Ladies First: Samantha Jones

by Nikki Lakin in , , ,


Every girl has a defining, distinct moment that she remembers where she believes that she emotionally (not physically, there’s actually a difference) (at least in my book) transforms into a woman. Some may replay the memory of their first kiss playing spin-the-bottle and consider that their coming-of-age tale. It may be the purchase your first Coach purse with those backwards and side-to-side, outlined in glitter C’s. On a more graphic note, I was blessed with this moment sitting in front of the TV at age seven or whatever, exposed to a censored ad for HBO’s “Sex and the City.”

I knew my parents were avid fans of “The Sopranos,” but they assumed they could hide it from me. From then on, I was aware that any content on HBO would be risqué, but ads for “Sex and the City” did pop up on other cable outlets and I couldn’t avoid them. But from what I saw, it was just a group of girls hanging out and gossiping, which, even at age seven, my friends and I were guilty of.

So it was relatable. But it wasn’t until I entered my last year of middle school that the movie was released, and a year after that, it was running on HBO. By then, I was 15 and I finally got to meet Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda, and the infamous Samantha Jones.

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At that age, my career interests were seeping into public relations and, to quote myself, “wanting to make people famous.” I related to Samantha because she was a PR executive with her own firm. I quickly caught on that her boyfriend/eventual ex-boyfriend was not just an actor, but also her client, who she helped to quickly rise to fame.

While I can’t say that I’m on the same page as all of Samantha’s lifestyle pursuits, I do value her as a career inspiration. After watching the first SATC movie and then catching up on the series via E! re-runs, I admired her non-stop life in PR and her constantly evolving circle of colleagues and friends. Just as a high school student, I envisioned myself like her, working in a floor-to-ceiling glass window office by day, speaking boldly and confidently branding herself, and running around from event to event, including those that she most likely threw together without breaking a sweat, with her clique by night. As fictitious as her character is, her career is achievable for hungry girls like myself. What she does when the work is done, however, isn’t something she has to share.


Dear HR, Why Don't You Love Me?

by Nikki Lakin in , ,


The drama you endured in seventh grade is not completely irrelevant. If anyone has ever said “your experiences shape you as a person” or some cliché bull of the sort, in a way, it’s not far off. Seeing your BFF Katie talk to your crush, Alex, when she obviously knew how much you “like-liked” him was totally not cool, and then finding out he asked her to the Halloween dance instead of you was nothing short of a cut in the gut.

But in one way or another, we've been here, at this stage and felt this tinge of emotional pain. The guy you went out with last week doesn't call you back. Your mom spits out cupcakes you baked for her office party. Your dog doesn't run to you when you walk in the door. There is nothing more heartbreaking than being told that you aren't good enough, but it's exponentially more hurtful when it comes from someone of higher authority - a potential employer.

A hustling and hungry student (ie: me) is all too eager to not have her eyes glued to job boards and edit resume after resume to send to Human Resources departments. The cover letter has been quadruple-checked for spelling errors and address changes and you think, “I’m gonna kill it.” And once you press “Submit,” there is no going back.

This semester, I probably went through this process about 40 or 50 times in total. For those of us who struggle with patience, the anticipation of getting a response from a company that you admire like a fangirl makes you tick. It’s exhilarating to know that you could possibly contribute to a force that has had such influence on your interests and your life, but it’s stressful to have to play the waiting game with HR.

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Silence screams in exponential volumes. Companies get applicants for jobs and internships like they’re hosting a One Direction meet and greet – it’s hard to get back to everyone, let alone even skim the applications. I’ve been in this situation and have re-sent and re-re-sent applications to companies, especially the ones that are at the top of my “Dream Careers” list. But still, just because you send once doesn’t mean it’s enough to get a response.

Nothing, however, compares to a rejection notification. There have been instances when I’ve gotten automated email responses within 12 hours of applying that said, “Currently, you don’t fit the qualifications.” Some messages have been more personalized, and while I appreciate being notified, it can be upsetting. You stare at your screen, take a deep breath and think, What do they have that I don’t have?

You see how your questions have come full circle – what does Katie have that you don’t have? What does the lucky applicant who got the job have that you don’t have?

From what I know, you have to keep moving forward. Remain positive. Remain polite. If you’ve spoken to anyone regarding positions and opportunities, don’t lose touch. Hustle and do anything you can to stay in the game. If you’re passionate enough about it, you’ll get what you deserve… And probably a nicer guy than your seventh grade crush.

 


The Cycle

by Nikki Lakin in , ,


True or False: Education is meant to be your top priority while in college.

At any other school, that's true. At FIT, that’s a hard value to keep up, since the nature of the school is to use the resources of NYC to its advantage and get into the workforce immediately. It’s inevitable that you’ll be an intern right from the get-go, or at least a volunteer for NYFW at some point your freshman year. The importance of our schooling gets lost amidst the crazy quest for the best internships and making connections with CEOs at nightclubs.

My freshman year, I, too, fell to this naïve idea and picked up two internships. First-year classes like mass communications and how-to-use-Microsoft-Office were nothing short of boring and I let all the material I should’ve retained fly right over my head.

Enter sophomore year, and the content of the classes began to change. One requirement was a class called Publicity Workshop, where we learned about what publicists do and how to create press kits. Everyone at FIT at some point “wants to work in PR,” and although being a publicist may appear to be a glamorous job, it’s not. Plus, a publicist doesn’t just make celebrities look good - every business, brand, and company needs a publicist.

One class was devoted to event planning. I didn’t realize at the time that one responsibility of publicists, among the many that they have, is to organize an event that a brand wants to have. And they don’t just put it together, they also write up the press release and then send that out to the media.

 NYC PR Girls

NYC PR Girls

As tedious as the work is, publicists have to stay composed. I learned that no matter what, when someone from the media is invited to an event and shows up at it, the publicist has to cater to their every. Single. Need. Why? It’s simple: so that they get good press. And that’s publicity. It’s a lot to execute, but it’s all for one reason.

When my internship started at Guest of a Guest in January, I knew that I would be covering events, but that was the extent of it I knew at that point. I started picking up more and more parties to cover and noticed a trend in how I was being treated. Someone would come up to me, tell me the firm they worked for, and then say in uptalk, “Thank you so much for coming! We’re so glad to have you here! Is there anything you need? Are you hungry? Do you want a cocktail menu? Don’t worry, we’ll take care of evvvvverything.”

I realized that what I learned in school about public relations had come full circle with my experience in the media and technically as part of the press. This has been a unique way to learn about public relations. We get invited to events and press releases about parties. PR firms want their events, brands, and sponsors to be written about in the media, and in a good light. What I’m doing here is so crucial to their business, and I had no idea. To return the favor for being so welcoming to me at these events, I pay it forward and write sincere reviews about the events.

The attributes of academia may seem time-consuming and as students in NYC, we may believe that education comes solely from experience. Take it from me - use what you learn and apply it to your internship. It really does come full circle.

 


Ladies First: Life Lessons Lauren Conrad Taught Me

by Nikki Lakin in , , ,


Pretend it’s 2005. You’re in sixth grade again and spending your Friday afternoon sipping on caramel chillers (with whipped cream) at Panera, gossiping about the guy Allie has a crush on, and wondering whose house you should hang out at for the rest of the evening. Eventually, you annoy Allie enough to get her to let you come to her place so you can stalk this cute boy’s MySpace page. After an hour of sharing quizzes on your homepage and looking for quotes to put in your AIM profiles, you decide to turn on MTV, which Allie’s parents weren’t big fans of. But this was your version of rebellion at 12 years old and you were proud of this forward march.

A scenic b-roll backdrop of the Hollywood sign appears on the screen and you and Allie screech “Omigod!” Everyone’s favorite TV show back in 2005 is on: “The Hills.” The two of you kick back on the couch, pop some popcorn and catch up on the reruns that you’ve already seen three times since the most recent episode aired.

Admit it: you lived vicariously through lives of the leading ladies and pictured yourself as a grown-up/20-year-old showrooming at boutiques on Rodeo Drive and grabbing sushi with your girls, followed by a late night at Les Deux.

Out of all the girls that were featured, though, the show revolved around one in particular, Laguna Beach belle Lauren Conrad. Let’s be real, you probably read that and just sighed, thinking, Ugh, I love her.

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Although “The Hills” was criticized as pseudo-reality, every aspect of Lauren’s personality was as fresh as a batch of bakery goods. You could smell the sugar of her personality through your TV screen. Audrina described her as an “old soul,” almost beyond her years. She balanced school and strived for success at her challenging Teen Vogue internship. She sincerely valued the well-being of her friends and even when they didn’t return the favor, she still made efforts until the end. She never fought, but she was firm.

LC can be credited with teaching millennial girls across America some of the most important lessons they’ve ever learned before they turn 15. From trying to defend her friendship while Spencer and Heidi were dating and ditching to picking up roles in her career. So I’ve put together a relatively short yet important list of life lessons Lauren Conrad has taught me:

Life Lessons Lauren Conrad Taught Me

1. Bows before bros, AKA sisters before misters, AKA your friends are the most important relationships. (In some cases, yes, male counterparts are considered "bows" or "sisters")

2. A few close, trustworthy friends are better than a lot of fake friends.

3. “Just always go to Paris!”

4. You can’t click with everyone.

5. Surround yourself with people who build you up.

To say that Ms. Conrad is a class act is an understatement. But even to this day, her success grows among various levels. She operates two fashion lines, is a philanthropist, and is planning a wedding. Oh, and she’s still giving the best advice in the world on her site, LaurenConrad.com. It takes talent to remain so poised while so busy. When I say I want to be Lauren Conrad, I’m completely serious. I hope Allie’s anti-MTV parents can learn to agree with me.

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