Opinion Blog: Who’s Your Job Connection?

May 3, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Rachael Mackin

When students seek jobs after graduation, nobody seems to care what their grades were in biology or business ethics. Teachers and parents warn kids to study hard in school or else they won’t get a good job. Students at SMU have something more valuable than grades: connections. They’re all around us. If students have someone to help them get a foot in the door somewhere and an impressive resume, it’s less likely that they will have to live in Mom and Dad’s basement after graduation.

I listened to this advice at SMU’s “Digital Threads” conference in the fall of 2008 and again in 2009. For two days, the Meadows School hosted several of the world’s most successful leaders in the media industry. Each guest spoke about how they got to where they are now (the top), and gave tips to those planning to enter the same field. Every one of them stressed the importance of internships, social networking, and building a strong resume.

I recently sent my resume to two different companies. I had heard of one job opening through SMU’s “Mustang Trak” and the other through a close friend who currently works at the company. The first company is a small, Dallas-based PR firm and the second is a globally recognized fashion designer.

Evidently, the Mustang Trak isn’t an automatic “foot in the door”. I sent my resume and cover letter to the Email address that was given and mentioned that I am an SMU student who heard about the job from Mustang Trak. I received an Email back with an attached “interview” despite the fact that I said I was able to come in anytime for an in-person interview. The word document had 10 yes/no questions for one to answer. How would I wow them by emailing six yes’ and four no’s? I didn’t.

A person from the sales department of the other company, which is based in New York City, called me five minutes after I sent in my resume. The woman said spots were filling up quickly, but she had heard from my friend that I would be perfect for the job. She mentioned that usually the company conducts interviews with online questionnaires or phone interviews, but because of my friend, she would make an exception. I was on a plane to New York a week later. I was offered a summer internship during my interview.

I offer the tales of my internship hunt to everyone who is under the impression that the better the grades, the better the job. Obviously, grades aren’t irrelevant to the job hunt. If my GPA was below average, my friend would not have recommended me, and the company certainly wouldn’t have hired me. But a lot of students work hard in college and can boast grades similar or better than mine in an interview. The only way to shine in this competitive process it to have the brightest resume, grades and connections combined. The better the connections, the better the job.

It’s easier to make connections and build a resume in college. I asked everyone for help. Not just my friends, but my teachers and family friends. SMU hosts career fairs frequently and oftentimes, professors were previously professionals in the fields they now teach about. Don’t let study times interfere too much with the time that could and should be spent social networking.

At the time, I only had one job on my resume. Now I have two. No one ever asked me about my GPA.

Opinion Blog: Shake Things Up with a Costume

May 3, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Rachael Mackin

Doesn’t everybody just want to put reality on hold sometimes and do something different from the norm? Halloween is the designated day to dress up as someone (or something) else, to shed the skin of everyday life and take on a new identity. But one day a year is hardly enough.

Halloween occurs every month in New York City, where Shien Lee hosts the “Dances of Vice” (D.O.V.), a itinerant costume party. The themes, which she says, reflect her scholarly interests, have ranged between 1940s jazz to Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland”. For just $30 dollars at the door, partygoers can take on a whole new persona for a night in, what looks like, an alternate reality.

Critics say Lee’s parties are shallow, but they are in fact, quite the opposite. The parties are open to the public. This means doctors, teachers and young college graduates alike can enjoy the glamorous parties together, but as someone else.

The name Dances of Vice comes from the 1987 film “Anita-Tänze des Lasters”, which Lee says in an article in the New York Times , “represents the triumph of creative expression and madness.”

It’s about time someone introduced an opportunity to safely experience madness and creativity. Lee says her goal is to not have guests get stumbling drunk at her parties, or feel the stress of networking and meeting new people, but to simply let loose.

It’s true what they say- you do look back on “the good old days”. The days when you could wear a costume because you genuinely believed you were a princess or a cowboy. Now, days are filled with nine-to-five jobs, deadlines, and economic woes, in addition to the endless to-do lists.

A guest at Lee’s “Alice in Wonderland” party is a high school teacher by day, but said her extravagant costume at the party made her feel like a player in an extravagant parallel universe.

Fraternities and other groups on campus could take something away from Lee’s party planning adventures, introducing something fresh and new. It seems like every weekend is the same at SMU. Students congregate at Barley House, Home Bar, or places on lower Greenville.

Bigger events, like Phi Delta Theta’s “Casino” party, move more in the direction of Lee’s parties, but are expensive. Students pay $100 for a casino ticket, whereas Lee charges guests around $30.

By getting more creative with the social scene at SMU, more people would socialize together, instead of being so divided the way it is now.

Lee says she spends $1,000 to $2,000 on each party, but makes a profit on most of her events. Fraternities and other groups on campus have budgets that include money for parties and events. Why not spend it on something other than the same cover band at the same bar and present people with a theme to get excited about?

Shaking up the social scene at SMU with costume parties like Lee’s will give students an opportunity to do something different, wear something different, and be something different- even if just for a night.

The Daily Update: Wednesday, April 28

April 28, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Read more

Opinion Blog: Fashion’s version of ‘Netflix’–Rent-The-Runway

April 12, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Rachael Mackin

The Fashion World, a once “invite only” community, has become more accessible in this economic climate.

Designers are creating lines for Target and Gap at more affordable prices to extend their brands to more consumers. Other designers are streaming fashion shows on their Web sites to create a bigger forum for discussion and critique of the newest lines.

Such developments have opened up the fashion world to a broader demographic, keeping designers afloat in this economic climate. But now, people don’t even have to buy haute couture- they can rent it.

A Web site called Rent-the-Runway offers a whole new philosophy on fashion; “love.wear.return.” The site features several A-list designers’ dresses for members to pick from. For as little as $150, someone can rent a dress that would normally cost upwards of $1,000. Customers can pay nearly one tenth of the cost to look like a star in couture by designers like Herve Leger, Diane Von Furstenberg and Catherine Malandrino.

The dress will arrive on the selected day, but in two different sizes. Customers can also select a second style for an additional $25 “(just in case)”. One week later, the consumer puts the dress in the prepaid package and sends it back. Users don’t even have to pay for dry-cleaning. Now fashionistas can rent the dress and pay their rent.

If it is this simple to wear couture, what is the point in actually buying dresses? Realistically, a woman will only wear the expensive party dress once, so four days with it is more than enough time. And more often than not, dry-cleaning is ghastly expensive on couture.

The Herve Leger dress that Kristin Cavallari, the star of MTV’s reality show “The Hills”, is on Rent-The-Runway! If you can dress to impress for much less, who is actually buying these dresses? The dress on the site looks identical to Cavallari’s. A new question fashion critics will soon be asking after “Who are you wearing?” will be “Did you buy or rent?”

The New York Times compared Rent-the-Runway to Netflix, saying that the site makes wearing high-end fashion as easy as renting a movie from Netflix. If it’s so easy, why is there a waiting list to access the site?

I signed up to rent the runway, but was halted with an e-mail, which said the dresses are in such high demand; no new members may be admitted at this time. This sounds familiar. Isn’t this the same thing haute couture designers have been saying to eager customers for generations? There is still a 3-year waiting list for the Hermes “Birkin” bag, which starts at $10,000. Now there are waiting lists to look at Web sites? Rent-the-Runway advertises “accessible couture”, but only once you clear the waiting list.

Within an hour of putting my name on the waiting list, I got this e-mail:

“Thanks for joining our wait list. ??Due to extremely high demand we only have a few openings for new members each day. We will contact you via email once we activate your membership. Don’t worry, we’ll get you in – and into one of our dresses – as soon as possible.”

Let’s hope I become a member before I have to choose from last season’s dresses.

The Daily Update: Wednesday, March 31

March 31, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Read more

The Daily Update: Thursday, Feb. 18

February 18, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Read more

The Daily Update: Monday, October 19

October 19, 2009 by · Comments Off 

The Daily Update: Monday, September 28

September 28, 2009 by · 3 Comments