Thursday, June 27, 2013

Triathlon Training Update

So, we're less than a month away from the first triathlon. Crazy how time flies, right? Training has been going better than I thought it might. I was sidelined for about 10 days after an unfortunate ankle sprain in Las Vegas and a rib that somehow popped out of place. The sprain still bothers me from time to time, although not enough to stop running, swimming or biking, and the rib is back where it belongs and causing me no more problems. Hooray!

GT swimming facilities
So in terms of training...I knew I had to join a pool so I could swim. I explored a couple different options (LA Fitness, YMCA, and Georgia Tech's CRC) and landed on the CRC for a couple of reasons. Mainly price - as an alum, it was $30/month with a 3 month minimum. For $90, I'll be able to swim whenever I want all summer long. What a steal. The only downside for non-alumni is that, well, you can't join. I guess it's what one might consider a perk? The other 2 were also a little less convenient to get to. Not that the CRC is exactly close, but I've been going in the mornings and usually there is parking, the lesiure pool has been quiet, and it only takes about 15 minutes total to get from my house into the water. I also bought a bathing suit, goggles, and a swim cap. Bathing suit rocks, goggles rock, swim cap sucks. (I linked to them mainly because if anyone reading this has no idea what to buy and wants to buy based on someone else's recomendation, go for it. I couldn't find any recommendations from the blogs I read on either of the above, which was incredibly annoying to me.)

As for the swimsuit, I tried about 7 before settling on one I liked. Some were too tight, others had weird straps, others were too low in the back, on and on and on. But now I have one, it was ~$60, and I'm happy.

I also found a training plan that I am following really loosely. And even that might be an overstatement. I found it here and I'm half-heartedly following the 10 Week Sprint Distance Program - Beginner. I spent one night adding all my training goals to my calendar. Let's be real, I am a list master, so if it's on my to-do list, it's way more likely to happen. Somehow my reminder list still looks like this:

So overall, I'd give myself a B- on triathlon training, but that's adding a lot of "A for effort" points. I try to swim at least once a week, and hop on a treadmill or run outside at least 3 times a week. The bike part? Ugh, I don't want to talk about it. I bought my bike in February and have taken it outside a grand total of twice since I bought it. I can ride the indoor bike for about 15 minutes before I get tired and bored and do something else. I really don't have high hopes for the bike part of this race. Any tips on bike training?
BUT, I plan to join my parents at the lake at least 1 night every weekend for the rest of the summer, and will bring my bike along and ride it in the country and hope for the best come race day. I figure if I can get up to 6 miles on it, then I can manage the 8 included in the triathlon course.

So there you have triathlon training. If all goes well, I will be really rocking and rolling come September! Fingers crossed I can stay motivated that long.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Perusing the Internet, v2

I've mentioned before that I'm not the best internet browser, but recently I've found some really fascinating, inspiring, interesting or thought-provoking reads that I wanted to share.

  • Is 30 the new 20? I can relate to feeling less responsibility, taking less ownership, and putting things off 'until I'm 30.'
  • Watching a love story unfold brought tears to my eyes. The song, the dancing, the monologue... so touching!
  • I live for the day I can have all the people I love more than anything in the world in one place
  • Even though I was in Iceland 5 short months ago, I'm already daydreaming about going back, this time when the sun is shining nearly 24 hours a day. Maybe we won't see the Northern Lights, but all the other adventures we could explore leave me wishing wishing wishing.
  • Could you live in 78 sq. ft? I remember the cramped quarters of the dorms freshman year of college, and those were ~200 sq ft for 2. Oh, how I loved the close proximity of those dorms (see bullet point #3) but I don't think I could ever go back. 
  • One of my give-up's from the Lenten Adventure was using my phone while I was waiting. This article articulates that much better than I ever did. I wondered the whole time if the author talked to the girl or not. I would have.
  • Did you know beer makes you high?
  • The best Bachelorette blog ever
Please tell me what you've been reading about? I'm always desperate for new material!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Calphalon Convection Oven Giveaway

Many moons ago (actually more like 2.5 years), a friend of a friend moved to town and was job-searching. We met up for a Friday evening drink and talked about life, work, moving to a new city, sorority life, and a million other things.

Even though our mini-date went splendidly, our paths just never really crossed again, intentionally or unintentionally. However, we've both kept up with one another via blogging, and she emailed me last week and asked me if I would mind posting about a giveaway she's hosting.

Ya'll, this girl is inspiring! She's planning a trip to Africa this fall and is working hard to raise money to fund said trip. I am a kitchen gadget fanatic, so I am super thrilled about sharing her convection oven giveaway with you! Plus, it supports one of my favorite things in the entire world, traveling. Win, win, winning all around.

If you are feeling so inclined, please help Whitney out on her journey to Africa with a small donation. I traded in my beloved Starbucks to help a friend make her dreams come true, so perhaps you could do the same?

Click here to donate. Click here to read more details about the giveaway. Click here to read more about her plans in Africa. The rules/guidelines/requirements are below.

  • From now until next Friday (June 28), for every $5 you donate to the Africa campaign, you'll be entered to win. So if you donate $5, you'll get an entry. $15? Three entries. $30? Six for you! Whoo!
  • If you Tweet a link to the giveaway, you'll get another entry. Be sure to mention @wbiber
  • If you post the link on Facebook, you'll get an additional entry. Again, be sure to tag Whitney so she can track it :)

Friday, June 21, 2013

That Time I Decided to go to Graduate School: Why?

If you are just tuning in, I recently wrote about a few steps in the graduate school application process. I did this all a little backwards, but that's because I wrote about what was easiest first. Taking the GMAT, writing the essays, getting in.

But now, what you may still be wondering, is why. Why business school, why part-time versus full-time, why now. I'm not sure I can fully answer those questions completely on the internet, but I'm going to try.

The background: Nearly 3 years ago, I found my dream job. I'm talking this job was made for me. I started 3 years ago and haven't looked back. Since then I've been promoted twice, watched others come & go, and never questioned my own career. I have a phenomenal relationship with my boss, I have colleagues that I respect, look up to, and admire. I am respected, looked up to, and admired. I receive constructive feedback, I get to voice my opinion, and I truly feel like I belong.

But 2.5, nearly 3 years, is a long time to be doing the same thing. Don't get me wrong. I work in Human Resources - every day is different. I work in a project based industry. Every day is even more different. But the ebbs and flows, the processes, some of those things started to become less challenging. I was still obsessed with my job, loving the people I was working with, but I was starting to miss something. I was starting to miss the excitement that comes along with a new challenge.

First try: So I started tossing around the idea of graduate school. I actually even purchased a GMAT study guide with the intention of studying for and taking the GMAT back in 2011. I wasn't quite ready at the time, and consciously or subconsciously I'm not sure, but I didn't push myself. I was barely a year into my job, I still had tons to learn, and I think deep down I knew I wasn't ready.

Second try is a charm: But then I got the itch. I was primarily motivated by some of my closest friends who were also applying to business school. I walked alongside and watched as they stressed about essays, GMAT scores, recommendations, and so much more. I offered my mostly unsolicited advice, and watched with joy as they succeeded and with tears when they didn't. After a particularly stressful night of tossing around essay ideas, talking about what the path would look like without business school, and generally depressing ourselves, my best friend said, "GOD I can't wait until you go through this process so you can see what it feels like."

And away we go: Click. Just like that, something went off. I didn't say anything then, or for a long time. In fact, I didn't tell anyone but my roommate until I went to Iceland, but by then I had already started the process. I was scared. I was nervous that I wouldn't write appropriate essays, that my college GPA wasn't good enough, that my GMAT wouldn't be high enough.

The real why: I knew my career path was stunted without an MBA. I would continuously compare myself to those with an MBA and feel inferior. I would lose out on potential opportunities, internally or externally.  I am comfortable in my role, but I am always looking for new opportunities or ways to advance within the company, and having an MBA will help me get there that much faster. Could I have gone on to be extremely successful without it? Absolutely.  I like to think of the MBA as the fast-track to where I want to be. So that was my motivation. That's why I did it, and I am 100% sure it was the right choice for me, at this point in my career.

Is it right for you? I can't answer that question. The criteria for me included feeling comfortable enough in my job that I was willing to basically take on another part-time job for 3 years, being fully supported financially to take on something like this, and being supported by my colleagues and managers. Check, check, and check.

Why part-time versus full-time, you may ask? I don't think it's worth $100,000 plus the loss in salary for me to go back to school full time. In fact, I feel pretty strongly that it's not worth it for most people who pay out of pocket. Some of you may feel differently, but that's my take. If your company is paying, that's an entirely different story. I just think there aren't many jobs that are worth the sacrifice. But, all that being said, I commend those of you who do it. It's a risk I certainly couldn't and wouldn't take.

image image

Thursday, June 20, 2013

BB Cream

I think I'm a little late to the party. In fact, I know I am. Proof, times three. Seriously. It's not often you find makeup advice, suggestions, or thoughts around here. I try to leave that to the professionals, which I am most certainly not.
My friend Whitney posted about the best BB creams the other day, and I kept thinking about it. I realized I got a BB cream in my BirchBox a few months ago, and no time like the present to try it.

Cheap BB Creams
The one I got in my BirchBox was Marcelle BB cream. I had no idea what to expect (I pretty much ignored all those blog posts I referenced above... what can I say, I'm a creature of habit!) so imagine my surprise when I realized this stuff was tinted! Then I got all nervous that it would be the wrong color. The only reason I put it on is because I've been looking for something lighter than foundation to incorporate into my summer makeup routine, and I think I've found it!

Now I just need to go to CVS or Target and buy 7 different kinds and figure out which is my favorite. I really liked the Marcelle brand but I am excited to try other kinds. I'm also not excited about the $27.00 price tag, so let's see how they compare!

image image

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Summer Weekends

This past weekend was the kind of weekend I dream about. It was as close to perfect as a weekend involving a hangover could get.
On Friday I spent the afternoon working outside on our patio. I put a sign up on my door pointing folks to where they could find me and parked it. It was breezy, shady, and the perfect temperature.

Late Friday afternoon, I spent the happiest hours at the bar in a nearby restaurant drinking wine and flirting with the cute bartender before a delicious dinner with some of my favorite friends/colleagues/posse.

Lots of wine on the table. Lots of empty wine glasses on the table. Home before 11pm and somehow still managed a full-fledged hangover Saturday.
I powered through, won my mixed doubles tennis match in 2 sets, and headed up to the lake to see my family for Father's Day. I think the last time we spent a Father's Day on the lake was when I was in high school. To say my dad was excited might be an understatement.

Sunday I came home early (but not before daddy opened his present - a new business school tshirt!) to play another tennis match. Kicked butt on the court for the second time this weekend and raced home to meet my friend for lunch. We went back to the restaurant where the cute bartender works and enjoyed a delightful afternoon on a patio in Midtown. I also learned plenty about him. There may not be relationship potential but he's a pretty fun Mr. Right Now (if Mr. Right Now means I make every effort to walk by the restaurant as many times a day as possible without being weird and hoping he sees me).
We got manicures and pedicures, laughed until our sides hurt, and then I came home and ate vegetables for dinner before settling into bed, texting ET about how great my weekend was, and crashing until I opened my eyes on Monday morning. Perfect, perfect, perfect in every single way.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

That time I decided to go to grad school: Essays edition

A bit ago, I posted about my decision to apply to business school. As I explained in that post, my first hurdle to focus on a planfor studying for the GMAT.

However, because of the structure of the application process for the particular program I was applying to, I actually had some time when it came to the GMAT. From the date I decided to apply, I had exactly 4 weeks to turn around essays, application, recommendations, interview and resume.

Queue panic.

I'm fortunate to work at a company that promotes and supports applying to and attending business school. Many of my coworkers are graduates of full-time programs, so I had excellent support from friends (who happen to be colleagues). They were willing to read, re-read, and then re-read my essays again. They offered advice on how to find recommenders, what I should get to thank everyone who helped me (although no gift could ever convey how grateful I am to them), and were amazing sounding boards. If you don't have support internally, get your friends on board to help. Find someone you know who has gone through the process. Google! There is tons of information out there on applying to any graduate program, complete with essay advice on specific schools and specific essays.

Essays: It's been a while since I've experienced a more humbling process than answering very personal questions and getting feedback on my writing. It was also eye-opening. I knew my application had to weave a story about who I am, what is important to me, and what I want to become through business school. Questions about why I want to pursue an MBA, what my long-term goals were, what I'm passionate, and my most significant professional accomplishment. These are not easy questions to answer. Some of them I honestly hadn't even thought about. But, in hindsight, I'm so glad I put time and effort into answering each of these questions carefully. MBA or not, it gave me focus for the near-term, the long-term, and reminded me of my accomplishments and the goals and dreams I looked forward to achieving.

Everybody's advice is a little different, but this is what ultimately worked for me.

1. The very first thing you do should is just write. Write an answer to each question. Don't limit your words, don't think about a story, just write. The editing is truly easy if you have all those words to work with.
2. Walk away! I wrote all my first drafts in a weekend, and then walked away for 2-3 days. I came back and completely re-wrote 2 eassys because I thought about a different experience I wanted to share. If you can, give yourself even more time! I cut it really close, but others I know had months to write, proofread, and submit their essays.
3. Get feedback on the subject matter in your original essays. Like I said, the editing is the easy part, but if your essays don't flow and don't complement each other, editing them is a waste of time! I sent my first drafts to 3 friends and even though I didn't want to hear it, they all provided really helpful feedback and tips.

My 'story' focused on my leadership experience and my goals to move up within my company. Others I know have shared about a passion and how that applies to their desired future, and where an MBA fits into that path. Each story is different. I will tell you - what I started with and the end result were 2 entirely different sets of essays. Because I was getting feedback from so many different sources, what I heard was bound to conflict. Use your best judgement, and remember that the people you asked to help are trying to do just that!

Recommendations: This is what made me most nervous. I have amazing support at work, and I know that I am very capable in my job. But telling someone that you are trying to do something, but it may not work out, is scary. Especially telling someone who you know already thinks you are great. I asked my boss and another superior to write my recommendations, as advised to me by many of my peers (and required by Emory). My fear was not telling them I wanted to go back to school, it was the fear of not getting in and having to tell people I wasn't good enough, wasn't smart enough, couldn't cut it. I was afraid that they'd then see me differently, not think I was as capable at my job, and everything I worked so hard to build would come crumbling around me. Anxiety is a crippling disease, folks.

Well, shockingly enough, the 2 people I asked to write recommendations were thrilled to do it, and incredibly supportive of my decision. However, what I didn't realize was that asking them to write a recommendation wasn't enough. Apparently I had to provide them with material with which to base their recommendation as it related to the 'story' I was telling with my essays. So, I scrambled to answer the questions the recommenders were supposed to answer how I wanted them to answer and shot off those emails at 6pm on a Friday night, the whole time feeling SO awkward. "Katie should have ___." "The people Katie works with admire and trust her decision-making skills." Those are exact excerpts, and imagine writing a page-long email like that.

My advice on recommendations and recommenders is as follows:

1. Ask people to write recommendations who knows you well personally and professionally.
2. Ask people who are going to write really positive things about you (duh?)
3. Give the individuals that you ask as much advance notice as possible.
4. Think about how you want to portray yourself with these recommendations - one should be from a manager, one from someone quite senior, and if you are required to submit a third, think about asking someone in the community, a former professor, or someone who can comment on your skills and capabilities outside the workplace. After all, there is more to you than what you do to get paid!

And, if you are applying to more than 1 school, only ask them to write 1 recommendation, maaaaaybe two if you are desperate.

So aside from the interivew (which I don't feel comfortable writing about - every school is different, and quite frankly I don't remember much of mine because I was a rambling, nervous wreck!), that was the whole process. GMAT, recommendations, essays, SUBMIT and hope like hell that the hours and hours you slaved away on the application on top of the years you've spent excelling in the business world were worth it.

These have actually turned out to be really fun blog entries to write. I love sharing my unsolicited two cents with the world, and I hope someone, somewhere finds this helpful.

As promised, over the next few weeks I'll share my thoughts on how I decided which schools to apply to, and why I decided to go back to school in the first place. The answers are different for everyone, so I look forward to hearing your thoughts as well!

image 1 2 3

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

recent obsessions

koala berry by opi -- makes for the perfect beach-ready toesies!

new TV show -- can't stop watching
loft striped maxi skirt -- light and airy for spring & summer (from the outlet)
I would see this show anywhere, any time.

went to a Mexican restaurant over the weekend and randomly ordered a chile relleno -- this thing was CRAVE-WORTHY. can't wait to go back and eat it again, and again, and again.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Shiner Ruby Red

It's the most wonderful beer of the year!
I discovered Shiner Ruby Red last summer, and didn't realize it was seasonal. Shame on me.

I saw it in the grocery store for the first time this summer over the weekend, and I bought 2 6-packs.
It's the perfect summer beer - great by the pool or paired with a fresh fish and fruit salsa.
I plan to never run out.
Summer, I love you.  

Thursday, June 6, 2013


Posted on Facebook and went to my first official event as an admitted student last night.
Still some decisions to be made, but guess what world? I'm getting an MBA.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Wednesday that was more like a Tuesday

I hate Tuesdays, so I'm really unsure how all this went down on a Wednesday. I have about 8000 things I should be doing right now, and just as many thoughts running through my head. So what do I do instead?

Turn on Carrie Underwood, shut my office door, and start writing.

Today's been a day. I made probably the biggest mistake I've ever made at work. I think I am on day 3 of my Las Vegas hangover. I had a great conversation with an MBA Admissions Director that has left me even more excited, nervous, and inspired. I had a run-in with an ex-ish-friend that was reminiscent of an ex-boyfriend run-in. You know, where you cross paths, make small talk, and they make casual mention of a joke only the 2 of you shared and then you think about it for far too long? Welcome to my day.

I stepped away from everything for a minute and got some perspective, but man. It's been a doozy. Days and weeks like this really make me realize how truly fortunate I am though. I can't imagine if I didn't have fantastic friends to run to when not-so-fantastic friends hurt me. Or if I really didn't like my coworkers. Or my job, for that matter. Or if I was being forced to go to classes that didn't interest me.

I was also going to go to a gym tonight and sign up so I could swim in their pool, because that triathlon I'm participating in 6 weeks from now? Haven't trained much this week...sprained ankles and residual hangovers don't lend themselves to 6 mile bike rides or 3 mile runs. But really, first, I need a bathing suit. Preferably not of the $80 variety. TJ Maxx? Sports Authority? It's been a minute since I bought a sports bathing suit. Wah.

So instead I think I'll go to happy hour, go home, and crawl into bed, and hope that tonight I can keep my eyes open past 10pm.

Vegas, work, life... you are winning, but not for long. Don't you worry...

Arnold Schwarzenegger i will be back - I'll be back  

Networking Tips 101

Networking is now a huge part of today's culture. LinkedIn, Facebook, even Yahoo! Jobs and Monster. I've recently connected with sorority sisters I haven't spoken to in several years about jobs, graduate school, and cities to live in. And why not? These are people I trust to tell me the truth and vice versa. They are people I can honestly vouch for, because even though we were "just" sorority sisters, I know about the person they really are.

I have a freaking awesome job at a pretty incredible company. It just so happens that my company is also very reputable and well-known. Since I can't really keep my mouth shut about anything, people know that I love my job and love where I work, so I get a lot of requests from friends for job recommendations, thoughts, help, etc. Or maybe they just want me to forward a resume, but they end up getting my unsolicited and self-proclaimed fantastic advice.

But sometimes, I get messages and I do a little head tilt. Is this person seriously asking me to answer these questions? Have they done any research about this company? I mean, have they even looked at the website?

So, I thought I'd offer a few networking tips that I think are helpful as we 20'somethings try to navigate the world of networking with our peers.

1. Get the name of the company right. There are a lot of competitors in the market. If you want a job at Home Depot, I wouldn't advise sending an email to an old friend asking about their job at Lowe's...

2. Remind them about what you have been doing! Sure your title may explain it all, Internal Controller and Director of Mapping Operations, but that title doesn't mean diddly squat to me. "As you may know, I've been working at ___ doing ___." Simple! And now the person you are reaching out to has a quick refresher of what you've been up to since you last spoke!

3. And then tell them what you want to do, and make sure it's what their company does if you are asking for a referral. If you are really wanting to be an IT consultant, make sure that the company actually does IT consulting!

4. Do some brief research. If you are looking for a job in San Fransisco, make sure they have an office there. Try to understand what the levels are within the company - don't ask about analyst positions if the new company calls them associates!

5. Don't be afraid to reach out! I'm always impressed with the people who reach out to me. I'm never leaving my job, but if I did, I sometimes wonder if I'd be brave enough to put myself out there and network with friends.

What are some of your best practices for networking via your social networks?