5 ways millennials need math post-college

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Caitlin Mooney

Andy Cohen said it best in his new book, Most Talkative: “my brain has a tendency to go blank when I see an Excel spreadsheet.”

I’ll never forget the horrified look on my math teacher’s face when I jumped up and down in his classroom after he told me I got a 66 on the Math B NYS Regents exam. To him, that was a terrible grade. But to me, I was done. I passed. I earned my advanced regents diploma. Check.

It’s not that I can’t do math. It’s just that I have no interest in it. Numbers don’t speak to me like words do. My senior year of high school I opted to forgo all free periods and lunch because my guidance counselor insisted I take pre calc, but I wasn’t willing to give up journalism, creative writing, contemporary lit, or advertising and design.

Needless to say, I am an excellent example of the stereotype that your brain is either wired for math and sciences, or language and arts. I only had to take one math class to fulfill my bachelor’s degree and upon graduation I thought I’d never have to solve math problems again.

If the foreshadowing in this post isn’t obvious enough, I’ll come out and say it now: as a communications professional, I have not escaped the grips of math.

In entry-level positions, especially at small agencies, you’re somewhat of a glorified intern in the sense that you’re expected to be a doer of all things, a jack of all trades. As a result, you end up learning the ins and outs of the agency and a sampling of everyone’s job (i.e. invaluable experience). While you may be done with the Pythagorean Theorem and graphing calculators, here are five ways math may creep into your life again:

1.  Grad school

If you decide to go to grad school, chances are you’ll have to take the GRE. It’s like taking the SAT all over again except you can’t use a calculator on the math section (at least you couldn’t in 2009). I actually had to reteach myself how to do long division.

2.  Accounting

It’s important to review client budgets and estimates to keep the agency on track for all projects and campaigns. I’ve also learned how to complete payables and general ledgers.

3.  Media buying

Remember that fun equation GRP = reach x frequency? Learn to love it. Also learn how to solve for the CPM, CPP, CPC, CTR, and analyze all of those numbers in an excel spreadsheet. (Are your eyes glazed over yet?)

4.  Living on a budget

If you’re in an entry level position in the communications field, chances are you’ll be living on a budget. To keep yourself organized, you may want to create a spreadsheet to help you solve for x in x = paycheck – (rent + groceries + student loans + car payment + health insurance + happy hour).

5.  Timesheets

OK, so this isn’t too tough, but it’s an adjustment to think about your day numerically and keep track of what you’re doing down to the .25 of an hour.

Do you fit into this stereotype too? What advice do you have for new grads?

Follow Caitlin Mooney on Twitter @caitlinmooney.

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Your first real job: 4 tips from a millennial

By Kristin Piombino

Congratulations to all the new college grads out there!

Toss your tasseled hat into the air; take last-minute pictures of all the campus landmarks; and stay out all night with your friends at your favorite bar because in a few weeks, you’ll be sitting behind a desk with a Real Person Job.

But don’t worry.

As a May 2010 grad, I can assure you that joining the workforce as a millennial can almost be as much fun as college.

Almost.

As one of the newest millennials to join Ragan’s Millennial Mafia, I wanted to share what I learned during my first month on the job.

1. Seize opportunities, even if it’s not ‘work’ related

If someone invites you to lunch, go. If there’s a networking event on Friday night, go. If the person in the neighboring cubicle asks you to join the workout group after work on Wednesday, go.

Get to know the people you’re working with. Not only will you have friends and enjoy going to work every day, you will feel more comfortable around your co-workers and be more inclined to share your ideas.

The faster you can start contributing, the better.

2. Don’t turn your work in late

Keep track of your to-do list, meeting schedule and upcoming projects. Why? If you don’t get something done on time, other people’s projects could be affected. This is much worse than getting docked a letter grade.

Also, communicate openly with your boss. If you have a long-term project, let your boss know your progress and when he or she can expect it to be finished. This shows that you’re reliable and hard working.

3. School’s out! But the learning never stops

No matter what the job is, you won’t know all of the material you’re going to need on day one. Be prepared to learn. As a writer and editor, I’m currently learning basic HTML. Maybe you will have to learn a new technology or another language. Whatever it is, be ready to take a lot of notes, ask questions and master it.

4. Go beyond the first impression

Your first impression doesn’t end when you ace the interview and accept the job offer. The first few weeks on the job are essential for proving yourself. Show that you’re excited to be there and that you’re willing to work hard. Take initiative on extra projects, work quickly and be friendly with your co-workers. You’ll prove that you’re dependable and hard working, and quickly gain more responsibility and interesting assignments.