Don’t Get Cocky, Kid

I am a career strategist who works with tech professionals and my career why is economic empowerment. I preface my post with that so you, the gentle reader, understand that I am in the job seeker’s corner. 

Because I am going to get ‘real,’ as the kids say, on a phenomenon that I see on LinkedIn that makes me cringe. Let me set the scene…

So, you’re a hot shot tech professional with a great job, fantastic perks, and high pay. You must feel like the good times will last forever because half of your posts are about how recruiters are bothering you, how keeping an updated portfolio is silly, and how dare employers ask for a cover letter! Don’t they know who you are?!? 

I work with a lot of mid-level tech professionals who find themselves displaced. Their startup folded, their department was laid off, their job was outsourced… the story may be different, but the outcome is the same. They are out on the open market again.

And it’s not kind. 

You may think, ‘but I have years of experience so I can get a job in a snap…’ Except that it is taking weeks and those turn into months. Your skills need updating, your network is silent, and those recruiters… well, you told them to put you on the do not call list so they did. 

You’re finding that humble pie is hard to chew. Yet you can prevent this. Understand that every job should be considered temporary. 

Your portfolio, network, and resume should be ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice. And those recruiters… well, cultivate the most relevant as connections. 

 Trust me, if you don’t like recruiters bugging you now, you will REALLY not like them ignoring you later.

Self-Sabotage, Salary Negotiation, & Social Anxiety

I am on a rooftop in Hell’s Kitchen surrounded by 7-figure influencers and entrepreneurs. Manhattan glitters and the constant honking is so far away. And I am deeply uncomfortable.

I sip my pinot noir with the desperation of introvert seeking ‘social lubrication.’ This is the rooftop that I have been gunning at for months. What is my problem?

FYI: everyone, from a socially conscious real estate developer to life coach superstar Alionka Polanco, is super nice. There are no Regina Georges. 100% friendly vibes.

I am just straight up socially anxious in such an ironic way for a career driven gal like myself.


Everything felt like money.

It felt too fancy for the likes of me as if I was some Victorian era scullery maid.

Shine your shoes, governor?

I should be an online biz Becky Sharp, but instead, I felt myself withdrawing.

Less than a week before, I had left a nonprofit career services position. I had my tech boot camp side hustle, but 40+ hours a week, I was helping extremely high needs & chronically unstably housed populations. So literally, I went a week between mingling with homeless people in Tucson before mingling on an NYC rooftop party with Neil Patel.

Major culture shock.

It was more than that.

It was triggering a lot of my money/wealth/abundance ~feels~ as the kids say.

I grew up more Roseanne than Shameless, but money has always felt out of reach. And I have always felt guilty about having money. I suffered through social work burnout way longer than I needed too because I felt guilty about making money.

Yet I am actively seeking to generate it.

Catch-22 mindset. Realization download provoked.

And great, I just gotta have this moment of realization just when I should be drinking wine, having fun, and networking my face off.


Last week, I renegotiated my pay with my remote job. Catch this, I had to psyche myself up to ask for my new pay. And, I will be real with you, it’s a 100% good bargain for me, but it not extraordinary.

So part of me asks, how much money did I leave on the table? Could I have gotten more if I had been confident in myself to ask for more? How long will I resist asking for what I am worth?

If I can’t get my shit about money sorted then, frankly, I am always going to be at a disadvantage when doing salary negotiations or generating income of any kind.

And I am a damned good career strategist.

In that moment as I shiver on the rooftop as the wind whips through my hair, I already know this. I stare into my phone in the hope of seeming occupied instead of intimidated.

I am trying to mentally go through my own version of Law of Attraction for people with social anxiety who have been through shit.

I know that is a once in a lifetime kind of an event so I keep psyching myself up before I find a friendly face to chat up. The wind dies down even as the city keeps roaring below us.

The moment passes yet the realization remained.

Quite bluntly, how I am going to move up in my career if I am uncomfortable with money?

That is the question that I think a lot of professionals have to ask themselves.

What baggage and beliefs are you carrying around money? Are you taking them to the negotiation table? Do you know your worth?

Be honest with yourself.

How much money are you leaving on the table?

As always, life is short and the world is big!

Should I Go To College?

Written for The ANCHOR Project

You were probably told to go to college. Or someone implied it along with some other expectations. Birth, High School, College, Work, Marriage, Children, Retirement, Death is the usual formula pushed onto young people. This formula doesn’t suit many, especially those of us in the LGBTQ community. No one should rush into college just because they assume that it is the next step. The awesome thing about queering your career is that you can choose next step.

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If you are thinking about going to college, then ask yourself these questions:

• Do I like writing essays, taking notes, listening to lectures, or being immersed in academia?

• Do I know what I am going to major in?

• Do I know what I am going to use my major for?

• Do I have a specific career goal?

• Could I get started in a career with a two-year degree or a certificate?

In America, there are over seven thousand colleges and universities. They offer a cornucopia of degrees from African-American studies to Zoology that varies in accreditation and future application. The sky is really the limit on what one can learn, but graduation can be a moment of truth. Not all colleges are created equal. There has been a recent crack down on for-profit colleges like Corinthian College, the Art Institutes, and more because of poor job placement rates, bad loan processes, and sky rocketing default rates. There are good for-profit training programs, but you have to be prepared for the fast pace, expense, and to do your research. Campus culture varies widely in for colleges with multiple locations so even a quality for-profit college could have two locations in a city with very different employment rates. That rate could be even more different depending on the programs they offered. Technicians and Engineers will always have more job options. Its not a for-profit phenomenon. Non-profit universities and state colleges have had problems with unemployment among their graduates. Do your research with any and all colleges and majors. 

A college degree is fantastic to put on a resume, but there is no reason to rush into getting your bachelors. Community colleges offer certifications and two-year programs that can lead to entry-level positions. Or in the case of trades like welding, it can propel someone into a trade where they can make up to $90,000 a year.

There are alternatives to college and trade schools such as the AmeriCorps or the Conservation Corps. Also, it’s acceptable to just find a job after high school and get your feet wet that way.

I have a friend who took one class at a time at the local community college for five years. During that time, she built up her writing skills and network. Now as she prepares to transfer to a university, she already has a full time job in her field and a packed portfolio. Going to college right after high school wasn’t something she was ready for, but she still worked on setting herself up for a career in journalism.

There is no age limit on college. You can go to college at 20, 40, or 80. If you feel any nagging doubts about college, then trust yourself and give yourself space to work, travel, volunteer, start a business, join the military, etc. College will be there when you get back.

Works Consulted:

• FAST FACTS. (n.d.). Retrieved August 15, 28, from

• For-Profit College Enrollment Is Down Following Scandals & School Failures. (2015, March 31). Retrieved August 28, 2015, from

• The For-Profit College Job Placement Rate Scandal Revisited – EdCentral. (2015, April 15). Retrieved August 28, 2015, from

• Underwater Welding Career and Salary. (n.d.). Retrieved August 28, 2015, from


First Published At The ANCHOR Project.

When people think about bullying, images of playgrounds and school cafeterias come to mind. However, bullies can show up in many forms and locations. Workplace bullying has been getting more attention in the last decade because of the impact that it has on productivity, health, and employee retention. Successful legal battles over workplace harassment have forced businesses to pay millions in restitution. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, “the American public, aware of abusive conduct, want to see worker protections extended beyond the anti-discrimination statutes – 93% support specific anti-bullying legislation.” Yet, despite support, there is much work to be done to support harmonious and peaceful workplaces. If you are being bullied at work, you are not alone!

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission describes unlawful harassment as such:

“Harassment becomes unlawful where

1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or

2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.”

Some trivialize workplace bullying, but to those surveyed it caused problems from hypertension to anxiety to resigning from the job despite financial consequences.

Some targets of workplace bullying have even committed suicide.

Studies have shown that LGBTQ people are vulnerable in the workplace.

90% of transgender people have experienced harassment on the job as well as over 40% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.

It’s difficult for our community to find work and can be just as difficult to remain productive in toxic social situations after we get hired. However, the city law is on our side (though not state or national law… yet). Tucson stands in contrast to much of Arizona due to its LGBT-inclusive anti-discrimination legislation that includes employment. Unfortunately, bullies seldom respect the law.

How does a hard working LGBTQ person navigate a hostile work environment?

  1. Evaluate the Situation As You Stand Up For Yourself
    Find out what is going on with the bully and see if their bullying is spread around the office or if you are the only target. Be clear that you don’t appreciate their behavior and tell them that. Document that conversation, if possible. Stay professional and firm in your interactions with them. Make sure that you do not stoop to their level with name calling or aggression because a common bully tactic is to declare the target as the hostile one. Gaslighting (i.e., presenting false information to make the victim doubt their own memory) is very common so keep records, seek out witnesses, and save evidence.
  2. Document Everything & Save It 
    Make sure that you document their behavior. If you suddenly get changes to shifts, assignments, and responsibilities, record them. Any harassing emails or texts? Save them. If possible, try to communicate with the bully only through email or in front of a neutral/supportive person.
  3. Inform Supervisors & Human Resources Personnel
    Take your documentation (be sure that it is backed up and don’t take originals) to your supervisor and state your case. Bring together other bullied targets if possible. If the supervisors are the bully or supportive of them, then take it to HR. It’s good business sense to have a safe work environment because it can be very expensive to businesses that lose harassment lawsuits, public goodwill, and productivity. Make sure that you detail how this harassment has affected your work and that of others. Be clear to them that your goal is for a peaceful resolution. Make sure that you document the HR visit.
  4. Move On
    If these avenues fail, the best move is to move on and look for a new job. If you can’t leave your employer then try to switch departments or locations. Legal actions are possible, but keep in mind that it isn’t easy to take on an employer and that it could have consequences later. There is no typical route for workplace harassment cases. “When investigating allegations of harassment, the EEOC looks at the entire record: including the nature of the conduct, and the context in which the alleged incidents occurred. A determination of whether harassment is severe or pervasive enough to be illegal is made on a case-by-case basis.” (EEOC website)
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Don’t forget that even if we are not the targets of a bully that we can speak out about hostile behavior in the workplace. Be an ally to those who are bullied and stand as a witness for them. Do not let a bully’s gaslighting obscure the truth of the situation.

These are just some suggestions on how to deal with bullying in the workplace. Remember to consult the employee handbook of your company for specific processes and please do not take this blog entry as legal advice.


Workplace Bullying Institute – 2014 Survey – Bullying and Race

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Workplace Bullying Institute – 2014 Survey – Bullying and (Binary) Gender


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May The Jobs Be Ever In Your Favor!

Taken from my goodbye email to students and colleagues at ITT Tech.

I would like to thank all the students and colleagues who have made my time here wonderful, challenging, special, funny, interesting, and memorable. I certainly learned a lot working with you all. Continue striving for your dreams, working hard to achieve, and following your passions!

I’m going to give you all my last bit of unsolicited advice before I go. Take it, leave it, etc. You no longer have to listen to me anymore (not that anyone who didn’t want to actually did) but you might find some of this useful.

  1. Your beginning doesn’t need to be your ending.
  2. Beware of the ‘crabs in a barrel’ that might want to bring you down so you can’t rise above them.
  3. Figure out what you really want with your life and career so you can make it happen.
  4. Don’t just have one career, have two, so you are better able to hustle through life’s curveballs. You can be a drafter and moonlight as a photographer. You never know when you might have to be a photographer who moonlights as a drafter.
  5. Work during school in your field so you can pay your dues early instead of after you graduate.
  6. Be good to your classmates because this is a small town. I’ve had a few grads lose out on jobs because old classmates told the hiring manager the truth about how they perform.
  7. Don’t be lazy with your homework. You are paying 40k+ to be here. Make it count. You don’t get a refund if you fail.
  8. If you think you can’t make the time now, then you won’t later and you will be working at the same job after graduation as you are now.
  9. Don’t be afraid to relocate to jump-start your career. You can make triple in places like Utah, North Dakota, Montana, etc. because they are hurting for workers. Come back in three years and you’ll have your pick of the jobs.
  10. Look for the doers, movers, hustlers, changers, and people who get it done because those are the people that you should be networking with at school. If they are leaders in school, they will be leaders on the job.

All right, that is my soap box and I will climb off of it! Good luck with the future and don’t forget to connect with me on LinkedIn.