August 2014 - Prep Essentials





College & Post-Grad

College & Post-Grad
College & Post-Grad

From Intern To Student

I know this title sounds a little backwards, with most people advising students on what to do before and during an internship, but I think it is just as important to focus on what you do after an internship experience! In my opinion, there are certain steps that many people miss that are absolutely critical to making the most out of your internship experience!

Here are some often-forgotten and very important tips on how to make the most of your internship experience as you make the shift back to the school year!

1. Write Everything Down. Okay, admittedly this is something I would advise before your internship, but it definitely applies afterwards too. Throughout my entire summer, I made sure to keep a detailed log of every task I completed at my internship, and now I have a complete list that can easily be transferred to my resume. Even if you don't remember to do this during the summer, write it down now before you forget everything! It will be much easier to remember right after the internship than six months from now when you are trying to get another internship or even *gulp* a real job!

2. Thank You Notes. Expressing gratitude is an important behavior in all aspects of life, but professionally it can go miles for the impression you leave behind on an employer or coworker. For more specific advice on how to write the perfect professional thank you note, check out my post here!

3. Evaluate the experience for yourself. Most internships will likely ask you to leave them an anonymous evaluation of how the program went so they can make adjustments and improvements for next year. Don't stop there! Make a personal (and private!) list of pros and cons from the experience. Don't just do this for the specific company, but for the types of tasks you were doing. For example, if you had a sales position, figure out what you loved and hated. Then meet with a mentor or advisor, and see if there are any other types of positions that will better suit responsibilities that appeal to you! This will help you narrow down where you want to be in an industry.

4. Reach out! Even if you don't end up getting (or taking) a job offer with the company you interned for, all employers will appreciate you returning the favor by assisting them with future recruiting. Find out if the company is coming to your campus for a career fair or internship expo. If so, ask the recruiter if they'd like to grab coffee or get a tour of the campus! Some recruiters may even ask you to help them get the company's name out there. This is a great networking tool, and will leave a great impression on the company even after you're gone.

And don't miss my post with downloadable email templates to use whenever you need to interact with your recruiter or interviewer! Templates for asking the tough questions, and when to ask them!

Hope these tips are as helpful to you as they have been for me!

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Life Lately

Hello my lovely readers - I'm sorry I've been MIA lately, I have had a very hectic August! Between packing up my apartment and leaving Chicago to coming back to school and getting my house ready for all of my amazing new housemates (including painting and redecorating my new room) I have been exhausted! I'm living in the same house as last year, but most of my housemates graduated :( and I am now living with 7 of my closest friends including my little in my sorority!

But I am sinking back into a routine now, and ready to get back on schedule with some consistency. I had a lot of posts planned for August, and obviously dropped the ball, but I still want to get those out there so I will be deviating from my normal Sunday-Tuesday-Thursday schedule and posting almost every day for the next few weeks!

Back to school for the last time is a major thing for me, and I feel like it gives me some credibility to offer advice for those following in my footsteps, whether you are a Freshman or a Senior. Be on the lookout for some posts about life, college, getting organized and much more! I am especially excited about my upcoming post where I show off my (finally) finished new room!

In the meantime, here is a picture of my totally crazy new housemates. I have a feeling this will be my best year of college yet!

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Perfecting The Post-Internship Thank You Note

Whether you are completing your first internship experience or your tenth, there are certain fundamentals that never go out of style. Growing up I was taught that there was no such thing as an inappropriate occasion for a thank you note. In my mind it is right up there with no such thing as being overdressed - etiquette and manners are always appreciated and important.

For some people, however, the art of the thank you note can be tricky even for the most menial situations, so for something as critical as an internship it can really be stressful. Whether you are finishing an internship, post-interview, or even leaving to move on to a new career path - the impact and impression you give upon leaving is in my opinion far more important than the beginning impression.

Many people come into an internship strong, but have a tendency to fall a little short and lose their sparkle at the end. You have college on your mind, the thought of returning to your friends, and those oh-so-coveted days of sleeping in that are ahead of you. Don't fall for this trap! This is when you are being evaluated the most! Decisions about job offers (or even recommendations) are about to be made, and you are under a bigger microscope than ever.

A thank you note is just one small gesture you can make at the end to make sure you leave the best impression possible. Here are some of my must-do's for writing the perfect thank you note in a professional context:

1. Figure out who you are writing to. You don't need to write a handwritten note to every single person you interacted with in the office; that is definitely overkill! These notes should be going to anyone who had a significant or consistent interaction with you - whether it was your friendly coworker who always made sure to make you feel included and give you advice, or your supervisor who provided guidance and support throughout the entire process. For other people who played a less significant role, but that you still feel deserve a little recognition, a simple email within 24 hours of leaving is plenty sufficient.

2. Choose the right stationary. No one loves an adorably preppy stationary set more than me, but there is a time and a place. There are plenty of simple, professional paper sets out there that can still reflect your personal style, like this, this and this from sugar paper. (You can also check out some of my other favorite picks from sugar paper here.)

3. Start by thanking them for the time they put into developing/supporting you. Let them know that their time was valuable to you, and you recognize the effort and energy they put into your experience. Everyone wants to know that their efforts are appreciated at the end of the day. 

4. Reiterate how valuable the experience was to you, and how grateful you are to have been given this opportunity. No matter what your reasons are for leaving, it is important to make it clear that you valued everything you gained from the experience. 

5. Wish them well, and mention that you want to stay connected in the future. Thank you notes are great door-openers for future connections and networking possibilities. They let the other person know that although your professional experience as colleagues is coming to an end, this doesn't mean that your personal interactions have to do the same. This is especially important if you are seeking employment with the company after an internship, or simply to continue to expand your professional network. You never know what opportunities you might find someday through this connection.

And of course, add your own personal touch! Don't make the note sound scripted - let your personality shine through. The whole purpose of a thank you note is to give something a personal touch, so don't entirely eliminate that aspect. 

P.S. These tips are also very applicable to writing thank you notes after job interviews, or even after being rejected for a job! (Yes - I mean that! I still write thank you notes after rejections letting the interviewer know how much I appreciated their time and informing them that I am still interested in the company/position, and that I hope they keep me in mind for future openings). This can be invaluable in demonstrating professionalism and grace in an unfortunate situation, and it will only benefit your reputation.

Feel free to reach out for any advice, suggestions, or questions! I would love to hear from you!

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Sorority Recruitment Survival Guide - For Actives!

With August finally here, sorority chapters all over the country are busily preparing their houses, outfits, and scorecards, while PNM's (potential new members) are nervously putting together outfits and accessories to ready themselves for the whole stressful process of sorority recruitment.

For those of you who aren't involved/don't care about Greek Life, I apologize and feel free to pretend this post never happened. But joining my sorority was something I wanted every since I found out what a sorority was! And as I'm writing this, I'm sitting at a lake house surrounded by my best friend's entire pledge class, full of some of the most welcoming, friendly, and fun girls I have ever encountered. 

If you're in a sorority, I don't need to sit here and sell you on the idea, so I'm not going to. And, if you're in a sorority, I definitely don't need to convince you of the hazards and hatred many of us feel towards the recruitment process for about a million reasons!

Now that I have been through the process three times (twice on the side of an active member, and a PR Chair), I feel like I am qualified enough to offer my opinion on it. While I honestly think the way the whole thing is handled is pretty horrendous and brutal for everyone involved, I also don't think there is any better way to do it.

That being said, regardless of what your experience, I think all of us can agree that the recruitment process is surprisingly MUCH more brutal on the side of an active than on the side of a PNM. The sleepless nights, the constant primping, and just a "tad" too much time with your sisters...JK love you all!!! You pretty much reach your wits end after First Round. 

Here are some of my personal tips for putting together a survival pack to make it through recruitment without ripping your hair out...or your sisters'! (Again, totally kidding! Kind of...)

With this kit, you'll never have any of the mini-mergencies I witnessed during recruitment this past year, whether it was a caffeine crash, a dead phone, or incessant sweating from being crammed in such a tiny packed room!

What are your must-haves for recruitment?

Happy recruiting, and may the PNM's be ever in your favor!

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One Last Time

I refuse to allow myself to think about the fact that this is my last fall that I will be returning to school. I won't even admit to the fact that I am graduating out loud, so I won't be doing any sad or nostalgic posts on the topic for fear that I won't stop crying once I start.

Instead, I am choosing to celebrate and enjoy the back-to-school season just as much (if not more) as I always do! I have a very type-A personality, so things like brand new school and desk supplies, clean and organized folders + notebooks, brand new room decorations and an all-around fresh start is by far one of my happy places. 

I had a blast last August writing my month-long segment of Back-To-School posts relating (for the most part) to college, and I want to continue to do a little bit of that this year! However, I feel like I already covered a lot of the basics and don't want to repeat myself for any long-time followers, but they are definitely valuable for any newcomers or new college students (lucky you!) You can find my favorites from last year here:

and by FAR my favorite post (and my most popular)...

And there's a few more if you go back to August of last year - the whole month was dedicated to a Back-To-School Edition! 

This year, in order to keep things fresh (and a little bit more relevant to my new status as a Senior) I'm still going to be doing my Back-To-School Edition, but it won't be all about the basics! I'm really excited about some of the posts I have coming up so definitely stay tuned!

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