How to Save Money at College | Sponsored by Regions Bank

College is stressful enough.  Leaving home for the first time, surrounded by smart peers, missing your family and friends.  Just typing this is practically causing me to hyperventilate from the memories.  On top of all of that is the worry about money.  Money before, during and after.  So when Regions Bank approached me to write this article, I was thrilled to discuss the money matters I wish I’d known back when I was a broke college student.

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The syllabus and course outline are passed out at every student orientation or first class, but there’s almost no discussion about budgets and hidden costs.  Everything I knew I picked up in the hallways like some sort of illicit conversation. Regions Bank has you covered with advice so that you don’t find yourself relying on the equally clueless in your classes.  Here’s an outline for students out there:

1. Make a budget.  Seems basic, but how many of us actually wrote out a budget before college?  Sure we learned Excel spreadsheets, but I thought of those as a way to keep track of my outfit options and as a way to keep track of who was coming to parties and what everyone was bringing.

2. Get creative when it comes to vacations. Welcome to college and the real world where getting creative is more than learning Adobe and Instagram filters. For example, Regions Bank is always looking for great ways to help with finances and even has some really interesting thoughts on low budget vacation ideas. Hostels are traditional, but there’s also Couchsurfing.com and staying with your new college friends. Facebook is a great way to look for friends of friends who might let you stay with them for a short while. I have a friend who recently travelled across the United States, just by reaching out via Facebook to see who had a friend in the next town that she could crash with. It doesn’t cost anything (except a small thank-you gift to your host(s)) and you meet new people.

3. Look for scholarships. You’d be surprised by how many random, narrow-focused scholarships there are out there that few people know or qualify for. I’ll bet there’s even one for left-handed, red-headed, ferret-loving women under 5’. My cousin applied for and got so many scholarships that he ended up making money during college. And don’t just look for scholarships your first year, keep looking. Sometimes a student drops out and their scholarship opens up, and some are just for sophomores or juniors. No need to stop looking for free money.

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4. Get into habits you’ll maintain the rest of your life. And no, I don’t mean “beer on Fridays.” I mean learn to:

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I’d love to hear anyone else’s tips – I’m sure I could still use some, and I know college kids who should be all ears. Regions Bank has more ideas than the above and you can find them all on their site here.

Now I’ve gotten to thinking about all the other things I wish I’d known before college. Such as how to get coffee stains out of denim, the best alarm clock, how to deal with obnoxious housemates, when fabric softener goes in the laundry, and am I ever going to use what I learned in “Introduction To Gothic Literature.”

Success in Stilettos: Bianca Torres Wong

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The Ambitionista is proud to feature Bianca Torres Wong, Assistant Vice President and Legal Executive at Nestle Philippines by Day, Vinyasa Yoga Teacher at Bliss Yoga Manila by Night.

Know what it’s like to pursue your passion and career simultaneously through Bianca’s life as a corporate lawyer and a certified yoga teacher.

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Describe who you are and what you do in 1- 2 sentences

“I’m half a corporate lawyer and half a wandering yogini. 🙂 I worked full time as a corporate lawyer for around 5 years before deciding I needed to do something more with my life, so I took time off and signed up for a 200 hour Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training. Now I happily get to practice both law (for the leading nutrition, health and wellness company in the world, Nestle) and yoga in my soul space, Bliss Yoga Manila.”

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What do you do when you first wake up?

“I reach over to look for my husband. 🙂 I just recently got married, so it’s still a bit surreal.”

What’s one activity that you do everyday without fail?

“I try to meditate a few minutes everyday. Sitting at my desk, or in traffic, or walking to work – sneaking in a few seconds of mindfulness always lifts my mood.”

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If you are not working you would be … ?

“Practicing more yoga. I absolutely love that deliriously happy post-yoga high. I’m always in a good mood after I practice.”

What’s your favorite vacation spot?

“The Philippines is known for its notoriously beautiful beaches so I would still have to choose Boracay, because it’s also where I met my hubby. 🙂 “

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If you really want to dress to impress, what do you do?

“The combination of a classic DVF wrap dress with a good pair of heels has always worked well for me in power meetings. It’s pretty quick to put together too, vs. a full suit and less high-maintenance. If it’s a more formal event, I’d complete the look with a sharp blazer and some accessories.”

What’s your favorite everyday beauty brands/products?

“MAC Mineralize SkinFinish and MAC Velvet Teddy Matte Lipstick, I just recently discovered this and I used up an entire stick in 2 months 🙂 “

Do you exercice? If yes, what type and how often?

“I like to mix it up. I make sure I practice yoga regularly but I try to sneak in a few Barre3 classes and some cardio at the Gym.”

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How do you stay sane and on top of it?

“I surround myself with good and positive energy. Years of yoga practice have taught me that energy is contagious. You can always choose the space around you, the people you surround yourself with and the battles you need to face. I now know I can take a step back, to extract myself from anything or anyone that doesn’t serve me. In this way, I guard my peace and I don’t drain myself. I devote my time tending to situations and engaging with people in my life who are worth it.”

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What do you splurge on? Fashion / Beauty / Travel :

“I’m a guilty shopaholic with a bad case of wanderlust. Shopping is so much more fun when you’re on vacation! I love travelling to different places, or visiting a few favourite places over and over again.”

Which women do you admire in your life?

“I’ve always gravitated towards strong and independent women. Feminine strength is subtle and sexy.”

If you could meet a younger you from 10 years ago, what would you have told her?

“Trust the universe. Be patient. Everything beautiful unfolds in God’s good time.”

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Favorite Quote: Dream like a Bohemian, Work like a Boss.
Photos c/o Kip Aguirre


Success in Stilettos : Shirley Yang

The Ambitionista is proud to feature Shirley Yang, Vice President of Social Strategy at StyleHaul​ Founder of SOFFICI, a fashion for philanthropy brand among our #SuccessInStilettos Series. Get some insights on a day in the life of a certified girl boss, pursuing her passions with her new line of luxury bag accessories while running strategy for one of the leading Style networks.

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What Is Your Work Wear Go To?

“I like to wear dresses, a form fitting dress, preferably black. The material is key. Winter time I add a fur vest, summer time I wear a light blazer outside of the dress.”

How do you stay sane and on top of it? 

“Deep breaths and good bedtime reading.”

Which women do you admire in your life? 

“Too many. I admire women who are brave, kind, and authentic.”

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What ​are​ your Everyday Favorite Beauty Products?

“My regular routine is good moisturizer. I also LOVE jojoba oil for good hair.”

What do you splurge on? 

“Good shoes and good food.”

What did you want to do when you grow up? 

“Inspire as many people as I can. Leave the world a better place – that’s the Millennial in me talking.”

What was the biggest obstacle you have faced that in the end helped you?

“I’ve had people try to put me down in the past, it definitely made me stronger. It is very true what they say, I want to look back and thank them.”

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What does success mean to you?

Success means balancing the Science of Achievement and the Art of Fulfilment. It’s when I do things larger than self and and inspire others to also be successful.”

If you could meet a younger you from 10 years ago, what would you have told her? 

“Don’t worry so much, get more sleep.”

What Is One Activity That You do Everyday without fail?

“Hug and kiss my little chihuahua.” 

What Is Your Favorite Quote?

“Chance favors the prepared mind, the more you practice, the luckier you become”

– Richard Branson

Should You Take An Unpaid Internship?

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When someone hears the words “unpaid” and “work” in the same sentence, the first reaction is usually to turn the other way. Foregoing a paycheck, for an internship, may not fit everyones budget (considering living expenses, car payments, etc). However, sometimes the opportunity presented seems to good to pass up. The company might be one where having their name on your resume is enough to trump a paycheck- for a period of time, of course. It can be a daunting dilemma to decide if taking an unpaid internship is worth it. So to make a clear decision, lets consider pros and cons on taking an unpaid internship.

PROS:

Gaining Experience & Networking

There are seemingly few benefits to taking an unpaid internship. However, they are still important ones. The experience you gain from interning at any particular company is great to put on your resume. The work is completely valid, whether paid or not. Another positive aspect to an unpaid internship is that you will be able to network and make connections that can later be used as references. Although both can be said for a paid internship, an unpaid internship is the next best option if you’re more focused on getting experience vs. payment.

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CONS:

Working For Free

This is probably the biggest disliked aspect to an internship that doesn’t pay. You work, a job, without the benefit of getting paid for your work. Many people feel that this is completely unfair, considering that companies are benefiting from free labor and that they essentially exploit unpaid interns to get free work.

No Employee Protection

Another downside to unpaid internships is that they don’t offer protection against employee discrimination or sexual harassment. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees, however, does not have protective provisions for unpaid interns or “trainees” in regards to discrimination and harassment. This is a big aspect to consider before diving into any unpaid position. You want to always take into consideration your safety and protection. If you feel that you are (or would be) unsafe, discriminated against or harassed, its best to remove yourself from that situation.

Unpaid Internships Are Often Illegal

Yes, you read that right; Illegal. In June 2013, concerning a case of two interns working on the film, ‘Black Swan’, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that the interns were classified as employees rather than “trainees” according to the Fair Labor Standards Act. For an intern to be classified as a “trainee”, their relationship with the employer adhere to the criteria of a six-part test, which explains the nature of an approved intern-employer relationship.

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The unfortunate thing about an unpaid internship is that is can be very easy to be taken advantage of in that situation. However, if the opportunity of a paid internship does not present itself and if willing to take the risk, there are benefits that can help you gain the experience needed to help fuel the advancement of your career.


Essential Tips For Nailing Your Interview

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Interviews can be an exciting, yet anxiety-inducing event. After all, those 20-45 minutes can determine whether you are embarking on a new venture within your career or whether you continue your search for the perfect position. The last thing you want to do is go into an interview blindly. It is crucial that you cross all your I’s and dot all your T’s before entering, as well as after, an interview. Meaning? Well, there are essential steps to take before and after the interview process to show you are the best choice for the position. Master the following essential tips to nail your interview!

1. Research The Company

Do thorough on the company you are interviewing for. Become familiar with company, its inspiration, values and history. Absorb this knowledge and use it in your interview. Expressing your interest/ knowledge about the companies values will show the interviewer how much interest you really have in the position and the company as a whole.

2. Prepare Beforehand

A few days before your interview, review your resume and have a mock interview (with someone else or solo). Act as if you are at your interview and answering questions that the interviewer would inquire about. Practicing beforehand will help you relax and develop a smooth delivery in your actual interview.

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3. Dress Thoughtfully

Be wise about what your wear in an interview. Wear dress pants or skirt that is knee-length or longer. Wear a simple blouse and dress shoes (not too high). Keep your makeup simple, your hair neat and wear minimal jewelry.

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4. The One Question You Must Nail

“Why are you the right candidate for this position?” This question may seem daunting but its actually the perfect setup to sell yourself and your skills to the interviewer/ hiring manager. When answering this question you want to include 4 things: that you can a) effectively accomplish the work, b) you will deliver excellent results, c) that you’ll really fit in with the team and d) that you’re a better hire than any of the other candidates.

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5. Answering The Weakness Question

“What Would You Say Is Your Greatness Weakness?” The worst answer you can give to this question is, “I have no weaknesses”. The answer you give will tell the interviewer a lot about your character. They want to know that you are aware that you make mistakes. Managers know that no one is perfect. They want to know what your weakness is and how you overcome it to get the job done. They also want to know how you’ve handled obstacles in the past and how you will handle them in the future.

6. Body Language

Your body language says a lot about you and it will give insight to the interviewer, as well. Show confidence by having good posture. Sit up, high and straight in your chair. Give good eye contact. Not too much to where you’re staring them down but just enough to show you’re focused and interested in the interview. Lean in when listening to the interviewer. This is shows that you are engaged in the conversation. Lastly, smile and show enthusiasm- give the impression that there is nowhere else you’d rather be.

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7. Follow-up Promptly

Before you leave the interview, ask the interviewer what happens next, this way you’ll know the appropriate time to follow up. If the interviewer says they’ll be contacting candidates within a week, you should follow up a few days after that. You don’t want to be annoying or pushy, but you want to be on the interviewers mind and show them you’re continual interest in the position.


After following these tips on nailing your interview, get ready to take on your new dream job!


10 Ways To Stand Out In The Workplace

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Most of us have an established routine we follow everyday. Day in and day out, we wake up, get to work, and anticipate for the moment we can go home and have a glass of cabernet sauvignon and relax. I love a nice glass of wine just as much as the next girl, but take it from me, if you want to get ahead in your career and get the promotion you’ve been dying for, take your thoughts off the vino and put your focus into your work. The workplace is not the time to be the unmemorable wallflower, with an average job performance. When you set foot in your place of work, that is the time to show how dynamic of a worker you are and how serious you take your career. Luckily for you, I have the 10 essential ways to do just that. Follow this mini-guide on how to stand out in the workplace.

1. Always Represent Your Brand

Have a passion for your company and what you do. Not only will your enthusiasm for your company show in your behavior but this will heighten the quality of work you do and, ultimately, impress your employer (and clients).

2. Dress The Part

When you’re at work, you want to look the part and dress in a professional manner. The last thing you want to do is look underdressed, revealing or unkempt. Dedicate time to establish a solid and stylish wardrobe for work – which over time will become automatic and effortless.  If you wear a work inform, always make sure your uniform is clean, your hair is neat, avoid chipped polish ( I use gel-polish as it lasts longer and I know some busy ladies who now just buff their nails at home which is less high-maintenance but equally polished) and make sure that your makeup is not overboard. These same rules also apply to those without a designated uniform, as well.

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3. Contribute Regularly In Meetings

When in a meeting, many find it easy to simply sit and agree to what is being discussed. However, your employer is looking for those that speak up and have something to contribute to the issues at hand. Go into a meeting prepared and understand what topics are going to be discussed. Convey your ideas in a simple manner, but with enthusiasm. Show that you are in-tune and interested with whats being discussed by asking intelligent questions.

4. Be Proactive

Being proactive entails taking the initiative to take control of a situation and its outcome, i.e. to find the solution to any obstacle before a problem arises. Therefore, keeping any issues at bay. As a boss – I find that the my most valuable team members are those that not only see problems – they provide suggestions on how to overcome said issues.

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5. Take The Lead When Possible

Exercise and develop your leadership skills (yes its a skill – and anyone can develop them with time and practice) by taking the initiative to take the lead every once in . a while. Offer to take the on a new project or  spearhead the planning of the company’s annual picnic. It may not be the most prestigious or glamorous assignment but, whatever it may be, find an activity that needs to be done and accomplish it. In fact, taking on non-glamorous and low-key projects is best when you its your first time taking on something as a lead. Look for projects that will showcase your skills, as well, this will be a plus when the time comes for your evaluation.

6. Go Above & Beyond

It’s amazing to me that 80% of the time – most people are just doing the minimum at work. Leaders and oustanding employees are always continually striving to improve. Do this by listening to the feedback you receive from your employer or co-workers and actually apply whats being said to your performance. Soon you’ll realize that all the areas they would need to correct your work, no longer need correcting. This will save them the headache of extra work and impress them, at the same time.

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7. Be A Team Player

Don’t be the lone-wolf kind of worker. Being a team player will help you develop necessary and valuable relationships with your co-workers and show your employer that you get along well with others- which is essential in the workplace.

8. Be Friendly and Kind, Without Being A Pushover

Similar to be a team player, being friendly and kind to those in the workplace will help you to build good relationships with those you work with. Take an interest in your co-workers. Be available to help them when they need assistance. However, don’t let anyone take advantage of you and your kindness. Don’t become the person everyone thinks they can dump their work on when they don’t want to do the work themselves.

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9. Own Up To Your Mistakes

Don’t be the person that tries to place their mistakes on others or shift the blame onto someone else. Be honest and own up to the mistakes you’ve made. Your co-workers and employers will appreciate you for it.

10. Communicate Effectively

From experience, a lot of friction at work is actually due to miscommunication or words said in anger. I find that just repeating what someone has told you in your own words, or discussing (in a friendly way) about vague issues resolves a lot. Be aware when your emotions are taking over – when I am feeling angry, I try to hold off saying anything or emailing anyone for a couple of hours. Anger and frustration can stop you from thinking clearly and saying things you will later regret. Being a great communicator is one of those skills that will help you in all aspects of your professional and personal lives -which is why, it’s also the most valuable skill.


Let’s Conquer The World, In Style.


How To Own The Room

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Everyone has the potential to be an irresistible, room-captivating rockstar- even if they don’t know it yet. I recently saw the beautiful and talented Jazz singer, Ariana Savalas, perform and what I found inspiring about her is that she knows how to captivate and own her audience, flawlessly. Her style and charm is very reminiscent of the former days of sophisticated stardom; channeling the charming, sultry and witty, glamorously clad legends of the old hollywood era. What better way to learn how to ‘own the room’ than from the woman who could enter a room, without saying a word, and still steal the hearts of everyone in her presence? Follow these 6 tips, from Ariana herself, on becoming a room-captivating maven.

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1. Start small: Working with smaller crowds allows for you to really stand out amongst those around you. You are in turn allowed to introduce yourself (always use your first and last name), and be able to converse in a well-versed manner, all of which all sets the stage for people to know and remember who you are.

2. Slowly expand your crowd: Ariana started performing in front of family and close friends during her formative years. In other words, she had a tremendous amount of practice before she was comfortable performing in front of larger crowds. Once you become comfortable with practicing in smaller groups, you can transition into working with large ones. By starting small, you’ll notice how much more comfortable you’ll become in front of larger groups.

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3. Practice makes perfect: You are certainly not going to be great at owning the room first time around (which is why tip no. 2 is so important). You might get nervous, fumble your words, or not know what to say… Just remember to breathe and be yourself. If your first time out doesn’t go as expected, try again! Practice really does make perfect and you’ll be confident, owning the room in no time.

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4. Be well rested and focused: No one has ever owned a room when they’re looking and acting as if they just rolled out of bed. If you are planning on attending an event, be sure to rest well, drink plenty of water, and keep your head clear to remain completely focused and in the moment.Basically don’t plan a wild girls night out ( or girls night in, for that matter) when you have a big company presentation at 9 am the next morning.

5. Know your crowd: Ariana knows how to reads her audience well. She states, “It’s like a first date – you try to find out their background, room atmosphere so that you can know whether to amp up the jokes or tone it down.” This is an excellent tid-bit of advice. Even if you have never met the people who surround you, you can learn a great deal about them. A great way to do this is by watching the conversation-styles and listening to the topics being discussed by those around you, prior to diving into a conversation. Learn your audience, then you can take them by storm!

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6. Give credit where credit is due: This is particularly important if you are sharing the stage with others (your friends or partner perhaps).  “You want them to help you out and giving you their best,” says Ariana. Be each others support system and own the room together. Be prepared, the results may turn out even better than expected!

Pretty simple, right? Now that you have the 6 steps necessary to ‘own the room’ and and engage an audience, put them to use! You’ll be able to successfully mingle and make new connections, whether for work or play. The benefits to learning to own the room are essentially endless!Now if only I can rock a rocking animal print dress and 6 inch heels to my next meeting.