I read 24 books last year and wow, there were so many good ones, but these were the top picks!
If y’all have been reading along the past couple of years, you know that I choose a word every year to focus on. In 2019 it was Growth, in 2020 it was Focus, and 2021 was Abundance. I very much enjoy picking a word instead of setting myself up for failure when I previously couldn’t meet a rigid set goal.
So my word for this year? Well, it was very hard to decide, and I will let you in on the two I’ve been going back and forth about. Ease and Grace. Here’s why I was torn. Ease is defined as freedom from labor, pain, or physical annoyance; tranquil rest; comfort, freedom from concern, anxiety, or solicitude; a quiet state of mind, freedom from difficulty or great effort; facility. Now doesn’t that just sound like what we all need? Some ease. The last almost two years now have been anything but smooth regardless of your circumstances. We have all been impacted in one way or another and in many people’s cases, in multiple ways. So I like Ease and I want to keep it in my back pocket. But then we get to Grace. And a lot of times, people think of Grace as faithfulness, empathy, and forgiveness. However, Grace can be interpreted in many ways and can also be defined as elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action, a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment, favor or goodwill, moral strength. So you can probably see why I’m torn. Both are extremely relevant to me currently. I want things to be smooth this year, I want to not be so combative and find myself operating more in a state of ease rather than insecure fortitude (i.e. moving forward but with no sense of direction). I want moral strength to offer empathy, understanding, and extend grace to myself and others as needed. I sincerely need both of these things in my life.
So honestly, I don’t know why I’m holding myself to some strict rule of only one word, so I guess that decides it. I will be picking two words for 2022 and very much am willing Ease and Grace to help me live a more peaceful and happy year ahead. Did you pick a word or words?! TELL ME!
Well, hey friends! It seems like another Covid year has come and we made it. So much loss, grief, panic, and anxiety filled so many of us. I think if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve probably also found some ways to find joy and happiness. Puppies, babies, promotions, homes, new jobs, engagements, moves, weddings, etc.
Be proud of all the pivoting, resiliency, and growth you’ve shown the last 12 months. May we leave this year stronger, wiser, and kinder.
I had several major life changes this year, some happy, some hard, but I wouldn’t change any of it. Below are 5 hard truths I was reminded of this year, and I’m sure most of you can relate.
- Priorities change and balancing all of them means compromise and it is important to change the things that no longer align with your values, the things you’re no longer willing to compromise on. You can’t do it all at all times, so you must re-prioritize to stay balanced. And no I don’t mean balance is 50/50 split, balance is whatever you need it to be and it is ever evolving. Be okay with it.
- That leads into the next one. You will disappoint people with your decisions and actions. No is a complete sentence and you don’t owe anyone anything.
- Everything in life is temporary. Time, relationships, jobs. Hold on tightly to the things that matter most to you and let go of the things that don’t.
- Don’t take it personally. Everyone is looking out for themselves and their actions say a hell of a whole lot more about them than they ever did about you. Free the sting from your heart and head and move forward (with or without said person, it is your call what you will accept and tolerate in your life).
- Learn to like yourself, flaws and all (hell, love yourself, but baby steps is okay, too). We are our harshest critics and that can be self-destructing. You are capable of way more than you think and your biggest person to impress, to encourage, to challenge, and to motivate is the person looking back at you in the mirror. Make her proud!
- Throwing in an extra one just because I think it’s noteworthy. Everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE, is fighting battles that you have absolutely no idea about. Be there when you can. Offer support and a listening ear when available. And above all, do no harm and take no shit. Be kind to you and others.
I also wanted to share this sequin shirt dress because DUH, it’s new years eve, and although I’m staying home, I still never miss an opportunity to dress up!
Hey friends and welcome back to my little corner of the inter webs! As a lot of you know, my full time gig is a campus recruiter for a consulting firm. I hire new grads for our starting positions in engineering, project management, IT, and data analytics. Over the years, I have really loved giving back to students and offering professional development to help them fine tune their resumes, build out their LinkedIn, dress to impress, and master interview etiquette.
One of the biggest pieces of advice I give to underclassmen is to start building out their LinkedIn profile ASAP. And then continually update as they gain work/internship experience. I can’t tell you how many students miss this step early on and create a headache for themselves down the road and potentially miss out on great opportunities. Recruiters spend a majority of their time looking at profiles on LI, so let’s make yours stand out! Check out the below tips and let me know if it’s helpful!
Build a Presence on LinkedIn
First things first, choose a professional-looking photo. If you’re a college student, most university career centers offer this to you at no charge. Take advantage!
Write a summary of yourself and your experience.
If job searching, add your #opentowork logo (available in the profile picture section) and industries/jobs you’re interested in. Make it really easy for recruiters and attach your most recent resume to your profile.
Add your work experience, school(s) attended, and skills.
Check out two sections of my profile for reference below:
Your profile should be a reflection of you!
Grow Your Network
Connect with thought leaders (I personally love following Brené Brown and Sara Blakely), colleagues, and industry professionals. The more people you connect with, the more the LI algorithm will suggest people and groups to continue to expand your network.
Join relevant groups – LOTS of options here! Examples: Young Professionals of Houston, National Society of Black Engineers, etc.
Showcase Your Passions
The best thing you can do is engage, engage, engage! Here’s how: comment on relevant posts, tag others in your network, share content with your own commentary, and write and share your own original content!
And now, because I don’t know if you’re here for the advice or the workwear, I’m not going to leave you hanging, so here’s a CUTE look for office wear!
What did I learn in 2020? I learned that I don’t like to be alone (I am not one in favor of permanent WFH), I fell back in love with reading, my relationships with friends and family are extremely important, and that the only person who can make you happy is YOU! My word that I verbalized in my intention setting for 2020 was FOCUS. I focused on my job, on saving money, on the blog, and honestly, by the end of it, just making it through the year. I wrote a blog post at the beginning on 2020 about how setting resolutions has really set me up for failure in the past and I am really happy I didn’t put the pressure on myself to hit specific goals. Intention setting is my route that I’m enjoying and I’ve set some intentions for this upcoming year (in no particular order):
I intend to read 24 books this year (2 books x month) – I read 16 books in 2020 so I want to continue that and increase! I think it’s so good at night to close my laptop, put down my phone, and get lost in a new story. I’m looking forward to it!
I intend to eat at home more. I’m starting this month by purchasing meals from Home Chef. The meals look absolutely yummy and I cannot wait to put my chef’s hat on. What seems awesome about this is that each meal (you pick three) come in two servings, so essentially I’ll get six meals for the week. I’ll keep y’all posted on what I think! The first week’s meals will be here on Tuesday!
I intend to intentionally move my body several times a week and can’t wait to get my Peloton on the 16th. I’m committed to 30 minutes 2-3 times a week and will see how I do. I also want to make it clear that I am not doing this to lose weight. It truly is to move more (I was so sedentary in 2020 and that needs to change) and improve my mental health. I always feel better and am honestly nicer and happier once I’ve released some endorphins.
I intend to save three months salary this year. I accomplished that goal in 2020 (and then I bought myself my Chanel bag) and would like to do it again in 2021! I work hard and I’ve realized I need to make my money work hard, too.
I intend to grow this community even more – recommitting to several blog posts a week, asking to be compensated appropriately with brand partnerships, and expanding my lifestyle topics (wellness, cooking, home decor) even more. I dipped my toe into the home and beauty sectors this year and am excited to continue!
Here are my top nine Instagram posts of 2020
We covered a lot of topics on my Instagram this year: body acceptance, my move and home decor, body positivity (especially in swim season), athletic wear on a soft body (thanks Fabletics for continuing to work with me), wore amazing dresses, the election and BLM. I used my voice, I didn’t shy away from tough conversations and although I lost hundreds of followers, I gained a deeper relationship with so many of you! This year was hard, but I’m also grateful as I feel like I’ve grown so much as a human being. I’m looking forward to the inauguration, to getting vaccinated, and to finding another new normal!
So what is my word for 2021?!
ABUNDANCE – we are going BIG this year. So here’s to being abundant in health, wealth, and happiness! That’s really all I have to say about my word of the year at this time and I think I summed it up pretty succinctly LOL.
Thanks for being here for another year!
Really excited to review these items and if they’re still available, I will link!
- Monogrammed Wallet – How absolutely fabulous is this?! I found this company on Etsy and want to order more items from them! They’re based in the UK so shipping takes about 4 weeks. I got the pink wallet and get SO many compliments. Shop it HERE
- Wacoal Red Carpet Strapless Bra – I think this one goes without saying much. Being bigger busted, this is really the only bra that keeps everything in place. Shop it HERE
- Knit Set from Anthropologie – This was one of the most popular items this year and I hope that you are LOVING it! These pieces can definitely be worn as separates too, so I’ll continue to share ways to wear it! Shop it HERE
- Good American Crop Jeans – There are four places that I shop for jeans and Good American are honestly the best quality. I’ve had some pairs for over 5 years! If you’re looking to not pay full price, Nordstrom Rack has some styles regularly. Shop these HERE
- Rachel Parcell Smocked Dress – Y’all loved this dress and I did not sleep on this one as I got it in the Mauve and in the Leopard. Fits great and I think it’s a style you can wear year round! No longer available
- The Ever Popular Printed Anthro Top – For two years running, this top has been IT! Thank goodness it’s continually restocked LOL I’ve bought it in three prints and wear it all the time – it’s colorful and full of pattern play! Shop it HERE
- The Knee High Boots That FIT!!!! – Best find of 2020?! Probably the OTK boots from Target that actually fit my thick calves and y’all’s too – I got so many messages that they are magic and I definitely agree! Shop them HERE
- Flowy Dress – I think we were all shopping more affordably this year and H&M was a huge WIN for me (although that shipping was frustrating, am I right?!). I will still be all about an easy, afforable, and flowy dress going into Spring and Summer! Still available in stripes HERE
- OTS Sweater – Another great affordable find! H&M does a great sweater selection! Still available HERE
- Plush Blanket – We spent A LOT more time at home this year and a majority of time we were in athleisure, am I right? I can’t decide between my Barefoot Dreams Blanket and this one, which one I like more. Both are so cozy, this one being a more affordable option. Shop it HERE
Thank you for supporting this space here, I hope it’s brought you joy, a laugh, and some great pieces for your closet!
Y’all asked so many questions about my job change over on Stories a few weeks ago and I’m finally putting aside some time to answer! If you didn’t know, I used to be a high school English teacher and I left the classroom a little over 3 years ago. I’m now in campus recruiting at a consulting firm and am really happy with my decision, although I was terrified at the time I made that decision. You can read more about that here.
Y’all asked about 50 questions (with some repeats), so I’m going to start with answering the most frequently asked! I hope this gives you some insight and if you are thinking about making a career change, I’m happy to help in any way. Someone asked for resume/cover letter advice and that will have to be its own post lol. I’ve also written a post about interview etiquette that you can find here!
So without further ado, let’s dive in!
Q: How long were you a teacher? I taught high school English for three years at a high school in San Antonio. I subbed on and off for a year while taking the Texas teaching exams after wrapping up grad school at Ole Miss. Although I crushed the national teaching exams, Texas makes you take theirs (insert major eye roll here).
Q: Why did you quit teaching? How much time do you have? My last year in the classroom was extremely taxing. My last year teaching I was promoted to department coordinator and was not prepared for the responsibility. I had to move to a different grade level that I hadn’t taught before, I had three inclusion classes. I managed 25 other teachers. I had the worst year professionally (ended up having to talk to the FBI about a situation in my classroom) and personally (my mom’s best friend passed away and my mom and I found her which led to some ptsd issues). I’ve been pretty vague about these situations as it’s difficult, emotionally, to revisit. I’m stronger for these experiences, but I wouldn’t wish what I went through on my worst enemy. When I’m ready to get into the deets, I will.
Q: What were the signs you knew it was time for a change? I loved being a teacher most days. And I thrived in the classroom, in building relationships with my students, in being a apart of their success. Students used to request to have me. What an amazing feeling! I used to love driving to school every morning, jamming out, wondering what shenanigans the day would bring. I told myself that when the number of days I’m dreading going in outnumber the days of joy, that’s the time to make a change. I never thought it would happen, so it felt like I got hit by a bus when that awful year went down.
Q: Do you ever miss the kids? How could I not?! I keep up with SO MANY of them and seeing where they are in the world and the amazing humans they are, it makes my heart so full. To feel like I had some small part in shaping their mindset, their success, their treatment of others, it’s incredible.
Q: Was it terrifying leaving education and entering the corporate world? YES! I literally thought, okay I’m miserable, and need to make a change so what do I do?! In the middle of my terrible year, my apartment lease was up and I ended up moving in with my parents and saving as much money as I could because I knew a change was coming, whether I was ready for it or not.
Q: How hard was it finding a job in a new career? How did you get into this job? Being a teacher, I really didn’t have a LinkedIn built out and that is where I went first. I built out my page, listing out my experience, skills, and connecting with professionals in Houston (where I was moving). I started looking into where I could apply my skills. This included customer relations, sales, social media, etc. There were so many different roles I was looking into! I actually applied to a client relations role at my now company and made it to the final interview, and that was when the Director of Talent came in and dangled a carrot of a talent development role that seemed very enticing based on my experience in the classroom. So I started in the talent development team working with our new hires through their time in the training program and also working with their mentors. I loved it! I had autonomy in my role and really got to help build out the training program. At the same time, I helped out with their campus recruiting team (and got to go back to Ole Miss) and also LOVED that. I got to share what I loved about my company with young people looking for their first job out of school. I’ve grown quite a bit since I started, being promoted twice, and I’m now in a role that didn’t exist. I’m fully in our campus recruiting program and I am our Campus/New Hire Relations Senior Associate focusing on relationships on campus, recruiting, and helping our new hires in their onboarding process. I wear a lot of hats and would not have it any other way!
Q: Did you have other experience besides being a teacher? If no, how did you get a corporate job? I’ve been working since I was 15, so yes! Besides my teaching experience, I worked in restaurants and retail, so a lot of my other experience involved customer service. I even worked in a veterinary office when I was in grad school (AND HAVE WILD STORIES). All experience is experience, y’all. DO NOT sell yourself short!
Q: How did you know what to apply for? Like how do your past skills apply to a new job? Great question! I really thought about my previous experiences and what I’d be passionate about. Skills like classroom management equate to the ability to work with a diverse cross function of multidisciplinary teams to achieve common goals. I’d also say flexibility, organization, creativity, and being results-driven are skills that can be applied universally to different positions!
Q: How did you handle the change from 2 months off in summer to a standard work calendar? It makes me laugh when people ask about summers off as a teacher. Most teachers don’t have summers off. I worked part-time at Free People during the school year and full-time in the summer. One summer I also taught two sessions of summer school. Texas teacher salaries are better than most, but I still needed to do what I could to bring in more money. Shout out to my parents that taught me my work ethic and the meaning of hard work.
Q: How did your first week feel going from school to corporate? Amazing! I felt welcomed, supported, and also that I had no clue what I was doing. I had a mentor that cared about my learning and development though, so I went through our training program (which lasted about 3 months), and I spent a majority of time with the departments I would be supporting.
Q: I feel like this is a 180 from teaching! What prompted that change in direction? Going into talent development first was actually not that big of a leap. And moving into campus recruiting actually was full circle as I was helping my high schoolers get ready for college and now I was helping college grads find their first job out of school!
Q: How hard was it to change to something completely different? It was challenging, don’t get me wrong, but I haven’t looked in the rearview once with regret. I found a happy home at my company. I’m pushed and challenged, but am rewarded for the impact I’ve made and truly love the people I work with!
Q: Do you think it’s permanent? Do you think you’ll change again or go back? I can honestly say I know I will not go back to teaching. The amount of respect I have for those who have continued to show up on a daily basis for their kids is indescribable. Especially this year. My god, I don’t know how they’re doing it. Teaching is one of the most challenging professions in this country and it’s disgraceful how teachers are treated. These teachers, and me when I was in the classroom, devoted our time, energy, money, and lives to ensuring our students were not only doing well academically, but personally, emotionally, physically. Besides teaching, the people that spend the most time with other people’s children play mom, nurse, therapist, social worker. RESPECT YOUR TEACHERS!
Q: What do you do on a day to day basis? Oh gosh, no day is ever the same! I’m focused on recruiting so lots of phone and video interviews! I also work on building relationships with career centers, professors, and students. Then, I’m also focused on our new hire experience so I facilitate new hire onboarding, too! I love that my role is a global role and what I mean by that, is that I get to interact with just about every single person that starts at our company and their teams. I get to be a face for our firm and I’m very proud of that and feel a strong sense of responsibility to do that well.
Q: What other careers are useful with a teaching degree? My biggest piece of advice is not to limit yourself. Here are some common careers though that teachers find themselves in post-teaching: Corporate Training and Development, Social Services, Education Technology, Educational Consultant, Standardized Test Developer, Textbook Author, Life Coach, Career Counseling, Admissions Counselor, Recruiting
Thanks for reading!
Next up in the job series: Resumes/Cover Letters!
Here I am, as a toddler on the left, and as a 32 year old just trying to figure out what’s next on the right.
Yelp. Just like that, another birthday is here. What a year 31 has been. Saw some successes at work, saw friends get married (saw friends postpone weddings because of Covid), babies be born, the blog grew. So much to be thankful for, yet it seems that comparison is the thief of joy when we think about timelines. Alex, of Sassy Confetti, and I talk about this quite a bit. That we didn’t think we’d be here at this stage. Single. Childless. Living in an apartment. We put so many pressures on ourselves as women, and we always seem to want what others have, right? I have REALLY worked at letting that go this last year. To be appreciative of the present, to enjoy my independence, but damn, sometimes that reality (loneliness, comparison of timelines, etc.) can knock you on your ass. Maybe you can relate, maybe you can’t, but we need to be better to ourselves, to each other. Give yourself some grace, give your friend some empathy and a pat on the back, and let’s keep doing life! We’re on nobody’s timeline, but our own, and that looks different than everybody else’s and repeat after me THAT. IS. OKAY.
So here’s my pledge to myself. I’m going to keep working on me. I want to keep growing this space, keep bringing y’all humor, honest reflections, and damn good outfits. I want to continue to work on making financial gains and making an impact at work. I want to do good around my community and show gratitude.
So here’s to ALL OF THAT JAZZ.
Below are some facts about me. Maybe some are new to you, maybe you know me cover to cover, like your favorite book. Either way, maybe we have some things in common!
- Favorite flower? I love stargazer lilies and peonies
- Last summer I was a bridesmaid for the 12th & 13th time
- I am a night owl
- Growing up I worked at a bagel shop, I was a restaurant hostess (a few times), I served as an uncertified vet tech, and I also worked at Anthropologie and Free People
- I never ate Mac n Cheese until my junior year of college. My friends couldn’t believe it. I ate shells and cheese at a friend’s house in Nashville and was sold.
- I went through a major EMO phase in high school. I had a livejournal, wore eyeliner ALL over my eyes, and knew every single word of every single Avril Lavigne song
- My middle name is Mae, which is after my great great grandmother Mariah – who everyone called Mae. She came over from Ireland and raised her kids alone after her husband Big Mike was crushed in a boating accident. From what I hear, she was a strong woman.
- I HATE condiments – ketchup, mustard, mayo, ranch – NO WAY!
- Favorite tv show of all time? Law & Order
- I’m the youngest of three kids – my sister and brother are almost 9 and 8 years older than me, I’m the true baby of the family
- I visited 6 countries before I turned 18. Favorites? London, Barcelona, Capri
- I’ve had the same best friend since sixth grade
- My favorite snack? Goldfish
- Need a good soundtrack? Almost Famous, The Big Chill, and Now and Then
- I have puppy fever (my rescue dog Gus died last summer), but I travel so much, it wouldn’t be fair to own one.
- It would be hard to pick a favorite color at this point in my life, but I love blush or really any pink
- Ole Miss is my alma mater. I love the town of Oxford so much and my parents are considering retiring there!
- I have VERY BLONDE eyebrows. It honestly used to make my self-conscious, but I’m over that
- I get my caffeine kick from Coca-Cola. I have one a day
- I moved to Houston almost three years ago (July 14th will make three years)
- Favorite food? Short ribs and pasta
- I love the beach, but honestly hate sand
- I think my first big girl purchase was my Gucci bag with the pearl detailing. Y’all see me carry that pretty thing everywhere and she’s my go-to bag when I go anywhere dressed up.
- I studied English and Education at Ole Miss and then stayed two extra years to get a Master’s in Counseling.
- I was born in Chicago, grew up in Texas, and went to school in Mississippi – I have a weird accent
- I do a pretty good Nancy Grace impression
- It’s not uncommon to see my Instagram feed full of pretty dresses, but I also love wearing off the shoulder tops
- I left public education and now work in recruiting for a consulting firm
- I always tend to overpack and prefer to check my luggage, although I hate waiting at the carousel after a flight
- I don’t drink coffee. Never have, never will.
- I can only wear block heels or wedges after twisting my ankle years ago. I don’t love wearing flats when getting dressed up.
- I am so happy I started my blog three years ago and have met so many amazing people – including YOU, if you’re reading this. Thanks for making it this far 😉
Have a great weekend, y’all!
I thought I would do something a little different today rather than my usual outfit post, and I hope it provides some value to you or someone you know.
I think a lot of you know that I spent several years in the classroom before taking a leap and landing in Houston. Almost three years ago, I started working at a consulting firm and I now focus on their campus recruiting! Talking to young people about starting their careers post-graduation is so rewarding (and also feels full-circle as I was helping my 11th graders work on getting into college). Unfortunately 73% of 2020 grads wrapped up their college career this month without having a job lined up. A lot of people have lost jobs, been furloughed, and are having to pivot away from industries that they spent years in. I can certainly understand that it feels like a grim time to be job-searching.
In February, I got the chance to go back to my alma mater, Ole Miss, and give a quick lecture on selling yourself as top talent (and pitching my awesome firm). So whether you’re graduating from college (CONGRATULATIONS!) or are trying to find something, I’m sharing a few key takeaways from my presentation.
- Prepare – research the company and the role. Know why you’re interested and how you’d be able to contribute. DO NOT say “I’ll really take anything right now”. Explain how you’re the right person for THIS SPECIFIC JOB.
- Be able to speak about yourself – A common question you’re going to get during an interview is “Tell me about yourself”. Don’t just give a schpeel regurgitating your resume, don’t have something scripted (it sounds cold and impersonal). Talk about YOU! Yes, highlight your work experience, but share interests, where you grew up, why you got into x industry. Let your personality shine!
- Give specific examples – When asked those questions like, “Tell me about a time when…”, get specific. Have you heard of the STAR method? See below:
- Situation – introduce the situation and give the recruiter some context
- Task – describe the task you had to complete and the challenges you encountered
- Action – explain what you did and how you did it
- Results – share the outcome of your efforts, what quantifiable results did you have?
- Confidence, Communication, and Engagement – Be proud of the work you’ve done, be clear and concise in your answers, and show your EXCITABILITY for the opportunity.
- Ask Important Questions – and no, I don’t mean salary and benefits. Here are some questions that should be relevant to you:
- How would you describe the company culture?
- What are the opportunities for growth? Timeline for growth?
- What do you enjoy about the company?
- What are the challenges new hires face in this role?
Again, I hope this was helpful and I’m wishing you the best in your job search!