January 31, 2018

Establishing Your Brand as a Young Professional

Building your brand is essentially cautious steps that we can take to establish ourselves in our work environment, establish our reputation, and being taken seriously. Internship do's and don't's. how to be the best inter. how to be a successful intern. how to be taken seriously as a young professional. lessons learned from my professional mentor. law school blog. law school blogging | brazenandbrunette.com

Hi sorry I totally dropped this random post on y'all and then went MIA for a week, but first I had my Bar application, then I had a networking event, then I went back to Lubbock for a doctor's appointment so I've just had no time to blog. Anyways today I'm back talking about da law again! Originally I was going to name this post How to be Taken Seriously as a Young Lawyer and then my boss said something about building her brand in the company and I realized that's what I wanted to talk about today since it also encompasses how to be taken seriously. Building your brand is essentially cautious steps that we can take to establish ourselves in our work environment, establish our reputation, and being taken seriously.

One of my bosses is late 20s/early 30s (I'm terrible about guessing ages) and has been dropping some nuggets of knowledge about what she's learned so far in her legal career so I'm sharing some of those as well as my own observations! Side note- these are in no specific order, just as I remember them because I lost my little post it with my notes on them.

Dress for the job you want, not the job you have

My company is surprisingly casual for being a corporate office and almost everyone wears jeans and a nice top. I've worn jeans a few times since starting either because it was a Friday or I just didn't have clean work clothes, but overall I still make a point to dress business casual. This isn't because I think I'm better than everyone else or too fancy to dress down, but because I'm 25. Some people have been working at this company for longer than I've been alive and I want them to take me seriously and actually see me as a lawyer and not just a student intern. I'm not saying a suit is always necessary, but resist the urge to go casual and try to dress like a lawyer. 

I know a lot of people hate hearing this because they want to show off their personality, but you can do that just as well by joking around with your coworkers. Your can show off your personality through your attitude in general without looking like the girl in Me Before You (ugh watch it).  

Take notes 

You know when you give your order to a waiter and he doesn't write it down so instinctively you just assume something is going to be wrong with your order? Don't give that feeling to your boss. I have a little notepad and pen that I bring with me everywhere. Sure, I look like a reporter running around the office taking notes, but I will sacrifice looking dumb at the expense of not messing up. When my bosses gives me an assignment, I take notes on what they're wanting and any due dates. Then later I can add this information into my planner and also will have a reference so that I don't forget anything that they wanted and later on take notes over their suggested revisions to whatever I'm working on. 

I also use it to take notes in meetings of questions to ask later so I can learn what's going on, and what's being said in general so that if I'm in another meeting regarding the previous one, I'll have a quick reminder about what's going on. I write down the general topic that the meeting is about, who is in it, and what day it took place. This also helps me remember people's names if I'm also seeing Joe in the finance meetings then I know Joe works in the finance department. And if your office has many departments and floors like mine does, having a little directory page in their will help. I use this notebook for all my notes. 

Email properly

I have had professors who were sticklers on email etiquette so it has made me become one too. A lot of people our age get lazy with emails and it is super unprofessional to not know how to correctly send an email. First off, only CC people who are on a need-to-know basis so you don't annoy them. Quick lesson— CC stands for carbon copy and BCC stands for blind carbon copy; the person you're sending the email to will see everyone you CC but can't see any you BCC so use that one if you don't want them to know. 

Next is the subject line, which at first was what I found to be the hardest part. Originally I would want to send an email with the subject of like "Please excuse my absence from Friday's class" and was being too wordy. Now I would have the subject of Friday's class and then within the email let them know I'll be missing. 

Always start off the email using someone's name because it's rude to just jump in to a message without even acknowledging them. And check their email address to make sure you're spelling their name correctly! If you're sending it to one person you can say Ben and Jerry or if you're sending it to one person and CC'ing a lot of people you can say Tiffany and Co (jk I say team but the example sounds better without it).

Don't just say "here's the memo I've been working on" but instead say "attached please find the memo regarding X that you requested Y" so they have some context about what you're sending. Pro tip is right after you write this sentence immediately attach the document so you don't accidentally forget to add it.

End it with a signature. Here is how to add a signature to your email. Personally I prefer not to use "thanks" because think of this exchange— "Nikki send me that memo you've been drafting" "sure boss. which memo I've been working on 3? thanks, Nikki." What am I thanking them for? It's just awkward haha. I just think it feels more professional to use best, yours truly, respectfully, regards. Then under that goes your full name, under that goes your title, under that goes your company/office, under that goes your work phone, under that goes your work email (yes I know you're sending the email from your work email but go ahead and keep this). Lastly, just take a note from that whole DNC scandal that happened right before the election and only say something in an email that would be totally fine getting shared all over the news.

Sit up straight

This is something that I've started to work on after I looked around in a meeting and realized that I was the only one slouched over and all the "adults" in the room were sitting up straight. I really hadn't noticed my posture before but then suddenly I felt like a moody teenager all slumped over in my chair. And since being a lawyer involves a lot of time sitting at a desk, it's also super important to work on sitting properly so you don't end up with back/shoulder/neck cramps. 

Avoid office drama

With offices comes drama and it can be very tempting to revert back to your snarky 8th grade self and join in on it, but don't. Remember, you're building your brand and your reputation! No matter how much someone annoys you, don't talk about them behind their back. If you find yourself in a situation where everyone is talking bad about someone, a simple out is to just say "I don't know I kinda like her/she seems nice/she helped me with X/we both have Y in common." Just go by the old tongue twister what Susie says of Sally says more of Susie than of Sally

If someone tells you a secret like they're interviewing for another job or something, keep that to yourself. If you end up in a situation where everyone is gossiping about another person, a good out is to just say "oh I'm too busy handling my own life to care about what anyone else is getting up to in theirs." This is not only showing people that you're a nice human, but also that you can be trusted.

Resist the urge to be on your phone

In college I worked retail jobs where you could get fired to be on your phone so it's tempting when you're able to actually have it out in the open. It's also tempting when you see everyone else on their phones, but remember that they're likely responding to work emails or looking up something work-related. Plus, like the whole world just assumes millennials are addicted to their phones so we're already starting out having to prove that stereotype wrong. 

You just don't want to have to have your boss telling you to get off your phone because that's super unprofessional and will lead to a bad recommendation later on in life. Also be super careful with any snaps your posting because you might inadvertently be posting pictures of confidential information and in case you didn't know, once confidential information becomes public (for example, on snapchat), it's no longer confidential and then that's how you get fired. 

Also this "avoid it" rule applies to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, basically anything else online where you're so obviously not working. I'm not saying you can never text your friends but I am saying try to keep it to a minimum.

Be an asset

What I mean by that is be more of a help than a burden. Don't just point out something that is wrong in the contract; do research and come up with a solution to fix it. Don't just run to your boss if you can't find something; look around and try to find it yourself. Basically just try before you run for help. See if you can teach yourself how to do something. 

Work hard. It's not exactly fun to get to work early and stay late, but we've got to pay our dues when we're just starting out. It feels great when you hear your boss be impressed that you beat him to work in the morning. Show your boss that you're dedicated and actually care about this job and aren't just sitting there counting down the minutes until 5:00. 

Another way to be an asset is to be honest with your boss. If you think you messed up, tell them right away instead of trying to hide it because that will absolutely make it worse and also when your boss finds out he's not going to trust you as much.

Be appropriate

Okay this is two concepts I'm clumping together. Number one is we had to have a talk at one of my previous jobs because a girl wore the "visible bralet" trend to work. I've also seen a girl wear a black bra under a white shirt and another wear a white bra under a black dress (you wouldn't think this is as bad but it's super obvious under the wrong lighting). I've also seen girls in too tight of bottoms/skirts and I could very clearly see their panty line.

Number two is I've seen girls wear absolutely no makeup and really look like they didn't even brush their hair and I've seen girls wearing so much makeup they look like they're wearing stage makeup. I'm not saying you have to wear makeup and I'm not saying you can't wear any at all, but just consider how you'll be perceived based off the amount of effort you put in. Try to at least look put together so that you don't come off as not caring about your job, but also remember that most people over thirty don't wear a whole lot of makeup so you're aging yourself as a teeny-bopper when you do a full glam look every day.

Okay that's all I can think of right now without my post it, but I'll definitely update this with anything I left out if I find that little guy. If you have some work experience/tips/ideas you'd like to share, feel free to comment below and help out a future lawyer!

let's be friends!

January 22, 2018

Everything You Need to Know About Breast Reduction Surgery

How to decide whether to have breast reduction (reduction mammoplasty) surgery, how to pick a breast reduction plastic surgeon, how to deal with insurance companies for breast reduction, what to expect during breast reduction surgery and breast reduction recovery. Breast reduction tips. Breast reduction advice. Why you should have a breast reduction. What I wish I knew before breast reduction surgery. Weight loss vs. surgery for breast reduction. Breast reduction before and after |  brazenandbrunette.com

Today's post is a little off in left field, but once again I found myself looking all over Pinterest and couldn't find any truly helpful posts so I felt the need to write one myself. So a month ago I reduced each breast by about a pound! I know most of y'all won't ever have this surgery, but if you're one of the few readers who will need it or are just curious in general then read on my friends.

To keep this post from being unnecessarily long, I'm going to skip over my how-I-decided-I-needed-surgery story and my how-my-life-has-changed story. If any of y'all are interested in that, just comment or email me and I can make a mini-series of posts about this whole thing. But here is a good summary of that...

Once I realized that my boobs were getting out of hand and honestly getting in my way, I started to try to get them in control. The problem came when I lost 10 pounds my 1L year but they stayed the exact same size. Even worse, I had lost weight around my ribs directly under my boobs so now I couldn't find bras with a large enough cup size and small enough band size. This is when I realized that no amount of push-ups or other "breast reducing exercises" were going to help. Both of my grandmas and now me just have the body type of "large boobs" so I could lose as much weight as I wanted to, but I would still have a whole lot of tissue. And if I ever gained any weight back, it all goes to my boobs first and then elsewhere in my body so this was a problem that I realized wouldn't solve itself simply by working out my pec muscles.


Unfortunately I ended up wasting almost as much money as the surgery costs just trying to get insurance to cover the surgery. I first checked on my company's website and saw that the procedure was covered. Then I went to my regular doctor to get her medical recommendation that surgery was needed and to get a referral for my plastic surgeon (cost: copay). Then I went to my PS to be evaluated and she sent off a recommendation to my insurance company (cost: specialist copay). I was denied by my insurance but had been warned of this so I went back to my doctor for pain meds to help and another letter (one more copay + pain medicine). Then I went to a chiropractor and learned that I had a slight curvature just from the weight on my front so I went through adjustments and physical therapy for a month and a half to fix that problem and also get a rec letter (copay + PT + x rays). Then my mom wanted me to get one more opinion so I went to my gyno because she's been seeing me for a while so she knew my boobs weren't going to stop growing any time soon (copay). 

I was denied again and this time we found out that it's because it literally was excluded in my policy (think like before iPhones when data just didn't work on your phone if you didn't have a data plan). My dad owns his own company and I'm on his plan so we were like okay we'll just change policies to one that includes the surgery. However, we found out that this would make his premiums go way up and all of his employees are guys so from a business standpoint he just couldn't do it. I then tried to see about possibly getting on my own insurance plan since I was young and still in school so I figured maybe I could get on the cheapest plan that covered it. This turned out to be a waste, too, because I would pay more just in premiums then the surgery was actually worth.

So my mom called her insurance company (she's a teacher so she's on her own plan through the school) and verified with them that this could be covered and they told her that as long as it's medically necessary and not just cosmetic then they'd cover it. At this point it was over a year since I'd first seen my PS so she wanted me to come back in because she didn't want to write a rec letter over year-old measurements (another specialist co-pay). So we sent off all my old and new records and found out that for this company, "medically necessary" means basically only a mastectomy and since I wasn't going to die without this surgery, it wasn't "necessary" to them. Being denied three times by insurance companies is really terrible because you're basically sending them your nudes (yes you do have to send them pictures) and they come back and say meh they're big, but I've seen bigger and is just really frustrating.

Finally we realized that at this rate we might as well just pay for the surgery outright. Thankfully my parents are super understanding so they were totally okay with helping me pay for the surgery (although I'm not counting on getting a big present for my next birthday). I ended up being glad we went this route because this let me have 100% of the decision making power and didn't have some insurance company dictating how many grams I was going to be taking out. I also was able to choose where my surgery would take place since I didn't have to worry about out-of-network hospitals or anything like that.

The surgery

I found my surgeon simply because I went to my regular doctor and asked who she'd recommend for a breast reduction. I loved my surgeon and a great way for you to do some research on surgeons in your area is to read reviews on RealSelf.com

The week before my surgery, I had a pre-op appointment with my doctor to discuss size and look at pictures of her previous surgeries so I could see what would be proportional to my body. Then she answered all of my last-minute questions before she sent me off to get pre-op blood work. I also went ahead and filled all my prescriptions (just pain meds, nausea medicine, antibiotics, and a xanax for the night before) so my mom wouldn't have to deal with that on the day of my surgery. 

I got there at 8 that morning in my button-up shirt and leggings and house shoes all ready to go. Then there was some last minute testing to make sure I didn't have any nicotine in my system and I hadn't gotten pregnant in the past week and then I put on my gown, hair net, and compression socks. I tried taking a picture of this but I had a slight anxiety attack the morning of so my eyes were red and puffy in the picture and so I obviously had to delete it haha. My doctor came in to again talk with me to make sure she knew what I wanted and then to mark me up. Next I got an IV hooked up for the meds and a shot to make me calm and relaxed and sleepy. My surgery lasted a little longer than an hour but honestly I don't even remember leaving the pre-op room.

It's true what my doctor promised, I woke up and I couldn't feel my boobs. Not like they were still numb couldn't feel them, but like they just weren't crazy heavy. If you were to take a sports bra on and put two one-pound hand weights in there and wear that all day and then take it off at night, that's exactly the relief that I felt. That feeling alone instantly made me reassured that surgery was the right choice for me.

How to decide whether to have breast reduction (reduction mammoplasty) surgery, how to pick a breast reduction plastic surgeon, how to deal with insurance companies for breast reduction, what to expect during breast reduction surgery and breast reduction recovery. Breast reduction tips. Breast reduction advice. Why you should have a breast reduction. What I wish I knew before breast reduction surgery. Weight loss vs. surgery for breast reduction. Breast reduction before and after |  brazenandbrunette.com
The day before my surgery
How to decide whether to have breast reduction (reduction mammoplasty) surgery, how to pick a breast reduction plastic surgeon, how to deal with insurance companies for breast reduction, what to expect during breast reduction surgery and breast reduction recovery. Breast reduction tips. Breast reduction advice. Why you should have a breast reduction. What I wish I knew before breast reduction surgery. Weight loss vs. surgery for breast reduction. Breast reduction before and after |  brazenandbrunette.com
1 week post-op


As for recovery, within just a few days I felt totally normal and fine. The problem is that incisions this big take a long time to heal so even a month out and I'm still covered in band-aids and gauze, so it's weird to look like I'm still recovering while feeling as if nothing happened. 

I spent the first two days basically just sleeping and only would wake up to go to the bathroom or take my meds. For some reason I had zero appetite for the first several days and would gag if I tried to make myself eat anything. Within the first week I felt good enough to stop taking the prescription pain meds and switched to OTC. After switching to less-strong medicine, I wasn't as drowsy all the time and slowly could walk around my house and then felt good enough to accompany my sister on a trip to the grocery store. 

Probably the weirdest part of the first week was that my boobs were so swollen they were almost on my collar bones, which my sister said they felt like hers did when she needed to breastfeed so now I know what to expect with that haha. During this week I also had to recruit my sister to take a shower with me because I couldn't reach up to wash my hair, which was also weird because we haven't taken a bath together since we were like 5. I was actually super nervous about showering just in general because I was afraid some of the tape that was covering my incisions would accidentally get too wet and wash off. 

Here's a fun story— about 5 days after surgery I was home alone and hungry but too lazy to make myself anything and I couldn't drive yet so I figured I'd just make myself a bowl of cereal. My mom keeps the cereal on the top shelf in our pantry just because it's the tallest shelf and when I reached up to get it I felt this terrible pain below my armpit and realized that I shouldn't have done that. Then I went to grab the milk and we had just gotten a new gallon so it was way too heavy for me to hold and so I instinctively dropped it because it hurt so bad. Obviously milk spilled and went everywhere on the floor, so I tried to clean it up but when I bent over to wipe it up there was a lot of pressure on my chest that again hurt really bad. So there I was, covered in milk and sticky from it; in pain from reaching too high for the cereal, from holding a too-heavy gallon of milk, and from bending over like I wasn't supposed to; so I just started to cry out of pain but also just general frustration... Yes, I did cry over spilled milk haha. 

The day of my 1-week post-op checkup, I got my new Stitch Fix box in. I had told my stylist that I was getting the surgery so she'd know huge boobs were no longer a factor for choosing cut and styles of clothes. I teared up trying on the first top once I looked in the mirror because I realized how much skinnier I looked now! Before I was actually worried surgery would make me look bigger since my big boobs made my stomach look flat in comparison, but after trying on this top I realized how I now fit in smaller size tops that could fit my body better overall and it was much more flattering. 

By week 2, the swelling had gone down so I at least felt completely normal. But this was also when everything started itching as scabs formed and my body healed, which was super not fun. This also was the week where the bruising from the liposuction they did around my armpits really started to show up so I look like I'd had my ass kicked pretty badly. I also had bumps from the lipo too because there was scar tissue forming around where she'd poked and prodded me to reshape my boobs. This was also the week that I was moving cities so that was a little hard because I couldn't bend over to put anything into boxes and I couldn't reach up to get anything out of cabinets and I couldn't lift hardly anything so I was basically completely useless while moving. It also was still uncomfortable to reach up when washing my hair and I tried to get my hair stylist to just shampoo my hair for me but she up and got married and had the salon shut down while she was on her honeymoon so I just made due with lots of dry shampoo and baseball caps.

I was actually only 3 weeks post-op when I started my new externship and really nothing was different except that I kept running to the bathroom to make sure I had gauze in place because how do you explain blood-stained boobs on your first day of work? The only other problem that I still have is my skin is super thin from the surgery so I'm having to use a crap ton of coconut oil all over to keep my skin moisturized enough that it won't rip and bleed if I take off a band-aid (I use oil because my doctor doesn't want me using lotion just yet so I don't irritate anything). And by now I'm healed enough where I just have band-aids over areas that are healing the slowest. What's really cool is that I have a friend in med-school who actually did a rotation with my PS! So when I snapped her that I finally went through with the surgery, she sent me this. 

How to decide whether to have breast reduction (reduction mammoplasty) surgery, how to pick a breast reduction plastic surgeon, how to deal with insurance companies for breast reduction, what to expect during breast reduction surgery and breast reduction recovery. Breast reduction tips. Breast reduction advice. Why you should have a breast reduction. What I wish I knew before breast reduction surgery. Weight loss vs. surgery for breast reduction. Breast reduction before and after |  brazenandbrunette.com

So that's where I'm at! I'm super excited for it to warm up so I can start wearing strapless tops just because I finally can again haha. As far as being my first surgery, this actually hasn't been too bad and I'm just glad that I finally got this over with and can live my life without looking like Pamela Anderson.

January 19, 2018

Life as Corporate Counsel

I have this friend from Study Abroad who is a year older than me and is in med school and one cool thing I've found out through her is that when you're an upper level med student, you go through these rounds of spending 2 weeks working as a family doctor, 2 weeks working as a pediatrician, 2 weeks with plastic surgery, 2 weeks with internal medicine... you get the point. And I am so jealous that they get this opportunity because it's a way for them to experience first hand all of the different areas of medicine and find out what's for sure not for them and narrow down what they want to do. Sadly law students don't get this opportunity so you never really know if there's a field of law out there that you would absolutely love if you just try. I'm a week shy of the med student 2 week experience, but I thought I'd share with y'all what I've already learned so far about being corporate counsel to give you a little snapshot to see what it's like!

What is corporate counsel

Traditionally, businesses would hire law firms to do all of their legal work (like Harvey Spectre). Then businesses realized it'd be cheaper and more efficient to have their own attorney employed by their business just for them to handle the day-to-day legal needs and then if there's a big suit or a complicated area, then they can hire a law firm to handle that. I think of corporate counsel (AKA in-house) as being like the mom of the company. People come to you to complain about problems they need resolved, come to get your advice, and come to when they need to settle an argument. 

How CC is different than just working in a law firm is that usually in a law firm you get really good in one area (say, real estate) and spend most of your time doing that for all kinds of different clients. This is just the opposite where you do a little bit of everything, but for just one client. So you are working on vendor contracts, leasing agreements, trademark licensing, employment issues (workplace safety to avoiding wrongful termination), mergers and acquisitions, anti-trust, buying and selling contracts, ensuring federal and state compliance, dealing with any countries that your company does work with, counseling officers and board members, and basically just any other problem that a business might encounter just trying to operate.

Pros of corporate counsel

I met a lawyer my 1L year at a networking thing and I asked him what was the worst part about being a lawyer and he said "billable hours fo sho" (okay I'm adding a little "mere puffery" here lol). But as CC you don't have to do that because you're basically billing your client (AKA your employer) with your salary. So whether a document takes you two full weeks or two hours to get done, you get paid the same.

This brings me to my next point of normal business hours. One of the lawyers I work with is married to a private practice attorney and she was explaining to me that while sometimes they both end up with 80-hour work weeks, he has them much more often then she does. And usually she ends up having a 40-hour work week. So if tbh as a woman I really like this idea because I could have kids and not feel guilty about missing their wholes lives because I'm working all the time. Plus, you're missing a lot of happy hours if you're working 80-hour weeks hahah.

One big thing that I've come to realize that I like is just having one client. When everything you do all-day, every-day is for the same client, it can be easy because you understand where they're coming from and what they want. You can be strategic and make decisions not just about what's good for this one situation, but what will be beneficial for the company as a whole in the future. Plus, your client can't be too crazy demanding because they should have a good sense of all of the work that's on your plate (although kinda not really because the finance people don't know what the property people have already given you). But I will point out that a downside of this is that your client is always there so you could be getting calls, emails, or drop-ins all day from people constantly needing help if it's one of those if-it-rains-it-pours kind of days.

Another thing that I personally like is the variety of the work. If my eyes start to bleed from reading regulation after regulation to make sure our policies are up-to-date with them, I can just switch gears and redline contracts for a bit. Detour: redlining a contract is basically we're negotiating a contract with someone else so they'll send us their contract and we mark out all the parts that are bad for us (think like "you waive all rights to sue us ever") and put in our own suggestions (think like requesting that they have a higher liability insurance policy if we're sending our employees onto their property); I personally think it's really fun (law nerd) because you get to be all bossy.  

You don't "real lawyer." One of my bosses jokes that any time she's ever had to go down to court to file a pleading or motion, she's doing "real lawyering." This is pretty rare because usually something like a cease & desist letter can fix a problem or if it's a big problem (think we're going to trial), then outside counsel will hop on board. For me, I don't feel this big urge to be litigating because if you've ever researched for a brief or sat through a trial then you know how it can be really stressful. While CC obviously isn't stress-free, I know that when I show up for work I won't need to have all of the Rules of Evidence or Trial Procedure fresh on my mind to be shouting out all day. Although, if you like the thrill of litigation then I guess this point would go in the next section for you.

Cons of corporate counsel

Although I am loving my externship, no job is perfect. For starters, these jobs are harder to come by. My company has only two lawyers that handle everything (except for the outside counsel they hire for the more complex issues) and on the other hand, some law firms have literally hundreds of lawyers. I've read both that some companies prefer to cherry pick the best (usually super experienced) person from a law firm and recruit them to their CC but also that now some companies prefer to hire fresh-faced law students so that they grow up learning only how to do things the way the company does. Ideally I'll be able to find a company like the latter (because if we're being honest here as much as I love my company and I'm sure they love me back, they just don't have the need for another lawyer so a job offer definitely isn't waiting for me), but realistically I know I might have to work at a normal firm to gain some experience before I can be qualified enough for a job.

And if we're being blunt then the money of corporate counsel usually isn't quite the same as a law firm. Since there's no billable hours or contingency fees, as a CC you're salaried just like a normal job. And while the sales team and everyone else at your job are actually making your company money with their job, all you're really doing is helping them not lose money so it's not like you have the opportunity to earn any bonuses. But also, you're still being a lawyer for a company so you're still making good money, just not like a quarter million a year (unless you work for Disney). You also are giving up the chance to be partner because there's really only the position of lawyer or lawyer in the legal department (although you could rise up to be like president of a branch of the company).

Okay so that's all I have so far! I'm sure I'll have lots more to say about this as time goes on, but I wanted to get this post written now while all these concepts are still new and fresh on my mind. Have a good weekend everyone and once again, enjoy studying while I do nothing because I'm basically done with school muahahahahaah 

let's be friends!

January 17, 2018

What's in My Internship Work Bag

What's in my purse for my internship plus how I keep it organized! What's in my bag. Work bag organization. Organized work bag. Work bag essentials. Internship work bag. law school blog. law student blogger | brazenandbrunette.com

I've been meaning to do this for a while since I had this post requested forever ago, but I wanted to wait until my externship to write this so that I can have another perspective. See, I've realized that what you need in your work bag really depends on your work situation. Since I've been in law school, I've been in a situation where I got no desk so I had to bring everything with me every day, I've twice had to share a desk with a fellow part-timer since we had opposite schedules, I've had a job with a desk with lots of drawers where I didn't really need to bring anything with me, and now I have a table instead of a desk (that doesn't have drawers) so I have a mix of what I need and what I can stash at work. 

What's in my purse for my internship plus how I keep it organized! What's in my bag. Work bag organization. Organized work bag. Work bag essentials. Internship work bag. law school blog. law student blogger | brazenandbrunette.com

The bag

I feel like I'll inevitably end up doing a post all about your work bag because I have a lot of thoughts on what to consider when picking one, but I'll do a quick version now. Two words: tote. bag. I have a crossbody bag that I use for going out that better matched an outfit that I had on so I wore it instead of my big bag and it just didn't cut it because I didn't have enough room. Your bag needs to be big enough to fit not only all your basic necessities but also anything you might have to take to/home with you from work. For example, since this past week was my first week I had some HR paperwork to take home and fill out/sign and return. If I didn't have a super big purse then I would've had to fold it or otherwise crumple it and that's just not ideal. Also, some people have work laptops that they have to take home so that's a factor when you're considering sizes. My go-to measuring stick is my padfolio. If that fits, then the bag is good enough for me.

Little bags

What's in my purse for my internship plus how I keep it organized! What's in my bag. Work bag organization. Organized work bag. Work bag essentials. Internship work bag. law school blog. law student blogger | brazenandbrunette.com

I generally like to be organized, so inside my purse I have two smaller bags— one for makeup and one as a catchall. 

What's in my purse for my internship plus how I keep it organized! What's in my bag. Work bag organization. Organized work bag. Work bag essentials. Internship work bag. law school blog. law student blogger | brazenandbrunette.com

The key to reining in a makeup bag is to use travel sizes for all of your makeup! These can either be little add-ons that you throw in your Amazon cart to fill up your prime pantry box or quick items you grab at checkout at Sephora/Ulta. Besides just being space savers, mini makeup products are better for your purse since you don't use these every day so you don't end up still using 3-year-old mascara and get a stye or something. I also keep a cloth hair tie, a clear plastic elastic, and some bobby pins. Another thing that I highly recommend you add to your makeup bag is this spot makeup remover so that you can do quick touch-ups if there's a mishap. Lastly, I keep one of my extra Kendra Scott earring bags in here just in case I get tired of my jewelry and want to take something off.

What's in my purse for my internship plus how I keep it organized! What's in my bag. Work bag organization. Organized work bag. Work bag essentials. Internship work bag. law school blog. law student blogger | brazenandbrunette.com

My other bag basically consists of what normally would be rolling around in the bottom of my purse, just all trapped in one bag so I can find it easily. This used to be my pencil bag but now that I don't need a pencil bag anymore I used to to make my purse more organized. From left to right I keep:
Ear plugs: These are immensely handy to always keep in your purse to block out sound either if you need to concentrate or there's someone really loud nearby.
Tide to-go pen: Sadly I end up using this about once a week, but it saves my outfit every time.
Advil: Just in case you have a bad day or for when you've had a long day and your body is starting to get stiff.
Glasses cleansing cloth: I use this for both my sunglasses and my blue-light blocking glasses that I recently got since I'm staring at a screen all day (not pictured because they're on my desk).
Travel charger: Buy one! You won't regret it, I promise! I'm paranoid about my phone dying because I'm sure that the moment it does, I'll have some emergency and will need it so I always use this when I'm out of the house. And it's small enough that when I switch purses to a smaller one for going out, this can fit too!
Headphones: Over the years I've upgraded my phone enough that I have a pair of headphones for my nightstand, backpack, gym bag, and purse. 
Band-aids: When you work long hours, there's a good chance that your shoes will start rubbing eventually and so that's where these come in. They're also good to have stashed away in general in case you hurt yourself.
AirPods: I love, love, love these! It's a splurge but one that's definitely worth it. You can sneak listening to music while you work since they're completely hidden by your hair and are amazing for the simple fact that you can stand up and walk around without having your headphones ripped from your head.
Travel hair brush: Basically from the walk to my car into my building is long enough that the wind almost inevitably ends up messing up my hair so I have to brush my hair every morning once I get to my desk. I usually also end up needing it again about mid-day just from running around the office.
Phone cord: I have to have my phone cord for my travel charger so I go ahead and keep a cube in my purse too and then I always have a way to charge my phone. I also keep a cord/cube at my desk just in case (I recommend getting a colored one so that no one can steal yours if everyone knows you as the girl with the neon pink phone cord).
Lotion: If your New Year's resolution was to drink more water, then I have a surprise for you. Drinking lots of water = lots of bathroom trips = lots of hand washing = dried out hands. And literally the worst time to have dried-out hands is when you're dealing with a stack of papers on your desk because that's how paper cuts happen. 
Stylus pen: I need a pen for my planner so I figured I might as well get one that's a stylus as well for doodling on Snapchat/Instagram.


What's in my purse for my internship plus how I keep it organized! What's in my bag. Work bag organization. Organized work bag. Work bag essentials. Internship work bag. law school blog. law student blogger | brazenandbrunette.com

Having a two-wallet system sounds extra but is actually a really great system! In my smaller wallet I only keep my driver's license and debit card since those are my only necessities. This way, I always have at least those two, plus my car keys and apartment key on me at all times (just keep a Tile either on your keychain or in your wallet because you'd because screwed if you lost this). Then in my other wallet are important things to have like cash and my insurance cards and gift cards, but that's not something that I always will need on me so they can go in the big wallet. So, if I just have to run to the grocery store real quick then instead of taking a big purse with me all I need are my keys and phone. 

Food and drink

What's in my purse for my internship plus how I keep it organized! What's in my bag. Work bag organization. Organized work bag. Work bag essentials. Internship work bag. law school blog. law student blogger | brazenandbrunette.com

I've just always drank a lot of water so I am never without a water bottle. I stupidly packed up my collection of Tervis cups and Swell bottles and left them in storage back in Lubbock so I had to go buy a new water bottle. I found this water bottle and it's my new favorite! It has a lock on it so you can keep it from opening up and spilling in your purse! 

My lunch bag is kinda small which is a pro because that means usually I can fit it in my purse and that's one less thing to carry, but also is a con because it doesn't hold all that much. Right now I keep my lunch in here and my snacks (like a banana and peanut butter crackers) floating around in my purse. Honestly pretty soon I'm planning on getting a bigger lunch box so that I can meal prep on Sunday's and fit all of the food and snacks into it.


What's in my purse for my internship plus how I keep it organized! What's in my bag. Work bag organization. Organized work bag. Work bag essentials. Internship work bag. law school blog. law student blogger | brazenandbrunette.com

Everything else goes back to what I was saying earlier about what your situation is. I keep my planner in my purse since I don't have a drawer to keep it in and I don't just want to leave it laying around. Sometimes I bring my Kindle with me to work and read a little during my lunch break. And back when I worked at the Capitol I had a long walk to get from the parking garage to my building so I would keep cheap flip flops in my purse to change into from my heels. I also super recommend adding a small deodorant to your purse if you have a long walk and you can thank me later. If I know it's going to rain or if it's just Spring in general then I keep a small umbrella in my purse. I did find a space to stash a minimergency kit at my desk, but you could totally keep one in your purse since these are so small. If you're in a situation where you know you can be networking (like when I was at a courthouse), you can keep a business card holder for ones you get as well as your own to hand out. If you have a lot of little electronics or cords to keep up with, you can organize them with a GridIt. Lastly, not pictured for obvious reasons is this.

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January 15, 2018

Apartment Hunting Tips

Apartment tips for searching for your first apartment and questions to ask before you get your next apartment. Apartment hunting checklist. What to consider when you're looking for an apartment. How to search for your next apartment. Apartment hunting do's and don't's. What to look for in your first apartment. What to do before you move in to your next apartment. law school blog. law student blogger | brazenandbrunette.com

Hi friends! I thought I knew how to apartment hunt because I've moved every year since I moved off to college. Then I had to find an apartment in Dallas for this externship and I realized that I've been very spoiled with student housing in the past because it's been all-in-one housing. Since some of y'all will soon be looking for a new apartment for this fall, I thought I'd share a little of what I've recently learned. 

Finding the apartment

My favorite website to apartment hunt on is ApartmentList.com just because it has a lot of different filters you can use to make sure you're eliminating apartments that just won't work for you. My second favorite is Apartments.com because it still has lots of filters but it doesn't have the option for you to enter in your school/work to calculate the commute. Pretty much tied for third are Rent.com and Zillow.com. One word of caution, though, is to don't rely too heavily on the features that are listed online and make sure you call the apartment and find out. For example, my apartment online listed in-unit washer/dryer because some of the units have in-unit w/d, some have w/d hookups, and then in my tiny unit there's nothing so I have to carry my clothes to the laundry room. 

When you call them, here's a list of questions to ask:
Are the following appliances already in the unit or are there hook-ups for them or are they not available at all:
Microwave (I just had to go buy a new microwave this week because mine didn't come with one)?

Are the following utilities already set up (included in rent or an extra cost?) or are there hook-ups for them:
Electricity (I had to find an electric company and have my electricity set up. Word of caution, this can take a few days so have this set up ASAP once you get your new address)
Sewage/trash removal

What do they charge for:
Application fee
Security deposit
Pet fee/deposit/rent (Related: 8 reasons to get a pet in law school)
Short-term leases (in case you won't need a place for the summer, you can save money by getting a 9-month lease)
Renter's insurance (is it required?)
Furnished apartment (if it's available)

And just a little piece of advice, avoid first-floor apartments like the plague. Sure they're great for move-in day and brining in groceries because you don't have to haul anything up the stairs, but if it rains so much it floods, you're the first apartment that floods and bugs start on the first floor and then work their way up. Plus, I personally feel like it's more dangerous just because it's easier for a robber to break in to a first-floor apartment than an upper-level unit. Also, units close to the parking lot/garage are noisier because you hear all the doors slamming and people talking on the way to their car.

PS: Thinking of living alone? Here's a post on that Thinking of moving in with an S.O.? Here's a post on that

Before move in

First things first, once you get your new address, go to USPS and set up mail forwarding so that you don't miss your mail. Then go in to all your subscription boxes and everything and change your address.

And I know it can be a big rush to move in ASAP once you get your keys, but that's not what you should be doing right away. First, do an empty walk through and see if there's anything broken and turn that in to maintenance to fix. Also take pictures of any damage you see so that you can have proof that you didn't cause it. 

Here's what to check:
Every faucet for clear water, with good pressure, that heats up, and that it doesn't drip when you turn the faucet off (also flush the toilet) 
Windows can open and stay locked when closed
Doors don't stick when closed, front door can for sure lock, weather stripping around outside doors won't let bugs in or your hot/cool air out
Run the dishwasher and washer to make sure they don't flood 
Take a nightlight or a lamp and plug it in to all the outlets to check them (if one won't work, see if there's a light switch that controls the outlet that needs to be flipped on).

Once that's out of the way, go ahead and do a good deep clean of your apartment because you don't know how well the person before you cleaned it (related: What to clean in your apartment). Next, go through and spray bug spray around all of the windows and doors to make a bug barrier so you bugs don't even start to come in.

Also talk to the front office and see:
Where your guests need to park when they visit
Where the mailboxes are
If packages get delivered to your door or are held at the front desk
How much of a notice do you have to give before moving out
When is rent due/late/what's the late fee
How do you submit maintenance requests

Furnishing your apartment 

And if for whatever reason this is your first apartment ever (or if you're moving out from your roommates and need to gap-fill what supplies you don't have), here's a list of just some basics to get you going!


Shower curtain, liner, hooks, curtain rod (if it doesn't come with one)



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