Encouraging Creative and Confident Young Women with chloe + isabel

November has certainly become the month of jewelry for The Modern Austen and I can’t say I’m hating it one bit! But it’s so much more than pretty baubles and jewels. I’m consistently noticing that the women I’ve met who are jewelry designers or merchandisers are among the most ambitious, creative, confident, and entrepreneurial people I know. Just take a look at Marlene for a prime example. She’s a very talented and organized entrepreneur with a passion for what she does and the people she meets.

Sometimes I really wish I had more of an exposure to or opportunity to recognize the growing creativepreneur in me through programs or jobs during my college years. I’m so blessed to have had many leadership roles and can credit these experiences, along with my mentors, with my desire for creative business, but I wish I had fostered it sooner and more directly. And how awesome would it have been to be paid for it, too?

Enter chloe + isabel. Many of you know this company for their insanely beautiful jewelry, but were you aware that they have a Growth and Empowerment through Merchandising (GEM) program specially for young women ages 18-22? This program is built to help them break into the fashion industry and tap into their entrepreneurial skills.  Not only will it help build strong resumes, but it also helps build participants’ bank accounts.

chloe + isabel GEM programvia

Here’s what makes chloe + isabel’s GEM program different from what many other direct sales companies may offer:

  • Participants gain first-hand understanding of running a business by prospecting leads, hosting pop-up shops, creating effective brand displays, and conducting online sales via social media promotion.
  • c + i offers special incentives including a VIP trip to NYC, shopping sprees at top retailers, letters of recommendation from CEO Chantel Waterbury, and resume writing sessions.
  • Some of the dream jobs and internships of current and past GEM Merchandisers include: Bloomingdales, Kate Spade, Julep, Madewell, Boston Scientific, Kleinfeld, American Greetings and more.

If you or another young woman in your life would be interested in pursuing the GEM program, chloe + isabel offers three classes a year and currently looking for members of their January class. Applications are due November 30th! Click here for more information. Not a spritely young college woman anymore? You can still reap the benefits of being a c + i merchandiser!

The amazing leaders at chloe + isabel have so generously offered to giveaway their absolutely gorgeous Midnight Reverie Statement to one lucky reader!  By the way, are you looking for a c + i merchandiser to purchase some stunning jewels and maybe some Christmas gifts? I highly recommend Carly, one of the most talented and dedicated young women I know! Check out her online boutique here.

choe + isabel midnight reverie statement necklacevia

The giveaway will run for one week (until midnight on December 1st) and is open to the continental U.S. only. c + i are unable to ship to military boxes as well at this time.

Best of luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post is in partnership with Chloe + Isabel through Smart Girls Media Sisters. As always, all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make The Modern Austen possible. 

A Chi-Town Snapshot

Two weeks ago, I had the honor of representing my company at a trade show in Chicago during which I presented two seminars and helped two fabulous sales representatives seek out some prospects. Like most things these days, I never imagined that traveling for work would ever be a part of my equation; it’s amazing how God works, revealing things slowly but with such purpose. I also didn’t expect to be able to go on a trip so soon since I only started in late May! I feel very blessed that I was given the opportunity to visit a city I’ve never been to before and to be in my element again during my presentations.

I’ve talked about wanderlust before way back in the early days of this blog, but the excitement and joy of traveling is always bubbling somewhere inside me, usually kept under wraps since it’s not usually feasible to go somewhere. I just love exploring new places and escaping my own reality for a while. Traveling teaches you more about where you came from than where you are visiting and gives you the opportunity to reflect. So when this opportunity fell into my lap, I was thrilled to be given the chance to learn.

During this trip, we really didn’t get a chance to explore the city much beyond our first evening; the little snapshot we did experience, however, was pretty great.

chicago1

Chicago Bean

We were able to see only a few of the tourist-y attractions like the “Bean,” at which it is impossible to take a good photo without a million other photographers in the background. But just across the way, there was a free concert out on the lawn at Millenium Park, the sun was setting, the temperature was perfect, the skyline was beautiful, and the air just carried this energy of excitement and joy. Chicago is definitely a young, trendy, and fun city full of so much life and creativity and in that moment, I felt I was in the heart of it. While I was bummed to miss out on everything else the city had to offer, I know I will make it a priority to visit again in the future.

The rest of our time was devoted to working, which was a more tiring feat than I originally expected. Long hours with lots of standing leads to sluggish bodies and squishy brains. Despite this, I was pleased with how my presentations went and it reminded me of my time in the classroom. I truly do enjoy talking to audiences about topics that I am passionate about and I am really pleased that I can find that same satisfaction in more than one profession. What past experiences do you really miss that you’re not sure you can introduce or recreate in your current circumstances? Often times I think about the times when I was in musicals or played in band and how that experience is just simply not available as an adult unless you are able to dedicate a lot of time to a community production. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts.

StyleMax

Stylemax Presentation

Other observations about my very brief stay in Chicago:

  • I felt very safe walking around, even at night. I don’t know if this comfort came from walking with a male or from the other city dwellers. I actually think it might be the latter!
  • There’s a 7-Eleven everywhere you turn.
  • Pittsburgh really needs to add some more shopping downtown. Urban Targets are so very cool.
  • When you meet a seemingly nice older gentleman who shares absurd stories about how he knows celebrities and will put you in contact with them, you do not give him your business card. (Someone please ask me about Julia Stiles!)
  • I’m sorry Chicago, but I was just not really impressed with your restaurant faire. Does someone want to prove me wrong? :)
  • When I tweeted about my feeling unimpressed, Yelp Chicago “favorited” it. Weird.
  • Chicago is really big.
  • Chicago is beautiful.
  • I won’t lie–I spent a lot of my time people-watching, half-expecting (and hoping) to run into Lauren Elizabeth and The Daily Tay

In conclusion, I’ve decided that we–yes, you and me–need to take a trip there and explore it together. There’s just no other way around it.

Crazy enough, I’m off to another show in a few weeks in Dallas–this time, it’s a bridal show. You better bet I’ll be packing my pearls. 

How Blogging Helped Me Land My Next Career

Blogging can help when changing industries

When you begin blogging, you have a very important decision to make: How open will I be about my personal and professional lives on this very public forum? 

This decision was one I made as I went along; every change I went through I decided how much or how little I wanted to share with all of you. I’d like to think I’ve been as transparent as it is advisable to be, so many of you have followed along the awkward post-college journey and witnessed some pretty massive changes in just two short years.

For those who are new, allow me to recap: I graduated college, got my first job as a high school English teacher, moved three hours away, felt extremely homesick and depressed, survived my first year of teaching with a smile by the end, made the very difficult decision to break up with my boyfriend of 4.5 years, lived in a hotel for a week because my apartment wasn’t ready, very quickly resigned from my job, battled the most difficult time of my life, experienced a stint in retail, moved back home, and . . . waited.

Every twenty-something goes through some set of ups and downs; even though we ALL think we’ll be the exception (myself included), nobody escapes some sort of difficulty. It’s all just part of the madness we call life. Despite the fact that we all go through something, sometimes it’s really, really hard. And it’s no one’s place to judge what is considered “more difficult” than something else. We all have our own battles to fight. 

Own Battles to Fight

Mine just happened to be the decision to pursue an entirely new career. I left my former position for a variety of reasons; while I won’t be sharing them on this platform, I would be more than happy to talk one-on-one about this experience with anyone who needs someone to discuss those scary, almost taboo thoughts about transitions, whether these decisions were yours to make or not. Sometimes life unexpectedly decides to thrust you in a new direction, despite your fingernails clutching desperately at the world you’ve known. I’ve shared snapshots of what this has meant for me on the blog and it has prompted several individuals to start a dialogue with me; I’m blessed to say I consider all of these women great friends of mine as a result.

There are still days when I think of the life that would-have-been, days when I long for certain aspects of my former career–my former life. My entire vision for my future was suddenly uprooted and tossed far away where I could no longer cultivate it and watch it grow. Instead, I had to build a new foundation upon which to direct my life and my future.

A large part of the foundation was and is this. My blog. The Modern Austen. Blogging and everything that goes into it–the DIY projects, the writing, the photography, the graphic design, the fashion, the friendships–stuck with me through everything. I could always count on it to be my rock no matter if I was sad, lonely, bored, or even angry. It provided me with enough of a challenge that I almost always felt inspired, motivated, and encouraged to move forward. Blogging gave me a voice, taught me a ton of technical skills, introduced me to the world of business, allowed me to exercise my creativity, and gave me plentiful opportunities to collaborate and work with individuals, businesses, and brands. Two years ago, I never even imagined that blogging would be more than just a fun way to express myself; now I see that I was teaching myself so many more skills that I never would have had otherwise.

When it came time to decide if I wanted to continue to pursue education or move into a new direction professionally, I really struggled. I had never considered anything outside of teaching before, not even once. Everything I had done up to that point was geared toward working with kids or educational skills. I had to take a step back and really consider the things I really love to do and the things I am passionate about. Things like writing, collaborating, designing, leadership, teaching, presenting, organizing, and, most of all, creating came to mind. I also thought back through to my experiences in college as the President and VP of Membership for Kappa Delta and how much I thrived in that atmosphere–how much I adored recruitment and helping my sisters achieve new goals. So slowly, I gathered job titles in the field of digital marketing in the hopes that I could combine all of these things into a career.

After eight months of hustling, networking, soul-searching, and pushing myself way out of my comfort zone, I’m thrilled to announce that I got a new job! I’m working as a Marketing Consultant for a fantastic start-up that provides ready-to-use and easily editable marketing via email and social media for indie retailers and other small businesses. While I never imagined myself as a consultant, it makes complete sense now; this role truly does take all of my passions and interests and welds them into one. It’s a great fit for me right now and a great place to start. I’m truly blessed.

How Blogging Helped Me Land My Next Career

Besides showing me that I have a whole other set of interests and skills, blogging was critical in securing this position. More often than not, blogs are an extremely valuable tool in the job search and hiring processes because they demonstrate a candidate’s writing skills, business aptitude, time management skills, organization, passion, interests, strengths, and understanding of marketing. When switching industries completely, it is important to participate in experiences that link the two careers. While blogging isn’t for everyone (and not all blogs should be shared with employers!), it is certainly an option to help make that transition.  You can also join new networking groups, volunteer, contact all of your connections, and say yes to any and every opportunity–all of which I did, even when it felt like I was going nowhere. Stick with it. You never know who or what is going to make the difference.

Congratulations if you made it through this very long-winded post. I just wanted to an extend a thank you to the many supporters and friends who have been my strength and source of hope through it all. I promise I’ll go a few posts without boosting blogging’s ego any further ;)

If you missed out on last week’s $250 LOFT giftcard giveaway, don’t fret! I’ve partnered up with some great bloggers to give away a $750 Amazon gift card! I KNOW, RIGHT? Imagine starting off your summer with that burning a hole in your pocket!

Bookmark this page and come back every day to enter and earn bonus entries by sharing the giveaway with your friends on social media. Good luck!

Totally Awesome Amazon Giftcard Giveaway

Organized by: Oh My Gosh Beck!

Co-hosts: This Mama Loves ♥ Broward Saves ♥ Fluttering Lashes ♥ True Story Book Blog ♥ Amazing Super Savers ♥ Babushka’s Baile ♥ Finger Click Saver ♥ Fresh Fit N Healthy Jenn’s Blah Blah Blog ♥ Mama Papa Barn ♥ Misadventures with Andi ♥ Mom and More ♥ Pretty Thrifty ♥ Stacy’s Savings ♥ StushiGal Style ♥ The Skinny-Life  The WiC Project

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter daily. Besides the mandatory blog comment entry, all other entries are optional. Giveaway ends 7/2 and is open worldwide.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

10 Networking Tips for Recently Established Professionals

This post first appeared on Urban Cashmere, written by me. You can read more about that here!

Every college graduate is given the secret to obtaining a job: network, network, network! But not every graduate is given the tools or resources to network effectively, especially for those who just moved to a new city, altered career paths, or cannot use university connections or resources. The networking game isn’t easy to play, but it is absolutely crucial for success. Here’s ten networking tips for recently established professionals who need to boost their job search, whether that’s to land your first job or to climb the professional ladder.

10-Networking-Tips-for-Recently-Established-Professionals.png

1. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is completely filled out and then use it. Yes, that means “rewriting” your resume once again, but the benefits outweigh the time investment. Instead of having to consolidate to a one-page snapshot of your skills and accomplishments, LinkedIn allows you to include every professional experience that may reflect what kind of worker you are AND to share a little bit of your personality. Once you’ve finalized your profile, be sure to spend some time on it weekly: add connections, follow companies, and endorse others. Your online activity will get you noticed. Many jobs are obtained through LinkedIn these days, so don’t cut this out of your job searching strategy!

2. Utilize Twitter. I don’t just mean updating your status daily (though sharing articles and commenting on industry topics are certainly helpful!), but I mean using Twitter to make connections and build knowledge about your industry’s big names and topics. You’d be surprised at how many important career mavens in your local area use Twitter. Start by looking at your friends’ lists of friends and then search for people in your city. Most importantly, read profile blurbs. Look for people whose profiles include some sort of professional explanation of themselves and links to blogs or websites. Follow them, visit their sites, and keep up with their tweets. Even if you don’t network with these connections specifically, your future employers will be impressed because you keep up with industry names and events.

3. Compile evidence of your success. If you don’t have a portfolio, whether virtual or tangible, invest the time into creating one. The act of picking and choosing your best work helps to prepare you for conversations with employers, friends, and family members AND you’ll be ready for that last-minute interview. If you don’t have evidence that best demonstrates a certain skill, ask a colleague, mentor, or professor for a reference letter that comments on these abilities.

4. Lock in specific job titles that you’re looking for. For some people, this is an easy task, but for others (especially those who are changing careers or locations), this can be a challenge. Start by plugging in various key words in job search engines and evaluate the results. Compile a list of jobs you would consider applying to, make sure they reflect your current professional level, and note the titles. Narrow this list down to one or two titles. Why is this important for networking? Your friends, family, and connections will ask you what you’re pursuing and stating you want “something in marketing” or “something that involves helping others” is not specific and does not give your connections something to work with.

5. Join a professional group (or two) and attend events. Ask your friends and family what organizations they are involved in, do a search in your city, and look up alumni opportunities. (Still stumped? Try Levo League.) Pick one or two that sound relevant for your industry and age group and then GO. Go with the attitude of meeting new people and building connections. Be genuine and interested in others–networking is most successful when it’s organic and authentic.

To read the rest of the tips, click over to Urban Cashmere! Be sure to leave a comment and let me know what you found to be helpful and if you have any more suggestions for our young professionals :)