Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Forever 21 loses a fan today

I was just thinking this morning, how I need to visit Forever 21 soon! And practically 20 minutes later, I got news about the company that will keep me from visiting their stores.

You see, along with loving Forever 21, I also love animals. That's why I'm disappointed that the clothing store is donating money to an organization that fails to help animals, year after year. It may come as a shock to you that I don't like the Humane Society of the United States, but here's the deal folks...HSUS isn't your local shelter and they certainly aren't caring for animals. In fact, of the $100 million plus they receive each year, less than one-half of 1% goes to actually caring for animals in need. If you want to learn more about HSUS, check out HumaneWatch, for truthful information and facts you don't want to miss.

Here's a photo of sign posted at a Forever 21, shared by a friend today. You know, the false hope given in the last claim "We & all of our furry friends sincerely thank you!" is just the icing on the cake for this organization. As a loyal Forever fan until now, I will not be supporting this store, knowing that only 1 penny of each $1 donation helps animals. So where does the other 99 cents go? To the benefit of lobbyists and smooth talkers, and we know they need all the help they can get, right?

As I sit here (wearing a Forever 21 shirt, ironically) writing this blog, I urge you to please help me tell Forever 21 what you think of this promotion. If you're truly wanting to help animals in need, donate to your local shelter. My family is doing just that as we welcome another dog into our family this month, through an adoption at our local shelter! I'll be sure to take lots of photos when we get her home!!

For now, please send your comments to Forever 21’s Facebook page, tweet them @Forever21_tweets, leave your thoughts on their website or call customer service at 888-494-3837. And let your friends know to do the same, via Facebook, Twitter, email, text or phone.

I hope Forever 21 decides to respond to our concerns, but until then...here are a few pics of my favorite Forever 21 clothes, you can be assured I won't be buying any new items from them anytime soon.
Blue dress from Forever 21, puppy not included

Pink dress from Forever 21 (and odds are the other two are wearing something from Forever, too!)

Black & White Dress from Forever 21, crown sold separately and baby not included

At least three of these four dresses from Forever 21

Black dress from Forever 21

Multi color dress and black shirt AND yellow earrings from Forever 21

Yellow dress from Forever 21, Crayola accessories for Halloween costume not included

Black tank with satin roses from Forever 21

Purple tank with ruffles from Forever 21

Orange button-up shirt and teal shirt from Forever 21

Monday, November 22, 2010

Embrace your roots

If you know me at all, you know I'm a Missouri girl to the core. One reason I love my job so much is that I get to meet great folks from across my favorite state! I'll be honest, I am so proud of my Show-Me State stomping grounds that it takes me by surprise when anyone suggests I would have rather grown up somewhere else.

(Editor's note: My Missouri girl roots are also getting me excited about this weekend's football game...when my Missouri Tigers will beat those silly birds to the west! Thanks to a great boyfriend for getting tickets!)

Anyway, back to the main purpose of this post. Just the other day, I was talking to someone who lives in the county north of my hometown. Naturally, I told him where I grew up, hoping to help us relate to each others as "neighbors." Instead, his response to my enthusiastic statement was a sympathetic, "I'm sorry." I cheerily answered with a short, "You don't have to apologize, I loved my rural roots."

It turns out, my phone friend grew up in a large suburb of Kansas City, and just doesn't think there's enough stuff to do in rural mid-Missouri. I refrained from telling him about all the joys of country living...you know, things like learning how to ride a bike on a gravel road, picking wildflowers on a summer day, caring for baby lambs or calves or any other livestock offspring, and spending time in grandma's kitchen baking with the expert.

Those are just a few of my favorite childhood memories, and for each one on my mind right now there are a thousand more. Memories are a special piece of life for everyone rural and urban, midwest and coastal, north and south. Memories give us an appreciation for all of life's joys, different as they may be. That call was a reminder that the things I value may not be as glamorous to the person on the phone. Yes it's true, not everyone appreciates the smell of fresh manure, and doesn't think of checking cattle as a fun afternoon activity.

It made me think back to an interview I had during my freshman year of college. One of the interviewers asked me why I'm interested in agriculture. That was easy, and before I had time to think about a polished answer, my heart blurted out my feelings for me with this quick statement: "It's where I came from, where I am, and where I'm headed. If it weren't for agriculture, I wouldn't be here today."

No matter where you come from or where you're headed, just be sure to appreciate the life that you have been given and the experiences who have made you the person you are today.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Find a Job you Love

I started this blog in hopes of writing about my transition from college girl to career woman. Well, I'm five months into my full-time role and obviously haven't spent much of my free time on a personal blog. With some encouragement from my friend Anna-Lisa, who was so nice to give a shout-out to girls like me in a recent blog post, I felt the need to get back in the blogging saddle again!

So now I'm promising to blog weekly with insight and lessons I'm learning along the way, starting with a timely post for my soon-to-be graduate friends! Last spring, I blogged about the power of passion. I've since read posts from bloggers who are frustrated by the overused "passion" cliche.

I know passion isn't the sole ingredient to career success, which is why developing real skills is so critical for making progress in a career. Some of those skills include the ability to prioritize, provide solutions, balancing multiple projects, managing time and meeting deadlines, just to name a few.

However, after spending only 20 weeks in the workforce I can tell you my experience has relied on both my skills and passion alike. You see, it's Sunday afternoon and between watching the Chiefs play (hopefully they show up to the game sometime soon) and writing my personal blog, I've got a few things to work on for my job! My motivation to work on projects after the office is closed and on weekends is a direct product of the passion I have for the job I love. So as you're searching for your perfect post-graduation position, don't forget to pursue the jobs that will make you happy and leave you fulfilled when the day is done.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Needing an Attitude Adjustment?

This transition from college to career is seeming to hit me a bit harder than the move from high school to college. I mean, my friends and I had a photo shoot on the Francis Quadrangle to commemorate our "last first day of school" as you can see below. So yes, we're being a bit sentimental and possibly a tad dramatic, to say the least.

Now don't get me wrong, the papers, projects, articles and busy work will not be missed. It is the opportunity to be surrounded by friends, and make priceless memories that are really getting to me. For that reason, I know this is a typical challenge for soon-to-be and even recent college grads and that it's nothing new with my generation!

Luckily, someone had the wisdom to remind me not to forget about the future ahead of me and I wanted to share that for others going through this, too.

Just because one amazing chapter is closing, doesn't mean the next page doesn't have as many equally or possibly more wonderful experiences waiting for us to enjoy. Change isn't always bad, which is something this stubborn girl forgets too often.

So here's to celebrating the "firsts!" Just today, I stopped in at my future office to pull together some cool agriculture facts for a project with a local radio station. As I started to save the document, I made my FIRST folder on the computer!

Sure, it's a corny thing to get excited over, but knowing how much I'm going to love this job just makes me get a little giddy. Okay, let's be real. I can't think about it without grinning from ear to ear! So for the job searchers out there, I want to remind you to seek opportunities you'll enjoy. Even if it's not the most glamorous or high paying role, my dad once told me, "It's easier to go home hungry at night when you love what you're doing all day."

Obviously food is essential (and let's not forget to thank a farmer for providing us with our daily needs). However, my dad's advice should be a reminder that living extravagantly with a job you hate sounds pretty darn miserable.

It's all about attitude, so start focusing on the positive because no one likes a pity party! That's a lesson that can help anyone, no matter their stage in the professional world!

Editor's note: Now, if my friend's advice was just a plea to get me to shut up with my whining about my last this-and-that, I'll never know. However, it's proof we've got to keep our ears open, because you never know when someone is about to tell you something you've been needing to hear :-)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Job Interview Tip: Are you a People Person?

Like most over-connected and tech-savvy journalism students, I'm guilty using blogs and interesting news sites to help me procrastinate from crossing items off my to-do list. Let's face it, with graduation  around the corner...my senioritis is reaching higher levels than I could imagine!

A recent visit to Post Secret sparked an idea for this post, so it can't be all bad. Am I the only one who has called myself a "people person" in a job interview?

Here's what I've learned since doing so: Telling employers you are a people person won't cut it.

At least five recruiters have discussed this frustration with me during my time working in the CAFNR Career Services office. We have lots of interviews happening around our place, so it's a prime location for the gossip and insider tips these recruiters have to share.

As a young soon-to-be professional, I'm guilty of jumping on the buzz word wagon myself. I'll be the first to admit my addiction to cliches and over-used phrases, so I know how easy it is to toss around those popular terms we think employers love to hear. The scary thing is that in reality, they hate to hear those words.

BUT don't get me wrong! Employers certainly appreciate job seekers for their ability to play well with others. That's where creativity comes into play!

Our job now is to show them, rather than just rely on empty buzz words that make them cringe. The best approach to this is simply by taking a walk down memory lane. Just take some time to engage in an old fashioned brainstorming session to determine what experiences (specific ones) you've had that resulted in working well with others.

Think back to part-time jobs, internships, leadership roles, club involvement, and other interactions you've had with people. By prepping yourself with this refresher, you'll be able to briefly give specific examples in an interview that show a lot more of your personality than what the recruiter will get from hearing you say that buzz word that shoots up a red flag in their minds!

Have your own advice to share? Tell us about it here!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Internet Tip: Google Yourself

My journalism class with Joy Mayer discussed how to develop a personal brand last week. It has given me way too many ideas for blog posts, so I'm going to focus on a few key ideas that are helpful to all of us approaching the professional world. Today's tip is courtesy of Jen Lee Reeves, another faculty member of the Missouri School of Journalism.

Today's tip: Google yourself.

Now THAT'S easy! Just type your name into the search bar and see what links come up. You'll also want to click on "Images" to view the photos associated with your name.

Need proof? Check out this photo that came up when a couple of my friends searched their names. While this image was from a college-sponsored skit night, it's likely to lead to some questions if employers are looking online. By knowing what images appear, you can be prepared to explain the context of the photo accordingly!

Now, for those of you saying "What the heck?!" here's the story behind this specific photo. Bonus points for anyone who can name the girl in the poodle skirt. (Hint, hint.)

Happy Googling to you!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Phone Tip: When to Answer

Well Spring Break is over, so goodbye beach and hello real world. Here's a tip that came to me while vacationing last week with friends. Hope it helps with your job search!!

There we were, in a loud seafood restaurant on the coast of Florida. My roommate's cell phone started ringing, displaying an unknown number. Her gut reaction was to answer the call without a clue who might be on the other end of the line.

With second thought, she refrained and let the call go into voice mail, and good thing she did.

How would you respond? Of course it could have easily been a friend or personal acquaintance. But when the voice on the other end belongs to an employer, are you ready for a professional conversation...right here, right now? Are you in a quiet place? Without distractions?

Most likely, no. As students searching for jobs and internships, we can't afford to make poor impressions with potential employers. This topic has made for popular discussion in many of the professional development workshops and seminars I've attended so I wanted to share some tips I found as a student working in CAFNR Career Services.

Do answer unknown numbers professionally. Example: Hi, this is Jim.
Do have a brief, and informative voicemail message. Example: You've reached Molly. I can't answer my phone right now. Leave a message and I'll call you back.


Don't have caller tunes blaring while the recruiter waits for you to pick-up the call.
Don't have a rude greeting. Example: This is Tom. If you think it's important, leave a message. If not, I don't plan to call you back.
Don't answer the phone in loud surroundings like at a party, bar, or basketball game. Solution: let it hit your voicemail and listen to the message. Then you can call back when you're in an uninterrupted environment. Just be sure you're prompt with returning calls!

Hopefully these are easy and helpful tips. Do you have other tips I missed?

Editor's note: I originally posted this list for fellow students to read on the CAFNR Career Services blog.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Spring Break Debate

T-minus 28 hours and I'm off to sunny Florida with some of my closest college friends. That's right, for the second year in a row, I'll spend part of my spring break enjoying the warmth and relaxation of white sandy beaches. A recent post on Ms. Career Girl made me reconsider the practicality of this tradition among college students and soon-to-be professionals.

On the site, guest blogger and fellow college senior Rob Pitingolo writes about his decision to spend the week using his time more wisely to stay home and continue the job search, while also saving money that would've been used on travel expenses. 

That's a wise decision in my mind, but I am not afraid to encourage students to travel if they have the means to do it. Because I've already accepted my full-time job, I am more certain about the future. That leaves me more open to making the trip as long as we keep it on a limited budget!
That leaves one last question: What do employers think?

Like Rob, I've also had several of my professional mentors encourage me to take this one last adventure as a college student. My biggest desire for hitting the highway for a 14 hour road trip is the chance to get even closer to friends I truly cherish. After graduation, our group will start relocating to other parts of the state and country for careers, families, and other stuff. Sure we'll reunite as alumni at football games and weekends at the lake, but this is one last hurrah before life as a big kid starts.

Big kid life. That's why this post is important.

We've all heard the horror stories of irresponsible, disrespectful, out-of-control partiers ending up in dangerous, unbecoming and stupid situations. The worst part is that nice people and students with great potential aren't immune to this threat when beaches and beverages are thrown into the equation. (Yes Mom, I hear you saying that as I type this.)

My folks are certainly no exception to the rule when it comes to worrying about my safety and decision-making for the upcoming week. Judging from most spring break stereotypes, I totally understand my parents' concern. However, by choosing to spend vacay in a less populated Florida town, we're avoiding the typical scene from "MTV Spring Break," and the types of activities that make all good parents cringe. In our eyes, the chance to relax doesn't have to come in forms of profain irresponsibility. I don't have a source, but I'd say that's something employers AND parents can appreciate! See you when we get back!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Typo Territory

I just came across The Traveling Cowgirl blog, which happens to be written by an alum of MU's College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Among the variety of creative posts I enjoy from this blogger, I found a particular fondness with a comedic, yet educational, take on the importance of proofreading emails.

She obviously learned the proofreading lesson in a funny and memorable way! Do you have any silly or embarrassing stories with typos? Please share!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Power of Passion

Am I the only one annoyed by Facebook status updates from friends who obviously hate their jobs? You know the type:

"Tom hates his job."
"Cindy wants to quit."
"Bob can't wait for vacation."

Sure, we can all be accused of complaining about things when our day has been frustrating. However, this constant negativity makes me question those friends who've obviously not followed their passion in life.

One of my favorite quotes is from Confucius. He said:
"Find a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life."

Loving a job or career has everything to do with passion. For me, that passion is agriculture. It's the chance to educate others about farms and food. It's the chance to introduce farmers to consumers, and vice versa. It's the opportunity to write about the farmers who don't take vacation days or sick leave, so we'll have food on our tables tonight. That's my passion. It's my purpose, something greater than me, what keeps me going when the work gets tough, and the reason you won't see me complaining about work via social networks!

Have you found your passion?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Show Some Leadership

One of my earliest memories revolves around learning to order my own food at a restaurant. Hearing my Dad say, "Show some leadership," at the age of three should have been a good indicator that I was not destined to be a shy person! On the surface, that experience may seem trivial. However, I was taught how to speak up at an early age. Even the simplest action of ordering my own chicken strips obviously left a very lasting impression on me as the first step in my road to becoming an outgoing girl.

Overtime, Dad's advice evolved beyond food orders to more important situations. Those three simple words have become a staple phrase in my family and always surface in situations that require me to take chances and be bold. As I approach graduation and begin planning for the future, I've used this encouragement to keep on trucking. I know I'm not the only one out there who needs a little extra motivation to take that leap and jump into all the uncertainties that life after college has to offer!

So, as a student, how can we "show some leadership" when all we hear about is a tight job market? It's simple. If you don't apply for a job, you aren't going to get the job. Unlike star college athletes getting recruited for a professional team, it's less likely that an employer will be the one to make the initial contact to discuss career needs with the average student. So as the sole person in charge of your future, here's a little nudge from a girl who stepped out on a limb and got the job.

In my experience, I had to get up the courage and ask for a position that didn't technically even exist until I showed interest. I don't know if I call that luck or preparation, but either way it's proof that sometimes being bold and showing some leadership can get a person further than imagined! So my challenge for the week is to encourage other students to "Show some leadership" and make an effort on their path to career success!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Start the Countdown!

It's official. In just over 1,500 hours I'll be walking across the stage at a commencement ceremony ending what I've come to know as the greatest four years in my life this far.

I'm sure if you asked my parents, they'd say the countdown to graduation started in August of 2006 when I started my college career. After all the bills for tuition, books, rent, groceries, nights out, concert tickets, Mizzou apparel, and parking tickets (yes, plenty of those), my dad has declared he's excited to have me off his payroll and onto the payroll of someone else.

No matter the costs associated with the experience, the education and experiences are enough to last me a lifetime. As the saying goes, college truly has been the time of my life.

Now, I'm just nine weeks and one day away from becoming an official college alum and it's starting to sink in. Join me as I learn lessons about myself and others in this transition from life of the party to life at work.

This all sounds like a roller coaster if you ask me. I'm hoping this will be a way to share the ups and downs of this new transition and even get some insight from others who are in my shoes. Whether your prefer heels or flats, moccasins or cowboy boots, tennis shoes or flip-flops, join me in the journey from college campus to office workroom!