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…

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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.

CSR and IBM

I feel like I’ve been hearing that acronym a lot lately.  CSR or corporate social responsibility seems to be a growing trend.  Or is it a trend? Either way, it’s something companies should be doing.  CSR is synonymous with corporations and their efforts to become good corporate citizens.  I don’t think I really understood the value of CSR until earlier this semester when I had to research the CSR efforts of IBM.

IBM was ranked third in Corporate Social Responsibility by CRO Magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens for 2009 and if one visits their website it is easy to tell why.  A good portion of their corporate website is dedicated to their CSR initiatives, programs and efforts.  And if one types “Corporate Social Responsibility” on their search box another section dedicated to showing other companies how to set up their own corporate responsibility initiatives will be displayed.

IBM states on their website that the main focus of their corporate citizenship activities is on “developing initiatives to address specific societal issues, such as the environment, community economic development, education, health, literacy, language and culture.  [They] employ IBM’s most valuable resources, [their] technology and talent, in order to create innovative programs in these areas to assist communities around the world.“  IBM is mainly active in seven main areas.  They understand that the world is connected so they make it a point to contribute in crucial affairs.  They help when disasters strike.  They assist victims of natural disasters with their Web-based “disaster relief in a box” management system, which provides essential tools for tracking missing persons, coordinating relief efforts and managing pledges for support.  Additionally, they address food shortages.  For instance, IBM is using their World Community Grid to improve the food itself by computing genetic data to develop stronger strains of rice.  They are hoping to provide “more nutritious yields, pest and disease resistance, and better water and nutrient use.”  Thirdly, they are making energy grids more efficient.  IBM is leading seven of the world’s top ten automated meter projects because according to them “a smart grid can save electricity and money and the planet, by linking smart meters in the home with instrumented power lines and plants.”  It seems that IBM’s corporate citizenship initiatives are pretty well rounded.  They are also improving educational opportunities.  They are creating the “Reinventing Education” program, which aims to bring the right people together in order to “identify barriers, develop solutions and implement them via the BlueSky open source portal.”  They have developed voice-recognition technology now in use in hundreds of schools around the world.  They also have early childhood interactive learning centers set up which makes sense for them since children are the future and some of them could end up working for IBM some day.  Furthermore, IBM does much for the environment by partnering with The Nature Conservancy to build advanced web-based tools for river basin management.  The software they have developed helps visualize the impact on ecosystem services and biodiversity of different scenarios for land water use.  IBM finds more than one way to help the community.  They have set up IBM’s “corporate Peace Corps.”  The program allows them to send teams of employees to different emerging countries to work on projects that combine economic development and job creation.  Lastly they are using software to plan the growth of our cities intelligently.  They are helping improve the concept of information sharing so that municipal services will be more efficient.

Overall everything on IBM’s agenda makes sense for them.  They are using what they do best, new software technologies for instance, in order to create a better tomorrow.  The reality is that their fast developing technologies can cater to a variety of areas or industries so they have the freedom to concentrate on whatever they desire.   I think they have made smart choices in that they have chosen to focus on important matters that really can and will affect the entire world.

They do a terrific job explaining in-depth what CSR is so that they can encourage other companies to take part.  They are a terrific example of what good CSR is and they are definitely making their presence known.

In my opinion, we need more companies like this.

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