Welcome Weekend!

This week went by pretty quickly, but I did manage to find some interesting reads! I’ve got a whirlwind weekend planned, started with a boot camp workout this evening, a group meeting with my accounting classmates, a bridal shower, and some singing! If you’ve got some down time, check out these links for a little mental stimulus:

 

The class of 2011, via Forbes: Hiring Millenials, What They Really Want

For the Marketer, via AdVoice: Decision Quicksand

For the free spirits, via MSN: The Never Ending Road Trip

For the manager, via The New Professional Blog: How to Edit Someone Else’s Work

For the entrepreneur, via Paul Graham’s Essays: What Start-Ups are Really Like

 

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Form vs. Function

 

+1 for form, -1 for functionality
Surprisingly comfortable heels and skirt
Bracelet, Faux skin belt, wedding ring

Skirt: Ann Taylor

Button down: Express

Black pumps: Alfani

Belt, bracelet, earrings: NYC and Co.

Like the outfit? See more details here!

 

Today’s outfit is great for form, not so great for function. I’ve been trying to break out of my style box over the past year, and this outfit has many elements of an “Ashley” outfit, but a few elements of a “non-Ashley” outfit. So, what makes it an “Ashley” outfit? To begin, I believe I’m on of the least fashionable people you’ll meet, especially when compared to my mom and my sister. The nice way to put it, is that my style is “classic”, which tends to translate into “boring”. “Ashley outfits” are usually simple, symmetrical, clean lines, and minimal jewelry.

I started trying to figure out why I’ve always been less fashionable, and I believe it’s because I have a hard time with the fundamental discrepancy between form and function. It always seems like the outfits that look best are the most difficult to perform in! Throughout middle school, high school, and college, I was always in situations that required a lot of movement, making it difficult to wear form-fitted clothing and skirts. I started the morning bright and early with show choir rehearsal, where I was often literally kicking up my heels… not so much appropriate for jeans or a skirt. After a long day of classes, it was off to track practice or musical rehearsal, where I was again, kicking up my heels for hurdles or dance numbers. Flash forward to college, where I spent 3.5 years starting classes at 8 am, and often packing them into 2 or 3 days instead of spread out over the week. Who wants to look nice for 12 hour days of class? Not me! My first job out of college was a start-up, where all the other employees were young and male. This meant that “office attire” was a term used loosely to describe wearing something, ANYTHING, that semi-covered your body. Half the time, the guys showed up in ripped jeans and a sweatshirt, or shorts and a faded t-shirt. While this isn’t true of all young male employees, it was always the case at my start-up office. Thus, wearing khakis made me significantly more dressed up than any other person in the office.

Now, I’m in an office environment that does require business casual, and I sometimes like to take it up a notch to what might be termed as “presentation day” business casual. I’ve always loved the look of a tailored suit and heels, or a pencil skirt and nice blouse, but I’ve never had an environment in which to wear such attire. It’s a whole new world to explore, where I don’t have to be so brutally conscious of the functional qualities of an outfit. To be sure, there are some restraints, as noted in my post about the physical requirements of my job. I also prefer not to wear heels on a day that I have class, since I end up trekking all over campus (I learned my lesson quickly on choice of footwear!). So, at this point, I’ve decided that I can discard function for preference of form at least 2 days per week. This outfit is definitely worn on one of those days without class, without tradeshow shipments, and without a million errands to run after work.

Have I totally gotten over my aversion to pure-form clothing? Definitely not! But, I’m starting to get out of my box, and I’ve found that being conscious of my corporate attire has helped take me into a more fashionable realm. What tricks have you found to strike a balance between function and form? Like the outfit? See more details here!

An MBA “Aha” Moment

So, I’m excited to report that I FINALLY had an “aha” moment with accounting! As a marketer, I am generally averse to all things accounting, as I find it boring and completely useless for my day-to-day tasks. I know, all the numbers people out there are shocked, and I’ve probably lost all credibility, but this post is about a redeeming moment for accounting! Last night, while studying for my mid-term, I was looking at allocating costs to different departments, one of which is marketing. I was thinking about how I’m always making sure that tradeshows costs are billed to the proper accounts, and how we could do all of that much more efficiently if we utilized the CRM. Then I started thinking about all the features I could implement on the CRM to track, forecast, budget and book all of our tradeshows for the next year. Then I got really excited, and sent myself an email 🙂 I know this stuff isn’t rocket science, and I’ve had some fleeting thoughts about additional ways to utilize our CRM tool, but this was the first time I could actually trace some of the features back to an accounting class. Good ‘ole cost accounting helped me hone in on some improvements to an existing tool to provide more value to different branches of the organization. See, us marketers CAN play nice with others…. even with accountants!

On another note, it’s these kinds of moments that prompted, in part, my return to school. Going “back to the basics” in academics has already helped me open up my mind to consider some of the possibilities that usually get blocked by the day-to-day “noise” in the office. The academic environment usually presents concepts purely, or “in a perfect world”, so it allows you to go through all the options that you wouldn’t normally consider because of budget, time, or talent constraints. I’ve had several marketing ideas that I’ve been able to bring into the office and modify to work around the constraints. It’s only my first semester, but I am already seeing the value of going back to school. Especially for a degree like the MBA, which emphasizes well-rounded business knowledge, you can really take the classroom experiences into the workplace.

Guest Post: Pick Me! (On second thought, don’t.)

I’d like to give a big welcome to Angeline from The New Professional today! She’s written a great post on volunteering at work:

 

Hi folks! Angeline from the New Professional here.  I’m stoked to be writing a guest post for Consciously Corporate. As a relative newb in the workplace (about four years out of grad school), it’s tempting to give everything the ol’ college try. Throughout high school and college, I was the over-involved kid. If you asked me, I’d do it, if only for a chance to meet cute boys and add another notch to my resume or application. But in the workplace, that kind of strategy (or lack thereof) can run you down quickly without helping you in your career at all.

So when should you volunteer? There are several reasons to volunteer at work: to learn new skills, to demonstrate your leadership and innovation, to show initiative and drive, and to make nice with the right people. But what does this look like in practice? Here are some examples of common opportunities to volunteer and how they can (or can’t) help you in your career.

Projects

When to volunteer: If the project draws on skills that only you have, or if the project is in an area that you’re hoping to grow in. Taking on a challenging project that no one wants (and you’re not hugely averse to) can be a great opportunity to show how you can adapt and rise to a challenge.

When not to volunteer: If you already have a full load of projects, taking on another when someone else has space can look like you’re trying to hog the work, and later on, the glory. Do what you’re doing now well, and you’ll be primed to take the lead next time.

Committees

When to volunteer: When the time commitment is manageable and when the committee has an actual goal, deliverables, and deadlines. Otherwise you’ll just sit around spinning your wheels. This is also often a way to make nice with other departments or organizations—you want to make sure your department comes off as a team player (and depending on your position within your department, committee work may fall to you).

When not to volunteer: If you get the feeling it’s just a time-waster and there’s no real goal. Also, when the commitment threatens to compromise the time spent on your own work, you should probably step back.

Grunt work

When to volunteer: A one-time project stuffing envelopes for a big mailing your department is doing is no biggie—if you have time that day then by all means lend a hand.

When not to volunteer: Grunt work for another department may make you feel good lending a hand, but it’s best to do the job you’ve been hired for. If you’re in a support-type department, that’s a different story.

Conferences and events

When to volunteer: If you don’t mind the physical toll of working an event, are the best person to represent the program or service, or really have an interest in learning from a conference, do it! Companies are interested in investing in and fostering the growth of their employees through training, and if you can come back from a conference or event with a wider (relevant) network or new ideas and skills that can help your work, it’s totally worth it.

When not to volunteer: When you just want to travel or get out of the office. Don’t be a moneysuck or drag the team down with your whining from standing all day in an exhibition hall. People notice these things.

When does volunteering take a turn for the worse?

* When you’re overloading yourself and you don’t have time for your actual job.

* When you’re being asked to do way more than your share of the volunteer work.

* When you’re spending more time doing your volunteer duties than doing your actual work.

* When you’re automatically added to the list every time a new committee is formed.

Do you jump at every opportunity or assess each one before you raise your hand?

 

Angeline raises some great points about volunteering at work in this post. She discusses more business and fashion issues on her blog, The New Professional, so make sure you take a look at the great insight from her other posts!

Finally Friday!

It’s just been one of those weeks, I tell ya! The one consolation is that apparently it’s been one of “those” weeks for everyone I talked to, so hopefully next week will be better. To round out the week and hopefully begin the start of a great weekend, check out the following links!

For the fellow grad student, via Fashionable Academics Blog: Grade Inflation and the Feminizing of Academy

For the strategically minded in tech and anti-trust law, via Forbes: Microsoft Gatecrashes Google’s Anti-Trust Case

For the artistically-minded in the DFW area: Fort Worth Opera Festival or Upper Deck Blues, Wednesday Open Mic Night (checked this one out with my husband this week, and it’s a pretty cool scene for amateur and semi-professional blues music!)

For the historians and curious: Origins of April Fool’s Day

 

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