Interviews can be intimidating and those moments before getting into the nitty gritty about why you're the most qualified person for the gig can be nerve-wracking. Your palms are sweaty, butterflies are holding the Olympic Games in your belly, and the "what ifs?" running through your head could make a sane person feel like they've gone off the rocker.

All you want to do is ace the interview, but now, studies have shown that you must be skilled in more than rattling off your resume highlights and future goals. It's time to become a small talk expert, because the little things count as much as your educational and career milestones.

But what if talking about last night's baseball game score or the 75% chance of thunderstorms isn't you're forte? If small talk isn't your big talent, you don't have to throw in the towel. You can improve your ability to chit chat with finesse and ease with some practice for "shooting the breeze." Not only will these skills help nail down the job you want, but you'll always be comfortable around groups or individuals you've just met at work functions, parties, and other social events.

Now's your chance to become a small talk aficionado who will be able to work your charm to impress your future employer. Because as per Harvard Business Review, they'll be able to get a "valid idea about your personality, trustworthiness, and intelligence, as well as a sneak peek at how you will perform on the job," thanks to the ice-breakers and what you may perceive to be "superficial" pre-interview questions.


Show Genuine Interest

No matter the topic, be it the potted plant in the corner of the office or the latest news on the presidential campaign, be sure to be engrossed in the conversation with genuine interest in what the other person is saying and in how you communicate. Ask questions to show you care about how the interviewer feels and to learn a little about them too.

As per Business Insider, "If you don't fundamentally care about the person you are speaking with, that will show." Just like your future employer wants you to be passionate about the job at hand, he or she will want to see your legitimate interest in other aspects of socializing and being a well-rounded person as well. A few bits of small talk done right can be the difference between you or someone else landing the gig when all other factors are on equal footing.

Be In-the-Know

Small talk leaves open the possibility to cover endless topics. The more well-read and up-to-date with the current climate and news cycle you are, the better prepared you'll be for engaging in various areas of small talk. As per Bernardo J. Carducci, Ph.D., director of the Shyness Research Institute at Indiana University, as posted on Real Simple, "To keep your conversation timely and lively, scan newspaper headlines and movie and book reviews." Business Insider adds to "include the news sections that don't really interest you," as well. You never know what topic may be brought up, so at least a baseline knowledge of the issue is better than no information at all.

In addition, learn all you can about the interviewer and the company you're interviewing with pre-interview. You won't come across as eager for the job or even a respectable candidate if you aren't well-informed about the company, their values, and their milestones. This knowledge is the bridge that connects small talk with the heavy-hitting interview questions.

Stay Positive

As per Huffington Post, "It's wise to keep your small talk focused on the bright side. Whether it's offering a meaningful compliment, asking someone about their day or even making someone laugh, you'll be starting a deeper conversation that won't leave you both feeling worse than when you started." And Business Insider adds, "Try to make everyone you talk with feel a little better about themselves after having met and talked to you," and that goes for the person who's interviewing you too.

Always be honest, hopeful, and relatable. Those qualities are important for an employer to see in a future employee. You'll want to walk out of your interview leaving the person you've spoken with feeling like the time spent with you was worthwhile, whether or not they're prepared to offer you the job. While you may not be right for that particular role, a positive attitude can pave the way for a recommendation for another position or a call back in the future. It will also give you leverage if you're chosen for a position and you're negotiating salary or other benefits.

These tips will help with small talk, but one way to nail it is by practicing as much as possible. Be more assertive in social settings and put these techniques to use before the big interview. Soon, small talk will come smoothly and you'll be ready to ace your interview from any angle!

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Over the past month, both Haiti and Afghanistan have been pummeled by tragic disasters that left devastation in their wake.

In Haiti, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake erupted, leading over to 2,189 deaths and counting. A few hours later, in Afghanistan, Kabul fell to the Taliban just after U.S. troops had pulled out after 20 years of war.

In many ways, these disasters are both chillingly connected to US interference. The United States invaded Haiti in 1915, ostensibly promising to restore order after a presidential assassination but really intending to preserve the route to the Panama Canal and to defend US creditors, among other reasons.

But the US forces soon realized that they were not able to control the country alone, and so formed an army of Haitian enlistees, powered by US air power and intended to quell Haitian insurrection against US controls. Then, in 1934, the US pulled out on its own, disappointed with how slow progress was going. Haiti's institutions were never really able to rebuild themselves, leaving them immensely vulnerable to natural disasters.

Something similar happened in Afghanistan, where the US sent troops and supported an insurgent Afghan army – only to pull out, abandoning the country they left in ruins, with many Afghans supporting the Taliban.

In both cases, defense contractors benefited by far the most from the conflict, making billions in profits while civilians faced fallout and devastation. While the conflicts and circumstances are extremely different and while the US is obviously not solely to blame for either crisis, it's hard not to see the US-based roots of these disasters.

Today, in Haiti and Afghanistan, civilians are facing unimaginable tragedy.

Here are charities offering support in Afghanistan:

1. The International Rescue Committee is looking to raise $10 million to deliver aid directly to Afghanistan

2. CARE is matching donations for an Afghanistan relief fund. They are providing food, shelter, and water to families in need; a donation of $89.50 covers 1 family's emergency needs for a month.

3. Women for Women International is matching donations up to 500,000 for Afghan women, who will be facing unimaginable horrors under Taliban control.


4. AfghanAid offers support for people living in remote regions of Afghanistan.

5. VitalVoices supports female leaders and changemakers and survivors of gender-based violence around the world.

Here are charities offering support in Haiti:

1. Partners in Health has been working with Haiti for a long time, and they work with the Department of Health rather than around them, which is extremely important in a charity.

2. Health Equity International helps run Saint Boniface Hospital, a hospital in Haiti close to the earthquake's epicenter.

3. SOIL is an organization based Haiti, "a local organization with a track record of supporting after natural disasters." They are distributing hygiene kits and provisions on the ground to hospitals and to victims of the earthquake.

4. Hope for Haiti has been working in emergency response in Haiti for three decades, and their team is comprised of people who live and work in Haiti. They focus on supporting children and people in need across Haiti.

via Tiffany & Co.

When the new Tiffany's campaign was unveiled, reactions were mixed.

Tiffany's, the iconic jewelry brand which does not (despite what some might be misled to believe) in fact serve breakfast, featured Jay Z, Beyoncé, and a rare Basquiat painting in their recent campaign.

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Road trips can be a lot of fun — but they can also drain your wallet quickly if you aren't careful.

From high gas costs and park admission fares to lodging and the price of eating out every night, the expenses can add up quickly. But at the same time, it's very possible to do road trips cheaply and efficiently. Without the headache of worrying about how much money you're leaking, you can enjoy the open road a whole lot more. Here's how to save money on a road trip.

1. Prepare Your Budget, Route, and Packing List in Advance

If you want to save money on a road trip, be sure you're ready to go. Try to count up all your expenses before you hit the road and create a budget. It's also a good idea to plan your route in advance so you don't end up taking unnecessary, gas-guzzling detours. And finally, be sure to pack in advance so you don't find yourself having to buy tons of things you forgot along the way.

2. Book Cheap Accommodations — Or Try Camping

All those motel rooms can add up surprisingly quick, but camping is often cheap or free, and it's a great way to get intimate with the place you're visiting. You can check the Bureau of Land Management's website for free campsites. Freecampsite.com also provides great information on If you don't have a tent or don't want to camp every night, try booking cheap Airbnbs or booking hotels in advance, making sure to compare prices.

Camping camping road tripConde Nast Traveler

If you're planning on sleeping in your car, a few tips: WalMart allows all-night parking, as do many 24-hour gyms. (Buying a membership to Planet Fitness or something like it also gives you a great place to stop, shower, and recharge while on the road).

3. Bring Food From Home

Don't go on a road trip expecting to subsist on fast food alone. You'll wind up feeling like shit, and it'll drain your pocketbook stunningly quickly. Instead, be sure to bring food from home. Consider buying a gas stove and a coffee pot for easy on-the-go meals, and make sure you bring substantial snacks to satiate midday or late night cravings so you can avoid getting those late night Mickey D's expeditions.

Try bringing your own cooler, filling it with easy stuff for breakfast and lunch — some bread and peanut butter and jelly will go a long way. Bring your own utensils, plates, and napkins, and avoid buying bottled water by packing some big water jugs and a reusable water bottle. Alternatively, try staying at hotels or Airbnbs with kitchens so you can cook there.

4. Avoid Tolls

Apps like Google Maps and Waze point out toll locations, so be sure to avoid those to save those pennies. (If it takes you too far off route, you might have to bite the bullet and drive across that expensive bridge).

You can also save on parking fees by using sites like Parkopedia.

Road Trip Road TripThe Orange Backpack


5. Save on Gas

Gas can get pricy incredibly fast, so be sure that you're stopping at cheap gas stations. Free apps like GasBuddy help you find the most affordable gas prices in the area. Also, try going the speed limit on the highways — anything faster will burn through your tank. Be sure that you don't wait till you arrive at touristy locations or big cities to fill up.

6. Get a National Park Pass

All those parks can get really expensive really fast. If you're planning on visiting three or more parks, it's a great idea to get an America the Beautiful National Parks Pass. For $80 you can get into every National Park for one year.