Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Coaching for Careers

Especially toward the end, one of the things most looked forward to with graduation is the fact that for the most part, your evenings will be your evenings and your weekends will be your weekends. There's no longer a little voice in the back of your head reminding you of that assignment that's due, or that you could be studying for an upcoming midterm. I was definitely looking forward to this, but when it actually came I found it kind of odd and didn't really know what to do with myself. After all those years of having homework and events and meetings-- I felt like I needed to be doing something. I've told myself I will regret it if I start booking myself every evening of the week, but I wanted to find some sort of extracurricular activity to fill some of my newfound free time. I finally decided since I have extra time to give, I should think about volunteering, and found the Career Clinic and Career Network at the Vineyard Community Center. This sounded perfect because I had taken a preparatory course in writing and learning, and worked in the Ohio State Mansfield writing center as a consultant, so I had experience in resume and cover letter writing. Not to mention I've been on the job hunt myself for months, so I'm fairly well-acquainted with the conventional process, and have been exploring other means as well such as using social media. After speaking with the coordinator I realized that this was a great fit-- not only did they need career coaches for the clinic, but they also were having issues with awareness and were needing assistance with promotion. I came up with some ideas involving social media, and a couple involving events to raise awareness among the Vineyard community as well as the outside community.

This conversation and the early implementation stage has really brought to light for me the impact social media can have. Yes, I realized before how influential it can be, and how helpful it can be in promoting a business, event, campaign, or individual; what I didn't really see was how powerful it could be when being used to help people with something such as obtaining jobs. The unemployment rate is 9.1 percent, and so many people are needing assistance right now. Finding a job is difficult enough, and not having a solid resume and cover letter, or not knowing how to carry yourself in an interview only adds to the stress and decreases the likelihood of securing a position. The Career Clinic is a great resource and can really help people get their materials in order and become familiar with the application and interview process.

Not only is social media a great help to the clinic in trying to promote the services it offers, but it also can be an incredibly useful tool to job-seekers. Online presence increases exposure, and is one of the fastest ways to network with people. Also, LinkedIn allows you to display your resume online, network with people you know and people they know, and also allows employers to research you. Additionally, it can be used as a preparatory tool prior to an interview. You can use it to research the company you are applying to, the person you would be working directly for, or the hiring manager you will be meeting with. You can also use it to introduce yourself to the hiring manager when you are applying for a position so that your name resonates with the hiring manager more than other applicants. The job search on LinkedIn is a great place to look for open positions, and the results are taylored to your profile and network.

Though we're still in the early stages of implementing new marketing techniques for Vineyard Columbus Career Network and Career Clinic,  I'm interested to see the growth that takes place. The goal is to continuously increase awareness in order to boost attendance, and to improve the success rate of those who are using the Vineyard resources. These resources are available to anyone, and we hope to branch out deeper into the community as well as the church.

If you or someone you know is currently searching for a job, check out VCCN on:

Monday, July 25, 2011

Attain a Position, or Create a Position?

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately on non-traditional jobs and entrepreneurship, partly because of articles I've come across recently, and mainly because of my ongoing job hunt. After reading articles like this one: This 21-Year-Old Just Sold Her Startup for $100 Million, it makes me wonder, could I go the entrepreneurial route? It's risky, it's a long shot, and it may not pay off, but I think everyone should at least try it at some point in their lives. Why not now? I really don't have anything to lose while I'm still looking, and what if it did take off? Almost every communications-related role model I have is someone who started their own successful business. Something about building a passion from the ground up into a viable business or organization is amazing to me and would be unbelievably satisfying. This is becoming more an more common among college grads given the current state of the job market and the forward-thinking nature of our generation.

This thought process started with things I like to do, strengths I have, experience I have, and also what the needs of businesses and organizations are. At first I thought about being a go-to for businesses or organizations to contract out to for social media assistance. I love doing social media campaigns, and thoroughly enjoy conducting research and planning to find how to best utilize social media for the goal and audience of the client. This is something I have experience in as well. However, I also really enjoy writing and editing. I minored in English, worked in the campus writing center, and am currently the writer/editor for the OSU College of Dentistry. Additionally, I enjoy non-traditional marketing, market research, and event planning. Combining all of these passions into the above mentioned contractor-type position ends up sounding a lot like cramming an advertising or PR agency into one individual person. The difference I think, is cost, which would be a lot lower than hiring an agency to step in, and also the amount of and type of attention each client received. Obviously the volume would have to be fairly low unless others were eventually brought on, but it would be more spontaneous and wouldn't have to be for any set amount of time. I guess it could also be compared to a freelance or contributor type position, but with more research involved, with more specification from the requester, and with a wider variety of services.

So the real question is, would anyone be interested in hiring a freelance/contributor/social media manager/consultant? When someone realizes they really need an extra person to help with an upcoming event, but doesn't have enough time to hire an intern and can't find a volunteer; when someone has 12 writing assignment requests and only enough time to finish nine of them; when a business has heard social media can boost sales and engage their audience but they don't know where to start and can't afford to hire another employee... I can think of several businesses and organizations off the top of my head that could definitely utilize it because they are either just getting off the ground and don't have the funds to hire someone full time for these tasks yet, or are established but need extra help in a particular area without having to create a new position.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


It's been a month since graduation and though I'm currently holding a full-time temp position that I am really enjoying, nothing is secure as of yet, so I've been continuing to look. Other than screening the typical job sites like Career Builder, (which I feel at little more than a shot in the dark), I really have been reaching out to my personal and professional networks to see if I could make any progress by establishing connections that way. I've had a few leads so I would definitely recommend that method to any recent grads who are still on the prowl. It's always better to have a mutual contact to use as reference, to introduce you, or to connect you on LinkedIn. I'm interested to know how my fellow Communication graduates are fairing. I've heard from several young professionals that it took 6 months or longer in recent years to find a job, and many of them grew frustrated and took post-grad internships. I'm not opposed to this as I feel it is a great opportunity to grow and learn in the profession you're in, and also enables you to remain in practice and keep an updated portfolio for future interviews.

It's amazing how much you learn once your out of school and no longer juggling classes and homework, a job and student organizations, events and fundraisers; now rather than practicing what I'm studying for a few hours per day while at my internship, I'm doing what I went to school for 40 hours per week and loving every minute of it. I'm studying social media campaigns and university marketing techniques, writing press releases and news articles, managing social media-- all the things I liked to do before but was constrained time-wise because of school. Though I don't know what the future holds and have no idea where I'll be in a year or even in the next few months, I needed a job like this to confirm the fact that I chose the right educational path for me, and to ensure no mater where I'm headed, I will enjoy what I'm doing.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Buckeye to B.A.

I can't take it anymore! I'm blogging. Since May 20 I've been feeling a ping in the back of my head reminding me that it is social media malpractice to skip more than a week of posting. Well it's been a month so shame on me. I went from studying for finals and writing papers to taking finals, then jumped right into celebrating my last days as a Buckeye with friends and classmates. Graduation weekend flew by with rehearsal and a three-hour ceremony, a trip to Lake Erie, and finally I came back for my last two days at my old job. I took the first step into post-grad life on Thursday when I was hired on as the writer/editor for the marketing and communications department of the Ohio State University College of Dentistry. So, no excuses, but this resulted in zero blogging.

Graduation was absolute chaos. The whole morning was a big rush, and once my family was there and my boyfriend Dan was ready to take pictures, my jaw dropped. My tassel was not on my cap and I had absolutely no idea where it would be. Mind you this is 15 minutes before I had to be in line. Trying my best not to hyperventilate (it's only one of the symbols of graduation) I tried to come up with a quick plan (this mainly consisted of me fanning myself-- I overreact slightly) but realized I now had only 10 minutes to get in line about three blocks away. Dan and my dad jumped into the car and took off while I ran for the French Field House where everyone was already lining up. I looked around trying to find someone else without a tassel and was unsuccessful.

Dan had been texting me and calling me with updates on the tassel situation, and during one of these phone calls I zipped up my gown, which promptly split down the middle. You have got to be kidding me. Promising safety pins and a tassel he got off the phone. I'm trying not to cry because it's already an emotional day with my family in town and graduating from college. I sniffle as we walk toward the stadium, sure I was going to walk across the field with a gown split up the middle and no tassel. They most certainly withhold your degree if you're in that bad of shape, right?

Just before we walked in to the stadium Dan comes running at the stadium with a tassel in hand, attaches it to my cap, and says, "Don't freak out, they didn't have safety pins..." He whips out a pile of paper clips (yes, paper clips) and starts shoving them through both sides of the zipper and twists each in place. Meanwhile my dad is standing up on a ledge laughing at the scene and shaking his head. As if I wasn't a mess as it was, before heading in to find a seat my dad gives me a hug and says, "Hey don't worry about it, you'll be fine. We are so proud of you." So I start tearing up one last time before I walk in. Luckily that was the end of the excitement-- everything else went smoothly and it felt amazing to walk across the field of the Shoe to receive my Bachelor of Arts degree.

The job search is proving more difficult than I thought. Openings are few and far between, and interviews are even fewer. Luckily I have a temp job that I'm enjoying and will have until fall, so I have an extended period of time. I've reached out to many people in my personal network, and taking the advice of an old co-worker, I'm being more direct and utilizing all the resources I can. I'm submitting resumes and asking for informational interviews where there are no current openings, am asking my friends, family and mentors to keep an eye out for me, and am exploring my LinkedIn network to check for connections to companies which are hiring. Hopefully this route proves successful by fall, and I will have a full-time job. For now I am building my portfolio and am happy with my job as a writer/editor for the College of Dentistry. I've been working on interesting stories and have a folder full of things to write about and work on. I'm mainly writing and editing for the homepage and e-newsletter, will be working on the annual magazine, submit press releases to local media and have random side projects along the way.

Especially for all of my fellow recent-graduates and for those of you graduating in the near future, I'll keep posting my status on the job search process.

Friday, May 20, 2011


22 days to graduation. Mr. Anxiety is creeping in like a plague. At first he would just kind of poke me every now and then, then at two months out he would randomly punch me. Now I'm being attacked daily. I tried to tell him to go away and he responded with, "Get a job loser."

I might be a complete nerd, but I actually have a working spreadsheet in Google Docs of every job I've applied to, when I applied, when the application deadline is, and if the employer has responded yet. The list is growing daily which makes me feel productive on one hand, and like I'm shooting aimlessly in the dark on the other. I do feel much better every time I add another line to the list-- it's the only thing that makes my daily beating subside a little.

Although stress is running extremely high right now, I know everything will turn out even if it's not within my ideal time frame. And I cannot wait until I'm finally there! All anxiety aside I am seriously excited to graduate and love the prospect of going out into the real world and doing what I enjoy most. There are so many things I would like to do; I'm curious to see where I end up. It could be public relations, marketing, social media, event planning, writing, or something I don't even expect. I keep visualizing myself starting my new job and looking back at the months I was freaking out and thinking, that was such a small span of time compared to the big picture, and it all turned out to be okay. It may be a couple of weeks, a month, or even a few months after graduation, but I will continue working hard so I will get to where I want to be. The emotional roller coaster that comes with the coming weeks will only make beginning my career that much sweeter.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"Just Facebook Me"

In my Communication Industry Research Methods course we're working on an assignment on quantitative research design. We are to work in small groups to explore survey and sampling methods using a research question relevant to OSU students' social media use. Our group has decided to look at the correlation between a student's time spent utilizing social media and time spent on face-to-face interaction. We are hypothesizing that as social media time increases, face-to-face time will decrease. We have created a 20-question survey using Zoomerang that will be sent out to OSU students via Facebook or email.

Many of the questions are obvious ones regarding hours spent per week using social media and having face-to-face interaction with friends, and the same question for weekends. We also asked if students have ever created a friendship/relationship via Facebook, if they've used social media to collaborate on group projects instead of meeting in person, and what mode of communication they use to communicate with friends (email, phone call, text message or social media).
Once all of the responses are in (20-40 students) we will analyze the data to determine the descriptive results, such as frequency and percentage, and also will report the correlation or inference statistics if applicable.

So how does this affect social interaction, particularly that of Gen Y? Personally I know I put off visits to friends who are not in Columbus much longer than I would if I did not have access to them via social media. We keep in touch fairly regularly on Facebook, so there's no fear of losing contact. Because I came into social media during my senior year of high school, I'm not sure how contact with friends may have changed or ceased when I moved away for college had I not used it. However, looking at my parents (part of Gen X) I see that they lost contact with nearly all people from their high school save for a select few. For Gen X it is a unique situation though, because through watching their children and other gen-Yers utilize social media to keep in touch with people, many of them have started to create social media accounts. So though they lost contact because of a lack of social media, they are now reconnected with old friends and acquaintences. After my mom had me log onto my Facebook on several occasions so she could try to find people to see what they were up to, I created an account for her so she could reconnect with people and actually interact with them. While updates on classmates and family members previously has been held to class reunions and family gatherings, gen-Xers are now finding this can be done online in a more impersonal but easy way.

I think gen-Yers see social media in a different and generally more positive way than gen-Xers because we grew up with it and are used to the way it works. Does this go beyond the regular interaction we have with friends and even bleed into class reunion attendance? For me, I don't think attending my 5 year reunion is necessary because I still see all the people I want to see, and for anyone I've missed I can always contact them via Facebook. I know what most of the people I graduated with are doing because keeping up is as easy as reading my news feed. Did more gen-Xers attend their 5 year reunion than gen-Yers? What about 10 year reunions?
Social media also creates a mode of communication that is easier and less intimidating for more superficial relationships. Though it may reduce face-to-face interaction in deeper relationships which is widely viewed as negative, it increases interaction in brief acquantences and networking. There are people I may have never interacted with that I can follow, correspond and network with, and establish connections to via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Cbusr and other sites. I would never ask an industry expert, speaker, or well known person for their phone number, but I can find them on LinkedIn and establish a connection with them. This is a great way to re-introduce yourself, thank someone, or even just to create name recognition for yourself. I think professional use of social media is an invaluable tool for college students to take advantage of during school to establish a substantial network that can be drawn upon when it comes time to search for a job. It also allows individuals to create a personal brand for themselves so they are more than a resume and cover letter when going into an interview.

I'll post my group's findings once we've conducted our survey and anaylze the results. I definitely think there will be a correlation between time spent utilizing social media and time spent on face-to-face interaction, and am interested to see how much of a difference there is.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Inside My Head: Pet Peeves and Little Things I Love

Things that make me cringe:
  • Spit
  • Soaking wet bath mats (I know it's weird)
  • People jiggling their leg/desk
  • Gum being chomped on
  • People texting in the middle of a conversation
  • Love-professing/spiteful Facebook statuses
  • Misuse of their and there; too, two and too; less and fewer; good and well (What? I'm a Comm major and an English minor.)
  • Shuffling feet (especially in Uggs)
  • Incessantly flushing toilets
  • People talking on their cell phones in a public bathroom stall
  • When people put the roll of toilet paper on backwards
  • This 5 Hour Energy Commercial
  • Using eating utensils like a shovel

Things that make me smile:
  • City skylines
  • Friendly people
  • Perky employees
  • A good photograph
  • A random sweet note, text or post
  • Sunny days
  • My boyfriend's dimples
  • Spur of the moment adventures
  • Seeing a friend I haven't seen in a while
  • A big hug
  • The perfect quote
  • A burst of energy during a run
  • Going to sleep during a storm
  • Elderly people waving at every car that goes by from their porch or mailbox
  • Getting an A on an assignment
  • Grandparents signing their name after a Facebook post
  • Being sang to
  • Decorating the Christmas tree to the Rat Pack or Bing Crosby
  • Walks around town
  • Ice cream cones
  • Old fashion shops, decor, objects and accessories
  • A really good meal
  • A dance in the living room
  • Sun tea
  • Throwing the helicopter seeds from Oak trees up in the air
  • Making black raspberry pie from scratch
  • Family picnics
  • Waking up thinking I need to go to work and realizing it's the weekend
  • A pretty sunrise/sunset
  • A new journal
  • Campfires & making s'mores
  • Fascinating architecture and interior design

I'm sure there are more. I'll edit as they come up. :) Please feel free to add your own to comments!