Thursday, January 29, 2015

Valentine's Day Gift Ideas

Truth be told, I'm a little taken aback by the fact that it's almost February. Hello?! 2015 is already flying by!!!

I will tell you one thing, Valentine's Day gifts are just too much fun. I think they can get cheesy when it comes to significant others. (I got Garrett his favorite sour cream doughnuts from Brooklyn and it was the perfect, sweet little treat.) But... Valentine's Day gifts are super cute for your besties! Or yourself. I won't judge. I probably won't be able to resist a couple of these for myself.

My mom always got my sister and me one cute little thing on Valentine's Day. Whether it was a little bracelet with a sweet inscription or cute pajama bottoms. Fun and cute!

I'm putting together some of the things that I would gift or want to be gifted:

Any favorites from the list? I think I'd lean towards the Instax camera. I have it and I must say, it is a lot of fun. It's the gift that keeps on giving because you can take cute little instant photos all the time.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Frequently Asked Resume Questions... Answered!

Jaime from The Prepary has written another amazing post tackling a HUGE topic... resumes. With the new year here and February coming right up, I know there are some readers out there thinking of starting the search for a new job or starting the application process for an internship. (I do think it's always valuable to have an up-to-date resume on hand whether or not you are looking! You never know what opportunities might come up out of the blue.)

Jaime is a true expert in all things resume and career related (she has worked in fashion and finance industries as a recruiter and talent manager). She has seen it all!!! This is a great jumping off point to get you started on organizing and updating your resume and Jaime is available for personalized consulting, too.

Frequently Asked Resume Questions... Answered!
Guest post by Jaime from The Prepary

So excited to be back in the New Year answering your career questions. Last post, we covered cover letters (check it out if you missed it) and today, we’re going to tackle the resume. If I had to guess I’d say I’ve screened over 100,000 resumes over the course of my career, and have helped at least 100 clients turn their resumes from good to great (more info on working with me here). 

There were a few common questions on this topic: how the resume should be organized, if it should be creative or designed, and how customized the resume should be for specific jobs.  GREAT questions… let’s get started.

Resume organization:
I generally recommend four main sections on resumes which may vary slightly depending on whether you’re a student, recent grad, or someone who has been working for a few years already.

They are:

1. Education details– if you are a student, this can be at the top of your resume and if you’ve had at least one post-grad job under your belt this can move to the bottom just above the skills section.

2. Work Experience (it’s called work experience but think of it more as “relevant experience”)– this section should be reserved for your most relevant work and/or internship experience. Any “side jobs” that don’t relate to what you want to do next can go in the additional experience section if it makes more sense there.

3. Additional Experience & Volunteer Activities– this would be reserved for campus activities, extracurriculars, and volunteer work. The only exception would be any of those things directly relate to what you’re trying to do next, in which case you might want to put it in the section above.

4. Skills & Interests– Interests are optional but I strongly recommend skills. Any programs (i.e. Excel, Photoshop) you have experience with and/or technical skills should be listed here.

Creative resumes:
Next up, a lot of people wonder how “designed” resumes should be since it’s becoming a trend to have infographic resumes, use lots of colors, and show a bit of personality. Not to be a downer, but I rarely seen these done well and when they’re not done well, they do more harm than good. 

If you’re a graphic designer and showing off high level work (or paid for a high quality template) go for it, but make sure you never sacrifice the actual content and bullets describing what you’ve done. For the majority of roles, the people screening your resume care about the content of your resume, not how pretty it is... and most attempts I’ve seen at the “pretty” resume fall a bit short and are tough to follow.

So if you want to use an accent color, stick with one. Don’t go crazy on fonts. Keep it simple and clean. If you do go with a designed resume, make sure you have a word version as well. Usually the systems you apply through try to convert the resumes to plain text (so they can crawl them for keywords) so you’ll want a plain version for systems and a designed one for emailing and bringing with you in person.

To customize or not to customize:
Another great question was about the degree to which you should customize your resume for different roles. Customizing can be a fantastic thing to do. One way to do this is changing up what’s in the “Work Experience” section and putting the most relevant items there, while placing the others in “Additional Experience.” This ensures that the top of your resume (valuable real estate!) is dedicated to what the reader will find most impressive.

Another way to customize is by adding bullets that feel relevant to the job you’re applying to. For example, maybe you planned a small event over the summer - but since it wasn’t part of your core responsibilities it’s not on your standard resume. If you’re applying for an events assistant role, you’re definitely going to want to add it back in! 

Bottom line: no need to go crazy with customization (especially when you’re early on in your career) but think about it logically, and if you know a few tweaks will make you seem like a stronger candidate, make them.

Hope this post answered your questions about resumes. If you have others, I’ll do this best I can to answer them by responding to your comments. There are also some helpful resume related posts in this section of The Prepary. Looking forward to tackling the next group of questions next month!

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Apartment Tour

Hope everyone is staying warm and safe today with this blizzard! Garrett and I cut our trip a bit short and came back to NYC early yesterday morning to avoid travel delays. Definitely plan on staying inside and snuggling up with a book or two. (Actually, I have tasked myself with backing up my entire laptop on my external hard drive so I can wipe the whole thing and free up space. Wish me luck with that one...)

Speaking of staying cozy inside all day... my apartment tour is live on Style Me Pretty Living. There's a short interview as well. I wanted to include some more about my apartment and a few more photos that weren't included here. 

Starting with... this is very staged. My apartment never looks like this. Maybe it gets close once a week when I do a standard clean up of everything. But for the most part? It's a mess. I simply have too many things in a small place. Not pictured in the whole tour? The inside of the bathtub where I hid as much of the clutter as I could. 

This is my first apartment, ever. I've signed my lease three times (that is, in September I will have lived in the space for three years). Moving in NYC is not fun and it's so much more cost effective to avoid moving if you can. My rent has only marginally gone up every year, but never enough where the increase in rent every year was more than what it would cost to actually move (first/last rent + security deposit, moving costs, broker fees if applicable). I really love my neighborhood, too. So I didn't have a reason to move.

The one problem is that the things that were important to me when I was 22 and looking for an apartment aren't necessarily the same things that are important to me as a 25 year old. The biggest thing on that list? The kitchen. 

My kitchen is nothing to write home about, although it does get the job done. It's hard to tell in the photo, but it's actually a hallway that just happens to have cabinets and appliances. If you swing open the not-quite-full-sized refrigerator, it hits the other wall. The dishwasher is pretty awesome though!

Most of my furniture is Ikea. At this stage of my life, I'm not really interested in investing in furniture. It doesn't make that much sense in a NYC apartment. If I'm going to start investing in bigger pieces, it will be when I have a more permanent space (ideally, a house...). My apartment dimensions are on the smaller side, so I don't want to spend a ton of money on, say, a bed that I wouldn't even use in my next stage of life space. 

One thing I did invest in? The wallpaper in my bedroom. I'm REALLY glad I did this. It seriously changed my view on my bedroom/office space. The timing was perfect too as I went from working in an office and spending next to no time in my apartment to working from home and spending a lot of time in my apartment. (I hired a paperhanger I found online to install the wallpaper.) My bedroom feels so much more cheery and less NYC dreary with the paper.

I used to have this leaning bookshelf in the living room and ended up swapping it out for a bigger bookshelf and using this instead of a second nightstand. I thought it would bother me from a symmetrical perspective, but the added storage way outweighs that issue. 

And my tiny little desk nook. It's not the prettiest workspace in the world... I dream of the day when I can devote an entire room to my office space. 

You can (literally) throw a ball from my window all the way through my living room and into the end of the bathroom. Which I do... all the time... with Teddy. He sleeps a lot while I work, but sometimes he wants a little extra attention and I'll stay at my desk throwing the ball with him up and down the apartment. 

The two beautiful windows in my bedroom? Apparently meant to offset the fact that my living room has zero natural light. It could be three in the afternoon or three in the morning. You can't tell! Now, if this was a studio, there wouldn't be a wall blocking the light. Apartments in NYC are all about compromise. I would 100% prefer to have a legitimate bedroom and no natural light in my living room than a studio. Not everyone is like that, but having a separate space feels much better mentally for me.

My living room design was a combination from Havenly's inspiration and Garrett's execution. I used to hate my living room and now I absolutely love it. The pink couch was a weird impulse buy on my end. While it's not the most ideal sitting arrangement, it works. (Barely. Oy.) 

You also may be wondering? Where's the kitchen table? So I do have a kitchen table, but it's currently used for storage. There's a printer on there right now and I tend to keep all of the products I'm planning on photographing for outfit photos there. These would be things things that I would ideally have in an office...

My bathroom is really nice in my opinion, at least for city standards. The storage in here is KEY. One thing that's changed since the photos were taken is that I hung two prints above my nail polish. Made it look a little more polished.

Photos by Cynthia Chung

Wallpaper: Anthropologie
Bed: Ikea
Bedside table: Target (c/o)
Leaning bookshelf: Container Store
Bedding: Crane and Canopy (c/o)
Coral pillow: Caitlin Wilson (c/o)
Bow pillow: Caitlin Wilson (c/o)
Live Colorfully pillow: Kate Spade
Circle texture pillow: Rue La La
Lamps: Safavieh

Desk Area:
Desk: West Elm
Chair: Ikea
Monogrammed pencil cup: Design Darling (c/o)
Mouse pad: Tory Burch
Framed Vogue print: Rue La La

Living Room:
Couch: Gilt
Coffee table: Ikea
Rug: Safavieh
Framed prints: Rue La La, a few I painted, Vogue prints cut from a book
Dalmatian spots pillows: Furbish Studios
Geometric stripes: Gilt
Key hole pillows: Target (c/o)
Blanket: Target (c/o)
Tray: Kate Spade (c/o Lifeguard Press)
Marble side table: Safavieh
Bookcase: Target (c/o)

Shower curtain: Target
Bins: Target
Nail polish storage: Container Store 
Watercolor girl: Marnani Design
Framed print: Evelyn Henson

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Monday, January 26, 2015

How to be the New Girl (or Guy)

Maxie is back today with some great advice about new situations. I've been finding myself in more and more situations where I don't know anyone (on trips, at the yoga studio) and, while it used to be one of my greatest fears, I've been embracing it with an open mind. Maxie provides some great, tangible advice on how to make the most of being the new girl (or guy) around.

How to be the New Girl (or Guy)
Guest post by Maxie McCoy

Walking around on campus knowing everyone at the library feels great. Heading to your local corner store in the city where the man behind the counter asks how your new puppy is doing feels awesome. Eating dinner with 20 of your closest friends is a total blast. You’re in a place where everybody knows your name and you’re loving it.

But there are many times in your life when you’ve moved to a new city, started at a new school, or switched jobs and you don’t know a soul. It can be lonely. It can be isolating. And scary. But more than anything it’s just wildly uncomfortable.

If I’ve learned anything from living in two different countries twice in the past year, it’s that this chapter in your life can also be quite a gift. If you embrace the right mindset, you’ll start to view this new, unchartered time as one that is exciting and energizing. So here’s to flipping the script on being the new person in any situation. Follow these tips and you’ll be building the community that you’re comfortable with in no time.

Use the alone time for good
Some people are better at being alone than others. However, no matter who you are, having time with much fewer distractions can be a great thing. If there’s a bunch of books that have been on your list but you haven’t had time to read them - now’s your chance. Bring it to your solo dinner or curl up on the couch on Friday night when no one’s guilt tripping you to come out. If you’ve been wanting to write more or maybe just Skype with your long-distance friends more frequently, your alone time will be more frequent when you’re the new person. So use it!

Be in the business of making friends 
Our relationships make our world even more beautiful. When you’re the new person, you have to be on a friend-making mission. Is there a girl you met at yoga that seemed cool? Ask her to coffee. Did your classmate invite you to join his study group? Go. Say YES more than you ever have before and you’ll be meeting people in no time.

Relish in the fresh start
Here’s probably the coolest thing about being the new person: you get to decide who you want to be. You’re making new friends. You’re meeting new people. You’re finding new routines. Build the activities and habits that are exactly the person you want to be. It’s not that you need to be someone new, but be someone you love. Surround yourself with the best. Engage in the best. And you’ll be the best. When you’re new it’s so much easier to do that.

Try new things
There’s no better time than when you’re new, to try new things. Maybe you want to get your booty to a new workout class. Or maybe you just want to learn how to decorate cakes. Or perhaps you’ll get involved in the leadership training offered at work. Not only will you have something else to fill your time with, you’re likely to meet really cool people who could become friends.

Embrace being outside the zone
It’s OK to feel weird. You may have moments of scrolling through your newsfeed and see everyone hanging out with all their friends while you just feel lonely. Or you may head to lunch at your new job and realize you don’t have anyone to grab a sandwich with. These moments will be teachers for you. You’ll put yourself out there, both with the people you meet and the activities that you try. And it will all be because you were in a place where no one knew your name.

Whatever you do when you’re the new person, remember that all of your discomfort will pass. Work to shift your perspective to see this as a great thing, and you’ll be getting into your groove in no time.

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Walking the Dog

I can't remember what blog post it was, but someone commented wanting to see a picture of what I wore when I walked Teddy. I loved that suggestion and thought I'd share what really happens.

Especially now that it's cold out, I dread (I mean really dread) that moment when Teddy pounces on me to wake me up. It feels like he's saying, "Sleep time is over!" with a malicious grin on his face. Teddy is potty trained, but when he has to go, he has to go. I spring into action to throw clothes on as he yips and yaps at the door. 

When I put my pajamas on at night, I throw my clothes that I was wearing over my desk chair. This is almost always a sweater or sweatshirt and leggings, which I put on again in the morning for the walk. I skip a bra, don't touch my hair, fling on the first pair of boots I can find on the floor, and fling on the coat I leave out at night for the morning walk.

It's not glamorous. Sadly, I can say that I have run into no fewer than four readers and six friends from college on these morning walks over the past few months. Don't let these photos I took with Bekka fool you... the clothes are the same, but the hair/face situation is #not.

I really miss the summer days when I could throw on running shorts, a sports bra, and a t-shirt and take Teddy out. Gosh, I even miss the spring days when I could hold the leash without my fingers turning ice cold. I bought the coat I'm wearing in December, half of Manhattan has it... for a reason. Sometimes I come back inside thinking it's "not that cold" only to look at my weather app and realize it's 22 degrees. Talk about warm. It's also the perfect length, just long enough to cover my rear, but short enough for mobility.

(Teddy was sent this coat which he wears all the time, as seen here. I didn't put it on him for the photos because we were outside for four minutes and his leashed matched my boots... truth.)

For shoes, I really do grab whatever pair of boots is closer to the door. Sometimes it's my Hunter boots, or my UGG boots, or my (absolute favorite) Sorel boots.

Photos by Bekka Palmer


PS If you want a more affordable/no-fur puffer coat option, I highly recommend this one. It has great features (like cuffs to keep the cold out of your sleeves), keeps you really warm, and the belt adds good shape.

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