SpotlightYouth Spotlight

When the Carpe Juvenis co-founders, Lauren and Catherine, were doing research for their book, they stumbled upon someone who immediately inspired them. Determined to get in touch, they sent out a cold email and were so happy to receive a warm reply. Claudia Krogmeier, just a freshman in college, has already experienced and accomplished a lot. When she was younger she moved with her family from Texas to Singapore, where she dove into working part time as a model and starting her own style blog (doing both while attending high school and applying for college). While living abroad, she also received permission to continue working toward her Congressional Award Medal and can proudly boast (although she’s probably too humble to actually boast) that she is a Bronze Medal recipient. We are excited to share Claudia’s exciting story, which is just getting started…

Name: Claudia Krogmeier
Education: Boston University
Location(s): Singapore, Houston, Boston
Follow: Website / Instagram

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Youth Youth”?

Claudia Krogmeier: I thinking seizing your youth is mostly about living up to your own potential and not standing in your own way.

CJ: You are originally from Texas in the United States but now live in Southeast Asia. What was that transition like and what were some challenges you faced during the process? How did you overcome those challenges?

CK: The transition from Texas to Singapore was of course difficult, especially when changing from an American high school to an American high school in Singapore (SAS). Culturally, Singapore is immensely different from America so it takes some time to better understand the locals, to adjust to the increased amount of work I had at SAS, and to strike a balance between everything that is important to me; service, time with friends, sports, traveling, and school work. Once I found a balance among all the things I wanted to spend time doing, I was able to really take in everything South East Asia had to offer.

CJ: You will be attending Boston University next year! What are you looking forward to, what are you nervous about, and do you have any idea what you want to study?

CK: I’m mostly looking forward to finally being able to learn at a more robust level with professors who are extremely knowledgeable in my chosen field of advertising. I’ve known since I was 7 that I want to be in advertising because of the dynamic and creative process. I’m also really excited to explore Boston, a new city that I’ve only visited once. I’m nervous about the immense change (like the cold weather- yikes!) and re-integrating into American culture, even if it has been only three years since I’ve lived in America.

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CJ: Let’s pretend you’re about to do the entire college search and application process over again. What advice would you give yourself?

CK: I would remind myself to remain calm! The entire task seemed so daunting at first, but now that I look back I should have stopped myself from being so nervous and worried! Everyone really does end up at a school that is right for them.

CJ: What’s the best advice you’ve received so far?

CK: My mother always reminds me that nothing will ever just come to you. If you want to do or be something, you have to be the one to do it. She always says, “What’s the worst that can happen? They say no?” So, with that in mind I’ve always gone after what I want, whether it is an internship at a marketing company or starting my fashion blog.

CJ: How do you measure success?

CK: Success is mainly internal. Of course positive feedback or outside support is nice, but the most important thing is to feel validated on the inside. I love to set clear goals for myself in all aspects of my life, and when I achieve them I feel I have a measured success, big or small.

CJ: You run the awesome style blog Claudia Krogmeier: A Style Blog. Where does your interest in style come from and what advice would you give any young person about figuring out his or her own style?

CK: Ever since I was young I’ve been very entwined in all things creative and aesthetic, so fashion was a natural progression for me. Style is really so different for every person and very personal, but the epitome of style is when someone feels confident about themselves with what they’re wearing. I’ve learned that figuring out your favorite self-aspects and accentuating them will make you feel unique and strong, no matter what your style is.

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CJ: How do you stay organized and juggle all of your responsibilities? Are there specific tools you use?

CK: Honestly, it’s really hard to stay organized. School is my first priority, then all other work and service endeavors follow. Staying organized really comes down to me prioritizing what is most important. Setting alarms on my phone before a club meeting at school or before a modeling casting also really helps!

CJ: What are your best tips for traveling?

CK: Take opportunities to explore, whether it is a great food truck a block away or a new museum across the globe, and do as much research as you can before you go! Ask friends and utilize Google to find all the best spots for wherever you’re travelling to. By knowing what to do and what to look out for, you can make the most of your trip.

CJ: You also do some part time modeling. What made you decide to pursue this interest? What was an unexpected aspect of that type of work?

CK: I first started modeling in Singapore because I arrived over the summer in 2012 and had nothing to do, so I thought modeling was the perfect way to stay busy and make a little money. I had been asked to sign with Elite Models in America, but after moving to Singapore I signed here. I quickly started getting booked for shows and jobs. It’s hard to manage it when I’m in school, but modeling is such an amazing way to meet creative designers, photographers, makeup artists, and other models from all over the world. Modeling has been such an incredible experience because I’ve been able to experience Singapore through such a different lens. I’ve met so many more different kinds of people and seen different parts of Singapore that I never expected.

CJ: How do you deal with difficult days and move past them? What have you learned about overcoming struggles?

CK: When I have a difficult day I really lean on the most consistent people in life, my friends and parents. I try to focus on what I can do to improve the situation or how I can move past it. Struggles are part of life and without them we wouldn’t grow into better, more dimensional people.

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CJ: You have earned your Congressional Award Bronze Medal – Congratulations! What are some of the activities you did to earn your hours?

CK: I’ve been a part of volleyball since the 7th grade, so a lot of my physical hours came from all my time playing volleyball. I earned a lot of hours for modeling and marketing/advertising internships under the personal development category as well. I’ve also been very involved in Caring For Cambodia, a Singapore based charity that builds and supports schools in Cambodia. Most of my service hours came from all the time I spent in Cambodia with the students and the club at my school that I helped run.

CJ: What did achieving your Bronze Medal mean to you?

CK: Achieving my Bronze Medal was mainly a huge validation for me. It was one of the few times I felt satisfied and rewarded for the things I have done.

CJ: If you could have lunch with anyone – dead or alive – who would it be, what would you eat, and what would you ask that person? 

CK: I’d like to have sushi with Kristen Wigg just so I could laugh for an hour and a half.

CJ: What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

CK: Avoid as much friend drama as possible (it is never worth it!) and allow yourself to be a little more carefree at times, and remember that there is so much more ahead.

 

Claudia Krogmeier Qa

Images: Ryan Al-Schamma

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

Being part of the online world means searching tirelessly and endlessly for other people who can provide us with fresh perspectives and new inspiration. Someone who continues to inspire us post after post is Carly Heitlinger of The College Prepster. We’ve been long time fans and were excited to meet Carly in person when we moved to New York City last winter. One of our favorite things about The College Prepster is how authentic her writing is and how much she shares with her online family (and we can’t forget Teddy!). When we sat down with her at a coffee shop on the Upper East Side, she was engaging, relatable, and outgoing.

From starting a blog in her college dorm room at Georgetown University to building it into a self-established brand and career, we are so impressed with everything Carly has done and can’t wait to see what she does next!

Name: Carly Heitlinger
Education: B.S. in Marketing from Georgetown University
Follow: TheCollegePrepster.com / Instagram / Twitter / Facebook

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Carly Heitlinger: I definitely think that the idea that there will always be a tomorrow and there’s only one today is great. We are so young and we have everything to gain and nothing to lose – so I’m so glad I started my company when I was 19 because for one I was a little bit naïve and I didn’t know what I was doing, and there was no fear because I literally had nothing to lose. I didn’t have to make money right away, I didn’t have to be financially independent, and I didn’t have to worry about a mortgage or a family. I think that the more you figure out now, the better off you’re going to be later. Make a lot of mistakes now.

CJ: You are the blogger behind The College Prepster, which you started when you were a freshman at Georgetown as a creative outlet. What are three most important skills that you use on a daily basis?

CH: I would say some sort of public speaking element is useful. I’m very introverted – I think that’s why I started a blog so that I could be behind the computer rather than in front of people – the fact is that I do have to go out and speak to people even though that’s not my natural inclination. But I’ve practiced so much that meeting strangers five years ago would have been horrifying, but now it’s normal and I don’t get as nervous. So being able to effectively communicate with people you don’t know is a huge thing.

Another skill is being hyper-organized. I think a big issue that a lot of people face is letting things slip through the cracks because they’re not organized. I think it’s the easiest thing you can do to set yourself up for success. Making sure you have a calendar, transferring things from your computer to your phone with iCalendar. Staying on top of your email. Making sure you’re paying bills on time. It’s boring being an adult, but at the very least you save yourself from a few headaches and embarrassment down the line. You don’t want financial mistakes you made when you were 18 or 20 to haunt you. Organization is a habit.

I also think that effectively managing stress is a big skill. It’s not as tangible of as skill as staying organized, but I think that a lot of people our age are prone to letting stress either freeze them or stop them from doing things that they want to do. There will always be stressful situations that come up from now until the day we die. If you come up with good strategies and mechanisms to deal with those now and get in the habit now, that will really help. Problems that seem big now and would become huge later won’t be nearly as big. For me, knowing that I need to wake up every morning and walk my dog, talk to my mom, go to yoga, eat healthy, and cut back on caffeine – doing little things that help minimize stress – you just work so much more effectively if you’re not going a mile a minute with your internal thoughts.

CJ: You have gotten really into yoga. How do you stay healthy and do you have a fitness routine?

CH: I don’t really have one, but I was on the crew team for seven and a half years. The first year I was actually a rower and ran – I was never actually boated because I was terrible – but I would run all day. And then I fell out of the habit and I was an athlete in the mental sense but not physically. I do think that keeping your mind active is a huge skill. But I’ve been really bad in the past about being healthy.

Part of it is a quarter life crisis and realizing that this is the one body I have. I need to be thankful for having my health. I think making the choice and decision and really committing to being healthy has been the biggest thing – before I wasn’t committed but now for some reason I feel like I really care. I try to only eat bad things in moderation. Yoga has been a great way to get back into it, and now I try to walk for 45 minutes or more, which I think is pretty easy in New York. And taking the stairs versus the elevator – little changes like that all add up. One big thing is that I’ve been trying to drink more water.

Carly - by Bekka Palmer 2

CJ: How do you do about setting and tracking goals?

CH: I’m a very visual person. I learn visually – I use big number lines to track things that I want to achieve. I’ll set goals in my calendar. I’m very number driven. Getting other people involved helps too. I also break things down into quarters. I think you can set goals for the week, goals for the day. Those are really tangible goals that can add up. I also set quarter goals for my business and it percolates down into my personal life, too. For example, a year seems like such a long time to me, but 90 days seems manageable. Three months – that’s totally doable. With the quarter system you can track things more easily.

CJ: What is a memorable Spring Break trip you’ve had?

CH: I’ve actually only ever had one Spring Break ever. I was always on a crew team so our Spring Breaks were training trips, which were actually a lot of fun. They were two-a-days, but when you’re with your friends it’s so much fun. Then my senior year I wasn’t on the crew team anymore and my family went on a trip together. That was my best spring break because it was my only real spring break.

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CJ: What are some travel tips that you would recommend?

CH: The biggest tip I would have is traveling with people who are like-minded with what is important to you. If you don’t want to get wasted and drink a lot, don’t go with people who are going to drink a lot. You’ll be in an environment where you’re not having a good time for making that decision not to drink, or you’ll feel like you have to play along even if that’s not what you want to do. Maybe you find two girl friends who want to plan a crazy quick week-long turnaround trip to Paris and you don’t want to drink at all. Make sure that you’re surrounding yourself with people who make decisions that you want to make.

I would also say spend Spring Break with your family because you don’t see your family as much when you’re an adult. If you don’t want to spend it with your immediate family, spend time with people you love and who you want to spend time with.

CJ: How do you combat really hard days? What do you do to keep yourself positive?

CH: Sometimes I need to surround myself with great friends or call my mom to vent. And other times I need to just spend time alone. Going for a long walk or spending a night curled up in bed reading can do wonders for my mental health! I also repeat to myself, “this too shall pass.”

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CJ: Is there a cause or issue that you care greatly about? If so, why?

CH: Mental health on college campuses! I contribute in small ways to specific organizations, but I know there’s more that I want to do. I personally had such a hard time adjusting to college life and really struggled. There were some very dark days, especially in the beginning. Luckily, I found help on campus that helped me get back on track.

CJ: What advice would you give your 19-year-old self?

CH: I would remind her that things work out. I spent too much time convinced that my world was going to end, or that one little problem was going to throw off everything. Everything resets, or you find a new course that was better than one you would’ve taken otherwise. Everything happens for a reason. You’ll figure it out as you go. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know where you’re going as long as you’re going.

Carly Heitlinger Qs

Images by Bekka Palmer and Carly Heitlinger

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

We’re always excited to meet fellow bookworms, so you can imagine how fun it was chatting with Jacqueline Clair, who runs the blog York Avenue, about all things blogging, photography, and of course, books! Not only is Jacqueline a blogger, but she’s also an operating room registered nurse. (Pretty awesome slash career, right?) Jackie decided to pursue nursing after earning her degree in Psychology, and she spends her days caring for patients, managing the equipment off the sterile field, and working under pressure.

When she’s not at the hospital, Jackie is exploring New York City with her camera in tow to snap photos of great places around Manhattan. Lucky for us, she also shares interior design tips and book recommendations. Keep reading to find out what it’s like to be an OR nurse, how Jackie balances her job with blogging, and how she makes time to read.

Name: Jacqueline Clair
Education: BA in Psychology, BS in Nursing
Follow: YorkAvenueBlog.com / Instagram / Twitter

CJ: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’? 

JC: I would define seizing your youth as seeking out opportunities and making the most of any opportunities that come your way. I would define it as also enjoying your youth, but at the same time making smart decisions to set yourself up for the future.

CJ: Where did you go to college and what did you major in? How did you decide what to study?

JC: I went for the first two years to SUNY Fredonia and then transferred to Stony Brook University for my last two years, where I finished up my Bachelors in Psychology. Then I went back for an accelerated nursing program and got a second Bachelors in nursing, which is how I became an RN. I decided to study Psychology because I just loved it. I thought all of my classes were so interesting and intriguing. 

CJ: How did you decide to earn your nursing degree? How did you go about finding the right nursing school for you?

JC: I decided to earn a nursing degree because I wasn’t quite sure where to go with my Psychology degree. I wanted to do something active, where I wouldn’t be sitting behind a desk, and I was looking for a career where I could learn something new every day and always be doing something different. Nursing certainly fit the bill! I talked to a few nurses and it seemed like a good fit. I also liked that it incorporated Psychology in a way, since you’re dealing a lot with people.

CJ: You are an Operating Room Registered Nurse. What does your role entail, and what do your daily tasks look like?

JC: As an OR nurse, you’re either the Circulating Nurse during a surgical procedure, or the Scrub Nurse. When you’re scrubbed, you work directly with the surgical team, passing instruments, sponges, and sharps. You’re in charge of maintaining the sterile field, and together with the circulator you’re responsible for surgical counts. As a circulator, you interview the patient at the door, and help position them and maintain their safety during the procedure. You’re the one in the room who isn’t sterile, so you’re responsible for managing the equipment off the sterile field and getting anything that is needed during the procedure, like extra sponges and sutures, extra instruments, additional pieces of equipment, etc. You also do the charting, obtain medications needed during surgery, and discharge the patient from the OR to the recovery area.

CJ: What are the top three skills you need to excel as an Operating Room Registered Nurse?

JC: I would say you need to be adaptable, you need to be able to work well in a team setting, and you need to be able to work well under pressure.

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CJ: What should a teenager or young adult who wants to be an Operating Room Registered Nurse do to set him or herself up for success?

JC: If you’re in nursing school and you think you may be interested in the OR, talk to your teachers and advisors and express that interest. See if they can set you up with any mentors, an OR rotation, or anything else. They may be able to set you up with someone you can talk to about it or interview, to get a sense of what it’s like. They may even be able to secure you a clinical rotation in an OR setting. You could also try volunteering in a hospital and expressing an interest in the OR or the procedure areas. You could also look into volunteering in some kind of outpatient or ambulatory clinic. Your OB rotation is likely to bring you into the labor and delivery area or into the OR for C-sections, so that’s where you really want to focus your efforts if you’re interested in the OR as a career choice.

CJ: You are also the blogger behind York AvenueHow do you balance blogging with your day job?

JC: I work on my blog after work and on the weekends. On weekends I’ll get started on a post or two and edit photos, or I’ll take photos of something I’m baking, something I want to feature on the blog, or places that I visit and am shooting for the blog. During the week, after work, I’ll edit pictures and write posts. Sometimes I use a vacation day to be able to visit a place that I want to photograph for the blog on a weekday, when it won’t be super crowded!

CJ: You have an entire category dedicated to books on your blog. We love that! What are some books that have changed your life?

JC: Well, I’m not sure that any books have changed my life, per say, but I certainly do have a few favorites! Recently I loved The Goldfinch, and some other favorites are The Little Stranger, I am Charlotte Simmons, and The Ruins. They weren’t life-changing, I just loved them.

CJ: What tips do you have for making time to read?

JC: The biggest thing that has freed up time to read for me personally has been giving up television for the most part. I’m not that into TV anyway so it wasn’t very hard, and I’m saving lots of money on cable. I’ll never give up Girls and Game of Thrones though!

CJ: How do you stay healthy and do you have a fitness routine?

JC: Unfortunately I don’t devote as much time to fitness as I should, but I do make it a habit to basically walk everywhere, even in the winter. I actually love walking around the city so it’s not very hard. I basically have been refusing to take cabs as of late, and it’s saving me tons of money and providing me with more opportunities for exercise. I do take the subway though!

CJ: How do you combat really hard days? What do you do to keep yourself positive?

JC: When I have really hard days I usually just think back to other hard days I’ve had, and remember how those were just moments that passed, and so I know the current bad moment will pass. I try to do things I enjoy if I’m feeling down, like go for walks, read, take photographs, or treat myself to a new book or a box of macarons or something. Talking to my Mom and Dad always helps too!

CJ: Is there a cause or issue that you care greatly about? Why?

JC: I get pretty passionate about the food industry. After reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Animal Vegetable Miracle, and some Michael Pollan articles I became pretty disgusted by all of the questionable and unnecessary additives and chemicals that are pumped into processed foods, even seemingly innocuous ones like bread and cereal. I’m not a particularly healthy eater (anyone who reads my blog knows about my massive sweet tooth), but I try to eat sweets that are handmade and small batch, many of which I’ve written about on my blog.

The places that I write about on my blog are usually the small producers that are making high-quality items by hand, with amazing ingredients, like Stick With Me Sweets and Orwasher’s. If I’m going to treat myself to something, I don’t want it to be full of artificial dyes and other weird things made in a lab. I strive to eat mostly organic when it comes to produce, dairy, and meat, and to eat as little packaged food as possible. It’s not easy because I absolutely have a weakness for cereal, but I just don’t trust the food industry at all. So I’m pretty passionate about the whole issue of GMO labeling, which I absolutely think should be required.

CJ: What are you working to improve upon – either personally or professionally – and how are you doing so?

JC: I’m constantly working on saving, de-cluttering, and paring down. Saving especially is something that I’m really working on. It’s so, so important to have a 6-8 month emergency fund and to start contributing to your 401k the MINUTE you start working. Youth is the biggest advantage you have on your side when it comes to growing a retirement fund – the more time your savings has to grow, the more money you’ll have down the line – and you will need it.

CJ: What advice would you give your 22-year-old self?

JC: Don’t rush things. I thought I needed to have everything figured out and nailed down right when I graduated college, but looking back, that wasn’t the case.

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Professional SpotlightSpotlight

We have followed Linda Kim’s Instagram for quite some time now, and it’s always fun to see her gorgeous photos pop up in our feed. Linda is a food blogger at Delish Thoughts (so many great recipes!) and an E! News Segment Producer living in Los Angeles. She takes stunning photographs (read on for her tips for great photos) and has a keen eye for food styling. It’s clear how creative and talented Linda is through her photography, recipes, and career in entertainment.

Whether you’re into food, blogging, photography, media, entertainment, or pop culture, Linda Kim has all bases covered. Linda gave Carpe Juvenis an exclusive look into what ‘Seizing Your Youth’ means to her, how young people can get involved with a career in media, and how she manages her hectic days.

Name: Linda Kim
Education: B.A. in Drama and Sociology from University of California, Irvine
Follow: Delish Thoughts / Instagram / @lindak68

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Your Youth”?  

Linda Kim: Seizing your youth means exploring opportunities and welcoming new adventures. It is important to live each day to the fullest and work hard to pursue your dreams.

CJ: You majored in Drama and Sociology at the University of California, Irvine. How did you determine what to study?

LK: To be honest, I wanted to study communications but it was not offered as a major. I thought drama and sociology would be a good combination to learn about society and be creative.

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CJ: You run the food blog Delish Thoughts. What sparked your passion for food and cooking? 

LK: I loved watching my mom in the kitchen as a young girl. I was so fascinated how easily she prepared the most delicious dishes and I wanted to learn how to cook like her. I love hosting and cooking for other people. I think food brings people together and we can share great meals and fun conversations.

CJ: What is the best piece of advice you would give a baking/cooking enthusiast? 

LK: I have learned a lot by watching cooking shows. It helps to see how things are done rather than just reading instructions.

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CJ: Great idea. You take gorgeous photos on Delish Thoughts and your Instagram. What are your top photography tips? 

LK: It is all about natural lighting for me. Make sure you have great lighting and try taking photos at different angles to see what looks best.

CJ: What is your favorite meal or dessert you’ve ever made?

LK: My eggplant parmesan and blueberry crumble are favorites among my friends so I will make anything my friends enjoy.

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CJ: You are also an E! News Segment Producer. What drew you to media and what does your job entail? 

LK: I always had a love for entertainment and knew that is what I wanted to pursue. I love that there is a variety in media and you can work in different fields. As a segment producer, I cover TV and music stories, set up shoots and interviews with celebrities, and work on red carpets and events.

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CJ: What advice would you give to a young person hoping to set themselves up for success in the world of media? 

LK: It is important to be a go-getter and be one step ahead. I always asked for more work and anticipated needs instead of sitting around and waiting for someone to give me work.  

CJ: What has been one of the most unexpectedly interesting parts of your career to date? 

LK: The most interesting part is the people I get to meet. I love meeting new people and have had the opportunity to meet friendly celebrities and become friends with my co-workers and colleagues.

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CJ: Every day in your life must be different depending on your projects and the time of year, but what does a Monday look like for you? 

LK: It really depends on what is going on that day– if there is any breaking news, if I have to get in a lot of content that day, if I have a guest coming in studio, if I have to go off site for shoots. It could be a quiet Monday or a hectic Monday but I love that everyday can be different.

CJ: That’s awesome. When you do have those hectic days, what are your time management tips? How do you stay organized and efficient? 

LK: I have learned to multitask pretty well so I can do a few different things at once to utilize my time. I make sure to write a list of things to do on my planner and keep track of projects in a calendar.

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CJ: What is an area, either personal or professional, that you are working to improve in and how? 

LK: You may encounter unfriendly people in the industry but I tell myself not to take it personally and still keep a smile on my face.

CJ: Having a loaded schedule can sometimes be overwhelming. What do you do when you’re having a bad day and need to unwind or reset? 

LK: Having a meal with friends always cheers me up or I like to have a quiet night, lay on the couch and watch my favorite shows.

CJ: If you could have lunch with anyone – dead or alive – who would it be and what would you eat? 

LK: My grandfather. We would have the best chats when I was a little girl and I wish I could have that moment now with him. I would eat steak because that was his favorite.

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CJ: That sounds really nice. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self? 

LK: To be bold and adventurous and not have any regrets. One of my biggest regrets was not taking the opportunity to study abroad in Italy.

Linda Kim Qs

Image: Linda Kim

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

As a Madewell graphic designer and blogger, Alexandra Yeske is as put together as you’d expect – not only with her outfits, but with her thoughtful responses and the ways she conducts herself. Alexandra became interested in arts and design from a young age, and she went to Syracuse University to further her design education. Post-college, Alexandra worked at Madewell in various capacities, and worked her way up in the company by taking advantage of the opportunities that came her way and accepting new challenges. You know those Madewell emails you receive in your inbox? Yeah, that’s designed by Alexandra. Pretty cool, right?

Alexandra also runs the blog Dreams + Jeans, where she discusses fashion, design, interiors, and other things that inspire her. She emphasizes reaching out to those you are inspired by and learning from them. Whether she’s designing, blogging, or exploring New York City, Alexandra is busy pursuing her dreams and working hard. By following the best piece advice she’s ever received – work hard and be nice to people – Alexandra is going to go far.

Name: Alexandra (Alex) Yeske
Age: 25
Education: B.F.A. in Communications Design from Syracuse University
Follow: Dreams + Jeans / Twitter / Instagram

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Alexandra Yeske: To me, seizing your youth is about taking advantage of all the opportunities that are presented to you. When you don’t have serious responsibilities like a house or a family, you can focus on what you want to do. I encourage young people to go after every opportunity given to them and reach out and network with people that you admire.

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CJ: You received your BFA in Communications Design from Syracuse University. How did you determine what to study and what sparked your love of design?

AY: From a very young age I was interested in arts and design. I learned early on that fine art was not my forte, and it wasn’t until I was a bit older that I became interested in interior design. During high school, I did an architecture summer program at Carnegie Mellon thinking that maybe I would go into architecture. When that didn’t seem to fit, I remember going on the College Board website and looking up different careers and the majors you should study if you were interested in them. That’s when I came across graphic design. When I read about what graphic designers did, I recalled my scrapbooking interest from growing up and the fact that I obsessively knew all of the fonts on my computer. I never realized that could be a profession and from that moment it just sort of clicked.

I had applied to Syracuse University and when I went to visit, I sat in on a Communications Design class and fell in love with it immediately. I knew it was where I needed to go and that graphic design was what I wanted to study – I never wavered with that. The program at Syracuse is very different than most design schools. All of the projects are self-initiated. You take a problem or something that interests you and you solve it visually. In that, you’re able to tailor the major to you and you’re able to do projects that you are truly interested in and passionate about.

It’s a very rigorous program, but also incredibly rewarding. Our class time was to present your work and review/critique it, so all of the work is done on your own time and you really had to manage yourself. These reviews often went on for over five hours, but they were crucial to shaping not only our projects, but our presentation skills and ability to provide feedback. The professors valued our opinions and there were great discussions going on. Sometimes the reviews were incredibly difficult to get through, but in the end it made me a much stronger designer. And I think we all came out with really diverse portfolios, which was great during interviews because you really connected with your projects and it showed when we spoke about them.

One of my projects was an alcohol-infused sorbet and I distinctly remember my interview with Jenna Lyons for my job at Madewell. It was the first project she saw in my portfolio and I had just told her that my projects represented my interests and passions. She said, “Alcohol and ice cream? These are your interests?” Nervously, I replied “Well, sort of…” and trailed off and she immediately smiled and said “Mine too.”

CJ: You are a Graphic Designer at Madewell. What does your role entail?  

AY: When I first started at Madewell, I worked on the web team. I was designing features for our site and all of our emails. After about a year, our team took on all of the print marketing and store graphics responsibilities. I was interested in a new challenge, and I was able to transition onto the print team. Now, I do most of the design for our stores (window decals, signage, postcards, etc.), and I also still design all of the emails that go out to customers. It’s cool that I get to do both print and digital and have my eyes on a little bit of everything. I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve been able to work on both channels.

When you work in-house for a brand, there’s an inherent style guide to follow so that everything feels and looks like Madewell. Within that we’re definitely encouraged to explore and look for new typefaces and design ideas. We’re always looking for new ways to visually tell the Madewell story and identity to our customers.

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CJ: You’ve worked at Madewell in many different capacities over the years as a Freelance Web Designer, Junior Web Designer and now Graphic Designer. What advice do you have for advancing in your career within a company?

AY: As I mentioned earlier, I believe that it’s important to take any opportunity that’s given to you and to be excited about it. I’m very passionate about Madewell, and when I came to the position, I was very excited to work on anything. My bosses know how much I love the brand, so even though I may not necessarily be working on certain projects, they still respect any ideas I may have to do something good for the brand.

I think it’s really important to have open communication with your bosses so they know what you’re interested in and can help you plan your path. I’ve been in my current role for about two and a half years now, but I’m constantly gaining more responsibilities and feeling like I am being challenged.

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CJ: You are also a blogger and run the site Dreams + Jeans. What’s your favorite part about being a blogger? The hardest part?

AY: My favorite part about being a blogger is all of the people I’ve gotten to meet through it. I started my blog the summer before my senior year in college as a creative outlet, but also with the intention of it maybe helping me get a job. I saw this awesome online community that I wanted to be a part of, so I just went for it. It really opened my eyes to many new career paths that I had no idea even existed and helped me get to where I am today. I’ve met some fantastic friends through blogging – people that I would never have met otherwise. The first time you meet, it’s a bit like blind dating, but you know that you already have something in common and like similar things. That’s been the best part. You’re sitting at home doing it by yourself and it’s great to get comments, but it’s really rewarding when you meet real people and make real connections out of it.

The hardest part for me is to keep going with it! I balance a lot between my job, freelance work, my boyfriend and friends, and living in New York where there’s so much to do. It’s hard to juggle it all. There’s always something I want to write or post about, and it’s challenging to find the time to do it. Even though I had a rigorous school schedule in college, it was easy for me to blog because it was an outlet. Now I’m at a point where it’s not as high of a priority as it once was. It’s like having another job essentially, but I’ve learned over the years not to force it. If I’m not feeling it, then I give myself a break.

CJ: On average, how long does it take you to produce a blog post? What goes into the creation of a blog post?

AY: It depends. Some posts are harder than others. If I’m doing, for example, an Interior Envy post, it can be a lot faster than other types of posts. Once I’ve found the home I want to feature, it’s about a 15-20 minute process of putting it together and writing the content. My more complex posts, like outfits or my Currently Coveting posts, take a lot more time for creation. I am taking photos, editing photos, finding items, putting them into the layout, and writing the content.

CJ: What are the greatest lessons you have learned from being a designer?

AY: Within working and blogging (and really, life in general), building your network is so important. Maintain good relationships and don’t burn bridges with people. I feel like that sounds so simple, but it can be so hard. It’s crucial to learn that early on. I’ve also found that it’s really important to keep your head down and focus on yourself. It’s easy to get wrapped up in looking at what others are doing and get down on yourself, but you’ve got to keep pushing through and just do you. I’ve also found that I’m so much happier to do work when I’m passionate about it.

CJ: What is the best part about being a designer? The most challenging part?

AY: I like that I’m solving problems visually. I’m a problem solver by nature. Even though I’m not necessarily solving huge problems, I’m finding better ways to communicate to the customer or to promote our brand. I also have to say that as a perfectionist, being a designer lets me have control over a lot of stuff.

I also really love that design translates across mediums. My style and aesthetic has changed so much since moving to New York and it’s exciting to see it come out in other ways than just my design work. I’m currently really into what my apartment looks like and honing in on my personal style. For instance, I used to wear a lot more color, and now I wear mostly neutrals. I’ve started to really learn what I like and what I’m most comfortable in. It takes time to figure it all out, but I’ve enjoyed seeing my evolution on my blog.

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CJ: What does a day in your life look like?

AY: During the week, I get up around 8 o’clock. I would love to be a morning person who gets up earlier, enjoys a cup of coffee, maybe read some blogs, but I am just not the best morning person. Luckily, I live close enough to walk to work, so I’m able to sleep in a bit later. I like to get coffee on my way to work (if I’m not running late) and then I try to be in around 9am. I typically work until 6 or 6:30pm, depending on how much needs to get done. My days are never predictable. Some days I’ll be designing emails all day, other days I’ll be at a store visit or in meetings. Occasionally, I get to art direct a photo shoot for emails, so as you can see, there isn’t really a true schedule! I like that though, it keeps it interesting! After work, I try to meet up with friends a couple nights a week.

On weekends I like to have one or two major plans, but for the most part I keep them open. There are always new stores and restaurants opening that I want to check out. New York puts a lot of pressure on you to stay busy on the weekends – there’s always something to see and do.  You feel a bit guilty when you stay home watching TV or sleeping all day, but sometimes you need that! I also really love taking day trips out of the city – there are so many great places within a few hours drive.

CJ: What should a teenager or young adult who wants to be a graphic designer do to set themselves up for success?

AY: I recommend trying graphic design out in whatever capacity that means for you. Once I decided that I wanted to learn more about design in high school, I took as many art classes as I could and did a summer program at Carnegie Mellon. If you can get an internship or if family members need something designed, go for it and figure out if you are truly interested in a career in graphic design.

I also can’t stress networking enough. These days with the Internet and social media, it’s so easy to look people up and reach out to them. I wanted to work in fashion but didn’t really know how to get started, so I reached out to a lot of people and asked them how they got their start and what advice they’d have for me as someone in the early part of their career. Everyone always says they’re terrified to email people randomly, but don’t be. You’re emailing someone because you like their work and you’re paying them a compliment. And when you’re a student, people are much more willing to talk to you – they usually remember when they were in that same position. A helpful hint: never ever push your resume onto anyone or ask for a job. If they want it, they’ll ask for it.

CJ: What book had the greatest impact on you and why?

AY: During college I read both: If You Have to Cry, Go Outside by Kelly Cutrone and The Cheese Monkeys by Chip Kidd. Kelly’s perspective on the fashion industry is fascinating and I love her no-bullshit approach to everything. The Cheese Monkeys is about a graphic designer going through school and the experiences you go through. I remember connecting with it so much because I was going through similar things at the time.

CJ: What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

AY: My biggest piece of advice would be to persevere and to just keep going. That applies to any age. Put your head down and do your work and don’t worry about other people. You do you and keep going.

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Images: Angi Welsch; Lauren Jessen

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

If you love fashion, beauty, décor, photography, or just amazing blogging in general, don’t miss Kat Tanita’s stunning blog, With Love From Kat. Kat styles beautiful outfits and has a keen eye for what’s trending in the fashion and beauty industries, and she shares her insight through photos and round-ups on her site. Not only is Kat a successful blogger with a polished chic style, but she is also savvy business owner who has learned a lot from her experiences. But now, let’s hear from the blogger herself…

Name: Kat Tanita
Age: 25
Education: B.A. in Design Studies from Arizona State University
Follow: Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / PinterestWith Love From Kat

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Kat Tanita: Chasing your dreams and making them a reality.

CJ: What was your favorite class in college?

KT: I loved all of my design classes, but surprisingly my favorite class was Marketing senior year. It was neat to learn about the creative process and how important it is in an effective public relations and marketing campaign.

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CJ: What are the greatest lessons you have learned from being a business owner and blogger?

KT: Ask questions, find mentors, have confidence but be humble, hire smart (get a good lawyer, accountant, intern, etc.) and learn from rejection.

CJ: What are your time management tips?

KT: Write everything down in a to-do list and take one thing at a time. Start the day and end the day with productive things, but give yourself a break in between. I always try to get out, take a walk and have a long lunch. It feels good to end the day with something productive – I can’t sleep if I don’t!

CJ: What does a day in your life look like?

KT: Every day is so different. Sometimes I’m at showroom appointments, press previews, meetings, and events. I’m always answering emails, exploring the city, looking for inspiration, shooting outfit pictures, and brainstorming for upcoming projects. I love to cook dinner and end the day with yoga, a run, or circuit training.

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CJ: What advice do you have for youth who want to start their own blogs?

KT: Remember to be unique and original. Don’t try to copy others because what will set you a part is your individual voice and style. Do your research! I simply Googled “how to start a blog” 4 years ago and read so many articles/watched so many YouTube videos. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and find mentors. You should always be learning.

CJ: Which book has had a great impact on you?

KT: Grace was one of my favorite books this summer. I loved learning about her career path. She started from the bottom and worked her way up. She is incredibly talented.

CJ: What motivates you?

KT: My dad’s work ethic motivates me. He always said whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability even if it’s a small, menial task.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

KT: Travel more, read more, and embrace your uniqueness!

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Image: All photos by Kat Tanita from WithLoveFromKat.com