CultureEducationSkillsTravel

The past couple of days have been a whirlwind in our nation’s capital. As I shared last week, I was honored to receive the Congressional Award Gold Medal yesterday. From the dinner to the actual Medal Ceremony, it has been awesome getting to see more of D.C., as well as meeting the other amazing medal recipients. If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you’ve seen a behind-the-scenes look at what I experienced. I thought I’d share some more details about the pictures here in a diary format. Let’s begin!

Tuesday, June 17

Penn Station

 7:00am – Rise and shine! The train for D.C. left bright and early, and the journey officially kicks off with a delicious breakfast sandwich, apple juice, and a full itinerary for the next couple of days.

Train view

8:00am – The view from the train is perfect for zoning out and seeing America zip by. Love views like this when I want to focus on absolutely nothing.

Working on the Train

 9:00am – Enough zoning out. It’s time to get some work done! With a full to-do list and more posts to write, the train is the best time to concentrate on the task at hand. It’s like being at the airport – there are many ways to stay productive.

National Geographic Society

 2:00pm – No time to waste now that I’m here in D.C.! Made a super cool stop at National Geographic HQ for an awesome upcoming Professional Spotlight. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 18

Constituent Coffee Russell Senate Office Bldg

8:00am – Another early D.C. morning! I trek to the Capitol to meet for a Constituent Coffee with Washington’s Senator Patty Murray. It was a pleasure meeting her and other Washingtonians.

Gold Dinner 2014

 8:00pm – The first official Congressional Award event: the Gold Medal Dinner. I took Catherine, who has earned her Silver Medal, and we met really inspiring youth from around the country. We also heard from some pretty incredible speakers, including Kevin Liles, the Honorable Ron Kind, and Chris Jordan.

Lauren holding CA medalist book

 9:00pm – Here I am holding The Congressional Award Medalist book with other medalists’ stories and speaker information. The energy of the room was contagious!

Thursday, June 19

Carpet from Ceremony at Capitol Cannon Caucus House

 9:00am – The time has come for the Congressional Award Gold Medal Ceremony! This carpet design caught my eye, and I couldn’t not snap a quick picture before going through security. I felt so official just standing on this carpet.

Offices in Cannon House

 11:45am – Walking through the halls of the Cannon Caucus House. Everything is so…impressive.

Catherine and Lauren by reflection pool

 12:05pm – Catherine and I standing in front of the Capitol Reflecting Pool. Can you spot the Washington Monument? Can’t wait to be here again next year when she earns her Gold Medal!

Lincoln

 3:30pm – I have the afternoon off! I walk to the Lincoln Memorial, and as usual, am in awe of its impressive size and beauty.

This week has been amazing, to say the least. Thanks for coming along on the journey with me, and I hope you enjoyed the sneak peeks!

CultureEducationInspiration

We’ve all been there. We’re checking our phones before we go to sleep, in the middle of the night, and as soon as we wake up. We glance at our phones to see if we have any new emails or text messages even when there isn’t an alert or notification. We send texts, scroll through Instagram, read new status updates on Facebook, and get lost in the black hole that is Reddit. From our waking moment until shut-eye, we live a good portion of our day through small screens. It’s easy to get burned out from technology and the constant access to one another. The information available is overwhelming, and technology never sleeps. It is a 24/7 beast that never loosens its grip, that is, until you make it. This leads us to our trick that has helped us recharge when we feel consumed by cell phones, apps, laptops, tablets, and other gadgets that have monopolized our attention.

The trick to recharge yourself is to unplug. Unplug from the constant communication and attention hog that is technology. Obviously we’re not saying to give technology up forever, but press those ‘Off’ buttons on your laptop, cell phones, tablets, and other gadgets you might use, for an afternoon, an evening, or even for an entire day! Without distractions in the form of buzzing, beeping, and red flashing lights, you can actually enjoy the present moment and let your mind power down for a short while. To unplug, simply switch the off buttons on your devices, put them in a drawer or another room (out of sight, out of mind), and plan activities that will keep you active and away from technology. When you allow yourself to step away from being constantly accessible, give yourself more ‘you’ time, and choose to engage in-person rather than on text or Instagram, you’ll feel recharged and ready to go.

Besides recharging and preventing burnout, here are some more examples of great benefits of unplugging if you still aren’t convinced to give up your iPhone for a couple of hours:

More You Time

Instead of spending most of your time reacting to phone alerts, use your time to focus on yourself. Maybe that involves going for a jog, listening to music, cooking, reading, or just catching up on some much needed zzz’s. Listen to your body and give yourself more ‘you’ time.

Build In-Person Relationships

A TIME mobility poll showed that 17% of all poll respondents said they check their phone at every meal regardless of whom they’re dining with. Instead of being distracted and glued to who is trying to reach you by phone, pay attention to the people physically around you. Get to know people in-person rather than through text. These relationships you build face-to-face will be much more valuable than the ones you build online.

Feel Less Stressed

You hear a buzz or beep and immediately reach for your phone. Whether it’s an email or a text, you might feel the need to respond to someone or take care of the issue immediately. If multiple texts or emails come in, there are more responsibilities now added to your plate. The stress and to-dos add up quickly.

Experience the Present

You’ve seen others do it and you’ve done it yourself: walking and texting. When you walk and text or just spend a lot of time on technology in general, you miss out on the amazing things happening around you. You miss the beauty of a flower garden, a potential new friend walking by, and awe-inspiring architecture. When you need directions, instead of asking someone for help and engaging with another human, it has become far too easy to use an app to locate your Point B. Join and experience the present sans technology, and who knows what you’ll see and discover.

Sleep Better

Try sleeping with your phone not next to your head. Instead, charge your phone in the kitchen or bathroom. This way you won’t be tempted to roll over in the middle of the night and check your text messages. This might also help prevent your phone from being the last thing you see before you get some shut eye. Furthermore, the light from phones and laptop screens affects the production of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone, in our bodies. In turn, your sleep will be delayed and you will feel tired, cranky, and unproductive the next day.

Be Happier

Live your own life. Stop comparing your life to the highlight reel that you see on your friends’ news feeds and statuses. Remember that people post only the best photos and updates on their profiles, and what you see are edited and curated portions of their life. You’re not seeing what’s behind-the-scenes. Social media can make us feel lonely and jealous, both of which do not make us happier. When you experience the present and stop living your life through your screens, you will feel happier.

Be More Productive

Without the constant distraction of technology, information, and communication, you just might get more done. Unplug so you don’t have to worry about multitasking or responding to anyone. Focus on your tasks. When you don’t have beeps and buzzes pulling your attention in other directions, you will accomplish more.

Have you ever tried unplugging for an afternoon?

EducationSkills

Summer will be here before you know it, and soon enough you will be getting ready to start the internship you have worked so hard to secure. Being an intern is awesome when you have opportunities to learn from your bosses, take the lead on projects, and accept important responsibilities. Before the first day of your internship, you might feel worried or anxious about being great and impressing people. You want to show your bosses that you are capable and determined, and that you will help the company succeed. You also want to learn as much as you can and grow both personally and professionally. Everyone has their own unique internship experiences and approach jobs differently. However, through our internships and the advice we’ve heard from others,  there are traits that employers look for in their interns that make them stand out apart from the others.  We like to call these awesome interns rockstars. Be yourself and do the job the way you think is best, but remember that there’s always room to grow and improve. Strive to practice these traits to not only be a rockstar intern, but to also be a better person.

1. Reliable.

Your bosses and co-workers should be able to trust you with projects they assign you. They should know that you will be early or on time, and that you will always follow through with what you say. When you are reliable, you will earn more respect and start getting more responsibilities. A rockstar intern is someone people can count on.

2. Eager to Learn.

Never stop learning. Be excited to learn a new skill or topic, and show your eagerness through energy, focus, and dedication.

3. Collaboration.

It is important to work well with others in an office environment. Work together to share ideas and drive results.

4. Hardworking.

Demonstrate how committed you are to learning and to your career. Roll up your sleeves, do every job asked of you with great care, and always volunteer to help even if something isn’t in your job description.

5. Productive.

Be efficient with your tasks. Think of ways you can be even more productive with your time, and make the most of every minute. Take ownership of your work, your day, and yourself.

6. Dedicated.

Show that you are dedicated to the company and your work by showing up early and being the last to leave. Or show that you are dedicated by bringing new ideas to your boss. When you show that you are thinking about your internship or job outside of work, it demonstrates dedication and forward thinking.

7. Take Initiative.

Be the first one to volunteer to help with something. Bring fresh ideas to your bosses before they have to ask for them. If you see something that can be better, fix it without waiting to be told to do so. Take the lead, take charge.

8. Adaptable.

Don’t be stuck in your ways when it comes to your internship or jobs. Be adaptable to situations that may unexpectedly arise, and handle it with grace. There’s no need to freak out over minor changes. Be flexible.

9. Positive Attitude.

Even when you are having a rough, sluggish, tired day, maintain a positive attitude. Rockstars look on the bright side, and their positive attitudes are infectious.

10. Honest.

Be honest about your workload, what you are accomplishing, and your thoughts. When you are secretive, people can tell. Don’t give anyone a reason to not trust you.

11. Good Communicator.

If you need help with something, ask. Don’t worry about employers questioning why they hired you if you ask for help. That won’t happen. In fact, most people want you to ask for help because they would rather the task be completed correctly rather than you not asking for help and the job being poorly done. Communicate your wins for the week, what you want to do better, and interesting industry-related news you hear or read about. Also, talk about fun things you are doing outside of the office. People won’t know who you are or what’s going on with you if you do not speak up.

12. Fun.

Regardless of whether your internship is twice a week or every day, you spend a lot of time at the office, and people want to be around other fun people. Be friendly, ask people questions about their lives, and have a good time! You don’t have to be the most outgoing person, just don’t hide away all day, do you work, and then leave when work is over. Show people your fun side, work will be awesome, and you will be a rockstar.

EducationHigh SchoolTravel

For those of you who are about to embark on spring break or are still anticipating the sweet arrival for a long needed rest, here are some ways to relax while still remaining productive!

1)   Grab your calendar. Spend thirty minutes writing down everything you need to keep track of for the rest of the semester. For example, pull out your classes’ syllabi and mark down when assignments are due and when exams are taking place. Having everything marked visually in one place give you a good sense of what is coming up – stress less and take time for fun!

2)   Volunteer. If you are at home and looking for something to do, consider donating your time to volunteerism. Not only will you be doing good in the neighborhood, but you will have the opportunity to learn something new about your community. Check out Volunteer Match to start helping!

3)   Work out. In between your classes, friends, exams, homework, eating, sleeping, etc., it can be difficult to find time for exercise. Whether you go on a run, sign up for a trial-period at a nearby gym, or spend an hour outside doing yoga, take some time and sweat it out!

4)   Find a job or internship. This is easier said than done, but with just three months until summer it is a good idea to begin applying within the next few weeks. Websites like Intern Sushi and The Muse are great places to start the hunt!

5)   Rest. Your body needs to rest. Don’t feel bad about sleeping in or taking the mid-day nap you never have time for at school. After midterms your body is likely in need of some rest and relaxation.

If you are going on a trip with friends or family make sure to check out our tips on how to stay safe while traveling and have an awesome break!

 

Image credit: www.2013yearoflettering.tumblr.com

Skills

The holidays are not just a great time for seeing family, listening to Christmas music, or enjoying time off from your studies, but it is also a great excuse to get ahead and use that time wisely. When on holiday break, create a healthy balance for yourself by lounging and doing absolutely nothing so you can recover from the late nights school often requires, but also spend some of your days taking advantage of not having work to accomplish some other things you may have wanted to do. Here are 10 ways you can be productive this holiday season:

1. Get active.
If you’ve been swamped with school work and haven’t been able to find time to workout, this is the perfect time to start an exercise regimen that you can take back to school with you. You can test out new exercises that work best for your schedule and body so that you can maintain an active lifestyle when school and work picks back up.

2. Evaluate the past year and set goals. 
Now that you don’t have to worry about finals, take some time to think about how your past year went and what things you can improve upon. What goals do you have? Are there any bad habits you want to break?

3. Pick up a new hobby.
When academics, extracurriculars, team sports, and side projects take over your weekdays and weekends, it can be hard to fit in a fun hobby when it isn’t something that might “look good on your resume.” Use the holiday break to learn a new hobby and try an activity that you have been dreaming of doing.

4. Reach out to people.
Use your time to re-connect with old friends, or to make new connections. Set-up brief informational interviews to get ahead during your time off. The holidays are a busy time for many, but you never know, people might have a spare fifteen minutes to take a phone call to answer questions you have about the industry they are in, their job, or advice they have for getting your foot in the door.

5. Read. 
It can be as simple as that. Read a book that isn’t required. Spend your afternoons relaxing and catching up on great literature.

6. Do a Winternship.
Depending on how long of a break you have, you may want to use these couple of weeks or month to shadow a professional in an industry that you are intrigued by, or to try to get a winternship. Even though the winternship or job shadowing would only be for a couple of weeks, you can still get a good idea of what a certain job entails and if it is still something you are interested in.

7. Volunteer.
During this time of year, there are many organizations that can use a pair of extra hands. Volunteer at a toy drive, soup kitchen, animal shelter, or book drive. There are endless opportunities for getting involved, and your time will be greatly appreciated.

8. Sleep.
You’re probably exhausted from working so hard during the quarter/semester, so why not use this time to catch some zzz’s? Sleep in, go to sleep early, take midday naps – anything that will give your body the rest it needs.

9. Be a tourist in your own city.
It is so easy to take your city for granted. Spend a day going to visit the local museums, tourist attractions, and walking around the city parks. Who knows what you’ll learn or discover. Maybe you’ll even grow to love your home even more.

10. Make plans.
When school picks back up, you won’t have as much time to plan for the months ahead. Get a head start on summer internship or job applications, spring break plans, service trips, and family time. Even if they are brief notes jotted down on a piece of scrap paper, get your ideas onto paper. This is the first step in making your ideas come to life.

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