My Causerie

"All great change in America begins at the dinner table." ~ Ronald Reagan

Changing Priorities in the workplace November 9, 2015

Filed under: ACS 213,ACS 313 — mycauserie @ 7:00 am
Photo Credit: eskimo_jo via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: eskimo_jo via Compfight cc

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”–Winston Churchill

Work-life balance is a buzz word in today’s American culture. Not that many of us have it mastered, but I think many of us wish we could.

The infographic at gives some great tips. From setting priorities to actually scheduling fun, we need to become more intentional about finding a healthy balance in life. And it appears, the younger generation is leading by example.

Despite the negative comments we often hear about the millennial generation, several studies say millennials tend to have a better grasp of the work-life concept than do most of us baby boomers.

Millennials don’t live for work, they work to live. Even millennials who admit they have a bad reputation have the insight in using the traits often deemed negatively to their advantage.

From boomer-generation management to millennial new hires, I think there are learning opportunities from both sides of the bargaining table. I look forward to inviting alumni back into the classroom years down the road to hear firsthand how they are managing work-life balance in their careers.

What about you? Do you need help with work-life balance? If so, I suggest finding yourself a millennial mentor!

Pull up a chair and let’s talk.


ROI: 3 ways students can get a return on their investment October 26, 2015

Filed under: ACS 213,ACS 313 — mycauserie @ 7:00 am
Photo Credit: libraryman via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: libraryman via Compfight cc

According to contributor Ilya Pozin, “building your brand identity, keeping your competition out of the spotlight and forming incredibly valuable relationships for your company” are all ways to measure ROI. Although these forms of measurement may be less quantifiable than number crunching, Pozin sees them as essential for success.

I think as a college student, you can apply these same measurements to your career goals. If you took these less tangible measurements and applied them to your job marketability, what would the return on your investment be?

1.Building your brand identity. While in college, what are you doing to build your brand identity? You show up to class: check. You turn in assignments: check. You belong to a student organization: check.

All of the above are admirable characteristics, but the real question is, “Is it enough to be competitive?” For the most part, I would answer, “No; it is not going to be enough.” You will certainly rise above those who opt to rarely show up to class, turn in half-completed assignments and spend their free time partying their way through college. But it won’t necessarily get your resume to the top of the stack.

Consider stepping it up a notch. Take class assignments to a higher level–do more than the bare minimum–you know you could if you tried. And become an active member of those student organizations; be more than a name on a roster. Be able to show prospective employers tangible outcomes of your knowledge, leadership and other forms of professional development while in college.

2.Keeping your competition out of the spotlight. I don’t mean to start any roommate wars here, but the reality is your college peers are your competition. Everyone crossing that stage in May with the same degree as you will be vying for those same coveted positions. So who currently has the spotlight shining on them?

A friend once told me that if you want to know a person’s priorities all you need to do is look at their checkbook and their calendar. What would prospective employers discover about you if they looked at your checkbook and calendar?

If you justify not getting an internship because you cannot afford to take time away from your job, could you possibly afford a few hours a week to devote to an internship if you adjusted your spending habits? Are you not seeking out internship experience because you “just don’t have enough time?” Would a peek into your calendar prove otherwise? A crash course in budgeting and time management might be just what you need to get you in the spotlight.

Students who make their career aspirations their priority while in college are the ones with the spotlight shining on them when they are in the job search. Their resumes reflect how they spent their time and money because they have the successful career-related experiences and a much broader professional network, which leads me to the final means of measurement.

3. Forming incredibly valuable relationships. In its most simplistic form, public relations equals relationships with publics. For public relations students, this applies to relationships with peers, professors, employers, internship supervisors, Facebook friends and Twitter followers–just to name a few. In other words, building your brand, getting the spotlight to shine on you…it’s all about building incredibly valuable relationships. And it takes initiative; it takes professionalism; it takes time.

Last year when Gini Dietrich visited SIUE, I remember her telling students that effective public relations is a marathon not a sprint. It takes time to build relationships, but if done the right way, you get long-term benefits rather than just short-term gains, which can happen with a little luck but rarely ever last.

As you move toward the end of the semester, consider the investment you are making into your college education and, ultimately, your career. Will you get a good return on your investment? If not, now is the time to re-evaluate your “educational portfolio” and make the necessary changes.

In the meantime, pull up a chair and let’s talk.



How can PRSSA help you? October 19, 2015

Filed under: ACS 213,ACS 313 — mycauserie @ 7:00 am
Photo Credit: brainpicker via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: brainpicker via Compfight cc This image has been cropped.

Not interested in a career in public relations? So maybe you think there is no reason to join a professional student organization like the Public Relations Student Society of America? Think again. Membership in a professional organization like PRSSA can help you enhance your education, broaden your network and launch your career…and that’s not just marketing mantra talking!

According to Stacey Cohen, founder of Co-Communications Inc., personal branding is critical for college students, CEOs and everyone in between.

Cohen says, “In a sea of sameness, the need to develop a strong point of difference to progress to the next round is non-negotiable.”

The job market is fiercely competitive, and as I have often reiterated to students, you have to do more than just get the piece of paper. Everyone who crosses that stage on graduation day is doing that. What are you going to do to make you a stand-out brand?

Cohen shares eight tips in growing your own brand, and here are a few ways I think PRSSA can help you with each tip on her list.

1. Strong brands are intentional. Joining PRSSA shows prospective employers your professional initiative. If you want to convey your value to a prospective employer, be intentional in the way you build your brand. What you learn from the professionals you meet through PRSSA will  help you to define your unique brand.

2. Have an answer to “what’s in it for me?” This is a question public relations students hear from day one, so PRSSA members pursuing a public relations career may see both sides to this question: their own personal branding value and that of future clients. However, any young professional can benefit from learning how to answer this question and how it pertains to finding ways to make them stand out among an ocean of applicants.

3. Know how to work a room. Relationship building is critical for any career path. In PRSSA, members get opportunities to learn from some of the best. Past programs have given members hands-on practice in networking and how to effectively work a room in professional and social settings.

4. Stay on brand. Your digital presence is important to your future success. PRSSA hosts a variety of social media workshops to help members learn how to best use LinkedIn, Instagram or Twitter, just to name a few, to enhance their professional brand.

5. Be self-aware. PRSSA membership gives you an opportunity to form relationships with engaged professionals who are eager to serve as mentors. These relationships offer an opportunity for members to seek advice and then put that feedback into practice to strengthen their brand identity.

6. Create a powerful online presence. College students are masters of media, but PRSSA members get the opportunity to learn how to put their social media skills to work for their own professional career goals.

7. Have a multi-channel approach.  Cohen addresses the many tools a college student should have in their toolkit. From social media to professional head shots or resumes to volunteer opportunities, PRSSA offers a variety of professional development options at its monthly meetings. Members get the chance to learn from expert resume writers, garner advice from industry leaders and even get the opportunity to have that professional head shot taken free of charge, which they can use for their LinkedIn profiles.

8. Deliver on your promise. Taking an active role in PRSSA, gives members opportunities to strengthen core skills needed by all professionals, in all career fields. Whether it is being a Chapter officer, writing for the Chapter’s blog or serving at the National level, members build upon their professional integrity through all the opportunities available to them as PRSSA members.

As Cohen says, “Remember: you are the product.”

Don’t miss the opportunities PRSSA can offer to you in building your brand. Sign up today. The deadline for fall membership is Oct. 21, so get your application submitted today.

To learn more about the SIUE Chapter of PRSSA, check out its Facebook or CollegiateLink page.

In the meantime, pull up a chair and let’s talk.


Are you on your Way in…or out? October 12, 2015

Filed under: ACS 213,ACS 313 — mycauserie @ 7:00 am

True or False: In today’s job market, it’s not what you know, but who you know? True…in many ways.

Photo Credit: Caro Wallis via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Caro Wallis via Compfight cc

According to a new survey from Jobvite, what’s the best way into a job? A personal referral and a stellar social-media presence.

So, are you on your way into a job? What you do while you are in college could help ensure your answer to that question is “YES!”

According to the survey from Jobvite, 78 percent of recruiters say that personal referrals are the best source of quality hires, which is up from 60 percent in 2014. Couple that with the fact cultural fit and previous job experience ranked in importance at 88 and 87 percent, respectively, it clearly shows the value of networking, internships and volunteerism.

Internships are probably the best way for college students to gain professional experience and also strengthen their professional network. Consider the message you are communicating to prospective employers with a resume showing internship and volunteer involvement. Successful internships, or even a high degree of volunteerism, shows initiative, and the professional references you can gain through these experiences will speak to your ability to work in diverse settings and with diverse people.

The findings from the Jobvite survey also provided insight in how you manage your social-media presence, which is something all college students should take into consideration. Building a strong social media presence should begin now, not just six months prior to starting your job search.

In light of the recent “selfie-shaming” story that went viral, you might want to keep in mind that the Jobvite survey stated 25 percent of recruiters saw selfies negatively. I think this can be a lesson not only in moderation, but also in understanding the importance of that “cultural fit” that we spoke of earlier. One company may view selfies as fun and engaging; another may deem them unprofessional and in poor taste. I think it is important to find that professional balance.

A few other online tips recruiters shared with job candidates included double-checking spelling and grammar on social media;  engaging in conversations about current events in appropriate, professional ways; and highlighting volunteer, social engagement and professional work. This is great advice, and it can be applied to all your social media platforms…starting now. Take note that the survey indicated “having a strong online presence was deemed very important to recruiters, particularly if candidates were going out for jobs that involved marketing or communications.”

So maybe you need to reconsider your social media strategy. How can you bring a more professional light to your digital image while in college? Are your photos on Instagram from the weekend party you attended? Do your tweets consistently focus on the latest celebrity gossip? Do you use Facebook to post rants about how much you dislike your job or school? How could you better use these platforms to build the professional image that will make prospective employers see you as the right candidate for the job?

Put the advice shared from the Jobvite survey into practice now, and I am confident you will be on your way into that job.

In the meantime, pull up a chair and let’s talk.




7 Common Blogging Mistakes to Avoid October 5, 2015

Filed under: ACS 213,ACS 313 — mycauserie @ 7:00 am

This infographic that I found on PR Daily shares advice on some common blogging mistakes you should avoid. Whether you are just blogging for assignment purposes or you’ve found a passion for blogging and plan to continue long after you leave this class, I think there are some great tips in the infographic. Take a few minutes to read through it.

7 Common Blogging Mistakes to Avoid2




Work Ethic: a belief in the moral benefit and importance of work and its inherent ability to strengthen character. September 28, 2015

Filed under: ACS 213,ACS 313 — mycauserie @ 7:00 am

Public Relations Student Society of America designates September as Ethics Month.

Photo Credit: Marlton Trainer via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Marlton Trainer via Compfight cc

Conversations abound throughout the month on the topic. So I felt like it might be a good time to squeeze in a talk about work ethic.

To put it mildly, I have always had a strong work ethic. It is just part of who I am. It is something I almost cherish as I know it is a trait that came from my dad, and it colors everything I do including the way I teach. Let me share a little of the back story.

When I was in the 8th grade, I got a job washing dishes at a local restaurant – a tavern actually, but it served food too. I was the sole dish washer, and let me clarify that, I WAS the dishwasher. I washed every single dish by hand. All night long, I stood at a sink and washed dishes. Sometimes they were so busy, they were waiting for me to get clean plates or silverware out so they could serve the food. After work, I would go home, rub petroleum jelly on my hands, put socks over them and go to sleep.

I didn’t mind the hard work; I knew it was appreciated by my bosses: Pat, John and Harry. Harry would often make me a hot-off-the-grill cheeseburger to take home at night, and I will always remember how John called me “Pocahontas.” I no longer worked there, but when I was elected homecoming queen my senior year, he called to congratulate me saying, “I knew you would do it, Pocahontas!” The last time I saw John was right after his wife Pat had died. I had the opportunity to just sit by his side, hold his hand and visit with an old boss who had become a dear friend. He died a year after his wife. He was 93.

I had other jobs throughout high school–waiting tables, cleaning houses, babysitting, and with all of them, my work ethic, sense of professionalism and understanding of the value of relationship grew stronger.

I joined the Army right after I graduated from high school. I went to basic training in December in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri–maybe that’s why I don’t like cold weather! I earned what they called a “Super Jock” award, which was basically an armband that gave you first-in-line rights at the mess hall. Trust me, in basic training, that’s a big deal! I wouldn’t classify myself as a super jock, but I am competitive especially with myself. So I pushed myself physically, which resulted in the armband, and in being one of only seven females in our company to graduate from basic training that cycle.

I earned the Expert Field Medical Badge while stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas. I remember the toughest part for me was the land navigation courses. I can study for exams; I can train for the physical demands, but when it comes to reading maps and finding my way around, I find that challenging. Just ask my family!

After serving six years in the Army, I was a stay-at-home mom raising our two daughters, and I always tried to instill that same work ethic in them. I can remember telling them that it didn’t matter what their job was, they should always strive to be the best at it. If your job is frying french fries, then fry the best french fries possible. They heard this often.

So fast forward through life, I was a nontraditional student when I finally went to college, but even if I hadn’t waited so long, I would have probably still had the same drive to excel. I maintained a 4.0 GPA while earning both my undergraduate and graduate degrees, and I won the Competitive Graduate Award, which helped pay for my graduate studies.

I don’t share all this with a sense of boastfulness, but rather to point out that my achievements stem from a strong work ethic. Nobody said I had to do anything but meet the minimum requirements, yet something within me has always wanted more than that. And I tend to want to see that same kind of work ethic in the people around me, including the students I teach.

I imagine for students who just want to meet the minimum requirements, my drive to push them to want to do more can probably seem overwhelming. It is not my intent to make the classes and assignments overwhelming; I just honestly want to see my students succeed, and I just honestly think it takes more than the minimum to do that. I’m not talking just GPA. I think you need more than just a diploma in your hand. The same diploma, need I remind you, that everyone else is getting when they cross that stage. Competition is tough.

Often times though, the reason for this minimalist attitude is, “we’re too busy.” I do not doubt this for a minute, but you need to find a way to make it all work. If there isn’t an inherent desire to do more than the minimum requirement, then I think the first step is rewiring your thinking and strengthening that inner work ethic, and organization and prioritization can help you do that.

I came across an NPR interview with Melvina Noel, author of “How to Thrive in College.” I would encourage all students, especially those who are struggling in these first few weeks of the semester to take the time…yes, take the time, to listen to the interview.

One of my favorite parts of the interview is when she tells her students, as they straggle into the classroom tired and frazzled from everything else in life, that “this is your time. It’s not a spa, but almost.”

I imagine the notion of class being “almost like a spa” is a tough sell, but it’s a great outlook. I mean, you did go to all the effort to enroll in the class for some reason…to get a promotion, to land that dream job or to maybe just stop frying french fries for a living some day. So why not step into class with a “I’m doing this for me” kind of attitude.

So as we wrap up ethics month, stop and consider your own work ethic. Are you prepared to do what it takes to achieve your goals? Do you want a “go-to-the-front-of-the-line” resume? It may mean doing more than the bare minimum; it may mean you will need to leave your “suitcase” outside the classroom door for 75 minutes, but take Noel’s advice. “Don’t give up. Never, ever, ever give up.”

And if you need a few tips on how to get started, this dish-washing, combat boot-wearing, pushing-to-excel teacher is here to help you! Pull up a chair and let’s talk.




What’s your reason to end Alzheimer’s September 21, 2015

Filed under: ACS 213,ACS 313,My Causerie — mycauserie @ 7:00 am

Walk 2014The Walk to END Alzheimer’s takes place in Edwardsville, Illinois, Saturday, Sept. 26 on the SIUE campus. The SIUE PRSSA Chapter is once again supporting the fight against Alzheimer’s disease through the efforts of its Purple PRoject team.

The theme for our Walk team this year is 10,000. Team members and donors are committed to taking 10,000 steps each day. This is not only a health benefit to each of us, but it also serves as a reminder that those living with Alzheimer’s disease, and their caregivers, are on a challenging path in life. One that is physically, emotionally and mentally exhausting.

We also want to raise awareness about the growing number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The number of Americans living3 with the disease is growing–fast. With someone in the United States developing Alzheimer’s every 67 seconds, there are 10,000 reasons why we want to end Alzheimer’s. As team members share their reasons, we hope to raise awareness about a disease that not only takes memories but lives too. In 2013, more than 84,000 Americans died from Alzheimer’s; my dad was one of them. That is one of the reasons I want to end Alzheimer’s.

To do that, we need to raise the money to fund the research that will eventually end this disease. Our team goal is $10,000. A dollar for every step we take. A dollar for every reason to end Alzheimer’s. By 2050, 16 million Americans will be living with Alzheimer’s disease. Lord willing, I may still be around in 2050 to enjoy my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, but will I know who they are? Until a cure is found, we are all at risk to have this disease rob us of our memories and our lives.

I am asking every family member, every friend, every co-worker to step up and support me in the fight. Please make a donation today. Just think, if everyone would donate $1, $10, $100 or $1,000…our $10,000 goal would be met…and maybe our goal of living in a world without Alzheimer’s disease would be in reach too. I need your support because…The END starts with you




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