MONEY Workplace

A Huge Number of Millennials Can’t Escape Work While on Vacation

What a sad, sad shame.

You’ve probably heard about the disturbing trend of American workers not taking all of their allotted vacation days. More than 4 in 10 workers say they regularly do not use all of their days, and, on average, eight vacation days go unused.

A recent TIME cover story on the disappearing American summer vacation also noted that each year, 169 million vacation days go unused and do not carry over. So they’re just wasted.

This week, the Boston Globe called attention to the results of a survey conducted for Alamo Rent a Car, which indicates that even when Americans do take vacation days, to a disturbing degree they often aren’t truly taking these days off from work. Not entirely anyway. The survey reports:

Thirty-five percent of millennials reported that they worked every day of their vacations, and felt less productive when they returned.

That’s right: More than one-third of millennial workers say never actually take an entire day off. Ever. At some point every day during their “vacations,” they work.

In previous studies, six out of ten employees admitted that they’ve conducted some work on a recent vacation. But millennials appear to be the group most compelled to stay plugged in and productive each and every day, no matter if they’re supposedly not working that week.

We’re not talking about the “workcation” trend covered recently by the Wall Street Journal, in which employees work remotely from a vacation destination. Instead, people—young people in particular—are working during times that are, on paper at least, full-fledged vacations. And as Deborah Good, a human resources management professor at the University of Pittsburgh, told the WSJ, there is a problem if employees are pressured into never truly disconnecting from work: “There may be a backlash among employees if they feel they must work all the time and can’t ever have a real vacation.”

Taking a true break from work is essential for the mind, soul, and body. Research also shows that vacations can be good for your career. Despite millennials’ concerns about feeling less productive after they get back to the office after a vacation, or other worries about what the boss might think if you’re not reachable for, like five whole days, some studies indicate that increased vacation time is linked with increased productivity at work.

It makes sense. The point of a vacation, beyond the mere enjoyment, is to come away feeling refreshed, energized, and ready to take on new challenges at work—like trying to convince everybody in the office they need to take a vacation.

MORE: How to Disconnect from Work (Without Getting on the Boss’s Bad Side)
Why America Should Follow Japan’s Lead on Forcing Workers to Take Vacation

MONEY Workplace

7 Signs You’re Burned Out at Work

Jason Butcher—Getty Images

Plus: 7 ways to snap out of your funk

Mental burnout, coined in the 1970s to describe the psychological effects of relentless work stress, happens so subtly that you can easily confuse the symptoms for other negative forces, like a bad cold or a bad boss. You’d think you’d know — or at least feel — the signs of burnout pretty quickly, right? Not always.

Here are seven red flags that you’re under serious mental stress — and how to fix them.

1. You’re overly cynical.
Finding you’re more sarcastic than you used to be? Mocking your pal’s (albeit over-the-top) bridal shower when she’s always been a kind friend to you? Check yourself to see if you’re going through tough stuff that’s making you more cynical. Being a Debbie Downer can be a common coping mechanism for stress.

2. You want to run away.
Do you crave throwing it all away and booking a one-way ticket to Bali? Fantasizing about going off the grid for good and relocating to a cabin in rural Canada? This temptation could just be a symptom of “worn-out burnout,” say experts. Avoidance is another coping mechanism where you try to distance yourself from your job or avoid it because you’re putting in too much effort to begin with in the misguided hope that it will accelerate your success.

3. You’re messing up normally easy tasks.
Making all kinds of slip-ups lately? From forgetting your anniversary to spacing out on that breakfast meeting, a sudden lack of attention to details is a warning sign of burnout. When you have a difficult time remembering things or keeping your mind on daily tasks, say Dutch researchers, it’s probably time to dial back on stress to feel less distracted.

4. You’re always tired.
Do you prefer to sleep away a gorgeous, sunny Saturday morning? That persistent sluggishness can be a classic cue, especially if you find that one day of “sleeping in” doesn’t eliminate lethargy.Emotional exhaustion is a telltale sign that you’re suffering from work dysfunction.

5. You’re always disgruntled.
At your wit’s end at work? Walking around claiming your bosses are bullies and your colleagues are catty? Sure, your characterizations of a gone-sour workplace can be true. But these sentiments may also be a symptom of “overload burnout.” To cope with being a “frenetic employee who works toward success until exhaustion,” according to the Association for Psychological Science, you just may start blaming your work culture (for no good reason) for your self-imposed frantic pace “to get to the top.”

6. You’re doubting yourself.
You’ve worked hard to gain traction in your field of choice, so why are you wondering lately whether what you do has any merit? This distorted feeling of “reduced accomplishment” is a classic symptom of burnout and can affect anyone who has been working too hard, fromsurgeons to elite athletes. Your mind starts to play tricks on you as a way to handle the constant demands of your job.

7. You’re sick all the time.
Got headaches that won’t go away? A tummy that gurgles all the time? How about a lingering respiratory affliction that nags at you? If the doctors can’t find anything, consider a closer examination of your work calendar, say scientists who have found plenty of links between physical health complaints and burnout. Sometimes work stress can even result in actual bodily harm. “Higher levels of burnout,” say one study’s authors, “led to a faster rate of deterioration in physical health,” from the common cold to heart problems.

How to Feel Better
If you said yes to any of the above, it’s time to step back and start making changes. Try one of the following:

  • Intentionally book some time with friends who always put a smile on your face. That means you’re going to have to scale back on some of the work demands on your calendar, but that’s the point, isn’t it?
  • Splurge on yourself with a little TLC. Whether this means booking a spa appointment or tickets to a hot show you’ve read about, it’s time to renew your appreciation of the world you’ve worked hard to build for yourself.
  • Trim down your to-do list. When you’re letting important details slip through the cracks, chances are you have crammed more into your day than is realistically possible.
  • Express work concerns to your bosses. It may seem counterintuitive to draw attention to your dissatisfaction to those you believe are to blame. But when you approach this conversation as anintervention, not a conflict, you may be able to remove the tensions at last.
  • Reorganize your work goals to invigorate yourself again. The burnout connected to exhaustion can indicate that you’re not just tired, but tired of the same old minutiae of your day-to-day routine.
  • Seek ways to take on new responsibilities in the same field to feel more engaged. Join an organization related to an aspect of your job that you’d like to gain more experience in.
  • Book a vacation! It isn’t a cop-out to take leave. Think of it as doctor’s orders. A beach break might be exactly what you need.

More From Daily Worth:

TIME psychology

How to Be a Genius: 5 Secrets From Experts

Getty Images

Eric Barker writes Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

Want to know how to be a genius? There are five things you can learn from looking at those who are the very best.


1) Be Curious And Driven

For his book Creativity, noted professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi did interviews with 91 groundbreaking individuals across a number of disciplines, including 14 Nobel Prize winners. In 50 Psychology Classics Tom Butler-Bowdon summed up many of Csikszentmihalyi’s findings including this one:

Successful creative people tend to have two things in abundance, curiosity and drive. They are absolutely fascinated by their subject, and while others may be more brilliant, their sheer desire for accomplishment is the decisive factor.


2) It’s Not About Formal Education. It’s Hours At Your Craft.

Do you need a sky-high IQ? Do great geniuses all have PhD’s? Nope. Most had about a college-dropout level of education.

Via Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else:

Dean Keith Simonton, a professor at the University of California at Davis, conducted a large-scale study of more than three hundred creative high achievers born between 1450 and 1850—Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Beethoven, Rembrandt, for example. He determined the amount of formal education each had received and measured each one’s level of eminence by the spaces devoted to them in an array of reference works. He found that the relation between education and eminence, when plotted on a graph, looked like an inverted U: The most eminent creators were those who had received a moderate amount of education, equal to about the middle of college. Less education than that—or more—corresponded to reduced eminence for creativity.

But they all work their butts off in their field of expertise. That’s how to be a genius.

Those interested in the 10,000-hour theory of deliberate practice won’t be surprised. As detailed in Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, the vast majority of them are workaholics.

Via Daily Rituals: How Artists Work

“Sooner or later,” Pritchett writes, “the great men turn out to be all alike. They never stop working. They never lose a minute. It is very depressing.”

In fact, you really can’t work too much.

Via Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else:

If we’re looking for evidence that too much knowledge of the domain or familiarity with its problems might be a hindrance in creative achievement, we have not found it in the research.

Instead, all evidence seems to point in the opposite direction. The most eminent creators are consistently those who have immersed themselves utterly in their chosen field, have devoted their lives to it, amassed tremendous knowledge of it, and continually pushed themselves to the front of it.


3) Test Your Ideas

Howard Gardner studied geniuses like Picasso, Freud and Stravinsky and found a similar pattern of analyzing, testing and feedback used by all of them:

Via Creating Minds: An Anatomy of Creativity Seen Through the Lives of Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, and Ghandi:

…Creative individuals spend a considerable amount of time reflecting on what they are trying to accomplish, whether or not they are achieving success (and, if not, what they might do differently).

Does testing sound like something scientific and uncreative? Wrong. The more creative an artist is the more likely they are to use this method:

Via Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries

In a study of thirty-five artists, Getzels and Csikszentmihalyi found that the most creative in their sample were more open to experimentation and to reformulating their ideas for projects than their less creative counterparts.


4) You Must Sacrifice

10,000 hours is a hell of a lot of hours. It means many other things (some important) will need to be ignored.

In fact, geniuses are notably less likely to be popular in high school. Why?

The deliberate practice that will one day make them famous alienates them from their peers in adolesence.

Via Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking:

…the single-minded focus on what would turn out to be a lifelong passion, is typical for highly creative people. According to the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who between 1990 and 1995 studied the lives of ninety-one exceptionally creative people in the arts, sciences, business, and government, many of his subjects were on the social margins during adolescence, partly because “intense curiosity or focused interest seems odd to their peers.” Teens who are too gregarious to spend time alone often fail to cultivate their talents “because practicing music or studying math requires a solitude they dread.”

At the extremes, the amount of practice and devotion required can pass into the realm of the pathological. If hours alone determine genius then it is inevitable that reaching the greatest heights will require, quite literally, obsession.

Via Creating Minds: An Anatomy of Creativity Seen Through the Lives of Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, and Ghandi:

My study reveals that, in one way or another, each of the creators became embedded in some kind of a bargain, deal, or Faustian arrangement, executed as a means of ensuring the preservation of his or her unusual gifts. In general, the creators were so caught up in the pursuit of their work mission that they sacrificed all, especially the possibility of a rounded personal existence. The nature of this arrangement differs: In some cases (Freud, Eliot, Gandhi), it involves the decision to undertake an ascetic existence; in some cases, it involves a self-imposed isolation from other individuals (Einstein, Graham); in Picasso’s case, as a consequence of a bargain that was rejected, it involves an outrageous exploitation of other individuals; and in the case of Stravinsky, it involves a constant combative relationship with others, even at the cost of fairness. What pervades these unusual arrangements is the conviction that unless this bargain has been compulsively adhered to, the talent may be compromised or even irretrievably lost. And, indeed, at times when the bargain is relaxed, there may well be negative consequences for the individual’s creative output.


5) Work because of passion, not money

Passion produces better art than desire for financial gain — and that leads to more success in the long run.

Via Dan Pink’s Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us:

“Those artists who pursued their painting and sculpture more for the pleasure of the activity itself than for extrinsic rewards have produced art that has been socially recognized as superior,” the study said. “It is those who are least motivated to pursue extrinsic rewards who eventually receive them.”

Join over 190,000 readers. Get a free weekly update via email here.

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

Related posts:

How To Stop Being Lazy And Get More Done – 5 Expert Tips

How To Get People To Like You: 7 Ways From An FBI Behavior Expert

New Harvard Research Reveals A Fun Way To Be More Successful

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email

TIME Careers & Workplace

4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting Your Career Path

Getty Images

Corporate versus startup

If you’re a college senior cramming for your final final exams, stealing longing glances at your cap and gown hung teasingly on a hook in the corner of your dorm room—daring you to daydream of the light at the end of tunnel—there’s a good chance you’re wondering what’s next?

You may have had enough of academia and are ready to dive into the workforce. If this is true for you, you’ll need to do some soul searching to decide what type of work will best enable you to achieve your goals and accelerate your career. Too often, new grads rush blindly into roles, accepting the first job offers they receive to begin paying off student loans. The important thing to remember is– when it comes to your career—there are no right answers. As you consider the options, the best you can do is to experiment, push your boundaries, and then reflect purposefully to inform your next moves.

Many recent grads looking for jobs after graduation decide to get their starts in corporate work but, for some, smaller companies offer more opportunities for growth. Ask yourself these questions to determine if a corporate job or work for startups will offer you the experiences you need to thrive:

Do you need structured training to learn?

Corporate work is all about structure. You’re likely to go through a formal onboarding process, and there may be company trainings that you’re required to participate in.

Generally speaking, startups don’t have the resources and training programs that larger companies do, but the loads of responsibility and creative freedom at startups offer a more immersive kind of education than multi-day orientations and professional development trainings.

Are you the self-starter type or do you learn better through formal training? If you like a lot of structure, a corporate environment would be more likely to support your learning needs, while comfort and confidence with a trial-and-error approach is critical to success at a startup.

How much influence do you want to have?

Coming into a company at the ground-floor, you’ll have a hand in shaping company culture, operations, and developing the product from scratch. You’re likely to work closely with company executives and every choice you make will have an impact. Are you comfortable with that level of responsibility?

Conversely, recent grads coming into corporate jobs after graduation are probably coming in at entry-level. Your responsibilities will be far less weighty, allowing you to build experience before you take on a key role.

Can you work under ambiguity?

Startups are constantly in flux. Whether you’re in hyper-growth mode or pivoting in search of greater success, startup employees need to expect the unexpected. It’s up to you to manage the chaos and work through problems on the fly with limited information and resources. Larger companies, on the other hand, tend to have more stable infrastructures and procedures in place.

What are your career goals?

Larger companies often have siloed departments and established career paths. You always have the opportunity to move around and change direction, but your specific role at any point will be very focused.

Alternatively, employees at startups often have to juggle a number of diverse responsibilities while working closely with teammates of all disciplines. If you’re interested in getting your hands dirty and exploring all aspects of the business, startup work may be a great choice for you.

Startups aren’t for everyone, but neither are large corporations. If you’d rather find the best of both worlds– the innovation and dynamism of a startup with the structure of a large company– you may want to look at employment opportunities at scaleup companies. Whichever way you go, do your research to decide if it’s the right choice for you.

Are you a recent or soon-to-be graduate looking to set yourself up for a successful and fulfilling career? Our guide to getting (and loving) your first job after graduation will help you figure out what kind of role is right for you and will give you the tips you need to ace the interview.

This article originally appeared on Startup Institute‘s blog The Whiteboard

MONEY Workplace

What YouTube Star Michelle Phan Learned From Her First Job at a China Buffet

How To Keep Your Social Media Game Sincere - 2015 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival
Steve Rogers Photography Internet personality Michelle Phan attends How To Keep Your Social Media Game Sincere' during the 2015 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at Austin Convention Center on March 16, 2015 in Austin, Texas.

The makeup advice guru and 3 other YouTube celebs dish on their first paid jobs.

Not long ago, Americans megastars only came from places like network television shows or Hollywood films.

These days, they also come from somewhere else entirely: YouTube.

While old-media outlets like newspapers have been losing subscribers, YouTube celebrities have been gaining them by the busload.

For the latest installment in Reuters’ monthly “First Jobs” series, we asked a few of the top YouTube stars to discuss how they came from nowhere to cultivate millions of adoring fans.

Michelle Phan

YouTube subscribers: 7.8 million

Specialty: Makeup advice

First Job: China Buffet host

“I was 16 years old, and wanted to help my mom with the rent. There was a restaurant called China Buffet in Tampa that hung a ‘Help Wanted’ sign outside, so I went in and ended up hosting every Friday and Sunday for $6 or $7 an hour.

“My favorite dish was lo mein, which was so greasy. But I was a teenager then and could basically eat whatever I wanted.

“What I learned from that job was how to greet people and make eye contact. I used to be a very shy introvert and never even spoke to people, so it was that job that first gave me the confidence to talk to strangers.

“That was my first legal job, but even before that my brother and I used to sell candy at our school, charging for lollipops and chocolate bars in the gym and the auditorium. We made a good amount of money, too: In two months, we made $600 that we used to buy computer parts and build our own computer. I have always been a hustler like that.”

Cassey Ho

YouTube subscribers: 2.35 million

Specialty: Fitness tutorials

First job: Candy seller

“Back in middle school, every time I used to trick-or-treat, I would take all the chocolates and microwave them and then make my own little chocolate creations. My friends all liked them, so I started charging them for it.

“Later on in high school I added cookie sandwiches with buttercream inside, and everyone went nuts. It became a whole enterprise, with five employees working for me. I was known as “Cassey the Cookie Girl” all over campus. That business even helped me get a full scholarship.

“It’s ironic that I now run a fitness blog. My friends accuse me of having planned it this whole time, of making them fat and then getting them back into shape.

“I learned that if you create a product that has value, you can definitely start charging for it. I also learned that people not only buy because they like the product. They buy because they like you.”

Matthew Santoro

YouTube subscribers: 4.3 million

Specialty: Amazing facts and top 10 lists

First job: Deli counter

“I worked at a Canadian supermarket called Loblaws, essentially frying chicken for a living. I worked my butt off all the way through high school and university, saving up enough to pay my tuition and graduate with no debt.

“I had never had a job before, and handed in a resume with hardly anything on it. But my mom suggested that I send a thank-you card after the interview, and that must have been what got me the job. It was the only one they got.

“I came in not knowing anything, and just learned on the job. Most of all, I got to know how to deal with angry customers. People would come in just fuming mad, and you had to know how to defuse that situation. That skill translates very well to everyday life.

“The number-one question I got at the deli counter was whether or not I ever got sick of fried chicken. And the answer was always no. It’s tasty and delicious. What’s not to like?”

Bunny Meyer

YouTube subscribers: 5.2 million

Specialty: Beauty tips

First job: File clerk

“My first job was as a clerk at an oil-and-gas company, and I actually got fired at it.

“They hired me to do a special project, putting me in a huge office stacked floor-to-ceiling with boxes, and I had to put sticker labels on them all. They thought it was going to take me all summer.

“But when I get a task to do, I like to see how fast I can do it. So I challenged myself and finished within a week. They were completely surprised and said they had no more work for me. They had to let me go.

“What I learned was how important it is to find a job where you can work at your own pace. I like to work very quickly, uploading videos almost every day.

“These days, that kind of diligence and effort pays off. But before, that just wasn’t where I belonged. I could never see myself having a desk job again.”

MONEY Workplace

Crime Scene Cleaner and 4 More Jobs That Pay Surprisingly Well

Mike Harrington

You don't need a medical degree to make a good living.

These days, the dream of owning a home with two dogs, a gaggle of kids, and a white picket fence will cost you something fierce. In most pockets of this country, the median U.S. household income of $52,000 simply won’t cut it. But you needn’t enroll in law or medical school to earn a fine living. In fact, there are several high-paying jobs floating under the radar that can help you earn a desirable salary — without all those lectures on ethics and anatomy. Read on for our roundup of the top trades that pay surprisingly well.

1. Elevator Repairer

The median pay for an elevator repairer in the U.S. is $78,620, and can be as high as $110,000 in places where the job is in demand such as New York, California, Illinois, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts, and Hawaii. While only 27 people a year die in elevator crashes — you have a better chance of getting struck by lightning — more than 10,000 people a year are injured in elevator malfunction incidents. When something goes wrong, an elevator repairer is one of the first people called on the scene for help. Even more common than injuries and deaths are cases of inconvenience: People get stuck inside elevators quite often, which is why this job is well-paid as well as important.

2. Geographer

The job of mapping the world may seem gone with the wind, but there are actually 1,700 modern-day Alexander von Humboldts in the U.S. who track human activity, chart demographic trends, study migration patterns, and, of course, sketch and edit maps of points of interest across our planet. If you’re lucky enough to secure a geographer gig — they are few and far between — the rewards are handsome. In addition to enjoying a contemporary job rooted in the age of global exploration, you’ll earn a median salary of about $75,000. There’s more good news: Geographer jobs have a rapid growth forecast rate of nearly 30%, which means new job opportunities are sprouting across the country.

3. Crab Fisherman

If you’re looking to make fast cash, a crab fisherman’s life may be for you. The dangerous work of collecting crabs from freezing, tumultuous waters is handsomely rewarded. Crab fisherman can earn $60,000 in just two to three months. If that kind of money seems worth the risk of taking on the most dangerous job in the nation, you may want to head to Alaska. Crab fishermen in the 49th state tend to be the highest earners. You do not need a high school degree for this craft, but strength and guts are all but required.

4. Crime Scene Cleaner

Crime doesn’t pay. But crime cleanup certainly does. The job of cleaning up blood and shattered glass and toxic hazards takes a strong stomach, but with a few years experience you can earn upwards of $80,000. It’s also not a 9-to-5 gig; you need to be ready to jump into action at a moment’s notice. But there are few other occupations that can give you the thrill of feeling like you’re living in an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

5. Landfill Gas Operator

Landfills contain tons of garbage that produce methane gas, a byproduct of the natural breakdown process. Landfill gas operators remove the gas, which can be dangerous if left unchecked. It’s a stinky job — literally — but what doesn’t stink is the take-home pay. You can earn as much as $148,000 by monitoring gas levels and diverting excess fumes that could become hazardous.

More From Wise Bread:

MONEY job interview

‘What Should I Have Said When an Interviewer Asked If I Would Work Unpaid Overtime?’

Mark Weiss—Getty Images

Q: A job interviewer asked me if I would work unpaid overtime. How should I have answered?

At a recent second interview for a database analyst position, the interviewer stated, “This is a contract position – no benefits,” then asked “How do you feel about doing unpaid overtime?” with a clear verbal intonation suggesting the “right” answer. The interviewer was unable/unwilling to state how many overtime hours or how often overtime is required. Is there a way to answer this without being immediately dismissed from consideration? Can one negotiate how many “standard” vs. “overtime” hours one is willing to work? Is this even legal to ask?

A: If it’s an exempt position, they’re not required to pay overtime, and thus there’s nothing illegal about asking, essentially, “are you willing to work long hours?” On the other hand, if the position is non-exempt (and there are non-exempt tech positions; I don’t know if this was one of them or not), asking someone to work unpaid overtime is announcing you plan to break the law.

I’d respond by asking, “Can you give me a sense of how many hours people in this position work in an average week?” If the person refused to answer — which I think is what you’re saying happened here — I’d take that as a massive red flag. It’s basically an announcement that they’re going to wildly overwork you and not even do you the courtesy of having an honest conversation with you about what your work life would be like there.

You asked how to answer without being dismissed from consideration, but there’s no reason to want to stay in the running at that point. Remember you’re supposed to be interviewing them right back and deciding if you even want the job, not just waiting to be chosen.

Q: I never got the raise I was promised. Should I say something?

I worked as a pharmacist assistant in high school (part-time during school and full-time in the summer) for about a year and a half, then had to move to another city for university. Then, after first year, I came back to the same place for the summer, and my manager told me that he would adjust my rate. But I got my first pay check today and the rate is the same as what I had in high school. How should I approach my manager?

A: “Hey Fergus, you had mentioned that you were increasing my pay rate this summer. I just got my first check and don’t see the increase on there. Is there something we need to do to make it go through?”

Assume it was an oversight and go from there.

Read next: The Secret Formula that Will Set You Apart in a Salary Negotiation

These questions are adapted from ones that originally appeared on Ask a Manager. Some questions have been edited for length.

More From Ask a Manager:

MONEY Workplace

Science Games for Girls Can Open Doors to Lucrative Careers

Courtesy Roominate Roominate rPower, available this fall, lets girls control ferris wheels, RVs and other creations using a phone or tablet.

But are they learning the money management and fundraising skills that will allow them to run their own companies?

Pink Legos not being quite enough, a slew of start-ups, many of them founded by women, are attempting to motivate girls into lucrative and satisfying careers in the traditionally male-dominated areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

But while girls string together HTML instructions and tinker with circuits, are they learning the money management and fundraising skills that will allow them to run their own companies – or even just manage their bank accounts?

Women have traditionally lagged men in financial literacy and investing prowess, according to Annamaria Lusardi, a professor of economics at the George Washington School University of Business in Washington, DC.

“Knowing science is not enough for women,” says Lusardi, an expert in financial literacy. “You need a capacity to make good financial decisions.”

Confidence is the key to unlocking women’s potential in these areas, Lusardi says. She helps run annual studies testing financial literacy, science and math knowledge around the world. When “I don’t know” is included as an option, women pick that much more than men, Lusardi says. Yet in a test case removing that option for some respondents, women answered the questions and mostly got the answers right.

“We have to really show to women that they should take the plunge, because it is very important,” says Lusardi.

Try, Try Again

Debbie Sterling, who founded the building kit GoldieBlox, says her products teach confidence by allowing girls to fail. “It opens their minds to say it’s ok to tackle a problem even if you’re not going to get it perfect the first time,” she says.

Players can fit the toy’s interlocking plastic building pieces in many different ways, so they experience trial and error.

Storybooks accompany the set, featuring positive role models. The main characters, Ruby and Goldie, are purposefully not prodigies, but rather are B+ students who are really open-minded and willing to try, try, try again.

“There’s the boy-genius archetype in media that suggests that unless you have IQ off the charts, you’re not good enough. I think that archetype is really damaging,” says Sterling.

Supply and Demand

The goal of STEM play is to get children’s creativity flowing, and the founders of GoldieBlox and other programs such as Roominate have seen all sorts of inventions come to life.

The best of them identify some sort of need and figure out how to capitalize on it – the basic laws of supply and demand that drive all successful business.

The lesson to learn, says Lusardi: Think of how you can build something you can sell, and then creatively manage your resources.

With Roominate, a modular building system with circuits, players create rooms with functional lights, fans, furniture and other features. While the pastel-colored pieces are designed to fit together into rather domestic configurations, the company’s founders, Alice Brooks and Bettina Chen, have seen customers take off from there. They develop play storefronts, lemonade stands and other businesses, which teach them mini-business lessons as well.

One GoldieBlox user took the kit and some paintbrushes and created a drawing machine, according to Sterling. She made original paintings with it that she sold, and then she donated all the profits to charity.

Another success story: Tampon Run, a free iPhone app designed by two New York city teenagers. It is an old-fashioned arcade game where the heroine uses tampons as weapons to defeat enemies. The app was created by students of Girls Who Code, a national non-profit aiming to teach computer programming to one million girls by 2020.

More wide-reaching is that many girls have graduated from Girls Who Code to paid internships in the community. “I think they are now comfortable making money,” says founder Reshma Saujani.

MONEY Small Business

Guess Which Small Business Industry Is Growing the Fastest?

Driendl Group—Getty Images

Growth in manufacturing and consumer spending has helped this unglamorous industry prosper.

Those big rigs you see rumbling down the freeway are a sign of good times.

Trucking is now the fastest-growing small-business industry in the U.S., thanks to a robust economy and expanded options for small-business loans and financing.

Two kinds of small businesses in trucking posted the biggest jumps in revenue in the 12-month period ending May 31, according to a report released this month by Sageworks, a financial analysis software company.

General freight trucking, which covers small businesses that transport a wide range of merchandise, was at No. 1, recording a nearly 25% uptick in sales, the report said.

At No. 2 was building and construction, at 19%, followed by specialized freight trucking, which covers tankers and refrigerated trucks, at No. 3 with a 17% gain.

The survey was based on an analysis of financial statements of small businesses with annual revenue of less than $5 million.

Trucking’s momentum is evident in California, home to the biggest trucking association in the nation.

“Trucking is one of the great entrepreneurial opportunities,” Shawn Yadon, chief executive of the California Trucking Association, tells NerdWallet. “We typically trend with the overall economy.”

And the trend has been upbeat, highlighted by growth in manufacturing and consumer spending that’s “still doing well,” he says.

Trucking’s momentum was also underscored in May when the American Trucking Associations reported that the industry’s revenue topped $700 billion for the first time ever.

“Trucking is, and will continue to be, the dominant way to move goods in this country,” Bill Graves, the association’s CEO, said in a statement.

In fact, there’s so much demand for trucking services that the industry is wrestling with a shortage of 35,000 to 40,000 drivers, according to the American Trucking Associations.

That points to even more opportunities for entrepreneurs who now have more access to small business loans and other kinds of financing.

David Gilbert, CEO of alternative lender National Funding, says his company is “seeing fundamental growth” when it comes to transportation-related small business loans. “People are transporting more stuff,” he tells NerdWallet. “The economy is growing again.”

Trucking can be a complex industry, and entrepreneurs interested in entering that industry should focus on three key areas:

Make sure you know and understand rules and regulations

Yadon of the California Trucking Association stresses the need to “go through the proper channels.”

If you plan to operate in multiple states, the website of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation includes information on requirements.

A key step is getting a USDOT number, which federal authorities use to keep track of your small business in connection with safety audits and crash investigations and inspections.

You also have state regulations to think about. In California, for example, you’ll need to comply with regulations related to air emissions and carrying different types of cargo, such as animals, crops and produce. A good place to start is the website of the state’s Department of Transportation.

Have a clear plan for buying and maintaining trucks

Of course, one of the most important steps in starting a trucking business is, well, buying trucks.

Yadon estimates the cost for a truck ranges from $50,000 for a used rig to $150,000 for a brand new vehicle “with a lot of bells and whistles.”

“There’s a lot of very good technology going into the equipment now,” he says.

But you need to plan this investment carefully, says Gilbert of National Funding, which offers financing to both owner-operated companies with just one truck and bigger firms operating at least five vehicles.

That means having a game plan for maintenance and being prepared for the business impact of trucks breaking down, he says.

“They need to really manage good quality vehicles,” he says. “If they need to fix the vehicles, if there’s a hiccup and they don’t fix it, it could hurt their business.”

Join a local or state association of truckers

For entrepreneurs who are just starting out, it’s wise to reach out to other trucking companies, which usually means joining local or regional associations, Yadon says.

For example, members of the California Trucking Association get access to exclusive programs, such as special deals for tires, legal services and financing truck purchases or leases.

The trucking industry has so much momentum, “you’re probably going to see another uptick in the second half of the year,” Yadon says.

“It’s definitely a good time for trucking,” he adds.

More From NerdWallet:

TIME Careers & Workplace

6 Tricky Interview Questions (and How to Answer Them)

Getty Images

"What are your salary requirements?"

Have you ever walked into a job interview feeling totally prepared, only to be stumped by a tricky surprise question? You’re not alone.

Two recent Quora threads discussed the questions, “What is the toughest interview question thrown at you, and how did you answer it?” and “What are some examples of great interview questions?” To help you tackle your next interview with confidence, we pulled together some of the most surprising Qs being asked behind closed doors—as well as Quora users’ interpretations and real-life answers.

1. “Do you think you’re a lucky person?”

There are two things you want to avoid here: attributing all of your successes to luck and coming across as cynical. “I thought about this for a few seconds and came to the conclusion that they must be gauging whether I’m an optimist or a pessimist,” Quora user Philemon Onesias says. “I decided to show them I’m the former, but still quite realistic.”

2. “If you could relive the last 10 years of your life, what would you change?”

If you think this sounds like a spin on the classic “greatest weakness” question, you’re right. “Professionally, I answered, ‘I don’t think I’d change anything,’” Erin Millano says. “‘I’ve learned a lot in the past 10 years and [it’s] all helped me grow.’”

3. “What are your salary requirements—both short-term and long-term?”

Talking salary is tricky, but talking salary for both the present and future is even trickier. Kate Ross Myers took an open and honest approach with her answer: “I just truthfully said, ‘I did not expect this question.’ I guess it worked, because I’m still working for the same company.” Our take: Give a short-term range, and keep the rest vague. Something like, “I think starting in the range of X and Y is fair—and of course I’d expect an appropriate increase after my annual performance reviews.”

4. “Tell me about a time in your life when you actually failed at something.”

The best way to answer this toughie? ’Fess up about your failures. “After interviewing over a 100 people in my career, this is the question that literally separates contenders from pretenders,” James Hritz says. “It’s interesting how many candidates are loath to admit they have ever failed at anything!”

5. “What can you teach us?”

This question can be pretty illuminating for both the interviewer and interviewee: When Divya Prabhakar was asked, “What can you teach us?” in a job interview, she realized she actually wasn’t a great fit for the company. “It showed me the company valued an interactive and mutual working environment, and if I wanted to have a positive experience there, rather than feel inferior, I should be able to answer this question easily,” she says.

6. “Tell us the most effective approaches for managing you.”

What management style helps you work best? This question, from Quora user Branko Marusic, forces you into the shoes of your potential superiors. “The company wants to ensure that every new employee has the best chance of succeeding,” he explains.

This article originally appeared on

More from

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at