Maybe we all need some “tough love.”

April 30, 2010 at 9:46 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Posted by: Rebecca

I know this is short and sweet, but I just wanted to let you know about my “tough love” post over at @prtini’s blog today.  Check it out!

Close door, open door, repeat.

April 18, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Posted by: Rebecca

Being less than four weeks away from graduation is exciting and terrifying.  

The exciting part?  My homework-filled weekends are coming to an end.  The terrifying part?  It’s time to leave my comfort zone and venture into the “real world.”  But new, exciting doors open as old doors close, right?

In honor of old doors closing and new opportunities appearing, I thought I’d share some updates with you:

Closed-Door Update: If you’re wondering where Shantae and I have been the past few weeks, you must know that our lack of posts can be blamed on our involvement with the April 16 YouToo Social Media Conference, a collaboration between Kent State PRSSA and the Akron Area PRSA Chapter

Students watch Kyle Lacy's presentation at the 2010 YouToo Social Media Conference.

The conference was an amazing success; in fact, seats were sold out days before the event!  Shantae did an amazing job as a conference coordinator, and I played my part by promoting the conference and helping with last-minute details on the big day.  You can catch up on the conversation and view presentations by visiting the event on Twitter or Facebook.

Although promoting the conference was a wonderful experience, the relationships that sparked at the event are invaluable.  Nothing’s better than meeting social media contacts and connecting with them IRL.

In addition to meeting out-of-state social media superstars like Phil Gomes and Kyle Lacy, I enjoyed connecting with Columbus’ Heather Whaling and Gina Bericchia.  And this brings me to my next update…

Open-door Update: On May 21, I will be packing my bags and heading to my sweet vintage apartment in…

Columbus!

That’s right: I am heading to Columbus to pursue an amazing post-grad internship opportunity, which begins in late May.  Words cannot describe how excited I am to begin this new adventure! 

Although I will still be searching for a permanent job position in Columbus, I feel blessed for this opportunity to learn while exploring a field I love: health care public relations.

Now that I’ve given you an update, I’d love to know what you’re up to this summer.  Do you have any post-grad internships or jobs lined up?

And the winner is … Atlanta

April 15, 2010 at 6:10 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments
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Posted by Shantae

It’s official, I’m graduating one month from today.  As final presentations and exams approach, the pressure to land a job increases immensely.  Initially, I remained very open-minded and flexible to the possibility of moving just about anywhere along the east coast.  However, applying any and everywhere has proved a daunting task.  I’ve learned that having a focus is crucial to finding success in the PR industry, so I caved and pinpointed a location to begin my career – Atlanta, Ga.

Why Atlanta? Why not!  Although ATL did not make my original post about where I’m headed after graduation, the last couple months have bumped it up to number one.  I’m young, unmarried and without children, so now seems like the ideal time to take a risk and move 12 hours away from everything and everyone I know to explore the unfamiliar.

Reasons I’m South bound:

Location, location, location!

Atlanta is home to various corporate headquarters such as Delta Airlines, The Coca-Cola Company, CNN and UPS.  These large employers and international powerhouses are located in Atlanta for a reason.  The city is also home to more than 64,000 black-owned businesses.

Money talks!

Forbes.com ranked Atlanta third among the best cities for young professionals.  The average salary is generally high in comparison to the surprisingly low-cost of living.  It’s comforting to know I can find an affordable apartment or townhome and still have money to eat.  What more could a girl ask for?

Old man winter doesn’t live here.

So maybe weather isn’t the best reason to move to Georgia, but it’s certainly an important factor.  This past winter was one of the worst I’ve ever seen in Northeast Ohio.  Since snowy conditions are less common in the south, investing in snow plows and salt is less important.  I’m looking forward to delays and snow days for three inches of snow!

Rich culture = never boring.

Atlanta is home to four professional sports teams, hundreds of restaurants, entertainment venues and museums and historical landmarks.  I cannot wait to experience everything on the 50 Fun Things to do in Atlanta!

Since hatching my plan to move to Atlanta, I have been in contact with PRSA Georgia’s Young Professionals special interest group and the Atlanta Urban League Young Professionals (AULYP).  I have created Google Alerts to find entry-level PR jobs in Atlanta and subscribed to various job boards and mailing lists.  As my research continues, my plans become more focused and solid.

I’m moving to Atlanta, so if you’re looking for a well-rounded, driven sassy young PR pro, I’m your girl!

Stuck in a state of pre-grad purgatory

April 6, 2010 at 5:24 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Posted by: Rebecca

Six weeks from now, I’ll walk down the aisle.

No, I won’t be walking toward my prince charming in a fancy cathedral (although my boyfriend did try to pull an April Fool’s joke by changing his Facebook relationship status to “engaged.”  That’s a whole other story.)

I’ll be walking toward the stage at Kent State’s MAC Center, shaking hands with administration and taking hold of my college diploma.

As discussed in an earlier post, I am a self-proclaimed plan-a-holic.  I picked my college major when I was a junior in high school- and stuck with it.  I scribble to-do lists on Post-It notes.  I plan my schedule weeks in advance.  I create lists like it’s my job.  I make big plans for my life and the adventures ahead.

But here I am, six weeks away from my degree, stuck in a state of pre-graduation purgatory.  Planning is banned in this middle ground.  I know what I want to do and where I want to be: I’m just waiting for the right opportunity to come my way so I can move forward and plan the next step.

As I patiently wait to see what graduation will bring by exploring job and internship opportunities, I’ve participated in several informational interviews.  And although I haven’t landed a post-grad job quite yet, I’d like to share two lessons I’ve learned in this stressful, exciting journey:

Lesson No. 1: It’s a small word, after all.

A public relations professional once told me to never burn bridges, as “everyone knows everyone” in public relations.

I didn’t believe it at the time, but it’s so true.  I’ve met PR professionals in Columbus with varying careers and personal lives, yet they all seem to know each other.

This sense of “community” is a job seeker’s best asset.  I know the connections I’m making now will come in handy when the right position pops up.  I’m sure someone will know someone who knows I’m looking for a job in Columbus!

Lesson No. 2: Internships count.

If you’re an upper-division PR student who hasn’t completed an internship, go find one.

Now.

Internships give you a chance to prove yourself in the real world, make connections and gain the experience you’ll need to differentiate yourself from the competition.

I feel so blessed to say I completed three internships before my college graduation.  I love talking about my internship experiences with mentors and potential employers, and I am confident that these experiences will benefit my job search.  Sure: Internships made me miss many “college” experiences, like sleeping in until 11 a.m., enjoying lunch dates with friends and watching TV all day.  Waking up at 6 a.m. every day was difficult, but I know my early morning wake-up calls and 9-hour days will pay off in the long run.

If you’re also stuck in pre-graduation purgatory (aka searching for a job,) I’d love to chat.  What did you learn thus far?

Where has all the formality gone?

March 25, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Posted by: Rebecca

I’m about to bring up one of those topics that may be considered as “controversial” as the one-page v. two-page resume debate.  It’s a two-word topic with the power to make any job seeker cringe with dread and feel like curling up in the fetal position (maybe I’m exaggerating.)

The topic?  Cover letters.

AKHIA EVP Ben Brugler, who probably sees dozens of cover letters each month, brought up a great question about this topic on the AKHIA Facebook Page.

AKHIA Facebook Page

Ben’s question made me wonder… Where has all the formality gone? How do you draw the line between impersonal and unprofessional?

Shantae and I discussed formality in cover letters, and we seem to have different views on this topic.  We both believe a cover letter should be well-written, compelling and concise; however, our feelings on a traditional cover letter v. an e-mail job solicitation differ.

Shantae goes the more “traditional” route; she believes you should always address a person as Mr., Ms. or Mrs., even in job-related e-mail conversations.  Although I would always address a supervisor or hiring manager formally in a traditional cover letter, I may address the individual by his or her first name once we’ve exchanged several e-mails.

Although I see Shantae’s point, I can’t help but wonder.  Gen-Y supervisors often coordinate internship programs, and a 20-something-year-old professional may prefer to be addressed by his or her first name.  At the same time, a Baby Boomer who is in charge of hiring may lose respect for a potential employee if addressed by his or her first name.

Entry-level job applicants are always encouraged to push their limits, be creative and step outside the box to stand out.  So here’s my question: Where do you draw the line? Is there a way to be formal without being impersonal?

The toughest job I’ll ever have is searching for a job

March 19, 2010 at 8:52 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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Posted by Shantae

If you hadn’t noticed, Rebecca and I are different in every way.  I’m not a Monday person like she is, so my posts generally come later in the week – that’s when things make more sense for me.

Since beginning my search for entry-level jobs more than one month ago, I’ve learned a lot about what works and doesn’t work.  On top of a full course load, two part-time internships, co-chairing a social media conference and balancing my personal life, I have found time to search for a job.

I won’t roll it in sugar and put a cherry on top – there’s nothing easy about it. My classy counterpart shared a recent job-search experience with me.  She found a job online that she wanted to apply for, but when she went back the next day it had disappeared.  She later discovered that so many people had applied for the position, the company had to remove it to keep the Web site from crashing.

Limited jobs and a large pool of qualified applicants = frustration.  In a perfect world we would each have our dream job before graduation day, but that’s not reality.  The job search is tedious, time-consuming process.

Here are a few lessons I’ve learned since beginning the job hunt:

One resume doesn’t cut it.

You know that resume you’ve spent time tweaking to accurately reflect your experience level and shopped around to professors, friends and mentors for feedback?  It’s one of many.  I’ve learned it’s not just your cover letter that needs to be customized depending on the position.  Your resume should also highlight the skills that align with the internship or job qualifications.  I currently have three different versions of my resume.  What can I say, I like options.

Sometimes it’s not what you know, but whom you know.

Yes, I’m well aware that networking is critical to succeeding in the PR business; however, I never knew just how much until recently.  I have submitted countless resumes in response to job board postings and the “Join Our Team” sections of various company Web sites, without much luck (so far).  I’ve also told everyone I know that I’m for hire. Interestingly enough, my dad’s co-worker’s wife knows someone looking for a PR intern.  You just never know who can assist you in finding a job.

There’s a thin line between persistence and being a pest.

How do you know when you’ve crossed the line from being a dedicated applicant to being a nuisance?  A recent post by Ron Culp gives job seekers useful tips for strategically following up about your resume.

  1. Have a reason to call.
  2. Plan your call.
  3. Show energy and enthusiasm.
  4. Be prepared for omnipresent voice mail–and use it effectively.
  5. Don’t become a frequent caller.
  6. Plan for the call-back.

No amount of venting will make it all better, but it helps.  It’s unsettling to know that I’m graduating in less than two months and have no idea what I’ll be doing, but I also know I’m not alone.  Where will the job hunt take me?  I’m not sure, but I’m excited to find out!

What lessons have you learned while searching for gainful employment?

Find a balance, let go and get uncomfortable

March 9, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Posted by: Rebecca

This week’s #HAPPO question asks PR pros to share the best career advice they’ve ever received.  I’ve been blessed with awesome career mentors who’ve let me in on some juicy career secrets, and I’d like to share two tidbits with you:

Career Advice No. 1: “Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.”

I can’t seem to remember how I found this quote, but it’s one I live by.  I think the key to life is balance.  Don’t get me wrong: I’ve worked hard to get to where I am today, and I plan to work hard for the rest of my life.  I’m not scared to log long hours every week to advance my career and help my organization succeed, but I never want to push the needs of my family members and friends to the wayside.  They keep me grounded, and I know I’ll always be happiest when I keep a healthy balance between work responsibilities and quality time with family/friends.

The second part of this quote deals with letting go.  It’s important to have dreams and aspirations, but it’s also important to be realistic.  We have to learn how to let go.  If the pitch you perfected all week falls through, you have to let go and move on.  If the job opportunity you’ve been praying about for months doesn’t pan out, you have to let go and keep moving forward.  Don’t beat yourself up over your failures; when it comes down to it, sometimes losing is really winning.  If you spend too much time focusing on unrealistic expectations, you might miss the bright opportunities right before your eyes.

Career Advice No. 2: “You’ll never know [your] full potential unless you challenge yourself.”

This piece of advice comes from a direct message conversation I had with Chuck Hemann last weekend.  For those of you who don’t know him: Chuck is an awesome mentor to Kent State PR students, and he recently packed his bags and moved thousands of miles away to pursue the career of his dreams.

I think Chuck really makes a great point.  The day your career ends is the day you get comfortable and stop challenging yourself.  Life is full of learning opportunities, and you have to expand your knowledge to progress as a professional and an individual.  You also can’t live life with an “I can’t” attitude; you have to seize the day and chase after your goals.

So that’s my advice: Find a balance, let go and get uncomfortable.

What advice can you share?

Columbus #HAPPO employers: Hire this classy pro!

February 19, 2010 at 6:49 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Posted by Shantae

Graduating from college is a scary thought, but this blog has served as a creative outlet for Rebecca and me to vent about the frustrations of searching for employment, share our thoughts and concerns about relocating and engage in two-way conversations with fellow students and professionals.

When Rebecca and I discovered #HAPPO, we knew it presented the ideal opportunity to showcase our individual experience.  Anyone can give a list of his or her professional attributes, but we decided the best way to highlight why we’re the perfect candidates for the job, was to shine the spotlight on each other.

Here’s a few reasons why I think potential employers in Columbus, Ohio, would benefit from getting to know Rebecca Odell:

  • Rebecca is full of ambition.

Rebecca knows what she wants and goes after it.  During her time at Kent State, she interned with Flash Communications, completed a year-long internship at Akron Children’s Hospital and is currently gaining experience as a social media/public relations intern at Akhia Public Relations & Marketing Communications.

She has successfully researched and planned two public relations campaigns for real-world clients and given an exceptional client presentation.  Her ever-expanding skill set includes internal communications, media relations, SEO, content management systems and publication design.  She’s never satisfied with what she knows and looks for new opportunities to learn and grow as a professional.

  • She is a rising social media pro.

Rebecca does not just participate in social media, she’s learned how to use it as networking tool to develop her evolving professional persona.  She currently manages various Twitter accounts on a daily basis:  #YouToo2010 for the third annual YouToo Social Media Conference; #Akhia_Intern, which documents her internship experience; and accounts for agency clients.

Although she tweets, blogs and uses Facebook and Twitter like other soon-to be-grads, what sets her apart is her ability to use these platforms strategically.

  • Rebecca is an eternal optimist, a must in this economy.

The quality I envy most!

Rebecca is little miss sunshine, no matter the circumstances.  She always expresses a positive attitude toward her work, which is a priceless quality in any employee.  I’ve never heard her say “I can’t.”  Any employer would benefit from her optimistic outlook on a complex project or in a chaotic crisis.

  • She’s a born leader.

If you’re looking for someone who can take direction, delegate, encourage and produce, Rebecca is your girl!  She currently serves as PRSSA Kent’s 2009-10 Vice President of Public Relations and is also the publicity chair for the 2010 YouToo Social Media Conference, a professional development seminar co-hosted by PRSSA Kent and the Akron Area PRSA chapter.  As a member of the 2009 PR Kent Bateman Team, Rebecca created the College:  RockIt! blog used as an important communication tool throughout the campaign.

If you want to find out more about Rebecca’s qualifications, check out her about me page or LinkedIn profile.  Also, feel free to contact her at rodell1@kent.edu.

East Coast #HAPPO employers: Hire this sassy lady!

February 19, 2010 at 5:04 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Posted by: Rebecca

As soon-to-be public relations graduates searching for employment after graduation, Shantae and I were thrilled to discover Valerie Simon and Arik Hanson‘s brainchild: #HAPPO.

We’re graduating in difficult economic conditions, but Shantae and I are confident in our abilities, and we’re confident in each other.  As a dynamic co-blogging duo, we decided #HAPPO presented the perfect opportunity to put each other on a pedestal.  (Believe me: Shantae deserves to be on one!)

Here are a few reasons why I think potential employers on the East Coast should hire the “sassy” component of this terrific twosome:

  • She brings a breadth of experience to the table.

Shantae completed two university internships and a corporate internship during her time at Kent State, and she is currently interning in the public relations department at an advertising agency.  Throughout her internships, Shantae gained a breadth of experience in internal communications, media relations, Web content management systems and event planning.  Shantae’s “melting pot” of public relations experience makes her very adaptable, which is essential in this profession.

I don’t know many 22-year-old professionals who can say they created two public relations campaigns for real-world clients before graduating from college, but Shantae can.  The research, strategy, planning and writing involved in these campaigns are invaluable.

  • Shantae knows how to lead, how to listen and how to delegate.

Shantae took on several leadership roles throughout her college years. As Kent State PRSSA’s 2009-2010 vice president of professional relations, Shantae displayed outstanding leadership qualities by planning the chapter’s meetings and coordinating speakers. As a member of the 2009 PR Kent Bateman team, Shantae planned and executed a successful financial aid event. She took on a large leadership role when she wrote PRSSA Kent State’s regional activity bid.  She is currently chairing the student committee for the third annual YouToo Social Media Conference, which will be co-hosted by PRSSA Kent State and the Akron Area PRSA Chapter.

  • She’s quick and witty.

Reason No. 2,294 why I love Shantae: She always has something witty to say!

I think Shantae’s quick, witty personality translates into her professional life, as she integrates her sharp skills into her writing and daily conversation.   She’s an on-your-toes thinker who can adjust to change on a whim.

  • She never gives up.

If you’re looking for an employee who can stick through those time-consuming, difficult projects, Shantae’s the PR pro you need.   If there’s one thing I know about Shantae, it’s that she doesn’t give up.  She’s willing to stick through difficult situations: no matter what the circumstance.

Want to learn more about Shantae’s experience?  View her about me page or LinkedIn profile.  You may also contact her at srollin2@kent.edu.

Exploring the post-grad bucket list…Part II

February 18, 2010 at 6:13 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Posted by:  Shantae

Now that there is less than three months until graduation, I’ve started to think about my future plans.  Not just where I’ll find a job or move to in the coming months, but what I’ll do once I no longer have the comforts of college life.

Rebecca’s inspiration comes from The Buried Life, but since I don’t watch much MTV, my motivation to think about my post-grad bucket list comes from the movie, The Bucket List.  I’m not planning on kicking the bucket (pun intended) tomorrow, or anytime soon, but I do think about my life and what I want to do to get the most out of it.

Here’s my list of goals to accomplish or items to purchase after I go pro:

  • Adopt a furry companion: The summer before sophomore year of college, I decided it would be a “fun” idea to get a pet rabbit.  He was only five weeks old, and I brought him home from the breeder in a coffee maker box.  Now nearly three years later, Mr. Bugs is still with me.  He’s been a constant companion through tests, break-ups and when I wanted to cry during Campaigns class last semester.  Within the next two years, I hope to adopt a female companion from an animal shelter to live happily ever after with him.

  • Take a professional roomie-reunion trip: There are few things in life more important than friendship.  I’m lucky to have two amazing roommates/awesome friends who understand my fears about graduating from student to adult, because they share that same boat with me. We first decided to live together after attending the PRSSA 2008 National Conference in Detroit.  We grew even closer at the most recent conference in San Diego.  We vowed to join PRSA and attend conference each year to network with our peers and catch up with one another.
  • Join a young professionals organization: If my education at Kent State has taught me nothing else, I’ve learned the importance of networking.  You’re only as good as your network.  I want to continue expanding my professional network after graduation by joining a young professional organization and regularly attending events.

  • Buy myself one expensive item each year: Although I’m working hard to be financially responsible, it’s fun to splurge a little sometimes.  I plan to reward myself at least once each year with an expensive Coach purse or pricey pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes.  Treating myself to a sassy item will be well worth the hard work I intend to keep up.
  • Learn to drive a stick shift: Although this has little to do with graduating, it’s something I want to learn how to do.  The day I received my license was a gratifying day because it represented my privilege to share the road with my fellow drivers.  Learning to drive a vehicle with manual transmission would be an equally rewarding accomplishment.

“I envy people who have faith, I just can’t get my head around it.”

-Edward Cole, The Bucket List

I work each day to have faith that the puzzle pieces of my life fall into place.  My bucket list is much longer than five items, but these are just a few things I’d like to check off.  Do you have a bucket list?  If so, what’s on it and what are you waiting for?

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