Being Awkward is the First Step

One of my strengths is that I am a proactive go-getter. I am pretty shameless about trying to get what I want, and I never really feel weird about it.

Lately, though, I have been realizing that being a go-getter in the real world can mean putting yourself in awkward positions.

Much to Be Grateful For

Watch: Cartier | Purse: Gucci | Necklace: Van Cleef & Arpels 

Happy belated Thanksgiving!

NYC, I'm Back!

Necklace: Van Cleef & Arpels | Watch: Cartier  
Purse: Prada | Shoes: Rockport 

Dear NYC, I am back!
The past couple weeks have been exciting, and I feel so incredibly grateful for the wonderful opportunities I have been given. I am working on my first engagement with a Fortune 500 client, all while living in my favorite city in the world (sorry, Boston), with almost all of my expenses covered... Am I living the dream?

B&W for Fall

Sunglasses: Prada | Necklace: Van Cleef & Arpels
Blouse: Comme des Garçons Play 
Skirt: Express | Watch: Cartier | Purse: Gucci

Fall is officially here in Boston!
The weather these days is evenly split between light-cardigan weather and actual-parka weather, which has made it easy to try a variety of outfits, including the one in this post, which is now a favorite of mine! I love the crisp colors and how all the components of the outfit come together to give off a casual yet put-together vibe, without appearing too professional.

23, Be Kind

Sweater: Club Monaco | Skirt: Club Monaco  
Purse: Gucci | Heels: Sam Edelman (similar)

The big day is here... I am 23!

October is not only my birthday month this year but it is also a one month mark of my living in Boston. This past month has brought a lot of changes: I moved to a city I had always dreamed of living in, and I started work!

New City, New Home

This past Saturday, I moved to Boston to start the next chapter of my life: working in consulting.

Summer in South Korea After 11 Years

As I write this post, I am sipping on a chilled green grape juice at a trendy cafe in Seoul on my last full day in South Korea. Now that my first trip to Korea in 11 years is coming to an end, I want to reflect on my favorite memories and how it felt to be back.

Korea Adventure #2: Jeonju Trip

Visiting Jeonju was high up on my "things to do in Korea" list. It is famous for its delicious food and the beautiful Jeonju Hanok Village. When I asked Annalise if she wanted to go with me, she was more than excited!

Korea Adventure #1: Jeju Trip: Part II

Shirt: J. Crew (old, similar) | Skirt: Club Monaco (on sale!) | Sunglasses: Prada
Purse: Louis Vuitton Speedy 25 Bandouliere | Necklace: Tiffany & Co.

After an amazing first day in Jejudo, Annalise and I were super excited for our second day! Since it was our last day with our tour guide, we had a super tight schedule. Before we left for Jejudo, the weather forecast said that it would not rain for the entire duration of our stay, but, to our dismay, it rained on our second day, which explains why I wore flip flops in my pictures...

Korea Adventure #1: Jeju Trip: Part I

The highlight of my trip to Korea so far would be my trip to Jeju Island! I went there for a three-day trip with my best friend from high school, Annalise, who flew in to Korea last week to visit me and her friends from pharmacy school.

To give some background, Jeju, more commonly called Jejudo in Korean, is an island located off the southwest coast of Korea. Jeju is to Korea as Hawaii is to the US. It is known for the wonderful weather and fresh seafood!

To get the most out of the trip, we hired a tour guide who drove us around everywhere until 7pm. What I found interesting was the lack of fluent English-speaking tour guides in Jeju, so I had to translate most of the time for Annalise, which I did not mind. Because Jeju was once a hotspot for Chinese tourists, there are more tour guides who are bilingually fluent in Korean and Chinese than those who are fluent in English.

Staying Updated One Page a Day

One of my goals this year is to stay updated as much as possible on current events. When I received my 2017 Moleskine daily planner in the mail, I realized that one page had more space than I needed. I thought about how I could make the most out of the planner. Then an idea sparked in my head: use the remaining space to summarize news articles from that day. I figured it was an easy way to keep myself in check, and it is also like my own little history book from 2017!

My friends and family were surprised when they saw my planner, saying "What do you write in here?!" My good friend Isaac flipped through it for about fifteen minutes, quizzed me on a summarized article on the UK housing market, and then said, "I should do this for Chinese news." He actually started doing it!

I am happy to say that I have successfully filled a page a day since January 1st with news from The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Economist, MarketWatch, Financial Times, and Bloomberg. Read my previous post for more details on the sites I use to check markets.

Dear Swarthmore, Thank You.

On May 21, 2017, I graduated from Swarthmore College after four amazing years that went by way too fast. Attending Swarthmore College is, without a doubt, one of the best decisions I have made in my life.  My journey there was anything but easy, but I would not trade my experience for the world. Swarthmore has given me innumerable opportunities to grow in ways I've never thought possible. If it weren't for this school, I wouldn't be the strong woman I am today.

In this post, I want to reflect on the four years I have spent at Swarthmore: my accomplishments and failures; the support I've received from alumni, administration, and peers; what I will miss; and what I would do differently if I could start over again.

It seems like it was yesterday when I walked onto Swarthmore's campus for move-in day. I was so nervous and excited. Swarthmore was my first choice college and I couldn't get over the privilege of being able to attend such a wonderful institution. But it wasn't always glamorous.

Review of Adam Grant's "Give & Take"

My rating: ★★★★★

Since Adam Grant, a top professor at the Wharton School of Business, released his bestseller Give & Take in 2013, it has been praised by many and even nominated for Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Nonfiction. 

Although I have a tendency to think that most things are overrated, I must admit that I love this book. I enjoyed this book so much that I set aside an hour on my calendar every day to read it. I am always striving to improve my emotional intelligence, and this book helped me understand the mindset and attitudes of successful, empathetic people and how they approach and manage relationships.

As I read Give & Take, I found myself constantly reflecting back on my past behavior, the good and the bad, and the actions of my friends, teammates, and people I'm not on the best terms with. I started jotting down notes on how givers handled certain analogous situations I have been in and compared how I dealt with them. I found this to be really helpful in self-reflection and putting things in perspective.

Everything Grant says has such a nice flow to it, and it is as entertaining as it is informative. He backs up all of his conclusions and observations with actual experiments conducted by the top experts in the field, and he makes everything so easy to understand. Ah, if only all my professors could write or lecture like Adam Grant... Just kidding! Or am I? Hehe.

Have you ever heard the saying "You need to be selfish if you want to be successful?" While this is the conventional belief, Grant proves that this is not necessarily so. In fact, Grant shows that givers are actually the most successful and also have the most expansive network. Givers ultimately succeed because of their giving has a multiplier effect which triggers takers and matchers to give as well.

Wait, what? What are givers, matchers, and takers?

Grant says there are three types of people: givers, takers, and matchers. Givers love to, well, give, and they do so without expecting anything in return. It's just in their nature. They usually end up giving a lot more than they receive. By giving illustrious examples of real people (most of them are celebrities!), Grant shows how giving is crucial to success, not just in our professional careers but also our personal wellbeing.

Then, there are takers: people who try to extract as much value as they can from anything. Takers tend to receive more than they give. Takers are usually great at giving good first impressions and representing themselves in a positive light, which helps them build a strong network. Grant says that because of their tendencies, takers end up burning bridges with a lot of people, so they create more relationships to compensate for the ruined relationships.

In between the spectrum of givers and takers are the matchers. These people keep a mental track of how much they receive, and give back the matched amount. Grant says matchers are usually hesitant to make the first move of giving, because there's no guarantee how much the other person will give back to them. In the case that they receive first, they'll be sure to give repay the exact amount of effort. That means that they could go out of their way to make sure they're no longer indebted, or they may pay back less than they can if they feel that the other person didn't do as much as he/she could have.

I think Grant does a great job of providing examples of real people to illustrate not only how givers, matchers, and takers act but also the ripple effect of their actions. For instance, an exemplary giver is George Meyer, a former writer for The Simpsons. Meyer's willingness to support and help other writers, even though they were all competing for a "slot" of an episode, ultimately turned the ultra-competitive culture of the Simpson's writing group into one that was collaborative and inclusive.

The rationale behind givers' actions, Grant says, is that they are more interested in the overall wellbeing of team. Many givers in this book did things that a lot of people would not do. For instance, an accounts manager at Volkswagen came up with a genius commercial idea that generated millions of dollars, but he did not take credit for it. George Meyer was happy as long as the team was doing well and producing popular Simpsons episodes.

Grant makes it pretty clear that just because you give doesn't make you a giver. You can determine when someone is a giver, matcher, or taker just from so many ways, like from how an optician tries to sell you glasses, how someone negotiates, or even how someone recruits basketball players. I think true givers, like the ones in Give & Take, are rare, or at least not as common as matchers and takers.

Grant acknowledges that one person can be a giver, matcher, or taker in different situations, but what is that person in a "bigger picture"? For instance, I could take out an hour out of my busy day to mentor someone, but, let's say, I take the last pair of pink Manolo's at Saks when I know another woman was eyeing them.

One thing to keep in mind while reading this book, I think, is that giving can either bring you to the top of the success ladder or the bottom. Grant reiterates this quite often. But what differentiates the successful givers from the not-so-successful givers?

Towards the last third of the book, Grant discusses how there are otherish givers, who have high interest in others and high interest in themselves. These otherish givers are neither matcher nor taker, and they aren't ordinary givers either, hence the name. They have high aspirations for helping others but also high ambitions for themselves. Otherish givers contribute and help others, as long as it does not come at the expense of their own obligations.

I have two constructive comments to make about Give & Take. 
  1. I think it would be better to show earlier on how, or if, the successful givers mentioned in the earlier portions of the book were giving strategically. Some of the successful givers did not appear to be acting upon a certain strategy, because it seemed like they were passing up too many opportunities for themselves. For example, Grant describes in great detail how George Meyer made sacrifices and gave back, and this ultimately worked out really well for him because he gained social capital, respect, and authority without the aggression. However, was he strategic in how he went about this?
  2. A framework or sort about giver, matcher, and taker, and the traits for each personality type would be helpful, I think, especially when it comes to self-assessment. The lines between the personality types are not always so clear. For example, I enjoy giving on a regular basis without expecting anything in return, but I have a taker tendency of speaking assertively and sometimes dominantly. Maybe a framework for self-assessment isn't necessary, since the whole point is to be a giver whether you are a matcher or taker, but I think self-assessment can help the reader know which areas to focus on improving.

Grant did include a chapter at the end called "Actions for Impact," where he summarizes the book into ten practical rules that we can implement. While I do find it very helpful in becoming a (better) giver/otherish giver, I think that, at the end of the day, being a giver is really about empathy. The givers in this book all have an immense amount of empathy towards others, no matter how well they know them. If I have to be honest, that much empathy does not come naturally to me, but after reading this book, it's been something I always keep in my mind.

Anyway, I love love love this book. Apparently, when I had a little too much wine one night, I was preaching about the importance of being a giver in a Japanese accent. The other day, my friend pointed out that every time she tells me gossip, I classify the people in her stories as takers. Every time I classify someone as a giver, matcher, or a taker, one of my friends always says (maybe slightly annoyed), "Is that how you view the world now?"

Are you a giver, matcher, a taker, or an otherish giver? I recommend reading the book all the way to the end to find out. You will not regret it!

Have you read Give & Take? What were your thoughts?


Attire for Interviews & Corporate Settings

Half awake in the morning, you hit the snooze button on your alarm and start scrolling through the junk mail in your inbox and then find... an invitation to interview for your dream job! You jump up out of bed in excitement, but now you think. "Wait, what do I wear?"

First off, congratulations on your interview! But before going to the mall, consider your industry norms to see how often you'll be needing a suit. This will help you determine an appropriate budget for suits. For conservative work environments, the recommended attire is simple black or navy skirt or pant suits, with closed toe, 1-or-two-inch black heels.

In this post, I'll discuss proper interview attire for job interviews and formal corporate settings. I'll segment each category of clothing by high end and budget-friendly price points. Tip: you can save 15% off full-price items at J. Crew, Banana Republic, and Ann Taylor (and LOFT) if you bring your student ID!

To view the items from their respective websites, simply click on the images.


When shopping for blazers, I recommend trying blazers on in stores to make sure they fit your shoulders and arms correctly. Theory is my absolute favorite store for professional wear. I love the chic and petite-friendly designs. It is a bit pricey, but I wear suits quite often, so for me, it was worth the investment. My Theory pieces have lasted me for years.

Tip: Bustier women should usually have at least two buttons, because the fit is better and closer to the body.

high end
budget-friendly alternatives
Skirts and Pants

high end
budget-friendly alternatives
Go for classic, black heels, preferably in leather since leather is the best for quality. I recommend wearing heels over flats for interviews because they really do look much nicer. If you are short like me, try wearing two or three-inch heels. If you are on the taller side and don't want to tower over everyone, try half-inch or one-inch heels.

If you really hate heels, wear comfortable shoes on the way to the interview but bring your heels to change into once you are at the office.


For more options, check out my post on work-friendly bags.


A simple necklace or bracelet will do. Pearls are always nice! I love the elegant design of Tiffany & Co.'s Diamond by the Yard collection, so if you can find a budget-friendly alternative for that, I would definitely recommend it! It goes with everything.

Additional Rules for Interviews
  • No perfume! Interviewers may be sensitive to fragrances, so be sure not to wear any perfume for your interview.
  • Use conservative colors for nail polish. To play it really safe, use clear nail polish or anything sheer pinkish. No crazy colors!
  • No chipped nails. It's all about looking polished.

I hope you found these helpful! Also, huge thanks to my friend Lauren for her tips!


Think You Lack Relevant Experience? Think Again

Instagram: @phyllee105
Financial District, New York, New York

Ever since I started working at my college's career services two years ago, I have helped many students and even friends from other schools with resumes and cover letters. A question that I've been asked the most is "I'm really interested in this position, but I don't have the relevant experience. What do I do?"

In this post, I'll share with you my main takeaways from my actual "consultations" with students to illustrate how to leverage your diverse experiences, whether they're relevant or not, and portray them in a convincing story. I've found that they worked really well for me and the students I have helped.
All names with an asterisk (*) have been assigned fake names to protect students' anonymity.

ONE: Be self-aware! Being able to sell your strengths, capabilities, and what you've learned from your past experiences (yes, even if they are unconventional from other candidates') is a crucial skill that, when mastered, will open up so many opportunities in the future.

While the lack of relevant experience may be a hindrance, at least for undergraduate students, I think the bigger issue at hand is being able to convince someone (an employer in this case) that you are a strong candidate for the position. However, I will caveat by saying that self-promotion can only go so far. Depending on the circumstances, you may have to get some basic qualifications to not only show your competency but also your commitment to the job or industry.

Let's say you are an accountant and you wish to work for a hedge fund. No matter how great an accountant you are, the skill sets of an accountant and a hedge fund analyst have little overlap, so you may have to go to business school to build a solid foundation in finance.

TWO: Understand what the job is about. If there are any gaps in your understanding of the job, literally Google "roles and responsibilities of [insert job name]." 

Because job search is time consuming and tiring, make sure you have a good understanding of the job. It's incredibly important to know whether the job would be a good fit for you. If it's not a good fit, you will not enjoy your work. Look up job descriptions from companies' career portals, forums and other career-related websites. If you know people who work in the role, you could even schedule a brief phone call to ask them what the job is like.

THREE: If you feel that you lack the relevant experience, you should always ask yourself, "Why am I interested in this position?" This question helps you realize whether your personal interests and values align with those of the job.

One time I helped my friend Bob* (great fake name, I know) with his resume. He attends a prestigious undergraduate business school and wants to work for a healthcare-focused venture capital (VC) firm. However, most of his experiences were in film production, and this concerned him because other applicants had previous finance internships. 

Was this a valid concern? Yes, it is. But was this a reason to stop trying? Definitely not. When I asked Bob why he was pursuing a job at this healthcare VC firm, he replied:
There are so many great ideas that people have. Funding is the biggest factor as to whether those ideas come to life or not. I especially realized the importance of funding when I was making my own films. Without funding, my films would not have been possible. As a finance and biology double major, I realized that the healthcare industry has a lot of room for improvement, especially for medical diagnostic technology. The idea of helping a budding entrepreneur with making his idea come to real life and make a positive impact on the healthcare industry excites me.
 OK, not bad. Makes sense to me.

FOUR: Once you know what the job is about, AND you are convinced you would be a good fit, then you should take a look at your past experiences and convincingly connect them with the desired job.

If there is a connection between the two, show it. Whatever you did before, there must be some skill that you can transfer onto your next job. It could be a soft skill (e.g. communication, relationship building), and it could be a hard skill (e.g. advanced skill in data regression).

For example, I once helped a student who was interested in a sales role at a midsize company. Her only experience was working at a local ice cream shop. Selling ice cream is still technically sales.
When people walked in on a hot summer day, she interacted with her customers, promoted the shop's vast range of flavors, and ultimately generated revenue for the ice cream shop.

While there is a difference between a local ice cream parlor and a midsize company, she can leverage her experiences if she focuses on her possession of the key skills required for successful salesmanship: communication and relationship building.

FIVE: Most people actually have more relevant experience than they think they do. 

Relevant experience could come from anywhere: classes, extracurricular activities, society memberships, you name it. It's not limited to just internships.

Let's go back to Bob. Bob had taken a lot of relevant classes, even a VC class, where he learned valuation methodologies, wrote VC-specific reports, and how to select companies to invest in. He was also a member of a healthcare entrepreneurship club. Well, if you ask me, these are all pretty dang relevant.

Aside from this VC class, the rest of his work was in film production. I asked him to tell me, from beginning to end, what he did at one of his film internships.
Well, I wrote the script and finalized it with editors. Then, I had to think about how many actors I would need and estimate the cost for filming venues. Once I had that figured out, I had to raise money to finance those expenses. I ended up raising over $700 in two weeks. I made the film in a month and presented it to Disney executives.
I told him to include his film experiences under the Professional Experience section on his resume, to which he responded, "Really? Even though it's not a finance internship?" Even if it's not directly related to finance, he clearly demonstrated considerable skill in leadership, organization, and time management, which are all relevant skills.

SIX: Your story needs to be 100% you!

Creating a smooth story with a good flow is the final and crucial step, and it determines everything. If you do not make a convincing argument for yourself, there is a low possibility that you'll get what you want or need. Your story also requires honesty. Although I am a strong proponent of strong self-branding, I cannot tolerate lying. Your story needs to be 100% you.

With that being said...

While the six steps may seem intimidating, it really comes down to three things: knowing yourself, what you want, and why you deserve it. I hope they are helpful for you!


Review on Soko Glam's Klog Box: It's OK

image from SokoGlam

A lover of Korean beauty and anything skincare related in general, I was very much intrigued when I heard about The Klog Box on Soko Glam's and its CEO Charlotte Cho's Instagram pages: a cost-friendly way to try out SIX new up-and-coming (?) Korean beauty products for only $50. I felt like such a hipster.

Some of the products — aside from the MANIFEST face mask (which is sold at Sephora), the Missha sunscreen, and the Erborian Glow Creme — aren't really sold anywhere besides SokoGlam, so I was concerned that the products may be sketchy (just my careful online shopping tendencies), but fortunately, my experience with these products has been fine so far.

I was also a bit intimidated by this box because I wasn't sure how to use all of these products, but the Soko Glam team put together a really simple video on their Instagram page of Charlotte Cho using them. It made the skincare process easier and much more approachable.

Here are my thoughts on the products...

image from Mochi Beaute
Klavuu Pure Pearlsation Revitalizing Facial Cleansing Foam

I was a little disappointed with this product. It was not as whitening or skin-tightening as I had hoped. However, the wash is very smooth and gentle on the skin, as advertised, and I do agree with Soko Glam's claim that the wash is a safe choice for all skin types.

As I mentioned on my previous winter skincare post, I am currently using the Innisfree face wash. When I first tried my Innisfree face wash, I immediately noticed a difference. My skin felt significantly cleaner, smoother, tighter, and moisturized after every wash... I didn't feel that with this Klavuu wash.

This Klavuu wash is $30. My Innisfree wash is $14. Would I pay twice the price of my current face wash for something that delivers half the results? Hm, no thank you...

Neogen Bio Peel Gauze Peeling Lemon Pads

image from The Klog
This product is for exfoliating fine lines and dark spots on the face, according to the Klog review. I really like this product!

I used this Peel Gauze after washing my face with the Klavuu, and my skin felt so fresh and tight. Maybe it's because of the lemon and high Vitamin C ingredients? As advertised, it really is gentle and easy to use. The lemon scent is not that strong, which was a plus for me!

I'm not sure if this product is effective in alleviating dark spots and fine lines, since I don't really have those yet (knock on wood), but I do think it is a great product for increasing elasticity in the skin. I can see myself using this product about twice a week to relax in the evening.

MANIFEST Natural Gift Green Tea Pore Care Sheet Mask

image from The Klog

Cool fact: Soko Glam's CEO Charlotte Cho partnered with Manefit to make this sheet mask!

This is a super bougie face mask. It sells at $19.00 for a 4 sheet mask box set. At roughly $5 a sheet mask, it's quite pricey...  Unlike most face masks, this is a two-piece mask that is actually green with green tea leaf pieces. So... it's the real deal.

I'm really glad I got to try such a nice sheet mask! I wish the Klog Box came with at least two of these sheet masks instead of one.

E Nature Birch Juice Hydro Sleeping Pack

image from The Klog

This is my first sleeping face mask (in lotion form!) - although I have fallen asleep a good number of times only to find my normal face masks still on my face in the morning! After washing my face with the Klavuu, exfoliating with the Neogen, I dotted and applied the Birch Juice Sleeping Pack all over my face. I noticed that I had to apply a generous amount of the Birch Juice to feel the same "moisturizing" effect as a normal face mask.

While you're supposed to leave this sleeping pack on overnight, I actually ended up washing it off thirty minutes after application. I have sensitive skin, and I noticed that my skin felt oily rather than moisturized... I think I'm going to stick with my regular sheet-face masks for now.

However, I have heard lots of great things about the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask! It sounds like it'd be a lot lighter than this Birch Juice and more compatible with my skin. I think it'd be perfect for the summertime when a sheet mask may be too rich.

Missha All Around Safe Block Sebum Zero
image from Missha US

I was very disappointed that this product was in this box. There's nothing wrong with the product, but I wish there was a unique product to try instead of this one. Isn't the whole point of the Klog box to try new and interesting Korean beauty products?

Sunscreen is sunscreen, and it's not going to be all that much different from other sunscreen... It's just sunscreen.

Erborian Glow Creme

image from Sephora
Wow, I did not know this creme is $42 at Sephora. I thought it would be worth at most $20...

However, the product is not bad at all. This is a super cool primer that has a nice and subtle glowing effect! The creme is white with a nice pink shimmer. I was worried it would be really pink and sparkly when applied, but it surprisingly has a very natural, "glowy" finish.

In conclusion...

The Klog Box is not bad! The Neogen Bio Peel and Green Tea Face Mask were my favorites. If I were to repurchase any of these products again, it would be the Neogen Bio Peel.

I do think that if Soko Glam were to do another Klog Box in the future, they should try to include unique products rather than staple items such as sunscreen...

While the products were good, they don't measure up to the level of Dr. Jart+, Laneige, or IOPE (especially not the Klavuu wash).

My recommendation? If you're truly just curious about these products, you should go for it. If you're a Chriselle-Lim-level skincare expert with products that you are very satisfied with, it's not worth it.

Do you have any Korean skincare products you like?

Thanks for reading!


Winter K-Beauty Skincare Routine: Dry Skin Prevention

After an abnormally warm ending of 2016, I was secretly hoping that this winter would be free of snow and harsh winds. But alas, the snow is back. At least it's pretty? 

During the winter my skin gets extremely dry to the point where my skin stings when I put some moisturizer on it. This winter I've been putting more effort in my skincare to keep my skin as hydrated as possible. 

In this post, I'll discuss my daily skincare routine and the products I use.

current favorite face wash || use every morning + evening

images from Innisfree

This may seem like a no-brainer, but always wash your face in the mornings and evenings with products with rejuvenating ingredients.

I use the Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Facial Foam ($14) and the Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Scrub Foam ($10) to wash my face in the morning and evening. These products are so smooth and especially good for oily and acne-prone skin. They're made with amazing ingredients, and I immediately noticed a difference in my skin. I love these products and plan on using them in all four seasons! They've done wonders for my skin this winter. However, when my skin is too dry, I do not use the scrub since it's too abrasive for my sensitive skin.