Step inside the eclectic, warm studio of Rebecca Schultz and you’ll instantly feel at home. Most of us don’t have our dream apartment or house right out of college, but Rebecca is the exception! Her studio is the perfect example of how some creativity and color can make any small space feel like home. Using pieces from staple big-box stores like Target, Ikea, and CB2, along with finds from Goodwill and her parents’ basement, Rebecca was able to create a studio that speaks to her style while staying in budget, something we’re big proponents of here at The Everygirl.
Rebecca has since moved on from this small, cozy studio apartment that signified the beginning of life after college but more on that in her interview. Along with spilling the details on this lovely apartment, Rebecca is sharing what she’s learned about work and life since college. Read on to find out more about Rebecca’s decorating philosophy, advice on transitioning from college to the “real world,” and her favorite places in her favorite cities.
*NOTE: Because Rebecca moved after this interview took place her questions are answered in the past tense.
Full name: Rebecca (Becky) Schultz
Current title/company: Marketing Associate at Energy Foundry and Publicist at The Riveter Magazine
Educational background: Macalester College, B.A. in English/Creative Writing
What was your first job out of college and how did you land it?
I started as the publicist for Milkweed Editions—an independent literary press in Minneapolis—two days after graduation. My time interning for a number of Twin Cities based literary organizations like The Loft Literary Center, Paper Darts Magazine, and Coffee House Press led me to become a pretty active member of the writing and publishing community in Minneapolis. When a rare opening for a full-time position with Milkweed popped up, I jumped at the opportunity.
You recently moved to Chicago for a job at The Energy Foundry. What are your responsibilities? How does it differ from the work you did at Milkweed Editions?
My new job with Energy Foundry is almost completely different from my last. I went from a PR position at a nonprofit for the arts to a marketing role in the energy, cleantech, and entrepreneurship industries. Because Energy Foundry is a small and new company—five full time employees including myself, and just over a year old—I’ll get to wear many hats and be thrown into a number of different projects and grow with the company. I’m looking forward to learning web development, content management, marketing, event planning, and general knowledge of the clean energy sector.
I never thought I’d switch from the Humanities to STEM, but in my first two weeks it’s exciting to realize how flexible my degree in creative writing could be. Of course, my after-hours volunteer PR work with The Riveter Magazine (an online and print journal by women for everyone) balances me out with a little bit of literary love at the end of the day.
Tell us about the process of moving from Minneapolis to Chicago! How much time did it take you to find your Chicago apartment?
Surprisingly, not much time at all! I’m from Chicago originally, and decided to stay with my parents for a month to transition and not rush my apartment search. I teamed up with one of my best friends from high school who also just made the move back home after living in D.C. for some time. We fell in love with the first apartment we saw—a cute 2 bedroom in the Andersonville neighborhood on the north side–and went for it.
Take us through your job search process. What advice do you have for other women looking for a new position?
I was drawn to the idea of working with entrepreneurs and start-ups, and I knew that community was booming in Chicago. After literally googling “start up industry Chicago,” I found my way to some great online platforms with company profiles, blogs, and job boards. My go-to job board and reference blog became a site called “Built In Chicago,” which highlights the start-up community and sends out great weekly newsletters with top job postings and start-up stories of the week. I wouldn’t be at Energy Foundry without it.
Since all of my professional relationships were in Minneapolis, I was nervous knowing I was completely on my own in this transition. More than anything, this job search taught me to not be afraid of putting myself out there and just going for it. I was scheduling an average of three to four first-round informational interviews with companies per week, writing two to three cover letters a day, and staying active on LinkedIn, Twitter, and my blog. Even though it was exhausting (the job search itself really is a full-time job!), hearing about so many different types of opportunities really made it easier to weed out the roles and companies I knew wouldn’t be the right fit for me. I wanted to discover new job titles and organizations that got me excited about future career paths.
The most important takeaway from my job search experience is that you shouldn’t be afraid to keep an open mind go for something totally different. I never thought I would be interested in, let alone qualified for, a gig in the energy and technology sector! But because I went into my first interview with a positive attitude and the desire to ask questions, I discovered a number of things about the role and the company culture. Being part of a small, dynamic team, working in a brand new co-working space alongside entrepreneurs and engineers, having the ability to work on everything from web content to PR to event management are all things I wouldn’t have known just from trolling their website. I left the interview feeling like I just left an amazing first date.
It’s no secret that the years immediately following college can be some of the most confusing, albeit exciting, years of our lives. You are in the midst of this right now! What has the transition from college to the “real world” been like for you? Was it what you expected or something entirely different?
The last year has been a whirlwind, and it’s definitely been up and down. The majority of my college friends moved across the country the week after graduation, and for a while it felt like I was a little left behind in Minneapolis, especially in the first few months of living by myself. In college, it’s easy to get used to having all of your friends within a six-block radius of you at all times. When “real life” started, I wasn’t expecting to spend so much time alone. But, I ended up using that alone time productively–working in coffee shops in the evenings, going for long bike rides on weekends, and joining a masters swim team–and really learned to love “me” time.
I met some great new friends at work and through the Minneapolis writing and art community — but only because I learned that if you want to go out and meet new people, you have to get through those initial (awkward!) networking events, group fitness classes, and bar meet-ups. Even though I have more close friends in Chicago than I did in Minneapolis, I still want to go out and try new things and meet new people. Actually, I just signed up for a number of groups on Meetup.com, mostly with the intention of finding a really good book club.
A few months ago, I almost started to feel “settled”—with my job, my apartment, and my relationships—until I took a step back and realized how many more people, experiences, and places I have yet to discover. I know that I’m nowhere near the person I’m going to end up being, but I’m definitely enjoying the ride.
Let’s talk about your home! While in Minneapolis, you lived in a studio apartment in the heart of the city. Tell us about the process you went through while looking for your place. Did you rent or own? How long were you there?
I saw a lot of really bad before I found the good—like over-priced garden apartments with wood paneling and one-room studios whose Craigslist photos were clearly from not just a different unit but from an entirely different building. Actually, the posting for my apartment didn’t include photos or much a description, but when I saw the address, I immediately set up a showing. I wound up renting for just under ten months—and I was very sad to leave it.
How would you describe your personal decorating style?
Bright, fun, thrifty.
What was the decorating process like? Any challenges in making your apartment feel like a home?
The biggest challenge was optimizing a small space without feeling claustrophobic. I wanted to make my “living room” feel separate from my bedroom, which is hard to do when they’re five steps away from each other in the same room.
Where did you shop for decor? Do you prefer new items or antique and flea market finds?
Everywhere. Some pieces came from Ikea and CB2, and a few were scrounged up from Goodwill or emerged from my parents’ dusty basement. I like to combine funky, bright, and new items from the Target Home Collection and Ikea with antique wood pieces I scrounged up from my parents’ basement.
What items for your home would you say are most important to invest in? What items do you recommend saving on?
One of my favorite pieces (which is also the one I felt I invested in the most) is a floor lamp from CB2. It’s lightweight, easy to move, and has a clean, minimalistic design that can easily adapt to various spaces. I think art is important, too. At this point in my life, I would save on larger items like headboards, wardrobes and desks. You never know if and when you’ll be leaving your current space and how much your personal aesthetic will change as you grow.
What did you love most about living in Minneapolis? What are your favorite things about Chicago?
It’s easy to feel at home living in Minneapolis—it’s big enough to feel like a city, but small enough to feel comfortable. That and juicy lucy burgers.
I love the hustle and bustle of downtown Chicago. I love moving from one neighborhood to the next. I love/hate the CTA. I love the bond you feel every time you meet a Chicagoan that grew up in the city (pet peeve: don’t say you’re from Chicago if you’re actually from Wilmette). I love a Portillo’s hot dog.
You started a blog, Beside The Point, last September. Why did you decide to blog? What have you learned from the experience?
As crazy as it sounds, I missed having writing deadlines for myself like I did in school. I wanted to write more, but I needed to give myself a little bit of an extra push in order to execute. My blog became a really fun creative outlet, and I’ve learned that even thought it’s still a young and small project, it feels really rewarding to know that I turned an idea in my head into something tangible.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I wake up around 6:00 a.m. I’m out the door by 7:00 a.m. to catch the L (Chicago public transportation train) to the loop. My workday starts a little earlier than most, but I always feel like I’m more productive in the morning. I try to get through a list of tasks for the day while I’m commuting; that way, I come in the office ready to kill it. A small part of my job is managing our social media platforms, and I usually like to start the day by checking for any new followers, scrolling though my blog feed for any exciting industry news to share, and getting posts scheduled for the day. Around 9:30 a.m., I dive into more writing or web-heavy projects. I try to step out of the office every day, even if it’s just for a quick ten minute walk. The break from screens is a game-changer for my mental health.
I usually leave for the day around 6:00 p.m. and head to the pool to swim laps. If I’m not meeting up with friends, I get home around 7:45 or 8 p.m. and watch whatever TV show I’m behind on before ending my day with either reading, writing, or doing some work for The Riveter.
Where would you like to see yourself in five years?
Halfway to where Lena Dunham is now.
What would you tell your 18-year-old self?
People say that friends come and go—and they do. But the good ones (no matter how old and out of touch) will always reappear when you need them most.
Rebecca Schultz is The Everygirl…
Morning or night?
Best advice you’ve ever received?
If it doesn’t work out, it wasn’t meant to be.
Coffee, magazines, crossword puzzles, and a long walk.
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and what would you order?
Nora Ephron, pizza.
Aidan or Big?
Floor lamp, CB2
Living area rug, Ikea
Bedroom area rug, Ikea
Wall clock, Target
Kerouac bike poster, Flickr
End table & bookshelf, Aunt’s basement
Couch, Furniture Barn (Snelling & University in St. Paul)
Curtains, Bed Bath & Beyond
Instagram prints, Printstagram