Workaholic Bag

I cannot count the number of times I've had the "I need a cute purse for school/work that can fit my laptop!" conversation with my friends. Here are some bags that I have used/am using/am eyeing...

I used this purse during my senior year of high school. Longchamp bags are a great choice because they are affordable, go along with a lot of outfits, and can fit so much. However, I haven't used Longchamps since then because I now prefer leather over nylon. Longchamp has leather bags but they tend to be a lot more than what I'm willing to pay for them.

Nonetheless, Longchamps are excellent purses considering that they are usually less than $200. The large bag can also fit a 13" MacBook Pro (possibly even bigger ones)!

If you haven't heard of Everlane, you should definitely check it out. They make designer-quality products at a fraction of the price (this bag is $48!!!). Anyway, the Twill Zip Tote is wonderful is because it is extremely practical: it is large enough to fit any size MacBook, and it has a zipper at the top so your belongings are secure at all times. It also comes in many different colors, so check it out here.

This is my current work/school purse. I got this bag for Christmas, and I get compliments pretty much every time I carry it. This bag was $295, which is not a bad price (compared to Prada or LV). It's a very pretty purse, appropriate for work, light class days, or for running errands.

Some major pros: it can fit a 13" MacBook Pro and notebooks, and it has many internal pockets (one of which is big enough to fit my iPhone 6 Plus!!!).

It has a pocket inside that divides the purse (pictured above, right). However, my complaint with this is that the bottom of the pocket is NOT attached to the "floor" of the purse, which can make your purse really disorganized and messy. I purchased this bag knowing that it wasn't going to be a long-term bag. I have had it for 9 months and it is already showing signs of wear. I will probably sell it online at some point.

 3.1 Phillip Lim Pashli Medium Satchel

The Phillip Lim Pashli is pricier than the three aforementioned purses ($895) but still cheaper than a Prada! I have been eyeing this bag for a while, because not only is it a good size for going out or running errands but it also fits a 13" MacBook Pro!!! Another good thing about this purse is that it has zippers on the sides so you can create more room if you need it. They also come in a bunch of fun colors!

Prada Saffiano Double Zip Top-Handle Bag

This bag has been on my wishlist forever. It is so chic. I like the medium because the size is perfect for my short, petite figure; it doesn't dominate my frame! Conveniently, it comes with a strap and has two zipped pockets on the sides (pictured below):

It fits a 13" laptop in the center of the bag, not in the zipped pockets. Therefore, it will fit an iPad with no problem. The only downside to this bag is the price (~$2,500), but everyone says that it is worth it.

Hope this post helped those in search of a work bag!

With love,


College: 50% Done

The other day I ran into my old piano teacher at a bookstore. I was her student for nearly eight years, from elementary school to until boarding school, so she was like a second mom to me. Anyway, we sat down and the first thing she asked me was "Are you happy?" This led me to reflect on my past two years in college.

My Summer Internship

Today was my last day as a summer intern at EMH Strategy, a boutique management consulting firm in New Orleans. It's bittersweet. It's sweet because I won't have to sweat like crazy on my commute to work (gross, I know), I can be with my family, and relax, but it's bitter because I am really going to miss EMH, my mentors, and my clients.

Overall, I could not be happier with my decision to work at EMH. My mentors have been so considerate and helpful every step of the way, and EMH was truly a great place to get exposure to consulting. I learned a lot about myself, the industry, and New Orleans.

from left to right: My MD Jeremy, Malavika, me, and Andrew

As an intern, I had many internal and external assignments. My internal tasks included creating databases on Southern companies, writing blog posts and white papers, and organizing business development stuff for client acquisition. My external tasks were client work. It's a pretty broad category, but my external assignments depended a lot on the client and what their cases required.

People told me that analysts in smaller firms are given more responsibility than those in larger firms. They were 100% right. On my very first week of work, I was put in client meetings, gave presentations, and conducted market research. Pretty fun, right?

I learned so much just from the first week. You can memorize frameworks as much as you want, but I think the best way to learn them is by applying them to real life situations. I watched my mentors put frameworks into action and learned how they structured the problem.

For instance, there was a client whose business needed help but he wasn't sure what the problem was; all he knew was that something wasn't right. Sounds like a typical case interview, right?

My team members got together for a strategy session. We sat there and considered the internal and external factors that could be affecting the business. After almost two hours of drawing diagrams and flow charts on the white board and throwing around ideas, we had a game plan. We knew what we were going to do to find the problem and what to do about it. It was stimulating, and most of all, it was fun.

Consulting is fun, but it is not easy.  Coming up with a strategy is one thing. Working with clients is another. Sometimes your clients won't take your recommendation, even though they paid a lot of money for your expertise. Sometimes they won't give you the data you need to do what they asked of you. When I was at the McKinsey Women's Summit, one analyst told me that even Fortune 500 companies sometimes do the same thing! I was somewhat surprised that a large and prestigious firm like McKinsey had the same challenges as my small firm.

Despite the challenges of client work, I feel like consulting is very rewarding. It's a great feeling to know that your client trusts you, and it's an even better feeling to see your suggestions work. Even if clients didn't take my suggestions, I knew that my coworkers and I did all we could do to help them. We took the time to look into their business and worked hard to come up with the best strategy possible.

My mentor Katherine and me before she left for China!

One of the things I loved the most about my internship was how I became part of the New Orleans community. I worked with the coolest people. The brands, businesses, and companies that I grew up hearing about were now my clients! It was so amazing that I was actually meeting the owners of these companies and helping them make a positive difference in their business.

I got to meet not only business owners but also influential people in the New Orleans nonprofit and social innovation community, one being Timolynn Sams Sumter (click here for my interview with Timolynn!) There are really some truly amazing people doing incredible work. I think that's what makes New Orleans so special. People love New Orleans so much that they dedicate a lot of time and energy into improving the city not for themselves but for others.

Timolynn Sams Sumter and sweaty me...
I loved my mentors the most. A pro about working for a small firm is that they allocate time and resources well to help you. For instance, when I told my coworkers that I was struggling with interview preparation, they scheduled a two-hour help session. They also planned a "your-internship-is-halfway-over" luncheon for me. One of my mentors, Andrew, emails me links to every helpful article that he comes across. This past Wednesday, they had a nice little "Goodbye Phyllis" at this place called Purloo during their happy hour, which was fantastic. It's very different from working at a huge company where strangers outnumber the people you do know.

My internship taught me a lot about myself. By completing difficult assignments, putting myself out there, and engaging with clients, I learned what my strengths and weaknesses were and what I really enjoy doing. In addition, I now know what to look for in other internships or jobs, such as culture and strong mentor programs.

You know you're grateful when you have trouble fitting everything you want to say into a thank you card. I literally stayed up until 2 AM because I had so much to thank my mentors for.

Thank you, EMH, for an absolutely amazing summer. I wouldn't trade it for the world!

With love,

Stress + Type A Personality

If you know me personally, you probably know that I am a textbook example of Type A personality. For those who aren't aware of the terminology, some common characteristics for Type A Behavior (TAB) are:

  • Competitiveness
  • Time urgency, impatience
  • Hostility, aggression
  • Perfectionist tendencies
TAB is common amongst many successful people, high-achieving students, my family and friends. While we have many traits that help us to aim higher and work hard towards our goals, there are downsides to perfectionist behavior. If uncontrolled, it can really affect your personal and work life.

And then on top of being Type A, my Meyers Briggs is an ESTJ. A lot of the ESTJ characteristics intensifies, or overlaps with, those of TAB, which isn't exactly great.

I'm the type of person who must be organized, have a sense of security, and make sure that everything (my academics, career, outfits, literally everything) is in order. I knew that this behavior of mine would really wear me out one day, but I didn't think that that day would visit me so soon.

There were a lot of reasons I was physically and emotionally stressed this summer: the incredibly hot weather in New Orleans (I was dehydrated most of the time), my job, not knowing many people in my neighborhood, preparing for junior year, and other personal matters. As a result, I felt really isolated, misunderstood, and undervalued. I wasn't happy and I couldn't really pinpoint the reason why.

One thing that took me a while for me to learn is that you can't blame others or anything for your stress. Yes, work or school or certain people can annoy you, but it is your responsibility to make sure that your stress doesn't ruin you. Your hardships should not affect your relationships, your work performance, or your priorities. This is easier said than done, but it is really important to keep that in mind.

It is possible to live happily as a Type A perfectionist and find peace. Here are five tips that I formulated this summer:

1. Maintain your strengths and improve your weaknesses.

People with TAB are usually hard-working, determined, and success-oriented individuals. Don't lose that attitude! Those characteristics are what got you to where you are today and will help you get to wherever you want to go in the future. However, do make sure that your goal-oriented tendencies don't get out of hand. Try to be more patient, less aggressive, and understand that things take time to achieve. Not everything happens overnight.

2. "Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger."

That is actually a verse from the Bible (James 1:19). Regardless of personal religious views, this is great advice that can help you be less aggressive and maintain your relationships. Listen to what people have to say. Take time to organize your thoughts and formulate them into a nice, constructive sentence. Be empathetic and understand the other person's point of view.

3. Be responsible.

In other words, don't blame others for your problems. Be responsible in how you handle stress and hard times. You're not the only one who gets frustrated from work and trying to balance work and life. Life will throw you (and everyone) lemons, but you are accountable for how you handle them. Are you gonna squirt those lemons into people's eyes or make lemonade?

4. Control yourself.

Control yourself! By that, I mean that despite your inner feelings, make a conscious choice to put on a smile, keep calm and carry on. Try to be aware of how your actions affect others. This will eventually come naturally to you with more practice.

5. Try to be happy.

Release that negative chi. Be happy with what you've got. Don't take your anger out on others. Otherwise, you are the only one who's going to lose. Try to relax; read my tips on how to relieve stress. Find a healthy outlet for your feelings and frustrations, something that won't hurt people, especially your loved ones.

As I mentioned earlier, TAB is common amongst successful people in our society, but one thing that made them successful in the first place is their ability to handle stress and negative energy.

My five tips in this post are really easier said than done. I myself haven't mastered any of them, but I am really trying to make these changes in my life. I hope they can help you too.

With love,