Tuesday, April 30, 2013

5 tips to KNOCK OUT your next Interview

A couple of weeks ago I did a presentation to a group of students studying environmental science, natural resources and agriculture on how to have a successful interview.  There really aren't any big secrets to successful interviewing, the key is PREPARATION!  Preparing for an interview requires some work and research but well worth the time and effort when a job offer follows.

Just this morning a colleague sent me this article about inappropriate and unprofessional interviewing behavior by Millennials.  It's an article from U.S. News called:  Mangers to Millennials:  Job Interview No Time to Text.  Seems like common sense not to text your friends during an interview, but apparently it's not.  The article recounts bizarre interview behavior such as texting and taking calls, bringing parents and pets to interviews, dressing inappropriately and being way to casual about the process.  I have to say that I don't think odd interview behavior started with Millennials.  I'm a Gen Xer and we got hammered all the time about the crazy things "we" did.  Although we would have died a slow death before we ever brought a parent to an interview (we are the latch-key kid generation and fiercely independent) we certainly had our own characteristics that defined our generation.  I don't really think it's a generational thing, I think it's a developmental thing!  Not doing well in interviews has more to do with lack of experience and professional development than what generation you fall in.  I suspect that 20 years from now students will still  need advice and guidance on how to shine in an interview even if their "bizarre behaviors" look different than today because that behavior is influenced by generational norms.

So, how can you knock out your next interview?  Check out my first infographic!!

(I still have a long way to go with Photoshop, but I'm learning...)

What other tips do you have to KNOCK OUT interviews?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Guest Post: Fashion Friday: Spring Intern Wear

This week's Fashion Friday takes one coral blouse and styles it four ways.
These Spring looks are fresh and bright, yet still professional for the office.
I love coral because it's so versatile; you can mix it with almost anything and it works!

This blouse is from H&M, but here are some other similar styles:

1. Chloé / 2. DVF / 3. Forever21

I've really enjoyed guest blogging this week while Becca is out of town!
Thank you all so much for reading.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Guest Post: 5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Internship - Advice From a Former Intern

Hi everyone! Christina (the Intern) here filling in for Becca. I'm thrilled to be writing guest posts this week! I thought I'd start the week off by sharing some advice for other interns like me.

My internship with Becca at Career Services was by far the greatest experience I've had as a student. It was my first time working in an office setting and having real responsibilities. I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Becca on creating Young, Polished & Professional and I loved every minute of my internship.

Here are five ways that you can make the most of your internship:

Check back for this week's Fashion Friday to see some ideas on how to dress the part for Spring!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Guest Blogger this week: Christina the Intern

I'm heading to Richmond for a conference this week.  Christina, the Intern, has some great posts planned for you.  I can't wait to read them.  I'll be back next week.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Fashion Friday (late): The Business Cocktail Party

This has been one of those CRAZY weeks both at the office and at home.  I've spent my week getting ready for a conference that I'm going to next week where I will be completing my term as president of the organization and I was also interviewing candidates for our peer advisor program.  I was following the news from Boston and running my kids all over the place.  I was also trying to decide what I am going to wear to the cocktail party at my conference to celebrate our 50th anniversary as an organization.  That's what inspired by Fashion Friday post for this week.  I'm late getting this post out because I was so busy, but here it is.

Cocktail attire is typically a dressed-up, fashion forward dress code that is used for social occasions that occur in the evening such as parties, special events, and upscale night clubs.  For women this would include dresses that are cut above the knee and more form fitting.  Accessories, shoes and jewelry are more fun with shimmer and shine.

I love to get dressed up but cocktail attire at a business event is a bit tricky because you typically don't want to wear short, tight dresses that show a lot of skin in a business or professional setting.  So, I've been trying to decide what to wear.  Here are some examples of cocktail dresses:

  1. This is a more tailored "business" type cocktail dress.  The ruffle around the waist adds some flair to the dress.  But for me, I would like to dress up a little more than this.
  2. I love this one shoulder dress and I think it looks very sophisticated.  It's not too tight or too short.  I would definitely wear a dress like this to a business or social event.
  3. The blue dress has a nice v-neck and more flared skirt.  It is not form-fitting but still festive looking and would be a great option for a business cocktail party.
  4. This is the most form-fitting of the dresses with a plunging neck line.  The ruching adds some texture to the dress but it is probably too tight and too short for a business occasion.  
I think I would probably go with dresses #2 or #3 for this event.  Here's how I would style a dress for a business cocktail party:

I'm still trying to decide what I am going to wear.  I have two dresses in mind but they both have a lot of black in them so I wanted to try to find something a little brighter.  I'll keep you posted on what I end up wearing.

3 rules of thumb for a business or professional cocktail dress:
  1. Keep it sophisticated instead of sexy.  You want to project a professional image.
  2. No plunging necklines, super short hemlines, or too tight fit.
  3. Wear fun and flashy accessories to dress up for the occasion.

What would you wear to an office cocktail party?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

5 of the countless lessons I learned on April 16, 2007

For most people, today is just another day.  But for me, and thousands of other Hokies, April 16 is the anniversary of the day that changed our lives forever.  And even as I sit here six years later it seems ridiculous to say that at the time I had no idea what a huge impact that fateful day would have on my life.  Hind sight allows us to see with clarity what we are unable to process in real time.  I know that it took a while for me to fully wrap my head around something as monumental as the senseless murder of 32 fellow Hokies on my campus and in my hometown.  At the time I felt fear, confusion and anger.  It didn't take long for me to begin feel profoundly sad yet overwhelmingly grateful for my life.  I suppose that at 35 years old I was stripped of my innocence and for the first time exposed to unexplained violence and the reality that tomorrow is not a guarantee.  I learned so much about myself that day, about the amazing people who were killed, and this wonderful thing we call the Hokie Spirit.

Today, I choose not to talk about the fear and horror of that day.  Instead,  I choose to honor those who were killed by sharing five lessons I learned about myself and my life in the aftermath of April 16.

Lesson #1:  I made the right career choice.
April 16 confirmed my calling as a student affairs professional.  After I had been able to get home and hold my family close my thoughts went immediately to the families who would not hold their children again.  Each time the name of a victim was released I would get a huge knot in my stomach and feel the dread that one of my student's names would be read.  Although I had heard from most of my peer educators, interns and students in my class there were still a few I had not reached.  The university was closed the next day but my heart led me to campus to help in any way I could.  I answered phone calls on the hot line for hours, I visited victims and their families in the hospital to provide comfort and support, and served as a liaison and advocate to injured students.  At that very moment in time my skills and talents intersected with the world's needs - and that is where your calling can be found.

Lesson #2:  Every day is a gift. Be grateful for another day with the one's you love.
I try to always be grateful for another day.  I now know that each new day really is a gift and sharing love with the friends and family in your life is so important.  Find the happiness and joy every day.  Spend as much time as you can laughing and smiling!  This taught me that there is always something to be grateful for and to try to always live in a positive space rather than the negative.

Lesson #3:  Live your life with no regrets.
This lesson has probably been the most impactful on my life.  I don't want to look back over my life with regrets.  I've heard it said that we often have more regrets over the things in life we didn't do rather than the things we did do.  This doesn't mean you should live your life with reckless abandon for fear you are going to miss out on something but rather live your life with purpose.  I don't want any "what ifs" in my life and I want to be sure that I am honest and genuine with my feelings, live my life to the fullest and make sure people know how I feel about them.  Every day I give a compliment or praise to someone in my life that deserves it.

Lesson #4:  You can't plan for crazy.
Sadly, this very lesson was reinforced yesterday in the tragic events at the Boston marathon.  You can't plan for crazy and you can't live your life in fear.  Crazy people do crazy and unpredictable things.  You just have to stay strong and prepare to react to anything life throws at you.  Who knew that less than 5 years later I would be faced with the all too familiar situation of a shooting outside my office building.  This time I didn't care if people thought I was over-reacting.  I hustled students to safety, locked the building down and followed my gut instincts.  I don't think you can plan for every crazy situation, but you should definitely be prepared to respond to every crazy situation.

Lesson #5:  The Hokie Spirit is real.
The whole world felt it.  It's what pulled our community through its darkest days.  The Hokie Spirit was the light at the end of the tunnel.  I'm so glad that spirit lives in me and I hope I will always honor it.  For every horrifying, violent, unimaginable act there are millions of acts of kindess, love, and heroism in its response.  That is what I remember about that horrible day.  It's not just the Hokie Spirit, it is the human spirit.    Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) is not just a motto, it is lived out every day by the amazing Hokie Nation and thousands of students on our campus.  Our future is in good hands with these students on the rise.  April 16 taught me that a 19 year old girl can change the world when a community carries on her work and dreams of service.

Here's some pictures of the April 16 Memorial at Virginia Tech.

I love the letter in this last picture.  "Old Hokie" does this every year.  It's such a kind and loving gesture to remember and honor those birthdays each year.  "Old Hokie" must be a very special person!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Fashion Friday: Shopping my spring wish list

During February and March I decided to be more strategic in my shopping and try to purchase with a purpose.  I've been reading about the importance of setting a clothing budget and deciding ahead of time what you would like to add to your wardrobe.  This will hopefully cut back on some of the impulse buying that I've been known to do.  I did not set a specific budget (I've never been good at that) but I did give some thought to what I wanted to buy for the spring so I could hunt for the best deals.  Here's what I scored from my list...
The green peplum dress from The Loft, a cobalt blue trench coat and cropped white blazer from Express and a bright colored purse in green that I found at TJ Maxx.  Because of my pre-planning I was able to score an amazing deal on the green dress and only paid $30 for it (see post here), and I was able to order the trench coat and blazer from Express at 40% off and free shipping.  I paid less than $50 for the green London Fog weather proof purse.  YAY!  I didn't get the Michael Kors watch yet.  I ended up buying a new Canon Rebel DSLR camera so the watch is going to have to wait.  I'm thinking I might ask for it as a birthday present in June.

Of course, I bought other things but I was able to find some really great deals.  Here's a look at what else I got:

A bright pink blazer, polka dotted belt and mint green sandals from The Loft (all purchased at 50% off), a white lace peplum shirt and mint green and navy polka dotted shirt from Target and these great open toed mushroom colored BCBG wedges from TJ Maxx.  I also added to my jewelry collection with these great pearl pieces from Silpada -  a pearl necklace with turquoise and stone pendant, a pearl ring to wear with my stack rings and pearl stud earrings.  Check them out...
I liked the idea so much that I'm going to try it again.  Here's why I found it helpful:
  1. It makes me really give some thought to what I want to buy.  I can look for pieces that I want to add to my wardrobe, so there is a "purpose for the purchase".  I can take stock of what I have and what I need.  For example, do I need work clothes, casual clothes, new summer items??  It's strategic buying.
  2. When I'm working from a list I can shop for the best deals.  I can channel all my energy towards looking on-line and in stores for the sales.  I can be competitive and I a get a little rush when I score the best deal possible so I feel like I won the challenge!  I don't have unlimited funds so I really do need to shop smarter. 
  3. Shopping smarter actually lets me get a bigger bang for my buck.  I know I'm going to find other things that I want while I'm shopping so buying the items I want on sale frees up funds for the other "unexpected" treasures I find.  

I am working on my April/May wish list now and I will share it soon.

What do you think about setting a clothing budget and creating a wish list to shop from?  Would it work for you?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

How to work your wardrobe: 1 dress - 3 ways

Do you ever stand in your closet and think, "I have nothing to wear"?  I do it all the time.  And it is totally ridiculous.  My closet is overflowing!  But when you get up and get dressed for work 5 out of 7 days a week, you start to get bored with your closet.  I am always looking for new and different ways to work the wardrobe I have in my closet.  There are endless possibilities in there but it takes some time, thought and creativity to put some new and different looks together.  Luckily, I love to do that.  (It all started with fashion plates when I was a little girl and now I do it with my own clothes.)

Remember the green peplum dress from The Loft that I bought from my Spring Wish List?  It is a lovely dress with a beautiful pemplum detail but other than that it is a fairly plain, classic dress.  Here it is:

The dress looks pretty plain on it's own so I decided to look for different ways to style this dress to get full wear out of it.  Here  is what I came up with:

  1. Here I paired the dress with a tweed jacket, champagne colored pumps and pearls.  I’m wearing the classic choker pearl necklace and pearl drop earrings.  This looks very “polished and professional”.
  2. Next, I added a white cardigan and hot pink belt with nude patent leather pointy toed pumps.  This time I’m wearing a long strand of fresh water pearls.  The hot pink belt adds a pop of color and defines the waist line.  This is a great business casual look.  I actually wore this on Easter Sunday.
  3. This is how I originally planned to wear the dress.  I bought this polka dot belt with the pink buckle when I got the dress.  I thought it looked so cute together and I knew I could get a lot of use out of the belt.  I added some black open toed heels and a pearl drop necklace.  The higher heels and the cinched waist give the dress a sleek look.  I’d wear this to a summer wedding or to the office.
Here is a closer look at the polka dot belt:

I really love this dress and look forward to wearing it this spring and summer.  I'm sure I can find a few more ways to style it throughout the season.

How would you style this dress?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

How to Nail the Job Interview

I found this infographic on Pinterest (I'm not sure of the original source, sorry).  It brings up some great points about preparing for interviews.  I'll follow-up soon on some more specific strategies to really nail the interview.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Fashion Friday: The Devil's in the DETAILS: 6 ways to accessorize your business casual

Details, details, details – it’s all about the details!  Details make the design.  Now, anyone who knows me well knows that I’m not usually a “details” kind of person.  I’m an “N”, or Intuitive, in the Myers-Briggs personality type.  That means I am a big picture person, not a detail person.  I take in information using my sixth sense (or intuition). I’m more abstract, theoretical and creative.  I might be caught saying “What if…”.  Maybe that intuition and creative thinking helps me notice the design details because when it comes to design, I definitely notice the details.   I notice details in clothing, jewelry and home interiors.  It might be the trim in a room, how a bookcase is styled or the feet on a dresser, I would also notice the stitching on a dress, the cut of a jacket, or the hardware on a purse.

If you have read through many of my blog posts and style ideas you will notice that I put a lot of weight on accessories.  I love accessories!  Accessories can serve as the details that really make an outfit unique and “you”.  Accessorizing can take courage, though.  You have to be willing to play around with things and try a lot of different accessories out.  Accessories can completely change the look of an outfit and help it serve for different occasions. 

Here is an example of how accessorizing can work.  I bought this deep pink/plum dress this winter when I was shopping in Greensboro.  It’s a pretty plain dress but I knew it could be worn in a lot of different ways.  Here it is…

Check out three different ways I styled the dress using a variety of accessories.

  1. First I paired the dress with a black blazer, textured tights and black suede booties.  I added a black leather necklace with a silver pendent and silver jewelry.  I wore it this way to the office.  This is a business casual look. 
  2. Next, I dressed it up quite a bit with some bling.  I added a sequins belt, a cocktail ring and all kinds of sparkly jewelry.  The black open toed heels add some sophistication.  I was going to wear this to a retirement party but ended up choosing a different dress at the last minute.  
  3. The final look is a more casual style.  I’m not wearing a belt at all so it looks more like a shift dress and I added a statement necklace and silver sandals.  I really love turquoise jewelry and I bought this necklace at a street fair in Blacksburg last summer and the turquoise bracelet is one my dad bought for my mom over 40 years ago!

Here is my advice on accessories:

Invest in some jewelry foundation pieces.  Necklaces, bracelets and earrings that are your “go to” picks.  You can layer them with other pieces to change the look up.  My “go to” pieces are a long silver link necklace, a cubic zirconia choker, black diamond drop earrings, silver hoops, a silver bracelet and, of course, pearls.  I love pearls!  Jewelry really polishes off your look. 

Everything doesn’t have to match – it just has to “go”.  If you’ve ever watched What Not To Wear you’ve heard both Stacy and Clinton say that over and over again.  I used to make things too “matchy, matchy” then I realized how much more sophisticated and creative it looks if it doesn’t appear to be part of a “set”.  I really like to use accessories for pops of color and interest. 

Shoes are your best friend.  They always fit no matter what the number on the scale says.  Shoes add so much interest and personality to your style.  “Life is too short to wear boring shoes” - one of my favorite quotes.  At the very least your shoes should be polished – you need to get rid of shoes that are scuffed up or have worn down heels.  Again, if the outfit is all pulled together but your shoes aren’t, you’ve missed an important detail to polish off your look. 

Belts are one of my favorite accessories.  They can add that pop of color and interest that I like and they can also help shape your figure.  I wear belts with pencil skirts, slacks and dresses.  I also wear them with long shirts, cardigans and blazers.  I love them with peplum tops. 

Bags, purses, and clutches.  These can be expensive accessories but well worth the investment.  Personally, I prefer bags and purses in colors rather than neutrals.  People usually notice those.  Remember, they don’t have to match your outfit they just need to “go”. 

Buy one colorful scarf per season, you will be surprised how many different items you can pair with that one scarf.  They look great with cardigans, sweaters and tunics and can add great color around your face.  Try out different ways to wear scarves, I still haven’t mastered this yet.

Have some fun accessorizing.  Accessories shouldn’t be considered “extra”, rather an essential part of your look.  It’s just as important to invest in great accessories as it is to invest in wardrobe staples.  These details polish off your look and help define your style.

What's your favorite way to accessorize?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

My friend is on a mission for shoes - and the shoes are not for her.

I saw this quote today and I thought of my friend Nicole who is on a mission for shoes...literally, a mission trip to take shoes to needy children around the world.  She has entered the "Ticket to Give" contest hosted by TOMS and is working hard to be one of the lucky people chosen to go on a mission trip to deliver shoes to children.  You can find her story in this article here.

Help support this generous woman by voting for her here and help her achieve this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What might happen to you at a job interview

I found this infographic about interviewing on Pinterest.  (It looks like it originally came from www.careerchoiceguide.com)

Don't forget that some interviews are a combination of one or more of these types of interviews.

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