Materialism vs. Minimalism and My Wardrobe

I am unsurprisingly torn between materialism and minimalism. I love the freedom that comes from fewer possessions, but I also love fashion and style. As I delve deeper into my yoga practice, the idea of minimalism bounces around my head more and more often.

Yesterday I zipped to the mall and left with a few new outfits for my summer internship. The thing is, I didn’t actually need any new clothing. I already have a wardrobe that would accommodate three months of business-wear, but I wanted new items. Styles are different this year, after all!

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My closet doesn’t look like this!

When I left I felt a little guilty (though not guilty enough to return anything!), and I started Googling minimalist wardrobes. It turns out the idea of a minimalist wardrobe is pretty popular – many people tout the benefits of a wardrobe that features 40 items or less. This could look like 15 shirts, 4 sweaters, 4 dresses, 4 skirts, 5 pairs of pants, and then it’s rounded out with some shoes. Some people rotate out “capsules” of clothing from season to season – three months per 30-something items. Some people include accessories in their 37-item closet.

I’ve always viewed my style as pretty neutral, but every year I’ll add a few statement items to spice up my life. Since I haven’t grown in the last decade, this had led to a closet with over 170 items (I just went and counted and didn’t even include my workout clothing, shoes, pajamas, or t-shirts from my college days).

That’s a lot. More than I need, really. I’m playing with the idea of taking a “capsule” or minimal wardrobe with me for my internship this summer. As it’s a 3-month period, and I have to pack all the clothes I’m taking, it could be a good trial time.

What do you guys think about a minimalist wardrobe? It does seem kind of silly to have a full wardrobe and restrict myself from it (it almost seems wasteful, the opposite of what I want to accomplish). What might make more sense is just to stop buying new items for a time period, and to enjoy what I already have.

Does anyone have a minimalist wardrobe? Or has anyone tried? I would love to hear about your experience and recommendations.

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Interview Guide Part IV: After the Interview

For the rest of the series:
Series Introduction
Part 1: The Resume and Cover Letter
Part II: Before the Interview
Part III: During the Interview
Note that this interview guide is not comprehensive, it’s just some tips and tricks to help you land that job! 

Well, you’ve just about made it! I only have three recommendations for post-interview.

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If you insist on a handwritten note, then send both the card and the e-mail. Just make sure they aren’t repetitive.

1. Write an e-mail thank you note.

I realize the concept of an e-mail thank you is still hotly debated (even among my peers in b-school). And while I completely agree that a handwritten thank you is more formal and more fun to receive, our lives today move much faster than the pace of snail mail. I received my internship offer less than 24 hours after I had the interview – so if I had sent an actual letter, there’s no way the interviewers would have received it. So e-mail it is!

2. Bring up specifics about your conversation in the e-mail.

Don’t just give a generic, “Thank you for the interview, I love the company, I would be a perfect fit, yada yada.” Instead, mention specifics from your conversion, such as, “I loved learning about the differences in your supply chain for B2B versus B2C,” and then explain how your conversation once again affirmed that you’d be a good fit. Of course, in order to have specifics to write in your thank you note, you will have needed to ask good questions to the interviewer.

3. Choose the company that’s the best fit for you!

When those offers starts rolling in, take your time to decide on a company that aligns with what you are looking for. The interview process consists of largely proving to companies that you are a good fit for them. But in reality, you want to work somewhere that’s a good fit for you.

That concludes my interview series, I hope it was helpful. Reach out with any questions, and happy job hunting!

A Hurt Foot, Prepping for Finals, and Internship Events

The last week has been a huge bummer – no yoga thanks to a foot issue. I’m pretty nervous that I might need surgery, which is unfortunate because I have a hiking trip planned for mid May. Right now I’m trying not to think about it too much.

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In my E.T. voice: Ouuuuuchhhhhh

I have been thinking a ton about finals! Next week should be madness. I have two in-class finals, two take-home finals, and one client presentation (for a consulting project I’ve been working on). As far as studying goes, I’ve been trying to stick to my two-week study plan (yes, I’m a dork). So far it’s helping me stay on top of all my subjects, although I have a feeling I will put off statistics for as long as possible.

Then come next Friday afternoon I will have officially completed my first year in my MBA program! I have some fun plans for the month of May (including sleeping, volunteering, camping, traveling), and then just before June I will be moving for my internship.

The CPG company where I will be completing my marketing internship announced what brand I will be working on! It’s globally known, number two in its category, and I feel like I hit the jackpot!

Then, a couple nights ago I went to a meet and greet with alums of my b-school who now work where I am having my internship. Honestly, I had a blast. I was nervous it would be awkward and I’d have nothing to say, but everyone was boozing and chatting and I felt super comfortable. Although I’m aware they hire a very small percentage of interns, I’m trying hard to focus on how much I will learn this summer regardless of whether or not I get the offer.

Here’s to a crazy couple of weeks!

Interview Guide Part III: During the Interview

For the rest of the series:
Series Introduction
Part 1: The Resume and Cover Letter
Part II: Before the Interview
Part IV: After the Interview
Note that this interview guide is not comprehensive, it’s just some tips and tricks to help you land that job! 

You’ve applied, been accepted to interview, and prepped your buns off – time to win over that interviewer! As I’ve mentioned in the past, there are many styles of interviews, but most of these tips are applicable across types. 

1) Be excited

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If you look this excited, you miiiiight not seem genuine.

Interviewers ask the same question hundreds of times, and hear the same answers hundreds of times. Differentiate yourself not only through those answers you’ve rehearsed, but also through tone, intonation, facial expressions, and body language. When you tell stories about previous work experience, instead of starting with, “I used to work at…” Try starting with, “I had the most amazing opportunity at…” It’s also important your body language and intonation support what you’re saying.

I’ve been helping some students at my b-school who are from Asia practice their interview skills, and they are shocked at the amount of energy I put into an interview answer. But this energy translates into excitement about the company and the job position, and it helps you to stand out from all the other interviewees.

2) Mirror the interviewer

This is simple – if the interviewer is sitting up straight, on the edge of his/her chair, you should do the same. If the interviewer is leaning back and speaking conversationally, you should do the same. The interviewer wants to see that you will be a good cultural fit, and if you are acting uptight and professional when the company culture is laid back and casual, it will seem like you won’t blend as well with the company vibe.

3) Get the interviewer (slightly) off topic

Tread carefully here. If you aren’t comfortable interviewing in English, then wait with this tip. But if you are a seasoned, interviewing veteran, this is a fun way to connect with the interviewer. I’m not suggesting you initiate a conversation about your favorite TV show, but if you hear the interviewer mention something like kids, golfing, pets, passions at work, or hobbies in general, it’s easy and fun to inquire.

I’ve had some great successes in this realm, with topics relating to women in the workplace, finding creative outlets for children, uses for the company’s products, and my favorite: the company’s office layout. When I realized the interviewer kept mentioning the remodel of the company’s office, I probed a bit and he ended up taking the resume of the person who interviewed before me, and drawing me a diagram on the back.

4) Be conversational

People love to talk about themselves and their jobs. Once you get the person going, keep him/her talking with questions directly tied to what he/she is talking about. Then act like the interviewer is the most interesting thing since sliced bread. When you ask follow-up questions and give enthusiastic “really”s and “wow”s, it helps your interviewer feel a connection with you.

5) Be yourself

This might seem at odds with the other tips I have give, but while I believe all of those tips have value, you’d be wasting your time acting laid back, or super professional, or excited, if you truly aren’t (although hopefully you aren’t applying to jobs/companies you aren’t excited about!). If you think the interviewer is completely dull and you realize you don’t want to work at that company, don’t come across as fake by saying too many “wow”s. So perhaps the best bit of advice that I can give is to be as natural as possible and to weave enthusiasm into your interview as best you can. Don’t put on an act that you can’t keep up on the job!

I am aware that there are many tips and techniques for landing an interview – some interviewees focus more on technical skills while some focus more on personality. These tips will not work in isolation!

What other “during the interview” tips do you guys have? Any questions?

First Supported Wheel (+Donuts)

After my Monday mishap at hot yoga, I decided to take it down a notch and attend a Hatha basics class. The teacher did an excellent job of explaining how to do basic postures, and why they should be done the way they are. I enjoyed breaking down the specifics of lunges and plow – asanas I typically breeze through without really relishing.

The best thing about this instructor is that she offered to help people get into wheel pose! My experience with this asana in class is that teachers always instruct “wheel” or “bridge” but don’t offer help transitioning between the two. It’s also not a pose I wanted to attempt for the first time on my own, seeing as how a failed attempt could equal a floor-meet-neck disaster.

This is one of those asanas I’ve been lusting after since day one. Even as a kid in dance class I couldn’t do this pose with any grace. So for the last three months I have been diligently bridge-ing, bow-ing, and camel-ing deeper and deeper.

When the teacher came over to help, she stood behind me and I grabbed her ankles. Once I pulled myself up, she helped me adjust into the appropriate positioning. I’m pretty excited about this progress, and I’m looking forward to being able to do this asana on my own! I’m definitely planning on going back to this class next week to try once again.

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Starting with the huge one: Raspberry Cheesecake, Lemon Poppyseed, Maple Bacon, Yellow Butter Cake, then the (mostly eaten) Carrot Cake!

I also wanted to post a picture of some yummy donuts I tried this weekend (and shout out one of my favorite blogs: Yoga and Doughnuts). I’m a frequent donut eater, but the places around me carry mostly traditional donuts (I always get glazed blueberry cake and chocolate frosted old fashioned. Mmmmmm). I recently stepped out of my comfort zone and visited a new-fangled, fancy shop and got to try out these bad boys. That poor carrot cake donut was mostly eaten before I got my phone out to snap a picture!

That Time I Had To Leave Hot Yoga

Horror of all horrors – today I started to feel sick in my power vinyasa hot yoga class. I discovered this class a few weeks ago and was immediately hooked. I love the challenge of power vinyasa, and it’s only offered in the heated room at this studio. Thus, I attended a heated class (even though I have no preference regarding the heat of a studio).

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I felt like this.

I am aware that the level of the class is slightly higher than my ability (we’re talking lots of inversions and arm balances and a whole world I am not ready to dabble in). However, the teacher offers good modifications, and in the basics class all we ever did was cat-cow, down dog, and forward fold. I was absolutely itching to learn more!

Frankly, I’m not quite sure why I started to feel so horrible. All I can think of is that I left my water bottle at home today, so while at school I only had water when I could make it to the water fountain.

Am I embarrassed? Sure. But it would’ve been more embarrassing if I passed out. I am no stranger to passing out, and once I felt dizzy, a bit nauseous, and saw a few spots, I grabbed my mat and headed to the water fountain.

Will I go back to that class? Yep. One bad day doesn’t mean it’s always going to be bad. I might take it easy for a couple days and attend the basics class.

My question is, where are all the classes for mid-level yogis? It’s either basic or heated power vinyasa. It would be cool to see more classes geared toward those with a grasp of the basics but not yet standing on their heads.

Anyone had a similar experience? The class I was taking doesn’t heat above 90 degrees. I couldn’t imagine a 100-degree class.

Interview Guide Part II: Before the Interview

For the rest of the series:
Series Introduction
Part 1: The Resume and Cover Letter
Part III: During the Interview
Part IV: After the Interview
Note that this interview guide is not comprehensive, it’s just some tips and tricks to help you land that job! 

Once your cover letter and resume have gotten you in the door, there is still much work to be done before you meet with the company. My recommendations are as follows:

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  • Find someone who has interviewed with this company before. This is typically pretty easy through your MBA network. Career centers often have lists of who works where, second years are a good resource to reach out to, and there are always alums on LinkedIn. This is important because it helps you to determine the type of interview you are going into. Preparing for a behavioral interview is very different than preparing for a case interview. Typically the person who interviewed with the company previously can give you insights on exactly what kind of questions the interviewer will ask. Super handy-dandy.
  • Find out who will be interviewing you. This is actually pretty simple to do. Sometimes your school might know who it will be, or the person who interviewed previously might have an idea. Otherwise, send a short and sweet e-mail to whoever told you that you scored the interview. This is extraordinarily valuable because you can hop on LinkedIn and add the interviewers or at least get an understanding of who they are. If it’s an HR specialist you will get mostly generic/non job-specific questions. If it’s a manager in the department you are going for, you could get some specific functional questions. This will help when you begin to practice interview questions. When I was interviewing for my CPG internship, I knew exactly what brands the interviewer worked on, so I made sure to gear much of the conversation around those.
  • Practice interview basics on your own. Once you are sure of the type of interview, it’s time to start practicing your answers to the questions. You can find some prep basics for the STAR method here. You should also practice “walking through your resume” (giving a brief history of your education/work experience), explaining your strengths/weaknesses, explaining why you want to go into this specific job function, and why you want to work for this company.
  • Find someone to mock interview you. Once you have your answers prepped for the types of questions you will receive, find someone to practice with. I recommend first going to your career center for a mock interview (these often need to be booked at least a week in advance, so don’t wait until the last minute). Then reach out to family, friends, other MBA students, anyone who might have advice to offer. I know it can be super awkward practicing with people you know, but they will probably give you the most honest feedback.
  • Supplement your research on the company and come up with killer questions. You should’ve done your research when you wrote the cover letter, but refresh your knowledge the day before the interview. You can see if any news stories popped up, and you can begin to write your questions for the interviewer. The most important thing is that you are specific.
    1. Don’t ask, “What will I do every day?” But instead ask, “In this role how much would I interact with X department?”
    2. Don’t ask, “Will I work more than 40 hours a week?” But instead ask, “I saw in your annual report that work-life balance is important to your company. What programs do you have to support this?”
    3. Don’t ask, “What do you do?” But instead ask, “I saw on LinkedIn that you work in a global role now although you started in a regional role. How did you make that transition?”
    4. And never ask about money. That’s not important until you have the job.
  • Finally, relax, because you did all of the prepping that you needed to do!

 Let me know if you have any questions!

What other tips and tricks do you utilize?

If you could recommend one more pre-interview preparation, what would it be?