A Cautionary Tale from an Elder Gen-Y’er (Part 2)

July 19, 2010

In Part 1 from A Cautionary Tale from an Elder Gen-Y’er, I gave you the first five of my Top 10 things to look out for in the real world.  I guess my goal was to tell the story from a place you (the millennial generation) could understand.  Why?  Because I wish someone had alerted me to what was REALLY out there.  I do.  I could go ahead and tell you they were all “learning experiences” and most of them were.  But a good majority of them were big headaches.  I.E.  My logo getting stolen, working for free as a MASTER’S educated graduate and a few of the next five that I will share with you:

6.)  Learn when to say no

After college the world is yours.  Yes it is.  Many start to get involved in a lot of activities like professional organizations, book clubs, volunteer work, etc.  Learn when to say no.  If you have the time and the energy, do it, enjoy it.  But when you begin to not enjoy it, evaluate it.  Sort of like an investment.  What is my ROI on volunteering my time (and possibly $$) for this organization? This is the part when you need to ask yourself…what am I getting out of this?  Are you meeting great people who you feel are helping to further your career or are you the person that a majority of responsibilities are dumped upon because you’re the one without kids.  Seriously.  Think about it.  This is when you need to focus on the YOU and just say no.

7.)  Decide quickly whether you want to drink the agency kool-aid

Again for the marketing/PR and communications majors out there, you’ll either decide or the decision will be made for you on whether you want to ride the agency train. Working in agencies are fun, interactive, UBER-creative places to work. If you are lucky and can work with amazing brands, you will see your work come to fruition.  And when that happens, you’ll know whether or not agency-life is for you.  Agencies can also be a breeding ground for some of the worst office politics you’ll ever find. Lots of back-stabbing ladder-climbers who unfortunately you cannot trust. Look it happens.  Just be prepared to avoid it and be YOU.  Get in there, search out someone you can see as a mentor and who is willing to mentor you as well.

And if it isn’t for you.  Have no fear.  Maybe you would rather work client-side.  There are PLENTY of organizations out there.  Healthcare, non-profit, corporate, higher education…you name it…the possibilities are endless.

8.)  Be you.  Only you.  Unless you are a bad person.

Truly I mean that.  We’re at a point in our lives and careers where we have free reign to find ourselves.  That whole “do the screwing up before your 30″ notion is kind of true.  You have a lot  you can get away with at 25 than you can at 45.  So find that YOU that you love.  Don’t be anything for anyone else.  Believe me I’ve tried.

You’ll think (and possibly find)  that employers will hire you and expect you to change.  Or maybe they hired a facade of someone they thought you were and you weren’t.  Look it…if an employer doesn’t like YOU, then its honestly not meant to be.  The real thrill of finding a great job and loving your career is the opportunity to not change for anyone and be successful in your own way.

Now.  If you are a bad person.  And there are truly a lot of you out there, I know, I’ve met you.  Realize now that in all honesty karma is a bitch.  Yes. I said it.  A bitch.  You may be riding the highs of success, maybe making tons of money, living in your perfect life…but soon the more people you stomp on and the more people you degrade will lead you to an even worse karma.  Now I know that’s not you.  You know its not you.  So change.  Be a better YOU.  Someone who deep down…you really like.  And then when you find that person, call me, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll buy you a beer.

9.)  Don’t let anyone take advantage of your passion

This relates back to my #4 in my Top 10 list of things to look out for.  Many people will look to you because you are:  young, cheap and have tons of energy.  It may be a small business looking for marketing help, a small agency wanting to “partner” with you or another professional looking for you to work alongside them on a project.  I’m sure by now you have a pretty good idea of what you have a passion for.  (And DO NOT freak out if you don’t, believe me, you will)  Research everything you get into.  Like I’ve said before, if you have not done an internship in college this is where you should work for free.  Those instances always pay off. I tell  you this because if you do go through something where you know you were taken advantage of, it sucks.  It just plain sucks.  So don’t let it happen.  Put your time and energy into YOU!  Your brand, your web site, your blog, your networking.

10.)  Be open to fail…A LOT

I leave you with the biggest contradiction of all this advice.  Be open to fail.  I mean it.  How many quotes out there do you have taped to your cubicle/desk/forehead that explain failure being imperative to your success?  It’s true.  In all that I have been through, accomplished, been pissed off about and almost quit this profession alone…I’ve had that much to be happy and feel successful about.  If you don’t take even some of the risks I’ve warned you about, you’ll regret it.  And I guarantee that.  We’re not perfect, nor should we continually try to be.  I know. I’ve tried.  Be confident in what you do, don’t let anyone tell you that you are not good enough and continually strive to be the best YOU!

A Cautionary Tale from an Elder Gen-Y’er

July 14, 2010

I’ve been very lucky to meet some amazing PR grads via the social media circuit.  Ambitious, motivated, optimistic and just plain friendly.  They remind me of me when I was fresh out of college.  I felt like I could take on the world, pull no punches., no one was going to get my way.  I’m here world, BRING IT ON!

So I decided to share some of my advice and experience with those new grads and other amazing Gen-Y folks I have met and have yet to meet.  Due to my uber-organized Type-A brain I must put this is a Top 10 list for your viewing pleasure.  My first five will start today and I’ll end with the  rest tomorrow so stay tuned.

1.)  Do internships.  Only in college.  (Or within a year of graduation)

Internships for those of you in the marketing industry are essential.  Especially done during your college semesters or summer break.  (Yes, summer break…suck it up, you can deal!)

My first internship started after my sophomore year and it was actually paid, which worked out perfect for the rest of my college career.  It was with a Fortune 500 company, which was flexible with my school schedule.  I worked full-time in the summer and it was flexible if I had other internships.  It also gave me my first look into the corporate world.  (These are CLUTCH internships, if you can find them, take FULL advantage)

That next summer I  interned at a radio station, unpaid.  But the experience was totally worth it.  I saw the really fun and interactive side of marketing and promotions and of course the “dirty” side of radio.  Face it, you’ll see a lot of stuff you never thought you would, but think of it as a sign that you just aren’t fit for it.  That was my experience.

The following fall semester of my junior year I went on to intern (also unpaid) with the Buffalo Sabres. Awesome experience except that I had very inexperienced supervisors.  Another thing you may find is that if your “internship supervisors” are not older than you and low on the totem pole, get ready to really be treated unfairly.  However, just another learning experience, that you’ll find hopefully one day saying “I will NEVER treat an intern like that”.

2.)  Don’t let anyone tell you your bachelors (or master’s) degree isn’t worth anything

Sorry guys.  It’s going to happen.  Especially now.   Now that much of our generation is attending and graduating from college, you are a dime a dozen. Especially if you are a marketing/communications major.  And frankly, I don’t care what Big 10 or SEC school you went to, there will be 20 others just as good as you up for that job.

Set yourself apart.  Does it mean going to grad school?  Possibly.  I absolutely loved my graduate school experience.  Proposals and market research for just about ever class AND I studied international marketing in China.  It was a once in a lifetime experience that the student loans I now have to pay don’t bother me.  (Ok yes, it sucks to pay a car payment every month, but I have a master’s degree…not a shiny new beamer.  No worries…I’ll have 5 in my driveway one day…but I digress) Many schools are offering degrees in Integrated Marketing Communications , St. Bonaventure’s IMC program was my choice and I’ll never regret it!

3.)  Trademark any personal branding logo

Hopefully now that you are a graduate, soon to be, or have for a few years, you have started to develop your own personal brand.  This is essential.  Yet another way to stand apart from the crowd.

However, my first piece of advice is:  trademark that logo… ASAP!  I got screwed.  My awesome husband, designed a quirky logo that fit my “Glass Half Full” brand.  Within 2 months another small PR agency used said logo (mind you they twisted it slightly) but all in all…the damage was done.  Trademarking your stuff is not expensive and take it from me, a very essential thing to do if you plan on using this personal brand for a long time.  Here is some more info on trademarking.

**Editor’s note:  Have no fear, Glass Half Full Communications is in the midst of a big re-branding campaign that will be bigger and better than ever. And you can bet your ass it’ll be trademarked.

4.)  Don’t work for free unless:

a.) You never did internships during college

b.) You are volunteering for a great cause

Don’t do it.  No matter what anyone tells you.  “Oh if you work for us for 3 months, we promise you’ll be first in line, when we start to hire again.”  Because of this economy many companies (especially small agencies) are looking for very inexpensive help and offering a lot of empty promises.  If you are not careful (and trust people way too much) you will get burned.  Take my advice, work for very little instead of working for free.  Or suck it up, and work a job that is not in your career field until you can find one that is.  Just DO NOT work for free.  Please.

5.)  Pick and choose your battles

If you are a bit of a strong-willed, independent and firecracker like I am, you need to really choose your battles.  You will find many people you work with professionally are most likely not looking out for your best interests.  Instead of blowing up or getting angry,  try to peacefully resolve the issue, or decide whether the situation is really right for you.  Some battles deserve and need a good fight, but be professional, be honest and stand your ground.  And then some will get you no where, so honestly, take that energy and focus it in the positive.  YOU!

Alright, so maybe some of this stuff didn’t sound so “glass half full” as you may have expected.  Here’s my thing.  I WISH I would have had someone tell me some of this stuff.  Would it have kept me from doing what I’ve done?  Maybe not.  But I may have proceeded with a bit more caution.  Any of you reading this have obviously taken some time to put a lot into your budding career.  You are out there, interacting, engaging and meeting new people.  You are doing the right thing.  What happens between the time you graduate and maybe 30 (Only a number people, I only choose that as my “really need to grow up age”)  is all a learning experience.  It will not end your career.

So take it all in, learn from it and don’t forget to focus on the YOU!

MIPRP=Most Improved PR Professional

April 29, 2010

::WARNING:: This blog post does include a high school reference.  Because who doesn’t love to reference themselves back to high school, even once in a while :-)

Here goes…

In high school, I played softball.  It was my life.  Every spring and summer revolved around games, practice, camps, etc.  I was always trying to improve myself.  In fact, without fail, each year I received MIP (Most Improved Player) on my high school softball team.  As a self-proclaimed perfectionist, I strived to one day be either Player of the Year or MVP (don’t ask what the difference is, because I still don’t know)  In order to do that I asked my coach at the beginning of every season, what is it that I need to improve on.  Three years passed and finally my senior year I received my team MVP award.  Hard work paid off.  From then on I knew I had to start small and work my up to success.

I’ve done the same in my career.  Interned at everything from a professional hockey team (Buffalo Sabres) to one of the top 5 boutique PR firms in the US (Deveney Communications).  Even going as far as building my own small business and brand in a down economy.  I’m constantly improving my skills and trying something different each time.  But that little part of me that is a perfectionist is not quite satisfied yet.  In my late 20′s I see a lot of fellow PR professionals moving up the ranks of their said companies and landing great jobs (even in a poor economy). As perfectionists do, we compare to others…A LOT.  Don’t lie, fellow perfectionists.  You do.

Without sounding too arrogant I feel as though my resume can speak for itself.  However, in a year and a half I have yet to land a full-time gig.  Contract work, freelance is fun and great experience.  However, I’m at the point in my life that I want to focus my full attention on one organization to make it better.  I think my qualifications show that.  So I’m wondering, what do I need to improve?

My Twitter conversations?   My career direction? My focus on the social media end of PR? My geographical location?

What do you think?  I’m reaching out to my Twitter followers, Facebook friends and few blog readers for answers.

Let it flow people.  Like I said…I need some answers.

What is this Tweeter business?

April 29, 2010

Yes.  That is the question I received from my 85-year-old grandfather this weekend on my trip back to my hometown of Buffalo, NY.  In between his snarky comments about driving in our “foreign hunk o’ junk German-made car” to dinner (he’s a GM employee of 40+ years) it was a pretty amusing conversation.

But I digress.  A conversation about careers-type (errr..what are you doing with your life, kid?) came up.  And a tidbit of information leaked out that I’m on Twitter.

“What is this Tweeter business?”  ::humph::humph:: he says looking up from my business card.  So what is the first thing I did…I tweeted that question to some folks.  And amazingly, within minutes, I received some great responses.  One in particular from a fellow Greenville resident, MBA-toting job-seeker like myself, @TOPolk sent me this video:

You will not devalue my education.

April 8, 2010

Funny no?

Fair warning:  I’m what the South considers a “Yankee” which entails me being spunky, sassy and a bit opinionated.  So….deal with it :-)

In the past month I’ve come across two blog posts written by certain “social media experts” who bash higher education.  I’m here to offer a rebuttal and probably one of the first blogs that values a higher education, what ever that may be. I’m talking to those with an associates, bachelors, masters degree or PhD.  And those who think we’ve wasted our time.  I can’t wait for your comments.

A little background…and then some

In 2008 I received my MA in Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) from St. Bonaventure University.  Graduating with a 3.9 GPA. I brag about that GPA because…well in my entire educational career that is the highest I’ve ever had.  I graduated with a BA in Communications in 2004 at Canisius College barely making a 3.0 and I was an average high school student.  And shocker…I think I’ve turned out pretty decent.

Oh wait…easy?

I’ve had one person tell me (ok quite a few), “Well I received a master’s degree by working full-time in the real world”  HA!   So my life was not real to you?  Staying up long hours to finish a work project while stay up another 4 hours, sometimes until dawn finishing up a new weekly marketing plan was fake right?

Many graduate programs allow for both full-time employment and an education.   It is an investment not only in money but also in time.  My time management skills increased dramatically with so much on my plate.  I was able to juggle a job (that luckily I loved) reading, researching, LOTS of writing and even a bit of a social life.  Yes, I in fact had one of those. But again none of it was easy. However, well worth it.

For my entire graduate education I worked full-time.  In a…wait for it…REAL marketing job.   The great thing about the IMC program is that I spent every weekend for almost 2 years in class.  ::Sarcasm::

Working roughly 50 hours a week, this program was not “school” to me.  It was life experience. We didn’t take tests and each course was taught by other full-time professionals.  Market researchers, PR professionals, advertising agency veterans, SEO/SEM experts and one Franciscan priest.

Fr. Basil. My favorite.  He taught a mix of marketing theory and real-life examples.  While we are out there gaining “real world experience” we forget at times what got us there.  The marketing communications occupations didn’t happen overnight.  Thought leaders began to push the envelope and develop theories and processes.  I’d be lying if I considered it boring during undergrad.  But after some time off between degrees, gaining real world experience, I needed a class or two on theory.

Worldly?  Who me? But, of course

During the program, I traveled to China (Shanghai, Xi’an & Beijing) for a few weeks to study international marketing at the  Beijing Institute of Technology.  I met with executives of American companies, such as, Proctor & Gamble China, Moog China, Dresser Industries China,   That is the real world, that is hands-on continuing education.  I also climbed the Great Wall and experienced a country forever changed by a deadly earthquake.

On a side note:   The earthquake that hit China in the spring of 2008 led the country to experience moments of silence and for the first time in history, flags at half-staff.  One I was able to see at the Terra Cotta Warriors museum in Xi’an.  Empowering?  Impactful?  Life changing?  You bet.

And the classes?  Oh those were classes?  I felt as though they were all big brainstorming meetings.  (Which I love) The class offering in this program was so diverse, they change each semester.  You are not taking a “run-of-the-mill” communications class on the basics.  I was taught by folks with double my experience and passion I hope to have one day.

Do your research

While St. Bonaventure is not the only school offering a program such as this.  I think it is invaluable that when you are looking for a graduate school that you do your research.  Talk to graduates, get the real deal, ask tough questions.  Because if you are like me, it will cost you the same as a brand new car.  This is a major investment.  And remember it as that.  A brand new car de-values straight off the lot.  And education is invaluable for the rest of your career.

Now a little perspective

Before every new class, we were asked our names, occupations and what we wanted to do with this degree.  What I wanted to do?  Open my own IMC shop in 10 years.   Thinking in the back of my head that I’ll spend a few years at an agency/corporation and gain experience and insight, hopefully one day branch out on my own.  That didn’t happen.  I moved to a different part of the country, in the worst economic recession in decades and couldn’t find work.  Interviewed everywhere, worked for free (Note to self and all of you:  Don’t ever work for free unless you are receiving school credit or working for a better cause, you are better than that…) and took up freelancing.   Does having a master’s degree hinder my chance at many jobs?  Sometimes.  Just more reason it was not a good fit.  Like I said, I have student loans that equal a brand new car value.  I also have a lifetime to pay that off.  I’m not worried, I’m not freaking out.  This is my investment in my future.  This is my risk and I’m happy in my choice.

So in closing.  For the students out there, of any age.  Remember this:

You have an education, and a great one at that, wherever you received it.  Don’t let anyone tell you differently.  Don’t let anyone tell you that an associates degree is just good enough.  Don’t let anyone say that because you only have an education and not a full-time job (yet) that you don’t have life experience.  Your life is right ahead of you.  Grab it and take it wherever you want.  Draw your own path.  And for god sakes…kick ass doing it!

One year later…

March 9, 2010

Wow.  Today I realized something.  I’ve been Glass Half Full for a year.  Yes folks it was a year ago today (ok close to this day) that I officially launched Glass Half Full Communications <~~~Seriously check out this link, if anything, the graphics and sounds are fun (Thank you @drchemist!)

Rewind back just a few more months.   I was a newly engaged twenty-something who quit her job (which would be phased out anyways) and moved to Greenville, SC with my significant other.  I was full of optimism for a such an amazing town full of promise.  Greenville, SC has a lot to offer the creative type.  More than I expected as a girl growing up in northern cities.  Don’t get me wrong, I knew I wasn’t living in the middle of nowhere but Greenville never touched my radar screen.  Still I was sure I’d land a full-time gig at one of the local agencies before I knew it.  I was fresh out of grad school and refused to listen to the experts who said we were on the brink of a second depression.

Then.  Nothing happened. Interview after interview I was getting more and more frustrated.  Then I began brainstorming.  I mean hey…a professional goal of mine was to own my full-service agency by the time I was 35-40ish.  Maybe it was this Allstate commercial that got me thinking. Is it true that some of the biggest companies today grew out of recessions:

So I realized that maybe I was ready to go out on my own. Earlier than expected.  I knew I didn’t want to do traditional public relations, I still don’t.  I think traditional public relations is great, when used with other daily marketing activities such as social media.  But I couldn’t find the right agency that understood that and the integrated marketing communications concept. (Well none that were hiring, anyways)

Then I did it.  I went out on my own.  Working at first for “trades”.  Trading services with organizations I assisted. I learned the hard way and very quickly that doesn’t build credibility.  I don’t regret it.  It was interesting work and I learned a lot but I wouldn’t do it again.  I met a lot of people in the industry that weren’t right for me.  We forget that working with a client and or job seeking is like finding that perfect romantic relationship.  You can’t make someone change.  But I learned… maybe even burned some bridges and trudged on.

Now here we are, March 9, 2010.  I’d love to tell you I’ve made millions with my ideas or found the perfect job.  I haven’t. But I went through a year that I would not change for the world.  I dared to do something not many people I know would do at my age or in my predicament.  I faltered and got back up.

I’ve had a blast volunteering on the AAF Greenville board of directors.  Learned a lot with a short stint in an advertising agency.  Branded myself.  Networked with a lot of interesting people. Applied and interviewed to many companies. Been asked to speak at local colleges about social media.  Tweeted like its my job.  And raced a BMW 5-series. (More about that later.)

So as much as someone may look at my situation as less than ideal…I see it as a learning experience.  And I still have an optimistic outlook on the future.  Because no matter what, my glass will always be half full.

Cheers!

Won’t you be my mentor?

March 9, 2010

It’s a beautiful day in this fast-paced world ,
A beautiful day for a mentor.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?…

It’s a mentorly day in this beauty world,
A mentorly day for a beauty.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?…

I’ve always wanted to have a mentor just like you.
I’ve always wanted to work in the industry with you.

So, let’s make the most of this beautiful day.
Since we’re together we might as well say:
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my mentor?
Won’t you please,
Won’t you please?
Please won’t you be my mentor?

(Yes “mentorly” is NOT a word, let’s play along shall we?)

Leave it to Mister Rogers to help in my search for the perfect mentor.  I use the word “perfect” loosely.  No one is perfect, but the perfect mentor/mentee relationship is key for a successful career (and life I may add!).

I’m looking for a mentor.  I’ve learned so much from having amazing mentors.  And I think you can never have enough great people to learn from and aspire to.   Now, at this point in my career, I feel as though that is what is lacking.  A great mentor!

So could you be my mentor? In fact I believe it’s not fair to have just one.  I think it’s smart to have many mentors in different aspects of one’s life.

However, I’m looking for a person that has experience in the PR industry.  Particularly those who have a strong sense of the use of social media in PR. Those who “get it” and have put it into practice.  An avid blogger and trailblazer in the industry.   My mentor can be anywhere in the United States. It is 2010 right?  E-mail, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn…We have many ways we can connect.

Now…do I match your credentials of a possible mentee?  Feel free to do a full background check.  I don’t bite.

Check me out:

LinkedIn

Facebook

Twitter

Glass Half Full Communications (My consultancy)

If you think we are a match, let’s talk more!  Leave a comment or email me…  jessica@glasshalffullimc.com

Think.

January 27, 2010

I thought long and hard before jumping into the blog world again.  For a number of reasons but none more prevalent than the fact that…everyone has a blog.

I’m just another one of “those”.  Those half-wit know-it-all people who needs everyone to read their every thought, rant, rave and dinner entrée.  I want to be different, original, unique..possibly rebelious.  And a blog wasn’t exactly the platform I wanted to use.

I’ve done the blog thing.  Back when blogging wasn’t even a noun yet.  Live Journal anyone?  Oh yeah, you bet your cookies I was all over that in college.  I even had a blog featured on the front page of the local newspaper in my hometown.   (Hey, as a kid growing up in Buffalo you’re a star if your name is in the paper, either front page or police blotter, it’s all in the same)

But in all seriousness I wanted to at least have a platform that extended beyond 140 characters and a status message.

I’ve been a student in the world of communications for a while now.  I look at any form of communications as an opportunity for growth and new ideas not placement and 15 minutes of fame. You want your brand to be in it for the long haul right?  (Just please don’t let those kids from Jersey Shore get to thinking that though…please…pretty please) I believe in solid communication being the center of great brands and even better companies.

My goals for this blog?  Just one.  I want to get you thinking.  It’s that simple.  Think about something bigger than you, think about what you are doing wrong, think about what you are doing right, think about how the glass becomes half full instead of half empty.

Stay tuned…you are in for a wild ride.


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