It’s Been a Long While…

March 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

Yes, I’m alive. No, I didn’t fall off the face of the earth, though I did fall off of the face of the blogging world. Between classes, work, extracurriculars, internship hunts, and trying to find some “me” time, I’ve been way too busy to blog. Yes, you’re allowed to yell and throw things. I don’t blame you.

What’s happened since my last post? Well, the last time I wrote was around Thanksgiving. A lot has happened since then. Let’s see…

  • I passed all of my classes for the fall semester. Exciting, ain’t it?😉
  • I enjoyed a month at home in my parent’s new house in Spokane for winter break. I also turned 21 over break, which was much less exciting than it’s made out to be by everyone your whole life. I do enjoy not having to worry about my age in restaurants/bars/random locations, though.
  • I started a new semester, in which I’m taking Prose: Style & the Sentence, Writing for Non-Profit Institutions, Introduction to Digital Imaging, and History of American Broadcasting. All great classes, and while it’s a lot of work, I’m enjoying this semester.
  • I’ve started riding English (I’ve been riding Western since I was 7). It is so amazing. I’m even jumping! I can’t believe I didn’t start riding English earlier, and I’m quite sad that I have so much catching up to do. I’m working hard at it, though!
  • Carrying my Alesya Bag has been a joy every day. I use it daily as my bookbag for classes (it holds everything I need and more–and there are days where I’m carrying a folder stuffed with readings, three notebooks, and three books!) and love it for traveling. It has been the best solution to my constant struggle of finding 1) a cute laptop bag that isn’t made for a man/is incredibly bulky; 2) a cute laptop bag that has pockets for all of my other thing; and 3) a cute laptop bag that protects my laptop. Yes, my bag fulfills all of those requirements, and more! I’ve been working to promote the bag wherever I go, and I’ve found that I’m most successful in airports. While a lot of women on my campus love the bag, the price is just too much of a deterrent. I’ve started changing my tactics and pitching it as a great graduation present — it would be a wonderful present for a new graduate who will be dragging their laptop to work every day!
  • Really exciting stuff: I’ve signed a contract to work with Livefyre full-time this summer in community management/strategy! I couldn’t be more excited to join the team again this summer, meet the new crop of interns, and get back into the ever-moving world of community management. I’ve missed the Livefyre community like crazy! 

I think that’s it (for now, anyway). I’ll be updating as this school year comes to a close and I make the move back to the Bay Area for my summer at Livefyre. Life keeps chugging along!

CP&R Hosts Geek Chic: Scripps Women in Technology

July 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

This blog post was originally posted on Beyond the Elms, a career planning and networking blog for college students, on April 13, 2011.

I had the pleasure of attending Geek Chic: Scripps Women in Technology, which was hosted in the Career Planning & Resources library. The panel included Cat Burhenne (’10), User Operations Analyst at Facebook, Aislinn Hetterman (’00),  Sr. Product Marketing Manager at Yahoo!, Julie Lapidus (’11), Student Ambassador at Google, and Melinda White (’91), University Relations, Programs, & Staffing at LinkedIn. These talented women shared their experiences earning a liberal arts degree at Scripps and how they used their degrees to find success in the wide world of technology. Interested in hearing the tips and tricks these women passed on? Here’s a quick list:

  • Network, network, network. This was the suggestion that could not be emphasized enough. In many industries, and especially the tech industry, networks can make or break your chance at getting a job. In this case, LinkedIn (the “Facebook for professionals,” as many call it) should be your best friend. Add any professional you meet to your network. Don’t be afraid to keep in contact. It was pointed out that many high-profile tech companies only have internships for undergrads through word of mouth — you have to know someone. So don’t be afraid to network!
  • Know what to put on your resume. What piques a recruiter’s interest? Prior internships, for one thing. Experience is paramount to show future employers what you’ve already accomplished and experienced, particularly if it’s in the field you would like to work in.
  • Do your research. The Internet is a fantastic tool for gathering information on your employer. Even if you think you know everything about the company, go and look online for more information. What are the problems they may be facing, or might face in the future? How can they grow? More importantly, how can you help make the company a stronger workplace? What can you bring to the table?
  • Show your enthusiasm. This may not be hard for Scripps women, since we’re an enthusiastic bunch to begin with. Don’t be afraid to show how excited you are by a job or opportunity with a company you love. Who wants to come off as boring, anyway? I know this helped me in my last internship interview: I confessed that I’d never done professional online community management before, but the notion of connecting with people online and sparking meaningful conversations was exciting to me. I was later told that my enthusiasm (!) and willingness to learn made my cover letter stand out. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind!
  • Be passionate. We all have passions. Whether it’s related to the field you want to work in or not, sharing what interests and drives you to a future employer shows depth and integrity. Want to work at Google, but you’re dedicated to saving sharks with Oceana North America? Are you dedicated to raising funds to keep music education in public schools? Maybe you love to volunteer at your local animal shelter, because really, who doesn’t enjoy loving on cute animals? Don’t be afraid to share what excites you, and what makes it easier to get out of bed in the morning. What do you do for fun? What energizes you? If you’re passionate and driven, odds are that you will be just as passionate about a job you enjoy — employers will notice.

While these women focused on how to succeed in the world of technology, their suggestions are helpful for any field. If you want more specifics on the technology field, however, these alumna are a fantastic resource for you. From this fantastic event alone, I’ve met a handful of inspiring women and gained insight into a field I’m interested in — a priceless experience!

Studying Abroad Part II: Neva Barker Weighs In

June 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

This blog post was originally posted at Beyond the Elms, a career planning and networking blog for students, on April 20, 2011.

In one of my posts, I tried to address the question of whether or not studying abroad helps you land internships or jobs. I mentioned how my study abroad experience wasn’t working out, though I wasn’t too concerned — I’m finding internships already, and I can always study abroad in the summer. For many, however, studying abroad is a huge part of their undergraduate career, a high point in their four years at Scripps College. The experience can help define them as a woman, a student, and a person.

A few days ago I received an email from Neva Barker, the Director of Off-Campus Study at Scripps. She’d read my post and wanted to weigh in on how helpful studying abroad can be to the job and internship application process. She wrote:

Does studying abroad help you get a job or an internship?  My answer to that would be – only as much as any other experience you may add to your resume might.  There is nothing magical about listing any one thing on your resume, really.  What is important is being able to articulate what skills you acquired that you can put to good use in helping the company or organization accomplish its goals. That is what employers are looking for, and matching your skills to what the company needs is the key to getting that internship placement or the job of your dreams.

The hard part about job and internship interviews is being able to think on your feet and come up with smart, succinct answers to the questions thrown your way. Neva was right: there is nothing magical about listing one thing on your resume (though I’d imagine that saying you competed in the Olympics, or something as equally surprising to an interviewer, might work in your favor!). The important part is whether or not you can articulate how an experience, job, or internship can help you in your future job, or how it helped you grow as a viable individual for the position. Neva stressed just how important this was in her email. After all, what good is an entirely life-changing experience abroad if you can’t say just how it changed your life?

Surprisingly, not that many applicants are very good at answering my question: “So tell me about your time in X country.  What did you learn from that experience?” Often students will talk about how amazing their time abroad was, how great it was to see the world and meet new people.  That does nothing to move them on to the next round of interviews. They may talk about their personal growth — and while that is nice for them and is a slightly better answer, it is not what I care about as a potential employer. However, the students who will grab my attention are the ones who reply something like this, “To be honest, it was quite challenging and I learned to think on my feet and how to problem solve when confronted with a situation I had never faced before.  I am confident that these skills and strengths that I honed while studying abroad are qualities that I can use to help your company adapt to the rapid changes that are occurring in this industry.”  Students should illustrate the development of analytical skills, the ability to work as part of a team and with diverse populations, to communicate cross-culturally and show a familiarity with local customs in a different cultural context, etc.  Those are the responses that will get my attention.

I can already hear people thinking it: “But I can come up with a response like that from my experiences on Scripps’ campus!” Well, that could very well be true. I know that I have personally been in situations during my time at Scripps where the outcome was similar to the ones listed above. I have certainly developed my analytical skills, I’ve learned how to work as part of a team on various clubs and athletic teams, and my communication skills have certainly seen a jump, too.  Neva and I discussed this:

Learning to think critically and write well are the crucial skills to master in an undergraduate education.  One can do that without ever leaving campus, but I think studying abroad can certainly offer such experiences. By taking oneself out of the familiar, perhaps those opportunities are more easily recognized.

Eventually, she and I circled around to the topic of perfectionism, which, as many Scripps students know, is quite common on our campus. We’re driven students, no doubt about that! Studying abroad certainly opens doors to the possibility of failure. One might make a mistake in the language and have a misunderstanding with a native speaker, one might get lost in their city on the way to university and have to explain why they’re late — the list could go on and on. Is failure necessarily a bad thing, though? Neva and I agreed that failure is ultimately a learning process. After all, what is that saying from William Hickson? Oh, right: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” As long as you pick yourself up after a failure and learn from your mistakes, it can be an incredibly successful experience. What better conversation topic could there be for a job or internship interview?

Studying abroad offers many opportunities for risk-taking and failure. Ultimately, students learn that it is okay to fail, and they find the courage to pick themselves up and try again. Study abroad is not the only way these things can happen, but if a goal for studying abroad is to make oneself a more attractive applicant for an internship or a job, it can certainly be a significant factor. If you talk to most people who are happy in their jobs today, they will probably tell of a career path that was not linear, that did not happen without some fits and starts, some failures and disappointments that, in retrospect, just turned out to be just another opportunity trying to get their attention.

So, can studying abroad help you land an internship or job? It certainly can. While it may not be right for everyone, it probably won’t harm your chances at getting a job or an internship. At the very least, it will be a memorable growing experience, one that employers will always be able to talk about with you in an interview — just make sure you have a great response for them about how it helped you grow as an individual, and makes you just right for the job.

By the end of our discussion, Neva had come up with a new personal motto: “Failure is just a new opportunity trying to get my attention.” I think that’s a darn good motto to live by…don’t you?

Studying Abroad: Does it help you land internships or jobs?

June 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

 

This blog post was originally posted on Beyond the Elms, a career planning and networking blog for college students, on March 15, 2011.

Thanks to a myriad of personal and health reasons, I’ve recently had to question whether or not I will be studying abroad in the fall. The decision process was long and complicated, made worse by emotional outbursts, questioning expectations of myself, and worrying about whether or not I was letting others down if I didn’t study abroad. In one of my long conversations with my parents and friends about studying abroad versus not studying abroad, the topic of jobs and internships came up. The questions we found ourselves asking was this: does studying abroad really help you land a future job or internship?

Our answers were split. Clearly, the study abroad experience is incredibly valuable in a lot of different ways. It allows students to see the world and experience culture. It opens doors to new opportunities and activities. You meet new people, grow as an individual, take fantastic pictures, broaden your horizons…but can any of this be put on a resume?

Of course, everyone’s situations are different. Personally, I have had the good fortune to have traveled with my family. Studying abroad wasn’t something that I ever felt I had to do as a Scripps student. The perception is that resumes will always shine brighter if you have traveled abroad, explored the world, and taken a few classes while doing so. Studying abroad helps with problem-solving in almost any situation (language barrier, anyone?), and future employers will certainly acknowledge the fact that you have grown as a person. But does the entire study abroad experience prepare you for a job?

It depends on what specific job field you would like to enter. Personally, I hope to work in the tech sector, and there are very few institutions abroad that will actively help me toward that goal. One of the few people I know who studied abroad for a specific field is my boss – she attended the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia, and took post-graduate classes in information management. Clearly, her experience was specifically tailored for her field, as she now works in community management at a tech start-up in San Francisco. Another example of tailoring a study abroad experience for your field would be attending the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome if you’re a classics major. What better choice could there be? On the same note, many institutions offer accompanying internship opportunities for eligible students. Obviously, these are fantastic opportunities to work abroad at an accredited company in your field – that will definitely stand out to your future employers!

However, many study abroad institutions are not quite as specialized as those listed above. In that case, the experience of traveling and living abroad – and the skills acquired by doing so – will have to be enough to shine through in your interview with a potential employer. The name of a school on your resume can only take you so far. For me, studying abroad was not conducive to my self-designed major and wasn’t specifically tailored to the field I want to pursue after graduation. On top of that, it was just falling at an awful time because of personal reasons. I was forced to consider whether studying abroad was a crucial aspect of my college experience, and I eventually decided it wasn’t. Would I have liked to? Sure, at a different time, without having to worry about classes not counting toward my major, and maybe at an institution that applies directly toward my desired job field. Meanwhile, I am already looking into abroad opportunities for next summer. Just because I chose not to study abroad during the school year doesn’t mean I can’t get just as wonderful of an experience at another time. As long as it’s something I’m passionate about doing, a future employer will certainly see that in my resume, and during any interview.

Interested in reading more about the impact study abroad has on your future job search? Kim Gradel’s article, Using Your International Experience to Get a Job, is a good place to start. Click here to read an article about the positives of studying abroad containing statistics conducted by Global HR News.

Twitter: A Powerful Tool

June 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

This blog post was originally posted at Beyond the Elms, an informative blog for college students, on April 30, 2011.

Twitter. Twitter. Tweets? Odds are, if you own a computer and are connected to the Internet, you’ve heard of it. Businesses use it. Regular people use it. President Obama uses it. Oprah uses it. So does Jim Carrey and Colin Mochrie. Charlie Sheen has been alternately scaring and delighting people with it. The list goes on, and on, and on. According to Pew Internet and American Life Project, 8% of American Internet users are on Twitter. So, if it’s that popular, what the heck is it?

According to their website, Twitter is “a real-time information network that connects you to the latest information about what you find interesting.” True enough. You create an account and can send out short messages into Twitterverse (sort of like Facebook updates). If you follow people, their tweets will appear in your timeline. When you create a Twitter account, the website prompts you to search for people you may know or want to follow, either by name or username. As you begin to follow a number of people, Twitter collects the statistics of who you follow, and subsequently comes up with people you may be interested in following. Soon enough, you’ll have a veritable stream of 140-character messages scrolling down your screen. 140 characters, you might be saying. What the heck can I say in 140 characters?

You might be surprised. Twitter’s character limit forces you to write in succinct, meaningful sentences. For an example, take a look at President Obama’s tweet about the recent budget standstill:


His message is short and to the point, but still drives home an important message. This is a fantastic example of how Twitter can be used to capture the attention of a potential audience. The response President Obama garners from his tweets are, as you can imagine, plentiful. Either way, Twitter – along with other social media platforms – has opened a dialogue between the President and the people of America that did not exist before.

Okay, you’re saying. But what about me? Good question. A personal Twitter account can be used in a lot of ways. I have two accounts: a professional account and a private account (the private one has a setting where I approve who can see my tweets). My professional account, as you can imagine, is entirely different than my personal. I follow business professionals in the fields I am interested in, engage in conversations with bloggers in regards to social media, communications on the web, and keep up with several tech blogs. I only retweet (literally as it sounds: you copy a tweet from someone else and post it to your own feed, linking to the original poster) articles that I find interesting or pertinent to the field. Oftentimes, if you retweet a blogger’s article with a thoughtful comment, they’ll reply back to you. In this way, I’m rubbing shoulders and having dialogues with professionals I probably would never have even met otherwise! It’s really fascinating, and incredibly exciting. I’ve discussed embarrassing mistakes made during first jobs with a CEO of an online marketing firm in Chicago. I’ve chatted about the efficacy of FaceTime, and whether or not it’s a failed product, with my future boss, the CEO of Livefyre. In other words, Twitter is a fantastic way to create dialogues with people you may never have the chance to talk with otherwise.

If you’re interested in creating a Twitter account, particularly a professional account, here are some tips:

  1. Watch what you say. You’ve probably heard your parents say this hundreds of times: watch what you post on the Internet. If your Twitter account is public, that means anyone can read what you’re putting out there. If you hope to connect with professionals in your field, make sure everything you post is appropriate.
  2. Follow people of interest to your field. Since Twitter gathers information on who you follow and then suggests other people you may be interested in following, make sure you follow important professionals in your field. Eventually, you will be noticed by others for who you follow, and you may just gain more followers by focusing in on who you are following and who is your audience.
  3. Read, read, read. There’s a lot of fantastic information, news, opinions, and debates going on in the Twitterverse. Read up on them! More often than not, I hear about important news on Twitter before I see it on television or hear about it around campus. People are constantly posting links to interesting articles and websites. Knowledge is power, so read anything that interests you!
  4. Retweet meaningfully. This one can be hard to remember. Retweeting is mainly used to share tweets with your own followers, and is a sign of respect and interest on Twitter. However, many professionals consider it bad manners to re-tweet a link to an article without commenting on it. In a way, it’s similar to liking something on Facebook and not saying why you like it. Professionals always create dialogue about what they’re reading online; you should, too!
  5. Present yourself in the best way possible. It isn’t considered rude or strange to follow someone on Twitter without knowing them personally. In fact, it’s perfectly normal to do so. It’s not okay, however, to spam someone with tweets. Be courteous, but don’t be afraid to reach out to those you admire on Twitter. It’s a forum for communication and discussion. Be polite, and don’t waste the time of others.

Have more questions about Twitter? Interested in learning more or getting the hang of it before you reach out to professionals? Sign up here, and feel free to follow me, too. Happy tweeting!

Endless Internships

June 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

Here’s one thing you may or may not know about me: I like to plan ahead. A lot.

I’m not sure how I picked up this trait, or why it’s reared its head, particularly in college. A lot of people I know don’t bother to research jobs or take a look at what companies are hiring and where. I happen to like scouring job postings. I’ve procrastinated on homework by researching internships or jobs (shh). I’ve bookmarked sites I want to check out when I’m searching for a full-time job, I’ve found internships I want to explore, and I’ve found internships I’d like to apply to for the next summer. Wait. I just started this internship. Am I already looking a year ahead?

Yep, I am. I know a lot can change in a year, but if there’s one important thing to remember, it’s that the big internships (like at Google and Facebook) go quickly. Also, the application process begins in December. It’s not a bad idea to get a head start on research, now is it? Which leads me to my next question: while I search for internships and job postings so far ahead, how many internships does one college student really need?

I’m not going to pretend to know the answer to this question. When I first showed up at Scripps, wide-eyed and blinking in the bright L.A. sun, I probably couldn’t have told you what I wanted to do with an internship, or where, or why. The most I’d heard about internships was some talk from my brother, who is two years ahead of me in school. By the end of my freshman year in college, though, I had an internship for the summer, plus a summer job. I was headed down the well-worn internship path before I even knew it. When I got home, I found out that a lot of my friends didn’t have internships yet — they’d either fallen back on the summer job they’d had in high school (which I did too, nothing wrong with it!), or were planning on looking at internships in the next year or two. Like me, they’d originally heard or assumed that internships were mostly given out to juniors and seniors in college, or, the “ones who were actually concerned with getting a full-time job.” We were too young to worry about full-time jobs, so why would we bother with internships?

Well, I really enjoyed my first internship (which was with an awesome company, Savvy Cinderella). In fact, at the time I didn’t know what an extraordinary experience I was getting. Looking back, I see that my internship was full to the brim with unique experiences and responsibilities. People have recently started responding with: “Wow! You got that kind of internship experience as a freshman? I’d kill for that!” I’m proud to say that I had a wonderful six months at Savvy Cinderella, and can only say good things about the company. This summer, I was determined to get another internship that would be just as fulfilling. Well, here I am with Livefyre, and I can’t even begin to talk about what an amazing experience it’s been. I’m learning new things every day, love the people I work with, and I enjoy the work. What more could a girl ask for?

So my first two summers have been filled with internship experiences that have ultimately been for the better. I’m already hunting for next summer’s possibilities. The summer after that, I’ll be a college graduate, and I sure as heck hope I’m looking for a full-time job and not an internship at that point. So, in the three summers as a college student, I’ll have spent every one in some form of an internship. Here’s the kicker: is it a good use of my time?

Some skeptics may disagree, but so far, my answer to that is absolutely, without a doubt, are-you-even-kidding-me, what-kind-of-question-is-that. I’ve learned so much in only two internships, and there’s so many more fields I could explore. Internships, when done right, are a win-win. The company gets to “test out” an employee, and the intern gets to “test out” the company and job. A lot is learned by both parties. In the end, the company might offer the intern a job, recommendations, school credit, etc., etc., and the intern has knowledge and experience. Unless you’ve had bad luck and your internship is all about fetching coffee and licking envelopes, you really can’t lose.

So, how many internships does a college student need? As many as they want, I suppose. Of course, I can say that because I’ve had fantastic experiences — some might say otherwise. In fact, this post was inspired by a news article I read recently in the Contra Costa Times about how more internships are available, but more and more of them are exploitative. Luckily, I haven’t found that to be true, but it saddens me that other people have.

So, what do you think? How many internships does a college student need?

Facing Unexpected Situations, aka Learning

June 6, 2011 § 2 Comments

Recently, I was faced with this: it was one of my first days at my internship. My job was to explore the existing Livefyre communities, read (and read and read, then read some more) blog posts, and comment. Basically, I was popping up in the communities and establishing my presence. I’m quite happy to do this; like I mentioned in my last post, I really enjoy connecting with people, and hope they’re happy to connect with me. Plus, I just plain love reading and writing. These were my main tasks, but I’d also installed TweetDeck (awesome, by the way), and I was monitoring my Livefyre stream. So far, I’d been contacting people I figured I could handle, aka the recent Livefyre converts who I could welcome, and tell them to please contact us if they needed support. Normally they said a quick thank you and went on their way. The other day, someone asked me a support question right away, directly over Twitter. Uh oh.

I thought for about half of a minute. I was pretty sure I knew the answer to his question, but what would happen if I was actually wrong? I did what I thought was best: I responded with what I thought was correct, and copied one of my bosses on the tweet to inform of the dialogue and possible support issue. The guy who tweeted at me originally didn’t contact me again (no support issue! Huzzah!), but I found out that I shouldn’t have copied my boss on the tweets. Enter my introduction to Using Twitter for a Business Etiquette. I’d only previously used Twitter for delivering information directly related to a brand, not holding conversations with customers right then and there (which probably should have been happening, I know). I apologized to my boss, regretted what I’d done for about half of a second, and moved on. My boss (the unbeatable Jeremy Hicks) assured me that I didn’t have to apologize; I was learning! Well then. I sat there for a moment and thought about that regret that had just touched me: why was I feeling regret over an honest mistake (we hadn’t been briefed on customer support officially yet)? I’d did what I’d thought was best in that moment, and no one had been harmed.

Lesson learned, Jeremy.🙂 Education: 1, Anne: 1. Everyone gets a point on that one.

I tend to overreact to situations. Maybe it’s the perfectionist in me hollering to get loose and make everything incredibly clean and perfect, or maybe it’s just the fact that I hate being wrong. In a situation like this, a year or two ago I probably would have been mortified. It’s nice to see that I’ve either relaxed about life, or maybe I’m just maturing and learning to let certain things slide. Maybe this is my body’s way of saying “hey, stop stressing out! You’re killing me here!” Either way, I’m glad  that I’ve changed. I’m sure I’ll still be properly mortified if I need to be (say something truly awful and horrible happens and it’s all my fault), but at least I’ve kept the little things — the mistakes that lead to an education — in perspective.