Monday, July 30, 2012

Rules for Rebuilding My Wardrobe

I'm not talking about a "What Not to Wear," 7-Day overhaul, but a slow cycle of trashing and adding clothes to my closet.

Back in the prime of my ski racing career (aka high school), my personal uniform was boot-cut jeans, a v-neck t-shirt in a number of bright colors and a hoodie or ski jacket. Oh, and don't forget the flip-flops. I'm not saying I don't rock the ski bum look anymore, but in the recent past (aka the past two summers) I have become inspired to shift the overall look of my wardrobe to allow for more mixing and matching. I also want to make sure I dress my age and project myself in a positive manner. You never know who you might run into!

Here are some of my personal rules for rebuilding my wardrobe:

1) When you find something you like, buy it!

I don't mean that you should spend your life savings on the latest runway look just because it MIGHT be the next big thing. I'm saying that when you try on something you can afford and you fall in love, buy it. In fact, I'd encourage you to buy multiple. For me, items that may be included in this category are jeans, work pants, and dresses. Most recently, I was in H&M and tried on a light blue dress with a brown belt. I liked it so much, I bought it in black, too. I can wear these dress with several pairs of shoes from sandals to heels as well as wear them in the winter with leggings, boots, and a sweater. (Follow me on Instagram for more snapshots: Hall_Gabbi)

Worn on my outing to the Getty Center

Worn to my internship with Ink PR Group in West Hollywood

2) Accessories/Shoes > Clothes

In my personal opinion, accessories are much easier to lug around than tons on dresses and t-shirts. Lately, I've been investing in more shoes and accessories. My most recent purchase was a few inexpensive rings which I switch between fingers depending on the day. They add a little flavor to my look whether it is jeans or a dress.

My black Banana Republic work dress can be worn a million ways with the right additions. Which leads me to my third rule....

3) Don't buy something without being able to envision the whole outfit.

One of my greatest mistakes when shopping has been buy a shirt or skirt because in the store I thought "oh, this is cute." The truth is that I may not have had shoes or the pieces opposite to go with it, leaving me with a shirt I liked, but no way to wear it.

Now, I go through a mental checklist before purchasing. "What can I wear this with?" and "Where will I wear it to?" Sometimes, it's okay to buy a one-time-deal dress. For example, I'm going to buy a new outfit for me 21st birthday. It's a big day and I'm going to look fabulous. And who knows? Maybe I'll wear it in Vegas.

However, that won't be a spontaneous buy and I'll have a great reason to wear it!

4) Let go!

I have been going back and forth across the country for years now with a huge group of clothes thinking "I might want to wear that." The truth is that those clothes probably haven't seen the light of day more than 2 or 3 times in the past 3 years. Therefore, it's time to let go.

I recently filled a large trash bag with clothes for good will. I got rid of them for various reasons. Some didn't really fit. Some just hung out in a dark corner of my dresser.  Some were not items that I felt reflected the person I plan to become.

They say "Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have." Well, that's what I'm trying to do. I also think that how people act towards you is determined by how you look. People are much more likely to take you seriously if you look put together. For day to day outfits, I always think "Is this an outfit I'd want to meet someones parents in?" I don't need to lose my personality, I just need to look like the me I want to be.


Friday, July 27, 2012

First-Year Experiences: The Ones That Changed My Life

... or at the very least, effected my experience at SMC.

Many members of the SMC Class of 2016 have attended a POW, WOW, SOAR, or, at least, a registration day. It is your first taste of college, meeting with upper classmen and professors, and touring around campus. While there are interesting experiences during these weekends, there are many experiences to be had at orientation and throughout your first year. I want share some the experiences that changed my life.

1) Move-In Day.

That's when it hit me. That's when the idea that I was a college student really hit me. More importantly, Move-In Day is the day that I met my closest friends in the world.

Pictured here are (L to R): Hannah, Sarah, Andrea, Natalie, myself, and Kate. This was 2 weeks into school for the Highlighter Dance. I'm pleased to say that I am still friends with all of them. We all lived on the same floor (Joyce 3rd South) and they have been my SMC family. From boy problems to ski problems, these girls have gotten me through a lot of growing up. Be willing to meet as many as people as possible and leave preconceived notions behind. People will surprise you.

2) The First-Year Dance

I like to dance. I dance in my room, on tables, walking to class, and really wherever the mood strikes me. Obviously, I attended the first-year dance as I advise everyone to do!

This is sort of a minor hurdle, but a hurdle none the less. I hadn't been to a dance since the 8th grade due to my unorthodox high school education. Well, I saw this group of rather attractive guys on the side line and I went up and asked "do any of you want to dance?"

I go rejected... by 5 guys at once. It wasn't a glorious moment, but I lived and had a great time at the dance. The obstacle is getting over rejection. Be willing to test yourself at school. It pays off even if not right away.

3) The Halloween Dance

I'll make a long story short. This was where I got my first kiss. Yup, right on the dance floor. Maybe it wasn't life-altering. In fact, it was sort of sloppy, but they guy was cute and I had a crush on him. It was a milestone.

You might be laughing because most people reach the milestone at age 12, but I'm a late bloomer and was on an all-girls ski team for most of high school. My personal/boy life was in the back seat.

4) My First P-Day

Nothing brings people together like free food and inflatable obstacle courses, so Saint Mike's makes a day out of it called P-Day, more formally known as preparation day. Watch the following video to learn more:

P-Day changed my life because it one of the moments (or whole days) where you realize what a great community we are a part of. We are silly and fun-loving. We work hard and play hard. It's a frikkin' awesome crew and I wouldn't choose to attend anywhere else for the world.

For some of you, your experiences may be completely opposite. I did want to offer up a few pieces of my experience. I wanted to share what makes life at SMC so amazing and give you things to look forward to as we near August 23rd!



Monday, July 23, 2012

How to Win the Hunger Games... I mean, the Job Hunt

Every once in a while, I ask the SMC Alumni via their LinkedIn group for their insight. They have all been there and done that. They are a valuable network that we all have access to as students at St. Mike's. To read more advice from them, you can check out: Tips from Alumni and  Tips From Alumni - Part 2

This time around I asked a question geared towards college seniors, not high school seniors.

What advice would you give to a senior who is job hunting?

 I did this for a number of reasons:
  1. I'm a senior and the information is useful to me.
  2. We all need to job hunt eventually.
  3. You might be surprised that prospective students aren't the only people that read my blog.
Here is what they had to say...

Kristin Zawatski
Class of 2000 - English
Business Systems Analyst II at John Hancock Life Insurance Company

Be flexible; and don't be afraid to apply for something you may not be qualified for. Your first job is also probably not going to be the one you have for life. It's okay not to know what or who you want to be the minute someone hands you a diploma.

Chris Whittaker
Class of 1992 - English
REO Listing Agent & Buyer Specialist at Keller Williams Realty Las Vegas

My advice for a senior who is job hunting is to start thinking about what sort of industries excite them and why. In this job market you do need to stand out among the crowd and start practicing with networking, it'll be useful later on. Be flexible with your location (you're still young, plenty of time to move back and be close to family after you've established your career and are ready to settle down). Get fired up because it's competitive and you need to get aggressive, and go after what you really want (in business and life). Lastly, stay positive. Don't listen to "statistics" or "the media." Don't get lulled into that state of being. Build a strong mindset and be clear about your vision of the future. Best of luck.

Philip Colby Ciula Jr.
Class of 1973 - English and Theater
Vice President at BI Worldwide

I agree with Chris and Kristin, BE FLEXIBLE. Don't always follow posted procedures. Show you a have fire and a passion. DO - research the company prior to your interview. KNOW what their mission, vision and values are. KNOW how stable they are. KNOW their business. Try and get to the hiring person. HR many of the times are road blocks. CUSTOMIZE your resume and cover letter for each job. ALWAYS write a handwritten thank you note. That alone will separate you from other candidates. Used Linked IN and build as many contacts that you can. It is the best business networking tool out there. Be yourself and set time everyday to do your search. NETWORK, NETWORK and NETWORK.

Martha Milla Johnson
Class of 1993 - Psychology
Founder - Client Partnership at MJ Technology Solutions, LLC

As a recruiter, the best advice I can provide along with the others is leaverage your network, meet people, don't ever think you are wasting your time by meeting someone. Be energetic and flexible with a can-do attitude. Review interview skills and questions so you are prepped and make sure your body language is open and positive.

The bottom line: Be flexible and network!

Big thank you to the Alumni who responded! They are amazing! If I hear from more, I'll do a part 2 post!
Questions? Ask here: OR email me at


Friday, July 20, 2012

Off-Site Team Building with Western International Securities

In order for a company to work, people need to be able to work as a team. Everyone has their role and whether or not it is a direct relationship, what we do within the company effects everyone in the long-run.

This summer, I was invited to the off-site team building day. Half the team went to Chez Cherie in La Canada, CA for a day of cooking and learning. The other half of the team had to hold down the fort. They got to go earlier in the year.

Team Western

We arrived at ten AM and amongst the attendees were the CEO, the Chief Compliance Officer, my friend Michelle from Compliance, and the other intern, Christine.  There were 16 of us in total.

My group with our Tomato Tarte!

We were split into three groups and rotated through stations where we learned how to cook a starter, salad, entree, and dessert. My group, pictured right, consisted of Michelle, Christine, Carolyn, and Don.

Getting domesticated

I learned how to properly slice an onion at the entree station. What a revelation. Let me tell you. I did make a joke that I would be a terrible housewife. I like food and I don't mind cooking. I just REALLY hate cleaning up after myself. (Side note: I bought that cheetah print shirt the day before and it's my new favorite shirt. I LOVE cheetah.)

Around noon, we sat down to eat the fruits of our labor, which were phenomenal by they way. I tried so hard to use my best manners. I only had one moment of silliness when I was eating my salad. I picked up a piece of lettuce that was an awkward size. It wasn't really big enough to cut in half, but it was awkwardly large enough to have to consider how to put it in my mouth. Christine, the other intern, spotted my concetration from across the table and we immeadiately broke into hysterics. I'm glad they like our bubbly personalities or it could've been so awkward.

Upon finishing, the real work began. Nahid Casazza of Aspyrre worked with us for over three hours. We started with introductions, which included challenges that we have overcome that made us who we are. People shared everything from life-threatening diseases to divorces. I shared my story about this year's talent show and how I had to ask for a restart on account of not being able to hear the music. Of course, I then had to get back on stage for a rap battle. (That got a good laugh. Thank goodness.) What I learned was that people are more supportive than we expect and that you have to "get back on the horse," so to speak.

The most beneficial section for me was when we were divided into groups and had to write a draft script for addressing a difficult office conversations. My group had "how to ask for a raise or promotion." As someone preparing to enter the work force, I found the insight of my co-workers very helpful. The draft script was as follows:

I have been with Western for some time and have been able to support not only your goals, but the goals of several departmetns. I have "list accomplishments here" and feel that my record proves my ability to take on more responsibilty. I'd like to be compensated according to the number and rigor of these new responsibilities. Wouldn't you agree?

While I'm not a hug fan of the word "compensated" in that script, I think it is a great way to address the option. Nahid said that the most important thing to remember going into a discussion is to stay emotionally neutral. Be reasonable and if the boss says "no" to your request, stay calm and continue the conversation, inquiring on what you can do to deserve the raise.

The day was really beneficial, especially for an intern and I'm very grateful I was invited to participate.

In other news, IT'S FRIDAY! This weekend, I'm getting my hair cut (get ready for a surprise!) and I'm hanging in Venice Beach with my friend, Audrey.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Little Vacation: Lake Tahoe for the 4th of July

I want to start off with a quick note: If any one has housing/move-in/college questions, feel free to email me at or ask anonymously at
Hey Everyone!

I'm glad to be back. I took a short break from blogging, but it feels like forever. I wanted to be on a complete vacation while I was home. (I still ended up doing some work on the road, but I just didn't want to be overwhelmed by my to-do list when I got back to work.....)

I went home to Lake Tahoe over the 4th of July. I use "home" loosely because yes, it is where my parents live, but I don't spend more than 3 weeks there every year and I wasn't born and raised there. Nevertheless, it was an awesome time. It was so nice to just relax and not have to be anywhere.

Parachuters jump into Lake Tahoe
To be honest, the first two days I just lazed around on the deck and read Sense and Sensibility. Sometimes I need to completely decompress. Of course, 4th of July is when the real fun started.  Every year, Incline Beach puts on a show for the hundreds of people at the beach. There are concerts and bars and an Army helicopter show. If you look at the picture (left), you can see one of the parachuters with an American flag. Essentially, a plane drops off the parachuters. They land in the water in wetsuits and fins. The helicopter comes and picks them up. It keeps everyone entertained for a good 20 minutes. We spent the day at the beach with some family friends. Due to the July 4th falling on a Wednesday, there was no parade until Saturday when I left. Oh well. I was happy getting my tan on.

At the top of Rubicon Peak

On July 5th, I went on what I am lovingly referring to as the "ass-kicker" hike. The hike is actually up Rubicon Peak. In reality, I have done more strenuous hikes, but at 9,000 feet I certainly struggled. My mom, dad, and I went with some of their clients (and my old neighbors) who have a house on the west shore of the lake. They are all adjusted and living at high elevations, but this Los Angeles girl had he ass handed to her. I'm not ashamed to admit it. I haven't lived at that elevation for at least two years. Luckily, we had a bomb lunch when we got back to our friend's cabin including homemade vegetable quiche and salmon.

Maddi and I on the lake outside Gar Wood's
On my last full day in Tahoe, also known as Saturday, Maddi, Mom, Dad, and I went out on our friend's boat for some wakeboarding and sunshine. I haven't wakeboarded since I was 15, but I got up on the first go. #winning  I did admittedly eat it when I tried to get out from behind the boat into "open water." It is incredibly awkward to be strapped in sideways like that. I'm 10x more comfortable on a water ski.
After I was done being extreme (kidding), we headed over to Gar Wood's Grill on the west shore for lunch. While you can pull up in a car, I felt super cool pulling up on the boat to the dock at the restaurant. #fancypants Gar Wood's not only has amazing food, but amazing views. You can sit on the deck and look out on the lake. Check it out in the photo below!

The View from Gar Wood's
Unfortunately, work called so I had to head back to LA on Saturday. Fortunately, my cousin and her friend wanted to go to Malibu, so off I went to the beach on Sunday and guess what? I met Helen Hunt. Yes, the actress. It was so cool. She commented on my tattoo. I was in celeb heaven.

Now I am back on the grind and working hard. :)


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