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In Guest Posts, Lifestyle on
January 16, 2017

8 Steps To Amazing Travel On A College Budget

I’m a college student who spends most of the semesters counting down to my breaks. No homework, no classes, no stress and possibly a vacation? Yes, please! Sign me up! I love to travel. I love driving, flying, taking the train, I’m up for anything! If it were up to me, I think travel is something all college students should experience. Spring break is one of the best times to get up and go. Unfortunately, spring break just happens to be one of the most expensive weeks of the year for traveling.

As a college student, some can only work part-time jobs, if that, so you must be more diligent when it comes to booking a vacation that qualifies as affordable. Traveling has some of the biggest and best loopholes but also some of the worst. Below I’ve listed some simple, yet awesome traveling tips. I swear by them. Save your money and you can still take that awesome vacation!

8 Steps To Amazing Travel On A College Budget | College students should be exposed to travel but it is often out of reach because of the price tag. Anna shares her 8 step strategy to having an amazing vacation even on a college budget. This post is perfect for the upcoming Spring Break season, but also any time where colleges students will be traveling.

Keep Reading, Darling

In career, Guest Posts on
January 4, 2017

Build An Amazing Career Network That Will Last A Lifetime

Hopefully you were able to add some “Career Pampering” to your holiday.  If this sounds fun, but you aren’t sure you indulged fully, (or just want to know what in the world I am talking about) check out my previous guest blog post here titled How To Increase Your Network Over Winter Break.  I offered delightful, yet responsible steps toward filling your winter break with new networking activities.  As a mother, an investor and an entrepreneur focused on college students, it fills my heart when budding young professionals take a break from their intense drive toward success to pamper themselves, not only personally, but professionally, in a thoughtful way.

 Build An Amazing Career Network That Will Last A Lifetime | Click through to find out how to network effectively through using a relationship manager so you can take the next steps in your networking habits.

Are you are just getting started on identification of your best professional contacts and don’t already use a CRM, or contact management tool like Salesforce, Highrise or Evercontact?  Then I recommend you use an excel spreadsheet.  Yes, there are lots of tools and apps that help an established networker but… do not think about those now!  We don’t want to get distracted from the goal of actually getting started. If you need a simple tool to start tracking your relationship portfolio, check this out:

Here we go!  

Name.  Employer.  Title.  Relationship.  Next Step. History.

Only six column headers needed across the top to get going in the right direction.  

Get The Daily Relationship Manager


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TAKE THE NEXT STEP.

Hey, Girl Boss, it’s time to take the next step. Download the FREE daily relationship manager so you can keep up with all of the new contacts you will be making. This freebie has daily spaces for the entire 2017 year so you can keep up with all the next steps you want to make, contact information you have, and so you can begin to see the network you are building this year.






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Identify immediate family.  

This includes brothers and sisters that are in high school and beyond, even if they do not have a “profession” or are “currently employed”.  Some of the most capable entrepreneurs are under 20, so a title of “student” can be very welcome to your list.  An important aspect to this exercise is to transition your mindset toward thinking about people professionally.  Then planning actionable steps toward connecting on that level.

Look Outside of your immediate family. 

What families are a part of your tribe?  We’ve always said it takes a village to raise a child.  As a college student and young professional, your tribe is stronger than 90% of all the other tribes across the world (yes, even with your challenges, you are more blessed than many others across the globe).  Think about each and every family. What do the adults do for a living?  Open up that search engine and start with LinkedIn, and then Facebook, then their business’ website.  Do not neglect the full time volunteers in your village.  They often have professional training and community connections that are more robust than the professionals that go to work day by day.  Put all this information in the “History” field. Have any of your friends’ parents offered to help you in anyway?  If so, within the “Next Step” field, make a note to connect with this person… and include a specific date for task completion!  Find this date on your calendar, and schedule an event reminder.

Have you stayed in touch with more than one teacher or coach?  

Put these names down after reviewing their educational and professional profiles online.  

Do you know your current advisor or counselor in a personal way?  

Do you know your favorite club or organization’s advisor in a personal way?  Review these contacts’ professional profiles online also.  Take particular note in the professional circles they have had over the years.  Who do they know?  Someone in your field of career interest?   Someone in your new city of choice?  If so, make a note of this in the “Next Step” field and schedule an event reminder on your calendar.

Do you know any organization alumni well?

The last group we are going to add today, is often the group with the most potential to assist you… but often the most overlooked and undervalued.  These people are what I call “low hanging fruit”.  Spend particular time here.

National Honor Society.  Robotics Club.  Key Club.  Varsity Basketball.  Spanish Club.  Your Sorority.  The Student Government Association.  The International Student’s Union.  The Quidditch Club and The Cake Club (my son’s favorite – ha!)  

Think about the organizations you have been involved with since your start.  Who are the alumni that were in the organization when you first joined, that graduated before you?  These are friends that are just a few steps ahead of you on their career path with similar interests.  They are fresh into the companies that might love you too… with the added benefit of knowing who is hiring and when.  You likely have not thought of these friends as career portfolio potential.  Add these names to your list.  Take as much time as possible to thoroughly research who these friends are with now.

Get The Daily Relationship Manager


Img_7213

TAKE THE NEXT STEP.

Hey, Girl Boss, it’s time to take the next step. Download the FREE daily relationship manager so you can keep up with all of the new contacts you will be making. This freebie has daily spaces for the entire 2017 year so you can keep up with all the next steps you want to make, contact information you have, and so you can begin to see the network you are building this year.






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Whew! That’s a great start toward identification and planning!  (Do we have dinner plans yet?)

It’s my hope that you have 20-30 names on this list now…. or more.  And with that, it’s my hope that you have 5-10 contacts identified to visit, with specific dates and times scheduled to your calendar.  But don’t worry that yours looks a little different.  This is not meant to be a comprehensive list.  It is meant to be the most important thing:  A JUMP START.

So before you save this list and get back to planning your next semester…one more thing to firmly add to your “Next Steps” column.  The one point from which all successful networking habits emerge.  

From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of her they will ask all the more.

Some people think that networking is all about scheduling meetings to help move one’s own career forward.  That is certainly part of it.  But successful networkers need not be the most socially gracious or outstanding.  They must simply be people that recognize that networking is about giving and receiving. As you begin intentionally managing your relationships, keep the people with whom you are networking (or hoping to) interests at heart.  Your network will provide you great opportunities, if you are able to facilitate introductions to and opportunities for people in your network.  Find mutually beneficial ways of connecting others professionally and personally.  

Because as we get older, it goes faster and faster.  And for successful professionals, the lines between private and professional often get closer and closer.  The years go by in a blink.  Blink and 2018 will be upon us.

Get The Daily Relationship Manager


Img_7213

TAKE THE NEXT STEP.

Hey, Girl Boss, it’s time to take the next step. Download the FREE daily relationship manager so you can keep up with all of the new contacts you will be making. This freebie has daily spaces for the entire 2017 year so you can keep up with all the next steps you want to make, contact information you have, and so you can begin to see the network you are building this year.






Powered by ConvertKit


About Kaki Garard

Kaki Garard, is a Tech Entrepreneur, Investor and Founder of Upper Network, LLC.  Using 20 years of successful major gift fundraising practices, Upper Network helps people find and leverage the best opportunities for their career interests.  Connect on LinkedIn here:  Kaki Garard LinkedIn


In career, Guest Posts on
December 19, 2016

How To Increase Your Network During Winter Break

I’m so excited that exams will soon be complete and we will all make the trip home to settle in for what might be your first…or maybe your last winter break.  As a mother and an entrepreneur focused on our bright college students, I like to take every opportunity to remind all my teenagers, that in addition to relaxing, school breaks are the best time to shower yourself with what I love to call “career pampering.”  Sounds wonderfully indulgent yet responsible doesn’t it?  Well it is! 

Career pampering is the blend of school break relaxation, gift giving and making sure you are maximizing what might truly be the best opportunity to further your career – nurturing and expanding your personal networks.  Your career goals never go away… so winter break is no time to take your eye off the ball!  Ask your friends (your parents, yourself, your bae, all of the above) to join you as you pack your break full of joy, fun and growth – an amazing combination for career success actually!  Yes, pack it full of career pampering.  They will love that you are goal focused… and you will love how it makes you feel!

Need some ideas?

In choosing some last minute dates to your social calendar that focus on pampering your soul, in addition to your career networking, I recommend starting easy…

 How To Increase Your Network During Winter Break | Five Actionable Things You Can Do Over Winter Break To Increase Your Career Network

1. Reconnect with a professional you admire

How about a hot cup of tea, chocolate or coffee at your newest “uptown” café?  Break out of the ho-hum of your old haunts and become an adventurer in your own town.  Check out a list of the “10 best places” and check off a coffee spot you have never frequented. 

Of course, you can’t go alone!  Take a moment to send a quick invitation off to someone that made an impact on your current success.  Did a teacher/employer/professional help you become who you are today?  Well, it is time to reconnect.  Did a family friend or neighbor offer to open doors for you in the future, you just needed to ask?  Well, even if you don’t know or have interest in their field of choice, send an invitation to coffee. 

Winter break is a good time to practice networking – reaching out to others to request a visit, determining a mutually agreeable time, getting a table, trying some new cup o’ something… and coming prepared with some exploratory questions that focus on:

  • Who they know
  • What opportunities they may know *AND*
  • Their willingness to connect you to others that might be of career interest

I know often the people you might think to ask for coffee knew you as the younger version of yourself… which might make it seem a bit awkward to focus the conversation on getting them to talk “career”.  No worries!  You will be surprised at how many new things you learn about people you thought you knew.  And anyway, people love to talk about themselves, they love to talk to you, and they love to talk about their careers – you just didn’t know it at the time you were young!

Become A LinkedIn Rockstar!


Linkedin_freebie

Sign up with your email to get INSTANT access to my ebook all about becoming a LinkedIn Rockstar! I walk you through every step of creating a great LinkedIn presence from choosing the right photo to adding the right connections on LinkedIn. This is a great ebook to have whether you are just starting your LinkedIn account or you have had one for a while. You NEED to read this ebook!





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2. Read A Book…But Don’t Keep the Knowledge to Yourself!

Indulge yourself in reading something of real interest, and then find a way to discuss it with like-minded professionals.  Who has time to read anything just for themselves, when you’re overloaded with books, lectures and papers?  Winter break is the best time to take a quiet moment for yourself and dig deep into an area of interest that you have always found fascinating but never blocked the time off to really come to understand.  After doing so, take a moment to determine a short list of people whom also might be passionate about the same topic.  This list can be filled with people you know, but as is often the case, you might need to make some new friends to really reap full value from the exercise. 

So, how do I find like-minded people in a new field?  The first step I always take is to open my LinkedIn profile. (Don’t have a LinkedIn account?  Then, add that to your winter break to do list!)  It’s really easy…in the search bar of LinkedIn, put the topic of interest and see what people come up in your 1st and 2nd degree contacts.  Write a brief, personal message through LinkedIn, or better yet, Google the newly found person to find their bio and email.  Ask them if they might have 20 minutes sometime in the near future to discuss this mutual interest.  You never know if this might lead you down a fascinating new career path!

3. Go See an Educational or Motivational Speaker

Get dressed up with your best snappy professional ensemble and get out into your community!  Check out what is being hosted by your local women’s organizations.  Often times you will find a great TEDx talk or an alumnae gathering with an accomplished speaker or networking event open to all for the holidays.  Don’t forget to check out event apps like www.eventbrite.com that might list opportunities you were unaware are going on.  Then grab a friend and go!  But just remember, as the speaking/event is coming to a close, don’t feel the need to rush out too soon.  Often the speaker is a capable and accomplished professional woman who is sharing her expertise (very cool!) and who will likely make herself available to chat for a short while after her session (even better!!). 

Introduce yourself afterward with the intent to establish a connection with which you can follow up upon at a later time.  There are lots of professional women who share their awesome skills by leading our educational sessions.  Choose a session that aligns with your professional intentions.  Introduce yourself to the speaker at session’s end.  Then follow up on LinkedIn to thank and reconnect.  If you don’t have a LinkedIn account – again, it’s a professional essential.  Check out this link for tips: LinkedIn Profile Checklist.

Become A LinkedIn Rockstar!


Linkedin_freebie

Sign up with your email to get INSTANT access to my ebook all about becoming a LinkedIn Rockstar! I walk you through every step of creating a great LinkedIn presence from choosing the right photo to adding the right connections on LinkedIn. This is a great ebook to have whether you are just starting your LinkedIn account or you have had one for a while. You NEED to read this ebook!





I’d like to receive the free ebook.



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4. Volunteer your time

Offering your time for free is something worth its weight in gold to many nonprofit organizations. Volunteering will certainly remind you how blessed and well positioned you are to be able to make an impact on others. But time is worth a lot to you, too, as an uber involved college student/budding professional knows.  

Spend some time picking a good fit volunteer opportunity.  Think creatively as you approach your options – allowing yourself to reflect upon current career goals, professionals you really respect and what internship/job openings might be of interest.  Then hop on your search engine and put some of those keywords in quotes.  Allow yourself some time to search unfettered.  For example, say I have always wanted to be the Executive Director a Performing Arts Center.  I might search for:

  • “executive director”
  • “Indianapolis Repertory Theatre” (because you happen to live in Indiana -ha).  

What you hope to find are like minded professionals who either have volunteer opportunities needing filled (working directly with that professional), or offer their contact information. Do not be afraid to try to create for yourself an unadvertised volunteer opportunity that will allow you to be helpful but also meet leaders within your career niche.  One call to a professional’s voicemail that says something like:  

“Hi! My name is Kaki Garard.  I am a student at Indiana University studying nonprofit management and I wondered if you might have any need of someone to volunteer to complete a small project over winter break?  I have time and expertise in many areas, including marketing and social media, and I would love to hear from you regarding any opportunities.” 

Thank them and leave your phone number.  Then if you haven’t heard back in a day, don’t take it personally!  It’s a real busy time of year for everyone. Try to call again (no need to leave a message) or even stop by.  Being assertive shows your passion and differentiates you from the pack.  They will remember you as someone capable and confident, even if you end up volunteering elsewhere.

5. Attend a Charity Fundraiser Gala

My personal favorite way to career pamper yourself during the holiday season:  the charity fundraiser!  Gala, balls, bashes…the fundraising season is in full bloom and it all goes to others in need.  It is something that most often does not sell out, so no need to plan too far ahead! You can still make an important donation to impact a meaningful cause by buying a ticket to attend the event.  To give much is to receive much, if you work the room

A gala event is always full of capable people that have made an impact with their time, talents and treasure.  Research ahead of time who else will be attending so you can look for people you want to meet. Bring your business cards and walk into the room with a smile.  Join conversations with the mindset of “how can I help this acquaintance”.  Oftentimes charities encourage networking because that is how future donors are cultivated.  So, dance, network, eat and be merry! (not necessarily in that order.

Next steps

  • Reconnect with a family friend, teacher or neighbor to seek professional their knowledge of professional opportunities in your area of interest.  Ask them “who they know”, “what they know about your field” and “if they know of any opportunities for the future”…
  • Take sometime to deep dive into an area of unexplored interest.  Find professionals to discuss.
  • Attend a speaker or lecture.  Stay after to introduce yourself.  Connect on LinkedIn after the event to keep in touch.
  • Offer to provide some targeted volunteer time.  Don’t limit yourself to what is advertised.  Have personal conversations with professionals in your field of interest.
  • Attend a gala with friends.  Know whom of professional interest will be in attendance.  Meet them and follow up.

Become A LinkedIn Rockstar!


Linkedin_freebie

Sign up with your email to get INSTANT access to my ebook all about becoming a LinkedIn Rockstar! I walk you through every step of creating a great LinkedIn presence from choosing the right photo to adding the right connections on LinkedIn. This is a great ebook to have whether you are just starting your LinkedIn account or you have had one for a while. You NEED to read this ebook!





I’d like to receive the free ebook.



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About Kaki Garard

 Kaki and I at Tri Sigma's 2016 Convention.

Kaki and I at Tri Sigma’s 2016 Convention.

Kaki Garard, is a Tech Entrepreneur, Investor and Founder of Upper Network, LLC.  Using 20 years of successful major gift fundraising practices, Upper Network helps people find and leverage the best opportunities for their career interests.  Connect on LinkedIn here:  Kaki Garard LinkedIn

Quick Note From Amanda: I am SO excited that you got to read this post from Kaki today. Kaki is an alumna of my sorority Sigma Sigma Sigma that I originally met online. She was one of the many Tri Sigma women I got to meet this summer when I flew to Chicago for Convention. She is SO knowledgeable about all things networking and I wanted to reach out to her and get her advice on networking. I hope you adored this post!

In career, Guest Posts on
October 17, 2016

Everything You Need To Know About Creating An Online Portfolio

I am a huge advocate for creating an online portfolio while in college. Regardless of your program, creating your own portfolio will be incredibly beneficial as you begin to approach the job search process. 

Especially in this day and age, the last thing you want to do is go out into the real world with just a hard copy of your resume. Whether you’re just getting started, or finding yourself stuck along the way, these tips will help you navigate the crazy, often frustrating world of creating an online portfolio.

 Everything You Need To Know About Creating An Online Portfolio | Having an online portfolio is increasingly important for college students. Learn all about creating a great portfolio today.

WHY DO I NEED A PORTFOLIO ANYWAY?

The real question is, why wouldn’t you need a portfolio? It is a collective way to organize the professional materials you’ve created over the years. Think of your portfolio as your own professional biography. 

Added Value

An online portfolio will complement your resume and cover letter. Your resume talks about what you’ve done and when, but your portfolio shows people what you’ve done. Sure, people will find it impressive that you increased your sales by 25%, but you can use your portfolio to show people how you increased your sales by 25%.

More Visibility

The job search process is all about being able to market yourself. With such a competitive job market, every chance to put yourself in front of someone is time well spent. You should make it as easy as possible for hiring managers to be able to find information about you, online. 

GETTING STARTED

Here comes the fun part. Once you get over this bump, the rest will be smooth sailing, I promise.

Understand what you want to get out your portfolio

Are you using your portfolio to gain clients? Are you using it in your job search, or to apply to grad school? Create your content based on who you want to see it.

Purchase a domain

It’s a safe bet trying to purchase something simple like firstnamelastname.com or firstmiddlelastname.com. Sometimes, those are taken and you might have to think outside the box. If you focus on photography or design, you can play around with those words. I’ve had great experiences purchasing domains through GoDaddy and BlueHost. Both companies offer discounts on domains if you purchase your hosting through them, which leads me to the next point.

Choose a hosting company

A hosting platform is the middleman between your domain and your website. It connects the two together. Usually hosting companies are the ones that offer the best deals for purchasing domains. GoDaddy, Bluehost, and HostGator are some of the more popular hosting companies. Many of them make it easy to connect your domain to your blogging platform. Bluehost, for example, lets you connect your website to a WordPress.org account for free, which is a really great perk.

Pick a blogging platform

Tumblr is a good (and free) alternative for housing your portfolio. You can easily create pages and upload photos, videos or text posts. The only challenge is finding a theme you like and feel comfortable using. This is a good option for beginners, or people who want to create something simple that they can expand on, later.

Wix, SquareSpace and Weebly are great options, too because they allow you to drag and drop your layout, making it easy to arrange things how you want them. I knew I wanted a minimalist, black-and-white design so I used Wix to create my own layout. And, honestly, I’m in love with it! They have the optional to add a blog to your website, which is a great way to expand on your professional experiences. Each of these services have monthly fees, but they are definitely worth it for the amount of flexibility they offer. SquareSpace even has a discount option for students!

Blogger and WordPress.org allow less flexibility in terms of design. You’ll have to use a free layout or pay to have someone design one for you. These websites offer a ton of cool features, but also require a bit more back-end knowledge to be able to use them to the best of their abilities.

CREATING COMPELLING CONTENT

So, you have your website. Now, you just have to put the final pieces together. You can add separate pages for the following areas.

A timeline

This is totally optional, but it helps paint a larger picture of your experience and your goals. I created a timeline using Piktochart to document my experience in a way my resume doesn’t. They have a template you can edit, or you can design your own. I wanted to create a minimalist timeline that matched my portfolio layout. If you’re unsure how to go about it, check out my timeline here.

The resume 

Save your resume as a .jpeg file and upload it on its own page. This is a good way to give people a quick chance to look at your resume, without the hassle of making them download it. Some websites have the option to let people download a file straight from the page. If you decide to go with that option, make sure to convert your resume to a .pdf file. Some people are thrown off when they receive resumes that are still in a word file.

Contact page 

If you make it difficult for people to reach out to you, they won’t reach out. Create a contact page with your e-mail address, or even a message option, to help people get in touch with you if they have any questions. I decided to type up my e-mail address along with inserting a message box, so people can reach me in whatever way is most convenient to them. 

OTHER FEATURES TO KEEP IN MIND

Below are some things to think about when thinking about general content of your portfolio.

The home page 

As a rule of thumb, a professor once told me that a home page should include a professional photo of you, your name, and your job title. If you’re still in school, you can add your university, major, and graduation date. 

The biography 

Oh, the dreaded biography! You don’t have be too formal with this. You also don’t want to come across as too laid-back. Try to find a good balance between the two.  

Your situation dictates your tone, so feel free to let your personality shine through! I used my portfolio for my graduate school applications and wanted to come across as professional. Mine is written in third person and is very straight to the point. I list my major and minor, areas of interest, life changing moments, and hobbies. If you’re a photographer who started taking photos with an old Kodak you got for Christmas, talk about that. Maybe your whole life changed when you studied abroad. If so, mention that!

Linking your socials 

LinkedIn is the most common thing people link to in their portfolios. However, I would suggest adding links on your sidebar to your Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts. Often times, employers will look for these anyway, so posting them clearly on your portfolio will make it seem like you’re comfortable with them looking at your social media profiles.

AREAS OF INTEREST

We all have specialty areas. Mine are photography and writing. Some other areas include design, editing, research, event planning, public presentations, and the list goes on. 

Show by example 

Create a page for each of your specialty areas, and use each page to elaborate on your experience in that area. Did you do a killer presentation in class? Add a photo or a link to your PowerPoint, and write a little bit about your presentation.  Do you have research experience? You can add a photo and link it to your published work. You can also type up the abstract on your portfolio. Do you write for publications or take photos? Add some links to your samples.

This is all about being able to show people what you’ve done. If you can’t think of anything, add in essays or other assignments you used for class. Everything is relevant.

NOW, SHARE THE HECK OUT OF IT

Link to your portfolio as much as you can. Add your URL to your resume, and business cards. Add your link on your Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts. The more you push your website, the more likely people will see it. Don’t be afraid to show your portfolio off. You worked hard on it, and people deserve to see how great it is!


Angela Flores is a first-year graduate student at Northeastern University where she studies Music Industry Leadership. She is a lover of all things culture, art, and advocacy, and loves trying to connect the three together. She sometimes blogs at This Hollow Trend.

When she is not obsessively reading through the piles of young adult novels she promised her high school self she’d read, you can find her reading VICE’s opinion-editorials, scouting local art venues, and trying to find time to sleep.