The Unpaid Intern: All Grown Up

I don’t think Diane Sawyer would’ve worried or complained about being an unpaid journalism intern. I can’t see her waiting around for her college’s career services center to place her in an internship. I envision her beating down doors to get the best opportunities she needed to perfect her writing, research and her on-camera presence, build her professional network – and, not to mention, craft her non-regional dialect of course. Her focus? Her opportunities – not her limitations.

This recent NY Times article about unpaid internships compelled me to share my thoughts my internships two years after graduation.

I have an admittedly odd take on unpaid internships.  Students work for free but have to pay for college credit. The companies they work for can say they are paying they student with credit. (The student paid for the credit…so the student is basically paying to work for free…so…um…)  All that said, if I was a college student all over again looking for PR, marketing or journalism internships I would not turn down learning opportunities at great companies just because they weren’t paid.

I took issue with several things in this article. I disagree with this:

“Colleges shouldn’t publicize unpaid internships at for-profit companies. They should discourage internship requirements for graduation — common practice in communications, psychology, social work and criminology. They should stop charging students to work without pay — and ensure that the currency of academic credit, already cheapened by internships, doesn’t lose all its value.”

Wow. Holy “face/palm” moment. Like I said, at face-value making students pay for academic credit for unpaid internships seems shady. But those were honestly the best college credits I paid for. And as far as the “cheapening of college credit”… Seriously? I’ve benefitted much more from internships than from a lot of the communications theory lecture crap they teach in classes. I was delighted to skip out on that theoretical garbage that wasn’t going teach me to deliver value for a business, get into an office environment and learn skills that’d make me marketable upon graduation. Finally, discouraging internship requirements for graduation isn’t going to solve the problem of huge companies not paying their interns. It’s just going to lessen the likelihood that college students are going to take these vital professional opportunities for their careers, making them less likely to get jobs upon graduation. Quick! Name all the under or unemployed ’09 or ’10 graduates you can think of… without taking a breath. We’ll be here all night…

Like the intensely career-driven 24-year-old I am today, I was a die-hard 19, 20 and 21-year-old as well and aggressively pursued internships. I did five in college in various areas of marketing, PR and journalism. Then I graduated in the economic shitshow known as May 2009 and moved to Boston two weeks later for a paid internship at a PR agency in Boston. A paycheck?! I was thrilled.

I did a ton of free work throughout college other than internships. I ran my college’s newspaper for free. I did PR campaigns for local businesses through this student-run integrated marketing agency, PRIMA Connections for free. This free work helped me build a portfolio that I could bring with me to those internship interviews – where I would work… for free.

If I were a college student today, I wouldn’t wait around for a minute for my career center to place me in an internship. Why? Because the job market doesn’t work that way. Life doesn’t work that way, either. Your college career center isn’t going to be there for you after college to pick your apartments, find you a dentist in a new city, find you a boyfriend who calls you back – none of that. Remember: good things come to those who wait, but only what is left behind by those who hustle. Some would argue that things like a career center is what you are paying a college for. I would argue that if you are a communications student like I was, you are paying a college to support opportunities like a school newspaper etc for you to hone your skills in addition to internships. I didn’t pay St. John Fisher for daycare, thanks.

Again, I would not turn down an opportunity I really wanted because it didn’t pay. You might have to work weekends or do the internship part-time to make time during the week for a part-time job. Most importantly, remember: You are not above Starbucks!

(Side note: If we’re going to take up real estate in the NY Times to talk about issues of unpaid internships, let’s really focus on the people for whom this isn’t an option. Perhaps single parents maybe who don’t have time for school + unpaid internship + jobs?)

When I was an unpaid intern, I complained a lot to my unpaid intern friends about the unfairness of the fact that I wasn’t being paid. It was really exhausting to wake up, work out, go to an internship all day, go straight to the restaurant, work all night, then come home…and do that all week and/or weekend.

So was this always fun? No, it was stressful a lot of times. But it was my time to pay my dues. A little hard work never hurt anyone, in fact – all that hard work helped prepare me for what I’m doing now. And that’s exactly what internships are supposed to do – prepare you for your career. I am glad I did what I did and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

The NY Times article recalls the “plight” of unpaid WNBC intern Will Batson who “scrambled for shelter” during his summer internship in NYC. To Mr. Batson and other unpaid interns I say this:

One day, gentrified and successful, you will be married and live in a house on a cul-de-saq with things like “sofas” and “duvet covers.” You will have non coin-op washers and dryers from legitimate stores like Jordans and not Craigslist or the side of the road. Your fridge will be stocked with essentials other than Bud Light and hot sauce and when the hand soap runs out you’ll buy new handsoap instead of passive-aggressively re-filling it with water until your roommate buys new handsoap. You may have a salary, 401k and savings. Most of all you, will have security. You will have certainty. You will have a career. You may attend block parties or BBQ’s with other former unpaid interns. After a few too many you might talk about college or that crazy summer you spent in NYC couch-hopping and how much fun it was. You’ll laugh until your stomach hurts.

If we really focus on our opportunities and not our limitations things work out in the end. I hope so. I’ll let you know.

In your late teens and early twenties (your unpaid internship and entry-level years) I think there’s this balance of being really comfortable, but yet at the same time being really uncomfortable, with the uncertainty that defines those years. How so? What do I mean? My discomfort at ages 19 through 22ish with not knowing exactly what kind of PR/marketing/journalism (or maybe law school? I considered a lot of things…) job I wanted after graduation or not having a job lined up drove me to internships. Action comforted me because it gave me direction. Being “just” someone’s unpaid intern wasn’t the most glamorous role. But I was comforted by the certainty that I was definitely gaining great experience at that moment, yet simultaneously discomforted by the fact that I so badly wanted to do more than that and earn more than that one day.

So that’s where I am today: content yet restless. Happy but unsatisfied, I’m constantly driven to do better and learn more. Oh and I get paid now, not in tips, and I don’t wear a name-tag, apron or tuxedo to work. That still feels really cool.

Enthusiasm from 9-5 (and 8-6)

enthusiasm corporate

 

When we’re young, when it comes to love, we have no reason not to feel hopeful, optimistic, and to see the sippy cup half-full.  It’s before petty arguments and passive aggressive texts.   It’s before we revel in the exquisite melancholy of unrequited love. It’s before all those Disney-infused high expectations are met with a startling reality of dating, being dateless, mixed messages, and the rest of the possible single-life conundrums.  Your high hopes are let down; your wall goes up.

It’s similar to that journey from the lecture hall to the board room.  You bust out of college into your first job with anticipation. Wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, you practically cartwheel into the office in your freshly-pressed suit, promising not be jaded like the overworked journalist who hangs up on you when you’re trying to follow up to see if she wants to come check out your client’s super cute event.

Not that I’ve been hung up on before.

This is before the exhaustion from the grind, before you’re drowning in details, before the reality of the “real world” sets in.  Sometimes, dreaming about being a grown-up is a hell of a lot more fun than being one.

I think that enthusiastic people are more successful.  They get pumped up, they show up, they try harder.  Sometimes, it’s a lot more appetizing to be a Debbie or a Nancy and gather around the water cooler and whine.  It’s harder to take a step back, take a look at the big picture, and take a stab at remembering how much/why you love what you do.

But like I said, enthusiastic people try harder.

I’m Employed!

That’s right!  I have real life, full-time, post graduation, big kid PR job.  I start today as an account coordinator for Kel & Partners, a web 2.0 marketing and public relations agency.  I’m proud that all of the internships, extracurriculars, blogging and networking has finally paid off.  I’m very grateful for this opportunity.

However, the purpose of this post is not to tute my own horn.  Rather, I just want to share some honest advice to all the other 2009 grads out there who are looking for jobs.  I’m no expert, but here are some things that worked for me:

1. I didn’t look for jobs, I looked for companies

I’m not a huge fan of job posting websites. Let’s not beat around the bush: I’m talking about Careerbuilder and Monster.  I think these websites tempt people into applying for hundreds of jobs they either don’t really want or aren’t really qualified for.  I think it gives you a false sense of accomplishment and a heightened sense of frustration when you never hear back from these places.

A friend of mine did a corporate communications internship last summer. She was a rock star intern, so they kept her around for the fall.  When she graduated in December, they created a full-time position for her.  However, before she could officially start the job, they had to list the job on a couple of websites for equal opportunity/ legal/ HR purposes.  So even though the job was created for her, they listed it anyway.  I’m sure they received tons of resumes from hopeful candidates who never had a shot…

It wouldn’t be wise to completely disregard job listing websites. There are absolutely “real” jobs listed from legitimate companies. However, I like to think of them more as job search tour guides rather than The Source of open positions.  Use them as a supplement to good old fashioned networking. Check out what companies are (supposedly) hiring on those job boards.  Check out their websites.  Go through your LinkedIn network – are you connected to anyone who works there?  Can you find out if there are any other opportunities at the company that aren’t listed online?  More importantly, what type of company is it?  What do they do, and how do they do it?  Are they deserving of your awesomeness?  It takes a long time to customize your resume and cover letter for each company you send them to.  Do not waste your time writing, editing, nit-picking and re-writing unless you actually want to work there. Your time is worth more than that.  Quality, not quantity, baby.  Quality, not quantity.

2. Informational interviews!!!!

My original contact with my company was through an informational phone interview back in February.  When you are just approaching a company asking to have a casual, informative conversation, you aren’t putting the potential employer on the spot.  You’re basically just two people, talking shop.  The advice I got from these interviews was extremely influential.  The feedback was incredibly helpful.  I think informational interviews are the new pink.

3. I kept my chin up

Unemployment is the worst. It feels like failure.  It feels inadequate, lazy, hopeless, boring – and most of all, like you are not in control of your destiny. (And I really really really hate that.)

Personally, I’ve ignored a lot of news since January, when economic things really started to go to hell. Whenever the news reporters started talking about lay-offs or stock markets or bailouts, I turned the channel and watched something happy and frivilous.  (My top recommendations include What Not to Wear, the Bachelor/Bachelorette, Flight of the Conchords and Bridezillas.)

Although being informed is important, I think having a positive attitude during the job search is much much more important.  Ignorance is bliss.  Dwelling on the thousands of workers who got laid off at a company a million states away from you in an industry that has nothing to do with you won’t motivate you to hunt for a job.  It’ll give you an excuse to mope around in your jammies and feel sorry for yourself that you graduated at such a difficult time.  That kind of information will intimidate you from trying.  You need to surround yourself with positive information.  Spite the recession like he’s your ex and keep trying.  You have to keep trying.  You owe it to yourself to keep trying.

Seriously, turn the channel, and look at every action you take toward getting a job as an accomplishment.

I hope that somewhere there is someone who will be a little inspired by this.  I’m very excited to start my professional career, and I will continue to blog about public relations and social media at this website.  In addition, I have a strong interest in career development so I may ponder that topic from time to time. (If you want to learn about career advice from someone who really knows what she’s talking about – read Heather Huhman’s column on Examiner.com.)

Last but not least, I just wanted to give a shout out to my parents, my brother, my best friends, and my adorable boyfriend – all who supported me through this journey.  Job or no job, cash-money or broke, you people love me for me and I cherish our relationships.

A Degree Isn’t a Job Guarantee

This NY Post article has me razzled.  A 27-year-old graduate of Monroe College is suing her alma mater because she can’t find a job.  I’m sorry, Gradzilla, but a career services counselor isn’t your Fairy Godmother and a bachelor’s degree isn’t a magic wand.  Just because you went to college does not mean you are entitled to a job.

From a young age we are told that if we go to school, study hard, get good grades, and go to a great college, we can be anything we want to be.  Politicians and some well-meaning yet self-preserving educators alike pound the inflated-importance of college into our heads.

This message has a negative impact on just about every student.  The truth is that college is overrated.  Not every student can graduate in the top ten and get into a really “good school.”  Consequently, those students feel discouraged about the prospects of future success just because of their academic track records.  On the flip-side, those who do get the grades and get into “good schools” can’t rely only on their education to get ahead.   College isn’t the golden ticket to success.  It is a stepping stone.

Here’s my story:  I went to school.  I studied hard. But no matter how hard I tried, I sucked at math and sucked at science.  I’m not sure which one I sucked more at.  I clearly remember third grade, little Janet, scoring less than 50 percent on some addition/subtraction homework and sitting there wondering what the eff was going on when the teacher rambled about tadpoles and ecosystems.  Honestly, I still suck at math and I still suck at science; I always need a calculator to figure out what to tip and quite frankly I don’t always understand what they are talking about on the Weather Channel.  (So I smile and nod, flip my hair, and blog about it.)

No writing award or A in English or history class could overcompensate for the less-than-stellar grades I got in math and science.  My GPA was around a 90 percent.  It was decent, but wasn’t awesome enough to get me into my dream school.  In high school, I was surrounded by the idea that failing to get into *the* college (an ivy league or something close to it) was a self-imposed life-sentence to mediocrity.  Heading to your safety school?  Get ready for a lifetime living at home with mom and dad. Scored less than a 1500 on the SAT? You might as well sign up for welfare.

In contrast, many kids succeed academically.  Some have to work extremely hard at it.  For others, it comes quite easily.  Either way, we throw them up on a pedestal, toss academic awards their way, accept them into prestigious colleges, and fill their heads with a false sense of security.

Millenials are all-too-often criticized for their supposed sense of entitlement.  I think the alleged “you owe me” factor stems from a lifetime of homework, standardized testing, over-nighters and intense pressure to scholastically achieve – all leading to the allusive light at the end of the tunnel: graduation. Students come out of college, pockets empty, heads full of theoretical facts and knowledge, slapped in the face with the fact that getting good grades and getting a good degree from a “good school” just isn’t enough.  Everything you ever worked for doesn’t cut it.  That’s not entitlement you sense.  It’s disappointment.

To peel back another layer of the issue, I think there’s a point to make about the financials behind the frustration.  Many internships are unpaid.  Extracurricular involvement is unpaid. Membership in professional organizations and attendance at networking conferences usually costs money.  Personally, I was able to do multiple unpaid internships and be an extracurricular junkie because I got a lot of financial help from my wonderful parents.  They’re generous, and career-wise they are in a position to help.  But what about the students who are paying for college on their own?  Many students work full-time just to pay for the education.  How do they fit in anything other than class work?

I feel for students like this.  As for those in this situation, in my humble opinion, I would suggest going part time and taking an extra year or two to finish the degree.  Even if it takes longer, it seems to me that it would be a much wiser investment to come out with a degree and have the time to work, intern, and network – as opposed to rushing through and graduating with no industry experience at all.

Times are different for graduates these days.  A degree doesn’t give you an extra edge in the job market when just about everybody has one.  You need internships.  You need real world experience.  You need to network.  No one will hire you (legally) to write a term paper.  You need to gain skills that will apply in a setting outside of the classroom so that you can contribute something a company can pay you for.

When it comes to college, the old saying is true: It isn’t where you go – it’s what you do with it.

College is a business.  Businesses want to make money.  To make money, businesses market themselves to you to sell you a product or service.  Colleges want you to pay tuition, so they sell you degrees.  To get you to attend and pay tuition, they market their brand to you.  They brand themselves with promises of prestige, job placement, mentorship, challenge, fun, experiences, status, and success.  And you know what?  College can be fun, but you can’t have fun if you don’t go to the party.  College can be challenging, but you can’t be challenged if you don’t go to class.  College can offer status, but you can’t earn status if you don’t network with the alums. College can offer prestige, but that means nothing if you don’t leverage that reputation and apply for a job or an internship.

I’m a fresh graduate, and hindsight is 20/20.  What I know and feel about education becomes clearer every day.  By this time next year, I’m sure that my understanding and appreciation for education will change, and deepen.  But what I know for sure is this: I wouldn’t give back a single night that I cried over my math homework or a single sunny afternoon I spent after school getting extra help from my chemistry teacher.  It taught me that things don’t always come easily.  Because of my issues and inabilities with math and science, I’ve always expected that I would have to go the extra mile to get what I want – so I do.  It prepared me for the challenge, and sometimes failure, of searching for internships and jobs.  In the end, I don’t think I needed my dream school.

Trending Topic: PR Internships for 2009 Grads

Just about all the senior PR college students have graduated by now, most of whom have officially started their job searches.  Finding that first PR job is always a challenge, but in case you couldn’t guess, it’s even harder now.  (Chin up: There are jobs out there.) Over the past month, there’s been a small crop of my now-graduated friends taking PR internships at agencies, non-profits and other companies.

I say, do it.

I accepted my post-graduation internship back in March.  While I was overwhelmed with enthusiasm, some people’s reactions didn’t necessarily reflect my excitement. When you’re a sophomore and you accept your first internship, people are genuinely excited for you.  It’s baby’s first internship.  It’s adorable.  When you’re a senior and you accept your sixth internship, some people genuinely think that you’re crazy.  You have a college degree. Get a real job, already.

I just wanted to write an encouraging post to anyone looking for an entry level PR job and contemplating taking an internship.  Interning is not giving up on the job search – it’s giving you some more time for your job search.  At an internship, you’re gaining experience, staying relevant, and learning, learning, learning.  You’ll build your portfolio with new, better  work.  (Let’s face it – the stellar stuff you write now as a big bad college grad is better than those crap press releases you threw together for Intro to Public Relations class when you were a freshman.) You’re expanding your network. You’re showing ambition and a sincere interest in pursuing this career.  You’re staying in the PR game.

I think it sounds like a decent plan.

(You can do it!)

-Janet

~*I graduated!*~ (I graduated?) …Omg. I graduated…

i graduated

Heather and Janet! (That's @hbourgeois to you.)

Yep, I did it!  My life has been very fun/hectic the past four years and I’m so excited to take that next step.  For a quick recap, the past four years include:

-Three colleges

-Three majors

-Six different roommates

-Three different apartments

-Five internships

-Eight jobs

-”A lot” of coffee, energy drinks, and gum

-Zero regrets ;)

Graduating feels like I just jumped off a cliff into this infinite layer of the stratosphere known as adulthood.  In college, your life changes a lot each semester (I like that) but at the same time you know what to expect.  For me, each semester I had a new set of classes, a new internship, maybe a new apartment or another fresh thing to get used to.  But after a while, you get used to getting used to things and you welcome change with open arms.  You know those changes are just a matter of getting used to the professor, finding the classroom, getting to know your boss, etc. But now, I’m getting a whole new life and I pretty much have no idea what to expect.

In the end, I think that my whirlwind college life of extracurriculars, internships, restaurant jobs, studying, and all-too occasional partying felt safe.  It kept me in this little cycle of academic mayhem–churning churning churning–and now I’ve just been spit out into the unknown.  Don’t get me wrong: I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer.  I’m just a wee bit frightened.  But never fear–I’m equal parts “freaked out” and “totally pumped” about the unknown.

In two weeks I’m moving to Boston and I don’t start my internship until June 29.  I will spend the next month nesting an adorable two-bedroom apartment in Coolidge Corner, splitting the rent (an amount that lots of Upstate New Yorkers pay for mortgages) with my lovely best friend and her wonderful engi-nerd boyfriend.  Between getting lost on the T and playing Rockband with the roomies I will be busting my butt at some restaurant somewhere in Boston hopefully–as all servers dream–making bank.

It will be a full month of the unknown.  I’m nobody’s intern.  I’m not a student.  I’m not director or president or editor of any student-run club or paper or thing.  I’m just me, and it’s going to be the first time since…well, like eighth grade that I have the time to embrace that.

I want to enjoy a couple of simple things that have nothing to do with my resume.  I want to run along the Charles River, window shop in the Back Bay, and discover which place has my favorite New England Clam Chowder.  For a short while, I want to focus on two or three things instead of seven.  I want to regain my creative energy so when it comes time to put on the PR hat I can really kick some butt.

I can already feel it beginning.  The fear hasn’t disappeared, but the enthusiasm is building.  I don’t know every second of what the future holds, but I’m ready to start that journey.

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Graduation Love Letters

Susan:

You’re a new friend, but I just wanted to say that I am really proud of you for graduating MCC.  You will get to New York.  I believe in you and am amazed by your tenacity.  I want to write a book about your life story one day because you are seriously that interesting/courageous.  Oh! Oh. Oh. Oh. And we WILL get out of the freaking restaurant.  We’re almost there.

Heather:

I still remember our “first date.”  We went to a Mary Kay meeting. You came to pick me up and you were wearing a black pencil skirt, a long necklace with a big, chunky charm and a pair of black sling-back high heels.  We got into your Rav 4 (with the freaking Yankees crap all over it.)  You slide on some big black sunglasses, I took one look up at the Juicy Couture air freshener and then one look down at my Old Navy flip-flops and thought: Damn, this Heather girl has style.

heather-and-janet-1

I think it is only fitting that you are pursuing a job that will be a constant creative outlet, a daily canvas for the expression of your remarkable style.  It is very exciting to see your passion and talent for interior design and I’m filled with pride knowing you are following your heart and going for that dream.  You have balls.  You aren’t taking the practical or safe or traditional route—you’re doing what you love and I admire that.

heather-3

We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs re: jobs, boys, colleges (okay, just me haha), money (not enough of it), roommates (too many of them) etc.  I’m really happy that we’ve preserved our friendship.  I’m going to miss our girly stuff!  All the Starbucks, nail painting, magazine flipping (shhh I would never buy a wedding magazine) and marathon sessions of The Hills, Sex and the City, and Hugh Grant movies.  I’m really really really really going to miss you.

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But for the record: Even though you hate the Red Sox, seafood and colonial architecture—you are always more than welcome to come visit in Boston.  Because after all “seasons change, and so do cities. People come into your life and people go. But it’s comforting to know the ones you love are always in your heart. And if you’re very lucky, a plane ride away.” ;)

I love you.  Congratulations!

Heather (Buttercup):

You are unprecedented. You are: loyal, kind, genuine, funny, talented, bright, adorable, fabulously domestic, and probably the best listener I’ve ever met.  You “get” me.  You give me honest feedback and guide me.  You have supported me through the rough stuff—the  misdirection, workaholism, hopeless romanticism, and stress—as well as girl-talked, walked, cooked, crafted, and smiled with me through some of the best times of college. Thank you.  Most of all, I have to say that my cheeks literally hurt every time we hang out from laughing so much.  We are just a hilarious little bunch.

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I’m so happy that you got into Emerson.  I’m happy that you will have the opportunity to continue to learn and expand on the skillset you already developed during undergrad.  I hope that this brings you intellectual fulfillment as well as that allusive publishing job.  Here’s the plan: I’ll write that manuscript, you’ll publish it, we’ll be millionaires and decorate our houses in Pottery Barn.  We’ll be like Oprah and Gail.  Only…white?

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buttercup-2

Let’s talk about the unbelievable experience that was The Gleaner.  I remember making this desperate phone call to you in June right after sophomore year and being all, “I can’t do this on my own!  Be my Co-Editor!!!”  Behold, one of my many freak-outs that you would solve.  In its own way of not working out, it worked out.  We learned.  We grew.  We became best friends.  We won.

Sleepy interns haha

Sleepy interns haha

The way I see my life is this: Three months right now at this moment I could be on a porch somewhere in Boston, grilling tofu dogs and cracking open a bottle of Smirnoff Ice with my Heather.  Five years from now at this moment I could be in a lovely J. Crew bridesmaid dress, with the deliciously smelling white peonies in my hand.  Ten years from now at this moment I could be strolling along some beach in Maine with you and a little cavalier king charles spaniel, telling you how cute your first born is—but still stubbornly insisting that you should’ve named her Janet.

I cannot wait for Boston and I’m so excited to start this incredible chapter of our lives.  I can’t believe this is really happening!  You are one of my favorite people I’ve ever met and every day I’m grateful for your friendship.

Congratulations!

Amanda:

Remember when you were always there to explain chemistry class to me junior year? Remember when we got lost on our way to the SAT and ended up at the freaking Basilica?  Remember The Voice?  ACN?  Your big fluffy green cupcake dress at prom?

janet-and-amanda-prom

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Remember how we used to talk about going to job interviews in Victoria’s Secret suits? Remember taking that really long romantical walk on the beach in Kiawah and talking about how we were gonna dress our babies in Gap and take them to the beach when we grow up?

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Remember (or don’t remember) Cancun?

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Class of '09: America's Future. Joke's on us.

Class of '09: America's Future. Joke's on us.

kisses

You mean the world to me.  We’ve been through tons of ups and downs, and I’m so happy we’ve remained friends throughout college, ever since our days kicking it in School House Rock during middle school.  You’re the closest thing I’ve had to a sister and I love you.  I think it’s charming that you can call me from college and ask me what you should wear for a date and we talk about all the stuff in your closet and I actually know what shirts and what shoes you are talking about because let’s face it, I’ve probably borrowed them at one point.

Timeless.

Timeless.

The last four years have been nuts.  Between the two of us, I estimate that we’ve had:

-Five colleges (Mostly my contribution)

-Six majors

-Twenty different roommates

-900 bottles of vino (Mostly your contribution, Miss Italy)

-23,309,293 conversations relating our lives to Sex and the City

So this is my little graduation note.  I wanted to publicly proclaim how much I love you and let you know how proud I am of you.  Keep following your passion for philosophy.  You think too much – it’s meant for you! Your life has more meaning because you take the time to find the meaning.

new-years-hot

Keep thinking. Think hard about what you have accomplished, what you have studied, and how you can use that in your career.  I believe you have a direction with your knowledge that you and I haven’t even identified yet.  But a direction is there, I promise.  Keep thinking.  Live your way into the answers.  The answer is in you.  Find it.

I believe in you.

Congratulations!

PS: Get your sweet self back to Boston.

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Are You In The Weeds?

I like talking about my job as a waitress, not necessarily because I like it, but because I’ve learned so much from it.  We have this phrase in the restaurant world to describe really chaotic, stressful situations in which you just can’t handle doing anything else.  The phrase = “in the weeds.”  I liken this phrase to finals week, or the week before finals week, when every day you have a paper or a test and you feel like you are just going to explode.  As an expert college student, i.e. graduating senior, I’d like to offer my advice about being in the weeds via some restaurant symbolism.

So, if you are in the weeds:

1. Get into survival mood.

Stop for a second.  Assess the situation and prioritize.  What absolutely has to get done this second?  Focus on the most urgent of tasks.  Don’t distract yourself from writing the paper that is due tomorrow by stressing out over the final next week.  Focus. Focus. Focus.

2. Get some help from friends.

If you were in a restaurant, you’d have someone bring your fifth table bread or crayons or beer or something.  If you’re in college, you have someone listen to you whine about lazy group project members, proof-read your papers, help you with your research, or grab a beer with you or something.

Happy Finals Week!

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The Facebook Follies

I’ve been wanting to write about Facebook and the job search for a while now, but I wanted to take an angle that wasn’t completely about my personal experience and wasn’t just rehashing the issues other people have so eloquently written about.  Here’s a quick recap of what other bloggers and reporters have said:

This is all great stuff, and I wanted to jump a little further into the topic and ask the numero uno question at stake.

facebook-wall

The article “Employers: Get Outta my Facebook” in Business Week takes that first point to task and dissects the pros and cons of the topic.  Is it an invasion of privacy when companies look at Facebook?  The one side says that Facebook isn’t private.  Even if you say that what you do in your personal life is your personal business, it becomes public business when you post on Facebook.  Therefore, it’s fair game for HR. The opposing viewpoint suggests that Facebook profiles aren’t resumes, and that what people do in their personal time is irrelevant for most jobs.

I think the struggle for college kids is that when a lot of us started Facebook it was something just for students.  We posted whatever we wanted and didn’t imagine there would be future implications with the job process.  The grown-ups weren’t on there yet.  For some, it was like a digital bookmark for college debauchery.

Now your dad has Facebook.  Your professors have Facebook.  Your prospective employer has Facebook.  A transition needs to take place.

De-tag all you want, but know that somewhere out there in the infinite “social utility” abyss are those pictures from that night.

The topic of privacy and Facebook is an interesting one.  If your profile is public, then what you post there is well, public.  I would argue that if your profile is public and you list your company on your profile, then the personal stuff you post there is relevant to your job.  Say you have a bunch of pictures tagged of you at a strip club – then have it listed that you are an Account Executive at (insert your favorite PR agency here) on the work section of your profile.  In that case, you are representing the company in a public environment.  If you are looking for a job, a hiring manager may be valid in wondering: If this is how she represents her current employer, how will she represent us?

So put your profile to private, list your company, and keep whatever information you want on there because it’s your private space for you and your friends to connect.  The current limit for Facebook friends is 5,000.  Sure, it’s just between you and your friends – but you and your 5,000 friends?  At which point is your personal network large enough to be considered public?

With so much talk about the negative implications of Facebook, I feel us getting paranoid.  I see people listing only their first and middle names on their profiles so that possible employers can’t search for them.  I see people creating separate accounts for their personal and professional lives.  People leave all the information blank on their profiles because they don’t want to express an opinion that might not line up with the viewpoint of a prospective employer.  We’re having an identity crisis.  Who is the professional, public me?  Who is the personal, private me?  Who is my Facebook, and should that be public or private?

facebook-screenshot-privacy

We forget that Facebook is there for us to connect with friends new and old.  We can’t connect with each other if we don’t share anything about ourselves. You should be proud of who you’ve become and share that with your Facebook friends.  You probably have cool hobbies, great friends, a nice family, a cool job, ect.  Share it!  Social media didn’t get to be this huge because everybody put the proverbial whitewash on all their accounts.  It’s because people talked about stuff and posted photos of stuff and poked each other that these websites grew and grew and grew.  I say let’s be smart about what we share and we can all have fun with Facebook again and stop worrying about what someone we haven’t even met yet is going to think of us or how the new layout looks like Twitter.

There is a difference between sharing and over-sharing.  Sharing is a picture of you sitting at a bar with a drink in your hand. Over-sharing is a picture of you blacked-out and slumped over a toilet.

The answer to the numero uno question at stake: Regardless of whether hiring managers should look at your Facebook – they do. It’s better to disagree with it if you do and keep your profile private and your postings within reason than to stubbornly hold on to the albums of your drunken escapades and lose out on a job because of it.  Be pro-active about maintaining your profile.  I’m no Facebook expert, just a job-seeker who feels like she found the right blend of personality/”wouldn’t panic if a future employer saw this” in my own profile.  Here’s my take:

  • Use friends lists. Facebook lets you customize which friends get to see which content with friends lists.  Check under the Friends tab.
  • Post your own pictures.  If you are always relying on your friends to tag you in things, you are playing defense because you have to de-tag yourself  from anything you don’t want on your profile – like fat pictures.
  • Be who you are, just be smart about presenting it.
  • Take the driver’s seat with your online reputation.

It was a long one!  I hope this sparks some conversation.  The comments are yours.  As always, feel free to disagree (or agree) and thank you for reading.

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Work Experience on a Resume (response post)

So I tweeted about my earlier post (right below this one) and got some great feedback from @heatherhuhman, @davidbaker09, @amymengel and @alecjr.  General consensus was to leave off work experience and only emphasize the most relevant industry experience.  But at the same time, if something is important to you, you’ve got to be who you are and stick with it.

I really liked @amymengel’s advice of including the part-time work experience as a bullet under education.  So I changed up the resume.  It’s a win/win because it includes that thing that is important to me but it doesn’t distract from the internships.  Thanks for the tip!

Here is the old resume:

[scribd id=13522143 key=key-1wwj4gddb0rpn2uexiiy]

Here is the new resume:

[scribd id=13557938 key=key-2bso3jjgacmv13bulpfm]

I think the new one looks slightly less cluttered.

Thank you so much for the discussion.  I hope other kids read this and get something out of it!

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