3 years after graduation, a quick update

Whoever said times were tough wasn’t lying.  It has been almost three years since I donned that horrendous burgundy graduation gown, and walked out of the rustic Loyola halls with my diploma in hand.

I had big dreams for the future. I cold literally do anything, or so I thought.  Advertising, Public Relations, writing, acting? Little did I know that 2010 was not the best year for graduation.  Everybody was struggling.  I looked and yes, perhaps I could have looked harder, but the thing was that I expected a job, and not just another internship.  After completing four during college, wouldn’t that technically add up to 2 years of experience?  Guess not.

And many reached out.  They really did, they’d say things like “you have a great resume, take this internship for $10 an hour and then we’ll see where it goes.”

Excuse me?  “We’ll see where it goes?” What does that mean exactly?  Like you may or may not hire me?

The problem, or blessing as some would say, is that I already had a job.  A part-time job I’d had since my senior year of high school at a sales center.  This part-time job had me rolling in the dough.  Well, kind of.  It certainly facilitated my shoe and handbag obsession, and a $10 an hour internship simply could not compete.

So I did the unthinkable, or what now a days is pretty much considered the norm, and moved back home.  It was painful, but I definitely saved some money. Oh yes, plenty of money.  Sure, I suffered through my mothers “house rules” and had to adhere to a curfew but I can honestly say it was worth it because….

I PAID OFF MY STUDENT LOAN DEBT! Literally $40,000. Dunzo!  I’ve heard many complain that they spent an obscene amount of money on a worthless degree because they have been unable to find a satisfying job, but for me, at least now, it doesn’t matter if the degree is worthless or not, because baby, it is paid!

So in a sense I’m back at the beginning.  Loans are paid and it’s time to move on to a more challenging position.  I finally came to the realization that I may have to start as an intern again, but I think I am absolutely fine with that.  Mostly because I have no debt and plenty of savings, which means when I finally move out and into my own apartment, it will actually be furnished.  And that is something I simply cannot wait for!

So I suppose it is time to update this site, as here is where the big girl job search begins…


Americans are so lucky!

I recently returned from family trip to Mexico.  We ventured into Tonatico, a tiny town two hours south of Mexico city.  We were there for weeks that went by unusually slow, especially for it being a vacation and all.  Most of our extended family lives there.  They are well-off and live a comfortable life but from what I saw, it seems to be a very boring life.  They may not feel that way because that is the life they are accustomed to, but I can’t imagine living there and doing the same thing every single day like they do.  I guess I’m thankful that my parents crossed the border illegally and allowed me to be born in this wonderful country that is America (don’t call the border patrol they’re citizens now).

We are so incredibly lucky here and I think people sometimes forget.  Especially people my age who have been lucky enough to get everything handed to them with very little effort.  I think people (both young and old) sometimes don’t realize that there are people in other parts of the world that do not live the easy life that we do.  Instead, they are restricted from many things either because their income doesn’t allow it or because they’ve never even been exposed to life’s many riches so really they have nothing to long for.

One night as I was walking to the many posadas that Tonatico has (holiday parties), I walked through a narrow street lined with little houses that looked exactly the same.  I peeked inside a few and was completely shocked.  It’s 2010 and people in Tonatico (and other places I’m sure) are still living in tiny square houses with one room that acts as the living, dining, and sleeping area.  I know that college students will occasionally take this on in order to survive on their own, but in Tonatico entire families sometimes made up of six or more people were occupying these spaces.  I just could not believe it.  And I thought my house was small…nope, not at all!

Shortly after, I talked to my mom who told me that that is the way people live there.  They survive on $150 pesos a day (or 15 bucks), they only buy what’s absolutely necessary in very small quantities, and they don’t typically go on 3-week-long vacations because that means no work and no pay (and no food!).  Well, didn’t I feel bad.  What I found absolutely ridiculous is that even though people are making what equals $15 a day, everything is still just as expensive as America, or amazingly enough sometimes worst.  Flip-flops that one could easily find for a buck at Wal-Mart were not going for any less than $50 pesos.  No $1 flip-flops there, they were all $5 and up.  And, a tiny box of cereal was $4 (or $40 pesos), and let me emphasize that the box was small, nothing like the typical size we are used to.  Again, I was bewildered.  How is a Mexican in Tonatico (or any other tiny town) supposed to feed their family.  No wonder most women were tiny…they don’t even need to plan a diet because it’s unavoidable.

I had been to Tonatico before.  The last time however, was seven years ago, and I guess at that time I just wasn’t able to take in and fully comprehend the conditions or the everyday lifestyle that these people adhere to.  I feel like this time around I have left with a new perspective and I am so so grateful for that.  Sometimes I forget where my parents came from and the hard work that they went/go through and it was good to be reminded of it.  Thankfully most of our closest relatives in Tonatico found a way to make lots of money a long time ago and, like I said before, are actually rather wealthy (especially compared to other people in the town), so I guess I’m glad that our relatives don’t have to pack themselves into tiny rooms.  In fact, they live pretty nice lives in pretty nice houses with pretty nice trucks.  But again, they do the same thing every single day, and see the same people over and over again and I could not imagine living like that.  I love Chicago and its spontaneity and freedom.  We can do anything we want whenever we want because there is nothing really stopping us (except for the occasional cop).  In Mexico if you’re poor it’s going to be pretty difficult to make lots of money and climb up the social ladder (especially when they get married at 18 and start popping out babies right away), but in America if you work  hard you can still own that fabulous 3-story home you always wanted (especially if you have good credit).  Here, your born social status, something that is still very important in Mexico, doesn’t matter.  You can be anything you want to be and that is a beautiful beautiful thing.

I’m glad to be home.

I took many many pictures of Tonatico.  Overall, it’s a beautiful town, rich in culture and good food.  It’s a good place to visit, especially if you want to get a taste of real Mexico.

Click here to check some pics out:

Tonatiquences are deeply religious people (of course) and this beautiful basilica is located in the center of town.

Sharing the experience

I can’t believe that I’ve been at Loyola for almost four years.  I guess that means that I am technically one of the experienced ones.  I was asked by Loyola to share my thoughts on the new School of Communication.  You can see the video here.

It’s nice that Loyola has a new school, and as a senior with a major from the new School of Communication, I think it’s too bad that I only get to enjoy the resources for about a year and a half.  At least the new advertising and public relations students that come along will get a brand new high-tech school with amazing resources.

The topics that I touch on in the video are completely true.  I love going to school in Chicago.  Everything is right in my back yard.  I think this will certainly increase my chances of getting hired upon graduation.  Companies won’t have to pay me any relocation fees and I am sure that they will be ecstatic about that.

Going to school at Loyola, a city college, has definitely been an interesting experience.  We don’t have a football team or frat houses, but we do have an amazing skyline and really fun nightlife, not to mention easy access to some of the most renowned companies in the U.S.

Overall, I’m very glad I decided to go to school here.  What about you guys?  Are you happy with your college choices, or would you rather have gone somewhere else?

This is what I woke up to as a freshman living in Mertz Hall

The Art of Blogging

For my last post I would like to say thank you Professor Schoenberg because this will probably not be my last post.  I am sure that this was your goal all along.

For my writing for public relations course I was required to complete 13 blog posts, and during the process of writing these posts I have discovered that there is a lot more to blogging than I thought.  Here are a few things that I’ve noticed about blogging:

1. It’s therapeutic.

Blogging is like talking to yourself, only better.  You have time to sit down and type out your thoughts.  While writing you have a chance to think about issues or topics more deeply and then express your thoughts more clearly, and be as articulate as you can.  You really have more time to think things through.  I wish I had that capacity when speaking in real time (It would stop me from saying things I shouldn’t).

2. You can make it what you want.

Take this list for example.  In a blog you can write lists, sonnets, or even one-liners (I don’t know if that would constitute a good blog per say, but I’ve definitely seen it happen).  There aren’t very many rules to your writing except those you make for yourself.  You’re definitely allowed to get as creative as you would like.

3. It lets you practice your writing skills.

And explore new writing styles.  For instance, a conversational writing style is rarely encouraged in college classrooms, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important.  I think it’s good to learn how to write how you speak, because in the long run it may even help you speak more eloquently, because again, you have a chance to sit down and really think about what you’re saying.  Along with that, I think it’s a good idea to practice good writing when keeping a blog, and I’m not just doing that because I’m earning a grade on these, but because there is a possibility that other people will actually read my blogs.

4.  It sparks conversations.

When I was first told that we were to keep a blog for my public relations class I was a bit skeptical.  A blog?  Why?  It’s not like anybody is actually going to read it, but the reality is that people do.  Whether they randomly land on your page or they are actively exploring a specific topic, chances are that random people from all over the world will read  your stuff.  I haven’t been blogging all that long, but I’ve already received responses from people that have stimulated my brain and really made me think.

In conclusion I would like to say that I am really glad that we were given this assignment.  I’ve enjoyed blogging more than I anticipated.  I am going through a time where I am trying to figure out if public relations is really what I want to do and it has been great to explore different topics within the public relations industry or in some cases familiarize myself with smart tools for public relations professionals.

Public relations is an industry based on good communication, and it’s no surprise that PR professionals are taking up blogging.  It’s a way to easily connect and communicate with other people, and build new skills that will help one become an even better communicator.

Social Media and the Cosmetics Industry

For the final project for my writing for public relations class, the awesome class that has me blogging, we are required to create a social media campaign.  In a previous post I touched on what a great tool social media can be, but how it doesn’t always work for everyone.  I am hoping that I chose the right product from the right company because I am determined to make my campaign a successful one (and hopefully get an A of course).

I have decided to produce a campaign for Meow Cosmetics, a boutique style mineral make-up company that nobody really knows about.  Beauty and cosmetics is an industry that I think could actually benefit from social media.  Social media provides a good basis for sharing, and I think consumers shopping in the cosmetics industry would benefit a great deal from sharing with each other.  For example, getting feedback from friends, or even complete strangers, about the right colors or shades from an online forum would probably be incredibly useful to them.

I have been thinking about the perfect social media tools for my campaign.  I think utilizing  YouTube would make sense.  YouTube makes it incredibly easy to upload a video and provide a visual basis for the consumer.  Additionally, I have been playing with the idea of creating a new social network based on my company’s website.  Don’t worry, I’m not trying to compete with Facebook.  I just want to build a helpful network that will keep consumers coming back.

I am thinking that it needs to include an area for thread-like activity so that consumers can exchange feedback, perhaps a color/shade comparison digital platform?  Maybe a cool game-like setup?  My mind is going wild right now.  I’m very excited about this campaign.  It involves the beauty and cosmetics industry which I actually have an interest in, and social media which at this point is an area where I can always use more practice (it’s what’s “in” afterall).

I have sketched out a few ideas but I think I could dig deeper.  I have finals this week, and I wish I had more time to dedicate to this campaign (I’ve had to produce a lot of campaigns this semester and this one is one of the fun ones).  Either way I’m excited to get to work.

If anyone has any cool ideas for a unique social media campaign in the cosmetics industry that will earn me a good grade in my public relations class, let me know. 🙂

Meow Cosmetics

Gen Yers have a chance!

Recently I have been hard at work on a marketing project for my internet marketing course.  We were having a discussion one day in class when we came to the realization that my generation does not have an icon.  It’s true.  Generations before us have had Bob Marley, Elvis, The Beetles, but we all don’t even like the same music so the chances of finding a common icon will be nearly impossible.  Good thing my marketing professor is set on changing that because for my final marketing project my group and I are in charge of creating a website that will bring my generation together in the hopes of finding a common icon.  As I compile research for this project I am coming across a few realizations of my own.  The best one so far; I think Gen Yers will make great public relations professionals.

First off, social media is taking over.  That’s why I am taking that marketing class as well as the PR class that has me writing these blogs, so that I can learn how to take advantage of the online tools around me and become more marketable.  With that, I am learning exactly how to use social media to create campaigns that work.  Social media doesn’t work for everyone and I am glad that I am getting that lesson now.

Social media includes tools like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. and my generation spends the majority of their time on these sites, which means that when I get out there and are asked to create a social media public relations campaign that generates results, I will be more than ready.  I have grown up with these tools and know them inside and out.

Secondly, I know I was asked to keep this blog for a couple reasons.  More importantly, so that I can improve my writing skills, have a portfolio-like space, and learn the ins and outs of wordpress.com, a tool that many PR professionals at large organizations are taking up.

Public relations professionals blog.  It’s part of keeping up with the social media trend, and now I feel more ready.  Today, I am spending my time online creating and learning from a social media site instead of stalking somebody on Facebook.

I found an interesting video on Gen Yers for your entertainment.  Check it out below.

The value of a good PR internship

When I first started college and someone mentioned the word “internship” I definitely freaked out.  When I was told that we were required to take one for credit as part of our program I had a panic attack.  I started wondering…what if don’t get one?  Will it be an indication of my mediocrity?  What if I get one, but I hate it?  Will it change my life-perspective?  Turns out internships really aren’t that scary, and they’re not really that hard to get either, and they do change your life-perspective but only for the best.

I was lucky.  I showed up to my first internship fair as a sophomore.  I wasn’t even really looking, I just figured I should give the career fair a try before getting my heart broken the following year, but undeniably I got an email from Ruder Finn Public Relations a month later asking me to come in for an interview.  I went in super excited and I must have said something right because a month later I was hired.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Ruder Finn.  It was my first encounter with the public relations world.  At the time, I had not taken many PR courses yet so I was a bit nervous, but thankfully they did not throw me right into the lion’s mouth.  Instead they gave me projects that I could handle and they introduced me to agency life.

I was afraid that I was going to be thrown into the spotlight and asked to write press release and pitch letters, something that I would not have been comfortable doing at that time but instead, I learned that before you even write all those fun things you have to do some grunge work, like for instance, compiling the media lists with the contact info of the editors who will be getting your news releases.  Or creating award and speaking databases for clients, which I also took part in.  I didn’t even know that it was PR people who compiled these, but I guess it makes sense since it is in their job description to make companies look good.

Towards the end of my internship I was given the opportunity to spearhead a research project for one of our biggest accounts, and by the end of it, I was fully capable of making some good recommendations.  I felt very proud since I had worked very hard on the project.  It was good to see a long complex project overseen by me from beginning to end.

I loved working at Ruder Finn, part of it might have been because Forever 21 was across the street and  I enjoyed running over there when I took my full lunch breaks, but also because I loved working with the people there.  They created a fun culture that I enjoyed being a part of.  They were always willing to help, and they seemed happy at their jobs.  Now that’s what I aspire to; a job that I will be happy to go to every day, a job that will provide opportunities for advancement both personally and professionally.

I think overall, the greatest part of working at Ruder Finn was the invaluable experience that I gained.  What have been your most valuable internships?

Courses that matter

Over the past several years I have sat in classes where I found myself wondering…why am I here? When will I use this?  Why does this even matter? While I am sure that at some point in my life, I will find myself being thankful for some of those courses, for now all I can say is that it is incredibly refreshing when I find myself enrolled in a course that actually matters.

As part of my advertising/public relations core I am required to take a public service class.  In my public service class this semester we have been assigned to work with a pro-bono client to develop a full service campaign from beginning to end.  I am so thankful for this assignment, because it is the first campaign that has actually been real.

Youth Outreach Services, a non-profit organization in Chicago, is getting help from my class to create several campaigns to recruit 150 mentors for their mentor program.  They will then take the best campaign, or pieces of the ones they like and actually make them happen.  In my previous advertising and public relations classes we have created parts of campaigns, or campaigns for products that don’t exist.  I understand that those have been good practice, but this public service campaign seems to matter a little bit more because I know that the person getting it could actually put it to work.  It has been a lot of work, but my group and I have monitored every single detail.  Everything from the research to the execution of the artwork has been real.  Even the presentation was real.  Our client came in and listened to us as we pitched our ideas.  For once we were put on the spot with a real client.  It was super scary but very appreciated.

I wish Loyola offered more courses like this.  I know that it is difficult because we first have to learn the basics, but I feel like this time I was motivated to work even harder on this campaign because there is a chance that it will actually be implemented.

Why I will be prepared to enter the workforce as a public relations professional

I think college students looking to enter the workforce as public relations professionals will be well-trained.  I wish I was referring to the classes that they will have hopefully taken, but I’m not. Public relations professors keep telling us that as PR professionals we will not work the typical 9 to 5 job, but for the past four years I have not kept a typical schedule at all.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays for instance, I wake up at 10:30, go to class till 6:45 and then go to bed at 2 a.m.  That’s only if I don’t have anything major going on of course, because during finals I’ll usually go to bed at 4 or 5 a.m. (I know, it’s probably best to go to bed at 9 since I’m probaly doomed to fail anyway).

The point I’m trying to make is that when I graduate and get my first job I will probaly go crazy.  Having to wake up at 7 to get to work by 9 a.m. is going to be awful.  I really hope that all my professors have been right when they tell us that we are going to have crazy schedules, because that has been my life for the past several years.

Further, they tell us to be ready for the unexpected because that’s what crisis communications is all about.  Well I can’t even remember all the times I’ve shown up to school half an hour before class and had someone tell me that we have a paper due or an exam.  In those times of panic I’ve had to think fast and work fast.  This usually happens rarely to me since I tend to lean toward the prepared side, but I know for a fact that we have all done it.  My generation has been trained to think fast, especially when we are put on the spot.  I hear that this is what public relations is all about.  Thinking fast and solving problems.

Good thing I’m in college, getting trained in all departments so that when I start my career in public relations I will be ready for the long hours and any all-nighters.

The art of writing good…I mean well

As the end of the semester approaches there are many group projects that need to be done.  During the last couple weeks I have worked very hard on a very long public service campaign and also on a marketing campaign.  Group projects are hard to do, but professors tell us that when we enter the real world we will be forced to work with other people, so they insist that it is best to gain practice now.  It’s definitely tough though, especially when we all have incredibly different schedules, at least in the workforce we will all be in the same office.  Anyway, to make things easier for ourselves for my group projects we meet a few times and then each person takes a piece of the puzzle to work on.  For instance, some one will take the SWOT another person the market analysis, then the competitor analysis and so on.  Then usually one person is in charge of compiling all the pieces into one big document.  I volunteered to be the collector for my public service campaign and what I have seen has not been pretty.  My public service class is made up of mostly seniors, seniors who will be entering the workplace soon, and I hate to say this, but I don’t think we are ready.

I have started getting papers back from everyone and the number of grammatical mistakes that I have seen is unreal.  We are supposed to be the communicators, the writers who know this stuff inside and out, but many of us are apparently about to graduate with out a good grasp of the subject.  It’s scary.  We will soon be out there writing news releases, brochures, and emails that will be grammatically incorrect.

What’s even worst is that apparently it’s not just us.  According to this post, even seasoned editors miss many mistakes on a regular basis.  If people who have been in the workforce for years and years are making mistakes what hope is there for us?

I don’t think that I’m a horrible writer, but after seeing the work of my fellow students I feel like there are probably many mistakes that I’m making without even realizing it.  I guess the only solution to this is to write often so that I can practice, and then read articles like this one when I get stuck because after I graduate I will no longer have a professor to go to for guidance every time I need help (I mean, I guess I could, but they would probably be annoyed).  Soon, it’s basically going to be up to me to catch mistakes.  Or at least I hope it’s me, and not my reader.  Good thing I’m taking Writing for PR this semester.

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