Monthly Archives: April 2013

10 Ways to Get Ahead Before You Go To College

Here’s a handy list of how to be awesome before you belt Vitamin C all summer. For those of you graduating from college, many of these are a must.

1. Make a LinkedIn, and tell your friends to, too.

So here’s the deal, LinkedIn is getting more and more popular. When I was in high school, I occasionally got requests, but I wasn’t impressed by it, so I didn’t invest. I regret that every day, because there were some truly fantastic people trying to connect with me.Not to mention, now I’m struggling to catch up with all of the rockstars I met in high school–professional or otherwise.

If you have a profile already made before you graduate, all of those names will be fresh. Additionally, if you told them to make one, too, you’ll get to connect.

2. Get a professional email.
Along with that LinkedIn bit, don’t make your profile  using your
A professional email means Organize it with folders, such as: classwork, work, newsletters, passwords, etc. If you have the opportunity to get a email address, make that one professional, too.

Tip: If you intend to jump right into the professional world, ask for a domain for a graduation gift. Having First is just great, and will only run you around $15 a year, if you do it right. Additionally, if you intend to  get into communications, design, or marketing of any type, you’ll love yourself for already owning a space.

3. Take down all of your stupid s**t on Facebook. 

Take down all of it. The hot tub pictures. The prom parties. The pretend drinking. The real drinking. Anything with you smoking.

The internet is a free and open place. Did your dream school not accept you despite your glowing application? Don’t doubt this as a reason. Too many adults are realizing this the hard way (like this woman). Even having bad grammar on social media can ruin your job prospects. Don’t join them.

4. Get over your plethora of awards, volunteering, etc

While these experiences may come up in entry-level job interviews, sorority rushing, and pretentious parties, they don’t matter much beyond that. Putting too many of these redundant high school experiences on your resume will look weird, and you’ll know that at your first cruel interview when the interviewer laughs at the dates you listed.

I wrote a more anecdotal piece about this, too.

5. Get over your reputation, too.

Same deal, different story.  If you had the sad misfortune of living in the same school district, going to school with the same 300 people for a dozen years, then you will not understand this process. Unless you condemned yourself to another 4 years of being with the same high school crowd, COLLEGE IS FREE REIGN.

Reinvent yourself. Could mean you get hotter. or smarter. or nicer. your choice.

Tip: Talk to someone who’s moved a lot. They know the deal.

6. Get a file hosting account

You should have had one of these in high school, but if you didn’t, get one ASAP. I would recommend Box, Dropbox, and GoogleDrive because they’re free.

These are ASSes. As in Ass Saving Services. Printer in your dorm stopped working? Well maybe your friend works somewhere with a printer. Most schools have printing labs. Your library best have a printer. However, many times you have to use an ancient computing device to be able to print your stuff.  This is when you will love me for telling you to get one of these. Ass saving at its best.

Tips: Once you get one, look up the tips on how to get more memory. Better yet, make friends with the people who do that shit for fun.
Also, make a that’s easy to remember so you don’t even have to sign in to download the item. (Just remember they’re case sensitive.)

7. Learn to Love Podcasts 
Podcasts and their creative cousin, tutorials, are education’s gift to both non-enrolled and insanely stressed students. While many schools keep their daily podcasts of lectures under wraps, they usually have public ones too. Different courses require different methods of studying, but for conceptual things like biology, philosophy, and books, podcasts rock!

Podcasts can be both video or audio. Honestly, video is only necessary for formulaic (duh) subjects like math (it’s hard to visualize a formula).

Places to find podcasts and tutorials:
Your University Website (another professor could be a great way to review!)
iTunes U
Khan Academy


Quizlet quizlet quizlet. Quiz fricken let. I can’t rave enough about them.

This service should be so expensive. But it’s free, and awesome, and they finally made an app. They’re your flashcards online. You can just print the cards (alphabetically, or randomly or in the order that you made them). You can just copy paste a document of your vocab and they’ll make flashcards from them.

More than that? They make games! And tests! And review software! So worth it. So fun. I used to have study sessions where we all sat there making flashcards during the session, then used them to review later on our own. Super useful.
Side note: I’m on a Quizlet Crusade. I’ve literally converted dozens of people to using Quizlet. You’re next. Because they rock.

9. Become a Brand Ambassador

So this is an obvious one for people already interested in marketing, but being a Brand Ambassador (or Brand Influencer/Brand Representative/Street Team/whatever) can help you learn a lot about organizing people and events, too.

Most ambassadorships want you to table at events and get connected with organizations. What a fun way to get to know a club you might be interested in without awkward membership requirements! You’ll also work with someone running the program. Sometimes this is outsourced; I had that experience with Spotify. However, smaller orgs will have an employee, or sometimes even corporate intern run the program. You’ll be able to connect with someone already moving through the corporate ladder via LinkedIn, and you’ll also find out a lot about who is getting hired in that sector.

If you can think of a service or brand you already love, look them up. If they don’t have a program advertised, email them! They might love the idea so much they’ll start one and you’ll have your foot so far in the door you’ll surprise yourself.

10. Research your school.

This includes the obvious, like taking advantage of orientation, looking up recent articles about your school, and Googling your professors.

However, this also means paying attention to the stereotypes of your school. I recently found out that UCLA was in a documentary called Shmacked. I was so shocked. My whole senior year, I had kept my ears opening for “party schools” and “smart schools”. I knew Boulder, Arizona, Santa Barbara and San Diego were party hotspots. I knew Berkeley and Stanford were full of really smart people, but they partied hard. UCLA? Nothing. Crickets. Pins dropping. But here is someone who thought differently. Keep those ears and eyes open.

This blog post is dedicated to all of those seniors, someday seniors, and no-longer seniors that I did my best to guide through the process. I know you think I’m insanely different than I was in high school—and someday you’ll stop being so judgmental. All in all, I hope I said at least one useful thing to you.


No One Cares About Your Past

Growing up, I had a lot of older mentors. All of my siblings (at the time) were older than me. All of my friends were older. I myself was older than most of the people in my class were. As I watched one of these mentors go through college, he constantly came home saying, “I wish people realized that no one cares about their past!”


He didn’t mean their background, or their childhood, or anything like that. He meant their high school reputation. He was annoyed with going on dates with girls who would go on and on about how popular they were in high school, despite being close to getting their degree.


For me…that’s hard to imagine. Maybe UCLA is full of people who acknowledge we were all amazing in high school.  Maybe I’m not dating those types of people.  But outside of popularity, we can’t get over high school, and I wonder how bad that is.


This comes because tonight (April 23) I’m going back to a warm memory from high school. Long Beach had just created a new award. It was going to be the Emerging Youth Leader Award, for someone who “demonstrated ethical leadership in their sphere of influence, involvement in local community issues, and strong communication skills” and I received it in 2009.  The award had already existed, but this is the first time they were going to give it to a young person. I was so honored. My dad actually showed up. I felt like a moral celebrity, which was weird, but fun.


In finding me on LinkedIn, one of the award coordinators excitedly emailed me. Shortly after we caught up, she asked me to come to their reception at a nice restaurant tonight, because “It would be great to have an Emerging Leader Award Recipient and get an update in person.”


Of course, I’m beyond stoked. I was so absolutely stunned and excited when I got the actual award. I felt like my silent efforts were suddenly shouted on mountaintops. But should I forget that? My past pulled me back tonight, and I’m super stoked about it. I learned so much in high school, and that’s okay.




I learned my job at Wetzel’s Pretzels in a matter of days. Everyone was so stunned, since most of my coworkers didn’t learn each restaurant  (working at Wetzel’s is actually working at Rx, Wetzel’s Relaxtation and Greenhouse in Ackerman) until about 3-4 weeks in.  I recently read my employee review, and the same thing was recorded on it. When I got tested on sanitary precaution, I passed with flying colors. I told them I had managed my old student store, so of course I knew the standards. He replied, “No one cares about your past, Mandy.”


Not Curly Enough

At Camp Elk, 2012
At Camp Elk, 2012


It’s something I want to scream nearly every time I go to dinner with my boyfriend’s family. These events are often…I’d say about once a week. His little sister Danielle, 15 years old, wants to straighten her hair. This is an argument I’ve seen unfold since my first visit with his parents a little over a year ago. His mom cringed whenever his sister mentioned it. Tension immediately rose at the table whenever it happened.

I was at lunch with a fellow student. We were getting paid to give tours of the housing (dorms) at UCLA to newly admitted students and their families.. We were learning about each other to fill time before the job got started. I was telling her I was going to be teaching in Tanzania that summer, my boyfriend is Isreali.

She commented, “Wow, you’re already doing Global Studies!” Global Studies was my major.

That made me sort of uncomfortable…I’m not studying my own life, I’m doing what I’m interested in. I didn’t date the boy I dated because he’s foreign. I didn’t travel because I wanted to observe the people like some sick tourist. I wanted to know what it was like for a non-profit to work abroad…and I sure learned a lot of lessons.

But is that what I look like? Some privileged white girl touring any exotic thing she can get her hands on? Is that what I am? No, it’s not…but I wonder if that’s how I seem. I’ve thought the same thing about military men who’ve married women from abroad, why should I be judged any differently?

Meanwhile, back at the ranch.

Just kidding, they would never be able to handle eating at a ranch.

Meanwhile, back at the trendy urban eating environment.

I was walking on eggshells talking to Danielle at the table. For context, this girl has seen me sit in a movie theater down 2/3 of a mimosa in a workout water bottle, and giggle my ass off to some action movie. As I explain that I can straighten my own hair in 20 minutes for quick wavy hair, and 40 for perfectly straight hair. Danielle loves it every time I say that straightening isn’t that big of a deal, especially with good product and a ceramic straightener. Every time I approve something, Danielle looks at her mom like, “See, it’s not that bad!”

However, whenever I mention something like this, a specific gaze begin to lather me with judgment. Come on Mandy, have you looked in a mirror? Her curls are WAY curlier than yours are. It would take so much longer for her to straighten her hair.

It’s his mom’s way of commenting on my foreignness. Since I’m at their table, it’s an Israeli table. Even though only one of their 5 children was born there, his parents were born there. They return annually. So if I’m sitting with them, they’ll try to not speak Hebrew out of American politeness, but I’ve been around long enough that they forget I don’t speak it.

And it’s okay that I’m foreign. It’s refreshing. It’s like when I was traveling and didn’t speak a word of the country I was in. It’s a very unique way to be surrounded, and yet alone. It’s introspective and defining.

However, his parents think we’re “moving too fast.” At this point in their lives, they had met each other, and would soon travel together to the US. I imagine all they had was each other at school. This bond is probably what led to their marriage. His mom always freaks out when his sisters say they don’t want to marry an Israeli man. I’m sure it’s the other way around with me, and my hair isn’t curly enough.

I’m not Israeli. My hair isn’t naturally thick and dark. I have a weird mix of English, Scottish, and Cherokee. My other languages are odd and not very developed. I’m artistic, not scientific, like his family values. They accept me, but they don’t want me to get anywhere close to a ring on my finger.
What they don’t understand is that I’m just as scared of that as they are.

There’s a somewhat happy ending to this story. Danielle recently attended a formal, for which her mother took her to a Beverly Hills Salon to get her hair professionally straightened. The formal was 2 months ago, and now she gets her hair straightened weekly, because “it would take too long and she would mess it up,” according to her mom and sister.  This girl used to live with her hair in a bun or a ponytail 24/7. Be it going to a party, a holiday, a hang out, her hair was up. I found out she was called a “poodle” at school from her curls. Now her hair is always down, and it’s beautiful and long. She flips it constantly, radiating confidence through her teenage smirks. She smiles occasionally, too.