Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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I’ve moved!

March 28, 2011

Since I rarely blog here anymore, I’m folding this blog and moving all my writing to nishachittal.com. I’ll be posting all my new writing there, so please check it out!

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Where I’ve Been Lately

August 16, 2010

Although I haven’t been updating this blog regularly, I’ve been writing a lot elsewhere on the web recently:

In AlterNet, I report on how the Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives are using social media — and which party is doing it better.

And I’ve been blogging regularly at Mediaite — a few of my most recent posts:

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My new AOL Lemondrop post: Understanding the Healthcare Debate

October 4, 2009

I know a lot of women my age who won’t admit it in public, but don’t really know what’s going on with healthcare reform. And there’s nothig wrong with that — the healthcare debate is filled with Beltway jargon and partisan politics which completely detracts from the actual issues at hand. That’s why I’m excited about my latest piece at Lemondrop, which focuses on breaking down the healthcare reform debate in more understandable terms.

I may not be qualified to write authoritatively on it — I mean really, I’m no healthcare expert either. But maybe that’s what we need — more normal people talking about the healthcare debate and spreading the dialogue beyond the realm of just the policy wonks, experts, activists, and others who do this for a living.

If you have a minute, feel free to head on over to Lemondrop and check it out.

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Social Networking Just Got Better

August 25, 2009

I have probably mentioned this before, but the first blog I ever read was Brazen Careerist. I would like to say that was inspired me to start a blog of my own and start spewing all my ideas into the internet, but it wasn’t really. I had been reading blogs for a while but was never an active participant, until the really nice guys at Brazen Careerist somehow found me and convinced me to join their network of bloggers and start talking to other people who were also crazy enough to post their ideas on the internet all the time.

The first few months of blogging were interesting because I had no idea what I was doing. My friends thought it was all hilarious and that blogging was crazy. They especially liked to drop casual uses of my made-up blog title, Politicoholic, in conversation at parties just to see how I would react. But I had seen the kind of success Ryan and Ryan had and I wanted to emulate that. Even though I was just a college kid. And when I want something there isn’t much, or anything, really, that can distract me from it. So I got involved, and was almost shocked by the results. It taught me how to approach my career and how to approach networking from almost a completely different way — but the way that careers should be managed.

I read Brazen Careerist almost everyday and sometimes am consumed by it: there’s so many fascinating people collected in one place who are all bursting with original, fresh ideas. People who are not afraid to speak their minds, put themselves out there, present and defend their ideas, and have a dialogue and learn from each other. And I would say that in today’s shaky job market, these are increasingly important traits that set people apart from the throngs of other job seekers with a college degree and a couple internships.

In a time when 80% of class of 2009 graduates don’t have job offers, and 80% of jobs today are found through networking, there are still tons of people approaching their job hunt in the old-school, Monster.com, resume-blast sort of way.  So  I think Brazen Careerist is filling a huge need by helping to revolutionize how 20somethings see their careers and how they manage them.

So I love that their new tagline, as they launch their new site today, is “Brazen Careerist: Where Ideas Are Your Resume.” And I’m excited to be part of a community that is doing something so cutting edge and innovative and has the potential to help so many young people. If you haven’t checked out their new site that launches today, I hope you will. Not just because it looks amazing (seriously, I think it looks better — and more useful — than LinkedIn) but because it holds so much potential for anyone looking to better manage their careers.

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David Gregory is not a blogger

August 2, 2009

david-gregory-meet-the-press_thumbBefore I get to the point of this post, I feel I should say one thing: David Gregory is a great journalist whom I respect a lot. And I still get up to watch Meet the Press every Sunday morning!

But, respected journalist that he is, David Gregory is not a blogger. A few months ago when he became the host of Meet The Press, he started a blog and a Twitter account. And everyone fawned all over him and how great he was at “embracing new media,” something that old-media journalists love to talk about doing.

Has anyone else but me checked out David Gregory’s blog recently? I will admit when I heard the MTP host was starting a blog I went and subscribed right away. But lately, his blog is just a stream of once-a-week posts of  “some reads this morning” highlighting a couple articles he’s reading each morning.

That’s great, but that’s what GOOGLE NEWS is for. And Memeorandum. And RealClearPolitics. A famous journalist, talk show host, and political media personality should have a real blog, not simply a regurgitation of any political news aggregator. People actually listen to this guy — or at least pay attention to what he says — so can’t he say something useful on his blog?

(It’s kind of like how social media people got annoyed when Oprah got on Twitter, because she has such a huge audience and everyone fawns over the fact that she’s on Twitter, but she doesn’t really use it! I take issue with David Gregory’s blog for the same reasons.)

I’m not saying he should have a blog. He’s wildly successful enough in his career already that he can do whatever he wants. But what I am saying is this: if he’s going to publicly try to embrace new media by starting a blog and using Twitter, he should actually do it well, not half-ass it. A collection of “what I’m reading” lists is not a blog.

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Quick Hit: Dana Milbank calls Secretary Clinton “mad bitch”

July 31, 2009

It’s late Friday afternoon, so I’ll keep this one short. But I wanted to call attention to an issue that may not get a lot of mainstream media attention, but is extremely important.

This afternoon, in a spoof video that’s part of a Washington Post series called “Mouthpiece Theater,” Dana Milbank , journalist for the Washington Post, suggested that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, if she were to attend the Beer Summit, should drink “Mad Bitch” beer.

The full video is here (the comment in question is at about 2:35)

It’s totally in appropriate for journalists at the Washington Post to be calling the Secretary of State of the US a “mad bitch” simply because she’s a woman, and is another example of how sexism still exists in Washington.

Hillary Clinton is still one of the highest ranking officials in the American government and should be treated with a little more respect and class. And it’s disappointing that the Washington Post, a large, respected newspaper, would support these kinds of comments from their reporters. I hope the Washington Post and Dana Milbank comment on it soon.

If you’re on Twitter: please Tweet about it!

@Milbank What were you thinking? http://bit.ly/TpcVK Bad pundit theater! #wapofail #punditfail #sexistmuch #p2 #fem2

Update: Post apologized, video was pulled.

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The politics of self-promotion: women suck at it

March 31, 2009

Self-promotion is necessary to get ahead today. And my conclusion is: men are so much better at it than women.

Now I know I can’t make broad sweeping generalizations about all women or all men – and I don’t plan to. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. But more and more, it seems apparent to me that the rule is that women are more likely than men to be afraid to self-promote, even for their careers.

It started with my own frustration at myself. I agonized for 30 minutes today about an email I wanted to send to someone who I want to mentor me, but I haven’t talked to in a while. He is really successful in the field I want to be in, genuinely nice, and has given me career advice once before. Sounds easy, right? And yet I sat there agonizing: I can’t send this email. I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to sound stupid. And I definitely don’t want to come across as annoying.

I’ve been told once or twice that I’m good at self-promotion, but I usually laugh because the idea seems so funny. I’m still uncomfortable telling people about my blog even though so many successful people have told me what a great career move blogging is. And when I set up my website, I bought the domain and sat on it for months before actually creating a site because I was too afraid to do it.

So yeah, I guess I have done some self-promotion, because I recognize that you can’t get ahead without it. But that doesn’t make me good at it. Nor do I enjoy it. And oftentimes, I just choose not to do certain things because I don’t want to come off as a shameless self-promoter.

And it isn’t just me. I can’t be alone right? So I did some quick research.

  • Many women are so grateful to be offered a job that they accept what they are offered and don’t negotiate their salaries.
  • Women often don’t know the market value of their work: Women report salary expectations between 3 and 32 percent lower than those of men for the same jobs; men expect to earn 13 percent more than women during their first year of full-time work and 32 percent more at their career peaks.
  • Studies show that women, well, flunk at self-promotion. They just don’t embrace it. They worry more about a whole organization, and about the effects of their actions on other people, than about how to get themselves ahead.
  • In one study, eight times as many men as women graduating with master’s degrees from Carnegie Mellon negotiated their salaries. The men who negotiated were able to increase their starting salaries by an average of 7.4 percent, or about $4,000. In the same study, men’s starting salaries were about $4,000 higher than the women’s on average, suggesting that the gender gap between men and women might have been closed if more of the women had negotiated their starting salaries.

It’s a necessary evil: you have to do it if you ever want to be more successful, but it’s so damn hard. And there’s a fine line between self-promoting and bragging. Women don’t want to sound like they’re conceited or full of themselves.

And perhaps the most angering thing is: when women do self-promote, they get called all kinds of names. Hillary Clinton got the absolute worst of this treatment. No male presidential candidate would ever have to endure what she had to endure simply because she believed she was good enough to be President. And what was the most common insult hurled at her? “She’s too ambitious.”

Hello? In what planet is ambition a BAD thing? (And do you people who call her ambitious seriously think BARACK OBAMA IS NOT AMBITIOUS?!) No wonder women are afraid to self-promote: when women brag about their accomplishments it’s unseemly and they are attacked and criticized. When men self-promote, they’re just confident and charismatic. To quote Debra Condren: “Ambitious men are ‘go-getters,’ but ambitious women are ‘bitches.’”

The studies above already show that men are way better at asking for the salaries and jobs they want — and getting them. More men are politicians (Congress is only about 16% female) — perhaps because women feel so weird about asking for people’s attention and votes. And I feel like half the Tweets I see every day are from guys saying “Hey everyone check out my new blog post, please leave a comment”. Visit my website. Hire me. Get me a job. Help me. Look at the cool things I’m doing. Look at the interview I did! Look at the award I won!

I see these things everyday from men. I don’t think most of them even think twice about it. They are never afraid to just ask people for what they want; they’re never afraid of sounding like they’re bragging. Sure, some women are really good at it — obviously not everyone fits the rule. Some women are terrific at breaking the rule. But it’s called a rule for a reason: most people follow it.

So women, why do so many of us just suck at talking ourselves up? When are we going to start competing better? How do we even get past our own discomfort over it?

Oh, and I sent that email, by the way.

Like this post? Click here to subscribe to this blog. (yes, I know that is self-promotion. And I learned that trick from a female blogger. oh, the irony)

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In Defense of Liberal Arts

February 5, 2009

Yesterday I read a post from a fellow Brazen blogger complaining that she felt her liberal arts degree was useless. What did it prepare her for? She felt she had nothing to offer companies compared to her college-of-business classmates.

I beg to differ. Choosing liberal arts was the best decision I ever made. Yes, lots of engineers and business students look down on me and think they’re more prepared for life than this little political science student.

But, at the risk of offending all of them, I can confidently say: I’d never, ever trade my liberal arts education for business or engineering or anything supposedly more career-oriented or more lucrative. And here’s why.

1. Liberal arts teaches you to think critically. This is a skill that many of my engineering friends scoff at as a “soft” skill. It’s underrated, but a skill that’s highly valued in business. Our courses were filled with heavy analysis and forced in-class discussions. We pulled all-nighters writing analytical and persuasive papers while my business friends  were at the bar, thanking their lucky stars all they had was multiple choice tests.

But at the end of the day, we learned how to analyze and examine problems from every angle. We learned how to think outside the box, try new things, take risks, defend our opinions logically, and creatively problem-solve.

Math problem sets won’t teach you that.

2. Liberal arts teaches you to be a better communicator. Writing, reading, analyzing, discussing, debating, public speaking — all are components of any good liberal arts education. And really, few things are more important to a successful career than being able to communicate with people and write well – skills which recruiters are looking for more and more.

Liberal arts majors can also carry on a conversation about almost anything thanks to our extremely well-rounded curriculum. As one commenter on the original post said….  “I also find people with liberal arts majors more fun and interesting to be around – they tend to be curious and open-minded.” We like learning about the world – and discussing it with people. This is extremely useful when you realize how important social skills are to any successful career.

Engineers…not always known for their social skills.

3. Liberal arts majors are passionate about what they do. And thus,  they make better workers. We chose our majors for no other reason than because we love learning about that subject — I knew I loved politics since I was a toddler (I wish I was exaggerating. I’m not). And we’ll try our hardest to seek out jobs that we are just as passionate about, too.

I know far, far too many business students who aren’t passionate about anything they’re learning at all — many have admitted to me that they just picked business because it seemed like an easy ticket to a cushy, high-paying job.

Would you rather have an employee who just wants a nice salary, or an employee who’s genuinely passionate about doing a good job, and wants to make a difference?

Once upon a time I used worry that my liberal arts degree put me at a disadvantage compared to professional-track majors like accounting, business, and engineering. I may have more uncertainty than a nuclear engineering student about what kind of job to pursue with my degree – but that’s not for lack of options. It’s because liberal arts degrees give you, if anything, more options.  Instead of limiting yourself to one career track, you can do almost anything. The skills and knowledge that a liberal arts degree arm you with will take you far – as long as you take advantage of them, and know how to market your degree.

Like this post? Click here to subscribe to this blog.

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Hello from Southeast Asia!

January 7, 2009

I’ve spent the last week backpacking through Cambodia and Vietnam, and am heading to Thailand tomorrow. It is phenomenal. You should visit Southeast Asia at some point if you haven’t already!

I’ll be back with more substantial posts when I’m back in the country again, after Jan. 17!

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We’re in the Washington Post.

December 4, 2008

I’m speechless. My entire video interview is featured in the WaPo.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2008/12/04/dee_dee_meyers_offers_advice_f.html

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