Don’t Jump the Shark

As I finish the first half of my final semester at UW Oshkosh I have realized how easy it is to just get by when it comes to responsibilities. It’s not that I don’t care, but my excitement is all focused on what could happen after graduation and not always at what’s important now. So let me say if you find yourself just getting by and not giving it your all try not to “jump the shark.”

What do I mean by jump the shark? Well it is an idiom that was first used to describe the moment in a television show that is absurd and stands out from the show’s main premise. In other words you know from that moment the show has reached its peak and can only do downhill from there. The phrase actually comes from an episode of the hit show Happy Days in 1977. Fonzie, played by actor Henry Winkler, visits Los Angeles and while there his bravery is challenged. Wearing his signature leather jacket, he water skis over a shark. Watch the video below and you’ll understand what it means to jump the shark.

And just for some fun you can check to see if your favorite show has jumped the shark.

Even though the phrase if most often used in reference to television shows you can apply it to your own personal life. As I said before, I’m just ready to be done with college so I can move onto the next phase of my life.  That sometimes means I’m only doing the bare minimum to get by. Let me just say that we should always strive to do our best, but I understand how we can get of track. With spring break coming soon I challenge us to reflect on how we have been doing so far this year and make some plans to finish with a bang. A good way to do this is to ask yourself what kind of legacy will I leave behind when I….graduate, leave my current position, etc. Will I be remembered by my peers as someone who give it their all, or someone who just got by?

Here are some tips that I think we can use to stay away from jumping the shark.

Reflection – Ask yourself questions to pinpoint the reasons why you feel you may be jumping the shark. Examples in my life right now include being a bit burned out from all my commitments and the stress of applying to graduate school.

Set Goals – I mean really set some goals for yourself, don’t just write them down and forget about them. Share them with a friend who can help motivate you to reach your goals, but remember to write SMART goals.

Legacy – Think about the legacy you want to leave and make goals that will help you reach that.

Motivation – Surround yourself with things/people who will inspire you to do your best. What I like to do is leave message all over my room with quotes, phrases and other words of wisdom. Or, I will give my grandma a call for a little pep talk. There are also many books on the topic of motivation, worth looking into.

I hope you have found this post helpful, I know that by just writing this I have become motivated to work harder so that I don’t jump the shark.

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Social Media Can Kill

The first thing I do when I turn on my computer is check one of my many social media accounts. I see what my connections have been up to since the last time I logged on. It is nice to know that when my life becomes so busy that I can still connect with friends via social media. Although, I never think that by using social media, someone could be hurt or even killed because of what was posted. Have you thought about how the things you post on social media could have negative impact on others? Recently there has been a rash of incidents across the country where people have committed suicide because of things posted on social media.

One of these incidents involved a student, Tyler Clementi, at Rutgers University. Tyler was a video taped having an encounter with another male. Tyler’s roommate took the video of the encounter and live streamed it online. It appeared that Tyler was devastated by the incident that he jumped off a New York city bridge to his death. According to an ABC News article Tyler’s roommate and another student were charged with invasion of privacy.

I just find this situation and others like it so unbelievable. Unfortunately, with the technology we have today it is easier for us to become a victim of harassment or bullying then ever before. Fortunately, social media has also giving groups such as the LGBTQ community to reach out and spread message of love and support. After seeing more and more sorties like Tyler’s, writer Dan Savage started a video project called “It Gets Better.” The project includes videos from celebrities and to people you may not know. The messages include personal stories and words of hope to encourage others to do better to support the LGBTQ community.

Now when you log onto your social media account I want you to think about what you’re posting and how it may impact others. How can you use social media to positively impact communities such as LGBTQ?

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Are you Part of the Coke Tribe?

While doing research for class I stumbled upon a blog post on Mashable titled Killer Facebook Fan Pages: 5 Inspiring Case Studies. The post looks at five companies, one of them being Coca-Cola.  What I found to be interesting was how the Coca-Cola’s Facebook fan page came to be. Two Coke lovers, named Dusty and Michael, had started their own fan page on Facebook to share their love with others. It became one of the largest Coca-Cola fan pages, and the Coca-Cola Company took notice. Instead of creating a Coca-Cola official page, they decided to work with Dusty and Michael to continue their work. How sweet is that? Now Coca-Cola has the largest brand Facebook page with over twenty-two million fans.

One thing that I realized is that this gathering of people with similar interests is like a tribe, a group of people who all love Coke and their products. If you would like to learn more about tribes Seth Godin is your man. Below you can watch a video from him explaining more in-depth about tribes.

This tribe is not just a small group of people, its twenty-two million people from all different parts of the world. The internet and the fan page have allowed them all to come together in one place without physically doing so. Fans from China can connect with fans from South America, or whoever, and they can all share the one thing they might all have in common.

What kind of tribes are you a member of? How can being part of a tribe be beneficial?

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Involvement on Campus just as Important as an Internship

Now that I’ve blogged about how great internships are and how to find one, I’m going to talk about other opportunities where you can have fun while gaining knowledge and developing skills. I’d like to welcome you to the world of campus organizations. Regardless of the university or college you attend, you should be able to find a club and group in which you can become involved. Becoming involved with a club or group is like an internship. You seek out clubs or groups that are inline with your values, goals and interests and you can gain valuable experience from being involved.

Here at UWO we have over 100 student groups that cover a wide array of interests. I myself have been involved with Reeve Union Board (or RUB for short), our major student activities programming board, for the last four years. Currently, I am the Vice President of Public Relations for RUB. I started out my sophomore year as a general member helping to plan small-scale band concerts for campus. Then I applied to be chair of the music committee. I was a bit scared about taking on a leadership role but I cannot begin to tell you how much I’ve grown as a person from my involvement with RUB.

Me with my fellow Reeve Union Board Executive Board members

Mainly I have learned how to work on major projects in groups while keeping inline with the mission and vision of RUB. Confidence is something else I developed during my time with RUB; I am more confident in my communication skills, and leadership skills. In addition, during my position as VP of Public Relations I have had a great opportunity to put my classroom knowledge to use in a real world setting. Being able to do this has allowed me to develop my skills so that I can be confident when sharing them with a future employer.

Here are some tips that I feel will help you make the most of your campus organization involvement.

  1. Get involved early – the earlier you start the more opportunities you have to hold a leadership position
  2. Volunteer, don’t just attend meetings – Showing up to meetings is not going to get you very far, nor will it look good when during an interview an employer ask you to speak about your involvement and you have nothing to say. Take minutes during the meeting, help with a fundraiser, or be the contact person for a major event.
  3. Network – make connections with others within your club or group, because sometimes it’s not about what you know but who you know. If you would like to read more about networking check out this blog post from my fellow classmate Jessi Bedore.
  4. Have fun – this is your chance to have fun, make mistakes and learn more about yourself as a leader.

Do you feel involvement on campus is just as, or more important than an internship? What has your experience been?

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Internships 101 – Part 2 – Taking the Next Steps

Okay, you decided to get an internship, your first thought might be to start searching for openings. Instead, I suggest you follow these steps first. One, get to know yourself and two, identify your criteria. What I mean is that you should know what you want to do, your goals and what environment will motivate you to do well in your internship. Identifying your criteria simply means to know what things you need in an internship for it to be rewarding. This is where you will need to decided if you want a full-time or part-time, paid or unpaid internship, or for credit internship. By taking these two steps first, you can decrease the chance of ending up in an internship you dislike.

When I completed the two steps, I came to realize that I wanted an internship with a non-profit organization. Being paid for my work was not an issue for me, so I was open to both paid and unpaid internships. My main objective was to gain knowledge not expand my wallet. Furthermore, I knew that I worked better in situations where I was in charge of my work and did not have a supervisor checking in on me every five minutes.

Internship Action Plan

  • Develop a résumé and cover letter (I have linked to the Perdue OWL website; they have some great information on résumé and cover letter writing.
  • Talk with faculty in your college, an internship director, or coordinator
  • Check with your major academic department or advisor for possible internships
  • Utilize social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) to connect with professionals in your field of study
  • Search for internships online on sites like the Intern Queen, or visit the career office on your campus
  • Attend career fairs or workshops

Remember when you are searching for internship not to become caught up in how awesome it sounds. You really want to ask yourself, is this internship worth my time and will I benefit from working there. For example, I thought it would be cool to be an intern at a big music studio in California. However, I realized is that I could make a bigger impact and learn more by taking an internship elsewhere.

What are some concerns you have about applying for an internship? Can you offer any other advice?

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Internships 101 – Part 1 – Why Should I get an Internship?

Being a first generation college student, I did not have a great understanding of how important internships were. It was when I started taking classes related to my major that I began hearing teachers tell me I should get an internship. Even then, I was still asking myself, why should I get an internship? Fortunately, my teachers helped me realize how valuable internships are. Internships offer a great opportunity for students to build upon their in class education, develop new skills and experience their field of interest. They can be part-time or full-time, for college credit, paid or unpaid. What is important to note is that internships are different from part-time or short-term jobs. The employer and the intern focus internships around learning objectives that they establish.

Here are some benefits of having an internship that I read about in the Get Hired Career Guide developed by Career Services at UW Oshkosh

Benefits of an internship:

  • Helps you decide if a career field is the right fit for you – The first internship I ever had was with the Wisconsin Ovarian Cancer Alliance over the summer of 2010. In this internship, I explored the public relations side of journalism. It was during this experience that I realized my true passion was public relations and not advertising.
  • You can develop your skills, confidence and knowledge – My current internship with the UW Oshkosh Counseling Center has required me to utilize my writing skills on a consistent basis. It is because of this, that I now feel more confident with my writing abilities.
  • Allows you to apply what you learned in the classroom to a real world setting – I learned about writing press releases in class. It was important, but writing a fake press release is not as exciting as writing press releases for on organizations statewide events, as I did for the Wisconsin Ovarian Cancer Alliance.
  • A valuable experience you can add to your résumé – When interviewing, employers want to know that you have had experience outside of the classroom that can transfer to a position within their company.
  • Opens the door to a job offer or a recommendation – If you have a positive experience while interning you may find yourself with a job offer, or at the very least a great letter of recommendation.

This is just a short list of some of the benefits of having an internship, what are some other benefits you can think of? What are some things you want to learn from your internship?

Once you decide you want an internship, your next step is to start preparing and searching. Look for more information in my blog post titled Internship 101 – Part 2 on how to get started.

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Twitter is lame… or so I thought

A year and a half ago, after some encouragement from a friend I joined Twitter. I made one post announcing my arrival and that was about it. Since then I have not be an active member of the social media site, maybe it was because I kept forgetting my password. I did not really understand the point of Twitter. Was it necessary for my friends to update me of their activities every minute of every day? As Paul Levinson, the author of the book New New Media, would say, “Would you like everyone in the world to know… a second or so after you had [a] thought or experience and got the impulse to broadcast it to the world?” My point exactly, did I want everyone to know all this information about me? No, not really, that’s probably the real reason I never used my Twitter account. To be honest it was not until this past week that I began to realize how fun and beneficial using Twitter could be.

Recently I read a New York Times article that highlights how Twitter is more than just status updates. The article was about the airliner JetBlue and how they have utilized Twitter to not only connect with customers also how they have saved travelers from being stranded when flights are canceled. Alex Murillo, an online creative director, was stuck at an airport during a December 2010 snowstorm. After a failed attempt to reach JetBlue over the phone to reschedule his flight, Alex took to Twitter to complain. Not long after tweeting JetBlue about the problem, a customer service rep direct messaged (DM) Alex for his flight confirmation number. Alex DM his number and within minuets he was rescheduled for another flight. This happened to Alex about three more times but instead of calling JetBlue each time he used Twitter. Who ever thought you could use Twitter like that?

Since it’s not every day I’m stuck in an airport needing to reschedule my flight, I’ve mainly been using Twitter to connect with a wide array of users. So far, I am following most of my friends, celebrities, businesses, and many professionals related to public relations, which I am currently studying at UW Oshkosh For example, I now follow my journalism professor and the marketing manager for the student union at my university. They are always posting information related to public relations as well as opportunities to further my understanding of the field outside of the classroom.

I’ve also found out that Twitter is a great place to connect with potential employers. Many companies or professionals are on Twitter looking for their next employee. In addition, they may post internship opportunities and job openings. This is where having a good presence on Twitter is important. I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject of Twitter but I still would like to share some tips on who to improve your Twitter presence. So, here are some helpful tips I found from the Public Relations Student Society of America Forum.

Interaction – Be active on Twitter, don’t be like me and make a Twitter account and never use it. Make sure you are connecting with other people who share your interests. Furthermore, post articles you find that are interesting, or share your opinion about topics you read on Twitter

Creation – You want to create content not just re-tweet content; share something that is your own. This could include making a video, writing a blog, or submitting content to a website.

Authenticity – Most importantly be yourself; don’t try to be something you’re not.
Your online self should reflect who you are in person.

By following these tips, you can improve your chances of being noticed, not only by your friends but by professionals.

How have you utilized Twitter? Do you have any suggestions on how I can improve my presence on Twitter or whom I should follow?  Share them here, and make sure to follow me on Twitter  as I work on improving my Twitter presence.

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