How to plug in to the tech industry

There’s definitely a love-hate relationship going on with tech.

“I love technology!” – me when my long-distance boyfriend and I find an app that lets us watch the same Black Mirror episode on Netflix in sync

“I hate technology!” – me after watching said Black Mirror episode

We celebrate technology for making our lives easier, from health care advancements to staying in touch with faraway friends. We love that we can order things from Amazon and listen to whatever songs we want on Spotify. But we also fear it. We hate that social media can make us feel isolated. We hate that robots might be taking over the world. But regardless of how you feel about technology, it’s important to understand what’s going on.

Because love it or hate it, it’s everywhere. And staying informed is staying empowered. Even if we aren’t directly in tech careers, we still need to understand what is happening in the world at large, and these days it’s often tech. And in general…technology really is a good thing. Raise your hand if you’ve taken an Uber/Lyft in the past week, despite all the negative publicity around ride-sharing services. Raise your hand if you listen to Spotify. If you watch Netflix. If you send Snapchats. If you work out with a FitBit. If you have a bank account. If you USE GOOGLE.

As a PR professional in tech, I kind of straddle both the tech and the everyday consumer worlds, so I know what it’s like to feel like WTF is going on, while also having to know what’s going on because it’s my job.

So. Where do we start?

5 tips for keeping up with tech

Start paying attention to the innovations around you in everyday life.

Don’t just go to Sephora and try on makeup virtually and take it for granted. Really pay attention to what you’re doing. How did they figure out how to match your skin tone to the right foundation color? It’s not magic. It’s artificial intelligence and it rocks. AI is not trying to steal your job, okay? It’s just trying to save you from making the mistake of leaving the store with an expensive tube of something that will turn you orange.

Subscribe to newsletters. 

Like any other corporate American living the corporate dream, I start my day by reading the morning news. Except instead of the paper, it’s all my email newsletters. As soon as I knew I was interested in doing tech PR, I subscribed to newsletters like the Fortune Data Sheet and The Hustle (it’s like TheSkimm but more tech-focused).

Read the front pages of technology news outlets like Wired.

If you want to do a deeper dive, there are a ton of news outlets out there just for tech news. And TBH, it’s a refreshing news cycle compared to the Trump train wreck I see on mainstream media outlets. Sometimes it’s nice to just read about innovation and cool things happening and the people trying to move the world forward.

A lot of lifestyle websites cover tech news, like Refinery29 and Brit + Co.

Not really into the tech media? No prob. These days you’ll likely find tech news on the sites you enjoy reading already, because like I said…Tech. Is. Everywhere. It’s in fashion, it’s in music, it’s in beauty, it’s in Starbucks. What do you think powers your mobile-ordered PSL this fall? Again, it’s not magic. It’s your app. And actually in this case, maybe a little bit of magic because those lattes are MAGICAL.

And in case you do none of the above, here’s my personal cheat sheet to general big things happening in the tech world that you should probably know:


Technology isn’t so bad once you know what you’re dealing with, and I hope you’re inspired to be at least a little bit more aware of what’s happening around you. Also, watching Silicon Valley at HBO definitely counts.

XO,

CC

 

Decision fatigue: What it is and how to fight it

Every day, we are bombarded with decisions, big or small. If you really think about it, it’s a miracle we don’t go completely insane.

Think about just your morning: You decide whether to get out of bed or hit snooze. You decide what to wear. You decide whether to respond to an email. You decide what bus to catch, or if you want to walk, or drive. You decide what makeup you wear and what hairstyle you feel like putting effort into and then when you get to the office, you decide what task you’re going to tackle first, if you’re not already stuck deciding what to grab for breakfast.

And this is all before 9 a.m.

I am the world’s most indecisive person, no matter what the decision is. I’m such a classic overthinker that I can’t even decide between two colors of a top at Forever 21, and then I end up either buying both, or neither, or I just go with black. So I end up with a lot of black in my closet.

It also means I exhaust myself every day. We all do. We tire ourselves out just from making decisions all day. Judges do it when deciding cases. Quarterbacks do it during games. You just can’t keep deciding and deciding things all day, without it taking a toll. This whole situation is called decision fatigue.

Decision fatigue is basically the phenomenon that making decisions all day will eventually exhaust you and deplete your willpower and self-control, so you start making dumb decisions just from being tired of it all. Hence buying Cheetos at the grocery store when you meant to stick to broccoli, or in my case, going with the color black because I can’t pick between blue and pink. We feel overwhelmed because in modern times we’ve got so many choices (as opposed to cavewoman days, when your dinner was what you managed to catch that night, and not one of the million ridiculous concoctions at Trader Joe’s).

The good news is that once you know about it, you can start making your life easier. So, knowing we get tired of decisions, what can we do about it?

How to fight decision fatigue

Never make decisions on an empty stomach.

Research shows that when we’re hangry, we’re more likely to make bad decisions. Glucose levels might actually affect your ability to make decisions (if you’re low on sugar, you’re low on willpower). So grab a Snickers bar the next time you’re not feeling like yourself. Because as Snickers already knows, you’re not you when you’re hungry.

Sleep on it when you’re tired.

If you have a big decision to make and it’s late in the day and you just can’t think anymore…don’t. Just stop and make the decision later. That’s why “sleep on it” is a thing: You wake up each morning with a clearer head and no decision fatigue. And if sleep isn’t an option? Take at least ten minutes for a walk, free of any devices or distracting thoughts. It will give your brain a break.

Related image

Simplify your life where you can.

You know how Steve Jobs famously wore the same outfit all the time, or how Obama only wore blue and gray suits while president? This eliminated that wardrobe decision and they could spend more energy on important decisions. And while you might not be able to show up to work every day in the same outfit, you can at least pare down your choices (hint: start with a capsule wardrobe). Maybe you can spend a little more time meal prepping on Sundays so you don’t have to decide what to do for lunch every day. Or you can decide on a set morning routine so that you don’t deplete yourself within just a couple hours of being awake.

Get organized.

The fewer things you have on your desk, the better you’ll feel. Even if you aren’t a neat freak, it can often clutter your brain just to have physical clutter in your environment. With to-do lists and notebooks and all kinds of paperwork, your mind will just keep turning to those things and flipping the switch too much. Just get rid of it. Clear your space and you’ll be able to focus more on the decisions that matter.

Take away the fear that your decision is irreversible.

99% of the decisions we make are not permanent. If I end up hating something I bought, I can return it. Even for a bigger choice, like moving to a new city, I can always just move somewhere else. We often get stuck thinking that a decision is the end-all be-all, when it usually isn’t at all. Ask yourself: What’s the worst case scenario? What happens if I make the “wrong” decision? If the answer is something like, “I won’t enjoy my lunch as much as I would have if I’d gone with the other restaurant” then you should probably spend like five minutes on that choice, max.

Limit your choices. 

Can’t decide what to get at Starbucks? Tell yourself you can get either an iced coffee or a vanilla latte. Choosing between two eyeshadow palettes? Pick one factor that’s most important to you- like price- and decide based on that one important factor. Writing a blog post and can’t decide on a topic? Put yourself in a box and limit yourself to a prompt or theme- for example, “Self-Care Sunday.”

Paralyzed at Forever 21? Well, I can’t help you there, the place is a madhouse.


More awesome reading on decision fatigue:


Do you feel like you’re affected by decision fatigue? Tell me more so I feel better about my own overthinking brain!

XO,

CC

 

Money Talks: How Much Should You Really Be Making? Here’s How to Check

Let’s talk cold hard cash for a minute here, because I’m going to get real with you: Part of the problem we face in achieving salary parity is that we don’t talk about it enough. And while we continue working toward equal pay, we can start making change just by changing our daily conversations around money.

When I was job searching in my last semester of college, one of the first things I paid attention to was salary, because the dreaded salary negotiation part of the interview process gave me ridiculous anxiety. How TF was I supposed to negotiate salary when I was feeling lucky to get an offer at all? Who was I to push back, when for all I knew, I was already getting a good offer?

The issue with that mindset is obviously that if you don’t push back, you could very easily be leaving money on the table- and worse yet, you could be setting the bar low and setting yourself up for years of lower pay. Think about it this way- if you accept your initial offer at the beginning of your career, it could cost you $1 million over time. Because that money you left on the table- even $5,000- would have gotten higher and higher over time, and haunted you for years. Thanks but no thanks. I’ll take the $1 mill and run with it.

The key to negotiating your salary is to come prepared. Arm yourself with information about your specific career path, your location, industry averages and your own experience. Here’s how you can check how much you should really be making, so that you have the info you need to ask for the salary you deserve and provide a smart answer to the sweat-inducing question, “What are your salary expectations for this role?”

Start with your industry average, by location and sector

While this will only give you a rough estimate, it’s extremely helpful to know what the industry average is for your job. Next, go beyond the industry (for example, my industry was PR) and check individual sectors (for example, technology, health/beauty, consumer, B2B). I found averages in PRWeek, a PR trade publication, and knew from the get-go what I could expect to make as an entry-level PR professional in technology at a small agency in San Francisco.

Get a narrower ballpark estimate from job search sites

Peep sites like Glassdoor to find salary estimates at specific companies, job titles and locations. I used Glassdoor to set expectations for what I could earn at different PR jobs in different locations- the salary at a large PR agency in St. Louis was very different from a small agency in San Francisco. Salary.com, Indeed, and Payscale.com are other good sites to check. This will give you a good range to keep in mind when you’re hit with your first offer- and then you’ll have a pretty accurate idea of whether you’re getting low-balled. It’s also really fascinating and I found myself deep in the salary rabbit hole on Glassdoor looking at salaries in completely irrelevant jobs. It’s a fun time. Go look.

Talk to other professionals in your field

While it might seem awk at first, you can simply ask others what to expect. I have yet to see anyone offended when I ask- if anything, people appreciate a candid, authentic conversation about your career. I talked to trusted mentors to get their honest opinions, and I also had honest conversations with my peers who were also graduating and getting job offers. My friends in my PR classes and I made it a point to openly discuss our salaries, and as a result we all got a better picture of what we all should be earning.

Consider your own background and qualifications.

What’s your education level? If you have your master’s degree, you might deserve a pay bump. Got any experience? Internships count. Remember that you have something to bring to the table, even as an entry-level applicant. Make a list of everything you’ve got- from work experience, to specialized courses you’ve taken, to soft skills like public speaking and project management. Be ready to use this list to make your case for more salary.


 

Have you ever successfully negotiated your salary? Got any advice on sussing out the right pay? Share your experience in the comments and keep the money conversation going $$$

XO,

CC

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!!

XO,

CC

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!

XO,

CC

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!

XO,
CC

Just your type: 5 steps to getting over writer’s block

I have this theory: If you have something to say, it should be easy to say it.

How many of you have found yourself staring at a blank Word document page with an equally blank brain? If you tell me you’ve never typed your name and spent the next 30 minutes online shopping, I’d like to know your secret.

Why does this happen? When we sit down to write, we have work to do. Maybe it’s a press release or a pitch, for us PR peeps. Maybe it’s a research paper. Maybe it’s a blog post. Maybe it’s even just a thank-you note or a text. Worst of all: an Instagram caption.

Those really are the worst.

Here’s the thing. We all have a job to do and something to say. So I think writer’s block is totally made up. Just like most of everything else in our heads, writer’s block is a mentality that you can change, whether you’re writing a novel, cover letter, skywriting, or the dreaded Instagram caption that just won’t pop into your head like it should.

5 Steps to Overcoming Writer’s Block, Which Is Completely In Your Head

  1. Get your facts first. If you’re writing a research report, do the actual research. If you’re pitching a product, write down the product details. Before you even dive into the daunting blank page, you’ll be armed with the info.
  2. Figure out what you actually want to say by making an outline. I know this seems obvious, but it isn’t. It’s so tempting to jump right in and go bombs away banging on the keyboard, and if that works for you, great. If not, you need a road map. Make bullet points of the ideas you have, and try using a regular pen and paper– writing things by hand can make it more real and less terrifying.
  3. Step away from the situation. Take a lap around the library or go on a Starbucks run– the fresh air, physical activity, and caffeine do wonders for your perspective. When you take time off from something, you come back with a clearer head. THIS DOES NOT MEAN YOU GET TO PROCRASTINATE. I say this because I use “clearing my head” as an excuse to get margaritas with my friends.
  4. Draw inspiration from unexpected places. Go ahead and go on Spotify, but let it be your source of inspiration. Read The New Yorker. Watch a football game. Just don’t watch Netflix. It’s a trap.
  5. Find your confidence. Start small, do things in chunks, and don’t worry about whether you’re writing complete crudballs. Easier said than done, but how are you supposed to write anything if you’re always worried about it being good? Accept that you aren’t perfect, and then it will be easier to be great.

Again for emphasis:

Accept that you aren’t perfect, and then it will be easier to be great.

XO,

A

Motivate yo self

You’ll figure out pretty fast that 90% of the people in this world do things because people tell them to. I made that statistic up, but I would bet that it’s close to the truth. Few of us actually care enough to tell ourselves what to do, and when we do, others think it’s weird. But whatever. Let your freak flag fly. Because when you’re able to tell yourself what to do instead of waiting for someone else to, that’s how you become the boss.

Easier said than done, though. Which is why not everyone can be a boss.

It’s all fine and good to say you’re a driven self-starter, but it’s another thing to actually be one.

It means not sleeping in until your first obligation (11 a.m. class) and getting your butt out of bed to work on a paper at 9. It means waiting to binge-watch Riverdale until a night you don’t have anything else you need to be doing. And it means learning how to manage yourself, because you are a human being and not a machine that can automatically sit and do stuff. Here’s how:

Get the crappy stuff out of the way before you do the fun stuff.

You might be super excited to write a blog post or do an interesting project or get started on a paper that actually sounds fun, but to really focus, you need to clear out the cobwebs. If you have boring things hanging around in the back of your mind, it makes it harder to really enjoy doing the other things. So just do all the things.

Treat yo self.

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If I have something to look forward to, it’s a lot easier to try to get things done. I’ll tell myself a goal– like, answer those emails you did not want to touch– and then once I get to that goal, I’m free to take the longest shower of my life and spend the rest of the night painting my nails, grabbing ice cream with BF, and/or watching the latest leaked Game of Thrones episode. Block out time for something fun– like, going out with friends at 9– and then tell yourself you need to get everything else done before that time.

Don’t multitask.

I repeat: Do. Not. Multitask. Seriously.

I know you really, really want to multitask. Don’t do it.

They have done the studies and the facts are the facts: Multitasking does not help you. It only hurts you. It makes you so much less productive, because the time you spent shifting your attention to a new task is time you can spend on your current task. I know you think you can be a superhuman and those facts don’t apply to you, but you are a human being and you are just simply not built to do it. More on this later, because I can take a whole blog post just on this.

Alternatively, build out 20-30 minutes at a time just on one specific task. And if you’re feeling flow, just keep going.

Get out of your house.

I’m currently sitting outside the library, because on my way home I randomly saw an open table and decided to sit down instead. I have accomplished so much more in my hour outside than in five hours on my bed. Find your happy place for work– it shouldn’t be the same as your happy place for relaxation. I don’t care if it’s the library, Starbucks, or even your car dealership while you’re waiting for an oil change. I do that sometimes. Oil changes are some of my post productive hours. Go ahead and laugh. I’ll be sitting in a quiet lounge drinking free coffee at Toyota.

Practice yoga and exercise.

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If you’re just sitting like a bump on a log all day, you’re going to put yourself in a slump where you never reach the right state of mind to work. This shouldn’t be hard on yourself– if it’s too much of a pain to get to a gym during your working hours, set up a yoga mat by your desk and take 20 minutes to breathe and stretch. It will make a world of difference. I personally don’t know how to teach myself yoga, so don’t let that stop you. Go on YouTube and find a free class. I like this one for a quick detox.

Yoga not your style? It’s not always mine either. Go to a spin class. Play football. Or literally just exit your building and walk for five minutes around the block. Just do something active, even if it’s the last thing you think will help, because even just a few minutes of exercise can get the brain going.

Get started.

Just start. Tell yourself you don’t even have to finish it. Because once you start on a task, even without the intention of spending a lot of time doing it, you’ll be surprised how much easier it is just to keep going and finish it. Starting is the hardest part, and it’s also the easiest, so do yourself a favor and trick yourself into doing it by starting it.


Anyone else have ideas for staying self-motivated? Anything weirder than going to a car dealership? Please spill.

XO,

CC

 

 

 

 

Continue building your career at school

It can be frustrating spending the summer in the ~adult world~ at an internship, only to have to go back to school in the fall. I’ve spent the past three summers doing internships, and every time I went back to school, it felt like I was putting my life on hold instead of getting ahead. But this isn’t the right way to think (you are in school to get your degree and therefore get ahead, after all), and you can still take advantage of your time in school by developing new skills and gaining different experience.

Which sounds like bullshit, but I am not here to bullshit you. Some people spend college doing the minimum, which involves skipping lectures and selling your textbooks halfway through the semester to buy a burger (guilty as charged on the latter). You are going to spend it possibly doing those things, but also still growing on a personal and professional level. You can have it all. You can enjoy a burger bought using blood textbook money and simultaneously become extremely hireable.

Sound too hard? Here are a few different plans of action for continuing your career while still making it to class and slaying that degree:

Plan A: Continue your work for the company you interned at

If you have a strong desire to keep working your internship and think you can handle it (school is, like, hard sometimes), ask if there’s a way you can continue after class. If you’e in the area, you can offer to stay on part-time at the office, or you can help out remotely. I had one internship that let me extend my internship through fall and work virtually from school, since I didn’t have to physically be in the office to do my job effectively. It will depend on your industry, relationship with the company, and geographical/time constraints.

Pro tip: Give them a reason to let you stay on– pitch your contributions and show them that they still need you!

Plan B: Freelance for local businesses and nonprofits

If continuing the internship isn’t an option, you can also take on freelance work. Into music and event promotion? Offer to help out your local concert venue. Enjoy shopping and social media? Ask around at the fashion boutiques in your town to see what you can do for their Instagram. Do you already feel passionate about a nonprofit in your area, and think you can contribute your professional talents to their cause? Volunteer on a whole new level. My sorority works with the Alzheimer’s Association, for example, and I would love to do PR for them while I’m in grad school.

Plan C: Work on your resume and personal brand

This actually should’t be a Plan C; it should just always be an ongoing focus as you start out in your career. It takes serious time and energy to update your LinkedIn profile, re-design your resume, maintain a personal website and construct a portfolio. Or at least, if you’re doing all of these things right. In school, you’ll have more time on your hands than when you’re working a full time job, so take this as an opportunity to spend time on yourself.

Also, remember that you just finished your internship, so it’s important to update everything with that new position under your belt! Know it’s a pain. Just do it.

Plan D: Learn and develop new skills

At your internship, did you realize you could work on certain areas to make you stronger in that industry? Now is the time to work on those areas. I learned over one summer that Excel spreadsheets are a major part of entry-level work in PR (Surprise! Sometimes your dream job involves things you thought you were avoiding). So now I know to focus more on learning the ins and outs of Excel, and it’ll make me an even stronger candidate since many PR/journalism/communication majors don’t think to learn it. There are plenty of online resources for teaching yourself skills, and taking the time to develop those skills while everyone else was snoozing through class will set you apart.

2017-2018 is going to be an amazing school year, and you can make it an amazing professional year, too!

XO,

CC

 

 

Beauty in Transit

Lately I’ve found myself on a train with a bare face and 30 minutes to kill before I have to arrive somewhere and look like I didn’t just run out of my apartment.

Except I’m always racing against time, and when you have 5 minutes to hop on the Metra, mascara isn’t as important as making it there. The good news? My makeup bag is always with me, with beauty tools made for moments of panic.

Here are some pointers for beauty on the go, whether it be trains, planes or automobiles:

Foundation

Hopefully you got this on before you left the house– this one is most important to do under good lighting– but if not, no worries. Just make extra sure you’re blending with the right brushes.

Start with a primer that has SPF (ALWAYS SPF) and then use a BB cream that gives you nice coverage without being super heavy. When you’re applying quickly, you can’t afford to do heavy.

Be sure to use a brush that gets the job done in quick, broad strokes. I use the e.l.f flawless face brush.

Cheeks

A duo palette is the call here. I like the NYX Cheek Contour Duo Palette. If you can go pricier, Clinique and Tarte have great options. Right now I use Clinique bronzer, and apply it with the e.l.f fan brush.

Bonus points: Finish it off with highlighter to look like you really have it together.

And with that, you’ve gotten your base done. On to the hard part!

Eyes

If you’re a travel pro, you have the travel size Urban Decay Primer Potion.

It’s so itty bitty! Look at it next to my mascara!

Next, use a palette with your essential neutral shades. I usually have the original Urban Decay Naked or the Naked Smoky palette with me, but it’s not ideal since it takes up more space. Try a mini palette with the best of the basics. You can always darken it depending on where you’re going. A couple suggestions:

As for eyeliner: Beware of bumps, and choose an eyeliner that won’t smudge if you do hit something. The Maybelline Eyestudio Lasting Drama Waterproof Gel Pencil is a good smudge-proof option.

Mascara

When you need to swipe it on quickly, it’s important to have a mascara that will still achieve the same volume without being clumpy. I use the Clinique Travel Size Chubby Lash Fattening Mascara or the classic Maybelline Falsies to get the voluminous effect in seconds.

Lastly: Lips & Nails

When it comes to shaky transportation, you want to avoid neon-bright lip colors and lipsticks that are unforgiving with mess-ups. Opt for a neutral or light pink color in either a lip gloss or lip crayon, which won’t need as much precision and still looks great. The e.l.f. Lip Kiss Balm  is swell.

If you have time, paint your nails with another light, forgiving color. Then grab a magazine and your headphones to sit back and relax, knowing you just pulled off a polished look in the middle of rush hour. Not bad at all.

XO,

CC