Dress for Success…Without Breaking Your Fragile Bank Account

We’ve all been there. We were even warned that it would happen; that we would eventually face the sad reality that we’re actually living and breathing the stereotype of a broke college student. You’ve probably found yourself heating up your Ramen Noodles in the microwave, while looking for spare change in your couch cushions, just so you can have somewhat of a social life and see the $1 movie playing in the UC.

When it comes down to it, being broke can become a pretty stressful problem you have to deal with.

This stress becomes amplified when you finally get that interview, or attend a job fair, and you realize you’ve yet to begin building your professional wardrobe. How does one make money when one cannot get the job because one does not have the appropriate wardrobe in order to land that job?!


It’s a cycle that adds on to the stress and often discourages students from trying to get the job they really want. That’s why we’re here to tell you to stress no more! Here are some alternatives we’ve found for when it comes to getting that budget-friendly professional wardrobe.

Maybe you have some old dress clothes from your parents, or found a suit at the thrift store. I know it’s not the most ideal option, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Take what you already have and try to modify it so it looks like it was made to fit you. There are some great inexpensive tailors that can get the job done and get you ready for that interview!

Although we would all love to sport the latest Calvin Klein business wear, we know that our bank accounts would probably not cooperate with a purchase that hefty. Try to focus on the basic elements you need (not want). You probably don’t need 10 different dress shirts and 3 pairs of shoes when you’re just starting out. Start with the absolute basics and build up from there once you’ve finally secured a job. Many stores like H&M, J.C. Penny, Kohls and Sears, just to name a few, offer a good variety of professional attire for a reasonable price. Get your basics and only buy what you absolutely need!

One benefit that actually comes from being labeled a broke college student, is that handy student ID card. What most people don’t know is that your ID card can get you lots of discounts! Stores like Charlotte Russe, J. Crew, Banana Republic, and ASOS all offer students discounts, so take advantage of them! (Here’s a list of more discounts that your student card can get you! http://bit.ly/1gsRZct)

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Another option is to go through your closet and get rid of things you no longer wear or need. You can try to sell these items at stores or online and use that money towards your new professional closet! Ebay offers used clothing at reasonable prices and you can sell your old stuff at the same time! You can also search for your area to see if your community offers any local clothing swaps!  Freecycle.org, is a site that aims to encourage people to reuse and recycle their old clothes. You can find your nearest group on their website and start saving your money!

Universities all over also usually offer some resources when it comes to getting your wardrobe ready for professional events or interviews. UW-Whitewater has the “Warhawk Success Closet” that gives all students the chance to get free professional business attire that has been donated to the university. The Warhawk Success Closet will be held on September 24th and 25th from 11am-5pm in the University Center (9/24 UC69 and 9/25 UC264).

Now there’s really no excuse for wearing jeans and sandals to the next career fair. Keep these simple tips in mind and you’ll be dressed for success without enduring the guilt of breaking your bank!

Beat the Heat: A Brief Guide to Dressing Sharp and Staying Cool

Written by Jonathan Fera

It’s that time of year again: summer.

Summer: the season of sweating profusely and not being able to wear long sleeves or pants for three months.

The majority of the country, especially Wisconsinites, looks forward to the season without snow (as they should).

However, not everyone in the state goes on summer vacation and sports a swim suit from May to August. Some still have to work their nine-to-five, and for most UW-Whitewater graduates or current students, in business attire.

Dressing professionally in the summer months can prove to be difficult for individuals required to work in suits, long sleeves and pants, which are typically created with thick fabrics.

For example, this guy.

Finding ways to survive the summer heat while still looking business professional is crucial to remaining comfortable during the work day. To help with this mission, we’ve compiled a few tips on dressing for hot weather.

First off, shaping your summer wardrobe around lighter neutral colors, like white, tan, taupe or pale gray, will help you look professional while cooling off at the same time. This can be applicable for any individual looking to fight off the heat during business hours.

For individuals identifying as female, wearing a sleeveless blouse when strict suit attire is not required is another great way for avoiding the heat during the work day.
Or, you can combine both of these tips!

Hair is another possible issue in the summer months for women, with humidity, salt water and intense sun causing more harm than fun.

However, using shampoo and conditioner that prevents color fading from the sun can help keep your hairdo from losing its style! In addition, keeping your hair cut flattering to your hair texture is critical to looking fresh.

This is important for people identifying as male too! Not looking shaggy, carrying around a handkerchief to wipe away excessive sweat and rocking a stylish hat can go a long away for men staying cool in the heat.

For men specifically who work in a professional environment, rocking wool “tropical” suits or khaki cotton suits are the best way to go.

It’s important to be comfortable in your workplace and dressing for the summer months allows you to accomplish that.

Next time you’re breaking into a sweat walking from your car to the building, remember these tips to still looking professional in the summer months!

Gaining Experience for the Job Search

Here’s a scenario: You just graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. You walk into your first job interview and up to this point, you’ve done everything right. You’re dressed professionally, followed up before the interview and have everything you need for the interviewer.

You sit down and the employer looks you in the eye and asks, “What kind of experience can you bring to this position and company/organization?”

How are you going to answer this question? 

Acquiring experience for your resume and speaking about it in interviews is crucial to landing the job you want.

While gaining this experience proves to be difficult in certain circumstance, UW-Whitewater offers various opportunities to fill your resume with valuable skills.

Not every job seeker is given the chance to intern in a professional environment, so it is crucial for students to be aware of the resources and possible employment opportunities available to be successful in the job search.

The Student Involvement Office in the James R. Connor University Center helps students find campus jobs, clubs and organizations to join and volunteer opportunities on campus and within the region.

From interning for departments on campus to working in student-ran offices, the Student Involvement Office will help any student find their place to develop professional skills on campus.

Another resource for finding internship or employment opportunities on campus is through the Career Counselors that work in Career & Leadership Development.

These professionals are dedicated to helping students find ways to fill their resume with content that will impress any employer. Appointments with one of the Career Counselors can be made by calling (262) 472-5539.

While interning on campus is one of the easiest ways to gain experience for your resume, not everyone is exactly interested in working in an office.

Just ask Ron Swanson.

Participating in community service opportunities is another great way to fill your resume with meaningful experiences.

From joining a service organization to participating in events like Make -A-Difference Day, gaining volunteer and community service experience is a great strategy in gaining content for your resume.

More information on community service opportunities can be found here.

Now that you have a better idea of what to put on your resume, you’ll be able to answer the question posed by the employer.

You’ll be more confident about your chances of getting hired. You’ll be able to talk about all of the great things you’ve accomplished during your time at UW-Whitewater. Finally, you’ll be successful in finding your dream job.

Passion Drives Motivation: Kate Winkler Named March Intern of the Month

Kate Winkler knew there was something missing from her marketing major when she entered the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

It was not until the second semester of her freshman year when she was enrolled in Biology 120, that she discovered what she wanted to study for the duration of her undergraduate collegiate career.

“I’ve always been proficient in science and wanted to take more science courses after that semester,” Winkler said. “After speaking with my adviser, I switched majors and began the path that has brought me to where I am now.”

Winkler, a senior integrated science and business major from Kewaskum, Wis., was awarded the Intern of the Month honor for the month of March. Her marketing internship started in July of 2014 at Spacesaver Corporation.

Spacesaver is an innovator in storage, offering solutions to make every aspect of a business run more efficiently.

A former supervisor from her time as a market researcher for the Wisconsin Innovation Service Center (WISC) contacted Winkler about the internship at Spacesaver.

“While I only completed one project under her direction, she thought that my constant drive for knowledge and diligent work ethic would be a great fit at the company,” Winkler said. “After doing my research on the corporation, I too, knew it would be a great fit for me.”

During her time at Spacesaver, Winkler has created market briefs about different industries, conducted online surveys and phone interviews to gauge the preferences of their audience and collaborated with the marketing team to develop user-friendly product pages.

Winkler is also working to improve Spacesaver’s social media strategy and search engine optimization strategy. This includes working with social media outlets to increase audience engagement and research key words to incorporate into the company’s content.

“What intrigued me about the position at Spacesaver was the fact that I would be able to constantly collaborate with the whole marketing team,” Winkler said. “Most of my market research projects that I had completed at WISC were very individually driven projects and while I can work efficiently on my own, I think that the best work comes out of a team effort.”

Another big part of Winkler’s internship is communicating with several different people, in order to work more efficiently and know the product better.

This has proven to be initially difficult, but has produced substantial benefits, Winkler notes.

“What I had thought were strengths before are even stronger strengths now because the marketing team at Spacesaver has pushed my boundaries,” Winkler said. “Spacesaver has taught me that a job can be fun, yet scary. I have learned that it is okay to take a risk and fail, just as long as you learn and grow from it.

Outside of work experience, Winkler is currently the captain of the UW-Whitewater Women’s Golf Team and has been a member for the past four years.

Golf is individual and team-based at the same time and truly showcases an individual’s work ethic, according to Winkler.

“I came to UW-Whitewater to play golf, but I have found so much more than that,” Winkler said. “I think UW-Whitewater does a tremendous job at giving students all that they need to succeed and pushing students to be their ultimate best, both in the classroom and outside.”

After graduation, Winkler wants to continue working in marketing for a water business. Until then, she will continue to learn and grow as a working professional.

“Take advantage of all opportunities and soak it all in,” Winkler said. “Learn as much as you can and apply it. Push past what you know and try something new. Collaborate and share your ideas. But most of all take advantage of these opportunities and absorb as much as you can while the chance is in your hands.”

 Apply to be our next Intern of the Month and share your story! 

Big Buildings to Open Roads: Jonathan Fera’s Journey to Happiness at UW-Whitewater

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Being born and raised in a big city, I became naïve of what was outside the Milwaukee city limits. The city was so fast and so vast that any other area seemed unexciting in comparison. That mindset did not last past the age of eighteen.

I decided to come to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater during my senior year of high school. My advisers informed me of the College of Business and Economics at this institution and it’s positive reputation, so it seemed like the perfect fit. That career path only lasted two days into my time at UW-Whitewater until I switched to a communications major with an emphasis in public relations.

During the fall semester of my freshmen year, a strong depression caused by missing home and wanting to be around my family took over my life. I was socializing with people in my residence hall and in my classes, but it was never enough to be happy.

The city was calling my name to come home. After all, I missed the quick pace environment and diverse culture.

How was I going to spend the next three and a half years here? It was not until I opened my eyes to the amazing opportunities at UW-Whitewater that this attitude changed.

After talking to my Resident Assistant, she mentioned attending the spring involvement fair to look for student organizations to join. I had an interest in political communications after dropping the business major, so I joined the UW-Whitewater College Democrats.

I immediately got involved with the organization and started to make friends outside of my residence hall and classes. It was refreshing to have conversations with like-minded individuals that were passionate about the same things I was.

During my sophomore year, I joined the organization’s executive board as their Communications Director and the next year, was elected President.

Besides the College Democrats, I found the Whitewater Student Government (WSG) and the University Marketing and Media Relations Department.

I started attending Whitewater Common Council meetings because of my role as Intergovernmental Affairs Director for WSG. This allowed me to become more engaged in the community and be able to call Whitewater a new home.

It all happened so fast and I was so overwhelmed by my professional involvement that I began to lose sight of why I got involved in the first place: to be happy.

I was asked to join the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity my junior year from some WSG colleagues. I did not think I was the kind of person to join a Greek organization.

When looking back at that decision, I wouldn’t take it back for the world.

This past semester, I assisted in coordinating the grassroots efforts of the WarhawksVote campaign for the gubernatorial election. This allowed me to have a say in promotional material, strategic messaging and online content through both WSG and University Marketing and Media Relations.

After the election was over, I wanted a new opportunity. I wanted a new project before entering the workforce. After all, this is the last semester to make the most out of what became the best four years of my life.

Fast-forwarding to present day, I am now the Career Social Media Intern for UW-Whitewater Career and Leadership Development. While WSG is a part of the Warhawk Connection Center, I have never worked for the department before.

I am excited by this new opportunity and exciting challenge to better myself and my craft, while helping others gain the skills, motivation and resources to find a job or student organization to join.

After the journey I had to pursue in finding my place at UW-Whitewater, I hope to make that process easier and less stressful for other students.

Career and Leadership Development has the resources and guidance to help students find their place at this institution. To motivate them to succeed and take chances. To help them be happy.

The Road to Productivity: Exploring How Warhawks Persevere and Prevail

“There will be obstacles. There will be doubters. There will be mistakes, but with hard work there are no limits!” –Anonymous 

It’s that time of the year again when workloads outweigh energy levels! Winter is quickly approaching and finals are right around the corner for us Warhawks. During this time of year it’s easy to become stressed out, burnt out, or just down right depressed from the amount of work you have to complete.  So in an effort to alleviate some of that stress, here’s what a few fellow Warhawks from Career and Leadership Development had to say about how they stay productive during late semester chaos:

Lisa Helms: PRIDE Intern

“With school it is a little harder for me to stay focused but I usually pull things together at the last minute. However with work, I stay focused by making to do lists when I get into the office. I start by checking my email to see if there’s someone that I need to communicate with right away and I just take it one step at a time.”

Cherish Golden: PRIDE Intern

“ I usually go to the library and sit at a table in a quite area to stay focused on academics. I don’t get on the computers because then I’d be distracted.  At work, when I’m all out of tasks, I just find little stuff to do to stay busy. Even if it’s just fixing the chairs, I have to stay busy and remain on my feet in order to be productive. “

Radaya Ellis: Biology Major

“Well I have a productive playlist that I listen to when its grind time to get me back focused. Artist on my productive play list include artist such as Lil Boosie, to help motivate me, and Kirk Franklin, to uplift me. Listening to artist along those parameters helps keep me motivated both in work and at school. “

Katie Barbour: Involvement Office Graduate Assistant

 “A lot of times around the end of the semester I have a lot of big projects to do. So for me this semester I have two large group papers, as well as projects in two different classes. So at this point, it’s really a matter of working effectively with my group members and trying to be a leader within those two groups to make sure we get things done. Especially since finals are right before graduation and that’s when those things are due, and frankly I don’t want to be overwhelmed with group projects that late in the semester. So I think just being proactive and making sure you get things done ahead of time really helps relieve some of the stress”

Becky Wintringer: Warhawk Connection Center Intern

Becky Wintringer

“To-Do Lists are a big thing for me. I have post-its and color coded notes and stuff all over the place. I use my calendar to color code everything! Blue things are for class, green things are for work, and purple things are for organizations. I just try to stay managed by plotting out certain times of the day for individual things so that I’m not just doing all homework for three hours but individual tasks during individual times.

Anthony Richardson: Seal Entertainment Intern

Anthony Richardson

“In order to stay productive I pretty much just remind myself of why I’m here and I use that as motivation to assure that I persevere throughout the rest of the semester.”

We hope these tips can help you achieve your fullest potential and maximize your productivity during stressful times. Be sure to finish up this semester strong and don’t be afraid to join the dialog. What are some strategies that you live by to manage  stressful times and remain productive? Comment and share your ideas.

The Birth of a Student Leader: DeJuan Washington’s Journey

As I began my first semester as a first generation freshman here at the University of Wisconsin- Whitewater, I was plagued with various insecurities that forced me to question my value in higher education. Like many African American students at this institution, I struggled academically and saw little progress in my quest to mirror the academic performance of the majority population. I was lost. In search of guidance to aid me in my journey of academic excellence, I attended my first Black Student Union (BSU) meeting, a place where I would soon feel at home and culturally validated in an environment that was completely new for me.

As time progressed and I entered my second semester of my freshmen year, BSU became a place of common ground for me. I was able to connect with students who looked like me, thought like me, and more importantly we shared the same lived experience. It was almost as if we were a subculture within a larger culture that we had yet learned to conquer. The beauty of this experience was that even though we felt the clear division of cultures, we still managed to thrive and coexist with our majority peers.

It was during one of the weekly BSU meetings that a guest speaker, who I later learned was the Director of Career and Leadership Development (CLD) named Ron Buchholz, came in to speak about possible internship opportunities and the importance of getting involved on campus. Being the academically challenged freshmen that I was, I immediately skimmed over the information in the flier in search of the GPA requirement, and of course I didn’t meet the criteria. I did however skim over a position at the LGBT resource center that I knew would be great for me once I achieved the GPA requirement, so all hope wasn’t lost.

Following that meeting, I worked tirelessly to boost my GPA, spending long nights in the library, exchanging my thirsty Thursdays for study Thursdays, attending office hours and most importantly asking for help when needed. For the first time in my short lived colligate career, I felt like an actual college student. I taught myself how to properly prepare for exams, how to keep track of my progress in classes, and how to manage my time wisely. These self-acquired skills taught me to believe in myself and my capabilities. I also started to realize that although grades mattered, they didn’t define a person’s success. This realization gave me the motivation that I needed to apply for my first internship within Career and Leadership Development in spite of the many barriers that haunted me.

After completing the application and receiving a call back for an interview, I still had a tiny amount of doubt in my mind that I could obtain this position without meeting the criteria. As I walked into a tiny office to be interviewed, I encountered a warm greeting from a woman I’d later grow to love as Jan Bilgen. I immediately liberated myself of all anxiety, as she made me feel comfortable in her presence and I began to bare my soul as if my life (and bank account) depended on it. In what felt like only a few seconds, 30 minutes of conversation had passed before she informed me on the next steps to take if I were offered the position 2 weeks from then and we said our goodbye’s.

Two weeks later, as I sat in the basement computer lab of Benson hall typing away at my final English paper for the semester, my phone rings. At this point I figured it was a telemarketer as I’d forgotten all about the internship and quite frankly didn’t think I would get it.  When I answered the phone, I was greeted be the same welcoming voice I’d encountered two weeks prior, only this time she spoke with a level of suspense as if there was a purpose for her call. During the entire phone call, which lasted for all of 3 minutes, I still wasn’t able to convince myself that there was great news on the other side of the conversation. However, it was to my surprise that Jan Bilgen offered me the position as the new PRIDE intern for the PB Poorman Pride Resource Center located in Career and Leadership Development.

Obtaining a position in this office was critical to my development as a student leader for two reasons. For one, it thought me to always take a step out of faith, no matter if I couldn’t see what lies ahead. Secondly, it taught me to always believe that the impossible is in fact possible. If I had never believed in my capabilities, I would’ve never recognized my fullest potential; and if I’d considered my goal as impossible, I would’ve never made it to my current reality. These two things are vital to the success of student leaders, and this is why I’ll always be thankful for my internship experience with Career and Leadership Development.

After two years as a PRIDE intern and serving in various other leaderhip roles (Peer mentor, VP of BSU, McNair Scholar, ect.) , I’ve decided to take yet another step out on faith by accepting the position as the new Social Media Manager for Career and Leadership Development. While social media isn’t at all new to me, my lists of responsibilities are. In this position I’ll provide a fresh student perspective on topics ranging from career resources provided by CLD, leadership involvement opportunities, diversity and much more. Managing social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and a blog, I’ll be fully committed to providing the general campus community with an array of essential information. It is my hope that my story has inspired you all to be leaders in your own right in spite of the obstacles and that you keep following me on the new journey I’ve begun.

Colliding Worlds: Student & Professional

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You’ve been a student your entire life! The daily ritual of getting up, going to class, and doing homework has become nothing short of a habit for you. But unlike Peter Pan, you have to grow up and become a professional with a career. Here are three easy ways to act like a professional while you’re still technically a student.

1. Polish your image

You’ve slowly created a public image of yourself over the years. Whether it’s your voice mail, e-mail address, or social media presence, they all speak about who you are. For this reason, it’s important as a professional to polish your professional image. Change your voice mail to a simple one that a recruiter will understand and respect. Make sure you create an e-mail address that is professionally appropriate, no more “h0tbAbe545@aol.com.” Instead, opt for an e-mail address that includes some variation of your first and last name. Lastly, make sure your profile pictures across all media are appropriate. While you can make these accounts private, people can usually still see your profile picture.

2. Invest in business cards

Business cards are a great way to make sure your new connections have a way to contact you. I know it sounds a little weird to have business cards as a student, but they are the easiest way a person can retain your contact information. You can buy relatively inexpensive business cards, some sights, like vista print, even offer free business card options. As a student, consider putting your school name, major, and expected graduation date on your new cards. Be sure to include your full name, e-mail, and phone number. Bonus: if you have a LinkedIn Account, then include your URL.

3. Become an industry expert

Whether you’re a media major or a finance major, you need to know the industry. Make sure you’re up to date on trends and hot topics within your industry. Nothing is more worse than not being able to answer an industry related question in an interview. Here are some relevant trade publications for advertising, book publishing, business, finance, media, nonprofit, science/health, technology!

 

*Some of these tips are from Lindsey Pollak’s book Getting from College to Career. It’s a great read, and I highly recommend it!*

To-Do List: Post Internship

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*They forced me to wear that medal…

I had the pleasure of working as a digital media planning intern for MediaCom in Chicago last summer. It was a fantastic experience. I learned a lot, met some wonderful people, and got my foot in the advertising world. While I was getting ready to leave, and in the months that have followed, I’ve taken a few steps to make the most of my past internship.

1. Say “Thank You”

People like to know that they’re appreciated, so take the time to tell your co-workers how much you appreciated their time and effort. They spent a lot of their time teaching you the ropes and integrating you into the company. Don’t just say thank you – invest in some thank you cards so they can have something to hold on to and remember you by. Trust me, a thank you goes a long way.

2. Update Your Resume

This step should happen before you even leave your internship. Try to schedule a review between you and your supervisor(s). Get their feedback on what you did well and what you need to improve on. During your review, ask your supervisor(s) to look over your current resume and ask what they think you should put under your job description. There are a lot of aspects of your internship you might not consider important, but others do, and your supervisor can give you some powerful insight. This would also be the appropriate time to ask for a letter of recommendation. Keep in mind, supervisors and managers are busy people and might not be able to produce a letter of recommendation right away, but ask if they’d be willing to in the future.

3. Stay Connected

We’ve all been told time and again how important networking is. This is not a lie! Stay connected to the people you worked with. Take the time to connect with them on social media platforms such as LinkedIn. It’s important to continue to foster the relationships you had with your coworkers. Who knows, if they saw your hard work ethic and great attitude, they might help you find a job!

4. Stay Updated

After your internship, it’s important to stay updated on your company and the industry overall. Now that you’ve had a taste of the “real world” you need to stay up to date on what’s going on. Furthermore, when you talk about your internship experience in future interviews it’s important to know what the company has been up to in case the interviewer asks. It’ll show you really cared about your past professional experiences.

5. Reflect

After you’ve completed your internship take time to reflect on your experiences. What did you learn about the industry? What did you like about the job? What didn’t you like about the job? Will you be pursuing this type of career, or not? Internships are great for finding what you love, but they are equally important for realizing what you don’t. Take the time to really think and reflect on your internship experience.

Photo by Shannon Waisath.

Heather’s Experience at Her First Post-Grad Job

This post was written by former Career & Leadership Development social media intern, Heather Schwartz.

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Cute lunch bag — check. Fashionable, yet work-appropriate ensemble — check. A brand new notebook and pen placed firmly in my leather briefcase — check.

When the first day of my big-girl job arrived I was, surprisingly, very confident and ready to hit the ground running. I felt on the top of the world, like I could do anything; I was going to take this company to the next level!

Yeah, those feelings lasted about five minutes.

But before I scare the pants off of you in regards to the corporate world (totally kidding – but not really), let me take you back about six months.

When I graduated in May, I had an internship under my belt, my own photography business, and a pretty strong grasp on the things I had learned in my college courses. I was ready. I was ready to let go of the carefree college lifestyle, late nights devouring Toppers sticks, and living in my tiny, prison-like apartment.

But one thing I wasn’t ready for was what awaited me six months later. After what seemed like hundreds of applications and dozens of interviews, I finally got a full-time job. This position was everything I was looking for – social media, writing, marketing, it was right up my alley! However, I had a lot of false expectations for what the real-world had in store for me.

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After my second day at the office I remember calling up a fellow intern from UW-Whitewater and it took everything in my power to not bawl my eyes out. The work was faster paced, expectations were 10 times higher than I thought, and I pretty much had to start from a clean slate and learn everything all over again. I think this was the moment I had a true quarter-life crisis. “My fun life is over. I’m going to fail at life!”

So, once I kicked the dramatics down a notch, I started to get a grasp for what it would take to survive in this new world. Here are a list of strategies I used to stay calm during my transition from the college world to the corporate world, and hopefully they will help you, too:

  • Be flexible. Sometimes job descriptions change and you will be asked to do things you didn’t expect right out of the gate. Just roll with it. Showing you can stay calm and collected during a stressful or unexpected turn of events will be strongly in your favor.
  • Be a sponge. The first couple weeks at my job, co-workers would ask me in the middle of meetings how I was doing. I always responded the same way, “Just being a sponge – soaking it all in.” When you’re starting a new job it’s important take in your surroundings and all of the information presented to you. Bring a notebook everywhere so you can jot down notes, reminders, and tasks to complete!
  • Ask questions. Unless your employer hired you completely in the dark, they know you are a recent college graduate. And that means you have very little, if any, corporate work experience. Don’t feel bad about asking questions; it shows you’re interested in learning and making yourself a valuable asset to the company.
  • Have an outlet. Sometimes the workplace can get a little overwhelming. I work with a small company so there are a lot of in-house meetings, a lot of personalities working together in a small space, and sometimes I just need a little time to ground myself. Everyone has their own ways of doing this but I found that playing relaxing instrumental music while working at my desk puts me at ease very quickly (even after an intense meeting).
  • Make connections. Don’t go all “Mean Girls” and try and create an office version of The Plastics. But get to know your coworkers. Maybe instead of eating at your desk one day during the week you ask some coworkers to grab lunch. Keep topics light, and use that as a time to create bonds with the people you work with.
  • Make your space your own. I’m not saying bring in your fuzzy pink rug and giant fish tank into your office the first day. But bring a photo of your dog to place on your desk, your favorite notebook, or a colorful mouse pad. Bringing some of your personality and belongings to your workspace will help you feel like you’re really a part of the company, and it can induce conversation between you and a coworker.
  • Don’t take criticism to heart. This one was a toughy for me! I had never been in a job where the majority of my ideas weren’t accepted or that I wasn’t trusted with tasks. I’ve finally accepted that those things all take time. Whenever you feel really upset about a piece of criticism or your ideas weren’t chosen for a certain project, repeat this to yourself: “It’s just business, not personal.”
  • Showcase your assets whenever possible. As a new employee, it can be difficult to find opportunities to really jump in. But keep an eye out for them! I really enjoy event planning and I found a way that I could use that passion and skill in my new workplace. Since the company I work for didn’t have many in-house activities in the past, I took the lead and set up a Halloween Potluck for October. My boss really liked the idea and now I am taking on some new community service ideas for the company. Find ways that your passions and ideas can be linked into the workplace.
  • Lean on friends and family. You are not in this alone! It’s important to remember that when you start a new job it may seem like it’s taking over your entire life. That’s normal (at least that’s what my dad told me). I’m still getting used to having a 8-5 job and not being around friends and family as much. But it’s important to know that when you leave that office you still have loved ones there to help guide you.

My final word of advice – don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re going to make mistakes. It’s inevitable. But try not to get yourself down.

One of my favorite quotes of all time is, “The expert at anything was once a beginner.”

From one Warhawk to another, don’t worry…you got this :)

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Photos by Heather Schwartz.