Archive for July, 2008

5 Ways to Evaluate Whether Your Job is a Good Fit

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008
Contributed by Kevin Saghy My boss recently responded to a reporter’s request for “signs that young professionals are or aren’t fitting into their organization.” He asked for my quick opinions (which I took to be a positive sign, phew) and I figured it’d make a good first post on The Creative Career. Without further ado – 1. Are colleagues granting you more autonomy? As a new professional, colleagues will request frequent updates until they can trust that a young staffer is able to meet deadlines with quality work. Over time, coworkers will trust more and hover less. If you have been in a position for a year and your team still panics when you’re given a project—it’s time to evaluate your workload and reliability. 2. Do you fit in better with the “other side?” Perhaps you’re part of the agency’s consumer practice but all of your office friends work on the corporate side. Maybe you relate better to the water cooler conversation down the hall compared to your own team’s daily grind. If you don’t fit in with your colleagues personally, there’s a chance you don’t professionally either. See if your agency will work with you to make an appropriate switch. 3. Do you have a champion within the organization? Agencies appoint supervisors to young staff so they may help that staff member succeed. If a supervisor doesn’t fill that role, another colleague will often take a junior staffer under his or her wing. If you’re wandering through your career without much guidance, it may be time to look at another agency with a focus on mentorship. 4. How are you perceived compared to your peers? Does your team usually give assignments to other junior staffers before you, or are you option No. 1? Do you have a surplus of open billable time? Take a step back and view your position on the team objectively. 5. How would you feel if you had to “break up” with your employer? Relationships usually boast reciprocal feelings. When you love coming to work each day, chances are your employer loves having you walk through the door. On the flip side, coworkers can usually sense when team member is unsatisfied. Judge your position and try to keep the spark alive. Any others you’d like to add?

Use Podcasts to Build Your Personal Network

Sunday, July 27th, 2008
Since podcasting started to catch on in 2004, more than a few people have concluded that the technology's failure to gain mass appeal by now shows that it is failing. This view undervalues the influence podcasting has had on communities and personal networking. Podcasts are not meant to compete with radio—in fact, by maintaining smaller audiences, they are able to add more value to individual listeners. Podcasts Draw Listeners With Niche Interests While radio producers aim to create content that will appeal to the largest audience possible, podcasts are created for communities with niche interests. Shows may not appeal to mass audiences, but to those who listen, the content is truly relevant, which means listeners are more likely to have similar interests and personalities. Podcasts Are Two-Way Conversations Many podcasts are far from one-way radio-wannabes. The community drives the conversations—hosts encourage listeners to use free call-in lines or send comments to express their opinions and suggest show topics. By communicating with voices rather than written words, connections become more intimate and genuine friendships are formed. The Network Has Already Been Built For You While Twitter users take pride in their ability blast questions to their followers and gain nearly instant feedback, it takes time to build up enough of a Twitter following to take advantage of this. With podcasts, the network has already been built—the hard part is done for you. Now all you need to do is ask your question to the podcast community. You might be surprised by how many responses you will get. Podcasters Love to Help People It takes a certain type of personality to produce a podcast. The process is labor intensive and usually results in little to no monetary return. The reward from all of this hard work is the satisfaction that comes with connecting like-minded individuals. By reaching out to podcasters, you are likely to be introduced to a network of like-minded individuals. Podcasting isn't failing. Podcasts have successfully connected thousands of people with similar interests, resulting in an untold number of valuable relationships, both professional and personal. As long as podcasts continue to deliver this value to participants, the medium is not going anywhere.

Turning a Negative Experience into a Positive One

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008
Cheerleading Cupie in Pittsburgh Let me tell you a story about how, with a change in attitude and a bit of luck, I managed to turn a negative situation into a positive one. When I was a freshman at Michigan State University, I earned a spot on the MSU co-ed cheerleading team. It was an incredible experience. As a part of the team, I became an instant "local celebrity"—signing autographs and taking photos with fans, filming television commercials, traveling the country and meeting all sorts of incredible people. I couldn't imagine a better way to experience college. At the end of the year, we were required to try out again for the next year. I assumed I had nothing to worry about. You might even say I was a bit cocky about the whole thing. Big mistake. The day after spring tryouts, the new team list was posted. My name wasn't on it. I found out later that I had been cut because of my attitude. I felt cheated, resentful, heartbroken. For years, I had put so much of myself into this one activity, and now that I didn't have it, I felt empty. At the beginning of my sophomore year I was still upset, but I knew I had to stay active—a person can only sulk for so long. So I put things into perspective, changed my attitude and went out to turn a negative experience into a positive one. During an "Intro to Digital Media Arts & Technology" (DMAT) class, I learned about an open supervisor position in the DMAT Studio. I had never had any time for a job while I was on the cheerleading team, so I jumped on the opportunity to meet new people and make some extra cash. The job was perfect. Working in the studio opened me up to a wealth of opportunities—I got to know a number of creative students and professors as they worked on projects in the studio, and I had full access to an entire studio filled with the latest technology and gadgets. As I experimented with the recording studio and portable audio recorders, I became interested in podcasting (which would later play key a role in landing my first job). Best of all, I could choose my own hours, which made it easy to balance work, class and life. But I hadn't given up on cheerleading. I kept working to keep my skills up throughout the year and visited open workouts when I could. More importantly, my outlook had changed—I was no longer cocky. My year away had humbled me and taught me not to take anything for granted. When tryouts came around again, I summoned up the courage to go and face the possibility of getting cut again. But this time around, things were different. My new outlook and year of hard work paid off, and I made the team. So, as it turns out, getting cut from the team was actually the best thing that could have happened to me. It led me on a bit of a detour from what I had expected, but it also forced me to look at opportunities that I had never considered before—opportunities that had a tremendously positive impact on my life and career. And in the end, my flexible work hours allowed me to balance work, class, life and cheerleading. So if you ever find yourself in what feels like a crushing situation, take a step back and look at your options. It's not that when one door closes another one opens. That other door has always been open. It's just that, until now, you've been too distracted to see it.

Five Gadgets For the New Communications Professional

Monday, July 21st, 2008
I've always been a gadget person—I think a person should be prepared to easily capture any event or happening worth sharing. Today, this crosses over to professional communicators, as gadgets for capturing and sharing are starting to become more common, or even standard-issue, for the evolving communications professional. 1. Flip Video Camera Many of us at Edelman keep a Flip Video Camera on hand. You never know when you may want to capture a moment or record thoughts from others around the office or on the street to create a simple video for a presentation or to share with others who couldn't be there. I'm happy to hear that Robert French at Auburn University requires his PR students to buy a flip video camera in lieu of books, and I'm hoping others will follow his lead. 2. Digital Camera I always like to have a digital camera on hand for quality still shots. Again, you never know who you may run into or what photo opportunities may arise. Always be prepared by keeping a camera that's small enough to carry with you. 3. Phone With Mobile Internet Access Who can live without 24/7 access to email, RSS feeds and Twitter? Having access to the Internet, regardless of location, is incredibly empowering—and it is becoming an expected must-have in the professional world. Besides, if mobile is the future of communications, we'd better get on board and start exploring now. 4. Handheld Recorder The Zoom H2 Handheld Recorder is my number one educational tool to keep colleagues up to speed on what's new in the world of communications and what their peers are up to. I use it all the time to capture quality audio, whether it's for a podcast I'm recording or a recording of a colleague to spread the word and educate everyone else in the company on a great case study or project they've worked on. It can be so much more impactful to record a successful experience as a story in a persons' own words and share it as audio than to write it up. 5. MP3 Player The MP3 player has a duel-purpose. First, it's great for loading up podcasts to keep up on industry news or for consuming audio from internal communications (like those audio case studies I talked about). It also doubles as extra file storage, which can be handy for the on-the-go professional. What about you? Any gadgets you can't live without?

Two Free Tools to Manage Your Money Online

Saturday, July 19th, 2008
Budgets and bills are a necessary evil as we go out into the world to start our careers and start fending for ourselves. Two tools have made my life easier—one is a free tool for budgeting and keeping track of where all of my money goes, and the other is an online bank that allows users to easily send paper checks and pay bills without ever touching a real checkbook. Expensr Expensr puts your spending in perspective. It's not tied directly to your bank account, so you have to enter and categorize each expense through the site (the mobile version makes this easier). Once you've tagged your expenses, it's easy to look at the breakdown of where your money is going and set budget goals to work against. Expensr also has a social element to it—you can add tags to define yourself and compare your spending to users with the same tag. For example, I spend less than 80% of those who have defined themselves as "young professionals." ING Direct Electric Orange ING is an online-only bank. Since they don't maintain brick-and-mortar branches, they keep overhead low and kick some of that money back to consumers through higher interest rates on both savings and checking accounts. Pay your bills through the Electric Orange "Send Paper Checks" feature. Just fill out the virtual check online and hit send. ING takes care of the rest. Simple. ING Direct maintains a network of ATMs for free withdrawl, and if you do ever run into trouble, they have the best customer service I've seen anywhere— you actually talk to a real person from the get-go.

An Interview With Auburn University’s Robert French, Creator of PROpenMic

Sunday, July 13th, 2008
note: Robert pointed out that I had a little typo in my title. "Univesity" has been changed to "University" in the title, but remains"Univesity" in the URL. [display_podcast] Robert French teaches at Auburn University in Alabama—most of his courses involve some form of emerging digital and social media. His goal is to get students involved in experiences beyond reading, to get them engaging in the real world. Robert originally became interested in digital media for education back in 2000 when he started using a content management system in the classroom. He later adopted blogs in the classroom, and saw an opportunity for his students to network with PR practitioners online whom they may never otherwise have met. He also recognized that online communication would probably have a strong place in the future of PR. This has shaped his courses at Auburn. This spring, Robert launched PROpenMic, the social network connecting Public Relations students, professors and practitioners. The network has already led to some valuable connections . Site From the Show The New PR Wiki PROpenMic Book Recommendations—Books About People and Culture All The King's Men To Kill a Mockingbird Thanks Robert!

Three Core Transferable Skills

Saturday, July 12th, 2008
Selecting a major often leaves students with a limited view of career opportunities, which can lead to discouragement and regret when the job hunt rolls around. Graduating students need to look beyond the confinements of their majors and realize that some universities are slightly behind when it comes to adapting and keeping up with rapidly changing business needs and opportunities. Generally, if you can gain three core transferable skills over the course of your college experience, these can be applied across a number of careers:
  1. Organization
  2. Strategic Thinking
  3. Communication
No matter the label on your diploma, if you can prove mastery of these three core skills, a number of opportunities will be open to you (keep in mind, you won't master these in a classroom alone). Have any other important core skills to add? Feel free to chime in.

Summer Reading (and Beyond)

Monday, July 7th, 2008
I've been collecting a list of nonfiction/marketing books I want to read. I may not get to all of these this summer, and I'm sure at least a dozen other books that interest me will come out in the meantime, but these are the books on my list for now. Just in case you can't read the Searchme stack, here's the list again: Any other thought-provoking books that I'm forgetting? Feel free to add them to the comments.