The Biggest Financial Mistakes You Can Make In College

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As the price of attending college increases and the number of well-paid entry-level jobs shrinks, most college students worry about their post-graduation finances. We can no longer assume that a four-year degree will translate into a good job (or any job) right after college. Instead, many graduates make do with adding yet another internship to their resume or move back in with their parents while they search for a job in their field of choice. Then, as they search for available positions, Sallie Mae comes knocking at the door.

While this situation is far from ideal, it is a reality that many millennials face. There are plenty of ways to improve your chances of receiving a job offer before you graduate, but it’s equally important to prepare yourself financially in the case that you don’t receive an offer right away.

First, if you don’t have a post-graduation emergency fund, you can experience some very frustrating set-backs when money is already tight.  After you graduate you will have a lot of expenses both unrelated and related to your job search. For many grads, you will be paying way more bills than you are accustomed to, in addition to loans, extra travel expenses for interviews, and more. As a result, you will need an emergency fund for unforeseen expenses like your old car breaking down or a sudden medical issue. You can start preparing your emergency fund during college by creating a savings schedule for yourself or using money saving apps like Mint. Personally, I realized that I spend a ton of my money on food, so now, every time I eat at a restaurant, I write down the amount of money I spent. Then, I divide that number in half and put that amount of money into my emergency fund. You’d be surprised how much money accumulates by the end of the year.

Second, If you don’t get a credit card, you might have trouble applying for loans in the future. For most of your late teens/early adulthood, people will probably tell you to avoid getting a credit card. A credit card can be trouble in the hands of someone who doesn’t budget well, so most college students only use debit. Of course, eventually, you will absolutely need a credit card in order to establish good credit and apply for loans, so it is imperative that you sign up for one before it’s too late. By signing up for a credit card during your college years, you can save yourself tons on future bills — you must simply remember to treat it no differently from your debit card and set a reminder on your phone or computer to pay it off each month.

Third, letting your coffee habit (or any other seemingly small frivolous expense) get the best of you adds up fast.  If you are regularly on a college campus you will likely see Starbucks cups (or Dunkin Donuts depending on where you live) in the hands of every other student. When you’re working hard and managing a busy schedule, caffeine and sugar will seem like a good way to keep yourself going. Unfortunately, in addition to being bad for your health, those $5 lattes can take a huge chunk out of your weekly budget. Instead of spending $100 per month on coffee, save your cash and find ways to improve your sleep schedule and quality. It might be financially beneficial to power down your electronics an hour before bed and find ways to break up your homework load so you can get more sleep.

Lastly, spending money on goods rather than experiences will always leave you wanting (and spending) more. College is a great time for making memories and experiencing new things on a regular basis, so take advantage of it! Instead of spending your money on clothes, forgettable fast food, or an upgrade for your cell phone, spend money on activities you can enjoy with your friends. When you buy a material object, the newness of it fades or it is quickly consumed. Experiences, however, can create positive memories that leave you feeling more satisfied. If you have the choice between buying a new piece of costume jewelry from Forever 21 (that will probably break anyway) and going to a great comedy show with your loved ones, the comedy show will probably be a better return on your investment. You’ll leave college feeling like your money was well spent.

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The Truth About Women And STEM

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None of my closest friends are going into the STEM fields. Not a single one. Instead, we are all pursuing things like advertising, women’s studies, theater, and music. Honestly, I’m pretty torn about how that makes me feel.

This subject came to mind earlier today as I was reading an article about high paying, low stress jobs. The Occupational Information Network came out with a list of jobs in which the professionals were experiencing below average stress levels. When you look through the list, you’ll find that most of the higher paying jobs that also come with low stress are in STEM.

After reading this, I thought about my career of choice, advertising, and my general temperament. I kind of enjoy stress. I like being busy and dipping my hands in multiple projects at once. I like it when no two days of the week are the same, and pulling an all-nighter to work on a creative project is a guilty pleasure. Most of my female friends operate in the same mindset.

Our choices to go into non-STEM fields that will likely result in working way past 5 pm on the regular does not seem like a coincidence. As young girls, we grew up being told that building things was for boys and communicating/socializing was for girls. As we grew older, we were told that computer club was for boys and chorus was for girls. It’s no wonder that our choices in college majors panned out the way they did. Chances are, at some point the all-nighters will get old. We’ll tire of pumping our bodies with caffeine and working on weekends for a less than 6 figure salary. We might even grow to envy some of our male friends who are clocking out at a reasonable hour in silicon valley.

Part of me feels disappointed that none of my female friends chose STEM careers because it reminds me that we are part of a depressing statistic. All of my friends are feminists, and we spend plenty of time lamenting the lack of women in engineering or math, but none of us are changing that picture ourselves. On the one hand, I feel hypocritical, but on the other hand, I’m studying what I love — and I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. Does that mean that one day, I’ll be making less than my male friends from college and also be twice as stressed? Maybe.

Of course, women who are going into the STEM field face a whole other set of challenges. A career as a computer hardware engineer may be lucrative and low-stress overall, but women in the field can face less welcoming environments that lead to anxiety, depression, and general frustration. Many women in STEM careers report experiencing a micro-aggression, receiving negative reactions from peers and family members for choosing a traditionally masculine field, or feeling excluded by the culture in their workplace. Surely this is not true for every woman in STEM, but it seems to be a common thread among many of the young women I have spoken to who are currently pursuing a degree in these fields.

As a young woman who isn’t pursuing a degree in STEM, I feel all I can do is learn from the awesome women who are . This is why I carefully follow women like Anne-Marie Imafidon, founder of the Stemettes.  I love the degree I’ve chosen and I don’t intend on changing my career path, but I also feel it is my duty to think critically about why I chose a career in a rapidly feminizing field. I also feel it is my duty to make sure my children know that they can choose any field they want — and hopefully not feel any guilt related to their choice whether it’s in STEM or something else. I know what I’m getting into by choosing a career in advertising. It means I’m not going to get offered a 65k per year job right out of college and it means I’m going to experience a little more stress. Right now, I wouldn’t change it for the world — but I also might start learning how to code, simply for the sake of exploration.

 

Here’s Why You Should Never Ditch The Classics

Ah September. A new school year has started and a new season is hot (or shall I say cool and breezy?) on our heels. At this time of year, many of us like to do closet/make-up hauls and switch up our look. While January is the time of year for new hair cuts/color or getting the tattoo you’ve always wanted, September is when most people attack the latest trends in clothes and make-up with fervor.

I’m all for changing things up, but this year, I’ve decided to dial back for a little while and enjoy the classics. Why? Because the classics exist for a reason. Certain looks are tried and true because our brains are wired to find certain colors, silhouettes, and details attractive. So which classics are the most naturally alluring? The following look has been (sort of) scientifically proven to get hearts pumping:

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The little black dress.

An LBD is so tried and true that anyone who knows anything about fashion knows the acronym without a second thought. This clothing piece is great for two reasons: 1. Black is undoubtedly sexy. 2. They are acceptable in so many situations. You can wear an LBD on a date, to a party, to class, to church, basically everywhere. It allows you to blend in and have  a bit of interesting detail at the same time. Versatile and attractive? Sign us up.

The red lip.

Everyone loves a red lip for the same reason they love the LBD, it looks gorgeous on everyone and it’s easy to throw on. Most women report feeling more confident with a bold lip color on, and confidence only adds to the package.

The smudgy dark liner.

On a regular day you can put on your eyeliner, maybe add a little flick on the end and it’s going to look good. But do you want to make your look a little more sultry while keeping it classic at the same time? Use a soft pencil to do your liner and then gently smudge it out with a stiff shadow brush. You’ll look like you slept in your liner, not in the awkward messy way — in the, I love sex and rock and roll way. Smudged liner is a mainstay for celebrities for this exact reason. It adds a sense of cool without having to try very hard. Paired with a red lip and an LBD, you’ve got a recipe for eye-catching glamour.

Why Boredom Is The Key To Creativity

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Sophia Amoruso (Founder of NastyGal, a popular fast fashion retailer) recently said in an interview: If you’re the person who stops and says, ‘I made it,’ the whole world is going to blow by you by the time you’ve finished saying that.

What she means, is that, it’s wonderful (and important) to celebrate your victories in life, but you must also remember to keep moving. To be truly extraordinary, one must continue working, even when it seems like your last victory was just won. Otherwise, not only will the rest of the world quickly leave you behind, but your own mind will begin to atrophy like any unused muscle. This idea holds true both in the world of fast-fashion and any other creativity-driven industry.

But what if the whole idea of “keeping moving” could also go hand in hand with staying absolutely still?

Sometimes I feel like my body and mind are overwhelmed with passion. I have one million thoughts simultaneously colliding, and sifting through the din can get messy. So instead, I just ignore all of them. I ignore them with Netflix and trips to the bar with friends and music and theater shows and podcasts and whatever else. But underneath there’s this itchiness telling me to go do something, to go make something, to go create an experience rather than witness someone else’s.

In those moments, that’s when I know I need to shift my focus. I need to make boredom my goal — because once I’m bored, like really bored, I have no choice but to start sifting through all of my ideas.

To force myself into the state of boredom that precedes passionate, creative breakthroughs, I schedule time into the week to just do nothing. That’s right folks, my creative process is to do nothing. Some people swear by running, throwing a ball against a wall, drinking, smoking, taking a shower … but seriously, I do nothing. I sit. And I stare into space. I just let my brain run wild. Sooner or later, some thoughts start getting louder than others.

If I’m writing a song, I sit in front of a piece of paper and wait for things to become clear. If I’m designing something I sit in front of my laptop with the Wifi turned off. If I’m trying to figure out what my next passion project should be, I lay down and stare at the ceiling until things make sense. Yes, it’s super boring, but that’s exactly why it works. Once you get through the agonizing part where you desperately wish you had something to occupy your mind, you eventually remember to listen to the things that are bothering you. You start thinking about your dreams and aspirations. The emotions you’ve encountered throughout the day. The sentences that have impacted you and the sights that were memorable. You think about that application you used today that had a design flaw that got on your nerves – could you make it better? Creativity and experiences are driven by impactful memories and emotions. Once you start to address them, ideas start to fall into place.

If you can manage to work a whole lot of nothing into your daily life, you can eventually make something really great. Your nothings will turn into somethings and sometimes those somethings will turn into victories. Then you’ll celebrate them for a moment and return back to nothing. The whole pattern may sound a bit depressing on paper, but in reality, it’s exciting. Watching something grow from an idea to something tangible, being able to draw something out of your mind and conjure it in the real world  is a remarkable process to behold. It’s so remarkable, that you’ll start to embrace being bored on the regular — because you know the possibilities.

Let’s stop shaming people for saying “I’m bored” and then pointing them to the endless things around them that could occupy their time. Instead,  let’s embrace boredom. For example, if a kid comes to you and whines about boredom, don’t suggest an activity for them. Let them sit and think. You’d be surprised what games, inventions, drawings, and imaginary worlds they can come up with — and you have the capability to create just as much.

 

What Socially Anxious People Do At Work

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In my millennial circles, social anxiety has been a hot topic for several years. In comparison to most mental afflictions, social anxiety has become far more widely discussed and a lot of people I know claim to have it. If you look at websites that are frequented by people in my age bracket (like Buzzfeed and Huffington Post) you’ll see a lot of content concerning social anxiety and anxiety in general.

While I wouldn’t normally doubt someone if they say they have a mental disorder, I have learned to take the claim “I have social anxiety” with a grain of salt. For a lot of people, that statement is true, but for many others, they might just be shy or they occasionally experience awkward social situations.

People who truly experience social anxiety can have many different symptoms, but the overarching theme is deep emotional discomfort associated with regular daily social interactions. You may yearn to be part of a group or have a lot of friends, but the idea of walking up and saying hello to someone seems out of the question. Being introduced to someone might feel like a highly stressful audition and receiving criticism can confirm fears of worthlessness and inadequacy.

Social anxiety is particularly frustrating because the sufferer most likely knows their fears are irrational, but they have extreme difficulty controlling them, so they operate in a constant state of nervousness.

This type of situation can create a lot of problems if you have an office job or any other position that involves a lot of daily social interaction. Being a socially anxious person myself, I have to constantly push myself in new ways every day because I work in a huge office where I see new faces literally every day. As an intern, I was given 9 short weeks to make an impression and that task is made a lot harder if you aren’t a naturally sociable person. Forcing myself to speak up in meetings (even when I feel certain in my mind that everyone will be annoyed that an intern tried to voice an unwanted opinion), asking for help, and introducing myself to strangers around the office is something that is extremely unnatural to me. To make matters more challenging, the team I was placed on was made up of people who didn’t really like each other, didn’t communicate well, and wasn’t all that excited to be receiving a new intern. The members of my team would talk badly about each other and wanted me to take sides and agree with them. People threw each other under the bus when given the opportunity. All in all, the social environment was pretty uninviting, even for someone without social anxiety.

About halfway into my internship I realized that the problem wasn’t getting any better with time, and I was going to have to find a way to be social and make my mark among a very disjointed group of people.

So what do successful people with social anxiety do at work to get around their daily internal obstacles?

First of all, they take advantage of what their job has to offer. If you’re lucky enough to work somewhere that comes with perks like access to a gym or a skill building course, take a class! You may find that it’s easier to meet people and socialize in the less formal setting, especially if you can infer that you have a common interest with someone like coding or crossfit.

Second, people with social anxiety learn to appreciate their successful moments. As previously mentioned, you may take criticism extremely hard, so it’s important to savor your successes when they come along. If you only focus on the bad moments, you’ll want to hide yourself more and more.

Third, they make concrete goals. Sure, it’s easy to walk into a meeting thinking, I really need to speak up today, but then the entire meeting may pass without you saying a word. Instead, you might want to tell yourself, I’m going to say 3 things in this meeting today. Sure, you might not come up with 3 amazing, knock-em-dead insights every meeting, but giving yourself a number can make the goal seem more real and attainable. One of those comments might just be vocally agreeing with someone, but even those little comments can be important when you’re trying to make sure you’re heard.

Lastly, successful people with social anxiety recognize when they need help. If you start to think that your mind is interfering with your performance and you feel lost in how to fix it, you have to realize you might need to talk to a counselor or therapist to come up with a gameplan. It may sound extreme, but what’s more extreme is losing out on career opportunities because you aren’t leaning in.

Even if you don’t suffer from full blown social anxiety, I still think these tips can be useful if you need a little nudge every now and then. Especially if you’re new to the workforce and don’t exactly know what your place is.

 

5 Things I Learned During My First Internship

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At the end of May, I hopped on a plane with 3 suitcases, moved into an apartment in Manhattan with a new British roommate, and started gaining way more practical knowledge than I’ve ever gotten through my time at college. Here’s a short list of the most important things I’ve learned in my short months working at Ogilvy and Mather.

1.) Trust First Impressions.

On my first day at Ogilvy, all the interns (there were about 40 of us) had already been given their summer assignment and the name of their manager. In the late afternoon, our managers (or someone else from our team) were supposed to come pick us up and show us to our desk — kind of like being picked up from school by your mom. I was the last person in the room waiting for my manager to appear and … she never showed up. When I got to my desk, I didn’t have a chair and my laptop was missing. My entire team was in a meeting, and my manager apologized when we eventually found each other, so I tried to assume that it was just a busy day and I wasn’t showing up at the greatest time. Well, after a couple of weeks at work, I realized that my first day experience was not out of the ordinary. When I spoke to other interns, they told me about all the projects they had been given, whereas my manager rarely gave me work to do. I would constantly offer to help out with small tasks because I had to play catch-up in order to understand what was going on in all those meetings, but I was often denied. It was a long time before I was given/took enough responsibilities to fill up an 8 hour day, and for the first couple of weeks I was pretty bored between meetings unless I could find someone to shadow without bothering them. Basically, I learned that just because you’re new to a company, doesn’t mean people are going to make room for you or do a good job delegating tasks for you. If it seems that your boss isn’t really the type who welcomes people with open arms, shows them around, and gives them a list of tasks, start thinking of tasks you can complete yourself without being asked and start networking with other people. Sometimes, simply asking for something to help out with isn’t going to be enough.

2.) Learn The Office Culture — You Might Need Some Hacks to Fit In.

My office has a pretty strong drinking culture. With accounts like Jägermeister, desks decorated with wine bottles, and a bar across the street that is lovingly called an “extra conference room”, the first question people ask you is always, “Are you 21?” As a 20 year old, this can be a slight obstacle when you’re trying to make relationships and network. If you’re in a similar situation or you have some other thing that sets you apart from your co-workers, you have to work twice as hard to find common ground, but it’s definitely worth a try. You want to leave with as many new contacts as possible at the end of your internship, so if people want go somewhere you can’t go or do some activity you don’t enjoy, practice your listening skills to find other things you have in common with people and use them. They will be flattered that you’ve listened to them rather than disappointed if they ask to meet for drinks and you suggest going out for caramel macchiatos instead because you aren’t 21 but remember that it’s their favorite non-alcoholic beverage. Also learn which bars allow people who are under 21 to be inside.

3.) Be Ready to Deal with Some…Characters

When you imagine an internship at an office, you might think that everyone is going to be buttoned up and stuffy. Well, every workplace varies, but overall, offices and other workplaces are staffed by real live people, and just like in the cafeteria on the movie Mean Girls, there’s going to be all sorts of people and cliques. Just because a workplace has one general “culture” doesn’t mean everyone will be the same, so you want to seek out the type of people you mesh with as soon as you arrive – that means introduce yourself to literally everyone and talk about things other than work. Pay attention to the way people carry themselves, their sense of humor, and find out their interests. Don’t just hang around the people you sit next to in your cubicle. Chances are, you’re not going to love every single person you meet. If you realize you don’t mesh well with your manager or one of your peers, simply keep that relationship professional and find someone you do mesh with. Most importantly, resist the urge to talk badly about people at work and try to avoid people who gossip a lot. They are almost always trouble.

4.) Trust Your Gut

If someone tells you to do something and it seems really wrong, don’t do it. At one point, I was working on a project, and one of my bosses suggested that I blow it off and go to a party. My gut reaction was to say no to her and continue working because I didn’t want to let my teammates who were also working on the project down. In the end, I was extremely glad I stayed and worked rather than listening to my boss. Sometimes, it’s just better to trust your instinct. Just because someone is older than you, doesn’t mean you have to blindly do whatever they say.

5.) (Sometimes) Arguing is a Sign of Passion

Every year, interns at my company are given a project in which they are put into groups and tasked with creating an entire AD campaign from start to finish. My group spent an insane amount of time arguing, rehashing, re-doing, debating, staying late, and arguing again. On the day of our presentation, none of us had slept for more than 4 hours and some of our creative had been literally written at 1 am that morning. We won. When the judges told my group that our campaign and pitch was the best they had seen, we all realized that the reason we had had so much difficulty putting it all together was the level of passion we all had for getting it absolutely perfect. While other intern groups had given up at some point and decided something would just have to be “good enough”, we kept working and working and working until we couldn’t anymore. It was the level of drive for perfection that made our pitch the winner, and I’m sure of it.

 

A Flawless Look For When It’s Hot Af

Yesterday was the first day of July, which means it’s almost time for fireworks, barbecues, and patriotic nail art! Unfortunately, it also means it’s time for crazy high temperatures. I’m a North Carolina girl, so I’m used to high heat, but I still sometimes struggle to get through the day without sweaty clothes and makeup meltdowns.

Today, I decided to focus on putting together a look that would be flawless, even in the sweltering heat.

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For the past few weeks, I’ve been wearing hair extensions, and they’re super fun to play with, but not so convenient when it’s 90 degrees outside. To keep my hair from making me feel ten degrees hotter, I put it in a half fishtail, half pony tail hybrid. This is a super easy style in which you put your hair in a low ponytail, then start making it into a fishtail braid. After you’ve braided a section of about 2-3 inches, you grab another ponytail holder and secure the little braid in place, leaving the rest of the hair out. This look is a creative, unique take on a regular ponytail, and the braid ensures that the hair stays off your neck.

Before I put any makeup on, I washed my brushes. Dirty brushes transfer bacteria all over the face, and this problem gets even worse in the summer when warmer temperatures aid bacteria growth and sweat gets everywhere. For my makeup, I wanted to create a look that was classic and attention grabbing. I chose to center the look on a gorgeous lip color rather than an eye color because eye-makeup is more susceptible to running all over your face in the heat. I picked out a berry lip shade and topped it with a gloss, because matte lipsticks can be very drying and that’s the last thing you need when you’re probably already dehydrated. I also curled my lashes to give myself classic doe-eyes.

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When choosing my outfit, I picked items in light weight cotton fabrics that would allow my skin to breathe. I also chose to wear all black and white to make sure my lip color would really pop!