Back to school, back to cool … literally

The Pacific Northwest gray season is on the horizon (which is actually 2.5 seasons rolled into one giant, monochromatic rain-cooled episode), which means the smell of erasers and pencils are in the air and hordes of 18-24 year olds are moving to new apartments and heading back to college towns. For anyone heading off to college, or heading out on their own for the first time, there are some vital things you’ll need.

20160913_1139321. A clock

Yes, you just look at your phone all the time when you’re out. But if you’re like me, once you step through that front door I leave my phone all over the place; desk, table, counter, couch, shoe rack, you name it, my phone’s been there. There’s a certain ease and familiarity to being able to just look up and know the time. If your dorm room has a microwave in it, usually the clock on there will do fine.

Bonus Points: When I set the alarm on my retro alarm clock I can force myself to get out of bed to turn it off. Sometimes a phone alarm within arms reach that I can turn off with the slide of a finger is a little to easy.

2. One professional outfit

Just one. More if you need them for work/internships/practicum/work experience/whatever your school calls it. But even if you are a freelance creative designer who dresses like a hobo, at some point in your adult life, you will need to dress to the nines for an event that involves a level of professionalism that cannot be achieved in Birkenstocks, harem pants, and a tunic dress.

2.5 Dressy outfit

Just like the formal outfit, at some point in your life you’ll need to go to a fancy dinner, party, fundraiser, or other shiny event. I recommend buying something now. Something that you can wear to church, Christmas dinner, a job interview, and on a fancy date. Make sure it’s comfy enough that you can wear it for hours.

And while you’re at it grab some decent shoes that go with both the business and dressy outfit.

If you’re lucky, your professional outfit and dressy outfit can be the same.

3. Updated resume

Be real, you should probably have one of these all the time, but a new start and a new school year are great indicators you should check that all of this is current.

Bonus Points: Update your LinkedIn too!

4. Update the contacts in your phone.

No time like moving into a new home to clean out your old life. Delete the people you don’t or won’t need. I’m not saying delete everyone, but that person you haven’t spoken to since seventh grade but is still saved in your phone? Gone. Same for social media. Instagram, Facebook and SnapChat are just easier when you actually care about all the lives on your screen.

5. The ability to cook at least two meals wherever you are.

If you’re in a dorm, learn how to make a decent meal by boiling pasta in a coffee maker or baking a potato in the microwave. If you’ve moved on to your own place with a real-life grown-up kitchen, learn to make a couple meals that you would be willing to serve to a Significant Others parents (the true marker of cooking success).

Bonus points if your cooking includes local ingredient from your new area.

6. One good picture

Maybe two. But your LinkedIn and Facebook photos need to start looking a little more professional than a bathroom selfie. Get your friends together and have a mini-photoshoot, if that’s fun to you. If not, you can appoint a specific friend or family member. My social media princess little sister is always down to do my makeup, pick my clothes, and take pictures. This is also great if you start working somewhere after the annual company photos and you can supply your own photo for the ID. You don’t want to scramble for a last minute photo for business cards or an employer’s website.

7. New Soundtrack

The poppy, upbeat sounds of summer have a time and place. But each pumpkin spice latte season the social gatherings and mood transition from sunny, late-night BBQs to windy huddles and early dinners. Not only will you have in-season sound for social gatherings, it’s nice to have a curated soundtrack to the next stage of your life. Nothing sets a new scene like a new song.

And there’s nothing like an adrenaline-pumping rock & roll soundtrack to get you ready for a busy day, especially once the weather starts cooling down.

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