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I Am Rhonda James

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Advantages of Being a Morning Person

Wednesday, November 22, 2017
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I've always been a morning person. I love being the first one awake and getting an early start to my day. But my husband....not so much.

When we first started dating, I would be awake at 7 a.m. ready to get breakfast, ready to clean, and ready to go out and about. Him on the other hand, he had an alarm clock set for 11 a.m. It wasn't until we had our son that he finally jumped on the bandwagon and began his days early.

My body doesn't allow me to lay in bed past 8 a.m. If I do, it's most likely because I am not feeling well. I guess you can call it my personal alarm clock. I would lay in bed tossing and turning, seeing the sun get brighter and brighter, and would feel it's time to get up.

But I love being that morning person believe it or not. Yeah, I have days where I wish I could sleep in or I've wanted to lay in bed a bit longer due to lack of sleep the night prior. Even when I am not up and running before my usual time, I find myself upset that I didn't start early.

Why become a morning person? 

Early Bird Gets The Worm
You've heard this old saying. Well, it's true. When you start early you're more accessible to things that aren't available later throughout the day. Ever seen those holiday sales that seem to run out quickly before the afternoon even gets in.

Quiet Time
I love waking up before my husband and son because it's the only time of the day that I get to focus on just me. The sun is out. The house is quiet. I can drink my green tea in peace, and I have time to just simply focus on me.

You Have a Full Day
Starting your day early means having the rest of the day to do whatever it is you want. For me, I appreciate getting my errands completed by 11 a.m. because now I have the rest of the day to relax or just enjoy my free time. Most people are beginning to get their day started around late morning, and probably won't be finished until late afternoon.

You're On Top Of It
When you start your day early, you're most likely to be on top of anything thrown your way. There is no adjustment period or time required to "wake up" because you've been awake all this time already. Take it from me. Starting your day early can really be a load off.

How To Keep It Professional

Monday, November 13, 2017

Professionalism is defined as your work conduct in a work setting. How do you want to be portrayed when it boils down to business? Me personally, I wouldn't want for anyone to misconstrue who I am when I am not in the office for who I am when I am working. Because believe me, those are two very different people. 

I have worked in a variety of different work settings, and for each I have had to maintain a level of professionalism. In each setting I have worked with some people that understood what is considered the "proper" work conduct and some that were just beyond unprofessional. I've always ensured that regardless of the profession, I carried a high level of professionalism in each place.

Here are some tips on how to keep it professional:

Get To Work On Time
I am really big about time etiquette. If I am to be at work at 8:00 AM, I am getting to the office at 7:45 AM. Why 15 minutes earlier? Well, I like to get myself settled in. I like to fix my cup of tea and put my lunch into the fridge. I like to check my emails and my voice mails. I like to examine what my workload will consist of for the day so that I can prioritize. I am always on top of what I need to handle for that day because I allowed myself a bit of wiggle room. 15 minutes may be a bit too early for some, but I think arriving exactly at 8:00 AM is cutting it too close.

Don't Gossip
Just about every work environment has that one employee that will talk about anyone. Avoid it. Don't get caught up in the juicy details of what your co-worker Shannon was doing during her lunch break. I like to eavesdrop, but you will never hear me say anything about my co-workers. The last thing I want is for my name to come up in conversation as having had something to add. "Well, you know Rhonda said this." Nope!

Watch What You Say
I know it's hard sometimes to mind your words. It seems people nowadays will become offended from the simplest things. But, you have to be careful about what you say in the work setting. You'd be amazed with how a colleague may have interpreted your words. I never discuss politics, religion, or even just my basic opinion on a matter if it doesn't involve work. I've had a few colleagues that will curse like a sailor. It was a bit shocking to see at first, but you won't hear me dropping any F bombs in the workplace.

Dress Appropriately
OK...there are some laid back work environments that aren't as uptight about the way you dress. I actually miss the days where I could get away with wearing a pair of jeans and flip flops to work. But, make sure your attire is still a representation of who you are. Iron your clothes. Avoid rips and tears in your jeans. Don't wear anything that is too revealing. You want to present yourself in a way that says, "I actually washed my ass today."

Respect The Chain
When I was a supervisor, I worked with a young lady that NEVER respected the chain of command. She would communicate issues and problems with my direct supervisor instead of coming to me for them. My supervisor would ask me about a problem that was presented and I'm looking at him like, "Huh!" I totally get it if you've presented a matter to your supervisor and nothing has improved, the next step is to take it to their direct supervisor. But skipping over someone's head just because it's Wednesday is a big no.

Keep a Cool Head
I'll admit that when I was younger I struggled with this. Naturally, you may bump heads with a coworker. Try to handle the dispute as maturely as you can. Back then, I would tell it like it is and didn't think twice about it. But I've learned that there's always a better way to communicate problems more effectively in the work setting besides being the one to "pop-off".

Keep Your Word
If you told Billy in the cubicle beside you that you'll help out with a project, keep your word. Don't back out of commitments that you've made if your only reason is because you don't want to do it anymore. I learned this lesson the hard way. Don't sign up if you aren't committed to the task. I've said yes to some additional tasks and immediately regretted it.

6 Things You Should Stop Expecting From People

Friday, November 10, 2017
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The older I get, the more I've come to realize that I have had a lot of misplaced expectations. I've dealt with a great deal of disappointment because I've expected too much from someone or something. My feelings would be crushed and I would be so angry because things didn't pan out the way I pictured it.

Maybe I have high expectations and I should learn that what I expect at times are probably too far fetched. But to save myself from the anger and beating myself up later, I've learned to to stop expecting these things:

Stop Expecting People To Be On Time
I love my people, but I swear we can never do things on time. I've lost count of how many times I've made plans for a set time only to realize that others weren't running on that same time with me. If you're not ready when I need you to be, well that means it's time for me to carry on.

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Stop Expecting People To Be Sorry
As much as I want to believe that people will be sorry for their actions, I've learned that there are some that just simply won't. I grew up apologizing for my wrongdoings and expecting an apology in return only to receive a simple smile and a thank you for your apology. WTF. I no longer expect people to be sorry or to say it if they don't mean it.

Stop Expecting People To Know What You Want
Wouldn't it be nice if we had the awesome ability to read people's minds? Well, we don't have that power. I can't expect you to provide what I want if I don't tell you. I had to learn to vocalize what I would want so that others are aware and aren't suprised later down the line. 

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Stop Expecting People To Agree With You
We are all born with our own opinions and viewpoints. Not everyone is going to agree with what you have to say. I spent time thinking that those closest to me would agree with my viewpoints because...we're friends. But now that I'm older I actually appreciate the fact that they have differing opinions. I can't be mad for that.

Stop Expecting People To Do The Right Thing
Everyones upbringing is very different. Their morals and judgments will not always reflect what you may believe to be right. Therefore, you can't expect for others to do the right thing based upon what you may classify is right in your mind. 

Stop Expecting People To Treat You How You Treat Them
I've learned this the hard way, but I have learned that just because I call you every week to check in doesn't mean you're going to do the same in return. I remember feeling "big mad" when I realized that some friends weren't doing this for me. I had to learn to meet people where they meet me.

Why We Skipped The Wedding

Thursday, October 26, 2017

My husband and I got married shortly after we discovered that I was pregnant with our son. We were already engaged to be married. It was a no-brainer for us to go ahead and tie the knot. But...we didn't have a wedding.

We found a notary and got married under a gazebo just outside an office. We took photos afterward at Riverfront Park, and then we went out to eat at Red Lobster. It was very simple and straight to the point. Only six people were there to witness our union, which included family and a close friend. If I had the option to, I would do it all over again without any hesitation.

So why didn't we have a wedding? Well, we initially planned on it.

We had plans of having this mid-sized wedding with our closest family and friends. Teal and silver were going to be our wedding colors, and we had already checked out a few locations to host our wedding and reception. I had a Pinterest board filled with decoration ideas. We created a guest list. We even decided who we wanted to be in our wedding party.

I remember watching episodes of "Say Yes To The Dress" to get ideas of what I'd like. I would think in my mind about the day I'd choose my perfect dress. I imagined my mother and sisters coming with me to try on gowns, and critiquing each one carefully. I had in my mind that I would get a mermaid dress with a long train and a beautiful veil. I even knew what song I wanted to walk down the aisle to.

We were beyond excited about the entire experience of having a wedding, but seeing those two lines on that pregnancy test made us rethink our priorities. We considered what we needed to do in preparation for our growing family, and the more we thought about it the more we felt skipping the wedding was the right call. On average, most couples spend over $20,000 just to host a wedding. We knew if we were going to plan the kind of wedding we truly wanted we'd have to kick out some big bucks.

Kicking out that kind of money for a wedding didn't seem right to us. Especially when we were trying to calculate expenses to raise our little one. We felt it would have been best to invest money into our family instead of having the grand wedding. The pennies we were saving for a wedding, we applied as a down payment for our first home.

So no church. No maid of honor. No groomsmen. No lavish wedding. Just me and my hubby.

I remember the day we told others that we were married. We held off for as long as we could before we finally announced it. Not necessarily out of embarrassment. We just knew not everyone would understand the decision we made. I figured most people would assume we only did it because I was pregnant. I can admit. The younger me often made the same assumption. Whenever I saw a couple get married after noticing a small baby bump, my mind would immediately wonder if the baby was the reason why.

So it came to no surprise when we displayed ourselves as husband and wife on Facebook that quite a few people were in shock with our announcement. We were asked if we eloped. We were asked what happened to the wedding. We were asked if we still planned on having something to celebrate our union. I felt a little overwhelmed by the questioning at first. I was hoping to just get a simple "Congrats on your union". But in hindsight, I can see how our decision came as a surprise to our friends. We didn't go the "traditional" route, and it left a lot of people raising their eyebrows.

Sometimes I do look back and I wonder what our big day would have been like had we went through with a wedding. Would it have been everything we pictured it to be or would something have gone wrong? How much money would we have spent to have the wedding we truly wanted? But even when I consider all of the planning and preparation it takes to have one, I'm totally fine with the decision we made.

Not knocking those that have had weddings. Weddings are beautiful. I love going to them and seeing the look on the groom's face when he finally meets his bride for the first time that day. But for us, we didn't have a wedding. And, we're perfectly fine with that. I love knowing that our decision paid off as we relax in our home. I love knowing that we're still husband and wife regardless if we had that mid-sized wedding.

The wedding doesn't define the marriage. So I'm glad we took the route that we did.

Are You Saving For Retirement?

Monday, October 23, 2017

I got my first job when I was 17 years old at Publix Supermarkets as a cashier. I was a senior in high school, and felt it was time for me to start  making my own money. My parents had always provided me with what I needed to get by. But when I made the decision that I like being able to pay for own gas or buy the hottest sneakers, I got a job.

There was a lot I didn't understand when I was first hired on. I had to fill out a W-2. I had to sign paperwork about insurance, and other benefits including retirement. I remember turning to my mother and asking, "What in the world is a 401K?"

Yes. I didn't know what it was. It wasn't something that was explained in my economics class. It was never explained because it never presented itself as relevant until that very moment. So when my mom explained that it was a way to save for retirement and that money will be taken from my check to go towards it, I thought hell no. I don't need that. I want my money.

Now, I'm very big on saving and putting aside money, but the younger me wanted all the money I was supposed to get. Especially when I was only making $6.50/hour. It didn't seem necessary to save for something that I won't need until I am 67. That just seemed so far off. I gladly declined that checkbox and enjoyed purchasing my Willie D's.

I didn't start to think about retirement until I was 25.  I had been working with this Market Research company for well over two years, and that time of the year rolled around to renew employee benefits. I looked at my current benefits where I only used the minimal insurance plan and looked at what was now being offered and changing. That's when it really hit me that I'm getting older and should care about my benefits. I wanted to know how much they'd match me. I wanted to know how much would my co-pay and deductible be. I wanted to understand what I would be signing up for because...I was finally at a place where it was relevant.

When I was hired with this company, I was in the same mindset as I was when I got my first job. "I'm trying to save to get my own apartment. I don't need them taking extra money from me." I play that out in my head now and realize how silly it sounds. It's not taking money from me. It's saving money for my future.

But the sad part is that there are so many youngsters (and maybe even older) that are thinking this way. If I knew then what I know now, I would have began that retirment savings when I first started working. I just keep thinking about how many paychecks I have received, and how much opportunities I have had to invest in my retirement. I feel that I have so much catching up to do.

I have seen folks that are retired, struggle primarily because their retirement wasn't thought out. I don't want that to be my life. I wish I had taken it more seriously earlier on instead of waiting until later. Sure, I have much more years in this work field to go. But just imagine the several others that are as unaware as I am. Think about it?

Just because you're 67, it doesn't mean everything stops. You still have bills to pay for. You still have groceries you'd need to buy. You still have a life in which nothing is for free. How do you intend to pay for those things?

Social security? OK, but will that be enough to cover your day to day expenses? Thinking this way definitely was an eye opener and helped me to realize that saving for retirement is essential.

Do you have a 401K?

They Lied About Finding a Job After College

Friday, October 20, 2017

I graduated from college just a little over seven years ago, and I must say that I am not where I thought I would be in my career. Life after college didn't pan out the way I envisioned. I struggled with finding steady employment and I ended up competing with those that did not have a college degree.

I was told that a college degree was like a golden ticket to my future. It was the only way I'd be successful. I've had this idea hammered into my head for years. Now that I'm finding my way through this work world, I feel as though I've been lied to. I'm being told that I'm either over qualified or I'm not being compensated properly for my education.

When I made the decision to attend college my senior year in high school, I remember the school's counselor strongly advising us seniors that it's the only way to guarantee a career. So naturally, I expected that if I invested four years into defining my career that my life would be set. I received my Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications. I graduated with Honors. I had a 3.7 GPA. I was actively engaged with on campus activities. I provided service in the community through my sorority, and I had internships. I thought these were great credits added to my resume. But somehow, I found myself in the struggle.

These past seven years I spent my time taking positions outside of my field so that I can have an income. I never found the right fit, and I settled for whatever I could get because it felt as though it was all I was being offered. I applied for multiple positions, had several interviews, but it seemed each door that I opened was shutting right in my face. It was beyond frustrating investing so much time to get a job when I was I told that it would be much simpler for me because I attended college. I felt like screaming to recruiters, "Hire me! Hire Me! I have a college degree!"

But I didn't learn until later down the line that so many other students were told the exact thing. Everyone has a college degree. Recruiters are basically asking, "What makes you any different?" I felt so discouraged holding my golden ticket and feeling as though I could have accomplished what I have currently without attending college.

I remember I got to a point where I just needed to say that I was working somewhere. I was now applying for any position that would hire me. So when I was 23, I got a part-time Sales Lead position at Aeropostale, INC. I couldn't stand being there. Maybe it was my pride that really got the best of me while I worked there. Nothing against those that are currently employees with this establishment. I just felt I worked way too hard towards my career to result in asking what size jeans do you need to annoying ass customers. I hated running into my peers that would see me ringing out orders.

They would ask what have I been up to lately. I thought because I was technically a part-time supervisor that it sounded as if I was doing OK, but it was written all over my face that I wasn't where I wanted to be. I felt they judged me and would say, "Damn! Is this what graduating from college looks like?"

My life after college has consisted of job hopping, working through multiple staffing agencies, and sticking with a job out of fear that I won't find anything better. It took me two years before I found something stable. But look at how long it took me before I got my foot in the door. I didn't anticipate it taking the amount of time it did to find a decent job.

So what's the lesson here…

When you graduate from college you are entering a completely new world. You are among several other graduates hoping to get a foot in the door just as you are. A college degree may be required to apply for a position, but in all honesty it's more of an indication that you decided to put forth some extra effort to have a future. It's a great accomplishment, but the hard work begins after you graduate.

The truth about finding a job after college is that you may spend months to years finding a job in your field. You may even decide that the career field you studied is no longer what you're passionate about. You may take a boring ass position until you can find better. Or like me, you may job hop your ass off until you can find something just to get by. It's disappointing and it sucks. You invest so much money into your education only to look over and see that Billy Johnson from down the street is doing much better than you are, and he didn't even go to college.

Don't expect so much so soon. Give yourself time to really understand the work world. If you're blessed enough to find a job in your field after graduating from college, kudos to you. That's great! But for those that are still just trying to get a foot in the door, I've been there. I understand how frustrated you may be. Keep your head up.

5 Reasons You Should Apply With a Staffing Agency

Monday, October 16, 2017

You all have heard this story before. I struggled with finding a job after college and the years in between. I filled out so many applications, went to several interviews, and it just seemed as though I couldn't land a foot in the door. But it was one day that I was surfing through the Indeed job search that I found an advertised position through a staffing agency.

Initially, I didn't understand how it worked. I thought what's the point of a company hiring a company to do the hiring for them. But I cannot stress enough how many times I have gotten a position through a staffing agency.

I had better luck in my job search the moment I registered with an agency, also known as a temp service. Most of these agencies offer a variety of staffing positions. They can range from working a full-time or part-time temporary position. Or, they can decide (if they like you) to bring you to work with them permanently.

There is such a stigma that when working through a staffing agency, the pay won't be great or you won't have much stability with the employer. But truthfully, I've found that the pay has been pretty fair and you end up working with the employer long term. I have friends that began as a temp and are currently working full-time PERMANENTLY with the company they were assigned to.

I think working through a staffing agency is a great fix for those that are looking for additional work, wanting to get back into the working field, or just needs to be introduced to a company to get a foot in the door. Here are a list of reasons you should consider applying through a staffing agency:

They Do The Job Hunt For You

When you register through a staffing agency, you are usually required to take a series of test to determine your skills and qualifications. It usually entails a typing test, knowledge using Microsoft Office, and maybe even a math test. The recruiter will assess your resume, and match you based upon your skill set. All you have to do is give them the information and they connect you to the job.

There is a bit of flexibility when working through a staffing agency. All communication goes through your recruiter, not the company you are assigned to. Therefore, in most cases, some of the company rules you are assigned to may not apply to you. That 8:00 AM mandatory employee meeting may not apply to you because you're a temp.

You Get Paid Every Week
Each agency that I have worked for (and I have worked with a lot) pays every week. This was a plus for me because I felt like I always had money coming in. I didn't have to wait another week before a paycheck came in.

You Get Hired On Fast
I have had a staffing agency call me Friday afternoon to start a job on Monday morning. Staffing agencies can be quick when they've found the right fit for you. If you've been registered and filled out the appropriate paperwork to be hired on, there's no in between on starting.

You Find New Opportunities You Never Heard Of
I've lived in Charleston my entire life and some of the companies I have worked for I never knew existed. The staffing agencies have introduced me to a plethora of companies here in the area. Some of which I was able to connect with the supervisors after my assignment was completed. I have worked with tech companies, construction, education, and even court offices.