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!

Add to Technorati Favorites

This One’s For the Fridge: I Wrote a Paper About Twitter

I can’t begin to tell you how incredibly proud my parents must be.  They spent all that money on a big, fancy college education and the culmination of all this knowledge is a 22 page paper about Twitter.

This “twpaper” is about @CoffeeGroundz, a coffee house in Houston, TX that uses Twitter to connect with customers.  I wrote it for my senior seminar class, which is the capstone communications course at my college.  I went through the class kicking and screaming, but I’m happy to say that I learned a lot from this project and found the research to be fascinating. I would like to thank everyone who helped me with this project, especially @coffeegroundz, @keithwolf, @cwelsh, @toadstar, @mikedaniel, @lfarnsworth, @gdruckman and @jgrassman. I was touched by your generosity.

I did a case study that involved a content analysis (stalking) of the @coffeegroundz Twitter traffic and interviews (the email kind) with several customers/Twitter followers.  I originally wanted to do a paper about social media and ROI, but then I realized that #1 it’s Pandora’s box and #2 qualitative research on the topic is more within my time-frame and skill set.  The paper touches on the topic of ROI, but looks at it more in a cause-effect sense and not straight metrics or anything like that.  The first part of the paper has some more general information about how businesses use Twitter, then there’s some heady discussion about theories and previous research, and then the fun part (pg. 12) with the research findings and interviews is at the end.

So, here’s the paper.  Enjoy all 31,985 delicious characters of social media marketing goodness.

[scribd id=14596673 key=key-277pbsm1fwu6nc0z7a7d]

Add to Technorati Favorites

Is this called growing up?

I just hit the “send” button on a message to a client that advised them to delete a picture from their website.  The client, a music group, had some new photos taken for promotion.  As a joke, the one photo had all of them making silly faces and holding cigarettes.  The one kid was holding  a condom and the other was holding a knife.

It was meant to be funny, and at first glance, it was.  But I thought a little further about the messaging behind the photo, and I was terrified.

Tto-write-love-on-her-arms1he group is a proud supporter of To Write Love on Her Arms, a non-profit movement that promotes mental health awareness and support for those who struggle with things like cutting, addiction, etc.  The cigarettes were tongue in check, the condoms were a little innuendo.  But the knife thing got me worried about encouraging or glamorizing cutting.  For a teenage audience, I want to be careful about anything that insinuates a comical image of cutting, especially when the client has worked so hard to raise awareness and support for people troubled by it.

This is the first time I’ve found myself in a position where I am advising someone to pull back the reigns and err on the side of conservative.  I pretty much pride myself on being fun, silly, out there, edgy – and completely willing to be different.  But for the first time I’m the serious one.  I’m the one with all the “let’s just be safe” and the “just in case.”  Despite my good intentions, I feel like the bad guy.  No one is making me feel like the bad guy.  I just feel like the bad guy.  Oh my God, I’m the boring one.

But it feels like the right thing to do.

Am I growing up?

Add to Technorati Favorites

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.

Add to Technorati Favorites

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!

Add to Technorati Favorites

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.

Add to Technorati Favorites

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.

JNA

Add to Technorati Favorites

You’re Really Pretty. Want To Do PR?

The Real World: Brooklyn is one of the first seasons I’ve kept up with in a while. So, I’m totally going to girl-out on you here, but I’d be completely lying if I said that the funny, small-town, adorable, trucker hat-wearing, guitar-playing, complicated war vet wasn’t a major factor in why I’m tuning in.

Um, hai Ryan.
Um, hai Ryan.

Now that that’s over…I’m taking The Real World: Brooklyn to task.

The roommates get to do their own jobs this season, which I think is great. What’s even cooler is that the one girl, Devyn, landed a job in fashion PR. Nice.

Want to see how she did it? Here’s the link. (The scene happens at 4:10. You’re welcome.)

In the episode, Devyn visits a designer’s showroom and tries on some dresses. Later, she sits down with the big boss man and talks about her dreams of becoming an actress, restaurateur, and owner of her own fashion line. He tells her that he could use some help with public relations, and that because of her “personality and beauty” she’d be a great fit for the job. So she was hired.

Really? Really? So if I’m really really pretty I’ll get a job? Gosh, aren’t I the fool. This whole time I’ve been interning and writing and networking and – apparently wasting my time. Duh! I should have spent all that time getting my makeup done and my nails done and getting extra super pretty.

How about no. You’re right, Derek Zoolander. There is more to life than being really, really ridiculously good looking.

I think it’s sad that even in this day and age public relations still has this image of just being an industry for really pretty party planners (or even so much worse, Sp*n Artists.) We work hard! Not that we all aren’t just gooooorrrgeous dawling. But you’ve got to be talented, smart, unique, and saavy to hack it in PR town. Beauty might be…an added bonus? But not one that carries much weight.

I’m not going to lie, Devyn is beautiful. I just want to see her hammer out a clip report before lunch, a press release by 2 p.m., and follow up on those pitches by 3 p.m.

In conclusion, I know it’s just TV. I may not know the full story. She might have a degree or some type of experience that would qualify her for the position. However, as someone who is working pretty hard to get a PR job, I thought the way the show portrayed the simplicity of that PR hire was kind of condescending. I don’t think it’s a positive reflection of the field. I’m annoyed at the stigma that PR is just a fluff industry and that anyone with the right measurements can do it.

I was obviously irritated by this. But don’t worry, MTV. Ryan probably played a really stupid/cute prank or sang a really pretty song or smiled at the camera and convinced me to watch the rest of the episode. Don’t you just love/hate reality TV?

Until next time,

If you choose a job you love, you never have to work a day in your life.

-JNA

Add to Technorati Favorites

photo: http://lh5.ggpht.com/_mk42XChtvT4/SaHeiKUn0aI/AAAAAAAABgI/2tlAUN6Kf5M/s800/Ryan%201%2084.jpg

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.

JNA

Add to Technorati Favorites