Posts filed under ‘Job search’

Calling all DR. WHAW fans!

So I’ve come to a decision:

I cannot keep up with DR. WHAW? all by myself.

I haven’t thoroughly planned this out just yet, but I have realized that in order for DR. WHAW to be consistent (and daily), I need some help. Since there were many of you who were glad to see this daily feature return, albeit briefly, I am hoping that there are some out there willing to help me keep DR. WHAW a nightly staple.

Ideally, I’d like to have one or two regular contributors who are willing to help me out a couple nights a week to make sure that DR. WHAW doesn’t fall by the wayside. You don’t necessarily have to love measurement, you just have to be willing to share what you Didn’t Read While Hard At Work. I prefer that you pick one general topic or passion and highlight it, but hey! I’m flexible!

If you would like to help me out in this venture, please send me the following information to denison.rebecca[at]gmail[dot]com:

1. Your Name

2. Previous blogging or writing experience (Twitter handle is OK, too!)

3. Why you want to write for DR. WHAW?

Also feel free to reach out if you have any questions! I hope to hear back from at least a few of you soon! 🙂

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January 26, 2010 at 1:42 AM Leave a comment

If you want my recommendation, get online and get involved!

Last week, I was asked for recommendations for two separate social media positions. In both cases, I was asked to recommend friends or people I know who may be good candidates. In one case, I immediately thought of a handful of folks, but in the other case, I couldn’t come up with a single name. What was the difference?

The first position was one very similar to my own and required a keen eye for measurement. The second was a community manager position which would require a strong social media background.

Because I had a measurement internship before my job, I know plenty of qualified and hard-working interns who are still waiting for their opportunity. That was a no-brainer to me because I had seen their work and passion when we worked together.

When I was asked to recommend someone for a community manager position, no one jumped to mind immediately (no one who was looking for a job, anyway). Then I started to look through people I follow on Twitter and online friends, and I still couldn’t think of anyone. And this made me stop and think about why, and this is what I realized: no one I knew had shown me their work or passion for social media.

I know that I have plenty of friends online (and offline) who are interested and maybe even passionate about social media, but I did not feel comfortable recommending any of them. I did not want to give my endorsement when I could not personally vouch for their social media work.

So my point is this: you must have a visible social media footprint. I can know that you have passion from offline experience, but if that same passion does not show up when a recruiter or manager searches for you online, then you will not get hired. I will not recommend someone whose work and passion I cannot find easily or have not seen through interactions online.

There have been plenty of people who encourage online presence, but I am adding my two cents because I was shocked and dismayed to realize that I could not recommend any of my friends for a community manager position.

January 11, 2010 at 9:38 AM Leave a comment

Expectations: are they really so completely overwhelming or all in your head?

I expect it won’t take more than an hour.  I expected to have a job by the time I graduated.  How do you expect me to read your mind?

No matter where you are in life or where you want to go, at times we are all haunted and overwhelmed by expectations.  Whether they’re our own, those of our peers or those of our superiors, expectations have an uncanny way of being unrealized.

I grew up with certain expectations for myself, which included being gainfully employed upon graduating from college this May.  With the drastic change in the economy and high-speed evolution of communications, I have found many of my expectations have gone unfulfilled.  Some days it’s easy to feel like this mean I’ve failed.

After talking with just about any one who would listen, I’ve realized that I am definitely not alone and that I need to change my expectations in this economic climate.

This made me think: what other expectations do I have for myself (as a person, a professional, etc.) are completely off-base and unreachable? Am I setting myself up to fail?

Recently I had to fill out one of those personality indices which asks that you first select all of the adjectives that you feel you are expected to be and then to fill out all of the adjectives that you think you really are.

I realized that I believe that the world expects me to be, well, perfect.  I am expected to be patient in my job search but tenacious when applying for opportunities.  I am expected to be respectful of my superiors but confident enough to disagree.  I am expected to be completely dedicated to my job but well-balanced in life.

Am I alone?  Am I pulling these expectations out of thin air?  Is it even possible to meet all of these criteria?

When I ask people what they do expect of me, I feel as though I often get very vague answers, which only makes me feel more nervous that I am utterly failing to be what is expected of me.

As a young professional seeking first-time employment in an ever-changing industry, what is expected of me?  What do you feel is expected of you?

December 16, 2009 at 9:37 AM 2 comments

Think social media can teach you a lot? What about hockey players?

I must first say that I feel like such a writer.  I’ve been finding inspiration for blog posts left and right, and it always makes me feel artsy.  Justified or not, I like the feeling.

Whatever downsides a daily commute on the “L” has, the ability to spend 40 uninterrupted minutes reading a good book every morning and evening make up for and then some.  Lately my “L” book has been Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, and it has made me take a hard look at myself and my own life.

The basic premise of this book is to try to identify the indefinable qualities that make people “outliers.”  That term, I think, tends to make people think about statistics, which is exactly right.  People who are exceptionally successful or not, people who are far from average are outliers.  And Gladwell takes a good look at why.

One of his first examples is to examine professional hockey players in Canada.  The vast majority of them are born in January, February or March.  Why?  The cutoff day for peewee hockey is Jan. 1.  As kids are selected at an early age for “elite” squads, those who are born early in the year are bigger, stronger and more developed than those born in December.  These children then get the advantage of more practice and competition and eventually become the best of the best.  But it all starts with the fact that they were lucky enough to be born early in the year.

What has struck me over and over again is how much opportunity and luck have to do with success.  And just average or ordinary success.  Think Bill Gates success.  Gladwell claims that there are plenty of us who are smart enough and talented enough to be the next Bill Gates, but what we require to get there is the opportunity.

This may seem like an oversimplification, but from personal experience I believe there is great truth.  We all like to believe that what makes us special is our innate abilities and talents, but often we just happen to be in the right place at the right time.  Or in the right field at the right time working for the right employer.

I wouldn’t consider myself to be an outstanding or exceptional college graduate in any sense.  I graduated with a good GPA and with some experience.  So why do I have an amazing, rewarding job six months later when plenty of peers I believe to be far more deserving still remain unemployed?

I was in the right place at the right time.

If you remember, when I first shared my new job with everyone, I mentioned that I was asked to interview the day before my internship was ending.  I left for a two-week vacation in Australia not 24 hours after my interview.  Not that I don’t work hard or produce quality work, but I don’t doubt that timing played a role.

The reason I found my passion in the first place, I think, was luck.  When I finally decided to switch from studying biochemistry in college, I happened to grab the last seat in an Introduction to Public Relations course.  The professor of that course happened to bring in Katie Paine as one of our first guest speakers.  More than once I’ve wondered where I would be if it weren’t for my professor, Dr. Craig Carroll, and Katie Paine.

Think about your own experience.  You are talented, and you work hard.  But what opportunities have really helped propel you to where you are today?

December 10, 2009 at 11:48 PM 2 comments

A letter to oneself one year later — lessons from a year-long job search

Last week, Kate Ottavio wrote a letter to herself for the PR Breakfast Club blog.  She wrote to her former self about all the lessons she has learned after working for one year in PR.  This inspired me to write a letter of my own:

Dear Rebecca,

Hey lady!  Take a deep breath.  You will have your dream job in one short year, and trust me, time will absolutely fly by when you relax.  This next year will cause you some stress and frustration, but I promise you it will be worth it.

I know that you won’t believe any one else’s experience completely because they aren’t just like you, so instead I’ll tell you what I would have wanted to know when I was just starting my job search:

  1. Don’t take it personally. Seriously.  I cannot stress this one enough!  It’s the roughest job climate in decades, and it will take you time to find the right job.  You should know that less than 20 percent of all graduates will have jobs this year.  Being an overachiever, I know it’s hard to accept, but you’re not alone and no one will think of less of you.
  2. Compromise but know your deal-breakers. You’re going to be offered internships and part-time positions that are not ideal.  You’re going to be offered positions that are downright insulting to your intelligence.  Know the difference, and don’t be afraid to say no.  A job may not be perfect, but you should still be happy.  When you’re instincts tell you it’s a bad idea, for Lord’s sake, listen!
  3. Get out more. I know, I know, you’re not a big party girl.  That’s OK.  But get out there!  Go to those networking events you think you’re too tired to go to.  Go to the ones where you don’t think you’d fit in.  Trust me, you’re bound to meet someone who will have good advice even if you don’t meet your future boss.
  4. Ask everyone for advice, but don’t follow it blindly. One thing that will frustrate you the most is when your parents, professors and peers all give you different advice.  Who is right?  And will you disappoint someone by not doing what they suggested?  (This is where the relaxing part comes in again.)  Take any and all advice that feels right and you think will help, and don’t for a second worry about feelings.  You will not hurt someone by working hard for your goal.
  5. Keep your expectations realistic. Always. There will be a few times when you think that you have a great job in the bag!  Just a few more details to be worked out.  And then just a few more, and then a few more weeks go by and still you’re unemployed.  Don’t stop your search until you have that offer in your hand!  If you stop because you think it’s about to happen, you’ll only feel more pressure and stress when you start back up again.
  6. Make yourself happy and make friends. You’re going to find yourself in a new city far away from where you went to college.  You will feel alone and lost at times, but if you make an effort to have friends, you’ll feel much, much better in the long run.  Eat lunch and go out after work with other interns in your building or nearby.  Know your limits, but try to always say yes.  You’re a social person, and you need to have friends to be happy.
  7. Be true to your passion. You know what you want to do, and you have been working hard to gain the best skills and experiences to get there.  Shouldn’t that be enough?  Unfortunately not.  But don’t lose hope.  Your passion and drive will eventually show the right person that you are the perfect fit for a job.  Trust me, and let your passion be your guide.  Oh, and don’t ever think sharing you passion is too nerdy!

I know that there is probably a lot more that you want to know about what to expect, but by not knowing, you will learn a lot in the next year.  You won’t love it, but looking back you’ll appreciate it.  Keep your head up, I know you’re destined to get where you want to go!

Sincerely,

Future Rebecca 🙂

December 6, 2009 at 9:02 PM 3 comments

Look Ma, I’m employed!

I must first inform you that I am writing this post from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and I am lucky enough to be sitting next to my love after five long months apart.  We have both been planning this trip for what felt like forever, but when I found him just outside customs, I don’t think it mattered to me one bit where we were.  I was just happy to have my best friend back.  I spent most of the day fighting jet lag, but tomorrow there are big plans!  The infamous Opera House and maybe the beach!  It’s almost summer here, and thank goodness for that.  Chicago winter is creeping up on me, and this will be a great change.

Friday was the last day of my six-month internship with StrategyOne, the research arm for Edelman.  I learned a great deal from my work at StrategyOne, but I was ready to move on to something different.  I had been asked to continue to work with the company as an independent contractor, and I was happy to have the opportunity to do some freelance work.  I met with someone from Edelman Digital about a month ago, and we talked about the possibility of me doing some freelance work with the Digital team as well.  Unfortunately, it seemed as though this would not be possible since I had not been an intern for Digital before my freelance work.

I have to say I was pretty bummed.  I understand that with a big company this is often “just how it works,” but I had become really excited about working with the Digital team.  My hopes were reignited Thursday morning when I was asked to come in my very last day for an interview.  A position on the Digital team had opened up, and they had thought of me first!  Eeek!

After three interviews on Friday, I had an offer in hand before the end of the day, and I stayed up late to fill out all of the necessary paperwork before leaving the country for two weeks.  Luckily my mom is amazing and offered to fax everything for me the next day.

So now it’s official: I’m the newest associate account executive for Edelman Digital!

And I could not be more thrilled for this new challenge.  I will be taking ownership of some new projects involving measurement, and even more exciting, I get to take on some pretty heavy-duty analysis, too!  I must admit I am a bit nervous, but I’m so ready to take on this role!

Wish me luck!

November 11, 2009 at 7:31 AM 14 comments

“You’re right on track.”

The economy sucks. Majorly.

Growing up I had certain expectations for myself. I expected to graduate from high school, go on to college, graduate and get a job. Until the past year, all of these expectations were both reasonable and well, expected.

As economic outlook plummeted, so too did my expectation of having a full-time job upon graduation with an undergraduate degree. Last fall when I began my job search in earnest, I had to completely rethink post-graduation plans. And, to be honest, it felt like settling.

I’ve always done all the “right things.” I studied, I went to class, I had internships in the summers and got to know my professors. So why am I only an intern? I went to a good school (a great school!) , took all the right courses and have great experience. Why doesn’t anyone want to hire me for a full-time, permanent position?

Does this sound familiar to anyone else? I’ve struggled not to take this personally. Perhaps I’m too sensitive, but after having expectations of employment for 21 years, it has been a hard transition to accept that I am still just an intern. A former professor and great mentor turned my mindset upside down with these four simple words:

“You’re right on track.”

We’re all right on track. This economy changes everything, and we all need to realize that our expectations have to change, too. Maybe all I needed was some reassurance. Maybe I needed a reality check. Maybe I needed to learn to be patient.

Since hearing those four words, I’ve tried to talk about my situation with as many people as will listen, and you know what I’ve discovered? My professor was right. In today’s world, I am right on track. As are you.  That track may have taken a sharp left since the economy hit rock bottom, but that track can still take us where we want to go.

I hope I’m preaching to the choir, but in case you couldn’t help but take this whole thing personally:

You’re right on track. And don’t ever forget it.

September 27, 2009 at 12:03 PM 1 comment

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