Categorized | Breaking In, Featured, Profession

Life After College

I started working full-time when I was 20 years old at a start-up company in Palo Alto. I became a manager at Google at age 24,” writes Jenny Blake on her blog.

Jenny Blake was a junior at UCLA when she decided to take a chance and took a leave of absence from school to help launch Polimetrix, a political polling start-up, with her college professor and mentor. There she worked as office manager, marketing assistant and Webmaster for several years. Later, she returned to UCLA and graduated with degrees in political science and communications.

 

She started working at Google in 2006, where she currently serves as a Career Development Program Manager and internal coach, helping Googlers focus on their personal growth and career development. She is certified Myers-Briggs practitioner, serves on the Board of Governors for the International Association of Coaching and has completed training as a life coach and a yoga teacher. She bought her first house at 24 –with her own money–has dabbled in many forms of dance (jazz, hip-hop, ballet, salsa, tango, cha-cha, foxtrot, waltz and pole) and ran a marathon, something she once thought was impossible.

After “stumbling through the real world” (her words) and reading more than 150 business and personal development books, she felt compelled to share her knowledge with other young professionals. So she launched LifeAfterCollege.org, a blog that provides simple, practical tips about life, work, money, happiness and personal growth.

And now, she’s achieved another chapter in her story: her book, Life After College: The Complete Guide to Getting What You Want (Running Press, 2011) became available in bookstores last week. We’ll be giving away a copy of her book to one reader–to enter, comment below and share your next big goal or dream.

Since Jenny’s goal is to help people focus on the BIG picture of their lives…not just the details, we convinced her to chat and share some of her top tips for doing exactly that.

* * * * *

Moxy Magazine: Why did you write Life After College?

Jenny Blake: I wrote the book over a period of two and a half years, so a lot [of things] contributed. The first influential event was taking a leave of absence from UCLA at the start of my junior year, to help start a company with one of my college professors. The experience of leaving school before my friends inspired me to research as much as I possibly could about how to be successful–I read over 200 books on business, personal finance, organization, happiness, etc. Then I hit my quarterlife crisis around age 25, while I was writing the book. From that, I wanted to share my highs and lows in service of helping other twenty-somethings work through what can be a very overwhelming time.

MM: April’s issue of Moxy is on organization–essentially, Life after College is about how to do that on the big scale. Can you offer us one or two top tips for getting it all together?

Blake: Write everything down (I use Google Docs, Todoist.com and TeuxDeux.com) and tackle the biggest clutter areas of your life on a recurring basis. Clutter could be physical (stacks of paper piling up) or mental (systems that are broken and causing stress). Be constantly looking for areas that are not running as smoothly as they could be and ask yourself, “What ONE change would make the biggest impact on this area?”

MM: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Blake: “Take great leaps early” from my Dad, which is a reference to one of his favorite quotes: “You can’t cross the Grand Canyon in two small leaps.”

MM: What advice would you give other professional women based on your own experiences?

Blake: Live big and start small. Don’t hold yourself back — identify what’s important to you and go after it! If you have a case of “the jealousies” or you find yourself scared out of your mind, it’s probably a sign that you’re on the right track! That said, don’t try to bite off a giant goal all at once. Take baby steps — start small and just focus on the 1-2 steps in front of you.

MM: What’s your next big dream or goal? When/how do you expect to make it a reality?

Blake: I would like to find a way to work for myself and be location independent. I’ve been at Google for five years and am currently on sabbatical — trying to leave this time really open to just exploring and being spontaneous. Not sure when I’ll make the leap to self-employment, but it’s definitely in the cards long term!

MM: What was your first job?

Blake: My first job was writing for a local newspaper, The Los Altos Town Crier, when I was 16.

MM: What did you like or dislike about your previous job(s)?

Blake: I love working with people, whether it’s in-class training, coaching or speaking. I realized that I don’t like being buried in powerpoint or other non-people related tasks (even though I do love simplifying complex systems and creating structure to support scaleable training/speaking/coaching).

MM: What’s the one thing about you few people know?

Blake: I have an irrational fear of fish. I hate snorkeling, don’t eat fish, and I won’t get into a lake if I can actually see fish swimming around in it. Finishing the swim portion of my triathlon was a small miracle!

MM: Other than appearance, what is the first thing that people notice about you?

Blake: My smile and my enthusiasm. Although I’m certainly not always happy, I really do try my best to be a “clean-burning fire” in the world and leave a positive impact on people.

MM: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Blake: A journalist or TV reporter.

MM: Who were your childhood heroes? Why?

Blake: I love Wonder Woman and Lois Lane. Both were strong, powerful, smart and sexy! I’m all about throwing a little spice into life.

MM: What has been your biggest challenge, either in your personal life or your professional life? (Have you overcome it?)

Blake: My biggest challenge has been pacing myself. I enjoy having a full plate and setting big, giant stretch goals for myself, but that can easily lead to burnout if I’m not careful. I’m still in the process of learning how to build in ample breaks and recovery time. It’s so important! The only way to stay sane and still do what I love.

MM: What has been your biggest accomplishment (other than or in addition to Life After College)?

Blake: I’d say it’s a tie between running the marathon and buying my condo — both of which I did when I was 24. At the time, both felt utterly impossible. Like life dreams that were meant for other people, not me. I realized that with some planning, dedication and support from friends and family that both were possible. They forever changed my thinking about what is possible for my life — which is a large part of what motivated me to write and find a publisher for my book.

We’re giving away a copy of Life After College to one reader–to enter, comment below and share your next big goal or dream. The winner will be randomly selected on Friday, April 8th.

** UPDATE: Congratulations to Denise, who won a copy of Life After College. **

Article by Melissa Breau for Moxy Magazine, April 2011. Images all from Lifeaftercollege.org.

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About Melissa Breau

Publisher of Moxy Magazine, Melissa is a cheesy romantic, who likes long walks on the beach and arguing about comma placement. She is also the editor for a B2B magazine and a freelance writer. For more about her, check out her professional website, www.Melissabreau.com or follow her on twitter: http://www.twitter.com/melissabreau.

11 Responses to “Life After College”

  1. “Live big and start small. Don’t hold yourself back —identify what’s important to you and go after it! If you have a case of “the jealousies” or you find yourself scared out of your mind, it’s probably a sign that you’re on the right track!” Great advice. Thank you.

  2. Kaitlyn C says:

    My next big goal is finding a job to launch my career! The job search is overwhelming, especially when I am already working full time, and I definitely have had to stay organized to keep on track! Wish me luck!

  3. What a great interview! I love learning more about the lives of my favorite writers! So, next big goal … My next big goal is to hunker down and really get organized with my job search! As a college senior, I’m constantly trying to juggle a million balls at the same time (school, jobs, internship, co-curricular activities, personal health, family, social life, etc.). I know that balancing act may never ease up, but these few weeks/months are going to be critical, so I really need to begin making my career goals a priority!

  4. Lisa says:

    My next big goal is to figure out where I’m going on my career path–lots of people have been asking me what I’m passionate about and what I want to do with my life, so now I need a good answer!!
    LOOOOVE Jenny Blake. Thanks for the great interview!

  5. Billy L says:

    Saw Jenny Blake speak at TEDxCMU yesterday! A really inspiring story. She motivated me to start working on my magic business now, and not years into my career. My goal is to get a routine down in a year to marker and persevere through all the challenges, just like Jenny did.

  6. Jenny Blake says:

    Wow – thank you so much for this awesome interview, write-up and for all the great comments! You’ve all just completely made my day :)

  7. Wow,very admirable to take a risk at such a young age. Quite a role model for young girls! Congrats!

  8. Trevor Moore says:

    Great stuff….I would love to see her speak in persons some day!

  9. Amanda says:

    I wished I found your blog right after college! I found it about 9 months but still found it helpful. I graduated in 2009 and had a rocky start. I love my job now but always looking for ways to become more marketable.

  10. María says:

    My next big goal is to clear my mind and find out what I really,really, want.

    Great interview!

  11. Thank you everyone for entering the contest. Comments are now closed and we’ll announce a winner early Monday!

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