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! 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.


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?

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?

Exploring the post-grad bucket list

February 15, 2010 at 7:09 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Posted by: Rebecca

After living with me for six months, my roommates Shantae and Mary Jo can attest to the fact that I hardly ever watch TV.  However, while flipping through channels over winter break, I came across MTV’s The Buried Life, a series about a few guys on a mission to cross items off their bucket lists.

My epic television discovery sparked a conversation with Shantae, and we started to wonder: What do we want to achieve after we graduate from college?

Here are a few serious and not-so-serious things I’d like to purchase/accomplish when I have a steady income and post-graduation free time:

  • Buy a Pottery Barn or Crate & Barrel couch.

“Normal” grads dream of buying a fancy new car or an expensive electronic when they get their first big check.  My dream purchase?  A Pottery Barn couch! I could spend hours (and I have) browsing through furniture catalogs and perusing through interior design stores.  I’ve had my eyes on an overpriced, plush couch for quite some time now, and I’m ready to make the big purchase.

  • Add a furry friend to my family.

DogMy parents have never been animal lovers; therefore, my brother and I led a childhood sans pets (tragic, I know.)  I begged for a kitten from the time I knew what a kitten was, and my parents finally caved in on my 13th birthday.  After my beloved cat died in a car-related accident, I decided I didn’t want another pet until I graduated from college.  I’m looking forward to purchasing a furry friend to keep me company.

  • Teach the kiddos.

I taught Sunday school during my freshman and sophomore years of college, but I resigned to become more involved with PRSSA and focus on my studies.  Teaching 3rd-5th grade students was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and I’d love to become involved in children’s church again.

  • Find a new hobby… or rediscover an old one.

I was a competitive dancer for 14 years, and I coached cheerleading and taught hip-hop and acrobatics classes during my high school and early college years.  Shantae and I took a hip-hop class several weeks ago, and it reminded me how much I miss dancing.  I’d love to rediscover this hobby or find a new one to enjoy.  Who knows… maybe I’ll be kickboxing or cake decorating around this time next year!

  • Mentor public relations students.

From resume advice to assistance in establishing new contacts, I am consistently amazed by the relationships I’ve developed with public relations professionals.  I am thankful for my college mentors, and I hope to serve as a resource to students, too.  I want to work for an organization that embraces professional organizations (such as AMA, PRSSA and IABC) and encourages me to share my knowledge.

Now it’s your turn!  Soon-to-be-grads: What are your post-grad goals?

Shooting in the dark: Applying to confidential job postings

February 10, 2010 at 6:44 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Posted by: Rebecca

Rebecca’s job search lesson #173: Spending my free time networking and making new connections will prove to be far more valuable than spending hours glued to job boards.

Although the sales-related postings and shady offers (you know what I’m talking about: the ones that say you’ll make $80,000 in one year while working from home) plaguing job boards can be annoying, I don’t think it hurts to browse these job sites.  I found my first non-retail job at a mental health office through a confidential classified ad, and I absolutely loved it.

Since I had a positive experience with my last response to a confidential company job posting, I was excited when I found a confidential public relations posting on that fit my career goals and skills set.

However, applying for this job quickly turned into a stressful experience.  Here’s why:

  • To Whom It May Concern…?

My public relations professors drilled it in my head: It’s unacceptable to be lazy when searching for a job.  If you’re sending a cover letter, you should always do your research and find out who you’re sending the resume and cover letter to.  But if I don’t even know the name of the company, how can I direct the cover letter to a specific person?

  • I can do something for your company… if I knew what you did

The online job posting gave a solid list of skills needed for the position.  I knew I had the skills, but how can I tell a company I’m a perfect fit if I don’t even know what it does?  If I knew the company’s specialty, I may be able to make a stronger case for why I’d be an asset.  I also like to check out a company’s Web site to see if the organization seems to fit my personal goals and ethics, which is impossible to research when the company is confidential.

  • Creating an online presence… for a ghost

The job was primarily social media based.   Again, it’s difficult to gauge an organization’s current social media presence if it won’t reveal its identity on a job board.  How can I tell you how I’ll increase your Web presence if you won’t even tell me your name?

Don’t get me wrong: I’m sure this company does amazing work, and it seems like an excellent position.  I just never realized how difficult (and aggravating) it is to write a cover letter and sell your soul to an organization that won’t even reveal its name.

Students and entry-level pros: Have you ever applied to a confidential job posting?  If so, what are your experiences?  If you represent a company that lists confidential postings, what advice can you share with applicants?

Internships after graduation: The road to employment

February 2, 2010 at 7:15 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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Posted by Shantae

When I think about where I’ll be six months from now, I imagine myself in client meetings, pitching the media and networking with both seasoned and young public relations professionals. 

The PR program at Kent State continues to challenge me – pushing me to be better than I was last semester and last year.  As part of our curriculum, we’re required to complete a 300-hour internship at an approved company or organization.  It’s a long road, but in the end we hope to emerge as prepared, well-rounded professionals.  It’s a natural progression. 

However, tough economic times are making it increasingly more difficult for college grads to land an entry-level position.  I spoke with two PR Kent graduates who turned their internships into full-time positions.

Getting your foot in the door

Katelyn Luysterborg, a PR Kent graduate, turned her internship into a job at Cleveland advertising and PR firm, Marcus Thomas LLC.  She is an Assistant Account Executive.

Me:  What were your hopes immediately following graduation?

Katelyn:  Like all new grads, I wanted a full-time job. I worked hard during college and felt that I deserved the job of my dreams. But that didn’t come right away. I finished my internship for credit during the summer and stayed on for several months after until I was offered a full-time position.

Me:  How did you turn your internship into a career?

Katelyn:  Honestly, I think I proved to be an asset to company. I started out doing intern work and slowly earned more responsibilities. It didn’t come right away, but I never felt like I was doing something beneath me. Even the little, menial projects are important to making sure things run smoothly. I treated my internship like an extended job interview, which is what internships are.

The biggest thing is to show your boss that you’re willing to do anything to get the job done. For instance, staying late to finish a project or taking the extra step to make sure everything is perfect. Things like that don’t go unnoticed, even if someone doesn’t say something right away.

Me:  What advice do you have to offer soon-to-be grads who want a job, not an internship after graduation?

Katelyn:  My advice would be to not to discount internships. While you should absolutely apply for every entry-level position out there, apply for the internships as well. You never know what could happen, and it’s still a learning experience. Future employers want to see that you’re still active and willing to do what it takes, even if you don’t have your dream job.

Kendra Wheeler, another PR Kent grad, officially graduated in December 2009.  She completed her internship for credit at Liggett Stashower, an advertising and public relations agency in Cleveland, and was hired on as a Brand Specialist.

Me:  What is the greatest benefit(s) of interning after graduation?

Kendra:  I can think of a few benefits to interning after graduation:

1. It gives you a chance to enhance your skill set and resume. Interning after graduation will give you the opportunity to put ALL your skills from college to use. By this time, At this point, you have learned all there is to learn from the classroom and you have a better chance of standing out than another intern who may be in their junior or senior year of coursework.

2. It puts you in a better position to turn the internship into full-time work. Your employer knows that you are a recent graduate and looking for employment and if a position opens up, you will be a great candidate for employment (if you were an awesome intern). 

3. Taking an internship after graduation, allows you to explore different industries. Internships are a test-drive for your career path. You can try out a variety of professional industries to see if it is a good fit for you. Interning doesn’t carry the heavy commitment that employment does. Therefore, you can have internship after internship. This won’t be the case, once you start your career.

Me:  How did you turn your internship into a full-time position?

Kendra:  I turned my internship into a career by being the best worker I knew how to be. I took each task, no matter how tedious, and completed it fast and efficient. I was only an intern, but I wanted the staff at the agency to trust in me, my work and my abilities.

I was constantly trying to improve, so I would ask for feedback on my work. When someone asked me to complete a task, I wouldn’t just turn it in when I was finished. I would ask for feedback on the assignment. If there was something I could do better, I did it.

And of course, I did the things that every intern should do. I was on time for work, I stayed late to finish time-sensitive projects. Finally, I kept the agency staff updated on the progress of my various projects. 

I worked hard to be a “super intern” and when a position was open at the agency, I confidently went after it.

Me:  What advice do you have to offer soon-to-be grads who want a job, not an internship after graduation?

Kendra:  Soon-to-be graduates should take their internships seriously. You want your past employers to consider you for full-time employment. They should also remember to network. They should tell others that they are in the market for full-time employment.

Finally, soon-to-be grads should practice good interviewing skills and have their resumes professionally critiqued.

Make it work

Katelyn and Kendra didn’t aspire to be interns after working hard in school for four years, but they found the best in the situation and made their internship experiences work for them.  According to a recent post on Student Branding Blog:

“An internship, volunteer work, or part-time employment at a company of interest is a great way to get your foot in the door. Don’t settle for something that is going to make you miserable. Instead, think about the little steps you can take to push yourself in the right career direction.”

Recent graduates:  If you found yourself as an intern after graduation, how did you transition to a full-time position?  How did you stand out as intern?


Relient K, uncertainty and knowing everything will be just fine

February 1, 2010 at 5:10 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments
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Hi, my name is Rebecca.  And I am addicted to planning.

PlannerI’ve been a planner for as long as I can remember.  I’m the girl who picked out her college major during sophomore year of high school… and stuck with it.  I’m the girl who plans her finances dollar-for-dollar so she can afford that one special “item” (for me, it’s usually a pair of shoes I’ve been drooling over) months from now.  I’m the girl who starts writing her two-page assignment weeks before it’s due.

As a planning addict, it scares me that I have absolutely no clue what life will bring after I graduate on May 15.  I had a small “wow, I’m graduating and have no clue where I’ll be in a few months” moment while discussing the job search, moving and taking an internship vs. holding out for an entry-level position with my mom this past weekend.

Although I don’t know what the future holds, I do know one thing: It’s going to be great.

Relient K is one of those bands that “speaks” to me.  I’m pretty sure the group follows my life on Facebook and Twitter and writes a song for every situation I’m facing.  When I went through my iTunes library this weekend, I found these Relient K lyrics were a reflection of this “season” in my life:

A year’s passed since I wrote this song. A lot’s gone right; a lot’s gone wrong. But I know that Jesus has been there right by my side. And I see the sun still shines. It shines outside and in my life, and I know that everything is gonna be just fine.

So to all you graduating seniors out there: We have a bumpy road ahead of us.  However, PR’s 2010 outlook is optimistic, and I am confident that we’ll be rockin’ the PR world in no time.  Just know that in the end, everything will be just fine.  🙂

Mastering LinkedIn

January 26, 2010 at 6:16 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Posted by: Rebecca

Let’s face it: Staying on the social media bandwagon can be downright overwhelming.

Between keeping track of Twitter trends, posting relevant tweets, participating in Twitter chats, maintaining Facebook relationships, bookmarking helpful links, blogging and commenting on blog posts, social media can consume a hefty chunk of your day.

I love learning and contributing, and I wish I had heaps of spare time to devote to social media.  However, this future PR pro loves her sleep far too much to comment on blogs at 4 a.m., so I had to choose to devote time to social media tools that will aid my job search.

As an avid Twitter and Facebook user, I was initially hesitant to add another social media network to my full plate.  However, I finally broke down and created a LinkedIn profile for several reasons:

  1. Several public relations and marketing professionals (Chuck Hemann was a persuasive proponent) in my network preached about its ability to connect young college grads to professionals.
  2. Google indexes my LinkedIn profile in the top four search results for “Rebecca Odell.”   That’s SEO at its finest!  A LinkedIn profile is a prime opportunity for human resource managers to stumble across my job experiences during a simple Google search.
  3. I saw LinkedIn as an opportunity to share an expanded resume with potential employers.  I’m trying to keep my traditional paper resume on one page, so a LinkedIn profile can contain the nitty, gritty details I can’t fit on my tangible resume.


According to Gaj-It’s LinkedIn post, my LinkedIn profile is in good shape thanks to public privacy settings, work-related status updates and group memberships.  However, I still have several questions about my profile:

  1. Are recommendations a “make or break” point for potential employers?  What do you do if your past work/internship supervisors do not have LinkedIn profiles?
  2. Should my LinkedIn profile serve as an extension of my resume, or should LinkedIn summarize my resume?

Soon-to-be graduates, entry-level pros and managers: What are your opinions/experiences with LinkedIn?  How important is LinkedIn to find jobs/recruit potential employees?  Are recommendations really that important?

Rebecca's LinkedIn Profile

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