My TCC Interview

Helena Marklin Interview

A few weeks ago, a marketing coordinator at Tallahassee Community College reached out to me to inquire about my experiences and current position at J. Walter Thompson. As you may know, I am a proud alumna of Florida State University, but even before that, I was a TCC Eagle for two years.


I have so many fond memories at my alma mater and I was so honored to be interviewed for their website. As one of 10 children, my parents did not have the means to financially support my tuition and college costs, and so TCC was the best fit for me at the time. Throughout my freshman and sophomore years, I learned that TCC was so much more than a community college. It was the foundation that showed me the communications field through my newspaper journalism class. It was the college that introduced me to incredible instructors and career specialists who took a vested interest in my success. It was the place where I really began understanding who I was and what I wanted to do with my life.


As a proud alumna of TCC, I am thrilled to be able to share the final interview on this space.

Thank you so much, TCC, for paving the way to my success! 


Donate Blood!


Photo from OneBlood

I have one of the best jobs–I have the opportunity to plan all of the events for our company, including all of the holiday parties, birthday parties, corporate events, cookouts, and I’ve recently been planning our company’s 30th anniversary party! You might recall last November when I helped to plan Tallahassee’s Light the Night Walk. Throughout the roughly 10 weeks of fundraising, I planned corporate lunches and meetings to keep employees updated on our progress. It’s by far my favorite thing to do at my job.

Every two months or so, Brandt holds a blood drive through OneBlood. As the events coordinator, I plan all of the drives, promote the drives, sign up employees, and ensure the drive runs smoothly. I’m also a donor. 🙂 (O+ for the win!) 

I’ve been donating blood ever since I was 16 and am very passionate about it. I try to donate whenever I am able and have donated at my church back home, Tallahassee Community College, Florida State University, movie theaters, and now at my office.

The last time I donated back in January was my eighth time! Which means, I have donated a whole gallon of blood. It was definitely a milestone for me and I look forward to donating more frequently in the future.

donate blood

Photo from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

If you have never donated blood before, I would like to clear up a few thoughts you might have.

I wouldn’t say that donating blood is 100% painless, but it is definitely manageable. For me, the worst part is my anxiety leading up to the donation. When you go in, you read all of the information about the procedure, what they do with your blood, side effects, etc. You sign some paperwork and they prick your finger to test your iron. If your iron level is above a 12.5, then you’re able to donate. I’ve had problems with my iron so I have only been able to donate about 50% of the time. (I’ve learned that eating spinach or red meat a few days before along with breakfast the morning of resolves this issue.)

The entire donation process takes less than an hour on average. They give you lots of snacks and drinks along with kind conversation. You can read all kinds of facts and FAQs on various blood donation websites like American Red Cross or OneBlood.

The main reason I wanted to blog about this topic today is because I want to bring it into the conversation. There are so many people who are unfortunately unable to donate either due to travel or recent tattoos or pregnancy or personal reasons; because of all of these factors, it diminishes the amount of possible donations.

Donated blood is used for so many treatments. It can be used for cancer patients, infants, surgical patients, pregnant women, trauma patients, and so much more. You can donate once every 56 days and each donation can help up to three people. And recently, I noticed that there is a critical need for blood in Orlando, Florida (about 4 hours from where I live).

“Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.” 

If you are the slightest bit interested, I encourage you to do your research about it and consider donating. It could save someone’s life. 

Have you donated blood before? Have you considered it?

I Want to Remember (College)

2015 is going to be my biggest year yet. It’s the year I graduate college and start my first real job. It’s the year I move to a new city and move in with my boyfriend. It’s the year that I completely let everything go and just go.

fsu westcott

It’s February 26th and 2015 is moving fast. I blinked and we’re already 2 months in. The thing is, I really want to remember these days.

late night hangouts

I want to remember all of the late-night activities and peaceful moments. I want to remember what it feels like to come home, watch TV, knit, make dinner, and do homework with Spence. I want to remember all of the great TV shows we watched together: Parks & Rec, How I Met Your Mother, Breaking Bad, Weeds, Parenthood, 30 Rock, Community. I want to remember sleeping in, lazy Saturdays, and late breakfasts. I want to remember the weekly trivia, the late night board games, the barbecues, the late-night pool.


I want to remember the day Spencer and I finally got our first cat, Zelda. I want to remember all of the days and nights we would stay up for hours playing with her and watching her do the funniest things. I want to remember the day she got outside and the next day when she came back. I want to remember the anguish I felt when she got sick, and we had to put her down. 

gould fam

disney world with minnie

marklin girls

I want to remember all of the weekend trips. I want to remember going to Disney World for the first time and being a little kid for a few days. I want to remember the spontaneous trip to Atlanta and the annual trips to Daytona for the 24-Hour Rolex Race. I want to remember all of the trips back home to Tampa where we spent time with family. I want to remember all of the long car rides filled with loud music, meaningful conversations, and endless hand holding.

tcc flowers

I want to remember my time at Tallahassee Community College. I want to remember where I started and the people that helped me get to where I am today. I want to remember the newspaper class, where I learned what true hard work really felt like. I want to remember the moment I got accepted into Florida State University

spe and he football

football games

I want to remember all of the football games at FSU. I want to remember waking up to the FSU war chant outside my window. I want to remember the 80,000 people in the sold out stands, all cheering for the same team. I want to remember the moment of sheer joy when I realized we were going to the National Championship. I want to remember being winners, and accepting defeat when it was time.

welcome to new york

I want to remember the distress I felt when I didn’t get accepted into the advertising program. I want to remember the moment I realized things happen for a reason and I accepted who I was. I want to remember the day I got the call telling me I was accepted into JWT’s summer internship program. I want to remember the elation I felt when I realized I would be moving to New York for the 2014 summer.

empire state building

willis tower view

helena chicago

I want to remember all of the traveling. I want to remember the trips to Chicago, St. Louis, New York, Philadelphia, and Atlanta. I want to remember all of the subway rides, the skyscrapers, the delicious food, and the incredible people. I want to remember the day I realized how incredibly massive the world is and the moment I decided I want to see it all.

pumpkin love

I want to remember all the times Spence and I talked about life after college, if only we could just get there. I want to remember all of the joyful memories along with the sad moments. I want to remember the great accomplishments, but also the biggest failures. I want to remember. 

And so I’ve done more, I’ve written more, and hopefully, I will remember more.

2015 will be my biggest year yet. And I can’t wait to remember it all. 

Painting With a Twist

painting 1

One of my goals this year is to craft and create more. I’ve always loved painting, but haven’t touched a brush in years. I love the newness and uncertainty of a blank canvas. I love filling it up with colors and making it brand new. I love creating something that I can put in my home and cherish every time I look at it. 

spence painting

But I don’t own an easel or paints or paint brushes and it all seemed like a huge debacle so I put it off. My coworker told me about Painting With a Twist and I checked out their website. It’s essentially a painting class where everyone paints the same thing and gets to eat and drink while painting. Pretty cool, right? I browsed their collection of over 4,000 pieces and found one for “date night.” Instead of two people painting the same painting, they each painted a canvas that when put together, would make a bigger piece of art. I loved the idea.

I really want to give credit to every painter out there. (Here’s to you, Elise!) Painting is so much harder than I had thought. I am a very detailed-oriented person and I had so much trouble painting the background of the canvas. I kept mixing colors and painting over parts that I loved. Spencer really helped me to add “imperfections” to the background, and I’m so happy with the result.

background abstract

You’ll notice that in the pictures above and below, the whiter canvas is on opposite sides. Spence painted the whiter background canvas and we switched them before we painted the trees. I love the versatility of painting. I love that we can be unique and crazy and make it our own. 

painting 2

My tree is on the left and his is on the right. I connected the branches to form a heart in the middle and Spence painted the moon. We added some white to the trees to brighten it up and add some texture.

painting 3

Next was my absolute favorite part: adding the flowers! While I really struggled with the background of the painting, I was pretty good at drawing the flowers. The details, man. For the most part, Spence painted the yellow flowers and I painted the pink ones, but we both took turns adding little bits of color to each canvas.

One special thing that I took away from this experience was that even though Spencer and I have been together for close to five years, we’re still learning new things about each other. I had no idea Spencer was so creative and abstract; we really complement each other’s talents and I love having a simple reminder of this realization. 

painting 4

I am so so incredibly happy with how these turned out! They are currently hanging in my bedroom and I’m so looking forward to waking up with the sun shining on them!

helena and spencer painting

If you’re looking for a great date idea, or even something fun to do with friends, definitely check out Painting With a Twist! They have studios all over the country! If you’ve painted with them before, I’d love to see your art!

Campus Activities

Happy Valentine’s Day! This has been the best Valentine’s Day in a long time and I know I won’t forget it. Since my boyfriend, Spencer, and I are both graduating in three months, we’ve been trying to take advantage of the many opportunities FSU provides. I’ve noticed that a lot of students are unaware that FSU has so many great activities so I thought I’d share a few.

ragtime live play

On Wednesday, Spencer surprised me by taking me to see Rag Time, FSU’s live play. We saw Monty Python’s Spamalot last year so we had high expectations–and we weren’t disappointed! It was so incredible.

ragtime live playWe managed to get really close to the front since it was the dress rehearsal, and the cast performed beautifully. And the tickets were only $5! When I was in New York last summer, I saw two Broadway shows and fell in love with plays. If you are in the Tallahassee area or are FSU students, I would definitely recommend you go see it!

couch to 5k

A few weeks ago, we came across the FSU Fitness & Wellness page and found tons of fun things that were mostly free! Of the many things available were running programs, cooking classes, grocery tours, and wellness talks. Did I mention they were practically free? One of the running programs is called Couch to 5K, which places runners with physical trainers to run together for 10 weeks. It costs $25 and at the end of the program, everyone runs a 5k together and gets a t-shirt. There are four different running times to choose from, but they also offer makeup sessions to accommodate class and work schedules. Since one of my goals this year is to get back into running, I jumped at the opportunity. I signed up late, but started this past Thursday and it was so awesome! I couldn’t speak more highly of this opportunity. 

spence cooking

Another small goal of mine is to eat healthier and cook more food at home. The Fitness & Wellness center offers so many awesome courses and Spence and I attended our first one this past Thursday. It was “Making Your Relationships Sweeter: Desserts and Discussion on Love.” Spencer loves cooking and I desperately want to get better so it was perfect for us. Also it was completely free! 🙂

dark chocolate covered oranges dark chocolate covered oranges

We made dark chocolate covered oranges, banana’s foster, and peanut butter cups. I’ve never made any of these before so it was really exciting! The chocolate covered oranges were just that–peeled oranges dipped in dark chocolate and topped with orange zest. They were soo good. 

peanut butter cup mess up

Of course, not everything went as planned. I was trying to do something nice for Spencer by washing the dishes as he prepared the next dessert and accidentally washed the peanut butter and coconut oil down the drain, so we were short a bit. We laughed it over with some chocolate covered oranges. So us. 🙂

Bananas Foster

The final dish we made was bananas foster! We made it with butter, walnuts, and a little bit of honey. Topped it with some vanilla ice cream and it was do die for! We’ll definitely be keeping this recipe for the future.

hele and spe cookingWe really had so much fun these past few days! I am so excited to continue with the Couch to 5k program and go to more cooking classes! We’ve also gone to a ton of free basketball games and went bowling for free. Now that football season is over, maybe we’ll go to some baseball games soon, too! Thanks for reading about the fun things I’ve been up to. I encourage you to check out what programs and activities your campus may offer!

How to Save Money on Textbooks

College is expensive. I’m constantly trying to find ways to save money where I can and over the past four years, I’ve found a few ways to save money on textbooks. Here are some tips on where to shop for books along with a few questions you should ask yourself before you bring out the credit card.


Shopping online and in stores both have perks and drawbacks, and it’s important to know them before you commit to shopping a certain way. When buying books online, you should take into consideration shipping and handling fees, the seller, the time it will take to arrive, along with the condition of the books.

Before you buy your books, make sure that every book is required and not suggested. You can also consider emailing your teacher to see if an older edition of the textbook will suffice.

Rent textbooks | Most stores and online shops will provide the option to rent textbooks as opposed to buying them. If you can’t find a good price to buy your textbook, this is a nice alternative. A quick Google search for coupon codes could help you save a few dollars. If you decide to rent, you should be aware of the deadline to return it, as well as any fees associated with returning your book late or damaged.

Using Social Media| Check to see if your college or university has any Facebook group pages where fellow students post about textbooks. These pages might also come in handy when you’re looking to sell your books at the end of the semester.

Amazon | I’ve found Amazon to be a great resource for buying textbooks when I have a few extra days of reading. If you aren’t an Amazon Prime Member, I would recommend you look into it because it’s a great resource for students. Amazon Prime Members get free shopping and it ships in 2 days! Students get Amazon Prime free for the first year and after the first year, it’s $49/year. (It’s normally $99/year for regular members.) I have found it to be a great purchase since I regularly shop online. Plus, it’s great during the holidays because of the two-day shipping!

Other Sites | Check out online sites like and A lot of my friends order through Chegg because they often have every book they need. Thriftbooks can be incredibly cheap, but know that you should order your books early to accommodate longer shipping times.

eBooks | If you have a Kindle, Nook, or iPad, eBooks help you to bring your books with you without having to carry them to class. eBooks are also great for the procrastinators because you can get them immediately. An added bonus is not having to lug your textbooks to class everyday.

Bookstores | Most bookstores want to prevent you from ordering online and will offer special deals. For instance, Bill’s Bookstore in Tallahassee will sell you a textbook for 10% cheaper than anything sold directly from the Amazon Marketplace. You also might be eligible for rewards which you can redeem during future semesters.

Borrowing | I’ve noticed that most college students forget about the cheapest and most reliable option: the library! I’ve borrowed so many books from the library for free. The only drawback is that you’re not guaranteed to have the book for the entire semester, so make sure you have a back-up plan for when they’re due. Check to see if your library participates in a library union where they can request books from other libraries in your state.

Do you have any other tips on saving money in college? What are your favorite sites to get textbooks?

Image source // HerCampus

December Changes

Today marks the end of my fall semester at Florida State, which means I have one more semester before I graduate! This has been the best semester so far and I am so excited to finish up my senior year.

FSU campus

I took five classes this past semester and can honestly say this was my best semester both mentally and academically. This was the first semester where I worked mornings and took classes at night, and it has been such a good change. When I was registering for classes, I was a little nervous flipping my schedule my last year of college, but it has been so worth it. The early mornings have given me a lot of energy and I’ve been more productive these past few weeks. I’ve also had more time in the mornings to prepare for my later classes.

As December winds down, (and I really think it’s flown by!) I’m just now starting to prepare for the holidays. Since I live in Florida, it hasn’t really hit me that Christmas is in less than two weeks. The weather has been really sunny and cool and there’s absolutely zero chance of it snowing in Tallahassee. I was in New York the week before Thanksgiving and in St. Louis the week of Thanksgiving so my boyfriend and I decided not to get a Christmas tree this year. Because of all the traveling and homework, the past few weeks have flown by and I can’t believe 2014 is almost over! The good news is that even though there’s no snow and I don’t have a tree at my apartment, the company I work for got a 12-foot tree last week and it’s made my whole week. I love walking into work every morning to the smell of an evergreen tree.

Christmas Tree 2014Next week, my family and I will be in Massanutten, Virginia, for a week over Christmas! If it snows on Christmas morning (and I truly hope that it does) it would be my first white Christmas in seven years! That was my favorite part about Christmas in St. Louis, and it would be amazing to be able to see that again.

I’m one of 10 kids so our Christmases are a lot of fun. We’re only able to get the whole family together once a year so when we do, there’s always funny stories and lots of baking. This will be our first year spending Christmas away from home and I’m so looking forward to seeing everyone again.

December always brings so many changes; not just in the weather and school, but also in my attitude. This season, I’ve felt motivated to try new things and be open to change. I’ve accomplished a few small goals and began focusing on my post-grad life. In January, I’ll start my last semester at Florida State, but right now, I’m happy with where I am. Changes are good and December is great.