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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Work Experience on a Resume

On a recent class trip to NYC, I received some interesting advice about resumes from Bruce Bobbins of Dan Klores Communications.  Speaking to my class about resumes, Bruce said that something he values is an applicant with work experience, someone who shows he/she worked his/her way through college.

This interested me.  By senior year, a lot of people find themselves cramming four years of experience onto one page. (General resume advice for entry-level applicants is to keep it to one page. Let me know if you feel differently.)  I’ve been told before to delete my waitressing work experience from my resume and to only highlight my most relevant public relations/marketing/journalism experience.  His advice kind of contradicts that input – but honestly, I like his take better.

I’ve been doing the restaurant thing (more on than off) since I was sixteen.  If my resume tells a story, this is most certainly an interesting/funny chapter.  I feel like my resume is a conversation piece, a list of points that can be elaborated on in an interview.  I’m always happy to elaborate about the personal growth I’ve experienced from being a server.  After all, the restaurant and my customers were my inspiration for my first blog, Gratuity.  Work experience on a resume shows that you have a solid work ethic, something that some people think is lost in my generation.  No, being a server isn’t public relations, but you are definitely dealing with the public.  Learning to deal with difficult people in a professional manner, learning to show up on time, learning to multitask four tables on a crazy Saturday night, learning to play nice with your co-workers  – I think it’s great stuff worth mentioning on a resume.  Serving has made me a more confident, cool-headed and articulate person.  Although these qualities are less tangible than the writing skills shown by my press releases in my portfolio, these qualities will definitely help me in my career and my life.  I think that if you also take the time to reflect on your college gig, you’ll find that it not only gave you beer money and paid the electric – but it helped you grow up.

So whether you’re serving chicken parmesan in an Oxford shirt, folding shirts at Old Navy, delivering pizza for Domino’s or making lattes at Starbucks – I say, mention it on a resume if you’re able to talk about what you’ve learned from your experience and how it makes you a better candidate for the job.

On my way…

I’m moving to Boston in June for an internship at SHIFT Communications. (Thank you!) I’m really happy. The end beginning.

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The Secret to Multi-Tasking for Extracurricular Junkies

It’s the end of spring break for me, and I’m a little terrified of heading back to school for the home stretch.  As usual, I’m doing too much.  These days, whenever somebody asks me to describe myself, I find that I often start with “well, I’m busy.”

Stuff I do this semester:

  • Internship (three days/week)
  • Waitress (three days/week)
  • School (three days/week)
  • PRIMA Connections, student run firm (basically two days/week, but I send emails every day)
  • Other (look for jobs/internships, blog, workout, social life?, sleep?, laundry?)

You guys know the drill.  College gets crazy like that sometimes, but I’m trying to enjoy it while it lasts and avoid “Crazy Janet Mode” which involves old habits like losing keys, leaving car lights on, losing cell phones, spilling coffee, frizzy hair, studdering, and stress zits.  That’s why I think it’s important to get involved and learn to balance a busy schedule during school.  You have to learn to keep your wits about you when you’re under pressure.  That way, when you are suddenly thrown into the reality of working full-time, it isn’t a shock when you no longer get a daily afternoon nap.

Nevertheless, being an extracurricular junkie can be overwhelming and it requires a mastery of multi-tasking.  Still to date, the best perspective I ever got on multi-tasking came from my Media Writing professor Candace Perkins Bowen at Kent State.  She often talked about her Theory of Rotational Neglect and I still think it’s pure genius.

The theory is this: You can’t get it all done.  There aren’t enough hours in a day.  You won’t completely cross-off your To Do list.  But that’s fine, because it isn’t about getting to the bottom of the list.  It’s about setting priorities and taking care of the most urgent tasks.  You have to sort of surrender to the fact that each day, something won’t get done–it will be neglected.  But as long as it isn’t the same thing that gets neglected over and over and over again, it will get accomplished.  The thing you choose to “put off until tomorrow” has to change each day.  Hence, the neglected piece has to rotate.  In this way, everything will even itself out.  You will be okay.

She was one of my favorite professors.

Until next time (a digital Post-It to myself),

You only live once. Keep the important stuff (family, friends, fun) in your rotation for the rest of the semester.


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Millenials and Recessions

My new buddy Alexa Scordato inspired me to write this post. In response to some articles that question if Gen Y can take the heat of the recession, I, along with other Millenial cheerleaders, are happy to testify that we can do it.

Four years ago around this time, I was filing all the official college paperwork to enter my freshman year at Kent State as a newspaper journalism major. A few years later, the potential for job opportunities in public relations (and, I just like it better) steered me away from journalism (and to the alleged “dark side.”) Turns out, the joke is on me as the recession is this season’s latest trend. Newspaper journalism is in a free fall, but there aren’t so many PR jobs either.

Class of 2009: Are we going to throw off our graduation caps, put on some McDonald’s headsets and just wish and dream our way to jobs in our fields?

Not me. I’m taking that McCafe to go and hopefully heading to another internship. Personally, I’m surfing the tumultuous waters of the recession on a wave of arguably delusional optimism. If I get a paid internship I’m taking it. I’ll do whatever: I’ll water plants, make coffee, bartend on the weekends. I don’t care – just give me the chance to show you my talent so that when a need for an account coordinator comes up I’m the first one that comes to mind.

The nice thing about recessions and graduating is that it really puts things in perspective.

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

I would work in PR in Boston. I’m going very much out of my way to achieve that goal. (And I will.) Infamously analytical, legendary for second-guessing, the recession has helped clarify what I now know for certain. Without a shadow of a doubt in my mind, I know this is what I want. I’m fighting for it.

I could bide my time in grad school. I could go back to college and get a degree in one of those recession-proof industries.

Remember when you were a little kid and you were sick and your mom tried to spoon-feed you some really nasty-tasting purple cough medicine and you just sorta scrunched up your face all ugly and such and screamed, “I DON’T WANNA!!”

Well…I don’t wanna.

So to all those who wonder if millenials are up to the challenge, I believe this post echos a (hypothetical) resounding “Hell yea” shouted from intern desks, dorm rooms, libraries, frat parties, dive bars, coffee houses, and filthy, low-rent, off-campus studio apartments nationwide. Sue us for wearing flip flops and having parents (and step-parents) who always told us how special we are. I swear on every participation award I ever got that Gen Y is full of tenacity. Yea. Some of us are incompetent, lazy bums. But I’ll bet you know a couple of incompetent, lazy Baby Boomers and a couple of incompetent, lazy Gen X-ers. Inaction and unreliability aren’t generational things.

You shouldn’t feel resentful or accusatory toward younger generations who have always had technology and scientific advancement to help them. With all of the advancement of the future, the children of Gen Y will have it even easier than us. Who knows? Maybe they’ll have a cure for cancer, or a flying car—or something daringly outrageous, like a stable economy.

Our kids, like every generation before them, will also face challenges. But I know my generation will set an example that inspires them to face adversity with faith and pro-activity. To Gen X and the Baby Boomers I say to trust that you have coached, taught, mentored, and raised us well. (You have!) And if by chance we reach a situation you didn’t prepare us for? Well, you told us we were special, that we could do anything. You gave us the freedom to think for ourselves. We can fill in the blanks.

We look up to you, but don’t look down on us. Believe in us.

Until next time,

Do the Helen Keller and talk with your hips blog. If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands blog. Just dance blog.


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Networking in Boston

A few weeks ago, Jason Falls wrote a blog post about why social media won’t help you find a job during a recession.  The basic sentiment is to use Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. but “know and understand that all the on-line, behind-the-computer, cyber connections in the world don’t beat a hand shake, a smile and a chat.”

So last week, I kicked it old school and met up with some PR and marketing people—(gasp!) in the flesh—during a one-day whirlwind of a trip in Boston.  I had three interviews, two of them informational and one for an internship.  I wasn’t all that shocked to learn that there were hiring freezes and no positions open for me.  However, and this could just be ego, but it feels really great/comforting to hear someone who has a job you want tell you that you’re doing the right stuff to get there.  I didn’t leave with a job (and I didn’t expect to) but I left with many more connections and information that will help me get one.  And recession be damned, I’m getting one.


  • “Twitter levels out the networking playing field.” My new friend Rebecca (@repcor) said it best.  It gives you direct access to people who work at, own, or know people who work at the companies you want to work for. Because of my connection to her and Justin Levy (@justinlevy) I got to watch a taping of Hubspot TV, take a little tour of the office, and chat with Mike Volpe (@mvolpe) about a social media paper I’m writing in school.  Connections connections connections.
  • I wrote a blog post about my trip, and a few days later I got a lovely email from Alexa Scordato (@Alexa) inviting me to a girls night with her friends.  So I ended up having a lovely dinner with Alexa, Rebecca, Maria Thurrell (@MaThuRRell) and Nidhi Makhija (@kaex88).  We even got a surprise visit from Todd Van Hoosear (@Vanhoosear).

I’m not trying to name drop, just giving credit where credit is due.  Everyone was so sweet and welcoming to me.  If I wasn’t convinced that Boston was the place for me before, the generosity of everyone I met really made me fall for Beantown and showed me exactly what that city has to offer.

I don’t think I will get a job directly from social media in that I’m not expecting someone to randomly Facebook message me one day and be all, “Hey, want to be an account coordinator?”  But in my case, I think it is really valuable to use it to make out-of-town connections, and I actually believe I will get a job from one of those.  I think if you plan to stay in the area you went to college in, it’s easier to make those connections the “old way” through PRSSA or AMA conferences and you may not have to rely on the internet so much.  But even in that case, following the local pros on Twitter couldn’t hurt.

Everyone tells me that “networking” is so important in job searching, but not that many people explain specifically what that means.  I hope my experience helps do exactly that: explain specifically what “networking” means.  It’s basically just talking to people who have jobs you are interested in having, talking to influencers they talk to, asking LOTS of questions, being gracious, being friendly, and building relationships.  I recently said that diplomas aren’t magic wands, and Twitter isn’t a magic wand, either.  If you click the mouse and follow someone it isn’t like ABRACADABRA (poof!) you’re hired.  But if you DM them, email them, meet them and offer a firm handshake and a nice chat—then maybe they can direct you to a friend who has a friend who has a job for you.

In conclusion, I just want to sincerely thank everyone who took the time to meet (or chat on the phone with me).  I didn’t mention everyone because I wasn’t sure if it’d be weird to publicly write the name of your company and put down that I had an interview there, but I really appreciate your advice and your time.  Check your mail. 😉

Until next time:

Make friends.  Just keep swimming.  Don’t stop believing.


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Do college grades matter?

Update December 2012: I wrote this 4 years ago when I was a senior in college. Wow, I feel old. 🙂 My perspective now: I ended up graduating with a really good GPA. But it really didn’t end up mattering. I’m not going to grad school. I’m glad I focused on internships and had practical experience. I really really wish I had gone out and done something pointless and fun whatever Friday night I stayed in and wrote this post.

“To all the C-students, I say, you too can be president of the United States.” – George W. Bush

It’s Friday night in Rochester. Blizzard winds whip past my window. I sit with my laptop laboring away on my senior seminar paper(s) – yes, we have to write two each week. As I contemplate the relevance of the two-step flow and the diffusion of innovations theories in the measurement of social media PR, my thoughts wander:

  1. Why am I home on a Friday? Wow, I’m cool.
  2. I’d rather just research this to learn about my industry – not to write this stupid paper according to stupid rules so I can get a stupid good grade so I can have a stupid good GPA.
  3. I want a job.
  4. Do employers care about my stupid good GPA?
  5. Do college grades matter?

Obviously, if you want to go to grad school, your college grades matter. So knock yourself out and study. What if you don’t see yourself in grad school? My immediate goal is to get hired.

Typical resume advice about GPA’s suggests that if it’s above a 3.0, write it down because it’s a selling point. (So to be on the safe side, I keep mine on my resume because it’s decent. And yes, good grades helped me transfer with ease and kept the parents happy. In some ways the grades were worth it.)

However, let’s assume for a second that everyone applying at least mediocore effort in his/her communications degree can pull off a 3.0. That’s even allowing some wiggle room for a C or two, depending on how many credits you take. What I’m wondering about is that gap between the 3.0 and 4.0 student. As any dean’s lister will tell you, it takes a hell of a lot more effort to crank out a bunch of A’s than to settle for C’s. (And yes, sometimes you bust your butt and still end up with a C. I digress.) If you’re interning, if you’re building the portfolio, if you’re networking, if you’re involved with extracurriculars, if you’re already over-achieving– is it really worth the lack of sleep to put in the extra effort for that GPA? Or should I just be partying?

Say Student A and Student B both apply for the same, allusive, entry-level PR job. Both have multiple internships, both are PRSSA Chapter Presidents, both have killer portfolios. Both can barely fit four years of experience on a one-page resume. Student A has a 3.0 and Student B has a 4.0. Who gets the job?

Well let’s say this job is at a super edgy, unconventional type of agency that is “too cool for neckties.” The Students are being interviewed by an HR director with a trampstamp and a senior account executive who listens to A Perfect Circle. Student A is kind of up-tight. You know those kids who try to look and act older than they are? Yeah. He’s wearing this hideous tweed sportcoat that doesn’t match the navy blue oxford shirt underneath. He’s distant, doesn’t really smile, and has one of those “dead-fish” handshakes.

In contrast, Student B learns the name of the receptionist and says hi to the lady watering the plants on her way into the interview. Student B is respectful, but chill. She genuinely laughs when the SAE makes a joke about Facebook poking, wheras Student A does this awkward courtesy chuckle and then goes into some random, arrogant schpeal about how he single-handedly organized a 50-student Facebook protest on the day the news feeds were released.

Student B gets hired – not because of the GPA, but because she is quite simply a better fit for the company culture. My point: I’ve heard it argued that in a close-call situation like this, the kid with the better GPA would “win.” It’s the supposed tie-breaker. I’m starting to think otherwise. Looking back on internships I’ve gotten and the ones I haven’t, I think my GPA had nothing to do with it. When it came down to the interview, the successful interviews seemed like a conversation between friends or a really great first date. (And as for the unsuccessful…those seemed like interrogations from the CIA.) People have asked me about extracurriculars, experience, why I chose PR, why I’m interested in their company. Perhaps it will be the same when I interview for jobs. No one has asked about my GPA. I’m starting to wonder if maybe, they never will.

So I’m writing this paper for me, and the grades will fall where they may. And next Friday, I’m going out. Because as Tom Petty once said: “The work never ends, but college does.”

Feel free to disagree (or agree) with me. The comments are yours.

Job Hopping and College Jumping: Advice from the Transfer Queen

Not to turn this entire blog into a big Penelope Trunk love-fest (I mentioned her in my last post—dazzle me senseless and maybe I’ll write about you next week) but the lovely Ms. Trunk’s advice about job hopping has inspired a post that I’ve wanted to write for a while now.

I interpret the job hopping concept to mean that you leave when the learning curve flattens, when you’re no longer challenging yourself, when you’ve reached the proverbial dead-end. (No, you don’t get a new job ever month because you had a bad day or got in a fight with your boss – don’t be ridiculous) I’d like to extend this concept to justifying the act of transferring colleges, something that I’ve done twice.

I begin by sharing an obnoxious photo spread of me with my most prized possession, my rejection letter from the SI Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University.


This little slip of paper typifies the moment, the turning point, the blessing in disguise that spearheaded my journey to three colleges in four years. I cherish this journey. Because I took the opportunity to question where I was and what I was doing, I discovered where I want to be and what I want to do.

My biography explains my travels so I will try not to bore you with repetitive details. Basically, instead of going to Syracuse (couldn’t imagine paying all that money if I didn’t get into the program I wanted to be in) I went to my “safety school,” Kent State, and majored in newspaper journalism. I had great friends, but I found myself disenchanted with journalism and completely miserable. Anxious for a change, I landed at Nazareth as a political science major with my focus set on law school. After a semester, I realized I hated that and sort of went back by changing my major to communications and rhetoric. However, the theoretically-based, literature-heavy program wasn’t right for me, either. I knew I wanted to do something in that field – possibly broadcast journalism or public relations – but didn’t feel I wasn’t getting the experiences I needed to get a job in either area. Consequently, I transferred down the street to the rival school, St. John Fisher. Ever since, I’ve been inundated with and wholeheartedly loving the comm program here.

Haha college merch
Haha college merch

Realizing you don’t like something (a major, a career) is just as valulable as realizing you love it. Changing your mind doesn’t make you flake. Most kids encure over $20,000 in student-loan debt trying to get an education. It’s an investment in yourself, in your future. Sure, college is a great time. But what is the ROI? I take the consumer approach to my education, and have constantly questioned what I am getting in return for the money I (along with my unconditionally loving parents, who probably thought I was crazy but supported me anyway) pay and the hard work/passion I put into it.

Are you learning, or are you just biding your time until adulthood? Are you getting what you want out of your education, or are you just comfortable? Are you challenging yourself? If not, I say, transfer.

Good reasons to transfer:

  • If you’re not just being a pessimistic, Debbie-downing slacker and your school doesn’t line up with your aspirations – transfer.
  • If you’re not being challenged, enlightened and fulfilled by your classes – transfer.
  • If you chose a major you love, you know what you want to get out of your education (grad school, a job, etc.) but the program you are in isn’t leading you down that path – transfer.
  • If they don’t have the major you want – transfer.
  • If you aren’t completely applying yourself, if you’re just going through the motions because you feel that no matter what you do it’s all just a big fat waste of time and money – transfer
  • If you have done the homework and know exactly what classes you need to take in order to graduate when you want and you have really thought about this – go ahead and transfer.

Terrible reasons to transfer

  • “My boyfriend/girlfriend goes to that school! I think I’ll transfer.” (Most of those things don’t last forever…)
  • “I don’t like my friends at this school. I don’t fit in. I think I’ll transfer.” (Hang out with different people.)
  • “My grades are bad. I think I’ll transfer.” (Work harder.)
  • “I give up. Screw this place, I’m transferring.” (Have you exausted all of your options? Are you moving forward, or running away? Do you need another school, or do you actually need a semester off to get your life together?)

Other thoughts:

  • Put up with it – a little bit. I’m a slow boil. I don’t just give up and I try to make the best of a situation. But six months later when I’m finally ready to quit – I’m done and I don’t look back. You can, however, hold out for too long. Don’t wait until you are desperate before you make the decision to positively change your life.
  • Do your homework. Know what you are getting into. It’s possible that not all of your credits will transfer. Is what the new school offers great enough that you are willing to study – and pay for – another semester, or year? Be pro-active and stay organized.
  • A diploma isn’t a magic wand. Just because you get a degree at a different school does not mean you (POOF!) magically land a job . At least in my industry, you need internships. Can you internship your way to your goal, or do you still need a different program to satisfy your educational/career interests?
  • You transfer for a lot of reasons – concentrate and act on the right ones. Nazareth works out great for a lot of people and I’m happy for them. But for me, going there was a huge mistake – a colossal screw-up. A FAIL so epic, it was almost a win. I went there for the wrong reasons. My high school friends that went to Naz were so happy. I think I just wanted to be happy, too, so I chose that school over Fisher the first transfer-around. Conversely, going to Fisher was the best decision ever. I went there purely for the educational and extracurricular opportunities. The comm program focuses more on practical application instead of Aristotelean rhetoric and baby, that’s my style. Because I came to Fisher for those reasons, I’ve focused on those things and positioned myself well to reach my goals. Not that you can’t make friends, but if you transfer to a school with your career and education at the forefront of your reasoning, that is what you will put your energy into, and you will make the best use of your investment.

There’s my very unconventional college advice. I hope that made sense!

Until next time,

Question. Reconcile. Remember: Not all who wander are lost.


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Resumes for entry-level peeps who just want a foot in the door

By the time you’re a senior in college, you may find it hard to cram four years of work, extracurricular, and internship experience onto one page. Editing my resume late last, I returned to a blog post from Penelope Trunk that I read a while back. Basically, the message is this: A resume is a story about your accomplishments – not a laundry list of every single thing you’ve ever done. Furthermore, she suggests that you quantify your achievements whenever possible.

It’s hard because oftentimes as an intern, you’re observing, assisting, helping out with, or writing drafts for the overall plan. At least for me, it was hard to look back on my experiences and point out accomplishments that could be measured with numbers.

In my interny-intern way, I asked a former boss to help me. She gave me some general stats about a calendar sale I did a marketing plan for, and therefore helped me complete that line in my resume.

So now I have this new resume in front of me, some great experiences behind me, and a network of awesome mentors by my side helping me along the way. Perhaps they can’t be measured with numbers, but those are achievements that just keep on winning.

Until next time,

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