Cindy Brugge

A Public Relations Student

Month: December, 2012

Money for Nothing and College for Free: Applying for the Scholarships Today that will Keep Your Family Out of Debt Later

Here at Bookkeeper Girl, we believe in higher education. Because we so deeply believe in college, we try to find ways to help fund the education of students.  We are constantly encouraging students to get out there and find creative ways to pay for college.

Each semester, Bookkeeper Girl provides a scholarship to a previous Bookkeeper Girl intern. Kim, our president, is also very involved with a local scholarship foundation, called What’s Your Plan Be, which gives scholarships to Denton High School senior girls.

Although we cannot personally fund the education of every student, there are many more scholarships available to students that are willing to apply. Many organizations offer money to young students and there are thousands of scholarships for every conceivable topic and hardship. Most scholarship deadlines are approaching and it’s time to apply, before it’s too late. Here are a few recommendations to find the scholarship that is right for you:

  1. First fill out the FAFSA. It will seem intimidating, but make yourself sit down and get it done. Most organizations ask for it when you fill out the application anyways, so you might as well get it knocked out. And remember: Federal grants are first come, first served—so don’t let too much time slip by before you complete it.
  2. Go to the scholarship office at your university or prospective university. Every school has alumni and school maintained programs that support scholarships for students. They can help direct you to some of the best scholarships according to your needs.
  3. Make a list. Write down every quality that makes you unique. Are you from another country? A member of a specific religious denomination? A dancer or athlete? Related to a founding father? A huge Taco Bell fan? Think of every possible little quirk or quality. Then start researching scholarships for those attributes. You will be surprised to find scholarships for the most random reasons, for example the Tall Clubs International offers a $1,000 scholarship to women over 5’10”.

In the end, it will all come down to your determination. Look at this process as a job. You wouldn’t expect your boss to pay you for work that wasn’t earned. Applying for scholarships is not easy, but you will reap the rewards later, when you aren’t in debt after you graduate. Keep looking for the money and you will find it, but it may take some hard work. Put in the hours now and school will be smooth sailing later.

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Working Weekends: What Technology has Done to Our Free Time

For generations before us, people survived the workweek just to get to 5 p.m. on Friday, so that they could come home, flop onto the couch and not move until Monday morning. In today’s world, the work environment has provided a “more flexible” environment that allows us the freedom to take our work home with us. Technology has opened numerous doors to make our work more portable and employers are integrating these techniques to the best of their ability, but at what cost?

With this new adaptable work atmosphere, it can lead to a lot of new territory that employees may not have initially anticipated. Questions start to arise. Do I have to be available just because I have a company cell phone? If I receive an email at 11:30 p.m. am I expected to answer it before morning? Am I allowed to say that no one can contact me on the weekends or will I be fired for drawing that line?

These questions have gone unanswered for many individuals and then their 40-hour workweek quickly expands to accommodate the numerous virtual tasks that they take home. Weekends were created to allow individuals the opportunity to spend time with family and studies have shown that time away from work is beneficial to mental health. We need time to relax with friends and family. However with online file systems and smart phones that can complete nearly any task, an entire office can fit in the back pocket of a pair of jeans and it can make that relaxing close to impossible.

How can you help your employees set boundaries that make for a fair working environment when they leave the office? Ask them these questions and make some decisions based on their answers.

  1. Would you be available to work from home occasionally?
  2. When is it a good time to contact you? (If they say “anytime,” that is a red flag. Encourage them to take time with family and have “off hours.” Even if it’s a little inconvenient for you, they will respect you for valuing their free time.)
  3. What is the best way to reach you?
  4. How quick of a turnaround should I expect on your communication?

After you receive this information, store it in their company paperwork and respect their answers. After all, the best way to earn respect is to give it and the best way to respect someone is to recognize that their time is valuable and not something that they choose to waste. These answers are a surefire way to reinstate stability in the virtual workplace.

Finding a Place to Stuff Those Extra Files

I like to consider myself an organized person, but let’s face it – I’m not really. Most of the time, my life is a bit of a mess. I do try to keep the chaos to a mild level, but there’s really no getting around it. When people come over, I do what all American women do, I start shoving things in drawers, especially that one drawer that we all have, the “This is a random object that literally has no place in my house so I will dump it here for now” drawer. As they walk through my home, they see me as a polished, organized individual and as I follow them I pray that they never get a look in my drawers for fear that they may never speak to me again.

As a Bookkeeper Girl employee, I would like to say that my finances have shaped up quite a bit and my office drawers are the least scary of the bunch, but for many people, the most disorganized place in their life is their desk drawer. With receipts crinkled and bank statements tossed in along with the rest, it can become somewhat of a mess. Then, by the end of the year they’re not really sure what anything is or how to file it. In the beginning of this new year, try something new. Spend the time and decide on an electronic filing system that can help you organize the various files in your life.

Filing important documents online has numerous benefits!

  1. In the hazardous environment that files float through today, documents are lost, destroyed or stolen if they aren’t stored properly, but technology can help ensure that even if your office burns down, you won’t lose your documents.
  2. With many online filing systems, your files will save not only online and on your work computer but can be automatically saved to every computer and smartphone you own. With that handy feature, you can have access to your files from anywhere.
  3. By moving everything to an electronic filing system, it will make it that much easier to share your documents with your accountant.
  4. Make sure to recycle your paper, because by integrating technology you are saving trees, as well.

With our taxes looming ahead, many of us make the commitment, yet again, to take the time to better organize our expenses this year. However few people actually have the guts to take back their desk drawers. Modern technology allows you to shred those receipts and better utilize that drawer space. I’ve listed a few different types of file storage systems below. Check them out and decide which is best for you and your files.

The Box:

Space: 1 2 3 4 5

Style: 1 2 3 4 5

Sharing: 1 2 3 4 5

Syncing: 1 2 3 4 5

Overall Storage: 1 2 3 4 5

This system was a personal favorite of mine. While it offers 5 GB to its first time users, it was also very user friendly. The sharing seemed to be the most intuitive and the iPhone app was very easy to use with many different options. However, it lacks in the file syncing qualities that Dropbox offers.

Dropbox:

Space: 1 2 3 4 5

Style: 1 2 3 4 5

Sharing: 1 2 3 4 5

Syncing: 1 2 3 4 5

Overall Storage: 1 2 3 4 5

Although this is the most popular online storage system, by far, I think it is the least efficient. Giving its users only 2 GB up front, it provides far less storage than other platforms. Dropbox does excel in its ability to keep your files updated on multiple devices. For example, if you save something in a file on your laptop, it is automatically updated on your desktop PC and your phone, while also available online. Its iPhone app leaves something to be desired with the smallest amount of options and the least attractive interface. However, Dropbox is easily the most popular and has a huge fan base that raves about its consistent strengths, so it shouldn’t be overlooked as a vital option.

SugarSync:

Space: 1 2 3 4 5

Style: 1 2 3 4 5

Sharing: 1 2 3 4 5

Syncing: 1 2 3 4 5

Overall Storage: 1 2 3 4 5

After researching countless file storage systems, this one is my favorite. Giving their users 5 GB up front, they compete with Box, but they are also just as easy to use as Dropbox, if not easier.  Their app was strong but didn’t beat the Box’s app. All around this is a great option.

 

If you invest the time now, you won’t regret switching to an online storage system. Good luck storing!

“What’s your Plan Be?” Girl’s Night Out and Fundraiser

For Immediate Release: December 17, 2012

Fourth Annual “What’s Your Plan BE?” Girl’s Night Out & Fundraiser – January 18th, 2013, Event to raise $15, 000 for Denton ISD girls’ scholarships

 

DENTON, TX – Bravo Communications & Consulting announced the date for the fourth annual “What’s Your Plan BE?” Fundraiser and Girls Night Out, benefiting the Denton Public Schools Foundation Scholarships for Girls. The event will be held Friday, January 18th, 2013, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. The floor will then open up for dancing and games until midnight.

Because of the phenomenal growth of the event in 2012, “What’s YOUR Plan BE?” has been moved to the Buffalo Valley Events Center in Denton, TX, to accommodate a larger crowd. Event tickets are free when you pre-purchase your raffle tickets online. For more information, visit http://www.wypb.blogspot.com.

The “What’s Your Plan BE?” Fundraiser and Girls Night Out was born in 2009 over a cup of coffee between friends, Libby Spears and Jill Personius. The two small business-owning moms had begun to see a pattern in the conversations they were having with women from all walks of life. They were hearing recurring sentiments of feeling lost and unable to find personal and professional happiness. Suddenly, Spears understood the problem.

“Too many people are worried about a back up Plan B when really we should be asking a more fundamental question: Who do you want to BE?” Spears said.

Spears, owner of Bravo Communications and Consulting, knew there was potential in this simple question and took action accordingly. She organized a committee and planned the first “What’s YOUR Plan BE?” fundraiser in 2010.

Each year, the event provides a laid-back setting for ladies to enjoy a girls’ night out. The event is produced by women for women, celebrating the achievements of females in the community.

Local business owners are invited to take part in the marketplace where event attendees can experience their products and services. Last year, some of the market place participants included Salon Rene, Dillard’s, Estee Lauder, and DFW Photo Booths.

Other business owners sponsored tables for the event and provided items for the themed baskets that are raffled to the attendees. This year the committee hopes to have six sponsored raffle baskets, with the value of each basket ranging from $1000 – $2000. The cost to sponsor a basket is $900.

“This year, our goal for the event is to raise $15,000 in scholarships,” Spears said. “In 2012, we awarded three $2000 scholarships to one girl from each of the three high schools. With the changes we have made to the event this year, I think we can far exceed our past numbers!”

The first year, “What’s Your Plan BE?” gathered the collected funds to make a donation to Dress for Success Dallas. The following year, Spears decided to refocus the proceeds to a need nearer to her heart – women’s education. As a result, the committee pulled in the Denton Public Schools Foundation and arrangements were made to establish the Bravo CC scholarship fund.

“As a former teacher, education – specifically women’s education – is and always will be near and dear to my heart,” Spears said. “I am so thankful to all of the area businesses and individuals who give their time and money to help make this event possible and the scholarships it provides. We have so many returning sponsors every year which tells me we are filling a need in our community!”

Table ticket sales, priced at $500, will also support the scholarship fund.

One of the highlights of the 2012 event was the sponsored VIP table for three area high schools, provided by business owner Rob Seay and Jostens Student Center. Their sponsorship allowed teachers and administrators to take part in the festivities.

In 2013, ten district tables are available to purchase for any Denton ISD school of your choice. Businesses interested in being a sponsor or donating products or services to one of the raffle baskets can contact Libby Spears directly at lspears@bravocc.com.

 

This press release was written for Tilted Kilt and Operation Once in a Lifetime and edited by Melissa Cox with Aclarus Marketing & Events.

Operation Once in a Lifetime Makes Christmas Dreams Come True for Hundreds of Military Children

Local military personnel from the Army and the Marines joined Operation Once in a Lifetime Wednesday and Thursday as they went around the DFW metroplex picking up hundreds of donated toys and bicycles for military families at Ft. Hood, the largest military base in the U.S.

Operation Once in a Lifetime (OOIAL) is the only military charity that supports all branches of the military regardless of their branch of service, their length of service, or physical condition. Their motto is “You served, you qualify.” OOIAL was founded by former U.S. Navy Seal Sargent Patrick Sowers to make the dreams of U.S. soldiers and their families come true by providing free financial and morale support to U.S service members.

“A soldier knows what a soldier does and doesn’t need,” says Sgt. Sowers. “A soldier does not need to worry about providing beds for his kids, worrying if his electricity will still be on when he goes home or if his house will be foreclosed on when serving his/her country. A soldier needs a program that will provide free financial assistance regardless of his rank, race, branch of service, physical condition, or his deployment status. A soldier needs a program that can help make a life altering contribution when he is in his/her greatest need; Operation Once in a Lifetime is that program.”

Operation Once in a Lifetime receives numerous requests during the holidays from military service members who need assistance providing a good Christmas for their kids. These requests come from the families of soldiers who are currently deployed overseas and stateside and even from families that have lost a parent protecting our country.

Similar to “Toys for Tots” where Marines collect toys for lower income civilians’ children, OOIAL works with local businesses to provide signage, gift wrapped collection boxes, and other operational needs. This year a new OOIAL sponsor – Tilted Kilt in Lewisville, TX – funded one of the two trucks used to pick-up toys at the various collection points around the metroplex.

“It is very important for us to give back to our community, especially during the holiday season,” said Anit Patel, co-owner of Tilted Kilt Lewisville. “We are very proud to be able to partner with a charity like Operation Once in a Lifetime that is truly focused on honoring the service of all of our troops regardless of their branch of service or status.”

In 2010, the program’s first year, OOIAL raised more than $35,000 in toys and distributed them to more than 500 military families and nearly 1,000 military children. This year the organization exceeded its expectations, having to add a second truck to transport the donations to Ft. Hood.

“It is amazing to see how generous our area is in supporting our military children at Christmastime,” said Sgt. Sowers. These kids often go months without seeing one or both of their parents who are deployed stateside or overseas, and unfortunately their parents don’t always return home. It’s an honor to be able to make these kids Christmas a little more joyful by providing them a couple of toys or a new bike. It’s the least we can do in exchange for their parents’ service to our country.”

In addition to conducting the toy drive, OOIAL provides non-profit day cares in and around military installations; funds flights for soldiers to come home on leave to see their families; provides furniture, clothes, toys, electronics, and other household needs; offers morale support through donated tickets to once-in-a-lifetime events; and generally tries to meet any identified need possible for all of our military and their families. If you would like to learn more about Operation Once in a Lifetime’s activities or would like to make an online donation, please visit their website at www.operationonceinalifetime.com.  You may also send requests and contributions via postal mail to PO Box 797052, Dallas, Texas 75379.

 

This press release was written for Tilted Kilt and Operation Once in a Lifetime and edited by Melissa Cox with Aclarus Marketing & Events.

Dress to Impress the Boss: Wearing an Appropriate Outfit for the First Day

So, you’ve found an internship for spring. With your first day looming ahead, how do you plan to make a strong first impression?

A developed wardrobe can separate a college student intern from an asset to the company who demands a place as a future employee. Create a power look with these 5 steps to success:

It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed.

  • Wear nice clothing: slacks, simple dresses, collared shirts.
  • Avoid jeans, T-Shirts, sundresses, and tennis shoes.
  • If you find after a few days that everyone in your office dresses a little more casual than you, then you can tone it down accordingly.

Be classy.

  • Clothing should be properly laundered and pressed. (You would be surprised how often people don’t do this!)
  • Don’t be a skank. Nobody wants to see your low cut tops and miniskirts in the office. It isn’t cute, and it’s definitely not appropriate for an intern to prance around the office in scandalous attire. You want people to think “tasteful” not “Hello, Miss Tastey!”

Accessories can make or break your outfit.

  • Accessories are an area where you can afford to take a few small risks to show your personality. A colorful neon belt can add a little flare without overpowering your outfit and chic shoes might boost your outfit if chosen correctly.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. I cannot stress this enough. Many interns run errands and do random chores that keep them on their feet all day long. Those heels may be cute, but you will regret that choice by the end of the day.
  • Men forget that nice shoes, a cool belt and some awesome sunglasses can take them up a notch immediately. Guys, you look so much hotter, when you learn how to properly accessorize your outfit.

Go Shopping!

  • With these tips in mind, it might be a good idea to shop for a few basics.
  • I’d recommend these staples.
    • Ladies: A pair of slacks, a simple black dress (that doesn’t show cleavage and falls at least to just above the knee), a classic white collared shirt and a cardigan.
    • Men: A pair of khakis, a pair of black/navy slacks, an assortment of collared shirts and ties. Please spend a little money on some nice versatile accessories. You need a nice belt and shoes to match brown and black hues.
    • Don’t go overboard. I wouldn’t go on a shopping spree until you get an idea of what your company’s overall style and dress code looks like. Buy a couple of standard pieces, and re-evaluate your wardrobe after the first week.

After you have picked an outfit, pack a bag.

  • All interns should bring a pen and small notepad for their first day. You WILL have a million questions and will learn numerous details throughout the day. It will seem overwhelming. My best advice is to constantly take notes. Write your questions down in one place, and when you get a chance, ask someone. I usually ask mine via email. It’s an effective way to get the answer in writing so that you can see it later. A pen and notepad will help you survive the first week.
  • If needed, bring your laptop in a work appropriate case.
  • Make sure to bring any paperwork needed for you first day, including your driver’s license and social security card or a valid passport.

If you can follow these few tips, you are sure to wow your boss on your first day. Just remember that you already got the job. They’ve already seen something worthwhile in your personality and background. Wardrobe is made to help your talent stand out. Don’t let fashion malfunctions distract your co-workers from what you have to offer. Pick the right outfit to make YOU stand out!

 

This is a piece from my monthly column in the Campus Pages, called Intern-al Affairs.

iPhone Apps that Your Small Business Can’t Live Without

Every small business owner knows that living without a smartphone is next to impossible. Many of them are constantly on the go and occasionally running their business out of their car. Equipping a phone with the necessary apps is imperative in today’s small business community. The apps listed below are the best apps to manage a small business in our fast paced, technology dependent work environment.

Money Apps

Quickbooks: Manage your expenses, create invoices, keep up with receipts and send estimates… all with your iPhone. Quickbooks allows you to keep a handle on your expenses for your personal life and your business.

Square Register: This app allows its users to turn their iPhone into a mini-register that can give businesses the option to receive payments with a credit card.

Bank App: Most banks have an app for the iPhone to manage your online banking. Download your bank’s app to allow you to have on the go money management.

iTip: Tipping can always be an awkward moment, if you don’t know what certain services call for in the term of gratuity. This app can help you with the tipping process when the bill comes.

TimeSheet: Keep track of your hours with this easy-to-use clock-in service that lets you send your time sheet via email.

 

Communications Apps

Email: Sync your many email accounts with the iPhone email system and receive all of your emails in one place.

LinkedIn: Manage your business profile from anywhere with the LinkedIn app. Also, consider using other social media apps, such as Facebook, TweetDeck and Pinterest.

Plaxo: This contact syncing application allows its users to maintain their many contacts on an online browser. It also will update outdated contact information and send reminder alerts for birthdays.

CamCard: Tired of keeping up with hundreds of business cards? CamCard is an easy way to organize the information found on business cards, by taking a picture of the card and storing the pictures in alphabetical order by last name.

 

Travel Apps

Trip Cubby: Track your mileage for deduction or reimbursement with easy to use data entry and excel compatible reports that can be sent via email.

Flight track: This simple app allows you to keep an eye on real-time status updates for gates, delays and cancellations on your business flights.

Google Maps: Download this intuitive travel map app. It excels in navigation and kicks the new iPhone maps app’s butt.

 

Document Apps

Scanner Pro: Scan in documents using your iPhone camera and leave the bulky scanner at the office.

Adobe Reader: Every business owner needs a good PDF reader on their phone. Adobe has created a basic, but useful app for this purpose.

DropBox: Keep track of all of your documents in one place and rest assured knowing that any change you make will be saved online and to all of your computers/devices.

Docusign: Need a client to sign a contract? Update to e-signing technology and download Docusign so that you can manage your contracts from your smartphone.

 

These apps should help make your life easier and help your company run smoother. Make sure to organize them on your phone to further streamline your experience. Also, feel free to comment below and share how these apps made your on-the-go business interactions better.