Houston, We Have a Breakthrough

I have an embarrassing confession that I hope someone will relate to.  I’m totally happy to introduce myself to anyone randomly online through LinkedIn, Twitter, email or whatever as I always like to network and connect with like-minded marketing peeps. Then, I go to networking events, and I totally clam up.

I absolutely dread those “networking” hours interspersed between seminars. It’s weird: if someone approaches me, I’m completely friendly and at ease.  But the thought of approaching someone on my own at one of these things terrifies me. Even the thought of approaching someone I have spoken to online sometimes freaks me out.

 It’s very inconsistent with how I normally am. I was a waitress, my tips depended on my ability to schmooze…with strangers. Before I got this job, I was Little Miss Informational Interview, seeking out one-on-one conversations…with strangers. At a bar, I’m a wingman, grabbing guys and telling them to dance with my friends…grabbing strangers.

 Am I just socially awkward IRL?  Why is it that at conferences I get intimidated? Why is it that at a time when my game face should most definitely be on, I’m off?

I admitted this fear for the first time to my boss/mentor when we were discussing our networking strategy for an awards event. This bit of advice stuck: remember that everyone is there to network and talk to random people. It’s not like you’re at the mall or the gym and it’s unexpected (and possibly unwelcome) for you to go up to someone and strike up a conversation. Literally, the point of these events is to go up to people you don’t know, tell them your name, chat them up, and make a connection.

Obvious, right? But no one had laid it out like that for me before. Any lightbulbs going off out there?

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.

Take My Hand, But Not My Twitter Handle: Maiden Names in Social Media?

Basically, this is just something I’ve noticed.  My friend’s 70-something year old grandmother is on Facebook.  She has her maiden name on there.  This is a lady who probably hasn’t used her maiden name for 50 years or so, but she’s using it again on her Facebook profile.  Same thing with my other friend’s mom, who recently added her maiden name to her Facebook profile.  I also noticed recently married peeps either not changing their Facebook names at all, or keeping their maiden names on their profiles and sticking the new hubby’s name on the end.

The maiden name debockle has long been a soul-searching situation for women, and I feel like it’s gotten more complicated over the years.  It’s gone from “what will I do with my business cards?” to “what will I do with my email?” to “what will I do with my LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook accounts?”  (And if you’re super nerdy like me, “What will I do with my URL?”) Yikes!

Obviously, the issues to contemplate transcend the importance of social media. “Do I want the same last name as my children?” and “Who am I if I am not a Johnson (insert your maiden name here)?” are thoughts to ponder. Some may say to keep your maiden name for business purposes and use your new name in your personal life.  But thanks to social technology, we live in an increasingly networked world in which business and personal relationships are harder to distinguish.

My thought is that women who are either adding or keeping their maiden names on Facebook  are doing so because they want old friends who don’t know their new last names to be able to find them.  I think the fact of the matter is (even for people who don’t work in marketing and may not give a rip about this so-called personal branding) that your maiden name is sort of like your brand name.  Getting involved with social media, whether or not you use it for business, means you have to establish or re-establish your identity to fit your social networking needs.

I think for ladies my age and up, the problem is easier to solve now than it will be for future brides.  I’m 22, and even the girls that have been involved with social media since their tween days were probably on Myspace.  They probably had really clever usernames like “BSB4Life” and such, so last names aren’t really an issue for us.  But for the Jonas-loving tweens of today, they are establishing first name-last name personal brands on Facebook at an early age.  10, 20 years from now when they tie the knot, how will they re-establish their brands on the internet?

Anyone have thoughts?

How to be a Great Intern Boss

I just finished my third week working in the real world and I’ve already learned so much. My daily tasks are just about what I expected them to be, except for one thing: it didn’t occur to me until now that I would be delegating tasks to interns.  That’s weird for me.  I was in their position less than a month ago – and now I’m telling them what to do?

This post serves several purposes. First, it’s a way for me to hold myself accountable.  Second, there are so many posts out there about how to be a great PR intern, but very few – if any – posts written about how to be a great intern boss.  And you know what?  There should be.  Because in an industry where 99% of the PR interns are unpaid, I’ll say it, we owe it to them.  We owe them a great learning experience.  We owe them respect.  We owe them advice, direction, and an honest glimpse into this industry.  At the same time, an internship is what the intern makes of it.  They can’t learn if they don’t try.  They can’t be respected if they aren’t professional.  They can’t get advice, direction, and insight if they don’t seek it out.

This internship thing is a give and take situation, you see.  I present to you ways you can be a great intern boss, as well as ways you can be a great intern.

1. Give interns specific instructions

Tell them what the project is, what you expect them to accomplish, and when you the project to be done.  Be specific – down to what font the spreadsheet should be in or what folder the intern can find it on the shared drive.  Your interns can’t read your mind. The things that seem obvious to you aren’t obvious to someone who has never worked in an office environment.

*Intern action piece* – Ask for specific instructions.  Ask questions.  Before you run off to complete an assignment, repeat the assignment back to your boss. Your boss can’t read your mind. They are busy, and they took time to explain something to you.  Listen, and if you need something clarified, speak up. Don’t be shy. No one in their right mind would be annoyed with an intern who asked for clarification.  But it might be annoying if they were counting on you for a project and you don’t do it correctly because you didn’t listen/ask necessary questions.

2. Don’t give your intern an assignment you wouldn’t do yourself

It’s called a job.  We all have to do grunt work.  We love us some copying, faxing, presentation-binding, phone-answering and package shipping. Interns should expect that they too will have to share in the company glory of daily grunt work.  However, interns are not your personal assistants.  No, they can’t drive home to let your dog out.  And no, they are not going to hop online to research some car insurance rates.  They are there to earn college credit and build their resumes – not to save you 15% or more on car insurance – even if it only takes 15 minutes.

*Intern action piece* Eat a slice of humble pie.  You will have to do grunt work.  At the same time, if some narcissistic jerk is trying to make you his/her servant, stand up for yourself.  Lean on the college credit crutch.  For example, speak with your intern coordinator and say you need more writing assignments for your portfolio, or else you won’t get credit.  Say your professor told you so.  The time you put into an internship is an investment in yourself.  If it’s shady – get out.  There’s another semester, another internship, another opportunity. Control your destiny.

3. Give feedback

It’s as simple as that. Tell your intern how they did on the assignment.  Some companies hold review sessions at the end of internships.  Why not hold a mid-point review as well?  It may be hard to coordinate that for part-time interns, but to me it seems like a mid-point review would be especially helpful because it gives them time to improve upon the things discussed in a review.

*Intern action piece* Ask for feedback. When you email your boss an assignment, add a line such as – “Let me know if you need any more help with this. How can I improve this for next time?”  It shows that you care about your performance.  If you show you are motivated, people are more likely to invest time in your development.

4. Be nice

Once upon a time there was a PR intern. As a gift for a great first quarter, the company head honcho took the office out to lunch – everyone except the intern, that is.  They left the intern alone at the office with her Lean Cuisine and a research assignment.  Not that I have any idea who this intern is, but she says that the experience was the corporate equivalent to being the only kid in class not to receive a Valentine’s Day card or the only kid on the soccer team not invited to a really cool Chuckie Cheese birthday party.

You’d be surprised.  When you’re 2o, when it’s your first internship, when you’re broke, when you have no idea where your life or career is going – it means a lot to have you boss give you a thank you card on your last day.  Seriously, be nice. I know times are tough, but would it really kill your company’s bottom line that much to throw the unpaid intern a sandwich?  I know you’re busy, but would it really screw with your schedule that much to take five minutes to say hi to the intern on his/her first day?

Remember where you came from.

*Intern action piece* Nothing. Welcome to the world, kid: some people are jerks. Kill them with kindness.  Always be professional.  You don’t have to stay if it’s that bad.  You can get another internship.  You can get the college credit, somehow.  Just because you are an intern doesn’t mean you have to be pushed around.

I hope this list gives insight to both audiences, the interns and the professionals.  The point I want to drive home for the professionals is to just put yourself in the intern’s shoes when you are communicating with them.  The point I want to drive home for the interns is that you need to be proactive.

We all know how important internships are for students, but I will venture to say that they important for companies as well.  Name me one other way a company can give a potential employee a (free) test drive before the company hires that person?  Through internships, companies can hunt for and develop future talent.  Even if they don’t work for you in the future, maybe they will work for your competitor.  If you mentored that intern, then your competitor will get better.  When your competitor gets better, it challenges you to get better.  Mentorship makes our industry better.

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.

Who’s on Twitter?

I’ve been spending a lot of time on Twitter lately.  No, I’m not stalking you (well, not that much) but I’m doing some PR research.  Sifting through profiles, I noticed something and I want to know if you notice this too.

According to their 160-character bios, the vast majority of people I came across fit into these categories:

-Marketers

-Public Relations people

-Journalists

-Software/web/graphic designers, enthusiasts…people who code.

-Self-proclaimed “social media gurus,” “digital natives,” and “experts” who may or may not know what they are talking about

-Boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, and wives of avid Twitter users. Significant others introduced/suckered into micro-blogging who probably still make fun of it but are secretly addicted.

Follow me for a moment into the idea that we are at least in part defined by our occupations.  Sure, there are nurses and teachers and lawyers on Twitter.  There are tons of politicians and entertainers on Twitter, but I think we can argue to some extent that they too are using Twitter as marketers.  I’m concerned that a huge portion of Twitter isn’t so much this even playing field of Common Joes, but more of a media-infatuated, geeky, techy clique.  When we the marketing/PR types get excited about “putting the public back in public relations” and encouraging our clients to engage in conversation with consumers – who are we telling them to talk to?

Don’t get me wrong: I love me some Twitter.  I just wish it was more diverse.

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.

heather-and-janet-2

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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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?

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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.

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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.

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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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