results for career series

A New Series!

June 17, 2015

The City and Us | Career Series

Since starting The City and Us and moving to NYC, I’ve been interested to learn more about people’s careers and creative journeys. There are numerous interview series around the web that ask people in a range of occupations to share their career and life experiences. Design*Sponge runs the inspiring Life and Business series, The Everygirl has a Career Profile series that’s inspiring and informative, and Levo’s Office Hours series is a fascinating series of conversations with extraordinary leaders.

It made me think: I’d like to start a series that asks people about their career journeys, how they got where they are now. Someone might have a kickass dream job now, but what were they doing after they graduated from college and how did they feel about it? Did they work three part-time jobs to save enough money to finally go freelance? Did they meet someone at a bar who happened to be looking for a new hire in their dream industry? Were they raised on a flower farm, so a career as a florist was written in their DNA?

It’s so easy to assume that experiences leading up to someone landing their dream job were easy. I’ve often thought, I wonder who she knows to get a foot in the door at Condé Nast? or She’s so young and already traveling the world as a National Geographic photographer?! How? But most people can relate to a long and sometimes trying journey before finally landing their dream job. And many of us are still searching for the right fit. Even Jenna Lyons, the admired Creative Director of J.Crew, was an intern at one point.

I’m also curious about non-career related wisdom and advice. What makes someone happy and fulfilled in their personal lives? So I asked each interviewee to share any words of wisdom UNrelated to career, money, or getting ahead. Because each of us has so much to offer that’s not related to career. Always spend the couple extra dollars on brand name cheese. 

And so an interview series began.

I’m so excited to share these career and non-career interviews every Wednesday (first up today: filmmaker King Williams!), and discuss what it’s really like to get to your “dream job.” Hope you enjoy it, and, as always, thank you for reading!

Kelly Allen McLay, Marathon Tours

July 8, 2015

Kelly Allen McLay | Marathon Tours

“Hakuna matata!” – Kelly Allen McLay running the Outback Marathon in Australia.

Kelly Allen McLay is the Director of Sales at Marathon Tours & Travel, a company offering travel services to runners and their travel companions, and has completed 37 marathons since 2005! Kelly’s career story is inspiring and personal, so when she agreed to participate in our Career Series, I jumped on the chance to ask her some questions! Here’s her interview…

Kelly running in the Italy Coast to Coast race.

1. After high school I wanted to…go to a southern, sorority school with a Division I football program. My grandfather always took us to College Football Bowl games for Christmas, so I wanted nothing more than to spend four years of my college Saturdays at the stadium. I ended up at Bowdoin College in Maine–little did I know then there could not have been a more perfect place for me that would forever impact my life.

2. My first job after college was…a high school English teacher at my former high school and a Springboard Diving Coach at Regis College. I was excited and nervous–especially being my first job out of college and my students were almost my age–it was a huge year of learning.

I loved the job and would have stayed, but at the end of the year, I decided that teaching was a great profession for when I was ready to settle down. At that time, I was more focused on experiencing life and exploring the world than becoming the teacher I wanted to be in the future. I felt confident that in the future with my passion for teaching and my academic background there would be several opportunities to embark on a teaching position. I wanted the opportunity to try something else. This led to many job changes, but many amazing opportunities including working at EF Educational Tours and bringing teachers and students abroad on international tours, working the night maintenance shift at a camp in New Hampshire, and landing a brief stint guiding surf tours up and down the east coast of Australia. Along the journey that took me to Marathon Tours, I always followed my heart. In the professional world this is not the best advice. However, I have never been able to work in a place where I was unhappy. So I tried several different careers until the perfect fit presented itself in a coffee shop, in Charlestown, MA, on my way to run the Boston Marathon…


“Antarctica–what a place. So absolutely pristine. You don’t know environmental purity like that; it is amazing, refreshing, brilliant. It is a bit of a bittersweet destination for me. I have run a marathon on 6 of the 7 continents and have travelled to Antarctica twice, but since my company owns the race, I have to work the event. Someday I hope to complete a marathon on all 7 continents and join the Marathon Tours’ Seven Continents Club.”

3. My job responsibilities at Marathon Tours include…just about everything! Marathon Tours and Travel has a global presence and includes an office of 10 people. While my title at the office is Director of Sales, when you work in a small office you assume many hats. My day can begin with talking to clients about an upcoming tour to Africa and connecting with the sales staff for updates on the tours they are selling. It can then transition to negotiating contracts with vendors in Alaska on a future program and confirming space for a post-race celebration with a cello and piano 42 floors above the city of Tokyo, and end with scheduling a cab to Logan Airport for an overnight flight to run across Italy. I travel about 40 percent of the year to marathon events to sell our 40 destination tours. I am also the lead guide on the tours that we sell, and I typically run the marathon with the clients on my tour. Next week, I leave for a month for Australia and Africa. I help with training, administration duties, mailing, marketing, research and more. My days are very interesting, very fast, and the diversity of my daily tasks appeals to my need to multi-task.

Kelly Allen McLay | Marathon Tours

Kelly’s most recent race was from the East Coast of Italy to the West Coast of Italy and this is one of her favorite pictures from the race.

4. My favorite part of my job is…I love my job. I was able to find a profession where my two passions are melded into one, and it’s perfect for me. From designing the next destination marathon to talking to clients about the tour they are about to journey on to actually guiding them on these tours to Easter Island, Tokyo, Antarctica…it is great to experience running the world. Our clients are also so unique; I’ve been so privileged to spend time in remote areas of the world with such wonderful clients! The best way to explore a destination and interact with a new culture is on foot–especially when the roads are closed to vehicles and you have access to all of the city!

5. The most frequent question I hear about Marathon training is…”How have you been able to run so many marathons?” I’ve run a total of 37 marathons since 2005. While I am competitive and want to do well running, I never let running take over my life. It is a part of what I do and what I love, but it does not become my life. So many people when they are training lose sight of the passion and the desire for the race because they are so focused on the number of miles they need to run and the time they need to hit. They miss dinners to keep on schedule. But, for me, I run when I can and I do not force it. I put in my best effort and I commit to running the event. But I enjoy it–all of it. There is something so freeing and cathartic to me about getting outside for a long run. The ebb and flow of a pace. A friend’s supportive clip next to you. Conversation for miles.

Kelly Allen McLay & John McLay | The City and Us

Kelly with her husband, John, running their first marathon together: “He’s such a great partner in life and in running. We have enjoyed so many days running together and finishing races together. The last bit of my vows was about our marriage being a marathon and that when we could no longer run marathons we would run half-marathons. My colleague Patrice Malloy caught this picture of us in the Chicago Marathon. We had been engaged the month prior. Originally, John thought that he would propose at the finish line, but since this was his first marathon he worried that if he got down on one knee he might not get up again. Plus, that’s a lot of stress to carry for 26.2 miles during your first marathon! As you can see, we had a blast running! I was so proud of him and so happy/choked up to cross the finish line with him on that day and finish a first of many races together. Since then, we have run 4 more full marathons together: Boston, New York, Dublin and Singapore (for our honeymoon)!”

6. I first got hooked on running marathons in…2004. I had recently found out that I went through menopause. I was devastated. I had always wanted a family, so this transition felt like a part of me had died, and at such a young age, I couldn’t relate to any of my peers. Since the menopause was caused by an underactive thyroid problem, by the time I found out, I was out of shape due to the slow metabolism and extremely depressed. I needed a goal. My sister was running the Boston Marathon, and I asked her if I could join her and her friends and the rest is history. Thirty seven marathons and a career later, I couldn’t be happier. I always say that things happen for a reason. While I wish I hadn’t gone through menopause–I would not be where I am today without that life changing event.

Kelly Allen McLay running in Africa | Marathon Tours

7. My favorite marathon was…Nothing compares to my experiences in Africa on safari and running through a wildlife game park and running with the Kenyans. The land has such a vibrant heartbeat–it is mesmerizing. There is nothing like running through the safari with elite runners speeding by like gazelles as the sun sets over the land. But most recently I ran across Italy with three colleagues. We ran 240 miles from the East Coast of Italy to the West Coast of Italy in four days. We ran over mountains and through the Tuscan fields in 80-90F weather on remote paths through the Italian countryside. It was a runner’s dream. It was one of the most difficult and most rewarding experiences of my life.

8. The happiest moment of my life was…This is really hard to answer. I really try to love life daily. I always say that I can have fun in a paper bag. But there have been many moments. Meeting John…I will never forget that moment.

The City and Us | Kelly Allen McLay

“Cheers to a life filled with warm weather, sand in your feet, sun in your hair, a smile on your face, an escape vehicle with ooommph, a corona in your hand and your best friend at your side. Aruba…one happy island – perfect place to get married!” Kelly and John in Aruba, 2013.

9. I never thought I would…be running marathons around the world!

10. I’m the most productive when…I’ve just finished a workout and get to work with an ice-coffee in my hand. Working out really gets my endorphins going so I can tackle the day, and I’m extremely focused after a workout. Also, moving throughout the day and getting outside for a some fresh air is so helpful!

11. The last vacation I took was to…run across italy! We stayed in some of the smallest, most remote places through Tuscany. I have been to Italy several times but this experience surpassed them all; the authenticity of it was beautiful. We stayed in small homes and 3-star properties where the cook was the mom of the family. We traversed beautiful countryside and interacted with locals; the tourist aspect was removed and I love genuine travel so such. We even stayed at Il Albergoil Monastero, a former monastery, for one night. So, whenever you travel, step off the beaten path, and challenge yourself by immersing yourself in what is different, that is when you find the greatest growth within yourself.

12. I’m currently reading…In the Garden of the Beast by Erik Larson. It’s about the United States Ambassador in Berlin when Hitler took power. It is very interesting and a bit intense. I was introduced to the book by our local guide in Berlin during the Berlin Marathon Tour.  Their commentary and history lesson of Germany, specifically of Berlin, left a lasting impression on me, and I went and bought this book. I cannot wait to tour with Boris again this September to learn more!

Kelly Allen McLay | Dublin Marathon | Marathon Tours

Kelly has completed six straight Dublin Marathons! And she has a tradition of taking a photo in her “Dublin Hat” each year. She’s headed for #7 this October!

13. My tips for packing and traveling…Always take a window seat, especially on long flights because you get an extra 1.5 inches of space and you get to rest your body against the wall. I always bring a travel pillow, I have a small hippo pillow from Africa that is my good luck charm for flying because I am petrified of flying. I also pack my laptop (1.5 lbs–very travel friendly), Bose noise canceling headphones, warm socks (inevitably the flight is cold), and an eye mask, which helps when the airline turns on the lights and you don’t want to wake up! I always pack  my running clothes in my carry on and wear my sneakers–I can’t lose those or I won’t be able to run the marathon! And, it’s always smart to arrive with a bit of currency in hand for the destination you are travelling to.

14. For date night, I like to wear…Right now, I mainly wear this blood orange shirt with pants and heels–that is when I make a concerted effort, and always black eyeliner and a bit of mascara. But more than likely you can find me in my Havaiana flip flops, Lululemon pants, a white tank top and a large praNa or Athleta sweatshirt with my Life is Good hippy beanie!

15. My beauty routine is inspired by…comfort and efficiency. I practice yoga, spin, run, and attend classes at Iron Village to get some serious core training in. I believe that a healthy body fosters a healthy mind and an inner confidence for outward beauty.  Movement for me is so important, so it’s less of a beauty focus and more of a health and life choice focus!

Kelly Allen McLay | Marathon Tours

Thank you so much, Kelly, and happy running in your upcoming races!

If you’d like to learn more about Marathon Tours & Travels, check out their website here and their Facebook page here (their Facebook page has some amazing photos!).


PS. Some tips for starting and maintaining a running routine.

PPS. More Career posts!

Checking In

July 7, 2015

DUMBO | The City and Us blog

I hope everyone had an awesome 4th and a fun long weekend! I decided to take a couple days off and enjoy some down time in Brooklyn over the holiday, but unfortunately, my break was longer than expected because I caught a nasty bug and have spent the better part of the last two days stuck in bed and feeling crumby.

Now that I’m feeling a little better and can at least sit up without feeling nauseous, I’m exciting for the next few posts coming up this week. Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing the third installment of the Career Series with my friend Kelly McLay of Marathon Tours. Hope to see you back here tomorrow! xx


PS. Two other career stories: A documentary filmmaker and an LPGA/PGA teaching professional.

3 Great Podcasts

March 31, 2016

The City and Us | 3 Great Podcasts

What podcasts are you listening to these days? I listen to at least one episode every day during my commute, so I’m always looking for recommendations. Here are three great podcasts I’ve recently discovered and love…

Women of the Hour

Hosted by Lena Dunham and produced by BuzzFeed, this miniseries covers everything from friendship, to love, to work, to bodies, and features guests like Emma Stone and June Squibb. “Please subscribe if you like bad-asses, deep questions, giggling, sexual healing, Gaia life force, style, summer-camp, cute kids, the Internet and feminine power,” said Lena. I don’t know how I missed this when it was first released last winter, but I’m so happy I found it.

The City and Us | 3 Great Podcasts

Modern Love: The Podcast

This podcast brings to life some of the favorite essays from the NYTimes Modern Love column, read by familiar voices such as Jason Alexander, Emmy Rossum, Dakota Fanning, and Judd Apatow. Here are four episodes I loved: ‘Seesawing Libidos,’ ‘One Last Swirl,’ ‘A Millennial’s Guide To Kissing,’ and ‘Mom/Not Mom/Aunt.’

The City and Us | 3 Great Podcasts

The Intern

Allison Behringer tells her honest story of navigating New York City and a new career in tech and media in this new podcast. Until recently, I worked in the same office as Allison in the Meatpacking District, and funnily enough, our stories in NYC are similar in many ways. Allison explores what it means to find your place at startup, which can be challenging if you’re coming from a career that’s not related to startups (Allison worked non-profits before moving to NYC), the instability of startup jobs, and negotiating salaries. I’d recommend this for anyone interested in startups and NYC.

What podcasts do you love? 


PS. Another favorite podcast.

Happy 2016!

January 4, 2016

Happy New Year, friends. I can’t believe it’s 2016, can you? I hope the year ahead is full of happy adventures for everyone. Thank you so much for a wonderful 2015; it has been so much fun to have you here. Let’s take a quick look back over the past year…

The City and Us | Brooklyn Blizzard 2015

Last year around this time, Brooklyn (and the rest of the Northeast) was covered in snow, and NYC shut down for a snow day. We also talked about Winter Reading Liststhe food delivery service Blue Apron (have you tried it, yet?), and annoying words.

The City and Us | How to Feel Settled in a New Place

In February, I wrote about how to feel settled in a new place, which is something that Dan and I are constantly working on now that we live in the greatest city in the world :). And there were posts on interior decor like where to buy Moroccan rugs, pretty geometric planters, and monochrome rooms. Plus, an important winter survival tip and a cute Valentine’s Day themed piñata.

The City and Us | Running Routine

The big news in March: The City and Us turned ONE year old! Also, emoji jewelry, how to get a better night’s sleep, the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and how to start and maintain a running routine.

Walking Across the Brooklyn Bridge

In April, I shared our favorite thing to do when friends and family come to visit, lessons from my first year of blogging, and whole bunch of random stuff in this fun post.

Casual Work Wear | City and Us blog

In May there were a few outfit posts, and I’d love to do more posts on style and beauty this year. Any requests? There was also a wonderful Mother’s Day Weekend in Vermont, the Broomfield Antique Show, and the end of an era in May.


In June, I launched a new series focusing on career journeys and life, and it’s easily one of my favorite things about blogging. I’m excited to do more interviews in 2016! There was also a beautiful DIY Vermont wedding and a fun interview and tour of my office in the Meatpacking District that month.

The City and Us | NH wedding

There was another beautiful wedding in July. Also, the discovery of a fantastic podcast and this random and hilarious Instagram account.

Dan and Kelley Lake Sunapee Wedding

July is also our anniversary, and I shared our wedding story.

unfinished hems

I wrote about being indecisive, frayed hem jeans, the best meal I’ve ever ate, and why time flies in August.

Do or Don't: Fitness Vacations

In September, we explored the newly renovated Brooklyn Bridge Park, talked about fitness vacations, and learned how 14 readers spent their very first adult pay check.


October was a fun, busy month. We moved into a new apartment in Park Slope, spent a long weekend on Long Island, and launched The City and Us Shop! Also, I wrote a piece on conversation starters–do you have any good tips to start thoughtful conversations?

Guest Post: Twin Stripe: Travel Like A Local: Brooklyn

November consisted of posts on gifting, the comeback of flare jeans, a compelling new true-crime documentary (it’s unbelievably gripping!), and a guest post on visiting Brooklyn.

The City and Us | Atticus the Hedgie

To wrap up the year, December featured a cute roundup of hedgehog products, a list of our favorite TV shows, my new favorite candle, and our holiday card.


And just for fun, some random posts from 2015: the Bloglovin’ Awards night, riding the NYC subway, a tip for cleaning jewelry, and fun cake toppers.


Thank you so much for reading, as always; I’m thrilled to have you here! I’d love to hear what’s on your mind recently, and know what topics you’d like to see more of on The City and Us this year. Anything you’d like to see less of? Feel free to shoot me an email (kelleymacdonald19 {at}, let me know in the comments below, or find me on social media. XO


PS. The beginning of 2015.

Kartika Putra & Jessie Helyar, Co-founders of Wolftress

October 28, 2015

Kartika Putra & Jessie Helyar | Wolftress

Jessie Helyar and Kartika (Tika) Putra founded Wolftress, an Australia-based clothing brand, to celebrate the skills, trades, and indigenous artisans of ancient cultures through fashion. Tika and Jessie live in Sydney, and their jobs take them all over the world. Here, they share travel tips, what they’re currently reading, and why it’s important to keep traditional skills alive and thriving…  

Tka Putra & Jessie Helyar | Wolftress Co-founders

How did you two meet? And how did the idea for Wolftress first begin?

Tika was on a solo leg of her South American backpacking trip, and at the same time, Jessie was travelling through Colombia. Jessie had traveled as far north as possible but was avoiding going home to Australia. So, when Tika said she was heading to Ecuador to live on the coast for a month, Jessie jumped right in. It was close to Christmas and we were each in desperate need of a partner-in-crime through the whole festive season.

It wasn’t until we were broken after New Year’s and escaping for a little life and health recuperation when we started discussing textiles and ethnic minorities and the beauty that people back home in Australia were missing out on. The conversation of Wolftress just naturally grew from there. It was exhilarating to meet someone who was just as excited and committed to trying out something new.

Funny thing: Tika had temporarily lost her voice when we first started talking about Wolftress, so much of the conversation was through whispers and writing.

Tika Putra & Jessie Helyar | Wolftress

What are your responsibilities at Wolftress? How do you split up tasks?

Tika: I handle communication, blogger outreach, and website maintenance. I cover the consumer-facing end of Wolftress. We both have very strong ideas on the concept of Wolftress and we work really well together to get our ideas across to the audience.

Jessie: Yes, we work very closely together. We will come up with ideas and concepts together and then divide and conquer. There is a lot of research involved in finding not only a traditional skill but one that can work into modern day fashion; we both do a lot research. (During our last trip to China, we learned about traditional skills that had already slipped away and other skills that we greatly appreciate but are not able to use in Wolftress collections.) In general, I cover the manufacturing and production of new products at Wolftress.

Tika Putra & Jessie Helyar | Wolftress

Why is it important to you to grow awareness of different cultures, designs, and traditional skills from ancient cultures that have been passed down through countless generations?

T: We’ve seen first hand the devastating outcome of lost skills. They disappear and the locals have to revert to skills that aren’t native to their culture instead of continuing to create using their traditional skills. In many circumstances, cultures identify with specific, traditional skills and people within those cultures who are skilled in an area are respected and celebrated.

J: If we don’t support and share these stories, beliefs, and skills they may be lost forever. What makes this world such a beautiful place is the cultural diversity. There is no “right” way to live, there are many. It’s such a beautiful, eye-opening experience to see how other people in the world live, and I think it’s so important that we don’t lose that.

Tika & Jessie in Wolftress Collection

What do you like most about your job?

T: Creating! Concept building–thinking about new activations. The travelling part is always a highlight, no matter how stressful and painful it gets. I also love meeting ethnic minorities and getting immersed in their world. Creating new things together and learning their ways and ideas of life is amazing. The world is bursting with wisdom, knowledge, and heart that needs to be discovered.

J:  Each day is a new possibility. Where to travel to next? Who to collaborate with? We are forever meeting new and exciting explorers with unique stories to tell. We have such massive dreams with Wolftress and we are only just beginning to break through the surface. Everyday is one step closer to another great plan.

Kartika Putra & Jessie Helyar | Wolftress

Did you ever think you’d be the co-founder of a startup and designing your own clothing line?

T: No! Growing up, my family lived in an open house where everyone shared rooms and international students would come and go bringing their knowledge of the world into our household. The majority of the visitors were students studying business and they put the idea into my young mind that being unique and being able to create and do what I love for the rest of my life is the most important thing. They would leave me with so much to ponder. But it’s surreal to be living a life where it’s my job to travel around the world and meet people from ethnic minorities and learn about their cultures. To set your own goals and set your own path is something that is so special!

What was your first job after Uni [college]?

T:  I was an engineer. Funny that! I studied civil engineering with architecture in Uni. I wanted to create beautiful buildings and change the industry with environmental design. Little did I know that the industry is less glamorous than what I thought it would be and was stiff as a doorknob–the chances of changing the industry were slim to none, and I tried changing it for three years!

J: I wanted to travel and experience another way of life before Uni, so I actually took three years off before going on to study Fashion Design; I just wasn’t ready to commitment to more school after primary [school]. I tried some pretty random jobs but was always in hospitality; I like the excitement and the events.

Wolftress Jewelry

What’s the most frequent question you hear about launching your own clothing line?

T: “Where is it stocked?” It’s such a boring question, and it’s a question to suss out how big we are in Australia (completely fuelled with judgement). The question that I wish I heard is “What’s the concept behind Wolftress?” That’s an awesome question because people get to hear our passion, the story behind wolftress, and the bigger picture. My Answer is: Wolftress is all about sharing hidden treasures from around the world, often the ones that need sharing in order to survive. We look for ethnic minorities to collaborate with, utilising their traditional textiles, skills to create empowering fashion pieces, and existing collections.

Jessie Helyar | Wolftress

You travel often for your job. Have you picked up any good travel tips?

J: Everytime I travel I pack less than the time before. Less is best, I think. I always pack something really nice to wear as well, just in case. While traveling, I always hit a point when I’ve been on the road for a while and I want to feel a bit dressier for a day. Also, always learn a few key phrases before you go to a new place to show the people living there that you are interested in their culture and language.

Tika Putra | Wolftress

Where did you travel to last?

T: I recently went to Sri Lanka for two weeks, exploring a small country that is bursting with culture. My whole time there consisted of surfing, eating, and exploring on repeat. I found amazing textiles and beautiful stories from that trip.

Tika Putra & Jessie Helyar | Wolftress

When are you post productive? Any tips on productivity?

J: I’m best when I sit down with Tika and we throw all our thoughts on the table. We feed off each other really well. A lot of the time our ideas go through the pump so many times that we don’t even know where they originated but they turn into something amazing. When I’m alone, I need good music to keep the creative juices flowing.

Jessie Helyar | Wolftress

Tell us about a happy moment.

J: I love those moments where I feel complete though I have nothing. When you are on the road and you look around and wonder, ‘Where am I? OMG what am I doing?!’ You realize you’re in a secluded part of the world and you don’t know the language or where you’re going, yet everything is perfect. Travelling is full of these experiences where you realise all the possessions you thought mattered actually don’t–the smell of the air, the sounds of the street, the faces smiling at you. This makes the happiest moments.

What are you currently reading?

T: Color by Victoria Finlay. It was a gift and has the most amazing stories.

J: I just started reading a new book last night: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. When you have your own business you need something that can allow you to turn of your head and escape every now and then, and reading is that escape for me.

Jessie Helyar | Wolftress

Kartika Putra |Wolftress

Thank you so much Tika & Jessie! xo


PS. More career stories.

(Photos courtesy of Tika and Jessie. Paddle boarding photos by Dane Tucker. Travel photos from The Wolftress Journal.)

How Did You Spend Your First Adult Paycheck?

September 10, 2015

How Did You Spend Your First Adult Paycheck?

Do you remember how you spent your first adult paycheck? Did you treat yourself to a fancy dinner or mani/pedi? Did you put it in an adventure fund? I remember feeling so revealed when I could finally cover all of my own bills. Here, 14 friends share how they spent their first adult paycheck…


After having an unpaid internship after college the experience of getting a paycheck was rather surreal, so I didn’t spend it wisely! I spent part of my first adult paycheck on a nice pair of jeans I had been eyeing. -Sarah

My first paycheck was when I was a junior in college and joined the Navy. I bought two things with my first paycheck—a TV and clothes. But more importantly, I had proof of a paycheck which allowed me to buy a car! -Kara

Comics and cheap beer via a friend’s older sibling. -Jamie

I made $7,600 teaching in Maine that year! I budgeted tightly so I could save to go on a nice vacation to Bermuda—ate cheese, dreams, and hot dogs, and drove a Pinto. But I can’t remember what I did specifically with my first paycheck. Probably went over to a bar in Canada and had a beer. -Deb

After leaving college and receiving my first real paycheck (or soon thereafter), I bought at new 55″ DLP HD Television. Of course without thinking about the transportation aspect. -James

I used my first adult paycheck to satisfy creditors from the oh-so-fun spring break I treated myself to in college!” -Sara

I worked at NAB Bank in Sydney, Australia, and my first several paychecks went towards saving for a trip to New York City. It’s been four years since I moved to NYC—the trip turned into me permanently living here!” -Kathleen

Most of my first adult paycheck went toward rent for my first apartment. I also remember buying my first cell phone right away. It was in the early 2000s and the first camera cell phone had just come out, but I’m pretty sure my sweet flip phone only served one purpose: to call people. -Megan

My first real paycheck was for around $225. I was living in Lido Beach, Florida and it mostly went towards rent. -Jim

I made a very small paycheck at my first real job, working at a Children’s Photography Studio, so mine is not exciting. It all went towards expenses like food and rent. -Nancy

I bought a Breitling Avenger Skyland SS. Needed it! -Ryan

I received my first “real” paycheck in Balmain, a suburb of Sydney, Australia. After work, I took a bunch of friends to the “Rose, Shamrock & Thistle”, my favorite pub, for libations and then we had dinner at tiny Chinese cafe, I think it was too small to be called a restaurant. It was great night and because I paid only $25 a week for a room, I was able to save a good portion of my check every two weeks. These were the days before student loans. -Dave

Most of my first “adult” paycheck actually went into a savings account—never know when you need a rainy day fund—but I thought it was worth a little splurge on a new backpack for adventures around the city. -Hannah

“I was living with my parents in Orford, New Hampshire for a few months after college with no real bills, so I bought myself Bud Light and pizza.” -Dan O


Thank you so much to everyone who shared their paycheck story! How did you spend your first paycheck? I’m curious… : )


PS. Four fun career interviews!

(Photo via Pinterest.)

Kelly Kuss, Head Women’s Soccer Coach at Bucknell University

July 22, 2015

Kelly Kuss | Head Women's Soccer Coach, Bucknell University

Find your passions in life and pursue them–life is too short to waste time doing things that don’t make you happy! -Kelly Kuss, Head Women’s Soccer Coach at Bucknell University

This fall, my good friend Kelly Kuss will coach her first season as a Division I Head Women’s Soccer Coach. She joined the Bucknell University coaching staff this spring. Before landing this opportunity, Kelly was the First Assistant Coach for the Dartmouth College Women’s Soccer team, and before that, she was an Assistant Coach at Amherst College. I’ve always been so inspired by Kelly’s passion for coaching and was thrilled when she agreed to share her career story and a few details about her life off the field. Here’s her interview…

Kelly Kuss | Head Women's Soccer Coach, Bucknell University

1. After high school I…went to Colgate University in Hamilton, New York to pursue a career as a high school teacher and club or high school soccer coach. My career goals changed as I spent the next five years as a varsity soccer player. My head coach, Kathy Brawn, was the first person who presented the idea of being a collegiate coach as a potential career path to me. In my redshirt year, I started exploring the career more seriously. (A “redshirt” year is a year in which a student-athlete does not compete against outside competition; Kelly redshirted her senior year due to a knee injury.) I volunteered in the soccer office to learn about recruiting and the behind-the-scenes responsibilities of a college coach.

2. My first job after college was…Assistant Women’s Soccer Coach and Assistant Women’s Lacrosse Coach at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts. I’m very fortunate to have been given that opportunity right out of college. I was extremely excited to be on the sidelines for my first season as a college coach, and I felt fortunate to be given such an incredible opportunity, especially at an institution such as Amherst College. The head coach at Amherst is Jen Hughes. Jen is a Colgate alumni and was the assistant coach who recruited me to play soccer at Colgate, but she left Colgate to take the Amherst position right before I arrived at Colgate.

Kelly Kuss | Head Women's Soccer Coach, Bucknell University

3. The most frequent question I’m asked about being a head coach is…if my job is full time. The answer is YES! My first–and in my opinion most important–responsibility as a head coach is to be a mentor and role model for the 27 women in my program. I am one of their closest resources on a college campus.

At the Division I level we practice all year long, and from August to May, we typically train five to six days per week.  In our championship season (August-November), I typically work seven days a week, and I’m responsible for coordinating all travel, meals, and other details that arise with playing anywhere from one to three games each week. My staff films and breaks down each game, and we review the footage with the team.

Out of season, the schedule is a bit more relaxed. This is the time we typically devote to recruiting for the next class of soccer players. I travel all over the US watching girls in elite tournaments to determine if they are a good fit for my institution. In the off season I also organize a series of summer camps for both the youth in the community and the new recruits. In addition to designing training sessions, I also organize numerous community service events for my team to be involved with throughout the year.

4. My favorite part of my job is…the student athletes and alumni I had the privilege to coach.

Kelly Kuss | Head Women's Soccer Coach, Bucknell University

5. The happiest moment of my life was…when I married my husband, Andrew, a few weeks ago.

6. I never thought I would…own a Great Dane, but Andrew really wanted one. Now, I can’t imagine my life without our Great Dane, Timber.

Kelly Kuss | Head Women's Soccer Coach, Bucknell University

7. A seminal moment was…playing at Colgate University for Kathy Brawn; I would not be where I am today without that experience.

8. To stay productive I…make lists. It helps me remember what I need to do and helps me prioritize. I like the feeling of checking tasks off my list, and I enjoy getting things done.   I try to get things done every day. For example, if I leave my inbox for a couple days it gets completely overwhelming, so I respond to emails every day.

9. The last vacation I took was to…Fort Pierce, FL on my HONEYMOON! We stayed in an oceanfront condo.

10. The last book I read was…14th Deadly Sin by James Patterson. I read it on the beach during our honeymoon. The book is in the Women’s Murder Series. I’ve read all 14 books in order! Very easy reading with mostly women characters in high ranking positions. Great for the beach!

Kelly Kuss | Head Women's Soccer Coach, Bucknell University

11. For date night, I like to wear…my Rainbow Sandals that I have had for 10 years, a pair of J.Crew shorts, and a simple, lightweight V neck t-shirt from Gap. Our dates usually consist of cooking and grilling in our home. We both enjoy cooking. Occasionally, we will head out to a pub or local pizza place but either way no need to dress up.

12. My beauty routine is…simple. Shower, hair up in some kind of messy bun, and a little bit of eye make-up. I am big Clinique make-up fan! I don’t wear very much makeup, but find eye liner, eye shadow, and mascara a must.

13. Anything else you’d like to add…I owe my parents so much for all of their support in everything I do and have done!

Kelly Kuss | Head Women's Soccer Coach, Bucknell University

Thank you so much, Kelly!


PS. More career stories and a few photos from Kelly’s wedding.

(Photos via Kelly, wedding photographer Jay KennedyDartmouth College, and The Patriot League.)

King Williams, Filmmaker

June 17, 2015

King Williams, "The Atlanta Way"

“There will be no perfect moment in life and your fears can control you–so act fearlessly and just do it.” -King Williams

My friend King is the Director of‘ “The Atlanta Way: A Documentary on Gentrification” that’s set to release later this year. Immediately following his 2008 graduation from Georgia State University, King began pre-production on his documentary, which is set during the last days of public housing in Atlanta and the global financial crash of 2008. Curious about the world of independent filmmaking and King’s unique career experiences–like interning for director Spike Lee, speaking at Harvard’s business school, and giving a Ted Talk!–I asked King some career and non-career questions. Here’s what he told me…

King Williams | The Atlanta Way

1. After high school I wanted to be…a movie director. Really ever since I was a small child I knew I wanted to be a movie director. When I officially made up my mind…maybe while watching the Lion King.

After high school, I wasn’t truly ready for film or living out of state, so I went to school in my hometown of Atlanta at Georgia State University (Go GSU)! But once I got there I realized two things: It [school] was more video/television than actual film, and I just didn’t like it, rather I didn’t like the introductory courses. So, I became a business major before graduating with a degree in African American Studies. I still think to get that dual Urban Policy degree in the future, since it was only an extra 5 classes.

2. My first job after college was…after graduating from GSU my job prospects–like many people at that time–were slim, but I did work part-time at a Red Lobster. Besides the deliciousness of the Cheddar Bay Biscuits, I just wasn’t making enough money, and I was definitely on the struggle bus going nowhere fast.

So, I quit my job at Red Lobster and got another part-time job at a FedEx. In hindsight, I should’ve got another job, too. This was Spring 2008, which was a tough year for many people, but I took the FedEx job. I actually got the job solely because of my looks (no, not like that). I was overdressed and over-prepared for a part-time package handler job, so they gave me a position called ‘Hazmat Inspector’ on the spot. Honestly, it sounds a lot cooler than it was.

I did that for two years for very, very little money, and by the time I got a raise (entering my third year at FedEx), it left me thinking about my future and what the big picture was for me…being a ‘real’ professional filmmaker.

Most importantly my part-time jobs gave me time to work on my documentary, “The Atlanta Way.” I started pre-production on it the day after I graduated.

King Williams | on a bike

3. As an independent filmmaker, my responsibilities include…absolutely everything. I’m a director and producer, which means I’m always in the business of getting a large group of people to buy into the end game. As a director it’s really about being able to make people comfortable, and as a producer it’s about sticking to the end game of finishing the film.

In the indie [film] world your responsibilities are always:

  1. Figuring out where the money is coming from
  2. What you’re willing to adjust because of a lack of money
  3. Figuring out how too keep the day-to-day production afloat

4. My favorite part of my job is…seeing it all come together. There’s nothing like watching something that was an idea manifest itself into an actual product. That is really what I love about entertainment especially, it’s such a tangible thing that the average person can experience.

King Williams | Spike Lee InternKing with fellow Spike Lee interns on the set of Red Hook Summer.

5. I landed an internship with director Spike Lee by…sending him an absurd amount of tweets.

(But, before I go into details, I want to apologize again to Spike and the 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks staff. And also say to anyone reading: IF YOU DO THIS THERE IS A HIGH PROBABILITY THIS WILL NOT WORK WELL FOR YOU.)

So, as I remember it, I was sitting with a friend in the computer lab of GSU. I remembered seeing that Spike Lee joined Twitter in February 2011. My friend, who was working on political campaigns at the time, decided to make a twitter campaign to get me to be Spike’s intern. Spike wasn’t actually looking for interns at the time but he accidentally tweeted his assistants email.

So for weeks we would tweet Spike daily using the hashtag #kingwilliams4Spike. We also created a Facebook group and got friends to use the hashtag daily when they @SpikeLee on Twitter. Eventually, after weeks of doing this, we decided that we would have a full on blitz to get Spike’s attention. Yea, it worked really well…too well!

Within a few minutes of Spike’s office opening we jammed the lines, and then, a few minutes after that happened, I received a call from his assistant who told me to stop immediately. Then, we talked for about 20 minutes, and at the end of the call he set up a Skype interview for me. I interviewed, and of course, I overdressed just like I did for my FedEx interview and every job interview.

I didn’t hear anything for almost six weeks, but I was happy that we did it. I got a call around my birthday (which is June 3rd in a case anyone wants to buy me a gift) asking me if I could be in Brooklyn by the following Friday. I couldn’t leave that fast, so they gave me another week. And a week later, I was in New York City for the first time in my life and sleeping on my cousin’s living room floor in the Bronx.

King Williams | The Atlanta Way

6. A surprising thing about working for Spike Lee was…how much more prepared I was as a result of working there for the film industry at large. This was even more surprising because the entire time I didn’t even touch any film equipment whatsoever.

People always ask me how it was working for Spike Lee. It’s sort of like how I’d imagine working for Alabama football coach Nick Saban; unrelentingly focused, very disciplined and always being ready for whatever is going to happen.

King Williams | Edwin Williams

King’s dad, Edwin Williams, during a sound check at The Georgia Theater at the University of Georgia.

7. My happiest moment so far in 2015 was…seeing my dad, Edwin Williams, release his first ever Jazz album this April. As corny as this sounds I get my joy from watching people I know succeed.

But, on a personal note, the most recent thing for me was actually on May 18th, 2014 at 11:59pm. This was the day I received full funding for my Kickstarter campaign for my film. Seriously, that may be one of the top five moments in my life. The irony of it all was that I was all alone in my apartment [when I got the notification], but I was so close to all of my friends, family, team, and all of those donating to the campaign.

King Williams | Harvard Kennedy School

King speaking at Harvard’s Ash Center at the Kennedy School of Government.

8. I never thought I would…speak at Harvard. That opportunity was so out of the blue, and how that even happened was so random. A guy from Harvard, who, at the time, I thought was a student, sent a message to my The Atlanta Way Facebook page and asked if I’d like to speak at his school. I said, “Cool, email me.” And once he did, within about 24 hours I was making arrangements to talk to students at the Ash Center at the Kennedy School of Government on the topic of gentrification, which is what The Atlanta Way documentary is all about.

(Check out this article that King wrote for the Harvard Kennedy School which is part of the Ash Center’s Challenges to Democracy series.)

King Williams | Interviewing Former Mayor Bill Campbell

King and crew interviewing former Mayor Bill Campbell for “The Atlanta Way”.

9. A seminal moment was…when I decided to stop being scared of my next phase in life and quit my production assistant job in January 2015.

10. I’m the most productive whenI wake up early and run. My Atlanta-based running group Movers and Pacers keeps me motivated and accountable; an accountability partner is very effective for me to be productive. Also having a single day plan-of-action is highly effective for me. I’ve started making a list and just attacking the list. The easiest thing for me to do is attack what I want to do the least, and then do what’s most important, and then follow that with what’s the most time sensitive.

King Williams in San Juan

King in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

11. The last vacation I took was to…San Juan, Puerto Rico for my birthday last year. I don’t think I’ll have another vacation until maybe 2016, but when I do I want it to be out of the country. Maybe South America or London and Paris in one trip.

12. The most invaluable decision I’ve made in the last six months was…deciding on my vision of what I want to accomplish this year. For me, 2014 had a lot of highs like speaking at Harvard and accomplishing my Kickstarter goal. But I was really unsure and unhappy about everything. I was working as a production assistant (PA) on an ABC show, but I was never happy doing PA work. Also, the city of New York, the people, the culture, and the experiences, while great, they aren’t what I want for my life. I knew staying on the PA path would never lead me to where I want to be in my life or need to be in my filmmaking career.

I lost my confidence; I lost my swag (yes, it happens), but most importantly I never lost my faith in God, which in turn helped me to see that my team, my family, and my friends never lost faith in me. It was really sitting down late at night with a best friend at a Waffle House (where all good decisions are made) and just affirming that I have to really buy in to what I want, where I want to be in life. So, I quit my job as a PA. That’s the most invaluable decision I’ve made, and the crazy thing is the day after I said it, I got the invitation to do the TEDxGeorgiaStateU event. And the very next day was the opportunity to speak at the University of Alabama for it’s J-Day (Journalism Day) conference. If that isn’t a sign to commit to my vision, I don’t know what is!

King Williams | TEDxGeorgiaStateU

King Williams | The Atlanta Way crew

“The Atlanta Way” crew post TEDxGeorgiaStateU event.

13. My experience speaking at the TEDxGeorgiaStateU event was…fast, like really fast. I tell everyone that and it kind of surprises them. But when you actually see it online it looks a lot more slowed down than it actually was. Another thing I can say from my experience is that people have no idea how much every speaker practices before as well as how nervous they are before the talk unless they’ve done one themselves!

I did something very different during my talk that my speech coach, Eleina Raines, was very pissed about. I completely disregarded the entire speech that I practiced. I did that because when I was there I was the next to last presenter, and by that point the audience had been there for three and half hours. I also felt like the material that I practiced was too focused on making a traditional TED Talk. It really wasn’t in the spirit of who I am and it wasn’t going to represent “The Atlanta Way” of doing things. So, I completely freestyled my entire presentation. It starting out as a fairy tale story and ended as a semi stand-up comedy routine…I know, very not the typical style of a TED Talk, but you just have to commit to it!

King Williams | The Atlanta Way

Thank you so much, King!


Follow King on Instagram and Twitter!

City.Ballet. Season 2

November 10, 2014


Yesterday, I binge watched the second season of City.Ballet, a docudrama produced and narrated by Sarah Jessica Parker exploring what it’s really like to be a dancer at the prestigious New York City Ballet (NYCB). Have you heard of it? With episodes titled “Company Love,” “Staying in the Game,” “New Beginnings,” and “A Choreographer’s Story” each of the twelve short episodes (6-8 minutes each) gives an interesting behind-the-scenes look at NYCB dancers, artists, and choreographers. The episode titled “Peter Martins” is an intriguing interview with NYCB Master in Chief, Peter Martins. Martins talks about how he fell in love with New York City and was drawn to the energy and people of the city. It’s a wonderful glimpse of the gift of the NYCB with New York City as its backdrop. I’d recommend watching the series if you’re interested in ballet or curious about the lives and careers of dancers.


Will you watch it (did you)? I thought the first season was great too.

Images via.

Blogmilk | Brandi Bernoskie