From the morning classroom to the afternoon boardroom: Must-haves for the overachieving undergraduate

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Mars Nevada
Digital Imagery Specialist

An illustration of someone running to another event.
Illustration by Mars Nevada

They tell you in college that the key thing is to get involved. “It’s the key to success!” cries any advisor who will listen. So, I did. I joined the boards of organizations, took over a couple clubs and work for the school newspaper. It’s great. I’ve made friends, gotten cool opportunities and work experience.

But do you know what else comes with all that engagement? Yes, responsibility, but also constant reminders from professors and advisors to dress and act professionally. Before I knew it, I had blazers galore and wore loafers as often as any self-respecting college student wears sneakers.

So, what do you actually need to go from morning classes to afternoon board meetings? Here are my must-haves for the overachieving college student:

Maybelline Stay Matte Ink
I live and die by this liquid lipstick. I’ve put it on at 7 a.m., had lunch, a couple of snacks in between class, two energy drinks and come out of a meeting at 5 p.m. without having to re-apply. Taking it off is actually the hard part. I recommend you get it in “Explorer” blue—show a little corporate rebellion.

New Day Leather Bag
No one wants to make a mad dash across campus while clutching for dear life onto a briefcase. This multimodal black (fake) leather with gold-colored metalware bag can transform from a chic bucket bag into a single-strap backpack or your standard double strap backpack. It fits my 13-inch MacBook Air perfectly as well as a textbook, notebooks and other bits and bobs. Working hard has never been easier.

Battery Pack
There’s barely time for an espresso between classes and work, much less juicing up your phone. Charge one, or two, of these babies overnight and slip it into your bag. This is also great if your much-deserved weekend night out goes a little long and your phone gives up the ghost.

Headspace
Performative materialism to fit into the respectability politics of corporate America is all well and good, but do you know what else is good? Meditation. Chill the hell out wherever you are with this guided meditation app. Check in with yourself—breathe in, breathe out.

A Solid Blazer
Never underestimate the power of a blazer to make (almost) any outfit office appropriate. Keep it in your bag, trying not to scrunch it up, and slip it on after class—boom, instant professionalism. I recommend either navy blue or black for maximum matching power.

Spotify Premium
Do I have a playlist for power-walking to meetings I have to present at? Yes, of course I do. But Spotify also offers a great selection of podcasts that are perfect for the route between classes and meetings.

A Soft Murmur
Can’t make it to your favorite coffee shop to kick out a few assignments and work emails? Asoftmurmur.com lets you live-mix the perfect ambient noise track. Layer with a coffee shop jazz playlist on Spotify for maximum cozy coffee shop focus zone vibes.

“The Myth of the Nice Girl” by Fran Hauser
I can’t take most self-help books seriously. However, I met Fran Hauser while interning at a NYC ad agency, and her advice changed my perspective on how I behave at work. Hauser deconstructs how women and femme people are made to feel like they have to be mean in order to be taken seriously and succeed at work.

Yoga with Adrienne
Adrienne makes delightful yoga videos that are easy to follow along with. Your meeting later will demand every ounce of inner peace you can muster.

New York Times subscription
Stay well-informed and on top of the news. Also, the Smarter Living section is the best for any constant self-optimizers. Support journalism!

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