After spending three years building my resume with internships, jobs and extracurricular activities, it’s time to start thinking about the real world. I had some great feedback about the blog I kept in London, although it lasted only a few weeks. I’m going to do my best to use this blog to chronicle the experiences of my senior year, balancing 30hrs/week of work, a full time class schedule and what I’d like to consider a blossoming social life… All while hoping and praying I’ll land the job of my dreams by the time I graduate. Can I do it? Let’s hope.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Prezi Vs. PowerPoint

I have to admit, the straight laced, often dull and graph heavy PowerPoint that has come to be a staple of our management program HAS to go. I am currently working on what may very well be my last formal presentation of my college career, and I am about one text-heavy slide from going off the deep end. On top of that, the formatting malfunctions in the mac-PC transfer of PowerPoint files is getting really old.

My group met today to review our presentation, which we will have to present in our finest business apparel this Thursday. Part of our task is to engage, while maintaining professionalism. Despite my interest in the project we’ve worked on all semester, even I struggled to keep my eyes open. Just looking at the PowerPoint made me feel inexplicably angry. I think we need to get away from the idea that Professional=Boring. … So I suggested scrapping it.

I’ve used Prezi.com for past presentations to great success. It’s quite simple to use. In essence, it is just a blank canvas that allows you to get crafty with the zoom function. However, it’s fresh, fun and something different. Just by putting our content into Prezi and adding the motion path, we created a presentation that was suddenly 100 times more interesting and engaging just by being different. And it only took about an hour!

Prezi also allows you to edit as a group, similar to google docs, which can be very helpful in the review process. You can also export the Prezi from the website to your desktop, if you so desire. The best part… “Prezifying” a PowerPoint can be as simple as importing your slides and adding animations.

If you’ve used Prezzi before, I applaud your efforts to save the world one mundane presentation at a time. If you haven’t, I certainly recommend it. I’ve included a video intro to Prezi here:

HealthyCampus101: Her Career: Interview Questions

Some insightful interview questions compiled by a classmate. These are definitely worth considering before any job interview. Some "go to" questions for many interviewers.

HealthyCampus101: Her Career: Interview Questions: I remember sitting outside the room on my first interview. I literally had to push down on my leg to get it to stop shaking. And over and ov...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Klout- A Constant Struggle

I was just reading a PR Squared blog post in which Todd Defren discusses Klout. It made me wonder if all my social media efforts of the last few weeks and my recent interest in blogging have had ANY impact at all on my Klout score. I mentioned in an earlier post that my score was in the 40's and I was influential about moms and beer.

Defren's post laments a bit about the short fallings of Klout, and I think I can certainly add to that. My Klout score is now 51. I am officially considered a specialist. I've spent the last month and a half blogging about communications based ideas, and STILL I am influential about moms and beer.

I'm not sure if this is a sign that I should change my blog to be all about moms and beer, or if I should be proud that despite my apparent expertise, I am still a successful young professional. I could apply the PR spin to the importance of a work-life balance. To be fair, I am a college student. The beer part makes sense to me. It's the "moms" part that has me completely baffled.

I guess I'm just going to look at it this way-- There are Frat houses filled with college boys that would give anything to be so influential about moms and beer, so let the jealousy commence. 

'Tis the Season for Philanthropy

 Recently I've gotten very into philanthropy. It's not that I am a person who has a ton of money, and I'm sure if I posted my college loan statements all over my room I would suddenly stop feeling so generous. It's just that lately, I've been feeling very inspired to do great things and make a difference in any way that I can.

Before this year, my 30+ hour work week was devoted to saving up for my semester abroad in London. Now, while my income should probably be devoted to creating a rainy day fund to protect myself should I happen to graduate unemployed, it is instead being used for small things here and there to help others who are less fortunate.

One of the causes I recently donated to was The Greater Boston Food Bank's turkey fundraiser. A donation of $16 was enough to provide a turkey to a family in need on Thanksgiving. It is such a great cause that I couldn't resist.

My newest philanthropic effort was the office Giving Tree. Each year, DSS sends the CSR team a list of children and their two top wishes for Christmas. The mistake I made was reading through all of them, which made me appreciate more than ever all of the great experiences and privileges that life has thrown my way. The little girl I shopped for is three years old, and her wish for Christmas was a baby doll. I naturally had to go out and buy the doll that came with a carriage and other fun stuff. I also couldn't help but throw in a hat and gloves and a few extra toys. In addition to this drive, I am also working on the Toys for Tots campaign at my other job, and am fairly certain I'll be making a few donations to that this year as well.

Despite the efforts I've made in the past month or two, an experience this weekend made my heart sink. As I drove back to the city from Thanksgiving Break, I noticed a woman standing on the side of a busy street holding a sign. She wasn't begging for money. She wasn't asking for food. She was simply holding a sign that said "Struggling to make ends meet. Have part time job and seeking another. Resume on hand." I'm not sure of it was her desperation, or the fact that there was nothing I could do to help her that resonated most, but I haven't stopped thinking about it. Here is a person, willing to work, not asking for money, not occupying Wall Street, just asking for a chance. I'd have given her one of my jobs if I could have. And as I reflect on it, I'm even upset with myself for not stopping and taking her resume or trying to help.

As I think about her, I just hope that maybe some of the other efforts I've made are helping her in some way. Maybe she was one of those families, above the poverty level, but unable to afford a Thanksgiving dinner, that a Turkey was donated to. Or maybe one of the toy donations will go to her child. Perhaps I'll have another chance to take her resume in a week or so when I drive past again. All I know is that I'm becoming quite the advocate for philanthropy these days, and I just wish more people out there were willing to help.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

There's an App for That

I think it's safe to say that I am obsessed with my iPhone. I spend an absurd amount of time on it each and every day. I also spend a LOT of time browsing job listings. I know it is much too early to start applying, but I just like to look to see what kinds of opportunities will be out there for me when I graduate in 6 months. I always browse the LinkedIn postings and constantly check for job openings on the websites for agencies and companies that I am fond of.  I know there is an app for everything, but somehow it never crossed my mind to use an app for my job search, which is why I was particularly struck by this Mashable infographic. I think I'm late to the party on this one...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Lessons I Never Learned- Battling Black Friday

You'd think after 3 1/2 years of studying communication, I would know better than to be drawn in by the carefully crafted messages of advertisers. However, I have to admit that I am "one of those" Black Friday shoppers,  and I have been for 5 or 6 years now.

This year, I camped outside of Best Buy in 28 degree weather for FOUR hours. It was originally going to be three, but apparently MA blue laws prevent stores from opening at midnight. This detail was definitely overlooked by retailers when they communicated their sales, many advertising midnight openings. People in line were angry, but that didn't stop them from opening their wallets to the great Gods of Black Friday and kick-starting the holiday shopping season.

I got a ton of great deals, and even finished most of my shopping. My question is- WHY DID I DO IT? I was just one day off antibiotics for bronchitis with a cough that still hadn't subsided, and there I was freezing my bum off to purchase a gift that won't even be labeled as being from me on Christmas morning. As much as I enjoy the annual outing with my sister, I think we are BOTH smarter than that.

The real kicker is that I study the internet and its endless capabilities in school on a daily basis and spend a disgusting amount of time using this magical tool. For some reason, the idea of online shopping didn't even cross my mind. I'd like to say it's because I love the fun of Black Friday, but there isn't actually much fun to be had waiting in the cold for 4 hours. Yes, I ended up in line next to someone I hadn't seen in years, so it was nice to catch up, but it would be much nicer to catch up over coffee!

Next year, I vow to shop online.

Friday, November 25, 2011

What do you want to do?

Courtesy of  cartoonstock.com
I’m finding as I advance through senior year, especially given the surge of family time on Thanksgiving, more and more people keep asking “What do you want to do when you graduate?” It’s a simple enough question, but people always seem surprised by my answer.

So. What do I want to do when I graduate? I want to take a position that will enable me to gain a lot of great experience and PR skills right off the bat, so that hopefully I can be a chief communications officer in the future. It isn’t that I necessarily want to stay focused in PR; I’ve had a plethora of excellent experiences throughout various aspects of corporate communication, and I want to someday be able to oversee them all. I LOVE internal communication, and I hope to eventually have an influence in that sphere. However, I believe the route to becoming senior enough to make a real impact is through building a strong PR background. I feel that if you have the compassion, the instinct and the ability to identify the needs of employees, you can come back to internal at any time, but the external facing PR skills need to be honed while you are early in your career and can translate to a betterment of internal skills. Mostly, I believe that to be successful, I have to keep my eye on the prize and get as much experience as possible to help me when I finally get there… and I don’t think going back to school for a part time MBA would hurt either.

To be clear, I do not believe it is fair to look at a job as a stepping stone or a means to go elsewhere. I’ve mentioned before that I have never disliked a job. I know that wherever I end up, I will be passionate about my job. I know that I will do it to the best of my ability, and I know that I will work tirelessly to make sure the organization I am working for can complete its goals. That is simply who I am as a person. By approaching each career move as a new and exciting chance to learn something new and become a better communicator, I know that every position I hold along the way will be valuable to me, and I know that view will help me to be a valuable employee to a particular organization.

It scares me a bit to talk to peers who have no idea where they want to be in 15 years. Hell, some don’t even know where they want to be in 6 months. The response to “What do you want to do when you graduate?” ranges from “work in advertising” to “get a job” to “make money” to “be a housewife”. It’s strange to think that most people haven’t thought bigger picture about where they want to be positioned within an organization. Most don’t mention management ambitions, but if you push, nobody is striving to be low man on the totem pole either. I think it will be quite interesting to come to Alumni weekend at BU in 10 years and see where everyone stands with their ambitions (or lack there of). I’m sure that most of us will be successful in some way, shape or form. And success is really just measured by your personal satisfaction anyway. I guess I’m most excited to see at what level most people are satisfied with their careers and to hear about the experiences that got them there.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Resume Help from the Pros

Throughout my college career, I’ve struggled with the idea of going to the school career services office to find internships and ask for resume advice.

I had one bad experience sophomore year. To be fair, it wasn’t a bad experience exactly, but I was certainly underwhelmed. I made an appointment to go sit down with career services for resume advice, and ended up sitting with a work study student who told me my resume was in great shape and sent me away with some samples of how I might want to adjust the format. Great!

Needless to say, I have not used career services since. They have a great website that lists all sorts of internships and jobs, which works for some people. I’ve always been one to seek out my own opportunities. For that reason, as I look for a job, I decided it would be better to ask hiring managers for some tips instead of a work study student with comparatively less experience than I have had.

Here is what I learned from the pros:

  1. It’s okay to ask someone to review your resume without asking them for a job. Many communications professionals are happy to help, and they know what skills employers are looking for because they hire communications people ALL THE TIME.
  2. Use specific headings. Instead of Internship experience, use the header “PR and Marketing Experience”.
  3. Don’t sell yourself short. Many sure the biggest names on your resume stand out at the top of the page.
  4. DON’T USE ONE BLANKET RESUME- Just because you spent the time making your resume “just right” doesn’t mean that it is just right for the job you are applying for. Do your homework and make sure you use words from the job description in the body of your resume to show that your experience is relatable. If your page is too crammed, it’s even okay to swap out various jobs and activities as necessary.
  5.  For an interview, make sure you can come up with at least one takeaway or story that you had with each past experience, from dealing with a difficult customer to seeing a huge project from start to finish. It is certainly impressive to be able to relate a tangible benefit from each of your experiences.

It sounds fool proof to me… fingers crossed!

Friday, November 18, 2011

And the world grows smaller...

The more I work, intern and network, the smaller I realize the world is. One of my coworkers (my original hiring manager) at Dunkin', who is coincidentally a BU College of Communication alum was recently interviewed by marketing expert Brian Solis, who my New Media and PR professor can't say enough great things about. Here's the video:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


After an eternity of staring at my LinkedIn "profile completeness" percentage and feeling disappointed, I've finally done it. Although I had convinced myself that this was just some ploy to keep people coming back to the website, and that it wasn't actually possible to achieve 100% completeness, I have finally done it. Forget about all my internships, my resume and my business cards... This is the biggest achievement I've made in my professional development in recent history. Time to celebrate!

Monday, November 14, 2011

You're in the business of what, exactly?

On more than one occasion my friends have made fun of me because I never leave the house without my business cards. It's something I have done since my sophomore year of college.

At first, the business cards were simple. I was a peer adviser to incoming freshmen, so the college gave me business cards with my name, major, and class year... From there, things got more serious.

In the middle of my sophomore year, a friend introduced me to Vistaprint.  I ordered my very first custom order business cards... It cost $3.50 for 250 cards. I kept reformatting them for hours, and was unhappy with them from the moment they arrived at my door.

What on earth was I thinking? As soon as I opened the box I realized I had used my university email address... and the title of student didn't make me sound hardworking enough.... but I kept them, and passed them out for a year or so... I even gave them out at the bar on my 21st birthday.

Maybe I was too early for my time. To be fair, I probably should have ignored my friend as a sophomore. He is the same friend who later convinced me that it was fun and easy to become an ordained minister online, so I did. It is still on my to do list to order business cards reflecting my full name: Reverend Erin E. Caron. But in all honesty, having those business cards as a sophomore really impressed people when I went for interviews.

After coming back from London though, it was time for a change. I was going to be a senior in college... definitely time for a new look, and certainly no longer too premature to be a professional... And so I ordered these:
I am still made fun of relentlessly for having business cards. One of the other interns in my office this summer was so amused by them that he ordered his own with the job title "professional lady lover" and assorted pick up lines. But some people are finally getting it and ordering legit business cards. In all seriousness, you never know when you might randomly meet somebody that could become a valuable part of your network. Although, I don't recommend handing out business cards at a bar on your birthday... I've now made that mistake 2 years running.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Case Study in Customer Service

I celebrated my second annual 21st Birthday last night at Wonder Bar. I won't get into the details here, because I am trying to get a job, but I do need to share that the customer service they provided was incredible.

The cost to me to host a party with 50-80 friends was... wait for it... $0. 

I called the venue and asked to have my party there. They blocked off the entire downstairs lounge, gave all of my friends line privileges and free cover and even gave me a complementary bottle of champagne.

Every single employee at Wonder Bar went out of their way to come over to me at some point in the evening to say Happy Birthday and make sure everything was going well. They didn't just take care of me, but of all of my guests as well.

One of my friends ended up getting sick. Instead of kicking him out on the street as they probably should have, the managers took care of him and even made sure that he got home okay. They were kind, caring and understanding. They took care of him simply because he was there for my party, and they were committed to making sure I had a great birthday.

The next day I wrote a review on Yelp... As did another one of my friends. I received a text message from a person at Wonder Bar thanking me for my review and saying they hoped I enjoyed my birthday. How great is that?!

Not only did every person who came to my party have an amazing evening, they all plan to go back. I must admit that when I first started telling people my party would be at Wonder Bar, they weren't super excited. From that one night of great service, they have all been converted to fans. Thank you, Wonder Bar, for providing great customer service and for helping me have a tremendous "Second Annual 21st Birthday" party.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Internal or External?

I went home for dinner last weekend. After a few glasses of wine, I ended up having a very intellectual conversation with my father about the necessity of internal communication and culture building vs. external communications.

He is a business operations guy and oversees a 6 store retail business. We discussed the problem of communication in his circumstance versus my internship experiences at large corporations.

It seems that every business owner wants to be on Yelp, Facebook and Twitter. It’s easy for someone within an organization to point to these platforms and ask why they aren’t there. It’s also easy to blame any short fallings on a failure to adequately utilize these online resources. It’s easy, but it’s ignorant.

As we discussed, we both agreed that all of those great forms of online media will do NOTHING for your business long term if similar efforts are not invested internally. In a retail environment, you can tweet and facebook until your fingers fall off, but at the end of the day, a positive in-store experience is what is going to drive repeat business. Therefore, it is important to value, appreciate and communicate with your employees before you can expect success with external communications. If your employees are brand ambassadors, they will be passionate about their work and their satisfaction will lead to more satisfied customers. Satisfied customers tell their friends. External communications are sexy, but internal communications are sustainable.

Just a few days after I had this conversation with my father, the Founder and CEO of a social media strategy company ended up visiting my New Media and PR class. As he spoke about all the cool things he is able to do externally, I couldn’t help but ponder the fundamental issue of internal. Naturally, I just had to ask him a question along the lines of : All of this external stuff about creating brand ambassadors is great, but do you really think a company /brand can be successful if they don’t also focus energy on ensuring employees are brand ambassadors?

As soon as I said it, I realized that it sounded like I was questioning the validity of his entire business model. I don't mean to question social media, and I am SURE I will have to be extremely talented in it in order to be successful in my career. I get that it is important, I just question how much it can do without a strong foundation of internal brand ambassadors. Fortunately, he didn't  take it as an insult, and he actually answered it very well. Because to be fair, if you aren’t online in this day in age, you are WAY behind. The internet is still necessary for driving people to your business in the first place. And in fact, the internet can be much more beneficial to driving short term sales. However, he did agree that for long term success, it is essential that you can transform employees into brand ambassadors.

Long story short, we’ve just got to be good at it all… great!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Here it is... The Moment of Truth

Yesterday I took the big step I have been putting off since May… I applied to graduate. This weekend I will register for my final 3 classes as a student of Boston University. Is the Fall semester really wrapping up already?!

It seems like the year has only just begun, and yet there are classes in which my only remaining assignments begin with the word “Final”… Final Exam… Final Paper… Final Presentation… Is it really November? Are all of these things actually due before I go home for Thanksgiving break in less than 3 weeks? It’s daunting and scary and yet semi-exciting. I’m ready to have a real job, but at the same time I could definitely stay in college forever. What’s the harm in being a life long learner? #SecretelyHopingMyApplicationIsDenied.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Corporate Culture- Thoughts on the secrets of success...

Today I had the great pleasure of sitting down to talk company culture with the CEO of a large Boston area non-profit organization devoted to providing food and supplies to children and families that cannot afford them otherwise.

I must admit that I have never left a meeting feeling more inspired to do good. Many of the employees at the organization perform a ton of manual labor for small compensation, but they all just seemed so satisfied. It is such a unique feeling to be able to go to work every day and understand the greater benefit of all you are doing, but just by interacting with people who were so passionate about the organization, I left wanting to donate money and resources in any way that I could.

After my meeting, I ended up in a conversation about corporate culture with my OB professor. I suppose in a non-profit it’s easy to realize the benefit of your work… Just because you went to the office and put in a hard day’s work, hundreds/thousands of hungry people will be able to eat. How then, can this idea be carried over to build a culture in for-profit organizations.

As we spoke, I realized that I have never had a job that I didn’t enjoy. I’ve always been able to feel good about a hard day of work, whether I was 15 years old and working in a gourmet hot dog restaurant (true story) or 19 and working as a pharmacy technician… Or even in my twenties and enjoying a wealth of rewarding and educational internship experiences. How then, can you develop an organization filled with people who love coming to work every day? Is it a matter of positive feedback and customizing your management technique to ensure every person sees that their effort is valued? Or is it a matter of riding the wave of CSR so employees feel that the work they are doing benefits the greater good rather than just drives sales. In many ways I am excited to get out into the real world and find out. I understand that success in this way cannot be bottled- there is no fool proof formula for corporate culture. On the other hand, I believe my generation is uniquely poised to really drive a change here with a combination of social awareness and new skills and resources that may not have been available 5, 10, 15, and 20 years ago.