by the company looking to fill a position. You are not charged. And if you come across one that does want to charge you, I'd move on.

The best tip I got from a recruit I signed up with was for me to call her once a week so I would stay on top of her mind. I turned around and did that for all five agencies I was signed up with. When I called, I wasn't aggressive and demanded that they find me something. I called or emailed saying I was still available for work and just checking in with them in case something came across their desk. And, it worked. I always had work because I made sure I stayed fresh on their mind. And you should too!

Oh, yes, before I forget, I did sign up with five agencies. Why? Because each agency had different companies as clients. When one didn't have work for me I had the other four I could contact. You've got to keep you options open.

While you are working where you are placed by the staffing agency you can get to meet new people. You want to do stellar work so that the people there will grow to know, like and trust you. So, no matter what you are doing whether it's filing, answering phones, or what you are trained to do, you do it with enthusiasm. You want to do it for a couple of reasons. First, to show that you are stellar at what you do. Second, to present your wonderful personality. And third, when they report back to your agency they will say great things about you and your work so when that assignment is over, the agency knows you are a great representative for them.

And, don't just communicate with the people you directly report to. Branch out and speak to the people in the department, even the entire company. We are growing our network here.

There are other ways to network face-to-face that I will tell you about in another article. But for now this is your mission.

1.) Get your resume together. Agencies are going to want to view it too!

2.) Start looking into staffing agencies in your area. Ones that specialize in your industry and also general ones. Don't just sign up for any one. Do some research, ask around, read reviews if you can find them. You want to sign up with a reputable company.

3.) Once you're comfortable with what you find, pick up the phone and ask questions. How do they work? How do you get considered? What do they require?

4.) Don't be afraid to sign up with more than one agency. The more you have, the more your name is getting out there.

Happy Hunting! And, if there is any way I can help, just let me know.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Practicing the 7th Agreement - Esteem Yourself Today and Always

Today, I'll be continuing the series "The 10 Agreements for Living the Life you Truly Desire." I invite you to participate in the conversation as we explore the power of living a well lived life.

I came up with the "10 Agreements for Living the Life you Truly Desire" to help myself and other women identify those areas that would give us the direction we need to live our lives with fulfillment, purpose and joy.

•Agreement # 1: I agree to help others in their quest to live the life they truly desire.
•Agreement # 2: I agree to discover how to develop myself to the fullest extent.
•Agreement #3: I agree to remember that there is no perfection, only process.
•Agreement #4: I agree to take life serious enough to remember to laugh with the good times and some of the sad ones.
•Agreement #5: I agree to stop self judging behavior and replace it with self assessment.
•Agreement #6 - I agree to share my gifts and talents with everyone I meet.
To read all 6 previous agreements click here.

Agreement #7 - I agree to not make apologies for or bad mouth who I am, how I'm created, or how I think.

At the on line encyclopedia Wikipedia, Self Esteem is defined as: reflecting a person's overall evaluation or appraisal of her or his own worth. If it hadn't clicked before, hopefully this definition clarified things, that aagreement #7 is all about self esteem. In this sometimes cut throat world your self esteem is your backbone and you must protect and maintain it, creating the kinds of boundaries that keep it from harms way; starting with your first line of defense, You.
When I was a kid, we used to sing a little ditty: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me." Now, I don't know who came up with this false little sing-song, but we knew even as we sung it that it wasn't true. Name calling hurts. Bad mouthing someone can hurt them or why else would people do it? Certainly when any one of us takes the lead and begins to bad mouth or improperly label ourselves we do the work of eroding our self esteem long before the outside world gets a chance.

So why do we do what we sometimes do? The reasons why are many, but what's more important is sometimes the answer to that question doesn't have to matter. What matters most in some situations is that we recognize that we're doing something harmful and to stop doing it, now. If you've been on a streak of devaluing your self with negative self talk, I'm asking you to please stop. I've been down that street before myself and I'd like to keep it "the road less traveled,' because it does nothing but breed more negativity in my life. Bad mouthing yourself is like a bad infection, it only makes things worse. The answer is to begin to affirm who you truly are or even who you want to become. If you can't think of an affirmation of your own, try this: "I am a beautiful, talented and creative person moving diligently on the path leading to my goals."

Agree starting right now, to not make apologies for or bad mouth who you are, how you're created or how you think. Be you, continue to grow and protect your self esteem, because nobody else will protect it like you can.

I'd love to hear what affirmations do you use to combat negative self talk? Share in the comments section below.

Remember, time is short. Do your happy dance. Enjoy life!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


As we transition into the summer season, we think it's important to maintain a healthy work/life balance. While it is important to constantly work towards your goals, it is just as important to embrace the season and enjoy the beautiful weather and everything else the season has to offer.

This month, we'll be sharing some tips for all you recent (AND not-so-recent) graduates out there seeking your dream job. PLUS we'll be suggesting some (budget friendly) fun summer activities. AND we're having the second I Love Her Journey photo contest. Stay tuned!

"Life is not a race but a journey to be savored each step along the way."
~Author Unknown