Friday, December 28, 2012

Fashion Friday: My New Cowboy Boots!

I'm still on vacation from work, so I'm just doing a quick Fashion Friday post.  Check out what was under the Christmas Tree for me...

YES!!!  Brand new Lucchese Cowboy Boots!  I love them.  They are the perfect color and will go with everything.  My hubby got them for me from Country Outfitters.  He knew I wanted some new boots and he actually picked these out for me.  It turns out I had pinned them on Pinterest (but he didn't know that because he has no idea what Pinterest is!).  It worked out perfect.  I've already worn them with jeans and I can't wait to style them with some cute dresses.  I'm going to see Zac Brown Band again in January so I will definitely be wearing them there.  I doubt if they will ever be worn to the office but they are absolutely beautiful.  They are so comfortable, I highly recommend them!

Do you love cowboy boots?  How do you wear yours?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My Top 5 Favorite Christmas Movies

1.  My all-time favorite Christmas movie is It's a Wonderful Life.  It is also one of my all-time favorite movies in general.  I cry EVERY year when I watch this movie.  It brings back memories of my wonderful childhood and Christmas time with my family at our house.  But mostly I love the message.  Money and status don't make you successful, being a good person and helping others will provide you with all the riches you need.  We never really know all the people's lives we impact.  "No man is a failure who has friends", is written in the Tom Sawyer book at the end of the movie.  And then Harry says it best:  "To my big brother George, the richest man in town!".  I LOVE IT!!!

2.  My next favorite movie is A Christmas Story.  I remember watching this movie for the first time at my friend Stacy's house in middle school.  I brought it home for my parents to watch and I thought my dad was going to literally die from laughing.  And that was the beginning of our family's love affair with this movie.  He laughed just as hard the 100th time he watched that movie as he did the very first time.  See, my dad was just about the same age as Ralphie's little brother Randy in 1940 when the movie is set.  It was a hilarious reminder of my dad's own childhood. 

3.  Miracle on 34th Street - the original black and white version with Natalie Wood and Maureen O'Hara.  What else can you say?  This is such a wonderful movie about the spirit of Santa Claus and the "BELIEVE" philosophy. 

4.  How the Grinch Stole Christmas - the cartoon version.  This reminds me of my childhood also.  I remember I used to cry when the Grinch would whip the dog on the sled, it made me so sad!!  It's just a classic Christmas movie.

5.  Elf.  Will Ferrell is so hilarious and the whole movie just makes me laugh. But the end gets to me when they need all the power of the "believers" to help Santa get is sleigh up and flying.  It's really cute.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Quote of the Week: Never get so busy

This is my last day at work for the next two weeks!!  I am so excited to get some time away from the office and spend it with my AMAZING children, family and friends.  This quote reminded me of how important it is to get away from work and enjoy the life we are working so hard to have.  My posts may be few and far between for the next two weeks but I'll be back at it soon enough.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

NACE Report: Top "Soft Skills" Employers Seek in Candidates

NACE (the National Association of Colleges and Employers) recently released its Job Outlook 2013 report on an annual survey of the job market for new college graduates.  It once again shows that certain skills and abilities that can be acquired both inside and outside of the classroom rank high among hiring managers.  Those "soft skills" include:  communication, ability to work in teams, decision-making and problem-solving.  You can see the press release here.

This report states that "just over 78% of employers screen candidates by GPA" and they give much consideration to the career-related experience that college career center staffs are constantly promoting and encouraging students to participate in.  So, when do these, so-called, "soft skills" work into the formula?  These "soft skills" are the qualities that set candidates apart from one another.

I believe that for the most part, you can assume if you are invited for an on-site interview that the hiring organization feels pretty certain you are able to complete the tasks and responsibilities required for the job.  At this point they are looking for which candidate seems to be the best match for the organization, shows genuine passion and interest in the position, and has experience in the other skills that are necessary to be successful in that organization.  Many people call them "soft skills".  I'm not a huge fan of that term because it makes them seem less important when, in fact, I believe that are probably just as important and maybe more important than the content skills gained through education and practical training and experience.  If you look at the Top List from the NACE report you will quickly see that all of these skills need to be DEMONSTRATED in an interview.  A hiring manager generally cannot glean these soft skills from a resume.  A savvy job seeker will be prepared to answer questions and tell stories that demonstrate her skills in each of these areas.  This list is the perfect "koofer" or study guide for the interview.  (for those outside of Virginia Tech who don't know what a "koofer" is you can read more about it here, here and here)

To successfully demonstrate your skills in these areas for employers the job seeker must practice the art of descriptive and purposeful storytelling.  There is a formula for answering these types of interviewing questions called STAR.  STAR stands for Situation, Tasks, Action and Results.  Tell a story that describes the:
Situation (or scenario)
Tasks that were involved in resolving or handling the situation
Action that was taken by YOU
Results of your efforts

When a job seeker uses this formula to answer interview questions regarding these types of skills and experiences she will provide a thorough, specific and detailed demonstration of her skill level.  This is what will set her apart from other candidates.

Certainly these "soft skills" can be gained in the classroom but they are often also found in summer jobs and internships, involvement in student organizations, athletic teams, and volunteer and service experiences. Education and preparation for the working world does not just happen in the classroom of your college campus, it happens all over your campus.  Students should take advantage of these opportunities to gain these much sought after "soft skills".

What do you think about these "soft skills".  Could you answer an interview question about each of these top sought after skills?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Prayers for Sandy Hook and Newtown - Proverbs 26:1

I have been drawn to this scripture all weekend.  My heart is broken and overwhelmed by the horrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday.  I know all too well the fear, sadness and shock that Newtown is experiencing right now.  It was just a little over 5 years ago that I hid in a locked-down building on my campus at Virginia Tech with my shocked co-workers and scared students while we received periodic updates and phone calls from around campus reporting a horror that none of us were prepared for.  The sound of constant sirens blaring for hours in the distance and the parade of police cars and ambulances driving past our windows are sounds and images I will never forget.  The sick feelings of helplessness, anger, confusion, fear and utter disbelief wash over you like emotional waves.  I feel that way again when I think about the events from last Friday.  I am so very, very sad.

I can't help but cling to the brave and heroic acts that took place in Sandy Hook Elementary School on that day as my only form of solace in this horrible situation.  My husband was a teacher for 12 years and both my sisters' work in schools as a counselor and administrator.  I know that every person who is charged with the care of children would react with the same sense of protection and purpose as the faculty and staff in that school.  I am so grateful to the first responders who entered that building to protect and care for all of those children and adults.  I pray for each one of them and the horrible things they must have seen.  I mourn with every parent whose sweet innocent child was taken from them.  I send prayers of comfort to all the children who are scared and confused.  I know the community of Newtown is feeling invaded by the media and "outsiders" while they are trying to understand and cope with what has happened to their children and community.  But I hope they can feel the love and support coming from of our country. 

Mostly, I just pray for everyone in that community to be filled with the peace that only God can provide.

If you feel so inclined, donations can be made to the United Way of Western Connecticut here.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Fashion Friday: Holiday Party Style

'Tis the season for Holiday Parties!!  This week is the final installment of
The Professional vs. The Intern
So, we decided it would be fun to each style a look for the season of glitter and festive parties.  Christina has finshed up her internship and is studying for her final exams.  We have one final joint post which will come out next week but this is our last fashion post together.  :(
Here's what we came up with...
I love this one!!  We both took a classic silhouette in a neutral and made it special with accessories.  We each chose a beautiful clutch as a statement piece and showed how shoes can really make an outfit unique.
I want to thank Christina for all her wonderful contributions to Fashion Fridays.  She truly is as classy and stylish as her fashion picks!
What will you wear this holiday season?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Quote of the Week: FLY

This is dedicated to Christina, the "Intern"

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

2012 Gift Giving Guide by Interest Code

You might remember a few weeks ago I introduced you to the Holland Interest Code (here).  Career professionals use the Holland Interest Code as an interest assessment when working with students (or other clients) to help them summarize their interests and connect them to various work environments.  This assessment gives some wonderful insight into how people enjoying spending their time, as well.  When buying gifts around the holidays most of us scratch our heads trying to figure out what to buy our friends and family members.  I am so blessed that the people I buy gifts for really don't "need" anything so the gift is truly a thoughtful gesture.  I try to buy them things they would like or may find useful in some way.  I thought putting together a gift giving guide by Holland Code might be kind of fun.  Here's a brief description of the 6 types:

Realistic:  Hands on; enjoys outdoors and athletics, likes to work with tools and build things
Investigative:  Loves to learn; enjoys science and trivia, is an analytical and logical problem solver
Artistic:  Creative; enjoys creative expression, colors, music, art, movies, and fashion
Social:  Loves to help people; enjoys working with and helping others, and spending time with others
Enterprising:  Influences people; enjoys leading and impacting people, knows how to work a room
Conventional:  Likes to organize; enjoys organizing, making lists and arranging details

I had Christina go do a little on-line shopping to come up with some great gift ideas for each of the 6 Holland Types.  Here's what she came up with...

1.  Bolt Ring  2.  Digital Sports Watch  3.  Riding Boots  4.  Thermos  5.  Fuzzy Earmuffs

1.  Brillant Idea Notebook  2.  Readers  3.  Headphones  4.  E-Reader Cover

1.  Sketchbook  2.  Pencil Case  3.  Holga 35mm Camera  4.  Patone Color Palettes Books

1.  Gem Coaster  2.  Hi-5 Mittens  3.  iPhone Cases

1.  Where will you be...  2.  Power watch  3.  Laptop/Work bag  4.  Classy Pumps

1.  Life Planner  2.  Polka Dot Stapler  3.  Pencil Cup  4.  USB Bow

Happy Shopping this Holiday Season!! What's on your wish list this year??  (Cowboy boots are on the top of my list - hint hint)







Monday, December 10, 2012

Fashion Friday: Presentation Style!

Well, this week's Fashion Friday post is three days late - sorry!  I was attending the SoACE (Southern Association of Colleges and Employers) conference in Tampa earlier last week.  I returned home with a horrible ear and throat infection and have been miserable for days!!  Definitely the most sick I have been in years.

On Wednesday morning of the conference my co-worker, Katie Steuer, and I presented on Strengths Development and Appreciative Advising as tools to use to engage and retain new hires.  We were excited to share some career advising tools with our colleagues on the HR side.  That is what inspired this post.  People often wonder what to wear for a professional presentation at a conference or other places.  We both present in front of college students all the time, but speaking to other professionals and colleagues about your work adds another element to the preparation.  So, I asked Christina to do another version of The Professional vs. The Intern on Presentation Style.  Here's what we came up with...

It's funny how similar Christina and I can be sometimes!!  We both picked the pop of red to pair with other neutrals.  I think it was Bill Blass who said, "When in doubt, wear red".  We do these separately and then share our final picks with each other.  This just reinforces that I did a great job of selecting the most awesome intern ever!

Here are 7 thoughts on how to dress for a professional presentation:
  1. Wear close fitting, tailored clothing.  It looks more polished and flattering.
  2. Don't wear all one dark color (i.e. black or navy suit).  Break it up with a pop of color, especially close to the face.
  3. Wear simple jewelry that won't distract or make noises during the presentation as you move around.
  4. Wear a watch to keep an eye on the time.  Nothing makes you look more unprepared and unprofessional then running out of time to finish your presentation.
  5. Wear lip gloss.  Color draws attention to your lips and research has shown people will hear and understand you better if they can see your lips.  Plus lip gloss helps your lips from getting dry when you are doing a lot of talking.
  6. Complete your look with polished and appropriate shoes, especially if you will be standing on a stage during your presentation.
  7. Be the best dressed person in the room!

Here is what I actually wore for my presentation:

I wore this bright purple jacket and grey pencil skirt from The Loft.  I wore a white short -sleeved bouse with subtle ruffles on a v-neck cut.  I really wanted to wear a dress with a jacket but I just couldn't find what I wanted.  This was my "Plan B". 

I was hoping to find a dress like this:

 And, if I could wear yellow I would have really liked this jacket with a grey dress:

What do you wear for an important presentation??

Friday, November 30, 2012

Fashion Friday: Leather at Work

Today's Fashion Friday post is all about leather!  Can you pull off leather in the office?  I think you definitely can.  It's fun to the think about all the ways you can make leather classy and professional in the workplace.  I like the juxtaposition of pairing leather with something more feminine and flowy in order to make in more refined and polished for the office.  It makes me think of a song from one of my favorite artists from when I was younger, Stevie Nicks.  Some of you may recall the duet with Don Henley, "Leather and Lace".  A great love song about how opposites attract and magic happens.
I wore out that Bella Donna album in the early 80s!!

"Lovers forever, face to face.  My city, your mountain.  Stay with me, stay.  I need you to love me, I need you today.  Give to me your leather, take from me my lace."
So, here's what we came up with for leather in the office:

Leather is a trend you are probably seeing all over the place this fall.  Here is just a sampling of all the beautiful leather (and leather looking) we have been seeing...

How do you wear leather in the office?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Post-Thanksgiving Break Reality Check

It always happens this time of year – mark it down!  Hand fulls of students return from Thanksgiving Break and schedule appointments to meet with their career advisor.  You might be asking what’s on their mind so close to finals???  Changing their major!  Something happens over Thanksgiving Break that makes students re-evaluate their course of study.  Some may be freshmen realizing that just because they were good in math and science in high school doesn’t mean they have to be an Engineer (most of them don’t even know what an engineer does), some may be realizing that their poor mid-term grades and an accurate picture of their academic situation, others have spent the semester talking with other students and realize there is a whole big world of possibilities out there they weren’t even aware of when they filled out their college applications, and others have finally worked up the nerve to tell their parents that they don’t actually want to go to medical school anymore.  Whatever the reason (I’ve heard them all) many students return to campus after Thanksgiving Break with a renewed  vision of their future – which often means they think they need to change their major.

I love career counseling and exploration appointments with students, they are probably my favorite.  I just really enjoy the career exploration and self-assessment process.  Mostly, I like being the encourager, the developer, and the dream catcher.  I’ve always been a dreamer and I highly encourage students to do the same.  I think the best thing a student can do in college is chase a passion or interest and see where it takes them.  The reality is that only about 20% of people are working in the field in which they earned their undergraduate degree so your education is not necessarily preparing you for a specific career (maybe for your first job) but does prepare you for life.  I think students should study what interests them and make sure to be actively involved in student organizations, volunteerism, internships, student leadership, and other experiential activities while they are in college.  Combining your interests and passions with experience will lead most people down the path to success.

So, how does one know what they are interested in?  Well, obviously, they already know what they are interested in but some students need some help in the process.  Self- assessment and evaluation is not easy for everyone.  I have several types of formal and informal assessment I do with students who are on the path of self-discovery.  Sometimes, it’s just a matter of asking the right kinds of questions about someone’s interests but other times in might involve more formal assessing.  One of my favorite interest assessments is the Self-Directed Search by John Holland.  I love it because it is simple, easy to use and makes a lot of sense.  The basic premise is “person-environment” fit.  In other words, match a person’s interests with the same work environment and that person should feel happy and successful there.  Holland’s theory suggests that there are 6 interest categories and 6 corresponding work environments.  So, if you are an enterprising person then you should look for enterprising work environments.  Here is a description of the environments:

The top three environments one scores the highest in are considered when analyzing the results.  For example, I am SAE(social, artistic, enterprising).  I look at the combination of these three letters to get a better picture of my interests and skills and the types of work environments I will be most drawn to.  This is also helpful when considering majors.  I didn’t have to take an assessment to know I didn’t want to take any college classes in math or science but it does explain the majors I was interested in all the various careers and occupations I have considered over the years.  It’s no surprise I am a in a helping (social) profession and regularly give presentations (enterprising) but I also write a blog (artistic) about careers and personal development (social and enterprising) and fashion (artistic).  It’s pretty cool how it all comes together.

So, not all of these students will actually need to change their major.  Some may need to work on their time management and study skills and some may need to research career options.  But many of these students will probably be happier in another major.  Taking an assessment like the SDS may help students understand themselves better and give them some evidence when they go to talk with their parents about why they need to change their major.  If your parent really wants a doctor in the family, maybe your parent should go back to school.  This is your life and you need to live it on your own terms.  And, as a parent, I realize I will probably eat these words when my daughter decides she doesn’t want to major in fashion or interior design like I hope she does!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Fashion Friday: Black Friday Shopping

I took on Black Friday and won!!  But I doubt I'll ever do it again. 

Are you one of those Black Friday Shoppers??  I have to admit that I am not.  As much as I love to shop and find a great deal, I can't enjoy shopping in all that chaos.  It stresses me out and I have always considered shopping to be very therapeutic so I choose not to Black Friday shop.  I have a good friend, Cindy, who always shops on Black Friday.  She is quite the expert.

So, today's Fashion Friday post is all about Black Friday Shopping.  Christina and I both picked out  what we would wear if we were going shopping today.  Here's what we came up with...

So you might be wondering how I won at Black Friday shopping??  Well, here's the story.  Last year after cooking, cleaning, decorating and preparing Thanksgiving for my family, my mom and both of sister's families I was lying on my couch recovering from my food coma (I was watching the end of some college football game) when I saw a commercial for an iPod touch.  My nine year son was dying for an iPod touch.  Now, I'm smart enough to know that a nine year old is not responsible enough to have  $200+ electronic device.  He can't even remember what he had for lunch much less remember where he put is $200 toy.  But really, it was the only thing he was asking for.  His sister was getting her second pair of Uggs and I always feel the pressure to spend the EXACT same amount on each child at Christmas.  Plus, he has the cutest little freckle face and big smile that is very hard to resist!!  I got on-line to order one and of course they were all sold out.  It's a mean Black Friday trick that retailers play on you.  It's sold out on-line but available in stores.  Through some quick research I saw that if I purchased the iPod touch at Target I would get a $50 gift card.  That sounded like a great idea!  I could use the gift card to buy other gifts for the kids.  So, at 12:30 AM I heading out to our Target (which is actually in the next town and about a 15 minute drive away).  When I arrived at Target I knew I was waaayy out of my league.  The parking lot was full, the parking lot across the street was full and I ended up finally finding a place at the Home Depot.  I walked into the store and I'm sure I had the baby dear in headlights look on my face.  There were ropes up directing traffic in certain directions and people were EVERYWHERE!!  I felt like I was on another planet.  I made my way back to the electronics department and that is when my luck turned.  There standing in line was my expert shopper friend, Cindy.  YAY!!  I told her what I was looking for and she yelled to the guy behind the counter, "Hey, do you have any iPod touches left?", and he said, "What color?", so I said "Black".  He reaches under the counter and throws me the iPod, "That's our last one".  VICTORY!!  I was just excited that the store actually had one left.  But then I looked at the line that was weaving all around the store and knew I would be there for hours.  Right then the clerk says, "Next!".  Cindy grabs my iPod and runs to the cash register.  She buys the iPod for me (plus she had a 20% off coupon) and I was out of the store in less than 5 minutes.  I was home and in bed by 1:15 AM.  That's how I won!!  I figure, I'm like Jerry Seinfeld - I'm just going out on top.  I will never beat that experience so I just won't even bother to try.

So, Jake was thrilled with the iPod touch to say the least.  We went to my sister's for Christmas day with the family.  He jumped on a 4-wheeler with some of his cousins and was off in the open fields of Ellett Valley (we sound like total rednecks, I know, but 4 wheelers are fun as hell!).  I noticed that Jake was gone for quite a while and he was driving along very slowly on the 4 wheeler and looking down at the ground.  YOU GUESSED IT!!  Jake lost the iPod on the 4 wheeler somewhere on 6 acres of land.  SERIOUSLY!!!  But, I think the luck of the iPod had not worn off and my brother-in-law found it laying on the driveway right next to where to 4 wheelers were parked.  So, apparently, Jake didn't even make it on the 4 wheeler before he lost the iPod.  And I was reminded again why you don't buy a nine year old a $200 gift!!  But, the iPod was found and his Christmas wasn't ruined and all was right with the world for the one day!!  It was sort of like the modern day version of A Christmas Story.  We just needed the dogs to eat the turkey and head to a Chinese restaurant for Christmas dinner.

Do you Black Friday shop?  What do you wear to last through hours of bargain shopping?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Quote of the Week: A smile is the prettiest thing you can wear

I have always believed that a smile is a great way to welcome someone and is probably my best accessory.  A smile is sort of like the window to your soul and it is definitely something that people will remember.  Make sure you smile when you are in the job search and interview process.  Not only does it look nice, but smiling sends out positive vibes and endorphens that can't help but make you feel more positive and confident about yourself and your future.

I have always been told that I have a big, warm smile and that I smile all the time.  Sometimes I will spend a weekend with my friends and my face will honestly hurt from smiling so much.  I'm thankful that I have so much to smile about in my life.  What a wonderful blessing.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Fashion Friday: Thanksgiving Day Style

I LOVE THANKSGIVING!!  In all honesty, it is probably my favorite holiday.  Of course, don't get me wrong, I love Christmas as well.  I loved Christmas as a child and now I love experiencing Christmas through the eyes of my children but as a parent Christmas can be a little stressful to say the least.  I used to love to wrap Christmas presents in matching paper and bows and set them out under the perfectly decorated tree.  Now, I dread the hours it takes to wrap presents, I let my kids decorate the tree however they want (which I actually love), and don't put the presents out until Christmas Eve so my kids won't have as much time to analyze each present and do the "Even Steven" count. 

I love Thanksgiving because it is all about food, family and friends, and football.  No worries about wrapping gifts or massive holiday decorating just getting together with the special people in your life and having a fabulous meal.  Thanksgiving Dinner has always been one of my most favorite meals.  I love the way it makes the house smell and I love all the leftovers.  Growing up my mom would fix the most amazing dinner and set our dining room table with the china, table cloth and cloth napkins, candles and a beautiful autumn centerpiece.  We were not allowed to come to the table in sweats, hats or pjs (jeans was even pushing it back in the day) so I always had to give some thought to what I was going to wear to Thanksgiving Dinner.

This week's Fashion Friday post is about Thanksgiving Dinner style.  Christina and I both put together an outfit we would like to wear to Thanksgiving Dinner this year.  Here is what we came up with:

Check out Js Everyday Fashion post from yesterday.  She has some great outfit ideas for Thanksgiving Dinner.

What is your family tradition for Thanksgiving Dinner style?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fashion Friday: Polka Dot Scarf

Today's Fashion Friday post looks at Polka Dots again.  This time we both styled at polka dotted scarf.  Here's what we came up with...

Unfortunately, I don't have links to other cute scarfs today.  I'm actually taking a day off from work!!  This first one ALL SEMESTER.  I am heading over to the dedication of the new Lavery Hall on campus.  I'm so excited that Dr. Lavery is finally being honored in this way.  I will try to post pictures this weekend and share some information about the late President Lavery.

There are so many ways to wear polka dots this season.  What's your favorite?


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Quote of the Week: Today is full of possible

I love this quote!  It is so optimistic and positive.  Positivity is my #1 talent theme according to the StrengthsFinder assessment and this quote embodies that life philosophy.  I hope to channel some of that positive energy to the Hokies today as they take on Florida State at home in Lane Stadium. 


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