The Good Stuff

Staying Present

Sometime last year, my best friend Megan told me about a daily inspirational text service called “Shine Text” that she subscribed to for free. Essentially everyday at whatever time you designate, you get a text with a short motivational message that focuses on one of the focus-areas that you indicated you were interested in when you signed up. It also usually includes a fun image/meme and links to articles and videos that further discuss the topic and provide action steps and advice.

Is it sort of cheesy? Definitely. But I do believe in the power of positive thinking, and with so many negative distractions that most of us have to overcome or try to ignore from day to day, trying to make a habit of reading my Shine Text each day is a goal that really has improved my attitude and mood.

Last month I received the image above and this message below, that has REALLY stuck with me lately:

“Our minds are expert time-travelers; bypassing the present to harp on the past or future 47% of the time… We get so caught up in the shams and delusions of the mind that we miss reality – what is happening now and here.”

The concept on focusing on what’s right in front of us and not dwelling on the past or anticipating what is to come too much, is not new. But lately it is something that I have struggled with a bit, so this Shine Text was perfectly timed.

I’ve always struggled with having too-specific expectations for things to come, and then have to deal with being very disappointed when it doesn’t turn out the way I thought it would. So regardless if the present is still good and positive, I sometimes miss out on appreciating those moments because I am stuck being upset about how it didn’t turn out instead. Another thing is that often, while I am counting down to something that I am looking forward too, I will measure the time based on all of the things both at home and work that have to be done in the meantime. This affects my attitude toward my “present” and belittles other day-to-day moments that deserve their own spotlight. Not that its bad to be excited for something in the future, but this is definitely different then setting a goal or even daydreaming about what we hope for.

I think these are easy patterns to fall into that are sometimes harder to identify. The Shine Text also shared this article, “3 Simple Steps to Stop Mental Time Traveling,” which didn’t necessarily present any groundbreaking advice, but instead broke down the challenge in a practical way that is a great reminder for how to approach each day.

I am a very observant and intuitive person. I know that those are two of my strengths, so I know that I am at my best when I shift my attention to the present moment, whatever that might be.

Being present makes me better appreciate what I have, rather than dwell on what I think I might want. It encourages me to get to the gym and say yes to spontaneous girl’s day trips. It helps me be more intentional with my conversations and commitments, and how I invest in “my people.” It makes me less anxious about what is ahead and better able to go with the flow. And it makes me notice the little moments like a stranger letting me use the last washer in the community laundry room, a new favorite jam or a flirty wink from my boyfriend.

Being present is better.

How do you focus on being more present?

And because this was a more word heavy post, here’s a jam that I have had on repeat lately. This is the slower version, but the upbeat version is great too!

Cheers!

 

Family, love letter

Love Letter: Ellie

To our beautiful “lead-butt”, attention craving, fetch loving sweetheart and the best dog-cousin a girl could have.

Ellie girl, I would argue with anyone that you were the sweetest, most gentle and loyal dog that I ever met and am likely to ever meet.

You were a true “family” dog because for so much of your life it was hard to say exactly whose dog you actually were. And that’s OK. You had more than enough love in you to share with everyone.

Thanks for the cuddles and making us laugh because of your need to be impossibly close to someone at all times. I am glad that you aren’t suffering anymore, but your boy Jack and the rest of us are going to miss you a whole lot.


Ellie on the left and Jack on the right.

The Road I Traveled Series

The Road I Traveled: Meet Rachel

“Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

This series highlights young professionals and their stories, because no matter our path we all have a little to share and a lot to learn. Read and learn from past feature posts HERE.

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I think there is quote that says something about people being in our lives for “a reason, a season or a lifetime,” and I really believe that is true. I have now lived on the West Coast, in the Midwest and now on the East Coast, And between college and my short career, I’ve already had quite a few great experiences. But the most significant part of all of that to me is the different people I have crossed paths with. I think it is really powerful to think about how people flow in and out of our lives, sometimes because of an intentional decision, or something that is entirely out of our hands, and other times because of something simple and fleeting.

I’d like you to meet Rachel. I first met Rachel at some point in college, though to be honest, I really couldn’t tell you when. Rachel is childhood best friends with my college best friend, Megan, which is my complicated way of saying that we now share a lifelong best friend. Megan has always told me that Rachel and I are alike in many ways, and knowing a bit about her over the years, I’ve always had a lot of respect for her. Rachel is very creative, independent and has a kind, old soul. She recently has picked back up on blogging, and focuses on making everything in her life intentional – her conversations and relationships, how she treats herself and how she invests her time. Because of our mutual friend, I have been able to follow a bit of Rachel’s post grad journey and as I started this series, I knew Rachel would be someone that whose story I wanted to share.

-Amanda

the road i traveled RACHEL

Basics

Name: Rachel Williams
Age: 25
Hometown: Wichita, KS
College: Newman University, University of Denver
Degree(s): Bachelor of Arts in Communication, working on a Masters of Professional Studies in Organizational and Professional Communication
Current Location: Wichita, KS
Current Job: Communications Specialist at Spirit AeroSystems
Blog: Postcards by Rachel

College

How did you choose your college and your major?
Who remembers the great recession of 2008? I was lucky enough to turn 18 and pick my college right when the economy crashed. Newman University offered me a fantastic scholarship. I thought I wanted to go to KU, but it was cheaper for me to stay in Wichita and go to Newman. It turned out well and I ended up loving the experience (and meeting my husband!). I left undergrad with zero loans because of my decision to go to the less expensive school. I can’t say the same about grad school…

I started as a business major and changed to communications because the classes sounded a lot more fun. (And they were).

What were you involved with outside of class? Organizations? Internships?
The nice thing about attending a small school is I was able to get involved in almost everything. I played collegiate golf, sang in the honors choir for four years, tried being an RA, and studied abroad twice, once to Guatemala and then to Europe. I interned at United Way of the Plains and worked at The White Dress, a bridal shop.

graduation
Celebrating graduation with my husband Raymond.

What were your biggest challenges or obstacles in college? Anything you would change?
My dad died from cancer five weeks before graduation. It was crushing. Besides the overwhelming pain of losing him, in my grief, I lost touch with close college friends. Looking back, I wish we all had known how to communicate better. All I could see at the time was pain and grief. If I’d been able to tell them how I felt – overwhelmed, crushed, depressed and hurt – I think we would still be friends. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. People change and people drift apart.

What one piece of advice would you give a student during their senior year?
Be open to new ideas, people and experiences. Don’t take anything personally. Take an extra year and study abroad.

Post Grad

Tell us about your career so far?
Mid-senior year I started a job at the Museum of World Treasures in Wichita, KS. The Museum houses amazing exhibits – dinosaurs, mummies, military items and more – and I had the chance to work in a nonprofit while developing professional skills. I met amazing coworkers and still see them for drinks or dinner all the time. My boss was incredibly supportive when my dad died, when I got married, when I decided to enroll in grad school and when I ultimately left the organization. I worked in marketing and development there for almost three years before I started at Spirit AeroSystems. Spirit is the largest employer in Wichita; we design and build aerostructures for both commercial and defense programs. Working in Corporate Communications, I communicate with Spirit’s nearly 16k global employees daily. I work on both internal and external communication efforts for the company. It’s an amazing opportunity and I love my job.

Spirit
I love working in communications! You never know what fun opportunities might come up

How have your experiences and involvement in college set you up for success in your career and life post grad?
I worked with amazing professors who cared about me and knew my name. Some focused on professional skills, others on better understanding the world and people. Newman University employs some of the best professors I’ve ever met.

On the flip side, what are the biggest challenges or differences you’ve experienced post grad that you didn’t expect or didn’t feel prepared for?
Office politics.

What apps, technology and resources do you use regularly to stay organized and do your job?
Podio, Evernote, my iphone and my Macbook! Podio is an awesome project management app (best on desktop). I put everything into Evernote – work, grad school, and volunteer notes – so I can find everything in one place. Pro tip: organize by tags instead of Notebooks.

At this stage, what are a few of your strengths and weaknesses?
I worked really hard in the last year to be more intentional in my conversations, meetings and calendar. I have a weakness for wine and chocolate… and spending too much money traveling.

How do you stay motivated when work gets really busy or difficult?
Self-care. If I’m feeling overwhelmed instead of challenged, it usually means I’m not taking care of myself. For me, that can mean anything from a five-minute break to call my husband, taking a Saturday off to stay home, meeting up with my book club tribe, working out or making a cup of tea.

SanFran
Here’s a photo from Alcatraz on our latest trip to San Francisco in December

Work-life balance? How do you stay afloat and refreshed?
In the past year, I’ve realized I need to eat real food, get to the gym several times a week, and have quiet time before or after work to decompress and feel balanced.

What in your #PostGradLife are you most proud of so far?
I feel like I changed my life. I made intentional decisions to change my health, mindset and future. My husband and I live on the 24th floor of the tallest apartment building in Wichita. We decided not to sacrifice our urban living dreams to Kansas jobs. Right now, I’m in the middle of my second to third-ish Whole30, a nutritional program that revolutionized how I think about food and what I put in my body. We travel several times a year, I made new amazing friends founded on mutual support and I left my nonprofit job in such an open and honest way that a few months later they asked me to join the Board of Directors.

What does life look like right now? Hobbies and interests? What outside of work are you passionate about?
One class at a time, I’m plugging away at grad school. I’m a #Whole30 graduate and Paleo advocate! I’m a leader for Real Life Book Club, a women’s personal development group. I also curate a blog, Postcards by Rachel, where I document my journey of creating a more meaningful life, one conversation at a time. To round it out, I volunteer on the Museum’s board and I’m chairing the organization’s annual fundraiser committee.

Wedding
#whenyouworkatamuseum… you take wedding photos with a T.rex.

Just for Fun

What is essential to your morning routine to start the day off right?
Breakfast and coffee. On Thursdays, workouts with a personal trainer and Megan, my BFF that guest posts here sometimes. I’ve learned accountability is worth paying for.

Do you have a must-have vice like caffeine or item you can’t live without in your workspace?
Coffee in the morning, hot tea the rest of the day. Does my Macbook count?

If you were to have another career, all limitations aside, what would it be?
A yoga teacher, personal trainer, nutritionist, life coach or travel agent. Oh, was I supposed to pick one?

Moment of truth, what do you really miss about college?
Thanks to study abroad opportunities, my husband and I lived in Europe for four-five months. I think it cost us total about $10,000 (for the both of us). I think my summer in Guatemala cost me about $2,000. That is SO CHEAP. We’ll never be able to travel that cheap again.

Florida
Megan and I on a girl’s trip to Florida last summer (before we both lost 20 pounds – the Whole30 is legit).

*****

Rachel, thank you so much for being so sincere and sharing your story with me. I LOVE reading your blog posts and am inspired by the way you see the world. I am so glad that we both call that crazy girl our best friend and look forward to our paths crossing again in the future.

Cheers!

The Road I Traveled Series

The Road I Traveled: Meet Lauren

“Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

This series highlights young professionals and their stories, because no matter our path we all have a little to share and a lot to learn. Read and learn from past feature posts HERE.

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This week I have been traveling for work in Oregon, which meant that I had the chance for a long weekend at home with my family. This afternoon I met with a group of students at my school, and one of the key things we talked about was the importance of building your network and how it evolves throughout college and into your career.

Lauren, my guest feature today, is a perfect example of that.  Lauren is a part of my AFA network, and while I know that we have “known” each other for while, she’s an example of someone in my outer network (because of AFA)  with whom I’ve more recently connected with directly when our jobs led us to cross paths again at a conference last summer. Lauren is a fellow ag comm grad, and like me, moved to an entirely new place for her job. Lauren is incredibly kind, has a heart for agriculture and people, and she is tackling the ups and downs of what I call “the crazy post-grad life” head on. I am excited to share Lauren’s story with you. It’s refreshing and sincere, and she has some great advice!

-Amanda 

Lauren summary picture


Basics

Name: Lauren Prettyman
Age: 23
Hometown: Marion, Ohio
College: The Ohio State University
Degree(s): Agriculture Communication
Current Location: Columbia, South Carolina
Current Job: Media Specialist for South Carolina Farm Bureau

Background Story:
I often tell people I had the best of both worlds growing up – living in the city close to my school friends, yet being able to escape to the farm whenever I wanted. My parents divorced when I was too young to remember; I lived with my mom in Marion, Ohio, a city of about 35,000 just north of Columbus, and visited my dad often, who lives on a beautiful farm right outside of Marion.

I have three younger siblings, and growing up with them was nothing less than crazy at all times. Tyler (21) is in his fourth year at Ohio State to become a small animal vet tech – I know he’ll be great at this because he is totally a dog whisperer. Wesley (15) is already a hundred times more motivated than I was in high school, and will someday reach the prestigious goal of ‘dotting the i’ for the OSU marching band (The Best Damn Band In The Land). Halle (14) has all the athletic ability that the older three of us didn’t get – she’ll be famous one day.

As it was for many farm kids, my love for agriculture grew from helping my dad on the farm. I started 4-H as soon as I was old enough. My two favorite weeks of the year were county fair week and 4-H camp week. In typical ag kid fashion, I joined FFA in high school, continuing the projects I had started through 4-H. I was the Star Greenhand freshman year, spent two years as the chapter treasurer, served as the chapter vice president my senior year and received my American Degree two years later. I was hooked on FFA and, inspired by my advisor, I set off to college to become an ag teacher.

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Hiking with my family in Asheville, NC this past Thanksgiiving

College

How did you choose your college and your major?
When I initially started my college search, I looked for schools everywhere other than Ohio. Knowing I wanted to pursue a career in agriculture, I studied the list of the country’s top ag schools before making any decisions. I visited Purdue, Penn State and a few others, but none of them seemed to fit what I was looking for. At a loss for other options, I applied to OSU and was accepted.

I started as a freshman majoring in ag education, but after participating in my Early Field Experience in a classroom setting, I knew ag ed wasn’t for me. Halfway through my junior year at Ohio State I changed my major to ag communication. I excelled in my ag comm classes and knew that was where I needed to be. I minored in production ag, which allowed me to take an entry level class in just about every part of the Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences  – food science, plant science, animal science, soil science, meat science and ag business.

Despite initially not wanting to go to Ohio State, I quickly fell in love with the university – the campus, the people, the traditions. I am so thankful God had greater plans for me than I could have ever imagined, and led me to Ohio State.

IMG_2279
Ohio State football game with my friends and 100,000 other Buckeye fans!

What were you involved with outside of class? Organizations? Internships?
I started freshman year in a scholars program – Mount Leadership Society – which focused on scholarship, leadership and service. I quickly learned that MLS was not for me, but because of my involvement in that program, I was able to connect with the other CFAES students, and meet my best friend, whom I attribute much of my college involvement to.

It wasn’t until my sophomore year, that I truly grasped college for what it had to offer. I became involved in anything and everything I could possibly fit into my schedule – Ag Ed Society, Ag Communicators of Tomorrow, Meat Science Club, Ag Business Club, CFAES Student Council, among other things. I was accepted into Alpha Zeta Partners, an OSU ag honorary, which allowed me to travel to Brazil for a semester. I caught the travel bug and also traveled to Chile, Ireland and Costa Rica through CFAES programs.

One organization I became involved outside of Ohio State was Ag Future of America. This organization was the true catalyst for my desire to become an ag leader. The AFA Leaders Conference connected me with students from around the country who were passionate about making a positive difference in the ag industry, and also allowed me to meet industry professionals, presidents and CEOs who were passionate about educating us to be the future leaders of agriculture.

What were your biggest challenges or obstacles in college? Anything you would change?
Motivation was something I struggled with freshman year. I didn’t have the desire to become involved, I wasn’t worried about my grades and I skipped a lot of 8 a.m. classes. Thankfully I snapped out of that, got my grades up and became uber involved. But once I took all of that on, the time management struggle was real. I had to learn how to balance my classes, a million organizations, two jobs, my social life, oh, and sleep at some point. Not entirely sure how I did it, but I must have learned something because I came out on top with good grades and lifelong friendships. Shout out to my parents and friends who supported me and kept me sane!

Do you have any regrets in college, or anything you would change if you had the chance?
I am so grateful for all of my experiences during my four years at Ohio State – good and bad. I am a firm believer in the cliché saying ‘everything happens for a reason’ and because of that, I try not to regret any decisions I have made. However, if I could change anything about my experience, I would have gotten more involved sooner. College is about new experiences and personal growth, and often we do not realize this until we’re already halfway through the journey. And internships – I would do so many more internships!

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The farm I stayed at during my homestay in Costa Rica.

Post Grad

Tell us about your career so far.
My current position at South Carolina Farm Bureau is new to the organization, making me the first media specialist they’ve ever had! My job description includes responsibilities like writing news releases and creating social media content, but because I’m in a brand new position, I’ve been really fortunate to sort of make it what I want and what the organization needs. I write a lot – news releases, newsletters, magazine articles, government relations content, you name it. One of my favorite aspects of my job is that I get to travel around the state visiting farmers, hearing their stories, using that for content.

I had no idea the steep learning curve I’d face when I started. I was introduced to crops I’d never even seen in a field before – peanuts, cotton and tobacco. I didn’t know what they looked like, how they were grown or how they were harvested. I didn’t even know peanuts grew underground! But I so loved learning about these crops. And parts of South Carolina have a growing season of nearly 300 days, which allows producers to grow fresh produce almost year-round. I have grown proud to be part of this amazingly diverse industry in South Carolina, and I love that my job allows me to tell the story of South Carolina’s farmers.

How have your experiences and involvement in college set you up for success in your career and life post grad?
Each of the clubs and organizations I was involved in have impacted my professional life in unique ways. The hard skills like time management and budgeting have definitely been helpful in post-grad life, but the soft skills were really invaluable. Communication, teamwork, adaptability, problem solving – these things are used in the workplace and in life every single day! My study abroad trips had an exceptionally large impact on my soft skills and who I am today, too.

Throughout college you meet so many people in classes, organizations and conferences. This is the basis for your network. All of my involvement created a large network of peers and mentors all around the country. I think that has had the largest impact on my life post-college. No matter where I am, I always know someone. But networking doesn’t stop after college – we have to be intentional about expanding our networks and staying in touch with people we’ve met.

On the flip side, what are the biggest challenges or differences you’ve experienced post grad that you didn’t expect or didn’t feel prepared for?

Moving out of state to a new city where I knew no one. This was one of the best but most difficult decisions I’ve ever made; it was so much harder than I imagined. I thought that after interning in Kansas City for a summer and having a blast, moving to Columbia and making friends would be a breeze. I was wrong. It was difficult, but SO worth it. I have grown so much as a person since my move. I learned a lot about myself and was put way outside my comfort zone to get out and try new things and meet new people. I joined a kickball league (my team won the league), discovered I actually like to run (three 5k’s in 2015) and I’ve expanded my taste for seafood!

Feeling lost. I think Kayla talked about this in her post. When you graduate college and land a job, you expect everything to be awesome. You graduated college – what could be harder than that? Life, y’all. For me, working world is basically a 180 from college world. But the encouraging thing is we all face many of the same challenges. I get in my own world and think no one else understands what I’m going through, but when I actually talk to my friends about it, they’re all experiencing similar ups and downs with their jobs. Don’t get discouraged!

Lessons learned: budgeting is scary, home improvement is hard, termites are evil, a good glass of wine can cure just about anything.

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Kickball team photo after winning our league.

At this stage, what are a few of your strengths and weaknesses?
I am a strong writer, a problem-solver and an excellent listener. I also have a huge imagination which leads me to be curious and adventurous in just about every aspect of my life. I love to try new things. My weaknesses include long-term planning, focusing on tasks, dark chocolate and wine (hehe). If you really want to know my personality type, I’m an ISFP to the core!! (http://www.16personalities.com/isfp-personality)

And apparently I’m a perfectionist (it took me three days and about a hundred drafts to craft my perfect answers for this questionnaire).

How do you stay motivated when work gets really busy or difficult?

My faith, family and friends keep me motivated and on track every day. I am truly blessed to be surrounded by amazing peers, friends and family who inspire me to be my best. When I’m feeling unmotivated or too far from home, it’s the long phone conversations with my parents or close friends that encourage me to keep moving forward.

Work-life balance? How do you stay afloat and refreshed?

I had the option of getting rid of my personal phone and switching over to my work phone when I was hired. I didn’t do that. Initially because I didn’t want to sell my soul to Farm Bureau, but it has actually worked out great for many reasons. When I leave the office I don’t have to be constantly seeing my work emails pop up. I can periodically check my work phone to make sure nothing urgent has come up, but otherwise work is ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ Be intentional about keeping personal life and work life separate. I try not to take my work home with me or let my personal life influence my work.

What in your #PostGradLife are you most proud of so far?

I planned a U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance Food Dialogue this past November. Initially, the project was not fully mine, but because of happenings around the office, I had to take over planning. It was my first solo project. To plan out every little detail, pray people show up, and then see the event succeed was enormously rewarding.

What does life look like right now? Hobbies and interests? What outside of work are you passionate about?

My free-time is spent traveling, hiking, running, playing kickball, exploring Columbia, and staying involved at church.

My relationship with God has grown a lot since moving to Columbia. I found a church I love, was baptized and have recently started a bible study group for young professional women in the area.

My love of hiking has also grown. South Carolinians are big on the outdoors. I’ve always loved hiking, but thanks to South Carolina’s basically year-round beautiful weather and close proximity to tons of parks and trails, I hike a lot more than I ever have. It’s awesome because I’m spending time doing something I love and I’m getting a good workout at the same time!

Just for Fun

What is essential to your morning routine to start the day off right?

I always check the weather before leaving the house – wouldn’t want to get caught in the rain without an umbrella. And I love to listen to K-Love on my drive to work – it starts my day off on the right foot.

Do you have a must-have vice like caffeine or item you can’t live without in your workspace?

Green tea! It has the perfect amount of caffeine to wake me up but keep me focused. And music. I’m addicted to Spotify.

If you were to have another career, all limitations aside, what would it be?

Something that would allow me to travel a lot. Travel blogger/writer, or if I work on my photography skills, a travel photographer.

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Visiting McWay Waterfall in Big Sur, California with my best friend Mara.

Moment of truth, what do you really miss about college?

My friends! A lot of us who graduated together have moved out of state. I miss being a short walk from all of my friends.

The beauty of campus. There’s nothing better than the start of a new season on The Oval – the first snowfall, all the flowers blooming in the spring and the leaves changing in the fall. South Carolina hardly has seasons.

And football, of course. Oh how I miss being surrounded by thousands of Ohio State fans every Saturday during the fall. Living in SEC country is rough, y’all.

*****

Lauren, thank you so much for participating and being so genuine in sharing your story. I enjoyed getting to know you a bit better and am even more thankful now that our paths have crossed again!

Cheers!

The Road I Traveled Series

The Road I Traveled: Meet Chandra

“Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

This series highlights young professionals and their stories, because no matter our path we all have a little to share and a lot to learn. Read and learn from past feature posts HERE.

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When I originally asked Chandra to be featured, she hesitated, worrying that she didn’t have something fabulous to share. I am so glad that she did though because her story of struggles and hard work finally starting to pay off are the type I want to share. This is a crazy time in our lives and a lot is left to chance and the unknown. I just hope that other young professionals read her story and feel encouraged.

But let’s not jump the gun. This is Chandra. We went to high school together and were friends through FFA. And really, if we are being honest, “friends” was probably a conditional term because we spent most of our time competing against each other, unless we were on the same team, and even then we were probably still trying to best each other. Looking back though, I do have some really fun FFA memories with her and it makes me laugh because I really think that much about our personalities were really similar. Chandra was smart,  creative, witty and very passionate about her interests, and as she’ll tell you below, always had a good sense of who she was. There is not a doubt in my mind that those qualities have evolved and made her into a strong young professional. I have been following Chandra’s story through Facebook over the years and admire the risks she’s taken and the determination she’s had toward pursuing her dream.

– Amanda

Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of The RoadI Traveled-

Basics
Name:
Chandra Magnuson
Age: 23
Hometown: Hermiston, Oregon
College: Oregon State University
Degree(s): Bachelors of Science, Merchandise Management
Current Location: Brooklyn, New York
Current Job: OMEN PR, Showroom Manager

Background Story: I was born and raised in Hermiston, OR which speaks volumes for itself. I’m the oldest of two with my sister Morgan being 4 years younger than me. From a young age my parents instilled a certain sense of “self” into me and a competitive spirit. My father especially always pushed me to go the extra mile no matter what I was doing. I remember he would make me listen to the “Patton Speech,” before big events, so that gives you a glimpse of how much I hated letting people down. I was always very busy growing up which is something I miss now! From about 7 years old I played soccer, danced, showed horses, held a basketball and baseball bat on occasion and leapt into the 4-H program headfirst once I was old enough. I always felt a little out of place in high school, while I had friends in many different “cliques” I never exactly fit in with just one so I often felt out of place. I immersed myself in sports and school activities. I took soccer very seriously and was offended by people on my team who didn’t take it as seriously as I did. I tried to be an over achiever in FFA participating in just about every public speaking event, showing horses, pigs, steers and sheep. I developed a deep passion for public speaking once entering 4-H and I was further groomed in public speaking when I got into FFA and I served as the student council Activities Coordinator for two years. In high school I never would’ve guessed that my love of planning events and speaking would come full circle and I would later find myself working in fashion public relations in New York City.

College

How did you choose your college and your major?
While I applied to other colleges based off of how prestigious their horseback riding programs were I think there was never a doubt that I wouldn’t be going to Oregon State. I entered my freshman year as a General Agriculture major thinking I would graduate in 5 years ready to be an Ag teacher somewhere in Oregon. Little did I know halfway into my freshman year I would fall into a deep depression that left me feeling lethargic and wondering what I was doing with my life. While I loved the agriculture programs and opportunities I grew up with I knew I needed a change. I met a friend in a writing class that winter that introduced me to Oregon State’s School of Design and Human Environment that along with an apparel design program also had a Merchandise Management program. I had always had a love of fashion, running a small blog not worth mentioning, a love of vintage clothing and its history and in interest in the “behind the scenes” of the industry, so I felt very at home with my major switch.

Standing in front of the old Conde Nast location before it went to 1 World Trade.

What were you involved with outside of class? Organizations?
There aren’t nearly as many opportunities in the Merchandising program as there are in the apparel program at Oregon State. So during summer term my sophomore year in a Styling class we took matters into our own hands. Our teacher had our small class of 8 create Oregon State’s first Fashion and Lifestyle Publication, DAMchic, a project we are still very proud of today. I served briefly as the first Fashion Director than as the Women’s Fashion Editor and finally the Business Director. One of the biggest takeaways personally from the class were the industry tours we did that summer in Portland. After visiting a small production/event planning house in Portland coupled with the fact that I had recently started watching Kell on Earth from Bravo (I have since met and worked for Kelly Cutrone and I absolutely don’t recommend it. If you are wondering if she is as mean in person as she is on America’s Next Top Model, the answer is yes) I was hooked on the idea of working Public Relations and going to Fashion Week in New York.

What internships were you involved in?
It can be very, very hard getting an internship in New York when you live in Oregon. My school had a decent internship program that would assist you in finding an internship, but, for the most part it was up to you. I applied to probably 50+ internships the fall before the summer of 2013. I finally got hired by Marc Fisher Footwear as a public relations/marketing intern. While I was in New York I figured I would probably never get another opportunity to come back to New York and I was determined to get to experience fashion week. So I scoured the internet and a website called Freefashioninternships.com until I came across an internship that would take me. I spent the month following fashion week working with the PR team at Yigal Azrouel on his Spring 2014 show. It was a really amazing experience and both of my first internships hold a very special place in my heart. When I moved back to New York in September of 2014 I took an internship at BPCM, which is a very large agency and a lot faster paced than what I was use to at my prior internships.

One of my DAMchic Shoots I styled and directed.

What were your biggest challenges or obstacles in college?
I truly feel like my biggest challenge was finding a place where I fit in. College can be scary at first and I witnessed a lot of my friends fall victim to the same things I experienced at first. You may be depressed because you’re away from home for the first time, you have to make new friends – or maybe you’re growing apart from the friends you went to college with from your hometown. You start questioning if the major you choose is really what you want to do for the rest of your life and you wonder what it would be like to do a complete 180 with your life. One I found a core group of friends who I could depend on, found an organization I could get passionate about and actually be able to envision what my future could be like, I felt a lot more comfortable and ultimately happier.

Do you have any regrets in college, or anything you would change if you had the chance?
If I could do it all over again I would’ve joined more clubs. Maybe club soccer or speech and debate. Anything that I could’ve done to make myself a bit more diverse, I’ve found not all interviewers after college care about what you did in college but, there are those few that actually want to hear about the things that get you excited and what you’re passionate about.

Post Grad

How have your experiences and involvement in college impacted your career and life post grad?
My styling class directly affected my career choices. While in high school I did not even know what public relations was! I’m pretty sure my parents and friends still don’t understand what I do and what I want to achieve. Internships in the fashion industry are an absolute must and if I hadn’t had them I would’ve probably of even been invited in for an interview.

What are the biggest challenges or differences you’ve experienced moving from college to post grad that you didn’t expect or didn’t feel prepared for?
I wasn’t prepared to spend so long unemployed. Despite having the degree, despite having the internships, despite being what I would consider an easily adaptable-get a long with nearly everyone type, it took me a solid year to finally find a full-time position. I thought I found my “home” a couple times in jobs only to find that opportunities aren’t always what they seem. I would estimate that I’ve probably worked 10+ jobs over the past year. I temped in administration/special events for companies such as One Kings Lane, Calvin Klein, One Jeanswear Group and Dior. I held freelance fashion positions with Lanvin, was a Public Relations assistant at People’s Revolution, and was the Internal Events Planner and Receptionist at Rent The Runway. After my department was let go at Rent The Runway all I wanted to do was come home. I live with my boyfriend and at that point I was begging him to move back with me. I was ready to throw in the towel, New York clearly was not loving me and I wasn’t loving her anymore. Thankfully after my department got let go at this point I have some pretty good relationships with a handful of recruiters and I was able to get immediately placed into jobs. I spent a couple months at Ideel working logistics before we were told the company was going under. JUST MY LUCK.

Fashionable feet in New york_

However, a silver lining came with this. While at Ideel I had been applying to jobs like crazy and had two very good opportunities to choose between. I could go to Krupp Group as an Executive Assistant or I could go to OMEN PR as a Showroom Manager – a position that isn’t entirely glamorous or well-paid but would allow for me to be in an environment where I would at least be immersed in PR and be apart of the day-to-day functions of a fashion showroom. So I took the position at OMEN PR and I am hoping to be here for quite awhile.

What apps, technology and resources do you use regularly to stay organized and do your job?
Is coffee an app? Cause it keeps me in the right mindset to stay organized! Google Docs is my life, this questionnaire is the first time I have opened up Microsoft Word in a long time! We use a website called Apprello to track our samples in and out of the showroom, find out which magazine or stylists has what and when it is coming back to us. I use Instagram and Twitter a lot to make lists of influencers, track press hits and just stay up to date on what is going on. I like to start my day looking at Refinery29.com, Fashionista.com, Fashionweekdaily.com, and of course Vogue.com.

How do you stay motivated?
I have no family in New York, which has been very hard on me. My boyfriend and I got our first place together this October and he is pretty much my rock. He fully supports my dreams and ambitions and I don’t know what I would do without him and the family I have back home in Oregon. I have been so close to throwing in the towel a handful of times but, I pull motivation the most from my competitive past. Also, my boyfriend got us a kitten in June. Having a fur child around has helped me to stay positive enormously. His name is Jon Snow and despite popular belief he actually knows quite a bit. All in all, I’m not ready to give up just yet.

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Jon Snow.

*****

Chandra, thank you so much for being a guest on this series and taking the time to participate — especially since I took a holiday blog hiatus and your questionnaire sat in my inbox for two weeks! I wish you all of the best in New York and am excited to see where your career takes you!

As always, thanks for reading friends!

Cheers.

Year in Review

Where It All Begins: 2015, A Year in Review

With the new year approaching, I was struggling to come up with a witty way to review my 2015, like I did at the end of 2014. But then again, that post always makes me laugh, because so much was about to happen and I had NO CLUE. Over the past year, I’ve thought a lot about that new year’s celebrated on San Antonio Riverwalk with my friends during our Alamo Bowl trip. I remember being really happy, and though I had told myself two months before that I wasn’t going to look, but was going to be open to new job opportunities, I really did love my life in Kansas. I had no clue that just nine days later I was going to apply for a job in Washington D.C. and that a very short two months later I was going to start all over and move halfway across the country AGAIN to the place I had dreamed about since I was little.

2015 was full of adventure and taking risks. It was a year where I challenged myself and when I really learned about value. How to work toward better valuing my friends and family, criticism and praise, life and opportunity. Many of my values were strengthened and some I chose to question. And I learned to better value myself. In the book “Let’s All Be Brave” by Annie F. Downs that I have (very) slowly been working through there is a line that says, “–that I am who I am on purpose.” That thought really struck me and I’ve carried it with me ever since (literally, as the picture on my phone’s lock screen.). In the blogging world, a lot of people talk about choosing a “focus” word or phrase for the coming year and at the end of 2014, I thought I would join. My Grammy had given me a token that said “Shine From Within,” and I thought about how that sentiment could mean so many different things. I don’t know if I “focused” on that phrase as much as I said I would, but I do believe that I worked toward being my more authentic self. Of course there are always many more miles to go, and maybe I’ll find new definitions for that phrase, but I can say in full confidence, that I like where I am headed in 2016.

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Let’s not skip past 2015 though, because it’s certainly not a year that I ever want to forget.

In 2015, I took a new job and moved to Washington D.C.

On January 9th I heard about a job opening at U.S. Wheat Associates
On February 9th I accepted a job there as a Communications Specialist
On March 9th I was all moved in and had my first day as a “wheatie.”
And by April 9th, I knew I had found someplace special.
The learning curve is still really steep and I might live by “fake it till you make it” forever, but I honestly love my job. I love my office environment, the work, the farmers I work for and feel so lucky to have so many great co-workers. I love the feeling that I’m doing something that benefits others and in an industry that I believe in with every part of me.

I REALLY miss both Kansas and Oregon, but I am confident that this is where I need to be in my life right now.

In 2015, I explored my new home.

Looking back I don’t really remember much in March and April. I think it was all I could do to go to work and learn as much as I could everyday and curl up on the couch when I got home. But I’ve always dreamed of living here and eventually I began explore. I am fascinated by this place. So much history, so many unique people and there is always a dozen or so fun events going on here. I am continuing to slowly work my way through the tourist attractions (saving some for when I have visitors) and searching out some of the lesser known sights. I love visiting Arlington Cemetery, running on the Mall and saying Hi to Lincoln. I crossed off an item off of my bucket list and watched fireworks on the Mall and enjoyed the cherry blossoms in the spring. Anyone who would like to visit, let me know, I am honing my skills as a tour guide 🙂

In 2015, I had so many opportunities to travel.

My job took me back to Kansas, San Diego, Phoenix, Lake Tahoe and on my first big international trip to Guatemala.
I had the chance for a quick trip home and to the cabin over the summer, celebrated my sister’s 21st birthday in Las Vegas, my 25th birthday back in Kansas and witnessed my friend Blaine’s wedding. I spent Friendsgiving in North Carolina and Christmas at home again with my family.

At one point in the summer I went 8 weeks where I never spent more than 8 days in a row in D.C. This is the life friends. There is a lot of ugly that goes on in the world, but I still refuse to believe that it’s not beautiful.

In 2015, I really valued my time with my family and friends.

My grandparents are the true rockstars of the year. They cut their anniversary trip short to fly to Kansas to help me pack and then made the drive East with me. And I don’t know which was more horrible, the weather on the drive or my attitude. I put all of my stress and worry on them and all they did was love me back. I am still incredibly grateful for the help and support.

Even though I moved to the East coast I still got to spend quality time with people that I love and as I mentioned above, shared many celebrations together. I had a few visitors to my new home, including my best friend Richole from Oregon and my college friend Chelsea, who is now a fellow Virginian at Virginia Tech. And most importantly I am starting to build a life here and making new friends

In 2015, I did things that made me happy.

I became a resident of Virginia and began to embrace my new home.
I began a window garden again, and failed, AGAIN.
I continued to do some DIY projects and finished my very first crochet project.
I discovered the BEST semi-annual book sale at the local library and added so many new books to my own library.
I finally got a professional camera and am enjoying learning how to better use it and sharing those images with others.
I really dove into blogging, sharing my love for music, scrapbooking my life and felt so rewarded and motivated by my new “The Road I Traveled” series. And those are all just SOME of the highlights.

There is a lot that I am hopeful for in 2016.
I hope that I continue to grow, build my self confidence and be someone that I can be proud of.
I hope that I keep learning and become a better communicator and agriculturist. I hope to better serve others, both in my career and everyone who deserves the best from me. I hope to continue to have wanderlust and be brave enough to take risks. And most of all I am always hopeful for health and happiness, for myself and those I love.
There are a lot of things that we can be in this life, but I think just being simply happy, is the best there is.

I have lots of goals and adventures to be had, so 2016, I hope you are ready, because I am not slowing down.

And of course, my list of favorite music this year is long, but these four songs are what motivated me and spoke to my heart this year.

Cheers, and Happy New Years!

The Road I Traveled Series

The Road I Traveled: Meet Kayla

“Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

This series highlights young professionals and their stories, because no matter our path we all have a little to share and a lot to learn. Read the series introduction post HERE.

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I am so excited to introduce you to my first guest feature, Kayla! I met Kayla through our involvement in AFA. I know we started out as freshman in the program together, but I didn’t get to know her until a few years later when we went to a couple of country concerts together with our mutual friend Lance. As we both got involved with AFA leadership, I learned that this girl has simple, steadfast love for agriculture. She’s genuine, very sharp and has a great sense of humor. Part of the reason I chose Kayla for my first feature is because I admire her strength. As she’ll share below, she comes from a family farm and her first job has taken her 2,000 miles away. I also come from a family business and I understand that when your family’s livelihood is such a big part of your everyday life, it makes it even harder to leave those things behind.

When I reached out to Kayla about being featured she shared that the quote above that I partially chose the name of this series from, is actually her favorite quote. I am not one to believe in coincidences and that in itself, encourages me. Kayla’s story is unique, but it is also relatable and I’m hoping like me, there is something in it that either inspires you and just makes you feel a little less alone on the journey of being a young professional. – Amanda

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Basics

Name: Kayla J. Petree
Age: 25
Hometown: Tipton, MO
College: State Fair Community College and University of Missouri
Degree(s): Plant Sciences, Crop Management emphasis (MU) and Associates Degree, Chemistry (SFCC)
Current Location: Chico, CA
Current Job: Production and Supply Development Program Associate, Syngenta

Background Story:

I have your average Midwest farm kid story. I grew up in Tipton, MO, a small town smack dab in the middle of the state on a family farm as the second oldest of five children—Marcus, myself, Laura, Jessica and Angela. Our farming operation includes both crop and cattle. We grow corn, wheat and soybeans on rotation, have hay ground for our own use, and raise Black Angus cow/calf pairs. When I wasn’t helping out on the farm growing up, I was playing every sport I could—mainly softball and basketball—and being very active in CTSOs (Career Technical Student Organizations)—FFA, FBLA and FCCLA. I held many officer positions over the years, showed steers at the county fair, and participated on several contest teams. My favorite contest by far was Parliamentary Procedure because of the impromptu nature of the performance and because our team was First Runner-Up in state my junior year.

Throughout my childhood, the farm was always the main focus. We were all expected to help out, whether it was working ground, helping plant, putting up hay, working cattle, combining the crops and/or dumping trucks. We all helped out with everything. The ‘family’ aspect of our family farm was and still is the most integral part. The farm is where I learned to drive a truck across the pasture sitting on my knees while dad tossed hay to the cows. It’s where dad taught me to drive a stick shift grain truck by telling me to get it to the edge of the corn field. (I killed it a few times, but I made it.) It’s where my siblings and I bucked bales that were about the same size as us and led steers around the corral way after the sun when down. Most importantly it’s the place where my parents instilled in me a hard-working determination, an appreciation of the little things in life, and a love for my family. It’s where my passion for agriculture began and it is the place where I hope to return someday.

No disaster can overtake you, no plague come near your tent; He has given he angels orders about you, to guard you wherever you go. -Psalm 91:10-11

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Playing in the shed at 4 years old. My Dad was a Pioneer sales rep when I was younger and he inspired my interest in the crops and seeds business.
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The family at my sister’s high school May 2015 graduation. Front Row (L to R): Laura, Angela and Jessica. Back Row (L to R): Me, Mom, Dad and Marcus.

College

How did you choose your college and your major?

My senior year of high school, I had my heart set on going to the University of Missouri, majoring in Hotel Restaurant Management, opening a floral shop, and becoming a wedding and event planner. However with the cost of tuition, my parents thought it made more sense for me to attend the local community college and commute from home. (I think my dad secretly also wanted me to hang around a few more years to help him with the farm.) While I wasn’t thrilled about it at the time, I do not regret attending State Fair at all. I left debt free and had some really great advisors and professors. One in particular was my Chemistry teacher. Jack was a really inspiring professor who taught using a hands-on approach, forced me to think critically, and taught me to look beyond just getting the answer correct. This type of learning atmosphere and a combination of continuing to help my dad out on the farm inspired me to change degree paths when I transferred to the University of Missouri to Biochemistry in hopes of pursuing an agriculture research position. However, after a year into the program, it was obvious biochem was not for me. After talking to several advisors, my parents, and peers, I made another switch into Plant Sciences at MU and finally found my home. I’ve always known the agriculture industry is where I wanted to be, but it took a few tries and forward thinking to find what fit me the best.

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My Mizzou Graduation in 2014

What were you involved with outside of class? Organizations? Internships?

While at State Fair, I became really involved in PBL (Professional Business Leaders), the collegiate level of FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America). At the end of my freshman year, I became the State Parliamentarian and was able to attend the National Leadership Conference. The following year, I was again elected to my state position and decided to apply for a National Officer position at the encouragement of my adviser, Jodi Fudge. One of the biggest surprises of my life was winning the National PBL Parliamentarian position. It led to a whirlwind year of meetings, trips, conference planning and practice, and meeting people from all over the country. A highlight during my year as an officer was getting the opportunity to attend the National Association of Parliamentarians Convention with other National CTSO Parliamentarians. Call me a nerd, but getting to meet Henry Robert, III and having him sign my Robert’s Rules of Order was incredible!

The constant in my college career and an organization I hold dear to my heart is Agriculture Future of America (AFA). As a senior in high school, I was selected to receive the AFA Community Scholarship sponsored by my hometown, which included the opportunity to attend the AFA Leaders Conference held each year. To put it simple, the ‘AFA experience’ blew me away and my journey with AFA hasn’t ended. I attended all four tracks in college, traveled to DC with the Policy Institute served as a Campus Ambassador in 2012, and was fortunate enough to serve as a Student Advisory Team member my fifth year of college. For me, AFA is so much more than a conference. AFA provided critical professional and personal development, opened my eyes to the diversity of an industry, fostered my internship with Syngenta, and introduced me to some of my closest friendships. I can honestly say I don’t know where I would be without my involvement in AFA.

What were your biggest challenges or obstacles in college? Anything you would change?

Transitioning would probably be my biggest challenge going through college. I’m sure several people have felt the same way when you finally settle into the routine of a semester just as it’s getting over and then you have to begin the next. In my case, the biggest transition was when I moved to the Mizzou my junior year and had no idea what to expect. I went from having classes with friends and about 30 people at the most to 300+ class sizes and not knowing a single person. I’ll be honest; it was scary, intimidating and frustrating. On top of it all, there were classes I had to retake because they didn’t transfer correctly, which added to my uncertainty and frustration. That first year at MU was rough to say the least. However, I wouldn’t change it. I look back on that time as a growing experience. It forced me to get outside of my comfort zone, create new friendships, and really figure out what it was that I wanted to do.

The one thing I might have done differently was to explore additional classes or looking into getting a minor. Based on the things that I now enjoy in my job, I think a communications minor or a few more ag business classes would have been fun and beneficial.

What one piece of advice would you give a student during their senior year?

I would give two different types of advice. To freshman, I would tell them to take the time your freshman year to explore different interest areas and get involved with several organizations. However over the course of your college career, you need to hone in on what organizations are most meaningful, what experiences will really benefit you in the long run, and what classes will challenge you in a good way. My advice to seniors would be to enjoy your last year to the fullest. Cliché, I know, but extremely true. My senior year/victory lap was my favorite year of college. My classes were the most enjoyable because they aligned with my interests, I spent as much time with my friends as I could going to country concerts and having study nights, and I just soaked up as much as I could about Mizzou and Columbia because I wasn’t sure when/if I would ever be back. So to put it simple, enjoy it.

Post Grad

Tell us about your career so far?

My career so far has been quite the adventure. Never in my life have I lived more than an hour from home. So five months before I was to begin my first big kid job, I found out I would be moving almost 2,000 miles from Missouri to California. To say the least, I was scared and nervous and excited all at the same time. I work for Syngenta in the Production and Supply Development Program. The program allows associates to experience 3 separate rotations within different areas and locations of Syngenta during a two and a half-year time period. My first rotation was in Santa Maria, CA working with brassica (broccoli, cauliflower, endive and celery) production and processing. This past February, I moved to Northern California to work in Glenn, CA in the production and processing technology group for sunflowers. This rotation entailed assisting with the sunflower plots and different trials at the site. My third and final rotation will begin sometime in January when I moved back to the Midwest to work in Waterloo, NE at one of our corn sites.

How have your experiences and involvement in college set you up for success in your career and life post grad?

I would definitely have to say that outside of the skills and learning experiences I gained growing up on the farm, AFA would be the biggest experience that helped foster my success in post grad life. AFA’s programming is unlike any other. They provide opportunities for delegates to not only hone their professional skills, but also develop those soft skills and personal skills that employers are looking for in candidates. I also have to mention my parent seed internship with Syngenta in Washington, IA, which lined me up with my current job. During college, I spent most of my summers at home helping out on the farm. The summer before my senior year of college I was able to work in Iowa in parent seed corn production. This experience gave me my first real look into the working world and opened my eyes to the hundreds of opportunities available to me outside of my hometown.

On the flip side, what are the biggest challenges or differences you’ve experienced post grad that you didn’t expect or didn’t feel prepared for?

I’m not sure I have enough room for this question. There are hundreds of things I never had to worry about before and another hundred I thought I knew about but was severely mistaken. My biggest struggle without a shadow of a doubt is being so far from home and my family. I never thought in a million years I would be living on the other side of the country so far from mom, dad, Marcus, the girls and the farm. My family is probably my biggest life-line, biggest support system, best friends and comfort zone. Being so far from them is something I still struggle with every day. However, I will say that technology has become my biggest resource for staying connected with them. It’s not the same as being in the same room with the people you love, but I would definitely say it lessens the pain of being so far away.

On another note, no one ever tells you how hard figuring out these first few years of a career can be and how lost you can feel at times. I think sometimes we put blinders on at college graduation and think, “Now I’m finally here. I made it. Adult life here I come.” I’ll admit I was in the mindset that I was going to go out into the working world and make a huge impact right off the bat. Not that I haven’t contributed to in each of my roles, but over the course of my early career I’ve come to realize it’s up to me to find the impact behind the tasks I perform and to seek out the little opportunities of growth in a job. No one is going to hold your hand. No one is going to tell you what you have to do every day. It’s up to you. Your career will become what you make of it.

Last thing, lamps are more expensive than you think, Swiffer Wet Jets need batteries, and always set a timer.

What apps, technology and resources do you use regularly to stay organized and do your job? 

I am a paper and pencil type of person, so I tend to not use many apps for my job. Now I’m also the type of person who also doesn’t like to plan things out by the minute. I like to have some flexibility in how I work. When I need to buckle down to get something done or plan a meeting, I can set an agenda to get it done. That being said I stay organized without having a set-in-stone schedule by writing lists and I always have my Day Designer planner by my desk when I need to reference my calendar. I use my computer obviously a ton for work, especially Microsoft Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and my email. The few apps that I do use for work are the weather app, Pandora or Spotify, LinkedIn, and IDWeeds (University of Missouri Extension app). GoogleMaps is by far my best friend when it comes to trying to navigate a new location and area.

At this stage, what are a few of your strengths and weaknesses?

This question is always a tough one to answer. At this point , I would say that some of my strengths revolve around being very hands on in my job, being willing to take on new challenges and new opportunities, communicating well with others, and being very meticulous when working on a project. Areas where I fall short would center around a lack of confidence in myself. I’m still new to the big kid world and I find myself doubting or second guessing my abilities and knowledge base when making decisions. However even during the past year and a half, I have seen myself grow and become more sure of myself. It’s a growing process and one that I feel everyone overcomes and works through at some point in their life and career.

How do you stay motivated when work gets really busy or difficult?

My best friends are some of my biggest life savers. When work bogs me down or stresses me out, I call up a friend. I feel like there are so many of us who are going through the same struggles in their early careers and feeling the same uncertainty as me that it is important to reach out to them. For me, a few hours of talking out a concern or a project with a friend is the main way for me to figure out what my next steps are. It’s also something that I do when I have a success or when I get excited about a new project. Sharing those experiences with someone helps motivate me when things get difficult.

Work-life balance? How do you stay afloat and refreshed?

Similar to the answer above, staying connected to friends and family is how I stay afloat and refreshed. They are what keeps me going during the day, make me smile and laugh, and talk me through the hard times and challenges I face. A warm bath, good smelling candle, and a glass of wine are my other outlets. And when neither of those options work, I get in my car and do a couple of rounds at the batting cages. There is something about when my bat connects with a ball that relieves my stress. Standing at home plate is the one place where everything disappears and the world makes sense for me. My only goal is making contact.

What in your #PostGradLife are you most proud of so far?

Moving so far from home. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and I am slowly but surely finding exactly where I fit into this whole puzzle. However, moving away from home and everything I had ever known has to be one of my proudest accomplishments thus far. It takes strength, ambition, spunk and a some nerve to move 2,000 miles from home. But it’s been one of the most exciting times in my life because I’ve met so many great people and learned so much about different crops and different parts of the country. Life right now still seems surreal. I joke with my friends and family that most days I still feel like a 12-year-old trying to figure out life. But it makes me proud knowing the knowledge I’m gaining out here and the personal growth that I’ve had since graduating college.

What does life look like right now? Hobbies and interests? What outside of work are you passionate about?.

While I work in the agriculture industry, outside of work I am still very passionate about ag. I continue to volunteer my time with AFA by participating in application reviews, programming reviews, and the AFA Leaders Conference. It’s my way of giving back to an organization and an industry that has given me so much.

I try to stay active by playing co-ed softball every week, which has also helped me meet new friends. My other hobbies include exploring Northern California, going to the Chico Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings, baking of all forms (especially cookies), checking out the local shops downtown, reading books, and watching sports. My newest hobby would be photography. I bought a Canon camera a few months back and have been getting used to all of the settings and taking pictures any time I can. And of course going to country and red dirt concerts as often as I can!

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Enjoying a Cards/Giants game with a co-worker.

Just for Fun

What is essential to your morning routine to start the day off right?

I wish I could say I’m a morning person, but that card has never been in my stack. So to get my day started off on the right foot, I need coffee, coffee and coffee. If I do not get at least a cup of coffee in the morning, then I basically can’t function. I also have a pretty set in stone makeup routine. I have to wash my face every morning (and can’t go to bed without washing my makeup off).

Do you have a must-have vise like caffeine or item you can’t live without in your workspace?

Coffee is my vise. I make my travel mug of coffee at home, drink it on the way to work, and usually finish at my desk while I check emails and start the day. After I finish my coffee, I switch to iced water with a straw. I also have to have either my Day Designer planner at my desk or some form of paper and a good pen to write my lists. When I need to be super productive, I put my headphones in and listen to some good red dirt country.

If you were to have another career, all limitations aside, what would it be?

This is a tough question because I currently love my job and what it allows me to do. While I changed majors in college away from it, I think I would still love to work as a wedding planner or florist. I’ve always loved weddings, the promise they symbolize, and the joy it brings people and families. I’m a sucker for a good love story.

Moment of truth, what do you really miss about college?

My friends!! I miss all of my friends so much! If I didn’t live on the other side of the country, I would probably visit and see my friends more often. However, I’ve been very fortunate that my friends and I do keep in touch by calling one another. I’m also pretty lucky in the sense that I’ve been able to meet so many new friends and make new connections with people. It’s definitely broadened my network.

The other part of college I miss would definitely be Mizzou football and basketball. There is absolutely nothing like Columbia, MO on a Saturday during football season. So much black and gold, tail gates everywhere, and the excitement in the air is addictive. I absolutely love it!!

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My family farm.

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Kayla, thank you so much for being brave and stepping up to be the first guest in my series!

Next week I’m stepping outside of agriculture to feature a friend who is rocking her career in interior design, with a great guy and toddler to keep her busy…

Cheers!

Linking up with these other bloggers here, here and here this Monday.