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5 Questions to Consider BEFORE You Accept a Job

Morgan Vega | Pen to Paid

5 Questions to Consider BEFORE You Accept a Job | Pen to Paid | pentopaid.com
 

We’re going to go ahead and give you the biggest takeaway from this post: you are interviewing the employer as much as they are interviewing you.

Not every employer will be a good fit for your personality, career goals, lifestyle, etc. They have a choice whether or not to hire you, and you have a choice whether or not to accept a job offer. If you’re considering accepting a position, here are 5 questions to consider before you do.

1. Did you feel welcomed when you arrived for your interview?

If yes, this could indicate that the office is friendly and has job satisfaction. If not, beware! Don’t expect to feel welcomed for your first day on the job (or any day on the job, for that matter) if you don’t feel welcomed for your interview.

2. How did your potential fellow colleagues interact with you and with each other?

Were they kind to you and to each other? Did they laugh? Or were they cold and guarded? Avoid working in drama. You will spend most of your waking hours with your colleagues, so make sure they’re positive and amiable people. Who you work with has a lot to do with whether or not you’re happy at your job.

3. Was the office full or empty during lunch time?

If full, expect to be swamped and work through lunch. If empty, your employer may maintain a healthy work-life balance for its employees. As a writer, this balance should be important to you. You’ll need time outside of work for your writing. Make sure your future employer provides a balance!

4. Does the office culture and environment match your desired office culture and environment?

If you know you want an office, a window, and the ability to shut your door, make sure that you’ll have these things if you accept the job. Know yourself and your working needs.

5. Is this job a stepping stone to your dream job?

Not all first jobs out of college need to directly relate to your major or be what you envisioned, but you should still think ahead. Does the job at least provide you with transferrable skills that could apply to your dream job? Make sure this job is leading you down your desired career path.

Student loans can make you feel desperate and eager to take the first job you’re offered. But just because you are offered a job doesn’t mean you have to or should take it. Remember that this job is where you’ll spend the majority of your time for at least the next year. Don’t accept a job that will add stress, drama, and future dissatisfaction to your life.

5 Reasons Why Your Writing Life is Easier as a Student

Morgan Vega | Pen to Paid

5 Reasons Why Your Writing Life is Easier as a Student | Pen to Paid | pentopaid.com
 

Napping, watching Netflix, working out at the gym, and partying can be everyday activities in college, but for student writers, sometimes writing isn’t. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: if you claim to be a writer, you have to write. Being a student doesn’t change that.

Don’t be discouraged, though. Finding time to write in college is easier than you think. Here are 5 reasons why your writing life is easier as a student, to consider before you graduate.

1. You control your schedule.

Once you graduate from college, your schedule will be controlled by your employer. Your working hours will take up most of your day and your remaining waking hours will be limited. Finding time to write between doing laundry, making dinner, working out, cleaning the kitchen, ironing your clothes, keeping up with bills, and on and on is difficult (though not impossible).

As a student, you control your schedule. You can have morning classes or afternoon classes or both. You can have classes back to back or you can have them spaced out. You sign up for your classes and most likely have breaks between them.

Make your class schedule with designated writing time in mind!

2. You have free time.

Though that afternoon nap can be tempting, you have time to write during your day, unlike 8-to-5 workers. College has many stresses: exams, papers, homework, social pressures. But once you leave college, you’ll realize how much time you had.

Use your time wisely!

3. You have a part-time—not a full-time—job.

If you do have a job while in college, it’s (hopefully) part-time. Again, you still have control over your class and working schedule as a student. That’s a luxury you won’t have as a full-time employee!

4. You stay motivated with on-campus writing groups.

Once you graduate, finding writing groups becomes tricky, and even when you find one, getting there isn’t a five-minute walk across campus. It can be a thirty-minute drive after you’ve worked nine hours.

Your fellow writers—classmates and professors!—are conveniently all around you.   

5. You have writing assignments.

As a writing student, you write for your classes. You write for classes outside of your major too. Depending on your job out of college, you may not have someone telling you to write anymore. Writing may not be required of you. Your drive to write will have to be internal rather than external, and your writing time will no longer be carved out of your day for you.

While it is, make sure you are investing time and energy into your writing assignments. Whether it's a personal essay, a research paper, or a short story, all of your writing assignments will help you grow as a writer.

Don't take your writing assignments for granted! 

These reasons will ring truer once you've graduated, but you've been warned! Finding time to write out of college is more difficult than while in college. Get serious about your writing career now, and it will pay off after graduation.

7 Reasons Why I Created Pen to Paid

Morgan Vega | Pen to Paid

7 Reasons Why I Created Pen to Paid | Morgan Vega | Pen to Paid
 

Pen to Paid provides career services to writing students, which is something that I, Morgan Vega, knew next to nothing about as an undergrad writing student.

Here are 7 of the many reasons why I decided to create Pen to Paid:

1. I didn’t recognize my transferrable skills.

Every employer needs employees that can write well, and so many people can’t write well. The professional world will require you to write daily. You already have a necessary and desirable skill.

Besides writing well, your college experience—in and out of the classroom—has helped you develop transferable skills, skills that you’ve learned and perfected outside of your desired job that can be applied and used in your desired job. Examples of these skills include leadership, critical thinking, and time management.

For instance, I waitressed during college, and this developed my ability to handle and prioritize multiple tasks, a transferable skill. I use this skill in my current job as Recruiting Coordinator, as I juggle many professional projects and events.

No matter your major, whether it’s English or Journalism or Communication, your classes have helped develop your transferable skills. I created Pen to Paid to help you recognize your transferrable skills and better communicate those skills to employers.

2. I felt distanced from my college’s career services department.

Disclaimer: my experience with my college’s career services is probably (hopefully!) different from yours. Most career services professionals are friendly, helpful, tech-savvy, and forward-thinking.

The only time I visited my college’s career services department was to meet about receiving academic credit for my unpaid internship. (Do not do this—you’re paying to work. Another reason why my career services failed me.) Before that, I didn’t know where the department was, what they were about, or what they offered. On a rare occasion that I did hear about a workshop or an event, I decided not to go because, to be frank, I got the vibe that they would only offer negative criticism.

I created Pen to Paid to meet you where you are and offer you career services how you’d prefer to receive it.

3. I didn’t attend a career fair until I was working one.

I had already graduated when I attended my first career fair, and I drove college students to the event. I had designed the employer attendee list, and I took pictures at the event.

Why did I help organize an event that I had never taken advantage of? Because I thought career fairs were for Business majors. I thought career fairs weren’t for English majors. Plus, as an introvert, I thought I’d be better at finding a job through my computer rather than through networking. I was wrong.

I created Pen to Paid because I should’ve gone to a career fair and so should you.

4. My friend told me that I should do an internship—not my professors or career services.

Not one of my professors discussed what an internship is or why it’s necessary with me. As already mentioned, I didn’t receive much career direction from my college’s career services department. Who told me that I should do an internship? My friend, who was a Business major, whose professors had harped on the importance of multiple internships.

I created Pen to Paid because you need to have an internship, and you need to know what they’re about and how to find one.

5. The most stressful time of my life was post-graduation.

My eye twitched for six months after graduation. Granted, I had other life events happening at the same time, but the majority of my stress came from working three part-time jobs, none of which included writing. The entire reason I went to college was to make a career out of writing, so I felt like a had wasted my time and money (so, so, so much money).

I created Pen to Paid because your transition from college to career should not cause eye twitching and depression and sleepless nights and self-loathing, all of which I experienced.

6. My job search process was lonely, confusing, and terrifying.

After graduation, I spent my time, when I wasn’t running from part-time job to part-time job, on my computer, sitting alone in my room and applying to job after job on online job sites. I knew I had to be doing something wrong (I couldn’t be that undesirable), but I didn’t know what it was or how to fix it.

I created Pen to Paid so that you aren’t alone in your job search, and you have information to make the process less confusing and less terrifying.

Check out The Writing Student’s Job Search Survival Guide!

7. Career readiness knowledge made a difference for me, and I know that it can make a difference for you too.

Now, as a career services professional, the career readiness knowledge I have acquired has provided me with projects that focus on my interests, a better work environment, job stability, and career advancement opportunities. I know my transferable skills. I know how to network with employers. I know how to interact in a professional setting.

I created Pen to Paid because career readiness knowledge can propel your career too.

5 Resume Fails

Morgan Vega | Pen to Paid

5 Resume Fails | Pen to Paid | pentopaid.com

There are many ways to fail at your resume. We’ve seen zebra-stripped headers on resumes, and we’ve seen almost-empty resumes. (Don’t do either.) Here are 5 resume fails that you should avoid.

 

1. Your name and contact information aren't noticeable. 

Employers look at resumes an average of six seconds. If your name and contact information isn’t easy to find, that’s a fast way to have your resume chucked to the “no” pile. You want employers to find your name and contact you quickly.

 

2. There's a misspelling (or two or more).

Yikes. Proofread your resume multiple times, then send it to five people to proofread. Your resume is a reflection on your professional work. If there’s a misspelling, employers will think that your work is sloppy and rushed. They don’t want to hire someone like that.

 

3. Bullet points are taking over your resume.

Bullet points can be great. They can draw employers’ eye to important areas and make the content of your resume easy to read and find. But don’t go bullet-point crazy. Too many bullet points defeat the purpose of bullet points: to draw attention to specific skills or experiences.

 

4. You include references.

References were once a resume must-have. Not anymore. Employers either ask you for your references on a separate application, or they ask you to provide them separately. Now, including references on your resume is a waste of space that could be used for your experiences.

 

5. There's too much white space or not enough of it. 

If your resume is half a page long, your resume is half done. Too much white space communicates to employers that you aren’t experienced. It communicates that you spend all of your time at home, doing nothing, talking to no one. You must fill that page.

On the flip side, if your resume doesn’t have margins, if the words are crammed together, your resume isn’t finished either. Again, employers will not spend time picking out experiences relevant to the position. You need to do that. Your resume is not a page to dump everything you’ve ever done. Read the job description for the position, and tailor your resume to include the experiences that make you qualified to fill that position.

Need help with your resume? We offer resume services.

10 Must-Haves for Your Author Website

Morgan Vega | Pen to Paid

Pen to Paid | 10 Must-Haves for Your Author Website

Your author website is essential to the success of your books. Your site needs to be aesthetic and easy to navigate. It also needs to contain certain elements and content.

Use the below as your author website checklist, and make your site the best it can be.

 

1. A Domain Name

If you haven’t bought your domain name, open up a new tab pronto and get on that. All writers should own a domain name that is their name. For instance, I will publish my books under Morgan Vega, so I own morganvega.com. Your target audience and future readers will then be able to find you.

 

2. A Logo

I hired Kayci Detweiler, a graphic designer, to create my logo for Pen to Paid. Though I love the Pen to Paid logo, I knew I couldn’t spend the money (at least not yet) on a logo for my author website. Instead, I made a simple, easy logo with Canva that matched my color scheme and fonts. I used my initials to continue to promote my name, though other authors sometimes choose a specific image related to the content of their works.

 

3. A Simple Color Scheme

It’s fine to use two colors on your website. It’s fine to use three. However, I prefer a clean, modern feel, and that means a simple color scheme.

For Pen to Paid, I use a specific hue of green, but I sometimes play with lighter and darker shades of that color. I use the same color scheme on my author website for consistency.

4. An Informative, Catchy “Home” Page

Maybe it’s just me, but the landing page is the hardest to perfect. This is the first impression for your viewer, so like the daunting first page of your novel, it can be a lot of pressure.

Your landing page should contain your name and logo (as every page on your site should) and promote your existing or soon-to-be-published works. It should also provide a brief who-you-are statement. For example, my website tagline is “Writer and Career Services Professional; however, I expand on this in my header image on my landing page: “Fantasy and Realistic Fiction Author, Writing Career Adviser.”  

I am still tweaking my Home page, so if you have any advice for myself and others, let me know in the comments below!

 

5. Easy-to-Find Social Media Links

My social media links (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest) exist on the side of every page on my author website. This allows my visitors to find and connect with me quickly. Not only do I provide links to my author social media, I also provide links to Pen to Paid’s social media.

 

6. A Newsletter Form or Follow Button

A newsletter form or follow button is a must. On Pen to Paid, I use a newsletter form, and on my author website, I use a follow button.

Building your following is essential for promoting your works, and if you plan to traditionally publish, agents will want to know the number of your subscribers. Your visitors can’t subscribe if there isn’t a follow button, so make sure you have one!

 

7. An “About Me” Page

Your readers want to know more about you. They want to connect with you, and if they do, they’ll be more inclined to buy your books. That’s why your author website should include an About Me page. Make sure you provide an image of yourself, why you’re a writer, your writing backstory, and anything else that describes who you are.

 

8. A “Contact” Page

Most likely, if you provide a contact form on your site, your inbox won’t be flooded with thousands of inquiries the next day. A Contact page is another quick way that your viewers and future readers can connect with you. The more you open yourself up to connecting with others, the more you build your brand and promote your works.

 

9. A “My Books” Page

Don’t scroll down if you are unpublished! This still applies to you.

If you’re here on Pen to Paid, you’re a writer, and if you’re a writer, you’re writing something. Your WIP deserves a place on your site. Before your novel is published, you will have promoted it on your site and hopefully gained some readers.

On my author website, I have a My Books page and subpages for each of my works, both published and soon-to-be published. I provide a brief synopsis and cover art for each.

 

10. A Blog with a Purpose

The viewers on your author website want to know what they’re getting themselves into when they visit your blog. If your blog is full of personal, day-in-the-life posts, your viewers will get bored. The content won’t be relevant to them.

When I first created my author website five years ago, I started a blog. The content of my blog was all over the place. I wrote about topics ranging from my new job to planning my wedding to writing advice. I didn’t have a purpose.

Now, instead of a Blog page, I have a Writings page. This is a place where I provide excerpts for my WIPS, beta reader responses, character sketches, and anything extra that will get my viewers and readers excited about my works.

Other author website must-haves not on this list? Add them in the comments below!