Lessons Learned and More To Come

I’ve always been the person who says, “If you’re going to have a blog – make sure you update it regularly … keep your readers engaged!” Although offering the advice, I clearly haven’t been the person who follows that statement.  I love reading blogs, especially ones that offer great life stories and yet teach you great things at the same time (Two of my current favorites, whose posts I never miss:  Kimmi Sterner- The Fortunate Life, and Gary Baker- Between Mouth and Mind).  The two of them make me feel like I should really be updating my blog with all of my life lessons – but, I haven’t.  Until Now.

The past two years have been a total whirlwind of educational lessons, life lessons, fun and personal development – and did I mention FUN?!  I learned more about myself in these past two years of grad school, and working at a University than I have in my total 27 years of existence (okay, maybe that’s stretching it a little .. but, honestly, sometimes it feels that way).

My blog posts in the past have been fairly structured – more “here’s what happened today” instead of “here’s what I think other people could learn from my life” – which is going to change .. now.

Two and half years ago I walked into a classroom at Rowan University with the expectation that I would take some classes, earn my M.A in Higher Education Administration, find a job at a University working with students and BOOM! – life would be perfect.  In reality, that was just the base of what I was about to experience.  Life had some extra learning moments in store for me and right here, right now, I’m going to share my top 5 of those with you.  Hopefully they help someone else out!

1. Be prepared for change – ALWAYS.

I worked professionally for just about three years in the field of PR before going back to school.  When I was offered my assistantship and started working in the Student Center, I was working in the office the same way I was working in the firm.  I kept thinking things had to be short, sweet and to the point.  WRONG.  I learned as I continued on that although there are DEFINITELY deadlines in higher ed, it’s more “all about the story” than strictly PR.  Higher Ed is all about telling your story, inspiring people with your story & inspiring them to create their own story to be able to learn and grow from.  I had to work hard to change my thought process and be successful where I was working, and it wasn’t always easy – but I got there … which brings me to my second lesson.

2. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.

keep going There were so many moments over the last two and a half years that I thought I was just going to fall apart.  Returning back to school after a three-year hiatus was difficult, writing papers in APA as opposed to MLA was NOT FUN, working in a totally different field & with people who worked differently than I did proved to be a major challenge at times and it was definitely NOT always easy.  But let’s be honest here.  What in life is always easy?  Those moments that made me feel broken down, totally lost and unsure of myself made me who I am today.  The best part – none of those moments killed me! Each of those moments that made my brain feel like mush (yup, technical term) helped me learn more about myself and how to develop as a person, a student and a supervisor … and despite the momentary feeling of “lost”, I got through it all and am a better person for it.

3. For every moment that breaks you down, there are three that will build you back up. 

Just as in any job there will be days that exhaust you!  You will have had one too many meetings.  opportunityYour phone rang way too much.  People asked you the same things over and over again.  Deadlines approach way too quickly.  Departments have endless questions about events.  Someone spoke to you the wrong way and was way too rude.  Your to-do list just keeps growing.  You’re stressed out.  No one likes those days.  But something I’ve realized and will continue to focus on is that the beauty of higher ed is, if you do your job right, you’re positively impacting so many people around you.  Because of one of those repetitive questions you answered, or an event you helped plan, you made someone else’s day.  Whether it’s a parent, a student, a co-worker, a staff member, or a department head … someone else is walking away, smiling, because you helped them.  That makes it all worth it.  I’ve had some pretty crappy days, where out of nowhere I get a thank you from someone for helping make their life easier – and, honestly, it turns my day around.  Remember that when people ask for help. Just because you’re having a rough day doesn’t mean you need to make someone else miserable.   Smile, help someone out and positive karma will come back and help you out … always.

4. Show your gratitude.

I’m not talking about saying thanks when someone lets you borrow their pen (although .. you should do that too).  Hear me out.  Ogratitudever the last two years, I have come in contact with some pretty phenomenal people.  Professionals from other universities who were / are willing to help me with my resume and building my cover letter, and offering advice on staff trainings and social media strategies as well as introducing me to other connections.  I have met with and spoken with higher education professionals both at Rowan and outside of Rowan who agreed to just let me pick their brain for an hour about their journey through higher ed.  My supervisors at Rowan offered me endless advice, continuous training and amazing opportunities – all of which I was lucky to get.  What do I mean by show your gratitude?  Stay in touch with the people who were / are willing to help, let them know how grateful you are, continue to learn from them and pass on the advice you’ve been given.  The world would be a much better place if we all just showed everyone the gratitude they deserved.

5. Welcome the “learning moments”.

This was a big one for me over the last two years.  There were SO MANY learning moments.  In classes, at work, in my personal life – I’m fairly certain that the universe decided that since I decided to go back to school, I needed to learn lots of things about every aspect of my life.  Friendships became rocky, love was lost (we won’t get into that), new relationships were formed – some lasted and some didn’t, financial issues presented themselves, momentary lapses of brilliance happened in the classroom (For those of you who know me well, I know it’s tough to believe … but yes, it happened to me… HA!), supervisory skills were tested, and at times the way I reacted to situations was questioned.  I learned lots of lessons.  I learned that just because you feel a certain way about something doesn’t mean someone else has to feel the same way … and just because they don’t feel the same way, it doesn’t make them wrong.  It means you need to listen, because there’s probably something you can take away from it.  I learned that people will come into your life, some will stay and some will go … but not to worry about the ones who go, because if they were meant to be there, they’d be there – or they’ll come back in time.  I learned that just because someone is treating you poorly, it doesn’t mean you’ve necessarily done something wrong – but, instead, that they have other things going on in their life … so, to take it with a grain of salt, allow it to make you stronger, learn from it and move on.  The biggest lesson on “learning moments” that I learned is that they present themselves whenever you allow them to.  Every single moment in your life can be a learning moment, if you allow it to be – so welcome them and make the most out of them.

As I’m sitting here, typing this (taking a break from submitting endless job applications), I realize there are SO many more lessons I have learned over the last 2 years, but I figured this was a good “umbrella” list for all of them.

Spark Notes Version :

Embrace the people that surround you and the lessons they are willing to teach (or, the ones you learn from them).  You may hit some rough patches along the way, but it’s nothing you can’t get through.  Help people out and they’ll be willing to help you.  Smile, and make someone’s day – regardless of what’s going on in your own … because you CAN make a difference in someone else’s life.  Last, but certainly not least, welcome every single learning moment that presents itself in your life … without them, you won’t grow.  

Hopefully I’ll have some more sage advice for everyone in the near future :).

This is my life (and blog)…  In Progress.

 

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Motivation Gets You Everywhere…

It’s officially been a year since I started this journey into higher education, and I have to  say, it’s been quite a ride.  Ups and downs, bumps and bruises (figuratively speaking, of course), positives and negatives (mostly positives).  I’ve learned a lot, and am still learning for sure, but something has recently become extremely apparent to me.

A little background info… school wasn’t my strongest suit as an undergrad, or previous to that, honestly.  I wasn’t a BAD student, by any means.  I was your average, care more about extra curricular activities  and having fun with friends while putting in the bare minimum for schoolwork but still getting by, type of undergrad (weren’t a lot of us?).

I was lucky. I got a job out of college, worked for about three years, and realized it was time for something new; something I truly loved to do.  I got into Grad School, landed an assistantship and currently am working with some of the best people I’ve ever met in my life.  I love my job… everything about it.  I love the classes I’m taking, the things I’m learning about and how I can easily apply it into my daily work life – it’s amazing!

Here’s the not so “happy go lucky” part.  I’M BROKE.  Every grad student, or person who has been in my shoes is laughing right now – doing the “been there, done that” dance.  I’m so lucky to have the assistantship that I have, and I am WAY better off than a lot of grad students who aren’t as lucky as I am – so I’m not complaining, so much as I’m making a blatant statement about my financial situation.

I have rent to pay, bills to pay, groceries to buy, and myself to take care of and somehow with an assistantship that gives me a bi-weekly stipend (and pays for grad school), and teaching 3 Zumba classes a week it’s still not enough.  It’s time to pick up another job.

When I came to the conclusion that I would have to pick up another job, I was slightly upset.  I kept wondering how I was going to do it all.  Today, somehow, I found some sort of clarity. Something in my head clicked, and told me exactly how I was going to do it.  Something said… the way to do it is to JUST DO IT.

I have a year left of school – in that year the classes I have left are my internship and my thesis courses.  That’s it! Please note, I use the term “that’s it” loosely, because I’m well aware of how much work is going to have to go into both of those things.  That means one more year of working a bunch of side jobs along with classes and work, and one more year of freaking out because I have to work when I probably should be in the library.  It’s only a year.  I can do a year of that!  It’s almost like being able to see where the light at the end of the tunnel is, before you get there.

In under a year I’ll be applying for jobs, hopefully landing myself back up in North Jersey or maybe even in NYC.  Maybe I’ll end up somewhere completely different, who knows!  The excitement of where this schooling and the job I have now is taking me is so empowering that having to pick up another job isn’t even phasing me as much as it once had.  I’ve accomplished so much more than I ever thought I would in the last year, and I’m so proud to be where I am – I can only imagine where the next year is going to take me.

own-destiny

Sure, this post was a slight rant about my financial life and where I hope to be going .. but, sometimes you’ve got to take a step back and realize what’s motivating you instead of what’s potentially holding you back.  You have to realize that you truly are the creator if your own destiny.  This is only going to push me to work harder and be more successful – it’s my time to shine (as cheesy and cliche as that may sound) … and I cant wait for more.

This is my life…  In Progress.

Job Hunt Lessons Learned… For The #Unemployed As Frustrated As I Was.

So here I am finding myself making one of the worst mistakes you can make in the social media world (at least in my opinion).  I’ve gotten so caught up in life that it’s been forever since I have posted here.  Annoying, right?  My apologies.  Anyway, even though this is a social media / PR blog I thought (being that I am finally starting a new job on Monday) I would share a few of the things I have learned on my 3 month job hunt.  Enjoy and feel free to add anything else!

Lessons Learned:

I’ve learned a lot over the past few months.  Being unemployed and constantly on the job hunt, I found myself spending countless hours watching Twitter feeds, reading people’s blogs and catching up on people’s lives via Facebook.  (Word of advice: When people say they can learn a lot about you via the Internet, they’re not kidding haha).

I was on the job hunt for about 3 months … I used all sorts of job boards, visited tons of company web sites, made a bunch of phone calls, used some of my connections, and crossed my fingers.  In some cases, I connected to people via LinkedIn and then tweeted them telling them I had done so… which proved to be very successful.  Professionals love to know that you REALLY want to speak to them.  The interest that you show, interests the professionals who you want to work for!

Does doing all of this mean you’re going to get the job?  NOPE. But, if you reach out properly you make connections… and in today’s world connections are everything.

I searched for 3 months and made countless connections.  These connections ultimately led to the job that I will be starting on Monday.

If you leave this page and take nothing else away from this post, take this piece of advice: ALWAYS FOLLOW UP.  If you submitted a resume and cover letter, made a phone call, and got an interview … don’t stop there!  With the amount of people searching and applying for jobs, you need to make yourself memorable or you’ll be “lost in the fog”.  Feel like you’re being annoying?  It’s okay … think of it as being persistant.  I wouldn’t recommend calling everyday or e-mailing every hour …. but calling or e-mailing 2 or 3 days after the initial interview, and then following up a week later shows dedication and responsibility.  Make it happen.

Next piece of advice: If it doesn’t work out, it’s not the end of the worldDon’t get down on yourself and lose confidence.

If my boyfriend or may parents saw this, they’d be patting themselves on the back… because I learned this the hard way and this is the advice they gave me.  Don’t take it personally if you meet up with a company for 2 or 3 interviews and they just don’t have the decency to call you back.  Remember, it’s their loss.  Clearly they saw something in you… they saw you more than once.  When things get hard remember that they thought you were awesome… EMBRACE THE AWESOME and just keep looking.  That’s right, I said it… EMBRACE THE AWESOME. Keep the confidence level high and move on to the next plan.

And another thing… If you’re good at something, and you know you’re good, don’t be afraid to show it.  Here’s where it gets tough.  You want to exude confidence to your (hopefully) future employer…. but you DO NOT want to come off as a know it all!  Remember, they want to learn as much from you as they want you to learn from them.  If you come across like you already know everything you may annoy the interviewer… and then ruin your chances of returning in the future.  If they ask you a question, obviously don’t play dumb … answer to the best of your ability and wait until they ask you the next one.  Sit up straight, don’t be afraid to smile and laugh, and try not to come across as desperate!  Interviews are just as much about your knowledge as they are about your personality! They want to know if your personality type will fit in with the overall dynamic of their company.  Don’t be afraid to be you.

Social Media Do’s and Dont’s of Unemployment:

  • DO let the world know you’re looking for work … make connections and hope for the best!
  • DON’T trash talk a company who hasn’t gotten back to you after an interview … no company wants a trash talker!
  • DO follow the companies pages to see their most recent news – you can use that in an interview!
  • DON’T be afraid to reach out to the President or CEO of a company on LinkedIn and then follow up via e-mail or on another social media platform – it shows confidence, and they want confident people working for them!
  • DO be careful what you’re posting about yourself … companies will check up on you.
  • DON’T give up … strike up a conversation with the company / RT their info … show them you’re interested.  If they can’t take you on now because they’re not hiring, it doesn’t mean they won’t expand in the future!

Well … hopefully that helps people that are going through the job search in this crazy economy.  I wish you all tons and tons of luck, and my heart goes out to all of you!  Hang in there, because before you know it you’ll ge the job you deserve! Remember: EMBRACE THE AWESOME! 🙂

Looking for Input! Social Media in the Unemployed World… A Help or A Bust While Job Searching?

Follow up… Be persistent… Go for what you think you should have… Make your presence known!

 

These are all pretty common phrases you hear when searching for that “dream job”.  Here I am,  searching for my dream job in the public relations world … mainly the social media realm of the industry … and as much as I follow up, be persistent, and make my presence know, it’s proven to be impossible (for the time being).

So, for those of you in the industry… read on, and let me know how I should be improving my job hunting skills!

I find a job I love,  I find them on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and wherever else they might be (I mean… if I’m applying for a social media job, I want to see what it is that they’re trying to improve or add upon), I put together a cover letter and submit my resume, and then I connect.

I have 2 years of experience in my field and I love what it is that I do… and I know that I’m good at it.  I’m a confident young woman, who is the ultimate people-person, and I don’t mind working my “you-know-what” off to get the job done quickly, properly, and fantastically.  I have a pretty fair resume, and I highlight the things I’m good at and have been recognized for in my cover letters.

What I’ve learned: Very few companies will get back to you on Twitter, and even less will get back to you via Facebook.  LinkedIn is good if an HR rep. posted the job, because then you can connect to them and “speak” with them that way… bu, you still very rarely hear back.  Personally, I believe an introduction outside of a resume and cover letter is a good thing, so why don’t companies like to interact?  I’d love someone’s input on that, especially if there’s a better way to go about what I’m doing.

Someone once recommended that I put together a video resume, but when I asked a handful of HR reps. what they thought about the idea, it basically got laughed at.  They don’t have time to sit there and watch videos all day… they scan through a resume and cover letter (if they don’t already have a machine doing it for them), and you either get considered or dropped that way.

I’m just looking for advice here, because the more input I get from different people and companies will help me in the long run.  Do you think connecting via social media, when you’re looking for a job in the social media world is a good idea or not and why?

Thanks to anyone who helps out, I appreciate it!