Digging Deeper - A response

During my undergraduate tenure at DeSales University, I was heavily involved across campus. Including Student Government, Student Activities, and Orientation Leader (aka OL). Our senior year brought in Character U, which started the birth of legit orientation programs across all college campuses. Both myself and my roommate during my senior year were both OL's and had a group of first-years we became mentors throughout the year.

After classes started, we continued to meet with our first-years to check-in, see how they were holding up, answer questions they had, etc.. One night, I walked into our small dorm room, to find there were a group of students hanging out with my roommate. They were scattered all over our room, including my roommate's top bunk. A few looks over top bunk, including my friend, Kyle Langan. A first-year student with bright blue eyes and a wonderful, warm smile.

Since then, we continued to stay connected via Facebook. While my life brought us (me and my family) to the southeast, his journey has taken him to La La Land.

And yes, I totally think people jump out of their cars and dance/sing during LA traffic.

He is now the Founder & Editor for From The Hamptons to Hollywood, which specializes in Fashion, Events, Food, and Editorial Content. They’ve been featured on billboards, have been featured on the E! Network, and were named one of The Top Lifestyle Blogs of the Year – twice – by TripAdvisor. He also just had his first red carpet hosting experience at The Thirst Project's 10th annual gala.

Impressive, right?

Kyle recently wrote an article that I felt needed to write about (and have already reached out to him to let him know I was doing this 😉).

In his recent post, How College Ruined My Life, he talks about the debt that he accumulated during his time in undergrad. I can relate. I didn't have as much college loans than he did, but it was enough for a communications major, who started out making $22,000 grand a year (2007) to scare you just a little. I feel for my fellow co-eds who have a huge loan burden and still, remain digging out of a massive hole.

People have been taking a deeper look at how pricey college is, the admission process, donors giving gifts back, etc. Let's check that out for a minute.

Our beloved DeSales is now a whopping $56k+ for residential students (when I started in 2003, my parents and I were looking at $26k+ for residential students). It cost more for me to attend college than what I was earning after graduation.

While I visited friends at other colleges and universities, these places look like resorts. Having their own convenience store in their residence hall, having a Chick-fil-A, Subway and Starbucks in their student union, having residence halls that look more like hotels than a higher-end cinder block room, high-speed wifi, coffee house student lounges, etc.  All higher education institutions follow these lines in order to keep up, stay current, and recruit the student.

Unfortunately, 9 times out of 10, who ends up paying for those fancy upgrades?

You. The student/alum via residence house living, student fees and ultimately your student loans.

Sucks, right?

So yes, I can see that's how college could ruin your life.

However, I don't feel like college ruined my life, even with the debt that I still carry with me. Here are some things to consider if you're still digging yourself out.

  • The Degree
    • You'll always have this degree that you put your blood, sweat, and tears into. No one can ever take that away from you and it will remain a permanent spot on your resume. 
  • Life
    • Besides the classroom, you learn a lot more outside of it. It was my experiences in SGA, Student Activities and living with others in the residence halls that provided me the additional leadership and adulting skills you will desperately need moving forward.
  • Lessons
    • We all do crazy stuff in college. Are you subscribed to the "Best of College" stories on Snapchat? Some of the stuff takes me right back when other times I look at what these kids were doing and say "Were we that bad?!" I then think, yes. Yes, we were (however, we were in college before the huge social media boom. Twitter was just making its appearance our senior year). 
    • Anyways, this is the one time in your life where you can learn those hard lessons, and sometimes, face the minimum consequences. Hangovers are a lot harder when you're 31 than when you were 21. 
  • Mentors & Friends
    • Besides my degree, DeSales gave me the greatest gift. My mentors and my friends! I wouldn't have met some of my best friends who have become my bridesmaids, colleagues, etc. I mean seriously, I wouldn't have met Kyle! Look at all the cool stuff he's doing now. I can say I knew him when. 
Therefore, I don't think that college ruined my life. Does the whole college system need to be looked at to find ways to make it more affordable? Sure do. Do we have a long way to go? Absolutely.

What do you think? What keeps you positive when you're paying off student debt (or any debt for that matter)?

Stay Fab,

P.S. - It's a new month! Ten new positions are now posted on our jobs page.

What to Wear - Clothing lines that Work and Play Hard

I have always been a full-figured woman. Quite frankly, I am proud of that (and I have a ridiculous sweet tooth). As staff in the advancement field, we are expected to dress in a specific way, to show we mean business. As fantastic as that is, it can get downright expensive.

Conferences I attend, I get asked, "Where did I get your dress, shoes, outfit, etc.?' Especially the Bear Bryant patterned dress.

There are a few specific stores that are my go-to's when it comes to buying clothes for work. They can also be used for a nice evening out, events, etc.

  • New York & Company 
    • I freaking love this store. Any chance I get to go to one, I stock up. This has a wide selection of styles, sizes, and variety that any woman can feel their best. Not to mention the several coupons they have.
    • That is where I got the Bear Bryant print dress. 
  • JC Penney
    • Lots of these stores are starting to slowly disappear, but there is a huge variety of dresses that can take you hours to go through. For incredibly decent prices!
  • Belk
    • I guess you can call this the southern version of JC Penney, another great place to find a huge variety of dresses, outfits, etc.
  • Amazon Wardrobe
    • Yes. Amazon. You can order a certain amount of clothes, try them on, and send back the ones you do not like. 
  • DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse
    • Probably my favorite place to visit, ever. As soon as I go into the store, I go past all the regular priced items to the clearance rack. The quality and different brands of shoes could go on for days (and spend several hours in there looking at the shoes). 
  • Payless Shoesource
    • While all the stores have mostly shut down in the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico, they are still being sold online through, you guessed it, Amazon. You always get a huge variety, but the quality is a hit or miss.
These are some of the larger retailers I look at, but there are also several smaller boutiques that are locally owned in your community to visit. One of my favorites is Vinterest (in both locations of Hixson and Southside Chattanooga).

There are also a few celebrity lines that I'm fans of. Kristin Cavallari's Uncommon James jewelry line. Classic pieces with no frills. I've been lucky to check out the Nashville location, but you can order all their pieces online. Reese Witherspoon's Draper James clothing and accessories line is extremely stylish (fun fact: Reese's grandmother went to TN Tech). If you're a fan of Kohl's, you can always find Lauren Conrad's line. Very west coast, chic that can go from day-to-night. These ladies also have lifestyle, cooking and additional items to check out.

One thing I have not tried out yet are some of the clothing subscriptions. You've probably seen their ads on Facebook for Dia & Co, Stitch Fix, and Stylogic. If anyone has tried these, please let me know! I've been interested in trying one, but haven't pulled the trigger yet. 

Which store am I missing? What other subscription line do you enjoy seeing at your front door? Comment below and include your review on them!

Stay Fab, 

Lost in Translation - How to communicate effectively with other cultures

My husband's parents came over to the states from Poland almost four decades ago. They had little
money, no family and didn't know the language. My father-in-law going to a technical college to become a computer engineer. My mother-in-law was a seamstress. They had the American dream of coming to America to make their lives better.

To this day, their siblings have all come over to the states. Where they have raised their children, and now have grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc. etc. etc. They still, to this day, speak fluent Polish and keep many of the same traditions alive.

Some of my husband's relatives speak very little English, which can be hard to communicate when you're with them visiting, traveling, holidays, etc. It's been something I still need to continue to work through (and their native language is EXTREMELY difficult to even catch on).

You may have donors/alumni who also have a language barrier. How do you communicate with them effectively?
  • Repeat what they're saying in your head
    • As your donor answers questions, tells stories, etc., repeat what they're saying in your head. By hearing it in your native language, it can be very effective when it comes to understanding what they're saying and asking to follow up questions.
  • Pause in between
    • After they respond to you. Do not be afraid to take a breath to make sure you understand what they're saying. You sometimes may need a minute to comprehend.
  • Ask follow up questions
    • If you do not understand what they're saying, do not be afraid to ask for follow up questions. You would rather have a better understanding of what is going on vs. continuing down a rabbit hole path because you didn't.
  • Rely on your translator
    • My husband, brother-in-law, his cousins are extremely helpful when it comes to translating. Rely on these people to relay your donors messaging and yours. Find a good one. Not just one that is ok. 

You may get frustrated and you may get overwhelmed (as you can imagine). However, be patient, take a deep breath, and try to put yourself in their shoes. Kindness and understanding can go a long way.

Stay Fab,

Charities to Support on September 11th

I posted last year about my thoughts of September 11, and how it affected my family. Instead of going back and reflecting on the same things, I wanted to share some of the organizations that have taken charge and are trying to support the victim's families and survivors of the attacks. Take some time to review each one and if you feel inclined, show some support.

  • FealGood Foundation
    • I'm sure you've seen Jon Stewart on the news talking to US representatives about supporting the 9/11 Victim's Bill. This is the Foundation he was working with. 
  • Tuesday's Children
    • September 11 was indeed on a Tuesday. This organization provides a lifetime of healing for those whose lives have been forever changed by terrorism or traumatic loss. Through a time-tested, long-term approach, Tuesday’s Children programming serves and supports our nation’s military Families of the Fallen; builds resilience and common bonds in communities worldwide recovering from tragedies, and keeps the promise to support all those impacted by 9/11.
  • VOICES of September 11
    • VOICES helps families heal after tragedy, a vital mission that began after 9/11. Today, the organization continues to address the long-term needs of those impacted by 9/11, commemorates the 2,977 lives lost, and promotes national preparedness. In addition, through VOICES Center of Excellence for Community Resilience, we conduct research and training as well as assist communities impacted by other tragedies.
  • New York Says Thank You
    • New York Says Thank You Foundation operates five inter-related programs focused on survivor empowerment in disaster relief, education, and the arts.
  • The National September 11 Memorial & Museum
    • If you haven't gone to see the memorial or the museum, you need to. What a powerful place it is. 
  • The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Fund
    • Gift supports the maintenance of the Memorial and design and constructs the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Visitor Education Center.
  • Flight 93 Memorial 
    • This memorial is not too far from Pittsburg, PA. Where Flight 93 crashed into a field. Consider a donation to support the Flight 93 National Memorial’s efforts to build the memorial, develop thoughtful educational programming, and restore the natural environment.

Laser Cats - How to not Bomb an Interview

I'm totally not a cat person, but that is hilarious. 

Do you see how the cat goes all over the place? Chasing the laser from one end of the hallway to another. On the carpet, on the wall, almost chasing its tail. 

That is what happened to us the other day during interviews. 

It was like a cat was chasing a laser in the candidate's brain. 

It was bad.

Yup. Like a dumpster fire, floating along in a river flood road bad. 

After sitting through this candidate's interview, I decided to write a post about how to not bomb an interview. 
  • Do your prep work
    • I'm not saying studying for the bar exam prep. I'm saying review the organization, it's staff, the people who you may be meeting with (thanks Google and LinkedIn), it's mission, goals, current news, etc. 
    • Also, review the position a few times. Have an idea of what you will be doing. If you have questions about certain parts of the position, bring them to interview (that's what it's for).
  • Practice your elevator pitch
    • I asked one of the candidates to give us their elevator pitch. The candidate went on for 20 minutes. If you need help crafting your pitch, the Muse has a great article about it. 
    • During practice, if you feel yourself going long, what could you take out that may not be needed. You want to make sure it's a two-way conversation.
  • Stay on subject
    • Nothing is worse than taking a conversation into the dark rabbit hole (I've been there, it's pretty dark). If you feel yourself going into that direction, pause and say something about "you can share the rest of that story later."
  • Edit yourself
    • My colleagues and I get frustrated if we only ask two-three questions in an hour session if the candidate just talks, and talks, and talks, and talks (you get the point). If you see yourself going long, be mindful of yourself and the time you have taken. 
  • Humble Pie
    • I have had people act like they are a sure in for the job. Once I pick up on it, I check out. You can talk about yourself and the accomplishments you have without an ego. 
  • Bring questions
    • This is just a personal pet peeve. Bring questions to the interview. I can't tell you how many people don't. It can be about the job, the team, the culture of the office, holidays, healthcare, whatever. The more questions you bring, it will show your potential employer how interested you are in for the job. 
Since it's a new month, there are ten new positions on our opportunities page. If you apply for one of them (or any job), please be sure to take some notes and prepare. Have additional questions? Please feel free to reach out!

Here's to hoping less laser cat brains in your candidate pool!

Stay Fab,