Finding Your Career Passion

My brother just put down his deposit at Ohio State University, with an intended major in business, and since I’m graduating in May, I’ve been thinking about my own freshman year. So I thought I’d write a post for some of the younger readers – high school, early college – about finding a major/career that you’re really passionate about.

Now, to be fair, I recently read a very thought-provoking article about the phrase “Do what you love, love what you do.” The piece discussed how this advice is only relevant to those with privilege, and diminishes the value and necessity of working-class jobs. So recognizing this important perspective, and understanding it’s significance, I’d like to still discuss the idea of finding happiness and passion in one’s career.

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My freshman year of college, I decided that since no major seemed to fit my interests perfectly, I was going to take advantage of American University’s offering and create my own interdisciplinary major, combining all my favorite areas of study. What would this major be? I looked at my interests and skills. I love to write, I’m a people person, I like social media, and events, and talking. I knew I wanted something creative, but not artistic (hey, gotta be realistic). I didn’t realize at the time that all of these interests were also relevant to branding, PR, marketing, advertising, and sales.

I had a bit of a head start because I did journalism in high school and loved it. As co-editor-in-chief of my high school’s newspaper, I discovered my love for writing, leadership, and beautifully packaged information.

So I pulled out the AU course book (yes, a physical book, with paper and everything) and looked for classes that fit my interests. In attempting to build my supermajor, I realized that what I wanted already existed under the name Public Communication. And, as they say, the rest is history.

My advice to students entering college or early in college trying to choose their major/career is this: Just because it’s your major, doesn’t mean you’re making a decision about the rest of your life. Unless you’re already positive about a very technical career like engineering or medicine, choose a college with options that you can explore. Take advantage of your general education requirements and learn about different fields. You may hate the historical aspects of your anthropology class but leave with the takeaway that you’re interested in human behavior, and boom! You’ve found your way to psychology or sociology. Each positive and negative academic experience can lead to others, and if you take a critical look at what you got out of each one, it can help you find your way.

On top of that, once you find your major and professional interests, classes are not enough. Internships and clubs on campus are what will help you gain a real understanding of the industry. It took me several internships doing in-house PR, agency PR, fashion, food & beverage, consumer goods, and B2B to finally understand what type of career I’m seeking, and what I’m really passionate about.

This was my experience, and I’m sure that others came to decisions about careers and majors in different ways. I’d love to hear how you came to find your career passions, or if you have any questions, feel free to ask!

Interview Outfits: Dress For the Job You Want…Within Reason

For my final college semester I’m taking a class called PR Portfolio, which is essentially a public relations capstone class where we work in teams to create a PR program for an actual client. The class is amazing and my professor is fantastic – it’s basically a culmination of everything I’ve learned in AU’s School of Communication over the past four years. Another great thing the class does is prepare us for the “real world” – whatever that means. Each week my prof hosts Career Corner, where she tackles another topic we’ll need for after graduation, such as negotiating a salary, turning an internship into a full time job, etc. It’s pretty fab. 1

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Last week, we discussed interview outfits. How do you dress to interview for a job in a field where each company’s dress code is vastly different? The professor showed us the following visual as a depiction of an appropriate PR interview outfit. 3

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A lot of the class, myself included, had some major problems with it. One classmate brought up the point that she would feel like a child dressing in her mother’s clothes in an outfit like this. Another mentioned that in an office where your interviewer might be rocking jeans and flip-flops, this seems off-message and inappropriately formal. I’ve interviewed and interned in many different office environments – I’ve worn outfits at different jobs that range from jeans and a t-shirt, to sky-high strappy heels, to corporate dresses. But at none of these jobs would a suit have been an appropriate interview outfit choice.

So stop rambling, Stacey, and tell us what we should wear, right? PR is a professional but creative field, and we need to represent our personal brand when interviewing. The outfit you choose is a huge part of that. Here’s how I feel about every interview (in the PR industry, to be fair) – dress professionally, dress appropriately, show your style & creativity. There’s a difference between being casual and being stylish.

Here’s my typical interview outfit formula: black/grey/white dress + blazer + memorable necklace + closed-toe pumps + leather purse = a foolproof interview outfit

On top of that, the clothes you wear need to be of good quality (note: not necessarily expensive, just good quality!), ironed, fit you appropriately, and they should also be comfortable! If you can’t walk in heels, please god, just wear flats (clean, leather or patent leather, black or neutral flats). Now, of course, you can always wear a skirt/blouse or pants/blouse combo, which is just as good! For tops, I recommend silk, tie neck or button down, etc. Dresses are just my outfit of choice – no tucking/bunching to deal with!

Still not sure what to wear? Check out some options for Strategy in Stilettos-approved interview styles below!

Dresses

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 Blazers

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Necklaces: Statement/Delicate

interview appropriate statement necklaces

delicate understated necklaces for job interviews

Pumps/Flats

shoes

Purses

bags

I’d love to hear/see what you wear to internship + job interviews, and what types of outfits you think are appropriate. Share in the comments or tweet @staceyalevine!

A Little Silliness for Valentine’s Day

Whether you’re celebrating a romantic Valentine’s Day or a fun-filled Galentine’s Day this year, we can all use a little silliness sometimes. So though I don’t believe in astrology at all, here we go:

Ebates.com surveyed 2,035 adults this year about top Valentine’s Day gift choices, and found some astrological differences. So if you’re struggling to buy that last minute gift, look no further.

Water signs (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces) want gift cards, smartphones or Xbox/Playstation.

Earth signs (Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo) want flowers, jewelry or a TV (PS- who gets a TV for Valentine’s Day?!)

Fire signs (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius) want shoes or a tablet.

And finally, Air signs (Libra, Aquarius, Gemini) want chocolate, clothes, or tools.

I must admit, I’m a Leo and I’d be happy to get shoes or a tablet any day.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Fashion Week Favorites

New York Fashion Week is half over, and I’ve been compulsively clicking through Style.com – have you? Luckily, they’ve got front row photos of every piece from every collection. Here are a few of my standout favorite looks so far!

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ZAC Zac Posen

milly

Milly

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Zac Posen

kate spade

Kate Spade

toryburch

Tory Burch

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Tory Burch

erin fetherston

Erin Fetherston

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ZAC Zac Posen

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Zac Posen

prabal

Prabal Gurung

Countdown to New York Fashion Week #FW2014

With New York Fashion Week beginning in just two days, the world of social media is buzzing with talk of the upcoming shows. In recent years, social media has given the average fashion fan the tools to participate more than ever before in one of the most exclusive events of the year. Runway shows are now streamed online via YouTube and other sites, we can glimpse the designs as the swoosh down the runway, thanks to Twitter, Instagram, and Vine, and we even have exclsuive access to (and sometimes interaction with) designers and models through Facebook and Twitter.

Because of this new consumer power, sometimes we forget who the real fashion moguls are. I love the hands-on experience of NYFW that the internet (and blogging, of course) brings. But we never could have gotten to this point without the original fashion commentary: the magazines.

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Traditional editorial fashion still serves as the roots of the fashion industry, and this year, the historically exclusive industry has gone back to basics a bit. IMG Fashion, the company that produces New York Fashion Week, told The Wall Street Journal in December that the inclusiveness we’ve experienced for the past several years is about to change.

Don’t worry all, there will still be live streaming. But the media lists have been cut by 20%, and the guests who are most valuable to designers (read: celebrities, Anna, Grace) will get access to private green rooms and exclusive interviews.

So, in the spirit of the major fashion magazines doing a NYFW takeover (more so than usual), I wanted to share a roundup of the most-discussed fashion brands in 2014.

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MediaRadar looked through January and February issues of the top 7 women’s fashion magazines (Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, Marie Claire, People StyleWatch, Vogue, and W) to see which brands received the most Edit Credits (AKA singular mentions or images of a brand in a magazine’s editorial). Here’s what they came up with:

The top 20 most-talked-about brands by fashion magazines are:

  1. Christian Dior
  2. Yves Saint Laurent
  3. Michael Kors
  4. Celine
  5. Prada
  6. Louis Vuitton
  7. Chanel
  8. Valentino
  9. Calvin Klein
  10. Gucci
  11. Marc Jacobs
  12. Alexander Wang
  13. Lanvin
  14. Dolce & Gabbana
  15. Ralph Lauren
  16. Proenza Schouler
  17. Miu Miu
  18. Fendi
  19. Donna Karan
  20. Diane von Furstenberg

Granted, several of these are international brands – but it still builds up excitement for the amazing shows we can expect to see over the next few weeks!

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A Band of Women’s 28 Day Networking Challenge

If there’s three things I love, it’s career stuff, stuff with deadlines, and stuff with prizes. And then along came A Band of Women. Forget the New Year’s resolutions – it’s time for a February resolution.

I just discovered this group via their February 28-day challenge. The point of the challenge is essentially to help women everywhere learn to strike the right balance between online and in-person networking, which I think is awesome, so I signed up.

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According to the website, the challenge will include:

  • Easy and fun daily networking tips and exercises to help members reach their goals by making the right connections in 2014.
  • Advice from influential women around the world such as filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom and entrepreneurJanet Hanson, giving members a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to draw knowledge from reputable and successful sources who would have otherwise been inaccessible.
  • Daily challenges to ensure that members are striking the right balance between online and in-person networking.
  • Every member will be entered in a raffle to win a weekend at the luxurious Miraval Arizona Resort and Spa, valued at over $1200 (how bad can that be?!)

So basically, I only somewhat know what to expect, and I’m all for it. If you decide to sign up too, I think that’s awesome. Maybe we can complete some challenges together! Feel free to tweet at me @staceyalevine.

5 Ways to Use Social Media for the Holiday Season

To kick things off, I’d just like to announce that this is my 100th post on Strategy in Stilettos (since switching over to WordPress, that is)! For my 100th post, I wanted to write about something fun, timely, and that really embodies the spirit of the blog. So I decided to combine social media, the holiday season, and presents. Who doesn’t love that combination?

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I’ve been using Elfster to plan Secret Santa exchanges for a few years now and it makes everything so easy! It’s a social platform that allows you to create a gift exchange, invite your friends (via email or Facebook), and draw names virtually. Each person’s Secret Santa gets emailed to them privately, and the only in-person aspect needed is the gift exchange itself! The platform also allows you to anonymously message your Secret Santa, create wishlists to give them some ideas of what you’d like, and comment/like posts within the exchange group.

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Speaking of wish lists, what better way to show your friends and family what you’d love for the holidays this year than by creating a Pinterest board? You can search for gift inspiration for your friends and family, and also create a wish list of what you’d like. It might be a good idea to name the board “Holiday Wish List” or something similarly obvious so you don’t end up with another scented candle this year.

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Okay, I know I included Pinterest twice. But to be honest, I’m not sure how people approached the holiday season without it! If you’re hosting anything holiday-related, whether it’s an intimate Thanksgiving dinner or a big New Year’s Eve party (I’m doing both…) Pinterest has all the tools to help. Find inspiration here when it comes to table settings, décor, themes, and especially recipes!

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Two years ago I created a holiday music playlist on Spotify and I never looked back. Spotify has all the holiday music you could ever want, from Frank Sinatra to Michael Bublé to She & Him. You can also follow holiday playlists made by friends, brands and celebs, share music with your friends, and hook your Spotify account up to Facebook so everyone knows how much you love to listen to “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”

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Now that social media has given you the ingredients for the perfect holiday season, it’s time to spread the love! That’s where Instagram comes in, of course. Make sure to choose the perfect filter to make all your friends jealous when snapping pics at the snow-dusted holiday pop-up shops in your city (I recommend Hudson). And, of course, feel free to share the best of your best Instagrams to your Facebook & Twitter, too.

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Happy Holidays!