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BRANDED–Personal Branding for College Students(Pt 1)

3.8.09

This set of posts will be directed primarily toward college students because we are the people in most need of a personal brand makeover. We have no job experience to back up our credentials; social networks are the locations with the most information about us. Because college students must count on social networking Web sites or our blog to build our brand, I will discuss how to use those places to best benefit you. This post will  discuss how Facebook could make or break you.

Credit: api.ning.com

Credit: api.ning.com

Personal branding seems to be the catchphrase flying all around the Internets these days. Public relations practitioners and students alike are focusing more on improving their personal brands every day. Personal branding adds credibility to your work, gives employers an inside look into who you are and gives you a competitive edge over anyone else.

On the other hand, if your personal brand does not represent you in a professional manner, it will do more harm than good. As a 21-year-old who is part of the Internet generation, I am quite active on social networking Web sites, such as Facebook. Facebook is quite a dangerous place, especially for college students, because of the information that can end up being posted or things that may be said by or about you. Here are a few Facebook faux-pas that should be avoided that will in order to create a desirable personal brand.

Party pictures are a big no-no on Facebook. Just because they are plastered all over the place doesn’t mean you have to be in any of them. I am not saying that you shouldn’t party, but when you do be mindful of the photags. If someone snaps a pic of you shotgunning a beer and posts it on Facebook, untag it. Honestly, I would try to stay away from the shotgunning altogether, but if you must partake please be careful of who may potentially see or hear about it.

Many people have different opinions on the topic, such as blocking your profile so only a limited group of people can see the pictures, but I believe in transparency. I have nothing to hide, so I allow anyone within my network to see my entire profile. Privatizing some features but not others leads me to believe you have got something do hide, which makes me suspicious. Employers should be able to get the dish on you if they want.

Sometimes it’s what you say that can prevent you from getting hired. Facebook provides many outlets for you to say something inappropriate, so be careful. Don’t advertise how hung over you are because of all those shots you took last night on your status, don’t write on your friend’s wall with some crude inside joke and don’t comment on a picture saying how great your boobs look. Facebook used to be an exclusive Web site where you could act freely without worrying about parents or employers witnessing your e-debauchary, but times have changed. Instead of using Facebook to show off how hard you can party, utilize Facebook to show how knowledgable, worldly, fun and creative you are.

Check out this article to learn how to clean up your profile while maintaining your personality. Dan Schawbel also has some wonderful personal branding advice on his site, PersonalBrandingBlog.

The second part of this post will discuss Twittiquette.

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Shackin’ up with the ‘Rents not such a bad idea

3.8.09
Image Credit: Jon Keegan

Image Credit: Jon Keegan

Moving back home after college seemed like the worst possible idea in the entire world–last year. Now, it’s not looking too shabby. Graduating college used to mean starting life as an official adult and taking full responsibility for ones actions and finances. These days, however, graduating college with a stable and plentiful bank account is not very likely, thus the increase in decisions to move back home.

I’ll admit it, I did DO not want to move back home. By doing so I will be giving up all of the freedom that I have enjoyed over the last 3 1/2 years. Curfews will be reinstated, chore lists posted back up and the feeling of being back in high school overwhelming my being. Can’t wait.

On the other hand, I am extremely grateful to have a roof over my head, which will allow me to save up some money so that I can move out eventually. Moving back home is not so bad. Granted, the above cons are daunting, but the benefits that lie ahead are worth the few annoyances. Here are the perks that I continually remind myself of that make living at home seem tolerable:

Mom’s cooking is too tempting to say ‘no’ to, and it is infinately better than my chicken stir-fry. I may gain back my freshman 15 that I finally lost after 3 years, but it will be well worth it.

Fully stocked fridge. I don’t know about your mom, but my mom shops like she’s still feeding two athletic boys and an athletic girl even though we’ve all moved out. So, even when mom’s  not cooking I still have a grocery store right in my house.

Rent-free living, or at least for the first few months or so. No more rent checks or waiting for the toilet to get fixed. Instead of getting into further debt (thanks, student loans), I can actually save money.

Our 65″ Plasma Screen TV is amazing. I’m not a huge TV watcher, but this thing is awesome. This was my mother’s Christmas gift to herself and the rest of the family.

Quality time with the mom dukes is always great. I feel like I haven’t truly spent quality time with my mother in years. I’m only home for weeks at a time, and I work full time when I am home, so we never see each other. This will be a great opportunity to play catch up.

I realized that my list sounds like I’m going to be the deadbeat child bumming around the house eating all of the food and watching TV, but these are what keep me sane when realizing I’m living at home. Really though, living at home is the smartest economic move that

graduates can make. Truthfully, I don’t know many people who can afford living by themselves right now anyway. I understand those who are moving to a different city for a job, but moving home is the wisest choice for those lucky enough like myself who want to work in their home city.

Jump in, the water’s fine!–Er, maybe not

3.8.09
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This question has been boggling my mind for months now. I am a week away from graduating, and I still haven’t found a definitive answer. Being a graduating senior is not the best place to be right now with the job market as it is. So I ask: Is diving in head first best idea, or should we just dip our toe in to test out the waters?

If you have not yet had an internship, I would say that an internship is the best option. If you have had an internship, but not with an agency, it can get tricky. And that is the position I am in right now. Let me take you on a ride on my train of thought to share my rationale:

Internship

  • PRO: If I intern at an agency and decide that a large agency is not the place for me, I won’t have to endure the  long-term damage to my emotions, ego or reputation.
  • CON: It could delay the number of years of professional experience under my belt.
  • PRO: No risk of getting laid off.
  • CON: The internship will most likely only last 3 months
  • PRO: Chance of being hired on full-time or of getting internship renewed.
  • CON: Hourly wage and no health benefits.
  • PRO: Treated as a learning experience as well as a job experience

Entry-level AE job

  • PRO: It’s a real job– this is real experience
  • CON: It’s a real job– play time is over
  • PRO: Salary and health benefits
  • CON: No Job security: I’m expendable, which means the first to get laid off.
  • PRO: More responsibility and accountability

Well the list can go on, but that’s just what I have jotted down. So, what have I decided to do ? I decided to take the internship route, unless my dream job came along (which it hasn’t). What do you think? Do you think I made the right choice? Am I wrong about any of the above? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Same blog, different name…again

3.8.09

Sorry I’ve been changing up the name quite a bit here. I’m in a transitional phase, and my blog is included in that phase. I also just switched from Blogger to WordPress so the site looks a bit incomplete. Come back soon; I will be posting my portfolio page in the near near future! Just stick with me here:) Thank you my dear readers.

Getting Your Ball Rolling

3.8.09


As graduation nears closer and closer (2 weeks, gulp), the necessity of finding a job or internship has become even more intense. Prior to entering my senior year, older friends urged me to start searching for a job by the end of winter term, spring term at the latest. Being slightly neurotic about my post-college life and a slight over achiever I began my search the summer before my senior year. Some people may comment that this is a waste of time, but in the long run I think it helped.

True, I wasted tons of time during the summer, but this was time that I otherwise would have wasted now. This “wasted” time was really time that I spent weeding out the resources that were dead-ends, and applying for programs that would be of no help to me. Now, I feel like I have a good handle on the job search process. This by no means is saying that I have my dream job locked down, or it is even close to reach. All I am saying is that starting early is necessary. The best I can do now is share what I have learned to cut down some wasted time for my fellow PR student job hunters. Read and learn, my friends:

Use what ya got!

As students, we are surrounded by valuable resources: Our professors. Your professors are in touch with people in the field, and they are bound to have contacts to share with you. Students come and go–some of which are hired into jobs at agencies or boutiques that you may want to work. These are wonderful people to schedule informational interviews with because chances are, they are in an entry-level position and can provide you with great insight. Get in good with them, and they might put in a good word in with HR or an SAE!

Do your research

One of the biggest wastes of time is when you apply for a job or internship and realize it is far from what you want to do. Before applying, figure out where you want to work. Make a list of all of the agencies or places you want to work and do extensive research on them. Look at past campaigns, case studies, what other people have said about them, etc. Not only will this research help you get a better understanding of the business, but it will also be impressive cover letter content.

Get LinkedIn

It’s hard to get anywhere when you’re out of the loop, so get linked in. As I mentioned in my previous post, LinkedIn is a valuable social media tool to have. You can post your resume, find people who work where you want to work and gain advice from PR pros. LinkedIn is a crucial networking site that you will find quite valuable.

Tweet Yourself a Job

I’m sure Twitter is not a new term to you at this point, but I feel that it is an untapped resource for finding jobs. Recruiters, agencies, HR and employees are all on Twitter, and all you have to do is find them and get to know them. Opportunities are popping up left and right, but many students miss them because they aren’t following the right people or aren’t on Twitter at all. As mentioned before, visit Tweet chat for #entryPR, #PRintern or #PRjobs to get PR jobs in chat form. You can also follow @HeatherHuhman, @PRjobs, @thinkintern, @JobAngles…just to name a few;)


Still check out those job sites, but also try these resources; you’ll be glad you did.



5 Tips to Get Ahead of the Pack

3.8.09

Being a public relations student can be pretty competitive, and it always feels like you can never keep up. Professors are constantly throwing new things at you that you must perfect: You must have perfect grammar, a perfect plan, a perfect media kit, a perfect resume, a perfect portfolio, etc. Now with social media as a crucial public relations tool, we Gen Y-ers must also be proficient “social medialites.” How are we students really supposed to have it all under control? It’s a lot to handle!

Though some of these things you really must have under control (like grammar), you can still succeed by having these 5 things. Not to say I have everything under control, but I have found that these tools help me with some of the PR student must-knows:

1. Learn, Live and Love Twitter
Ok, I know starting out with a social media tool is not very encouraging, especially if you are unfamiliar with Twitter. Really, it is fairly simple to figure out, and it is an excellent networking tool. There are many people on Twitter who really want to help students be successful PRs. Impress potential employers by linking articles about their firm, or join conversations about PR. A few topic chats where you can contribute your ideas, get PR advice or look for PR jobs are #entryPR, #PRintern, #PRadvice and #journchat (on Monday nights). I warn you, Twitter is addicting once you get the hang of it.

So there you go, two must-knows out of the way: social media and networking.

2. Build an Online Portfolio
An online portfolio is crucial in this day in age. Not only is it an easy way to have Web site content, but it also will get you hired! Typically the only opportunity you have to show a portfolio is at an interview, but with an online portfolio you can send a link to a potential employer and your resume and writing samples are right there. You don’t have to get too fancy with it, I mean we aren’t all Web designers, so get a cool template from a hosting Web site. There are plenty of places to get a free site, such as Wetpaint, Weebly or Designerfolio. You can pay extra to get your own URL, but it is not necessary.

3. Get to know your Top 5
How do you know you really want to work at Edelman if you don’t know anything about the company, their cases or the management structure? Before you send in an application do some research on your top 5 PR firms (or in-house, non-profit, etc.). Go the extra mile and contact your ideal job. Set up an informational interview to talk to someone who works there; you can only get so much information from the company’s Web site. You shouldn’t just cold call someone and try to set something up; you need to network. Use Twitter, ask teachers, go on the PRSA Web site, find someone on LinkedIn.

(BTW if you aren’t registered on LinkedIn, DO IT.)

4. Get some internship experience
Now you don’t have to try to jump into a competitive global agency internship, start small. If you are balancing school and a full time job you don’t have time for the perfect internship. You can save that until after you graduate. Instead, intern at a local nonprofit or for a University group. Occasionally a businesses won’t publicize internship opportunities if the internships are unpaid or won’t offer college credit, so seek these people out. Offer to write press releases or manage their blog. Do anything to get some portfolio clips and some experience.

Sometimes it isn’t easy finding a small internship if you are in a smaller city, so get some experience through your local PRSSA chapter or your school’s student run PR agency.

5. Bloggy Blog Blog Blog
This weird word has been quite prevalent in your PR classes, hasn’t it? Well your prof is saying it for a reason, so get one. I may not be the best person to be giving this advice seeing as I am not the most active blogger in the blogosphere. Trust me, I’ll be using my own advice. Blogs are the best way to show that you not only understand and know what the blogosphere is but that you have an opinion. Starting your blog is the hardest part, so take Darren Rowse’s advice for beginner bloggers on his blog.

There you have it, folks. Follow these five tips and I promise you will be 10 steps ahead of most PR students.

A Blog is a What??

3.8.09

After reading a blog by Marc Hausman about the lack of social media education in universities, I realized how lucky I am to be part of a journalism program that actually teaches social media. He spoke in a class and polled the students about whether or not they wrote or even read a blog before and NO ONE raised their hand! Learning how to use social media tools is extremely beneficial and my confidence has risen after discovering that few programs focus on this aspect of public relations.

I knew going into the University of Oregon that their School of Journalism and Communications was highly respected throughout the country and I feel a sense of pride in that. Now to know that few schools teach their students specifically about PR tactics, I am beaming! My current public relations professor and creater of PRos In Training, Kelli Matthews, is my social media guru. If it weren’t for her, I would never have opened a Twitter account or revisited my blog. In fact, she is proposing to teach a course about social media for the journalism school this spring! Unfortunately, I’m graduating in the Winter so I won’t get to take it, but I think it’s phenomenal progress and I’m very proud that this is a course offering!

It’s interesting seeing how my portfolio will look compared to portfolios of grads of just four years ago. Theirs were probably filled with traditional media relations pieces, wheras mine will be a smorgasbord of traditional PR mixed with screen shots of blog posts and Tweets. It’s insane! I do feel that I am ahead of the crowd a bit by being involved in such social media outlets and I hope it will benefit me in the long run!

Any thoughts??