Category Archives: Graduate School

Job Searching 101: Tips to finding your first job!

As someone who is graduating (round two, but for real this time!) in May, the job search has been in full swing for me for the past month or so. Here’s what I’ve learned: the job search is scary. Especially for us ‘PR people’ who are planners. We don’t like not knowing what we’re having for lunch today, much less where we’ll be in two months.

A couple weeks ago, I attended the OU Alumni Association’s first annual DC Networking Week with fellow MPA Crescent Gallagher (he did a great post about job searching, check it out here!). The trip was highly informative and gave some great perspective on job searching, from where to begin to the questions to ask once you’ve gotten the offer:

1. Decide where you want to be. Your search will be MUCH easier if it’s narrowed down to 2-3 cities. But do your research. Utilize your network and talk to people who work in and out of your field in the cities you are potentially interested in. What’s it like to live there? What’s the job market like? Rent, salary and cost of living expectations are important to know but it’s also important to know what it’s like to live there, especially if you’re young!

2. Utilize your networks. Because of my previous internship and work experiences, when I went to DC I was able to set up informational interviews through previous employers. No, they weren’t formal job interviews, but informational interviews are just as important. Not only are you getting your name out there for when a job may be available in the future, but you’re expanding your network and gaining knowledge about your industry and the job market (utilizing my networks led me to some awesome job listing websites that REALLY helped me). Even if you’re just meeting for a friendly coffee, getting your name out there, and doing it early on, is important.

In addition to utilizing your networks, it’s important to stay in touch with previous employers. Whether it be grabbing coffee or stopping by to visit the office when you’re in the area, or volunteering to do some ‘freelance’ work for free after your internship is over, it’s important to stay on the radar.

3. Get your social media in line. It should be a no-brainer, but make sure your Facebook and Twitter accounts are not only clean (Read: ‘something you would be ok with your grandmother reading’) but also reflect your personality and show your knowledge and insight of the industry(ies) that you’re job-searching in.

So you got an interview… now what?

4. Do your research. I have made the mistake of not doing enough research going into an interview, and when asked questions about the org/company I didn’t feel I knew enough. So, do your research! While you’re not expected to know everything, you should demonstrate that you’ve done your homework.

5. Make sure to ask questions. It looks bad if you don’ ask questions in an interview, even if you’re not sold on the company you’re interviewing with. Asking your interviewers what their day-to-day responsibilities are, favorite aspects of their job, or how you will be able to grow if you work there are all great questions of your potential employer.

Hopefully, if you take these steps, jobs searching won’t be too stressful. What are your job-search tips?

Make the world dance…

The last few weeks have been insanely stressful for me. It’s officially 2013, which means in just a few short months, I will be finishing grad school and will officially be thrown head first into the “real world”. So, I’ve started applying for jobs and trying to decide where I’m going to end up (Pittsburgh, DC and Charleston are my top choices).

Everyone has been posting this video on their pages lately, and it really hit home for me:

“This is life people! You got air coming through your nose! You got a heart beating! That means it’s time to do somethin!”

“Keep going, keep going, keep going. What if Michael Jordan had quit? Well, he did quit, well, retired. But BEFORE that, in high school, what if he had quit when he didn’t make the team? He would have never made Space Jam! And I love Space Jam. What will you create thaat will make the world awesome?”

“We can cry about it, or we can dance about it. We were made to be awesome. It’s everybody’s duty to give the world a reason to dance. So get to it. Create something that will make the world awesome.”

I’m inspired.

Staying on Task

I’m baaaaaack! After a brief blogging hiatus (really I’ve just been preoccupied, I know I’m terrible) I’ve returned to S&S! Believe it or not, my stress level prompted my return to blogging. As you may or may not know, my university made the transistion from quarters to semesters this year. This means we transistioned from a 11 week quarter to a 16 week semester (a pretty significant difference if you’ve been on one or the other for four years). It was all going pretty well until around Thanksgiving.

Under the old system, we took our finals before Thanksgiving and didn’t return until after New Years (a blissful six week break from school). But this year, like all other semester schools, Ohio students had to come back for two more weeks of classes and one week of finals before a month-long break for the holidays. Let me tell you, I’ve been running on caffine the last few days.

One thing I can say is that I’ve never really had to manage a school workload during the holiday season, so this is all pretty new to me. It’s tough because not only is this an adjustment for students, professors are adjusting as well. This means some of my classes are… let’s say – less than organized. This, coupled with the fact that I’m ready to be relaxing by a fire with a book has given my stress levels a major boost. So, I’ve come up with some tips to stay focused and organized during the holiday season:

1. Make lists and deadlines for yourself. Even if your classes or job give you deadlines, make your own as well at least a day ahead of the due date, and write them down. I personally feel there is no greater feeling than crossing something off a to-do list, especially when you’re getting things done in a timely manner. Also, allow yourself a day to let your project or paper sit so you can go back and proofread with fresh eyes.

2. Allow yourself some time for things that make you feel relaxed. Oftentimes for me this is talking with loved ones, catching up on shows (thank goodness for DVR!) or doing some online Christmas shopping. Budgeting yourself this time daily or weekly will help you chill out under the pressure.

3. Sleep! Eat healthy! It’s hard to come home after a long day of class and work with a huge amount of homework looming over your head and cook yourself a meal, but it’s important. Giving your body fuel it can use to help you focus is crucial. Also, while it can be difficult, try to get enough sleep, you’ll feel so much less stressed.

Foods to combat stress.

What are your tips for staying organized and on top of work during the holi-DAZE?

This doesn’t help you at all, but it’s still pretty funny.

“Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out.” -John Wooden

Hi everyone! It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, but I promise now that school is back in full swing and I’m going to start regularly posting again.

Last Monday, I started my second and final year as a Master’s of Public Administration candidate. Crazy right? I’ve decided I’m going to enjoy my time limited remaining time in Athens as much as possible.

In other news, Labor Day weekend was bittersweet. The end of lying by the pool, getting tan, drinking sweet tea on the porch is sad, but fall is probably my favorite season. I love that everything becomes pumpkin flavored and I can get cozy in layers and riding boots. Soon, the air will get cool and fresh (ignore the fact that it is 90 degrees today) and my roommate and I will carve pumpkins in our yard and roast pumpkin seeds.

The perfect fall scene.

But I think my favorite thing about fall, is that every time it comes around it feels like a fresh start. It’s a new year, a new time for organization, whether it be organizing my homework schedule, getting into a new routine (which is super refreshing) or getting my life together. Regardless of what kind of change you want to make, fall is the best time to do it. I rarely make New Year’s resolutions because there is so much pressure to stick to them, I prefer making changes in the fall.

What have I done thus far, you ask? Well, I’m pretty sure I’ve become a morning person. This semester (it’s still weird to say semesters and not quarters) I purposefully made my schedule so that I don’t have anything before 11am. This way, I can get up and get a work out in, tan, read, sip coffee and watch the news, whatever. Now, I understand this will be unrealistic when I get a full-time job, but for right now, it’s a great way to ease myself into being a morning person.

In other news, I’m taking Political Leadership, Interest groups in American Politics and Program Evaluation this semester. I’m already loving all of my classes and have participated in some VERY thought-provoking discussions about what leadership is, and what it means to be courageous. I think it’s going to be a great year. Also, I’ve been trying some great recipes in the last two weeks and plan to do a post about them soon!

PS- I recently came across the quote in the blog title and LOVE it. Great attitude to have and way to life your life.

Things I Learned Last Week…

This past week was definitely very interesting. As the end of the quarter approaches, stress builds. My classes are backloaded this quarter, so my assignments are all pretty much due in the upcoming weeks.

I definitely learned some valuable lessons (and some simply cool discoveries):

1. Always back up your work. (Triple backup!!) I thought I lost half of my budgeting paper last week (THANK GOODNESS for OU’s IT department – one of the students found it fo me/saved me a lot of stress!) because I didn’t properly back it up. From now on, I will be saving to my thumb drive, Google docs AND emailing things to myself.

2. I have a frozen yogurt addiction. When I was home two weeks ago, I bought a carton of it to bring back to Athens because we don’t have anywhere to buy tart frozen yogurt here. It’s already gone. Can’t we get a froyo place already??

3. Downton Abbey is the most addicting show! My roommate and I decided to start season one on Netflix last night and I’m in love! The show is set in the early 20th century in England. The first episode opens with the sinking of the Titanic and moves into WWI in the second season. I don’t know if it’s peeking into a lost generation of society or what, but I absolutely love it!

4. The Ridges are creepy at night. I came up on Saturday to get some work done and stayed until after dark. Not only was walking out to my car alone a bit creepy but looking up at the giant building after reading what went on here, I was definitely creeped out.

Meanwhile, it’s now week 10 aka crunch time so here goes nothing…

Face-to-face interaction – a lost art?

I’ve been thinking about communication a lot lately, particularly how we communicate with one another in today’s technological advanced society. So it struck a chord today in Dr. Raffle’s Qualitative Research Methods when communication was brought up in class discussion. While talking about a supplemental book we are reading for class and how dating has changed across generations, how we communicate was brought up as part of this discussion.

Our generation often lacks face-to-face communication skills. Even I’ve been guilty of emailing my supervisor from down the hall when I’m at work. What happened to making a phone call instead of sending an email? Or meeting someone for coffee to go over work or to catch up instead of Skype or video conferencing (and even while you’re in the same area!)? When you are able to talk with people face-to-face, it’s much easier to build relationships and establish a rapport with them.

For those of us looking for jobs or internships, or just looking to network with industry professionals, it pays to meet in person. Face-to-face interaction connects to people in ways that phone calls, emails, texts and social media cannot. (Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not bashing social media – after all it’s what I’d like to use as a foundation for my career.)

Growing up, my mother engrained into me that you should always send a hand written thank-you note whether it be after an interview, networking event, holiday, birthday or whatever, you should always show appreciation. It may sound monotonous but trust me the extra time goes a long way and it definitely gets noticed.

Another opportunity for more personal communication that often gets swept under the rug is the phone call. How many times have you text messaged, Tweeted or written on a good friend or family member’s Facebook wall for their birthday or some other event instead of picking up the phone and calling? Trust me when I tell you that a phone call goes a long way and means a lot to people (especially family!).

My last piece of advice goes out to social networking. Stop having conversations via your social networks that should really be done via more personal forms of communication like a text message or phone call. Not only is it annoying to those who follow you, but it also shows employers that you don’t know how to successfully manage social media sites.

I challenge you this week to assess how you communicate with those close to you and your professional networks, and to improve how you communicate with those around you.

A Balancing Act

As a graduate student who went straight from undergrad to working on my master’s degree, while staying at the same school, I am in a somewhat unique position. While my schedule and location of my classes have changed significantly, I am fortunate that I stayed in the same environment thus allowing me if I desire to remain a part of the extracurricular activities I was involved in during undergrad.

While I am no longer involved in the organizations that pertained to my undergraduate major (public relations), I do still compete with the synchronized skating team and still coach figure skating to local kids. Both of these activities were very manageable during fall quarter, as it is not competition season. Yes, I had to put in longer hours when it came to schoolwork, but it was nothing I wasn’t used to.

Then came winter quarter.

Skating kicked into high gear from week one of the quarter, and I became increasingly more stressed. Not only are we out of town multiple weekends of the quarter, but I have work for my GA and practicum, classes and work from my internship at home as well. Another issue that cropped up, was that pretty much everyone on the skating team is in undergrad, and doesn’t fully understand that while I’m still at the school as I was last year, my experience this year is very different.

The lesson I learned from all of this is that being a graduate student and being involved in extracurricular activities (particularly those that are better fit for undergraduate students) is a balancing act, but it can be done. Prioritizing is crucial.

In the last few days, I seem to have finally gotten into a routine and have begun successfully balancing what seems like a zillion activities. The moral of this story? Graduate school is very different from undergrad, and treating it like undergrad often doesn’t work. However, it is possible to hold on to some of the remnants of those activities if you’re willing to put in some extra time.

I'm keeping this in mind this quarter!