Sarang Ahuja | Finance

Leader, Financial Expert, Game Changer

Tag: professional development

What I Did During My Summer Vacation—Sarang Ahuja

What I Did Over My Summer Vacation (Wasn’t An Internship)

If you’re a college student, then a paid internship is the holy grail of a summer vacation—a way to make money while also advancing career prospects. It’s a rite of passage for many students, and it can be devastating to see others land their ideal internships while you’re stuck with nothing to do over the summer.

Worry no more; if you’re a college student looking to advance your career over the summer, there are plenty of other avenues available to you that are guaranteed not to require getting other people coffee.

Find Odd Jobs

I don’t just mean mowing lawns or walking dogs (though that is an option). Look for temporary work in your area geared toward your interests. Even if it’s for a nonprofit group, doing work for their benefit can give you something to boost your resume. It’s also a great way to learn how the working environment functions, something that can be hard to gauge through college classes. Take the time to research specialty jobs that may be relevant to you; for instance, if you’re a writer, local papers may need assistance covering stories.

It’s also worth considering day long shadowing opportunities to get another good look at the workplace environment in your industry.

Volunteer

Speaking of nonprofits, pursuing volunteering experiences can be valuable for a resume even if it isn’t necessarily in your area of expertise. Not only that, but there are often leadership opportunities available through nonprofits. Consider spearheading a project and giving yourself something to be proud of.

Complete Summer Classes

Ease the burden of your college career by taking summer classes! Even if your college is far away, consider looking into knocking out a few requirements online or at your local community college. If your schedule is a bit hectic, it can cut down on your stress and even save money in many cases. For that matter, you can even use your extra time to complete an internship later on.

Research

Many colleges and universities offer undergraduate research opportunities over summers. For an individual considering grad school, research is a big standout come application season. Even outside of this, research offers an in-depth look at the working of industries even beyond math and science. Consider asking about grants that your school offers to help support you in these endeavors.

Start a Business

The growth of technology has allowed for the spread of ideas at an unprecedented rate. If you see an opportunity in a field you’re studying, or even just have a solid grasp of a particular skill, consider becoming an entrepreneur. From writing to design to building websites, there are many skills that you can hawk to those interested, all while earning money and learning.

Study Abroad

Not every life experience has to relate to work. By studying abroad for a summer, you demonstrate to employers your willingness to venture outside of your comfort zone and try new experiences. Plus, it gives you more opportunities to learn and work toward that sweet, sweet college credit. Consider some of the places you’ve always wanted to see, and form experiences that you’ll have for the rest of your life!

Secret to Negotiating a Raise—Sarang Ahuja

The Secret to Negotiating a Raise

Talking about compensation with your boss can be a hard subject to broach. Because of this, many don’t know how to properly negotiate when it comes to talking about money, especially when the prospect of a raise is on the table. As yearly reviews come and go, many employees will consider entering into a conversation with their bosses about whether or not they deserve a raise, but most will not receive the compensation that they think they deserve.

The first step to working toward a raise is being realistic about your abilities and your contributions to the company. Look back at your recent efforts and be honest with yourself about what you deserve based on that. If you want a solid raise, you’ll need a good case for it. On average, slightly under 3% of company revenue goes toward raises, but the top percentage of employees are allocated more funds for raises than anyone else.

Nobody knows you better than you, so take the time to compile a list of your accomplishments. Have you gone above and beyond to help out a coworker, or stayed late to assist with a problem? If you’ve taken on recent responsibilities, be sure to highlight those as well. Use any quantitative data that you can find; solid figures of how a company has benefitted with your work are indisputable evidence of your prowess. Don’t wait until the opportunity for a raise comes up; start as soon as possible.

Think of this compilation as a portfolio, and include any documents that you think might be beneficial. Save emails from people that have praised your performance, and include copies of any certificates or degrees that you may have earned in that time. If you have projects that you can include, integrate them in as well. The more evidence you have on your side, the better.

Another way to prepare for a discussion about a raise is finding evidence of what people in your position with your tenure make. If you know exactly what you are theoretically worth, it gives you a starting point for negotiations. However, you should also account for the environment in which you live; if you’re from an area with a lower cost of living, the percentage that your income increases might be lower than in a larger city. Company size is also a determining factor in how much you can expect to make.

Once you’ve gathered the proper rationale for a raise, it then comes time to speak with your boss. The best, and most expected, time to ask is during a year review. If you ask outside of this period, acknowledge that this is an unusual case and that you’re asking for a specific reason tied to your recent actions.

When negotiating, be clear and factual. Tell your boss that you’re looking for a raise in compensation, and follow it up by hitting a couple of the broader points that you’ve come up with before delving into detail. Never make the subject of a raise personal; by stating that you need more capital for a wedding, baby, or something similar, you lose some of the credibility that you’ve built up. Instead, focus on what you’ve done for the company and why that warrants a change.

If your boss turns down your request for a raise, turn it into an opportunity. Be honest with them and ask about what you’d need to do to secure the raise that you’re looking for. It can also make a good impression if you ask about the possibility of taking on more responsibilities in the future. Regardless, keep your responses measured and don’t burn any bridges. In the event of repeated rejection despite outstanding job performance, it may be time to consider other employment options.

No matter what you do, it’s still a tough subject to approach and negotiate. But, as with anything else in business, good preparation and presentation of facts is the best way to sway a potentially difficult audience to your cause.

A Little Something on the Side

A Little Something on the Side: Getting Started with a Side Job

The dynamic of labor in the United States has changed over the past decade. The long-held institution of the 9-5 job is crumbling in the face of a difficult job market and the increasing interconnectedness of technology. Because of this, individuals are opting to take on smaller part time jobs, sometimes to supplement an existing source of income, and sometimes because of difficulty in securing full time employment. Either way, working a side job can be a valuable asset and resume booster, providing the individual with an alternate cash flow that may not be as consistent or time consuming as a 9-5.

So, if you’re an individual that needs some extra cash, regardless of your reasons for doing so, there are a multitude of avenues you can take. I’d like to discuss some of the options available on the part-time job market.

Driving

Uber and Lyft have effectively disrupted the public transportation industry with crowdsourced drivers and a easy-to-use apps. Known in the industry as rideshare apps, an increasing number of people are becoming Uber and Lyft drivers to earn money on nights and weekends. Though becoming a rideshare driver is not as intensive as becoming a certified taxi driver, there are certain barriers to entry that applicants need to abide by.

Drivers need to submit to a background check in addition to possessing a valid driver’s license, a smartphone, and a car with four exterior doors and five seatbelts. Additionally, some cities may not allow rideshare services to operate, so be sure to know if your area can participate! Still, on a busy weekend night, rideshare drivers can accumulate quite the haul.

Babysitting

Despite being one of the stereotypical jobs for teenagers, a good caregiver can alleviate pressure from parents and make a positive impact on a child’s life. Previously relegated to word of mouth, technology has also made it easier to find babysitting and care gigs. Care.com is one example of a website looking to match babysitters with families in need, and payment is easy to receive through the site.

Depending on when you’re available, you can expect to make anywhere from $12 to $25 an hour babysitting. The high end of the scale is generally seen among night sitters, who assist tired parents with children, particularly babies and newborns.

Writing

Writing freelance blogs and articles has a huge market on the Internet. There are plenty out there if you go looking—but be warned, the pay can often be low. Research is important when writing online; you’ll want to know the regulations of the sites that you’re pitching to, as well as having a solid understanding of the topics that you’re writing about.

Still, nothing beats the flexibility of writing for an online outlet and working wherever you’d like! Find a site that fits your schedule, interests, and needs and have a great time producing quality content.

Design

While it requires a bit of a background to do well, with a bit of artistic know-how, you can create beautiful graphics or design for the web. For doing this, it helps to have a collection of your previous work somewhere on the web; bonus points if you can make your own online portfolio from scratch.

Upwork is an online resource for the errant designer, offering potential leads and jobs to community members. Plus, if you start to gain momentum, the amount of money you can make will increase over time.

The One Piece of Advice for all Millennials

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No matter whom you ask, a majority of the general public wants to feel financially secure. The only problem is that there are only a few individuals who are willing to do what is absolutely necessary to create it the necessary steps for a financially healthy future. For most case scenarios, it comes down to that mentality and overall strategy that helps shape not just a person’s professional trajectory, but also an individual’s personal finance. To put it in an even greater context, the lack of drive can be due to a strong ‘subconscious’ disconnect between desire and action. This generally happens because many people feel complacent or apathetic about their overall career or financial situation that they decide not to take action. Whatever is the case, make sure you do not allow this to happen to you. One thing you should always keep in mind is your future. What you do today can have a significant impact on your life tomorrow. To help you on your path, you need to take that action.

Now to take action, it usually requires a strong internal understanding of where you currently are and where you want to be. By creating these tangible goals, you will be able to establish the overarching steps and objectives necessary to keep you on track in the best possible way. Start doing this by evaluating your career. For many millennials, they make the mistake of thinking their first job is just a job. While I can never predict what is in store for your future, you should accumulate the necessary skills and business-oriented mentality to leverage for your next job or future promotion. By developing and fostering your own professional skills, you are paving a path that is essential for your financial success.

As you continue to grow, you want to make sure you are cognizant of the values and importance of money. One of the biggest mistakes millennials and young professionals make is that they lack the strong foundational understanding of saving. Like many millennials today, you probably doubt the idea that you can save, live, and breathe easy with student loan debt and bills piling every minute of the day. While it is true that student debt can restrain you from your financial goals, it does not mean that it is impossible. To start, begin figuring out how to divide your monthly income way. Remember, some things you need, others you want, and the few are just dreams. Know your limitations. That type of mentality will help prevent any chances of overspending on discretionary items or under-saving for important investment purchases. In addition, try to find opportunities where you can increase your savings. While it may be difficult to conceptualize this, especially with an entry-level salary, you need to understand that you will not be in that particular position forever. Knowing that will help you make specific decisions, even educational decisions like graduate school, on your journey for wealth.

Now to fully grasp control of your finances, it is imperative that you create a plan and establish auto payments for your debt and other expenses. In addition, try and utilize this with your savings itself. Having that type of plan will not only control your debt, but also reduce your temptation to spend an entire paycheck. For many young professionals, they have the tendency to spend on lavish and unnecessary items. Having these systems in place will control any urges and put you on the direct path in establishing your financial future.

While this may seem overwhelming, as it should be, try and educate yourself on the on-goings of personal finance. Read particular books or articles to keep you up to date on the various products out there. Try and even see if there is anyone at your company to speak about the particular financial options that are offered to you. Remember, knowledge is power. Today’s knowledge has the opportunities you are looking for. Control it and you will be able to gain more opportunities and advancement for your future.

Failure, Life’s Greatest Lessons

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The road to success can be long and arduous. As a young professional, you will face a variety of different obstacles. But the one biggest obstacle that we will all face in life is the lesson of failure.

When it comes to failure, these moments often carry a negative connotation with them. And why wouldn’t they? In most cases, you are often found at your lowest, nursing a bruised ego to move on from the frustration, disappointment, and demoralization of a situation. As much as it may seem hopeless right now, you have to look at these disappointing moments as windows of opportunity. Many people have even gone as far as to say that failure is really the greatest teacher of them all. While it may be hard now, understanding, internalizing, and accepting these situations for something greater than what they are will allow you to grow both personally and professionally in the best way possible.

Now to do this, you need to see these disappointing moments as life lessons. As difficult as it may be, framing these incidences in this manner will allow you to learn and uncover those hidden teachable moments so that you can not just move on, but also grow in a bigger and better way. To help you deduce what exactly those lessons are and how they can help improve your chances of future success, I have provided various guidelines so that you can understand, plan, evaluate, and execute later on down the road.

Evaluate the Situation

Every young professional needs to understand that success can only come from failure. Much like any inopportune situation, failures and downfalls set our expectation for success. It is through those situations where you are able to evolve personally and professionally within your trade. To help alleviate the pains of failure, you need to see failure as it is. Start by evaluating the situation. Ask yourself those overarching questions. What happened? What did you do? What could you have done to prevent this? By analyzing the moment in this holistic manner, you will be able to figure out the various weaknesses and flaws that you can improve upon within the future. Utilize those low situations as experiences or opportunities for change. This will allow you to expand your knowledge and embrace the situation in a more positive manner.

Assume Responsibility

Like it or not, the blame game will always persist. No one likes to truly admit fault, especially if it is a big one. But in order to grow, you need to accept the moment and assume responsibilities for your failure. Once you have assumed the responsibilities of your mistakes, you will be able to leverage your negatives as an asset and tool in how to improve your day-to-day operations within your job. That reflective portion of analyzing and accepting said-particular mishaps can provide you the necessary steps in preventing the failure from happening again. As stated before, you want to utilize this as a learning experience. If you were brave enough to risk it in the first place, you should be confident enough to accept the mistake as it stands.

Create a Plan

Once you have understood and accepted your failure, you want to make sure you are moving in a progressively better way. In order to professionally develop and grow from your failure, you want to create a plan. For novice young professionals, the first failure will always be the most painful and regrettable. The process makes you not only question your vision and goals for your company, but also question your abilities as a person. When this happens, you need to accept, plan, and move on. When planning, think of specific overarching goals that you want to accomplish. These goals will allow you to create specific tangible steps that can help you set your sights on success.

Put into Action

To fully move on, it is imperative that you create action out of this entire process. Thinking is easy. Acting is difficult. It is the ability to put your thoughts, your concepts, and your dreams into something incredible. Use your failures to motivate you. Use them to spark innovation. Whatever is the case; use those moments to create action.

Leadership and Management, Two Sides of the Same Coin

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Leadership is encapsulated in both an individual’s talent and energy. Through their knowledge, their skill-set, their experience, and their reservation on the job, these strong and talent individuals can inspire and ignite the necessary passion needed to cultivate a rich and efficient working environment. But what happens when you do not have that vibrant personality to spark ingenuity and passion? What happens when you do not have that organizational skill-set to manage the various logistics within the day-to-day? No matter how you slice it, leadership and management will always be necessary for success.

In the business world, leadership and management go hand in hand. As much as they differ qualities and objectives, they are, essentially, two sides of the same coin. In the grand scheme of things, they are necessarily linked. As much as they stand separate, they continue to complement each other by solving problems and strategizing new and creative ideas for success. Put it in this perspective; management administers, while leadership innovates.

But what makes these two characteristics out? Is one trait better than the other?

Perhaps there was a time when the calling of the manager and that of the leader could be separate. In fact, today, one of the most commonly used buzzer words within the corporate sector has been, and will continue to be, ‘leadership.’ But with the way business works, any successful business owner will tell you that if you want to run your business right, you need to have both a strong leader and an efficient manager to get your team on board. Having both skill sets will allow you to direct your team to your company vision in the most effective way possible.

So what is leadership? While it has become widely popular term, we cannot overlook the power that this characteristic has for a person. For leadership, we are talking about the ability to communicate, inform, and inspire action. That idea to believe in a goal is something that is incredibly difficult to cultivate, especially in the workplace. To do this effectively, many great leaders are incredibly transparent and honest with their employees. That, in turn, builds a sense of integrity and trust that continues to inspire your employees on the journey that you are taking them on. In addition to honesty, many great leaders are long-term thinkers. The ability to create strong, tangible, and viable goals is something that will constantly play a role in a leader’s success within the future. But the most important skill set of a leader is their ability to communicate. Communicating across a variety of departments will always be a sought out ability by every business firm and organization. The reason why is that a strong line of communication can handle any task given to them.

Now, as great as it is having those qualities and traits as a leader, none of it can be possible without strong and effective management. With management, it is more about administering task and making sure the day-to-day operations and logistics are happening, as they should. In order to be a strong, effective, and consistent manager, you need to be able to execute your goals. While it is great, as a leader, to have these overarching goals, all of it would be for nothing if you did not have a clear and strategic roadmap to follow and complete for your employees. In addition to strong and strategic planning, a strong manager needs to have the ability to direct. During the day-to-day, things will pop up. Your job will be to handle those tasks, review resources when needed, and anticipate future problems or hurdles for you and your employees. Much of this will require strong organizational skills, effective communication, and focused and processed management. Without these skillsets, a dream will continue to be a dream.

So, if you are looking to take things to the next level, make sure you find that game changer that has both the attributes of a manager and the vision and mentality of a leader. By framing your process in this way, your hunt for your next supervisor, director, or senior partner will be that much easier and beneficial for the success of your business.

The Secrets Of Leadership: Dean Of Harvard Business School Explains How To Lead

Three Tips to be a Be an Efficient and Effective Leader

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There is a famous saying that “leadership is not a position or a title a person assumes, but the action and example they set for all.” For great leaders, they have always been an integral part of society’s progress. In reality, our goals, dreams, and destiny rest in their hands.

So what makes a great leader? How does one assume that position, especially within the confines of the work place?

To be an effective leader, a person must go above and beyond the standards set upon them. They are individuals who not only accomplish various tasks on a consistent and daily basis, but also inspire change within the working environment. According to BCG’s leadership expert Roselinde Torres, today’s institutions and individuals who have the resources to help promote and cultivate great leaders are failing to do so. In her view, while the world is full of leadership programs, the best way a person can learn to lead is by creating a foundation that allots for change and development. It is then that a person can take it to the next level in their push for a thriving and ever-growing future.

During her Tedtalk, Torres spoke about a study she conducted to measure the effective use of leadership development programs in different companies all throughout the world. This entailed an in-depth analysis and international research in order to redefine what makes a great leader for today’s 21st century. After travelling all around the world and taking holistic observational notes on effective and ineffective leadership practices, Torres observed how cultural backdrops, geographical locations, and current events all played a factor in cultivating and shaping a leader and their course of action. She further dives into how of the 4,000 companies she surveyed, almost 60% of them have reported significant talent gaps for critical leadership goals. What is most disheartening about these statistics is not just the low numbers, but also the amount of time, resources, and training each company had invested in efforts to develop a strong leader.

While the results seemed shocking, Torres was able to leave her study with three key elements that will undoubtedly shape a better equipped, and more capable leader for the future.

1. Maintaining a Diverse Network

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” To be a great leader, it is vital that you assume the mentality of a student. At the end of the day, knowledge is the most powerful weapon you can use on the world. Great leaders are not born knowing everything. Instead, they are individuals who recognize that diversity, network, and knowledge are tools that they can utilize in the everyday work life. The ability to collaborate and learn from a variety of people of different backgrounds and work experiences can greatly increase the effectiveness and perspective of a person’s thinking.

2. Accept the Change

As a leader, the one thing that can be detrimental to your success is your ability to settle. Effective leaders never settle. Rather, they acknowledge the fact that time changes constantly. To be a strong leader, one needs to be adaptable to a variety of different speed bumps and hurdles along the way. Anticipating this type of change will lend to stronger strategies and decision-making for the betterment of your company. Never see these changes as problems. Only view them as windows of opportunities.

3. Always Look Ahead to the Future

Similar to the concept of change, it is vital that you recognize your mistakes and learn from them. The one big mistake some people do is that they often dwell on the past. Sticking to the antiquated ways of managing or running a business can hinder your growth professionally and personally. The key thing to do is to accept those events and learn from them.  Internalize the different avenues of what led you to that decision and the other options that you could have taken for success. By establishing that sense of mental reflection, you will be able to ultimately move forward and grow as an individual.

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