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 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?

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.

Use your Facebook profile for something better than stalking…get a job!

A couple months ago I wrote about LinkedIn and how I wasn’t sure about its job networking abilities, so some might be surprised that I deem Facebook to be a better job resource guide for public relations and communication professionals in general.  I know, shocking.  Let me explain myself.  On LinkedIn you are nothing but a resume.  You are a piece of paper with all your job related qualities listed.  Except for a tiny picture and a line stating your interests and activities there is nothing truly human about LinkedIn.  Plus, if you try to connect with someone it’s possible that they will assume that all you’re trying to do is get a job out of them.  What I am saying is that if you are truly interested in the work of a colleague they might not know that by simply connecting with them on LinkedIn, in fact, you might even be labeled a “job-digger” and have your LinkedIn resume tossed in with all the rest.

Obviously, this is just a reflection of my thoughts, and there is actually a reason why I think Facebook would be more helpful, especially if you are trying to connect with a specific person.  In my opinion, if you know how to use it correctly, Facebook could actually work in your favor during your job search.  Companies don’t want robots.  They want real people with real personalities and you can use Facebook to let your personality shine.  Evidently, you will want to clean up your profile a little bit, but all those pictures really aren’t that bad.  I think companies know that we are a generation that likes to have fun.  We are a live bunch that will make the office a fun place to work.  Ideally,  you should have a decent resume that you would have sent them so that you aren’t automatically written off as no-good party animal simply from your Facebook.  Show them that sure, you can play hard, but you can also work hard.  Make them want you.  Show them you are a well-rounded person.  Facebook is good in that it lets you showcase your talents in a variety of ways.  You can list your endless interests and activities and you can even showcase pictures of your well-rounded activities, and  to top things off you can list your job history.  Facebook also lets  you join career-oriented groups so that you get tips on great job openings from people from all around the world.

Additionally, just how Facebook helps you connect with old friends, it can help you connect with old colleagues with out it being awkward.  Facebook reflects our lives (or in some cases what we portray as our lives), and it allows us to be connected with friends constantly.  So if you’re forced to leave a job don’t delete your colleagues from your Facebook or limit them to what they can see, instead use your profile to keep in touch effortlessly and naturally with ex-coworkers.  Wish them a Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas, etc. Keep the friendship alive so that when you find yourself in need they can let you in on any open positions, (or gossip).  I’m not suggesting that you to use people, I’m just telling you to stay connected and not burn any bridges.  Everyone has a Facebook these days, so staying connected shouldn’t be too hard.

Bottom line: Don’t be too worried about keeping your profile totally and completely private or squeaky clean.  We are human after all, and I think companies now a days could use our fun-loving spirit a little bit, especially in this economy.