This month, I had the honor of contributing to a post-grad blog series for Alpha Omicron Pi! Link to original: A Piece of the Pi: Guest Blog: The Post-Collegiate Perspective I am a proud recent college graduate, who made the … Continue reading
Making $20s in your 20s (and beyond!) can be challenging. You can find an awesome job and make awesome money (and soak up your awesomeness…) but you have to prioritize. This month, I was fortunate to monitor a panel, with … Continue reading
I turned 23 this month, which means my days of rocking out to Taylor Swift’s 22 are (kind of – sort of – not really) over. I decided to not focus on making my birth ‘day’ such a big deal, and instead focus on celebrating another year of life. On a side note, my birthday was wonderfully spent having breakfast and dinner with Matt, and spending the day at the job I love.
Here are 22 life moments that happened during my 22nd year. This is what 22 felt like.
1. I stayed involved
Piggy-backing off my Senior with No Senioritis post, I was very, very involved my senior year in college. I was Vice President of Communications for my sorority, a USF Ambassador, a Her Campus USF writer (& look at me now!), among maintaining a 3.54 GPA. I don’t take any of my busy days for granted, and I honestly miss running around campus – sometimes literally – with a packed agenda.
2. And had two awesome on-campus jobs
I was blessed to end my college experience with two very rewarding jobs. One was as the Community Manager (role of on RA) to my sorority house. Living in my own, FREE, room in the house was a dream — but came with many responsibilities. It actually caused me a lot of stress, but mainly because I care so much about my organization I put 110% into everything from a taco night to fire, health & safety checks. I also worked as the Marketing Assistant for Wellness USF. I met & worked so many amazing people who were powerhouses of passion. Promoting USF services & events + being healthy – win/win!
3. I graduated college
This year I graduated from the University of South Florida Summa Cum Laude with a BA in Mass Communications – Public Relations and minor in Leadership Studies. I am a proud alumna of my university, with a lifetime membership to prove it!
4. I became an alumna of Alpha Omicron Pi
With that, I also became an alumna of my sorority, Alpha Omicron Pi. I have made a promise to remain loyal to my fraternity, and will forever do that. ALAM ❤ Can’t wait to get more involved with the Boston Alumnae Chapter!
5. I was recognized for good works
I am not one to boast about awards, but they did play a big role in my 22nd year. I spoke at the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors Annual Meeting with Ginny Carroll from Circle of Sisterhood, received the AOII Shannon Walsh award from my chapter, and also received a Legacy Award from the Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life. #blessed
6. I completed a year (and counting!) with a man that I love.
Matt & I are happily approaching our 2nd year (on Jan. 11!) and I am so thankful for him. He is my best friend and has been there for all my ups and downs. So glad we’re on this Boston journey together!
7. I stayed home
Many graduates fear moving back home after graduation. However, moving home for 3 months this summer was the best decision I could have made in May. Family rules.
8. I went back to summer camp
I will never forget summer 2014! Going back to being a counselor at Next Stop Broadway was a dream. I had the perfect summer with lifelong friends and good vibes. Love my NSB fam, always!
9. I got a job!
OBVIOUSLY a huge deal in my 22nd year! I graduated in May and worked hard to land a job by June! It is clear to see that I am incredibly happy at Her Campus Media.
10. I moved to a new state
I am in love with Florida, and I realize how much after I moved. BUT, Boston is so wonderful and I never regret the move. I am so excited for seasons (wish me luck in winter), and a plethora of good times ahead.
11. I never took family for granted
Every year that I get older, I get more attached to my family. I love how much you begin to understand them, and also how much they are always right.
12. I made new friends
Shoutout to all the new friends I made this year! Some are back in Florida and a good majority are here in Boston! Cue Michael Buble’s “Just Haven’t Met You Yet” as an ode to all the friends I will make while 23.
13. . . . And kept old friends
Having friends who were still your friend during that most awkward stage of life are true. My lifelong friends know who they are and I am so happy I got to see most of you this summer! Love you always. Thanks for the best #tbt photos.
14. I balanced being healthy + treating myself
I am a true #foodie and am an advocate for eating what you want. I’ve been too focused on strict diets in past years, and this year I feel that I did a solid job of finding a balance. Work Hard, *GO OUT TO EAT* Hard!
15. I was reminded that every day is a gift
Unfortunately, there have been to many lives cut short this past year. I know that is true in so many of our lives. Two beautiful girls from my high school were killed by a wrong-way driver, and so were 4 amazing fraternity men from USF not much longer. This is not okay. Don’t ever take a day for granted. Also, don’t drink and drive — it’s really not cool.
16. I moved in to my own apartment and I pay my own rent
I lived on campus all 4 years of college. With that, it is so exciting being in my first apartment! Paying my first bills were exciting . . . until I looked at my bank statement. Also, the goal of making your room look like an IKEA showroom is very addicting.
17. I got stressed out
Being involved, job searching, interviewing, etc. certainly created a lot of stress in my 22nd year! I had Matt by my side continuously telling me, “Babe, everything always works out.” He is always right when he says that, and I will aim for significantly less stress this year!
18. And I stopped letting stress get in the way (successful work in progress)
I have a great life to live, and these past few months have really inspired me to remember that. At least stressed spelled backwards is desserts . . .
19. I said thank you
It would be awesome if I could find out exactly how many times I said thank you this year, since I had so much to be thankful for! It is so important to spread that little act of kindness.
20. I made unforgettable memories
From staying up until 4 a.m. talking on the AOII house couch to buying a new Mac Book Pro with my savings, I had so many memories! I am glad I am one to take plenty of pictures — I had so much fun going through my FB albums from this past year to help inspire this post.
21. I laughed and I cried
And sometimes a combination of the two. This was certainly a very emotional year, and you can imagine how rough the 4 hour drive, alone, moving home from Tampa was. Thanks to everyone who made me laugh to offset the bad days!
22. Through all the ups and downs, I believed in myself
Lastly, I am where I am now at 23 because I believed in myself at 22.
As a recent – and employed – graduate, I know both the excitement and stress that comes with being a graduate and entering the workforce.
The continuing (and often scary) process of graduates looking to enter the workforce has inspired Webucator, an online learning company with customized intstructor-led training services, to launch the “Most Marketable Skill Campaign” in honor of the class of 2014. I am honored that Webucator invited me to be a part of the campaign, asking me to share what I feel is a valuable, marketable, skill.
As I brainstormed this question, the skill that I realized helped me the most to achieve success is confidence.
Confidence does not translate to “feeling comfortable in a bikini at the beach” – confidence is about believing in your power to succeed.
There is a popular quote that says, “You can’t love someone until you love yourself.” Following that, I’m sure that every employer thinks, “You can’t hire people who wouldn’t themselves.” Whether you held five internships during college or worked a full-time job while taking night classes to pay for tuition – be confident in how you spent your time and what you learned. Here are three simple ways to be confident and sell your confidence in the job market.
1. Know your strengths
Besides for answering the common interview question – “What are your strengths?” – these are very important to know. By knowing your strengths, you will find yourself naturally incorporating them in to any conversation.
I highly suggest taking the StrengthsQuest assessment. This assessment is Gallup approved and changed my life. There are 34 Clifton StrengthsFinder themes (strengths) an individual can have, and you learn your top five! You can buy the book here, which begins by reminding you to focus on using your strengths instead of focusing on improving your weaknesses.
My top five strengths are WOO (winning others over), Positivity, Maximizer, Communication, and Strategic. The book explains all strengths in detail, including key careers and other types of people you should work with.
In interviews, I tell stories of using these strengths. I promise that if you know your strengths, you will naturally exude a contagious, positive energy (which is extra valuable in a phone interview).
2. Discover your “WHY”
There is a great TED Talk called How Great Leaders Inspire Action by Simon Sinek. Check out this video if you have not yet or if you need a refresher! Sinek illustrates the idea that people do not buy in to what you do, they buy into why you do it. To successfully sell your why, you should begin by applying for jobs at companies that share your similar values. Also, identify which areas in each company you would dedicate yourself to whole-heartedly.
Here is a mini test:
Which personal pitch would sound best in an interview?
a) “I have had 3 internships in digital marketing, I love social media, and I just graduated from the University of South Florida.”
b) “I am fascinated with brands and am passionate about helping them achieve their full potential within their target markets. I also have had 3 internships in digital marketing, love social media, and recently graduated from the University of South Florida.”
Hopefully you chose b – because I have used that before and am currently hired for my first post-grad job in a company I am highly dedicated to. Know your why: Self reflect on past experiences and identify which experiences brought out the best in you.
3. Do your research!
The more you know about a company and a job, the more you know where you fit in (and the more you can sell to an employer that you fit in!)
Doing your research is the most important task to do before any job interview – and you should begin the moment you submit a job application. True life: Last year, I applied for a job at an advertising agency and was surprised with a phone call the next day that turned in to a mini interview. I had not done my research yet and had to wing it – not suggested.
You are very marketable when you know about the company, job, and those interviewing you (LinkedIn does wonders). In one of my early post-grad job interviews, I had looked up an interviewer on LinkedIn. Since LinkedIn will call-out this activity, my interviewer knew. She told me, “I noticed that you checked out my LinkedIn, that is one of the best things you can do for an interview, so great job!”
During an interview, you should be able to say with confidence, “I read that article about a recent community service project your office did – employee activism is something I am looking for in a company.” That is much more marketable than asking, “does your office do any community service work?” Remember: avoid asking questions that can easily be found on the internet, and even more so the company website.
I am confident that you can be marketable with confidence! I would love to hear your thoughts on this skill – especially success stories. What do you see as a marketable skill?
BONUS: If you want to sharpen up your Microsoft skills, check out Webucator’s latest course offerings in Microsoft Office.
What an odd phrase – “turning over a new leaf.” I suppose the cliché stems from (necessary pun) the idea that leaves grow and fall, with new life always growing after them. I think that in times of change, any analogy we can relate to with others makes us feel normal.
There are many times where we get this energy inside that tells us it is the perfect time to ‘turn over a new leaf’; The first of the month, the first of the year, a birthday, a move to a new city, a new job, or the ever-so-relevant reality of graduating. It seems that every four years in my life so far I have become the ‘freshman’, for lack of better word. Now, I am proud and empowered because I am a woman with a college education soon to be entering the work force. Here are some struggles I have faced in this emotional last month of a new leaf, and my advice.
1. Be Happy for Others
It can be very frustrating to watch those close to you succeed while you are still finding your way. The constant news feed of “I am excited to announce that…” or “I have officially accepted…” is a natural irritant when we have not had the confirmation to boast of landing our next step. I had my moments where I felt irritated, but not for long. I know my values and personality have me naturally fueled with love and excitement for those around me who succeed. Tell your friends and family congratulations as they move forward, because your time will come – and in any situation, putting others down will never lift you up. So, shoutout to my boyfriend who is on his way to Boston/Northeastern University, and my sisters and close friends who are moving on to their dream schools and careers – I am so genuinely happy for you.
2. Be Proactive
“Dreams don’t work unless you do”, said John C. Maxwell. This is undeniably true. In college, I was (yes, very hard for me to write was) very involved in multiple organizations and leadership roles, while ending with an overall 3.54 GPA – but that did not mean I automatically had a job waiting for me the Monday after graduation. I am currently in the job search process and have nothing to complain about. Job interviews teach me so much about myself, and actually serve as a great way to reflect on all that I have accomplished. If you do not get in to your dream graduate school, your next leadership role, your dream job, etc. just take on the next opportunity.
3. Perform Mitzvahs!
Translation: Express acts of human kindness.
This past week, I was busy running errands on my last full day in Tampa, frustrated at having so much to do with so little time. As I was heading to my car to complete the next thing on my list, I was spotted by a mother, father and daughter visiting USF in Greek Village. They approached me and said they were visiting from South Florida and that their daughter was interested in USF and Greek life. They then asked if it was possible to see a sorority house. I was their perfect match: From South Florida, huge advocate for Greek Life, and also the current Community Manager for my house. Their daughter is currently at my high school alma mater! Anyways, I showed them our home and poured my heart out about Greek life, leadership, friendships and absolutely everything else I could stress about how amazing my university is. At the end of our ‘tour’ the mother said, “you completed a mitzvah today!” and gave me a hug. They had given me that final closure I needed before making my drive home from USF, and I thank them.
4. READ A BOOK. AN ACTUAL BOOK. WITH PAGES.
My dad and I recently reflected on how incredible a bookstore can be – from the smell of books to the excitement of buying one. My new read is Lean In for Graduates by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and a founder of the organization Lean In. The book is perfect for me because Sheryl Sandberg is an idol as she empowers women to lead regardless of stereotypes, barriers and challenges. I look forward to the inspiration I will gain from this book. Other books that have helped me in the past include The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, For One More Day by Mitch Albom, and Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie (founder of TOMS).
Here is a plug for Sheryl Sandberg’s TED Talk, “Why we have too few women leaders”, which intrigued my interest to read her book.
5. Enjoy being home
I am currently spending time at home until I am 100% sure of where I am going next, and very thankful for that. Wherever your home is or whoever it is with, embrace it. I am blessed to be able to go back to the same house that I grew up in, surrounded by a loving mother, father, sister… and a silly puppy…and two very interesting cats. My dad joked that I would wake up my first morning at home and realize my entire college experience was all a dream. Fortunately, I did actually graduate from college. My family has supported me wholeheartedly and are there for me every step of the way. I will miss the crazy moments in my sorority house, the late night college outings and other countless memories. However, home is where the heart is . . . and plenty of old photographs to enjoy.
A Hopeful Graduate,
Well, tomorrow makes one week until I graduate. I have had my last exam, last class, and last formal among other lasts. I am a proud alumna of my sorority, and my parents have graciously given me lifetime membership to my university as a graduation gift.
With all of these closing doors, I have not caught the ‘senioritis’. I will be receiving 4 A’s and a potential 5th grade of an A- (so close) and continuing my housing position two weeks beyond graduation. I actually have been wearing dresses to class – not athletic shorts. I pride myself on never checking out. I am so proud to be a woman in education, and I will walk across that stage with honor as a first-generation college student.
These last weeks have been such a ride. I was honored with a Legacy Award at the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life for a legacy of Passion, Advocacy, Conviction, and Energy.
“The Legacy Award recognizes graduating seniors who have made significant impacts within their fraternity or sorority, council, and the USF fraternity and sorority community. Recipients are individuals who epitomize the values of their chosen organizations and actively work to advance the fraternal values movement. They are innovators, positive change agents, and students of character and integrity. Most importantly, recipients have built a strong foundation and left a legacy for others to follow. Because of their involvement, others can say that our fraternity and sorority community is better.”
I am so humbled by this award. My story is my drive to bring the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation as the USF Panhellenic philanthropy in spring 2011. This foundation raises funds and awareness for girls in poverty to receive an education. This journey has been made possible by so many Panhellenic women and other supporters – I look forward to seeing this cause grow, and thank all who have been a part.
So as I walk across that stage with my AOII stitched cap, AOII stole, and Ambassador Medallion, I will be representing four years of passion, drive, and energy. And okay – I think I deserve a day . . . or a few . . . to relax.
P.S. I was honored to receive the Shannon Walsh award for the second time by my chapter, an award honored to a most valuable sister in recognition of alumna Shannon Walsh, who embodies AOII values. All of my sisters are deserving of this. Just as important, Matt and I got cutest couple again! Cheers to commitment.
I am so proud of Matt, who will be headed to Northeastern University for graduate school. Me? Stay tuned for any updates on my next journey. The right doors will open soon enough.
It is such a joy working at Wellness USF and promoting positive lifestyles. Take a look at our latest work (Huge shout out to student blogger/communications & social media assistant Shannon Gordon, and photographer Katina Bitsicas).
Check out the Wellness Students of USF! How do USF students stay well? Check out these Bulls and their wellness inspirations.
As seen on Her Campus USF
If you’re reading this, that makes you two degrees away from Kevin Bacon! I had the pleasure of attending a private reception followed by a lecture with this philanthropic celebrity.
The University Lecture Series (ULS) has had a great run this school year with speakers such as Hill Harper, Nicholas Sparks, and Frank Warren to name a few. Well, for #USFWeek and the last lecture of the semester, ULS really brought home the bacon . . . with legendary Kevin Bacon (most recognizable from Footloose, Apollo 13, and the FOX TV series The Following, among others). Matthew Perry, or Chandler Bing from the past TV series Friends, was the original speaker who unfortunately had to take on another commitment. However, Kevin Bacon fans took over the Marshall Student Center ballroom and for a lecture that illustrated a passion for connectivity and doing good.
Bacon welcomed the audience in jeans and black leather jacket. At that moment, everyone in attendance became one degree away from Kevin Bacon. Bacon told the story of how the “6 Degrees From Kevin Bacon” fad started. He took us back to 1994, where he would ride subways and get tapped by teenagers saying, “ONE DEGREE . . .”I was just playing your game!” At first, Bacon was horrified by the game as he tried to have his career taken seriously. If you’re not familiar, the game is based on the concept where you can connect any two people on earth with six or fewer acquaintances. But that game turned into positive social change.
“The Footloose Foundation didn’t have the best ring”, Bacon told us, as he reflected on creating his organization. He expressed that being an actor can be such a self-centered thing to do, and that he wanted to make an impact beyond his creative work.
So for $3,500, he purchased SixDegrees.org and went from there. The website states that the organization is “social networking with a social conscience”. The idea is to connect celebrities with grassroot organizations around the world, whether through social media or celebrity “drop-ins”. To illustrate his cause, Bacon gave a surprise visit before his lecture to Give Day Tampa Bay and the Florida Next Foundation, who collaborate for a one-day online giving challenge to raise support for local nonprofits and grow philanthropy in the region. “We’re all connected, we’re riding this planet together”, said Bacon. He had us realize that before Twitter and Facebook, we were all still connected. While these social media tools can be said to separate us, they are in their own strange ways bringing us together.
The second half of his lecture was a question and answer session with Rich Scibtti from ULS. Of course, the session had to begin with mentioning Footloose. When asked if he thought it would be such a success, he joked about how he did not think it would be such a “dance movie” or how extensive the dances would be. Bacon would tell the director, “you can just turn the music on, I’ll dance.” A remake was made in 2011 with Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough, and Bacon told us that his first thought was that he didn’t know it was time for the remake (this year marks 30 years since the original Footloose.
Bacon’s story of his journey to success continued, and we learned that he worked on and off as a waiter during his first years in New York. Soon, he landed the role of Chip Diller in the hilarious film Animal House with Saturday Night Live star of the time, John Belushi. Bacon revealed that with continuing as a waiter, he had to ask his boss could have the night off to attend the Animal House premier in Times Square (in which he arrived at via the subway system).
The evening concluded with a Q&A with lucky audience members who ran up to the microphones quick enough. There were true Kevin Bacon fans that shared their love for not as well-known films, such as Super, Beauty Shop, and even the animated film Balto. Through this closing session, we learned that the season finale to The Following is going to be bad a*** and that, not-so-spoiler alert: “some people will live and some won’t.”
Bacon also spoke of his wife, actress Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer, Phenomenon), and how their matching careers have made for a great relationship. For Bacon’s career, it is not about the size of the part or the size of the budget – he will do a major comic book film, or an indie film – though he does prefer dark roles and dark works. When asked about challenges, he said, “I’ve had some really tough times where I questioned everything, but I never questioned quitting.”
Audience members left the lecture inspired to check out SixDegrees.org and maybe re-watch Footloose, for we now understand the philanthropic and down-to-earth actor that is Kevin Bacon.
In a past post, My 40% of Happiness, I noted of learning that happiness is 50% genetic, 10% circumstances and 40% – intentional (you choose). So, I find today to be an appropriate day to reflect since I graduate from the University of South Florida in 40 days.
A lot can happen in 40 days. In the past 40 days, I have transitioned out of my last executive position within my sorority, traveled to Boston with Matt, celebrated the birthdays of my sister and dad, and learned more about myself along the way.
Boston was my most alternative spring break, and thus the most rewarding. It was interesting when people would ask why we were in Boston – Our replies: “I am visiting graduate schools!” and “I have a job interview!” – pause – Where did our lives go?
Things are happening so fast, but I have to remember that I am 22 – and feelin’ it! I had the opportunity to interview with one of my dream PR agencies, and I hope that door opens for me. Plus, Matt got accepted to Northeastern University and I am so proud of him!
We visited the original Cheers, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston Tea Party Museum, Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market, Harvard, Northeastern, among other hot spots. I even got to see my lifelong friend Becca – plug for Becca Bakes – and my friend Megan who I worked with at GolinHarris. Matt and I ate a lot of food, with plenty of lobster & chowda to choose from, and you can bet that I took a picture of everything. Follow me on IG @deekush if you appreciate a meal in your feed at least twice a day. No shame in being branded as a #foodie. Oh, and another plug for comedian Josh Blue who we saw at Laugh Boston!
Matt always tells me that everything works out. And alas . . . it always does.
Now, I am going to graduate from USF in 40 days with every week someone asking me, “So, what’s next?!” I will definitely let you all know as soon as I know. I have had so many opportunities here at USF within sorority life, my on-campus jobs, and the honor of serving as a USF Ambassador (crazy that we just welcomed our new class last week and I’ve reached my 1-year mark!)
40 days seems like a lot, but it is not. I will take each day one by one and enjoy the moments.
As seen on Her Campus USF
Theodor Seuss Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss, was born on March 2, 1904. In honor of his 110th birthday, here are five quotes from this brilliant writer that remind us to the best versions of ourselves.
1. “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”
Don’t worry about fitting in with others, focus on what makes you unique. There is something special, purposeful, and of high value in all of us. Challenge yourself to focus more on your strengths and less on your weaknesses. Seek friends and relationships that complement you, not complete you. Blast Lady Gaga’s Born This Way. Do something outside of your comfort zone (that is safe and healthy, of course!) Above all, express yourself to the fullest because you deserve to shine.
Don’t downplay your qualities; let the world know what you have to offer. Who cares what size a woman is in a magazine or what others say about you, because only you should define your success. You are awesome. You are confident. You are you. Challenge: Write those and other positive “You are’s” on your bathroom mirror!
3. “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
Do you have any friendships or relationships that bring you down? Often we get stuck with negative energy around us – perhaps a partner who does not deserve us, or a friend who does not carry similar values. You should surround yourself with individuals who admire you for who are and what you have to say. One of the best things you can do for others is be honest. Tell that awesome friend in your life how much you appreciate them . . . and tell them that they matter.
4. You’re off to great places, today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so . . . get on your way!
This is my personal favorite, and I reflect on it often. This quote reminds us that we are destined for greatness, even if we haven’t found that open door. Didn’t get the job or internship you wanted? That just means there is a better job or internship waiting for you! There is another saying that dreams don’t ‘work’ unless you do – so make your dreams happen by creating action steps! If you haven’t done so recently, find your “mountains” by creating short-term and long-term goals. Even if your goal for the week is to clean your room, that’s a great start! Prepare your mind and body for the future with healthy habits, and wake up every day with the mentality that it is YOUR day!
5. Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you try!
This is the kind of quote you need on homework assignments. But also, this is great advice for effectively managing stress and conflict. When you come to a roadblock, take the time to explore your options, take deep breaths and try what is best for you. I say, “trying” can be staying in for a night of rest and relaxation, apologizing to someone you offended, or sending your resume to the company of your dream job. Creative and have a lot to say? Try creating a blog! Futuristic and pensive? Try writing in a journal or diary once a day!