You don’t have to live in a cabin to get the fever

At first the idea of no longer having a jam-packed schedule with 12 hour days was revolutionary. Now, it’s more of a cruel curse than a blessing.

It’s been nearly a month of my post grad life and I have Bravo, Lifetime movies and the beach to thank for my sources of entertainment. Although I’m more bronze and better researched on all of the Real Housewives shows, I can’t help but become a little stir crazy.

How do post grads deal with such cabin fever? Here is a list of ways to dedicate your time:

  • An obvious must; job search! Dedicate a large chunk of your time every day to research postings and use my blogroll as a source to find listings (I dedicate at least two hours every day to the relentless hunt)
  • Improve your resume and cater different cover letters to different job listings
  • Attend networking events; PRSSA has great events for members
  • Volunteer! I have such a heart for non-profits and hope to work for one in my career. Volunteer Match is a great source to research opportunities that include your interests.
  • Get a part-time job! During college I was a swim instructor and still have the opportunity to pick up shifts. I also got another part-time job hostessing at a local restaurant- your savings account will thank you later.
  • Schedule meetings with mentors and grab lunch with prior colleagues. Remember that being intentional and maintaining your network is a professional must and is super accessible now with a free schedule!

What do you recommend?

Every PR pro will tell you that maintaining relationships with mentors, clients and colleagues is key. After attending several networking events and meetings, we’re wired to be intentional with others.

Therefore, it’s important to reach out to those people frequently, even if it’s not work-related. For instance, one of my mentors from AARP’s social communications team reached out to me VIA Twitter to wish me a happy Valentine’s Day. Sure, the holiday is symbolized by an almost nude baby named Cupid and is aimed for romantic advances, but she made it a point to wish me well.

Another example is when I emailed the Brock Communications team when I landed my internship at AARP. Since their recommendations were vital to my future endeavors, I made sure to let them know about my excitement and gratitude for my success. Lisa Brock emailed me back saying, ‘WAHOOO!’

These interactions are important for maintaining relationships and come in handy for recommendation letters. Am I saying that you should only keep in contact with people because it’ll benefit you? No, they will see right through your lack of sincerity. But they also understand their roles as mentors and like any public relations guru, they have a heart for reaching out to people in need.

So how does one go about receiving these recommendations? Here are some tips:

  • Ask for a LinkedIn endorsement. Several of my colleagues and I have exchanged endorsements. However, make sure to return the favor.
  • Reach out to professors. They have spent at least an entire semester enabling student success and that’s just the start. Visit their office hours and always follow up with a ‘thank you’ card.
  • Focus on jobs that you REALLY want and are specific, that way when you reach out to mentors they can play on your strengths and match them with the company’s needs. Yes, that means researching jobs is imperative.
  • Send personalized emails asking for recommendations. For instance, my first email to my mentor at AARP started with, ‘Hey XYZ, I have to admit that I miss our Google hang outs.’ I don’t talk at my mentors, I talk to them.

 

 

What do you mean, I can’t wear Norts to work?

Norts (noun): Nike shorts; A sorority girl’s daily apparel; Worn with the purpose of exercising, but mainly used to participate in daily activities, including: shopping, eating FroYo and crafting. Image

I have 12 different pairs of Norts, and if you’ve already written me off as obsessive, then maybe you haven’t experienced the comfortable bliss of this campus trend that has created me to be the avid collector that I am.

I’ll never forget the day when I had my first interview with Brock Communications, and spoke with Lisa Brock, principal of Brock Communications, about what I looked forward to in the beginning of my professional career. I confided that the transition of work attire from my daily Norts was an exciting wardrobe change and I was ready to put on my big girl pants (literally). Of course, I’ll also never forget Lisa’s sigh when I actually admitted that I wore Norts on a regular basis outside of the office.

There is no better time than NOW for post-grads to go on a shopping spree that will help them look as sharp as they are. To provide you with a better insight as to what kind of must-have pieces for any work environment, here is a list:

  1. Black suit set is an absolute MUST, especially if you are a PR girl like me! Suits are an investment, so I suggest purchasing separates. Express has amazing quality deals and you can find them for discounted prices at their ‘Express Last Call’ outlet in Orlando.
  2. Flats are for the gal on the go. Although I’m a lover of the high heel, flats are plausible and can be fashionable as well! My Tory Burch flats were a pricy Christmas present, but an amazing wardrobe finish.
  3. Tanks. Tanks. And more tanks. If you’re a Florida native like myself, you will want to stock up on sleek black tanks under your suit before dying of heat exhaustion. Old Navy has them for only four dollars each!

Other resources:

  • Forever 21 now has a, ‘what wear to grad edition’ online section for shopping! Gotta love a store that provides insight on a budget.
  • Follow this blog for fashion and DIY projects on a budget. This blogger is a lover of consignment shopping and knows how to get fabulous finds with even more fabulous prices!
  • Loft has great deals and features a ‘work’ related column online for exclusive outfits!
  • Follow my Pinterest board, ‘Corporate Ladder’ for other career-related insights and outfits!

Instant riches

I was overwhelmed by green when I saw bills flying out of money cards on the night of my graduation. I thought, ‘I wonder how rich I would be if I could graduate every year.’

Then my Discover card statement came in the mail and the aroma of my quickly inherited riches subsided. Just when I thought that I had every penny imaginarily spent on Kate Spade wallets, a dose of responsibility hit me harder than the Discover bill.

I am now entering a land of sole financial responsibility and sacrificing food and water for a Henri Bendel bag isn’t going to keep me alive.

To combat my newfound riches with a large amount of budgeting, I have found the top five budget and finance tracking apps for iPhone.

mintMy favorite one is Mint, which is for free! I have allowed Mint to email AND text me when I am dangerously close to being over budget, and it allows me to digitally store my income and expenses that links safely to my bank account. Maybe not Mint, for you? Check out the other promising four!

Gratitude at the post-office

photo-9It took me 2 hours of relentless organizational skills to compile my list of ‘thank you’ cards to  express how grateful I was for everyone who celebrated my collegiate success. 

Between differentiating the 4 gift cards to one store (it’s official, everyone knows that I’m a sucker for Kate Spade) and determining which gift came from who, I now feel relieved to have sent off my gratitude at the post-office! 

Sending cards of appreciation that are thoughtfully hand-written is imperative after graduation! It can become confusing when different people give the same gifts, so here are some tips for how to divide and conquer your letters of gratitude:

1. Have someone, such as a parent, make a check list of who contributed what when you are opening gifts.

2. Have a safe place that you can keep all of the cash, checks and gift cards until you have access to the bank (I used a large Kate Spade wallet to keep everything enclosed). 

3. Tailor each ‘thank you’ card with a very personal message that relates to the gift you were given, even if it’s cash and/or check. For example:

‘Dear Aunt Karen,

Thank you so much for celebrating my collegiate success at my grad party! I especially liked the blouse that you gave me, I have worn it already!’ 

4. When sending the cards, use a label maker or software system that allows you to create your name and address on a sticker to put on the top left side of the envelope. This gives you the perfect professional look on your postage!

5. Last but not least, begin your investment in a lifetime supply of stamps! It won’t be the last cards of appreciation that you send 😉 

Grad party mannerisms on a budget

gradgift2It’s safe to say that I have been able to skip grocery shopping this week after attending several grad parties filled with feasts bigger than any holiday dinner! However, as post grad, I should know better not to enter a party the same way that I enjoy it: empty-handed.

But as any post grad knows, gifts and store-bought cards can be expensive. Here are some ideas on how to bring the celebratory presents to your friends on a budget:

  • Wooden frames from JoAnn Fabrics or Michaels with acrylic paint or fabric that is mode-podged, including your favorite photo of you and your friend (Wooden frame $1.99, Fabric $.99 ranging to $9.99, Acrylic paint $1.99)
  • Cards purchased in bulk, rather than individual cards, can be used for all celebrations! Target has some of my favorites starting at $3.99 (check it out)
  • Splitting a more expensive priced item that your friend has been eyeing with more than two other people (my gift was a Kate Spade wallet split by 4 of my friends and I loved it!

Hope this helped! Below is one of my favorite grad gifts:

gradgift

Walkin’ the plank and wearing the robe

As of 3:30 p.m. today, it marked my first 24 hours of being a post graduate from the University of South Florida. My alumnae status is a product of an adventurous four years that have been nothing short of thrilling.

The best way that I can relate to stepping on the bright stage to take ahold of a few seconds of fame, at a taller height with the help of heels, is kind of like reaching the peak of a roller coaster. It starts with an overwhelming build up of excitement, anxiety and unnatural mix of courage and fear that helps you take your first step off the staircase and onto the stage. All of the sudden, you feel the cool breeze go by and the pit of your stomach drop as your name is said to thousands and your arm flings right into the air for a firm handshake, just like how it would be if your arm reached in the air as you flew down the roller coaster.

My hand reached for the Dean of my college, which I had the opportunity to intern for in Spring 2012. There was a social media campaign in the form of a photo contest that the college did which promoted graduates to feature their caps on social platforms. Like every endeavor in life, especially ones with crafting involved, I was eager to win. I told the marketing director, a mentor of mine that was well aware of my competitive zest, that my cap was the winner. The first thing that the Dean said to me before congratulating me was, “Your cap is great.” I could have died with fulfillment right then and there.

And now marks my journey of a new chapter in my life after my accomplished plank walk under an over-embelished cap. Stay tuned for industry insights and necessary transitions that this new chapter of life requires!

CapGraduation1