Stand Out For The Right Reasons

I think Miley’s VMA performance really captures one way to be memorable. However, this might not be the right route for everyone. Let’s hope not.

As sorority sisters and classmates prepare for December and spring graduations, I’m seeing applications for full-time jobs being used as a study break from finals. With all these applications and interviews, standing out in competitive markets proves essential. Now that you know what to wear for these scenarios, be memorable below the surface as well.

Follow-Up

It’s common for applicants to call an interviewer to check on the status of their application, but what about once you have heard back? If informed you did not receive a position, it’s common to respond nicely and forget about the position. Instead, respond thanking them for the consideration and ask for something to improve on.

Seeking this feedback proves your dedication to your professional life. Schedules and lives change constantly, it’s very possible for unexpected openings to occur in any field. You’ll stay top of mind through this simple correspondence. This also applies to seeking feedback after holding a job position or internship. 

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Connect

LinkedIn may not seem very revolutionary to a social media obsessed generation, but it has more power than you realize. This is again a great way to follow-up with an interviewer, you’re not ready to be Facebook friends, but connecting on LinkedIn is appropriate.

Displaying your social media proficiency is just the cherry on top of this tip. This also presents opportunities to create a relationship you wouldn’t otherwise have. Add and/or message speakers that inspire you, people working in your field of interest and others you admire. LinkedIn provides a way to introduce yourself without being creepy. Perfect.

Say Thank You

As mentioned, social media is all the rage. This phenomenon adds value to the written word. After interviews, holding positions/internships and 1:1 meetings send a hand written thank you card. Getting anything in the mail, led alone hand written, is a change of pace.

Express gratitude and express it well.

In thank you notes, utilize specific details from the conversation/interview so the receiver of the note easily recalls who you are and what meeting you are referring to. If it sounds like anyone could have written it, it’s not even worth sending. Don’t just go through the motions, be genuine- then you’ll be memorable.

Why now?

I’m not a graduating senior, but my focus on my future makes internships and networking very important. I’m in a sorority house of over 100 other women working to prepare for professional careers. By being invested in the success of others, you pick a few things up along the way.

These scenarios and the benefits of these tips are all things I have witnessed with my sisters or in my own experience. Even if you’re happy in your current employment or focusing on being a student, using these tips to create quality professional relationships will be helpful in the future. Setting the framework for future success is always relevant.

The most important lessons aren’t always what you experience, but what you’re able to learn from others.

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Dress to Impress

First the leaves changed,  then the trees were bare and now snow covers where these colorful leaves once lied. As Minnesotans, we are familiar with the change of seasons. However, we may not realize all the change this means for our professional wardrobes. As you prepare for winter, keep in mind these tips as you head into work or an interview.

1. Say No To Toes

It’s obvious to skip sandals in the winter seasons, but there’s a wider range of opportunities with high heels and flats. Closed toe shoes are preferable for colder months. However, for the workplace this should not include the popular styles of combat boots, cowboy boots or any form of sneaker. Peep-toe shoes (small opening) are also an option, but must be worn with nylons/tights. For dress pants, opt for knee highs.

2. Test Your Textures

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For men, winter provides a great opportunity to play around with dress pants. Consider corduroy trousers as an alternative. Darker shades of blue, grey or green give the trousers a more formal look. For women, consider exciting a staple cardigan for a tweed blazer. Velvet pencil skirts are work appropriate and look great in many different colors.

3. Tights vs. Leggings

If you walk on a college campus, you’ll find it’s no secret leggings are being worn as pants. However, I recently heard a debate on the radio of whether tights could be worn as pants. What? Never. To clarify, leggings are black (usually) spandex pants, that fit close to the body from the waist line to the ankle. Tights, or nylons, range from patterned to translucent to opaque and cover the feet. These can be black or many different colors.

Moral of the story, leggings should be used with tops that are a few inches shorter than a dress or skirt. A shirt that goes to one’s hips or the waistband of jeans should not be paired with leggings. Tights should only be used under skirts or dresses, never as bottoms or with tunics. For the workplace, the more opaque the tint and subtle the pattern, the better. If you would wear the dress by itself in a warmer month, opt for tights. If you would be missing a good part of your outfit, lug out the leggings.

4. Avoid The Cold Shoulder shoulder

Throughout the colder seasons, it’s important to have shoulders covered. This may seem like common sense, but it gets a little fuzzy with the trends of lace, mesh and cutouts. Lace items are fantastic, but if the pattern makes the top or dress see through in the arrow red zone pictured here, skip it for the workplace. This also speaks to the cap sleeve- go for it; but realistically, you will probably end up needing a blazer or cardigan for warmth.

5. Ex the Spandex

Playing a little game of “Would I Wear This Out Partying?” while getting ready can go a long way. This seems to be a more common trend in college students, go figure. I often see peers dressing for professional settings in the same body-con skirts and dresses they wear out for a night at the bars. Why would a boss or interviewer want to see their staff in tight outfits fit for a party scene? This looks informal and out of place. When paired with hi-lo dress shirts or long cardigans, this can be less extreme. However, this walks a fine line that must be carefully executed.

These guidelines can sound restrictive or old fashioned, but don’t let wearing nylons with peep toe shoes get your style into a slump. Winter months tend to call for darker, neutral colors. So express yourself with patterned scarves or ties, statement jewelry and trendy shoes or boots. There is plenty of room to include your personal style while being work appropriate!

St. Jude Give thanks. Walk.

75 cities across the nation brought communities together on Saturday, November 23. However, to my knowledge, only one did so in 7 degree weather. Although many lacked feeling in hands, feet, and legs, the feeling of making an impact was shared throughout Target Field.

target field Throughout my time as an intern at St. Jude, the Give thanks. Walk. started as an abstract idea and grew into something I had a sense of ownership with.

Although the planning has been in the works for quite some time, my position as an intern gave me the opportunity to recruit volunteers, sponsors and entertainment.

I was informed of the possibility of these roles in my interview in July, but experiencing the many dimensions that include each aspect proved eye opening. Here are some things I learned.

1. Find a personal connection– Having a hand in the Minneapolis, Milwaukee and Des Moines walks called for great attention to detail, in order to keep all of the contacts for volunteers straight. Whether I had family in the area, attended a similar club, or had heard of the organization, I found a way to relate to each contact. There were times I was tempted to mention we had the same first name- whatever it is, make yourself a real person not an email address.

2. It never hurts to ask– Whether this was for contributions from sponsor teams or for organizations to donate gtwgoods to the walk, you’ll only get a yes if you ask. Even though organizations are being kind by donating services, they are receiving press in return, so be confident expressing needs of the event. Additionally, I became more involved with the other area’s walks and took on unique responsibilities, because I asked where else I could be utilized. 

3. Over communicate- When it came to recruiting and organizing entertainment for the event, communication was key. Press releases, emails or phone calls can all be overlooked. It’s important to try different tactics and remember to follow up with contacts. Reminding confirmed entertainment of the date, time, location on a regular basis helps to avoid any last minute confusion. Reaching out to contacts with updates and fundraising goals is essential to stay top of mind and engage people in a way that makes them feel as vital to the event as they are.

Although I was freezing and lost feeling in far too many body parts, being part of such a great event made it all worth it. Conference calls with the Chicago and national office allowed me to experience the magnitude of 75 cities uniting together. Listening to the relationships bound by a similar cause and passion also allowed me to realize how lucky I was to be involved with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.