Where is the (Communications) Love?

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Tuesday morning, I woke up with a bounce in my step and a smile on my face.

Unfortunate clichés aside, I truly was more inspired than usual to go throughout my day. Nearly grand jeté-ing out of bed at 7 a.m., I quickly showered and began packing my things.  My open laptop hummed, and a quick glance at the screen confirmed that my recently edited document was ready to make its grand entry into the world.  As my printer birthed a fresh stack of newly-revised resumes, I slipped into a black and turquoise dress and plugged in my curling iron.  A bowl of Special K and a few swipes of mascara later, I was out the door and speed-walking to my first class.  Aside from the brain power it took to strategically avoid the suspiciously well-hidden patches of ice on the non-salted sidewalks of Wisconsin Avenue, my mind was focused on the events that would unfold later that evening.  At around 6 p.m., I was to attend my first Reverse Career Fair.

As a graduating senior without a job already secured for mid-May, events like these give me hope.  We have all heard about “that one person” who attended a career fair or a networking event and got hired on the spot.  If only that were a common occurrence!  Nevertheless, a good number of students (like myself) look forward to these events as a chance to network with professionals and learn about companies that are hiring in their field.

So, it was with a great deal of enthusiasm and vigor that I bounded up the steps to the AMU ballroom and signed in at the registration table 20 minutes before I had originally been scheduled to arrive.  Questions swam through my mind as I walked towards the room: Will tonight be the night I meet my future employer? How many people will I get to network with (and more importantly: Will they all have a LinkedIn account)?  Did I print out enough resumes?

Ah, but alas.  Upon entering, the cruel fist of reality introduced itself to my stomach, effectively knocking the questions out of my mind.  Two of my peers were standing behind our uncomfortably vacant table shooting rage and envy-fueled glares towards the astrophysics booth kitty corner to ours.  There, approximately 89% of the employers were fighting like teenage fan girls to get a word in with the super genius equivalent of a 90s boy band behind the table.

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Ladies, please. Calm yourselves.

Hesitantly, I asked my fellow PRSSA members if anyone had yet approached our table.  Without breaking their gaze, they replied with a clipped “Nope!”

Looking around the room, I noted that a laudable amount of employers had also gathered around the other engineering and business tables in the room.  Greek Letter Organization tables were also receiving more action than us!  Aside from the other communications table, everyone was receiving a heavier flow of traffic.

As time passed, even the employers wondered what was up with the lack of attention we were receiving.  Curious as to why our table was so empty, the occasional employer would walk towards us.  Upon reading our sign and seeing (what I can only imagine was) our desperate grins, they would either throw a sympathetic look our way or sharply turn their heads and quicken their pace as they shuffled in the direction of the astrophysics table.

We did get approached by 2-3 companies, but they quickly and awkwardly cut their conversations short with us when they realized that we were all seniors.  They had been looking for sophomores or juniors to apply for their unpaid sales internships.  Before their sharply tossed business card landed on our table, they had almost reached the door.  “Tell your friends about us!” they said with a backward glance as they briskly walked out.

Disheartened, we began looking over and critiquing each other’s resumes to assure ourselves that we hadn’t completely wasted our time by attending this event.

It affected us on a deep level.  The College of Comm is often a punchline of many a mediocre joke delivered by students across campus.  I wonder if Career Services sees us in the same light.  I have attended standard MU-hosted career fairs and have had similar experiences.  I hoped that the reverse career fair would be different, but that was foolish of me.

We in the Comm school are proud of what we do, and we know that it takes a hefty amount of intelligence and wit to succeed in our fields.  So, why does Marquette continue to embarrass us at events like these?  Where were the agencies and companies with marketing/project management/communication departments?  Why must I attend off-campus events that cost anywhere from $10-$50 bucks in order to network with local professionals in my field?  Why does this site have to exist?  Why does our college have to stand alone, without the support of the university?

Where is the love, Marquette?  Why won’t you support us?

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The Last First Day

Never again will I wake up and prepare for the first day of the semester! It’s an odd feeling.  In just a few months, I will wrap up my undergraduate career with a degree in communication studies (and minors in PR and English Lit!).  Ideally, I’ll also have a job in an agency in the Milwaukee area.  I will then move to what I hope will be Shorewood and start making money and paying off the $80,000 of debt that I gathered during five years of higher education.

Five years.

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost been five years since I graduated from high school.  As cliché as it is, it truly feels like just a few months ago I was an eager 17-year-old moving into the dorms at UW-Madison.  I remember how excited I felt that day—thrilled at all the possibilities the next few years held for me.  Ever since I was a young girl, I knew I wanted to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Fortunately for me, I got accepted—and not only did I get accepted, a large chunk of my friends from varying cliques (West Allis, Figure Skating, Port Washington, etc…)  had also gotten accepted.  Itching to leave the nest and experience a new town and a new-found sense of freedom, it seemed like that move-in day could not come soon enough.

May 2008: The future Badgers among DSHA’s Senior class

Little did I know, most of the things I learned in college had nothing to do with the classes I took.  In fact, most of the things I learned in college were from my peers.  College students are fascinating case studies.  Every person I ran into taught me something new about human interaction.  When I took the required Philosophy courses at Marquette, I realized I already knew what the TA was teaching us.  Each type of philosophical ideal matched a person (or the decisions of a person) I met at UW.  Stoicism, Feminism, Hedonism, Utilitarianism, Nihilism, Existentialism, and more. I loved talking to people, whether at parties, over lunch, during study sessions, at work, while watching TV…whatever.  Picking their brains and getting to know them—why they think and behave the way they do—and hearing them communicate about themselves and their circumstances, was more fascinating and revealing than any lecture I attended. I wish there was a way to explain it in a few words on a resume. In spite of my inability to use my ever-increasing knowledge of behavioral patterns/types as a resume enhancer, I absolutely do not regret investing so much time honing my abilities in that area.  In fact, I truly do not regret anything I’ve done in college.  Each of my experiences taught me something, whether it was good or bad.

I had to laugh a little at how nostalgic I was feeling as I wrapped up my last first day (and first week) of this chapter in my life.  Graduation is months away, yet I already feel like my “college experience” has ended.  Perhaps it’s because nothing seems new anymore.  Perhaps it’s because I have to spend this time focusing on the future, as opposed to the present.  Perhaps it’s because so many of my friends are getting married/engaged and getting “real” jobs.  Whatever the case may be, I decided to go through and reflect on all of the old photos I have from the last 4.5 years and share some of my favorites.  Oh, college.  What a crazy time you’ve been.

Skated with UW's senior synchronized skating team at Nationals

Skated with UW’s senior synchronized skating team at Nationals during my freshman year.

Unnecessarily camped out in a tent on a bitterly cold night for the release of The Dark Knight for my 18th birthday in Madison.  We're weird.

Unnecessarily camped out in a tent on a bitterly cold night for the release of The Dark Knight for my 18th birthday in Madison. We’re weird.

Rainbow meets Lara Croft!

Rainbow met Lara Croft during my sophomore year Halloween! They’re still good friends to this day.

Went through that rebellious teenager stage a little late in life during my sophomore year.

Went through that rebellious teenager stage a little late in life during my sophomore year.

Joined the Nationally ranked UW Freestyle team during my sophomore year!

Joined the Nationally ranked UW Freestyle team!

Of course, I went to a lot of concerts.

Of course, I went to a lot of concerts.

Seriously, a lot of concerts (Can you find me? I'm on the left in the middle-ish.)

Seriously, a lot of concerts (Can you find me? I’m on the left in the middle-ish.)

Rang in several holidays with great friends, like at this 4th of July party.

Began a relationship with the best man I've ever met—Junior year.

Began a relationship with the best man I’ve ever met—Junior year.

Transferred to Marquette, moved back to Milwaukee, and began to re-experience the city.

Transferred to Marquette, moved back to Milwaukee, and began to re-experience the city.

Went to my first Packer game! They won, of course.

Went to my first Packer game! They won, of course.

Skated with my Canadian pen pal—she's a World Silver Medalist too, no big.

Skated with my Canadian pen pal—she’s a World Silver Medalist too, no big.

Saw a lot of great things happen to others, too. Adam graduated and got a job right away in his field—end of my Junior year.

Saw a lot of great things happen to others. Adam graduated and got a job right away in his field.

My little sister even graduated from high school this past summer!

My little sister even graduated from high school!

A childhood friend of mine got married.

A childhood friend of mine got married.

And my best friend got engaged!!

And my best friend got engaged this past fall!!

Twittering: A Reflection Post

From late August through early December, I tweeted with the hashtag #ADPR3600 50+ times.  I think it’s safe to say that this ongoing assignment was one of the most relaxing and enjoyable semester-long projects that I’ve participated in during my collegiate years.  Not only was it fun for me to tweet, it was fun to click on the #ADPR3600 hashtag and see what others were saying.  Seeing what others were up to was often as insightful as it was entertaining.

Sure, there were ongoing posts about Irene’s inability to stay healthy for more than two days, and at one point Rosalee and I were tweeting about Jimmy John’s, but overall it gave me the chance to learn and explore.  Through the #ADPR3600 project, I learned about Zara, some pro tips for accelerating my career, corporate communication missteps after Sandy, and more.

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Alright, but bringing up Jimmy John’s again was a mistake. I’m really hungry.

Since it’s so crucial to have a presence on Twitter in the communications field, I appreciated that this class encouraged us to develop and maintain our professional image on this popular social media source.  Thanks, Gee, for simultaneously teaching us how to hone our PR writing skills on Twitter and for ensuring that we keep up to date on the happenings in the PR world—something most classes do not make time for!

It’s been a great semester to be in Gee’s #ADPR3600 section.  I’ll definitely be on the lookout for what next semester’s #ADPR3600 class has to say, too!

“Be Cool, Stick Out, Make a Difference”

On Tuesday, our professor brought in MU alum, PR professional, and inspirational quote machine Molly Currey to speak to our class about public relations outside of the classroom.  Since 1999, Molly has been working at Chicago’s GolinHarris—where she’s done some amazing things.  Molly was the driving force behind the opening of the Hard Rock Hotel Chicago and the Elysian along with an impressive litany of successes with her motorsport clients.  Needless to say, she knows what she’s doing.  We learned a great deal from her, but here are some quotes that particularly impacted me:

  • “You never know what will happen the day you walk in the door.”

Molly labeled this nugget of wisdom “the biggest lesson” she’s learned over the years.  I have to be honest, the first thing that came to mind when she said this was the song “Be Prepared” from The Lion King.

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Be prepared, indeed. Watch your step, Simba! Uncle Scar’s got it out for you.

But honestly, Molly speaks the truth.  Every time I’ve been interviewed for an internship, the interviewer emphasizes how important it is to be able to adapt to any situation.  I am often told that every day is different.  PR professionals have to be on top of their game.

  • “You can do it all.  Play hard.  Work hard.  Live hard.”

This made me smile.  Some other things you may not know about Molly are that she is a former off-roading world champion and that she is a breast cancer survivor.  She epitomizes the idea of living hard.  Seeing her passion inspired everyone to fight for their goals—both personal and career oriented.

  • “Be cool, stick out, make a difference.”

When discussing how to succeed in the PR industry, Molly put serious emphasis on the importance of being awesome and showcasing your life experiences.  Everyone will have some amount of former experience.  What’s important is the lifestyle experience you’ve had.  Shy and boring are two qualities that cannot be applied to any successful PR person.  Having a unique perspective and interesting life stories imply creativity and an ability to tell spin extravagant tales with ease.  Again, be passionate.

So, to sum it all up:

  1. Expect the unexpected.
  2. Give it everything you got.
  3. Don’t be afraid to showcase your awesomeness.

Thank you, Molly, for sharing your wisdom with a room full of young hopefuls.  What wonderful lessons to live by!