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!!

XO,

CC

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.

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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!

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

Stick to your New Year’s Resolutions: 5 ways to start

New Year’s Resolutions basically never work. But when they do, it’s because we actually took real steps to change our mindsets. And the hardest part is figuring out how to take those steps. How will we work out more? How will we actually follow through with our grand plan to learn how to play the guitar?

In my experience, I’ve figured out that I need to set goals that are measurable and concrete. This goes for anything, from writing a paper for school or doing a project at work. I hate the term “SMART goals,” which appears in all my business management classes, but the management experts have a point: SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely, which make them a hell of a lot easier to take on. Which is what needs to happen with New Year’s Resolution goals. For instance: Instead of “I need to work out more,” start with, “I will go to the gym four times a week for at least 30 minutes at a time.” Get it?

Using the logic of SMART goals and general human nature, I figured out how we can actually follow through with the resolutions we make. This post will tackle the most common New Year’s Resolutions, one by one.

Time to get resolving!

The resolution: Be more organized.

The strategy: “Be more organized” isn’t a very clear goal, so let’s tweak it: “Make 5 changes that take real action toward better organization habits.” Or whatever it is you want to do. These changes can be blocking out time each day for cleaning your workspace, or meal prepping before the week starts.

Blocking out time for cleaning was a good example. I’ll start with that.

I hate cleaning. I do. I feel like it’s a waste of my time when I could be doing something useful and creative like doing research for my thesis, or blogging. Like right now. I’m literally writing this post right now because I don’t want to put my laundry in the closet.

But decluttering IRL needs to happen if you want to declutter your mind and your work. You might not think you’re doing it, but you’re worrying about the clutter. In the back of your brain, in your subconscious, you are bothered by the papers piling up on your desk or the dishes piling up in the sink. So do yourself a favor and dedicate time, even just ten minutes, each day for decluttering.

Invest in the perfect planner. Not a good-enough planner, THE PERFECT planner.

Find a daily planner that works well for you. I cannot stress this enough. I found myself making disorganized lists for different things, from planning my groceries to figuring out my long-term project deadlines, and it’s easy to lose track and drop the ball on at least one of those lists. I created the below customizable planner to put everything I needed in one place:

cc daily planner graphic

Download this printable for free here!

Of course, you can always just go with a planner you buy at the store. And don’t skimp: This is something you will use every day, and it should have everything you want. Like a good boyfriend.

The resolution: Work out more.

The strategy: Invest both time and money in the gym and start in baby steps. Again, you’ll want to clearly define the goal: Is it to spend 30 minutes at the gym, four times a week? Is it to attend pilates class twice a week and turbo kickboxing three times? Depending on what kind of workouts you need amd enjoy, set a goal that seems both doable and challenging, with workouts that fit what you’ll realistically follow through with.

Remember that planner we talked about in the first resolution? Use it to schedule your workouts, and defend those workouts that same way you defend your time for work meetings. That way you won’t be tempted to cancel for things that come up.

Finally, put some money into it. Buy a membership. Get some fun new workout clothes, water bottles, and a gym bag. If you paid for the Zumba classes, you’ll feel more obligated to show up.

Be social. Once you keep showing up, you’ll make friends and want to show up! See if you can find a workout buddy, like a friend who already works out and could convince you to get your butt out of bed.

And once you become a regular, you might even be that workout buddy for someone else!

The resolution: Learn a new skill

The strategy: Like I said in my previous post about productive things to do over the holidays, the holiday season is a good time to start a new skill or hobby that you’ve been wanting to pick up. But we pick it up, and then we go back to our real life, and we drop it. Because when our working lives take over, hobbies suddenly seem a lot less important.

The key here is to treat it like it’s as important as working out or getting food. Because it is. You’re not a robot programmed to spend every waking hour on work or food (unless food is your hobby and you’re trying to figure out how to cook like the Pioneer Woman. In that case, I applaud you). You should be dedicating time to your own interests, and take them seriously– don’t just shrug off your desire to learn knitting or baking or yoga or coding as some stupid thing. Be nice to it. Respect it. Give it time. Let it become a part of your routine. Block off time and defend it, and you’ll find yourself practicing your new skill so much that it will naturally become a part of your life.

The resolution: Do more for charity.

The strategy: Of all the common resolutions, this one is my favorite, and also the one that gets dropped the most. When people are in the holiday spirit, they feel inspired to give, and then the inspiration fades when the Christmas lights come down. If you genuinely want to make a resolution to contribute more, here is what you need to do:

  • Pick a cause that you can relate with, whether it be the arts, the food bank, homeless shelters, a health-related nonprofit like the local Alzheimer’s Association office, a domestic violence shelter, a church, whatever you feel most connected with. If you choose a cause you care about, it will be rewarding and you’ll be more likely to dedicate your efforts.
  • Make a SMART goal related to that cause: “I will spend two hours every Sunday volunteering at the food bank.” “I will dedicate a half hour a week toward mentoring young women in a mentorship program.” “I will donate X amount of dollars each month from my paycheck toward the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.”
  • Do some research and find local organizations/branches supporting that cause, and see what ways there are to contribute that use your unique skills and passions. I do PR, so I look out for pro bono PR opportunities– for example, when I was an active member of my sorority, I used my social media skills to help my chapter fundraise for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. If you enjoy leadership, maybe there are leadership opportunities in your area. See what I’m getting at?

In my opinion, sticking with this one won’t be hard if you start connecting with the cause and regularly contributing. Volunteer work gives you a sense of purpose that work/school can’t always give you, and for those of you thinking about this resolution, I hope I’ve made a good case!


What New Year’s Resolutions are you making this year? Are they any of the popular ones above? Or are they more personalized? Sound off in the comments if you have any of your own advice or questions on being resolute!

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

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?

XO,

CC

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

Breaking into your dream industry

We’ve all got dreams about where we want to be. For some, it’s the beach. For others, it’s In-N-Out (me, 90% of the year when I’m away at school in Missouri). And for so many, it’s working in the fashion and beauty industry. Which happens to be one of the hardest, most competitive fields to be in.

Many people ask me how I ended up doing PR for fashion and beauty retailers. The simple answer to give is that if you’re passionate enough about something, the rest follows. I’ve always been inspired by fashion retailers, magazines and bloggers, and I was naturally doing my thing following online fashion retailers when I discovered NTYLS. They just happened to be hiring for a Marketing Communications Intern. I just happened to love their style and their story. And the founders just happened to love my style and story when we met over coffee.

But that’s not the whole way it happens. Yes, I got totally lucky, but if I hadn’t been actively searching for places to draw inspiration from, and if I hadn’t put myself out there, and if I hadn’t spent a thousand hours working hard on my writing and marketing skills, there’s no way I would’ve gotten my first fashion gig. And there’s no way that gig would have led to my next gig at Ulta Beauty, my big break in the beauty industry, or Ketchum, my big break in the agency side of PR.

Landing your dream job in the place you’re passionate about is completely possible, even probable. But the pieces of your puzzle won’t fall into place unless you get the pieces first. Here are my pointers for working hard and sending good vibes to the universe:

  • Be genuine. Before I was hired at Ulta Beauty, one of my interviewers asked me who my favorite beauty bloggers were, and what my favorite makeup brands were (of course I said the Urban Decay Naked Palette, like the majority of girls in the United States). If you really do care about the industry, you’ll have no problem being enthusiastic and knowledgeable. And your employers will see it.
  • Search for opportunities, and make doors open even if they look closed. An amazing job isn’t going to drop into your lap one day while you’re eating your In-N-Out burger, unless you look like a model and a scout discovers you, in which case, can I switch lives with you for a year before I go back to eating In-N-Out? If you’re a normal person, you’re going to need to dig, dig, dig for opportunities. Make a list of places you’d love to work for. Keep an eye out for openings, or even reach out and pitch your talent to them. You never know when someone might need you. When I got the Ulta internship, it’s because my eyes were open and I saw the LinkedIn job posting, not because a recruiter plucked me from obscurity.
  • Work, work, work, work, work. Says Rihanna. Listen to her. Yes, it should be fun pursuing your passion, but it also comes with developing serious skills. The most successful people spend a lot of their free time doing the hustle instead of watching Netflix, and the people who say you’re too obsessed with your career are the people who are in disbelief when you end up landing your dream. Practice, practice, practice, and you’ll find yourself rising above everyone else who just does their required work and calls it a day.
  • Find a support system. I would not be blogging about reaching my dream career if I wasn’t surrounded by friends and family who are 110% behind me and my craziness. My boyfriend, bless his heart, knows to expect my frantic phone calls about things he knows nothing about (such as the Urban Decay Naked Palette). And he knows how important it is that I do what it takes to make things happen. Nothing can replace that, and you need it.
  • Figure out what sets you apart. What are you good at, that other people aren’t? For me, it’s being able to learn a lot of info in a little bit of time. Or walking into a room and getting along with just about any stranger there. Or putting myself into anyone’s shoes so I can write from their perspective. These things are hard for many people, and I use it to my advantage when seeking out opportunities. Find your unique strengths, write them down somewhere, remember them when you write cover letters, go to interviews, or go to the office.
  • Always send positive energy. Attitude is everything, and when you’re going for a competitive field, so many people want your spot that nobody with a negative attitude ever makes it. When you love the universe, the universe loves you right back. It’s a simple concept that everyone knows, but not everyone can practice.

XO,

CC

How to not overload yourself

I have always wanted to be everything to everyone. In high school, I took on cheer captain and newspaper editor the same year I was in five AP classes and applied to colleges while trying to hang out with my friends before graduation.

It was hell. But I thought that’s how high school was supposed to feel.

So then in my undergrad years at college, I repeated my mistakes. At one point, I was elected an officer in my sorority, worked two on-campus jobs, took 18 credit hours of class, and eventually had a complete breakdown. I was surprised, but my friends and family were not. I realized that I’m doing both myself and others a disservice if I try to do everything.

It’s hard not to, though, when you’re like me and you feel like you’re disappointing someone if you’re not doing everything humanly possible. You have to remember, though: You can do anything, but not everything.

Be picky with your time and your talents.

Trust me, no one will be let down when you’re doing what you love and being realistic about what you can devote yourself to.

But how to choose?

Think about what you actually enjoy.

What makes you forget about everything else while you do it? What is on your mind all day?

For me, a few things stand out above the rest: Writing, reading, listening to music, dancing, and helping others. That last one is the toughest to sort out, because it means I raise my hand for just about anything someone needs, but look at it this way: You can help others with things that you enjoy helping with. I like helping my sorority with PR and dance choreography for talent competitions, because I enjoy PR and dance already on their own.

 

Check each box on your list, not all the boxes on everyone’s list.

Be a joiner, but be selective. Don’t just join everything to join everything– pick things with a purpose to you.

If you want to get more involved in campus clubs or other organizations and need help narrowing it down, pick up to four that accomplish the following categories:

  • Career/School: Something that benefits your academic success, like an honors fraternity, a club specific to your major (Psychology Club, for instance), or a professional organization
  • Service: Something that benefits others, such as Make-A-Wish or Alternative Spring Break
  • Fitness: An organization that promotes being active, such as a club soccer team or Zumba class
  • Fun: An organization that fits with one of your hobbies or passions, like photography club, Quidditch if that’s your thing.

Start with the essentials.

If you need to make money, make time for a job. If you need to get better grades, block out more time for studying. If you work full time and you want a promotion, stay focused to make it happen. Then, if you’re doing fine, start adding on.

Take stock of your goals and figure out what you need to reach them, and then you can zero in on what is actually important. It’s amazing how much better it feels to have three things on your plate instead of ten.

I know you want to get involved in everything, but if you spread yourself too thin and can’t dedicate 100% to each thing, there’s no point in doing it. I’ll say it again: You can do anything, but not everything. Find what you really want to do. Then go do it, and do it with all the energy you’ve got!

XO,

CC