My Causerie

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

Questions and Answers for the Job Hunters April 12, 2017

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

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Spring is in the air and as commencement inches closer, seniors are working hard to land those first post-graduation jobs and begin their professional careers.

I often get a lot of requests to review resumes and writing samples, and I share a lot of the same advice I have heard from other professionals at conferences or through other professional development opportunities. Much of what I have shared with students pertains specifically to their writing, but I thought I would share a few other professional tips that came from a PRSSA conference a couple of years ago, but I think all are still pertinent today.

What do employers want?

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According to a recent study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, leadership and being a team player top the list.

Positivity and confidence were also mentioned at the PRSSA conference.  They want you to be yourself, so make sure your “self” is  the person a company would be excited to add to their team.

Make sure you can demonstrate what makes you a good fit for the company; make your brand represent you! One suggestion to do this was to write down what makes you who you are. Identify your top skills. Then pick five of the most important ones. Then pick the top three you want a possible employer to walk away with from your interview.

Know what your goals are and how you are going to get there. For more tips, see the article on Forbes.com.

What’s your digital footprint?

It is often suggested to Google yourself just to see what comes up; make sure it is positive. If it isn’t, what’s your game plan in addressing those issues should they come up during an interview? And start creating new content to strengthen your online presence.

One suggestion for professional social engagement included the following:

–Facebook: post two times a day

–Twitter: tweet 5-6 times a day

–LinkedIn: post two times a month

Although this is a general recommendation, keep in mind consistency and the content itself that you are creating or sharing is more important than the quantity. Be a part of conversations that are relevant to your industry.

Why is this important? Because networking is critical in today’s job market. A recent study found that 85 percent of all jobs are filled via networking. Although digital networking is a tremendous resource to professionals today, one professional who spoke with students as part of a PR professional panel reminded students that “people hire people.” Make sure you are taking advantage of face-to-face networking opportunities. Attend industry-related events, go to business-after-hours; in other words, get out there and meet people. Stay in touch with your connections too!

How do you prepare for interviews?

Be prepared for the standard questions…and the hard ones. There are a myriad of online resources to help you prepare for all types of questions including behavioral questions. This is where that advice to start your professional portfolio early in your college career comes in handy. You think you’ll remember every task, project and problem you faced…and overcame, but when you get busy your senior year, the previous three can become a blur. Keeping a running tally of these experiences can serve as a line on a resume or talking point to one of those “hard” questions. Make sure you review your files before each interview; you want to know your own story.

Research the company. Pour over the website, review LinkedIn profiles of those within the company. Be familiar with latest company successes and challenges. Your interviewer will be researching you; you should do the same. Make sure they know why you want this specific job and not just any job.

Send a thank you, preferably a hand-written card,  after every interview. If you do not get the job, consider emailing a thank you. Say thank you for the opportunity and ask if there is any advice he/she could share to help you in the future. Stay positive!

I hope these tips are helpful to our soon-to-be alumni. I look forward to seeing where each of them go in their professional careers…and I hope they come back to serve on one of my professional panels some day! 🙂

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons learned are not always from a textbook March 20, 2017

Filed under: ACS 213,ACS 313 — mycauserie @ 2:30 pm
Image has been cropped.

Photo Credit: Biocat, BioRegió de Catalunya Flickr via Compfight cc Image has been cropped.

Attention all college students: the lessons you learn do not always come from a textbook.

In most college classes, professors have an attendance policy. My policy for an absence being excused or unexcused is not based on my judgment of your reason, but simply that you are professional in notifying me in advance that you will not be in class. I used to operate an in-home childcare business, but that’s no longer my job. I see no reason to babysit college students.

However, my attendance policy, along with how I conduct my classes and design assignments are created in such a way to help you strengthen your professionalism and your work ethic. Although having these innate qualities certainly makes it easier for you to succeed, I think they can be learned…sometimes the hard way, but  learned none-the-less.

Unfortunately, students don’t always listen to my words of wisdom. What? Say it’s not so! Oh, but it is so, which is why I bring in reinforcements. Whether it is through other professionals visiting the classroom or sharing outside resources such as this article, “5 traits employers really want younger workers to have,” they all strengthen my defense.

Although I disagree with the subhead of the above article, which says, “A new survey sheds light on the sought-after skills that can’t be learned in a classroom,” I do agree with the findings of the survey, which was conducted in 2016 by the Society for Human Resource Management.

According to the survey, dependability/reliability, integrity, respect, teamwork and customer focus are skills employers value most in younger employees. The structure of my classroom, course assignments and, like or not, my own strong work ethic, are all used to help you develop these skills. I encourage you to read the full article. In addition to discussing these so-called soft skills that are in high demand, the article also shares tips on how you can demonstrate these sought-after skills during an interview.

I also encourage you to not feel defeated if you have not yet mastered these skills because as I said, I do think they

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can be learned. There is so much more to learning than what comes from a textbook, and if you take the initiative, these soft skills can be developed and help you reach your professional goals.

Yep, no textbook rental fee required for these lessons! They are free for the taking, but it is up to you to take them. The job market is competitive–fiercely competitive. You have to bring your “A” game, and you know what? The game has already started. Are you playing to win?

Pull up a chair and let’s talk.

 

 

Career Development Day Success February 27, 2017

Filed under: ACS 213,ACS 313 — mycauserie @ 2:30 pm

1PRSA-St. Louis and PRSSA-SIUE collaborated on another successful Career Development Day giving students from Illinois, Missouri and even Kentucky a chance to learn from some of the best communication professionals across the country.

Paul Spooner, PRSA-St. Louis president-elect, opened the event with a reminder to 3students of the doors their PRSSA membership will open for them as they pursue their careers. Many of the professionals speaking throughout the day affirmed Spooner’s statement as they shared stories of how their PRSSA/PRSA memberships have impacted their professional success.

The morning keynote speaker was David Grossman, founder and CEO of The Grossman4 Group and author of “No Cape Needed: The simplest, smartest, fastest steps to improve how you communicate by leaps and bounds.” Grossman shared advice regarding respectful authenticity. He also surprised everyone with a free copy of his book, and he even conducted an impromptu book 6signing after his presentation.

Afternoon keynote speaker, Travis Sheridan, President of CIC Venture Cafe Global Institute, talked about the importance of diversity and collaboration among industries. From a global perspective to individual advice using a nursery rhyme that explained why you need a butcher, a 8baker and candlestick maker, his energy was contagious.

There were also two informative professional panels. The first panel gave students the opportunity to learn more about real-world jobs in the communications industry, and the second panel shared advice with students regarding the various career advancement options they could consider as young professionals.

The day-long conference wrapped up with a professional speed networking session that allowed students to talk one-on-one with professionals from a variety of different sectors of the communication industry including public relations/marketing agencies, retail, corporate, government, healthcare, nonprofit, education and entertainment.

We’ve talked about the importance of ROI in class, and I would venture to say all the students who decided to spend $25 to attend this conference saw a tremendous return on their investment!

If you attended Career Development Day, what was your favorite part?

Pull up a chair and let’s talk.

 

 

 

 

Last Chance to Register for Career Development Day February 20, 2017

Filed under: ACS 213,ACS 313 — mycauserie @ 2:30 pm

Stop waiting for things to happen; make them happen!

Photo Credit: sarah dinu Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: sarah dinu Flickr via Compfight cc

That’s just one piece of advice shared in the article “5 professional development tips for college students,” and if you want to heed this advice, today is your lucky day!

Today is the last day you can register for the PRSA-St. Louis Career Development Day, hosted by the PRSSA-SIUE Chapter on the SIUE campus. Registration for students is only $25 and includes breakfast and lunch. If you are a member of PRSSA-SIUE, the Chapter will also reimburse you $10 of the registration fee.

Getting two meals in one day that consist of more than Pop-Tarts and Ramen noodles is probably deemed a win by most college students, but attendance at this Friday’s Career Development Day will do so much more than just feed your belly.

You’ve heard it multiple times: It’s important to network! Who you know could be the deciding factor between you and someone else getting that job you are going after. If you are early in your college career and thinking you have plenty of time, read this article, “4 things networking can help you do (besides get a job)” for more motivation to step up your game. As the article says, “There’s no excuse to not be networking,” and considering Career Development Day is right here on the SIUE campus, there really is no excuse! Have you registered yet? No? Why not?

According to Jason Weingarten, co-founder and CEO of talent acquistion software Yello, “If soon-to-be grads are just starting their job search, they are already behind. As early as freshman year, college students should begin building their networks by attending club events, networking with faculty members, securing leadership roles within campus organizations and lining up internships.”

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you have plenty of time to network before you graduate. Instead of sleeping in this Friday, why not take the initiative and register for Career Development Day? Make things happen!

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

 

Writing requires editing? Say it isn’t so! March 14, 2016

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

Photo Credit: riebschlager via Compfight cc

The concept of revision being a part of the writing process, especially for new writers, has been a seemingly difficult one to get across to students this semester. It’s not that I think the concept is difficult to understand, but I think time management has produced a “one-and-done” mentality when it comes to writing assignments.

There are several negative implications to adhering to such a mentality, but I think the biggest one is the impact it has on the learning process. When it comes to improving writing skills, there is more to just practicing; you have to incorporate the feedback and the revision process into your writing practice. Even if you write often, but you are still writing with incomplete sentences, disjointed paragraphs, poor grammar, poor spelling and a myriad of other writing ailments, then your practicing is all in vain.

Strong writing skills are obviously important for individuals looking to pursue a career in public relations, but professionals in all industries need to have strong writing skills if they want to be seen as credible. Several professionals reiterated the importance of strengthening writing skills at last month’s Career Development Day. Hearing young professionals describe the writing components they encountered during their job search interviews should make current students sit up and take notice.

And more importantly, although learning the AP style rules is important for public relations professionals, many in the role of hiring said candidates who make AP errors during an interview writing test are not necessarily weeded out as quickly as those who make multiple grammatical errors. Learning the AP Stylebook comes with practice, but not having a firm grasp of basic sentence syntax at this juncture in your career tends to raise red flags with prospective employers.

A recent Facebook post from two former ACS students not only attested to the fact that as public relations professionals you will consistently use your AP Stylebook as a writing resource, but they also firmly supported the importance of revisions…and revisions…and yes, more revisions!

“We were missing Stacey Howard today while we spent hours hunched over our AP books proofing (it was brutal).

Editing is a part of the writing process!

Editing is a part of the writing process!

Stacey, we hope you’re pleased that we’re still using them constantly and not offended that we STILL can’t remember if firsthand is hyphenated on our own. We are always happy to be your poster children! Although, if your 313 students knew how much time we spend editing and how many rounds of revisions we go through, we might scare them all away!”

Years ago a colleague who owns his own public relations firm told students that he never sends out a piece of copy without at least one other set of eyes looking it over. So you see, whether you are new to public relations or a seasoned professional, editing never goes away. The one-and-done writing concept is typically never going to be a good philosophy to live by, so no matter the reason as to why you detest the revision process, you need to learn to embrace it. And learning to embrace it now, may actually make the process less “brutal” in the years to come.

Just give it some thought. Pull up a chair and let’s talk.

 

 

Takeaways from Career Development Day March 7, 2016

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

FullSizeRender(4)The Career Development Day put on by PRSA St. Louis and hosted by the SIUE PRSSA Chapter, offered multiple professional development opportunities for current students, young professionals, seasoned professionals with years of experience and even educators in communication disciplines.

As mentioned last week, the morning keynote speaker was Danny Rubin. Rubin conducted an interactive writing workshop using one of the templates in his new book, “Wait, How Do I Write This Email?” Participants learned how to tell their own stories in their cover letters and professional bios incorporating Rubin’s advice of, “Don’t SAY you are creative and hard-working, tell the things you’ve done that SHOW you are creative and hard-working.”

A “Young Pros” panel gave participants a chance to ask questions and learn from those who “not so long ago” were sitting on the other side of the table.

Showing initiative, keeping up with trends and always taking time to talk with the speaker (hint to ACS 213 students) were some of the tips shared by these successful young professionals. They also emphasized some of the most important hard skills they have benefited from in their early careers. A few they mentioned included:

  1. Know how to write: This includes understanding search engine optimization
  2. Know Excel: Used a lot in collecting and reporting data.
  3. Know analytics: You need to know how to communicate ROI…and as asked at the conference, “What is ROI?” Return on Investment, and that is what your clients are going to want to see.

The luncheon keynote speaker was Angela LaRocca, brand manager at Unidev. She also serves on UMSL’s Digital Marketing Advisory Board and is a board member for the American Marketing Association’s St. Louis Chapter.

 

LaRocca shared her enthusiastic advice that she obviously lives by: Be fearless; be persistent; be creative and have fun…all while talking to people who are doing what you want to do. Maybe you’ll want to venture over to a Venture Cafe Gathering?

There was also a media panel with professionals sharing advice on the best way to pitch to the media. As we all know, there really isn’t a news cycle anymore. Therefore, the professionals emphasized the importance of being in the moment. Staying tuned in to what is happening around you, gives you opportunities to piggyback on a topic using your client’s story. Julie Flory, assistant vice chancellor for campus communications at Washington University, gave an example of how they pitched one of their professors as an expert to talk on the issue between iPhone privacy and the current demands of the FBI. The story got picked up by several media outlets including USA Today.

Geoff Goldman, director of media relations for Fox Sports Midwest, also encouraged participants to not be intimidated by the sports/entertainment industry. Goldman said the opportunities are there; candidates just need to bring their “A” game.

  1. Be a problem solver
  2. Bring in multiple skills
  3. Know the business side of the business

And Kenya Vaughn, web editor for stlamerican.com and arts editor at St. Louis American Newspaper, said one of the best ways to break into the industry is to be a great intern. Don’t just do the bare minimum.

The Career Development Day wrapped up with professional roundtables. Participants had the opportunity for one-on-one conversations with several different industry professionals. I had the opportunity to talk with Abby Theban, who shared some great internship advice including the importance of knowing AP Style rules and how to write a news release. She said for her internship interview at FleishmanHillard, the writing test took place before she sat down for the actual interview. She also said poor grammar can quickly weed out candidates. So maybe brush up on your Schoolhouse Rock…”Lolly, lolly, lolly, get your adverbs here!”

Theban recently shared more tips in a PRSA St. Louis blog post. It’s advice you have heard before, but maybe hearing it from a

Photo Credit: jonisanowl via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: jonisanowl via Compfight cc

successful young professional will catch your attention more than hearing it from a professor or reading it in a textbook. Welcome to the real world.

Career Development Day was a tremendous success, and I was glad to see several SIUE students, in and outside the communication disciplines, take advantage of it. I would also be remiss if I did not acknowledge the following PRSSA Chapter members for their contributions toward the success of this event.

Dylan Stanley: logistics coordinator

Desiree Bainbridge: blogger

McKenzi McClain: graphic designer

Simmonne Bolla: photographer

Thank you all for your willingness to step up and “do more than the bare minimum!”

Pull up a chair and let’s talk.

 

 

 

 

 

How to boost your writing health February 29, 2016

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

Professors proclaim it. Bloggers broadcast it. Students struggle with it. “Improve your writing skills” is probably said to college students

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Photo Credit: jordanuhl7 via Compfight cc

and young professionals as much as “eat your vegetables” is said to 5-year-olds at the dinner table.

And there are as many writing tips out there for you to try as there are vegetables!

  1. 7 ways to improve your writing…right now
  2. 10 ways to improve your writing skills–quickly
  3. 16 Ways to improve your writing
  4. 25 free online courses to improve your writing skills

These free resources are endless; you just need to stop pushing them aside like broccoli at dinner time.

If you took advantage of Career Development Day, you met Danny Rubin, whose easy-to-follow writing templates might just make your writing more palatable…kind of like what cheese sauce does for broccoli!

Rubin gave participants a chance to practice some of his writing tips during an interactive workshop, and each person went home with a floating-3d-bookcopy of his new book, “Wait, How Do I Write This Email?” This book alone was worth the price of admission, but if you missed out on it, you can order it online. Trust me, you want this book…just like you want cheese sauce on that broccoli (probably more).

You should also add Rubin’s blog, “News to Live By” to your reading list because he also offers a lot of great writing advice such as “How to Catch the Most Mistakes When You Edit“–an excellent midterm read for public relations writing students!

Eating your vegetables makes your body healthier. Improving your writing makes your career prospects healthier. You just need to stop pushing your writing around your plate; it’s time to get serious about your professional health. Are you ready?

I’ll share more about Career Development Day later, but for now…pull up a chair and let’s talk.

 

 

 

 

 

 
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