Interview Outfits on a Budget

Hey guys! Hope you're having a great Thursday.  SO I am by no means a fashion guru, (although I am trying to up my game) but one thing I do know about is getting interview outfits on a budget.  But have no fear, I have learned a few things along the way that will hopefully help!

When I was interviewing, I was lucky enough to go to a few company's that were a lot more casual. That being said though, always go into an interview a little more dressed up than you think you should be!  You can always adjust if you make it through more rounds and go back. It can be difficult though because some agencies are old school and dress very nice where others are in sweats.  PSA: NEVER interview in your sweats, unless it's a phone interview then definitely wear sweats.

One thing I did find a little helpful, is stalking social media sites.  May seem weird but sometimes they have company outing pictures and it can give you a sense of the atmosphere. 

I also really really love dresses for interviews.  You can dress it up or down easily by wearing flats or heels, adding a blazer or jewelry. I believe the key is to have 3-5 solid outfits.  You don't need too many because you'll usually go to a company three times, and they won't know if you wore the same outfit somewhere else. What I have that I've gotten the most wear out of is: a good neutral flat/black heels, two dresses, a few shirts, a blazer, dress pants and a full suit.  I really believe if you can save up or ask for a nice well fitted suit as a present it will pay for it's self time and time again.  You can use the blazer to dress up any outfit, or use the pencil skirt/pants to mix and match with multiple shirts.  It's also just a really great idea to have a suit on hand at all times. 

I honestly found a lot of nice shirts & dresses from places like Forever 21 and H&M.  As long as they fit you well and are made of nice looking material, no one will know you spent under $20 on it.  I also found blazers there!  One of the most important things you can do is make sure you have clothes that fit well and are of course ironed.  We all know that first impressions are important.  The price tag of the clothes don't matter as long as the effort is there.

Whatever type of clothes you buy and whatever price tag that comes with it, make sure you are purchasing items that not only you like, but that you feel confident in.  I know whenever I went into an interview, and I had a new dress on that I really liked, it would always put me in the mind set "Yeah, I got this". That emanates and everyone can tell, putting the interview in a really good mood.

What is your advice for interviews?  Let me know if you want to see any of my outfits I have worn!

A 20-something year old in 2015

This week as I thought about what I wanted to write for a post, I racked my brain for fashion ideas, tip and tricks, or advice on job searching.  And that felt all very blah, to be honest. Yes this blog is meant to serve others but it also serves me in many different ways.  So I thought I’d write about something very near and dear to my heart, if that’s okay with you.  Being a 20-something year old in 2015.

I graduated two years ago, and just about nothing is the way I thought it would be the day I received my degree.  I am currently living at my parents home (without them (they live in Florida so I'm by myself, weird yes I know)), on my third job, and back in Cincinnati.  

When you graduate college, there is this overwhelming pressure to have the perfect career, not just job, the Pinterest inspired apartment, work/life balance and be making more money than you can imagine.  Man was reality difficult. But I am slowly learning and accepting that our twenty’s is the time for adventures, mistakes, learning, and most importantly, growing.  These things come in stages and there will be struggles along the way but that’s what life is all about. I believe the lies that social media portrays every day, that every single person has their dream job, car, life, apartment and SO MUCH MORE, is just not true.

I moved back home to save money, building on my savings that I've been working on forever.  I took my job to push myself and become well rounded.  It may not be forever but it allows me to have income and work on other aspects of my life.  I have delayed some of the things I so desperately want but I have found I made these sacrifices now, so that they will be that much sweeter in the future. I have pushed my life in ways that help me grow and help my learn more about myself every day. I enjoy reading, listening to podcasts, and getting my fitness on (I still don't enjoy this part, hoping one day this changes).  I believe that’s what our twenties are really about, not the materialistic things even though I enjoy it as much as everyone else.

I hope that some of you found comfort in knowing other people are struggling and it's okay. It's perfectly normal to not have it all together.  No matter what life stage you are at make sure you are working on yourself, cultivating relationships, and laughing every single day.  You don't want your life to be perfect anyways really, because that would ruin all the fun wouldn't it?

Unpaid Internships: Are they worth it?

Ah, unpaid internships, as much as I wish they would just go away I do believe they have given me things a pay check couldn't have.

Being a marketing major, I had a few different experiences with unpaid internship. Some good, some bad, both valuable. Do I believe I could have gotten some of the same experiences while being paid? Absolutely,  let me explain why.

Junior Year:  I had an internship at a science museum working as an event coordinator, specifically weddings.

Senior Year: I had an internship at a medical marketing company as a marketing coordinator.

Which was more valuable? The science museum.

The reason I say this is because I got a lot out of it besides just the work place and it was a better fit for me at that time.  I was exploring all different aspects of marketing since I had switched from engineering and I wasn't quite sure what I wanted.  Internships are very important for this very reason, to dabble in what you like and without a long term commitment.  Every single job will teach you skills, and give you experiences no matter the position or industry.  I understood that this internship was not paid because of the nonprofit nature. From this internship, I met a mentor who later helped me get acquainted with marketing agencies all throughout the city, some of which I would not have found without her help. She offered me "in's" and a letter of recommendation.  She also gave me advice on job searching and just what to expect after graduating. The science museum was well recognized throughout the Columbus area making it more recognizable for companies looking at me for future positions. This internship was also really valuable because it was only weekends, allowing me to get a job during the week. Which my bank account and I greatly appreciated. 

My second internship I would say was less valuable because it was a small company of 5 people.  A small company can lead to really great opportunities if you have the flexibility within the position to learn a lot and try new things.  It allows you to shine in your position, instead of getting lost in the shuffle of other interns.  With a small company though, I found it extremely hard to find a job after graduation.  No one had heard of the company, losing a lot of credibility for my hard work.  If I was lucky enough to have a company interview me, I could talk about my experiences until my face turned blue, but I found it really difficult to even get that door to open. I believed this would have been a good position even though it was unpaid because of the size, but I believe that was actually the downfall.  There was also no realistic reason this internship should have been unpaid, the company just wanted cheap labor.

Unpaid internships do offer value in the way of learning and growing in your career, but I also believe a paid internship will do the same, along with a pay check.  It is however, worth the opportunity if it is a really good company that you may not get in other wise, or a non-profit.  I would write down the pro's and con's of the company, position, and experience you are looking for and see if those outweigh a pay check.

Have you had any experiences with internships? What are your thoughts?

Use Your Resources

I know that everyone says things like, "the world is at your fingertips" after graduating, entering that next chapter of your life, or working towards any life goal. It's also true when job searching, even if you are feeling discouraged, it's true.  There are a million and one different websites and resources that can be used when job searching.  There are groups, forums, and networking events all the time, its just a matter of finding them.  Here are my top three online resources when job searching: LinkedIn, Indeed and Glassdoor. 

1. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great resource for many reasons.  It is a way to research companies, see if you have connections, find job postings, even find companies you didn't know about. I would research agencies in Cincinnati and when I got to the page of one company, LinkedIn recommends or shows similar results in the right margin.  This is a great tool when looking within a certain type of industry and is much more targeted than Google searches.  LinkedIn is a great tool to connect to a ton of people and see if there is anyway to network into a company.  When recently job searching, I would reach out to the HR department or presidents of companies. I would inquire about positions, explaining quickly (about 3 sentences) my background and what I was looking for.  *When doing this make sure that this company has the type of positions and work you want.  For example, you wouldn't go to a design company and say I'm looking to do research, that would shut down any chance you'd have immediately* I have found this extremely effective, especially compared to just applying online. It really stands out to the company and I have even found out about positions before they are posted.  I am by no means saying this is a 100% guarantee job offer or even a response, but it has been something really impactful in my previous job searches.  

2. Indeed 

Indeed is a great resource for job searching.  This is where it is really important to learn key words and phrases about a position you are looking into.  I will touch on this in a later post, stay tuned.  With Indeed, you can sign in and have several searches that will save and update daily.  This is a great online resource because Indeed pulls from all sites that post jobs and is updated constantly. It also knows where you left off, therefore you're not constantly looking at the same postings. So a job may not be posted on LinkedIn but instead on a companies personal site and Indeed will pull from there and display it for you. This is a one stop shop. Highly recommend and its free!

3. Glassdoor

Glassdoor is a great site for reviews, learning about the companies culture, and salaries without stepping a foot in the door.  Glassdoor also has job postings but is less thorough. I have used this site to get a feel for the company culture and see peoples reviews, both current and past employees. There are also comments on the interview process and what to expect if you get the chance to interview.  I found that the comments are usually pretty accurate and often give me a heads up on what to look for when I get in the door. That being said, all of the reviews should be taken with a grain of salt because sometimes a lot are written in a negative light. Although they can be informing at times, they can also be very bias.  Lastly, the site is a great place to find salaries for the positions you are interviewing for.  It gives you a ballpark and makes it easier to know what is within a companies range and what isn't.

These are just my top three resources overall.  In short, I use LinkedIn for connections and finding companies, Indeed for job postings, and Glassdoor for reviews and salaries.

I would also recommend doing a deep dive into your industry and joining groups within your city.  For example when I lived in Columbus there was the Columbus Society of Communicating Arts (CSCA) which posted jobs and talked about events within the communication arts industry in the city. There are groups nationally and more local that cater to everyone's needs. 

What sites do you use to job search?

Thank You Notes After Job Interviews

Most business professionals and almost all business classes will tell you after attending an interview to write a thank you note.  I remember my dad saying "Did you write a thank you note, and emphasize why you're the right fit?" and I would roll my eyes and say "I sure did", when I didn't (sorry Dad).  I would sometimes write a quick note if I liked the company saying thank you for meeting with me, but half the time I didn't get a response and I thought why bother?

Ah, being a recruiter on the other side I'll tell you why.  No one else does it! It sets you apart so much. It's okay that the company may glance over it or not respond, but it really speaks volumes.  I would also recommended writing a thank you note after any networking meeting. I have a few tips I've learned along the way on how to write a pretty decent thank you note.  (I won't say great because I am sure I have room for improvement)

  • Ask HR (or whoever you've been in contact with) for the interviewer's email:

    • Most of the time the interviewers don't have a business card on them to give you their email, or you may forget with everything going on.  And that's okay.  Just email the point of contact you have at the company and say you'd like to send thank you notes along, and if you could get their emails.  I've never had anyone say no, but if they do for some reason just ask them to send the message along.  This also helps if you have any follow up questions, like timeline, or next steps you should take.

  • Thank your point of contact:

    • You know that person you just emailed for information, they did a lot of work too!  Make sure you thank them as well.  I rarely got a thank you note as a recruiter. One, its just a nice thing to do.  Two, you never know how much pull that person may have in the interviewing process and if they have any say on whether or not you'll get the job. You'll want to make a good impression with them as well.

  • Spelling:

    • So this may seem silly, but spelling is so important; not only in your note but specifically with names. I can not tell you the amount of times people have spelled my name wrong. It not only is at the bottom of the email I have just sent but also in my email address.  It just puts a bad taste in the recruiters mouth and also shows you haven't taken the time to double check your work. Frankly, it just appears that you don’t care. This goes for any communication you have with the company in general.

  • Connect with the person:

    • Something that really stands out when sending a thank you note is saying something in your interview/networking that you felt the interviewer really connected with or was looking for.  If the person is interviewing all day this can help them to remember who you are and what you talked about.

  • Send it the same day:

    • Sending a thank you note the same day is really impactful, it helps to solidify your interview and the more time passes the less impact it has.

A thank you note does not have to be long, it can be about 3-4 sentences, but they are still very important.

Check out these awesome printable templates to help make your thank you note stand out even more!