Thursday, December 12, 2013

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Fashion Tights for Business Casual

Winter is coming on strong here in Blacksburg.  We are already getting ice and snow and it's just the beginning of December.  I am so glad that tights are trending right now because young women need some inspiration to dress appropriately for the weather and interviews in the cold weather.  I was walking into my office a few weeks ago and it was about 36 degrees outside.  I saw a young woman running into my building, I assume for an on-campus interview, wearing a short skirt, no tights or hose, barefooted, and carrying her heels as she entered out of breath into the Smith Career Center.  She was not making a very strong first impression.  First of all, she was obviously late for her interview and secondly she was not dressed appropriately for the weather.  What if I had been the recruiter she was coming to interview with, or worse what if the recruiter was watching her bare feet and legs running across the parking lot from a window in our building.  Wearing hose or tights is part of the interview attire and creates a polished and put together look.  Would you wear shorts to the office when it's only 36 degrees out??  Then why do young woman wear skirts to the office with no hose in the winter?  I just don't get it.  If I was a recruiter is would make me question the candidates ability to make critical decisions, like dressing for the weather.....

Anyway, lucky for us tights are trending now and there are lots of fun ways to wear tights in the office and make them business casual appropriate and also show off your style.

This is the look I saw on Pinterest which inspired me.  I love polka dots and these tights are so cute.

I wanted to see how to take this casual look with the designer tights and make them business casual and office appropriate.

Here are some fun tights to choose from.  I can't decide if I would like the animal print or not, I think I would have to try them on.  
Cozy up and look stylish while you wear some fun tights to work.  I love to pair them with tall boots or booties and I love that I can still wear skirts in the winter with these great tights keeping my legs warm.

What do you think about fun tights in the office?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

JT Concert Experience!

I got to go to a Justin Timberlake concert in Raleigh, NC about two weeks ago.  It was AMAZING!!  He was awesome, the show was great and I got to have my first (and probably only) VIP experience.  I really liked JT before this show, but now I am a huge fan.  He is very talented and a an amazing entertainer.

I went to the concert with these six great ladies.

We arrived at the concert and climbed to the top of the arena to find we honestly had the worse seats in the house.  Here was our pitiful view:

I said to my friend Amy, "If I was an entertainer I would get the people in the worse seats and move them into the VIP section".  Less than 15 minutes later the usher taps us on the shoulder and says "Do you want to move to the VIP section?"  And we were like, "Hell yea!"  And the rest is history.  One of the best concerts EVER!

Do you have an incredible concert experience?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Getting my life organized! 7 Tips to help you get organized at work

Lately I've been struggling with my planning and organizational skills.  I'm a naturally organized person, but I'm not a particularly planful person.  I like to to live a pretty flexible, go with the flow kind of life but even the most "wing it" kind of girl finds that she has to be on a schedule and plan for things in order to be successful and reach her goals.  So, I have always loved a good planner.  I never would have made it through college without my good ole "At-a-glance"  monthly planner.  Planners have come a long way sense my college days and I have been eyeing the Life Planner for the past year.  I've posted about it several times. 

I finally went for it and ordered by very own Erin Condren Life Planner.  You can see them here

Here are a list of my tips and strategies to stay organized at work.  I openly acknowledge that I am still a work in progress with all of these....

1.  Set annual goals.  How do you even know what you need to plan, organize or accomplish if you don't set goals for yourself.  Write them down and hold yourself accountable to them.  If you don't decide where your time and energy is going to go, someone else will decide for you.  You will end up working on other people's priorities rather than your own.  Goal-setting allows you to look a year into the future and decide where you want to be.  Your work needs to support your strategic efforts to get to that place when the year is over.

2.  Make a weekly "to do" list.  These tasks can include routine operational kinds of activities, as well as more complex tasks that support your work goals.  Write down the tasks and check them off when completed.  Set deadlines for completion.  It helps you prioritize your work and manage your time.  It think when you actually write something down you will feel more committed to accomplishing it.

3.  Create a filing system.  Design the system that works for you.  Don't follow your boss's system or the person who had the job before you because their way of thinking may not be your natural way to organize.  This includes paper and electronic files.  I file all my papers by major project and/or program area and then other items are filed by alpha list.  I use Microsoft Outlook for my email and I have folders and sub-folders where I move items out of my inbox once I have read them or completed any action or follow-up that is required.  This also makes it easy to delete a whole folder of emails that you won't need any more.

4.  Use a planner or calendar.  I use an electronic calendar, Outlook, for my work calendar.  Much of my day is spent in appointments with students advising and coaching them on their career planning and job search.  Many people need to have access to my calendar everyday to schedule appointments and meetings for me.  Through Outlook I can access to my "work" calendar through my phone or iPad.  I can also drag emails into my calendar to use to provide meeting details or references for meeting topics.  I color code my office calendar by topic so I can quickly see what my day looks like.  Your brain can not possibly remember all of your commitments, you need to calendar to organize yourself.  I use a paper agenda, now the Life Planner, to organize my personal life.

5.  Stop multi-tasking and start managing your time.  I've learned this lesson the hard way too many times.  The definition of the word is to "work at several different tasks simultaneously".   Honestly, I don't think anyone multi-tasks well, not even millenials.  Don't nickel and dime your day away, organize each day so you can get the biggest bang for your buck.  I feel much more satisfied at the end of the day when I can reflect back on one or more big accomplishments rather than barely chipping away at several tasks.  Use your calendar system to schedule in everyday tasks like reading email, returning phone calls, filing reports or approving work hours.  These are everyday tasks that take up more time than you think so you have to account for them in your day.  Another helpful tip is to try to read and respond to email only once a day.  When you start responding to emails rather than working on your "to do" list you start putting other people's priorities over your own.  That will never help you reach your goals.

6.  Clean up your work space.  A clean and organized work space will help you be more productive and appear to be more professional.  Clutter creates chaos in my life.  If I am not surrounded by papers and clutter than I can fill my work space with things that inspire me like quotes, pictures and colorful pens (have I mentioned I'm obsessed with colorful Sharpie pens?).

7.  Use a "To be filed" tray.  My final tip is probably more of a reflection of my personality type than any researched organization strategy but I have a "to be filed" tray.  This is where I put papers and reports that I think I need to hang on to but I don't have the time to file them away.  This is the "put it off Paula" part of my personality.  Every summer I pull out that "to be filed" tray and start sorting through it.  I usually end up recycling 75% of it and only filing 25%.  Once I've had some distance from it I usually realize that I don't really need it.  That saves time and space!

What tips do you have for staying organized at work or home?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fashion Friday: Business Casual Shirt Dress

Today is Friday and the students are on Fall Break.  I decided to go "casual Friday" today and wear a comfy shirt dress that I got on sale from The Loft this week.  This dress inspired my Fashion Friday post today.  I tried on three different shirt dresses before I decided on the one I bought.  Shirt dresses are everywhere right now and they are so comfortable and versatile.  I came up with three ways to style a shirt dress business casual:

Here are the three dresses I tried on from The Loft:

I ended buying the grey dress.  It is so soft and comfortable that I couldn't resist.  It actually looks like a darker grey in real life.  I have it on with tights and brown riding boots for a casual Friday look.

Have you tried a shirt dress this season?

Friday, October 11, 2013

6 Ways to Style a Suit - Not just for interviews

A lot of  college students worry about the return on investment when they purchase an interview suit.  They see a suit as something you only where for interviews or corporate jobs and don't foresee that they will wear a suit often enough to warrant investing in one.  I, of course, beg to differ.  A suit is most definitely an investment piece and an absolute for interviewing.  Even if you don't enter an industry or career field where suits are normal dress code, it is always great to have a suit to turn to for important meetings and business functions.  I rarely wear a suit to work, but I would always wear one to an interview or important presentation.  Let's face it, if a suit helps you land a job then it is definitely worth the investment.

I wanted to share some ideas on how you can work a suit into your everyday wardrobe and not save it up for interviews or formal business functions only.  I mix and match my suit into a variety of style options to get full use out of the pieces.  That way you feel like you are getting a lot of wardrobe options out of your suit and makes it worth the money.

Let's start with a basic charcoal grey suit:

Now, look what you can do with it:

Here's a closer look:

1.  Corporate:  This is a traditional and conservative way to style your suit.  This is how you would style your suit for interviews and corporate jobs.  Notice the minimal jewelry, sleek and stylish bag and the pantyhose.  Many corporate jobs still require you to wear hose and they are considered a standard for interviewing.

2.  Creative:  This is how you would style a professional business suit in a more creative setting.  This takes away the "stuffiness" of a business suit and allows you to add your own personal touch to your look.  Notice the bright colors, fun shoes and bold jewelry.  This would be more appropriate and expected in a creative work setting.

3.  Business Casual:  The emphasis is on business, not casual.  Here you model business professional but in a slightly more relaxed way.  In this example, you could wear the suit skirt but not the jacket.  Combine it with some classy, yet professional, shoes and great accessories (a statement necklace and business tote).

4.  Smart Casual:  This is one step down from business casual.  With Smart Casual you are still polished and professional looking but leaning more towards casual.  You should always be business appropriate on the job.  Smart casual can include jeans, but jeans should always be trouser cut and dark wash.  (Skinny jeans with flats is too casual looking and skinny jeans with heels is too "night time" looking).  You would want to pair the jeans with a blouse or business appropriate top.  In this example  you could pair the suit jacket with a great pair of boot cut, dark wash jeans and some fun booties.  Here I added a pop of color with the cobalt blue bag.

5.  Club/Date Night:  You can even work your suit into your evening wear.  I love boyfriend jeans with strappy heels.  Here I paired the suit jacket with both of those and some funky jewelry and animal print wristlet.  That way you can have your phone and lip gloss handy but don't have to worry about keeping track of your purse.  Just stick it on your wrist and head out for the night.  This is great juxtaposition between business and casual.  The shirt and jeans are loose and casual but the jacket adds formality and structure.

6.  Campus:  You can even wear your suit skirt on campus to class, student organization meetings, meetings with faculty and other events.  Brown riding boots are a staple on college girls these days - here I paired the boots with the skirt suit and a cotton long-sleeved tee with a colorful plaid scarf and jean jacket.  It takes the typical "college girl" look but dresses it up just a little bit.

Suits don't have to be stuffy and boring.  One suggestion I have is to look for jackets with a more feminine cut rather than a boxy "man looking" blazer.  I blazer that is cut just right can be very slimming around the waist and very figure flattering.  I hope this gives you some ideas on how your don't need to look "cookie cutter" in a suit.  Have fun with them and mix and match for all kinds of occasions.

How do you wear a suit?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Infographic: 12 Tips on Staying Inspired

I was so inspired by the tips that I decided to share them on my blog.  I agree with every single one of these great tips.  Hope you are inspired too.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

After the Career Fair - What's Next?

You spent weeks preparing for the Career Fair on campus.  You had your resume reviewed and critiqued, you created a killer Elevator Pitch, researched the organizations in attendance and you picked out the perfect career fair suit to make a strong first impression...Now what??  Sit and wait for the interviews to come pouring in??  ABSOLUTELY NOT!

Here are four suggestions on what you should be doing to follow-up after a career fair.

1.  Send a thank you note.  I cannot stress this professional courtesy enough.  See my original post here about the art of thank you notes.  You will be one of the few people who follow-ups with a thank you note from the career fair.  What a great way to stand out in the crowd.

2.  Get organized.  Treat your job search as you would a 3 credit course (or better).  Invest a couple of dollars into a notebook or binder to start collecting all your job search information in.  Make a spreadsheet with all the organizations you spoke with at the Career Fair.  Include the names of the recruiters you spoke with and make column for various job search activities.  For example:
  • Sent a thank you note
  • Submitted resume on-line
  • Called to follow up (include the date)
  • Scheduled an interview
  • Sent thank you for interview
  • Connected or followed on Linked In

3.  Use Linked In.  Use all the business cards you collected to connect with the recruiters you spoke with at the fair.  This is networking.  When you send a invitation to connect make sure you mention why you want to connect.  For example:
"I would like to connect with you.  I enjoyed talking with you at the career fair yesterday at Virginia Tech.  Thanks."
4.  Don't Stop!  You've got the momentum now, so keep looking.  There are still A LOT of jobs out there to be found.  Don't stop searching.  Now you really need to hit the ground running.  Visit company websites, join groups on Linked In, and look for job postings on line.  Here's a great formula to use when searching for jobs on-line:
2 general sites + 3 niche sites = 1 GREAT JOB

I know it's not mathmatically correct, but it works and I never really liked math anyways!  You need to identify 2 general job listing sites that you go to regularly.  These are the types of sites that have listing for all kinds of positions and industries.  Next, you focus in on your "niche" sites.  (Niche is a job or activity that is very suitable for someone, it's particular or specific to a group of people).  These are where you can find job listings specifically for the kinds of positions you are looking for.  Maybe it's based on industry or geographic location but it is where you can find jobs that match your specific search criteria.

Career Fairs are a great resource and experience but your job search strategy needs to include much for than attending a job fair.  What are some other great follow-up tips after a career fair?

Friday, September 20, 2013

5 Fall Trends that you can Work in the Office

I love summer!  Every year I hate to see it come to an end.  But when you work on a college campus the end of summer means it's the beginning of a new semester, the start of the college football season, and an opportunity to shop for all the new fall styles and trends.  This Sunday is first day of Fall so what better time than now to talk about Fall trends.

Of course, not all trends are office appropriate but here are some of my favorite Fall 2013 trends that you can work in the office this season.

Have some fun with all the new fall styles!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Remembering 9-11-01

Remember the brave Firefighters, Police Officers, EMTs and other First Responders who raced into fire and hell on earth because it was their “job”.  Remember the passengers on Flight 93 who bravely gave their lives to save countless others, and remember all the men and women who helped, and sometimes carried, strangers out of burning buildings.  But mostly, lets remember those who never made it out.  The American Spirit is undefeated.  Let’s be thankful to live in a country that has real, live SUPER HEROES!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

6 Items Every College Girl Should be Packing for Campus this Fall

As you pack up and head back to campus this Fall, here's my list of 6 things you should be sure to bring back to school this fall to help you get ready for career opportunities and personal success.

  1. An updated Resume - did you have an exciting internship this summer, work on an interesting research project, study abroad or devote your time to volunteer work??  If so, make sure you document all of it on your resume.  Don't wait until the night before the career fair or application deadline to update your resume.  Do it now while all your responsibilities and accomplishments are fresh on your mind.
  2. A new agenda - I love the Erin Condren Life Planners (because you can personalize it) and the Lilly Pulitzer agendas.  I couldn't have made it through college without my "planner".  I know people are moving towards electronic and mobile calendars but I still love to see the full month and color code my life.  A well-organized calendar, planner or agenda can be a life-saver when you are scheduling interviews, information sessions, class assignments, work, meetings, football games, date parties and all the other fun stuff you will be doing this year.
  3. A business suit -  It's time to put on your "big girl pants" and invest in a sharp looking suit.  A great suit will serve many purposes in your college life.  Of course, with a suit you will be prepared for fall Career Fairs and interviewing, but you can also use the suit when you interview for leadership positions on campus, at formal chapter or student organization meetings, and as separate pieces.  Pair your suit jacket with some boyfriend jeans and strappy heels and you will look hip and sophisticated for a night out with your friends. 
  4. A completed Linked In profile - Will Linked In eventually replace the resume??  I don't know if we are there yet but Linked In is definitely a must for job seekers and professionals these days.  Not only can you look for jobs and network for jobs through Linked In but it is also a great way to put together an "electronic" resume and portfolio of your work.  More and more employers and recruiters and using Linked In to identify and screen candidates for jobs.  Employers may not be able to accept your resume at a job fair but they can certainly take your business card with your Linked In information on it.  DON'T FORGET:  you should have a professional looking head shot on Linked In (not one of you tailgating or at the beach with your friends) and claim your personal Linked In URL.  
  5. A fun Scout bag - I love these Scout bags!!  Besides being adorable, they are also great for school, the gym, packing your lunch, carrying to tailgates as well as packing a storing all your stuff in your small college room. You will find one for almost any need you have.  They even monogram them.  And every girl loves a bag with her monogram! 
  6. A professional padfolio -  A padfolio is typically a leather notebook or folder.  In a padfolio you will typically find a notepad, a pocket to put copies of your resume and a pen loop.  They often have pockets to store business cards and other items.  A padfolio is a business staple for meetings and interviews and is the most professional way to store your resumes and take notes during Career Fairs and Interviews.
It couldn't hurt to pack a positive attitude and a big smile too!

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