5 Creativity Boosters for When You’re Working From Home

As much as I love working in a coffee shop, library, or an office, sometimes it’s nice to just wake up and make coffee and wear sweatpants all day while you get things done. And sometimes you just need some quiet alone time to keep your sanity intact.

The huge downside of working from home is getting into that creative workflow mode when you might not be in the most inspiring environment (not that you can’t get great ideas from a living room couch, but it doesn’t help). That’s why I put together this list of my favorite strategies for getting your grind on from the comfort of that couch.

Put on some background noise. 

I love the coffee shop atmosphere because it has just the right balance of noise and non-noise, which research has proven to boost creativity. I don’t know about you, but I can’t work in complete silence, and it helps to have ambience in the background when you’re at home.

Coffitivity is an amazing website that I just discovered a few weeks ago. It actually plays coffee shop noises, and you can actually pick from different types of coffee shop noise (the lunchtime rush? a college campus?) to get the vibe you want. If coffee shop noise isn’t your thing, put on a mindless TV show or your best Spotify playlist to nail the right sound for your work mode. Believe it or not, Keeping Up With the Kardashians gives me some of my most productive moments.

Go back to the drawing board.

A literal drawing board! I missed having the whiteboards and easels that office conference rooms have for brainstorming, so I bought a full-size easel at Michael’s and set it up at home. It’s the perfect blank canvas for when I need to draw out what I’m thinking, or make lists, or write down an inspiring quote. Whiteboards and easels are the ultimate place for ideas, and having that place at home will help you when creativity strikes at home.

Block out time when your brain is at its best.

Everyone has a time of the day that they feel most “on”– that is, when your brain is most productive. You’re always supposed to save the hardest tasks that require the most brainpower for when your brain has the most, well, power. That means if you know you work best in the AM, crank out your most work in the morning and save everything else (emails, phone calls, smaller tasks) for the afternoon. If you’re a night owl, do the reverse. And defend that time fiercely. Don’t let anyone take it up. Put time on your calendar if you need to show everyone that you can’t be disturbed.

Do something active, even just for a few minutes.

When you’re working in an office, you often get up and moving, even just to go to a meeting, but at home it’s easy to get stuck sitting for hours at a time. I have a yoga mat by my desk, for when I need to get the blood flowing. Even if it takes just a few yoga poses or a 5-minute walk, you feel refreshed and energetic when the home environment starts to make you feel blah.

Take an hour to shake up your routine.

Whatever you don’t get to spend an hour doing at the office, take the chance to do at home. Read a book you wouldn’t normally have time for, or catch up on the email newsletters that you don’t usually read. Buy fresh flowers for yourself and put them on your desk. Go through your closet and put together new outfits. Take a bath! Go see a matinee movie like they do on Mad Men when they’re feeling creatively stuck and need to clear the cobwebs. Shaking it up and doing something different can be a huge boost to your thinking, and while you’re taking your mind off your work, sometimes your mind will sort things out on its own.

Have you found any good strategies for getting that flow going while you’re WFH? I hope my methods have worked for you!



The Caffeinated Internship Series, Part II: The Resume

Welcome to Part 2 of my internship series! In this series of blog posts, I give advice on the internship search (a lot of which can also be applied to the entry level job search)! I’ve scored my share of life-changing internships, so I’m super excited to pass on what I’ve learned to all of you.

You know how people always go, “Oh, she looked good on paper, but she wasn’t great in person,” or “He wasn’t impressive on paper, but he’s really awesome when you meet him!”?

We’re going to work on getting you to be fantastic both on paper and in person. But first things first: Paper. Because usually before you wow them in the interview, you have to wow them on paper. Starting with a necessary evil: The resume.

The Caffeinated Resume

How does one caffeinate their resume? Two things:

  • Clean design
  • Compelling, specific job descriptions

That’s it. Easier said than done, though.

Clean design

A well-designed resume doesn’t mean an over-the-top resume. The best resumes are often the simplest, and you don’t need to be a graphic design whiz to make sure your resume looks pretty and polished. Here are my best pointers:

  • Choose one or two design elements that stand out. Do you want your name to be in a unique, handwritten cursive font? Do you have a cool logo? Are you all about the borders? Pick a couple distinctive aspects, and make the rest as simple as possible. If you’ve already developed a personal brand, this is a good place to incorporate any colors and designs that speak to your brand.
  • Use a simple body font that’s easy to read on all computers and mobile devices: Like Arial, Calibri, Cambria, Didot, Garamond, Georgia and Helvetica.
  • If you don’t feel comfy in Photoshop or InDesign, use Canva or a similar (free!) online design program that makes graphic design easy for normal people. Canva used to be my best-kept secret for looking like a design wizard.
  • Use an understated palette with one bold accent color. Mine is white, gray and black, but I use pink for a few of the design elements as an accent. I love pink, but I don’t want to overwhelm the people looking at my experience.
  • Put the most important information at the top. Your name, website, and most relevant experience should all be at the tippy-top.
  • Ditch the objective section. Your resume is about what you are doing for the company, not what the company can do for your personal goals.
  • Pretty paper is a plus. We know that resumes should always be printed on nice, heavy paper, but depending on your field, you might want to take it a step up. My resume is a watercolor design, so I print it on watercolor paper!

Above all:

  • Focus on your achievements. Sometimes if you go too crazy with the design, you take away from what the hiring manager should really be looking at, which is your amazing experience! Keep the spotlight on your words and keep the design simple.

Let’s talk about highlighting some of those achievements next!

Compelling job descriptions

  • Keywords, keywords, keywords. They’re like the hashtags on an Instagram post: If you don’t use them, people won’t find you. Same goes for a resume. If you don’t use words in your resume that match the words in the job posting, the hiring managers might not even see your resume. It’s no secret that lot of those online systems will sort through resumes based on whether they match the keywords in the job description, but a lot of people still have no idea that this is a thing. Unfortunately, it is a thing, so play the game and put in those keywords!

For example: If the job description says “Event planning experience a plus,” you can write in one of your bullet points, “Planned events, including blah blah blah.” Better yet, you can include “Event planning” in the Skills section.

  • Use action words: I know you know this one, but I’m saying it anyways. “Organized. Managed. Coordinated. Maintained. Led. Created.” You get the gist.
  • Give examples: Be specific in what you did. Sticking with the event planning example: When you say “Planned events,” you can be more specific by saying, “Planned events with increased attendance and fundraising efforts, including the 5K for the Cure that had a record 17,000 attendees.”
  • Humble brag: The resume is the place to do it. You have no doubt done something great, so stand up and shout it from the rooftops (in the most objective way possible). Numbers are the best way to do this, like “Increased participation by 70%” or in my own PR case, “Secured a placement in Blah Blah Magazine, resulting in over One Gajillion impressions.”

There you have it- my favorite pointers for creating a beautiful resume. There are so many different directions to take your personal style, but don’t forget to let your experience shine! Sound off in the comments if you have your own tips and tricks. Best of luck when you send that baby out!!



Nailing the Morning Routine

Somewhere between my first year of college and first year of grad school, the unthinkable happened: I became a Morning Person.

I’d always thought Morning People were evil because only the devil could feel so alive at such an ungodly hour.

But necessity is the mother of invention, and last summer I finally had the necessity to get to my summer PR internship bright and early, with a smile on my face, a polished outfit and the ability to jump right into whatever crisis was already happening at 7:30 a.m. So I had to trick myself into becoming a Morning Person. And that was when I realized that Morning People have it MADE. Why? Several reasons:

  • No one bothers you until around 9:30, so you can actually have time to yourself to knock a few tasks out before you get sucked into meetings and new tasks
  • You’re the first one in the office, so you get automatic points just for showing up and being there early. People notice that. They also notice when you rush in out of breath at 9:45 and get to the meeting unprepared.
  • It gives you back an extra hour or two to do personal things like meditate, work out, make a good breakfast, read, or whatever else makes you happy. #selfcare

So it’s obviously beneficial to be an evil Morning Person. But how do you do it? It’s all in the routine. You can’t just start doing these things, you have to establish it as a habit. Just like going to the gym is a habit (a habit that you might even pick up better if you start a morning routine).

A Caffeinated Californian Morning

6:30: Triage: I do a quick skim of my emails to make sure nothing has gone terribly wrong in the day yet, or that there’s nothing urgent I need to respond to. I flag any emails that will need my attention when I get to work. Then I roll back over and go back to sleep for another 15 minutes.

6:45: Beauty: I do my morning skincare and makeup routine, which involves washing my face and brushing my teeth and applying makeup and all that fun hygienic stuff. Then I get dressed– I usually try to pick out an outfit the night before so I don’t have to spend time worrying about what to wear.

7:00: Mindfulness: I meditate for about 3-5 minutes using the Headspace app (it’s amazing) and then make myself drink water, since I’ve needed to get better at staying hydrated and starting with water before I get into the coffee!

7:15: Breakfast Briefing: I make a quick breakfast, like avocado toast or a bagel, and turn on the coffee. Then I sit down and read through all my daily news: The Skimm, New York Times, Fast Company, etc. This helps me know what’s going on from the start and stay updated, so I go into work or class informed.

7:30: Blogging: I do some writing if I have extra time, and it helps me start my day creatively and reflectively. It’s like getting all my creative energy out while I can so I can better focus on my work duties throughout the day.

7:45: Commute: I’ve been lucky enough that my commute has been a walk, whether it was the 20-minute walk to the office in downtown Chicago over the summer, or the five-minute walk to class during the school year. When I’m working, I try to get there around 8 a.m.. My morning walk takes the place of a morning workout, like yoga or stretching, and I do my real working out at night, when my brain is tired of thinking and it just wants to take a break while my body does some working.


Some tips for creating a routine

  1. Take time for creative outlets. Do you enjoy reading? Blogging? Painting? Listening to music? If you add something you love doing to your morning routine, it will make you actually look forward to mornings.
  2. Be mindful of your health. A lot of people work out in the mornings. Even though I don’t work out, I use my morning to meditate, to take care of a personal health need. I also use the morning to drink as much water as possible (before I start forgetting) and do some stretching to feel physically ready for the day.
  3. Block out time in your calendar. My Google Calendar literally has a slot for “Meditate”, scheduled at the same time every morning. If you don’t defend your morning time as a scheduled routine, you won’t take it as seriously.
  4. Be consistent. While holidays and weekends are different, for the most part you need to get it together and participate in your routine every day. It will suck at first. And then you’ll be shocked at how fast you get used to it.
  5. Prep the night before. Make it as easy on yourself as possible. Fill the coffee maker. Set out your clothes. Make your lunch (I’ve started meal prepping on Sunday nights).

Need more ideas for establishing your morning routine? My Morning Routine is a weekly newsletter that you can sign up for (it’s free), and each week you get a new morning routine in your inbox from a real person in the working world, usually someone successful and productive like a CEO or travel blogger.


Have you started establishing a morning routine? How long have you been sticking to it? Is it easier to live your best life? Tell all!





The Caffeinated Internship Series, Part I: Doing the research

Welcome to Part 1 of my internship series! In this series of blog posts, I give advice on the internship search (a lot of which can also be applied to the entry level job search)! I’ve scored my share of life-changing internships, so I’m super excited to pass on what I’ve learned to all of you.

Once January hits, it’s go time for internship application season. A few applications might have already opened, especially in the accounting/finance sector, but most companies across industries don’t start the hiring process until late winter/spring. So you’re here at the right time! Welcome, you ambitious badass, you.

Okay, so let’s dive right in. First things first– you need to find internships to apply to in the first place, right? For many, this is the hard part, because it can be time-consuming to find openings. But don’t worry, I gotchu. Here are some of my favorite tricks for starting the search:

Create a spreadsheet.

This is your home base for all things internship search. On a Google sheet or Excel– whichever scares you less– make an Internship Search 2018 sheet, with columns for the following categories:

  • company name
  • internship title
  • a link to the application
  • materials needed (does it ask for recommendation letters? does it have a weird essay or project to test your skills?)
  • deadline
  • extra details (anything interesting about the company or connections you have)
  • status (here is where you’ll fill in whether you’ve applied, gotten a response back, etc.).

Once you have a place to list all the applications and openings you find, it’s time to go find them!

Narrow down your criteria for a good fit.

Do you need to be in a specific location, or are you open to a number of cities? Does it need to be paid? What kind of company are you looking for– a big advertising agency? A small local business? These will all be important to keep in mind as you start searching.

Let the Googling begin.

Start with the basic job sites, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Indeed and Monster are all fine and good, but not every company will post their openings there (especially internships). So in many cases, you’ll need to go directly through the company website, which means you should be googling the companies themselves.

When I was looking for PR internships my junior year of college, I knew I wanted to work in fashion, beauty or lifestyle, so I specifically searched for Free People, Nordstrom, etc. Some of these seemed way beyond my reach, but you never know what will happen: Nordstrom reached out to me for interviews, and I ended up making it to the final round even though I was just a junior.

Once you start finding openings, you’ll put them into your handy dandy spreadsheet that you created earlier. Woohoo!

As you keep going, you’ll see new opportunities pop up. Internships are constantly being posted, so you pretty much never run out of things to apply to. It’s also a good idea to set up notifications for new job postings on apps like LinkedIn Jobs and Glassdoor, so that you receive constant updates on what’s opening up.

Network. Network network network.

I know. It’s a necessary evil. But you know what? Sometimes it’s exactly what needs to happen for your dreams to fall in to place. It’s not as scary as people make it sound, especially now that we have LinkedIn. So start reaching out to professors that might have industry connections. Go to career fairs (they’re fun! I swear!) and find out what companies look for. Use your school alumni network. Talk up the guy at the bar who just happened to intern in your dream industry last summer. Yes, even parties are the perfect place to network. See? Not scary. Fun. I can tell you’re not convinced. But trust me.

There are so many networking opportunities that you wouldn’t have even thought about before. Go get ’em, tiger.

Question Time (things you might be wondering at this point)

Q: How many internships should be on my list?

A: Don’t stop ’til you get enough! You should always be adding to the list, right up to when you get that offer letter from your dream job. But if you want a solid number, the reality is that you should be applying to around 30 jobs. I am not joking around.

Q: Are you trying to kill me?

A: Maybe. But okay, you can make this so much more manageable than you think. Break down your list into 7-10 “priority” applications to focus on at a time, based on their deadline/urgency, and how much you want it. Then knock out one or two apps a day. See? Not so bad.

Q: What if my dream company doesn’t have an internship program?

A: List them anyways, and see if you can still intern there by reaching out directly and offering your services. This is where the cold email comes in: You find the right person to contact, figure out what their needs are, and send them an email describing who you are and how you can contribute to filling those needs with your skills. Kinda like a cover letter, but shorter and in email form. You got this.

And FYI, cold emails are often a great idea even when you apply through a formal application system. We’ll cover that next in Part II: The Cover Letter and Resume. Stay tuned!

How are you feeling? Overwhelmed? Excited? Internship/job apps can be stressful, but I’m super hopeful that I can help. The search is on!!



Keeping it positive in 2018: How to bring a new attitude to the new year

2018 is coming. Are you ready for it?

I know I am. After what might have been the hardest year of my life, I am so ready for a new start. The funny thing is, 2018 isn’t a new start. It’s just a new number that I have to remember to write when I write the date. But it somehow represents a new chance to change something about your life for the better.

Not that we need an excuse to do that, but New Year’s gives us an excuse to do that with style. It’s not every night you can celebrate life changes with champagne. Or maybe it is. Shoot. I’ve been doing it wrong.

But anyways. My point: New Year’s is a perfect time to think about having a more positive attitude.

How do you know when you need an attitude adjustment? Is it when you wake up and realize you can’t remember the last time you woke up excited for the day? Is it when you break down into tears from one small setback (which may or may not include broken escalators)? Or is it when you just have this general feeling that you’re just not giving enough, to your job, to your friends, to the world, to your life?

Maybe you feel this. Or maybe you don’t, and you just want more ways to feel positive. Whatever your situation, I’ve been there, and I know the power of positive thinking sounds cheesy, but hear me out: It’s legit. Your mind is a powerful thing, and once you believe in that power, you can honestly do whatever the hell you want. This includes eating ice cream for breakfast, and having a positive attitude. Both very important priorities.

And as usual, I’ve got the details…

What you should be doing this year to keep a positive attitude

  • My analytical-brain twist on the whole “count your blessings” game: Whenever something happens that puts you in a bad mood or bums you out in any way, big or small, write it down. Whenever something good happens, write that down too in a separate list. Compare the lists. Did that many bad things actually happen, or does the good outweigh the bad? Were all the bad things that big of a deal?
  • When a challenge or crisis comes up (you mess up at work, you have a big presentation coming up and your team isn’t working well together, your boyfriend is talking to that girl you hate, you drop your pizza…okay, some bad examples in there but these things tend to throw us off), allow yourself to have a private mini freak-out session. This can be as simple as screaming for ten seconds into a pillow. Let it all out. Cry if you need to. But then you’re done. Panic time is over. And then you can focus on solving the problem.
  • Speaking of problems, there is a solution for all of them. Believe this. Make it your mantra. If you buy into the prophecy that there is a solution, you’ll be a lot more likely to fulfill your own prophecy and actually find the solution.
  • Figure out what helps you feel invincible. It can be clothing (I have this gorgeous floral print Free People kimono that for some reason gives me all the confidence in the world when I wear it), a song, a workout, a perfume, a photo, anything. It can be a combination of all of the above. And then keep those things close. I love the scent of rose, and I love skincare, so I keep a rose water face spray at my desk for a quick spritz whenever I need to feel refreshed and powerful. Sounds a little crazy but it works!
  • Heed the wisdom of Legally Blonde: Endorphins make you happy. I’ll let you finish the rest of that line, but the point is, get the endorphins going by exercising frequently. If you feel your mood dipping, take a 5-minute walk and see how you feel after. My guess is you’ll feel magical compared to your mood before.
  • Create a “smile file,” or a list of all the good things people have said to you. I have a folder with emails from my supervisors whenever they tell me I did a great job on something, and I look back at it any time I need a boost.
  • Surround yourself with as much positive energy as possible. This especially means keeping positive people close and cutting negative people out. If some toxic friend is bringing down your mood with constant complaints and anxiety-inducing behavior, distance yourself ASAP because you do not need that around. Even the most optimistic among us can get dragged down by pessimistic people if they let it happen.
  • Focus on a positive vision: It’s like they say with practicing a sport or doing well on a test. If you even just imagine yourself performing the perfect pirouette in the ballet performance, you’re already setting yourself up to do the real thing. Focus on believing in your ability to do what you need to do. Envisioning success and happiness will help you make it happen. Because self-fulfilling prophecies are a real thing and the power is all yours.

What you think, you become.

What you feel, you attract.

What you imagine, you create.

– Buddha (but also Pinterest)

Happy New Year and thanks for reading! I have a lot of things to be positive about, including this blog and all of my readers. I can’t wait to see what the positive energy brings this year. Cheers!



10 Productive but Fun Things To Do During Holiday Breaks (+Freebie!)

Okay, so a break is a break…but at some point you can’t help but open up your laptop again. Resist the urge to do actual work!! Instead, take the time to learn a new skill or develop your side passion. Sometimes, the best recharge comes from personal development. That sounded super lame, but whatever. It’s straight truth.

Here are some ideas to get you started!

1. Sign up for new blogs, newsletters, and podcasts.

It’s important to stay updated on industry trends, current events, expert advice, and inspirational stories. I subscribe to about ten different newsletters, which are a combination of daily news updates, inspiration, career advice, and creative boosts.

A few places to start:

From there, you can find more outlets specific to your industry! I follow PR Couture, a fashion PR blog, for updates on best practices and industry trends that are specific to my own career.

2. Learn basic coding.

I was always iffy on learning how to code, but then I was like, wait, it would be so badass if I knew how to write HTML and CSS and JavaScript and actually understand what the difference between each of those things is. I could be one of the #GirlsWhoCode!

Enter General Assembly Dash. This website offers free basic coding lessons, with fun projects that you’ll actually want to use, like a blog theme and a website. If it sounds intimidating, it’s because it is– coding was a scary, scary concept to me– but the website makes it super approachable and easy to follow.

3. Read a classic novel you’ve been meaning to read.

Ever tell yourself you’re really going to try knitting a scarf in time for Christmas, or that you’re definitely going to read The Great Gatsby instead of just watching the movie and pretending you’ve read it? And then you just never get around to it? Understandable during the busy work weeks. But no excuses now- you’ve got nothing but time, especially with all the plane flights and car rides of holiday travel. Do yourself a solid and read up!

4. Try a DIY project, be it a recipe, beauty hack or fashion trend.

All those projects you’ve been wanting to try but never had the time for? Now’s the time. Distress some jeans. Make your own homemade body scrub (like this coffee scrub that I recently tried!). Attempt one of those recipes you’ve seen on a Facebook video loop. Craft a letter board from a Pinterest tutorial.

5. Work on building your personal brand: Your website, portfolio, LinkedIn, blog, social media, any and all of the above.

Your personal brand is always a work in progress, but it won’t develop unless you put some thought into it. It’s easy to let your LinkedIn profile take the back burner when you’re not actively searching for a new job, but you never know when you will be, or when someone might approach you first!

Freebie alert:

I created a personal branding checklist that you can print out, to help you stay focused and get that shiz done.

Download the checklist here!

Personal Branding Checklist.png

6. Write letters. Not emails.

I love a good old-fashioned handwritten note, and these days, there’s nothing like getting an actual card and not an e-card. Plus it’s fun buying pretty paper from a pretty paper store. Don’t judge me. Just get yourself some nice stationery like the grown person you are, and write letters to people that you care about. It will make their week.

Pro tip: If you don’t already write handwritten thank-you notes after job interviews, you’re doing it wrong. Send the email only as a backup for the real deal!

7. Get the ball rolling on a new sport or hobby.

Always wanted to try kickboxing or knitting? Now your whole schedule is open. Once you get in the habit of a new sport or hobby, it will be something you can continue even when you get back to the regular routine. I started boxing over Thanksgiving break, and kept it up in classes twice a week at my campus rec center when I returned to school. Pro tip: Don’t let going back to work give you an excuse for stopping a hobby. It’s not hard to block off a couple hours a week for something that energizes you!

8. Go to the museum or zoo for some cultural experience.

The whole family can even come along: Go visit the new polar bear or the Monet exhibit. Museums and other cultural destinations are some of the best places to clear your head and feel inspired. Many creative and business-minded people get their best ideas from wandering around an art gallery or a theme park. It takes you out of your usual mindset, and gives you new ways of looking at the world. Plus it’s entertaining and just plain fun.

9. Clean out your closet.

Once winter rolls around, you start to figure out which sweaters you actually wear and which ones you can chuck. I like to sell my clothes at local vintage stores, and use the money to update my wardrobe for the spring. When I can’t sell, I donate. It’s great for your closet and for the environment, and possibly great for your wallet. Everyone wins.

10. Do some soul-searching.

Take yoga classes, start journaling, watch some TED talks. This is a good time to get to know yourself better, when you’re not distracted by the chaos of everyday life. It’s a lot easier to focus on mindfulness when you’re not busy answering emails or thinking about work projects. Once you focus on yourself, you’ll be able to better focus on others. Maybe you’ll find that you want to dedicate more time to volunteering this spring, or maybe you’ve realized you want to make a change in your career. Self-discovery sounds all New Agey, but it’s a real thing and it’s just as important as your “real” work.

I hope you feel more inspired to pursue different things this winter, and enjoy being semi-productive this season!



Why you don’t want to be normal

nor·mal: adjective. Conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected.

Well, who the heck wants that?

Today I wanted to talk about why it’s okay, and even better, to not be normal. Because for our entire lives, we have felt pressure to be normal. But the thing is, being normal might be the most overrated concept on the planet. Because since when has a normal person done anything groundbreaking? Since when does conforming to the standards mean pushing something further and making progress?
Quick personal story time:
I’ve spent a lot of my life struggling between being the weirdo and being the cheerleading captain. I usually ended up doing both. High school will tell you that the two are mutually exclusive, but I will tell you that they are not. I was probably the nerdiest cheer captain there ever was. I brought my AP European History textbooks to practice. It should have been disastrous.
But because I was a nerd, I was a great cheer captain. I spent time memorizing cheers, poring over YouTube videos and creating complicated, dynamic routines with the same drive that I put towards my Spanish homework. I was the girl that always had her headphones on, and my love for music helped me learn how to mix soundtracks for the perfectly timed stunt sequences that I made up. Rarely one to be at the party every weekend, I had free time to dedicate toward making my team look its best under the Friday night lights.
I definitely wasn’t captain because of popularity, that was for sure. But the routines I created are still used by the cheer team today, 5 years after I graduated.
Same thing went for my sorority. Joining a sorority seems like the ultimate conformity, but under the matching T-shirts are the most brilliant, compassionate, genuine people on earth, and they encouraged me to be my weird self. One time, on the night that we held elections for officer positions, I stood up in front of the whole chapter and told a story about the time I stepped in wet cement and got stuck because there wasn’t a Wet Cement sign. It was a very low point for me. The entire chapter died laughing, and that night they elected me PR Chair. My ownership of my own dorky moments are what made me stand out from 200 women.
Enough about me, let’s talk about you.
So we’ve established that being yourself and taking ownership of the things that make you stand out are what will help you succeed as a leader. Still with me? Cool. Let’s talk about getting there. Because let’s face it: It’s not everyone’s first instinct to let their freak flag fly. If you want to work on embracing your unique qualities that set your apart, this one’s for you.
Here’s what you gotta do:

Let go of people who have criticized you for being different.

Some people will just live for taking other people down, and that’s not ideal, but it’s the world we live in, so you’re going to have to let things roll off your back. So what if someone thinks it’s weird that you spend so much time listening to musicals or going on outdoor hikes? They can go be bored while you develop your cultural sensibilities and appreciation for nature. So what if you dress up for class when everyone else wears Nike shorts and sweatpants? You probably have a better fashion sense and will be ready to rock the real world, while I will be adjusting to life without my yoga pants. The point is, people get intimidated when someone is unique, and you can’t let that stop you.
Surround yourself with supportive people, and you’ll find that you are so much better off.

Nurture the skills and activities that make you happy.

I actually kind of hate the word nurture, because it’s not like we’re all plants, but whatever. It makes the most sense here.
Make a list or draw out all of the things that make you happy. My list includes things like 80s music, helping people, beauty products, reading books, seafood, art, ballet class, and public speaking (yes, public speaking. Told you I’m weird. We’ll get to that in a second). Then, evaluate how much time you dedicate to each of those things. If you love yoga, do you go to yoga class as often as you’d like? Are you missing out on opportunities to teach yoga? See where you can do more to develop your unique passions.

Figure out what strengths you have that other people don’t.

You know the Pussycat Dolls song that goes, “Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?” Make your own version of that song: “Don’t cha wish your girlfriend had a knowledge of Led Zeppelin like me?” Not as catchy but a lot more fun.
Here’s another personal example: I love public speaking. I think it’s a great time. Meanwhile, most other people fear public speaking more than they fear death. Therefore, this is one of the things that makes me not normal. But it’s also great, because once I’m in the Working World, I’ll be comfortable giving presentations, and one day I might be in a position where I’m one of those big-shots that give motivational keynote speeches at conferences. Boom. Weirdo wins.
Find your version of public speaking. Figure out what you can do that most other people in your field can’t. Everyone has something.

Find inspiration in fearless role models.

For me, it’s Kelly Cutrone, whose book Normal Get You Nowhere helped inspire this post. She’s one of the most badass women in the PR game, so there’s that. I’ve also been inspired by fictional characters, like Carrie Bradshaw and Blair Waldorf. Carrie made it cool to be a writer. Blair made it cool to care about grades and success. Not that I needed permission to feel okay caring about these things– but it helped to see my own qualities reflected in strong women, real or not. And then I became my own superhero.

Become your own role model.

Once you’ve embraced yourself and developed your strengths, it’ll be your turn to inspire others. Mentor a younger worker in your office. If you’re still in school, mentor younger sorority members or people in your degree program. Once you become an expert, or leader, or business owner, or whatever it is you want to be, you can pass it on to someone else. It’s amazing how much inspiring someone else will make you realize how awesome it is to be yourself. Unapologetically, one hundred percent yourself.

Cheers to being weird! What qualities have you learned to embrace?



Feeling Uninspired? 10 Things You Should Try to Get Your Spark Back

Sometimes you’re feeling your creativity flow, and other times it seems like all you can do is lay in bed and avoid your emails. As a 20-something graduate student who works in the advertising/PR industry, I can relate. And believe it or not, “more coffee” isn’t always the answer…(just most of the time).

The Caffeinated Californian logo features a lightning bolt for two reasons: (1) It’s a nod to that jolt of energy you get from caffeine, and (2) It evokes the feeling of inspiration. I want to energize and inspire my readers, not just from coffee advice, but also from a serious place of knowledge and creativity.

Also (3) I love David Bowie.

All that said, I’m excited to finally write this post, because I’ve been in a bit of a rut for the past couple weeks. Grad school is no joke, and when I’m buried underneath a pile of papers to write, it’s hard to spend time on my creative outlets. I was spending way too much time watching Gossip Girl on repeat and playing Diner Dash on my phone at 1 a.m. Seriously.

Finally, after a spontaneous road trip to Colorado and some free time to sleep for once, I got my mojo back, and I’m here to help you find yours. Let’s get to it!

1. Give yourself a break.

This morning, I slept in until 11, which always makes me feel like a useless blob, but I’ve learned that you can’t beat yourself up too much for listening to your body and doing what you need to do. Cut yourself some slack and accept that it’s okay to feel less than okay. If you spend your relaxation time feeling guilty about relaxing, it doesn’t help anything. Take a break, maybe even a whole day off. Perfectly okay.

2. Do something for someone else.


When your work is bogging you down, it’s time to stop and redirect your attention to someone or something else that deserves your focus. When was the last time you sent a thank you note (other than for a job interview or recommendation letter)? When was the last time you complimented a friend (other than on their Instagram post)? I’m guilty of focusing too much on my work and not enough on the people and causes I care about.

We all know the whole “What goes around, comes around” mantra, and we know that doing good things = feeling good about yourself. But I’m still amazed every time all over again how much of a difference it makes in my outlook on everything. When you know you’ve made a positive impact, it comes right back and makes a positive impact on your attitude.

3. Get your thoughts out of your head and into the physical world.

If you’re a writer, start drawing on a whiteboard or easel. If you’re a dancer, stop watching choreography videos on YouTube and start dancing in the studio. Whatever it takes to get ideas into the tangible, tactile world– even if you’re just doodling or striking a pose on the yoga mat. Studies have shown that getting off your computer and getting onto a notebook can make a huge difference. Sometimes, I even start my blog posts by jotting ideas in a notepad.

Side note: My favorite phrase in grad school is “studies have shown.” So vague, and so authoritative at the same time. Everyone just accepts it. It’s magical.

4. Give yourself a beauty treatment.

This one is a pretty typical piece of advice that I give out, and sounds like such a superficial, temporary solution. But this is not the time for making major lifestyle changes. This is a rut. And with ruts, the small steps are what matter. A manicure or facial, or even a ridiculously hot shower, are all things that seem doable when all you want to do is sit in bed.

5. Plan something fun.


As important as it is to live in the now, getting excited about something in the future can be a powerful way to jump-start your positive energy. The holidays are coming up, and it’s an ideal time for fun get-togethers or getaways. Plan a friendsgiving, or a birthday, or even a weekend vacation. Bonus: You’ll still feel like you did something productive!

6. Connect with someone who inspires you.

For me, it can be one of my professors, a past career mentor, or a trusted older friend. It could be someone you know, or someone you found on LinkedIn. Reaching out can feel kinda scary, but it’s so incredibly worth it when you get crazy good advice. You’ll also be surprised how willing (and even excited) people are to offer their perspective.

I spent today sitting in my living room in my sweats and searching for potential people to reach out for career advice. But guess what? I was networking. Who else can say they were networking on a Friday afternoon with Gossip Girl on in the background?

7. Learn something new.

We live in the age of Google and YouTube, where you can develop basically any new skill you want from the comfort of your bed. This is particularly useful when you’re feeling like a slug and don’t have the motivation to get out of bed. Google Analytics, for example, offers free certifications. Obviously this is on the nerd side, which isn’t everyone’s style, so yoga classes and cooking recipes count too. It can be a beauty tutorial, for all I care. Life skills, people!

8. Create a “smile file” for a self-boost.

I picked up on this tip when I interned at a big PR agency and got overly stressed out every day. Sometimes you feel like you fail ten times a day, and during those times, it’s hard not to feel like you’re doing the wrong thing or you’re in the wrong city or have the wrong career. During these times, you need reminders that you’re killing it, and this is where a smile file is handy: Keep a file on your laptop or in your email (or even a physical folder) with things you’re proud of. Maybe it’s an email from your supervisor telling you that you did a good job on something. It can be a project you enjoyed, a huge challenge you overcame, positive feedback from a customer, or anything else that makes you feel great.

9. Make a vision board or gallery wall.


I don’t mean on Pinterest. I mean go to Target, get a corkboard and some magazines, and go to town. You might be in a rut because you’re having trouble visualizing a lifestyle that inspires you. Or, if you have a creative project you’ve been struggling with (for me, it’s my master’s thesis), make a vision board specifically for that project. Putting together images that inspire you can help you see for yourself what direction to take.

10. Go outside.

The simple action of leaving your apartment can work wonders. A five-minute walk around your neighborhood, a park, the mall, or your college campus might make a world of difference in helping you feel refreshed and motivated. Even if it’s just a coffee run. One small step for Starbucks, one giant leap for your creative well-being.

What do you do when you’re feeling stuck? Let me know if you have any tricks or tips!



Everyday Inspiration: 100 places to get ideas

Whenever someone asks me, “What inspires you?” I tell them literally everything. Which isn’t super helpful, I realize, but here’s the trick: I look for inspiration in the daily, everyday moments that would normally go unnoticed.

Of course, it’s obviously important to seek out new experiences. I love a good Lollapalooza weekend, or a hike in the Grand Canyon. But you don’t always need a life-changing adventure. Sometimes, nothing sparks the mind like a five-minute walk. Or an ice cream flavor. Or the country music coming from the bar next door. The packaging of a makeup product. The mall. The gym. The bubbles in your bath…or your champagne! When you keep your eyes open to the ordinary, the ordinary suddenly becomes the extraordinary. And there’s your inspiration.

When you keep your eyes open to the ordinary, the ordinary suddenly becomes the extraordinary. And there’s your inspiration.

To get you started on finding your extraordinary in the ordinary, I’ve listed a whopping 100 sources of inspiration you can probably find across the street or even your own room. Now you have no excuses. Deep breath, here we go:

100 Places to Find Everyday Inspo

  1. The shower

  2. Live music

  3. A new neighborhood

  4. Tequila

  5. Magazines

  6. Museums

  7. Dreams (day or night)

  8. Art galleries victor-lozano-227612

  9. Documentaries

  10. Horror movies

  11. Rom coms (with life lessons of course)

  12. Comedy clubs

  13. The library

  14. The gym

  15. Plane flights

  16. Road trips

  17. Full Kanye West albums

  18. Full Beatles albums

  19. Full Pink Floyd albums

  20. Full Daft Punk albums

  21. Chinatown mariano-rossi-330641

  22. The mall

  23. The toilet

  24. The elevator

  25. The laundromat

  26. Yoga class

  27. Beauty products freestocks-org-209882.jpg

  28. The weird part of YouTube

  29. Reading the entire Harry Potter series from the beginning as an adult

  30. TED talks

  31. Listening to a new music genre

  32. Farmer’s markets

  33. Flowers ornella-binni-106373

  34. Architecture

  35. A walk around the block

  36. The Food Network

  37. The fancy stationery store

  38. The zoo katie-treadway-253591

  39. Bath and Body Works

  40. Free People catalogues

  41. Netflix musicals (try Chicago, personal fave)

  42. Community theater musicals

  43. Broadway musicals

  44. High School Musical

  45. Spotify

  46. The ocean anastasia-taioglou-244880

  47. The lake

  48. The pool

  49. The bathtub…anywhere with water is good

  50. Champagne

  51. Champagne. IN the bathtub. Double whammy. You’ll be writing novels in no time.

  52. A frat party

  53. Pizza. Pizza is always inspirational.

  54. Donuts. See above rationale for pizza. bethany-newman-61417

  55. Starbucks, obviously

  56. A blank canvas

  57. Whatever new Urban Decay Naked palette is out

  58. Gossip Girl

  59. A globe andrew-neel-182861

  60. Pottery Barn catalogues

  61. The park

  62. Football games

  63. Disney movies

  64. Fashion shows

  65. Windows jonatan-pie-235783

  66. New restaurants

  67. A blank notebook

  68. Canned soup (hey, it worked for Warhol)

  69. Pinterest quotes

  70. Dance class

  71. A new shade of lipstick ian-dooley-298769

  72. Lightning bolts (the inspo for my logo)!

  73. Pilates

  74. Old cookbooks

  75. Old books in general (Tip: Visit one of those tiny bookstores with vintage books.)

  76. Mexican restaurants

  77. Antique stores

  78. Flea markets

  79. Candy stores delfi-de-la-rua-133880.jpg

  80. Little Italy

  81. Walmart

  82. Reddit

  83. The self-help section of Barnes and Noble

  84. The classics section, if feeling ambitious john-mark-kuznietsov-266552

  85. The aquarium

  86. Bike rides

  87. Driving along the coast

  88. Driving through cornfields, if in Midwest and cannot access coast

  89. Corn mazes!

  90. Carnivals hannah-morgan-95342

  91. Haunted houses

  92. Roller coasters

  93. Horse races

  94. Casinos

  95. Your closet

  96. 24 hour diners dani-king-261235

  97. Trains

  98. Candles

  99. Cameras

  100. Coffee shops…naturally…


Whew! So much inspiration, so little time…better get cracking and start appreciating your Walmart!



How I landed my first fashion internship

It’s never too early to start your dream career, especially when it’s a tough industry like fashion. The problem is, you have the catch-22 of getting entry-level experience: To get experience, you need experience. So how do you go about getting your first job or internship when you don’t have a previous experience? WHAT IS THIS CONSPIRACY??

What they don’t tell you is that you do have previous experience. Maybe it’s not an internship, but by the time you’re in college looking for internships, you’ve got plenty of valuable stuff under your belt, from school to extracurricular activities, to your personal passions and interests. The trick is packaging. Yup, packaging. It’s all in the presentation.

After lots of trial and error and Internet research, I was able to spin what little experience I had into resume gold. I turned my after-school retail job and my one year of college education into the first internship of my dreams at Note To You Little Sister (NTYLS), a San Diego-based online fashion retailer with killer clothes and an amazing brand story.

Here’s how I did it:

The internship search

Finding your passions and shooting for the moon and all that

It’s a rough time applying to summer internships as a sophomore. You’re competing with people who have eons of experience ahead of you. But I was both stubborn and stupid, which isn’t a bad combination when it comes to the gutsy experience of going for jobs way beyond your reach. Because guess what? You’ll get rejected, but you never know where you’ll get accepted. I applied to PR agencies that would probably not even give a junior in college the time of day, but what did I know? I just kept trying.

Tip: Start with what you’re naturally interested in, and go from there. Make a list of everything you want to apply to, even if you don’t think you’re qualified yet.

I knew I wanted to work in fashion, so I applied to big fashion brands like Free People, Nordstrom, and also smaller boutiques that I found on Instagram and just Google. I made a spreadsheet of all my dream jobs and internships, from ones I thought I had a reasonable chance with, to ones I had no business applying to. And I ended up landing one of the internships I thought I had no business applying to. You are not wasting your time if you really care about the places you apply to.

The resume

Standing out both visually and verbally

Knowing I had to stand out even more as a sophomore, and because I was applying to a creative industry, I designed my resume with some flair. I used Canva to create a gorgeous, personalized resume that was so unbelievably extra I couldn’t even believe what I had done. But guess what? BEING EXTRA WORKS. Job searches are the time to be extra, ladies and gentlemen.

(Are there any gentlemen reading my blog? I have no idea, to be super honest.)

Then, I had to make the content sing. Since I was focusing on fashion jobs, I focused my experience on fashion. My first job was at a local clothing store, so that was great, but I also had to connect my jobs as a cashier at the campus bookstore, a ride operator at Legoland, and a writing tutor. Not as easy. Yet there are so many ways to make connections– for example, with the writing tutor position, I described how I build relationships with each unique individual that comes in for tutoring, and connected that with managing client relationships in PR.

Tip: Think about how your experiences can directly apply to the job you want, even if it doesn’t seem applicable at first.

At your first job in Hollister (or Taco Bell, or wherever), you may think that all you did was fold clothes and operate a cash register. But there’s more to it, so don’t sell yourself short. You have experience working with customers. You worked on a team. You addressed problems and handled challenges that came up.

The cover letter

Being direct and being different

How many cover letters in fashion do you think have the phrase, “I have a passion for fashion”? I would literally guess that 90% of them. And the people in charge are tired of it. They’re also tired of cover letters that aren’t personalized.

Tip: Cookie cutters are for cookies, not cover letters.

When sending out applications and emails, I always, ALWAYS started with a personal connection to the company, and then made everything I talked about directly relate to what I could do for that company. NTYLS was founded by sisters, and operates with the mission of offering sisterly advice and hand-picked clothes. When applying, I told the founders that I related because my own sister and I steal each other’s clothes, and I genuinely loved what they were all about.

The portfolio

Fake it ’till you make it (in a good way)

Don’t have professional work samples yet? Make them up. I don’t mean lie– I mean impress the company you’re interviewing for with work samples that you created on your own as if you already worked there. For example, when I applied to places like Nordstrom and Free People, I sent a press release announcing Nordstrom’s new fall boot looks, with actual photos and links to shoes they carried. For FP, I wrote a pitch as if I were pitching Free People products for a holiday gift guide to an editor at Refinery29. And for NTYLS, the job I got, I wrote copy for an advice column I saw on their website. The devil is in the details, and you can show the company that you did your research.

Tip: Use your resources to look as professional and polished as possible.

I didn’t have enough school training yet to know exactly how to write a press release or a good pitch, but thankfully Google exists and you can learn a thing or two yourself! Be confident that you are capable of more than you know!

The interview

Show up prepared. In fact, overprepared.

I don’t actually think it’s possible to be overprepared for an interview. Beyond the typical answers to interview questions like “Tell me your greatest accomplishment” and “What do you think makes you different from other candidates?” I came in armed with knowledge of everything there was to know about fashion and NTYLS.

I made a list of fashion industry trends and my favorite bloggers, and scoured the NTYLS website and social media to prove I understood the company and meant business. During the interview, I referred to specific things, like a kimono I saw for sale on the site or an Instagram post. My interviewer let me know later that very day that I was hired.

Remember that you should have all the confidence in the world. After all, if you’re applying to internships early in the game, you’re already proving that you can think one (or two) steps ahead. 

Coming up next, I’ll post about my experience in the fashion world, and how I eventually made the move to beauty!