College & Post-Grad

College & Post-Grad
College & Post-Grad
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How This Southern Strategic Communications Major Made it Big in the New York PR World

It can be incredibly daunting during your four years of undergrad to think about the steps between walking across the stage at graduation and sitting at the desk of your dream career. Some paths might be more intimidating than others, and this certainly holds true for those who are interested in pursuing the elusive dream of Public Relations or Fashion in the city where it all happens: New York.

That intimidation factor didn't have a role in the life of Dakota Isaacs, who took the PR industry by storm throughout her four years at College of Charleston and is now dominating her career, one tube of lipstick at a time. 

I know a lot of girls who find themselves in the position of daydreaming about exciting and glamorous careers in these industries, but having no clue how to get from Point A to Point B, which inspired me to start a new series on the blog where I interview girls who have made it happen to help show you what it takes and how to do it! Who better to start with than one of my very best friends?!

Dakota took a break from her busy schedule to chat with me about the killer internships she landed through college, the ins and outs of New York Fashion Week, and the 'big break' moments that got her to where she is today.

Name | Dakota Kate Isaacs
Age | 24
Location | New York City
Current Title/Company | Senior Account Executive, KFD Public Relations
Education | College of Charleston, Strategic Communication

"I never dreamed of success, I worked for it" - Estee Lauder.

Let's start from the beginning. Did you always plan on entering the PR Industry? How did you come to that decision, and what steps did you initially take in college to make that happen?

I'm one of those by-definition Virgos who knew what they wanted to do since pretty early on. I've always been enamored by the industry and the glamour surrounding it. I can remember being 8 or so and spilling over a bag of my aunt's rejected Chanel compacts as if I was digging for gold, so when deciding where in PR to focus on, I naturally gravitated towards beauty.

Where fashion is aspirational, beauty is attainable - and I love that. You may never be able to afford the Boy Bag, but you can spend $36 on a tube of Lips & Boys and still feel like you own a luxury item. The beauty industry is fiercely interconnected, and when it comes to telling the stories, elevating the brands and controlling the message - PR is the one at the helm.

During college, I had over a dozen internships within the communications field, from digital marketing to non-profits and more. With each one I kept a running excel document of pros and cons, contacts, details about the company, etc. From time to time I'll go back and look at that document and am amazed by how many contacts I still use to this day.

What is the one piece of advice you'd give to girls still in college or in their early 20s looking to break into the PR Industry?

Say yes to everything. 

So much of what makes this transition period in your life so fabulous is that you aren't hardened by rejection or fear, which enables you to take risks. Stay out late, get up early, meet everyone you can and say yes to every opportunity that comes your way.

Your resume would make even executives in their 30s look lazy at times. What would you say was the biggest key to your success in landing so many different roles and opportunities with such notable brands and companies?

You don't get what you want in life if you don't ask for it, so I ask. I've been incredibly lucky to have grown up in an environment where I was told I could do and be just about anything I wanted. Fear of the unknown can be incredibly debilitating and when you learn to let it go you open up the door for some pretty magical things. Whether that's going up to complete strangers backstage at Fashion Week or joining a two-person startup, you have to remember you've only got one shot at this whole thing, so ask.

What would you say was the single opportunity that really launched your career above all others, and what made it stand out so much from the rest?

Interning at NYFW. You're exposed to so much in such a short period of time - editors, influencers, brands, publicists, celebrities. It's super buzzy and crazy but if you do it right you can really elevate your network quickly.

What kind of projects are you working on currently? Tell us about your process of creating and executing new ideas at work. 

I work across five brands within the beauty + wellness space so there's always something going on. Currently, it's planning a press trip to one of my luxury brand's laboratories outside of Paris where they develop their products.Our targets for this are the luxury books where we can secure 1-2 glossy pages really deep diving into the brand.

It's no secret that marketing and PR require long hours. Do you ever find yourself feeling burnt out, and if so, how do you move past it?

Absolutely. I love what I do, and I'm in a career that really meshes well with my personality and skill set, but that doesn't mean it's not still work. I live in the city of workaholics. For me, it's honestly a quick call to my Mom, a super hot bath and an evening spent on top of my roof. The effect of a good New York city sunset can do wonders for the soul - it reminds me why I'm here and what I want out of all of this.

What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self? 

Read voraciously - the glossies, the blogs, the trade pubs. Learn to be scrappy if you aren't naturally. Trust you gut, don't take any shit, remember who you are and if nothing else, be kind. Forgive yourself when you fall, as you inevitably will, but do it fast. Keep your eyes on the prize. Learn to let go of the things not meant for you, they have a funny way of manifesting themselves naturally. Remember that you are what you do, not what you say you'll do. And finally, never under any circumstance drink cheap tequila.

What qualities and skills would you say are most important to being successful in PR?

You've got to be able to think and act fast under pressure without giving away the fact that you are actually freaking-the-f-out inside. Secondly, you must must must be able to talk to a brick wall - if you've been through sorority recruitment you know exactly what I'm talking about.

What was your most exciting job moment so far? 

So tough. There are three that stick out the most:
  • My first print placement - landing 3 fragrances from Diana Vreeland Parfums within the holiday issue of 'Shape' magazine.
  • The moment my phone started blowing up with images surrounding a dreamy event I planned for our Juice Beauty Phyto-Pigments Collection launch in L.A. with GP.

What is your best networking tip?

Use your weak ties. That's where the magic happens. It's rarely going to be your best friend that knows the VP of that uber fabulous company you've been following for months on Instagram. It's a lot more plausible that your best friend's mom's dermatologist might be her college roommate, and so on. Use LinkedIn to find where these weak ties are.

Favorite Drink Order?

For the daytime, it's been a matcha latte with soy since before they were a thing. Post-5pm it's a glass of Prosecco or the dirtiest Grey Goose martini the bartender can make.

What Is Your Go-To Power Outfit?

I'm a huge monochrome girl. Black, white, blush, you name it. Navy pants, a navy dress-length blazer, a crisp white button down, rockstud sandals (similar here) and my beloved carry-all is the go-to.

Favorite Spot in NYC? 

It's a tie between the Mermaid Inn on MacDougal in the West Village and my rooftop in FiDi.

Favorite way to unwind/spend your free time?

Exploring the greatest city in the world.

How I Make Sunday My Most Productive Day of the Week

I'm firmly a member of the group of people who believe there needs to be a day between Saturday and Sunday. With everything that needs to get done and ready for the week, it feels like 1/3 of the weekend is solely dedicated to organizing, planning and errands!

That being said, there are few better feelings than having everything set up and organized for a great week ahead and starting things off on the right foot. The difference it makes in my week when I have a day to meal prep, exercise, clean the apartment, and work on blogging (among other things) is seriously amazing. 

It can be all too tempting to lounge around in bed, indulge in a late brunch, and push off those errand-like tasks to another day, but I've found a few really great ways to make sure that Sunday ends up being my most productive day of the entire week - while still enjoying myself and getting in a little bit of relaxation, of course! 

I thought I'd share some of my best tips for starting the week off right and taking back Sundays for yourself! Your Monday-Friday mindset will thank you...

Tackle The Biggest Tasks First | We all tend to put off whatever chores or errands are our least favorites as long as possible, especially on a Sunday. As tough as it might be, do them very first thing and get them out of the way so that they aren't weighing on you all day long. You'll feel much more motivated to finish whatever else is on your list if you've already done the big stuff first, and you'll be able to enjoy your day so much more! (For me, this is grocery shopping. Can't stand walking there and back with the big heavy bags...only one more month until a Target grocery opens up around the corner, though!

Set Yourself Up For Success | The difference in the type of week I have is frighteningly dependent upon how I make use of my Sunday. Taking care of things like planning out my blog posts, having a clean room and an empty laundry hamper, making my lunches to take to work, and knocking out time-consuming chores or errands means that after a long day of work I'll be able to unwind and relax every night. Think about everything you need to accomplish in the next 7 days. How much of that can be done on Sunday, freeing up the rest of your weeknights? That is where your Sunday to-do list should come from!

Combine & Conquer | The number one key to my success, both personally and professionally, relies on my multi-tasking. On any given evening or Sunday (including right now writing this post!) you can find me drafting a blog post, editing photos, catching up with friends via text, responding to emails, catching up on my favorite shows, and eating dinner. It might sound like too much at once, but it allows me to cross so many more things off of my list! Anything you can do while multi-tasking on a Sunday will help you increase productivity like crazy. 

Allow Time to Reset | Taking some time with a beverage of your choice, some candles, and a peaceful, clean and relaxing environment will allow you to decompress from the past week and start fresh for the days ahead of you. I try to take this time each Sunday to write out what my goals are for the week. It could be something as simple as drinking more water, or something big like a major project I've been working on that I want to complete. Having those goals written out and at the top of your mind before a new week will help you re-dedicate yourself to them.

That's really it! There's no secret formula or magic trick to making sure you accomplish what you need to every Sunday, but having focus and motivation to actually get organized and set for a new week will have you feeling ten times better every morning when you wake up to start a new day. 

Give it a try for one month, each Sunday, and you'll be amazed how much better you feel!

Essentials of the Week!

Chicago has had the most amazing weather this week, and I have been loving every second of it! I've been trying to soak up as much outdoors time as possible to take it all in while I can - you never know when Midwest weather is going to turn on you! (Of course, as I'm typing this I go to check the weather report for the weekend, and we have nonstop rain. Maybe I jinxed it?!)

On Monday, I finally completed my 100th class of Pure Barre, and I was so proud of myself! I already have a goal to hit 250 classes in the same amount (or less) time than it took me to get to this point, and I've managed to head there every single day this week. It's so refreshing to have a workout that I'm dedicated to, and that I never ever dread attending!

Nothing too exciting going on this weekend - especially after that weather report, jeez - but I'm likely going to spend it curled up inside and working on some new content for all of you while I'm in the Outer Banks for Memorial Week! If you have any posts you'd love to see appear on here, comment below and let me know!

Here are my essentials of the week!

1. Draper James Q&A | I know I already shared the new Draper James collection with Nordstrom yesterday, but I couldn't resist sharing this Q&A with Reese Witherspoon about the collection, her brand, and her overall life philosophies. It made her a lot more relatable and likable in my mind!

2. My Favorite Summer Sandal Just Went On Sale | I've been slowly building up my shoe collection in recent years now that I've gotten over my irrational fear of heels, and these adorable sandals shot straight to the top of my shopping list when warm weather came back around. The best part? They're not too tall, and are casual enough to dress up or down however you want! 

3. Home Is Where The Most Convenient Place to Find Wine Is | Just kidding. Kind of. It IS moving season for a lot of people though, and I'm hearing about so many friends either renewing their leases or struggling to find greener pastures around the city, so these tips for picking out a new neighborhood are well-timed!

4. Dogs Just Wanna Have Fun | I was cracking up laughing at this video of this sweet pup getting in on the exercise fun - I don't know how everyone next to that was able to keep going!

Preppy Picks for Spring!

I'm sure many of you have already heard the buzz...but in case you haven't, Reese Witherspoon's clothing collection Draper James has officially launched on Nordstrom, with some pieces made to be Nordstrom-exclusives! 

I've had my eye on the brand for a few years off and on as some particularly adorable pieces have come my way, but I'm beyond impressed with some of the items they've launched with the new collaboration!

The traditional southern and feminine details Reese Witherspoon and her line have come to be famous for are all present and accounted for, but they have a bit of a more practical touch with this collaboration in my opinion that makes them wearable for more occasions than a Southern soiree or a 4th of July picnic (no offense to Draper James). 

Some of my favorite details in particular are the way they made simple button down tops like this one look a tad more feminine with adorable scallop details, and by adding a small bow to these great summer shorts

I've pulled together a few more of my favorite pieces below, too! 

Have you taken a look at the brand or the collaboration before? I'm thinking that some of these could be really great for some of the fun summer events we have planned, especially our trip to the Outer Banks next week!