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. 


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Developing a strong LinkedIn Profile

Networking is the #1 way to find a job.  National statistics suggest that 70% of jobs are found through networking and the Virginia Tech Post-Graduation Survey data finds that in 2010-2011networking was the #1 way students found jobs (at 26%).  In fact, for the past eight years networking has been the 1st or 2nd most common way that students found their first jobs after graduation.

LinkedIn is the largest professional networking site with over 175 million members.  So, if networking is the #1 way to find a job and LinkedIn is the #1 networking site then it makes sense that students should be paying attention to LinkedIn and learning how to best use it in their job searches.

The first step in utilizing LinkedIn is developing a strong profile.  Eighty-five percent of employers say that a positive online presence influences their hiring decisions.  Students must have a strong profile to get employers to take them seriously.

Here are 5 Rules for developing your LinkedIn profile (I stole this list from my colleague Ali Woodworth):

1.       Display a professionally appropriate photo.
Not a photo of you hanging out with friends at a party or football game.  Not having a photo can do almost as much damage as an inappropriate photo.  People are always putting names and faces together when networking, if you don’t have a picture you are leaving out a big part of the networking effort.  I don’t like it when someone says we met at a conference and they don’t provide a picture for me to remember who I am connecting with.

2.       Create a headline that defines who you are and what you are looking for.
Ex:  Communications major at Virginia Tech seeking position in Public Relations for a Non-Profit

3.       Write a summary that describes your skills and experiences.
You can talk about skills you have gained in the classroom, internships and student organizations or soft skills acquired through part-time jobs and volunteering, etc.

4.       Get recommendations from faculty members, advisors or supervisors.
Don’t hesitate to ask your connections for recommendations, employers consider these.

5.       Tie your LinkedIn account to other social media and job search efforts.
List your LinkedIn profile on your resume and your email signature; include links to other social media sites (blogs, websites, on-line portfolios, Pinterest, etc.)

Here’s a great hint:  You can upload your resume as a way of getting your profile started.

What are some other suggestions for a strong LinkedIn profile?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Vote for Somebody!


I just saw the best video encouraging Americans to exercise their right to vote.  Check it out and make sure to "Vote for Somebody" tomorrow!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fashion Friday: Go Red. Go Blue. Go Vote.

Today's Fashion Friday is all about the upcoming election.  Christina and I thought it would be fun to put together a fashion post on what to wear to work on Election Day, Tuesday Nov. 6 to show your patriotism.  Here's what we came up with:

This election year is particularly exciting for Christina because this is the first time she will get to exercise her American right to cast her vote for our next president.  I asked her to put together her thoughts about getting to vote for president for the first time.  Here is what she had to say:

Election Day by Christina...

This Election Day will be my first time voting. When I turned 18, I had already missed the last election so I’ve been looking forward to this for years! To people that have voted many times, it may not seem like anything special but to me (and the other interns – it’s their first time voting as well!) it’s exciting to for a few reasons:

1.      We get to be involved and feel like active citizens for the first time. This might sound silly, but exercising our right to vote makes us feel like real adults.

2.      We get to make our own decisions. A lot of people I know have had their parents instilling their beliefs in them since they were a kid. While there’s nothing wrong with this, and my parents have great input on politics, it’s nice to separate yourself from that and make a major decision based on your own beliefs.

3.      Having the chance to vote gives us an opportunity to become more informed citizens. We research political platforms, we watch presidential debates, and we have conversations with our friends about the issues. All of these things help us to learn more about our country and world issues and become informed members of society.

4.      We get to learn a lot about ourselves as well. As we learn about the candidates and their beliefs, we become more aware about what is important to us and what isn’t. We learn what separates us from our parents and our friends and what our values are.

5.      We have a voice in who becomes the next president of our country for four years…and that’s pretty incredible.

If you’re a first time voter, don’t be afraid to ask questions or talk to people about the issues. Learn as much as you can and make an informed choice - remember, this is your vote and your voice. So get excited and get out there and vote!
I couldn't have said it better myself.  I know many college students are feeling the same excitement about Election Day that Christina feels. 
Do you still get excited about Election Day??

Thursday, November 1, 2012

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