Gen Z: The New Globetrotters

With the summer in full swing, I wanted to share a piece with you about following your own pace and doing what works for you. I’m honing my blogging skills and will be sharing more articles like these in the future!

As the youngest sibling, I’ve seen generations of youth grow into their cohort-stereotypes. My oldest brother, classified within the “older millennial” range of 1988 or earlier, always wanted the best tech there was. He was one of the first in town to have a PalmPilot or iPhone 3G because, just like his friends, he wanted to stay connected to this new innovation—the internet. My middle brother, classified as the classic millennial age range of early 1990s, loves to go to the best restaurants and most artisan breweries. He’s willing to pay anything as long as there’s great quality ingredients, no matter the price.

And me? I’m Generation Z, born in the mid 1990s to early 2000s. Even though we’re frugal, we’re obsessed with travelling. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve sat at a dinner table with friends and shared stories of countries we’ve been to. We flip through our passport stamps like prized photo albums as 79% of Gen Zs got their first passport stamp before they even applied for their driver’s license.

Why is this? First, Gen Z is one of the most ethnically diverse cohorts anyone has ever seen, with 48% identifying as nonwhite. Generation Z have roots that span further than the country we reside, and we are itching to find out more of our heritage and ultimately, how we got here. I got my first passport stamp when I was 9 to visit Vietnam and meet my aging grandmother. We saw my mom’s childhood home, my dad’s surviving family and on top of that, tasted authentic Vietnamese food my parents desperately tried to incorporate into our daily meals back in Canada. I learned at the age of 9 that my story didn’t begin in Canada, and instead covered the stories of my parents in Vietnam, uncles in France, cousins in Australia and grandmothers in Hong Kong. It was a humbling experience and grew a love of learning new histories wherever I visit.

Second, Gen Z can’t afford the traditional purchases that millennials saw as ‘milestones’ in their lives like a down payment. I can’t even realistically dream of homeownership, because I had to have started saving up when I was 4 years old to afford one today. Older millennials and baby boomers lecture us again and again that they purchased their first condo when they were in their early 20s, and why can’t we? Well, tuition costs are higher than ever, wages have stagnated, and in general, things are harder for Gen Zs than our predecessors. I opened my first GIC when I was 15. I had $20,000 in liquid assets by 21. When I realized that I could never afford a home in Toronto, I invested some money into retirement and then invested in myself: a bachelor’s degree and travelling the world. I’m not financially illiterate, I’m just a realist. If I can’t purchase the big-ticket items that mean I’m ‘adulting’ correctly, then I’m spending my money on plane tickets and hauling outta here.

As peak travelling season is upon us, if you have the privilege and financial freedom to take an adventure, go for it! Where are some places you’ve been? What about where you want to go next? Sound off below and let’s share stories! And for all you fellow Canadian bloggers, have a great long weekend ahead 🙂

Love,
ELLE

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This summer, I swear I’ll…

Dedicate time to be a better me!

As the weather gets warmer, I’m feeling productive. I’ve created a summer bucket list of things I’d like to accomplish by September to keep myself continuously improving, creating and being me, more often, and I wanted to share it with you all. Feel free to take it for your own!

  1. Write and compose a song (This one terrifies me because I know I can write lyrics but I’m not sure I can compose. Any advice, PLEASE sound off below!)
  2. Write for Medium
  3. Write for Globe and Mail
  4. Go swimming!
  5. Write for ten minutes about the Word Of The Day, everyday
  6. Buy a bike
  7. Go to two concerts
  8. Learn how to and bake macrons
  9. Go to Canada’s Wonderland (I haven’t been in years, and I LOVE roller coasters)
  10. Have three picnics (High Park, Toronto islands, Trinity Bellwoods)
  11. Go to a kickboxing class
  12. Save $4,000 (not including tuition)

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What are some things on your list? Do you have any advice for songwriting? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Love,
ELLE

Tips on How to Brave an Internship

As some of you know, I started an internship at the beginning of this summer to get my foot in the door as a first year student. I’m happy to report I’m still there and working part time on a month-by-month basis! It was such a shock to receive the offer because they knew I was going back to school, but still tried to keep me around. It was such an amazing experience this summer—and I wanted to share it with you!

First, I want to explain that the process of getting the internship was difficult from the start. I was a first year student with some great success from this blog and my content, but I was still someone who had no formal experience in the industry. On paper, I knew I sounded like a gamble.

I had put out at least 30 applications as a PR, communications or marketing intern across Toronto and came up with ‘No’ or more often, no response at all. In the same day, I had two requests for interviews. I nearly threw up from being so nervous.

If you’ve been on this site long enough, you know what’s coming next! Here are my three key things I learned about internships:

Understand that in an ideal world, an internship is meant to benefit you more than it benefits the company.

We had one-on-one chats every week to talk about how things were going, how the workload was, and most importantly—how I felt. Did I feel like I was learning something new? Was there a project floating around the office that I wanted to get my hands on?

There are a lot of jokes about how interns are tasked with getting coffees, printing documents and menial tasks. Mine was definitely not that–I worked directly on client campaigns, coordinated events and made sure to touch as many things as possible. Which leads me to my next point,

Get involved in as many things as you can, so that the moment you’re gone—people notice.

This goes down to the little things: I ran the dishwasher every evening and unloaded every morning. I reorganized the recycling and garbage system to make it more efficient. I always played music for the office throughout the day. These weren’t expectations for me—these are very minor details that I inserted myself into in such a way that the second I didn’t do it, you’d know. Even in bigger things—I’d get emails on non-work days for certain items my colleagues knew that I knew. My value became apparent both in my presence and in my lack of it.

When the going gets tough, tell someone.

The most challenging things about being an intern is that you are an assistant to everyone. Which is good because you get to cross disciplines and learn many different things, but it also means that no one person knows how much you have on-the-go. One person needs your help organizing a deck, another needs a content calendar out this week, another needs a byline proofread in the next hour. To a single person, they’ve only asked you for one task. However, four other people did the same thing—suddenly, you’re drowning.

There are a lot of romantic ideas of “always say yes!” or “keep your head down and make it happen!” but there is a limit where you’re stretched thin and won’t provide a few pieces of great work, but rather many pieces of average work. Knowing this limit doesn’t make you weak, but it actually (and this surprised me) makes you smart. This work can be distributed. It’s not the end of the world—but it might be if you don’t speak up.

It wasn’t easy, and I definitely got my gigantic foot through the door because of this experience. I was as fresh as they come—but I swore to them that I would try my absolute best. And here we are!

So that’s it! Have any of you done an internship before?
How did it go?
And if you have any questions or if you’re starting one soon, feel free to reach out!

 

Love,
ELLE

Inspo from you!

Hi everyone!

First, I wanted to say THANK YOU to everyone following along my summer ELLEventure on my Instagram, @elleguyen, as I’ve been in my internship for a full month now. You’ve all been so sweet and asking how it has been going–and I’m happy to report that I LOVE it! It’s so amazing to be surrounded by brilliant marketing and PR minds, I’m learning something new everyday. I’ve even been given the responsibility of launching some campaigns on my own which is such a great experience.

Second, I’m sorry that I haven’t been as responsive as I usually am, but as always, I’m taking the time to leave comments on your blogs when you comment on mine. Everything is about taking and giving! 🙂

The thing with the right campaign is all about the right word choice. And since I’ve been in a bit of a blogging rut, I was hoping to pick your brain and find out what words or phrases you specifically love.

For example, my current writing ‘prompt’ list has some ideas like:

  • illuminate
  • an elementary school solar system styrofoam model
  • a beach and crashing waves
  • quiet defeat
  • addiction vs the real you
  • post-concert depression

Please comment below some words, places, descriptions, quotes, ideas or anything that really gets your creative juices flowing! If I use your prompt in a Sunday post in the upcoming weeks, I will leave a shoutout to your blog at the end of my piece, so you get that exposure too.

Thank you for your help!

Love,

ELLE

2000 Followers!

Are you guys for real??

When I began this blog on October 1, 2017, I was in search of a place to land. Somewhere to put my dozens of dusty journals filled with poetry, songs, short stories and anecdotes where they could catch a bit of sun and bloom. And my goodness, did they ever.

I had no idea I would find friendship in so many of you. I am unbelievably grateful for the endless support you have shown me. In reblogs, likes, comments, even in your help in getting me 4 100 votes in my scholarship essay! This community really is a village, and I am in love with it all.

I always get inquiries from readers about blogging help and I only thought it fitting to share those tips with you all today!

Please note that I put a lot of effort into this blog because I also use this as a portfolio for my professional life as a PR student. Showing that I can generate that traffic is integral to my work as a future communicator in my field. You and I probably have different goals—please don’t think that my journey has been grown naturally or of luck. I have read some incredible work from WordPress writers, and someone who is using their platform as a personal diary and someone like me who uses it as a portfolio piece will not have similar results. Do what works for you!

Without further ado, here are my top three tips to boost blog traffic:

1: When someone leaves you a comment, comment on their blog!
I can’t stress this one enough! If someone gives you that courtesy, return it. This is a community of writers who love comments and feedback from other writers. We are all here to learn from each other. 

2: Utilize your other platforms!
And I don’t just mean put the link in a new tweet—add a little blurb about what it’s about, or a great quote from it you love. Engage in the community by following hashtags! On Instagram for example, if you view the #poetry hashtag and follow/like some posts there, you’ll build a new connection on a platform that will link back on WordPress—and maybe get you some Insta-friends on the way!

3: If someone likes your post, like three of their posts.
This one is a bit aggressive, but stay with me here. Everything about traffic generation is giving courtesy back when it has been afforded to you. Maybe I’m just Type A, but I always remember those users who leave comments and likes on my page. When their blog comes up on my feed, I won’t hesitate to leave a few comments on their blog as an appreciation of their ongoing friendship with me.

I want to STRESS the idea that this blog takes time and effort. I spend at least two hours everyday—and I mean everyday—going through new posts, leaving likes and comments, optimizing my social media outlets and always writing new content in order to get those numbers up. On Sunday for my big posts, I am easily mulling over my page for five cumulative hours. There is A LOT of work behind the scenes; don’t be discouraged if we are at different points in our blogs!

Elleguyence is the first place I ever spoke publicly about my struggle with bulimia in my post, 18. I cried the night before, terrified that I would be judged or misunderstood for attention-seeking. I had a lump in my throat as I clicked “Publish”, and I cried again as my inbox FILLED with women telling me their stories, too. It was a rush of relief, knowing we weren’t alone (and we never were).

When we were born, we were put on this planet with other people. We are nothing without the support of each other, and this community has shown that to me tenfold. Please, don’t hesitate to ask me questions about this blog, whether it’s diagnostics, widgets, content creation and more, comment below!

Thank you all again for your support. This little pocket of the internet has really become a facet in my life.

Love,

ELLE

Essay: Aspirations, A Mother’s Hope

*EDITED*

While my Crosslites essay was not selected, I want to thank all of you for voting and supporting my studies! I appreciate you all so much. Here is my essay, for those who are interested.

Aspirations: A Mother’s Hope

As a refugee from the Vietnam War, my mother arrived to Canada as a teenager without a home or a language. She spent her time trying to assimilate to a life that has now become the only thing I know. She made ends meet with endless side-jobs, late nights, early mornings, prayers, a limited vocabulary, and an undying love for her children. With just enough money for food on the table, a quick bedtime prayer, and a homemade birthday cake, I have grown up grateful, gracious, and headstrong.

I will be more than my modest upbringing. I will persevere and be the woman I was hoping to become when I was a girl. As a child in the midst of poverty, my mother once had a woman who always came to her fruit stand: she was dressed in a business suit, carried her Bible, and had meticulously beautiful hair. She would always come and buy from my mother in particular, and my mother aspired to be a successful woman like her. I will be that woman for my mother, for myself, and for all girls in the world who live their lives aspiring. I will be more for the future of women.

Most of my life has been designed by men and for men. All of my adult life I can count the number of female bosses, teachers and professors on my two hands. I grew frustration through my lack of mentorship. I remember in grade five when my male teacher spoke to us about menstruation, I still had not grasped the idea through his uncomfortable and vague teachings. That summer when I got my first period, I thought I had hurt myself and I was going to die. This lack of understanding of my own body being taught to me by a man has fueled my desire for more women to take the lead on discussions about women, for women. An entire untapped market of a gender is being underrepresented, and I want to be that voice for the nine-year-old girl I once was, afraid of my own body.

My mother always told me that she worked hard so that I wouldn’t have to. I disagree. I am born from oriental perseverance and western opportunity, and I won’t settle until she never works a day in her life again. I am nothing without my mother and her hardship. I am nothing without my mother’s aspirations seeping through me to become that proverbial “woman at the fruit stand.”

Penmanship

For Christmas, Ben bought me a fountain pen and it changed the way I look at writing, transforming it from a task into an art form.
I know what you’re thinking: “what, like a quill and ink pot?” and: “why would you want that?” Well, the concept itself is quite modern, there’s even an entire subreddit about it!

Firstly, it’s not quite a quill and ink pot. I got the Lamy Safari fountain pen, which is considered a good introduction into fountain pens with refillable ink cartridges. It travels smoothly across paper, and really is a pleasure to use. See below a comparison of the Lamy fountain pen and a regular Bic ballpoint pen.

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Secondly, while $34 for a quality pen is more expensive than a pack of standard ballpoint pens, it has been more of a personal change than a stationary one for me. Using the fountain pen makes the experience of writing feel purposeful.

I spend a lot of time curating and getting my numbers up for this blog that I often forget that writing is meant to be calming, reviving and cathartic. I used to stress so much about writing to impress others that I stopped writing for myself. 

Having a pen that glides along paper is so relaxing to me, I’m often just rambling on until I come across inspiration, and if I don’t, that’s okay too. I’m sure there’s plenty of us who write dozens of pieces and only post one!  I know it sounds silly, but having this small memento of self-care reminds me that poetry is art, and that really, I’m an artist. It’s important to take time for yourself, and to create content you’re proud of–the pen and paper you use is the first step.

P.S. the penmanship examples are lyrics from the song Three by Sleeping at Last, which is about the struggle of the Type Three Enneagram that I wrote my poem, 10, about. Give it a listen!

Would you consider buying a quality pen?
What are some ways you keep yourself going during the dreaded writer’s block?