#SkillSets4Success Sunday: Perseverance

And just like that I’ve arrived in Oshkosh for Miss Wisconsin week 2017.  I’m so excited and humbled to have another chance to vie for this job and cultivate memories here with the Class of 2017.Typically my “Skill Sets 4 Success” Sunday platform post covers a current event that pertains to soft skill sets, college readiness, and/or success in the workforce; however, today’s is pertaining to my journey and the success I’ve gained.  I’ve done a great deal of reflecting lately in the weeks leading up to this point.  My internships, current career, passions, and countless relationships that I cherish deeply are a direct result of the MAO.  It’s those tangible takeaways that make me forever grateful for this experience regardless of what God has in store for me on Saturday evening.  So many of the skill sets I possess have stemmed from experiences within this program: walking into a new environment and introducing myself, developing a strong sense of self, a focus on community service, the list truly goes on and on.Today, all twenty-six of the contestants arrived in Oshkosh, unpacked at the auditorium, and got settled in at the hotel before a night of closed rehearsal at the hotel.  The energy and excitement throughout the room all evening long was incredible and I cannot wait for the rest of the week to unfold (but not too quickly).  I have full faith in His plan and know that my hard work, drive, and dedication over the course of the past 7 years has resulted in so many successes; for that I am eternally grateful.  I share my failures in schools as a titleholder, my struggles in school and finding a career path that fit my interests, and the knowledge I’ve gained through the course of school and my job thus far because I believe it’s important to be transparent.  That becomes even more necessary when I’m wearing a sparkly crown and sash-I’m still human and I have an overwhelming desire to connect with others, to share my message, to inspire people, and most importantly help them achieve successes in their educational pursuits and career.  The Miss America Organization has provided me with an outlet and a larger platform to do just that.  Owning my setbacks and persevering through tough times (and multiple trips to state) has shaped me into the strong-willed, determined, and passionate woman I am.  P.S. Did you know Heather French Henry, Miss America 2000 won Miss Kentucky on her fifth attempt?  Now you know!  Remember, anything is possible if you put in the work and energy and most importantly, believe in yourself!

Be sure to “like” Miss Badgerland 2017, Tianna Vanderhei on Facebook, follow @MissBadgerland2017 on Instagram, and @MissBadgerland on Twitter to stay up to date on my week!

Want to shop this look?  I’ve linked the jumpsuit and earrings below!


Good night friends


#SkillSets4Success Sunday: Preparation is Key

Happy Easter everyone!  I hope you enjoy Ev this beautiful Sunday with family and friends (and lots of chocolate of course).  As May and June quickly approach (yes, I agree, it’s crazy how quickly April is flying by) so are the many graduation ceremonies that will take place.  Whether it’s a high school graduation or college, or perhaps your planning your classes in hopes of receiving that diploma next year or even a couple years away-pay attention.

It’s nearly impossible to secure a stable, good paying job without first acquiring a college degree.  However, it’s simultaneously just as challenging to land a position or even a job interview if you don’t have the ‘real life’ experience to back it up.  What am I getting at?  I have twin brothers who are about to turn 18-years-old.  They are currently juniors in high school and they’re busy looking at colleges, going on tours, and trying to figure out their futures (yikes).  I constantly preach to them just how crucial it is to get involved, learn more about their intended careers, and put themselves out there in order to achieve success down the road.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy.  In fact, it can be a very convoluted and scary process, not to mention a rather intimidating one.  However, I can tell you from experience that it pays off (literally) to plan ahead, ask questions, reach out, and gain experience.  How can you do this?

High school students: Talk to your guidance counselor about what you’ve thought about going to college for; ask your counselor if they have any connections in that field you may be able to shadow.  If you know of a family member, friend, or friend’s parent who works in a position you someday hope to acquire, don’t hesitate to ask if you can ask them some questions about their day-to-day life at work.  Aside from conversations, it’s important that you partake in clubs like student council, FBLA, FFA, DECA, etc. aside from your academics to show that you’re a well-rounded student.   (Volunteer efforts and hours are a HUGE plus!)

College students: For starters, getting involved in clubs and organizations on campus that align with your intended degree and career path is a fantastic way to build your resume.  Second, reach out to your career and academic planning office and ask for help seeking internships and job shadowing opportunities in your field.  As I touch on with one of my four points of my platform-NETWORKING is everything.

Professionals in the workforce: Actively stay involved in the community in which you live and work.  Find an organization, non-profit, or business that again, fits with your career and interests and sign-up to lend a hand!  Spending some of your free time giving back not only is a great way to add to and keep our resume fresh, but it shows you’re invested in the city you call home and care about the common good of others that reside in that location as well.

Prepare For Jobs (1)


#SkillSets4Success Sunday: Is Social Media a Hindrance?

In the midst of preparing for Miss Wisconsin Sweeps the last few weeks, I was asked a question (a couple of times) I hear often with my platform in some facet: Is social media a hindrance?  GREAT QUESTION.  The basis of “Let’s Talk: Skill Sets 4 Success” focuses on the vitality of face to face communication and soft skill sets that are often overlooked.  The main points of my platform cover: the importance of a first impression, social media marketing, resume building, and networking.

As a multi-media journalist, some of my stories sometimes overlap with my “Let’s Talk: Skill Sets 4 Success” message.  This past week, that happened on two different occasions.  On Monday, March 27 I visited the Sparta Police Department and talked to them about how their Facebook page (with nearly 16,000 followers from all over the country and the world) has helped them solve crimes and pinpoint wanted individuals.  Here’s the story: 

Social media is most certainly an asset and promotional item that we as humans can use in a variety of positive ways.  While face-to-face communication and keen soft skill sets are the basis of all that we do, social media helps to amplify that message. Consequently the following day, I covered a career fair at Western Technical College in La Crosse.  The event drew more than 50 local employers to network with students and community members about job openings.  One business I spoke with said, although the prevalence of using the internet as a hiring tool is great to pull in from a large pool of applicants…nothing beats establishing a connection in person.

SEE: Career Fair helps potential employee network


#SkillSets4Success Sunday: Let’s Talk

Recently at a local pageant, a contestant was asked, “Which is more important: talking or listening?” for her on-stage question.  A very interesting question and one that closely relates to, “What came first: the chicken or the egg?”  In reality, there isn’t necessarily a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer to this communication question, but there’s a couple things to keep in mind.

First off, if you think about it (and I’ve touched on it before) communication is the basis of all that we do as humans.  Now that doesn’t necessarily mean that we always communicate effectively, I mean after all…we are human.  But think about this-as soon as we are born, we embrace the sense of hearing.  It helps us identify our parents, family members, strange sounds, etc.  Talking on the other hand, is something we progressively learn over time and unfortunately with that growth often comes the downfall of our listening skills.  In my opinion, listening is more important because it’s an innate skill that helps us develop many other skills, characteristics, and defenses.  Without someone listening to another person, their talking is truly void.  What do you think?  Comment below and let me know your thoughts on the question!

On another note…

I recently purchased a hand held microphone that adapts with my phone and camera to record sound.  If you saw any of my Facebook live videos from my Miss Harbor Cities farewell pageant, you caught a glimpse of it with my contestant interviews (check out the Miss Harbor Cities & Outstanding Teen Scholarship Pageant Facebook page).  Then on Friday, my official, “Let’s Talk: Skill Sets 4 Success” platform logo stickers arrived and I couldn’t be more excited to utilize this new tool to share my message.  This handy dandy microphone allows me to carry over my skills learned in the workforce the past two years as a journalist to help connect people and more importantly show all of you first hand the relevancy of the Miss America Organization and soft skill sets in terms of college and career readiness.  Stay tuned folks!

#SkillSets4Success (2)#SkillSets4Success

#SkillSets4Success Sunday: Why Does Academic and Career Planning Matter?

Happy Sunday friends!  Contrary to belief with the recent snow storm that hit on Thursday evening and into Friday for much of the state of Wisconsin, Spring is just around the corner.  As the changing of the season approaches, many high school seniors are preparing for graduation and finalizing their college goals.  In addition, high school juniors are actively planning campus visits and studying for their ACT test.  While these are natural progressions as students near the end of their high school careers, there’s a lot of other factors that go into ensuring they’re prepared for that next step.

SEE: #SkillSets4Success Sunday: What are We Doing to Move Wisconsin Forward?

In light of the primary this past Tuesday, with State Superintendent options on the ballot including Wisconsin’s current Superintendent, Tony Evers, I thought it was only fitting to focus on the importance of “Academic and Career Planning,” or ACP.  It’s an area the Wisconsin Department of Public Institution or DPI focuses on and it’s essentially what my platform, “Let’s Talk: Skill Sets 4 Success” is all about.

As a young student trying to figure out what you want to be ‘when you grow up’ it’s crucial to use your resources.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, talk to people around you.  Whether it’s your friend’s parents, teachers, boss, etc. and get a feel for what they do, what their day to day experiences are like, and what path they took to get to that point in their career.  If their job is something you think you may be interested in one day, you need to actively take academic and career planning steps to get there-no one else is going to do it for you.

Job shadow as many people as you can, sign up for classes that are applicable to the career path you think you want to pursue (AP classes in high school are serious bonus points friends!  If you can sign up for them and pass the test to get college credit you will be saving yourself thousands of dollars.), apply for internships (even if you think you’re not going to get accepted…you never know), and last but not least, get involved with organizations at school, on campus, and in the community that relate to your career goals and interests.  Not only is this final step a great resume builder, but it will also help you network with professionals and establish connections that may ultimately aid you in establishing a job.  Go get ’em!


#SkillSets4Success Sunday: The Tip of the Iceberg

The fact of the matter is success doesn’t come easy.  Most of the time it’s the result of many hours of hard work, dedication, and ultimately countless failures.  Inevitably it’s in our human nature not to talk about the times we didn’t succeed, but why?

Those bumps along the road are key elements of our success in any and all facets of our lives and they should be embraced and shared in order to help not only better ourselves, but others as well.  This illusion paints a clear picture of just how many facets comprise our accomplishments, those little details we don’t always think about (but ahould)…Although all anyone else can see is your success, the tip of the iceberg, it’s all those elements that helped shape you into who you are right now.  I challenge you to embrace those failures, sacrifices, disappointments, hard work, and dedication because at the end of the day it’s all part of your story-not to be ignored.  Reflect on those challenges and honestly learn to cherish them because you wouldn’t be the accomplished person you are today without them.  And if you’re currently overcoming some sort of set-back in your life, I challenge you to see it as a moment for growth.  See it as a learning opportunity to expand your potential and keep moving forward, you got this.


#SkillSets4Success Sunday: Overcoming Obstacles


Sorry, not sorry if you’re unfortunately not a Green Bay Packers fan, but this Wisconsin gal is quite proud of an incredible game today and a win to advance into the playoffs (despite my man, Jordy Nelson getting hurt).  I listened to the game on the drive back to La Crosse from Racine after watching the Miss Racine and Miss Southern Lakes pageants for the first time last night and was yelling obnoxiously in my car all alone.  Onto Dallas!

Congratulations to the new Miss Racine, Brynn Weinzirl and Miss Southern Lakes, Elise Elmblad-best of luck to both of you this year.

To the countless other young women who did not walk away with a crown last night: keep your chins up.  Let’s use the Pack for a football reference here for a minute, after a rocky, back and forth start to the 2016-2017 season they slumped into a four game losing streak before regaining their momentum.  Now, they’re on a seven game winning streak after they overpowered the Giants dominate defense and they’re advancing into playoffs.  What’s my point, you ask?  You’re going to face obstacles in life, no matter what goal you’re chasing after, however, it’s the skill sets and the mentality that you have that will push you that extra mile to achieve success.  Don’t think about it as a loss, but rather a lesson to be learned.  It’s an opportunity to reflect, intrinsically ask yourself what your goals are and if you’re staying true to who you are.  Nonetheless, keep your “eye on the prize” and keep working towards that goal.  It’s the obstacles (most of the time unforeseen) in life that are meant to teach you something, help you think outside of the box, and allow you to go above and beyond your realized potential.  Remember, YOU are your biggest critic and challenger in all things you pursue.  Believe in your talents, energy, and drive and let your heart lead the way.

SEE: 5 Simple Mindsets Powerful Enough to Ensure Your Success